She began this journey 12 months ago, but only REALLY began to understand stopping control and stopping all disrespect a month and a half or so ago. Her husband is a believer in Christ. There are no major issues in this marriage (no infidelity, drug addiction, mental health disorders, violence, etc…).
The other day, her husband had a REALLY awful day at work and rushed home to go out with his friends that night as he had planned. He was very short with her when he got home. She told him that she was hurt by the way he talked to her. He tried to get her to argue with him.
She said, “I am not arguing. I just want you to know that I am hurt.”
When he continued to try to get her to engage in a fight and accused her of controlling him, she said, “You are free to leave. I am not saying you must stay. I don’t want you to leave with things like this between us. I just want you to know I feel hurt.”
I encouraged her to not text or call him, but to just wait. I told her that if she gave him some space, he would probably apologize. I suggested that if he did not apologize right away, that she just respectfully create some distance until he did apologize. If he asked what was wrong, I suggested that she could say, “I’m still upset/I’m still hurt.” She was sad for a bit, but then, looked to God and found strength and was calm about the whole thing.
She sent me an email the next day. Her husband acted VERY differently this time…
So, wouldn’t you know it, the one night I want him to come home late so I can be asleep and have space, he doesn’t. He comes home at 11:30—the earliest he has ever made it in. He comes in, just talking as if nothing ever happened. Men are so funny.
I was not rude. I answered any question he asked me but made NO comments to him. He would say, “Did you hear me?” and I would say, “mm-hmm,” and look preoccupied.
He came over to me and said, “I want a kiss.”
I said, “I am still upset.”
He said, “I don’t care. I still want a kiss.”
I allowed him to kiss me. Then I exited the room. Maybe that was wrong. I am learning here. So, I basically stay in different rooms. We got in bed around midnight-ish.
He tried a few more attempts at conversation. I continued to not comment and only answer questions and give him distance as best I could in the same room. I read beside him in bed for probably 30 minutes. I was thinking “Oh my goodness…. is he REALLY not going to apologize?! Is he going to let it go like this?”
I finally get tired and put my book down and turn out the light and turn my back to him. I laid there for several minutes. Then he said, “Can I have a kiss goodnight?”
I paused. Then I said, “Is that all you have for me?”
Maybe that was wrong? I don’t know. You can tell me. I was probably pushing for an apology too much.
He sighs and says, “No, I could give you an apology. I am sorry I was such a jerk. I should not have took my bad day and my job out on you. I love you, Honey.”
I rolled over and kissed him and crawled up to lay on his shoulder. I thought—I really need to reward him for apologizing and showing me this effort.
He kissed my forehead and told me he loved me again. I told him I felt very hurt when he spoke so harshly to me. He said he knew and he was sorry again.
THEN—I broke a rule I was trying to follow and asked if he thought about us while he was gone. I have not asked him, not even once, if he has thought about me at work since I let go of him. BUT I felt like maybe it was okay? I wanted insight into his thoughts. I probably made all kinds of mistakes here.
He sighed again, “Yes, I thought about us. I had a terrible time. I didn’t even have any fun.” (It was not funny but I found it just a little bit amusing).
“All I could think about was how hurt you were.”
Okay—that last statement was HUGE!!!!!! It is not unusual for him to tell me he thought about us after an argument and that he was working it over in his mind. But for him to say he thought about ‘how hurt I was’ was BIG, BIG, BIG!!!!
I am sure if the lights were on, my eyes would have appeared about to fall out of my head. I was thinking about what you said about how his conscience would really echo if I didn’t get in his face and stuck with giving him my pure feelings. AND IT DID.
So, all is well. I am thankful I did better than in times past—though not perfectly—that he did apologize and that is was worked out. And I am am especially thankful that he told me he thought about how hurt I was—big deal to me!
So, crisis averted.
HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING SINCE SHE GAVE UP TRYING TO CONTROL HIM AND “MAKE HIM” LOVE HER AND FORCE HIM TO MAKE HER HIS PRIORITY
I don’t feel I gave up control at all (now). There are times things do not go my way—that he doesn’t do the things I want him to do but he didn’t before, either.
I actually do get my way a lot MORE often now. He is very anxious to please me.
But a month and a half ago, I really could not see that.
I was soooooo heartbroken. I cried buckets and buckets and buckets. I remember sitting in the Arbys drive through line trying to clear my face up enough to get my sandwich because I was crying so hard.
I thought my marriage was over. I thought that we would be together out of commitment and nothing more. I thought our marriage was dead. It was one of the most devastating things to feel. I thought I was NOTHING to him.
Things ARE better now. Not perfect but then they won’t be on this side of heaven. But MOST days are blissful.
And last night, I did not go to pieces when he left. I cried a few minutes and then I became logical and knew he would come back to me.
Yes, God’s ways WORK.
Dh has never, EVER said that he could not stop thinking how hurt I was to me. He has gone off and come back to apologize but (he was) not that soft in his spirit toward me.
And what was so funny to me was that here I am sharing my feelings- just true feelings with him and he was trying so hard to get me to argue and to argue my feelings down…. BUT like Bob Grant said, you absolutely cannot argue with true feelings. They stand. They are real and sincere. No argument will hold.
And he called me, “Sweetheart this morning.” That is NEW. He calls me pet names ALL the time and I love that about him but never that one. And I love the other names but it was a new happening between us for him to call me that one.
Things are good today. He is very sweet today.
This way of living is MUCH, MUCH more peaceful. Stepping out toward it though is a HUGE leap of faith.
I don’t know how you EVER did this without a friend to encourage you along and to give you a picture of the future.
I believe that my friend handled this situation BEAUTIFULLY! I think she was in tune with God’s Spirit. She was authentic about her feelings. She was respectful. I love that she cuddled with him after he apologized.
This wife was convinced her husband didn’t really love her just 6 weeks ago or so. I could see many signs that he really did love her, but she was looking for him to do certain things and couldn’t see all the other ways he showed his love.
But now that she has given up trying to control him and make him submit to her will—he is free to care so much more about her feelings. Now that he feels more respected and sees she trusts him and she has taken her hands off from his neck, her emotions become much more important to him.
The awesome thing is that when we are being the godly wives God commands us to be—
When we don’t respond to our husbands in hurtful ways—all they have to think about when they leave after a conflict is their own part.
If we just stick with respectfully, genuinely labeling our feelings briefly—that is much more powerful than a 2 hour lecture or a 3000 word email.
When we repay evil with good and refuse to engage in an unproductive argument—God’s power is free to work in our husbands to convict them in ways that are much more powerful than our words could ever be.
I’m so thankful for this precious sister of mine, for what God is doing in her, for what God is doing in her marriage and for her willingness to allow me to share with you.
Strength and Dignity
eCourse is a wonderful resource by Nina Roesner for wives with difficult husbands