Are Husbands Powerless to Do Anything?

Are Husbands Powerless to Do Anything?

If a man is married to a woman who spends money like crazy (money they don’t have) and is putting the family deeply into debt, is there nothing he can do about it? If a man has a wife who goes out drinking with her friends frequently and comes home drunk, is the husband powerless to do anything?

Last week, I posted an old post on Facebook called “Should Husbands Ever Discipline Their Wives?” I have hesitated writing about this again because it brings up so much controversy but then I reminded myself that this has never bothered me before. I try to seek the truth from God’s Word and His alone.

God created the husband head over the wife. He is her leader. She is to obey him and submit to him in everything. This is God’s ordained authority structure in the home. But many women balk at the idea of a husband “disciplining” his wife. Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I am NOT speaking about any form of physical abuse. I will never support this. I am writing about a husband trying to stop a wife from doing bad behavior.

When I wrote about this years ago, I was surprised to see such negative reactions from even godly wives about the word “discipline.” Our current society only typically uses the word “discipline” in two scenarios: 1) Disciplining a disobedient child (the term typically used for spanking) and 2) Self-deprivation for the purpose of reaching a goal (i.e. running a marathon, losing weight, etc.). Discipline that I am writing about is similar to the word “intervene” or using means to change bad behavior as God does for us. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).

When a citizen of a government speeds way too fast down a highway and is caught, he is disciplined by the government and has to pay a steep fine to hopefully teach him a lesson. When a student misbehaves in the classroom, the teacher finds some way to discipline them (going to the principle’s office, missing out on recess, etc.), in  hopes of stopping the student from misbehaving. When an employee is continually late to work, they will be disciplined by their boss in some way, maybe even be fired.

All those in authority have some type of disciplinary actions they use upon those under them when they break the “rules” so why would it be different in a marriage? Some may say a husband is simply supposed to pray and hope the Lord will convict and change the wife. No, this is God’s prescription given to women in 1 Peter 3:1 who are married to difficult men. They are to win them without the word by having godly behavior. Men are never given this prescription when they have disobedient wives. (Of course, women in difficult or destructive marriages can seek outside help and even separate if need be.)

Women will write, “My husband would NEVER discipline me.” Then that’s fine! Hopefully you aren’t a rebellious wife and if he doesn’t feel comfortable holding you accountable for any of your bad behavior or trying to stop it, then that should be his decision to make.

Our culture has made men impotent. Feminism has made men impotent to do anything to lead their homes. “Oh, but husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.” Yes, how does Christ love the church? “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). Part of loving is disciplining – trying to stop bad and/or destructive behavior. The wife does this by speaking the truth in love (yes, I absolutely believe a wife can call out a husband’s sin and speak the truth in love and then allow God to convict and change her husband) but I believe a husband has the authority to do more. A requirement for a leader in the church (male) is to be known for ruling his own house well (1 Timothy 3:4).

Now, I am only going to give a few examples of what I believe a husband can do if he has a wife that could use some discipline. If his wife is spending way more money than they make, he has the authority to cut up the credit cards and put her on a budget. (Now, this doesn’t apply to cruel husbands who are causing their wives to live in bondage and hardly have a penny to their name. In this case, a wife needs to seek outside help.) If a wife goes out frequently and gets drunk with her friends, the husband can take away the car keys and money before she goes. He has the responsibility to do what he can to stop this destructive cycle. If a wife is way too harsh in her discipline of the children, a husband needs to show leadership and step in and stop her. If a wife is a horrible housekeeper and her house is a disaster because she spends all day on her smart phone, then a husband has the duty to take away her smart phone. If a husband asks a wife to not put the knives in the dishwasher but she continues doing it, he has every right to not buy her a dishwasher and no, this isn’t abuse! Women have been washing dishes by hand for centuries.

So, yes, absolutely I believe a husband has the authority to discipline his wife in a way that isn’t physically abusive. He is head over her and God has put him in authority over her. He will be held accountable for how he has led her. It isn’t love to allow her to continually get away with bad behavior if there’s something he can do to help her stop it.

 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.
Ephesians 5:25

27 thoughts on “Are Husbands Powerless to Do Anything?

  1. I see nothing wrong with this teaching. My husband enforces rules for me all the time. He has made it clear that I’m not to take personal phonecalls or text/email during homeschooling hours, because he knows how distracted I can get. I also ask his permission if I go out with friends or to spend money on something that isn’t a necessity. People would probably think that this lifestyle is crazy, but I LOVE being under his authority and protection. It actually makes me feel safe and cherished…knowing that he is looking out for me. And he is a very loving husband and only has my best interest at heart, so I have no problem submitting to him and his rules.

  2. Feminists despise the thought that a wife would be “under” her husband’s leadership although they have zero problems with being under a boss’ leadership. They have twisted something good (wives being under their husband’s authority and protection) into something evil. We can see the destruction this has caused women with so many divorcing their husbands and looking for greener grass elsewhere while their children suffer. You are blessed to have such a wonderful husband!

  3. I know a lot of women who hate this teaching but I myself find it crucial to a healthy relationship. I remember when we were first married (about 6 months ) I sat my husband down on the couch and told him to list everything that I do that bothers him and what I as his wife could improve upon. It was hard to hear but it made our relationship stronger in the long run.

  4. What a kind, loving, and unselfish thing to do, Monique. I would have never thought of doing that when I first got married since I had the mindset that he was to meet my needs and not the other way around. We both suffered. You are a wise woman.

  5. My husband regularly “disciplines” me when he sees fit. These days it’s usually calling out something I’ve done wrong. Sometimes I’m impatient with my toddler and though I try not to let it show, he says it does. It breaks my heart to think of her remembering me ever being frustrated with her. I know he’s right.

    When we first we’re married however he put me on what I call a vanity fast. I was really into makeup and my looks. I was very self conscious and preoccupied with looking my best. I didn’t realize at the time that being insecure and self-conscious is a form actually of pride. He told me to stop wearing makeup and coloring my hair. At the time I was blonde and never left the house without the security of my makeup on. He asked me to wear t shirts, and just lounge clothes. This was all so hard to bear at first. He did it because he saw a heart issue in me- pride. A lot of people would say that he was being cruel. But he wasn’t. He would tell me that he didn’t want our daughters growing up fascinated with makeup, hair dos and the trendiest clothing. Now he’s lightened up his slack a bit and I just got my hair highlighted for the first time in 3 years. I still don’t wear any make-up. But the best change of all is that I became so much more Christ and Godly focused instead of focused on myself.

    I don’t see anything wrong with husbands disciplining their wives. I’m actually really glad I’m married to a man who isn’t afraid to break the status quo.

  6. Lori,

    One morning not many days after the king and I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary, my husband “had something to say, but I am afraid you will get mad.”

    Um, no, I will not get mad. Say on.

    The night before, I had repeated to him something that I thought was funny that I’d heard earlier that day on a certain widow’s radio talkshow. He did not appreciate it, he said, and thought it crude. The part he thought was crude was NOT the part I thought was funny, but to hear my husband’s viewpoint, hear his perspective is what I submitted to. We didn’t agree, but that’s where submission comes in: where I don’t agree and obey him anyway.

    He did not ask me to stop listening to this talkshow host, but “cautioned” me. I told him that I will not listen to her broadcasts anymore. Simple as that. If, as a godly woman, there is one thing I should not repeat from a radio show, why would I listen to any of it? If her radio show was a book, would I read it to my children? Would I listen to this station with little ones within earshot?

    I thanked my husband for pointing this out, and I was not angry. At all. There were several fronts and ideas upon which we disagreed, but is my husband’s view on the subject going to kill me? After reading this post, Lori, I see that my husband was discipling me to be more Christlike in yet another one my choices. Will I drop dead in the floor if he points out some weakness he sees in me? A character flaw I need to eliminate from my life? Cautions me about decisions I make?

    Ultimately it’s my response to discipline, chastisement, reproof and correction that is most important. If I know something good to do and do it not, that is sin, and sin WILL take me to hell.

    Instead, I want to be humble, to welcome correction, to crucify pride and my flesh, to cultivate a teachable spirit.

    That radio talkshow host always ends her broadcasts with, “Now go do the right thing,” and that’s exactly what I’ll do.


  7. It’s amazing that you “allowed” him to teach you things that he saw that you needed to be taught, Lindsay! Most women would rebel against this but as godly women, we need to listen to our husband’s rebukes and corrections since they know us the best. Teaching your children not to be vain in this vain culture is an admirable thing to teach them!

  8. Amen, Kelley! I have asked Ken to hold me responsible for “sins” that I know I need to get rid of and I am so thankful he does. He used to tell me them but I refused to listen and we had a difficult marriage. Now that I want to be a godly, submissive wife, I listen and learn from him (even though I don’t always love it) because I, too, want to become more like Christ!

  9. That dishwasher example is pretty pathetic, I think, because no harm actually comes to either the dishwasher or the knives from being put in a dishwasher, except the blades may become a bit dull. Refusing to buy a new dishwasher because the wife put the knives in, to me, sounds petty and ridiculous. If housekeeping is the women’s role/responsibility, she should have the right to do it as she sees fit. She’s not a child, and the husband not buying a dishwasher because she puts knives in there, comes across as him being nothing more than a spoiled child. Or a control freak. Neither of which is very endearing.

    But in all those other examples you mentioned, the husband not only has the right, but also the responsibility, I think, to hold his wife to account.
    If the wife is overspending on needless things, the husband must put a stop to it otherwise they may end up in real financial strife. Potentially homeless, and hungry. This is no way for kids to live!

    If the wife is going out drinking, the husband has the responsibility to ensure she doesn’t spend too much money, and also to make sure she doesn’t drink and drive. If she is doing this frequently, and neglecting her children etc. he has the responsibility to put a stop to it or get her help (if she has an addiction issue).

    If the wife is doing anything that is potentially harmful to any other member of the family, the husband has the responsibility to stop it. I think it goes further than “he has the right” – I truly think it is a responsibility.

  10. Yes, many women agreed with you about the dishwasher incident. I don’t at all. If a wife continually disobeys her husband’s wishes, he has every right to discipline her. She was thankful he did because she wants to be a godly, submissive wife. If it didn’t bother her and she was appreciative about it, why should it bother anyone else?

  11. Praise God they are not powerless if they are men of God as God’s Word says in

    2 Corinthians 10:4
    For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;
    (but that said if they are not God’s men then yes they are powerless.)

    Men pray, pray and pray some more that our mighty God will pull down the powers who are trying hard to destroy your marriages!
    No man or woman of God who has the Holy Spirit of God in them is powerless – for the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives and abides in you as you lead your family together with God!
    Love Jilly? ? ?

  12. KAK,

    You are showing not only a lack of knowledge about knives in dishwashers but also about what the Bible says regarding a wife’s submission to her husband.

    Frankly it does not matter if a wife understands or agrees with her husband on a particular matter. That is not the point. God tells a wife that she is to submit to her husband in everything. The only exception is if a husband asks his wife to do something God clearly calls sin. Then she must respectfully refuse.

    You may not even be aware of what Lori is referring to with the knife/dishwasher comment (the story of Sunshine Mary and Cabinetman) but nonetheless, I am offended by the disrespect of your shaming language calling a man who would “do such a thing” (pathetic, petty, ridiculous, control freak, spoiled child). You are exhibiting the typical sinful behavior that wives and women use to try and control their husbands and men in general.

    A wife is instructed by God to submit to her husband in EVERYTHING and that includes the responsibilities that are delegated to her by her husband: how she keeps house, cooks, cleans the kitchen and yes, even what can and cannot go into the dishwasher.

    If your going to be obedient to Gods instructions, if you are going to show Jesus that you love Him by obeying Him; if you are going to show a lost and dying world that there is something different about you and be a good witness for your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; if you are going to win that disobedient husband over to the Lord; you will understand that you don’t have the right to do as YOU see fit in ANYTHING. Everything falls to the prerogative of your husband and you are to serve at his pleasure, just as you would serve the Lord if he were physically living in the same house with you.

    God has made your husband head over you and you are to submit to him in everything and show him the utmost respect mingled with fear. Just as Sunshine Mary eventually did in their beautiful story of a wife’s sin, a Godly husband sacrificing himself to wash his wife in the water of the Word and then when she still would not comply with his lawful instructions, apply loving discipline to her, her repentance and the blessings that come with submitting to and obeying God in everything.

    For any men reading this, applying loving discipline to your wife (if and when needed) could make the difference between a happy home and hell on earth. Keep in mind we have to deal with her in the same way that Christ deals with us; a lot of love, a lot of grace, a lot of mercy, but when none of that works, like KAK said above, discipline becomes our responsibility. It can be hard to find ways to discipline wives these days but if it becomes necessary, pray to God and he will give you a situation where you can apply the loving discipline she needs.

  13. I actually have had the dishwasher incident happen with my husband and I. In our case he asked me to not the my knives in the dishwasher. He had a very good reason for that. The knives had been a special wedding present he had bought for me and he had paid A LOT of money for. I had no idea how much he had paid for them at the time!!! Now years later, he’s let it slip how much it was and thanked me for obeying him. Looking back im so thankful, I didn’t argue!!!

  14. What about riding the clutch on a standard. Is that ok make? Because that can run $1500 to fix. It’s a bad habit that people do. If the wife does it, should he buy her a new car or tell her to stop riding the clutch? Could run higher if the transmission blows!

    Pathetic, petty husband.

  15. What about riding the clutch on a standard. Is that ok make? Because that can run $1500 to fix. It’s a bad habit that people do. If the wife does it, should he buy her a new car or tell her to stop riding the clutch? Could run higher if the transmission blows!

    Pathetic, petty husband.

  16. Trey – I’m fairly confident I would know more about knives than you – my father is a retired butcher, so I grew up around knives, learning how to use them, care for them, and sharpen them. And I spent many years working in restaurants alongside chefs. As I said – it dulls the blades. It’s not great for the knives. I don’t put my knives in my dishwasher, because I’m the one who sharpens them – and I like my knives sharp enough to shave with. If my “shaming language” offends you I apologise for that, but as this blog is apparently for women, I’m not sure that women would find it offensive. I’m yet to meet a woman who finds a petty, childish man attractive in any way. Even those of us who do want a really alpha, dominant, command man, who is willing and able to take charge, lay down rules and follow through with enforcing them, don’t want one who is petty, spoiled and childish. And I don’t think anybody likes a control freak. If we’re going to submit to our husbands, hopefully we’ve picked one who is reasonable.

    You’re also wrong about me not understanding what the Bible says about wifely submission. I do. I go to a church that teaches it. I live it out, daily. My husband tells others frequently how glad he is for his submissive, obedient wife.

    I’m also married to a man who has battled with addiction, turned his back on the Lord, and both physically and emotionally abused me, and remained married to him (after a short separation) with the loving support of my church. My husband is currently still battling both addiction and how that works as far as serving the Lord, but he is no longer abusive.

    Because of my own experiences, whenever I see something like the dishwasher situation above, alarm bells start ringing in my ears. You are right – I do not know Sunshine Mary. I’ve read on Lori’s blog briefly about that incident before, and I thought then, as I do now, that with the limited information given, Sunshine Mary’s husband does indeed sound like a petty control freak with issues. I sincerely hope he isn’t. But he certainly does come across that way.

    However, you and I are definitely on entirely different pages when it comes to understanding the roles God has ordained for us, and the submission that comes with those roles. I’m not even going to argue with you about it, because our beliefs are clearly very different – and I go to a very conservative church who teaches directly from the KJV Bible.

  17. If someone doesn’t know how to use the clutch properly, they should perhaps buy an automatic car 😉

    Simply telling the wife to stop riding the clutch is probably not going to help – she needs to be taught how to drive a manual vehicle properly. She will likely have to re-learn the whole process all over again. It’s not just a “bad habit” it’s usually not knowing how to use the clutch properly.

  18. I don’t put knives in the dishwasher, partially because it dulls them, partially because my kids help load and unload it and I don’t want them handling sharp knives. So I wash, dry and put them away myself..

  19. I doubt that you two (KAK and Trey) are that far off in how you see submission, but the difference is that you, KAK, have as you say, “My own experiences, whenever I see something like the dishwasher situation above, alarm bells start ringing in my ears.”

    That sense is a general sense that many Christian women have and it is probably half true that indeed some husbands can be petty and controlling with their wives. So you begin with deciding that “knives in the dishwasher is petty,” and end with “this husband must be petty.”

    The reality of things is that neither you nor Sunshine Mary gets to decide what is petty and is not petty IF your desire is to please your husband and submit to him. If a wife is regularly deciding what is “right and wrong” and worse yet, deciding what is right and wrong in another marriage, she is not understanding what the heart of submission is all about. Hence Treys point.

    Think about it with me, if it is petty to insist that knives be washed by hand, is it also not petty not to wash them by hand? Yes, if this is a common pattern it may show pettiness, but if this is a “one-off” preference by a husband and the wife refuses to do it because she deems it petty, she is simply being unsubmissive. Because to choose what to submit to and what not to submit to with a godly, regularly good leader of husband goes to the heart of the issue of submission. Is a wife to pick and choose what she is to submit to, by simply seeing it as petty? Or does her submission bloom into something far more loving when she submits to the petty, in part because it is petty? If she is not to submit would it not be far better to do so over something that is of far more important than washing knives?

    Just a thought…

  20. Yes, ladies, let’s wash the knives by hand. It’s not hard to do. 🙂 And even if hubby seems a little “petty” life is short, just do it. 🙂

  21. Marriage is the foundation block, the model for all human relationships; for family, for church, for government, for brethren …and that most importantly for authorities in all of them, too.

    Now think of the hypocrisy of the foundation to all those relationships having no authority, not teeth in that authority, for without the ability to discipline, there is no authority. It is no wonder we have rebellion everywhere around us. If police can’t use force, they are ultimately impotent to rebellion; parents, too. If God does not have Hell or the threat of His wrath, we don’t have to listen to Him.

    Discipline evidences authority.

    Husbands are impotent in authority because their ability to discipline their wives has been stripped from them in the effeminate church. And that is the “damnation that slumbereth not” in the very church we uphold.

  22. Thank you for this post, and your blog. I agree with this teaching 100%. I think if my husband has the responsibility to be the head of our family, he also has the right/authority to discipline me in love to make sure my behavior isn’t damaging our me, our marriage or our family.

  23. My husband is not powerless and has every right to correct me! And he does. Lovingly, direct, and sometimes witty.

    Once, we were at an event talking amongst friends. A few minutes later he pulled me aside and corrected me on the tone of my voice when speaking to him. It was disrespectful. I hadn’t even realized it.! Oh geeze, I felt terrible! I apologized to him and to the people we were talking with. Honoring him is my #1 priority.

    Another time, I was terribly busy with a full schedule for the week and our home became disheveled. I apologized and told him my schedule had been jam packed. He replied “I accept your apology. However, you did have plenty of time to go to breakfast twice this week.” Wow! Convicted! He was right! I felt terrible but so glad he made me aware of the dishonor I was showing.

    I LOVE my sweet husband and always want to show honor and respect. I appreciate that he does this. Sometimes I’m not realizing it and I would never want to be disrespectful.

  24. Would the responses be the same if the husband put knives in the dishwasher after the wife said not to???? Betcha not.

    A set of knives we got as a wedding present were ruined by being put in the dishwasher, it ruined the handles (caused them to delaminate). The serrated knife was additionally ruined by being used to cut frozen meat. The paring knife was ruined who knows how, the last time I saw it, it was out in the back yard with the blade broken.

    It’s only stuff, it’s all going to burn. I chose to not express that I was upset by it (they were a present from my college roommate, and they were really good knives).

    Nowadays many knife handles are dishwasher safe. I wouldn’t really know because after this experience I made up my mind to never buy good knives again.

    But for cryin’ out loud, if one partner has a thing about putting knives in the dishwasher, don’t put them in the dishwasher.

  25. Lori,
    I liked your article. I did want to ask you what your definition of physical abuse is in the article? Some couples practice domestic discipine (both consenting) where there are a couple of rules and if the wife breaks them there are consequences, sometimes a spanking. Is this abuse if they both agree to this dynamic?

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