February 4, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

How to Tear Down Your Own House…

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In 12 Easy Steps!

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)

I spoke last weekend at a retreat in Chicago for 400 mothers and daughters. I found it interesting the number of women who requested afterward the following list that appeared on one of my slides. It seems we all have this tendency to tear down, rather than build up, our houses. One lady told me she wanted to post it above her kitchen sink. I can only imagine the number of questions she may receive from visiting guests!

So, if you’re wondering how you too can tear down your own house in 12 easy steps, this list is for you!

  • Be hyper critical of your husband and children & nag them constantly (men love this!)

  • Ignore the housework (come up with creative excuses for undone work…”The dog ate my cookbook”)

  • Share your husband’s failings with others (especially your mother)

  • Be unfaithful & untrustworthy (Prov. 31:11-12)

  • Be careless and sloppy about your appearance

  • Be lazy and carelessly spend money

  • Gossip about your family

  • Use your tongue as a weapon (It’s your best asset!)

  • Refuse to submit to your husband

  • Be covetous of what others have

  • Disrespect your husband to your children

  • Watch soap operas and fantasize about how much kinder, attentive, and romantic other husbands are

I added a few extra, thanks to a few readers’ suggestions!

  • Make your husband “earn” his times of intimacy with you (you could even use a point system for good behavior) (1 Corinthians 7:4)

  • Be sure to let your husband know everything that irritates you (preferably when he walks in the door from work)

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26–27)

Matthew 7:26–27 (NKJV):“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

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44 Responses to “How to Tear Down Your Own House…”

  1. Tiffany says:

    I would also add “Be unappreciative and unobservant when your husband is making genuine efforts to encourage and help you.”

    Also “Refuse to have sex with your husband for whatever little reason you want. HIS needs don’t matter as much as yours, after all.”

    So glad you posted this.

  2. Laura says:

    Stacy, thank you so much for this list! I am quite ashamed at how closely my behavior has mirrored these twelve steps at times (yikes!)…bookmarking for reference and accountability.

  3. Eunice says:

    I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this list! Very clear perspective it gives :)
    Thank you!

  4. Mrs. P. says:

    I have also been guilty of most of those, and here is anotherone I would add:

    -Complain…a lot. If a negative thought comes into your head, make sure your husband hears it. (This is one the Lord REALLY had to work on in me.)

  5. James Lansberry says:

    Great list! I’d encourage you to combine it with a “put on” list (cf. Eph 4) to go with these “put off” items. For example, one my wife excels at that would be something to put on instead of nagging: dream with your husband. Encourage him to follow the dreams God’s given him and be supportive of them, even when they bring personal risk.

    My wife Theresa is a fantastic dreamer, and she never ceases to be my inspiration when tacking something new and difficult, and has always been right there with me when the struggles hit reminding me that we knew it’d be hard, and that God will give us grace to push through.

    And if any men read this, I find that husbands talking down their wives to other men to be a deplorable habit that is just accepted. Don’t succumb to the temptation! Make it your personal ambition to only ever say positive things about your wife when she’s not around, and to deal with the struggles face to face.

  6. Stacy McDonald says:

    GREAT thoughts, James! Thank you! To clarify, this list is excerpted from a talk I gave called The House that Mom Built, which does include all the “put on ” type topics. In fact, I’ll be giving this talk at APACHE in Peoria this year!

    And what a blessing Theresa is! It’s good to see a husband who recognize his “good thing.” (Proverbs 18:22) And to hear a husband rise up and call her blessed!

    I love your admonition to men too! It seems both men and women struggle with the tongue!

  7. Mrs. B says:

    Oh so true. And I second Tiffany’s additions. Why is it we find it so much easier to do these things to our family, especially our husbands!, rather than dying to self as our Savior did?

    Wives, we have a power that we truly do not comprehend over our husbands and homes. God has entrusted us with such an awesome responsibility and we are asleep at the wheel most of the time concerning how we use this powerful influence.

    Thank you, Stacy.

  8. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thanks, Tiffany and Mrs. P! I added two more to the list, per your recommendations!

  9. Jenny says:

    @ James, on the same idea…haven’t we all been in conversations where you would be viewed as “boring” “Dull” or “Pollyanna”, not “real” UNLESS you threw your spouse under the bus in conversation? This is my peeve.

    We need to take social conversation BACK for loyalty to our family. It should not be BORING to praise your family members or spouse, it should be perceived as BRILLIANT.

  10. Bible Babe says:

    Wonderful post.

    On the step where you run down your husband–I have a friend who run hers down to the point that I just marvel at her words and how she has taught her kids to do the same with her husband.

    One day she told me “You don’t complain enough about your husband, and when you do tell me something that annoys you about him–you are too nice!” She honestly felt she was advising me on how to be a better wife!

  11. This is WONDERFUL!!! I’m going to print it and stick it up in my cookbook cupboard. This fits beautifully with what I’m discussing this week. I’m going to link here if you don’t mind.

    God’s blessings!

  12. Mrs. T says:

    I’ve seen this “work” first hand in my own marriage–ALMOST ending it in our first year!!! Thankful that the Lord turned each of our hearts around & has given us 21 years together & 7 precious children to “show” the world our deep love for our Lord & each other! Sadly, I’ve seen the full consequence of this list in many of my dear friend’s marriages. Take heed, ladies & gentlemen! Your (myself included!) actions & words have the power to either tear down or build up.
    Keep up the wonderfully encouraging blog, Stacy!

  13. Leah Byrd says:

    I too am so convicted, it sounds awful when I hear
    others “running down their husbands”…but I have always allowed myself various justifications when I find myself doing the same thing!

    Just another note, my Sister-in-law (Sarah Brackett) does not EVER do this, it amazes me when I consider how well she “builds” her house. She is such a encouragement and some times a walking conviction. Thanks again for the work you do.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Wonderful reminders….basically it all boils down to our deep self-centeredness instead of taking up our crosses daily and following Him. When that happens, these “teardowns” don’t!

  15. Akehia says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s a much needed reminder.

  16. Deanna says:

    Great post!

    Thanks Stacy!

  17. Laurene says:

    James. Thank you so much for your positive comment.

    We are so quick to criticize (even ourselves!) I think often because we have already shredded ourselves so much inside we just can’t possibly believe we are loved any more. I would so love to hear the positive comments. All I hear are the negative. It’s hard to rebuild your home from crumbled ruins. Where do you start? How do you fix what has already been destroyed? We NEED that list of positive suggestions! Desperately. We need to rescue our homes from the Accuser.


  18. Sherrin Drew says:

    This was funny but so apt!

  19. Sherrin Drew says:

    Oh, and I should have mentioned that I did the “Revive Our Hearts” 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge and it was wonderful! It helped me find things to encourage my husband in and also encouraged me as I thought about his many good attributes. A great way to build your house!

  20. Stacy McDonald says:

    “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it…Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 36:33–38


    We have to be convicted of our sin (talking about sin may seem a little negative), and repent, before we can be forgiven and move forward rebuilding the ruins. The Bible is full of warnings against sin. We have to be able to recognize it, so that we know what to turn from. Often, we woman don’t realize we’ve been contentious or destructive. This list was a simple reminder – not an in depth study on contention. The talk that this was excerpted from goes in more depth on this subject.

  21. Tiana Krenz says:

    Thanks so much!

    I normally don’t link to other’s posts in my blog, but I had to do it this time.



  22. sarah beth says:

    I love this and shared this with others… I need to print this and put it on my fridge!

    {Sarah beth}

  23. Renee says:

    indeed posting this above your sink could spark a few question lol

  24. And there the mighty hand of God lies. I am praying about all of these steps and 2 times this week He has convicted me. Without His conviction I am seemingly unaware of my tongue. I can now be nudged by the Holy Spirit to say, “back up did you hear what you just said?” Then I can apologize and correct my words. It is truly through this cycle again and again that you will change. Slowly, you will need less and less reminders because you have already replaced your words and actions.
    Redemption and transformation are beautiful things!

  25. Great post, Stacy, but where is the counterpart?
    Sometimes wifes fantasize about other men because their husbands do not romance them, or ar hars and innatentive to them.
    Other men try to please their wifes but without bothering to find out what pleasese them, and instead just decide that for themselves.
    Well, I guess that would be another topic, but I believe both go together.

  26. […] How to Tear Down Your Own House :: Your Sacred Calling “It seems we all have this tendency to tear down, rather than build up, our houses.” […]

  27. Angie says:

    ahhhh. I have so much to learn!

  28. Making the husband “earn” his times of intimacy is actually advocated in Stasi Eldredge’s book Captivating.

    Thanks for this post and for your ministry.

  29. Stacy McDonald says:

    Robin – Wow! That is incredible. But isn’t it a best seller? ;-)

    Ah…sadly today’s church is starving from lack of discernment.

    I wonder if Stasi Eldredge wants her husband to make her earn his love or the times when he will stand by her and protect her?

  30. That’s a good point. I hadn’t considered what the parallel would be.

    But it’s actually a lot worse than you realize. The incident she shared involved setting the man up 24 hours earlier, by intentionally having an extremely intimate evening in order to work up his expectations for the following night, which is when she withheld it as planned. That way it had maximum impact.

    Apparently it “worked” and the husband learned his lesson pretty quick. I forget what the particular lesson was, but it was something minor like not being emotional enough or something.


  31. Loved it! So true! How about… Correct your husband often during “family devotions”

    Husbands just love the “holier than thou” attitude from their wives ;)

    This is a memorable list Stacy! Thank you!!

  32. Jennifer says:

    I don’t recall any such thing in “Captivating”, Robin. There’s a reason it’s a bestseller and the Eldredges pride strong manhood. Stasi was abused emotionally as a child, though. Perhaps this pain brought out a bad piece of advice.

  33. Jennifer says:

    Robin, I found the section you were referring to and disagree strongly with your analysis. The husband described was so absent, he might as well not have been there; he showed no interest in being with his wife. That is NOT a minor thing at all. The night she withheld from him, she didn’t simply mock his desire or tease him; when he suddenly showed interest in her as soon as he saw the potential for sex, she said, “Why do you want to be with me? Is it just for my body or are you persuing my heart?” He couldn’t answer. She said, “I long to give myself to you, but you need to give yourself to me. I want your heart in this marriage.” She didn’t make love to him because she couldn’t without actual love. She left the next step up to him. I wish you had read this more closely. The author said nothing about making a man “earn” it, he advised letting a man see what can be given in a full and true marriage. Other examples were given of women alluring their husbands to more full lives without necessarily withholding. In fact, I’m not totally sure she did withhold the first night.

  34. OUCH!
    Thanks for reminding me to BUILD instead of tear down!

  35. Carol says:

    Ouch. But thanks for this. I do tend to be a martyr, especially when it comes to dishes etc. I have 7 children. the youngest is 6. All still live at home and use the kitchen and are very self sufficient. In that we are blessed. But while they love to cook etc. they do not clean up. Just irks me.
    And now I am off to find hopefully, all of my hubby’s workshirts that have disappeared.
    @Bible Babe-I get together with a couple of other women for coffee once a week. Started out as a book discussion but they don’t like reading. anyway, some of the time it’s nice to be there for them, and if i had an especially trying day at home. (and they at work) nice to vent. But more often than not it becomes a husband dissing contest OR lots of complaining about those in church. When that happens I just sit back and keep my mouth shut. my hubby has faults. As do I. We aren’t perfect. But I don’t complain about him to them. One of the women I’ve known for 22 years so we know our hubby’s are human. As are we. i just don’t like sitting there listening to all that. I have better things to do. The sad thing is during coffee I occasionally get texts from him. And they are typically a high tech form of PDA. (public display of affection) . I think it’s cute kind of . not sure my girlfriends do.

    thanks for this post even if its rather convicting. Definitely something I need to work on.

  36. Susan says:

    What if you do all the right godly Christian wife thing and your husband still treats you bad, verbally abusive, for no reason?

  37. Kim Campbell says:

    Wow, very enlightening. I have a co-worker who seems to feel she needs to micro-manage her husband to the point of calling him a liar. She also does this at work on the phone and will pull her daughter into it (his step daughter).

    I may need to print this off and hang it in my cubicle.

    Susan-I personally feel any kind of abuse is bad. I hope you will seek help and try to be safe.

  38. Pamela says:

    I know that we all want to be an encouragement to our husbands.
    I thought it was funny when you said make him earn his sex life with you. That is such an awful thought. It is sad, but I heard Christian women say that they could live without that part of their relationship. I believe with all my heart if we keep our eyes off of other men and keep our eyes, hearts, and mind on our husbands we will be more attracted to him. I love every part of my relationship with my husband, and it gets sweeter with each passing year.
    Thank you for this. We all need to be reminded that we need to step back and see if our actions are actions of encouragement or if they are acts that will tare down our man.

  39. stefanie says:

    LOL LOL LOL Too funny :D
    Nice one!

  40. Dude27 says:

    HI Stacy. I have to thank you for posting this powerful list. I am a man, and while reading it i could not help but see my mother in there. I pray that God may open her eyes, so she can see how God has provided everything she needs in her family, including a  powerful position. I can also add that a wife’s behavior can have a profound impact on her children’s lives too.
    My mother, as an example, is on a sex strike  with my father for 27 years. She neglects homework to watch soaps, and is the worst critic of my father, me, and my younger brother. In my life, it had a very strange result – I became insensible to women. Deep inside I started to believe the lie that women existed to hurt and exploit men. And this post, and the comments  here prove as a lie. There are plenty of women that love their husbands out there.

    As a result, I spent 10 years living a homosexual life style, until I found help from godly men and women. Even today, I still struggle with it. Today I know that Satan used my own mother, and my father’s alcoholism, in his project to destroy our home. I know they need healing and God’s love. So I say to women: God loves you and his advises are the best you will ever get. When He instructs us, he is not only thinking of our good, but also the good of people surrounding us. People that at the moment we may not even be aware of.

  41. Wallflower says:

    I love the list. I have tried and tried! Been married 20 years to a husband who did not grow up in a home that taught intimacy. Both physically and emotionally. We have not bonded as a result and it’s very lonely for me. Our kids have suffered as a result too. I’ve hung in there after years and years of futile marriage therapy. I have done my hardest to show our kids true love and emotional intimacy, although I have not set a great example of a Godly woman. Just too bitter, I guess. What else can I do? Still trying and my hope is in Jesus, not man, to comfort me.

  42. flipflopcowgirl says:

    In the interest of mutual submission and biblical humility, someone should make a rule that every single time someone posts something like this about WOMEN, they add an asterisk after every point and say, “Also applies to men.” Really the gender separation that we are still seeing in the body blows my mind. None of this is gender specific business.

  43. Stacy McDonald says:

    Seriously, Cathy, do we have to do this? Your comment reminds me of when I correct one of my kids for running in the house and they have to point to another sibling to ask why I’m not fussing at them, since they do it too. Can we not as women acknowledge our own sin without whining about how men sin too. Of course men sin, but when a pastor preaches about how a husband should love and sacrifice for his bride, wouldn’t we roll our eyes if all the men stood up and pointed out how women should love their husbands too – and why aren’t we talking to the women about loving their husbands and sacrificing for them?

    Scripture says, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) If we talk about this truth, a teaching from the very Word of God, and then apply it to real life circumstances, we are hardly playing favorites. If God saw fit to name women in this verse, who are we to make it androgynous? Yes, men sin in the same way at times. But that doesn’t negate the fact that God is making a point here – and yes, it is a gender specific (not exclusive) point.

  44. luis says:

    I am a husband and standing for my wife that separated from me (for may reasons) and reading this brought tears to my eyes……

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