There are few things more emasculating than an incessantly nagging wife. It sends him the message (over and over and over and over…) that he is not good enough, he’s a failure, he’s an idiot, and he’s completely incapable of being the husband she wants. Living under these circumstances for any length of time a man starts to give up; he can’t do anything right anyways.
I don’t bring it up to say I have conquered this problem. Part of me wonders if nagging is a gene inherent to wives, but I know the truth. Nagging is inherent to my fleshly nature and desire to have my own way when I want it, how I want it, and any cost to my husband’s self-esteem.
“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day.” (Prov. 27:15) In other words, a nagging wife is tantamount to ancient Chinese versions of water torture. Ouch. The last thing I want is to torture my hard-working husband with my words. Shaunti Feldhahn notes this principle in her book For Women Only, as she interviews thousands of men to find out what they really think about these issues.
“Instead of affirming, a wife reinforces her husband’s feelings of inadequacy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if we focus our attention on what he is doing wrong in the relationship, we can unwittingly undermine what we most want–for him to do what is right–I discovered a dismaying fact. Of the men I surveyed, only one man in four felt actively appreciated by his family. And 44 percent of men felt unappreciated at home. More pointedly, men in their prime years of responsibility for home, children, and work–men between the ages of thirty-six and fifty-five–felt even less appreciated. ” (p. 68)
Ladies, what’s going on!? Surely we can do better than that! Biblical standards don’t change based on our circumstances (working or staying-at-home). A glance at Proverbs 31 easily testifies to this. The virtuous woman not only works, but “watches over the affairs of her household” (vs. 27) receiving the praise of her husband and children. I didn’t see anything in that chapter about nagging her husband to take out the trash, pick up his clothes, fix the garage door, or close the toilet seat.
After nearly nine years I have finally given up the battle to change my husband. Instead, I am replacing the nagging tendencies with those of praise and support. God is allowing me to recognize my husband’s deep seated insecurities and giving me opportunities to combat them with supportive attitudes and actions.
I can take out the trash myself, or tear down my husband the second he steps in the doorway because he didn’t do it.
I can keep the house clean so when he comes home he’s not tripping over toys, or I can allow my daughter to do whatever she wants while I’m busy plucking away on my computer, telling my husband I’m too busy to care what he thinks of the house.
I can scoop the dog poop myself, or I can spend an hour complaining to my husband about how disgusting the yard is, scheduling work for him to do on his next day off.
I can pick up his dirty socks from every place but the hamper, or I can send him an angry text message explaining how once again, I cleaned up after him and he needs to grow up.
Simply put, I can keep my mouth shut. Turn off the faucet. Stop the incessant dripping.
I can ask God to replace the nagging words with those of praise and affirmation. I can spend all day cleaning up my husband’s messes, and still choose to tell him how much I appreciate his hard work, refusing to bring attention to his short-comings.
“Men need a place where they can make their mistakes in peace.” For Women Only (p. 71)
I want to treat my husband how I’d like him to treat me. I want to show him–with my actions more than my words–the love of Jesus. I want to actively refuse to point out his faults and choose to let God expose my own. I can forgive his down-falls like Jesus has forgven mine. I can show mercy like I’m given mercy by my righteous Savior. By God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit alone, I can turn emasculation into affirmation by simply seeking God’s desire for me as a wife.
“Your beauty…should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”(1 Pet. 3:4)
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Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.
Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha. You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.
What do I do if the woman I’m with refuses to change or admit any fault, even after reading this article?
Jesse, you are responsible for changing YOU and no one else. In fact, I would imagine throwing this article in someone’s face and demanding they change would only serve to further push them away (no one likes to be told what to do). So the question you may want to consider is not how to get someone else to change, but how you can continue to show love and grace in spite of being treated poorly or even disrespected. My husband never confronted me about my mistreatment. Instead, it was the Holy Spirit who convicted me when my heart was ready to hear His voice and make a change. Only then did I “change”…but it had nothing to do with my husband demanding me change. Trust the Holy Spirit to do His job, and focus on how you react to injustices and mistreatment. That is the best advice I can give. Love, grace, and mercy–just as Christ shows us on a minute by minute basis. As hard as it can be, try to focus your prayers and attention on what you can do to be the person God created you to be, rather then on how God needs to show someone else what they are doing wrong. Thanks for commenting!
Your article may have just saved me from myself. I have let everything that is stressing me out create this bad nagging person. Thank you for your perfect timing and to my friend who shared it with me.
I’m glad God spoke to you through this today. Thank you for letting me know!
Nice post. I study something more challenging on totally different blogs everyday. It can always be stimulating to learn content from different writers and follow a little something from their store. I’d favor to use some with the content on my blog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link in your web blog. Thanks for sharing
Rebecca you are a bold woman, that has chose to give grace and in time you will see it given back in ways you never dreamed.
You’re too kind. Thank you.
Ouch. Sigh. Amen! Thank you. 🙂
Yeah, it was a big ouch for me too! 🙂