Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)
In this verse, God confronts Eve for her sin and the sin of her husband.
He tells her what her curse shall be. These two things have, since then, infected all marriages: contrary wives and ruling husbands.
Wives will oppose their husband. This can come in many forms:
- Directly opposing their leadership.
- Condemning their failures
- Shaming for unmet expectations
- Comparison for insufficiency
- Seizing control and headship
- Diminishing their vulnerability
Husbands often respond to this treatment with some kind of rule of force, authority to exert themselves. Sometimes they may do so without cause.
Husbands will seek to exert rule over their wives:
- Reject a wive’s suggestion without seeking to understand (although he reserves the right to make the final call different from the wive’s opinion)
- Using physical force to compel behavior
- Shouting and anger to put fear into her heart
- Enforce decisions that defy God’s will
One challenge is that not all “authority” is wrong. God has placed the husband as head of the wife. The Enemy would desire the wife to keep trying to displace that, and to call any form of “rule” as sinful -- which is not always true.
How can this sinful dynamic be broken?
Being aware of the wife’s sinful desire to oppose and the husband’s sinful desire to rule over the wife.
With some difficulty and grace, the wife can share what her outcome is and preface that she does not desire to prove her husband wrong and oppose him.
The husband can then, upon understanding the intent, share a way to express the same intent in a way that he can work with it as helpful, not oppositional.
Similarly, the husband can express his desire and concerns without the tone of anger, the use of bodily force, or without providing an opening for buy-in.
The wife, then, can share the words that express the same intent and objective but in a way that she says she will willingly follow and support.
Both need to be ready to repent if their intention is, in fact, wrong.
If there is no good way to express the wife’s intent because the wife, indeed, intends to shape and oppose, then there should be confession and resolution.
And if there is no good way to express the husband’s intent because he, indeed, intends to forcefully overpower and control his wife, then there should be confession and resolution.
Pray that the sins of contrariness and rule, opposition and force, be revealed and the hearts soften to confess and to forgive.
Reflection and Discussion
- Wife: in what ways have you been seeking to be contrary to your husband in his decisions, his vulnerability, and his seeking of your help?
- Husband: in what ways have you been exerting rule over your wife instead of teaching, teaching and loving.
- Wife: in what ways do you feel ruled over and how would you say or do the same thing differently without imputing blame or fault directly?
- Husband: in what ways have you feel opposed by your wife and in what would you say or do the same thing differently within imputing blame or fault directly?