How to Live with a Contentious Woman
If your wife is angry and domineering, it may be her fault. But it's probably you, her, and Jezebel.

tony asks: my marriage has been greatly affected by my wife's family. i was never good enough, but, after 30 years of marriage, i have had enough. my wife has chosen not to take a stand on my behalf, yet goes to her family, and does so without me. this is because i choose not to, as i have a temper and tell it as it is. i prefer to stay alone at home, thus staying out of trouble. sadly this has caused a lot of resentment from my side as i feel that my wife should make a stand and tell everyone that if her husband is not welcome, she would not be attending any future get-togethers without him as she chooses to stand by her man. yet, it's not my place to tell her what to say. what do i do?
Question about A Personal Question: My marriage
Motivation - Trouble: Personal crisis
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 138, Monday, 25-Mar-2013]

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n Roll, grew up in a small Assembly of God church in Mississippi where worship music inspired his career. One of his lyrics went like this:

Well a hard headed woman
A soft hearted man
Been the cause of trouble
Ever since the world began

Elvis was referring, of course, to the Genesis account known by theologians as the Fall of Man:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
- Genesis 3:1ff [KJV]

The Devil deceived Eve and Eve persuaded Adam. Eve was the hard headed woman and Adam was the soft hearted man. How about that? There is Bible even in a Rock 'n Roll song!

Emotions wrench both partners
Emotions wrench both partners when contention rules a marriage. We offer several Bible-based remedies as long-lasting solutions.

We who believe the Bible is literally true see the Spirit of Jezebel at work in Adam and Eve. This spirit has been ruining marriages from the beginning of the world even to the present day. If you are unaware of its devices, the Spirit of Jezebel can easily bring down a marriage by causing the woman to assume control over the man, and by causing the man to relinquish his God-ordained leadership role in the marriage.

Even if you don't believe the Bible is literally true, you can subscribe to Elvis' song and recognize bossy, domineering women hooked up with cowardly, compliant men are a source of trouble. Big trouble.

Tony's Question - Tony is in a difficult situation. Our hearts go out to him. Rejection hurts. And rejection by your wife hurts the most.

We hear only Tony's side of the story, and we do not hear the story from Tony's wife, which is equally important. Therefore, we are not completely sure what is going on in Tony's marriage. However, we can guess. It may be true that:

  • Tony's wife prefers the relationship with her family over the relationship with her husband
  • Tony is very angry about this, adding fuel to an already raging fire

More than likely, these problems have been developing in Tony's marriage for decades, probably from the very start, or even while he and his wife were dating. Now they have progressed to the point where they are essentially estranged, not together in family activities. Tony wishes his wife would Stand by Her Man (wow, another song!) but sees himself unauthorized, or at least unwilling, to ask her to do it. What would you do? How would your counsel Tony in this situation?

Jezebel (It's a spirit, not a woman)

the spirit of jezebel
'Jezebel' is a Bible name for a controlling spirit that upsets God-prescribed order in human relationships. AFTB thanks Katherine Dinger for use of her intriguing art (click the picture for her web site).

Can we know where this type of marriage problem originates? There is a recurring theme in the Bible of 'hard headed women and soft hearted men' which causes trouble and contention in marriage. The passage most famous for this is the story of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel in the book of 1 Kings, chapters 16 to 21, and 2 Kings chapter 9. Ahab was a retiring, evil king of Israel and Jezebel was his aggressive, evil wife. In one instance Jezebel scoffs and coerces her husband into committing thievery and murder (1 Kings 21). In another she slays the prophets of the LORD (1 Kings 18:4) and feasts at the table of false gods (1 Kings 18:19). She was nasty, controlling, and contentious person, and a witch in every sense of the word.

On a web site called PropheciesofRevelation there is a long list of the characteristics of the Jezebel spirit still prevalent today. Perhaps you have seen some of these characteristics in people you know (this is a partial list).

People influenced by the Jezebel spirit (or by Elvis lyrics):

  • Are always right
  • Take credit for everything
  • Withhold information
  • Shun people who have different views
  • Never give credit
  • Criticize everyone
  • Talk incessantly
  • Are pushy and domineering
  • Sow seeds of discord
  • Command attention
  • Know everything
  • Are very religious

The Bible's Jezebel is not really a woman, although Ahab's wife embodied the spirit. It is a force of control, or a tendency to counteract Bible priorities in human relationships. It makes women bossy. It makes men compliant. The true Bible priority in marriage is one of equality and mutual submission with the husband assuming a leadership role:

... be subject to one another ... wives, be subject to your own husbands ... husbands, love your wives ...
- Ephesians 5:21 [NASB]

The Jezebel Spirit won't stand for such an arrangement and hardens the woman's heart and softens the man's heart to disrupt God's order. If you see a pushy woman, Jezebel is at work. If you see a Mr. Milktoast, Jezebel is at work. In Tony's situation, it is very likely that he is laid back and submissive while his wife is aggressive and controlling. It is also likely that the parents and in-laws exhibit similar Jezebel-style characteristics.

If this discussion of the biblical Jezebel (which, by the way, is different than the sexual, seductive Jezebel of popular culture) rings true with you, what steps can you take to overcome it and start a healing process? We recommend three steps:

  1. Understand what is going on spiritually, as described above
  2. Enlist professional help
  3. Seek God about this specific issue

Enlist Professional Help

Don't try to battle Jezebel alone. Even if you do not subscribe to the idea of warfare against supernatural spirits, but stay on the 'safe' side of natural human fears, appetites, and subversiveness, the idea of one human being controlling another is a delicate and complicated subject. It is best handled when good advice and counsel comes from outside the fray of your personal circumstance. For this reason we encourage Tony, and anyone living with a contentious, moody mate, to seek out the help of a professional counselor. Here are the steps:

(1) Find a counselor in your local area and call him or her. You probably don't need to see a psychiatrist (a medical doctor); an experienced counselor will do. A good place to start is the 'Find a Counselor' page of the AACC web site. The question of insurance and payment will come up, so be ready to answer such questions when setting up the appointment. But, EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE INSURANCE, hook up with a counselor anyway. Many free services are available in America today. Praise the Lord!

(2) Visit your counselor as he or she prescribes. Usually the sessions are one hour long and they run for a few weeks or months. This is not a long-term endeavor. Most counseling starts quickly, gets the job done, and stops.

(3) If prescription medications are indicated, the counselor will probably ask you to visit a medical doctor. As I understand it, some problems are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and medications can help restore proper levels.

(4) Don't go to a free service. In other words, don't see a pastor, priest, or rabbi. These professionals are compassionate and can help significantly, but they are not as effective as paid counselors. It is human nature to hold back information from free practitioners. If you are paying, the exchange of personal information happens quickly, and the sessions stop sooner, conserving your funds.

Some people think the Bible teaches that going to doctors shows a lack of faith and a disdain for God. This is not true. The Bible has many good things to say about doctors and medicine (e.g., Proverbs 17:22).

Seek God About This Specific Issue


Remember, God is for you. He loves you more than you love Him (much more). If you have stopped godly activity, start again. If you have stopped repenting for your shortcomings and sins, start again. If you have stopped forgiving other people, start again. If you have stopped praying with God, start again. If you have stopped reading the Bible, start again. If you have stopped going to church, start again. These activities will get you tuned into the things of God, and you will hear about, remember, and think through your relationships and the effects of the Jezebel spirit on them. Then, as God provides the right circumstances, act on what you have thought about. But always act in love, never out of self gratification.

Here are a few Bible topics to help get you started:

  • Weakening ties with your parents
  • Moving to the housetop, if needed
  • Rejecting divorce as a solution
  • Changing your spouse so he or she is not contentious

Weakening ties with your parents There is an important verse about childhood and adulthood in 1 Corinthians:

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
- 1 Corinthians 13:11 [NASB]

The apostle Paul tells us that he 'put away childish things' once he grew up and became a man. The question is, have you done that? In Genesis chapter 2 God ordains marriage and commands the man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
- Genesis 2:21ff [KJV]

By inference, the wife should do the same thing as her husband, that is, she should leave her parents. Sometimes children do no leave the parents, even when they become adults. And sometimes parents cling to their children, making it difficult for them to become adults. This kind of thing happens a lot and, since it is not aligned with God's design, it causes trouble. The 10 Commandments instruct all people to honor their parents (Exodus 20:12) and this means to respect them. It does not mean, when you are an adult, to obey them or try to please them. The break between childhood and adulthood must be a clean break. But sometimes we make it fuzzy, and we pay the consequences.

So, based on these leave and cleave passages, should Tony jump in, ruffle feathers, and demand that his wife stay away from her parents? Of course not. But circumstances will arise over time where Tony, armed with new understanding, can lovingly adjust family decisions to better reflect his new understanding. Don't go off like a firecracker. A little smoldering at the beginning will do just fine!

Moving to the housetop, if needed Many people chuckle when they read this verse in Proverbs:

It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
- Proverbs 21:9 [NASB]

The people who chuckle are the ones who have never lived with someone who wants to argue all the time. There are many passages of Scripture that are like this one. For example:

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand.
- Proverbs 27:15 [NASB]

These verses are saying that it is better to remove yourself from the immediate situation than stay in it. This usually starts with emotional separation, but it can progress to physical separation. The Bible is realistic.

Rejecting divorce as a solution Separation is one thing. Divorce is another. God hates it (Malachi 2:15) and it wrecks families and individuals who go through it. Being contentious (that is, argumentative, touchy, irritable, moody, or easily upset) is not a valid biblical reason for divorce. At only one place in the New Testament is there a slight indication of a valid reason for divorce. Jesus speaks it in His Sermon on the Mount

It was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
- Matthew 5:31ff [NASB]

The clause 'except for the reason of unchastity' appears to say that if one of the partners participates in unchastity, then there is a possibility of divorce. But what does unchastity mean? In the original Bible language, the word is porneuō, the same word we get pornography from today. Here is how Strong's Greek Dictionary defines it:

unchastity, from root porneuō, to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry: - commit (fornication).

It is mostly sexual infidelity, but not totally. Idolatry and lust that breaks the 10 Commandments are included. Any way you look at it, this unchastity is a major heinous act, and only with that can divorce be considered. God, and your partner, would prefer that you consider it not at all. If it happens, be sure YOU are not the one who starts it (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Changing your spouse so he or she is not contentious What you really want to do is change the situation, not just tolerate it. How can a husband change an contentious wife? How can a wife change a contentious husband? There is only one force in the universe powerful enough to change someone. It is love.

Love never fails
- 1 Corinthians 13:8 [NASB]

Of course volumes could be written (and have been written) on the power of love to change a person's life. Jesus demonstrated love when He died on the cross, and that single act changed millions of lives for the better worldwide. There is one key point to remember:

In the Bible, love is something you do, not something you feel

Rather than go on and on about loving your spouse, we will recommend only one course of action: get the movie Fireproof and watch it. This is a tremendous movie, and it is about love-based solutions to severe marriage problems. Here is a link, and another link. Fireproof is about a guy in a situation similar to Tony's, and how he solved the problem in a biblical way. It is a wonderful resource, and it is there for you. When I watched it, I wish it had been around when my troubles were boiling. It costs $6 on Amazon.

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:47:04 GMT, unknown: 642397 ABaOWntJaGdOc