I just returned from a fabulous weekend at America’s Keswick, a Christian conference center whose main ministry is the Colony of Mercy. This ministry is a residential treatment center for men who are caught in addictions – all kinds, and their families. If you know someone who could benefit from real gospel oriented help, this group is top notch and the best news is there isn’t much financial outlay involved. For those who don’t have insurance or cash for private treatment, this can be a wonderful option. http://www.americaskeswick.org/
In January I am starting a six month group coaching program. It will be twice a month for 90 minutes each session. I will be sending out an invitation for my entire mailing list (over 8,000) this week, but spots are very limited so if you are interested in participating, please e-mail us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org with your e-mail address so we can send you a notice a day before the general mailing. I value this community and want you to get all the help you need in growing into strong, God-centered people.
Today’s Question: I’m newly married, only 2 years, but my husband is getting more and more controlling. He controls our money – I have little say. He says God has made him the head of our home and he’s required to be a good steward of our finances. He ultimately decides what we buy, like new furniture or how to decorate our home. I’m the woman and I’d like to fix up the house but if he doesn’t like it or thinks it’s too expensive, I have no say. Lately he’s been saying that if I don’t agree with him it’s disrespectful and that God’s plan for marriage is for us to be one. I love my husband and want to please him but I have my own opinions too.
My question is, do I have to disappear as myself in order to be one with him? He’s never been violent or physically threatening in any way, he just uses spiritual pressure and Scripture to make me feel guilty or give into his idea of Biblical headship. Is this abusive or destructive behavior?
Answer: You are so wise to begin to question this behavior early in your marriage before more destructive patterns become established. There are many women in this blog who experienced what you are experiencing early in their marriage and assumed this was exactly God’s plan and gave in. As a result they did disappear into their marriage and the marriage didn’t get better or more God-centered as a result. It grew more and more husband-centered and their husband became more and more self-centered even if he could quote reams of Bible verses to justify it.
Therefore, you are going to have to start by getting clear minded on what Scripture says about marriage and about the responsibilities and obligations within marriage as well as the larger picture of how people are to get along with one another, resolve conflict, and deal with differences. It’s so easy to take a verse out of the Bible and try to make a case about what you (or someone else) should do. Satan tried this with Jesus in the Garden Temptations. Read for yourself in Matthew 4:5-7 where Satan uses the word of God to tempt Jesus to do something Satan wanted rather than what God wanted. Thankfully, Jesus knew the rest of the Scriptures and wasn’t duped by Satan’s strategy.
Neither should we be duped or intimidated when someone points out a Scripture and then tries to make a case about what we should do or stop doing. They may be right, but don’t take it as absolute truth without checking it against other Scriptures that may say something else.
For example, Galatians 6:2 says, Bear one another’s burdens. And then Paul adds in Galatians 6:5, each person should carry his own load. Which is it? It depends on the context. Scripture speaks about how to act in one context and then says something else about how to behave in another context.
For example Paul writes in Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:2 to bear with one another’s weaknesses. In other words, put up with one another. Yet he also teaches that we’re to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) confront someone who is caught in a trespass (Galatians 6:1), and admonish the unruly (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Jesus also said in Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…”
So it would not be Biblical to always put up with one another’s faults (even if someone told you that the Bible said we should.) Sometimes we need to speak up or even stand up. It requires wisdom and discernment to know when and how.
Your husband may mean well and fully believe that his position as the head means he has to be over everything. That is what has traditionally been taught. So don’t overreact by accusing him of being destructive. Try to be compassionate towards him as you start to speak up. Begin by saying something like, “I love you and want our marriage to be the partnership God designed for marriage, but I don’t agree with your idea of headship and submission. I don’t think the Bible teaches that because you’re the head, you should make all the decisions or have total say over everything. I think he’s given me to you as your partner so that we can make the best decisions together.”
Is he willing to hear you out? Is he respectful of your perspective? Is he curious to know more why you think this way? That’s a good sign and if so, ask him if he’d be willing to watch my video on this topic on my home page Click Link Here on what is Biblical headship and submission and have a talk about the verses that I use there that explain what Jesus meant by leadership and headship.
Secondly, I want you to begin to assert your personhood with your husband in non-threatening ways to begin to breathe some fresh air into his idea of “oneness”. For example, when he’s talking about something that you see differently you can just honestly say, “I see where you’re coming from but I have a different perspective, would you like to hear it?”
If he begins to balk that you “shouldn’t” have a different opinion, feeling, or perspective than he does, gently say this: “Are you saying that I have to become you in order for us to be one? Or that I have to always agree in order for you to feel respected? Can’t I respectfully disagree?”
Then tell him, “I’m not you, I’m me. God made me uniquely me. He didn’t make me you. I have my own thoughts and feelings and tastes on things. I don’t think oneness or being respectful towards you means I have to stop being me.”
In this way you will challenge his idea of fantasy wife – where you should meld yourself into who he wants you to be without any feelings, needs, or requests of your own. This fantasy wife idea is absolutely toxic to you but also to him and the long term stability of your marriage. Every healthy marriage requires that couples learn to love and live with a real person not a fantasy person. That means learning to live with disagreements, disappointments and differences in a godly way as well as coming to a “we” decision together.
I am so glad you are questioning this thinking early and with God’s help, you can begin to turn things around so that the two of you can experience God’s plan for a great marriage.
Friends, any other suggestions you have to share with this woman so that she doesn’t get suffocated or squashed?
This is also an interesting article to check out: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/11/20/how-i-became-a-jesus-feminist/