I am frequently criticized for fingering the husband more often than the wife, but have no problem standing my ground from scripture. God’s word commands the husband to love his wife as Christ does the church, and lay down his life for her. Until that concept changes, what need is there to explain further?
1 Peter 3:7 In the same way you married men should live considerately with your wives, with an intelligent recognition of the marriage relation, honoring the woman as physically the weaker, but realizing that you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. Otherwise you cannot pray effectively. AMP
Husbands, here are some very gritty questions for those of you that want to get real and let God dig deep and change you.
Is your anger more than anger? Does it explode into rage for no apparent reason?
Do you punish your wife with angry silence? Ouch! Is sarcasm in your arsenal of weapons?
Are you the oldest son in your family? The only son? The youngest son?
What is your relationship to your mother like? Did she smother you emotionally when you were growing up? Did she sabotage your relationships with girlfriends?
If still alive, how does your mother treat you? Did she interfere with girlfriend relationships when you were a teenager? Does she interfere with your marriage and wife?
A husband that fits a certain mold is likely to be a man that was emotionally smothered by his mother (or step-mother) while he was growing up, and may have unwittingly been used (as a boy) as an expressive vent for her. Not all men fit this mold, but if the shoe fits, the effects of a smothering-mother relationship does not end with childhood and adolescence, but will continue into your adult life, affecting your marriage and the way you treat your wife.
A wife whose husband refuses to be emotionally ‘available’ to her will oftentimes look elsewhere for verbal intimacy. It is very common in military families, or in marriage relationships where the husband/father works too much, or frequently travels and is away from home for extended periods of time.
In the Christian arena, the same scenario plays itself out when a husband that is a minister is obsessed with his ministerial duties, and subsequently neglects his wife’s emotional needs. A minister’s wife is usually very limited to whom she can share her feelings, primarily because she is the preacher’s wife, (a potential target for gossip), and she is very likely turn to her eldest, youngest or her only son to nurture her feelings. Her moral values compromised, she may turn to another man, but the likelihood is that she will develop verbal intimacy with her son, since no one considers this behavior inappropriate or evil because it doesn’t involve anything sexual.
Most of our society is in TOTAL DENIAL about this problem, which is pandemic, and increasingly I hear of men whose rage is out of control, and inadvertently can be traced back to the inappropriate emotional bond with dear-old-mom growing up.
Men that fit this mold typically have much more than anger management issues; these men have serious rage problems. They feel trapped in an unspoken emotional tie to their own mother, even if she is no longer in the land of the living. The effects are deeply rooted and continue because during their entire childhood, these mothers used their eldest or only son to establish an unbreakable emotional bond.
If what I am saying makes you mad, you best keep reading my friend, because this may be the only way you get set free from the strangle hold that controls your life and keeps you on a roller coaster on turbulence and rage.
Whether a woman is married and trying to make up for the lack in her own marriage, or a single mom seeking consolation, the resulting impact on the boy is the same. He grows more and more resentful of his mother’s behavior, even though he maintains that he loves his mom more than any other person in the world. Deep inside he will resent and in many cases, even hate her for the rest of his natural life.
What happens years later is that this man’s wife becomes the object of his resentment toward ‘mother-dear.’ If his wife innocently happens to act a certain way, or say something that he resents, inevitably it will trigger in his psyche something reminiscent of his mother’s smothering tactics. This will cause him to lash out at his wife it a fit of inexplicable rage. Unbeknownst to her, she has triggered his seething-below-the surface memory of his mother.
I have heard many stories from men whose ‘smothering mother’ sabotaged every boyfriend/girlfriend or marriage relationship they ever had. Their smothering mother was covertly jealous of any other women in their lives, and didn’t want to share her son-turned-emotional-husband outlet with any other female.
A young man raised in this smothering-mother environment eventually grows up and gets married, but his resentment toward his mother does not go away. Until he acknowledges the source of his rage, repents of his sinful actions and attitudes toward his wife, and seeks reconciliation with her by humbling himself, and then learns to validate and share his own feelings and hers, his anger will stay with him all his life, even if the mother dies.
In other words, his dysfunctional relationship with his mom has become the blueprint and standard for how he reacts to his wife’s behavior and speech mannerisms. He will never understand what true verbal intimacy is all about because he has shut off the heart-valve that enables him to feel. He refuses to acknowledge his emotional need and hides behind a macho façade, or his work, or sports, or hobbies… ANYTHING but feeling.
Men that are raised by smothering-mothers learn to shut off a part of their heart for internal protection. You see, if he opened himself up to feeling and expressing intimacy as a boy, his mother would pick up on it, and immediately smother him with her own feelings. Little boys and even teenagers are not supposed to have their moms spill forth all the intimate details of their heart; sensing this, they shut down their feelings, tell mom what she wants to hear so they can make yet one more escape from her presence.
Later in life, this same man treats his wife just like he did his mother, telling his wife what HE THINKS she WANTS to hear. Of course he is wrong, because his wife wants him to share his feelings and emotions with her. He can’t do this because his feelings are locked up tight, and only his mom has the key. Inside he is trapped in this mother/son bond, unless he acknowledges it, and enacts changes.
The reason I explain this to you is simple. These kinds of men eventually abuse their wives or girl friends, because they are still angry at their smothering-mother. The men don’t realize the origin of their anger, or in most cases, their rage. In fact, if you ask them about their mom, they’ll tell you she is the greatest woman that ever lived.
Sadly, women married to these men become the object of their husband’s resentment. whenever she does or says anything that even remotely reminds him of the way his mother treated him, he abuses her in a fit of rage, or with angry silence.
For example, let’s say his wife asks him something innocent like, “How was your day at work honey?” His response is predictable, guarded and often grouchy and he only says what he thinks she WANTS to hear, “work was fine, and the staff is making progress on the new project.” Genuinely eager to learn more about his day, she inquires again, “Are you getting along with Mr. Hyde, the project manager that disagreed with your input?” In an instant, this simple discourse turns into an explosion of anger directed (undeservedly) at his wife, “What the hell difference does it make? I am so sick of you ALWAYS trying to portray me in a negative light! Just leave me alone!” He may continue to rant and rave, or in some cases, instead of exploding audibly, he intentionally punishes his inquisitive wife with ANGRY SILENCE, which left untreated, can become the most volatile and dangerous kind of anger. So in this example, the husband’s anger goes from Level 1 to Level 10 in a heartbeat, and his poor wife is left clueless, hurt, and she feels blamed for doing something wrong, even though she did nothing deserving of his abuse. Sound familiar? In this example, the wife’s second question is the TRIGGER or flash point for the husband’s anger-turned-rage. Her inadvertent inquiry was only to share in her hubby’s day, but his perception of her probe was as a threat, and so, subconsciously he associated her questions with the way his smothering mother plugged him with questions about his day at school as he was growing up. The husband NEVER makes the connection between smothering-mother’s behavior and his angry reaction to his wife.
Dear wives, if this analysis fits your situation and husband, please understand you are not to be held responsible for HIS anger problem. He was likely groomed by his mother; out of her own desperation and want during his childhood and adolescence, his mother imposed an unhealthy emotional mother/son bond upon him. Because she was a desperate mother/wife whose marital relationship was waning, particularly in verbal intimacy, she used her eldest or only son as the outlet for expressing her feelings.
God created and wired human beings for relationship and for intimacy. He creates women with an absolute NEED for the expression of their innermost feelings. Men have this need also, but it is not as strong as it is in a women, and given the fact our misguided society teaches men to suppress their feelings and emotions (e.g. – “Big boys don’t cry”), sadly, most men are basically in denial of how they feel.
Women, on the other hand, are hard-wired by God to share what they feel. Consequently, if a woman gets married to a man doesn’t meet her need for verbal intimacy, she WILL find an outlet to express herself in one of the following ways:
An extramarital relationship (i.e. – adultery)
Sharing with other female friends
Smothering her eldest, her youngest or her only son
This emotional ‘smothering’ of the eldest son, or of an only child son also occurs with great frequency in situations where a single mom is raising children without a husband/father. Let me say it this ways, she needs somebody to talk to, to share with, to love and to be loved by. She doesn’t unload her feelings on her son with malicious intent. In fact, it is often difficult to detect when a mother has crossed the line by sharing with her son.
However, in my opinion, that forbidden line gets crossed whenever her son begins to develop resentment toward his mother for smothering him with her own feelings. The smothering-mother’s dysfunctional behavior can also be detected whenever she is frequently and noticeably interfering with the boyfriend & girlfriend relationships of her son during late adolescence without justifiable cause, or any time during his adult life.
By the time a smothering-mother’s son reaches adolescence, he has become quite adept, developing verbal skills necessary to communicate exactly what his mom WANTS TO HEAR, and in the process, he becomes the unwitting participant in an unhealthy bond with her. The problems escalate during his teen years; after reaching puberty, he sees the opposite sex differently. Girls no longer have cooties, but are cute and fun to be with.
Like most all teenage boys, he eventually finds some nice girl he likes, and to whom is mutually attracted. If and when he does find some young teenage girl he likes, his adolescent girlfriend will pursue verbal intimacy on an emotional level with him. She is young, pretty and very naïve, so when he tells her what he THINKS she WANTS to hear (not his real feelings), she is very impressed, and sure to inform all her girlfriends how “mature” her new boyfriend is.
Impressed by what their immature minds perceive to be his mature mannerisms, (e.g. - "Oh Ted knows how to treat a girl"), the teenage girl is led astray. What she is really hearing Ted say to her is well rehearsed rhetoric. He is not mature and he certainly is not sharing his feelings with her.
Ted’s so-called “mature” words are the byproduct of years of emotional bonding with his mother; out of sheer necessity he skillfully developed the art of saying just the "right" things to appease his dear old smothering-mother. The teenage girls' naivety belies their ignorance and inability to differentiate between TRUE INTIMACY and what amounts to little more than an emotional con man. He has merely developed the verbal skills necessary to appease his smothering mother’s needs, applying them to his girlfriend in hopes of the payoff (i.e. – sexual gratification).
For the girl however, his rhetoric soon grows old as she realizes her boyfriend isn’t really sharing his own feelings at all. It doesn’t take very long for his ‘canned’ dialogue to become redundant. He is unmasked when his girlfriend begins to innocently prod his heart; subconsciously he resents her for doing this, because it reminds him of what his mother has done all of his life.
It takes only a short period of time for him to break up with his girlfriend, and move on to the next naïve teenage girl. Typically, a man like this is said to, “Love them and leave them.” Emotional intimacy is foreign to him, and is strictly reserved for his smothering-mother. He will never admit to this, but the proof is evident by his behavior.
Oftentimes in these 'smothering mother' relationships, the son learns how to USE his mother, just like she uses him. In other words, he tells mom what he thinks mom wants to hear, (which usually works), and he learns how to manipulate her so that he can get his own way (this whole process is very codependent and misguided).
So let's say, for example, the mother comes home from work, and she had a blowout with her boss. She needs to 'unload' the emotional turbulence inside, and true to form, she beckons her eldest or only son to come to her, asking how his day went. Then she carefully steers the conversation in the direction of her own day at work, and begins to smother her son with all the sordid details of her difficult adult day (which is totally inappropriate, but not viewed by society as wrong).
I am not saying that the rage of every Christian husband originates from a smothering-mother relationship. My rage came from being abused verbally and physically assaulted as a child, but a traumatic childhood NEVER justifies getting angry at your wife guys! NEVER! Sure, you are bound to get angry now and then, but you are also responsible to take care of your sinful anger BEFORE you go to bed each night.
On the other hand, if this expose has been an eye-opener to you, then I do have a place for you to begin resolving your resentment toward your smothering mother.
1. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR ANGER TO ESCALATE; TAKE A TIME-OUT. Walk away, but don’t stay away. Once anger progresses past a certain level, it will always escalate and turn into rage due to the physiology of the human body.
2. NEVER JUSTIFY ANGER TOWARDS YOUR WIFE; SHE NEVER DESERVES YOUR ANGER… NEVER. I don’t care if your smothering mother is Frankenstein’s monster; your wife is your wife, NOT your mother! When you feel yourself getting irritated, remind yourself and say, “She’s my WIFE, she’s not my mother.”
3. IF YOU STILL HAVE A SMOTHERING MOTHER RELATIONSHIP, BREAK IT OFF. The scripture teaches a man to LEAVE his own father and mother and then CLEAVE to his wife. So quit clinging to the past, and don’t allow your mother to dictate what you do and how you feel.
4. ALWAYS REPENT and ask forgiveness of your wife FIRST. Then go to God, and ask His forgiveness. If you do this process in reverse, He will not listen to your plea for mercy (Matthew 5:24 & 6:12, 14). It is not enough to simply say, “I’m sorry honey.” She’s heard that before. You need to hold her gently, nurture her heart, and pray for her each and every time you hurt her feelings.
5. CONFESS YOUR ANGER PROBLEM TO YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE LORD, and have them pray for you, that you might be healed of the resentment. Anger is a secondary emotion; it is your response to hurt, an insult, being lied to, etc. If you make a PRACTICE of OPENLY confessing your anger to brethren that are trustworthy, it keeps the sin in the light, and weakens the power of any demonic influence, and above all of this, it keeps you humble and broken.
6. WIVES DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE BLAMED OR ABUSED. If you are a wife that is being abused by an angry husband, do not allow his anger to progress and remain in a rage. Separate if need be, but never allow yourself to be dominated by your husband’s rage. Nothing you have done warrants it.
I have witnessed born-again Christians who try to deal with this kind of rage by rebuking it and calling it a, “demon of rage.” I have no doubt the devil fuels such anger, but commanding the devil to leave won’t change the behavior that causes it. Until the man with this problem deals with whatever is causing his rage, it will be there, waiting to explode and unleash a flurry of profanity and hatred. In repentance, you must create an environment for change:
© 4:22-24 Strip yourselves of your former nature; put off and discard your old unrenewed self, which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude, and put on the new nature created in God's image, in true righteousness and holiness.
© 4:25 Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.
© 4:26-27 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath, your exasperation, your fury or indignation last until the sun goes down. Leave no such room or foothold for the devil give no opportunity to him.
© 4:28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
© 4:29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.
© 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God; do not offend or vex or sadden Him, by Whom you were sealed, marked, branded as God's own, secured for the day of redemption; of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin.
© 4:31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath, passion, rage, bad temper and resentment, anger, animosity and quarreling, brawling, clamor, contention and slander, evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language be banished from you, with all malice, spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind.
© 4:32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another readily and freely, as God in Christ forgave you.
© 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God; copy Him and follow His example, as well-beloved children imitate their father. And walk in love, esteeming and delighting in one another as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God for you, so that it became a sweet fragrance. AMP
Links to the Entire "A Little Chat with Husbands” Series: