Why Marriage Groups Can Turn into “Let’s Rag on My Husband’s Flaws Publicly”

When writing the Proverbs 31 woman study series and book, I was blown away by how wonderful and inspiring this ancient archetype’s love for her husband is described.  Each tiny verse gave way to pages and pages of studying all over the Bible – we found verses that coincided with the words and meanings to give us a much richer, deeper view of the tapestry of her life and actions.  I’ve honestly never studied something so fascinating and relatable to my life right now, what I’m trying to be and do for our family.  The women who were studying along with it who gave me valuable feedback experienced those same feelings as well.

Again… it is mind-blowing how deep this tiny passage of scriptures goes when it comes to how women (Christian women) should be loving our husbands.  It is so clear that this model is what we’re supposed to be living up to, even though I believe it takes time and maturity, as well as maintaining a close relationship with God so that the power of the Holy Spirit directs you in the way you should go.

But make no mistake, there is a reason why the Bible describes this kind of wife as a rare treasure.  It’s just not common at all to develop your wifely-ness (is that a word?) to that degree!  And when you try, you’re labeled a hypocrite, Pharisee for holding other women up to a standard people will say YOU can’t keep, a “shill,” and be extremely harshly criticized for even daring to talk about a woman’s journey to be more virtuous.

The harsh criticism doesn’t matter, ultimately you will be creating a marriage that is heavenly in experience, and achieving a degree of excellence in how you love your husband that affects people in real life. ❤  In fact, one of the best chapters that dove into truly explaining the depth of your heart toward your husband, in all things, was chapter 4, “His Wife is Overflowing with Goodness.”  In that chapter, it was revealed to me through my husband’s and God’s direction, that the Greek work for “goodness” in the Bible, which is “Agathosune,” literally means, “virtue equipped at every point.”  

It is not the kind of “goodness” described in the English language, I found out.  It is a MUCH deeper, much more like Jesus kind of “goodness.”  Agathosune is described as aggressive goodness, but when applied to our husbands, it must be tempered with submission to his will, and gentleness, and huge doses of respect and adoration for him as your husband.  But an example of agathosune in other relationships (not authority/submission relationships), is that it calls others out on their sin and destructive ways.  It is the very “goodness” Jesus displayed when he overthrew the tables of the merchants in the Temple, and chased them out with a whip, whipping their backs as they rushed out in terror.  I found when writing this chapter back then, that there is no English equivalent to describe that kind of virtue.

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Now, all that said, the reason for writing this post came from remembering my time in different marriage groups – both in person and through online groups where only the wives were present.  I’ll never forget our first experience in a marriage group.  It was only 2 weeks after our wedding (4 weeks after our secret marriage where we did it in court), and there we were with our fresh, baby faces so excited to meet other couples who wanted to pursue God in their marriages and learn to love each other better.

But that’s not at all what we found in that church marriage group.

We sadly saw tons of conflict, negative remarks the wives would make about their husbands – with him sitting right there!!!!  And husbands making cutting remarks back in defense because she just humiliated him in front of practical strangers!  Lord have mercy it was eye-opening and depressing.  We were so naive… and even though I’d spent YEARS listening to Dr. Laura’s awful female callers berate their husbands (and she slam them with hard, cold truth 😀 ) I actually believed that Christian women would somehow know better.

But they don’t 😦  At least not yet.  That’s why in large part, I started this blog to reach out to friends and family who had never heard or realized you create the marriage you want.

BETRAYAL that Regularly Happens in Marriage Groups:

  • An attitude that displays your open disrespect for your husband.  I’ve seen women just freely talk about their husbands’ flaws and bad habits.
  • Using negative words to describe your husband’s character to other women in the group (or men if it’s co-ed like many church marriage groups are).  Words like “selfish,” “unkind,” “lazy,” “fat,” are not words you should use when describing your husband to other people – it’s just obviously not respectful of him.  I’ve seen Christian women do this very easily, and then agree with other wives (who gladly chime in to point out his failings) that their husbands are “selfish,” or “lazy.” One good example of this was when a wife was complaining to the group of 100’s of women online, that her husband loved to sleep late especially when on vacation with their family.  When he would allow her to sleep in, he’d feel tired later on, and she’d feel guilty for even asking him.  I watched other wives immediately chime in with remarks that their EX-husbands used to mistreat them like that, and that he was lazy and being selfish and not a good father!  Something like this probably shouldn’t be talked about in a group setting. There are so many ways to better deal with things like that, rather than allowing other wives, of all things, to persuade you that your husband is “mis-treating you” with his “selfishness.”  What if it’s not really selfishness?  What if it’s a misunderstanding and he’s just not aware of what you need or want?  What if he’s ok with feeling a little more tired if it means he was kind to you in allowing you to sleep in once a week?  Surely there can be a compromise between you two, without destroying his reputation among other people who don’t know him (or you).  Even if something IS selfishness on his part, what good is going to come from letting a group or even 100’s of women online, know you think so little of him and his character?  Just unwise… all around.
  • Talking about your husband’s bad habits… not protecting his reputation from people or strangers.  Giving away free negative information about your husband to perfect strangers online is kind of the definition of foolishness.  There are ALL kinds of verses that talk about the Fool – speaking too soon before they have all the information necessary (slander), using specific proverbs like a drunk person (talking out of place and misapplying Bible verses), not seeing danger ahead and taking cover, but instead plunging right into it.  It would stink to be the husband of a foolish wife who regularly betrays him by talking too much about his failings.  If there’s anything the Proverbs 31 wife would never do, it’s paint her husband in a negative light.  Protecting his reputation and character is one of her basic priorities and a huge part of loving him and being good to him.  Remember, he has an important position in society and sits at the city gates (and praises her ❤ so romantic)!  How does the foolish wife return the favor of a husband who praises her in public?  By revealing his secrets and struggles to people in marriage groups or through their blogs/social media accounts.

 

Bottom line, I think marriage groups can be great and foster wonderful, life-long friendships even, but through our 10 years of being almost always a part of one (or multiple if you count the online groups I’ve been in), the chances of betrayal are WAY higher in groups like this unless they are moderated very well (and sometimes harshly in putting an end to a wife discussing things that should be worked out between only her and her husband).

THE GOLDEN RULE:

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU’D HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU

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If you want someone to treat you with respect (or protect your reputation), maybe you should consider how you treat others first.  I believe that observing that one rule is what leads to true humility, and honoring others as better than yourself.  Also, be slow to speak, and quick to listen.  And when it comes to your husband, the man you’ve made vows to and are supposed to adore, being good to him, also means protecting him and his reputation (it’s virtue equipped at every opportunity, remember?).

So join in positive marriage groups, but don’t use them foolishly.  Be a good wife to your husband, and protect him always.

Stephanie

 

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Complaining is Not a Virtue

Criticizing, complaining, and nagging are killers in a marriage.  Usually, it’s the wife who feels this is her role to fill (someone needs to be unhappy don’t they?), but I’ve seen men who do it too.  The effect on a marriage is the same as a serious disease: love dies.

Why would a wife or husband criticize and nag constantly?  I’m not really sure I know… when my husband and I were first married almost 7 years ago, I remember being upset that he wasn’t perfect – it was ridiculous, as if I myself was perfect!  Sometimes he’d forget things, and because we’d agreed on which things we’d take care of, I’d take it personal if he’d forget a choreI remember I tried the nagging – criticizing routine out, but it just didn’t work – it didn’t help my husband & it made me into a nasty person, so thankfully it didn’t last long.

I worked at a bookstore, so I had an endless supply of marriage books to read when on break or during a very slow time.  The number one thing that seems to get to men is their wives choosing to criticize instead of suggesting, to nag instead of reminding.  When I started to take a more mature approach of reminding (and allowing us both to be humans who sometimes need grace) instead of criticizing and nagging, an amazing thing happened – it worked!

When you commit to talking about things you want differently or facing the problems that come up in a mature, peaceful manner that gives respect to your partner, your marriage changes.  The problem with criticizing and nagging is that there is no respect in it!

Let me tell you a real life story that I saw play out.  There was a man I used to work with who is my husband’s age (29), he seemed like a good person, he worked, took care of his wife and young baby, they owned cars and a beautiful house, but he always seemed to be unhappy at work – “grumpy.”  The littlest thing would make him angry because he was always set at irritable.

I didn’t really like him at first because of his bad attitude, but then I found out that his wife was mean to him.  He was doing research on the side so that he could finish a Master’s degree, and his cubicle mate let me know that his wife routinely ridiculed his research.  It seems his wife was rarely happy, complaining and nagging him about everything and anything.  I was in the vicinity when I heard him call her a “bitch” to his friends at work.  He started to get close to one of the female coworkers in another area in our building, I would see him flirting with her, and being around her more and more.  They started joking in a sexual manner.  It was really hard to watch.

If a man can’t find peace in his own home, where he should be able to feel relaxed, accepted, loved, and content, he begins to not only hate coming home, but he begins to hate his life.  That sad reality is often the precipitator of stupid behaviors like drinking or taking drugs, Internet shenanigans, and inappropriate flirting or worse.” -Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands

When a man (or a woman) gets constantly criticized and nagged for things they can never seem to do right, they start at first to try harder, but when that doesn’t work, they eventually give up.  This giving up is like a defense mechanism for them, but it exasperates even more the wife or husband that’s criticizing.  Neither person ever wins this way.

Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”  Bible, Philippians 2:14-15