the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33b (NASB)
On Monday I began a short series on reasons husbands don't want to be home with their wives. You can read that post here. When a woman tells me her husband does not want to be with her or around her I have to begin to dig into why. The ugly reality is that some husbands want to escape their wives. Today I want to focus on some things wives do that drive him away.
We see many couples whose marriages are broken. Usually it is the wife who confides in me that she and her husband are very distant from each other. She cannot understand why her husband is remote emotionally and physically. To uncover the reasons, I begin by encouraging the wife to examine herself (Matt. 7:3-6) in the light of Scripture. I ask her to look at the fruit of her life and see what she has produced (Luke 6:43-45).
Over the years I have learned that we are superior fruit inspectors- when it comes to other people's sin. Rarely do I find a woman who gladly takes her focus off her husband's sin and pulls the log out of her own eye. It is preferable to her to point out that her husband won't lead in the home, won't make decisions, and won't discipline the kids. She will say that he leaves it all up to her and that it is too much for her to handle. Often, she has approached him numerous times prior to their coming for counseling and it is her desire and belief that the counselors will rebuke him and side with her in the matter.
In cases like these one of the major issues a husband will cite is that his wife does not respect him. When confronted a woman will usually admit that she has struggled in respecting her husband and will justify it by reciting his failures. Disrespect is seen in how a woman speaks to her husband, looks at him, obeys his requests and desires. It is also seen in how she prioritizes the things that are important to him.
I do believe a Christian woman intends to honor and respect the man she marries. I believe she wants to do him good all the days of her life. However, because of the Fall (Gen 3) her natural tendency is to want to assume control of the marriage and take the leadership role. The sinful desires of the heart fuel her pride and this sets up a power struggle as the man tries to assert his God-given authority only to be undermined by his wife's subversive actions.
As her power in the relationship is challenged she may begin to manipulate by nagging, arguing, complaining, giving the cold shoulder and withholding affection when she is denied her way. Because he loves her and wants to please his wife he gives in to her demands. Over time he becomes deeply angry that she is always challenging his authority and "improving" on his ideas. He begins to withdraw into places where he feels respected and his word has meaning, thus setting up the cycle to repeat itself.
It may take a while, but at some point she notices he is isn't around very often, he has gotten quiet, and he seems quite angry all the time. I have seen this happen time and again and usually the wife will attempt to undo the damage by some hasty attempts at change. Sometimes the relationship is easily fixed however most times it is not. The sinful patterns of living have gone on too long.
If you see these things in yourself there are steps you can take today to begin to reverse the trend in your marriage. Grab your Bible and a notebook and sit with the Lord. Search out passages about respecting your husband and what your role is as his wife. Make a list of the ways you have sinned against him and prepare to confess to your husband that you have been unsubmissive to him and his leadership in your marriage. Admit you have disrespected him and ask his forgiveness. Ask him to help you see the ways you have undermined his authority in your marriage and with your children and be ready and willing to listen to everything he has to say without arguing, justifying, or rationalizing your actions.
Seek out a wise, older, godly woman who can help you understand what it means both theologically and in practice to respect your husband. Ask her to teach you how to make a biblical appeal, and how to disagree with honor and respect.
Disrespecting your husband is one major reason a man emotionally leaves his wife in marriage. By God's grace and with help you can repent and change and I urge you not to put it off one more day!