When A Wife Treats Her Husband Like A Child

Sometimes, I overhear a woman speak to her husband as if she were his mother.  It might sound something like this, “Where are all those receipts, I’ve told you and told you, to let me know how much you spent.” or, “Don’t you think you should be going to church more?” or, “Maybe you could get a better job, one that pays more.” or, “I have to do everything around here; can’t you do anything right?” “I can’t trust you to take care of the kids while I’m gone.” I’m certain all of these words are very demeaning and belittling to the man.

Surely, you must have the right to be fed up when your husband doesn’t act responsibly, or do what is acceptable in your eyes. Frustrated, you might be  rude or disrespectful to him or resort to silence when your husband disappoints you. You might believe that it is necessary to point out the obvious things you see that need to change in your husband. How will he ever get it if you don’t tell him? If you don’t take over now won’t the entire household fold? You might believe that if it weren’t for you, your family wouldn’t survive, certainly not your husband and certainly not your kids. Why you are the glue holding the family together!

Ever thought about how the words you speak to your husband affect him? Every mention of his failures, every reminder that he has disappointed again – it sounds as if you are speaking to a child – he can almost expect to be grounded, sent to his room if he doesn’t shape up. Ever think about how your actions speak volumes to him? You might not say anything about not trusting him, but you take over all the child care, the checkbook, planning, spending, decision making and pretty soon…you find that you are not only exhausted but you have officially taken over. You look around for the leader you so desired and he is nowhere to be found. You know why he can’t be found? Because you have crowded him out! There is no room in the drivers seat – you are sitting there! Your husband has been forced in the back seat, like one of the kids. You tell them to get in, buckle up and be quiet. And woe to him (your man) if he has any comments on the way your are driving and leading the family. How dare he have the nerve to make a comment after all that you do!

You’ve been driving the family for so long you may think you are the only reason the family has stayed on the road. Surely if you allowed him to take the wheel, he’d drive the family over a cliff – or would he?20120417_KB_0651

Your husband doesn’t need a mother, he needs a wife who will walk beside him, respect him, love him, cheer him on, encourage him, and most important, allow God to teach him how to lead his family. Well, what about the man who has grown comfortable sitting in the backseat? It isn’t too late for him either. He would probably love a chance to jingle the keys, slide into the drivers seat and drive in circles if he so chooses – just as long as those in the car believe in him. It may seem like a very scary thing to do – to relinquish control to your husband, but if you remember that up to now, your control and mistrust have been based on fear. It is important for you to realize that its really God you are trusting or rather not trusting.

It comes down to this truth: You are either going to trust God, or you aren’t! It is God’s desire for your husband to lead. It is God’s desire to teach your husband how to lead. It is God’s desire that you to wait upon him to teach, and lead your husband! This all may sound well and good, but, what about if your husband has no desire to lead? It still comes down to that truth: Are you going to trust God or not? If you are sitting in the driver’s seat, more than likely, your husband has learned that he can’t push you out of it! So, you are going to have to make the first move. He isn’t going to move out of the back seat, until you move over! Move over, begin to pray that God will show you how to be his wife, not his mother. Ask God to give you a measure of trust in him, to teach your husband, to teach you to be a wife to your husband, not a mom.

For those of you who have excused your husband’s sin and have not taken a stand when necessary – again, sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for your husband might seem like a very unloving thing to do. At times, there are actions you must take and God will give you the wisdom to act accordingly.

Imagine how glorious it could be…your man in the driver’s seat, you beside him…humming along, down the road. A much better picture than you driving and your husband/child sitting in the back seat, longing for a chance to drive! Relinquish your control and set your heart in the direction to trust God. You may find that you need to repent for your sin as well as ask forgiveness from your husband for how you’ve treated him. God’s desire is that your husband lead the family. It’s God’s design that your husband sit in the driver’s seat!




  1. Kristen
    Jul 17, 2012

    Thanks, I really needed to hear this!

  2. Jean
    Oct 5, 2012

    Thank you so much for this. I really needed to see this. I think sometimes its hard to practically know how to do this. Its very easy to think that he won’t care if I do this or handle that so I need figure out ways to give him the opportunity step in and lead me.
    Thank you.

  3. Kara
    Jan 1, 2013

    Wow! My husband has said, your not my mother!! But, it wouldn’t get done if I didn’t do it. I’ve been driving this marriage deeper into the ground than it probably would have been had I allowed God to drive! I’m making big changes this new yr and I’m adding your advice to my list!! This is going to be hard because I have control issues with the way things are run in OUR home! Thank you

    • joymcclain
      Jan 1, 2013

      It is hard, isn’t it? We get so used to being so independent, without sometimes even giving them a chance…then they figure why bother…so they stop trying. I’m glad it spoke to your heart, Kara! Praying for you, that God would do a mighty work in your heart! Much love to you and Happy New Year!

  4. Lisa
    Jan 1, 2013

    Thanks Joy I needed to see this. I’m quite guilty in this area and need a lot of work. i also need to get a copy of your book to read.

    • joymcclain
      Jan 1, 2013

      Guilty too – that’s why I was able to write it! If you have a kindle or nook you can get it on eBook for only 1.99 through Jan. 4. Or, you can get deals on line most often from Amazon. I’d send you one, but I don’t keep a good supply. Hope you are well and enjoying the warmer weather. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year dear and precious friend!

  5. Chris
    Jan 25, 2013


  6. Kelli Worrall
    Oct 5, 2013

    Thank you for these words, Joy. My husband and I discovered shortly after we were married that we had a lot of work to do in this area. We had a lot of history to undo. Both of my parents were disabled, so I took a lot of control in our household from a very young age. He, on the other hand, had a controlling father who took things out of his hands. I learned over-responsibility and he learned passivity. Bringing our marriage into a better, God-honoring balance has required allowing Christ to heal both of our hurts and fears. My fear of what would happen if I reliquished control. And his fear of his own incompetence. Thanks again.

    • joymcclain
      Oct 6, 2013

      Thank you for encouraging me, Kelli. We often don’t even realize just how much we step into that role…and certainly how in affects our husbands. So grateful that the Lord is working in your marriage in this area. Have a blessed weekend!
      Grace & Peace,

  7. Rebeca
    Oct 6, 2013

    I believe this too. But I tried to step back on many occasions and let my husband take the reigns without my intrusion and on every occasion he has failed the task. I stayed the course thinking he would learn from his own mistakes but it has become clear that he passive-aggressively fails intentionally so as not to be expected to do these things on the future. My perfect credit is now destroyed. I’ve lost homes and vehicles. And to this day I can’t come home from a 12 hr day of work without having to drag the trash in past the overgrown lawn, walk into a kitchen full of dishes , and if I’m less than cheery in my response to his hugs, he reminds me of how unpleasant I am on the way back to the Xbox. And that is the Reality of the man-child most of us are dealing with.

    • joymcclain
      Oct 6, 2013

      Oh, Rebeca,
      I know it is so very hard when your husband isn’t willing to step up and be the man God has called him to be. I realize that there are those circumstances when, even when a woman does step back, she isn’t going to see her beloved take the reigns. What you are describing is unfortunately the norm for many women. The enemy of God is at work within our families and if he takes the father and the leader out of the home, or out of commission, there is certainly felt consequences for the entire family. I would highly recommend that you connect with your pastor or leaders within the church body. You aren’t meant to walk this alone, Rebeca. You need a covering within the body of Christ, help if you need to establish boundaries and sound Biblical counsel for you – and ideally for both of you if your husband is willing. I know this may seem like a sound-simple but in reality won’t work answer, but I know if you have someone encouraging you, walking alongside of you, helping you love him and yes, set boundaries – it can make a difference, even if the circumstance is slow in changing. I am so sorry that you’ve had to deal with this…I
      know that you are so very tired and weary and your shoulders are sagging, having felt the brunt of the responsibility for so long. I am praying for you now, asking the Lord to bring relief, open the eyes of your husband and give you contented rest. There is a great need and I believe many leaders are addressing this crisis of men not being willing, or not rising up…and may we be praying for this kind of movement and revival within the hearts of our men, just as we pray for revival within our own hearts. Take care and thank you for sharing, thank you for voicing what many women deal with…I know this one thing: you can trust God, even if you can’t trust your husband. Let me know how you are doing…grace and peace to you.

  8. Heather
    Oct 22, 2013

    Just where did u obtain the points to post ““When A Wife Treats Her
    Husband Like A Child | Joy McClain”? I appreciate it -Hubert

    • joymcclain
      Oct 22, 2013

      If I understand your question – they came from my own experience and from all the years I’ve walked alongside women…

  9. Darren
    Nov 10, 2013

    What about a wife who dose not go to church and dose not believe in god and calls her self a christian?

    • joymcclain
      Nov 10, 2013

      Then, Darren, I would set my mind and heart to praying for her salvation! There are many people who believe they are Christians because they are “good” people, but don’t have a relationship with Christ. It isn’t about religion, its about a relationship with Christ. Pausing, right now, to pray for your wife – that she come to know Christ as intimate One. Be encouraged, God will woo her…as you continue to love and cherish her. Don’t give up – and don’t give up your serving and loving her. I know it’s hard, but God sees your heart and motives and He desires that she walk fully with Him, even more than you do!
      Grace & Peace,

  10. Amy
    Feb 22, 2014

    I came across your blog and FB page about a week ago now, and I cannot tell you how much of a blessing it has been to me. For a long time my husband has been an alcoholic, lost 2 jobs with 2 DUI’s. Right before Christmas he got his old job back, and though there have been a few nights that have not been pretty when
    I have gotten in from work (I am a nurse) I have been praying for the Lord to change me, convict me, change my attitude towards my husband, etc. The Lord has been merciful indeed as I have seen subtle changes take place yet fearful of the unknown of the future. One of the things my husband has said numerous times through sober and drunken moments is….I have a mother, I need a wife. Cuts to the heart and truth and stings yet convicts me of my sin. I have asked forgiveness, and my husband has forgiven me. Please pray that he will lay the alcohol completely down and trust in Christ….something I pray for several times a day. Thank you for sharing your story and your blog.

    • joymcclain
      Feb 24, 2014

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It is a very long and difficult road – I know that full well. Sometimes its hard to know just exactly what your husband needs. Therefore, it is good to ask God to teach you how to be the wife your husbands needs, not necessarily wants all the time. God will be faithful to give you wisdom. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to lead and teach you. If you haven’t read my book, Waiting for His Heart; Lessons from a Wife Who Chose to Stay, I would highly recommend it. It speaks openly about my struggles and control – all stemming from the fear that life would never change. I encourage you too, to reach out for yourself. Find some good Biblical counseling or a mature believer who would be a faithful woman and friend to walk through this hard season with you. You aren’t meant to walk this alone and you certainly aren’t meant to shoulder all the responsibility – and I know how much that can mean when you are carrying much of the weight on the home front.
      If you would like to be invited to a private page on face book for praying wives (you will be so encourage by these women all over the world you face what you face daily) – go to the book’s face book page – Waiting for His Heart and leave me a message.
      Hang in there, Amy. God is working all around you. He’s not ignoring you, He isn’t angry with you, He sees and knows and He will lead you to those calm waters.
      Grace & Peace,

  11. Ben
    Aug 5, 2014

    Impressive, I am relieved, I thought I was the only man who is suffering but now I know there are many of us. Joy you really have the Spirit of God within you, your heart of compassion and sound advises really helps. May you continue this good work. I am going to show my wife this blog

    • joymcclain
      Aug 7, 2014

      Oh most certainly, we do all struggle, Ben. God is so gracious to us, to extend His rich mercy. Thanks for your encouragement to me!

  12. Kibs
    Jan 31, 2015

    I like to be treated as such.

    Kind regards,


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