A bit about me – I only write for women – so I am only going to talk about things that wives can change and control in this post. I am not an expert, a counselor, a psychologist or a pastor. What I write may be helpful – it may not be. Ultimately, you will need to pray and decide what God would have you to do in your particular situation.
I’m starting a discussion here, but if there are serious problems in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced help! (Actual infidelity, active addictions to drugs/alcohol, abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues – please seek help!!! Please don’t read my blog in these cases, but seek appropriate, experienced help.)
As wives, we cannot control our husbands. We can powerfully influence them. But we can’t change them. God is the One who is able to change people. And all people have free will. My goal is to point wives toward having Christ as Lord and toward obeying His Word and His beautiful design for marriage and to pray for healing for those who are hurting.)
FLIRTING IN OUR CULTURE
Our culture thinks nothing about married people flirting with others. It’s “not a big deal.” It won’t hurt anyone! That is what a lot of us believe, at least.
Each believer will have to pray and seek God’s wisdom and determine for himself/herself what boundaries God may desire them to have. My husband has his own convictions. I do not try to force my convictions on him or anyone else.
Very few people set out intending to have an affair.
It almost always starts as a friendship or close work relationship then proceeds slowly to flirting and confiding emotional details and problems – and then, before you know it, you are feeling unloved and lonely in your marriage and you have a man just waiting to “rescue” you and shower you with compliments, romance and attention – and then the emotional affair or sexual affair “just happens.”
It is a lot harder to “just happen” when we purposely attempt to stay away from compromising situations and provide no opportunity for the flesh!
MY PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ARE TO AVOID:
- private emails with other men
- long private phone conversations with men
- being alone with a man in a house or room with closed door
- private texting or Facebook chatting
- building close work relationships with men
- allowing men to disrespect my marriage by flirting with me
FOR WOMEN WHOSE HUSBANDS ARE FLIRTING WITH OTHER WOMEN
My heart BREAKS for you! I am SO SO SO SO SORRY for your pain! You have every right to feel righteous anger and jealousy about this. (The key is not to allow yourself to slip into sinful anger.)
Some things to possibly think about:
- I am not responsible for my husband’s sin. He will stand accountable to God for his behavior no matter what I do.
- I will stand accountable to God for my behavior and obedience to God no matter what my husband does.
If he is flirting – he may either already be far from God or he may be heading away from God. The farther a husband is away from God, the less impact his wife’s words will have on him. It is her behavior, kindness, respect, and godly lifestyle that will most convict him – as the Holy Spirit works in his heart. (I Peter 3:1-6)
I can INFLUENCE my husband and make sin more or less tempting for him by my own behavior. We are one spiritually, emotionally and physically in marriage. What I do affects him. What he does affects me.
The biggest question for me as a wife would be –
How can I conduct myself wisely in this situation, how can I seek to strengthen my marriage and how can I honor God in my marriage even as I am hurting?
There may be things I could do on my end of the equation depending on my answers to these questions. Of course – there can be times when a wife may do everything “perfectly” but her husband still sins. He has a free will. He can do that. If a man is determined to sin, a wife can’t stop him, just like a husband cannot stop his wife from sinning. Each person has the ability to choose his or her behavior. And when anyone chooses sinful behavior, they and everyone around them suffer and God is greatly grieved.
- My obedience to God and faithfulness to my husband do not guarantee me that my husband will honor our wedding vows.
- But my obedience to God and faithfulness to my husband DO please God no matter what my husband does.
Pleasing Christ and bringing glory to Him is my primary purpose in this life according to God’s Word.
I think a wife could maybe pray about her approach carefully then calmly, sadly and respectfully share her feelings and pain (These are some approaches that some wives have used – I don’t know if they may work for you – please seek God’s wisdom FAR above my suggestions and pray about what God might want you to say!!!):
- “Please do not flirt with other women.”
- “It is not ok with me for you to flirt with another woman.”
- “I am not going to tell you what to do. You are a grown man and you have the ability and right to decide how you want to live your life. I want you to know that when you flirt with other women, it hurts me deeply. I want you to honor and respect me and our marriage. If you continue to behave this way – I may need to do X.” (Please pray and seek God’s will about what action He would desire you to take if your husband continues flirting. Do you need to leave the house for a few hours? Do you need to respectfully pull away from him until he repents? Listen for God’s voice and His wisdom.)
- “It is really disrespectful to me and our marriage when you flirt with other women.”
- “I want to respect you and honor you and our marriage – your behavior with this woman makes it extremely difficult for me to continue to respect you the way I deeply want to.”
- When he approaches you for sex, “I want to be joyfully available to you sexually all the time. It is very hard for me to be vulnerable and trusting of you and to open myself up to you the way I want to when I feel so disrespected and dishonored by the way you have been flirting with so and so. I am so sad about this. I need to know that I am safe with you. I need to see that you are being accountable and transparent and willing to invest only in our marriage.”
- “Is there something you need from me that I am not giving you?”
- it’s possible there could be such severe situations that a wife may have to say, “I want to be the best possible wife for you. I want to honor and respect you. But I can’t be with you if you continue to do X. It’s up to you. I won’t try to force you to do anything. It is totally your call how you decide to act. But I want you to know that this is a boundary that I have to protect in our marriage. I will do what I need to do if you continue talking about having sex with/sexting with/behaving in such a sexual way with that woman. I expect you to treat me and our marriage with respect.”
Many times, if a husband feels greatly respected by his wife – that will make it less likely that he would want to flirt with other women. Of course, a wife cannot be responsible for her husband’s behavior, only for her own. A wife can certainly seek to honor her husband and God and the marriage covenant on her end. And she can pray for God’s Spirit to convict him and bring him to repentance.
WHAT DO I ACTUALLY HAVE CONTROL OVER HERE?
I would want to possibly ask myself some questions like:
- do I communicate that I desire my man in a way he really hears?
- do I generally show my husband that I accept him and am not trying to change him in our relationship?
- have I been withholding my body sexually from him? (I Corinthians 7:1-5 says it is wrong for one spouse to withhold sex from the other – that it invites temptation to the rejected spouse and opens a door for the enemy). God desires spouses to be sexually available to each other (unless there is infidelity or major health problems or we have agreed to abstain mutually for a short time to pray).
- do I communicate to my husband that he is strong, manly, powerful, respected and emotionally safe with me?
- do I smile at my husband often? Am I friendly?
- do I flirt with my husband (if he is receptive) and enjoy him?
- do I tend to take over control of the marriage or treating him like a little boy instead of a grown man? Do I think I have to lead because he can’t/won’t? Could I step down out of control and cooperate with him more instead of bossing and ordering him around? (Ephesians 5:22-33 = God’s design for wives to respect their husbands and follow the husbands’ God given leadership) If you struggle with trying to control your husband (like I used to), check out this post
- do I treat him with disrespect? (This is a LONG list of things for most men – it is surprising to many women all the things that can make men feel disrespected. This is important because men need respect like women need love!)
- do I treat him with respect in a way that is meaningful to him as a man?
- do I make an effort to make myself attractive for my husband (not just wearing a pony tail and sweats all the time and never shaving – for example) – could I fix my hair the way he likes it sometimes and do my makeup nicely for him to make him feel like I think he’s worth the effort? Could I dress in a feminine, beautiful way that he would enjoy? Am I eating a healthy diet and getting a reasonable amount of exercise? I am not saying we need to have surgery or implants or have anorexia or be a size 2 or obsess over our looks. But if we make NO effort to look attractive to our men, they could feel unimportant to us. Remember when you were dating, how you spent an hour or two dolling yourself up to impress your man? I doubt he expects you to spend 2 hours per day now, but 15-30 minutes might be a nice gift to give to him – to show you respect him and you respect yourself and take care of yourself.
HOW TO MOST POWERFULLY INFLUENCE A MAN
- In my experience, men only allow people they greatly admire and respect to influence their decisions.
If your husband doesn’t seem to care about your feelings – you may be able to influence his feelings by becoming a godly woman he can greatly respect and by showing respect for him for the good that you see in him. THEN – if you say that something hurts you – he will be so much more likely to care about your feelings and to desire to make things better. If you are already being respectful and he continues to disregard your feelings and continues to disrespect you, that is a problem. You may need to involve some help outside of the marriage like a trusted godly mentoring couple or trusted pastor.
IF A HUSBAND IS FLIRTING WITH OTHER WOMEN
He may not think it’s a big deal. He may think he’s just being friendly. A husband may have not really thought about possible negative consequences of flirting or he may think he “can handle” the temptation. Or he may not realize there could be a temptation.
This is a sin problem and he will have to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to be able to repent and seek reconciliation with God and with me. I am not the Holy Spirit and I can’t make my husband repent! I can respectfully tell him he has hurt me. That is an important thing for me to do. But I cannot force him to change.
I Peter 3 teaches us that when a husband is disobedient to God’s Word, a wife’s most powerful move is to be silent about spiritual things and about God, allowing God’s Spirit to speak to him directly without her interference. Yelling, nagging, preaching, lecturing, shaming, pouting, whining, demanding and criticizing are NOT generally effective methods to create motivation in men. It still comes back to respect.
My respect of what is good in him will do more to convict him than my contempt and condemnation ever could. My willingness to continue to seek to bless him, and to look for the good in him “will pile burning coals upon his head.” (Romans 12:9-21) I do NOT respect his sin! But I could find what is good and respect that. And I respect our covenant before God. The more godly I am (by God’s Spirit in me) and the less I sin against him, even when he is sinning against me, the more convicted he will likely feel of his own wrong behavior and the more loudly the voice of God will resonate within his soul.
I may have to confront him. If so, I will need to take care of any sin in my own life first (removing the “log” in my eye before addressing the “speck” in my husband’s eye – as Jesus commands.) But my confrontation should be done with self-control, manners and respect. There may be times when I need to confront his sin. Please see this post http://ninaroesner.com/resources/when-it-doesnt-work/ And please see this post about confronting our husbands.
If I sin against him because he was sinning against me – I am repaying evil for evil. Jesus says I can’t overcome evil with evil, I must overcome evil with good! (Romans 12:9-21) Jesus commands us to bless those who persecute us, pray for those who despitefully use us, you do good to those who do harm to us and love our enemies – so how much more should we love our husbands?
If I sin against him by berating him, emasculating him with words, raking him over the coals, attacking him, screaming hateful things at him, looking down on him, detesting him, rebelling against him, continually spying on him, expecting the worst of him, refusing to cooperate with his leadership and disrespecting him – he will be thinking about MY AWFUL BEHAVIOR AGAINST HIM. He won’t be thinking about his own sin. He’ll have plenty of ammunition to use against ME because of all the sin I’ve now committed against him. He’ll be thinking about how crazy I am, and how smothering and controlling and disrespectful I am instead of thinking about his own sin. When I keep sin out of my life by living by the power of the Spirit of God – all he will have to think about is the purity and respect I show him, my godliness and his sinfulness. THAT is how he will be convicted, ladies!
WHAT ARE MY GOALS IN MARRIAGE?
In my mind, the goals God desires us to acheive are things like:
- spiritual, emotional and physical unity and oneness
- bringing great glory and honor to Himself
- living out the very great mystery of Christ and His church
- drawing others to Christ through our marriage relationship
- being an example of the grace and mercy of Jesus
- meeting my husband’s needs for respect and for being the leader in the marriage and depending on Christ to meet my needs
- my holiness, not necessarily my happiness
- my obedience to Him
Portia’s Story – Winning Him Over without a Word
For Wives Addicted to Snooping and Trying to Control Their Husbands– please also read the comments
Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity (or Slavery)
BRENT RIGGS TACKLES THIS TOPIC
NINA ROESNER FROM THE RESPECT DARE
RESOURCES FOR PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION