If the gentlemen would like to share your constructive thoughts on this issue, or a man’s perspective, you are welcome to.
I can’t even begin to count how many women I have heard from over the past 2.5 years who were upset because their men didn’t protect them from extended family during disagreements. I know every situation is different, and I can’t begin to address every possible scenario and there can be many very complex factors involved. So I will only be able to speak in generalities here. But, I thought I would share a few things that may revolutionize how we as women might view this situation as we attempt to examine a masculine perspective. And, as always, I am assuming that you are seeking to live in total submission to Christ and that you are only dating or engaged to a man who desires to live in total submission to Christ.
(** If you are dealing with very serious situations – mental illness, drug/alcohol addictions, criminal activities, actual abuse, infidelity, etc… please don’t read my blog but seek godly, experienced one-on-one help.)
My understanding is that most men who are anywhere near healthy emotionally/spiritually/mentally are generally glad to provide for, protect and lead their women.
Men tend to have the drive to want to do these things and to be the “hero” in our eyes, especially. God created men to want to be our heroes, to be the “good guys” we can trust, admire, be proud of and respect. Most guys LOVE to see their girlfriend/fiancé happy. Our happiness makes them feel “successful” as men. Our happiness and delight is such a precious gift to our men.
In marriage, if a wife disrespects her husband or usurps his position of God-given authority (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, Genesis 2-3, Proverbs 31), the dynamics dramatically shift (much of this applies in a dating/courting relationship as well):
- Now the woman is taking a stance of being in competition with her man for power and control instead of looking to him with admiration, honor, respect and cooperation to bless him as her teammate. A man doesn’t generally try to protect, nurture, be affectionate toward, be gentle toward, fawn over or woo his competition.
- If a woman takes the masculine stance of taking authority, her guy will generally either fight her for his God-given position (in marriage) or will unplug and become passive and let her take over. But he will not cooperate with her. If he is more prone to being passive, he may eventually just let her do her own thing and let her have the whole job of leading, providing and protecting herself since that is what she has insisted she wants. He may even give up trying to be the leader and man that God calls him to be.
- If she is going to take care of herself and she doesn’t want or need him to be her hero and she isn’t willing to follow his leadership, then he assumes she can protect herself and take care of everything herself. If she wants to act like a man, he will let her “be her own man.” He wants to be with a woman who complements him and is his teammate, not someone who acts like a man and acts like his competition. He may feel like there is no role for him if she tries to dominate him.
- If a woman takes over and tries to control and disrespect her man, he will be very busy trying to protect himself from her. She is coming at him like an enemy. So the only one he is most concerned about protecting is himself. Why would he protect someone who is doing everything in her power to make his life miserable? He may even feel like she is pretty scary. Those verbal attacks and outbursts of negative emotion, criticism, scolding, lecturing, bossing him around, criticizing him, blasting him, humiliating him, undermining him, arguing with him, complaining about him, telling everyone how little she thinks of him do not attract a man toward his girlfriend or fiancé. This is how “a foolish wife tears down her house with her own hands” Proverbs 14:1.
- Women have SUCH power to make a relationship a peaceful sanctuary filled with joy, safety, love, respect, honor, nurturing, blessing and comfort, or we can turn our relationships into an all out war where no one is safe and everyone ducks for cover and it is “every man for himself.”
- If a man sees someone else as being in charge, to him, it is very disrespectful for him to rush in to protect that person.
- When a wife tries to act like the authority and leader, that repels her husband and she pays the price by losing out on emotional/spiritual/physical intimacy with him. And, even worse, when she expects him to submit to her, she is asking him to emasculate himself and take on a wife’s position of biblical submission in marriage. That is not God’s design. It is actually a good thing that our husbands don’t cooperate with us when we try to take over – it shows that they have backbone and that God designed them to be the leaders in the marriage. If they did everything we told them to do and catered to our every demand, we would actually respect our men LESS, not more. I’m not sure we realize that. But that is exactly what happens when a wife is very strong and dominant and the husband does decide to submit to her. We lose all respect for our husbands and they lose respect for themselves. Then everyone loses.
I have heard it said that “The only thing worse than a man you can’t control, is a man you can control.”
- If a woman is being disrespectful to his family or her family, even if she is treating her guy with honor and respect, he will most likely leave her to her own devices to fix the mess she made. She has stepped out from under his covering and protection if she is provoking discord and fights herself. I know I did this in the past and had to repent to Greg and to extended family members for my disrespect toward them as well. (I was controlling and disrespectful in many of my relationships. Ugh!) God desires us to live in peace with others as far as it depends on us. (Romans 12:18) If we are starting conflicts, divisions, factions, strife, holding on to bitterness/resentment and/or spreading gossip, that means our sinful nature is in control, not God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:18-21) We need to repent to God and to others if this is the case!
- However, in marriage, if a wife has been honoring, respecting, blessing, cooperating with her husband’s authority and he has felt truly loved and genuinely respected for quite some time, and the wife is treating his family or extended family members with respect – most men will, eventually, protect and stand up for their wives and their family IF they believe that there is a real threat against their wives and children. Men don’t always have the same definition of “threat” that we do as women.
If a man has never stood up for himself to his own mother or parents, then a woman may have to be patient as she focuses on obeying God for herself and her guy works up the courage to stand up to family members if necessary. If he doesn’t defend himself, he probably doesn’t have the ability yet to defend her either. Most men will not want to cause a division or chasm in the family and will try to avoid conflict. It would usually have to be a pretty serious situation before a man would decide to cut off contact or issue an ultimatum or speak up about something if he has never done so before. This will take a woman being very tuned in to God’s Spirit to know exactly what to do and what to say with her guy and the extended family involved.
Most husbands don’t want to be in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between their mothers or their wives. Yes, husbands should put their wives first. That is God’s design.(Genesis 2:24) But many times, a wife can influence him much more powerfully by inspiring him to want to protect her and defend her by obeying God’s commands to her as a wife and living in full submission to Christ in the power of His Spirit than she ever could by trying to demand what she wants or give her husband an ultimatum. I believe, as we obey and honor God’s Word for us as wives and as believers in Christ, we may be able to avoid a lot of conflicts so that they don’t even happen in the first place. That is my prayer. But if there is inevitable conflict, and a wife is placing herself under her husband’s authority, leadership, protection and covering – her husband will be most inspired to defend her if necessary.