After The Fall, God revealed two temptations husbands and wives would face as a result of The Curse: nagging and stubbornness. God told Eve:
“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”Genesis 3:16
- “Your desire shall be for your husband” reveal the temptation wives face to control their husbands. This often manifests itself as nagging.
- “He shall rule over you” reveal that God has called men to be the leaders in the marriage relationship. By nature husbands are less receptive to having their wives tell them what to do. This often manifests itself as stubbornness.
Two truths make the tension between husbands and wives even worse:
- Husbands seem to struggle with stubbornness even more when they feel they are being nagged.
- Wives seem to struggle with nagging even more when they feel their husbands are being stubborn.
To learn more about the temptations husbands and wives face as a result of the The Fall, watch the message I delivered at a Marriage God’s Way Conference, and/or read the blog post below…
Katie and I were having dinner and I asked, “Do you think I should grow a beard?” She said, “Why do you ask me that? You’re never going to grow a beard.” I grew a beard, even though I don’t think I look good with one and I don’t really like having one (something that’s probably obvious based on Katie’s response), but since my wife challenged my manhood, of course I grew one.
The other day Katie said, “You’re not going to be able to get that piece of wood into the fireplace; it’s too big.” I might pull a muscle or burst a vein in my forehead, but you can be sure that piece of wood is going in the fireplace.
When husbands are told not to do something, it makes us want to do it, because we’re stubborn:
- Katie: “You’re not going to grow a beard.”
- Genesis 3:16 in action: “I’m going to grow the longest beard you’ve ever seen.”
- Katie: “You’re not going to get that piece of wood in the fireplace.”
- Genesis 3:16 in action: “I don’t care if I have to hold one end of this piece of wood outside the fireplace as the other end slowly burns and I push it in over the next few hours, it’s going in there.”
Nagging and Stubbornness Cause a Vicious, Joyless Cycle
A wife’s nagging and a husband’s stubbornness can create a vicious cycle that sucks the joy out of marriage. God is aware of this, so He has revealed how to bring it to an end—not with words, but with godly behavior:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.1 Peter 3:1
If you are a believing wife, I know there are things you want your husband to do, such as read the Bible with you and pray with you. Perhaps you also want your husband to do things of a less spiritual nature, such as finish a project around the house or take the family on a trip he promised some time ago. There might also be certain things that you want your husband to stop doing, such as watching ungodly things or spending too much time on a certain activity.
The truth is, nagging your husband will not bring him any closer to being the man you desire him to be or increase the likelihood of his doing what you want. On the contrary, since men are stubborn, nagging will probably make him less inclined to do what you want and could possibly even push him in the opposite direction. What a wife needs to do instead is obey Peter’s command to win over her husband, not with words, but with godly conduct.
An Example of Katie NOT Nagging
When Katie and I were first married, one summer I was unable to teach summer school. I made the terrible decision to try playing World of Warcraft. I soon became addicted. I quit after a few months, because of how convicted I felt. One reason I felt so bad about my behavior was that I had married a wonderful woman, and even at the worst of my addiction, Katie continued being a godly wife. If she had nagged me or mistreated me in some way, I would not have felt as bad.
Now do not get me wrong. Katie let me know how much it bothered her that I was playing. But she spoke to me honestly out of her pain, instead of in anger. Had she yelled at me, I would have felt more justified in playing because I would have thought that she did not deserve better. It was Katie’s godly conduct while I was being a lame husband that helped convict me of my selfishness.
Some balance is required. I am not advising wives to refrain from ever asking their husbands to do certain things, or not do certain things, or from giving their husbands reminders. God created a wife to be a “helper” to her husband. Sometimes husbands forget things, and a reminder (or two) can be a real blessing.
What to Do Since Men Can Be Oblivious?
Sometimes husbands walk around having little idea how much they have hurt their wives, children, or friends. They are unaware of how their wives, or anyone else for that matter, feel about what they are doing or not doing. Husbands need their wives to point certain things out to them.
Wives should share with their husbands what they want and how they feel, but they should keep two points in mind:
- The frequency with which a wife says these things is important. At some point, a request made a few times moves from being reasonable to nagging.
- The way a wife makes her requests is important. Yelling and disrespecting a husband will not convict him. Lovingly and respectfully petitioning him about the way he is acting and the pain he is causing will. When a wife speaks to her husband in this way, he will likely feel terrible for mistreating such a wonderful woman.
Husbands in turn need to let their wives know when they have moved from being helpful to nagging, but in a gentle and loving way. Husbands who respond cruelly to their wives are not going to help their wives stop nagging. When a husband raises his voice at his wife he is sinning, but he is also pushing her to move from nagging to yelling in response.
Nagging’s Affect on a Husband
A nagging wife damages her marriage and her husband…
- The contentions of a wife are a continual dripping (Proverbs 19:13b).
- Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious (Proverbs 21:9 & 25:24).
- Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman (Proverbs 21:19).
Nagging makes a husband want to get as far away from his wife as possible. He would rather be on the corner of a rooftop or in the wilderness.
A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious (or nagging) woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.Proverbs 27:15-16
Restraining a nagging wife is impossible. It’s like trying to restrain the wind or pick up oil with your hand. When you try to restrain a nagging or contentious wife by responding, it makes her more contentious. She engages in even more nagging! All you can do is climb to the corner of a rooftop or dwell in the wilderness to get away from her.
Nagging Your Husband Can Kill Him???
A Danish study conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen concluded a wife’s nagging was detrimental to a husband’s health:
The study followed almost 10,000 men and women between the ages of 36 and 52 for 11 years. The researches found:
The stress of constant moaning can weaken the body’s immune system. People nagged by spouses are more likely to get heart disease and cancer.
Dr. Lund, the author of the study, blamed stress for the early deaths as it triggers high blood pressure and other issues. He said:
Excessive demands – or nagging – can more than double the risk of death in middle-age; it can lower the immune system and lead to other health problems.
Men find themselves at risk, because unlike women, they aren’t as likely to share their problems with close friends or family. Many men only confide in their wives who, unfortunately, happen to be the very person causing them grief. Dr. Lund said, “The one person [husbands] have as a confident is actually the one putting the [stress] on them.” The study suggested going to work could provide relief, because it gets husbands away from the source of their stress.
Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
- Although a wife shouldn’t nag her husband, what can a husband do or say to make it easier for his wife to resist this temptation?
- How can a husband resist being stubborn when his wife’s frequent reminders aggravate him?
- Although a husband shouldn’t be stubborn, what can a wife do or say to make it easier for her husband to resist this temptation?
- How can a wife avoid nagging when she is concerned about something her husband is doing or not doing?
Questions for Husbands and Wives to Answer Separately and Then Discuss Together
- Husband: List three times you recognize you were being stubborn.
- Wife: List three times you feel like your husband was being stubborn.
- Husband: List three times you feel like your wife was nagging.
- Wife: List three times you recognize you were nagging.