I truly despise this saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Women who aren’t happy are women who want to get their way in the home through fault-finding, criticizing, whining…nagging. It’s the behavior of someone in a subordinate position who wants to rule the roost by making the rooster very, very unhappy.
King Solomon had a lot of women in his life. Perhaps he experienced and learned from some of his experiences. Maybe this is why Proverbs has several verses on being with an unhappy wife:
Proverbs 19:13 “…the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”
Proverbs 21:9 “Better to dwell in the corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
Proverbs 21:19 “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”
Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
Proverbs 27:15-16 “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.”
To be contentious means to be argumentative, quarrelsome, controversial, contending and generating strife.
I believe God’s word that the husband is the authority over the wife, and I believe the order was established when God told Eve after her rebellion, “Your husband will rule over you.” Some struggle with the idea of authority given in a marriage based on gender, but the truth is, anytime you get two people together, at some point there will be a disagreement. In order to avoid chaos, one of those partners will need to have the final decision. I understand there are many dysfunctional relationships, even abusive ones, but in God’s plan, the marriage relationship is a partnership of two leaders, the husband being the head leader and the wife being the assistant leader. Submission is a beautiful thing when there is respect for each other, trust in each other, and crazy love for each other.
I’ve been married over 30 years, and as a strong woman, God has worked hard and long to see His characteristic of meekness, or controlled strength, be developed in me. When the nature is transformed, the behavior, the conversation, and the attitudes will follow. Every day is a choice to follow God’s heart. Sometimes I miss it, but the Holy Spirit is working in me and my husband. It is part of the journey of life, and with God, life gets better and better as we become more like Him.
There are reasons why some struggle with submission, whether a wife to a husband, a husband to the Lord, and employee to an employer, a team member to a leader, a citizen to a country, etc. Why some women want control over their husband:
- They have a desire to be successful, but instead of trusting and yielding to their husband, they want to run things, change things, control things. The desire to succeed isn’t what is unhealthy; it’s the refusal to bring herself under the authority of her husband. She can attempt to control with a quiet, passive aggressive behavior or she might try to power over her spouse with a strong, bold, large and in change mannerism.
- She wants to control what her husband controls. If she can’t have direct influence in something outside of her position, then she will nag her husband until he becomes her puppet in his position. She tells him what to say, what to do, what to think, what to feel. He might be the head, but she sees herself as the neck, turning her husband this way and that.
- She has been hurt by her husband’s choices and she wants to prevent further hurt, so she keeps him under her thumb. Unforgiveness isn’t always as simple as holding someone to their offense; it can also be a form of self-preservation. If you don’t expect change, then you won’t be disappointed again.
- She struggles with her self-worth. Feelings of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment are familiar to her, so she works hard to prove herself, gain approval, and get results by pushing her way through. She is more than competitive with herself to be her best, she is competitive with others to be the best, or at least to be part of what she considers better than something else.
- She is familiar with shame, guilt and fear. She works hard to overcome these feelings in her own insufficiency by proving herself or paying a price to compensate for her failure or the failure of those near to her.
- She is carnal or immature spiritually. Humility is a God-like quality that often needs to be developed as we become more like Christ. Humility is a heart issue, a characteristic that comes from knowing God.
Let me add, if controlling the husband isn’t enough, a nagging wife will also extend that control to her children. The result will most likely either be children who resent her, resist her, or comply with her. Some will adopt and carry on her behavior into their own lives, marriages, and families.
Control and manipulation is an authority issue. Before going any farther, I want to mention that I understand there can also be an unhealthy dominance of the husband over the wife. I’m not advocating unhealthy submission to an unhealthy or abusive husband.
To overcome the unhappiness that comes from control issues, whether a wife or anyone else, here are a few Bible answers:
- Admit it. See the problem.
- Go to God and ask Him to reveal the why. Is it one of the reasons mentioned above?
- Ask God to make you whole, align and fill those spaces that are lacking or misaligned.
- Repent to God and to your husband and/or family.
- The Bible says to humble yourself. You make the choice to position yourself under your husband’s authority.
- Begin a journey of transformation. Each day spend time with God and allow Him to correct and strengthen. If you stumble, go to God again as part of the process of change. If there is a cycle of behavior between the husband failing and then the wife controlling and then the husband failing, and then the wife controlling, ask God to help that pattern to stop. It may take awhile.
- Do something to demonstrate humility and love. Assist him. Help him. Build your husband up with your words and in your actions. Helping one another should go both ways because of trust and love, not control or manipulation. We don’t withhold household responsibilities to motivate one another to do what we want. We don’t secretly spend or make money to get what we want. We don’t try to pull our children in on our side to get what we want. Proverbs 31 says the heart of her husband trusts in her. He is confident she is on his side.
- Similarly, make love with your husband, and do it often. Don’t withhold sex to manipulate and don’t give it to reward. Sex is often an indicator of the health of a marriage relationship. When you are healthy, you will enjoy and love each other.
The opposite of a nagging, contentious wife is a wife who will:
- Compliment instead of compete or criticize
- Show kindness instead of meanness
- Show temperance instead of control
- Show trust instead of manipulation
- Be happy
In conclusion, this is a quality that God finds precious in a wife or a subordinate – a gentle and quiet (peaceable) spirit (see I Peter 3:1-7). If you are a leader, having a partner who will work with you instead of against you is a quality you will cherish, nurture and respect. God’s ways are higher! God’s ways are better! Let’s all yield to Him and allow His peace to rule our hearts and our relationships.