When Your Husband’s a Jerk

Sure, it's easy to be biblically submissive when your husband's in the Nice Guy category. But what if he's just mean? Or ornery? Or annoying? Or super strict? And he's nothing like me? And well, on some days he's a lot more like the spawn of Satan himself? 

 

When Your Husband's a Jerk

 

This is a question (in various forms) that keeps coming to me by women who are reading My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, or who have heard about it but haven't taken the leap to read it, and I think it's a legitimate one that I thought might be helpful to address here on my blog. (Though I do wonder why one would marry the spawn of Satan - but hey, demons do have a reputation for being beautiful when you forget about that whole red tail, demon horns thing...)

It's also not the first time I've heard the argument. An editorial review about the book seemed to imply at the end that sure, it was easy for me to be biblically submissive to my husband because he's Mr. Wonderful, and not every woman is that lucky.

My husband is wonderful - but he's not perfect. And there are many moments or days I have found myself during our 15 years of marriage and counting that I've wanted to scream, or pull my hair out, or just tape the toilet lid down already (especially at 2 in the morning when you might in your sleep-induced thoughts think someone put a bidet in when you weren't looking but no, you have in fact just fallen in because someone else neglected to put down the lid)!

And let's be clear - in this jerk category, which this post is about, we are not including legitimate, real abusers - men who physically and/or emotionally abuse their wives. They deserve a special category all their own (and actually Spawn of Satan really could fit there).

No, we're talking about jerk behavior. A husband who says thoughtless things, and when you tell him you're hurt, he doesn't seem to care. Or a husband who refuses to call when he's running late and rolls his eyes at you when you voice your displeasure (cue sarcastic or caustic remarks) when he finally walks into the house. A husband who refuses to pick anything up or a husband who insists everything stay picked up, like you live in a museum - and you're the one who doesn't see what the big deal is.

We're talking husband behavior that drives you crazy. Husband decisions you don't respect. Husband issues that make you want to take a long vacation and never come back.

We're talking about husbands who act like jerks.

Who wants to be submissive to those guys?

In the last four years or so, since going through the Proverbs 31 experiment, and now more recently, the Biblical Submission experience, I feel like I've had a chance to go to marriage college. Because I've finally learned something I wasn't willing to admit when I was first married.

I can't change my husband. But I CAN greatly influence him. 

No - I'm not talking about manipulation. Anyone can manipulate to get your way. But that usually doesn't help for the long term. Usually, manipulation only gets you as far as the small-minded thing you're trying to get accomplished, and the problem with manipulation is you find you have to do more and more to get what you want - and eventually, even you get tired of that.

I'm not talking about manipulation. I'm talking about godly motivation. I'm talking about influence. For better or for worse.

See, I can't change the things my husband does that aggravates me or frustrates me or drives me crazy. I can't force him to do what I want him to do or be the man I think he should be. But I can work on myself. I can be responsible for my own actions. I can be more intentional about my behavior and my attitude. I can be more intentional in my relationship with God and my understanding of how important that is when it comes to being a wife.

What I've found is that as I've worked on myself, as I've pursued living out my wife life the way God's called me to live it - and not how I think I should do it - I've changed for the better, and some of the things that my husband does that used to drive me crazy, doesn't drive me crazy any more. And an even nicer unexpected benefit? There are things in his life, in his ways, in his behavior, that he has also changed.

Maybe this is because my attitude has changed...

or maybe it's because I'm not so insistent to always get my way or I'm not so resistent to hearing what he has to say, or wants to do -

or maybe, just maybe, it's simply because I've stepped out of the way, and God's stepped in and worked on my husband's life the same way He's working on mine.

So let me speak to you, the precious wife who has woken up today with a pounding "my husband is a jerk today" heartache. Or maybe it's a stomach ache. Or a severe headache from all the crying and "woe is me'ing."

Someone today wants you to roll up your wifely welcome mat and go home. Someone today wants you to say "if he's not going to try, then why should I?" Someone today wants you to give up.

 

Don't. 

Sometimes I think the enemy loves to convince us that as women, we have little to no influence when it comes to our husbands. But I think that's a lie. I think God designed it for  wives to be amazingly influential when it comes to their husbands - I'm talking about positive actions, encouraging words, that will speak to your husband's heart where he needs to hear it most.

God can use you to be the wife He's called you to be, and when you let that happen, I believe you will see your husband become the man God's called him to be for you.

It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't always happen as fast as we'd like it to. But I believe it does happen.

Don't give up on your husband. I don't think biblical submission happens overnight either. I think it's best when we take baby steps, and it happens out of a heart that's willing, not begrudging.

Ask more questions and actually care about his opinion or thoughts; look for ways to be kind (even when you don't think he deserves it); ask him to make a final decision on something - and then respect him enough to not try and change it.

I don't think God leaves us as individuals to wind up  the same as when we first start out married. I think He calls for us to change - not necessarily to be the image of our SPOUSE - but the image of our SAVIOR. And when we start looking at our relationships that way, I believe things can change. For the better.

So yes, there may be more days than less right now where your husband seems to be a jerk. Maybe all that's needed is a change in the equation.

You.

Try this:
1. Take a piece of paper and put a line down the middle.

2. On the left side, write out every single thing your husband does that drives you crazy. That makes you mad. That frustrates you. Take time to think about each of these things.

3. For each thing you wrote down on the left, write down on the right how you respond or react when your husband does those things. Are you being kind? Are you being ugly? Are you saying exactly what you think in the heat of the moment or are you willingly editing your words? Are you more hurtful than helpful? Ask God to show you how you can change your actions, and pray for the actions of your husband.
God is in the change business. The business of changed hearts. Let Him start with yours. 

Need  more motivation for yourself about marriage? Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox and get a free download of my 30 Days to Love His Way devotional

  • Chelli Smith

    Love this…thanks for sharing!

    • sarahorn

      You’re so welcome Chelli!

  • Julie Welsh Worthing

    I needed this today. My heart feels wooden and yet I can only keep praying the same prayer I have been for the last 3 years. Change me into the wife this marriage needs. Thanks for the loving and timely reminder! :)

    • sarahorn

      I’m glad you were encouraged Julie! Remember, you don’t have to change on your own. Rely on God’s strength and help. I know He’ll give you what you need.

  • http://www.creativetypespress.com/ Mrs. Hill

    Sara, I love this…even though I struggle too. You are spot-on with your “experiment”. Interesting that many of us are taught the acronym J-O-Y = Jesus, Others then You. I’ve learned though it is JYO instead — our submission to Jesus shows up in us — in our behavior and then it affects others around us.

  • Sarah B.

    I jumped online to ask you this very question, and here is the answer! :) Exactly what I felt God telling me, but I didn’t want to hear it. If I may add my own suggestion, use Stormie Omartian’s book The Power of a Praying Wife to pray for your hubby out loud. I am doing this. I see certain chapters that really seem to hone in on issues my hubby has and I focus on them. If we pray for God to reveal Himself to our husbands, He will. Pray for it and then stay out of the way so God can work on them as he helps us work on ourselves. It’s so hard! I’ve listened to that song “Worn” with tears in my eyes pretty often lately, but God is faithful. When it gets REALLY tough, pray. It works and can be done as often as needed (no overdose possible!).

  • Joey

    My husband wrecked my car tonight on the ice after cocktails at the neighbors. Me, my two sons and a neighbor boy were all in the car at the time. No one was injured. He is a jerk when he drinks, which is once every other month or so. He is very defiant about being the driver if we are not at home (physically shoving me out of the way). He is very defiant about everything. We argued afterwards at home. I told him he was totally chronically immature. I pray for him more than anyone else everyday. I try to stay strong in my faith, but right now, I seriously want to hurt him back for his lack of growing up-which seems constant.

    • Jessica Daniel

      I have the same problem. Sorry honey :(

  • 4HisGlory

    I have been dealing with anger issues in my husband for many years, 18 years of marriage the last 8 or so with him being angry most of the time. I to sought after God’s Word and tried to follow the model of the Proverbs 31 Wife. Over the last year I have changed so much allowing God to make changes in me. After much prayer and God’s leading the next step He gave me was not to accept the SIN “Anger” in love,set boundaries and be prepared to stick to them. I realized we were made to have a great influence of good over our husbands so they can rise to be they godly men they were meant to be. My hope is in God, and I have already seen significant changes in my husband once I set those boundaries and refused to be the object of his anger. What is interesting is my children are 100% behind my decision (both teenagers) so they understand what is happening- My oldest has always spoke negative comments under his breathe about my husband’s behavior and I asked him to no longer let any negative words come out of his mouth against his father because our words are so powerful for good or bad. And he actually agreed and has not.
    All of these thing’s can be done in Love, but we as wives must not accept these behavior’s. The enemy comes only to kill, steal and destroy. I was shocked to find myself in this situation with a man I have loved over half of my life, and I am so grateful that God gave me the action plan to accept it no more and have the husband God intended for me from the beginning!

  • Agatha

    Why hiding our enabling weaknesses behind faith? Being confronted to no challenge or no accountability has never made any man a better man, EVER, whereas it has built generations of abusive brats & abusers. If a man is an ass, well the only way he will ever get it is by being called on the carpet. Why? Because men aren’t wired the way we women are (look at your own boys and girls, are they the same? No? So there is your proof). Men pretend they don’t get the hints, they don’t get the cues and they don’t even ever get the memo! Why? Because it is easier on their over-sized ego to pretend they did not get it instead of acknowledging they have been an idiot purposefully (or instead of taking a long, hard look at themselves and figuring out that they are so selfish that they did not take the steps to find the solution to their behavioral problem). Now loving God does not mean enabling poor role models.

    If your hubby has anger management issues and thinks it is OK to unleash Hell on you each time he has to take the slightest frustration, it is likely that this behavior will rub off onto your own kids: it is not a religious issue, it is a psychological issue and an upbringing issue (abusive fathers make abusive husbands). God has nothing to do with this. It is OUR responsibility as a mother to NOT take an abusive man as husband and to NOT tolerate this behavior. If you have picked the wrong number or you have enabled this behavior, God wants us to fix the issue for our kids’ sake and this fix is more likely “tough love”. You actually OWE that to your kids and to God. This implies being able to take action and remove or eradicate all evil influence and all caustic environment from around them. So either you set strict boundaries, your husband gets his acts together, lives his life as a decent man and you move on with your happy life; or he pretends he does not get the message and you can always separate for a little while (this is not a divorce). I can tell from experience that this helps them grow a conscience. Consequences actually do work, how odd huh?

  • MizD

    I Googled , my husband is a jerk, how to respond. This blog entry came up first. I thank God it did…I was and am still a little in revenge/payback mode. It would take way too long to go into all the history. He can be the sweetest guy, but when he’s in jerk mode…he can STOMP on my heart and not seem to even care. A $30 bunch of flowers could have headed off so much. Is that too much to ask for a 30yr anniversary? He’s a long haul trucker. He used every excuse and the last, that he’s on the road and “can’t do anything so he doesn’t know what I want from him” fell through when I pointed out he CAN do stuff online and by phone while on the road when it’s for a project car part etc. I didn’t yell. I think I did pretty good explaining that I was hurt my his indifference. Our 25th was almost the same and every bit as painful. I am hurting a lot right now. Feeling like the last 30yrs were a waste of time. Now, he’s expecting me to stuff everything the way I always do and move on. I don’t pray anymore. I can’t feel God’s presence much anymore…and I’m mad that once again, I’m the only one who has to be accountable TO God. His 60th birthday is Tuesday. I’ve played through a million ways to make him feel like a jerk…but I know he’ll be clueless as usual. He’s not a believer and I know I’m not being a good example of a believer either…doubting if I even really am…or how could I feel like this if I was? I’m seeing a christian counselor and it helps…until I get a fresh set of boot prints on my heart. Sorry for the vent. I’ve signed up and will be reading…Thanks

  • Cheney Kelvin

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  • Jessica Daniel

    Where do I begin? Honestly I knew that no internet material would help my relationship but I guess it helps to know others suffer from the same afflictions. I have known my husband since I was 19. Now, I have had relationships other than him,but we have had an on-going on and off relationship until we were married last March. Why did I think that things would get better just because we married? Stupidity I guess! :) He is mean not just a jerk!!!! I’m telling you all, mean as all get out. He has called me horrible names that I will not repeat here; he has hit me. He is verbally abusive, explosive, and has a violent approach to those who he feels disrespected by and so on, I have read The Praying Wife; I have tried the Love Challenge (my husband wouldn’t even try it). I have read the Five Love Languages, I have prayed, and I have asked others to pray. And do you know what has happened? Absolutely NOTHING. NOTHING has changed. I have tried being docile, keeping the house spotless, try not to ask him to do anything; heck I even went and got a part-time job because he always complained that we never had money. (but this man drinks a 12 pack or more of beer almost every day). I could go into more detail but would rather just ask, “When you have used all the resources (besides marriage counseling and honestly? my husband is not going to go!) what is your next step”? Where do I go from here? I have a 4 year old boy I need to consider in all of this as well. I would hate for him to “learn” this behavior and think its okay to treat women the way his father does. What are your thoughts ladies?

    • sarahorn

      Jessica, first, thank you for sharing your story and I am so sorry you are going through this. It is NEVER ok for a man to hit you. NEVER. Your husband has a drinking problem and anger issues, and he needs to get help, and you will not be the one to help him. His problems and his poor choices are not your fault nor ultimately your responsibility. But you are responsible for your son, and for yourself.

      Your next step is to get help for yourself and for your child and to physically remove yourself from the situation. A separation from your husband is needed, especially if what you’ve described is happening daily or is ongoing and nothing has improved and your husband shows no intention of getting help for himself. If you have family you can rely on for help and support during this time, reach out to them and rely on them. Otherwise you need to find other resources that can give you what you need right now.

      Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) and talk to someone who can give you advice and resource information for your area. Do not wait. Do not rationalize that it’s not that big a deal what’s happening. It IS a big deal and there is NEVER a reason why someone should physically or emotionally hurt someone else – especially when it’s someone they claim to love. The hardest thing to do sometimes is be the one to walk away, but when you have tried everything you can, and from your description you have, you have to protect yourself and your child.

      I do know that God can work in these situations and He can heal and restore – but time and distance are often required in order for Him to work on your heart and in your life, as well as your husband’s. I’m praying for you today.

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    wife,and brought great joy and to my family once again.

  • Andrew Mark

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  • Jen

    Fabulous submission. I grew up with so much faith in God’s work and the wonderful union of a marriage. My parents have been together for 38 years. My marriage has been challenging at times, but I know like you stated to be positive with myself. To not lose faith, God will fix it in time. That is true. All men, no matter how great, can all be jerks. It is just how God made them to be. He made us to keep them in line. When women ask God for the power and strength to handle a union, they get it. If only more out there knew that. Marriage is a real commitment, no matter how simple or complicated.