How to Discipline your Wife

When the unpleasant is unavoidable

This is the continuation of this article.

Well, the title of this post should make some folks cringe. So, what are we going to discipline? Your self? Naw, there's already plenty written on that subject. Your kids? Naw, again more ink has been spilled on that topic than I can shake a tome at. So, ladies and gentlemen (especially the gentlemen) here's what we'll be discussing in this post:


This topic will be addressed in three sections, as follows:

  1. The Causation of Discipline
  2. The Foundation of Discipline
  3. The Application of Discipline

The Causation for Disciplining Your Wife

Men and women are different. But we often just gloss over what those most crucial differences are. Yes, men and women are different physically, and also men and women think differently. But what we often fail to recognize is than men and women sin differently. Men have sin struggles that are typical of men and almost alien to women. Likewise, women struggle with sins that men may not even recognize as being sin issues. Here's a bare-bones sketch of the dynamics:

  1. Women by their peculiar sin nature resist earthly authority and trust.
  2. Women will seek earthly security at the expense of emotional and/or spiritual security.

Let's look at the first one a bit. This is a classic Genesis 3 classification. Women seek to usurp their husbands' authority by the nature of the Fall. Due to the same Fall, men seek to allow this to happen. The root of this is trust, or rather a lack of it. Indeed, this very nature in women is the single least common denominator in the "equal rights movement", i.e. Feminism. Were women born naturally with the inclination to trust, Feminism would not exist. Understand that I'm not speaking about trusting in the Lord, for this is something that only the Holy Spirit can bring about, in either man or woman. Rather, that any woman, regenerate or otherwise, will struggle with trusting any earthly authority, be it ecclesiastical, familial or other authority.

The second dynamic, the desire for earthly security, is in opposition to the first. To be truly secure emotionally and spiritually requires trust, but since this trust is difficult for a woman to muster, many will choose to seek in particular earthly security, often at the expense of true security. For many women, trusting in themselves alone, or even placing trust in institutions (state, corporations, etc.) is the means by which they achieve their sense of security. It is extraordinarily rare to find a Christian woman who can honestly state that she has never struggled with this security desire.

A husband is going to have to deal with these two dynamics whether he realizes it or not. A wife must be disciplined by her husband if she is going to be able to exercise her Christian calling to trust and achieve true security. A woman who cannot rub two copper coins together, but who is trusting and emotionally/spiritually secure will be far happier than the richest woman on earth. This kind of trust and security is only achievable if her husband has the wisdom and strength to discipline her.

The Foundation of Disciplining Your Wife

Before a husband can effectively discipline his wife, he needs to build the proper foundation for said discipline. To attempt discipline without the fundamental foundational principles in place will inevitably backfire, and cause resentment and contempt. Let's go over them individually.

  1. Your wife must know, feel, and be assured constantly that she is cherished. This is a prime need for any woman, just as it is a need of the Church to feel cherished by Christ. As a picture of Christ in the home, husbands must always remember that they are not simply dealing with the woman that they married, but the most beautiful, incredible perfect gift that the Lord has ever given to him, second only to eternal life itself. Love notes, gifts, intimacy, conversation, sharing, compliments... Shower this woman with your love every day to show her just how much she is cherished. Remember that your wife is only as beautiful as you make her, so lift her up as if she is without flaw or blemish.
  2. You must be the primary Bible teacher in the home. Husbands, lead devotions in the home every day. Remember, it's not you taking a half-hour or so out of your day to do this, but rather that the Lord gives you the remaining 23 hours or so to attend to your personal business. It's His time, so don't rob Him. And if your wife is more biblically knowledgeable than you are, and so more qualified to lead devotions, lead them anyway, and bone up on your Bible while you're at it (I certainly had to). When the wife leads instead of the husband, the husband robs her of spiritual security. I cannot say it any stronger than this - husbands, if you don't lead devotions in your home, don't claim to be the covenant leaders of the home. You're in abdication, and will be living under judgment for it; and it is your wife and family that will suffer the most. If you truly love your wife, lead her spiritually.
  3. Praise her in the gates. Understand that when Proverbs 31 speaks of this, it means that husbands need to praise their wives no matter where they are. Praise her at work, play, home or wherever your path takes you. Tell your friends, co-workers and even total strangers how wonderful the woman you married is. Praise her in the church, praise her to your children, and praise her to your boss. Will people think you're strange for doing this? No, not really. I know this from experience - not only will your wife be edified, but so will Christ and even yourself. Never miss an opportunity to praise her, and be willing to create some opportunities as well.

The Application of Discipline to Your Wife

You must always remember those two sin dynamics common to all women, for the vast majority of your discipline will stem from her struggles concerning them. Of course, each wife has peculiar struggles for you to deal with as well, and you'll need to be aware of them when they rear their heads.

First, do not attempt to discipline your wife without first going to the Lord in prayer. No man alone is wise enough, and we must seek the Lord when faced with discipline issues.

There are two primary methods to discipline in the home towards wives, and one necessary means of grace. Following are the methods of discipline:

  1. Exhortation. When your wife is sinning, exhort her with the Word. Use your Bibles, gents! This needs to be done with gentleness, and often you will need to repeat yourself several times (using similar words) before it sinks in. Remember always, when disciplining that the person before you is the most cherished, adored person in your universe. Treat her as such. If you have children, it may, depending on how her sin touched the children require that they be present. However, keep control of the situation. DO NOT LET THE CHILDREN EXHORT YOUR WIFE DIRECTLY! There are times when children may do so, but once you're involved, it's your show, Husband. If the children have something to say (and you feel that it needs to be heard) have them address you, and not her. You are your wife's leader and authority in the home, not the children. Do not risk upsetting that balance.
  2. Rebuke and Lash. This is the harshest discipline a husband should administer, and it should always be done privately and with Godly, Biblical love. Usually, exhortation will have already taken place before this method is used, but there may come situations where this is the first step. The rebuke and lashing should be administered with a calm heart. Talk to your wife, let her know you are serious, and tell her why she is to be disciplined physically.

When administering physical discipline, take caution not to deliver the lashes anywhere but the buttocks. The first attempt at this punishment should only be delivered by hand so you can get an idea of how many lashings are needed. The best position will be for you to sit at the end of a bed or on a chair (with no arms) and have her lay across your lap. She can also bend over a bed with arms tucked under her chest and your left hand on the small of her back. If a strap (belt) is to be implemented watch that each stoke falls directly on the buttocks and not higher. EDITOR'S NOTE: When using the hand, or a small, short implement, such as a switch or small "hairbrush"-type paddle, over-the-knee positioning can work quite well.

A fearful wife may begin crying or pleading and find it difficult to remain still. Reassure her. of your intent and love (yes this will hurt, that is why it is a punishment) then instruct her to be still. Remind her that she is not in control of this discipline. You should continue the lashing through her tears and pleas for you to stop, until you are certain the message was received. This will insure her remorse and therefore stop the undesirable behavior.

A sound lashing is five to ten strokes with your hand, or three to five strokes with a strap; some wives need more. To avoid brusing do not strike the same area in repetition. Gauge your decision to proceed based on your wife's readiness to repent.

You may find it difficult to cause your wife pain, but as a woman she needs the release of guilt that this form of punishment brings. Afterwards, help her up gently and hold her while allowing her to cry for as long as you both feel necessary. If you have children instruct her to wash her face before emerging from the room.

Remember to stay in control at all times so her faith in you is not rattled. Her reaction after the lashing will let you know if this punishment works for her. She should be genuinely remorseful, tearful, and sore, but have an overwhelming desire to please you.

This act also gives you, the husband, a release of anger and disappointment which allows your relationship to become immediately bonded in a closeness you may have otherwise never achieved. Because of your love and discipline, your fights no longer last for days or even hours. The quick resolve of immediate discipline allows you to reconnect, which in turn rapidly eliminates resentment.

Do not make apologies for the punishment as this will cast doubt in her mind of your authority. The amount of rebuke and lash sessions may be high at first but should slowly decrease as she learns her new role in the relationship, and you embrace yours. Never use ad-homonym attacks and never bring up past sins that have already been forgiven. Deal with the issue at hand, and nothing more. The gift you give your wife in this act will lead to her soul's full surrender allowing her to embrace her femininity.

Once discipline is administered and repentance is given, we can hopefully move onto the next phase, which is forgiveness and prayer. Remember that you are a sinner too, and are not above reproach. Demonstrate this to her, and to the Lord. Once she has been convicted, be willing to forgive immediately. Don't waste a moment, and show this forgiveness through praising her and showing her right then the extent that you cherish her. Remember that being cherished is the greatest enabling thing you can show her that gives her emotional and spiritual security, as well as builds her trust in your leadership. This is a crucial step; don't neglect it!