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Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Marriages Show Some Respect

In August I wrote a post entitled "80 Percent of Divorces are Filed By Women" in which I discussed this statistic that I had recently come across and what I thought about it. I encouraged husbands to work a little harder at keeping their wives happy. I recommend doing a few small and simple things like telling her you love her and supporting her in her pursuits. It was a pretty good post. :)

I received a couple of comments on the post (I really appreciate those of you who take the time to share with me, I love to read your comments). One of them was from a man named Jack. I am so grateful that Jack stopped by and left his comment. It has caused me to do some serious reflecting and led to a few very good conversations with Cami.

Jack, thank you! I appreciate your honesty and candor. I want to respond directly to your comment with this post. I have never done this before so know that your comment really is appreciated and I would love to hear your response to what I am about to say.

To summarize the comment (you can read it in full on the post), Jack asked whether men not treating their wives as well as they ought might be caused by the woman not showing the proper respect for her husband. I agree, this can certainly be a downward spiral. The wife is disrespectful to her husband therefore he responds in kind which lessens what respect his wife still has for him and she acts accordingly so the husband reciprocates, and on and on it goes until divorce is imminent.

I do think this does happen. It is sad and unfortunate and nearly always was never the intention of either party but by the end neither has any respect for the other and so they dissolve their union. Jack referred to this death spiral as "chicken and egg". Let me deviate for just a moment.

When I was a teenager someone posed the question to me "which came first the chicken or the egg?" I had heard the question many times before and the arguments in favor and against both options. I really didn't know the answer but in that moment it came to me. It was obvious. Drawing on what I had learned in Sunday School I responded "the rooster." That stumped the questioner. So I explained.

If you ask was the woman or the child created first the answer is the woman. We know this from the Bible. However, the woman wasn't really first, she was just before the child and helped make the child possible. The man was actually first. Therefore, it stands to reason that the rooster was actually first, then the chicken, then the egg (so technically the answer is the chicken but I stand by my rooster answer).

Now don't take my teenage response as doctrine, it was just the thought of a boy. But the same out-of-the-box thinking can be applied in this case. Whose fault is the divorce? Or more specifically, who started the disrespect? The rooster did. Just kidding. It doesn't matter who started it (though I still believe it will nearly always be the man, albeit generally unintentionally). What matters is that it doesn't continue, that it isn't perpetuated.

So, in response to Jack's suggestion that a lack of respect is the problem, I wholeheartedly concur. However, it is a husband's responsibility to love his wife and treat her with the respect that she deserves as his wife (whether or not he feels she deserves it). And, conversely, it is a wife's responsibility to show her husband the proper respect. The key (or the rooster) is that no matter what my wife does or does not do it cannot and will not excuse me from my responsibility to respect her.

Jack, thank you again for your comment. I would love to hear more of your thoughts.

And to the rest of you, you must have some thoughts about this. I want to hear them. Please share them with me by leaving a comment (**big puppy dog eyes**).


  1. Exactly. I think that happens often, but if both respond like wronged individuals and cease to try, then how do they expect things to try? Both parties should me trying and loving, but at least one has to in tough times to make things work.

  2. Ha! I love that answer, "rooster!" And as far as your response to Jack's question, I think you answered well, Tyson. We both need to focus on our responsibility and not focus on whether our spouse is fulfilling their responsibility to us. As soon as we make that shift, we get in trouble, we become "codependent" and we reject Christ's exhortation to take the beam out of our own eye. BTW, I have a friend who took your October challenge with her husband and has really appreciated what it has brought to their relationship. :)

    1. Thanks Beth. I thought the "rooster" answer was pretty profound when I came up with it. :) And I'm glad that you're friend's marriage was blessed by participating in the challenge. That, of course, was the hope. I also hope that she and her husband keep at it. It will just keep yielding fruit.

  3. It was this sort of backwards thinking I heard from my pastor when given the news that my now ex-wife was having an affair. HIs first question was what did I do to force her to have an affair.

    I guess I should call him a former pastor as well. It's that sort of thinking that will keep the trend of 66,75, 80% of divorces being sought by women. If pastors suggest that it's some short coming of the husband that "forces" wives to have affair or to divorce, well there is no workable solution for that.

    I believe the Bible still preaches that we are all responsible for our own sin and that the only one who can take away our sins is Christ, not the husband, not the wife.

    The point many are making is that if a marriage is bad for one, it's bad for both. I don't deny it was bad for my ex-wife. It was bad for me. I worked in a career that allowed her to be the stay at home mom she wanted to be. But she didn't want to actually do any of that cleaning or cooking stuff. Oh, and after we had kids, no need for sex either. Budgets were crafted, she would agree and then ignore them, and blame me when I was unhappy that she wasn't following the budget agreement she made. I drove the 13+ year old Buick, she had the 3 year old minivan she wanted.

    I was miserable. I asked for her, her time, her attention, what she wanted. Apparently what she wanted was an affair with a man as old as her father.

    We are all sinners, not just men. Men are no worse than women when it comes to sin or relationships. I don't buy all this men are not equipped for relationships.

    The reality is men bring different skills into a relationship. If we were like our wives, one of us would be redundant. So all this nonsense about men are not as good at it, or it isn't as important to them suffers from the bias that the woman's approach to relationships is the superior approach.

    The problem is that's not how God designed it. He designed men to be men and approach relationships from their relative strengths and he designed women to be women and approach relationships from their relative strengths. When anyone suggests that one gender or the other has a superior approach or is better at marriage than the other I question their spiritual wisdom.

    The notion that men started it more often than women is not only offensive, but it all but ignores the possibility that the man didn't start anything. That he's performing his God ordained role in the relationship and that she is taking offense at his action.

    The same is true when husbands take offense.

    There is no high ground based on gender in marriage. Men and women are equally good at their God ordained roles. To suggest otherwise is to call God a liar. He says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I don't see where God says one gender or the other has fallen short more or less than the other.

    One cannot make a blanket statement that one gender or the other is more sinful, better or worse at marriage. We each have our areas of strength and weakness.

    It's time to stop measuring men using the wrong scale. It's time to stop blaming one gender for the behaviors of another.

    If a woman divorces, in most cases it's not due to his marital misconduct, but her perception that her emotional needs are not being met. If a man cheats, it's not because of her marital misconduct, but his inability to control his behavior. (FWIW, men and women are equally represented in affairs. There may be a few same sex outliers, but in most cases, there is both a man and a women in the affair. Even if one doesn't know the other is married, they always know that the one with whom they are sleeping is not their spouse. Therefore, once again, no gender based moral high ground here either.)

    1. "I worked in a career that allowed her to be the stay at home mom she wanted to be. But she didn't want to actually do any of that cleaning or cooking stuff. Oh, and after we had kids, no need for sex either. Budgets were crafted, she would agree and then ignore them, and blame me when I was unhappy that she wasn't following the budget agreement she made. I drove the 13+ year old Buick, she had the 3 year old minivan she wanted.

      I was miserable. I asked for her, her time, her attention, what she wanted. Apparently what she wanted was an affair with a man as old as her father."

      --It's shocking to me, but I'm going through the exact same struggles with my (not ex- yet) wife right now--each one you've listed--and she too is a stay-home mommy (and home school teacher) while I work a full-time job that allows her to be so, except that I'm not convinced yet that she has had an affair (with a flesh and blood man), because in place of that, she completely let her body go and became morbidly obese (not to mention her teeth are yellow, and she doesn't bathe often enough). She has, however, cheated on me with the Internet (porn) before. She and I are (supposedly) both "born-again", "Bible-believing" Christians, and she even grew up as a member of the same church all her life, in a family that darkened its doors every time they opened. Her dad's even a deacon now, and her mom works for the church's children's department: It's a megachurch.

      We've been married 9 years now, with three children born (all boys) and one "in the oven", and she has put me through such struggles for each one of those nine years. I'm at the end of my rope with her, and if I did find out that she has had an affair, that would definitely be the end of our marriage. But in the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to just hang in there, because I'm afraid that the divorce court would take my children away from me and stick me with alimony payments.... Plus, I just can't swallow yet that a supposedly God-ordained marriage between two Bible-indoctrinated Christians is going to end smashed upon the rocks like that, and I can't bear the suffering that divorce will bring to my boys: They need their daddy *with* their mommy. I'm slowly losing my mind, however, and all I can think to say to my sons about marriage right now is "don't get married, ever". (I haven't said that to them yet, and I don't want to.)


  4. Sorry for the long rant. I just get tired of men taking all the blame, and taking the blame for things that are either totally out of their control, or being expected to meet a standard and fill a role that God never intended them to fill. God doesn't expect your husband to be a 2nd wife in the marriage. He was designed to be the husband. That will be different than the wife. His approach to the relationship is not wrong, nor inferior. It's different. There will be times when his perspective is needed. There will be times when hers is needed. But in the aggregate, they are both needed to fill their roles as designed. Not twisted into a more husband-like wife or a more wife-like husband.

    1. No apology needed. I appreciate honest and well stated opinions that differ from my own. In fact, I hope that you selected "notify me" when you posted this comment so that you will see my response soon. I have appreciated your comments, on this post and others, so much that I would like to ask you a few questions via email. Please email me at at your earliest convenience. Thanks again for your well-thought out and constructive comments. And keep them coming! :)

  5. PS, I think I'm older and like you, when I was a teen, I did and still do tell folks that it was the rooster who came first.

    I also suggest that it's neither the glass is half full nor half empty. You used the wrong glass for the volume of liquid :)

  6. What a load of garbage. If the wife is out to do everything she can to destroy the marriage (like mine seems to be), then the husband cannot *make* her stop. (My wife has done virtually every abusive thing one can imagine that a wife can do to her husband except--as far as I know-- cheat on me with another flesh and blood man. She has put us in sudden debt more than once, failed to keep the house picked up and vacuumed as a stay-home homemaker, failed to keep the clothes and dishes washed, failed to keep up with homeschooling our children despite them being like brilliant little sponges who easily soak up any teaching you throw at them from any angle, often deprived me of sex because of her failure to manage her time, and she has even cheated on me with the Internet before. [Disclosure: I have also cheated on her with the Internet--not yet with flesh and blood--because of her withholding of her body from me, which came first.] She does, however, spend too much time chitchatting with ladyfriends on Facebook, watching TV, playing video games, etc. We are both "born-again", "Bible-believing" Christians.) How can you hold the husband responsible for marital downfall in such a situation? It's not like the law will allow us to spank such evil wives anymore.... What else is there to turn to for the husband?


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