Thankfully, I have a husband who clearly tells me when I am disrespecting him. I think one of the biggest ways we disrespect our husbands is by telling them what to do, even when we have good intentions of just “helping” them or giving them advice, even though they didn’t ask for it.
Why Do We Think We Know Everything?
In my experience, if my husband tells me some problem or something he is going through at work or in life, I automatically assume he wants me to tell him what to do and/or give him advice.
Apparently, that is wrong and extremely disrespectful.I had absolutely NO IDEA I had been unknowingly disrespecting my husband until I saw this list on one of April’s sites:
Some things that could communicate disrespect to a husband include:
– Asking “why?” (for a detailed explanation, see Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only”) ie:
- “Why did you…?”
- “Why would you…?”
- “Why didn’t you…”
– Using a “mother-is-not-happy” tone of voice (sounds condescending, critical, judgemental, unaccepting).
– Having an angry/impatient/unfriendly facial expression regardless of the verbal content of a woman’s words.
– Telling him what to do.
– Giving unsolicited advice.
– Criticism (especially a critical and negative spirit)
– Taking over something he is doing and doing it yourself.
– Being demanding/needy
I found out the hard way that telling my husband what to do, and giving him unsolicited advice was really not helpful, and was actually pushing him away from me 100%. It didn’t matter that my intentions were good in my own eyes. It didn’t matter if I said it in a friendly way to him. We could have been having a totally fine conversation, and then if he told me about some issue in his life, and I started telling him what to do and giving him advice about it, he would immediately get angry and I was dumbfounded. I had no idea why he was getting so mad, when all I was doing was trying to help him.
What My Advice Really Meant To My Husband
I came to find out that whenever I would tell him what to do, or give him advice that he didn’t ask for, what he really heard in all of my advice was:
- He was incapable of figuring out his own life and making his own decisions.
- He needed my help like a mother helps a child.
- I think he is an idiot and that he can’t handle his own life issues.
- That I know better than him.
- That I am bossing him around.
Those kinds of things are NOT going to bring or keep my husband close to me at all! No man wants to be told what to do, whether we realize we are doing that or not!
Why Did I Tell Him What To Do Then?
Control. Fear. Once again, it was all because of underlying fear leading to control. I didn’t feel safe with my husband or trust him enough to believe that he would make the “right” decisions, so I felt I needed to tell him what to do and give him advice. I wish all husbands would display a strong character that allows us to feel secure and safe and to trust them, but unfortunately, husbands are sinners and they are on their own life journey, so they are going to make mistakes that effect us sometimes. That is hard to deal with when you are a control freak like me! I don’t want to feel unsafe. I want to feel secure.
If I don’t trust you, then I will try to control your life and decisions in order to ensure my own safety!
Notice how that is all focused on ME and what I need?
Whenever I try to tell my husband what to do in any given situation, it is usually because I am trying to save my own life in some way! I try to control any decision that effects me so as to ensure that I will not suffer in some way. And then it turns into that if I can’t control his decisions, I can’t be content. I can’t feel safe or secure unless I can control his life because his life effects mine.
This is a dead end road, trust me! I’ve been to the dead end.
The Only WAY Out
I have come to realize that if I am expecting my husband to do whatever I want, or if I am counting on him to keep me “safe”, then I am definitely going to be disappointed and my whole world will crumble whenever something doesn’t go the way I needed it to go in order to feel safe.
The only way out of this dead end that I have found so far is by seeking God and asking Him to increase my faith and surrendering ALL to Him as Lord. Once I am surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, my eyes are opened to the fact that now, under His Lordship, no matter what happens, it is only because HE HAS ALLOWED IT. His Divine Sovereignty is over my life in every area because I am surrendered to Him as Lord. It is no longer about me and what I want. It isn’t about how my husband’s decisions will effect me anymore. It isn’t about saving my own life and trying to keep my own security. It is about yielding to the Spirit of God in me now, and allowing Him to lead and guide me in every situation to bring Him glory, and to be conformed to the image of Christ.
But, I STILL Tell Him What To Do WITHOUT REALIZING IT!
Even though I have come to see that surrendering to Christ as Lord is the only way out of all the fear that leads to trying to control things, I still find myself telling my husband what to do!
Thankfully, whenever I tell him what to do without realizing it, he says “I don’t need you to tell me what to do”. Every time, it never fails. And then I have the opportunity to see how I was trying to save my own life by telling him what to do just then.
It is always about trying to save my own life whenever I try to tell him what to do in a situation.
Why Am I Trying To Save My Life, Anyways?
Whenever I tell him what to do without realizing it in order to save my own life, it is because I am trying to prevent something from happening that will negatively effect my life!
Here are some examples that might be common:
- Work Related Issues: If my husband is telling me about work problems, and is telling me he is going to quit, then I start telling him what to do about the situation and giving him advice b/c I don’t want him to quit his job, because that will effect me. I am scared to lose our income, so I try to control his decisions to ensure that he won’t quit and that our income won’t be turned off.
- Ex-Wife Issues: If my husband is venting to me about his ex-wife, I start telling him what to do because I want to control his feelings. I am scared that he is going to be in a bad mood because of the incident, so I try to tell him what to do and how to handle it so that he won’t be stuck in a negative mood for the rest of the day. When he is effected by that, it effects our relationship, so I try to control that in order to make sure it doesn’t effect our relationship and his mood!
- Parenting Issues: If my husband is parenting in a way that somehow effects me (like if he sentences my son to no tv, video games, etc, then that means that I become the entertainment), I try to tell him what to do because I am trying to avoid it effecting me.
- Cleaning Issues: If my husband is tracking in dirt/mud in the house, I will most definitely start telling him what to do (e.g Take off your shoes, take off your socks, clean your feet, change your pants, etc.) because it effects me. I want to control him so that my floor won’t be messed up.
These are just a few possible examples. But all in all, every time I am telling him what to do with his life, it is because I am afraid of something effecting ME! THAT IS SO SELFISH!
Changing How I Respond
Now I see that whenever he starts telling me about an issue, or if he is deciding to do something that effects me, I need to respond differently. I need to respond from the Cross, not my SELF.
Some things I can say to him when he is talking to me about an issue:
- I’m sorry you are going through that.
- I’m listening.
- I’m here for you in any way you need.
- I understand.
- Wow, that is hard to deal with.
- I’m sorry you have to deal with that.
If he is choosing to do something that effects me like walk in the house with muddy socks, or go out to eat after work, or anything that opposes what I want to happen, I can say:
- Please take your socks off! Thanks! (And then don’t say it again that day)
- Ok, Have fun!
When He Asks For My Opinion
Sometimes, he really does ask me for my opinion. And then I tell him my opinion about whatever it is. But this doesn’t happen a lot. He really only asks my opinion when it is something that OBVIOUSLY effects me.
For example, one night his co-worker asked about going to grab something to eat after work. My husband called me first to see how I felt about it (which was totally loving to do!), and I told him that I actually had meatballs and sauce cooking in the crock pot all day and planned a family dinner. He seemed to have wanted to go out to eat, and when I realized this, I started telling him what to do. I asked him why (remember that list from the beginning of this post?) he would go out to eat when I’m making dinner, and asked him why he would rather stay out later than usual, since he has a far drive, and he always says how he doesn’t get enough time at home.
Once he realized that I didn’t want him to go out to eat, he decided to just come home, but took some time to explain to me that I was telling him what to do, and that in guy world, it appears that I am crazy if I have a problem with him deciding on his own to go out to eat after work or not.
I then asked him why he asked me in the first place, then. Since he already had his mind made up about going out to eat, why did he ask me? He could have just told me he was doing it, and then done it no matter what I said about it.
He told me he asked because it was the loving thing to do and he wanted me to know that he cared about what I felt about it. But he assumed that I would be ok with it, because in guy world, it is really disrespectful and crazy to a guy when a wife tells him he can’t do something he wants to do.
So all in all, from this conversation with him, I learned that it is definitely not ok to tell him what to do, and that if he decides to do something AGAINST WHAT I WANT HIM TO DO, then I really need to let go of whatever I want, and realize that he is a grown man, and he can choose to do what he wants to do in life. I can’t control his choices. Also, I need to realize that my husband NEVER does anything except work and come home. So for him to want to go out to eat ONE TIME, is really not a big deal. So I realized that my plans aren’t always going to go through, and that sometimes, he is going to do something else, and I need to be ok with that. My life isn’t going to fall apart because he didn’t come right home and eat my dinner that I made. It’s really not worth getting upset about or into an argument or possibly even losing intimacy with him over.
I hope to become so changed in heart by the Holy Spirit working in me, that my response will naturally be from the Cross instead of my own selfishness! 🙂