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Am I Hard-Hearted?

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April in 4-2006 – a time when I was very hard-hearted!

God’s Spirit speaks to us in powerful ways – but He often uses “a still, small voice” not a booming thunderous voice. If we don’t listen to God at first, when we are able to hear  Him, if we continue to ignore Him or focus on other things, in time, our hearts become calloused and unable to hear God’s voice. We “harden our hearts” against Him. How heartbreaking this process is!

Some ways we may harden our hearts against God:

  • We do not have faith. This is the sin of unbelief. This sin keeps us from even coming to God and is one of the greatest sins there is. We do not believe God is who He says He is. We do not believe He is good. We do not believe He is great. We do not believe He is sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, holy, loving and active. We do not believe His Word is true. As we continue to believe those lies and not turn to God in faith, our hearts become hardened.
  • There are times when God hardens someone’s heart for His purposes. For example, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not allow Israel to leave Egypt when Moses asked him to. God did this so that He could demonstrate His power and wonders to His people as He sent the 10 plagues against the Egyptians, so that His people might fear Him and believe. And yet, there is a mysterious element going on here that even though it was God’s purpose to harden Pharaoh’s heart, he is still responsible and accountable and he still had free will to make this choice.
  • God may ask us to obey a specific command. If we refuse to do what He asks us to do in a proactive way, we begin to create a calloused and hardened heart against God’s Spirit.
  • If God speaks to us about repenting of a sin and we ignore God’s Spirit, we harden our hearts against Him. Then we become more and more callous over time to God’s Spirit’s voice until we may not be able to hear Him at all.
  • Our pride can make our hearts hard against God.
  • If we cling to any sin and cherish it in our hearts, choosing sin over God, we harden our hearts and lose our ability to hear God’s voice and see His truth.

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Greg and April at our wedding on May 28, 1994

MY STORY

I was very hard hearted against God for many years, but didn’t have any idea that I was. I thought I was the best Christian wife ever. I read my Bible daily and prayed, but I did not hear God speak to me very much. I was SO prideful that I didn’t see my own sin and I could read passages about forgiveness, submission to God, submission to my husband, not living in fear, trusting God, respecting my husband and not even see what the passages said. I thought I believed God. I thought I trusted in Christ, but I really trusted MYSELF. I really lived as if I was sovereign and huge and powerful and God was a wimp. I lived as if everything depended on me and if I didn’t make it all turn out “right” everything would be a disaster. I looked down on other people, including my husband, as if I was so much better than they were. I believed people “needed” my help and wisdom to make the best decisions in life.

My pride, self-righteousness and unbelief hardened my heart against God. I could sing praises to Him every day, read my Bible and pray up to 4 hours per day – but I did not truly know God. I did not live for Him. I did not hear Him and I did not allow His Spirit to transform my life. I did not repent. I continued on cherishing my pride, bitterness, resentment, self-righteousness, worry, anxiety, unbelief and accusations against others around me. I was divisive, controlling, full of gossip and disrespectful to others in my extended family. Meanwhile, I was friendly, outgoing, a go-getter, driven, successful, intelligent and smiling at work and at church. But my life did not honor God. I was not living with Christ as Lord even though I thought I was. How tragic!  To have God’s Word and to handle the truth and read it every day and not even be able to see it.

When we are comfortable living in unrepentant sin – our hearts become very hard.

A heart that is soft and pliable in God’s hands LONGS to obey Him in all things and can’t wait to do anything God asks it to do. A yielded heart cannot bear the thought of grieving God’s heart with any sin. When our hearts are soft to God, we will grieve deeply over any sin God reveals to us and we will be quick to turn from it and turn to God for forgiveness and for the power to live in obedience by His Spirit working in us. A yielded heart loves to soak in God’s presence and just absorb all of His love, truth, wisdom and commands. A submitted heart delights in obeying God and in knowing God more fully and living as close to Him as possible.

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VERSES ABOUT HARDENED HEARTS AGAINST GOD

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end… while it is said, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.” Hebrews 3:12-15

“They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.  Zechariah 7:12

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 11:19-21

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. II Chronicles 36:11-13

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Prov 28:14

Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king (Nebuchadnezzar) wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.  But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes. Daniel 5:19-21

The cure for a hardened heart:

Humility, brokenness, faith, repentance, trust in God, a deep hunger and desire for God and a total submission of all that we have and all that we are to Christ, bowing to the Lordship of Christ in complete faith and trust.

  • The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17
  • “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD. II Chronicles 34:27

 

69 thoughts on “Am I Hard-Hearted?

  1. Hi, I am Hindu by birth and actually have never really believed in one specific form of God. I am not atheist but its hard for me to give a particular form or face to God.
    How do I make this blog relevant to my life.Please advise.
    Regards

    1. Priyanka,

      I would love to encourage you to start reading the Bible – the book of John would be a great place to start. It is the only source of absolute truth – and it is where the one true God of the universe reveals Himself to us and shows us how to approach Him.

      I’m so excited that you have an opportunity to meet Him and to get to know Him and to receive Him into your life. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6. If we want to have God, the only way He allows us to have access to Him is through Jesus and His death for us.

      I invite you to learn all you can about God in the Bible. You may want to check out David Platt’s sermon on Youtube “Who Is God?”

      I’m right here and am glad to talk about anything you would like!

      Jesus gives us, sinful people that we are, the ability to have holiness that is from Him that we cannot create ourselves, so that we can have a relationship with God and know Him now and be with Him in heaven forever after we die. His blood shed for us is God’s only provision for us to be able to come to Him. And it is much more than adequate to make us right with God.

      Much love to you!
      April

  2. I can sort of relate except that I don’t look down on anyone.. Though I do feel like many things are up to me. But I wish I could live up to my husband’s standards. He is so much better than I am in so many ways: he is always calm, he is always loving, he is always patient, etc He is a much better cook ( He will often come home and improve the recipes…. I try, I really do…. But they are always better after he tweaks them.) He is a better housekeeper. I do most of it, but whenever he comes in he will show me how toothpicks or little toothbrushes or whatever can get them really clean. But he still thinks he is a failure as well. He considers himself a bad dad… I don’t see how. He reads the Bible with them, does things with them, takes them each on a trip each year… He is so much better than I am in so many ways….

    But I am tired. I wish both of us could live in the good enough.. Yet doesn’t God require excellence. I am beyond exhausted today. It was an emotional weekend full of saying goodbye to a loved one and my house full of relatives..

    I will examine my heart.. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth,

      I hope you can lay down the heavy burdens of trying to measure up to specific human standards. I pray you will find the freedom, weightlessness, power, strength, peace and joy available to us in Christ. 🙂

      Maybe I should take some pictures of my house to show you how I am able to be content without perfectly clean anything! 🙂 HA!

      I used to try to do housework perfectly. THAT WAS BEYOND FRUSTRATING! It was a prison.

      I pray you can get some rest today and lay down your expectations and just bask in the presence of Jesus. Breathe. Soak Him in. Allow Him to restore your soul. I pray you and your husband can extend grace to one another and focus on the things that matter most in God’s eyes. I pray you can bless each other.

      Much love to you!

      1. I hate housework. I don’t need it done perfectly. But how do you handle a husband who does??? I thought the respectful thing to do was to try and do everything he asks of me. The problem is that the lists never end. Something is always added . I had cleaned out the pantry on day and got it spotless and also got the kitchen clean and as he picks up something off the floor, he notices that the crumbs need to be removed from the far corners underneath the cabinets…. He isn’t mean about it, but just suggests that I use a vacuum cleaner next time…. I try so hard to do what he wants… How do I lay down that expectation??

        1. Elizabeth,

          Maybe you can ask him to give you his top 3 things that are most important to him, and be sure you do those things? Is it possible to tell him that you feel overwhelmed sometimes by all the expectations and that you really want to please him, but that you are stressed by trying to do everything so perfectly? If he mentions the crumbs and a vacuum, how do you usually respond?

          Much love!

          1. I try desperately not to tear up and then say OK. I did tell him about an incident that was similar where I had done 3 or 4 things and then he came in and said NOTHING about what I had done ( and 2 of them were things he asked me to do.) and instead mentioned 2 more things that needed to be done, that I felt like a failure. I told him that calmly, later but it was really hard to do without crying… My top need is words of affirmation. He has been getting better, but he has these same standards for himself. This is why one person told him they thought he had anxiety/depression. That is why I am trying to be his biggest cheerleader. He doesn’t want to get treated for anything because that makes him feel weak. I just don’t know how long I can hold him up.

          2. Elizabeth,

            My sweet girl!!! You can’t hold him up. Your job is to be empowered by God to obey and please Him and bless your husband. You are not responsible FOR him or for his happiness or for his soul.

            It is ok to cry. It is ok to feel overwhelmed and say that you have too much on your plate.

            If he has mental health disorders or spiritual problems, you cannot fix them. You can bless him, but you cannot heal him or fix him. You can pray for God to heal him. But it is going to be critical for you to figure out where your responsibilities end and his and God’s begin, my friend!!

  3. God place me, an A #1 control freak, in a long-term situation that I have absolutely no control over, and I am so grateful and thankful, because I see the changes He is making in my life that may never have been made in any other circumstance. I believe that God lovingly sifts circumstances through His hands to help purify us and get rid of the dross. Painful…you better believe it, but necessary, because I have been so hardhearted. Thank you, Father, for loving me THAT much to not let me stay the same!

    1. Melissa,

      I LOVE THIS! I am so glad that you see how He is using this painful time and situation to teach you and cause you to grow in your faith and to purify your soul.

      God is so very good!

      Much love to you! I can’t wait to see all that He is doing in your life and all that He will do! 🙂

    2. Melissa,

      AMEN sister! Marriage is a sanctifying tool!

      My pastor keeps saying that marriage is about smoothing out the rough edges! He’s had to use the HARDEST sand paper to my roughness. But when He gets it nice and smooth, OH BOY, it’s as smooth as a freshly bathed and powdered baby’s bottom! 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for your blog. My heart has been changed so much by my Lord, Jesus! Praying for you. I am on the 12 dare today. Sincerely, Kari

    1. Kari,

      I never get tired of hearing about God changing people. PRAISE GOD! I am thrilled about what He is doing in your life. I hope you will share as you are able to and as you are led. Most of all I pray for God’s greatest glory in your life and that you might truly abide in Him and live for Him as LORD.

      Much love!

  5. I never recognized that my heart was hard against God. I’ve been on this respect journey for 3 months now and I’ve learned a lot about how I’ve disrespected God in the same ways I’ve disrespected my husband. I’ve had to do a lot of repenting to God and to my husband. I’ve been grateful actually that God brought me to this place, where my marriage was such a lonely place, that I’d really turn to Him and allow Him to work in me. I know that this needed to happen and I see that God has refined me quite a bit already. I see as well that He was preparing me for what would come next, not a marriage that begun to thrive again but to find out that my husband loves another woman. If I hadn’t learned already the things that I’ve learned on this blog I know I would have responded in the flesh. When my husband told me I deserved someone that could love me with their whole heart I probably would have agreed and left my marriage. I know I can’t do that, I know that I have to stay committed to our marriage even when he is not. He’s not leaving at this time, mostly I think because he doesn’t know how him and this other woman could be together. She is married and has kids as well. It’s a woman who he knew since he was young and who he had a big connection with. He tells me know that he actually has always loved her and always will. He only reconnected with her on fb about 2 years ago Since they have been having an emotional affair. When I found out a week ago that this has been going on and the extent of his feeling for her I was devastated. I asked him to stop contacting her so that we can work on our marriage. He refused. I kind of feel like I don’t want to be refined anymore. I don’t want to walk this road. I don’t want this to be my life. I feel God walking with me through this and I know that His heart grieves. I also know that more importantly than our marriage is what’s going on between my husband and God. God is grieved for the loss of that relationship. I know that my prayers need to be directed to that relationship, that it would be restored. I know that I just need to abide in Christ during this, letting him teach me and mold me. I know that I need to continue to be faithful to my vows no matter what he is doing. I just don’t know how I’m going to do it. How do we go about our day to day life as a family, when all the while he’s giving his heart to another. How so I act around friends and family? I don’t want to be fake but I don’t think involving them would be the right thing. I don’t think my husband needs to be bombarded by people, I think he needs to hear from God, not man. His parents actually know about this as well and they are just praying for him and loving him through this. He expected their anger, he expected my anger, that’s not what he got. I’ve calmly told him what has hurt me and have admitted that I am angry about some things. I also told him that I was choosing to love him anyways. How do I go forward when all I feel is pain?

    1. Melanie,

      WOW.

      First of all, I PRAISE GOD for what He has been doing in your heart!!!!! The growth and increase in Christlikeness is so beautiful!!!!!!

      But – UGH!!!!!!!

      How my heart breaks to hear about what your husband is doing. Yes, God is also so very grieved over his sin. You are right that the most important thing in his life is his relationship with God – which has been severely breached. 🙁

      I am glad that you asked him to break contact with this woman. And I am SO SAD that he is unwilling to do that.

      I think at this point that you will need godly counsel to help you walk through each step of this journey.

      Goodness, living there together with him refusing to stop contact with this woman would be extremely difficult. Is he already sexually involved with her?

      I love the way you have handled this so far. I can sure understand why you don’t want to be refined anymore and why you don’t want this to be your life. I wouldn’t wish such a situation on anyone.

      I am going to see if some other wives might be able to comment who have been down this road a few steps who may have godly wisdom to offer.

      Do you have a godly pastor or Christian mentoring wife who lives in a biblical way herself or a godly female counselor you could go to?

      I can tell you this – it is going to take you being closer to Jesus than you ever have in your life to be able to have the power, wisdom, courage, strength, poise, grace and self-control to take each tiny step. I do believe that God is able to speak to your heart and give you wisdom and very tangible direction each day as you navigate this mess. I have seen Him do it many times. It is going to take a MASSIVE amount of time in prayer and in His Word and a continual offering of all of yourself to Him and a desire to obey Him and please Him no matter what else is going on and an ability to focus on Him not your husband or circumstances.

      Praying for you today!!!!!

      Much love,
      April

    2. Melanie,

      He does not love this other woman. He’s foolish if he thinks he does. He’s not living life with her so how can he know love. Love is not a an emotion like he thinks it is. It’s a state of being.. His emotional affair is a fools game. Clearly she is cracking under the pressure of marriage to her own husband and raising kids and living life with her husband. They are both very, very foolish. If they put the time and effort into their marriages that they put into this emotional affair they would both have great marraiges.

      I know this, I had an affair on my husband and it was such a foolish thing on my part. I wasn’t living life, paying bills, raising kids, doing the mundane daily things with that other guy. The emotional affair or affair is never about the one being cheated on. It’s about the one cheating. They are lost, they are fooled and they are not in their right mind. When we cheat we turn our face away from God like he won’t know it’s happening. Pray for your husband to honestly repent and stop this craziness. You can forgive him regardless but you can’t have reconciliation until he does both of those things.

      Marriages survive affairs all the time. You should not put up with this sin he is committing. No way, no how. Even if you choose to have him go live with his parents for a while and leave time for God to work. He’s cheating on God’s daughter and causing another one of God’s daughters to sin against her own family. How does he feel about that? Does he think God will pour blessings on him so that he can continue in this? I don’t think so.

      You change for you and your own relationship with God. But pray everyday that the Holy Spirit will convict both of their hearts. Sick the Holy Spirit on them. Not to cause them harm but to bring them to the conclusion of what is right and good for both of their lives. My affair against my husband 5 years ago did not happen in a vaccuum. This is true. My husband was and still does things that he should not do. But at the time, I did not believe there was a God much less trust him to heal my marriage. Now I know better. I don’t know if your husband is a Christian but if he is than should he not believe what is written in the bible? Should he not understand that he is moving his life away from God and not towards it? Should he not be willing to be going to biblical counseling? The best way to recover from the shame of sin is the be known at your worst and work thru it, repent, be forgiven and reconcile with those you’ve hurt and God.

      I’m so sorry that this has impacted your life. Be strong enough to forgive and strong enough to not allow the behavior to continue.

      Gail

      1. Gail, thank you for sharing with such openness with me. Your right about love, my husband thinks he loves her because he’s never forgotten her, even throughout our 20 years of being together. But I’m the one that’s been there with him through everything. My husband is a believer but he’s been far from God for some time now. Not sure which came first the affair or the break in relationship with his Heavenly Father.

        1. Melanie,

          It was likely the emotional affair. When we are not doing the right things we turn away. There’s a certian amount of internal shame that we don’t want to admit. Someday regardless of his choices he will be convicted in his heart over this. And it will be painful, I know this. We need to pray it’s before he complicates things and makes huge mistakes that he will regret for a lifetime. God is really the only one who can fix this. We can do nothing to change someones heart.

          Gail

          1. Gail – you are right on. I have seen the work of the Holy Spirit in my husbands heart. After a year of lies, and deceit, although he has never admitted it was (is) an affair, he has acknowledged he has to focus on me and improving our relationship. He has told me “she’s not going anywhere”, meaning he will continue this friendship, but he is better at making me a priority…mostly. I put up with ALOT.

          2. Melanie:
            I have no words of wisdom for your specific situation… but I know God does. I hope you will feed on his words. I prayed for you today and trust that God will wash your breaking/broken heart with his blood. There is so much encouragement here on this blog. I have prayed for your husband too…I hope you will continue to call on God.

            Gail:
            Wow, you have a powerful testimony here – being able to speak from the other perspective. One day — if you desire to — it would be nice if you shared how God “woke you up,” how the scales fell from your eyes.

      2. Gail,
        I am so thankful for your willingness to share your story! I can’t help but praise God for bringing you to Himself and radically changing you and for the healing that is happening in your marriage. It is the most beautiful thing ever!!!!

        Much love!
        April

  6. Thanks for your responding April and for praying for me today! I’ve asked my husband more than once, now that I know how good he is at lying, and he says that no they haven’t been together sexually. She lives in a different town but has made a couple of visits to our city. Once she stayed in our home- ugggh! and another time he met her and her friends to play pool. So there has been opportunity…I don’t think that he has though. That’s the hard part though really is just that even if it’s emotional and not sexual, how do I continue to be his wife. Part of my respect journey has helped me to really work on being there for my husband sexually and learning not to do it as a duty, to enjoy it and him. This has been going really well but now this…. My initial reaction is that I need to continue to do this for my husband because it’s right and it’s biblical. But the other part of me thinks that maybe I’m kind of sick in the head to still go there with him. What am I doing to myself? What is he going to think of me? It’s just hard to understand all of this. I am seeking out some counselling so hopefully I’m able to find someone to walk me through this.

    1. Melanie,

      I can see why you may not be able to trust your husband right now.

      I have seen wives handle this both ways. I don’t think I am able to tell you what the right thing is for you – I think that God’s Spirit will have to be the one to do that. But, if you think that he is not having sex with the other woman, you could continue to have sex with him, seeking to bless him. But – you may need trust to be re-established first. Some wives choose to continue intimacy to try to help draw their husbands back to themselves and the marriage.

      Some wives don’t have sex with their husbands once a husband is doing things like this, and say something like, “I really want to make love to you, Honey, but I can’t do that until you stop this other relationship. What you are doing hurts me and it hurts God so very deeply. It is not ok at all. I want to work on our marriage and I want to learn to trust you again. But I need to see that you are willing to stop communicating with this woman and be transparent and trustworthy with me before I can give my body to you again.”

      I pray that God will give you His wisdom – that is what is most needed right now! And I pray for healing for your soul, my precious sister!

    2. My heart grieves with you dear sister. Speaking from a survivor of emotional affair, you do not have to stay in the same home with a man that is preparing for adultery and is committing a type of it already that you know of. I suggest seeking godly, Christian counselor ASAP. (You can state you are in a crisis and need help immediately… I had an appointment that week) My counselor told me that lots of professionals had spent loads of money on research … What works is not allowing this man to have his cake and eat it too. My husband told me he loved another and I was horrified with disbelief. I would not allow it to be me that said we were over. I sat on the fence (for weeks)… I thought we were working on us. He did not break contact. I had a sense of realization. He was here with me and our small child, yet he wasn’t.

      I came home one day and told him I loved him, I deserved better and I would NOT stay in this house with him and his “love” for another. Everything we had and everything we were… My husband was not a cheater…. Yet here we were. I asked him to leave so that our son could stay in his own home. I told him to figure out what was going on, but I could not live like that. I was his wife.

      It took him exactly one day to see what he was losing and how far he had fallen from God. He was able to hear God that night. The only thing he knew when he woke up the next day was that he had to save our marriage. Now many women go through many different wavelengths of this. I am just sharing my story.

      This is not the love story I wish I was telling. That was almost a year ago. I had only begun the respect journey prior to this revelation, yet God showed me His strength and my weakness during our terrible storm. We continue to build. My husband has spent each day being transparent and rebuilding us. We are better than ever (although we have deep scars). I see a side of my husband now that I never did…for years I was misdirected regarding his motives and feelings. It took this devastation to the sanctity of our marriage to bring me to my knees to seek God’s voice, His presence.

      It’s awful. You are devastated. I have cried and wept and wailed this last year. God showed me my faults. I don’t take responsibility for his infidelity … I do now see how I showed him disrespect for years and we were headed for disaster one way or another. I also trust God now. Even if my husband walks out and turns my world upside down, God will take care of me. I continue to strive to be the best wife, mom, and Christian I can be….and I remind myself it is to please God, not my husband and not this world. I want to be close to God and feel His peace. God showed me that in my darkest time.

      I will pray for you and your husband right now.

    3. Melanie,
      I could have written your comments. I am going through the same thing. God has opened my eyes to my sin and disrespect toward my husband. I have repented to him and God and am learning so much as I focus on my relationship with God. My husband is unwilling to forgive me and reconcile. He is having an emotional affair. Initially, he spoke about this person as his best friend, but recently told me that he loves this friend. I believe it’s someone he works with, but don’t know. I am struggling with the exact same things as you — How do I live our daily life as a family when he is giving his heart to someone else? How do I behave around family & friends? I don’t know who if anyone knows what’s going on, I haven’t said anything to anyone and don’t intend to. And what do I do when he approaches me for sexual intimacy? THAT is a really confusing and painful struggle — how can he say he loves someone else but still seek me out in that way? And do I remain available to him in order to bless him or do I set limits and say I am not available to him in that way until he is willing to be completely available to me, not investing himself into another relationship. I am so torn up about it. I have tried both ways, but have no clear direction or peace about how to handle it. I wish I could offer you some advice! But I do want to encourage you that your heart for God is so evident through your words as you seek His will in the midst of pain. I will pray for you and your husband.

      Gail,
      You advise to be strong enough to forgive and to not allow the behavior to continue. I have done the same thing as Melanie — told my husband how hurtful his choices are and that I am still choosing to love him, no matter what. I am seeking God’s strength to forgive him on a daily basis; God’s wisdom for how to speak and act toward my husband, how I can bless him; and God’s direction for what I still need to repent of and change in my life. What do you mean by not allowing this behavior to continue? I don’t feel like I have any other option. I can’t make his choices or control his behavior. I’ve been very clear with him that I love him and am committed to him and our marriage, no matter what, and want to rebuild our relationship. He is not interested in doing that. He is in a lot of pain himself and feels a lot of resentment toward me for past disrespect. He says he’s miserable and just wants to be happy. He’s talked about leaving. He’s told me I should find someone else. I am NOT going to tell him to leave or look for someone else myself. I’ve told him that I love him and want him to be happy, too, whatever that means he has to do (in an effort to let him know I release him from my expectations and also to take another step toward complete faith in God’s sovereignty in our relationship to work things out according to His plan despite my husband’s choices and without my attempts at intervention). His response was that he just needed to decided what to do to be happy. So, to me, it seems that all I can do now is wait. I know there is a lot of opportunity for me in the waiting as I now turn my focus completely onto God instead of my husband, and I am finding His peace in this storm when I keep my eyes on Him. I guess I’m just curious what you mean, having been on the other side of the equation. And also about the sexual availability piece that Melanie described which I am also struggling with.

      Thank you, Gail, for being so willing to be open and share with us. I praise God for your heart for Him and His new life for you and your restored marriage!

      1. Cat,

        When I say being able to forgive and being strong enough to not let the behavior continue, sometimes it takes exactly what prayingwife79 described. Sometimes you seperate but leave God time to work. My husband and I were lucky and still are.. We have a friend who provides us a lot of Godly direction and him and his wife are awesome peacemakers. At the time, I was not a Christian, I did not believe that God even existed. It made reconciliation so much harder. I thought it was useless for them to pray for our marriage. Obviously I was wrong.

        Nothing my husband would say or do could have changed my hdart at the time. It really was a combination of his Christian friends intervention and my alone time while he lived away from me. And it had to be them praying for me. I was dead set on filing for divorce and over the course of a weeks time, I started to see the situation for what it was. I’m sure that does not always happen but it would have not happened at all if it wasn’t for the prayers, the intervention of his friends and the alone time I spent. Between work and home our lives are very, very noisey.

        I would think that if someone already was a Christian it would be a shorter route for them to repentence and reconciliation or they would hear God a lot faster than I did. I was so far away from God I was pretty sure he did not exist.I mean I was an atheist for decaded! I don’t really understand why a Christian who was in this type of situation where they were having an emotional or physical affair would not seek Godly counsel about it before making any life altering decisions. One would think that they had some Godly friends or counsel or a Pastor they trust or something. Someone that they can confide in privately and then maybe go as a couple.

        I realize that most marriages end over affairs. That’s because to remain married and repair the damage is a lot of work on both. And it almost never can happen without some intervention from a peacemaker or without God’s help. Our marriage really did not recover until I became a Christian and realized (truly and honestly in my heart) what I had done and the damage it had done. I mean, It was years later that I realized the magnitude of how much I had hurt Mark. For that reason alone I would never do it again.

        Gail

      2. Cat, somehow I missed your response to me. You mentioned it today in another post and I thought I better come back and have a look! I have been through every emotion there is, but when I stop and am still with God, I know that I’m doing the right thing. Over the past week I have been able to see deeper into my husbands pain. I knew that I had caused some of that pain but this week I have been given insight into the magnitude of pain that I have brought my husband over the years. I only started this respect journey 3 months ago and I can definitely understand why my husband would think it was too little, too late. I told my husband about 2 weeks ago that I was going to love him through this just as he loved me in my sin all these years, sin of selfishness and sin of disrespect. He deserves the same grace that he gave me and that God give each of us. He put up with so much from me and I’m starting to understand why he’s shut down over the last years, why we no longer have an emotional connection. Right now, I believe blessing him by offering myself to him frequently, is the right thing. In truth, his sin is not bigger than my sin. I didn’t deserve the unconditional love he gave to me through the majority of our 17 years of marriage, but he gave it. I am truly blessed to have him.

        1. Yes, Melanie, WOW. My husband thinks I’m just determined to stay with him because of my “crazy religious ideals” and doesn’t see it as love. The way you describe it — “to love him through this just as he loved me in my sin all these years, sin of selfishness and sin of disrespect. He deserves the same grace that he gave me” — explains it exactly in a way I can relate to and haven’t been able to grasp. Thank you so much for sharing that and your belief about blessing your husband through intimacy. Your perspective is extremely helpful.

          1. Wow Cat! It’s so cool how God uses us to help each other! Especially during a time where we can’t speak safely of our pain, experience and emotions with those in our life. God is really blessing us here as we journey together!

          2. Amen! I am so blessed to have the support, prayers, encouragement, and examples of so many God-fearing wives in the Peacefulwife community. It is true that God does provide for all our needs.

  7. Melanie,
    After reading your post and April’s response I felt impressed to briefly share my experience with you, because I am going through the same exact situation. My husband has a “unique friendship” with a married woman, who he met on FB that fits the description of an “emotional affair”. This has been the most painful year of my life, but it also has been filled with personal growth, times of victory, and times of regret. He finally admitted to me that they “cooled it down”, realizing the exchanges of “I love you sooo much”, secret meetings, Skype calls, endless texting, hours of talking, etc… had to stop if my husband and I were going to have a godly marriage. I still don’t think he realizes how much he has hurt me, but we have come a long way. There are times when he is controlling, manipulative, harsh…but also can be very loving, sensitive, and understanding. It just depends on if he is hearing God’s voice or not. It’s been an emotional nightmare for me…that coupled with menopause and turning 50…and until last year, I was NOT an emotional person! Keep praying. I had to continually remind myself he is not accountable to me, he is accountable to the Lord. I am still working on what respect looks like to him…daily struggle. But I’ve made a lot of progress, it’s just very hard because he continually reminds me how’s I’ve missed it, what I should have done, and what I need to do to improve…never good enough. I will pray for God’s strength for you and you walk this journey with your husband. Keep reading this blog, has helped me tremendously.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with me Amy. I know that you understand what this feels like. I actually was never an emotional person either until now. I only found out a week ago and I have literally wailed every single day. I didn’t know I could wail! Thank you for being willing to pray for me on this journey. It is such a lonely one.

      1. Melanie,

        I am glad you are feeling your emotions. There will be a lot of them to work through. I pray you will keep talking with us and a godly mentor or counselor and write out all your thoughts to God and allow Him to help you take your thoughts captive as you grow, to replace any lies with the truth of God’s Word.

        Sending you the biggest hug! You don’t have to walk this road alone.

  8. I can relate to a lot of these comments. I am a perfectionist and VERY Type A. I feel like lately it is becoming worse and worse… One thing out of place will trigger incessant nagging. If the car or house is not spotless or if my husband leaves clothes on the floor I immediately think he has no respect for my/our space and property and I go full into nagging mode. I have seriously started thinking maybe I have OCD… because I feel enslaved to everything needing to be perfect. I have felt so much like a failure recently but I know it is because I am trying to do it all in my power and not in God’s. I feel pretty discouraged…does anyone struggle with this and have any thoughts??

    1. Gina,

      Yes! Perfectionism is something I used to struggle with a LOT! I have a YouTube video about perfectionism. It is a form of idolatry and is such a prison and a trap! You can look up my channel “April Cassidy” and find the one about perfectionism.

      Much love to you!

      Paying for God’s freedom for you from this dungeon!!!!!

    2. Gina, I don’t know if knowing of the troubles in my family will help, but just in case. . . My sister is a “recovering” perfectionist, after many years of misery for herself and all who loved her. When she and her husband suffered some serious economic and personal losses it shook her to the foundations because their church, for whom they had been missionaries for over 25 years, caused much of their pain and loss. I believe she was suffering a spiritual crisis as well. She became almost out-of-control with perfectionism, and developed a terrible phobia about germs. She got rid of her beloved cat, became visibly agitated if someone visited (with germs!), etc. She simultaneously also developed a terrible case of hives. She had never learned to roll with the punches or be flexible and adapt to life, or even to relax because she too felt like a failure if she didn’t do everything perfectly. She felt that the only control she had over her life was in her immediate environment. My younger brother later also developed OCD, and my daughter suffered panic attacks when her husband divorced her. These are all anxiety disorders and all of them have a strong genetic component.

      I’m not suggesting that you are suffering anything similar, but if perfectionism begins to affect your life negatively and worsens noticably, it might be a stress response–your mind and body trying to cope in an unhealthy way. My mother nagged my father so MUCH about small things, but it just drove him away. We can find peace and help to deal with anything if we petition God fervently in prayer, and he often provides “the right word at the right time for it” to help us UNDERSTAND OURSELVES. When we understand the issues that feed our thinking and behavior, it’s a huge help in changing them to find peace and a closer relationship with God. I will be praying for you to find peace, dear sister. If you want to talk, I am always here. Much love to you!

      1. Elizabeth
        Thanks so much for sharing and encouraging and befriending Gina. 🙂

        Each of you are so precious to me!! I love that we can do this together. :). When I started my journey, it was just me, God, the Bible and 30 marriage books in two years. I had no mentor or godly wife friends I could talk with about these things. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to see a community of wives come together like this to support, love, pray for, encourage and share with each other as we each seek godliness and seek Jesus. This is just amazing!

      2. Than you all so much for sharing with me. I know that the reason I am so weighed down and discouraged is really because I am just trying to do this all in my power and for the wrong reasons. If I am honest with myself, I have been trying to “be better” because I know I should be and, after all, I want to be perfect. But doing it in my own strength and for the wrong reasons is just going to put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself and I will eventually fail….and the cycle begins again.

        I feel very blessed to have your support and input on here. It is just nice to know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this because sometimes I feel absolutely crazy with my reactions about things like a receipt left in the car.

        I was telling my husband that I feel like I had an epiphany last night after reading all of your comments and watching the video because I never really looked at perfectionism as an idol…but that is exactly what it is! It is an idol..a false god that I have resurrected and that I worship over Jesus and try to find my security and identity in. I think the reason it has been so hard for me to see this is because it has been so positively reinforced in my life. People don’t affirm you and praise you when you are addicted to drugs or pornography, but when you are a perfectionist, people tell you how good you are, how thorough, how smart, etc. and this horribly negative thing is reinforced over and over again. And yet, it is flattering for a minute, and robs you of joy. My pastor says that envy is the hole in the bucket of gratitude and I think that for me Perfectionism is the hole in the bucket of gratitude. Always focusing on the negative and what is not “perfect” completely robs me of joy and sucks gratitude out of everything.

        I am thankful to be exhorted by all of you to lean on Jesus and not on myself. How incredible and freeing that really is, if I could only live in that freedom!!

        1. Gina,

          You CAN live in that freedom! God will show you how. What you are describing is the “high” of perfectionism. All that praise and affirmation gives you a “hit” of dopamine and works just like the high of a drug to reinforce your addiction to your idol.

          It is flattering – but it absolutely robs us of joy and the power of God in our lives!

          I am so excited about all that you are learning!!!!!!

          PRAISE GOD!

    3. Hi Gina!

      I think along with being part of “Control Freak Anonymous”, I too used to belong to “Perfectionists Anonymous.” Being controlling and perfectionistic go hand-in-hand and is “natural” for Type A women like you and I. Do not lose hope, sister! The Enemy wants us to believe that if we are not “perfect” the way the world defines perfectionism, that we are “worthless” human beings doomed for “failure.”

      Those who are always striving for perfection, from a psychologist’s viewpoint have “low self-esteem.” There is a void that needs to be filled thus the overly busy persona with the extremely neat house, etc… But nothing ever does fill up that God-shaped vacuum. And nothing we do will ever be enough. No matter how near perfection we can get at any one point, the next moment or the next day won’t be such. Flawed and human as we are, it is more to our nature that we erroneous than to be inerrant.

      The only way one can change this perfectionistic tendency (which used to make me depressed and sometimes even suicidal when things did not go my way, or I was in my eyes, “a failure” over any small or big thing — a few pounds higher on the scale, not so high grades in college, not being praised at work, etc…) is to LET GO and LET GOD.

      Stop the deception right there.

      It is NOT low self-esteem as what the psychiatric world will diagnose it as… It is TOO MUCH PRIDE. That is what it is. Let’s call a SIN for what it is.

      When we “want” to be perfect, why is this so? To gain accolades? To look good in other people’s eyes? To be envied? To be desired? Fill in the blanks… It all centers on ME, MYSELF and I. Where does God fit in the picture?

      Yes, the Lord said for us to be “perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect” but not in having a spotless car and house or always having the dirty clothes in the clothes bin and not on the floor… It is a different kind of “perfection…”

      1 John 2:4-5

      4 “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”

      It is only in dying to this sinful, prideful self that screams to us daily to feed it with the desire to control things, people and events… and it is in resisting the devil’s whispers that we are worthless, useless humans when we do anything imperfect (as though we did not know that we won’t ever be perfect)… that we gain FREEDOM and are able to BREAK FREE FROM BONDAGE!

      We cannot do it on our own strength, Gina. Only Christ can do that for us.

      It is normal to feel discouraged, but please do not stay discouraged. Be encouraged. 🙂 When you have repented for all your sins and after you have let go and let God in all aspects of your life…. not only will you be freed from your insane desire for worldly perfection, but you will little by little, be transformed by the Spirit towards experiencing the perfect love of Christ. And the peace!!! Sigh. I could revel in it and bask in Christ’s Peace all day long. It is a peace that the world could NEVER give.

      Praying for you sister. Cheer up! We are all here for you and for each other. 🙂

      Love,

      Nikka

      1. Nikka,
        Thank you so much for this!

        Yes, for me, perfectionism, people pleasing and control were all about fear, pride and idolatry. It was primarily because I had a very small, wimpy picture and understanding of God and a very large, powerful, warped picture of myself. I lived as if I was sovereign instead of God. That was a LOT of pressure! Way more than I could handle – trying to be solely responsible for making things all turn out “right” and trying to be perfect when I was acting in my sinful nature… that is a recipe for severe anxiety and depression!

        Learning about God’s sovereignty was a huge key for me – and understanding how small, wimpy, powerless and sinful I am was painful – but very necessary so that I could properly humble myself before God in reverent fear.

        Here is a post about Spiritual Causes of Anxiety and Depression that may be helpful to some wives, as well.

        Much love!

  9. Melanie-
    My heart grieves with you dear sister. Speaking from a survivor of emotional affair, you do not have to stay in the same home with a man that is preparing for adultery and is committing a type of it already that you know of. I suggest seeking godly, Christian counselor ASAP. (You can state you are in a crisis and need help immediately… I had an appointment that week) My counselor told me that lots of professionals had spent loads of money on research … What works is not allowing this man to have his cake and eat it too. My husband told me he loved another and I was horrified with disbelief. I would not allow it to be me that said we were over. I sat on the fence (for weeks)… I thought we were working on us. He did not break contact. I had a sense of realization. He was here with me and our small child, yet he wasn’t.

    I came home one day and told him I loved him, I deserved better and I would NOT stay in this house with him and his “love” for another. Everything we had and everything we were… My husband was not a cheater…. Yet here we were. I asked him to leave so that our son could stay in his own home. I told him to figure out what was going on, but I could not live like that. I was his wife.

    It took him exactly one day to see what he was losing and how far he had fallen from God. He was able to hear God that night. The only thing he knew when he woke up the next day was that he had to save our marriage. Now many women go through many different wavelengths of this. I am just sharing my story.

    This is not the love story I wish I was telling. That was almost a year ago. I had only begun the respect journey prior to this revelation, yet God showed me His strength and my weakness during our terrible storm. We continue to build. My husband has spent each day being transparent and rebuilding us. We are better than ever (although we have deep scars). I see a side of my husband now that I never did…for years I was misdirected regarding his motives and feelings. It took this devastation to the sanctity of our marriage to bring me to my knees to seek God’s voice, His presence.

    It’s awful. You are devastated. I have cried and wept and wailed this last year. God showed me my faults. I don’t take responsibility for his infidelity … I do now see how I showed him disrespect for years and we were headed for disaster one way or another. I also trust God now. Even if my husband walks out and turns my world upside down, God will take care of me. I continue to strive to be the best wife, mom, and Christian I can be….and I remind myself it is to please God, not my husband and not this world. I want to be close to God and feel His peace. God showed me that in my darkest time.

    I will pray for you and your husband right now.

    1. Thank you prayingwife79. It helps to hear your story and experience, I appreciate you sharing it. I want to make decisions in this that will glorify God. It’s hard though because I’m experiencing so many different emotions from one moment to the next that I don’t know if I can think clearly. Today I’m really feeling mad and angry. I feel like he just gets to live in his sin without any consequence and I have to wake up each and every day to my spirit being crushed anew. I know that ultimately there will be consequences but I can’t help but wish some on him right now. But even though he’s sinning, I don’t want to sin in all of this. I’m really seeking the Lord on what I need to be doing. I struggle with my motives as well. Part of me fears him leaving and maybe I’m doing things to try to prevent that? The other part of me just wants to please God. I don’t want to be a ‘good wife’ just so he won’t leave. I want to honor my commitment to him in marriage but I just don’t know how that looks. Seeking Gods wisdom today.

      Thank you for sharing that you don’t take responsibility for his infidelity. That’s huge, as I process and think of all the ways that I have failed it’s hard not to take responsibility for his infidelity.

      Thank you for praying for my husband and I.

      1. Melanie,

        My sweet sister! You are only responsible and accountable for yourself. Your husband is accountable for himself. You don’t own his sin. You only own yours. Thankfully, God has provided ABUNDANT GRACE and MERCY through Christ which we are all in desperate need of!

        I understand that you will go through stages – similar to stages of grief – as you process all of these emotions. I think that is pretty normal.

        I’m really glad that you want to honor God and not sin in this. I know that He will give you the wisdom, power, strength, direction and courage you need to take each step as you seek Him with all your heart, even in your pain.

        Much love to you!

        1. April,

          So well said. Most marriages have the same core problems. I think infidelity is purely about the cheater and not the “cheatee”. There is something “broken” in a person who cheats that makes it a constant struggle to not seek out “false affirmation”, ego stroking or self image boosters. It’s also a constant struggle for us to fight selfishness.

          Fortunately for me, the realization of how much I had hurt Mark by my unfaithfulness hit me with such a horrible impact during my night of silence at Tres Dias, that I have never even entertained the idea again. Had that not happened, I would still be struggling with inpropriety. I have never been faithful to anyone (this is my fourth marriage) and probably have always struggled with being a bit narcassistic. I think that’s very true of many people who struggle with unfaithfulness even if they don’t want to admit it (Narcassism is an ugly word). There wasn’t any real happiness around cheating. Even tho it seemed so at the time, it is chaotic and destructive.

          It makes me very sad when I read the accounts of women who have husbands who are unfaithful either with an emotional or physical affair. An affair is an affair whether it’s online, over text, physical, emotional or any other description we offenders might use to make it sound not so wrong. It’s still violating that covenant that is marriage. Nobody can cause, control, change or prevent another human being’s propensity to be unfaithful. It is a serious defect that impacts that person’s conscience. And without the Holy Spirit painfully convicting them of that sin, they will not change or repent and move towards reconciliation. They have to be convicted of this so that they understand that it is so wrong and that it is not victimless. It leaves a trail of victims. The offended spouse, children, extended family, friends, etc. And most important it offends God.

          Really, if God was face to face with your husband, would he say to God, “You know, I really “love this chick” on Facebook whom I don’t really know anymore other than our exchanges online”? I think people know when something isn’t right in their heart. And some choose to be honest with themselves, repent and reconcile anything that is good in their life. Others just choose to blame others, make excuses, play pretend happy about their choice, get further and further away from what is good and end up bitter and angry about the losses along the way. I really pray that the husbands that are doing this take the first path. For their wives’ sake, their kids’ sake and their own sake. Affairs are not something that should be this common in destroying Christian marriages. It is really like being a Christian 101.

          Gail

      2. Melanie,

        Hearing what you’re going through is bringing back my own memories of when I found out about my husband’s affairs 6 years ago. We are reconciled and together now, but struggling.

        I know God also prepared my heart at the right time when it was revealed because in that moment, I can’t describe to you the compassion that came out of me towards my husband. I was hurt, yes, but at the same time I thought “wow, he must be hurting so bad to do something like that.” Only God could have prepared me to have such a response to finding out about such a betrayal. I wish I could say that my attitude stayed that way through everything, but it didn’t. Its a roller coaster. Looking back now, I wish I had leaned into God so much more. I wish I hadn’t let me emotions control so many of our interactions. I think I ended up pushing him further away, not meaning to. I wish I had something helpful to tell you, but I just want to encourage you to truly use this time to grow closer to the Lord and watch him work in your life. I know its so hard to go through the motions of living your life when your going through something like this.

        I am praying for you today.

        Jeanne

  10. I have been worried about my heart being hard and times like last night when my husband and I have conflict, I feel like this wall has been put up between me and God again. I don’t want to be hardened and one verse I’ve been praying over my life since October is
    Hosea 10:12 – Plow up the hard grounds of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.

    Oh how I want to seek him and have his righteousness. I want to be soft!

    1. Jeanne,

      That is the exact right place to be – in humility before God, desiring Him and His Spirit and to be moldable and pliable in His hands. 🙂 Praying for you today!

    1. Constance,

      The reason I mention this, is – I was receiving emails from every wife who wanted to email me – but until 2 weeks ago, I was spending 3-6 hours per day on emails and answering about 150 emails per day most every day of the week for many, many months. My husband has asked me to cut way back on my time ministering online. So, I am trying to focus more on the blogs and comments. If you have specific issues, you may be able to share them in a fairly general way and I can point you to the many posts I have here that cover almost every imaginable topic.

      Here is a post that shows the way I would normally counsel a wife in a first email, maybe it will be helpful?

      I can be available for you here. I trust that the posts here will be a blessing and point you to Christ and His Word and His power to help you find the healing you need for yourself and your marriage.

      I am glad to walk beside you on this road!

      Much love,
      April

  11. April, It’s encouraging to see how you’re walking in obedience even when it’s hard. I know that it would have been hard for you to tell this woman that you couldn’t email with her personally. Not that you need me to say it, but I believe that you’re doing the right thing. Your blog is full of answers for women at various stages of this journey. It’s God’s wisdom that is displayed here and you are careful to point each of us in the right direction with that. Please don’t feel like you ‘should’ be doing more. You are an open and obedient vessel for God to use and He is well pleased with you!

    1. Melanie,
      My heart breaks that I am unable to email every wife. 🙁 it makes me sad! But I am available here and pray that women will find the truth, love, hope and power of God here.

      Thanks for the encouragement, I wish I could have time to personally minister to everyone. But, I know that what each of us need most is God, not me.

      1. hi April, i read about cognitive distortions and i find i have most of the symptoms like personalization, over-generalization, blaming etc what do u think is the cause?

        1. Flyaway,
          I don’t know. I am not experienced or educated in psychology. But I do believe there is every reason for hope in Christ and that He can heal your broken heart and bring you true peace and joy. 🙂

          1. Flyaway16,
            Satan can certainly tempt us into things like that, and also, we have our own sin nature that can definitely tempt us as well.

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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