Highlands Blog

What if my wife doesn’t want to follow my vision for our family?

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Posted in Highlands Blog under Family, Marriage

Husband and wife in a disagreement.

To find an answer to this question there are several questions that need to be asked that can help foster understanding, and several biblical principles that can be applied.

Learn to Ask Why

The first question to be asked as to her lack of support is: Why? You need to understand her heart and convictions in the matter. Also, this isn’t a one-question kind of inquiry. Her initial answer needs to be probed, not to look for logical errors, but to make sure you know both the surface answer as well as the underlying concerns. Her concerns might not be a difference of philosophy or conviction, but more of a difference of priority or emphasis—something much more subtle. By the way, this question is not one you ask or ponder yourself—ask her. Let her tell you in her own words.

Your Vision or God’s Vision?

The second question you need to ask is one you should ask yourself. Is my vision biblical? Or, to nuance it a bit, is this a God thing, or a me thing? It is very easy to get these things confused. You need to be able to make a biblical case for your vision, and be able to present it to your wife gently and simply. If you can’t make it understandable to her, chances are you don’t quite understand it very well yourself. Maybe you need to think and pray about it a little more.

The third question you need to ask yourself is: Is this a hill to die on? Or, Is the gospel at stake? Your vision might be very basic, and thoroughly biblical. Or, on the other hand, it might be majoring in a relatively minor issue. A little bit of perspective as to the relative importance of the root of the conflict needs to be applied.

Application

Now, a few biblical principles to apply. I know, the first one that the guys want to bring up is the submission thing in Ephesians 5:22. I know you all know this one, because you always bring it up as the trump card. Well, I’ll see your 5:22, and raise you a 5:21—submitting to one another in the fear of God. And, if that isn’t enough, I’ll slap down a 5:25 and 26—love your wife, and sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. Her following of your vision needs to be brought about by the careful examination of the Word of God, which should bring her along in seeing your vision for the family.

A second biblical principle is 1 Peter 3:7, which exhorts husbands to dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife as a weaker vessel. Your vision might be putting huge demands on her on a day to day basis, and you need to consider the strain you might be putting her under. Consider her particular frame.

Also, don’t be afraid of the possibility that she might be right, and you might be wrong. It’s happened before. You surely would not be the first well-intentioned but hare-brained husband who read a book and had an epiphany of momentary stupidity.

Lastly, consider getting some outside counsel, individually or together. The wisdom of a more seasoned soul (or couple) might allay some fears, and work out some unnecessary kinks in the communication lines.

Praying that God helps you have a meeting of hearts and minds.


Every Thought Captive Magazine August 2015This article was published first in Every Thought Captive magazine. Don’t miss another issue SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

 

 

  • Sam

    I appreciate how you used Scriptures that emphasized the husband’s responsibility toward his wife. Ephesians 5:22 is a husband’s favorite verse many times in large part because it reminds a wife of her responsibility. A trump card, like you said. But 5:21, 25-26, and 1 Peter 3:7 speak to OUR concurrent responsibility as men.

    You’ve given good counsel here to men who need to make sure they’re correct in their vision for the family, attentive to the concerns of their wives, etc. But what about when a husband has heeded and applied this wisdom, his vision REALLY IS biblical and important, he’s going about it the right way (not just playing the 5:22 trump card), but yet his wife is reluctant (or defiant) to assume her 5:22 responsibility? This would truly be a very trying circumstance for a godly husband!

    By the way, I’m not married. So I’m just trying to learn as much as possible in advance.

    • Jay Barfield

      Sam, I would first of all be patient. Don’t rush. While we would love immediate resolution, speaking realistically, it often takes time. Second, if you make sure you have already involved another mutually respected couple as counselors to help with communication (and to make sure that it really is a critical, gospel issue), consider involving your elders. I’m not saying from a judicial standpoint necessarily, but from a counsel perspective with a little more authority behind it. And, understand that I say this also giving the wife the freedom to do the same thing, if you were acting out of line or in an unbiblical manner. This isn’t a one-way street.

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