Have You Morphed into His Mom by Doing it ALL?? Respect Dare #33
A good friend of mine revealed recently that instead of being a solid life partner to her husband, somewhere along the line, she morphed into his mother. As I re-read Dare#33 today from The Respect Dare book, I can see how these things occur if situations like the one in the story happen over and over and over again.
This intrigued me, so I asked her to share more. I deal with many women whose husbands respond to the dares by becoming better men, but I also unfortunately see men who take advantage of their wives’ efforts to improve the marriage – letting them do all the work in the relationship, and even in the family. It’s an interesting notion, don’t you agree? The implication is that at some point, the wife ceases being a person walking alongside and the person walking in front, but at the same time, is viewed as an object, by her husband.
“He just stopped taking care of things,” she told me. “First it was the bills, then it was work around the house, then it was the yard, then it was interaction with the kids. I literally had to ask him to do everything, and he’d only do it half the time.”
I asked her how she responded.
“At first, I did the same thing the woman in the dare did – I just let it go. Stayed out of God’s way. We went for days without electricity once. I responded really well, too. I literally said to him when he wanted to know when the power company was going to fix things, ‘I’m so sorry this happened – you work so hard at your job, I didn’t want to burden you with the electric, we can camp until the money’s there,’ and it made him angry. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford the electric, but that he just wasn’t paying it. We both knew that – and for whatever reason, my flexibility upset him.”
I wondered if he had continued going to church, learning from other men, growing in the Word and his relationship with God.
“No. He slowly stopped doing that, too. He still goes to church with me and the kids, but he stopped hanging out with men older than him, more mature in the faith. He seldom reads his Bible, and we don’t pray together,” she replied.
So what did she do?
“I woke up one morning, realizing that though we had talked through who did what years ago, he’d stopped holding up his end of the bargain, and I was covering for him. I had begun to fix things around the house – and I did that thing you suggest about talking to him first, finding out what he thinks I should do when he doesn’t keep his word, and he said, ‘remind me,’ so I reminded him. Nicely. Like ten times for simple things, and I was respectful, and asked like you say, ‘as if it was the first time,’ and he STILL let the water get shut off, still let things stay broken until they were expensive to repair. I got tired of dealing with it. So I started hiring handy men. I’d leave the bill, and when he wouldn’t pay it, so then I started paying the bills, too.
I woke up one day, and realized that I wasn’t in a marriage relationship any more, but I’d morphed into his mom. I don’t need a 40 year old adult child, I need a man, a husband. So I gave him some ‘good.’”
“The Bible says in Proverbs 31:12, ‘she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.’ Proverbs 18:22 says, ‘he who finds a wife finds what is good and finds favor from the Lord.’ I was reading my devotional one day, wondering how to be a good wife, why my life was so exhausting and lonely, and Psalm 106 and 107 were on the schedule – and I was floored by how the passages both said that God is good, then went on to talk about all the consequences Israel suffered because they didn’t obey Him. I don’t think I need to be obeyed by anyone, especially my husband, okay, my kids, yes, but what I realized was that I was standing in the way of the consequences of his behaviors. The truth was that his lack of wisdom, his lack of maturity, his foolishness, negatively impacted his kids and me.
I had hid that from him in the name of being a ‘good’ wife. I protected him from it because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. And he took advantage of me, and I let him, and I realized I wasn’t being good, but rather NICE.”
If we read Proverbs (a book of the Bible on wisdom) we learn that there are basically 3 types of people:
We all have all 3 within us – so don’t get on a high horse and start dishing judgment towards your husband and realize I’m not either.
I have areas in which I am extremely foolish – being organized is one of them. I also have areas in which I’m evil – I can be seriously selfish about certain things. God has also grown me in wisdom, but only because I’ve asked Him to and He’s chosen to do so, and then I’ve put forth the effort necessary to become more wise by studying the Bible, listening to Biblical teachers, and choosing more Christ-based inputs in my life than worldy ones. I still have a LONG way to go, btw.
The Bible also tells us how to deal with each person (so you have to know who/what you’re dealing with before you take action):
- Wise guy: respectfully dish truth
- Fool: avoid the argument but allow consequences
- Evil: turn the other cheek
It’s easiest to see if you are dealing with a wise guy or a fool by gently being honest about how the person has hurt you – if they respond favorably with apology and empathy, then change their behavior, they are wise.
So if you are respectful, kind, gentle and loving when you let your husband know how his behavior hurts you and he actively apologizes in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7 style) then changes – he is wise.
Note that WE are wise also, if we respond to his concerns in the same way. 🙂
How are we doing in that department? Are we trying to meet his needs? Or is our marriage all about us?
If he gets angry, defensive, and argues with you when you discuss issues, understand you are dealing with a fool. Sometimes it is hard to discern between a fool and an evil person, especially if s/he claims to be a believer.
Remember that we are all 3 people – so we may be wise in one area, and foolish or evil in another.
What does this mean?
While there’s learning that occurs and none of the experience is wasted as we learn to “die to self” and “live for Christ” it also means that being a “doormat” doesn’t need to be a destination for you as you do The Respect Dare. If you check, there are a number of instances within the dares you’ve read already that describe wives interacting with discernment, dishing truth, and handling evil and a fool. Dare 18 comes to mind as a great example of truth telling. There are more.
Here’s the thing – if you have been married a while, been respectful for a while, and your husband is taking advantage of you, it may be that he is not wise or worse.
Stop mothering him, and be his life partner. If he is a believer, that means gently speaking to him first, and if that doesn’t help, escalate things Matthew 18 style. You might need to separate, whether inside your house or outside, depending on how bad things are – and know that if you do, the purpose is for restoration of the marriage.
And this doesn’t give you license to be disrespectful in the way you treat anyone – including your husband. ALL people are worthy of respect, but God commands us in Ephesians 5:33 to respect him in particular. So remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath and we are not to sin in our anger, and we are to be kind, gentle, loving, and good. NICE didn’t make the list. Know the difference. Sweet words are a honeycomb and strength and dignity does not need to shout.
I’m also NOT suggesting that he is no longer responsible for your family, that he is no longer considered the “head” – but rather, having a different dialogue about what real help and good can be nurtured in a marriage relationship by a wife.
What’s interesting to me (and I think I need to ask Shaunti Feldhahn if she’s researched this at all – you should totally follow her if you don’t already!!) is that literally 100% of the women I personally know who have marriages over 35 years have reached the point where they 1) realized they were enabling, and 2) actively chose to STOP. These are God-loving, Bible-reading, WISE women. Don’t you find that interesting?
What’s also interesting is we’ve had several pastors and two Christian psychologists that we work with say basically that some men need this to occur for them to act like men toward their wife and family.
What do you think about these things today? What wisdom or stories do you have to share?
Would love to hear from you on this one…
Love to you,
PS – Couple things you need to know NOW:
- The fall eCourse is filling up, so I know it doesn’t start for two more weeks (September 15) but if you want a spot, grab it while you can.
- If you are doing The Respect Dare in a small group this fall, we have some very casual videos (no where near the production of Daughters of Sarah, but the content is good) for you now.
- Also, Daughters is just 2 more weeks away from being available for you!! We’ll have Part 1 (sessions 1-7) access for you then, and Part 2 available 7 weeks after that. Be sure to sign up for the TIPS! and subscribe on the side to the blog – we’ll let you know when it’s available.
Whew, you got me. This is what I have been doing! This is why I am always exhausted and have no time to do anything with my children or anything fun. I have been doing all my work and most of his. Thank you! Now that I see the problem I can work on resolution! I want to be a good wife! Not a “nice wife”
I have been through this. I was angry and became wrathful at one point. Finally, GOD(well I allowed GOD ) to guide me. I spoke only the Word, and totally chANGED MY BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDE. I STOPped nagging and covering for him and told him he has failed his family and I was no longer allowing him to do so. That pretty much shook him and he woke up. He is getting there, but ,sometimes he becomes overwhelmed, I can see that and become more understanding and patient, offering him strength and hope, he gets on track. We must understand as couples we are not o n the same level and we are completely different, we must be understanding and love the way GOD called us to.
Oh, Amen, Tammi. Praising God for what He is doing – tough stuff indeed. So glad you are here, so glad you can see His glory in your life. 🙂
Love to you,
This is very curious to me.. As you may recall, last year my spouse and I were separated.. I was really impressed with how he stepped up in taking care of the house and kids.. I was the one who left the home.. He had them actively doing their chores, he was doing house work, the bedroom and bathroom were super clean! Being back together now its like he just let it all go again… He only helps with house chores if I ask and tell him why I can’t do it.. I am the one to be after the kids to help… Its hard for me… I am the one with the regular full time job.. He chooses when and how much he works.. sometimes due to the season he can’t work at all.. Today, he is working, but didn’t have to be up until after me and the kids were all gone, and he is most likely already home by now.. while I still have half a day left… and I will have to figure out and make dinner, take my daughter to soccer, and get up at 5am tomorrow for work again…
Don’t get me wrong… I really enjoy taking care of my family… it would be nice though if someone helped take care of me too!
Nina, I have only been following your blog (and book) for 6 months, but I think this is among the most helpful of your posts so far. I needed that Proverbs breakdown of 3 types of people AND the reminder that they are all within me, too. Dare 33 left me feeling a bit angry, but this post brings me peace with your practical explanation. I truely respect your guidance on improving my marriage. I don’t really have any wisdom to share. But I have recognized my enabling and started letting my husband experience his consequences (painful as they may be), which for me means letting go of a LOT of fear and actually giving it over to God. A big weight has been lifted, although I struggle daily with picking it up again.
Thank you, Smittie. Any good you see is from God, and I’m so glad you are here!! And always listen to our Father over anything I’d ever suggest – sometimes I don’t get the whole picture – but He is good, all the time. 🙂 Dare 33 made me angry, also, but I do believe He honors our efforts when our motives are pure.
Enabling is not really a Biblical concept, but the opposite, “bringing him good,” certainly is. And I don’t think we fully understand that – in an age of “permissive parenting” we think “good” means “nice” – but it often means hard things, natural consequences, and pursuing God’s best. If we were to blindly mindlessly obey our husbands in the name of submission, Sepphira would not have been struck dead in Acts 5 after she did so.
Love to you and glad you are here!
This topic evokes a lot of angst in me. So many women married to men behaving badly, we can’t just say, “Let the power get turned off.” Obviously there are bigger problems with the man that doesn’t take care of the house, vehicles or other things the family needs him for (or the man that feels disrespected if she mentions the power is going to be cut off). Mine was blinded to many things because of his porn addiction.
So much more I could say, for years I was part of churches that didn’t help the wife to confront her husband when he repeatedly sinned.
I personally know the good that comes from being on the receiving end of a loving confrontation – but we have to be confronted in the wise aspect of who we are for it to do any good! Otherwise, longsuffering, combined with God-timed natural consequences via other believers is necessary.
The women that have it hardest are those who are married to unbelievers – they don’t have access to Matthew 18. 🙁 All the more reason for us to teach our daughters to marry a follower of Christ!!
He is all about His glory, all the time, isn’t He?
The problem also lies in God’s timing – we can easily look to the Bible for how suffering is applicable in our journey – we know our motives align with His will when He leads us to confront, when it’s no longer about us, and when we have his good and His glory in mind.
Tough stuff indeed. I agree – it does cause angst. Thanks for chiming in!
Love to you,
I realize the intent of Dare 33. I like what was presented here in this article. I did not like the example in the book. I believe that, if the guy is irresponsible, it is best for the wife to pay the bills. I think there is a difference between enabling (doing for others what they can do themselves) and taking responsibility for what needs to be done. If my children were going to be cold, I would pay the bill, rather than wait until the power was shut off. Also, nowhere in scripture does it say that a woman can’t pay bills.
I also think of Esther and how she risked her life to save her people. I think we need to follow the Lords’ direction and leading. This does not always follow set patterns. I do realize the “intent” of the dare, and I respect that. As I said, I liked what was written here today.
So often it IS a case of AND, isn’t it? I think both are true – the dare in the book, and what’s here. There aren’t any hard stories in the book that give the above example, however. And yes, He has me writing those now, too. 🙂 So glad you are here – and thank you for the grace. 🙂
Love to you,
I know.. I have been there sadly. I am a “nice” wife not a “good” wife.
For a long time i played the role of a provider. I work hard to pay for his toys, our wants, our bills. Somewhere along the way he feels emasculated. He turned to sports and hobbies and.. “friendship” with other woman. I apologized for my part resulting in the breakdown of our marriage. I was disrespectful, controlling, not a true helpmate. For the past year i have worked hard to becoming a respectful wife. Still, he does not want to stay married. Now, i feel led by the holy spirit to withdraw physically and financially. It is tough. Very tough. The desire to rescue husband is very strong. Yet i have a peace within me. I know it is the right thing to do. I hope consequences of his “foolishness” will bring him to repentance. And i pray for my heart to remain soft.
Huiying, I just want to let you know that you are NOT alone. I had to separate from my husband (not a light decision) in hopes that he would seek repentance. And I still wrestle with the desire to rescue and enable him. Sister, I know the Lord will lead us both on this path and bless us with widom according to His promises. Just keep seeking Jesus and let Him do what He needs to do with our husbands (which is a realization I finally got just last week).
I couldn’t have said any of that better. THANK YOU for encouraging Huiying! You are lovely. 🙂
Blessings and prayers,
Smittie, you are very wise. I appreciate your message. Nina said “May we see our blessings this side of heaven” May it come true for you and me and the many wives who are struggling now.
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