How to Train a Husband

One year at an animal-training school changed Amy Sutherland’s marriage. She decided to use the techniques of animal-trainers on her husband so that he would stop doing the things that annoyed her.

[T]o teach her husband, Scott, to stop storming around the house when he couldn’t find his keys, she practiced what trainers call Least Reinforcing Scenario, which means she ignored his outbursts, and didn’t offer to help with the search. To prevent Scott from hovering over her while she tried to cook, she engineered “incompatible behaviors” by setting a bowl of chips and salsa at the other end of the room. Soon she had a key-finding, salsa-eating mate and, she says, a happier marriage.

Through the long process of training her husband, however, Sutherland realized that she was the one who changed the most.

[S]he taught herself not to take her husband’s actions personally, and not to react when he did things that annoyed her. [Nina] DiSesa [author of Seducing the Boys Club] also says she retrained herself to stop criticizing and confronting the men she worked with, and instead use “S and M,” seduction and manipulation, to get her way.

Learning to control one’s reactions to everything your husband does is a good thing, however, resorting to seduction and manipulation to get one’s way is wrong. It’s dishonest and disrespectful. I do not know about Amy Sutherland or Nina DiSesa, but Christian women should not turn to underhanded scheming against their husbands for any reason.

The Scriptures are clear that we are to honor one another over ourselves. Wives are to respect their own husbands. To resort to the tactics described by the women in the Newsweek article would demonstrate a too-high opinion of self, disrespect for the other person, and a low regard for God and His perfect plan for husbands and wives. God’s way is not the easiest, but it is good and accompanied with His blessing.

The Newsweek article does not address the fundamental difference between man and beast. Humans possess the God-given ability to reason. Animals are hard-wired by God to do what they do. They don’t question or wonder why their lives progress the way they do. Pavlov’s dog didn’t wonder why he salivated every time he heard a bell ring. Birds do not question migration. Humans, on the other hand, can reason and question and wonder. If you’re married to a man who is smarter than the average bear, he will catch on to what you are doing pretty quickly. Sutherland’s husband did. He even started using Amy’s own tactics to try and change her behavior. The article states, “Now they use the word “shamu” as a verb, as in “Did you just shamu me?” While it sounds humorous, it seems to me that their marriage has devolved to a game of seeing who can better manipulate the other one.

I can understand (somewhat) how some of these tactics can be helpful for changing small things, annoying habits and behaviors. Overcoming socks in the floor, however, is a walk in the park compared to healing more serious marital issues.

To read the article in its entirety, follow the link to Newsweek.

4 Comments on “How to Train a Husband

  1. Wouldn’t I have benefited from hearing Godly counsel about true biblical marriage when I was first married? So many years of frustration and hurt for no good reason. Understanding God’s perfect plan for marriage and his provision throughout each of our hardships makes the relationship mean something completely different than what the world says. The day that my eyes were opened to the truth….that God created me as *his* help meet. Wow. It was a true awakening to what my role is in this marriage and it is such a sweet blessing. Sorry for the longwinded reply. This is my first comment “post-baby” and I guess I was in withdrawals!


  2. It bothers me to hear women talk about “training their men”, like they ARE dogs. I think we all “train each other”, as we live together. I guess it’s the connotation that men are mere beasts, to be manipulated and taught how to behave instead of heads of our household and to be respected. I am constantly bothered by commercials and such that depict men as simpering fools who don’t know anything unless they have a woman to help them. Like I say, Anthony has learned a lot about what pleases me, and I have learned a lot about what pleases him. I guess that’s “training”. It just bothers me when they talk about it in the context of dog obedience.


  3. Well, I’m glad that you’re not encouraging my wife to treat me like a dog, Leslie!Seriously, it’s a good topic, because we can change to some degree, we just have to have the right motivation. And we need to know that there’s a need to change.However, I will point out that there are some things that may never change, and we must learn to accept that thing and see it as a strength instead of a weakness.Great post.


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