Iron Sharpens Iron Series: It’s NOT a Sin to Confront Your Spouse

by | Jan 13, 2020 | Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 45 comments

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If you think there’s something wrong in your marriage, or you feel hurt or distant from your spouse, is it okay to confront your spouse and bring it up?

That may seem like an odd question, but hear me out on this. I’m in the middle of our “iron sharpens iron” marriage series, which will run every Monday in January on this blog. Marriage is supposed to make us better people. We’re supposed to help each other grow. I talked last week about how the way that we act in marriage can either point people to God or enable bad behaviour, even if we’re not meaning to. I’d like to help us point people to God!

But what I fear often happens is that we end up enabling bad behaviour because we have heard marriage advice that makes it sound like doing anything else is actually wrong or sinful. See if you recognize any of these:

“You can’t change anyone else; you can only change yourself.”

This is true–you cannot change anyone else’s behaviour. What we’re supposed to do instead is to work on ourselves, and love others but also have good boundaries.

HOWEVER, just because you can’t change someone’s behaviour does not mean that you can’t talk about things. Sometimes this teaching is taken so much to the extreme that it sounds like we’re simply supposed to learn to live with anything that our spouse does. In a healthy relationship, you talk about the things that are bothering you.

“You shouldn’t have expectations in marriage.”

The root of so much marital unhappiness is unmet expectations. If you grew up in a family that had family dinners and weekly family board game nights and took family camping vacations, you may have a very different idea of what family life should look like than a spouse who grew up with uninvolved, workaholic parents. You may feel as if your spouse doesn’t want to spend time with you because you pictured marriage very differently than they did.

Or maybe he grew up in a house where everything was picture perfect, and he married a woman who is more of a free spirit and who doesn’t prioritize house cleaning. Letting go of the unspoken expectation that the house is supposed to look like his mom’s can help the marriage tremendously.

HOWEVER, just because expectations can be harmful to marriage does not mean that we should simply settle for whatever our marriage is. It’s okay to want to feel closer. It’s okay to want to grow together.

In a healthy relationship, you talk about the things that are bothering you.

“If you want your spouse to meet your needs, you need to meet their needs first.”

Are you feeling unloved? Unappreciated? Lonely? Likely your spouse is, too. One of the best ways to grow the marriage is to stop waiting for your spouse to do the right thing and to reach out and meet your spouse’s needs and help them feel loved. That can change the dynamic in the relationship, so that they stop feeling unappreciated or judged, and they find it easier to reach out to you, too. The tension evaporates, and you can rebuild.

All true.

HOWEVER, meeting someone’s needs does not guarantee that they will become better people overnight. Sometimes people are just plain selfish, and if we give more, they simply take more.

We recently finished a survey of 22,000 Christian women, asking about their marital and sexual satisfaction. The results will be out first in our book The Great Sex Rescue, in spring 2021, with more books to follow. But, as you can imagine, we have so much great information that I’ll be sharing little nuggets along the way!

One woman answering the survey said this, which I thought was especially relevant to today’s post:

The Love Language book left me with the impression that if I just keep loving him the way he needs to be loved, that he would reciprocate. That never happened. It’s only when I started speaking up about what was wrong with our marriage and trying to expect it differently that he started to change.

Yep. That’s a really common dynamic!

And then there are the gendered messages that we hear about how confronting things or bringing up issues is a sin:

“You should love your wife as Christ loved the church, giving up everything for her.”

Yes, husbands are to love their wives sacrificially.

HOWEVER, Jesus let go of all of his own needs for a purpose–to help us reconcile with God. If husbands let go of all of their legitimate needs in marriage, they won’t be building a marriage. An intimate marriage requires the sharing of two hearts, which means that you can’t stuff all of your emotions down, or else you have nothing to share. A one-sided relationship where one person gets all of their needs met and the other is taken advantage of is not one that glorifies God.

Husband confronting wife when something is wrong.

What I hope to show next week and the week after is how we can talk to each other and act in such a way that we are loving sacrificially, but we are also working towards greater intimacy–which involves sharing our own legitimate needs, too. It can seem loving to give up all of your needs, but God created you with those needs. If iron is supposed to sharpen iron, then we must also act like iron. It’s okay to speak up when something is bothering you.

“Wives are to submit to their husbands.”

Yes, we are to serve our husbands sacrificially and honour them.

HOWEVER, our husbands are not Jesus to us. We are to always seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), not just seek to make our husbands happy. God wants us to be GOOD, not just nice, and the way that we do that is by acting in such a way that we point our husbands to God, which involves bringing up issues that we think are destructive to our husbands or to the relationship.

Do You Have a Difficult Time Standing up to your Husband?

God wants us aiming for His will. That sometimes will mean that we need to confront our husbands when they’re doing something wrong.

Struggle with how to do that? Are boundaries a difficult concept for you? 9 Thoughts can help!

“It’s disrespectful to your husband to confront him on something he has done wrong.”

No, we should not harangue, mock, or belittle a spouse.

HOWEVER, simply talking about something that is bothering you is not disrespecting someone, even though it’s a really common accusation often hurled at women (and I’ll use the book Love & Respect as an example). Emerson Eggerichs defines respect as an acronym–CHAIRS–which includes Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, and Sexuality. You must do all of these things to respect your husband. Included in those is allowing him to lead the family and make the decisions, and listening to his insight rather than your own. In fact, you’re supposed to ignore what you think because as a woman you are more easily deceived, and thus he is more likely to be right about something than you are (p. 230). This means that to speak up about something you think your husband is doing wrong is inherently disrespectful, because it’s ignoring your husband’s insight.

in fact, Eggerichs gives an example in his appendix of how a wife should confront her husband about his workaholism. She’s allowed to say 2-3 sentences about it, and then she must not say anything else for 10-20 days (I’m serious; that’s literally what he wrote). And what is it that she should say?

“Your son (daughter, children) needs you at home more. You have a unique influence on him. In certain areas, nobody matters to him as much as you do. It may not appear that way to you, but your positive presence has the power to mold him. I know you are swamped and have little time, but I also know that you want to give him that part of you that no one else can give to him. Thanks.”

Note here that the wife is feeling neglected. But to mention her own feelings is apparently disrespectful. To even ask him specifically to change is disrespectful (saying “your son needs you at home more” is not the same as saying, “I would like you to make a commitment to be at home more.”) All you’re allowed to do is give him your observations, but then you must leave it to him to draw conclusions. To do so yourself is disrespectful.

Confronting Your Husband is Not Disrespectful

He has other examples, too–his wife asking him to stop putting wet towels on the bed apparently was “disrespectful”; his wife saying to him, “you never spend any time with me and you’re always busy” was apparently also disrespectful. In fact, throughout the book, any time his wife mentions anything that she doesn’t like that he is doing, Eggerichs frames it as being disrespectful (perhaps that’s why Love & Respect was the most mentioned resource that harmed marriages in my survey!).

Many women grow up hearing this, and it is hurting marriages. So let’s look at a healthier way to see this with another example.

Let’s say your husband made fun of you in public, with a joke at your expense that was in poor taste.

Here’s what I would suggest:

When you are alone, in a firm tone of voice, say:

“What you said was unacceptable, and I’m really disappointed that you would treat me like that in front of your friends. This isn’t like you, and I know you want to do better than this. You owe me an apology.”

You are owning your own feelings. You are calling him out for an infraction that he made against you. You are pointing the way to how the relationship can be restored and can grow.

What if, on the other hand, you acted more like Eggerichs instructs, and simply gave your observations, rather than your conclusions, your thoughts, or your feelings? Then you might hint at something like,

“Isn’t it nice that I say so many nice things about you in public with you friends?”

or perhaps you try,

“Couples seem to grow together in marriage when they speak well of each other.”

You hope against hope that he’ll get the message, but he most likely will not. And you’ll become sadder and sadder.

Or perhaps you say nothing at all because you don’t think you’re supposed to. However, you’re still hurting. That night, when he wants to have sex, you push him away, or else you go through the motions. He knows something’s wrong, but he doesn’t know what it is. So he gets frustrated and pulls away as well.

In that scenario, you have not owned your feelings. You’ve made him responsible for figuring out what they are.

So which is really disrespectful? Is it to tell your husband the truth, or is it to expect him to figure it out on his own, and then to withdraw when he does not?

In fact, the Bible tells us specifically that we are to talk directly to someone when they have sinned against us or done something that we don’t think is right.

Matthew 18:15-16

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 

We’re supposed to point out the other’s fault!

God wants us looking more and more like Jesus.

God desires that we be transformed to look like Christ (Romans 8:29). That means that we should be like iron sharpening iron.

Last Christmas, when the kids were home, I asked for some help making dinner. They were chopping up vegetables while I was marinating something. As Connor tried to cut the carrots, he paused and looked at the knife, and asked me if I had a knife sharpener. A light went off in my head. That’s what that funny shaped long metal thing was. I dug around in a drawer, found it, and Connor ran the edge of the knife along it for several minutes. Over the next month, as I went to use that knife, I was amazed at how much better it cut.

Many of us are not acting as iron in our relationships. We aren’t strong. We aren’t powerful. We’re letting ourselves get pushed around.There’s no sharpening that’s happening, and our spouse is going to become less and less useful and less and less fruitful.

That’s not what you want. It’s okay to speak up. Next week we’ll look practically at how to do that, and the week after that we’ll look at what to do if things still don’t change.


What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Doug

    Great post.
    I am not ready to throw out my copy of Love &Respect yet, but I do plan to read it again with a more critical eye.
    About the only thing I would say about this post, is the title really didn’t match the content. There are absolutely times it is appropriate to confront your spouse, but in most cases a conversation is more appropriate than a confrontation. Your post reflected that very well, but the title is a bit incendiary.

  2. Nathan

    I’ve never read Love and Respect, but some of the “nuggets” are a bit red flaggy.
    Demanding that wives never speak up if something is bothering them, just shoulder the burden, etc. is absolutely a bad path to go down. And of course the idea that women are never to express their feelings or even HAVE their own thoughts is horrifying.
    One thing, though…
    > > as a woman you are more easily deceived
    He’s partially right on this, in that women are in general more easily fooled by some things, and men are fooled more easily by other things.
    Each spouse should feel that they can speak up if something’s wrong. Helping each other grow is partially love support and being positive, but also pointing out when things could be better.

    • Lea

      Nathan, How is it right to say women are ‘more easily deceived’ because men and women are both fooled sometimes by different things? I think statement is quite wrong.
      More accurate is the ‘You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’
      This isn’t gendered.

      • Nathan

        True, but I do believe that, on average, each gender is taken in more easily by different things. Not always, just a general trend.

        • Emmy

          Perhaps us, women, are more easily deceived and tricked into reading books like Love and Respect, or books by Debbie Pearl and other lousy books. But we don’t have to be tricked. We can resist and learn from the past.

    • NML

      I think being easily fooled, in any area, is a personality issue, not a gender issue. My husband and my mother have the same personality. They are both bad judges of character, in the very same way- regardless of the fact that he is a man and she is a woman. My brother-in-law has a similar personality- same tendency.

      • Anon

        I agree – my mother and I are both quick to spot when something doesn’t ‘ring true’ – my father hardly ever did. And my fiance has several times commented on how grateful he is that I’ve spotted something is ‘off’ when he hasn’t. And I’ve noticed that among friends and family, those who get taken in by scams & hoaxes are pretty much divided 50/50 between the sexes. So I would guess that the ‘women are more easily deceived’ idea is based more on stereotypes than fact.

    • MinnesotaMrs

      Agreed Nathan. The Bible clearly states and displays in Genesis how easily we women CAN BE deceived. Women are also wired to be more emotional and compassionate (hey hormones and brain chemistry) so it makes sense that we’d be more prone to being swayed in situations that may not yield the best outcomes. As a woman (a well educated one at that) I’m thankful my husband is the decision maker in our home because I have too many interests (heart and head and all that’s in between ) at play while my husband things in a linear, logical manner. Thank God men and women are different.

      • Jewels

        Being more emotional doesn’t negate being a logical person. Men and women are different but it’s not emotional versus logical. You aren’t deficient because you experience more emotions. In fact, emotions are not a weakness but are used that way. Both Adam and Eve were decieved. King David, Samson…fell to lust over logic.
        Men and women are different but they aren’t unequal.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, exactly. In fact, if you look at the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality profile), women are more likely to be feelers, yes, but many men are feelers, too. And many women are thinkers! So it isn’t one way at all.

  3. Lea

    Not married, but my goal this year is to get better at having difficult conversations in relationships. I think it can be really hard to know when to have them, and fear of the results can stop you but I think it’s best just to figure out how to say it.
    On the ‘love languages book’ (and how insightful of your commenter that giving what someone else wanted didn’t make them love her back) some dude told me on a date that his ‘love language’ was touch and I can’t help but roll my eyes. How many people are using this concept to just demand something because it’s their ‘love language’ and that makes it spiritual? I wonder how helpful this concept really is.

    • Ina

      Maybe it’s not useful for demanding, but highly useful for recognizing. For example, my father in law is 100% a man who shows his love through action. He struggles with putting things into words. If we didn’t know to see the way he pours himself out practically then we would probably feel very distant from him and possibly even hurt. However, we can see his help for what it is- the very tangible demonstration of his love for us. And then we know that when we call for help with our car, or water heater that we aren’t inconveniencing him but actually connecting with him.

      • Elissa

        I definitely agree! My father was totally an Acts of Service guy! He loved to do things for others, and one thing he really appreciated was if we took the time to get the house picked up a bit before he came home from work. However, my husband is not an Acts of Service person. He really couldn’t care less what the house looks like when he gets home. What communicates love to him is me being sane enough to sit down with him and talk about our day. If I was stressed out from trying to get the house picked up while watching two kids and trying to start dinner, there’s no way I would feel able to drop it all and sit down with him when he got home! The concept of love languages saved me lots of effort and potential frustration in that area.
        However, to the original point, those are things I do to love him better, not to try to get him to treat me a certain way in return.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s lovely! I do know many men like that, and often they are the salt of the earth.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that the concept can be really good in terms of recognizing how we each like to feel loved, which is valid. But when it’s used like the guy on a date–“Hey, you need to do this”–or when we magically think that it will turn a marriage around on its own, it’s not that wonderful. It’s a helpful tool, but it’s only a tool. It isn’t a magic fix. So keeping it in its place is a great thing–it can be useful for sure. But let’s remember that that’s all it is.

      • Lea

        I think maybe it comes down to if you are talking about it to *get* something, or if you are using to deepen your communication and understanding of each other? IDK.
        I like the story about acts of service, but it makes me think of how my ex bf wanted to help me out with somethings and he got frustrated that I didn’t ask him to do more? And it confused me because I’ve spent a lot of my time single and am used to not wanting to impose on people I guess. So I didn’t want to take advantage of him. But he saw it differently and it made more sense to me after I saw an article about how letting someone do YOU a favor makes them like you better?! Which is weird but apparently true.

        • Jessica

          Many wives of abusive men (including myself) have stories of our husbands getting upset about us not asking them for help often enough. Most of us don’t do it because asking cause problems. But they want us to ask because they want to feel that we are helpless without them.
          I’m not saying this was necessarily the case with your ex bf, but it’s just something to have in mind for people who notice that behavior.

    • Kya

      My husband’s love language is touch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sex all the time. It means holding hands when we walk, long hugs when we haven’t seen each other (even if only for an hour or two), and backrubs (that don’t go anywhere) when one of us is stressed. A week or two ago he said, out of the blue, “I need a cuddle right now,” so we cuddled, and it didn’t go anywhere. Anyway, just trying to demonstrate that if touch really is his love language, it will show up in places that don’t lead to sex.

      • Arwen

        Kya, That’s what even the author of the book said. He appeared on Oprah and she jokingly said, “I bet every man’s love language is touch.” After the audience laughed the author explained perfectly on non sexual touches. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. He broke it down really well, because most people including men assume touch simply means sexual. Not true! He also explained it in his book pretty well.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yeah, it really is meant to be non-sexual. Again, I think the concept is great as far as it goes, but it just doesn’t fix all our marriage problems.

      • Lea

        I’m not judging ‘my love language is touch’ but I don’t need that as an explanation for why your hand is on my leg on a first date lol.

        • Ina

          Yeah, no, I totally agree with you there!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Totally get it! And totally creepy.

    • Bella

      I read the 5 Love Languages as a teenager and it was so helpful to me! Mainly because, it helped me to see that my mom did actually love me, she just showed it by doing stuff for me, rather than spending time or being affectionate toward me. I still didn’t feel loved, but I am a very practical, logical person, so I was able to use that information to convince myself she loved me.
      In my marriage however, it was damaging. Mostly, it was just used against me as a guilt trip to get sex with “my love language is touch”. (Context: mentally/emotionally/spiritually/physically abusive porn addict husband)
      I never read Love And Respect, though it was on my to-buy list for a long time because of its popularity (I thought it must be really good). But the title felt insulting so I never could bring myself to do it. However, just by growing up in church, without reading it or going to any marriage conferences, etc., I managed to pick up all those same ideas anyway. It’s so pervasive in the Christian culture.
      In fact, I think it’s one of the major factors that keeps people from the Gospel.
      Each time that a Christian marriage book made me feel sick (most memorably “The Power of a Praying Wife”), I would stop reading it, but was convinced I must just be an “insubordinate” bitter, ungodly wife and disobedient Christian. It pushed me away from church and from God (even though I desperately missed my relationship with Him) because I felt ashamed. I was made to feel like a hypocrite, for being repulsed by what I instinctively knew would make the abuse worse. I longed to run back into His arms, but I felt that I was “living in sin” by not wanting to continue encouraging him to abuse me.
      By the way, the only Christian marriage book I’ve ever actually managed to finish was Leslie Vernick’s…. It was a game changer!!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, Bella, I’m so, so sorry that you felt this way! This paragraph really spoke to me:

        Each time that a Christian marriage book made me feel sick (most memorably “The Power of a Praying Wife”), I would stop reading it, but was convinced I must just be an “insubordinate” bitter, ungodly wife and disobedient Christian. It pushed me away from church and from God (even though I desperately missed my relationship with Him) because I felt ashamed. I was made to feel like a hypocrite, for being repulsed by what I instinctively knew would make the abuse worse. I longed to run back into His arms, but I felt that I was “living in sin” by not wanting to continue encouraging him to abuse me.

        I pray that people who write and publish and promote Christian marriage books will see these threads and these comments. You are not alone. This is pushing people out of the church. You were right to reject that teaching. I hope that you can still find the Jesus who does truly value you!

  4. Deep in debt

    “HOWEVER, Jesus let go of all of his own needs for a purpose–to help us reconcile with God. If husbands let go of all of their legitimate needs in marriage, they won’t be building a marriage. An intimate marriage requires the sharing of two hearts, which means that you can’t stuff all of your emotions down, or else you have nothing to share. A one-sided relationship where one person gets all of their needs met and the other is taken advantage of is not one that glorifies God.“
    I know this is for women but this hit home with me as well. I just had a session with my therapist and she talked to me about how I need to speak up and say what I think and feel to my wife. I have been a people pleaser all my life. I have a difficult time to say no. And I seriously thought that Loving my wife was to say no to everything and do everything for her. I specially learned that if I loved her she would be more open to sex. So I did started to say yes and I started to do loving things and I love doing them but I also noticed something unhealthy in all of it. When saying yes my wife got her will all the time. I didn’t realize I was putting us in a tough situation. Now we are in a 12 000 debt because my wife started to buy and buy unnecesarry things. I tried talking but I wanted to keep her happy. Wanted her to keep loving me I guess. And now we don’t know how to pay. Every month is horrible and I may have to start taking an extra job to pay some back even if I already work 100%. All because I was too afraid to put my foot down. I tried talking and it didn’t help. I should have loved her like Christ loves the church but I didn’t. And I kind of didn’t want to be the “leader” of the house because I don’t like the typical gender stereotypes but I am starting to wonder if I should. Now I worry that this will destroy us and I will be unattractive to her because I am not “the leader” so no matter I am still losing. I feel kind of lost. But I need to talk to her. Altough she has started to get what she is doing to us. I am learning that love ha esto be tough at times even if that means that she won’t love me as before or want to be intimate with me.

    • Deep in debt

      It should say: “And I seriously thought that Loving my wife was to say yes to everything and do everything for her.”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this–but I’m really glad you’re with a therapist who is trying to help you find your voice, and that’s great! It sounds like your therapist is really right, and maybe this blog post is just confirming for you what your therapist has been saying. It isn’t loving to allow your wife to put your family into huge debt. You do need to stand up and say, “we aren’t going to keep going this, and we need to make a plan to get out of debt.” It’s not about who is leading; it’s simply standing up for what is right and for what will help your marriage, and allowing or enabling a spouse to hurt themselves or the marriage doesn’t really help anyone. So, yes, find your voice! You need it, God gave it to you for a reason, and maybe one of the reasons that you are together with your wife is so that you can help her reign in her addictive tendencies and learn to be more responsible.

      • deep in debt

        “It’s not about who is leading; it’s simply standing up for what is right and for what will help your marriage, and allowing or enabling a spouse to hurt themselves or the marriage doesn’t really help anyone.“
        So true. Ugh being part of some men’s groups stress me out with their message about leading. I am not talking about small groups but groups of 10000 members with the message about leading. “My wife left me for not leading” “My wife is sinning , it’s because of my bad leadership” “I need to be a better leader”.
        I like your answer better. It’s about standing up for what is right for our marriage and since my wife doesn’t seem to be able to do it right now I need to do it and hopefully she will do it when I keep failing. It’s about teamwork and standing up for us not about who is the leader.
        I just have to learn that even if taking a stand may seem mean to her it will make things better in the long run.

        • Emmy

          All that leadership talk can be so stressfull. Perhaps better to think about it as team work. You and your wife should be a team that works together. Try to maker see that.

    • Lea

      ” how I need to speak up and say what I think and feel”
      Absolutely. I know in my last relationship I think my ex was starting to get frustrated but I was also frustrated because he wouldn’t just *tell* me what was bothering him. There is only so much you can do when someone wont’ communicate.

      • Deep in debt

        That’s true and that’s my problem. I keep it inside and I’m afraid that I will one day explode(figuratively off course). I get so irritated and frustrated at times but I am to weak to say anything and I am afraid I will hurt her feelings and then she won’t be intimate with me and just be upset. And I feel like I can’t take that but I need to remember that if I keep all this inside some day I will have enough and what will happen then? Will I have so much buried inside that I will start to resent her and make us bought miserable. I don’t want that so I need to learn to talk even if it will hurt for both of us for awhile.

        • Lea

          Are you familiar at all with attachment theory? I read a book called ‘attached’ last year that was really interesting. It sounds a bit to me like you might have anxious attachment, and I think the people pleasing/fear of someone leaving is part of that. I have tendencies this way as well, and am actively working on it.
          I am learning it is so much better to address things head on early when they can possibly be corrected, than to wait until things have gone so far that everyone is tired, resentful, etc.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            This is actually a really good point, Lea. That’s why I’m glad Deep in Debt is seeing a therapist, too, because sometimes allowing yourself to set a boundary and confront your spouse takes too much of an emotional toll if we have not dealt with our own underlying issues. It’s hard to start doing this if it goes against everything in you. It’s important to figure out why you resist, and then deal with that underlying hurt. I think that’s why it’s so beautiful that the picture we have in Christ is that of adopted children; that Jesus adopts us into His family. He chooses us. He takes us from the mess of what may be our earthly families, and He puts us into a healthy family, where we will never be abandoned or abused.

        • Emmy

          Besides, you are in debt, and that alone can ruin your relationship like nothing else.
          My son lost his first marriage because of that. He so much wanted to please her so he gave her whatever she wanted. It never was enough. She kept on craving for more things. That ruined their finances and finally their marriage.
          However…you never know. We don’t know what had happened if he had told her: “Darling, we can’t buy that now. We don’t have that much. We need to pay the bills first, and there should be something left for food.” Perhaps that would have helped, perhaps not. Perhaps she woud have gotten angry anyway. But they likely would not been in such a debt even though they’d ended up in a divorce.

          • Deep in debt

            Stories like this scare me but it also make it obvious that I need to start speaking up. I cant be a coward anymore but man its difficult. Specially when the fear of not being loved is there. I know God loves me but I guess I need to rely more on that love because I am so afraid of being seen as the bad person and stop being lovable. But the alternative is worse.

          • Emmy

            You are not a bad person if you want her to be on your team so you can live within your means. And there are ways to ask that in a loving way. I’m sure you will be able to know how to say it the right way.
            Try to tell her you need her and her co-operation. Try to tell her that you two need to be a team that works together.

  5. Arwen

    Great article! I have never struggled to speak up for myself or for others. I have always been called “feisty” a word often used by the timid to insult you for being courageous! God hasn’t given us a Spirit of fear and He demands throughout Scripture that we speak up and tell the truth, as such we believers shouldn’t be struggling in this area to this extent. The Bible even promises that if we don’t know what to say the Holy Spirit Himself will tell us what we need to say. After all He is our counselor and advocate. I can’t wait to read the next 2 articles that will focus primarily on SOLUTIONS. I’m a problem solver by nature so whenever i can read tips, ideas, advice, on how to solve problems i get really, REALLY excited!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We are going to be working through a lot of different scenarios in the next few weeks. I hope it’s practical–or at least that it starts some discussion!

  6. Nathan

    > > keep it inside and I’m afraid that I will one day explode(figuratively of course)
    That happens a lot, and when it does, people think that you’re massively overreacting to one small item, when in truth, it’s a reaction to maybe dozens of small things all added up.
    This is actually something that I need to work on myself.

  7. Lena

    I already love this series so much! In fact, I love your whole blog, Sheila!! I am so thankful you have been writing it and I found it. It has helped my marriage tremendously.
    I grew up very much in the purity culture and I am just so grateful to you!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad, Lena!

  8. Ashley

    Wow, the way women “should” phrase things the Love & Respect way is just emotional manipulation. It seems that you’re hoping your husband will feel guilty because you are so great/did things well. I like your approach so much better, Sheila! I don’t want my husband to have to read between the lines every time I open my mouth.

  9. Gemma

    I am not one to shy away from confrontation and I’m not afraid to speak up. However, I worry I might sometimes go a bit far the other way. Could you write about how to figure out when to speak up and when to let things go? Or how to bring up something that bothers you but clearly isn’t a sin issue in a non judgemental, loving way.
    Would also love an article about how to receive this kind of thing in a marriage? How to accept advice, help or being confronted about bad habits etc.? What Rebecca and Connor said on last week’s podcast really struck me. I was challenged by their ability to accept each other’s help and put aside their egos.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Gemma, that’s a great idea. I think i’ll ask Rebecca and Connor to elaborate more on it in a podcast in February, because I’m away for most of the month and I don’t have time to record all the podcasts, so this is perfect. I’ll have them talk at length about how to humble yourself, but also how to accept the feedback and also give feedback if they’ve said it poorly.


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