Dimensions of Love

God loves and accepts individuals as they are, different from one another because He did not create sons and daughters in a series or as clones.

God loves and ac­cepts individuals as they are, dif­ferent from one another because He did not create sons and daughters in a series or as clones. Each one is unique within the universe. Our Heavenly Father loves us and forgives us when we ask. He forgets our shortcomings. He encourages and enables. He never accuses, criticizes, or be­littles us, nor does He despise us when we do not carry out His will perfectly. On the contrary, God inspires, gives hope, and gratifies us with a sense of well­being when we get things right. As our Creator and Model, He has a positive and pleasant at­titude toward us.

Considering this fact, I ask, “What right do I have to react differently in my home? If my spouse has done something that does not please me, why should I treat him badly?” If a spouse lives with constant criticism and censure, he or she becomes fearful, insecure, annoyed, and discouraged.

Low self-esteem occurs. The critical spouse becomes even more intolerant, and a vicious cycle begins. Both partners in the marriage become unhappy and angry.

Certainly, this is not the partnership God intended. He desired man and woman to be in a happy union, one where each partner honors and cherishes the other. The Christian marriage vows include caring, honoring, protecting, and loving.

Individuals who treat their spouses in negative ways often make excuses for their behavior. They blame their actions on their parents, traditions, customs, or society. And, of course, all those things affect attitudes and behaviors, but there is no excuse for cruel or belittling behavior toward one's spouse.

Committed Christians can overcome the errors committed by their parents. They can refrain from accepting society's view on what constitutes a good marriage. They can study the Bible and seek God's guidance when interacting with their husband or wife. Also, remember that criticism, anger, intimidation, and contempt do not draw a spouse to Christ; rather, they drive the person away from God. This topic is of such importance that God links answering prayer with the treatment given to the wife (1 Peter 3:7).

Symbolism of the Couple

Within human relation­ships, the couple was the sym­bol chosen by God to illustrate the union of Christ with His spouse, the Church. He treats the Church with love, care, forgiveness, and protection. The spouse should be treated in such a manner. Husbands should treat their wives as com­petent individuals, compan­ions, and confidants. Such hus­bands will be appreciated and loved by their wives.

Even in the most adjusted marriage relationships, there are ups and downs. When conflicts appear, the best thing a partner can do is to remain calm. Words said in anger often leave psychological scars that last a lifetime.

From Loving to Hostile Behavior

It seems many women are attracted to men who treat them badly. In their book, Men Who Hate Women and The Women Who Love Them, Drs. Susan Forward and Joan Tores explain that many women do not realize they seek such behavior in men. Individuals who are strongly critical and scornful of their spouses are called misogynists. Such individuals do not recognize or perceive the pain they inflict. According to psychologists, their need for control has its origin in childhood. Many times, a misogynist is only copying what he or she saw as a child. This character deficiency is found in a greater number of men than women.

The misogynist often belittles everything about his spouse. He criticizes her clothing, the way she talks, her child-rearing abilities, her cooking, etc. He always expects his wife to agree with him and believes she should feel lucky to have someone as intelligent as he is to care for the family.

In reality, although the misogynist may be a good provider, his unconscious objective is to maintain spouse dependency. Psychologists state that the internal insecurity he feels leads him to react in such a controlling manner because he fears he may lose his wife.

Many times, the misogynist uses verbal or physical aggression. Other times, he will lock himself into punishing silence and remain that way for several days. The wife may or may not know what she did that made him angry. His silence simply increases her fear of his soon-coming explosion.

Since the misogynist is unpredictable, his spouse is always "walking on thin ice." Her goal in life is to refrain from doing anything that will displease him. Even when she is doing everything she can do to make life pleasant for her spouse, he lashes out at her. Soon she becomes confused and incapable of making decisions. Her self-esteem disappears, and she lives with constant tension. But just when she thinks she can take no more, the misogynist becomes amiable, charming, and delightful. The wife becomes hopeful that "this time" he will change.

Living with Wisdom

A woman who lives with a misogynist should refrain from allowing herself to feel like a victim. She should train herself not to take his "insults" personally. She should remember that he is motivated by a strong prejudice and errors from his upbringing, and he does not realize the injury his attitude inflicts on his family. If the wife can remember this, she can better control her emotions. Though it is difficult in the beginning, the mental discipline she uses can make her husband change for the better.

The woman who is married to a misogynist should refrain from arguing. She should speak clearly with charm, security, and calmness. She should give her opinion regarding matters in the home, as well as present suggestions regarding the education of the children. Though her partner may become irritated and speak in a loud tone, she should inform him that it is important he know what she thinks. She should make her husband aware of spiritual matters, news items, sports events, etc. She should ask him to respect her ideas as she respects his. The wife should remind her husband that living with continuous bad moods is bad for his health, her health, and the health of their children.

It is important to find a leisure activity that both spouses enjoy. When the husband reacts in a pleasant and enjoyable manner, the wife should compliment him. Both partners should focus on the fun the family is having.

Being the spouse of a misogynic partner is difficult. Only God can completely calm the mental affliction and agitated heart of those in such relationships. Prayer and reliance on God can help soothe the trials of the marriage and possibly change the misogynic spouse into a person who is positive and loving.

Is There Misogyny in Your Relationship?

Are you in a relationship where one spouse seems to have more control? Are you afraid to voice your feelings about things that are important to you because you fear ridicule? Is your spouse full of anger and condemnation?

The following questions will help you determine if you are in a relationship where misogyny is present:

  • Does the man you love insist on maintaining control of your life and actions?
  • Does he intimidate you with crude words, shouts, or irritated silence?
  • Does he belittle your opinions, feelings, or accomplishments?
  • Is he extremely jealous and possessive?
  • Is he highly critical?
  • Does he accuse you constantly of everything that is wrong in the relationship?
  • Is he unpredictable: charming one moment and angry the next?
  • Do you have to give up activities and friendships just to make him happy?
  • Do you keep "practicing" what you are going to say so you won=t irritate him?
  • When you are in public with him, do you withdraw?
  • Is he only at ease with his friends?
  • Do you frequently feel inad­equate, confused, and out­of-place in his presence?

If you answered "yes" to at least six of these questions, you can be certain your relationship is misogynic. If that is the case, you should turn to someone for professional and spiritual help.

As contemporary women, we need to maintain the qualities that make us women­ our strong emotions, our capacity to nurture, our ability to abandon negative behavior. Being a woman no longer means being passive and invalidating oneself. It does not include imitating the traditional masculine role. There is no contradiction in being a loving, unselfish woman who can take care of herself while defending her best interests. The best gift a woman can give herself and the man she loves is self-worth and the expectation of being loved and well-treated.

A misogynic relationship is not what God intended when He made Adam and Eve. Marriage is to be a partnership where both spouses are upheld and respected. Pray daily for your spouse, treat him well, and, with God=s help, marriage can be all that God intended it to be.