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Carnal Husbands, Cranky Wives, and Cantankerous Kids

July 15, 1996

As parents begin sharing their different experiences, I am amazed at the similarities. The testimonies go something like this: “We are a family of more than average discipline. We home school, are active in church, and have family devotions. We have trained and discipline the children from their youth, and I thought we were having good results until they got in their early teens.”

Continuing, they tell us of the different ways their children have manifested their disrespect and dishonor. How can this happen? How can a parent do everything right and still suffer rebellion in their teenagers? Does that verse mean, Train up a Child in the way he should go and when he is a teen he will be disrespectful, but when he is old will come back?

Over the years, as I have listened to these mothers tell of their similar experiences, the source of their problem has become clear to me. If they could be objective for just a moment, they too would be able to see the solution. To get to the root, I ask these mothers, “Does your husband do anything on a regular basis that you feel might be detrimental to the family?” Invariably they answer something like this: “YES, and I always knew it would weaken the family, and now this proves it.” Then I ask, “How do you react? Do you meet eyes with the children and silently communicate your disappointment? Are they in any way aware of your martyrdom as you willing “die to yourself” in resignation to your husband’s clumsy spirituality? Do you in any way indicate that you are praying he will assume his role as spiritual leader?”

When I ask such questions the atmosphere of the room suddenly changes. The “strong spiritual women” look as if they lost their unction. How do they feel? Probably the same way they make their husbands feel—like a second class Christian.

Over the years I have heard many women speak in front of their husbands about how they are praying God will have His way in their families. Or they will brag about what a wonderful sermon that was and how they want that in their home. As I stand there listening, I am embarrassingly aware that their husbands are being reduced to carnal nincompoops.
The man can’t complain that his wife doesn’t obey him, because she does. He can’t say she speaks evil toward him, because she doesn’t. He can’t fault her in anyway. But he is often angry; he feels he is not respected and honored; he feels the fool. And somehow for all her years of faithful prayer, he never becomes a mighty man of God. In front of the children, she patronizes him. She doesn’t know it, and he can’t explain it, but the kids grow up feeling it all the same. It reaps anger, frustration, belligerence, irritation in the dad, dislike among siblings, and, in teens, disrespect for their mother. The Scripture tells us “Every wise woman buildeth her house; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The children are subtly being persuaded that the head of the house is not really the spiritual leader, and therefore not to be highly regarded—in fact he is a detriment to the growth of the family. No wonder when they become teens they treat their dad like the burden you have contrived him to be. Of course, when the children are young, Mom seems like a strong spiritual woman, but as they mature they look at her with the same critical eyes of judgment she has used on Dad. Every look of irreverence toward Dad is now multiplied and sent back her direction (Matt. 7:1-5). She has trained her children well in the folly of disrespect and irreverence. They might obey, because she has obeyed, but what is obedience without honor?
Mother, if you have a reputation as a fine Christian woman yet lose your children to bitterness, what have you gained? Will it be satisfaction enough to be able to blame your husband?

The first and the most important thing you will ever do as a mother in training your children is to reverence your husband, delight yourself in him, love to obey him, feel honored to be married to him, joy in his presence. In doing so, you are building up your house, you are creating a home, you are establishing a foundation. It is this first and most important ingredient in raising happy, obedient, creative, respectful children, children delighted to be part of the family. This kind of atmosphere in the home causes your children to love each other, to enjoy being with their own brothers and sisters.

Oh, your teens might see that you are not Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, but they will delight in the fact that their parents really like each other. It makes for a very happy, peaceful home life. It makes the promises found in the Bible become a reality. It is the reason some parents who seem to do everything wrong are still able to raise good teens, while other parents who do everything right raise sour young people.

Ladies, we have in our grasp the opportunity to reverence our husbands, thus teaching our children how to reverence God. I can change eternity by choosing to delight myself in my husband, obeying him, loving him and causing him to stand before God free from the shackles of domestic condemnation. As Mike once said, “When a wife suggests that a husband take the lead, any leading he does after that is just following her suggestion.” When you decide what course the family should take and then seek to bring your husband into compliance, you will not only spoil your marriage but your children as well.

If your husband is a 20% father and you make the children aware of you dissatisfaction, you will have 20% kids; but if you respect and honor your 20% husband, causing the kids to think you see him as 100%, you may have 100% kids. And a husband and father who is treated with honor and respect will rise to the calling and be more of the man he needs to be.

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19 comments on “Carnal Husbands, Cranky Wives, and Cantankerous Kids”

  1. How hard to hear, but oh so true! I stand up & say I am 1000% guilty of these things a million times over. I have & continue to be repentant of my state & need the LORD's strength to be any different! In & of myself I am so weak & unable to change, but so desperately want to. Thank you so much for saying so. I don't need any more excuses about my behavior regarding my husband. My children always take my side against Dad because I have shown & taught them he is weak & usually wrong. Shame on me. Thankfully I hope there is still time enough as our oldest is going on 9!

  2. I have tried this approach for years, but my husband doesn't respond with love. He takes advantage and walks all over me. He is easily upset and angered, violent, abusive to the children, etc. I don't want my daughters to think it is okay for a man to treat them this way. It would be my worst nightmare for my girls to marry someone like their father.

  3. I'm with Mel...very guilty, weak & don't know how to change. But James 1:5 gives me great hope! God will give me wisdom as I ask him for it by faith. I truly desire to be a joyful, thankful, loving wife & mother. I want to build my home! If I really love my children, I will reverence my husband/their father! It's just that I fail so often. But I cannot quit trying. The glory of the Lord, my children's future, & a happy marriage are all good reasons to keep getting up when I fall. God's grace is still amazing!

    "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again..." Prov. 24:16
    "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phil. 4:13

  4. Thank you so much for your advice! I am so guilty for every time I have nagged my usband in front of my child. What damage this does to my child's future! May the Lord be merciful on me and may my husband forgive me for making him look less than he is. This truth of being a much more respectful wife has to be my main goal from now on. Thanks again for opening my eyes!

  5. Thank you for this article! It has been very timely pointed out to me. I am so guilty as charged. Pray that I may be strengthened by Christ in me to do what is just and right, to have mercy, and to walk humbly with God. That my words would be life to their hearers.Thank you for shedding light on this subject. Grace be to you.

  6. After reading this article, I realize how guilty of that I am and that I am reaping the fruit of my labor in what's going on in our home now. Is there a follow-up to this where you explain how to start picking up the pieces even though the children are now older and are not respectful? May God help ME to know how I can repair the damage that I have caused and give me greater love and understanding for my husband.

  7. I too, am very guilty of my husband feeling like he is a fool. We have already raised all 7 of our children, so a lot of damage is already done. My husband wanted to move all the time, so after 7 children and 45 moves in 40 years it's got me down. My husband has always been a clown, and other than having a job always wanted to just have fun with the kids. I had to homeschool, can all of our food, do all the finances, pack and unpack boxes all the time and I just got tired and bitter. I am 62 and I want the rest of our days together to be happy and pleasant. Is there hope for me? I feel like it's a useless battle. I know the Lord is there, but I just seem to feel like I can't do it. Do you know of any good Bible studies on Biblical womanhood. I truly would love to go through one. Thank you for listening.

  8. i owe i huge im so sorry to my husband it is ture the children should not hear the mother say daddy is less than their hero not in those exact words but in their eyes he is how could i cloud their way of looking at their hero i have alot of making up to do to the children and husband i will be getting on my knees and praying for help to fix what i have done

  9. I know I'm guilty of this and I've been praying for a long time to be able to love and respect my husband but I just don't know how to pretend to like someone that I don't....

  10. What if you are married to a verbally abusive, unbeliever who hates God? I am trying Luke 6:27-29, but it is difficult with the daily abuse!

  11. This is so hard to do when your husband travels so much of the time, that your kids see you as the leader because you are the one that is around the most. How do you switch over to his leadership when he IS home, especially when he does things so completely different than what you are used to doing? Been this way for 15 years!

  12. How do you do this when your husband travels so much, that your kids you as the leader? For instance, he's gone throw week M-Thurs, and the same for next week. Nearly every week he is gone at least 1 day, and it's been this way (and has been worse) for 15 years! How do you follow someone who isn't here? And how do you follow him when he IS here and does things so differently than what we are used to?

  13. Grateful for a timely word. We all fall short of the glory of God, don't we? I am certainly no exception. I fail to respect my husband as the Lord commands and I will continue to fail. So, I ask the forgiveness of my children and of my husband, praying that God will extend grace as I choose the path of humility. It's hard, especially when I feel justified in my disrespect. Clearly, I am not ?
    May everyone who reads this exportation have the courage to do what is right even when it's challenging!!