How do you seek to influence (rather than manipulate) your husband?

January 23, 2018 | Mark McAndrew

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Several people have asked where the line is between seeking to influence your husband versus trying to manipulate your husband.

This is a challenging question.

As far as I can tell, manipulation is different from spiritual influence in at least two major ways: motive and goal.

First, manipulation is motivated by selfishness, not love.

Second, the goal of manipulation is to change the outward action of someone (in this case, your husband) for your own convenience or advantage.

Spiritual influence is motivated by a love for your husband and with the desire/goal to see him transformed first inwardly, then outwardly, by the gospel. It also seeks to stay within the biblical parameters Scripture has laid out for how wives should relate to their husbands.

Manipulation is about winning a personal preference battle. Love is about laying down your preferences for the good of another.

If a wife desires her husband to lead spiritually for the good of their marriage and family, this is a holy desire. If she is unwise, she will speak demandingly of her husband and nag him about this until he either shuts down or gives in. This puts her husband in a lose-lose position. If he disobeys his wife, he disobeys God. If he obeys his wife, he is now following her lead.

However, if she is wise she will do at least three things.

First, she will pray. She will pray for her husband in the quietness of her heart daily, repeatedly, even hourly. The Lord loves to answer the humble prayers of submissive wives who long for the spiritual growth of their passive husbands.

Second, if she catches her husband doing something right (taking some kind of spiritual initiative) she will praise him for it and encourage him in it humbly and gladly.

Third, on occasion, she may have a private, calm, loving, gracious, humble, conversation with him about her desires and wishes. It may be best in these situations not to offer advice or solutions, but rather to calmly and humbly present a concern and seek his council.

These “concerns” should never be shouted out in a desperate moment in the midst of a disagreement or argument. (That goes for both husband and wife.)

In marriage there is often a tendency to store up our frustrations (keeping a record of wrongs) until we finally boil over in some moment of conflict. We then pour out the ‘record of wrongs’ on our spouse in a crushing, punishing, unloving kind of way.

How should she approach her husband?

John Piper helpfully says:

Patiently, full of prayer, full of hope, and full of forbearance and occasional efforts to draw him into conversation about her longings for him.

By occasional efforts to draw him into conversation about her longings for him, I mean the opposite of nagging. Nagging is day after day, coming at the guy sideways, top down, underneath, and communicating by body language and sideways comments that he is not measuring up. That destroys the relationship. It paralyzes the partner. It feels hopeless, and it feels like love is vanishing.

Rather, I’m referring to an occasional and intentional, “Can we talk honey? Can we go out to lunch and just talk about something I want to talk about?” Do it when you’re not tired or angry. It should be an appointment, and it shouldn’t feel undermining or threatening. Then she can lay out her heart for him, say what she needs to say, and ask him if he is willing to do more.

[For the rest of his answer, see here.]

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE?

I asked Kelly for a specific illustration of manipulation.

She said that after a husband has upset his wife in some way, the wife may be tempted to storm off and hide away in the bedroom sulking, waiting for her husband to come fix things. This is manipulative and selfish.

However, if a husband has acted selfishly toward his wife, she has a wonderful opportunity to practice forgiving grace that might actually get to his heart. Instead of huffing off or angrily telling him how bad a leader he is being, she can draw strength from the wells of the gospel. Grace can enable her to overlook the offense and treat her husband with gospel motivated love instead of trying to get even or hurt him back.

This is very close to the kind of behavior I imagine Peter was thinking of. Read the passage one more time:

1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external . . . 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God [not their husbands] used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1-6)

A WORD FOR THE HUSBANDS

To the husbands, it would be good to ask your wife at least monthly, “How are we? Is there anything about my schedule that you think should change? Is there anything about the way I am behaving that is spiritually harmful to you or the family?”

By doing this, the husband is still leading (and leading well), but he is also giving his wife a clearer voice than she might otherwise be able to have on these kinds of issues.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

**WHAT ABOUT ABUSIVE HUSBANDS?**

If a wife has a verbally abusive husband, she should speak to the elders of her church immediately and if necessary contact the police. If there is actual physical abuse, she should immediately contact the police.

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What is a “peaceful and quiet spirit” really?

“Wives . . . let your adorning adoring be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:4).

After the sermon Sunday, several people were asking what exactly this “gentle and quiet spirit” looks like in reality.

For clarification, you can be outgoing and yet possess this spirit. You can also be shy/quiet and lack it. Peter isn’t describing a natural personality trait because this “gentleness” is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

The opposite if likely a “rash and fretful spirit.”

Matthew Henry wrote a short book on the gentle/meek and quiet/tranquil spirit. You can read a great short summary of it here. I found it very helpful personally.

 

 

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One last thing.

The exact term Peter uses for “gentle” is occurs only three other times in the New Testament. See if they shed some light on its meaning.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” (Matthew 21:5)

Also, Peter’s term for “quiet” (or tranquil) is only used one other time.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but both times “quiet” (hēsychios) appears it seems to be in the context of ways Christians can try to win unbelieving authority figures to Christ.

The Framework of Prayer

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I just finished reading through this powerful book by D.A. Carson. In this book Dr. Carson goes through several of Paul’s prayers. I couldn’t put the book down and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I thought I would try to write some about this book as a way to help process what I read and thought this might be beneficial to others. One of the first prayers of Paul that Carson looks at is found in 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-12 which I included below:

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A Fundamental Component of Prayer – Thanksgiving

What we see at the beginning of this passage is Paul talking about giving thanks to God for these Thessalonian believers. One thing that has struck me lately is how often Paul gives thanks for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Carson says: “Clearly, thanksgiving is a fundamental component of the mental framework that largely controls Paul’s intercession.” As we examine our own prayer lives, I think a good question to ask would be to ask ourselves if thanksgiving is a fundamental component of our mental framework that largely controls our prayers?  I think that we need to drill down even deeper though into this question of thanksgiving in our prayer lives.

D.A. Carson gives us some additional questions to ask: “For what do we commonly give thanks? We say grace at meals, thanking God for our food; we give thanks when we receive material blessings―when the mortgage we’ve applied for comes through,…we may utter a prayer of sincere and fervent thanks when we recover from serious illness. We may actually offer brief thanksgiving when we hear that someone we know has recently been converted. But by and large, our thanksgiving seems to be tied rather tightly to our material well-being and comfort. The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we most highly value. If a large percentage of our thanksgiving is for material prosperity, it is because we value material prosperity.”

When we look at Paul’s prayer here in this passage we find that: “Paul gives thanks for signs of grace among Christians, among the Christians whom he is addressing.” Paul says: “We…give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly…” These believers are growing in their faith. They are: “stretching upward in spiritual maturity, and for this Paul gives thanks.” Paul continues by giving thanks to God for their increased love for each other. Paul says: “We…give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because…the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” Carson says that: “If their love for one another is growing, it can only be because they are Jesus’s disciples: did not Jesus himself say that such love would be the distinguishing mark of his followers (John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.).

Carson probes this line of thought a little bit further. He points out how groups with shared ideals and goals frequently find it relatively easy to foster love, tolerance, and inner cohesion among themselves. Groups like a rock-climbing club, a football team, or a trivia team. However, he says the church is different. “It is made up of people who are as varied as can be: rich and poor, learned and unlearned, practical and impractical, sophisticated and unsophisticated,…disciplined and flighty, intense and carefree, extrovert and introvert―and everything in between. The only thing that holds such people together is their shared allegiance to Jesus Christ, their devotion to him, stemming from his indescribable love for them.” Then he points out that when Christians are growing in their love for each other, this is a sign of grace in their lives and is the work of God. When we see brothers and sisters in Christ growing in their love for each other we should direct our thanksgiving to God, as this is a sign of grace in their lives. So, when is the last time we thanked God for believers who were growing in their love for one another? If it has been a long time since we have done this I think we need to hear from Carson again who writes that: “we must look for signs of grace in the lives of Christians and give God thanks for them.”

I will end this post with another series of questions from Carson. He asks: “For what have we thanked God recently? Have we gone over a list of members of our local church, say, or over a list of Christian workers, and quietly thanked God for signs of grace in their lives? Do we make it a matter of praise to God when we observe evidence in one another of growing conformity to Christ, exemplified in trust, reliability, love and genuine spiritual stamina?”