Are You an Indian Giver Wife?

One night in my quiet time, God asked me a question - "Are You an Indian Giver Wife? 

At first, I was a bit shocked because I had never heard it said that way before.

I can remember, as a child, giving a friend “my” toy and by the end of the play date I wanted that toy back (I was kind of a bossy preschooler) and my mother told me not to be an Indian giver! I’m sure you all can recall your first Indian giver experience too, right? I was around 4 or 5 years old, but I knew that giving something away and then taking it back was not good. 

As a matter of fact, I have used the term many times over the years.
Since this was my first-time hearing God say this to me, I figured I should look more into it and see where God’s heart is about the matter.

The term Indian giver has a history that goes way back to when the English explorers “discovered” America. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by the Native Americans and somewhere along the way the Indians started to give their European visitors gifts. Here’s where the confusion came in because the Indians expected to trade or get a fair exchange for what they were giving out. Unfortunately, the visitors from across the pond presumed all the things they were receiving as a gift, prompting the Indians to want all their stuff back, hence the term Indian giver. 

As I did a little research I found that at the core of any Indian giver is unmet expectations. Think back to a time you have done something for your husband with the subconscious expectation that you would get equal or greater in return? Even if you been married for a day, I know you can relate to what I am saying. In marriage and relationships, people tend to be inclined to give out what they would like in return. The tricky part about it is - we are all different, so we end up not meeting the expectation of one another because we all expect different things! Likewise, the Indians had different expectations of the European explorers and in marriage, wives tend to expect an equal or fair trade for affection, house whole chores, romance and more.

As a Christian wife, you have been given the ultimate gift of salvation! Imagine if God would say – “Hey, I need that back!” The thought of it is unfathomable. How could God give you something and then take it back because you fell short of His expectations or decide to cut you off because of what you didn’t do? The day you took your vows, you did not only make those vows to your husband, but you also made a covenant with God. Therefore, you should not expect a fair trade or an even exchange from your husband. 

Now, I know many may disagree and say otherwise, but I must share how God gave me the revelation. I am not saying, wives should be doormats or slaves and expect nothing in return. What I am saying is when your marriage is going through a tough season or your husband isn’t doing what you expect – don’t allow the enemy to use your expectations to destroy your marriage. 

Think about it, have you ever had a “headache” at the end of the night because your husband did not meet your expectations when helping with the kids or housework? Have you ever felt unloving toward your husband because you aren’t getting the affection you feel you need? Have you ever held back because you felt like you were not getting anything in return? I mean, if He isn’t going to meet me half way then – why bother.

God has given us a lot, as a matter of fact, He has given us way more than we deserve. Likewise, wives must demonstrate Christ like character in their marriages; freely you have received from God and freely you should give to your husband (Matthew 10:8b) without expecting “fair exchange” in return. Let’s take a look at a few ways wives might fall into the Indian giver trap. 

•Grace- It is one of the pillars of the Christian wife walk. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Look at how God started His relationship with us – He gave us a GIFT of grace and He never asks for his gift back! 

When’s the last time, your husband needed to you to extend him a little of that grace? Were you freely gracious with your man or did you dismiss the thought because he hasn’t shown you any grace these past few months? I know you don’t want to encourage unhealthy habits or make him comfortable in places he needs to grow up, but you focus on doing your part by being gracious with him and taking your concerns to the Father in prayer. 

•Unconditional Respect- This is a big one with husbands and with God. Every woman since the Garden of Eden has had what I like to call a “respect complexity” to some degree or another (Thanks to Eve!) As a Christian wife, you must work diligently to bring that complexity under subjection to God’s word. Husbands need unconditional respect from their wives, whether you feel they deserve it or not. 

This can be particularly challenging if you are a wife in an unequally yoked marriage or going through a difficult season in your marriage where you feel unloved by your husband. But take heart, God cares and if you will bring all your cares to Him in prayer - He will work it all together for your good, in His timing. Meanwhile, that does not exempt you from giving your husband unconditional respect.  

• Forgiveness- Let’s say you made a mistake and your husband has been unforgiving about it, bringing it up time after time. Recently, He made a financial decision without you that has caused the family great loss. You know He feels horrible about it, but you feel harsh words bubbling up inside - at that moment you must choose forgiveness along with being gentle and quiet. 

Even though your family may now be in a dilemma - God is bigger. Give your opinion in love, wrapped up in grace and look to God to work it out.

You may have never verbally expressed that you want what you’ve given out in your marriage back, but maybe your attitude has grown cold and you are unwilling to give anymore. Maybe you just aren’t feeling like you need to do certain things because your husband is not doing what you expect in return. I have found that God is our strong foundation and we must glean daily from Him to avoid getting an Indian giver attitude.

It is important for Christian wives to stay far away from the mindset that says, “I will if He will” because that is not how God intended marriage to emulate His relationship with the church. Let us deny our flesh of wanting a fair exchange in return for the things we do in our marriages. Instead, let’s practice freely giving grace, respect, forgiveness and whatever else our husbands may need, at any given time. 

I believe God’s grace is more than sufficient to help His daughters avoid becoming an Indian giver wife.

Grace and Peace be unto you,

1 comment

  1. Hi, Mae!
    Cindy B. told me about your blog and I've been reading and enjoying it very much! We are like minded sisters in the Lord! I knew the term Indian givers, but never knew the reason we sued that expressions!
    Thank you for your faithful willingness to teach!
    Blessings, Jacqueline from