Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
— Proverbs 21:9 NKJV
All the resentments make a woman who’s cold, who’s mean, who’s sarcastic, who will pay you back. (Laughing) Oh, it’s terr … and she doesn’t want to; she’s just going to.
I have no doubt these women are every bit as unpleasant to be around as Clarke says they are. What is ironic however is that all three of the women offered as examples complained that their husbands didn’t want to spend time with them*:
Woman #1: My husband, Ben is into everything. He has a ball game or a meeting nearly every single night of the week. And then if he’s home, he’s on the phone talking over strategies for the next game or meeting. It … it’s like he has time for everyone except for me.
Woman #2: If friends were enough, I wouldn’t have gotten married. I want my husband. I want him to be with me, to share my life on a daily basis.
Woman #3: I was in the grocery store checkout line and the man in front of me, all he did was just glance back and smile. He looked so kind. I don’t know what happened, but when I got back to my car, I burst into tears. I guess I finally had to admit how lonely I felt.
What we see here is a surprisingly common pattern for wives; they go out of their way to be unpleasant to their husbands and then complain that their husbands don’t want to spend time with them. This mode of thinking makes perfect sense to the women involved, but is truly puzzling to men.
I’ve written in the past about a time in our marriage roughly 20 years ago where my wife would at times go out of her way to make me not want to be around. When she did this I’d go hunting or fishing, or do something else rather than choose to stick around and be treated that way. She would go from desperately wanting to drive me away to feeling terribly alone after having done so. To my wife’s great credit she eventually figured out how to stop doing what she was doing. The most difficult part for her was whenever she talked to other women about this impulse she was feeling they acted like she was crazy. All of them denied ever having experienced or even hearing about this impulse, even though in some cases she had watched them do the exact same thing. Eventually she figured out that if she just resisted the immediate urge and focused on something else for a while, the impulse would quickly go away.
Recently we were talking about this and she reminded me of the term I used at the time for how she was acting:
Punishing me with her presence.
Despite near universal denial this impulse is extremely common. When women complain to my wife that their husbands never want to spend time with them she gently asks them if when they are around their husband they are pleasant and nice to be around. The response she receives varies from viewing my wife as a traitor to women, to shock that they had never considered this themselves.
*Clarke attributes their loneliness to a lack of feeling “emotional intimacy” towards their husbands (what I would call romantic love/sexual attraction). I don’t think he is wrong in this basic assessment, but I also don’t think this contradicts the fact that the women are also very unhappy that their husbands don’t want to be around them (they are separate things, and both are true). More importantly Clarke’s advice is not only in direct contradiction to the Bible, but on a practical level teaching these women to nag their husbands harder will make the physical separation worse, and his advice to husbands to fawn and grovel is going to further frustrate the wives.