Question: I'm worried about a friend. She seems to be verbally abused and controlled by her husband. The man is also a friend as they are both members of the church I attend. He frequently gets into discussions about marriage and family life, saying the Bible tells him he must be the leader and control his wife. Is there anything I can say to him?
Unless they have an unsafe home of abuse that needs to be reported to authorities, I would not initiate the conversation. I would listen for opportunities to walk along beside the husband in conversation, agreeing where you agree and pointing out Biblical truths that teach a lesson on a healthy, happy marriage.
Begin with statements in his own best interest. "A happy wife benefits that husband's needs." Then move on to, "An accountant for a wife is a blessing to the family's financial security. And as you know, she is better at her job when her talents are appreciated."
If his justification for his treatment of his wife is Biblical, he may not be able to change. Some researchers have found that men who abuse their wives and/or family because they believe they are following the teaching of the Bible usually cannot change. Your debating his beliefs with him will only strengthen his ideas.
If the wife is safe enough to stand up for herself, she doesn't need her husband's approval to believe what she believes, enjoy the talents God has given her, or follow her calling in life as she understands God's words.
If a wife has a desire for her husband to be "the head of the home," it is not because twentieth-century women are not capable. It is her gift to God, not the husband. When the opportunity arises, pass along the verse from 1 peter.
1 Peter 3:7: "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker [physically] than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
Perhaps you could encourage counseling for your friends. It is best not to suggest their pastor. Ministers are not trained in mental health diagnosis and treatment. Many ministers interpret a husband's withdrawal from the family, sleeping a lot, and avoiding interaction, as stubborn disinterest. The man may be depressed. Perhaps a Christian Psychologist practices in your area. That may be a better fit.
Copyright 2021 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.