Through one of my supervisees, I was introduced to an observation made by author Jimmy Evans in his work Marriage on the Rock. Evans observed that there were four types of destructive styles of husbanding. I would invite my male readers to consider these patterns that tend to destroy the marriage relationship God intend you and your spouse to experience. Evans’ observations ring true with my experience of counseling many couples. The categories are Evan’s. The essay about the categories are my responsibility and should not be attributed to Evans.
The Dominant Husband
Here are three illustrations. There is the husband who is self-absorbed in his personal life. For example, there have been numerous men along the way (counselees and acquaintances) who have been so into their career that there is either no time, daily, to invest in the marriage and simultaneously chide their wives for not being engaged every waking moment in productive activity.
The second example of the dominant husband is the fellow who rules with an iron hand. Years ago, when regularly conducting marriage and family seminars (the days of overhead projectors), I used a cartoonist transparency of a husband in a general’s uniform being saluted by his nervous wife in a private’s uniform.
Third, there is the demanding conformance husband. In Christian circles, this is the husband who characterizes himself as the master theologian. His wife is expected to read what he tells her, believe his interpretation of the most esoteric passage of Scripture, and read only the KJV of the Bible. She is not allowed to think for herself. When it comes to cultural matters, she is expected to conform to his values and dress in accordance his expectations.
The bottom line is this. He depersonalizes her. Rather than completing him, she is to be his reflection. I Peter 5 and Ephesians 5 leave no room for this style of husbanding. He cannot love his wife and crush his wife at the same time. They are mutually exclusive concepts. By the way, as a sidebar, one clue that man has this tendency is that he will be observed provoking his children to anger (Eph 6:4).
The Passive Husband
This fellow takes a Laze-a-fair approach to life rather like the mother in Doris Day’s melodious song, “Que, sera, sera, whatever will be will be.” He gives her no leadership, no protection, and no reason to respect him, and no reason to feel loved. He looks, acts, and feels more like a roommate than a husband. But husbands are called to intentionally love their wives (Eph 5:25).
The non-communicator is another form of the passive husband. However, most of the time he really is not passive, but is storing up his disappointments, and his frustrations until they become resentments (Eph 4:31) that burst forth in either cutting remarks or anger outbursts. Hence, he periodically violates Ephesians 4:29 hurting an grieving his wife and the Holy Spirit.
The Immoral Husband
There are four common versions of this husband. According to the statistics compiled by several research groups, men who can be characterized as adulterers or sexually addicted are sitting in the pews of every church. Here are the most frequent means of offense.
The adulterer will give various excuses for his activity. She is not good in bed. She withholds sex. She is always tired. I am just wired for sex and one woman cannot satisfy me. My wife is to keep the house and raise the kids. Since men in the Old Testament has concubines, so what is ultimately wrong with a mistress.
The porn viewer is a very common immorality for husbands today. Some of these men will use the same arguments as the physical adulterer. Others were initiated into porn as pre-teens, and according to recent brain research patterned themselves for this activity. Whatever the rationale, it is a betrayal of the covenant made before God to keep oneself only for his mate. Porn is engaging the mind with other women and often ends with this husband bringing this activity into the marriage enticing the wife to engage in his practice and thereby offending his wife at an even deeper level.
Passages like Proverbs 5 give clear guidance as to where and how a husband’s sexual energy should be employed. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of physical love which is also a physical representation (something we can grasp) of the intensity and intimacy God intends that we should experience in our relationship with Jesus.
The self-satisfier is the husband who meets his own sexual desires rather than expressing his desires through the process of satisfying the wife’s desires. This certainly runs counter to I Thessalonians 4:3-8 where Paul clearly states that the will of God for the believer is their progressive sanctification and one of the implications is that there is to be no sexual defrauding. Self-satisfaction is defrauding the wife and not living out I Corinthians 7: 1-5.
The constant flirter is the husband who demonstrates, in his wife’s face, that he does not respect her and indicates that she is not sufficient as a woman or a wife. He gives his wife occasion to sin by provoking jealousy and self-deprivation.
The Distracted Husband
The passive husband is clueless. He does not have an ounce of romance. He never knows what to give her for Christmas because he has not heard her small desires expressed from time to time. He does not thank her for special attention—it goes right by him. Some of this may be cultural conditioning, but that is not an excuse. Attentiveness can be learned. Most of the time, this is, once again, the result of being self-absorbed.
Some men are overly engaged in the world. It may be politics. It will more likely be sports or a hobby. I have known more that one man who became an absent husband, other than going to work. during hunting season. Depending on the state, this may run from November 1 to February 15th as was the case when I grew up.
These men may well love their wives well the rest of the year, but football or hunting season become their downfall.
Husband, do a ruthless self-inventory of your husbanding. Have you fallen prey to one or more of these default settings (sins)? After you have done the self-inventory, share your process with your wife and tell her you would like her to give you an honest appraisal. Start with a promise to receive what she says and a commitment to intentionally address needed areas including seeking Biblical Counseling if the two of you conclude that it is necessary. Pray with her to start to open the conversation and end with prayer. DO NOT offer evaluations about her wifing. Leave that to her and another occasion if she chooses to broach the subject.