The past few months, the Holy Spirit has been convicting my heart in the area of what it means to love my wife and and live with her in an understanding way (Eph 5:25; 1 Pet 3:7). As a result, I have been reviewing some of the “husband books” that I’ve read in the past. One of my favorites (because it so convicting and practically helpful) is Lou Priolo’s The Complete Husband: A Practical Guide to Biblical Husbanding. The following list of common manifestations of harshness in husbands recently led me to a time of repentance and confession before the Lord. I have used it to counsel myself and others. Perhaps it will help you too.
- Unwillingness to grant requests made by their wives.
- Granting those requests begrudgingly and with complaint.
- Refusing to allow their wives to appeal (or question) their decisions.
- Being discontent with their wives’ performance of their duties.
- Fussing about their wives’ neglect of domestic responsibilities without sincerely offering assistance.
- Responding to their wives in a discourteous or condescending way.
- Having a critical, condemnatory, judgmental attitude toward them.
- Having unrealistic expectations of them and/or exacting too many demands from them.
- Being intolerant of their (non-sinful) idiosyncratic behaviors.
- Prohibiting their wives from doing anything without their express knowledge or consent.
- Micro-managing every aspect of their wives’ responsibilities.
- Being unjustly suspicious of their wives (rather than trusting them).
Priolo then adds these words: “What is the antidote to harshness? It’s mildness (or meekness).” Then he takes “poetic license to modernize the words of William Gouge.”
Mildness is a special fruit, and evidence of love. It is a notable means to remove offenses that might otherwise be taken from the many hurtful things which a husband does to his wife. Sugar and honey are not more pleasant to the tongue than mildness is to the heart. It causes those things which are otherwise irksome to the soul, to be well received and applied—even as bitter pills dipped in sweet syrup, or rolled up in the soft pulp of an apple are soon swallowed down and digested. If a husband desires to be considered ‘a servant of the Lord,’ he must learn this lesson. For, the servant of the Lord must be gentle to all men. If any other servant of the Lord [is to be gentle,] much more should husbands. If to all men [they are to be gentle] much more their wives.
I’ve also been helped by the example from Wayne Grudem in Tim Challies’ article, Leading in Love.