November 27 “Responding to an unreasonable spouse”

arguing argumentHow are we to respond to mistreatment, harshness or a lack of loving behavior, especially from a spouse?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 45 & 46
Psalm 135.1-7
Proverbs 29.8
1 Peter 3.1-22


Ezekiel 45 & 46:

The Millennial Temple

As we are nearing the end of this book, the prophet lays out the plans for the Millennial Temple. Be sure to read John MacArthur’s notes about the presence of sin during the Millennium.


Psalm 135.1-7:

All for our good & His glory

Verse 6, “Whatever the Lord pleases He does …”

Our God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), everywhere-present (omnipresent), and in control of everything! Just to name a few of His characteristics!

He alone is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. And everything He has allowed in our lives He has allowed for our good and His glory! Nothing happens by accident. He will use difficult circumstances, trials, even the sins of others for good if we will keep our eyes on Him and respond in a God-honoring way. No person, thing, or circumstance can make you or me sin (1 Cor. 10.13). Instead, we can call on God to enable us to respond in a way that leads to peace and brings Him glory (Rom. 12.17-21).


handshake extended handProverbs 29.8:

Will we be scoffers or peacemakers?

Verse 8, “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath.”

Scornful men and women do what they want to do. They resent any kind of restraint … especially anything that sounds like religion. They sow discord and strife if it serves their purpose and take no thought to the consequences of their actions.

Wise men and women, on the other hand, seek peace and pursue it. Romans 12 says, “As much as it lies within you be at peace with all men.” Though that does not mean peace at all costs. There are times when we must take a stand for righteousness in spite of any opposition.


argument1 Peter 3.1-22:

Responding to an unreasonable spouse

Here in chapter 3 Peter addresses the husband and wife relationship:

1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Another translation says, “Wives, in the same way …” In the same way as what?

To understand we need to look back at chapter 2, beginning in verse 13:

13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 

Notice first that we do this “for the Lord’s sake” and one of the purposes, that “by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Then Peter gives an example of submission:

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

Servants were to submit, not only to good masters, but to those who were harsh.

19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;

23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Christ was to be their example (and ours). He didn’t return reviling for reviling or threaten when we was suffering. Instead, He entrusted Himself to His Father.

Romans 12.19 says:

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 

When we’re mistreated, we need to leave the judgment and consequences with God. He is the only One who knows the hearts of the people involved and just how much judgment is due.

Before we go on, we need to remember that this was not originally written with chapter divisions, but was one continuous letter.

So Peter continues, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands …”

Likewise …. in the same way … as servants were to submit to masters, even those who were harsh, we wives are to submit to our husbands, even those who are harsh, who don’t obey the Word, or one translation says, those who are “unreasonable.”

Ladies, our behavior is to be respectful and God-honoring even with a husband who does not obey the Word, whether he is unsaved or a disobedient believer. And, like Jesus, we are to entrust ourselves to God and leave any necessary judgment to God.

And the purpose is the same, that “by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Or as chapter 3 says, “they might be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.”

But wives are not the only ones who are to submit. Verse 7:

7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

While husbands are not called to submit to their wives’ leadership, they are to submit their selfish desires to the needs of their wives. They do that by spending time with them, seeking to really know them, and by honoring and preferring them above themselves (Phil. 2.2-4).

Husbands are not the only ones who can be harsh and ungodly and the principle of not returning evil for evil, applies to both spouses and in every other relationship.


If your spouse is being physically abusive or doing something illegal or immoral, you may need to call the authorities or go to a pastor, church leader, or godly counselor. There are other passages such as Romans 13.1-5 which may come into play.



For more information about responding biblically toward an unloving or harsh spouse, you might want to read:

How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong

Experience the Blessings of an Imperfect Marriage. We all–at one time or another–have the opportunity to act right when our spouse acts wrong. There are no perfect marriages or perfect spouses. We know that having a good marriage requires effort and hard work. Yet we often don’t know how to continue to love when we are angry, hurt, scared, or just plain irritated. Nor are we sure what that kind of love is supposed to look like. Should we be patient? Forgive and forget? Do something else entirely?

Acting right when your spouse acts wrong will not necessarily guarantee a more satisfying marital relationship, nor will it automatically make your spouse change his or her ways–although both could occur. It will, however, help you see how God is stretching you in the midst of your marital difficulties, teach you to respond wisely when wronged, and lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ as you yield your will to his plan for your life and learn to be more like him.


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4 thoughts on “November 27 “Responding to an unreasonable spouse”

  1. I am currently writing a book on marriage where I talk about us taking responsibility for our words and actions regardless of our spouse’s. You bring up an excellent point that I hadn’t thought of – that we need to leave judgement for God. We are so programmed to think that we need to get our revenge. Let this not be so! Thanks for the post. I pray that you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    • Heather,
      Yes, we live in a world that even encourages that kind of thinking. That’s why we must constantly renew our minds in the Word, don’t we?

  2. Hi Donna – WOW. This post is so deep. So funny because just yesterday I was listening to a sermon. The subject was “Not giving up”; and at one point the topic of marriages came up. The Pastor noted that he has noticed a turning tide in terms of the couples who come to him for counseling. He said that when he 1st started in the ministry, couples or one member of a couple came over very serious issues: infidelity, abuse, addiction, etc. Now, married people are coming to him and saying that they’re just not happy.

    And he said this is the thing – no one every promised us that we would be happy all the time.

    Your last paragraph sums it up SO SO well – I wish this was part of every pre-marital counseling class! We act right even if our spouse isn’t, because this is pleasing to the Lord and we are called to obey. Its not a quick fix or a situation where we should feel entitled to anything.

    Thanks for this post & I’m so glad you linked up!

    • Your pastor was so right. As a society we think “happiness” is our highest good and want to walk away from anything that doesn’t make us happy. This morning I was looking at an inspirational quote board on Pinterest and I was amazed at the number of quotes (many from people professing to be Christians) that talked about eliminating anyone from our lives who doesn’t think we’re great and tell us so. One even said, “Find out what makes you happy and do that!”
      Thanks for visiting,

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