(This study should be considered an addition to the previously sent Bible study, "7 STEPS TO START THE HEALING PROCESS". The following is a portion of a letter addressed to someone specifically, and some of it applies personally to her, but it can also apply to anyone facing a troubled marriage.)

... I cannot teach your husband, nor change him, and neither can you. The only one you can change is yourself. ... Use the problems within your marriage, rather, as opportunities to look deeply into your husband and see what is behind his actions. Because you truly love him and care about him, you must seek to know him better, and uplift him, and be careful not to use these situations to tear him down.

When you indulge in your own thoughts about your husband's faults and sins, it only makes it harder for you to be the loving, caring wife you need to be.


The bottom line is that you really only have two choices for your marriage. One is to seek to build up your marriage. The other is to do the things that take the marriage further downhill to it's destruction. Everything you do, say, or how you react to your husband in any way, is one of these two choices. All of us face the same two choices every day of our married lives. Every action or word is either a wise one or a foolish one. Please read Proverbs 14:1:

Proverbs 14:1
1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

When you are choosing the first of the choices, you must see to it that every action and reaction on your part is that which builds up your marriage.


#1. First, relinquish all control of your husband. Give him up to the Lord. He is God's to change. Many marriages which are in trouble, have this as a root problem. Remember the snowball effect? Men, especially, really resent controlling wives, and this problem usually starts at the beginning of the marriage. Men resent this because of the God-ordained order for marriage. God has put the natural desire in men to want to be in control, to be the head of their homes. We find that a man's headship over the woman is part of the curse of Gen. 3:16:

Genesis 3:16
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

All the way over in Paul's epistles, we still find instructions about this order, including,

1 Corinthians 11:3
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

I hope you understand that no one is justifying any husband who may also be overly controlling, because this kind of husband is also not following the instructions that God has given men in Ephesians 5. But consider that God may be allowing you to be this man's wife, in order to make you more Christlike! Should we say, in these kinds of circumstances, "No Lord, I do not want this job?" Use this as an opportunity, rather, to grow and learn to control your own body so that Christ may use you greatly, not only in your marriage, but also as an example to your children, to your family, and everyone else in your life! Consider each action on your part as to whether it is a Christlike action or reaction, or whether it is an opposite one.

Because God may be working to bring about these changes within you, and because you cannot change your husband, nor teach him directly, what you must do and all you can do, in reality, is to examine yourself to see if you may be contributing to the problems within your marriage. Take a close inward look to see if you are trying to maintain some kind of control over your husband. If a husband is feeling resentment over a controlling wife, he may try to retaliate in hurtful ways, or maybe in ways that are also more controlling. It may be his way of gaining control and reaffirming his headship. If you affirm his headship in many ways, maybe he will be less likely to try to bring about these changes himself. Because I do not know you nor your husband, these are merely given as things for you to consider and examine within your own marriage.

#2. Secondly, when your husband hurts you, take it patiently for Christ's sake. When he gives you no physical affirmation, then be content to get your affirmation from the Lord. Paul said,

Romans 12:10-15
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Phil. 4:11-13
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

You CAN do this! God will strengthen you!

#3. The next thing to work on is to give your husband something to come home to: a comfy and nice home, as neat as you can make it, remembering the following excerpt from Proverbs 31:

Proverbs 31:27
 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Also see to it that your husband comes home to a loving and smiling wife, a touchy wife, a wife who expresses great appreciation for her husband's long hours of work, a wife who only speaks with kind words, etc. You are making memories every day of your married life. We all are. We must be careful of what kind we make.

Proverbs 15:1:
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 21:9
It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

Proverbs 31:26
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

If your reactions to your problems are all about your own hurts and feelings, and your home is an unhappy place, you will be making memories of anger, distrust and disappointment. This will compound your problems and your husband may then feel justified in being so critical of you. Eventually it may also cause him to consider leaving the marriage. He may then feel as if your marriage is only bad and will never improve, blame you for the problems, and think, "I am better off without her." You must do the things that, hopefully, will make him like being with you again. This in itself will help to convict your husband.

In Proverbs we are told to do our husbands good, and not evil all the days of our lives.

Proverbs 31:10-12:
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I heard someone once say as advice for a marriage that is in trouble: "You must show your husband what he will be missing if he leaves." Go back to the days when you were madly in love and act in those ways again. Rekindle those memories for him. Put on "bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" and "forbearing one another, and forgiving one another", as Colossians 3 tells us to do.

Colossians 3:12-13:
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Overcome evil with good! Consider the following passage:

Romans 12:19-21:
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Overcome evil with good and you will be in essence, heaping "coals of fire" on your husband's head.

Someone once told me that she had heard a marriage counselor give advice to women whose husbands have been considering leaving the marriage, that these wives must become the best wives and the best women they can be. You, too, must become the best person you can be: the best wife, the best homemaker, the best mother, the best friend to your husband, the best person you can be in general. In doing so you become what Christ would have you to be and only then can you begin to affect your husband. You will then help him to begin to see hope for himself and for your marriage. You will be overcoming evil with good.

In considering what this means for you, please read again the "7 Steps to Start the Healing Process." Also consider these things, written by a young wife, about being the best wives we can be:

 "...More specifically,there are so many things to look at when we are finding the truth about the Lord's will for us as women. Titus 2:3-5 is an excellent passage for us. We can read and begin immediately to act upon instructions, like being obedient to our husbands, being discreet, chaste, good, and keepers at home, as we are told in that passage. We can also gain so much from Proverbs 31. That woman is one we can all aspire to be.

"Ephesians 5:22-24 gives very specific directions to wives to be submissive to our husbands in everything. Letting him have the decision making power over everything that he doesn't leave up to you to decide, is one. If he asks or specifically tells you to do something, do not hesitate to do it, even if you disagree or feel like you don't want to be burdened with the task. That will give him the power and headship in the home that he so desires.

"Romans 12:18 says we should live peaceably with all men as much as possible. Submitting to your husband will bring peace into your home because it is the Lord's will for the family.

In some cases, if you believe being in submission would be something that would be dangerous or foolish, pray, pray, pray about it. You may have to let the Lord handle it, but if you can relate your feelings to your husband about the issue without taking over his authority as the decision maker, then do so. Some women are not able to do this without disrupting the sensitive balance of power in the home. Sometimes, it is better for him to see the results of his decision, than for you to point out what may happen. He will learn from his mistakes. That would be much more effective than you "telling him what to do". Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."

"Another way to be a loving wife is to pay attention to Ephesians 5:33 where it states that we should reverence our husbands. This is done by building him up in all areas of ego, confidence, masculinity and headship. We need to listen thoughtfully to their requests, and make notes if we have to, in order to remember what they like or dislike. Give them compliments. Men so love to be noticed for their efforts, great or small. Smile at them often , be affectionate. Respect his authority when you are alone, when you are in front of the children, and when you are out in public. Make sure this is something you do from your heart, not just when he is listening or watching. Constantly affirm your respect for him as the leader of your home. He may then want to live up to your expectations."

#4. In doing the above things, you will be allowing God to conform you into the image of His Son.

This is God's will. One of many verses about this is Romans 8:29.

Romans 8:29:
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Notice also this passage from Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:5-8:
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

To humble oneself and become a servant, and to be obedient, is to be conformed into the image of Christ.

This never feels good, even Christ himself prayed, "let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." This kind of attitude usually hurts, and is not ever self-serving. The normal kind of response is to protect oneself, to seek what feels good to us, instead of doing good to and for the other person.

Someone once wrote the following about marriage, and she is so right:

"It is easy to tell when you are doing the right thing because it is harder to do! It is human nature to want to recompense evil for evil, wrong for wrong and the Bible clearly tells us not to do so. We naturally want to point the finger to what the other person is not doing right to justify our actions and attitudes, which are also not right. We want to quit because it is often the easy thing to do."

Yes, the easy thing to do is to quit. It is often hard and goes against our selfish nature to do the right thing!

Also, there is something that you may have to face, and that is the possibility that your husband may act even worse to you when you put these things into practice. If he does, just remember that it is because the better you become, the worse it makes him feel about himself and how he treats you. You must take this patiently for Christ's sake, because it means the Lord may be convicting him. The Lord will not allow you to be tempted more than you can bear.

1 Corinthians 10:13:
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

#5. Don't fail to pray for your husband. This also is another way of being conformed into the image of Christ. Christ often got alone to pray.

From Romans 12:12 we find: "...continuing instant in prayer". Remember also these admonishings:

Ephesians 6:18:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Colossians 4:2:
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

#6. Lastly, consider I Peter 2 and 3. I think people just do not give the passage enough thought. It will shed so much light on how we, as women, are to react to a hurtful husband. The verses indicate that suffering may be necessary and that wives must take it patiently in order for their husbands to be won.

1 Peter 2:19-20:
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

 1 Peter 3:1-2:
1 Likewise (referring to ch.2, verses 19-21) , ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

The passage indicates that a woman's behavior and life has a big influence on a husband who does not obey the Word.

One last thing needs to be said, and that is, if in the end, your husband seeks a sinful life style and does not respond to these changes in you, then at least you will know that you have tried to do all you can to save the marriage. Your peace will come from knowing you did all you could. You will also have the peace of knowing that God will take care of you.

If you do not try, then you will always carry the guilt of what you should, or could have, done differently. God may then have to allow you to suffer the consequences of what you have sown, because of His law of sowing and reaping, found in Galatians 6: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Remember that God's way is the best way. God's way is the only way that can build your marriage up. God's way is the only way that He places His stamp of approval on!

God's way is RIGHT!

Psalms 33:4:
4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.

Praise God!
Mary Atwood
Grace Bible Church
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