I am not an expert, a counselor, a pastor or a psychologist. My blog and posts may be helpful for you, they may not be. I mostly write for wives who tend to be controlling/dominating with passive husbands. More passive wives who have trouble speaking their own minds and who have domineering or abusive husbands may not find my blog to be a good fit. Ultimately, each wife will have to pray and study God’s Word and decide what she believes God desires her to do in her unique situation. God’s wisdom is what is most important here, not my ideas or suggestions!
Here is a question I received from a wife about her specific situation and won’t be applicable to every possible situation that wives are facing. Let’s hash through this together and find a way to treat our husbands respectfully while still being true to our feelings. It IS possible to do both of those things at the same time – share our hearts AND be respectful! But it takes practice and some help to get there. (I am not including the whole dialogue for privacy’s sake.)
NOTE: I only address women on my blog and what we can change – ourselves. I don’t teach men. There are plenty of things in the below example that the husband could do to improve. But we are only going to focus on what the wife can change and what she can control in this post.
** If your husband is particularly abusive or controlling – please find godly help ASAP! If there are mental disorders, drug addictions, alcohol abuse, infidelity, or serious issues in your marriage, please find local, experienced, godly help. Those things go beyond the scope of this blog and this post is not written for wives in such situations. **
I have a question about the whole “sharing your heart” thing.
My husband gets very offended at the idea that he sometimes hurts my feelings, or that actions of his cause me pain. Even when he asks me what is wrong. If I tell him how a particular action of his made me feel [hurt/scared/upset] he takes it as a personal affront and then turns it back on me and blames me, tells me I’m making a big deal out of nothing (his exact words quite often) and that I need to suck it up and get over it – and he inevitably goes off on a tangent talking about things that have nothing to do with what happened.
My husband travels a lot with his job. He has a habit of telling me he will do something at a certain time (without my asking) – or within certain time parameters – and then not do it.
And when I express to him how important it is to me that he keep his word, he blames me for getting upset and tells me I’m making a big deal out of nothing. He starts to make excuses and inevitably starts saying hurtful things and belittling me.
FROM THE PEACEFULWIFE:
I am going to give some suggestions and options. There are other ways to handle this respectfully, too – but I am going to give you some place to START. And I am going to try to show you this husband’s perspective. It could be helpful for us to think about the messages he is hearing when his wife is speaking and what is triggering his angry reaction.
This wife is NOT wrong for wanting her husband to call her when he gets to each airport. Most wives would want that. And I actually don’t think her husband has a big problem with calling her. The issue here is her approach.
This wife was texting/saying things to her husband things like,
- “So you’re not going to call me like you said you would?”
- “You’re lying to me!!”/”You’re a liar!”
- “You’re not a man of your word!”
In a man’s world – this is a confrontational approach that insults his honor.
It all boils down to – This man is likely feeling blamed, judged, condemned, and criticized and he does not like it. He is trying to defend his honor. No man would treat him like this – how on earth could the woman he loves and trusts most in all the world attack him this way? It’s just beyond his ability to fathom.
WHEN YOUR HUSBAND ASKS, “WHAT’S WRONG, HONEY?” – WHAT DOES HE ACTUALLY MEAN?
- He probably does want to know what is wrong. And he wants to fix the problem, be your hero and make you happy!
- He probably does not want to be thrown under the bus, blamed, humiliated, disrespected and insulted.
EXPECTATIONS CAN KILL A RELATIONSHIP
You know that his schedule is extremely variable. You know that your husband will “promise” you things but may not be able to or may not remember to follow through precisely at the time he had said.
You TOTALLY have the power to make this a non-issue. Yes, it would be awesome if he always called exactly when he said he would. But since you know that he has this tendency to say he will do things and then he can’t do it or it slips his mind – then you could choose to release him from your expectations.
One reader shared a quote with me that, “expectations are premeditated resentment.”
WHAT HE IS HEARING
I believe he is hearing disrespect and that is why he is getting upset. I realize you don’t intend to be disrespectful – you are upset because he didn’t call when he said he would – as many wives would be. But that is likely what he hears.
I would suggest to focus on expressing your own feelings and on whatever he is doing RIGHT. As he feels increasingly respected and sees your faith and trust in him, and you praise him when he does what you like – he will probably do what you want more and more often. There may be times you need to address a shortcoming or sin (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:16-18). But, as much as possible, don’t blame him and label him. Talk about your feelings and desires – then he can be the hero instead of being labelled the villain with no way to make things right.
WHAT WOULD WORK?
A great way to get him to call you sooner is to thank and praise him when he does call you on time.
- “Sweetheart, THANKS SO much for calling me as soon as you got to the airport! That makes me feel so loved. You are the best!”
- “It means so much to me that you called me. Thanks for helping me not feel nervous about if you were safe.”
- “I love it when you call me! I really appreciate when you call me when you said you would. Thanks for being a man of your word.”
- “I don’t mean to worry when I don’t hear from you, but sometimes I do worry. I really appreciate it when you call me. You are such a wonderful husband!”
IF HE CALLS LATE:
Really, you can still thank him for calling even if he calls you late. Your gratitude and friendliness will encourage him to call sooner and to ENJOY calling you instead of DREAD calling you.
IF YOU ARE GETTING WORRIED ABOUT HIM
You can text him and say,
- “Just checking to be sure you are ok! I can’t wait to be in your arms again soon!”
HOW TO SHARE YOUR HURT WHEN HE DOESN’T CALL
If he continues not to call on time and you are being very respectful for several weeks – you can share your heart in a non-threatening, non-blaming way by sharing your feelings in a very basic, simple way WITHOUT any accusations against him
- “I’m nervous that I haven’t heard from you.”
- “I want to be sure you are safe. I love you!”
- “I feel scared/afraid when I don’t hear from you right away.”
- “I worry that something awful may have happened to you when you don’t call me when you land.”
- “I feel sad when you don’t call me right away.”
- “It means a lot to me when you call me when you say you will.”
- “I feel upset when you forget to call me.”
- “I want you to call me when you say you will, please.”
- Proverbs 12:16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
- Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
- I Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
- I Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
- Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord…. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Sometimes a husband IS truly wrong and it is not about the wife’s approach, in those cases, please read one of these posts…