Do You Treat Your Spouse as Well as a Stranger? 

*This is directed toward the ladies, but many of the principles I discuss also apply to how husbands treat their wives* 

I have witnessed, and experienced, how some women treat friends, co-workers, and complete strangers better than they treat their own husbands. I suspect most of them have never thought of their behavior in this way. Consequently, I want to shine a needed spotlight on this relationship-destroying flaw and encourage wives to devote themselves more fully, passionately, and submissively to their husbands.  

Shirin Altsohn

First, let’s start with appearance. A first impression is usually formed, at least in part, by our physical appearance, grooming, and clothing. Our outward appearance says a great deal about the things we value, how we see ourselves, and how we view others. 

Ladies, think of your life and ask yourself a simple question: “Do I dress nicer for my friends, co-workers and strangers than I do for my husband at home?” Doubtless, your answer is yes and, doubtless, many women would retort: “Well, yeah, of course I dress up to go out, but I’m not going to dress up at home!” I would respond: “Why not?” 

Think of it, you women spend so much time and effort dolling yourselves up, doing your hair, plucking this or that, and making yourselves fancy for people who are less important in your life – a boss, for instance. Many of you, however, let your hair down, throw on some sweats or shorts, and wash off your makeup when you get home; that is to say, you let yourself go when you are around your husband. 

Alternatively, you might never do yourself up at all during the day if you stay home, thinking it unnecessary. In your mind, dressing up and looking good is only for being outside the home or for “special” occasions, implying the time with your spouse is less valuable and less special. 

Maybe you feel extra comfortable around your husband and feel that lounging with him and never going out of your way to be visually appealing is no problem. If both of you are fine with that, then more power to you (though, truth be told, a lot of guys would prefer to see you looking neat and stylish even around the house, though they would probably never tell you so to your face). However, ask yourself a couple more questions. 

First, ask: “When my husband arrives home from work, does he see me at my best?” If not, then ask: “Doesn’t my husband deserve to see me at my best?” In all honesty, why should you be better-dressed for your boss, your co-worker, your friend from high school you are meeting for lunch, or random people in public than for your husband? 

Don’t misunderstand; you don’t need to wear high heels, a retro rockabilly dress, classy jewelry or a beautiful choker, styled hair, and neat makeup all day. Then again, I personally think that’s an absolutely adorable and attractive style. This high-class style helps accentuate a woman’s natural femininity. The point, however, is to consider whether you make more of an effort to dress up for the world or for your husband. If the former, then you might need to change what you’re doing. 

When you were dating your now husband, did you let yourself look like a slob around him? Probably not. During courtship, you likely went out of your way to freshen up before you would see him, fix up your hair before a date, or put on something nice to impress him. What about now? Do you still try to impress him? Do still try to look your most gorgeous around him? Do you even make an effort at all to be his bombshell wife that he’s proud to have on his arm? 

Making an effort to look desirable, well-kempt, and attractive will keep alive an element of passion, induce more respect and decent behavior in both you and your spouse, and will make you feel better. Physical appearance is not everything, but it’s a palpable way to show your investment in your relationship, your respect for your spouse, and your enduring desirability. 

More important than appearance is attitude, mindset, and maturity. I refer specifically to femininity. Being feminine is only partially about your physical appearance, dress, and grooming. Rather, it is a mindset and a way of living. It’s the substance of womanhood and the thing that draws men to you like a moth to a flame. It is, in all likelihood, one of the reasons your husband was attracted to you to begin with and is, whether he says it or not, a quality he wants to see you nurture, display, and perfect. 

As I wrote in my piece “A Girl Worth Fighting For,” femininity refers to appearance, certainly, but more to an inward quality unique to women; a quality that attracts men: 

“Why is it that men are drawn to women of this sort; women who embrace their femininity and wear skirts, dresses, and other ladylike apparel? I believe that this style is attractive precisely because skirts and dresses set women apart as women. Men are inherently attracted to women. It’s in our microchip. People of both genders have the innate desire to cleave to one another (Genesis 2:24). It’s a godly impulse. Thus, to sharpen and strengthen that impulse by outward attire is positive and beneficial, whereas blurring those divine lines is destructive and disconcerting. 

“A woman who habitually wears men’s clothing, participates in men’s activities, and acts like “one of the guys,” loses something precious. She diminishes, in a degree, her inherent femininity and a part of that which, by divine design, makes her attractive. Again, this is not to say that women who play basketball, spend time around men, or do something outdoorsy or physical, are bad people, foolish, or corrupt. Yet, women who spend their time competing with men and trying to be like them lose that edge God has given them – their divine femininity.  

“However, the heart of the woman is more important than whether she occasionally wears pants or plays sports. It’s trumps skirts and long hair. The purest form of femininity exudes from within. It bubbles up in the form of charm, wit, allure, vivaciousness, and a type of unique light or energy that men simply can’t duplicate – and often can’t resist. . . . 

“Femininity is a virtue and a strength. It is a gift and a talent. It has a very real power to entice, inspire, uplift, brighten, and persuade. Any woman who has mastered the art of femininity, both in dress and behavior, is a cut above the rest and is worth fighting for as only men can.  

“When you combine virtue, submissiveness, and femininity together in one, you see the image of a real woman emerge. Unlike the counterfeit version offered by feminism, this blend of virtues is true empowerment. It’s the substance of real womanhood. It’s what causes good men to fight, risk their lives, and even die in foreign wastelands. It’s what prompts men to feats of strength and great exertions of character. It’s the thing that persuades men to raise their chin, square their shoulders, and work harder. Ironically, it’s the very thing that makes us become the sort of men women love and desire.” 

Wives, do you behave and act in a feminine way around your husband? Did you when you were dating? I tend to think you probably did, even if you didn’t do it overtly or consciously. If you did act more femininely when you were dating, why not now? Should you put your best foot forward in the rehearsal or in the main event? Also, if you have drastically changed your behavior since tying the knot and have become less feminine or less of what you were before, you have to ask whether you were dabbling in false advertising during courtship or if your loss of femininity happened through carelessness. 

It seems that women generally behave womanlier and more femininely when they are dating, but become more hardened, crass, and sloppy when they get married; as if it was all an act meant to catch a mate instead of who they really were. If you are in the same boat – even if this has happened unconsciously and was never your intention – you can course correct, embrace your natural femininity, and recapture your husband’s heart.  

Becoming more feminine around your husband will produce magical effects. Perhaps not immediate effects, but palpable and lasting ones that will move your relationship in the right direction. It will show that you still care about him, that you respect him enough to look and act nice for him, and that you are still the high-quality woman he thought he was marrying. 

Part of having a feminine attitude is being deferential, dutiful, and humble before your husband. Notice what I did not say. I did not say that being feminine is being a slave, a servant, or a voiceless, mindless, dependent “doormat.” Strong men want strong women, but not the unruly “strong and independent” type Hollywood and the Marxist-feminist movement promote. The strength we desire, honor, and crave is the confidence you show in your own femininity, your willingness to be submissive and trusting, and the respect and loyalty you show to us as men, husbands, and heads of households. 

Being submissive to your husband shows far more strength of character and will power than being rebellious, back talking your man, or doing everything yourself. Any petulant, selfish, egotistical woman can behave like that and live her own “independent” life her way without regard to another person. It takes a stronger woman, a humbler woman, a more confident woman, to willingly submit to, respect, and live well for a man. That voluntary submission and willingness to work on yourself, go out of your way to tidy yourself up, and to express loyalty, love, and attentiveness in a hundred little ways, is what is so endearing. 

Let me now draw more contrasting comparisons to work or public life and home or marriage. For you working women, do you defer to your boss, doctor, or priest? If not, you would probably be fired. Then why not also defer to your husband? Who is more important to you? Who besides God stands in a position of more importance in your life? 

If you are a stay-at-home wife, which is awesome and preferable, do you listen to and receive counsel from your husband? If not, why not? What is stopping you? What is holding you back from truly trusting him and becoming his first officer? 

Ladies, if your boss asked or told you to do something, would you back talk? Would you toy with him? Would you give him the run around? Would you give him some lip or sass and question his authority? Would you rebuff him? Would you ignore him? Of course not! Yet, the same woman who wouldn’t dare ignore or disobey her boss often has zero problem challenging, rebuking, or back talking to her husband. In all seriousness, ladies, isn’t this backwards and wrong? Why does your husband occupy a lower level on your totem of respect? 

If your husband asks something of you, do you do it or do you shrug your shoulders and consider it to be optional? What about if your boss asks you to do something? Try shrugging your shoulders and ignoring him the next time he makes a request and see what happens. If you don’t expect your boss to tolerate insubordination and unruly behavior, why should your husband have to tolerate and endure it at home? If anything, you should be more willing to work harder, more promptly, and more enthusiastically when your husband makes a request than when your boss does. 

Think more deeply about the language you use. Would you use the same insulting, sarcastic, dismissive language you use with your spouse with your boss or your friend or your dentist? Do you yell, get short with, or roll your eyes at, your store clerk, your co-worker, or your doctor? If not, then consider whether it is better to show respect to a boss, friend, lawyer, doctor, etc., or to a spouse. 

Women have a unique ability to calm down, placate, and soothe angry, exhausted, or brooding men. Yet, there’s little in this life more grating and repugnant than a quarrelsome woman who raises her voice, yells, and demeans with her words. It’s not right when a man does it, but it is positively unnatural and noxious when a woman does. Ladies, if you wouldn’t dream of going around in public ranting, screaming shrilly, or dismissively treating those you meet, why would you ever do any of these things to the man you say you love – the one you have voluntarily chosen to be with for the rest of your life? 

Part of the reason why we don’t treat each other as civilly as we should is the fact that modern life is so constructed as to prevent spouses from spending the maximum amount of time together. When life gets busy, husbands and wives only spend a few short waking hours together. Even on a normal day, the bulk of your time is spent at an office, factory, or away from home, spouse, and family. Is this conducive to growing positive relationships? Of course not! 

People in general also lack emotional intelligence (normal intelligence, too). We are living in a state of arrested development. An argument can me made that men suffer from this malady more since women are jumping ahead in getting degrees, earning higher grades, and other factors I deem irrelevant. However, in my own life experience and observations at universities and in society, it’s the ladies who lack emotional intelligence. 

Without any doubt, women are weepier than men. Women often lack the same fortitude as men and quit difficult things more readily. This perhaps shines a light on why over 80% of divorces are initiated by women. When the going gets tough, they get going; they don’t have the character to see it through or the willingness to do those things that would help their relationship most. 

Recently, I read a great statement from one Jon Sole on The Tradwives Club Facebook page that said: “A marriage without a head is chaos and a marriage with two heads is a monster.” This is not only true, but profoundly so. 

From the beginning, women have played a crucial support role in the home. While the man is the head of the home, the woman is the heart. Both need each other to function, but each has a different function. A heart trying to do the brain’s job is a failure because it wasn’t designed to be a brain. Instead, it was designed to be a heart and can do that job better than a brain ever could. 

The same is true in marriage. This is why it is so critically important to understand the proper roles of men and women and to acknowledge, accept, and embrace God’s marriage dynamic as illustrated in the scriptures. If women understood their proper place in the home, they would not rebel against it as much, find as much cause for complaint, be as unhappy, or be susceptive to feminist propaganda that tries to paint them as victims of oppression. And if men understood their role, they would likewise be better leaders, more attentive, and more effective. 

The Christian writer Charlotte Maxfield explained a solution to marital conflicts. She addressed herself to wives who feel the need to be “independent” and who don’t want to, or can’t bring themselves to, truly trust their husbands and follow the Lord’s Plan for marriage: 

“The solution I suggest to you for overcoming your problems in marriage and bringing peace to your family is exactly what Paul commanded: Submit to your husband in everything! [Ephesians 5:22-24]  

“It’s crazy, you say? It can be done, and I’ve seen it accomplished many times. The changes and blessings it brings are so great that I can hardly express the difference. I have seen several hundred women accomplish it in their lives and as they relate the results of their change in behavior and the reaction within their whole family, their happiness brings tears of joy to your eyes.  

“Can you dare to do it? Have you the courage and faith? What have we really got to lose that is of eternal importance? . . . . 

“Don’t allow yourself to have hurt feelings. It is a sign that you are not truly dedicated yet, and are indulging yourself in childish self pity and it is a form of rebellion against him. If you have displeased him, just honestly tell him that you are sorry and that you’ll correct it. When you really mean it, he’ll know by your actions and respect and worship you for it. . . .  

“Your single and most compelling desire is to obey and please him 100%. As you do this you’ll never have to worry about yourself again: your needs, wants, or welfare.  

“The women who have succeeded in this attitude have found that their husband has become even more confident and manly, more fully accepting of his authority and the responsibility for the welfare of everyone’s needs. Soon, before she even realizes that she has a need, he has provided for it. . . .  

“I know that there are some women who might read these things and the idea of complete submission sends chills of agonizing fear into their hearts, but I have heard fear referred to as lack of faith. In order to succeed in this challenge you must believe that your husband is good. It is frightening to place yourself at the mercy of someone else, but you will find that it will become the most glorious dedication of your existence. The two of you shall reach such realms of exalted joy in your lives together that you will finally begin to know what “home – a heaven on earth” really means. . . .  

“Let me talk to the woman who might tend to feel that she wouldn’t dare to obey everything her husband tells her, because he isn’t perfect and therefore doesn’t have the right. This kind of woman is usually manipulative. Though she’s deathly afraid to admit it to herself, others can see it. She may be the kind of woman who has been unconsciously looking down on her husband in self-righteousness, and treating him like a child who is not permitted to grow into complete manhood. Such a woman will often laugh at such an approach to her future happiness and try to find some logical reason why she couldn’t possibly do it. This justifies her failure to commit herself. It is easier to condemn something as foolish, impractical, faulty, and ridiculous than it is to say, “I haven’t the humility or faith to do it,” or “I’m scared.” Remember, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Gen. 3:16) Some women would like to erase that from the scriptures, but I don’t think that our Father in Heaven could have made it more clear.  

“The only reason a woman will look for an excuse to rationalize or justify her behavior is because she is defending her inside self who is frightened of the truth and afraid of having to humbly dare to change.  

“You must have faith. It is difficult to believe that any man who is entrusted with the welfare and safety of a loving woman who has completely sacrificed all her selfish desires and wishes and pledged her undying obedience unto him would ask such a submissive and delicate possession to commit sin. If he did, I feel that the sin would be upon his head, if she were obeying God’s law. And I cannot believe that any of our husbands are that corrupted.  

“You must have faith in him and in yourself, and in God – that He will bless your sincere efforts. I believe that He will answer you beyond your most vivid imaginings. Ask, knock – for His greatest desire is to have heavenly marriages. Remember that you and the Lord are an “invincible team.”  

“After all, isn’t that what the Lord is asking of you? He has commanded us to place nothing before Him in importance. . . .  

“Well, are you willing to set aside your pride? Are you willing to obey God’s law? Can you willingly obey the head of your home as a similitude of your love for your Savior as Eve did? You know what your husband can become, but only if you will cease to resist and fight him. Your pride may be the only thing which is stifling his spiritual growth into what he can become. 

“Is there any price too great to pay for this promise? If we are to become worthy of this tremendous reward, we must practice and grow now. We must take those few frightening babysteps with faith and courage and humbly pray to the Lord to guide us. I have faith that He will.  

“Great blessings are in store for you if you can now give life to the words and beliefs you have merely been giving lip service to all these years” (Charlotte S. Maxfield, “A Husband – To Have and To Hold,” in Duane S. Crowther and Jean D. Crowther, ed., The Joy of Being a Woman: Guidance for Meaningful Living By Outstanding LDS Women, 198-202). 

After reading this, how do you evaluate yourself? Do you rationalize and justify slighting your husband, disrespecting him, or disobeying him, or do you faithfully, joyfully, proudly jump into your role as his wife? Do you fight against your husband instead of fighting together side by side with him? Do you nitpick at your husband’s flaws as a way to deflect from your own? Do you give your husband the benefit of the doubt or use his imperfections as an excuse to undermine, accuse, or disobey him? Are you stunting your spiritual growth and womanly potential because you refuse to adopt a feminine, submissive, humble heart? 

Mrs. Maxfield is correct when she says that men respond to the way women treat them. Let’s face it, if a woman does not value her husband, he won’t care as much about his own appearance and actions. He should care for himself regardless and can’t blame anyone else for his behavior, but that’s an ideal, not reality. The reality is that the way a woman chooses to respect or disrespect her husband has a powerful influence over him. 

Maxfield is right when she says that a man will live up to the high standards you have for him. If you accept him at a low level, what’s his motivation to improve? Give a man a lofty goal and a clear quest and he will move Heaven and earth to accomplish it. If you have a low opinion of your husband, and, worse, if you make it clear to him that you have a low opinion of him, then he won’t achieve the greatness that he’s capable of. Again, the way a woman responds to a man’s leadership will often decide the course of that leadership in the future. 

The author is also right that a real man will not abuse your trust. That doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes or fail in life at times or in decision making, but it means that he will sincerely appreciate, cherish, and honor your submission, your loyalty, and your devotion. It makes us rise to the challenge when we know a woman is relying on us, counting on us, and looking to us for leadership, strength, and composure. Most husbands are not tyrannical and won’t turn a wife’s submission – which is a great gift – into a weapon against her. 

Wives, do you truly trust your husband or are you holding back? The answer to this question is a great indicator of the strength of your relationship. If you can’t trust your spouse and fully give yourself to him, you can’t truly be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) or have a completely harmonious relationship. If you can’t be submissive to him, show him sincere respect, and work to be a feminine lady, what can you truly offer? The most unique thing you can give is your heart, but you can’t really give it while disrespecting him, treating him worse than a stranger on the street, giving him less deference than you would a boss, dismissing him, or acting like an “independent” woman who “don’t need no man.” 

Ladies, please ask yourself if you love your husband enough to treat him better than anyone else in your life. Are you willing to show him more respect, more deference, more submission, more eagerness to listen, more attentiveness, more care, and more selflessness than to any other person? Are you willing to put in the same effort you made when you were dating to look and behave nice for him? Are you willing to bite your tongue, retain a humble attitude, and nurture a meek mindset with your husband? Finally, are you willing to be the feminine woman he really wants you to be? 

However you act, and whatever you choose to do and be in your marriage, I hope you put your husband first before strangers, co-workers, friends, or anyone else. I hope that the way you treat your spouse is better, kinder, more patient, more compassionate, and more devoted than how you treat anyone else in your life. If not, then why are you even married? 

To close I want to make a confession: I don’t do all of the things I suggested perfectly. Does that surprise you? I doubt it! People often accuse me of being condescending or hypocritical. It’s not condescending to speak assertively and it’s not hypocritical to live imperfectly while sincerely trying to follow your principles. Only one Man has ever lived His principles perfectly and no woman has ever done it. All of us fall short. 

As a husband, I have fallen short of nearly everything above that applies to both men and women. In terms of appearance, for instance, I most often wear shorts here in Panama where I currently reside. I would prefer to wear nicer clothing, but humidity does terrible things to my body. I melt with no clothes on let alone with layers of formal clothing! That said, back in the States I had gradually adopted a little nicer, neater style and, when I finally get back to America with my family, I plan to be even more disciplined in this aspect. 

Committing to live better and more strictly does not mean we will succeed in every situation or that we should be condemned as hypocrites when we fail. All of us, men and women, husbands and wives, must devote ourselves to higher ideals. We will never become better by holding lower standards that don’t ask much of us. What I have outlined above for wives is a hard road, but it’s also a holier road that leads to more rewards for them and for their husbands. It leads to true fulfillment and satisfaction, passion and sincerity, love and commitment, happiness and joy. 

Wives, treat your husbands with the respect owed them, the submissiveness that will make you both more devoted partners and lovers, the femininity that will endear yourself to him and give you more confidence, and with at least the same level of attentiveness and excited love you showed during courtship, and watch as your relationship improves and flourishes. Or, alternatively, continue treating him worse and with less respect than you treat total strangers and watch as your marriage withers and dies. It’s your choice. 

Zack Strong, 
June 15, 2022

2 thoughts on “Do You Treat Your Spouse as Well as a Stranger? 

  1. Pingback: Do You Treat Your Spouse as Well as a Stranger?  — The American Citadel – chazrothmsg

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