40 Things Women Should Say “No” to in Marriage

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“Things a wife should say “no” to in marriage” might be a controversial blog topic for some.

Women have often been seen as dramatic and emotional and a “no” list can be the stroke that “confirms” the narrative.

But it’s funny when you think about it because society and church culture actually tasks women with the opposite: we’re expected to carry the emotional, sexual, and mental labor of our relationships.

image of couple - things a wife should say no to in marriage

Thoughts like 

  • “Husbands need sex or they will have affairs/struggle to keep pure.” 
  • “It’s a wife’s job to love and submit to her husband.” 
  • “Women should stay at home and take care of the home and the kids.” 
  • “If a husband doesn’t like to talk about his emotions or address conflict, it’s because all men are like that, and as his wife you need to tone down your expectation.”

These and many other thoughts leave women reeling and unable to advocate for themselves because society and church culture won’t even listen to their pain or take their concerns seriously. (For more on this, check out The Great Sex Rescue book and this series of posts!)

So perhaps a “no” list is exactly what women need.

This post is about thoughts and mindsets that, traditionally, women have been told they must follow for their marriages to thrive: burdens women carry that men aren’t told to carry.

So let’s talk about those boundaries in marriage and what women shouldn’t settle for! (I’m working on a small book on boundaries in marriage, and it should be out soon!)

(Ps. These “no’s” also apply if it’s the man being pressured to accept an unhealthy relationship.)

Without further ado

40 Things a Wife Should Say “No” to in Marriage

1. Being disrespected.

2. Walking on eggshells in this space they should feel most free.

3. Second place.

4. Accepting crumbs in the name of love.

5. Feeling afraid to speak their mind.

6. Catering to immature, adolescent behavior.

7. Being yelled at.

8. Being the ones to apologize first (even when they don’t know what they are apologizing for.)

9. Feeling harassed and overwhelmed by their partner.

10. Silencing of their passions and gifts

11. Crying most days from relationship confusion and pain.

12. Needing to numb/create protective walls/coping behaviors in order to keep the relationship.

13. Carrying all the domestic and child-rearing labor. Feeling like expecting their spouse to share equal responsibility is asking too much.

14. Not having a voice.

15. One-sided, selfish sex.

16. Sex when their husband is addicted to pornography.

17. Sex when there’s an affair.

18. Being guilted to having sex.

19 Attending churches and groups that won’t pay attention to their concerns and pains. link to church post from last week

I asked my Facebook community to chime in on this conversation of things a wife should say no to in marriage.

20. Having zero expectations (so as not to be disappointed, “disrespectful,” or come across as “contentious.”)

21. Having feelings invalidated, causing you to ignore or disassociate from them.

22. Being coerced/guilted/shamed into compliance.

23. Immediate forgiveness that is defined by zero transparency, accountability, or restitution before full repentance is borne out.

24. Reading books upon books to cope with their husbands’ sin and doing all the heavy lifting.

25. Keeping secret the patterns of sin that are destroying your person, your kids, your marriage, and your partner.

26. Not getting the help and support you need to be whole.

Things a wife should say no to in marriaage. image

27. Bearing the consequences that were never yours to bear, thinking this is love.

28. Stonewalling and silent treatment. Outsiders might say, “give him space.” But it isn’t space when there’s never a time to safely/freely process things.

29. “No” to being talked over, condescended to, and “corrected” in front of others.

30. For him to say, “can we talk about this later,” or “let me think about it,” or “I need to research that,” and then never follow through. (So she is left waiting and waiting to make a decision but can’t because he won’t participate in the discussion, and if she decides without him, then she’s not an equal partner.)

31. Being responsible for his salvation and staying in an abusive marriage in order to do so.

32. Financial and material control. Like deciding your every wardrobe “because you don’t have good taste as he does.”

33. Being told you’re bad with money and being completely excluded from financial decisions.

34. Having to account for every penny spent on groceries while he buys whatever he wants.

35. Having things thrown at you.

36. Him telling you you’re crazy and depressed and pushing you to get unnecessary medical care.

37. Having joint checking accounts when he’s reckless with money to the point of destroying your finances

38. Severe anger issues like breaking things.

39. No to keep pretending to be happy outside and deceiving people that everything is going okay.

40. Women also need to say “no” to themselves when they want to (for the long haul) accept less than they deserve in their relationships

Two things might happen when we say “no” to these things.

  1. We’ll go through an intense season of clarity and addressing issues and if our spouse is willing, and once we feel safe and rebuild, our marriages will get healthier.

2. We’ll go through an intense season of clarity, which will include learning how to advocate for ourselves: if our spouse is UNwilling, we’ll get healthier on an individual level.

Your turn: What other things should women say “no” to in marriage? What can you add to the list? Lets chat in the Comments.

(Context: these are things that traditionally, women have been told they must do or must be for their marriages to have a chance. These are burdens women carry that men aren’t told to carry.)


Helpful Resources for Individuals in Toxic, Abusive or Difficult Marriages

If your spouse is toxic, abusive or chronically problematic, if they are engaged in unrepentant sin (repentance comes with fruit!) please get to a safe place and talk to a licensed counselor who is trained in relationship abuse and trauma. Please talk to someone safe.  Here are a few resources and websites to check out.

  1. Hope For Hurting Wives
  2. Flying Free with Natalie Hoffman
  3. Leslie Vernick
  4. Confusion to Clarity with Helena Knowlton
  5. Life Saving Divorce with Gretchen Baskerville
  6. Sarah McDugal 
  7. Patrick Weaver Ministries
  8. Heather Elizabeth 
  9. Betrayal Trauma Recovery 
  10. To Love Honor and Vacuum with Sheila Gregoire
  11. Strong Wives with Bonny Burns
  12. If you’re in danger, call an emergency hotline in your country. Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233). United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673). United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111. Australia: 1800 015 188. New Zealand: 0800 456 450. Kenya: 0-800-720-072. Nigeria: 0800 033 3333. South Africa: 0800 428 428.

One Comment

  1. Stephanie says:

    It’s was a little scary to read this. With the exception of about 10, EVERYTHING else is what i feel like my parents marriage had been as far back as i can remember. What do you do when your the child (I’m and adult now) in this relationship. Walking on eggshells is exactly how I describe my childhood. I’ve never told my family and am only saying this because i know i have anonymity, but for several of my teenage years, i would think about either running away or just ending it all. I still struggle with the later from time to time. TBH, mostly around my hormonal monthly time. It’s very hard. I have noone i trust to talk with. I feel very much alone.

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