Dare #18 of The Respect Dare… What should she do?

In search of the male perspective...

Psychologists will tell us that the “parent-child” or “mothering” style of relating is extremely unhealthy in marriage.

What IS healthiest is “adult-adult.” Unfortunately, we don’t always do that. Both men and women can be “parental” or “mothering” in a relationship and “childish.” This manifests itself in ranges of varying levels of controlling behaviors to rebelliousness, respectively.

I have a number of women in a class I’m teaching who are married to men who are extremely defensive. Whether they got this way because their wives were controlling and parental, or because they have their own issues from childhood is irrelevant. Today I’m interested in what YOUR believing husband would say about some of the issues these women are dealing with.

While the men are 100% responsible for their own behavior, it IS true that women can create environments where it is easier or harder for their husband to be defensive.

When we are critical, contemptuous, and disrespectful, this makes it easy for him to act the same way back, dish sarcasm, or be defensive. When we are respectful and gentle, most people respond in kind. For some, however, it is due to the husband not being raised in a home where he was parented well, if at all, and he’s just repeating what he knows. His wife may be also, for that matter. So know I’m not dishing blame today. I’m honestly curious.

Some of these women have been respectful, however. And their husbands are still uber-defensive.  The wives dealing with this are at a complete loss as to how to communicate with him when he hurts their feelings or is mean to their kids or them in public. They’ve tried everything, or at least they’ve tried a lot.

Some of these men are Christian.

Got advice? What would you tell a wife in this situation?

I’ve told them all sorts of things that I have seen help others, but some of these men truly seem to not care about their wives or their kids’ feelings.

One wife’s husband started making loud derogatory comments about a disabled man in a sporting goods store. She didn’t know what to do at the time, but when they got home, she  said,

I know you probably weren’t aware of this today, and I’m sure you wouldn’t do anything to offend or hurt someone else intentionally, but I felt embarrassed when I was in line at the check-out today and I’m concerned about what the kids learned about how to think about disabled people. I know you were in a hurry and that guy in front of us was taking a long time to get his check written, and I would like it if we could just ignore that or be kind.”

His response?

Stop being such a whiny baby! That guy was completely pathetic.”

She’s dealt with issues like this regularly. He’ll be with her and their kids and berate her or other people to her.

Another example would be the husband ridiculing his wife’s choice for dinner in a restaurant.

She ignores his criticism and orders her gluten-free meal anyway. He keeps making sarcastic comments about “real women” eating bread, and mocking her “wheat-free sappy supper.” He tells her she’s a “lame excuse” for a person because she is afraid of real food. When she asks him to “please stop,” he gets irritated and tells her to stop being a child. She eats the rest of her dinner in silence, then the next day, says,

I know you love me and you don’t mean to hurt my feelings, and I’m still a little uncomfortable about how you treated me in the restaurant last night. I felt mocked and I’d like you to respect my choices without teasing me.”

He took the opportunity to mock her further and things escalated and she left the conversation. And then he wanted sex that night.

She didn’t deprive him, but she said she feels like a piece of garbage.


Another issue some of these guys have is that their wives don’t put clothes out for them in the morning. Or bring beers while they’re watching sports, etc.

Another husband expects his wife to deal with many issues for him (little conflicts with store personnel or neighbors, making dentist appointments, cleaning up after themselves, etc.) At our house, we teach our kids that they need to own what is theirs to own. If they have a problem, they need to be the ones to address it. Should that behavior belong in marriage?

Should a wife deal with things her husband is clearly upset about? Is that “helping” behavior on her part? Should she talk to a woman blocking the aisle in the grocery store?

I don’t have an issue telling women to serve their families, but mothering adult men seems  unhelpful in marriage.

Or maybe I’m missing something. It seems like there’s a difference between “taking care of the affairs of the household” and “doing things others should be doing for themselves.” When we do this for adults, whether it is the husband or the wife, two things occur:

Good: small sweet acts of kindness build relationship and when both people in the marriage do them for each other AND take care of themselves. They communicate to the kids and the world how to love well.

Bad: if only one person is doing small sweet acts of kindness, it communicates that one person is worth serving, and the other is not. This does NOT reflect the relationship between Christ and the church – both are supposed to serve the other

Got thoughts? Can I trouble you to ask your husband what HE thinks a wife should do if she is dealing with a man who claims to be a Christian, yet behaves in these ways? I’d LOVE to hear what he has to say. Feel free even to forward this to him and ask him to share his thoughts.

Interested in growing in this area? Try Shaunti Feldhahn’s new Kindness Challenge! 

If you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings  you should totally follow Debbie. If you enjoy storytelling, read Dare to Respect, the novel about 6 women who take the Respect Dares. Like us on Facebook follow us on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussion!

Love to you,


If you want to explore ways of getting your tweens, teens and twenty-somethings to share in the household responsibilities, read With All Due Respect










Women who’ve read Dare to Respect can’t stop reading until they reach the last page!











Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “Dare #18 of The Respect Dare… What should she do?

  1. After my husband read this post we talked about it when I got home from work.
    He said that firstly there wasn’t enough information. We don’t know why the husband was in a hurry. Was he feeling pressure from his wife because they had somewhere they were trying to go (there’s always two sides to a story he says) Or did he have something he was trying to get to himself (back at the house to work on a project or watch a game on tv?)

    My husband said there were several things the wife could have done at the store.
    1. She could have offered to stand in a different line to see if it moved more quickly than the one he was in – and if it did he could have moved to that line with her (my husband noted that this is something we have done many times ourselves).
    2. She could have said right there in the store to him that the handicapped person was handicapped. They could have been born that way or suffered an accident – and that looking down on them, making fun or criticizing them because they were slowing him (the husband) down wasn’t right. That the husband should have had more compassion and if he was thinking those things, kept them to himself.

    My husband felt the way the wife responded later was disingenuine. That she was lying to him because she was aware of this type of behavior before and the typical response he would give her.

    My husband said that after she spoke to her husband about the issue, however, and getting the jerky response, that she should have stood up for herself more. That she should have said something to the effect of ‘if you’re going to continue to talk to me like a jerk’ then move on. He says this based on the facts given that this was not an uncommon occurrence (the berating).
    That at some point she has to stand.

    This of course is all coming as a man’s literal answer to your request of what he thinks the wife should have done – not necessarily from a fellow Believers perspective (though he is one) because we aren’t given that information in the story about the husband.

    My husband didn’t get to the second example because he was running out of reading time. He felt the post was long. But alas, he’s a guy.

    • To poster/husband or Nina, in ref to the store incident-how can a submissive godly wife be critical in public to her husband without this being rude or improper? Not looking at his behavior but only hers.

      • Nancy –
        I agree – and I didn’t mean to imply that she should be critical to him. I have a question for you – how should she reply to her children when they ask if daddy was wrong? Am interested in what you mean specifically.
        Love to you!

    • Thank you so much and thanks to your husband! 🙂 much appreciated and good thoughts and input here!
      Love to you!

  2. I asked my husband about this question you posed? His answers are below: The attitude of the husbands in these scenerios point out “what will satisfy me?” attitudes. He says it’s tough for men to take an inventory of themselves. He says you can lie to everyone but you cannot lie to yourself so the truth comes out in your attitude and your words. Also, he says sometimes men will say things hoping everyone around them will understand and it just comes out the wrong way. In this case, nothing should have been said. He admits he gets irritated and frustrated, that does not mean he has to voice it. For the women in this situation he says it should be an equal partnership. What words are they dishing to their men? Other than the two that spoke up, is it everyday that they are being respectful or just sometimes. Husband said it is a huge responsibility when they have to work. They carry it all on their shoulders and each home is different, maybe these men feel so inferior assuming the wives (do not work outside the home) that they have to act all manly and robust anywhere and say anything because they feel like they are the king of it all. He posed this question to the men ” Do you feel your sacrafice as a husband outweighs your wifes sacrafice in the marriage? Also he pointed out If these men are claiming to be a christian and behaving in these ways are they getting guidance from the world or from the word? Where there is no Godly councel in his/their life then we look and act like the world does. -See Sampson and David’s life. Hope these tips help.

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