2 Ways To Clip Mothering Tendencies In Marriage

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Husbands do not need a parent. But that does not stop some wives from employing mothering tendencies in marriage. 

The last few days I have been asking God to help me release my husband to be all He created him to be. I don’t want to be fearful or anxious about what God has for his (and our) future.

However, I do like stability and working routines, and dislike uncertainties. So while I pray that God would work amazing things in our lives, I’m also anxious about what that might mean.

I was thinking about my tendencies the other day and the word “mothering” came to mind.

Why you need to stop mothering your husband and 2 tips to help

Mothering is what we do for our offspring. It is also what one adult does to another when they want things to go their way.

Sometimes, mothering is camouflaged as love or concern. But the truth is, a wife who mothers her husbands is also thinking about herself.

We don’t like to admit it but being a “helicopter wife” – hovering too closely, rescuing him out of every situation real or imagined, playing god, overcompensating for shortcomings – is about our comfort and convenience, not his.

In the true sense, we want our husband to be safe or happy or controlled so we can feel safe, comfortable or in control.

Even when “parenting our spouse” appears positive, – wanting good things to happen in his life, never the uncomfortable – the bottom line is; we are worried about what will happen to us if something happens to him or if our circumstances change.

However, God does not call us to a comfortable life

If you have walked with God for any length of time, you quickly learn that His highest purpose is not always our idea of safety. It is faithfulness and His peace regardless of what is going on around you.

To grow in God, we will face the unknown, wrestle in our faith, ask questions, experience pain and discomfort; and all these things work to draw us into a deeper relationship with God.

Romans 5: 1 – 5 says

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

A wife who mothers her husband will desire to remove suffering from his life, thereby short-circuiting his growth.

There’s nothing wrong with praying blessings and peace over your man but there are times God will stir you for more.

For example, instead of praying for comfort, you might need to pray for a holy discomfort in his life. In place of peace, a new hunger and thirst.

In place of success, you will pray for God’s stripping of everything that has taken his attention. Instead of more, God may ask you to pray for less, so your husband may know God is all He needs.

These are hard thoughts even to consider. I tremble when God asks me to do hard things. But He has taught me, (and always reminds me) that I can overcome my timidity and fear – if I am honest about them – and pray in line with His will.

For God to do a deeper thing in our lives and relationship, we have to be willing to change the script we live by.

More than anything, be ready to listen to the Spirit, pray difficult prayers, as the Lord leads us. And accept that such prayers will possibly mean discomfort in our lives and marriage.

My bold prayers

My husband was telling me something the other day and turned out what he was sharing was an “answer” to some of my prayers.

Regardless, I hard to bite down a quick response, meant to ease his worries (imagined worries) when I realized that I was actually trying to calm my own heart, not his.

Like many guys, my husband is a stoic dude, and when he’s verbally analyzing a situation, he’s not looking for sympathy.

So now I have added a new prayer; that God will help me stay out of the way as He works in my husband’s life.

Here are two things we need to do, to clip the mothering tendencies resident in all of us.

1. Allow him to reap the consequences of his actions.

I receive emails from wives who are working hard to make a difficult marriage work. Unfortunately, some of their actions are not helping their relationships.

A few years ago, I listened to a man who had strayed away from his family through an affair. He confessed that the best thing his wife did for their marriage was to take the kids and move in with her parents.

He said, “She showed me that she could live without me.

I am not suggesting you will automatically leave your home if your husband has had an affair (yes, affairs can happen even in the early years of marriage and yes separation is also a healthy path).

I am proposing that you learn how to get out of the way, as the Lord shows you, so your husband can grow.

Stop cleaning up after him. Don’t cover up his sin. Be willing to treat your husband like the adult he is. Step out of the way so God can have His full way.

2. Welcome stretching.

It’s easy to pray big bold prayers “Lord help my husband”

Until one day he confesses how he’s dreaming of big resources to support the work of God in your city and all you’ve been thinking about is funds to go back to school and you can’t imagine how God will do both.

So, perhaps, as you pray big things, also ask God to grow your capacity to dream and wrestle through difficulties together as a husband and wife.

Honestly, some things my husband dreams about, I go along by faith. (He does the same on some of my dreams!) Of course we talk and ask hard questions. We plan and strategize. But in the end, we realize that God can deposit individual dreams in our hearts and we don’t have to stress about it!

So I am learning to cheer him happily, without feeling like I have to be his God. As long as we’re talking about it, planning together, figuring out life as a team, considering each others opinions and thoughts, we are good.

Ultimately I realize that whatever God puts in his (or mine) heart to do, He will help us achieve it.

2 ways to stop mothering tendencies in marriage

You might be married to a quieter, unassuming man (I am married to one). Introverts are not loud or boisterous so you have to reeeeally lean in to know what is in their heart.

Men tend to open up side-to-side, as opposed to face to face. So while you are doing something else, you might want to ask casually “what are you dreaming about?”

There might be a long pause, a goofy response (like, “you, minus that T-shirt“). Or simply one sentence that you can take to your prayer closet or follow up again at a future date.

Further Reading – My Husband Behaves like a Child – What Should I Do?

Will you join me in prayer?

Let us ask God to help us release our guys to be all He created them to be.

Lord Jesus, I realize I cannot be the wife you want me to be without your help. Thank you for marriage, this beautiful grace to be a partner and friend to _____ (insert your husband’s name). You are my husband’s Father, and you know how to parent him.

Today I release my husband to you. Show me areas I have responded out of fear, anxiety or ignorance.

Dear Lord, help me do my job and allow You to do yours. I confess my fears; these that cause me to intervene when I shouldn’t. I confess my doubt which has caused me to trust my abilities instead of yours. I confess my lack of faith in you which has me playing helicopter wife to my husband.

Give me a new sensitivity to hear and call out the brave and great in him. I thank you for the wonderful gift of marriage. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen















  1. I think southern culture teaches such a role to women in the south. Then, they want to complain about their husbands acting like little boys and having to rescue them. How much of what you are talking about is cultural? Maybe, I should have found a wife from the mid-west whose outlook is more being a real partner than a mother wife as in the south. Anyhow, I’m not originally from the south and my midwestern aunts do not treat their husbands like little boys, but my southern mother in law sure did until she died.

    1. I don’t think it’s all cultural/regional. I was born and raised in Kenya, Africa and I struggled with mothering. I agree that culture can play a part but I don’t think it’s all cultural. It’s mindset.

  2. I’m really glad I found this article today. It was really insightful and even fun to read. Mothering my husband has never been something I thought I struggled with, but your words showed me today that I do usually find myself trying to shield him from the bad. He’s very emotional, and it’s easy for him to feel overwhelmed, so I’ve been trying to ‘play god’ without even realizing it. Great post!

  3. Sarah Chan says:

    My husband wants to go to Costa Rica to take Ayahuasca(a hallucinogenic drug) to ‘get closer to God’. Should I just not make a fuss eventhough he has no vacation time at work and I am a stay at home mom?

    1. No, I am not suggesting you shouldn’t say anything. Please do! Engage pastoral/mentor/Christian counsellor help if he won’t listen to you. All I am suggesting in this post is that we can’t rescue our husbands and play God in their lives. Do what you can but realize you can’t force him to be what He needs to be.

  4. I really needed to read this article! I mother my husband terribly. We have five children and we are financially dependent on him (I help him with his business but can’t run the business without him). He tends to have a lot of ideas and likes to jump into things without thinking about the consequences, and over the years I have become more and more terrified that he will do something that will destroy us financially. As a result, I act more and more controlling and mothering, and it is emotionally and physically exhausting, and I hate it. But I can’t seem to stop. I feel a lot of anxiety and I spend far too much time worrying about how everything will go wrong if I let my husband do things his way. I don’t know how to stop, but I want to. I wish I could be truly convinced that God will always be there for my children and me, no matter what, and that the world will not end if my husband does something crazy and I don’t stop him. But my faith is not as strong as I would like it to be.

    1. IK, I am so sorry! It’s truly a hard balance when you feel like your husband might get irresponsible if you pull back. How to balance that with our faith in God – that He will take care of us no matter what happens, can get tricky. But faith is not an option, if we are going to live victoriously as Christians! We can’t be ruled by fear ( 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.) Perhaps you can can engage godly counsel, for specific steps to your situation. Yes you don’t want to mother. But you don’t want to be irresponsible either. It’s a difficult balance but I believe God can guide you.

  5. I have spent much time this afternoon reading your post and wish to praise you for being obedient to doing God’s will in your life! And I look forward to reading more but the other comment mentioned you in tx and I pray you are in a safe place due to Harvey! Lifting you up in all you do!

    1. Debra, thank you for your prayers. And for checking on us. We in more in the North so we were not impacted. Lifting up our brothers and sisters in the south.

      1. I am relieved to hear. We’re in El Paso but I’m THRILLED how everyone is stepping up. Praise God. Your site is awesome, keep honoring what God has led you to do helping women!

  6. I think you and I are two peas in a pod, Ngina! I was just convicted about “parenting” my hubby the other day, so this post is very timely to me. You are so right on all of the wisdom you’ve shared. Praying that we both figure out how to get out of the way and let our men be the spiritual leaders and godly guys that God is creating them to be! Hugs to you–down your new Texas way!

    1. Amen to the prayer, Beth! I’ve been living it too this week. Because when you teach something it becomes a never ending lesson!..that’s been my house this week. But I am thankful for opportunities to learn.. but phew I would love to overcome this mountain and get on 🙂 Thanks for dropping in and welcome back from your break! Glad you got some things done..especially the internal ones 😉

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