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A Husband’s Harsh Tones, Angry Scowl, and Emotional Withdrawal

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A husband can be a man of goodwill and a man of honor. Truth is, he would die for his wife. The problem is he is beating her up emotionally and doesn’t see it. 

Through the years I have noticed one particular man get defensive around his wife as though they were both in a boxing ring and she had him up against the ropes. He feels, for some reason, that she provokes him so that she can get in the ring to box him. This is why the husband tells her, “You are picking a fight. You are provoking me!”  

However, his wife sees the situation differently. Yes, she can agree that they are in a boxing ring together. But while he views the scene as though she entered the ring first and provoked him to join her, she believes that she only entered the ring to join forces with him, to help him. If anything, she sees herself as a mothering coach. And like any other coach she gets excited, yells, and points out what she notices wrong. 

Unfortunately, instead of seeing her as a mothering coach, he views her as an opponent. So when they are in the ring together the first thing he does is throw a left jab—not literally but as a harsh tone. He then throws another left jab—an angry scowl. When she—whom he views as his opponent—is on her heels he throws a roundhouse right punch that knocks her out. Again, not literally, but instead he serves up for his wife a one-day emotional withdrawal from her. 

This is his pattern every time he gets into a “fight”—a fight his wife didn’t even knowingly enter. Jab, jab, and a roundhouse punch. His harsh tone comes at her. His angry scowl comes at her. Then his one-day emotional withdrawal brings the knock-out punch. 

This leaves her flat on her back in the ring. She feels emotionally bruised and beat up. She feels defeated. As she gets up crying she asks, "Why do you treat me this way?" His response is, "What do you mean? You're the one provoking me and picking a fight. If you can't take it don't dish it out." Not only does the husband misread his wife, he feels he has won and put her in her place to teach her a lesson. 

However, as Genesis 2:24 tells us (and Jesus confirms in Matthew 19), that husband and wife have “become one flesh,” which means that in effect this husband is fighting himself every time he decides to fight his wife. Picture a man getting in the ring alone and taking swings at himself. Eventually, assuming he either lands just the right punch on himself or falls down out of exhaustion, I suppose he could then stand back up and claim victory. Such lunacy! Just as we would see such a fellow as a complete idiot, so our loving Lord sees a husband as less than wise when he enters the marriage ring and begins taking swings at his wife.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. Husbands, as a man of honor and goodwill who would die for his wife, what mixed messages are you sending your wife when you jab her with your harsh tones and angry scowls?
  2. What message do you believe you are sending when you decide to withdraw emotionally from your wife? Looking back now and having been able to survey the damage afflicted, what message are you really sending?
  3. How might a wife be able to better “enter the ring” with her husband so that he sees her as his helper, not his opponent?
  4. Have you ever thought much about what it means that husband and wife have become “one flesh”? What comes to mind now when you view your spouse in that way?