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A Wife’s First Practical Steps on Her Journey

Garden Path
From a precious wife (whose husband is addicted to porn – this is a VERY, VERY common situation, by the way.  MANY wives are in this exact same situation.) – thank you for allowing me to share!  I know this will bless many other wives, too!
I’ve spent the last few days in prayer and God’s Word.
  • I’ve been wrestling with the realization that what my husband does is out of my control, and between him and God.  
Yesterday was tough.  I had a big battle with myself about worry and jealousy.  He has told me he isn’t having an affair at this point in time and isn’t even interested in any one else right now, but his discontent with our marriage and off hand comments, have instilled a deep jealousy in me for the first time ever.  I wanted to check his emails, but I don’t have the password to his account.
I prayed hard last night asking God to take my fears because I can’t do anything about them, and realized it didn’t matter if there were any suspicious emails or not.  Even if he was lying to me about not having any female interests, his sin is not my responsibility.
It’s my responsibility to God that I need to worry about, and that means becoming a godly, respectful wife.  I need to trust in my husband’s honesty as I always have because he hasn’t broken that trust yet, and trust him to God’s care.  After putting on a worship CD and singing along, my fears ceased.
I gave up the idols that are my husband and “feeling loved by him” with many tears, and a few more tears today.  But I feel so much lighter!
  • My husband is weirded out by the changes to my behavior.
He’s noticed my quiet demeanour the last couple days, and has commented on it, “Why are you so quiet?”  And even cuddled with me on Sunday night.  I think he is attracted to my stillness!
Last night  after my battle with myself I read on Facebook that he had a hard day, and he was going to be at work till late.

I saw an opportunity to be a blessing and took it.

So I made him supper for when he got home and a plate of his favourite cookies.  I didn’t see him again until this evening once I had finished work, and he actually asked me if I was doing the love dare.  Which is funny because I had actually thought about doing that until I realized my sin was the problem, not my love.
He asked why I was doing what I was doing, I told him that I love him and enjoy showing him.  I didn’t mention God at this point because I’ve already explained the changes I’m making are for me and God, and don’t want to push the issue on him.
He told me to stop, but was smiling when he said it…so stopping isn’t happening.  He also told me I would just end up disappointed, so I asked again if he had been unfaithful, and he said no.  Besides I’m obeying God in showing my husband respect and can’t stop now!
I’ve come up with a plan of action.  Goals I am going to focus on for the next little while:
– spend copious amounts of time with God in prayer and his Word
– keep learning what it means to be a respectful wife
– learn about Godly femininity and what it means to have a gentle, peaceful spirit
– smile a lot! Be warm and friendly,  but be sure to give my hubby space.  When he’s on the computer don’t interrupt unless I really need something.  Let him decide to initiate conversation, let him decide if he wants to spend time with me. (from Peacefulwife – this wife had been smothering her husband and needy – so she is giving him more space in a respectful way.)
– if I’m lonely, tell him, ask for cuddles or a few minutes, but be accepting of no as an answer.
– if he does initiate conversation, drop what I’m doing and pay attention
– be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger
– do not say negative things, argue or complain.
– watch the body language! No eye rolling or exasperated sighs.
– if he does anything for me thank him!
– if he says he is going to do something, be patient and let him do it
– start saying things to build him up, affirm and encourage.  Give him compliments. (from Peacefulwife – GENUINE and SINCERE compliments and praise!)
– do things he asks of me with a smile and a yes.  Do them with a cheerful attitude
– watch for ways I can be a blessing to him, then do it!
– if I need to go cry, about my sin, or because I’m hurt, leave the room.  Pray.  Motive check.
There is so much more that I need to be doing.  I also need to start expressing my wants, feelings and desires to in the brief way you talk about, I just don’t think I’m ready to break the quiet yet in case I say something disrespectful that makes things worse.  But this is a start.
I know what you are saying about husbands lashing out in anger when convicted of sin.  This has happened in the past. Usually I just get defensive and make things worse, or reciprocate his attitude so he “knows how I feel.”  I will need to be really patient and understanding to make sure I don’t repay insult for insult, cause that is a terrible way for me to handle conflict! And certainly not respectful!
RELATED:
For a post I wrote about wives dealing with husbands’ pornography  -check out the comments. 🙂

30 thoughts on “A Wife’s First Practical Steps on Her Journey

  1. I confess to making an idol of my husband’s time, just like this fellow wife. Mine is more when he “wastes” time sitting idle or taking much longer on tasks than I think he should. I KNOW that he is patient and thoughtful – (in fact, those are some of my favorite things about him!)- but if he turns his attention to something other than me . . . well. . . how dare him!

    Sometimes I’m so ridiculously silly! Thank you April – (and anonymous writer!) – this post really puts me in my place!

    And, anonymous writer- I will be praying for the strongholds of your husband’s addiction to be loosed!

    1. fallenshort,
      I used to do the same thing! I felt I should be able to decide how my husband should use his time. Wow. That just sounds so oppressive now. He always gives me freedom to use my time however I think is best. Who am I to demand that he use his time in certain ways.

      Thank you for praying for the writer. I appreciate that so much!

  2. I so needed this. There is so much my husband is struggling with, and I was wanting for him to be open and share with me. He said he would..but he hasn’t. There is casual conversation, but no opening up whatsoever. It leaves my mind wondering at times. But before, I used to snoop all the time. Now I’ve realized how unnecessary it is, and how it only gives the devil a foothold. So I don’t AT ALL! And it’s liberating!

    But I do need to focus on giving him MORE space and being MORE quiet. My hubby just moved back into our home, and even though I want to give him space, I’ve been trying to make sure he knows he’s loved and welcomed by me. And I’m having difficulty finding that balance. Knowing that quietness and space will draw him to me is important…but totally goes against what my human logic thinks I should be doing. But I’m definitely praying that I would move more in that direction, in a healthy way.

    1. joyfulstander,

      Some things I have found helps a lot of wives in your situation are to:
      – SMILE whenever they see their husband
      – hum a cheerful tune so that their husband can see and hear that they are happy
      – use a pleasant tone of voice whenever they do talk

      It can be a tricky balance at first. I pray God will give you wisdom! 🙂

  3. Hello there, I have been struggling for the past several years with somethings and I just dont know where to turn. I feel like giving up and just asking for a divorce but I know that I am doing it out of spite or even just to prove a point it feels like. But my husband and I have been married 20yrs and we both have wronged each other and I know what I have done and only seen what he has done on text stating that he misses someone else and he textes that other person’s at night when he is on night shifts and earlymonring texts when he works day shifts well I ended not paying for the phones anymore. Through these years taht happen I feel like i should have let go back then so I wouldnt feel so insecure now about all that goes on. I dont even really enjoy have intimate times with him because I am always wondering if he is thinking of other women or visualing other women. I know I am fat and that their are other women who would probably enjoy where I am at but I feel like I am about to fall apart becasue of who i have become a jealous over anxious sad wife.

    1. Angel,

      I am so sorry that things have been so painful!

      So – your husband was having an affair? Or an emotional affair? Is this still going on?

      What is your relationship like with Christ?

      Does your husband have a relationship with Christ?

      What does your husband say that he wants in the marriage?

      Did he repent? Is he being faithful to you now?

      Let’s talk through this together and work on some healthy and productive ways to approach things, ok? 🙂

      Much love to you!
      April

  4. I am a husband that had been addicted to pornography for as long as I can remember. I felt like a failure as a Christian because I knew that God did not approve of this type of sexual sin and idolatry. I have been married for 15 years and my wife has little to no sexual drive. I found great frustration in this and wondered why God would put the two of us together. I would turn to pornography very quickly when I felt my sexual desires were not being met. I would distance myself from God and my wife because inside I knew I was not measuring up to even my own standards let alone God’s will, or my marriage vows. I don’t know how many times I asked God to just take away my sexual desires. I resented my wife for not seeming to do more to grow her own sexual desires.

    While I found it easy to be honest with God and confess when I had watched pornography, I found it impossible to get the courage to confess to my wife. I didn’t want to appear weak, unfaithful, selfish, and I knew that it would severely hurt her feelings. In very recent days though, God has convinced me that his grace is enough. He pressed on my heart until I felt as though I wanted to end my own life. Yet all the while he never left my side and reminded me of my hope in Christ. I felt I would rather go to the grave knowing I would be forced to to give an account for my actions before God, before I would put any of this before my wife.

    In that feeling of despair (which last for a very long time), God was telling me to just trust in His grace and to confess the sins I had committed to her as well. This open the door for so much grace. In that grace, God showed me that I had been making demands of Him by telling Him how my sexual desires need to be met. When they were not being met the way I wanted, that is when I would turn to pornography.

    My wife’s desires have not changed, but I have stopped asking God to change change her. I know that He has a work in progress for both of us, and I will be patient with God to deliver us both to where He wants to take us. I have stopped making demands of how God should do more to meet my needs (desires).

    Thank you Peaceful Wife. Your testimony, blogs and videos have helped me understand how I have been disrespectful and demanding to God.

    1. Jerry,

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective!
      You are certainly not alone. This issue is a destructive snare in many, many marriages today – even in the church.

      I think that your ability to verbalize how difficult it was to be forthright with your wife – out of fear of hurting her – is something that wives need to hear. Sometimes, when wives don’t have issues with being visual or with visual lust – it can be really difficult for them to relate to the temptation their husbands have. It can be easy for us as women to assume that we are somehow “better” than our husbands because we “would never use porn.”

      But we as women have our own sins that grieve God’s heart.

      I LOVE what God is doing in your heart, my brother in Christ! I am so glad that you are not in despair anymore but are looking to Christ. He is able to heal you and your marriage. 🙂 If you would allow me to, I would be honored to anonymously share your story here in a post. I respect your decision about that either way.

      How I long for us as wives to approach this issue with our husbands together as teammates and to be able to extend grace and mercy when our husbands repent.

      A TANGENT

      It’s helpful, in my view, for women to think of porn addiction for men more like romance addiction for women. Romance is an idol for many, many women. We want to always “feel loved” by our husbands and there are specific things we want them to do to make us feel loved. It is easy for us to put feeling loved and having romance (by our definition) above our husbands, and even above God.

      Romantic books/movies/songs are a type of “emotional porn” for women. It gives us “feel good hormones” just like porn does for men (maybe not in such high doses, but romantic stories do create a bit of euphoria for many women.) Romantic media depict men emotionally in a way that is far from reality and encourages us to expect our husbands in real life to act out these fantasies that are in the movies/books. When our husbands aren’t emotionally as “connected” with us as the romantic leads in movies and books – we tend to get upset and disappointed in our real life men.

      In my view, it can be best for women to avoid these kinds of media because they create false and unrealistic expectations of who men are emotionally and spiritually. It is much healthier, in my view, if we focus on the things we can be thankful for about our real husbands and not allow ourselves to get caught up in fantasy with another man (real or imagined) – but save all of ourselves for our husbands.

      1. RESOURCES FOR THE LADIES:
        Breaking the Romance Addiction
        The Fantasy of Romance
        Trying to Find Security in All the Wrong Places
        The Only Source of True Security is Christ
        Are Women Morally and Spiritually Superior to Men?

        A POST I WROTE (FOR A DIFFERENT WEBSITE) ABOUT PORN
        Pornography use is at epidemic levels among men (and rates are rising among women, too). I have seen numbers that as high as 90% of men in America have used pornography at some time. I don’t know what the most accurate numbers are – but I know the problem is staggering.

        What is it about pornography that is so enticing to men?

        – it is VERY easily accessible and free thanks to the internet.
        – a lot of men have little or no accountability and are able to hide and keep their addiction private.
        – it is addictive, like an illicit drug. Many young men are exposed in their teen years and once the addiction is born – it is always a battle. Porn alters nerve pathways in the brain permanently. The best way to avoid this sin is to completely avoid exposure.

        The women in the pictures have a look of desire and acceptance for a man. I believe that as wives – we need to be sure our husbands see OUR desire for them and OUR acceptance.

        We are not responsible for our husbands’ sin, but we can make it much easier for them to be tempted by our disrespectful, condemning, critical, controlling behavior and attitudes.

        If we are sinning against our husbands by refusing them sexually (unless there is infidelity going on or a major medical problem) – we are sending them into the world with their strong sexual desires and giving them no legitimate outlet for release. (I Cor 7)

        Sexual fulfillment in marriage translates into better performance for a man in all areas of his life – even his career. So not only does a man not have anywhere legitimate to turn with his sexual appetite when his wife rejects him, but he also feels further away from her, disrespected and like less of a man in every arena of his life. I have heard from MANY men who say, “When my wife disrespects me, I have ZERO sexual desire for her. I don’t even want to be around her.” But he still has a sex drive and appetite.

        When a wife’s disrespect level is high, or she has a low libido or there is tension in the marriage – porn can seem like a “safer” alternative to a man then taking his needs to his wife.

        I am not saying he is justified. He’s not justified at all.

        He will stand accountable to God for his sin and he needs to repent to God and his wife and get rid of the sin. Just like wives are not justified in showing disrespect, contempt, hatred and in trying to control their husbands – even though most of us have a long list of reasons why we believe we are exempt from God’s commands for wives in Ephesians 5:22-33. We will stand before God – accountable to Him for our resentment, judgment, pride, unforgiveness, critical spirit, disobedience to God’s Word, hatred, disrespect, controlling behavior and contempt.

        HOW DO WIVES’ REACTIONS AFFECT THEIR HUSBANDS?

        Unfortunately, a wife’s reaction when she discovers her husband has been using pornography usually makes the temptation even worse for him. Wives are understandably very upset, and most respond by not want to be sexually intimate with their husbands and by condemning their husband. He is sinning against her and against God. I could definitely understand a wife needing to wait several days – possibly longer – and seeing real repentance, accountability and transparency from her husband before feeling safe enough to trust herself to him sexually again. The pain is very personal for wives – it feels like a personal violation to us.

        BUT – if we react in horror and we shame our men, refuse them sexually for prolonged periods of time, label them as perverts or worse sinners than ourselves – we are unwittingly pushing our men back towards the very temptation we hate so much. Many wives try to control their husbands’ every thought and access to the computer. Many of them interrogate their husbands constantly trying to keep them from lusting in their hearts. But we as wives cannot control our husbands’ sin or his thought life. We can’t even control our own apart from God’s power!

        Some husbands come into marriage addicted to porn from a young age. Many men say that their porn use has nothing to do with their love for their wives and are surprised that their wives take their porn use so personally. Men tend to turn to porn in times of great stress or loneliness – as a comfort. This is really difficult for wives to understand. To us it is VERY personal and to us it is adultery of the heart. It is easy for us to turn on our husbands instead of turning to them when we discover this issue.

        It is my prayer that we might be willing to approach this sin as a team WITH our husbands – both of us working together to defeat this addiction/temptation.

        A PRODUCTIVE BUT VERY COUNTER-INTUITIVE WAY TO RESPOND

        I pray that wives in this situation might be able to share their sadness, disappointment, grief and pain with their husbands, but also realize that we, too, are wretched sinners. All people are. The book of Isaiah says that our attempts at being “good” all look like “dirty, filthy menstrual rags” to God. Romans says we are all sinners and all fall short of the glory of God. We all need the gift of God – the death of Christ on our behalf – to be right with God. None of us can be good on our own.

        Our sin is not more holy than our husbands’ sin. Our sin is different – but our disrespect, unforgiveness, bitterness, pride, idolatry, etc… is equally repulsive to God as our husbands’ sin of lust or pornography addiction. We all need Christ. We all need forgiveness.

        I pray wives will find grace to offer their husbands and then work as a team to battle this temptation that Satan would love to use to destroy our husbands and our marriages.

        What if we rallied around our husbands and apologized for our sin and became accepting wives who joyfully engage in sex with our husbands and don’t withhold sex to punish them (once they have truly repented)?

        What if our men saw the light and faith in our eyes for them, and grace and forgiveness.

        What if they found acceptance and understanding in our arms and our expressions?

        What if they found that, by the power of God’s Spirit in us, we will help to gently restore them from their sin instead of judging and condemning them as more evil than we are?

        What if we became a safe place for our husbands to share their struggles and fears?

        What if our men had wives with willing hearts and who made themselves available to their husbands sexually?

        What if we offered life-giving words instead of crushing our men when they stumble?

        Pornography may not be a problem for most women (it is for some). But if it is a snare for our husbands, it is our problem, too. What affects him, impacts me. If something begins to destroy him, it will also destroy me and our marriage. If wives act in the power of God – we can overcome evil with good and be partners with Christ to restore our husbands to a right relationship with Christ and with us.

        I can’t help but think that pornography would not have near the hold on so many men if we as wives could be the wives God desires us to be. We might actually be able to be a huge part of the solution! I pray that we might be – so that our marriages will grow stronger and God might be greatly glorified!

        ONE HUSBAND’S RESPONSE TO MY TAKE ON THIS TOPIC:

        Oh. My. Word.

        I’ve never seen anyone else say this, let alone say it so well.

        Every husband knows it’s so contrary to what a wife’s natural reaction would be (and, to be clear, the wife’s natural reaction is very understandable). But that knowledge would make it all the more of a shocking blessing to the husband whose wife responded as you’ve urged.

        This is a real life example of an area where the Gospel is counter-intuitive. Almost always, the husband’s use of pornography is (a) deemed to be the equivalent of physical adultery, giving the wife allegedly biblical grounds for divorce (or at least for the threat of divorce) or (b) at least gives her the moral high ground in the relationship for the rest of their lives (or the rest of their marriage, which will probably be the shorter of the two). But the result of that natural response is a permanently weakened marriage. if she can respond as you have urged, with the grace of God, I’m convinced that you’re right that the marriage will be strengthened.

        Even if she can’t bring herself to realize that she also has likely sinned against him in equally “bad” (but more socially acceptable) ways — which is its own problem — that still leaves the question you’ve asked elsewhere: which is more important to her — the marriage, or being right?

        You’ll save marriages with this advice.

        AN ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION FROM THE SAME HUSBAND

        I would elaborate a little on the response above, to clarify that I am contemplating a situation where the husband has confessed, repented, and wants to stay away from pornography going forward. (I use “confessed” in the biblical sense — i.e., he agrees with God (and his wife) that his conduct was wrong. He might have voluntarily confessed without having been caught, or he might have been caught but then “confessed” and repented. Either way, the most important thing is what he seeks to do going forward.) It would definitely be a different situation where the husband insists that there’s nothing wrong with porn and he’s going to continue to use it. It might be a different situation if the husband says the right things but gives evidence of not really meaning it — such as avoiding accountability, counseling, etc. But occasional relapses do not mean that his confession and repentance were not real, especially if he has followed up his words with actions, such as an
        accountability partner or group, counseling, internet filters or monitoring software, etc. Pornography is a very sticky trap; in many ways it’s harder to overcome than other attractions/addictions. For example, an alcoholic can avoid pretty much any exposure to external sources of temptation by not having alcohol in the house, not frequenting bars, etc. But a married man lives with the woman who is most sexually desirable to him (who may or may not be available to him) and moves in an everyday world that is saturated with sex and scantily clad women, even if he is avoiding inappropriate places, people, and media. I know the relapses are extremely painful for the wife, and understandably so, but if she takes the position that she will leave (or permanently shut down sexually) if he EVER messes up again, the most likely result will be that he will keep any relapse a secret, out of fear of her response. And that secrecy will make it much harder to get clean again or to stay clean.
        For the wife who is concerned that there have been too many relapses or relapses too close together, so that she is not sure that her husband is really trying to stay clean, I think it’s appropriate to get the church involved (if they aren’t already) by getting help from the church leadership — pastor, elders, or deacons. Best case, the additional help will make the difference. Worst case, the wife will have the benefit of wise counsel in deciding whether her husband is not sincere and whether she should take further action.

  5. I need some words of wisdom, guidance, etc.

    My husband and I “celebrated” 18 years of marriage a few months ago. It did not feel like much of a celebration to me. Leading up to it, I could tell things were changing in our marriage as far as connecting and our interactions. I have determined that the changes started to become apparent within the past 5-6 months. He started to become more distant and would have short responses when I tried to speak to him. He mostly did this when bills were due. At least his responses seemed to be related to finances. He also spends Sunday evenings with a college buddy smoking a cigar to unwind and prepare for a stressful workweek. This didn’t bother me until I realized that we weren’t spending any quality one-on-one time together. I never asked him to stop going to his buddy’s; I just asked for a balance. Anyway, by the time our anniversary came, his distance had been unbearable but I hadn’t said anything. I broke down crying that morning and told him that I felt like he didn’t want to be here anymore. He was so attentive and caring, saying that we would talk about it when he got back to town (he had to leave on a business trip that morning). Our communication had gone downhill so badly that I forgot he was leaving town for the week. He came back and when I was ready to tell him how I was feeling, he seemed to avoid having the conversation. I finally “shared” my feelings with him 2 weeks later when I saw my opportunity. I tried to be careful when choosing my words by using as many “I” statements as much as I could. I wanted him to put himself in my shoes so he could understand how I was feeling. I asked if we needed counseling (no). I also asked what were we going to do in 7 years when our youngest heads off to college. If we don’t spend time together now, what will we do then? This later made him agree to go to counseling to get back on track. In the meantime, I discovered that he has reconnected with an ex from college through looking at the cell phone bills (we have a family shared account). He doesn’t know that I know this and my minister has told me not to divulge this information just yet. I can’t prove that he’s had an affair (physical or emotional) and not to accuse him of anything while we’re trying to understand how we got to “this” place in our marriage. So knowing what I know has caused me anxiety because he stays up late and comes to bed after I’ve fallen asleep. I can fall asleep but when he comes to bed, I wake up and have a hard time sleeping for the rest of the night. When he’s up late he seems to be “nursing” that darned phone. We have been to 6 sessions and now need to determine how to proceed. The counselor told us that 6 sessions was not enough to go through the process. I agree. But during one of the sessions I was able to talk about the ex-girlfriend and he assured me that she was not a factor. He also said and continues to say that he is not cheating on me. He agreed that he can’t put his finger on what has gotten us to this point. Even though we have been to counseling, he appears to say the right things during the sessions but there’s no action outside of it to be intentional in spending time together to reconnect and communicate about the issues. We talk about the kids and things that need to be done around the house, errands, work, etc.

    My friend told me about the book “Love and Respect” which I have been reading. I believe the couples ministry minister uses it for counseling and maybe part of the marriage ministry group as well. I’m hoping it can give me some insight on what we should be doing as a Christian couple. I’m sure we are stuck in the Crazy Cycle.

    In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on myself and my boys but it’s very hard. I get anxious when the weekends start to approach because even though we are in the house together or out and about, he’s not “here” with us (he is not as involved with them either). Of course, he still goes out on Sunday evenings for his cigar but I’ve discovered (yes, I looked at the phone logs again) that he speaks to someone calling from a blocked number while he’s gone. I know that I can’t control his behavior and that I can only pray for him and the “enemy” whoever/whatever it is. I pray daily for strength, patience, endurance, etc. I need to find some peace for myself through all of this.

    1. Maxine,
      It is wonderful to meet you!
      I believe I have a lot of resources here that may help point you to Christ and to His Word and His design for you as a wife and for marriage.

      I suggest cooperating with the counselor for now about not sharing what you know about the phone statements.

      You cannot change your husband. God can change him and convict him, but you cannot.

      What you can do is focus on your relationship with Christ and on obeying God yourself and on becoming the woman of God’s dreams – not to change your husband, but to change yourself for God’s glory and to draw nearer to Christ.

      I would suggest first looking at the list of things that are disrespectful to a lot of husbands (at the top of my home page) and check out the post “What is Respect in Marriage”. I would also suggest looking at the post at the top of my home page about biblical submission.

      Is it possible that your husband feels controlled or disrespected by you? How do you talk to him? Do you try to make things work out your way? Are you able to see the merit in his ideas and wisdom? Do you live in worry and fear and anxiety and feel like everything depends on you to make it all turn out “right”?

      Do you tend to be critical, tell your husband what to do, use a harsh tone of voice, undermine him as a father, etc.?

      I would suggest NOT reading the chapters for husbands in Love and Respect, and only focusing on the part for wives. 🙂 That is the book that helped me see my disrespect and control for the first time 5 years ago. I FINALLY understood why my husband had been SO SHUT DOWN for so long. I had repelled him.

      I don’t know if that is what is going on with your marriage or not.

      But this would be a great time to do some introspection and to ask God to remove anything ungodly from your heart.

      How is your time with God going?

      Much love to you!

  6. I do not tell my husband what to do. Years ago before my mom passed, she made sure I understood the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. She had to help me with some situations while I was dating him. I am very careful with what I say when I talk with my husband. If I need to tell him anything, I make sure I know how I would want to receive the same message so it doesn’t come across as disrespectful. When I shared why I was crying on our anniversary and gave him 2-3 days to process what I said, his response that stuck with me the most was when he said, “You seemed to tell me everything I was doing wrong but didn’t give me any credit for what I’m doing right.” He was referring to paying the mortgage, bills, etc. — everything that had to do with him providing for his family. I have made sure to let him know I appreciate the things he does for us, especially after I was laid off 2 years ago and he took over some things I was responsible for when I was working. We shared this information with the counselor and I told her that sharing my feelings and observations were not meant to shut him down. I was merely trying to start some dialogue. We haven’t had that problem before so what was so different about this? Because I was basically letting him know that I was not feeling loved? If I said anything wrong, I owned it and apologized for it. But because I tell him how much I appreciate whatever he does for us, I needed to know what that looked like TO HIM. He couldn’t tell me or the counselor.
    I definitely don’t argue or yell at him in front of the children. He shouldn’t feel controlled or disrespected by me. I consult him on decisions regarding the household and the boys. He consults me as well. For the longest, I thought we were a great team. Something changed this year and he can’t seem to put his finger on it and I speculate and guess to the point that it stresses me because I don’t know what happened or what I’ve done. I’m sure I’d like to make things work out my way, but I don’t do that. I let things go the way he’s suggested. I may ask him questions to make sure he’s considered everything before he makes a major decision. And this is after he brings the issue to me for my input.
    I believe that I have been his biggest supporter over the years. I have supported everything he has wanted to do for his career. We shared this with the counselor as well. So it’s no wonder that I’m so “busy” trying to get him to communicate to figure out what happened so we can make “corrections” to move forward to reconnect and improve our communication. His behavior just really changed one day.
    I don’t think I’ve been disrespectful but I’m reading the book anyway to see where I can make any positive changes in that area.
    I spend more time talking with God than I have in the past because I’m constantly praying for the things I mentioned in my initial post to help me relax and be positive. When I see him way on the other side of the bed avoiding contact with me, it really hurts. This man used to hold me close, pull me over to him and spoon and one day it just stopped. Because he’s not talking about it, I’m trying to guess what is going on (infidelity, mid-life crisis, etc.). And here I am.

    1. Maxine,

      Hmm… Any mental health disorders, addictions, history of abuse, problems at work or church? Nothing out of the ordinary happened that day or the day before to your knowledge?

      I am sure this is so painful. I am praying you can get the answers you need, and even more, that God will bring healing for you, for your husband and your marriage.

      I am glad to hash through things with you. 🙂

      Sending you a big hug!

  7. I’ve been trying to figure it out. Everything seemed fine until around August. There a couple of comments made about money issues and they were directed at me. I wasn’t working and unemployment was covering as much it needed. He “snapped” at us during our vacation because he wanted to make sure we didn’t pick a restaurant that would cost a lot of money that evening. (I mentioned this issue during the last session and he was able to recall what happened.) Then there was another snapping at us because we didn’t eat at a cookout (didn’t know we could) and he had to buy dinner. I was pissed and refused to let him get me anything to eat; I just let him feed the boys. So that was a few days of tension around the house because of money. By the end of the week, everything seemed fine. I told him I had some extra money coming in that week and would be able to get groceries. The boys and I went out of town that weekend and when we got back, I could tell he was acting differently because I remember sending him a text to see if he was okay. He said he was and then I asked if we were okay; he said “yeah” but that if I had anything to discuss he wasn’t doing it over the phone or text. We didn’t talk about it because my sister was visiting, I was getting the boys ready to go back to school the following week, there were football games and practice…basically we were in full swing and the opportunity to talk passed. School started the next week and our issue got drowned by the normal boys’ activities and the normal work stuff.

    His job changed during the 5 months (we discussed this with the counselor). He asked him if the new duties of the job have desensitized him and is contributing to his emotional detachment. He recommended that hubby explore this.

    After I started looking at the phone statements later, I noticed there was a bunch of “activity” that weekend I was out of town. I don’t know if something happened or if someone started paying him some attention but it was after that weekend when I sent him that message.

    So I’ve been trying to piece together what could have happened. I remember feeling like he did not want me to go to his party where the ex showed up. But I only wanted to support him, once again, in something new he was trying to do. He came in very late that night/morning (5am) and did not try to make any contact with me even though he was leaving town a couple of days later on our anniversary. So I wondered if something happened that night too.

    He doesn’t wear his wedding band anymore unless we go to a social function together or to church together.

    I hoping for some answers. It’s now approaching bedtime which is the worst time for me. He will stay in another room until I’m asleep and then will sleep on the edge of the bed most of the night. Every now and then he will inch closer to me and make physical contact but that’s not every night.

    Thanks for hashing this with me. It’s a little therapeutic to share this…again. 🙂 And thanks for the hug.

    1. Maxine,
      Obviously something very significant has happened. 🙁 At this point, all you can really do is speculate.

      I pray that things will be made clear to both of you. And I pray for God’s wisdom for you to continue to grow and become the wife God desires you to be no matter what happens with your husband. I pray for reconciliation for your marriage and that both of you might serve and love God with all your hearts.

      Please let me know how thing are going!!!

      Much love my precious sister. I’m here if you want to talk more.

  8. Your story has been a blessing to me each day. Your emails confirm a journey that I started in 2011 and fought every step of the way! For 3 years God has put the word “submit” in front of me. For three years I would play with that idea…. This was the endless cycle of thought in my head “God is telling me I should submit to my husband… but he won’t step up and be in charge. I mean really God- do you know everything that I do everyday and if I stopped making decisions our entire world would come crashing down around us.”

    And then three months ago I found your blog. And I realized how I had taken my husbands manhood (he never fought it… he is not a fighter) from him a decade ago when we married. I have read and re-read your story… it is mine. My conviction was so deep and so profound that I shared it with my husband. I told him I would submit. I handed him my checkbook (we have had two accounts since we were married which makes no sense b/c he balances both…) and have not turned back. We started with prayer. And discussion about what he wants. And how he was hurt. At first he didn’t really speak. He listened. We made a list of ideals (I hate the term rules because we never stick to all of them but it is a list of ideals that we try to attain). Some include him managing the finances, creating a realistic budget, taking charge of the disciplining of the children. Mine include stepping back, becoming more thoughtful about housekeeping and seeking his advice before I schedule anything for the kids or the family. Let’s just say my friends were SHOCKED the first time I had to say “I need to talk to my husband” when they wanted me to join in on an adventure. Some asked what was up and I just told them he and I were making more of an effort to discuss plans before they were made. I am nervous to discuss this new idea of submission. I know some of my friends will think I am on drugs.

    It has not been an easy 3 months. We had about 3 weeks in there (around Thanksgiving) where we were around a lot of family and quickly reverted to our old roles. I was all to eager to make the decisions and he was all too willing to sit back and watch. Since then, we have come up with a plan for Christmas that will allow us to stay in our new roles. It includes him having to “keep me in line”. This sounds so cave man… I don’t mean physically but I am the first to admit I need a gentle nudge to STOP when I have started back on the hamster wheel I was on before. I understand this gentle nudge will be difficult to swallow when I (in the heat of Christmas finery) see it should be my way. I know t his will be a test and I am surrounding myself in scripture to prepare.

    I can tell you that even with the ups and downs, I am closer to my husband than I have ever been and he feels more like a man than he has in a decade. He has opened up to me about little things I did that hurt him. He has told me about his anger (which he hid so well under the hat of indifference). I cry and apologize for my sin. I ache for the time we lost. For the poor model that I showed to my children. I worry there will not be time to change their opinion of what a Godly marriage is and should be.

    My question to you is: Do you have “ideals” you and your husband have worked out that helps keep you both focused? Ours is a work in progress- we have weekly discussions about what is working and what is not working in an effort to hold us each accountable for our new views on marriage. Did I say it is sooooo easy to slip back to being in charge?

    And, how did you ever begin to share this with your friends? Did they think you were nuts? Your parents?

    Thank you for your blog. Really. It has transformed my life.

    1. Sara,

      WOW!

      What a pleasure to meet you! 🙂

      I hope that you might allow me to anonymously share your story as a post – I believe it will bless so many!

      I am SO THRILLED about what God is doing in your life and in your husband’s life and in your marriage!!! WOOHOO!! What an answer to many of my prayers, and yours, as well. 🙂

      I love how the two of you made a list of “ideals” – I like that term. And I had to laugh when you said your friends were shocked when you deferred to speak to your husband before making plans.

      I have a post “Do Not Expect Outside Support” that may be helpful for you.

      You can expect quite a backlash if you discuss any of this stuff with friends, and often, family. Even among Christians. If you talk about respecting your husband – there are a lot of women who will get upset. Men usually don’t – although there are a few who will say, “Men need to earn respect” because we have all – men and women- been marinating in the poison Koolaid our whole lives and don’t even realize the poison we have been swallowing. If you use the word “submit” or “submission” then – you can expect to receive CONTEMPT, particularly from women, but also from a few men. The word has terrible connotations in our culture. I wish there were another word. It may be better to say, “I want to honor my husband.” Of course, if you talk about his “leadership” then – that will get everyone upset, too. But – oh well! Your goal is to please God and to obey Him and to honor and bless your husband. It doesn’t really matter too much what anyone else thinks anymore. “The Snare of People Pleasing” may help address that issue. 🙂

      I am so glad you have a plan for Christmas. Being around extended family and friends is a huge trigger to revert back to the way things always were.

      I remember BEGGING God to let me have a few months or a year or two to “get this right” so that Greg and my children would have memories of me being a godly wife and example. I totally understand that concern!
      My children were young – almost 3 and almost 8 – when God convicted me 5 years ago this month. I immediately apologized and repented to Greg and to them (first to God, of course). I have a post about the changes I made and how I began to support Greg as a father here.

      My husband doesn’t give me a lot of structured directions. I actually sometimes would like him to give me more direction – and when I am feeling lost, I ask him for his wisdom and perspective and direction. I did that today, actually. Then I wait for him to say whatever he believes I need to change or do differently.

      Greg has asked me to be off of the computer by 10pm – blogging and seeing God radically change hundreds of lives can get REALLY ADDICTIVE!!!! I am not the best with moderation – so I need help keeping things properly balanced and prioritized sometimes.

      He has taken over present shopping. I gave him the finances. I have 3 posts about money/finances that show 3 different wives’ approaches to that (but it sounds like you have that one covered!)

      I ask him at least once a week if there is anything I can do for him or anything he wants me to change. He usually doesn’t have much to ask of me. But if he does ask me to do something, I try to make that a huge priority.

      Our marriage is a work in progress, too! We still have a LOT of learning, maturing and growing to do.

      YES! It is very easy to slip back to trying to take over.

      I don’t often slip now – but I am now 5 years into the journey and I write about this subject for a few hours every day – so that sure keeps it in my mind constantly! Plus I am seeking to set a godly example for MANY women and my own children – so as soon as I realize that my motives begin to slip, I try to repent immediately and get my eyes back on Christ. I HAVE to be full of His Spirit to do this. If my sinful nature ever gets up and going, I am in so much trouble! I have to have hammer and nails ready to slam that nasty thing back on the cross ASAP if it rears up at all.

      When I was first learning, my husband could not verbalize to me what was disrespectful and what was respectful – I was SO CLUELESS!!!! So it took me a VERY long time to “get” what respect actually means to my husband and to men. Later, he got much better at verbalizing his needs and feelings – which has been a HUGE blessing! I am not a good mind reader! I clung to every tiny shred of information I could get about what respect was and tried to apply it.

      I actually repented to my parents, my sister and brother and their spouses, my in-laws and my husband’s brother and his wife soon into this process. They are all believers. That made it easier! I repented for being controlling, disrespectful, prideful and self-righteous toward all of them. My control didn’t stop with my husband- I knew I was right about what all of them should do and how they should live and was happy to tell them what to do and expected them to do what I said… Yep.

      Then I really backed off from everyone for a few years and studied and prayed and tried to learn all of this stuff. At first, I couldn’t trust myself to talk with family and friends because I knew I would let something disrespectful slip about Greg – I knew I didn’t have the self-control and wisdom and discretion I needed yet. It took 2 years or so before I felt like I could talk about Greg to other people with confidence that I wouldn’t disrespect him verbally or non-verbally.

      Coworkers thought I was weird. Well, they probably still do. I started to wear skirts – because I studied godly femininity and realized that it was such a gift to treasure, and wearing skirts helped me to remember that “Greg wears the pants” in the family and that I am a woman and to enjoy my femininity. I also studied modesty and realized that I wanted to keep from being an inadvertent temptation to other men – I used to wear jeans all the time.

      So – I dress “weird.” Not in a legalistic way – this is just something I love to do and do it to honor Greg, my body, other men, God and to be a tangible reminder of my role. And then I have talked with some coworkers about respect primarily – they were believers – and they thought I was insane. I don’t push things on anyone – I let them come to me and ask me things. They do sometimes.

      Very few people have ever asked me about why I wear skirts all the time.

      I do get quite a bit of opposition at times on the blog. But, Christ promises us that if we live for Him we will face persecution. So far – it is just words on the internet. But it is worth it to me to be able to share this treasure of heaven with my sisters in Christ.

      Now, my parents are excited about my blogs and very supportive. My mom was actually quite submissive and respectful to my dad – but I modeled myself after my dad! The thing that was missing was my mom seemed to not have any opinions or preferences or feelings – and I couldn’t relate to that. But I was the dominant identical twin and the oldest child and I took charge constantly! NOT good preparation for marriage, I have to say! My sister and brother and in laws and parents are all extremely supportive now. In fact, they all have very godly marriages now. My dad reads my blogs sometimes. My MIL reads them sometimes. One SIL reads them every day.

      My Sunday School class has been very supportive. I started out sending emails to the wives in my class for months every week. Some women got really upset about the concept of submission. Most didn’t openly oppose what I wrote. I did get to teach a few classes at church. Half of the women would usually leave after the first week.

      You know what? We as women in the church today are NOT used to having to face our own sin or to be confronted with it. BUT how desperately we NEED God’s truth!!!!!! That is the only way to live in God’s power and to bring glory to Him – we have to go through that painful time of conviction, repentance and dying to self. It is the path to His glorious peace, joy and abundant life!

      Much love to you my precious sister!

      1. Please share my comments. And my story. I only want to be a blessing to many others as you have been to me.

        We only yesterday came up with some new specific bedtime arrangements. We both like to stay up late but then no one wants to get up with the kids. He also knows how important it is for me to have some quiet time with God each morning.

        OUR PLAN: I will get up first (at 5am!!) and get what I need done. I will wake him at 6 am and then start getting the kids up (we have 6- 5 at home). He will be ready to “take over” by 6:45 when I leave to head to the chapel for some quiet time with God. Let’s face it. If I tried to have quiet time at home, I’d have to get up at 4:30!! I head to the chapel and then to work. I am lucky because I am off by 3pm so I am home to do homework, dinner etc… He arrives home at 6. We both work together to have kids in bed (various ages, various times) by 9pm. I am in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10. He agreed to be in bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11.

        This is mostly what has happened in the past but we found ourselves in front of the TV until midnight and then I was not wanting to get up at 5am… so I would sleep till 6… and then we would be fighting over who could get ready while the kids needed help and time with GOD? Other than a brief morning offering I say when the alarm goes off, that is about it.

        So last night we agreed on times. AND to stick to those times. I was shocked about how much he called me on my childish behavior (pinterest until midnight anyone?). At first I was hurt. I didn’t want to “make a plan”. But then I took a breath and stepped back into the conversation and we came up with the plan. Which worked beautifully last night. So this morning, as I was in the shower, I knew I had to ask for his forgiveness for my behavior last night. When I woke him I told him “I am sorry I was acting like a child last night. I know you were only trying to help. I love you. Please forgive me”. He hugged me and forgave me. That is the beauty of God’s divine marriage plan, it is founded in love and forgiveness.

        1. Sara,

          Yep – love and forgiveness are REALLY IMPORTANT! 🙂

          I hope you will have some planned time for each other in there somewhere, too! That is quite a schedule! 🙂 I LOVE that you are working together as a team.

          I am also so proud of you for apologizing and I am so proud of him for being so merciful and forgiving. That is beautiful!

          Thank you so much for allowing me to share your story!

          Please keep me updated on how you are doing and if there is anything you want to talk about – I’m game!

          Much love,
          April

          1. Sara,

            Every wife I know needs a little nudge from her husband sometimes. I am SO THANKFUL when Greg gives me a little heads up that I am drifting away or that I am starting to get disrespectful or controlling. It is hard to hear criticism, but now, I know it is life-giving and I know Greg always has my best interests at heart. And, he is pretty sparing with it, too.

    2. Sara
      My MIL had the hardest time transitioning because she and I used to handle all the details of her caring for our children when I worked. But I gave that responsibility to Greg so he began to be the one who would take the children and pick them up and schedule things. At first, she kept asking me questions – and I would just look to Greg or say, “You can check with Greg about that.”

      After a few months – everyone got used to the new arrangement.

  9. Okay ladies,
    Funny story (i think ) about how we can be knocked right back into place if we need it. . .

    This morning I was in another room changing the baby’s diaper when I overheard hubby handling a disagreement between our older children. ( I am on day 20 of the respect dare and have been very proud of how good it seems to be going). Anyway, as I was listening, I was mentally criticizing his handling of the situation so much so that I was focusing more on his conversation than the task at hand. As I stood the baby up to pull up his pants, he lost his balance and as i struggled to pull him back up, he inadvertantly punched me (hard) right in the face!! Ouch! That sure got my attention back to where it was supposed to be!

    I learned that, sometimes, when we are more focused on what HE could be doing than what WE are responsible for . . the results can be rather painful. .

  10. Today my husband and I spent the day together finishing the Christmas shopping. I prayed this morning because we don’t usually shop together. I usually do it all bit he has been so open lately and he was of today. We knew where we had to go and what needed to be purchase and he budget. In the past I would have told him where to go and the order. Today I just sat back and enjoyed he ride. Each time I felt the sin of disrespect creep into my thought process (we should be moving faster through this store… We don’t really need to be looking at all this stuff…. If he would just get in the other lane, we would get there faster etc…) I said a prayer thanking god for my husband and let it go. I allowed him to be in complete control. He chose the colors, the sets- it was fun! And we talked and laughed and enjoyed the day instead of racing through our to do list like we normally do. It was wonderful.

    1. Sara,

      You have discovered one of the joys of not taking control – that is being able to relax and ENJOY your husband. Not controlling >> intimacy. Controlling repels intimacy.

      I LOVE how you let him make decisions and didn’t get impatient and savored the time together. THAT IS AWESOME! PRAISE GOD! 🙂

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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