While I don’t track the frequency of questions I receive via e-mail, the topic of what a wife is to do when she doesn’t agree with her husband has to be one of the top runners. If the areas of disagreement are major and ongoing, these women feel very alone in the problems with which they are dealing every day. They want to follow Scripture, but they don’t know what they are to do or where they should turn for guidance and encouragement.
This series of articles is looking at 1 Peter 3:1-6 and evaluating its practical application for wives when they disagree with their husbands—either in trivial matters or on a major issue. I encourage you to read the other parts of this series if you have not done so to understand what has already been said. These articles are not dealing with the subject of a wife who is in an abusive situation.
Once again, here are the applicable verses: “Likewise, 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; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Peter 3:1-6).
Even though a wife may not agree with her husband’s decisions and way of life, she is to be in subjection to her husband with a trust in Jesus. That trust doesn’t mean that everything will turn out the way she wants it to, but it does mean that her heart is looking to her Savior and choosing obedience to His will for her life. Remember Paul. From outward appearances everything was wrong—beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger, and hardship—but he was content, grateful, and joyful, not in his circumstances but in Jesus and in obedience to his Lord.
A vicious cycle is set in motion when a wife disagrees with her husband. Usually she isn’t quiet, and discussion comes up on multiple topics of dissension. He reacts to her criticism or negative words about his decisions. If he tries to change, he finds that one area isn’t enough because she continues to bring up her concerns about how he is leading his family. Eventually he may give up and resign himself to not being able to please her no matter how much he tries. If he chooses not to change to her way of thinking on the problem areas, he still knows she doesn’t agree with him and feels that lack of respect on her part. Bitterness creeps into his heart toward her. Bitterness creeps into her heart toward him. The wedge is in place and growing.
A wife can begin the process of removing the wedge. To illustrate how this would work, let me again tell you the story of our neighbor’s dog named Pepper. She is the most excitedly affectionate dog you could imagine. She expresses her joy in the presence of any passerby by wagging her tail, jumping up and down, and yipping happily while racing up and down the fence line. She has so won the hearts of those who walk by her yard on a regular basis that her owners had to put a note on the fence saying that Pepper had developed some health problems and could no longer be fed the treats the neighbors were offering her.
It is hard to resist someone whose face lights up when they see us, who expresses love for us, who is grateful to us, who praises us, and who follows us in our decisions. That would be how a husband feels as well. When a wife can let go of her fear, anxiety, critical spirit, negative words, and bitterness, she can chart a course for that meek and quiet spirit toward her husband. She can smile at her husband, tell him she loves him, be grateful to him, praise him, and follow his decisions—without any kind of negative reaction.
Many wives feel weary when these struggles of disagreement with a husband go on for years without any visible change, and understandably so. However, Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13 tell us not to grow weary in doing what we should be doing. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Obviously, since this is a command, then it is a choice on a wife’s part as to whether she will give in to being weary or not. She will compound her weariness when she continually thinks about her struggles and disappointments. She will find rest and joy for her spirit when she keeps her mind steadfastly first on Jesus and then on the blessings He has given her. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). This has to be her hope.
As I conclude this Mom’s Corner, I want to share with you another personal testimony to encourage you in choosing obedience to the Lord even when it goes against what you want to do.
“Our family has been there, and I can testify that keeping my mouth shut was the best thing I could have done! It was completely unnatural and I did it by faith, choosing to believe that my husband could be ‘won’ without my input. It was very difficult, truly a ‘spiritual discipline,’ but the Holy Spirit was faithful to help me. In fact I remember praying and telling the Lord I would never bring the subject up, and I wouldn’t even mention anything to do with it unless my husband did first. Several months later, he started bringing it up, and it took several tries for him to get me to say anything! Now that was something different! But God was faithful and worked everything together for good. I am thankful for that brief passage in 1 Peter because it truly gave me something solid to hang on to when I wanted to do things the way that seemed ‘logical’ to me.” A Hopeful Wife