Self righteous woman
The Self-Righteous Wife
I’ve spoken to newly married girlfriends who have shared their frustrations with their new spouse. There is generally some area that the women wish their husbands would improve on, and they are growing weary waiting. We generally come to the same conclusion—their husbands may need to grow, but perhaps the wives are struggling with being judgmental and self-righteous. We can look at our men, see sin, and be too quick and eager to point it out.
I relate. That was me.
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I remember my wedding like it was yesterday. It was a cold, yet beautiful December day. All of our decorations were red, white, and green to reflect the season. It was exactly what we hoped it would be and more.
After the honeymoon we returned to our home eager to start our new lives together as one. But soon the fairytale ended and real life began. It didn’t look quite like I had imagined. There were no glaring problems. No deep-rooted sin issues. Yet I was extremely aware of my husband’s shortcomings, and I wasn’t holding back on sharing my thoughts.
I was quick to point out sin and eager to share “observations” about how he could change or grow as a leader, all under the pretense of being his helpmeet. I judged my husband harshly our first year of marriage. I was quite self-righteous. I thought I was right, and I played the role of his “holy spirit.” Like I said, I masked it as being his helpmeet. Wrong!
Wasn’t I helping him by sharing my wisdom and insights into every single part of his life? Surely he needed my help to become a godly man. (Obviously I’m speaking tongue-and-cheek.) I was filled with self-righteousness and self-absorption. There was a plank in my eye the size of a California redwood, but all I could see was the speck in his (Matthew 7:3).Tongue for Blessing and Cursing
James addresses the problem of the self-righteousness. “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10). With my tongue I would bless the Lord and curse my husband made in the image of God. Though God views my husband as clothed with Christ’s righteousness, there were times when all I saw were filthy rags.
Most of my corrections stemmed from a desire to fill some perceived need of mine and had little to do with his sanctification. My desire was that he would change for me, not to please and glorify God. My observations were generally (not always) selfish.
Again James helps us see why we might quarrel for selfish gain. He writes, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder” (James 4:1-2). Though we did not always fight outwardly, my heart was often committing murder. I would be angry and harsh. My “needs” weren’t being met, and so I would fight.Growing in Grace
I am aware I am not alone. We’re not all patiently waiting for our husbands to change and grow. We can be judgmental, angry, and often accusatory. When we fixate on little preferences the result can be extremely damaging. We can become dissatisfied, bitter, and even long for another man. Women, we can be hard on our men. We have to remember that there isn’t one-size-fits-all for godliness.
But most of all, we must pray for them. Our job isn’t to be their “holy spirit” by calling out every sin we sight. Thank God, our heavenly Father doesn’t treat us like that. God is gentle and kind, slow to anger and abounding in love. God can help us learn to love our husband with a love that is tender and kind and filled with affection and grace.
Now, nine years later, I’m still learning how to lovingly help my husband, but even more I am learning how to enjoy him. I have grown in looking for areas of grace and gifts. God has helped me use my tongue to encourage, build up, and praise him for how God has made him, rather than tear him down for how God didn’t make him.
And just as I’m not surprised by my sin, I’m equally unsurprised that God would help me grow in this area. God works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). He provides a way of escape for our sinful self-righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13). He promises to finish the good work he began in you and in me (Philippians 1:6). This is good news for us! God is faithful.
Amazingly, even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me because my sin—not in part but the whole—is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. And sister, so is yours.
A Self-Righteous Wife | Revive Our Hearts Blog
I've been married for eleven years. Eleven years for some seems like forever and for others like just a beginning. In our short (or long?) years of married life, I have struggled off and on with a fear of not measuring up to the ideal wife. You know what wife I'm thinking of: the one who is "far more precious than jewels. "
Not a Measuring Stick
This woman apparently wakes up super early—it's still dark outside, and she has already taken care of her children. She's business savvy and also sews clothing. Who does both? Well, apparently she does. She is generous to the poor and caring. The woman is careful with her time; she will have nothing to do with idleness. If you haven't already guessed, I'm writing about the Proverbs 31 woman. This beautiful character in Scripture is not intended to be a mandate or to pressure women. But how often have we gone to this list of virtues and despaired or lamented? She does good and not harm to her husband all his life? we think. Well, I've failed. I was sinfully angry just yesterday.
Even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband and attempted to meet the perceived standards of those around me, God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me.
My first year of marriage was a mixture of trying to be this perfect wife and trying to change my husband. I struggled greatly with self-righteousness. I wanted us to fit a certain mold. I had a fear of not measuring up to this ideal—you know, the "godly couple." My fear mounted that we wouldn't be good, godly examples, while I was also judging my husband almost relentlessly.
And I know I'm not alone in this temptation.
I've spoken to newly married girlfriends who have told me of their frustrations with their new spouse. There is generally some area in which these women wish their husbands would improve, and they are growing weary waiting. While their husbands may need to grow, it's easy and common for the wives to struggle with being judgmental and self-righteous. We can look at our men, see sin, and be too quick and eager to point it out. Worse, we can look at them and not see the grace so evident in their lives and our own sinfulness.
I relate. That was me.
A Redwood-Sized Plank
I remember my wedding like it was yesterday. It was a cold yet beautiful December day. All of our decorations were red, white, and green to reflect the season. It was exactly what we hoped it would be and more.
After the honeymoon (which was all but magical), we returned to our home eager to start our new lives together as one. But soon the fairy tale ended, and real life began. It didn't look quite like I had imagined. There were no glaring problems. No deep-rooted sin issues. Yet I was extremely aware of my husband's shortcomings, and I wasn't holding back on sharing my thoughts.
I was quick to point out sin and eager to share "observations" about how he could change or grow as a leader, all under the pretense of being his helper. I judged my husband harshly our first year of marriage. I thought I was right, and I played the role of his "holy spirit." Like I said, I masked it as being his helper. Wrong!
But wasn't I helping him by sharing my wisdom and insights into every single part of his life? I mean, surely he needed my help to become a godly man, right? Let's just say that there was a plank in my eye the size of a California redwood, but all I could see was the speck in his (Matt. 7:3).
I was filled with self-righteousness and self-absorption.
Behind all this nagging was a desire to have it all together. Also, so much of my corrections stemmed from a desire to fill some perceived need of mine and had little to do with his sanctification. My desire was that he would change for me, not to please and glorify God. My observations were generally (though not always) selfish.
Learning to Enjoy
I'm so very thankful the Lord has given my husband and me more years to grow. Now, eleven years after our wedding day, I'm still learning how to lovingly help my husband, but even more, I am learning how to enjoy him. I've learned that God has designed us both for a purpose, and we do not need to live up to the standards we set for ourselves or the pressures we think we may experience from outside of us. I have grown in looking for areas of grace and for gifts. God has helped me use my tongue to encourage, build up, and praise my husband for how God has made him rather than to tear him down for how God didn't make him.
And just as I'm not surprised by my sin, I'm equally unsurprised that God would help me grow in this area. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). He provides a way of escape for our sinful self-righteousness (1 Cor. 10:13). He promises to finish the good work He began in you and in me (Phil. 1:6). This is good news for us! God is faithful.
Amazingly, even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband and attempted to meet the perceived standards of those around me, God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me, because my sin—not in part but the whole—is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. And, sister, so is yours.
Has fear of not measuring up ever caused you to judge others? How might God want to grow you in this area?
This post was excerpted from Trillia's book Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves.
About the Author
Trillia Newbell is the author of several books, including If God Is For Us, Fear and Faith, and the kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea. She is married to her best friend, Thern, and they live with … read more …
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The Weight of Perfection in Marriage
"Phallic women" - the trend of our time?
Man and woman Know thyself
Remember the all-powerful Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, on whose opinion the fashion world depends and who destroys others without a shadow of a doubt? Remember the monstrous grandmother in Bury Me Behind the Baseboard who tyrannizes her grandson with her suffocating love?
What about Elena from Andrey Zvyagintsev's painting of the same name, literally "absorbing" her men - her husband and son? And Erica's selfish mother in The Pianist by Michael Haneke? All these women could be called "phallic" by classical psychoanalysts. nine0003
Such women have a "phallus", that is, power, might. Their main way of interacting with others is by comparing and competing with men. Freud believed that the reason for this behavior is penis envy, which a woman can get rid of in only two ways: to prove to everyone that she is no worse than men, or to give birth to a child that symbolically replaces the penis.
How does phallicity manifest itself in modern women? We asked this question to two experts: psychoanalyst Svetlana Fedorova and Jungian analyst Lev Khegai. And got two different opinions. nine0003
“They perceive passivity as something humiliating”
Svetlana Fedorova, psychoanalyst
“The phallus symbolizes power, omnipotence. Both sexes are tempted to wield this power. But if a man has a penis by nature, then a woman at some point faces the fact of shortage. She may experience discomfort from this and try to compensate for this lack by competing with men.
A phallic woman strives not only to take away power from a man, but also to castrate him, to deprive him of strength. It is easy to imagine a mother of a family who devalues her husband and makes him worthless in the eyes of her children - this type of women is very typical for our Russian reality. nine0003
They are not necessarily despotic, no. They can be both cunning and flexible. There are "cats" who behave meekly and gently, conquer a man, and then appropriate his phallicity, leaving him with some function, for example, to earn money.
The narcissistic desire to possess male power is not characteristic of all women. Why does it arise? Probably because of the fear of the uncertainty of female nature. Because of the rejection of passivity, which is perceived as something dirty, humiliating. nine0003
Usually this attitude towards femininity is passed on to a girl by her mother. She can say: “you can’t make love to boys”, “there is no love”, “a man is needed in order to bring money.” She may devalue her daughter's feminine host and emphasize the importance of having power over a man.
Or she raises a girl like a boy and transmits to her a sense of shame for her inertia. Such a girl does not perceive her femininity as something attractive, and her female genital organ as dignity, a source of pleasure and new life. She wants to capture everything masculine and compensate for this lack. nine0003
At school, such a girl will compete with others in everything, strive to become the best, smartest, most beautiful. And it is precisely due to the depreciation of others. Defeat is unbearable for her.
Phallic women and narcissistic women: what's the difference?
Phallic women are close to the narcissistic personality type. Both of them constantly feel an anxiety that needs to be drowned out, a fear of an emptiness that needs to be filled.
However, there is a difference between them, which the psychoanalyst Paul-Claude Racamier formulates as follows: the phallic woman acts secretly and behind the scenes, never openly and honestly. She is always manipulating "deputies" who seem to act on her behalf and whom she perceives as tools. This "substitute", for example, may be a sick child who falls ill in order to fulfill the hidden requirement of the mother. nine0003
And the narcissist does not hide or hide his essence. He is in plain sight, "consumed by pride in all his ceremonial splendor." He does not assert his will through "deputies", but asserts himself.
Behind the behavior of both of them lies the most powerful fear of castration, the fear of losing potency and strength. But if self-satisfied narcissists demonstrate their "phallus" (money, status, power) wherever possible, then phallic personalities, in addition to this, also castrate others. nine0003
Every woman who has given birth to a child is tempted to make him her narcissistic continuation, her "phallus". Many people know stories about mothers who did not realize something in their lives and demand that the child fulfill their dream in order to appropriate the result for themselves later: "You are nothing without me, it's all thanks to me. "
By the way, modern society in every possible way supports and cultivates these qualities - to absorb, to have power, to assert itself, and it is very difficult to refuse this. nine0003
What to do for those who are nearby
A man who chooses such a strong, domineering woman as his partner is often attracted by these qualities. He readily assumes a passive position and allows his strength to be taken away.
Usually this type of relationship repeats some previous history, for example, a close relationship with a suppressive mother or grandmother. Only when a man realizes that such unequal relationships do not suit him, psychotherapeutic work is possible. nine0003
In order for a boy to break out of a symbiotic relationship with his absorbing mother, it is necessary to look for someone else who will break this connection. Ideally, such an object could be a father, who is called upon to create a distance between the son and the mother.
But if the mother has already taken away his "phallus" from the father, this becomes problematic. In this case, someone else can act as the third person - a coach, teacher, grandfather, any authoritative man who believes in him and will help break out from under the power of his mother. nine0003
The girl has to do more difficult work. It is important for her to develop her femininity, and for this - to accept her mother, no matter how terrible she may be. Often girls say: "I will never be like her." Only after they can find something attractive in motherly femininity and accept it, they will no longer feel ashamed of their own femininity.
“An active woman competing with men is the norm”
Lev Khegai, Jungian analyst
“To speak of modern women in terms of Freud, in my opinion, is not politically correct. Gender norms today have changed a lot. By the standards of that time, the masculine was clearly understood as active, and the feminine as passive. And in the desire of women to be active, to compete, to play male roles in life, Freud saw a manifestation of penis envy and considered it a neurosis.
We live in an era of victorious feminism, and the image of a successful business woman, an emancipated woman who realizes herself in society on an equal basis with a man, is perceived today as an absolute norm. Therefore, I would describe such women through the archetypes of the goddesses. First of all - Artemis, Hera and Demeter. nine0003
Artemis: a socially active woman
She is independent and prefers to live alone. She does not seek to start a family, but is passionate about a career, and in traditionally male areas - Artemis, as you know, loves hunting.
Such a woman can feel quite harmonious and not experience internal conflicts. But if it turns out that she needs intimacy, but is not able to create stable full-fledged relationships, if her desire to compete is associated with self-doubt as a woman, with fear of a man, then we can talk about personality disorders. nine0003
Hera: manages her husband and family
She turns her husband into a child and takes care of all household and financial issues herself. This is a very Russian scenario: a typical example of such Hera is Margarita Pavlovna from Mikhail Kozakov's film Pokrovsky Gates.
It is connected in part with the war and with gender imbalance, but in many ways it is a feature of the Slavic culture as a whole, which, unlike the patriarchal Germanic culture, has always been matriarchal.
Another thing is that in the old days, husband and wife still shared functions: the man was the financial head, the woman was in charge of family relationships, the emotional sphere. He was the head, she was the neck. nine0003
Today these roles are reversed. The desire of a woman for equal participation in all the affairs of a couple has become the norm today. In such a situation, the rivalry of partners in marriage will be natural.
The clash of different points of view and the search for a compromise develops relationships. However, Hera easily develops a desire to dominate, which makes her jealous and controlling, perceiving her partner as property, as part of herself, or as a function or thing. If the husband is not as strong as Zeus, he is “castrated” in such a relationship, for example, he can become an alcoholic or impotent. nine0003
Demeter: an overprotective mother
She is overprotective. She believes that she must sacrifice her life for the sake of children, forgets about herself and interferes with the development of the child, making him infantile. She does not want to part with the motherly role, even when the children grow up, and actively interferes in their lives.
We can talk about violations when the parental instinct of the mother harms both the growing up of the child and her personal life. A good Demeter allows the child to separate from her in time and painlessly. nine0003
By the way, due to the society's attitude to the autonomous existence of parents and children, the new norm of good parents is considered to be such parents who are not remembered, they simply know about their love.
About the experts
Svetlana Fedorova — psychoanalyst, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychoanalysis, Faculty of Psychology, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
Lev Khegay - psychotherapist, Jungian analyst, writer.
Text: Alla Anufrieva Photo Source: Getty Images
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