A few days ago, I received this in reference to my post on dealing with someone who verbally assaults you:
My husband has in the past referred to me as ‘a piece of skin that he uses for sex’. I was so hurt about this but still chose to extend grace to him and continued the relationship with all its benefits. This only served to make him more comfortable with his viciousness towards me, he interpreted it as a sign of weakness. Just last week he told me several times that I was an ugly B – and that I didn’t know how ugly I was and that I needed to have plastic surgery. He told me he was too good for me and that he and his whole family spoke about he could end up with someone as ugly as me after all the beautiful women he had dated. His words have made it so difficult for me to feel safe enough to be intimate with him and because of that he is labelling me an unchristian wife for not meeting his needs. This is a man who has not apologized or retracted any of the disgusting things he has said about me for the 4 years we have been married.
At what point does the grace you are trying to extend to your husband just amount to enabling him to abuse you further? If a husband has by his words or actions caused division in the marriage, should this be overlooked and should the wife still cater to his every need while he goes on behaving badly? While love is unconditional, are we honestly expected to allow our husband to treat us in as degrading a manner as they feel like and then continue to extend the benefits of marriage to them while they completely ignore their responsibilities to the marriage? Is that really being the helper God intended for him….because as much as you say it’s not….it still sounds like you’re asking us to be doormats….
I cried with her.
And prayed for her.
But there is hope – he claims to be Christian. This beautiful girl is being verbally abused by the man who is supposed to cherish her. I don’t know what the other side looks like (there’s always two sides) but if this was me (and it’s not, so this may be worth what you paid for it, which is nothing) I’d confront him, Matthew 18-style. And I’d remember that God loves him, too, even though he is very unloving (to say the least) in his behavior. I’d also remember that his words were lies, inspired by the enemy, and that he was being useful to satan – but only if I let him.
Given his behavior, he sounds REALLY immature. So even the gentlest of respectful confrontations in response to another cutting remark, ie: “Honey, I’m sure you don’t mean to demean me with your words, but they hurt me and I feel diminished as a person when you say them. Please stop,” will probably only serve to make him more angry.
But it is worth doing, because he claims to be Christian. And this is what the Word tells us to do when a brother sins against us, and this man’s behavior seems seriously damaging. And sometimes, Love must be tough. Jesus-style.
I know that my communication suggestions upset and offend – but when have you ever argued someone into behaving like a Christian? Or becoming one? Either the Word is true or it is not. And if it’s not to you, then none of what I suggest is going to do anything but irritate you anyway. “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1. The entire book of How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie and The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute and a whole host of other communication and human relations books are based on these principles.
Smart negotiators do not stir up anger.
Smart communicators don’t either.
This stuff is all in the Bible, and in The Respect Dare, and in 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage (my new book).
It’s not “sugar coating” or “schmoozing” unless your heart is manipulative. It is called “good human relations” and it’s fifteen levels above “please” and “thank you.”
So when/if it doesn’t go well, she can escalate things to the next step in Matthew 18, which is to have the conversation in front of a witness. A counselor, another Christian man he respects, but SOMEONE ELSE needs to be there. And then she will need a ton of girlfriend time – because unless he sees the light from that encounter, he may get even more angry.
And then, when/if she sees his lack of repentance, and lack of change, she needs to involve her church leadership – as in their pastor, a wise elder or two, etc. She might be met with a beautiful outcome like this woman was when she confronted her husband about his pornography use. He also wrote a post about his experience.
Unfortunately, few women are brave enough to take this step. And few churches will handle this well. But they should.
He may respond with even more anger – but at least she’ll know what she’s dealing with. A growing Christian man will feel saddened for hurting his bride and likely change his behavior at step 2, often at step 1. One who may have head knowledge but no fruit leaves her with the “treat him like pagans and tax collectors” verse – which may mean “know what you are dealing with” but stay in relationship, or depending on her circumstances, if she is afraid (and men often become violent after the progression of verbal abuse) she may need to separate for a while (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) with the purposes of working on the marriage and restoration.
And sorry, no I don’t buy only the “shun” interpretation. This passage is in MATTHEW. He was a tax collector. Do the math.
I also don’t buy that it is only for “church discipline.” The original texts did not contain the headings that have been added. And yes, I know there are those that will disagree with me, saying that it is un-submissive for a woman to confront her husband’s sin. Bet Sepphira wishes she would have.
I’ve seen women called by God to endure the most horrific of circumstances, things we in the west don’t often face. Just a few days ago, Christian men were lined up and executed in front of their wives and children, who were then taken captive to be used as human shields in Iraq by Isis. Children are being beheaded. This is real. It’s been going on for weeks. Christians have always suffered persecution for their faith, and so we shouldn’t be surprised when it shows up even today, even in the average American home.
Yes, I’m tying these things together.
We are in a war. And I believe, sure as I’m sure I’m breathing, that this country needs an army of women to gently, quietly, bravely stand for the Truth, to be ambassadors for Christ in their homes. Jesus-style, with gentleness, kindness, boldness, and bravery, to model Him to others – especially these men who like think they are Christians (and may be) but treat their wives in such horrible ways (and worse – oh so much worse).
The answer is always the same – know God. Make your relationship with Him your number one priority. He will lead you into battle, whether it is on your knees in prayer (always), or in gentle confrontations with the man who says he believes but is mean to you and your kids, or whether it is leaving for a while so you can all be safe.
Let us not kid ourselves – we watching an age of persecution begin – and understand some of it is already hitting America. Pray for your husbands – that they fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. Know Him deeply yourself.
And while we are at it, please, please, pray for our sisters and brothers and their children in Iraq.
It is all part of the journey. I hate that sometimes. But I’m really glad you are here. I hope you are subscribed – I’m putting together a little video on conflict that I can’t wait to share with you next week! And I’m sorry that I didn’t blog specifically on Dare 29 this week. However, if you check the link (also referred to above) you’ll see how confrontation played into one woman’s experience of pornography addiction with her husband. It’s amazing what God did.
Would love to hear your thoughts on all this today…
Love to you,