It’d been a long day and my husband and I needed to begin our kids’ bedtime routine. While I finished up dishes, he lounged in the recliner looking at his phone to decompress from a busy day. I felt tension and anxiety welling up in me as our kids grew more hyper and silly from being overtired.
“Jeremiah, let’s go. Let’s get them down for bed,” I said.
“Okay,” he replied. “Let me finish reading this article.”
A few minutes later he still sat in the chair and I yelled: “Jeremiah. Come on!”
Eventually I nagged some more and sounded like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. I was so obsessed with him taking action immediately that I kept reacting out of my impatience. My tone of voice was ugly, controlling, pushy, and disrespectful. My “request” turned into an argument that eventually broke our togetherness. If I would’ve given him time – like other occasions – it would’ve saved us from having an unnecessary blow up in front of our kids.
Where Control Originates
Ever since Adam and Eve indulged in the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world, within us lies this desire for control, to be contentious, and argumentative. The desire is so strong that we’d do just about anything to have it. However, this burning impulse to have all the control no matter the cost is not loving.
Proverbs 27:15-16 says, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind…”
Proverbs likens a nagging, quarrelsome wife to the wind- it’s impossible to stop her quarreling once she starts. Her anger, emotions, and frustrations take over, making it impossible to calm down. As I write this article, the wind is blowing like crazy where we live on the Colorado plains. There’s no way to prevent it from blasting through the trees or blowing my kids over. It comes and goes as it pleases and does not cease.
This kind of contention towards our husbands only causes distance, frustration, anger, feelings of being trapped, and more. My husband said it can make a man feel like he’s dying inside. Now that’s a pretty big deal.
Responding vs. Reacting
My ungodly reactions to him kept moving us toward conflict. My control was further damaging our relationship. In the book, The Mingling of Souls, Matt Chandler writes,
“When we learn to respond to each other rather than react, we will move much more quickly in our conflict toward resolution and reconciliation. Reactions only stoke the fires of conflict; responses, particularly godly ones, help us snuff out the conflict.”
How much different would my struggles have been if I gently responded instead of harshly reacted in selfishness?
Eventually, I began drawing the circle around myself and confessed my sin of control. But acknowledging it was only part of the process. I had to turn from it and seek forgiveness and reconciliation from Jeremiah. Yes, I needed his help, but nothing was happening in our home that was earth shattering at the moment and I could wait until he finished reading his article.
I had a choice on how I’d react when things aren’t done on my timetable. My eyes were opened to the fact that I feared something, too: a loss of control, cranky kids, not getting them in bed at a good time, and my own me-time afterwards.
Letting God take the Reigns
Thankfully, Jeremiah and I were able to extinguish the conflict and reconcile. As my husband’s best friend, lover, and helper, I’ll never completely get it right. I will fall in my sinful nature, but I have the choice to do what’s right. The greatest way I can show him respect and love is to let go of the desire to nag and control. When I release control, I let God take the reigns and be his Holy Spirit- he does a much better job anyway.
I begin not just knowing the famous love passage in Scripture but living it out:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Bringing it Home
Maybe you’re like me and control is a huge stronghold in your life. It’s never too late to begin asking God to show you areas that need real transformation. Ask God to change your heart of stone and make it soft and pliable. He is a gracious and loving Father to you. Begin by confessing it, repenting of your sin, and turning to Christ for help.
His desire is for our marriages to look like Jesus more and more as the years go by. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give your husband today is to release your struggles with being a controlling and nagging wife. Simply call it what it is. You may consider asking him if this describes you or how it makes him feel. Begin taking steps toward healing with him.
Conflict in marriage will be inevitable while on this earth, but choosing to respond in a godly way is God’s will- bringing the oneness, joy, peace, and wholeness that you desire in your relationship with your husband. God wants you to enjoy your relationship to the fullest while bringing glory to Him.
** This article first appeared on Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.