Dating and being engaged are such a whirlwind of excitement, romance, attention and feeling adored, cherished, wanted and loved beyond a girl’s wildest dreams! It’s easy, and natural, for a bride-to-be to assume that these feelings will never end and that being married will be just like being engaged but better – all that same romantic intensity but for many hours every day instead of just a few hours per week, right!?! It’s easy for a girl to think that once she gets married and lives with her new husband, it will be happily-ever-after without interruption. In her mind, marriage will just mean never having to say good-bye and being the center of her beloved’s attention even more than when they were dating. Planning a wedding can convince a girl that the whole marriage thing is all centered around her desires and wishes and plans. She may not know that her picture of wedded bliss probably varies significantly from her future husband’s.
Often to a man, the wedding is the culmination of “the chase.” He has won his prize and now he can relax and focus more on his career and on providing for his bride (which, by the way, is a HUGE way to him that he is showing her he loves her- and it is one that women today often discount completely, much to our own detriment). To a newly married husband, keeping up the emotional and romantic intensity level of dating and engagement seems (and may actually be psychologically and physiologically) impossible and unnecessary. “After all, I married her, didn’t I?” To a man, as Bob Grant describes in “What Husbands Can’t Resist”, if he does something HUGE for another man, the recipient will be grateful for many years even if the giver of the enormous gift barely speaks to him after that. Men aren’t made to keep very intense surges of emotion all the time. They go in spurts. It’s not bad, it is just reality. Men just know that when they do something radically generous for each other, they have a bond and a friendship that will last forever. Women don’t operate on the same paradigm. Women do not assume that love or friendships last forever- they nourish their relationships carefully and do lots of little things weekly or even daily to show their love. A woman would often prefer one rose every day from her man than 365 roses once a year. Women tend to look at love as being a very insecure and fragile thing that could vanish suddenly and that’s why we love constant reassurance that we are secure in our husbands’ love. To a man, it’s as odd for his wife to need to constantly ask him if he still loves her as it would be to ask every week if the house they bought still belonged to them. It’s not that men are wrong or women are wrong. We are just VERY different.
It’s easy for a wife to assume that if her husband says or does something it would mean the same thing as if she had said or done it. This is an extremely dangerous way of looking at a husband’s actions!
A husband may not respond to a loving email his wife sent him. He might just be busy with work or have trouble coming up with words that sound as eloquent as hers. He may not be able to type as well as she can, and it might take him a very long time to compose a lengthy and loving email. He may be afraid that she won’t be impressed with a short response because she has complained about a short answer before. Or he may just not think about that she is waiting and constantly checking for a long gushy lovey dovey response back because he doesn’t think that way. But his wife may become more and more convinced as the hours go by that her husband must be angry with her, or maybe – he must not love her anymore! Why else wouldn’t he respond? Maybe he’s been in a fatal accident? For a woman not to respond to such a generous verbal overture of love would mean she was either incapacitated or hated her husband in most cases. But this husband may actually have no malice in his heart and may be oblivious to the message his wife thinks he is sending by not responding to her email. By the time the husband gets home from work, and is alive and uninjured, he may have a very angry wife on his hands and have no idea what happened.
A husband and wife may be having an argument. His brain is not made to process heavy emotional content nearly as quickly as hers (“His Brain, Her Brain.” By Dr. Larimore). He may roll over and go to sleep and catch up with processing all of his wife’s heated and emotional words throughout the night and into the next day. A wife might think that she would NEVER do that in the middle of a conflict- act so unloving and go to sleep as if nothing is wrong. “Clearly that man must not love me at all and doesn’t care a thing about my feelings!” This is another situation where understanding the differences between men and women can help us give a lot more grace to our spouse so that we don’t assume messages from them that they never intended to send.
It’s very easy for a wife to feel crowded out by all the technology around her husband – the tv might be on a lot, and he may also be on a computer or his phone. She may feel like she can’t get through to him to have a heart to heart talk at all anymore for all the screens and beeps and blaring noise. Men’s brains are different from women’s. They have a significant less amount of blood flow and they also are made to need to have down time to recharge for the next day at work. Women don’t have such a need and are usually constantly thinking about multiple things all the time whether they want to or not. Men can actually think about NOTHING (“His Brain, Her Brain.”). For women, that is a shocking revelation! He may just be trying to have some recharging time- which he does actually need. And he may not intentionally be ignoring his wife. She needs face to face talking time, which is also a legitimate need – but he doesn’t have that need so it’s hard for him to understand and relate to her needs, too. This takes a lot of patience and willingness to grow and stretch and offer understanding from each partner in order for everyone to feel appreciated, accepted, loved, respected and understood.
If you are finding that your husband is unavailable to you emotionally and seems withdrawn or angry a good bit – it could be that he is recharging and disengaging his mind and that some of his behavior is just normal guy stuff, or he may be preoccuppied with issues from work or other things unrelated to your marriage. But check your behavior to see if you may have been coming across disrespectfully to him. A wife’s disrespect will repel her husband away from him and make him either lash out in anger to defend his honor or stonewall to keep himself from lashing out in anger – he does this to try to keep his own blood pressure from going through the roof (a wife’s confrontation affects a man’s blood pressure and nervous system profoundly in a way that is very different from a wife’s fairly calm reaction to a heated encounter) and he also may be trying to protect his wife from his own physical retaliation and reaction to what appears (to him) to be an attack on his manhood. (If your husband is physically abusive to you, or he is actively involved in an addiction or has a serious untreated mental health issue- please find godly counsel and get help immediately!!! Your safety and the safety of your children has to be your first priority if your husband is not thinking clearly due to the influence of drugs/alcohol/severe depression/psychosis/mania or if he is currently involved in adultery).
Marriage can be very lonely at times. That is one of the biggest surprises of marriage, in my book. Sometimes it’s lonely because of conflicting work schedules or husband’s hobbies. Sometimes the demands of babies and young children keep us from having that time for intimacy spiritually/emotionally/physically. Sometimes it’s lonely because we miss that intimate emotional connection we love having with our husbands so much and don’t know how to get it back. Almost every wife at some point in her marriage thinks that getting married to this man was a mistake (and probably every husband thinks the same thing about the woman he married at some time, too). That doesn’t mean that it was a mistake! God is sovereign, and He will use this situation for our good and His glory if we trust Him and seek His will and obey His Word! Hang on, precious daughter of God!! Now that you are married to this man, it IS God’s will for you to be with him, to respect him, to follow him, to love him and to honor God by how you treat him – regardless of whether you feel like your needs are currently being met by your husband.
If you are feeling unloved, ignored, unappreciated and lonely as a wife – please pray and ask God to show you 1.) What work He desires you to do on yourself AND 2). See if you are expecting your husband to fill the place in your soul that only God can fill. You can’t change or control your husband – concentrating on what he “should” do or on what you “deserve” or “need” is going to drive you insane and rob you of every shred of power you could have in changing things for the better! Once you are giving your husband all that HE needs, then there will be time to respectfully address your needs. You may be very shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out how much feminine power you have to draw your husband to you and to attract him if you learn the power of respect, a spirit of cooperation, a spirit of humility and gentleness, a spirit that is open to learning about his point of view and plans. It is a wise wife who acknowledges that God has given her husband wisdom and perspective that He hasn’t given to her. A wise wife will listen to her husband and work to have a propensity towards saying “Yes!” to him with joy and faith in him as well as in God.
You can only control yourself. You can’t control him. You can only change yourself. You can’t change him. It’s not your job to change him! That’s God’s department. Your job is to make him happy and bring him delight and joy and to add beauty and comfort to his life! Your job is to accept him as he is right now and be thankful for this imperfect man, realizing God will use THIS man to make you more like Christ and to teach you exactly what God wants you to learn. There isn’t a better man for you out there! Every man is a sinner – just like every woman. God has made you one flesh with this particular guy you are with right now, and He is extremely emphatic that He wants nothing but death to separate you- except in cases of adultery at times (but even then, God can work miracles in marriages!)
Ultimately, only Jesus makes the PERFECT husband. Only He can never fail us and always love us and forgive us perfectly. Only Jesus can completely understand us and know our needs and provide exactly what we need and when – even when we don’t know how to ask or what to ask for. He is humble. He is love. He was our true Hero, leaving heaven and putting on a mortal body in order to pay the ransom for us, His kidnapped Bride. THIS is the ultimate romance, the ultimate love story. He deserves and is worthy of our utmost respect, adoration, worship and faith. Our husbands will fail us, maybe even daily. But Jesus will never fail. When we cling to Him and look to Him for our needs to be met instead of expecting perfection and deity from sinful men, we will be empowered by His Spirit to become the wives we long to be and the women we long to be. We don’t have to be afraid! The more we know Jesus, the more we know that He is in total control despite all the seeming chaos around us. We can submit totally to His will and give ourselves completely to Him as we rest peacefully in His love and then go out with great strength and limitless reserves to treat our husbands the way that Jesus asks us to – even when it doesn’t make sense to us and is counterintuitive to our way of thinking! God says His ways are far above our ways, and His wisdom is much higher than our own. I’m so thankful for that! This is ultimately about our faith in Jesus, and about knowing how HUGE our God is, how powerful, how sovereign, how loving and faithful. As we decide to obey Him and seek Him first, He will perform miracles in our lives in ways we could never have imagined to provide for our needs and to draw us and our husbands and children and many others to Himself.
I pray for the women who are so lonely and feeling very unloved and in pain. Help them see the hope in Your eyes! Help them to look to Your Word and to find Your Love is more than enough to meet their needs. Help them discover the beauty and richness and joy of Your plan for our marriages. Give them courage and strength to take those first few terrifying steps of obedience to You – to respect their husbands (and stop the disrespect) and to graciously and cheerfully allow their husbands to lead in their marriages according to Your design and plan. Let them see Your hand all along this journey. Let them see what a great adventure and romance and what depths of love await them in Your arms. Help us to be faithful to You and faithful to our husbands. Help us learn to use the power You have given us as women to bless our husbands and to inspire them to greater heights by Your design.