I never thought I’d want to lord it over my husband or treat him like a child.
But I have.
When God created the first man (Adam) and the first woman (Eve), it was so they’d have a helper to do life with. God recognized that Adam was the only one of all His creations who didn’t have someone just like him.
It turns out there’s precedence for desiring to mother your husband.
Eve was human, made in God’s image, just like Adam, but she was Adam’s complement. A suitable helpmate to go through life with.
But a funny thing happened in that utopian existence. The serpent (Satan) asked some questions that caused the woman (Eve) and then the man (Adam) to question God’s goodness. When they bought the lie (God is withholding the best from you), not only did they lose their utopian existence, but they also lost their perfect relationship with each other.
Eve began to desire to control her husband and learned the meaning of labor pangs. Adam developed a superiority complex, struggled to get enough food for them to eat, and spent more time weeding than harvesting. (KDS very loose translation.)
How do we, as women, cross the line from helper to mother when relating to a husband?
1. Take control.
Part of the curse in the Garden of Eden. God gave women generally the gift of a nurturing mindset. Just ask any mom whose child might be threatened. Mama Bear rises. You don’t mess with my kids. If my child gets hurt, I’ll be the first one there to comfort and stop the pain. Just try to prevent me.
When my kids started in organized sports, I’ll never forget the first time they got hurt. This mama jumped to her feet and headed toward whatever field of play they were on and took charge. You don’t mess with my baby. And, when my kids were in their teens, this response wasn’t always welcome. I learned to take a deep breath, evaluate how they responded to said injury, and adjust my actions accordingly. When warranted, Mama Bear arose. She held back the rest of the time and let them work it out.
But when it comes to your husband, your role in your marriage should provide love, encouragement, honor, and respect to your man. Your job isn’t to direct the man’s every step or plan his daily activities.
Our husbands fear displeasing us. Therefore, we feed their fear and stymie their self-confidence when we step into controlling mode. We wound their hearts, and souls like no one else could, not even their closest buddies.
What about when you see him heading in a direction that you believe only results in harm? Talk WITH him about it like you would with your best girlfriend, not AT him. Ask open-ended questions. Try to understand what he’s thinking. Listen actively and politely. Don’t make this a contest of wills. The truth is, he will make some decisions that aren’t the best and face the results of those decisions, just like you.
Not sure if you desire to control your husband? Listen to how you describe him and your relationship with your friends. Your harsh words reflect your heart attitude. Are you a Negative Nancy, Controlling Carol, or Loving Laura? If you are the first or second person, it’s time to do some soul-searching regarding your relationship with your husband.
2. Bossy communication.
Mama Bear rising doesn’t give you or me the liberty to speak this way to our men: “I told you not to do it that way. You never listen to me. Never mind. I’ll do it myself, so it’s done right.” It’s not wise or life-giving to boss around your husband as if he were three years old. Uh uh, ladies. Not good.
When you find yourself speaking harshly and derogatorily to your husband, it’s time to step way back and evaluate. What expectations haven’t been met? Maybe you feel disconnected from him emotionally and physically? Have you packed your days so full that you don’t have time to connect with him other than bark orders? Has he disappointed you somehow, and you haven’t talked with him about it?
Listen to your words. Do you speak the same way to your best friend? How about your children, if you have them? Or do you reserve this dangerous communication style for your husband? God tells us that a man would be better off living in the desert than with a quarrelsome or nagging wife. Ouch. Snakes, thirst, and cacti are better companions than a bossy wife. Not sure how to break this habit? Ask God to change your attitude and words. Reach out for help to a counselor or coach.
3. Withhold intimacy.
This is tricky to navigate. And before we go on, let me be clear. If you suffer abuse from your husband or feel your life is in danger, get immediate help.
I once heard a Christian speaker tell a roomful of women that until “their love cup was full,” it was okay to withhold sex. She then related several stories from her marriage where she would have specific criteria her husband had to meet, including honey-do items, before enjoying him in the bedroom. They’ve since divorced. This type of behavior almost smacks of “if you do what Mommy says, then you can have a treat.”
Time together enjoying God-designed sex brings pleasure and fulfillment to each. And God spells out that we aren’t to withhold sex from our spouse except by mutual agreement and then for a specified time.
If you struggle with physical intimacy, see a Christian counselor specializing in this area.
The key to remember is that sex is a gift designed by God for a husband and wife to enjoy. Read the Song of Songs in the Bible to get a beautiful picture of the healthy love and sex a husband and wife wants. The point is to seek to bring pleasure to each other in a mutually beneficial way.
When evaluating whether you have a helper or mother relationship with your husband, observe how you relate to him every day.
Then, ask yourself some questions:
- How do I want my husband to speak to me?
- How do I want my husband to show respect for me?
- What do I do to show my husband I cherish him?
- What unhealthy expectations might I have?
- How well do I communicate my thoughts, feelings, and needs to my husband?
- How well do I listen to my husband express his thoughts, feelings, and needs?
Healthy marriage relationships take intentional work.
The more we allow other things or people to take precedence over our marriage, the greater our likelihood of dissatisfaction, unmet expectations, and disconnect.
Here’s a brave coaching moment:
Ask your husband how you mother him and when.
Listen actively to what he says. Together, discuss how you can both move away from these negative relationship patterns. Brainstorm ideas, then pick one or two to implement this week. I know you can do it.
Still need help leaving behind your mothering tendencies? Reach out.