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When He Hands You an “Olive Branch”

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Sometimes, men have their own way of apologizing.  If we are not careful, we might miss what they are doing and not appreciate the significance of their gestures.

If you and your husband have had an argument, he may need time to think and process what happened before he is ready to talk about how he feels. That has to be ok! I encourage you not to pressure him to “resolve the conflict right now” if he is the kind of guy who needs time to think through highly emotionally charged issues. Some men need a day or so to think through what they are feeling. That is not wrong.

Maybe, he will decide that he did wrong you in some way, and maybe he will try to apologize by doing something kind, thoughtful and generous for you. Sometimes men will DO something as a way of apologizing like:

  • bring you a gift
  • invite you to go somewhere fun
  • tell you a joke to try to get you to laugh
  • offer you a hug
  • touch you in some way – to show that he wants to reconnect
  • do something silly and playful

These things may not seem like an “official apology” to us as women, but for many men, this is exactly what they are doing – they are offering us an “olive branch” and saying, “I do love you. I want to make things right. I don’t want to fight with you. Please forgive me. We are ok.”

If he does something like this, maybe we could say something like, “Apology accepted,” then smile brightly and give a hug back.  Instead of trying to force our men to use the words we want them to use, maybe we can learn to understand their language and appreciate the unique ways they communicate. If they do apologize in words, that is wonderful! But words are not the only way a person may try to apologize. That is not necessarily wrong. It may just be different.

It is possible we may need to have more discussion about some issues. But, really, there are other issues where more discussion may be more harmful than helpful. That will require the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to help us decide when it is best to drop an issue and when it is best to seek to talk more about it. Some issues are not resolvable. Some times we are going to just not agree. Sometimes the more we try to force our opinion and our way, the more damage we do. There are some issues we cannot compromise about – when it comes to things that are major biblical principles or when it comes to living holy lives and avoiding sin. Other things are really not that big of a deal and may be things that would be better to allow God to speak to our men about without us trying to force our way. We are not always going to get to do everything we want to do in our relationships. Our way is not always best. We are not always right. Sometimes, God will lead us through our men and the outcome will be infinitely better than what we desired to do.

My prayer is that we will cling tightly to Christ alone, and hold everything else very loosely in our hands, seeking God’s will, not our own. I also pray that we might be ready and willing to generously extend grace, mercy and forgiveness to our men. I pray most of all for God’s greatest glory in our lives and that He might empower us to be faithful to Himself.

A WIFE MAY SAY:

“I make sure I apologize thoughtfully and sincerely to my husband. But he doesn’t ever apologize or say he is sorry for anything. Why should I have to accept a little joke or hug as an apology when he should give me a real apology?”

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Words are SUCH A BIG DEAL to us as women! We want to give long, involved apologies to show our sincerity and to try to make things right. Ironically, many husbands don’t care much about our words, especially if they don’t see actions backing up what we are saying. Many husbands would rather we not even use words to apologize but SHOW them by doing something.

I don’t think either way (apologizing with words vs. with actions) is particularly “better” or “more right” or “more wrong.” I think we tend to approach things differently. Ideally, it would be wonderful if we all used words and actions to apologize, in my view.

But, I don’t want us to discount our husbands’ actions and assume evil motives or insincerity on their part. For many husbands, words are fairly meaningless, and they are trying to show that they are sincere by their actions because they may not think of words as being that meaningful. This can be especially true for husbands that are not as comfortable expressing emotions verbally.

As we continue to grow in our understanding of our men and ourselves and as we show them more respect and they begin to feel safe, I think it is possible for us, in time, to share our desire for sincere words of apology. And I think that when husbands eventually feel safe with us, they may be able to feel like they can try to risk a verbal apology. Words can be scary for men. Sometimes they may feel they can’t “say the right words” and if they feel we are going to pounce on them if they don’t do it “right” – they may feel intimidated to try to apologize with words- especially if past verbal apologies did not go well or were not received well.

Many men are not very comfortable with highly emotionally charged words, or if they know their wives’ expectations are super sky high. They can sometimes freeze up about trying to share words in such a situation.

So, my prayer is that we might understand that our husbands can be very sincere and repentant and sometimes show their repentance in actions instead of words and that we could show grace to them by accepting their form of an apology instead of demanding that they apologize in a specific way that may be very scary or intimidating to them. I think we can also acknowledge that they have good motives towards us and that their actions are the way they show they want to reconcile. I would love to see us be able to learn to interpret their behavior correctly and in a loving, godly, accepting way in such situations.

Then, over time, I think they may be able to hear our hearts and care more about our needs and desires for verbal apologies as the marriage heals.

  • This is one of those areas where I personally have to be SUPER DUPER CAREFUL. If I am not extremely vigilant about my own motives, I could easily focus on “HE SHOULD do X the way I think he should… My way. The RIGHT way.” “My way is the only right way. He must submit to me and do things the way I think they should be done or he is disobeying God.”

These are the kinds of thoughts I had CONSTANTLY about Greg in the past. This mindset of mine was prideful, self-righteous and destructive. I seriously believed I knew best. I seriously believed that Greg was wrong and in sin and I was not. I believed he HAD to do things the way I expected them to be done or he was wrong. I believed I was always right and he was always wrong unless he did things my way.

Very, very dangerous spiritual ground. I just cannot go there. That was my pitfall so many times.

I hope that makes sense and pray it might be helpful.

  • A fantastic resource is “Grace Filled Marriage” by Dr. Tim Keller
  • And Shaunti Feldhahn’s new book “The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: It’s the Little Things That Count”

One of the secrets she found with very happily married couples is that they have a little secret signal they use to extend an olive branch to each other – a little touch, a joke, a hug… and when one partner extends this gesture, the other one will always accept it and they will show each other “we are ok” in this special way. The issue may not be resolved. But the couple is willing to show each other that the marriage is more important and unity and love is more important than the issue, and they show each other in this little bonding way that they are willing to work through the issue together as a team.

COMMENTS:

Ladies, the comments on this post are extremely helpful! Maybe even more so than the post. 🙂  Don’t miss them!!!

GENTLEMEN:

If you would like to comment on this issue, I would love to hear from some of you! Maybe I can even add your thoughts to the post. :). This is one of those topics that wives could definitely benefit from hearing from several husbands about.

RELATED:

How Do Men Process Emotions?

A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Men and Emotions

How Men Think Part 1

How Men Think Part 2

How Men Think Part 3

Why He May Not Immediately Do What You Want Him to Do

Shaunti Feldhan’s book “For Women Only” – has MANY statistics and quotes from husbands about how they think and feel that is extremely eye-opening! Very helpful book. I highly recommend it. It helped me understand Greg and other men so much more accurately.

47 thoughts on “When He Hands You an “Olive Branch”

  1. I am a husband and I need so much time to process my relationship with my wife especially with difficult situations between us. That processing is actually an “olive branch” where I want to keep talking but to my wife it looks like I am really stepping back and withdrawing but I have to wade through the emotion of either the guilt or embarrassment that I have let her down before I can get to see her point of view.
    That being said, I guess I have learnt that the communication is also my responsibility not just because I am her husband but because she is my friend. I have for many years let her take the responsibility for the relationship which is actually really pathetic so now I am by far the more proactive in resolving difficulties and developing our relationship even after being married for twenty eight years. (Its why I read your blog which has been really helpful so thanks..)

    1. Gary,

      That is so helpful! I would love for wives to see that it is a loving gift when husbands step back many times – so that they can properly process their emotions and not react in anger. I am so excited about what God is doing in your marriage and in your heart! Thanks so much for sharing a husband’s perspective. 🙂 You are welcome here.

  2. I’m glad you wrote on this subject. I have been married for just over two years. I make a real effort to make a meaningful apology to my husband when I have done something that needs apologizing for-big and small-after all he’s the one I’m going to spend a lifetime with and I believe what you don’t say can do as much damage as words you shouldn’t have said. One day I realized I don’t think he’s ever apologized-sincerely or not-ever, for anything and he’s had a couple of really big reasons that I have needed to hear his acknowledgement of my pain and his sorrow for causing it as well as the typical relationship misunderstandings and hurts. It seems like a hug, gift, being silly or a joke is a cop out and healing and growth happens in the acknowledgement of your actions hurting someone you care about. The examples you give seem like something I would have done as a child and hoped or assumed everything was back to normal because I wanted them to be. I love my husband and know he has good intentions but will make mistakes. Is it ok or even healthy to go through marriage like this? With one spouse never apologizing? Reminds me of that crappy saying from the 70s–Love means never having to say your sorry. Is this a pride issue in men? Do wives just have to be satisfied with reading between the lines?

    1. Hi Anon! I think an inability to accept someone else’s apology (however it’s presented) is actually a pride issue with US. I have been where you are. My husband can be very playful when he’s “on”. But if we’d had a disagreement and he was playful too soon. . .how dare he? I think the message here is that we don’t get to decide for other people what a “meaninful apology” is. I agree with you that healing and growth happens when you acknowledge the hurt you’ve caused but we are not responsible for someone else’s healing and growth. That’s Yahweh’s business. It would be unfortunate to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness until the other person gets their apology right. Love is patient and kind and doesn’t keep record of wrongs. I think if the situation gives cause for further discussion it would be wise to wait a period of time and initiate a short, pointed conversation about the issue. Tell your husband you believe in him and you know he loves you but that you were particularly sensitive to said issue. Tell the Holy Spirit the rest. I will pray for you today Anon! Have a great day!

      1. fallenshort,

        This is an important point. One reader shared a quote with me a year ago or so that has really stuck with me “Expectations are premeditated resentment.” If I have specific expectations for how my husband must apologize to me, but what I want him to do is actually very difficult for him because he is not very verbal – I am setting us both up for a lot of misery and disappointment – not to mention bitterness and resentment.

        This is an area where I can extend grace and freedom and allow my husband to apologize his way – and learn to interpret his apologies through the eyes of grace and God’s love instead of eyes of accusation, condemnation, self-righteousness and judgment like I used to.

        There can be times we need to talk more, and there can be times it is wise not to talk. Again, it comes down to being really sensitive to God’s Spirit in each particular situation.

        Thanks for sharing and for encouraging our precious sister!

      2. I have never held resentment or bitterness toward him for not saying the words “I’ve hurt you and I’m so sorry.” “I wish I could go back and re-do that. Sorry.” “Please forgive me.” Or even “Wow I’m a bonehead. I’m Sorry babe.” I forgive and let go as well I can as fast as I can and with help with prayer of course. I haven’t expected apologies obviously if it was a realization not long ago and do my best to forgive as soon as possible bc I know I’m going to anyway so why be miserable until I decide I’ve stewed long enough?) but one day did notice he’s never acknowledged hurting me and never attempted an apology-in the way I’ve known apology to mean. (We both grew up similarly in the same state and in similar churches so he would likely have the same definition of ‘an apology’. ) My husband isn’t playful or affectionate so I wouldn’t notice him ” withholding” and then resuming as an apology. But then why would he withhold those things if I’ve been wronged. I’m confused now 😉 I don’t really see his way of offering an apology so if he’s taking an action to do so I’m not understanding it anyway. Guess it would be ideal if the person needing to apologize clearly did it for the person s/he owes the apology to but must not be realistic.

        1. Anon,

          He does have a relationship with Christ?

          How do his parents apologize?

          Here is what I have learned, for whatever it is worth. I can only change myself – and even then, only through the power of God’s Spirit working in me. But I cannot get very far by placing expectations on my husband of expecting him to change. My greatest power has been when I accept him as he is and focus on obeying God’s commands for me. Ironically, that is when God is most able to speak to my husband’s heart and it becomes easiest for him to change in a godly way.

          You can absolutely ask for what you need/want. “You know, Honey, it means so much to me when you tell me you apologize if you know you have hurt my feelings. I really like it when you do that. I feel loved and safe then.”

          But then – that would probably be all you would need to say – and just let God take it from there.

          Much love!

    2. Anon,

      Words are SUCH A BIG DEAL to us as women! We want to give long, involved apologies to show our sincerity and to try to make things right. Ironically, many husbands don’t care much about our words, especially if they don’t see actions backing up what we are saying. Many husbands would rather we not even use words to apologize but SHOW them by doing something.

      I don’t think either way is particularly “better” or “more right” or “more wrong.” I think we tend to approach things differently. Ideally, it would be wonderful if we all used words and actions to apologize, in my view.

      But, I don’t want us to discount our husbands’ actions and assume evil motives or insincerity on their part. For many husbands, words are fairly meaningless, and they are trying to show that they are sincere by their actions because they may not think of words as being that meaningful.

      As we continue to grow in our understanding of our men and ourselves and as we show them more respect and they begin to feel safe, I think it is possible for us, in time, to share our desire for sincere words of apology. And I think that when husbands eventually feel safe with us, they may be able to feel like they can try to risk a verbal apology. Words can be scary for men. Sometimes they may feel they can’t “say the right words” and if they feel we are going to pounce on them if they don’t do it “right” – they may feel intimidated to try to apologize with words- especially if past verbal apologies did not go well or were not received well.

      Many men are not very comfortable with highly emotionally charged words, or if they know their wives’ expectations are super sky high. They can sometimes freeze up about trying to share words in such a situation.

      So, my prayer is that we might understand that our husbands can be very sincere and repentant and sometimes show their repentance in actions instead of words and that we could show grace to them by accepting their form of an apology instead of demanding that they apologize in a specific way that may be very scary or intimidating to them. I think we can also acknowledge that they have good motives towards us and that their actions are the way they show they want to reconcile. I would love to see us be able to learn to interpret their behavior correctly and in a loving, godly, accepting way in such situations.

      Then, over time, I think they may be able to hear our hearts and care more about our needs and desires for verbal apologies as the marriage heals.

      I hope that makes sense and pray it might be helpful.

      A fantastic resource is “Grace Filled Marriage” by Dr. Tim Keller

      And Shaunti Feldhahn’s new book “The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: It’s the Little Things That Count”
      One of the secrets she found with very happily married couples is that they have a little secret signal they use to extend an olive branch to each other – a little touch, a joke, a hug… and when one partner extends this gesture, the other one will always accept it and they will show each other “we are ok” in this special way. The issue may not be resolved. But the couple is willing to show each other that the marriage is more important and unity and love is more important than the issue, and they show each other in this little bonding way that they are willing to work through the issue together as a team.

      Much love!

  3. Kelly,

    Ha!

    I know I have to have time with God every day. Like SERIOUS time with God. And when I was learning this stuff for the first 2.5 years or more, I had to read about respect and biblical submission and godly femininity for hours every day and try to make it all sink in. It was all very foreign, but if I didn’t focus on it constantly, I would slip back into my old sinful ways.

    Even now, I have to stay in God’s Word, check my motives, examine my thoughts, take every thought captive- we will all have to do that every day for the rest of our lives! I need God’s Spirit to fill me every day, every moment.

    I’m glad that your husband allowed you to have some blogging time! 🙂 That was so sweet.

    Much love to you!

  4. Anon,

    Im married for a little over four years… I’ve seen my husband apologizing with great difficulty when we courted, but after marriage he never did…

    But I think I’ve learnt one thing about apologies….. The more I kept pointing his mistakes, he became almost void of apologies and he never would… But when I dont actually tell him, hes wrong but I react with love to his mistakes, he does give me olive branches and sometimes does surprise me with a sorry word!

    Its all I guess related to the fundamental principle that “Men need Respect and Women need Love” primarily… They are disrespected when we point their mistakes, and they also actually feel bad when they mistakes.. They feel so much miserable when they know they are wrong… And its quite humiliating to them and its pride but its in their DNA I suppose… But when our reactions to their mistakes are respectful, they give us these olive branches to fulfill our need for love!! And saying sorry also happens, when they feel confident that despite their mistakes we still respect them!

    Correct me if I’m wrong April 🙂

    1. Vinodhini,

      WOW! This is EXTREMELY important stuff, here, my friend!

      Yes, as I pointed out my husband’s mistakes and sins, he closed up more and more and went into his shell, too.

      But so many times, I have seen that as wives don’t attack or ream out their husbands, as they just share simply that they are hurt and then wait and let their husbands and God handle things – husbands will often return to attempt to apologize in some way.

      I think you have a very valuable perspective and wisdom to share here. Thanks so much!

    2. Thank you for sharing your experiences and encouragement everyone! I do know he’s not a highly verbal person and realize this may be a struggle for him to do-obviously because he doesn’t. I don’t point out or ‘harp’ on his mistakes but maybe I need to do like Jeanne said and “call him out” and then just let it go once in awhile. While reading this it came to mind that Gary Chapman did something on the 5 Languages of Apologies–I’m familiar w his 5 Love Languages. Maybe when I verbally acknowledge what I did that hurt him or was disrespectful and tell him I’m sorry he needs something else. We may need to read that book!

        1. He just goes on like nothing happened. There are no words or actions that would indicate remorse or repentance. Just go on as is. I don’t feel right about doing that to him but I could try.

  5. Sorry some words I missed are highlighted in bold

    *They are disrespected when we point their mistakes, and they also actually feel bad when they MAKE mistakes

    *And its quite humiliating to them and its NOT pride but its in their DNA I suppose

  6. I think both ways happened to me this weekend. My husband was being really rude to me Saturday night and I respectfully “called him out” on it. After I did, I thought maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but to my surprise he said “I’m sorry. You’re right. I apologize.” I was kind of shocked and just said thank you. Then the next day, he was in a bad mood and I asked him if things were okay, he said yes (they obviously weren’t) I was feeling drained from just feeling hopeless and “old me” would have pushed and pushed to get him to tell me what was wrong but instead I walked out, took the dog for a walk and watered our plants for about 20 minutes. I cried and prayed. I came back in the house and started to go to our room. I passed him and he asked me if I wanted to hang out and his mood seemed to have greatly improved. So I did and we had a good rest of the day. I think that was his “olive branch.” He even thanked me for hanging out with him this weekend and came up and hugged and held me a few times last night.

    1. Jeanne,

      This is a great point! Sometimes we do need to say something. Sometimes saying something would make things worse. This is where it takes incredible sensitivity to God’s Spirit and to our husbands to know what to do in a particular situation.

      Sometimes, our husbands are in a bad mood that has nothing to do with us. I think it was very wise to let him handle his bad mood after he didn’t want to talk about it, and go out and walk the dog and give him some space. I am amazed that he had already improved in just 20 minutes! WOW! That was fast! I’m so glad you took your pain to God that time. But I am also glad you told him you were hurt the other time when he was rude. That is important! It is good for us to say, “That really hurts” or “Ouch!” or “Did I do something disrespectful just now, because that comment you just made hurt me so much.”

      Most of the time, if we are vulnerable and just say we are in pain because of something our husbands did or said, and we don’t attack them, they will eventually come and try to apologize. It may not be in the way we want them to. But they will usually do it in their own way. And I think that counts for a lot!

      Yes, that offer to hang out was definitely an “olive branch” – I am so glad you took it!

      Thanks so much for sharing, Jeanne! This is beautiful!

  7. I’m having trouble with this because what if you never ever argue about anything??? I can probably count on my hand the amount of arguments over our 25 year marriage.. Most of the time it was because I was too sensitive when he told me I didn’t do something correctly and I started to cry. He would then apologize and I would apologize for being too sensitive. That’s it… I’m not sure what he would apologize for. He is such a good guy.. And I also dont’ understand how I would even have a right to be angry. If I take time to look at his point of view, I can see where it makes sense so I try to do it..

    1. Elizabeth,

      I’m glad you try to understand your husband’s perspective. 🙂 As you both grow closer, and are more vulnerable with each other – it is possible more issues may come up. That is ok! Thankfully, there is grace to give to each other in Christ.

      But if you don’t argue and you are being vulnerable – then – that’s fine, too. 🙂

      1. Actually he doesn’t really know my point of view. I don’t know how to tell him if he might disagree with me or he may not like it. So I just don’t say a word. He told someone we have great communication because he tells me everything. But I don’t know how to tell him what I am thinking.. I am not vulnerable at all.

        1. Elizabeth,
          Conflict is not bad necessarily. You can share your view even if he doesn’t agree. It is a good thing, an honest thing to share your heart truthfully, respectfully and lovingly. Without vulnerability there us no real intimacy. Your job will be to figure out his to find your voice. Check out the post “a husband’s and a wife’s authority in marriage” at the top of my home page. And you can search “voice” on my blog. I have a post about a wife finding her voice. 🙂

          1. I found the finding her voice post and a lot of it sounded familiar, except I don’t ever explode. Instead I spend hours crying by myself. I especially liked this quote from the blog..
            And other times I might know what was wrong, but I still couldn’t bring myself to tell him. And I don’t even know entirely why. I think because it’s just so hard to claim ownership of negative feelings toward/about someone else–the emotion itself is so uncomfortable; I don’t want to upset the other person; I don’t want to be rejected; I don’t want to be wrong; I don’t know how to explain/defend my feelings.

            My husband has recently been diagnosed with depression, but I don’t know if he will seek treatment. I kept thinking if I just said the right thing. If I was happy enough. If I was respectful enough, then he would be happy. But I just can’t seem to make him happy. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong.. It just gets hard to try and hold him up.

          2. Elizabeth,

            You cannot make him happy! Your job is to please Jesus and obey Him. You can seek to bless your husband. But you are not responsible for his happiness, just like he is not responsible for your happiness. That is weight that you ewe not designed to carry. You can lay him at the feet of Jesus. You can become the godly wife God desires you to be, but you cannot be responsible for your husband’s happiness. It is ok to share negative emotions. It is deceitful not to share your heart and true desires and feelings. That is not a healthy relationship where one person feels it is not safe to talk.

            I pray you will find the boundary where your responsibility ends and entrust your husband to God. I pray for wisdom for your husband as he deals with depression. I pray he will find godly help and if needed, medical help. You can love him, bless him, encourage him and affirm him. If his depression is due to your disrespect, then learning respect can help. But there are times husbands have issues that we as wives cannot fix. It doesn’t matter how wonderful or “perfect” we are. Sometimes our husbands will still sin, or still be depressed or still have mental health issues or scars from their childhood. God can heal them. We cannot. We will make ourselves crazy trying to be responsible for someone else’s happiness!

          3. But how do you know if Jesus is pleased with you????? How if not in the reactions of your husband? How else can you know if you don’t have some kind of objective measure. The song Let it Go by Casting Crowns has become my theme song. I am daily trying to hand my husband to Jesus because I realize I cannot fix him. But at the same time how do I share a difficult subject if he is not emotionally healthy enough to be able to handle it? Just confused and alone. Not I am not.. for God will never leave me or forsake me. But I sure wish he had human arms. I miss the strong arms of my husband.

          4. Elizabeth,

            You know by being sure you obey God’s commands and listen to His voice. It can be really difficult when your husband is depressed, because it can definitely throw off your own emotional and spiritual bearings. But, you can find joy in Christ and seek to please Him. He can give you wisdom about how most to bless your husband.

            Is your husband’s depression severe? Is he on any meds? Does he have PTSD?

            Much love to you! I pray God will give you wisdom to conquer this thing as a team. I wish I could hug your neck!!!

          5. Hi Elizabeth,

            I am the wife trying to find my voice. It’s so difficult, isn’t it? I just wanted to share a couple resources that I have found helpful in this journey.

            The PeacefulWife’s blog & support, of course, have been invaluable to me. She was able to direct me to her post on “Control and Boundaries” (I had not realized I actually had unhealthy boundaries!) and a few other posts pertinent to my situation. She also pointed out to me something I hadn’t realized — not sharing my feelings/thoughts is dishonest! I kept to myself so as not to “burden” my husband or to “spare his feelings”, but what I’m actually doing is being extremely disrespectful to him (he feels as if I don’t trust him), sinning (not being truthful), and giving up intimacy with my husband (for which I so long!) for what? My own selfish pride and false sense of security.

            The book “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend was really helpful to me in understanding where my responsibilities end and others begin, starting to understand where my flawed boundaries began (I come from a healthy family, yet still interpreted situations in ways that has impacted my view of myself and how to relate to others) and finally seeing how my actions/choices have negatively impacted my marriage so I can accept responsibility for and begin to change them.

            I also found the book “Telling Each Other the Truth” by William Backus to be very helpful. It breaks down the different ways we avoid communicating openly and honestly with others and gives very practical steps for overcoming them. Both books are based in Scripture, as well.

            Then I came across this verse: Isaiah 49:16 “Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands. Your city walls are always on My mind, always My concern.” God is actually mindful of and concerned about my personal boundaries in my relationships with others. He created all of nature, including humans, with boundaries and order to promote health, freedom, and love. His will and desire is for me to understand and establish healthy boundaries so I can enjoy positive relationships.

            I have a VERY LONG way to go yet and my husband, too, for different reasons, is not available to and supporting me in this journey at this time, but I’ve come to realize that this is not about him or our marriage. It is about obeying and honoring God and learning to be the wife/mother/friend/daughter/sister (and so on) that God desires me to be, regardless of how others respond.

            Please be encouraged — you are not alone on this painful road! I will pray for you as you pursue God’s plan for your life and marriage.

  8. How will my sons learn to apologize if they never see their dad do it? I have teenage sons and they have never seen their dad apologize for anything, not towards them or towards me? I agree with what you are saying, that we must try to see the different ways our husbands are trying to apologize to us without words, and accept that with much grace towards them, but these subtle actions are hard to see for kids. What do you think?

    1. A.,

      They will learn from you – and from their dad. This will require a lot of patience on your part – but I do think in time, that as your husband feels more and more respected – he will be able to care more about this being important to you. I think it is something that may change in time, but it will only be by God’s power, not by you telling him what to do.

      You can make a request every once in awhile in a pleasant way – and then we will together trust that God will work in his heart and in your heart for His glory that you might both set a godly example for your precious sons. 🙂

    2. PS, A,

      You are only responsible for YOUR obedience to God and your sin. God will not hold you accountable for your husband’s behavior and his sin. He will stand accountable to God for that and for the kind of father he is. You will only be responsible for setting a godly example as a mother and as a wife. Your boys will get to see you demonstrate grace – what an incredible gift! And they will get to see you honor and respect their dad, even when he was not perfect. That is also the most beautiful gift a mother can give her children – other than to live out her faith in Christ and a holy life before them.

      God can change your husband’s heart. your husband is not outside of the sovereign arm of God. 🙂

        1. A,
          You are most welcome! This is difficult stuff! And it is so painful. But – it is the path to freedom, peace and joy! 🙂

          Sending you a huge hug, my precious sister!

          Please let us know how things go. 🙂

      1. Reading through all these comments is so helpful. I just wanted to say that its very freeing to realize that we aren’t responsible for our husband’s sin and they are accountable to God for their sin and we are for ours. I think one of the biggest struggles with actually living that out is is that so many times their sin directly affects us, so we want to do everything we can to keep them from sinning. Little by little, I feel like I’ve been able to rest in the knowledge that he will deal with God about whatever it is and I have to focus on me now because I’m realizing that I will be accountable for my actions. Very hard process. But even in little things where I’ve been able to let go, I can see just how liberating that is to not be so worried about his sin. I hope that makes sense.

        1. Jeanne,
          Absolutely this makes sense! When we have healthy boundaries and only take responsibility for what we are actually responsible for, we have such peace and freedom! I gave a post called “control and boundaries” that goes into more detail on this. It is VERY freeing to not take on the responsibilities of others and of God. Knowing where my responsibilities end and God’s and others’ begins brings peace, sanity and serenity. That is the serenity prayer – the wisdom to know the difference between the things I can change (me) and the things I can’t change (others). This is a big step you are taking today, my friend!

    3. I think there is nothing wrong with walking your sons through a verbal apology when they have wronged you. You cannot train their dad, but you might be able to train them. My son will verbally apologize to me; his dad does not.

  9. Ladies,
    This is one of those areas where I personally have to be SUPER DUPER CAREFUL. If I am not extremely vigilant about my own motives, I could easily focus on “HE SHOULD do X the way I think he should… My way. The RIGHT way.” “My way is the only right way. He must submit to me and do things the way I think they should be done or he is disobeying God.”

    These are the kinds of thoughts I had CONSTANTLY about Greg in the past.

    This mindset of mine was prideful, self-righteous and destructive.

    I seriously believed I knew best. I seriously believed that Greg was wrong and in sin and I was not. I believed he HAD to do things the way I expected them to be done or he was wrong. I believed I was always right and he was always wrong unless he did things my way.

    Very, very dangerous spiritual ground. I just cannot go there. That was my pitfall so many times.

    But I’m Right

    1. Oh!

      And, there are still things Greg doesn’t do “my way.” I wish he would do some things the way I like them to be done. But – I know now that those things are between him and God. Greg answers to God for that stuff, not to me.

      Every once in awhile I will ask him for the things I desire spiritually. But then, I am content even if he does not do what I want. I have to focus on MYSELF and what God calls me to do, and not on what I think Greg should do. The second I start to focus on what Greg “should” do – I will crash and burn.

  10. Great Teaching!! I spent way too much time trying to resolve the disagreements and they turned into huge arguments! You are so right about the way men apologize. I had to learn that is ok. It is hard for a man to say he is wrong sometimes. Often a gesture means a lot more than words.

  11. Wonderful post and comments. I have learned a lot from this blog and it has been helpful for both my man but, more importantly, me. It’s humbling but necessary to ask God to search my heart, test me, see if there’s any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Sadly, I know what He sees often displeases Him and grieves Him, but I thank Him for forgiving me and giving me the strength to try yet again…

    God bless. 🙂

  12. I have a husband who doesn’t apologize, nor subtly tries to make amends. He will just continue on as if nothing ever happened. To me it is like he is minimizing his behavior by acting as if nothing is wrong.
    I have learned that this is just who he is and I don’t take it personally, as he’d probably be like this no matter who he married.
    Ultimately, I know he is committed to our relationship and as a general rule he treats me well. So I don’t get worked up when he overreacts during the heat of an altercation. I will admit that lately I have chosen to address the way he is speaking to me in a calm fashion and he has been taking it well, for which I am grateful.

    1. SusanB,
      Thank you for sharing your experience! I am sure there are many wives in similar situations. It would be great if he would apologize. But – I’m glad you are able to stay calm and keep your eyes on Christ. And I am really glad to hear that he is being more responsive to this approach!!!!!

      Much love my precious friend!

  13. I must confess that I have in the past missed out on non verbal apologies from my hubby.Last year, after a disagreement, he brought me flowers that evening. I was offended because I interpreted it to mean that he didn’t want to iron out the issue but cover it up with a bouquet of flowers. I didn’t take care of them, left them until they withered. I wonder what went through his mind as he watched me reject his apology. He also likes making jokes but I most times find it annoying because I feel we should talk about the issue, lay it to rest, then we can have flowers, jokes, tickles etc. Thanks for the insight. I am now more equipped to try and accept his non verbal apologies.

    I know men like taking time before discussing sensitive issues. But what do I do when he takes so long (even 6 months)? He is an awesome man, but can take very long to resolve conflict.

    1. Liz,

      I’m excited to see what happens as you begin to approach him with greater understanding! 🙂 That is wonderful!

      It depends what the issue is. There are some issues that cannot be resolved. God’s Spirit can give us wisdom about when to pray about it and not use our words, when to say something and what to say and how to say it and when to let it go.

      Here are a few examples to consider:

      A Wife’s Great Faith and an Old Truck
      My Husband Wants to Go Where?
      Winning Him Over without a Word

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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