19 May 2012
Responding to Authority Challenges
What is a husband to do when his wife repeatedly defies his authority? It's a tricky situation because the man is dealing with the one person he loves more than anyone else in the world. A kind and loving husband won't want to offend or hurt the feelings of his wife. He won't want to cause her embarassment or make her unnecessarily uncomfortable. He may feel awkward and petty for even mentioning her disrespect. But a loving husband will recognize that allowing his wife to disrespect him and his authority will certainly cause damage to their marriage in the long term. His marriage vows include being the protector and provider for his wife: he has the responsibility to protect her from a miserable or failed marriage, and to provide her with a safe and loving marriage environment in which she can grow and thrive. So what is he to do when she disrespects him and refuses to submit to his authority, knowing this behavior is damaging to their marriage?
If he has already made the effort to clearly communicate to his wife that he finds her behavior disrespectful and offensive, and she does not change her behavior, the husband may be feeling a little rattled. He cannot allow her to continue to damage their marriage, but what can he do to stop her? Perhaps he can learn a lesson from those who have authority over him?
If you speed and are pulled over by a police officer, you may be fortunate enough to only receive a warning for your reckless and dangerous behavior. By speeding, you are putting yourself and others at risk, and you are disrespecting the laws put in place to protect you. By giving you a warning, the officer is clearly communicating to you that your choice of behavior is unacceptable and will not be further tolerated. The warning usually adjusts your behavior, but how does a simple warning accomplish that change? You trade in your high speed driving for a healthier speed, because you know that if you don't, the consequence will be a lot worse than an embarassing warning and mini-lecture from a police officer. It is the threat of a more significant and less pleasant consequence that adjusts your behavior, isn't it?
For the husband to successfully deal with repeated challenges to his authority as leader of the home, he has to be prepared to offer a consequence less pleasant than the embarassment caused by him telling his wife that he finds her behavior disrespectful. If telling his wife that she is damaging their marriage through her disrespect does not adjust her behavior, it is time to deliver the less pleasant consequence that will be more likely to cause a positive change.