The Surprising Truth of Why a Husband Devalues His Wife

The Surprising Truth of Why a Husband Devalues His Wife

Photo: ©fizkes from Getty Images via Canva.com

A husband who devalues his wife did not just become this way. There is always a trail that leads to this outcome. Devaluing a spouse is a symptom, not a cause. There are two ways to keep from marrying such a selfish, devaluing man. One, you must recognize the early signs and run before the trail heats up. The second is much harder; you have already married him and are reaping the whirlwind of his selfishness. There is still hope and help for this second situation, though it will come through God’s strength perfected in your weakness.

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Signs of Devaluing

Mable met Biff when she was seventeen. He seemed to be the perfect guy, at least to her. Biff showed love to her, and she liked the idea of someone loving her. Within a year of dating, they were having sex. She realized her “value” to him but dismissed his selfishness as a “guy thing,” never learning how his devaluing of her would manifest in many other ways.

Mable was not a confident person, which created insecurity that prohibited her from saying “no” to his advances. In her mind, she “needed” someone to love her, and she was willing to give in to Biff’s lusts. It’s analogous to a girl allowing the next-door neighbor boy to abuse her favorite rag doll. The girl did not value her doll, so it did not matter what the boy next door did to it. In the case of Mable, tragically, she grew up and married the next-door neighbor boy, only to find out that he devalues wives too.

Biff used Mable to satisfy his lust, and the “devaluing problem” compounded as she became the object of his anger—another way a man would devalue his wife. Biff’s sins are not Mable’s fault, but there is an insightful question that somebody needs to ask a girl like Mable long before she commits to such a selfish person as Biff: Why did you marry him? I will interact with this question primarily, hoping it will dissuade many young ladies from making such an unfortunate mistake.

He Is Responsible

As I work through this case study, let me reiterate because I want to be doubly clear: if someone devalues you, it is not your fault. You may be at fault for making a wrong decision by marrying a jerk, but you are not the cause of his sin. Too many women heap the guilt of their spouses on themselves. They further punish themselves for a problem they did not cause, which adds layers of complicatedness. I’m going to move through these layers, but one of them is not self-imposed guilt for another person’s evil. Be free from this kind of thinking. To take on another person’s sin leads to more self-devaluation, which leads to more unfortunate relational choices.

But there is another kind of guilt I want you to consider. It’s the girl who does not value herself, which pre-dates her infatuation with boys. The girl wrapped in this type of guilt begins to think “lousy guys” is all she can get, a setup for someone as selfish as Biff. Because she feels terrible about herself, she complicates matters by choosing these sorry guys. I am going to talk about this problem of devaluing oneself and then bring some solutions.

Let’s Begin with a Warning: If a guy does not value you enough to abstain from fornication and you later willingly give yourself up to him, why are you surprised that he mistreats you after marrying him? Don’t you know that the little neighborhood boy who “abused the doll” does not fundamentally change after becoming an adult? Though he does not throw dolls across the room for kicks, the heart issues that motivated him to do so are still present. The difference between the boy and the man you married is how he manifests his selfishness in ever-increasing and damaging ways. He no longer devalues dolls; he devalues his wife. The objects of his sin are different, and the consequences of his sin are exponentially worse, but he’s still the same kid—only in a grown-up body.

Born to Fail

Though God made Mable in His image, she came into the world broken. All babies enter the world with a functional deficit called “total depravity.” Mable was not what God intended her to be (Colossians 1:28). She was born like the rest of us: guilty before God (Romans 3:10-12). She was a spiritually broken baby. Every person is born in sin, guilt, shame, fear, and the temptation to lean into self-reliance. We all sense and know there is something wrong with us. Though no kid can articulate the internal awkwardness in their souls, they know something is internally wrong.

Even the Gentiles, who are not in a Christian environment, know something is wrong with them (Romans 2:14-15), a reason biblical parents must come alongside their children to instill in them a better way. Parents lead their children to God, the only One who ultimately can restore them to His intended purpose. If God does save a girl like Mable, she will experience transformative restoration of the soul. We call this initial restoration regeneration; they are born again (John 3:7).

From there, the child enters a process of sanctification for a complete repair, which will find fulfillment in heaven. We call this part of their salvation experience “progressive sanctification.” Of course, there are many ways a parent can fail their child by making things worse than when the kid first arrived into their world. If the parents do not do a good job, the deficit this girl feels in her soul widens. She will grow progressively needy, which will tempt her to look for love in all the wrong places. Here are a few examples of how parents can fail.

  • They could have a miserable marriage, one of the most effective ways to create dysfunction in a child.
  • The dad or mom could be angry, critical, and neglectful.
  • They can withhold love and encouragement.
  • They can be dismissive, preoccupied, or generally self-centered and self-serving.

These attitudes or behaviors can heap more ruin on an unregenerate child, creating more complicatedness in her soul. From a poor parenting model, she will begin searching outside the home for community and connectedness.

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Self-worth Versus God’s Image

With the image of God in worse shape than ever, she will not value who she is—a person made by God. Note how God thinks about image-bearers in James 3:9-10. The Lord esteems His creation so much that He frowns on anyone who messes with His creative acts. James is talking about a person who uses abusive language toward another image-bearer. He rebukes anyone who speaks harshly to another human. His reasoning for why it is wrong is that God made us in His image. The ESV says, “In the likeness of God.”

Because Mable was not cared for correctly, not only did her parents devalue her for their poor parenting, but she never learned to value herself. I’m not talking about the world’s version of self-worth, which is self-esteem. That teaching is godless, as it devalues the Creator and exalts the creation. Biblical self-worth recognizes the “value of the painting” only because of the importance of the Painter. We would have no value if God were not so magnificent. You are a person made in the image of God, and your goal should be to get to God so you can fully realize all He can do for and through you, which is mainly to put Himself on display (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This kind of “image of God teaching” never occurred to Mable. Rather than having a God-centered view of who she was and what she was supposed to be, she devalued herself. Her parents did not value her either, which makes sense why she began looking for someone to love her. This tactic is the world’s version of self-worth—do something to make yourself feel good about yourself. Whenever a person seeks to do things to make themselves feel better about themselves but does not have a gospel compass, their pursuit will be self-centered and self-destructive.

Hormones in Tennis Shoes

Guess what? Mable began dating boys at fifteen. She was naive and not prepared for this new adventure. With parents fundamentally disqualified from parenting and Hollywood and social media as her tutors, she entered the adult world of romance. She did not know how to value herself as a woman made in the image of God, so Biff began to make advances toward her; she interpreted his words and behaviors as good things.

According to her inverted way of thinking about value, Biff’s desire for her meant she had value. And she amped up the manipulation by creating a sensual narrative that presented herself in such a way to allure Biff’s native instincts and lusts. She did this because her understanding of self-worth was from a worldly model of self-inflation. Both of them were selfish and misguided. They called it love. God called it a sin.

They married, and she was angry within one year of marriage because he did not value her the way she thought about herself; it was two empty love cups colliding. Daily. The question is, why would he value her now? He never did. Nobody, past or present, has ever valued her. But Biff was not the only person who did not like Mable. Her parents did not like her, and Mable did not like Mable. The mysterious irony here is that she continues not to understand why Biff mistreats her.

Why Is Mable Angry?

Premarital sex or physical, romantic involvement is the first clue you are about to marry a selfish person. This behavior is a clear sign that a person will diss God, devalue you, and seek to satisfy their self-centered lusts. In situations like this, being mad at the boyfriend is not the primary or proper response. Biff is being Biff. He has been what he has always been—selfish, angry, and lustful. Too many girls do not understand what I am saying or don’t want to acknowledge their culpability for getting to where they are. Only the grace of God can change a person like this.

If the boy next door devalues your ragdoll, do not be surprised if he devalues you. If God does not supernaturally change him, he will not transform, and selfishness is what he will always be. This problem is one of the biggest dangers to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon from a few years ago. Any woman who does not think enough of herself and devalues what sexuality is supposed to be should not be surprised when she lands in a self-centered romantic relationship. Women’s “50 shades romantic craze” is the reverse effect in porn. A guy who looks at porn devalues women, much like the ragdoll illustration. You become what you want.

Millions of guys would love to find a woman who likes mommy porn. This sexualized response from a woman would be the ultimate score for a guy. If a woman does not care about her image of God and how God thinks about her, she will more than likely find herself in a bad relationship. Let me be more direct because this problem is that severe: if you don’t mind filling your head with a load of manure, don’t be surprised if a load of manure shows up on your doorstep in the form of a guy who would love to get his hands on you.

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Two Sober Calls

A Call to Girls: Guard this treasure. You are a woman made in the image of God. If a guy wants to take God’s image and devalue it, you should run as fast as you can from such a person (2 Timothy 2:22). If you don’t, the end for you will be a buffet of bitter herbs. There are hundreds of women reading and attesting to what I’m saying. Many of these women feel stuck in their silent prisons of relational regret. They did not think about being God’s creation—choosing instead to let someone define and defile them.

If you are not married, you do not have to do what they did. You can guard God’s treasure, which is the person God made you to be. Think about your life like the ragdoll in my illustration. If a guy does not treasure your doll, you must quickly disqualify him from receiving a more fabulous prize, which is you. You have value because God made you.

A Call to Dads: Dad, you are stewarding a treasure made by God Almighty. Be careful how you steward this gift. You received this gift in a broken condition (Romans 5:12), but God has called you to be part of His Restoration Team (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Don’t defile God’s image. You will set her on a course that will become progressively worse if you do. She will think about herself the way you do, which is poorly. She will seek “worldly means” to fill the gaping holes in her soul. This process will not end well for her.

Cry to God, Pursue Community

Only the grace of God can change a wrong course, but it can change at any time. Here are a few ways it can happen.

  • Dad can change by imitating Christ more effectively by restoring his child to God.
  • A girl can become a Christian and earnestly pursue God in her progressive sanctification.
  • A teen can repent of all devaluing sins, be free from guilt, and pursue God in her sanctification.
  • A married woman can repent of any sin committed, be free from it, and pursue God, though past actions might have ongoing consequences.

The agonizing trouble for the devalued, married woman is complicated because she cannot get out of her marriage. She will have to live with the consequences of her sinful choice of marrying “the boy next door.” She needs to surround herself with God’s community to experience their nourishing and cherishing while becoming a sanctifying witness to her husband (1 Peter 2:18-3:6). There is (probably) no biblical warrant for divorce.

God’s gospel community means many things; the most obvious is the local assembly of believers serving each other. Prayer and the Word of God are obvious choices, too, along with solid, gospel-centered music. An older and wiser woman in the church is a big plus. The devalued wife must create gospel tributaries that can rescue her from the ensnaring mental warfare. This battle calls for God’s community to come to her aid (Matthew 18:15-17). The hope is God’s people can not only persevere with her but appeal to her husband to change.

Call to Action

Though Mable may not have the life she dreamed of, she can experience an incredible life with God and His community as she worships Him out of her weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9-10).

  1. What does it mean to boast in your weakness? Will you study 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and perhaps memorize it to learn what Paul learned about God’s strength finding perfection through his weakness?
  2. What does it mean to have a sound theology of suffering? If you’re unsure, will you talk to a mature believer who has gone through the crucible of suffering, coming out the other side maturer because of the suffering?
  3. Are you tempted to heap guilt onto yourself for poor past decisions? What is the process for casting those transgressions on the Lord?
  4. Will you do the work of respecting your husband, a fellow image-bearer? Your respect might only be because God made him in His image.
  5. How else do you need to change from what you have learned here?

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