A Wife’s Nagging and a Husband’s Stubbornness-author-scott-lapierre

A Wife’s Nagging and a Husband’s Stubbornness

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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

The words:

  • “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:

  1. Husbands seem to struggle with stubbornness even more when they feel they are being nagged.
  2. 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…

My Stubbornness

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

Husbands of nagging wives can actually be nagged to death. This significantly shortens one’s life, and could result in three extra deaths per 100 people per year.

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.
Your Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship
Your Marriage God's Way Workbook author Scott LaPierre

The content in this post is found in Your Marriage God’s Way and the accompanying workbook.

20 Responses

  1. Great teaching it helps me as a Pastor to explore the secrets of marriage and revelation of God’s for couple’s now is time to work with God blessings you so much

  2. May I ask how a believing wife is to respect her husband when he could care less about serving God and verbally lashes out at her no matter how godly she tries to be? He’s like a train out of control bc his sins were found out and so now all he does is find fault with her mistakes that have been long corrected while his were still and may still be an issue. He refuses any form of outside help or counsel, nor will he do research together with her as she grasps at every straw doing all she can to bring things to a level of peace, harmony and happiness. Sadly it is pushing her further and further away from her relationship with the Lord and causing her love for her husband to become less and less. And yes it really is a toxic back and forth that she has tried almost in vain to fix. Thank you so much!!

    1. Christina,
      Not to repeat the whole post to you, but the answer is in the verses of the post was written about. First Peter 3:1-2 says, “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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” These verses clearly state that the woman you’re referring to should try to win over her husband with her Christlike conduct.

      If you don’t mind me asking, if the man you’re referring to is as bad as he sounds, why did the women marry him?

  3. Thanks Pastor, more truth and love!
    My same dysfunctional behavior over and over and expecting a different result sure has been frustrating.
    Merry Christmas!

  4. This is a great post. My mother and step-father have always preached this; women need love more than men, and it needs to be shown to them in different ways and more often. Men need respect more than women, and respect needs to be shown in different ways and more often. I hate to hear women talk bad about their husbands to each other or in public, and to hear constant nagging. Marriage is supposed to resemble the relationship between Christ and His Church, and I doubt that a nagging/disrespectful wife shows that sort of holy relationship!

    1. Thank you Kay!

      Yes, in God’s wisdom there are reasons He commanded wives to respect their husbands, and He commanded husbands to love their wives. In the marriage counseling I’ve performed, I’ve often found conflict takes place when men don’t feel respected, and when women don’t feel loved.

  5. This is very interesting. Who knew… I wonder when asking someone to do something becomes nagging. I don’t believe a wife should constantly ask her spouse to change who he is to please her, but I think sometimes men think they are being nagged when really they just need to get rid of the wood pile in the yard or take out the trash. I like what JJ had to say and the quote by C.S. Lewis. I do think respecting each other involves learning to change our own perspectives and choosing to love the quirks and imperfections in each other.

    1. Hi Rachael,
      You said:

      I wonder when asking someone to do something becomes nagging.

      I think that depends on the person. This is why husbands need to understand their wives, and wives need to study their husbands. Here’s a portion from my book:

      Learning Your Husband’s Respect Gauge
      After listening to hundreds of hours of my teaching, Katie often knows how I will answer questions and can even finish sentences for me. Because of this familiarity she can help me know when not to say certain things. She will swipe her hand across the front of her neck, signaling, “Not a good idea.” Perhaps the most common criticism I have received of my preaching is that I talk too quickly. Katie will make a hand motion that lets me know to slow down.
      I find these actions helpful, but Katie has had other women tell her: “I can’t imagine doing that to my husband when he is talking.” I have had men ask me: “You don’t mind when your wife does that?”
      At the same time, there are things other men might find helpful that Katie knows I find disrespectful. This is why it is so important for wives to learn their husbands. The biblical instruction for wives to submit to their husbands also includes the concept of adapting. This is captured in the Amplified Bible:
      • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, be subject [be submissive and adapt yourselves] to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.
      • Colossians 3:18—Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.
      • Titus 2:5a—[Wives should] be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured [kindhearted], adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands.
      • 1 Peter 3:1a—In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them].

  6. Great job! I know nagging is a common source of tension in relationships and I feel like your blog post did a great job of shedding light on the effects!

  7. What would your suggestion/wisdom be regarding a wife who exhibits the following traits?

    • Psychological projection (kettle calling the pot black)
    • Emotionally induced accusations (delusional reality – fact manipulation)
    • Never ending demands (cannot be satisfied)
    • Verbal abuse (temper tantrums – screaming and stomping)
    • Superficial/Primitive (child-like) reasoning skills
    • Extreme resistance to admitting fault (victim mentality)
    • Intentionally spiteful rebuttals (sharp tongued assaults)
    • Hypocritical double standards (inconsistent/shifty philosophy)
    • Resistant to correction (cannot swallow her own medicine)
    • Resistant to praise (skewed context as patronizing condescension)

    I am literally at my wits end. Although I cannot financially afford to leave – not to mention the religious convictions – I am considering divorce as a last resort. Your article could explain why my health has been slowly degrading over the three years we’ve been together (married one year now). And I say this as a borderline health nut who has always been mistaken for looking about 10 years younger than my age. I’ve never needed routine medical care until now. Maybe it’s because I’ve arrived at my mid 40’s now, but I still eat very well (even kosher) and workout every day. So I found this article to be coincidentally compelling.

    Her primary “Love Language” is Acts of Service. So I have gone to the extreme of printing out check lists to make sure that I’m doing my utmost to live up to her (unrealistic/unquenchable) expectations. My primary “Love Language” is Words of Affirmation. She knows this, but has remained consistent with the verbal abuse, name calling and insults. I really have no means of retreat to anybody or anywhere else – she is constantly suspicious – most likely due to her first two marriages failing to infidelity. I have exhausted the Proverbial Contentious/Quarrelsome wife syndrome with her – but the result has been something like trying to herd cats while simultaneously running into a brick wall. At this point I would literally welcome death. Suggestions?

    1. Hello,
      Theres a lot I need to know to try to form a response. Is your wife a Christian? Do you pray with her, read the Word with her, and take her to a bible believing church? Have you sought counseling from the church? Do you have children? What does your wife do during the day? Stay-at-home mother or student or work?

  8. One question. How do you “minister to his fears”? What does that look like in action? Is that quiet pinpoint prayer with specific scripture about fear, conversing with him regarding what those fears are, or a general sense of prayer in all areas of fear?
    I guess what I’m asking is how do I minister to a fear if I’m not sure what the fear is of? Thank you for this post Scott it was exactly what I needed to read!

    1. Hi Jen,
      Thanks for the question.

      Without knowing more details about your husband’s fears, here are the general recommendations I’d make…

      You already mentioned prayer. Continue to pray for him, and pray that God will help you to know how to minister to him and be an encouraging, wonderful wife.

      Share encouraging verses with him.

      Make encouraging statements to him: “God wants you to lead our family. He’ll help you do that. I know God wants what’s best for us and He’ll use you to see that happen. God is going to work through you.” Compliment your husband on his strengths: does he work hard? Is he a servant? Is he faithful in the Word? Faithful at church. Encourage him in these areas.

      Has God been faithful to your family in the past? Remind your husband of that: “God has taken care of us in the past and He’ll continue to do that.”

      If you want to give me more details of the situation I can try to respond more specifically.

      1. Thank you for the prompt reply Scott. I’m not exactly sure what my husbands fears are. I was mainly questioning the fear part in regards to the other persons post…my husband is extremely pessimistic and negative. When we were dating I saw that he had a tendency toward negativism and I was willing to see past that. I am the complete opposite and tend to be overly positive and see the best in people even when I should probably recognize some faults. I figured we would balance each other. After over 9 years of marriage I am beginning to struggle with the overly negative view. I have prayed and prayed that he would recognize when the voice of the enemy is whispering negative thoughts, prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill him and give him discernment, and prayed for divine order in our house. I admit that in the past two years I have become discouraged and am praying less. Due to this I find that the negative attitude is trying to take root in my heart and the enemy uses that to try to discourage me further! I plead with God to stop this cycle…it is driving a wedge between my husband and I and it’s heart breaking 🙁 I read this post and it really touched me. I used to be able to overcome the negativity easily. Words of encouragement (my husbands first love language) used flow ceaselessly from my mouth and now I find those words come less easily for me. I am fully aware that this is probably my problem but I struggle with constantly being the encourager when the one I’m encouraging never begins to see the positive. I feel like after 8 years of consistently speaking encouragement, praying over lies that the enemy is speaking into his mind and using against him, and trying to be the spiritual leader of the household, that I am exhausted.
        My hope is that since you or even your wife can offer me some encouragement or insight on how to pray differently for my husband. While nagging specifically isn’t the issue, I feel like the first response to this post resounded deeply with me in regards to the negative portion. Our pastor often mentions that we should not keep company with negative people because they can wear on you and bring you down but I need to know how to address negativism when the person whose company is negative is your spouse…and divorce is not an option! So I just need ideas on how to encourage him, encourage myself, and to keep praying. Sorry for the long post! Thank you in advance for your response 🙂

        1. Jen,
          I’m so sorry for not responding earlier. Somehow this escaped me until responding to another comment caught my attention.

          I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have gotten married “hoping” their spouse would change, be different, etc.

          If it’s wearing on you so much to keep trying to be the encourager – and especially if it’s not working – then I would encourage you to stop trying to be the encourager. Conserve your time and energy for more profitable areas of the relationship. Keep the prayers going up for your husband and marriage, but don’t try to change him (which is somewhat what you’re doing trying to encourage him when he’s discouraged). Be a good listener. Let him be negative. Let him be discouraging. Don’t try to talk him (often argue) out of it.

          I might not have the most encouraging news for you. The longer I’m in ministry, the more I become convinced that people don’t change that much. Instead, people have to learn to accept their spouse, choose contentment, pray for grace, and pray God helps them love and cherish the person they’ll be with for the rest of their life.

          You asked me how to pray differently for your husband, and I might invite you to pray for yourself more. Pay you have the strength and endurance you need being married to this man.

  9. CS Lewis:

    When serving your spouse, you aren’t pursuing him but what you hope he would be. Far better is to love the original, not your revised edition. After all, you’re an original, too.

    Loving the original requires lifelong adjustment on your part, and this deference is a key proof of the marital love that Christians are called to (Eph. 5:21-33). Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse. Where there is no disagreement, no annoyance, no resistance, there is no opportunity for sacrifice. If we love only what is pleasing to us in our spouse, we are loving only our preferences. We don’t need the gospel to do that.

    We do need it to free us from our tendency to adjust one another constantly to our liking. Jesus came to serve an impulsive Peter, a distracted Martha, a dubious Thomas. And he came to serve a silly person like each one of us. And yes, Christ’s redemptive love changes us by degree, but this change is about conformity to righteousness, not conformity to personal preference.

    So if your husband laughs too easily for your taste, love him for it. If he’s more pessimistic than you prefer, minister to his fears. If he’s quieter in social gatherings than you’d like, be grateful for it. If he has more difficulty making plans than you think reasonable, come alongside happily. In all the little spousal resistances, celebrate the privilege of loving a person, not an image.

    As Lewis said, reality is iconoclastic. And thank God this is especially true in marriage.

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