If I was talking about someone and used the phrase, “she knows how to play the victim card” – can you get a mental image of the type of person I am talking about?
The other day, I was talking with a friend who was explaining why she was upset with her husband and she used the phrase, “I feel justified in my behavior.” While my advice to her was that no matter how she feels, nothing justifies her behavior, I couldn’t help but personalize the situation. Even though I don’t like to admit it, I can easily make excuses regarding my behavior towards my husband and subconsciously “play the victim card” in my marriage.
Examples might be when my husband works more than I want him to and he comes home not to smiling wife, but a wife who is cranky. Victim Card. Or when my husband wants some time to himself and so he is home, but isn’t helping with the children and begin to think, “when will it be my turn to go have some personal time?” Victim Card. If my husband hasn’t been as romantic as I would have liked I can make a snide comment and blame it on “an empty love tank.” Victim Card. When I make harsh statements, lose my patience, describe something as “always” or “never,” or roll my eyes. Victim Card. When I begin keeping score (I changed 6 dirty diapers today and he only changed 4). Victim Card.
The above examples have been personal towards me, but think about the typical “nagging” wife that is often portrayed. Even if she has a genuine reason to be upset: the nagging, whining, name calling, finger pointing, & tit-for-tat attitude is a perfect example of a wife feeling justified in her behavior.
I don’t think many of us would admit we were playing the victim card and most of us probably don’t even realize we are doing it, but as I look back over my marriage, I can see how I felt justified in not watching my words or tone when speaking with my husband when in reality there was no justification for my behavior.
It isn’t about what our husbands do or don’t do. It isn’t about how much they help out or don’t help out. It isn’t about their attitudes or actions. It is about us. We are the only people in control of our behavior and if we allow ourselves to respond to a situation with the victim card (even though we feel 100% justified in doing so) then we have not helped the situation, but rather, we have created another problem.
The Bible tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), to think of others more highly than yourself (Philippians 2:3), be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19), and that it is better to live in the desert than with a quarrelsome and ill tempered wife (Proverbs 21:9).
When we justify our behaviors, attitudes, and emotions based on those of our husbands then we are no longer living in the Spirit, but in the flesh. We are putting unnecessary pressure on our husbands to be our moral compass when in reality, no matter what they do, our response is solely up to us.
To be sure, this doesn’t mean that we can’t speak the truth in love to our husband or seek outside help when it is needed. Our job is to make sure that our response is seasoned with grace and covered in prayer. If we are Christian wives, then regardless of the attitudes and actions of our husbands, we need to always be demonstrating love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). We can’t do this in our own strength, but rather this response will only become natural through spending time in prayer, in the Word, and relying on the Holy Spirit for strength and not our own flesh or circumstances.
There is no doubt that there will be times when our husband will frustrate us, anger us, and say things that hurt our feelings, but we can’t let our frustration, anger, and hurt feelings excuse any retaliation of words, attitudes, or actions!