I recently wrote a post addressing the question of what to do when a wife wants more kids but her husband doesn’t. Apparently, it’s a common thing for Christian women to look at their husbands’ faith or ability to trust in God, and decide it needs some work and that they’re the ones to “help him out here.”
I got an email after writing that post from a woman who disagreed with some of my answers, and agreed wholeheartedly with the other blogger’s advice, saying she reads her blog frequently. I do like The Thinking Housewife’s blog 🙂 , it is possible for someone to give out very bad advice and yet still be a good person or have other good writings I think. Her blog is a lot like mine in many ways in that we share many of the same stances against feminism. One post she’s written recently, called Traditional Housewife – The New Hitler, is especially a great read about how the Leftists and feminists (but I repeat myself) view housewives. It even focuses on our internet presence, which is very interesting. But this reader’s issue with my post is she thought it’s right and even godly for a wife to point out her husband’s spiritual flaws, or to try to make him realize when he should be having more trust or faith in God.
I will admit that this topic can get very murky because in some respect a wife does have that privilege in her husband’s heart, to gently and humbly point out if she sees something is wrong or could be harmful in the future. However, that is not the advice The Thinking Housewife gave out to women in that position. The main point of her post (and the counterpoint of mine) was actually trying to get a husband to follow the wife’s lead for their marriage. And in trying to get him on board with her decisions to lead them, The Thinking Housewife used a variety of unhealthy tactics.
Let’s look at what she suggested again:
If your husband is worried about money, that’s understandable but he should ask God for help and for the grace to handle whatever occurs. Why does he have so little confidence and trust? Insist with him that it is wrong for you to use contraception.
Continue to talk to your husband and don’t give up.
Let him know that your marital happiness is gravely threatened. (from here)
Aside from the fact that she’s promoting using threats to get the husband to follow his wife’s convictions, this approach of “insisting with him,” and continuing to talk with him without giving up, are not productive with men.
When it comes to using the threat of a wife’s happiness (which is not the point of marriage at all, even if it is a wonderful byproduct), making it seem like she will be forever miserable if he doesn’t follow suit – and then her misery will of course affect everyone in the entire family, is not psychologically healthy for a woman. If a mother decides that she’s not getting her way, so she’s going to be miserable (their marital happiness will be “gravely threatened”), then she’s basically trying to control her husband (Eve’s curse), and not seeking to live peacefully and by faith and trust in God.
It’s important that we realize that all of this advice is coming from a position of self-righteousness or a feeling of superiority in the heart of the wife toward her husband. I’ve noticed that this is something Catholic women tend to have toward their husbands (and also toward non-Catholics), because their church has decided authority on issues like these, and therefore doesn’t allow husbands to make their own decisions regarding how many children he wants to have. **Instead of debating this point in the comments, we should probably just focus on how Catholic people can encourage their wives to submit to, and obey, their husbands like commanded in the Bible, while still following all the rules and restrictions of their faith.**
It’s also the most ironic thing to me, that while The Thinking Housewife is encouraging Christian women to view their husbands as not having enough faith in God, she’s actually endorsing these women’s own lack of faith in their husband’s decisions, promoting psychologically unhealthy manipulation tactics (using threats of her being miserable and affecting their family negatively!), and consequentially, encouraging a Christian woman’s lack of faith in her husband’s leadership – which is (especially if he’s Christian) ordained by God.
For the Catholic women out there, let’s look again at what God says about this in the Bible:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
It’s important for Catholic women or any woman in this position, to truly understand how much faith this takes for wives to submit to their husbands “in everything.”
I really do believe it’s crucial to start teaching Christian women that instead of always looking for where our husbands may be “wrong” on something – or doubting his intentions in his leadership of our family, or his faith, etc., that instead, she needs to learn to have faith in him, and to trust him enough to follow his imperfect leadership. In doing this, it’s a beautiful chance to reveal how much faith she has in God herself.
See what I did there? Instead of putting all the blame on the husband in cases like this – or worse, trying to make him feel like he’s a bad Christian and doesn’t have enough faith – instead of choosing that route (which is a very negative and unproductive route) she can instead focus on her own faith (something she has control over) in being able to trust God even though she may not agree with the direction her husband is leading them in.
No husband’s leadership is going to be perfect, just like no marriage is going to be perfectly perfect 🙂 .
But I’ve seen that the best marriages
are where the wife learns to trust her husband with her life,
and also to ultimately trust God that He can and will lead them
even when they may take paths she doesn’t feel are right.
That is where the real growth of marriage begins, when the wife can fully trust her husband (which is a reflection of her own trust and faith in God), even when they’re going through stormy waters or rough patches.
When she decides to stop doubting his leadership, and to follow him like Sarah followed and obeyed Abraham, she has the chance to grow a beautiful faith like we are told in the New Testament.
In case anyone wants to go back and read the post I did which details submission even in the hardest circumstances, here is a link to the Sarah post.
“Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.
For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.
You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.”
1 Peter 3:3-6
Watching couples where you can tell the wife truly trusts and follows her husband’s leadership makes women everywhere swoon, because not only is it beautiful, it’s actually romantic to be able to trust like that in your man! And feminists hate that! They hate that there are good men out there who cherish their wives so much, and wives who love them so much in return, that they’re actually willing to follow them and trust their leadership. Because these feminists women don’t have that, they don’t want us women who know what it’s like to exist because it’s a reminder of how much they’ve failed.
No one else is telling you to have faith in your husband like this, but I am. Husbands need their wives to believe in them and to trust their decisions for their family.
And I’m telling you to put your trust in God – that He can and will work things out for good for all those who are called according to Him (Romans 8:28).
Aside from the faith or spiritual position, even from a practical perspective, there are clear reasons why a wife trying to get her husband to be “better” just doesn’t work.
Here is a quote from the author my mom had me reading as a young, pre-teen girl (and the main reason I am the woman I am today):
There are some Christian Women who have been taught “to provoke their husbands to righteousness.” But the word provoke does not mean what is commonly implied. The true meaning of the word is to incite, to inspire, or to arouse. It does not mean to nettle or to push.
Women are Self Righteous
Why do women try to change men? Because they have a self righteous attitude. they feel that they put forth more effort into doing what is right, try more diligently to make marriage successful, are more active in church, and are better persons than are their husbands. They look down on men, and therefore feel that the men, not themselves, need to improve.
The Sadduccees and the Pharisees in Biblical times had this same self-righteous attitude. They were faithful to attend church, paid tithes, prayed, read the scriptures, fasted, observed any number of rituals, but the Savior called them “hypocrites”, not because of their faithfulness, but because of their self-righteousness.
The Christian Attitude
The very heart of Christian doctrine is: It is ourselves we must change. We have been told to cast out the beam from our own eye first, and then we will more clearly see the mote which is in our brother’s. Women who try to change their men trample on their freedom, and violate righteous principles.
From Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin
This doesn’t mean that the things your husband decides to do will always work out. Sometimes your husband’s leadership may result in some kind of failure. If he got married young, chances are a few things worked themselves out through trial and error. Or maybe your husband was a bachelor for a long time and wasn’t used to suddenly having to live with a woman in his house. Maybe he had to adjust to the change through trial and error. There’s nothing wrong with men having to take time to learn how to be a husband or how to lead in the way he feels comfortable in leading. It’s the same with being a wife – it’s not something that just happens over night and POOF!!… you’re suddenly the perfectly trusting, adoring wife.
The first step is faith – having faith in your husband.
And then the second mountain is usually figuring out how to deal with setbacks or failures, and still be able to keep your faith in him, as well as in God.
In other words, many things about your husband’s leadership will probably work themselves out through trial and error. If a wife tries to keep that in mind, while also working on her ability to trust, and doesn’t nit-pick, or harp on his failures, or become a critical Christian toward her husband, then they’ll move beyond it.
I’ll probably post more about this at another time because it could be a rather longish post. But knowing you both will fail each other at some point, and having a forgiving attitude puts a lot of failures in perspective, which again, allows for marriage growth and becoming more in love ❤ and closer.
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