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“Why Isn’t My Husband More Supportive of Me As I Seek to Change?”

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When a wife first begins this journey, it can be a very difficult time for her husband, many times, too. Let me see if I can pull the curtain back a bit on a husband’s heart and mind during these first few months (and maybe even years) when a wife truly repents and begins to seek God and wants to become a godly wife. Maybe some of the husbands will be willing to help us understand this better, too? Gentlemen, you are welcome to comment and share your masculine perspective on this issue!
If your husband happens to be extremely close to God – he may be able to help support you as you change. But most husbands (in my experience) – by the time their wives realize how much their disrespect/control hurt their husbands – are very deeply spiritually/emotionally damaged. By this point, they are often in self-protection and survival mode.
If a husband has felt extremely disrespected and his wife has been controlling for years – he may feel disconcerted and like the little tiny bit of stable ground beneath his feet is shaking if his wife starts changing a lot of things all the sudden. He may feel that this is another attempt by her to manipulate him into changing to be what she wants him to be. She has probably spent the last X number of years trying to change him. He is probably very tired of not being accepted and her attempts to make him her project. He may want to just do anything he can to try to re-establish “normal” and to try to feel like things are as stable as possible – even if it means things are still very tense.
Please understand, he is probably afraid and deeply wounded. But most men are not going to say that. Most men feel they have to just “man up” and bear their pain alone and try to make the best of a difficult situation and not talk about how much they hurt. Greg NEVER told me how hurt he was – not for the entire first 14.5 years of our marriage. A husband may feel that he has been burned over and over again for a LONG time. He is afraid to trust that this could be real, because what if he gets his hopes up and then his wife doesn’t change? What if he has the faith to expect that she will become a godly, respectful wife with a gentle, peaceful spirit who does what is right and does not give way to fear, who does good and not evil to him all the days of his life, a wife he can trust and be safe with – and then she turns on him and emotionally/verbally/spiritually destroys him after he opens up to her again?
He may not feel like he can endure that. It may be easier to try to sabotage her now (or call her out on her “manipulation” now, from his perspective) so that he doesn’t get his hopes up only to be crushed again. If he believes she can’t really change –  better to prove that to himself and to her now than to torture himself with the “fantasy” that maybe he actually could have a wonderful marriage. (I am not justifying this approach, just sharing that this is my understanding of how husbands may feel at times.)
Also, most men HATE change. Even good change. It is scary.  Right now, he is reacting out of fear and hurt.  Eventually, as God continues to change a wife – many husbands will change over from skepticism/negativity/insults to confusion. In time, the confusion will give way to curiosity. And then, eventually the curiosity will give way to wonder, appreciation and gratitude. Usually. And – in a VERY, VERY long time – when God continues to change a wife, a husband may eventually feel safe enough to trust his wife and let his guard down with her again. It took Greg 3.5 years into my journey to get to that point (he shared with me last year).
A wounded, disrespected husband’s dreams of a beautiful marriage were already crushed before. Just like his wife’s were. He may be terrified to go through that kind of pain again.  That’s ok.  We aren’t doing this for him. He will benefit, eventually from our obedience to God, yes. But we are doing this for Jesus. Not for our husband’s reaction.  
  • If we are doing this just to change our husbands, then our motives are sinful. That would be manipulation, not total devotion to Christ. This long time of waiting when our husbands don’t change is necessary, in my view, for God to refine our motives and purify our hearts so that ALL we want in the end is to please Jesus and bless our husbands. Nothing else.
So, my precious sisters, don’t take the “really big bait” as Laura Doyle calls it in The Surrendered Wife. He may try to get you to react. He may try to push your buttons. He may try to get you to do the old familiar “song and dance” because then he will feel like he knows what he is dealing with and be assured that things are the same and he can go back to “normal.” You don’t have to go there anymore. You have God’s power now!
Even if he doesn’t believe in you right now – that is ok. He’s very hurt. It is understandable. He is human. He is looking at the past X number of years as proof of your “true identity.”  That’s ok. You are now about to create a new history with the power of God’s Spirit transforming your heart, mind and soul. The longer the new history goes on, the more safe he will eventually feel. You are tearing down everything you built before and rebuilding from scratch on Jesus.
  • Jesus will reward you for your obedience and faithfulness to Him. That is enough. More than enough, really.
The only “benefit” you gain from giving into that awful fleshly voice that tells you to lash out at him when he lashes out at you is that you would be able to tear into your husband and rip him apart even more, causing more destruction to his soul, your soul and the marriage. That will set you behind even many more months or years.
IF A HUSBAND IS EXTREMELY WOUNDED AND/OR SHUT DOWN:
Please picture him as being in the ICU in a hospital bed. Right now, he is barely breathing on his own. Right now, he is barely spiritually conscious. If he is not a believer, he is spiritually dead. Yes, you are hurt, too. Maybe you have a broken leg and a lot of scrapes and scratches. But right now, he can not get up out of that hospital bed and take care of you. He is that spiritually and emotionally critically wounded.
You may have to set aside your needs, even though they are legitimate, and tend to him first. Strangling him spiritually and emotionally will not make him better. It will not make him get up and be strong enough to serve you and take care of you. He’s not doing well right now. Please let Jesus take care of your wounds, and you do anything you can to tend to your husband’s wounds. Or, at the very least, stay out of God’s way so that God can heal him. Sinful words from you right now would just slash his soul apart even more and cause more internal bleeding. I know that isn’t what you want to do. Sometimes, when people are wounded, they lash out.
Please focus on your own walk with Christ and allow Him to work in your heart and get things right with Him – that is the only way any of us can get things right with other people. We need Jesus desperately first and foremost!
Understand that he doesn’t realize what is going on with you right now. He probably doesn’t know how difficult this journey is for you and what a complete overhaul of your entire emotional/spiritual existence this will be. He doesn’t know that this is a long journey. He may think you should just be able to flip a switch and be respectful and understand him. But – this is a process that takes time. It doesn’t come naturally to women! He is hurting and in great pain and distress emotionally and spiritually. He can’t just flip a switch and be more loving either. He has just as long of a journey to learn to become the man God desires him to be as you have to become the woman God desires you to be. He can’t be Christ to you. He can’t meet the needs that only God can meet in your life. Now, I encourage you to set self aside, and cooperate with God to bless this precious brother in the Lord for whom Christ died. How does God want His dear son, your husband, to be treated by you?
(If there are SERIOUS issues in the marriage, and a wife is as wounded as her husband or more so – she may need outside help. They may both need outside help. I am not addressing situations here where there might be infidelity, drug addictions, uncontrolled mental health disorders, abuse, etc…  As always, if you are in such a situation, please seek godly, experienced help ASAP!)
FROM A HUSBAND:
  • George says in response to  “Why isn’t my husband more supportive of me as I seek to change?” –
Because he wants it to be true change even if he fails. He has to be able to count on it, even when he is tired, or forgets, or is sick, or confused.
  • Please check out Rookie Writer’s post that he wrote in response to the post yesterday – it is in the comment section of this post today.
  • From PaulC:

I find it hard to avoid shutting down. It’s harder to trust the change that I might be seeing. And even harder to know that I am called to be forgiving and to love my wife no matter what is happening.

I know that I have given up on certain things. I think that men will withdraw from their wives to avoid being hurt or to avoid feeling like you have no value to her. And it doesn’t sound manly…but it can be very difficult to drum up the courage to share how you are feeling if you’ve been degraded or beaten over the head for your feelings. Eventually….it is easy to keep quiet rather than put yourself out there. If you don’t have a voice, then you lose confidence that you are important to her. I believe that men like to feel like they have a purpose. And while our greatest affirmation comes from what God say about us….it is important to know that our wives believe in us. So, after being hurt, I think anyone’s natural reaction to be not be trusting of a change. I guess that I would encourage wives to be open with your husband about where you struggle, what you are learning, why you want to make a change and how you are doing it. It makes it a conversation. It will helps us understand what is going on which ultimately helps us take down the walls. I know that I appreciate when my wife shares with me how I can love and support her.

I think with many things in marriage….it is important that we let our spouse see that God is working through us. It all takes times, but the journey toward the marriages that God has planned for us are worth the effort.

RELATED:
Greg writes about what he was thinking as God changed me “When She Surrendered”
Husbands Have Feelings, Too – Peacefulwife video

45 thoughts on ““Why Isn’t My Husband More Supportive of Me As I Seek to Change?”

    1. Elizabeth,

      In my experience with wives on this road, it often takes husbands much longer to change than wives. Often many, many months or years longer. But as the wife changes and becomes the woman God desires her to be more and more – her obedience to God and God’s Spirit working in her can serve as a bit of a launching pad for God to work in the husband’s heart, too – in my view.

      Much love!

  1. I find it hard to avoid shutting down. It’s harder to trust the change that I might be seeing. And even harder to know that I am called to be forgiving and to love my wife no matter what is happening.

    I know that I have given up on certain things. I think that men will withdraw from their wives to avoid being hurt or to avoid feeling like you have no value to her. And it doesn’t sound manly…but it can be very difficult to drum up the courage to share how you are feeling if you’ve been degraded or beaten over the head for your feelings. Eventually….it is easy to keep quiet rather than put yourself out there. If you don’t have a voice, then you lose confidence that you are important to her. I believe that men like to feel like they have a purpose. And while our greatest affirmation comes from what God say about us….it is important to know that our wives believe in us. So, after being hurt, I think anyone’s natural reaction to be not be trusting of a change. I guess that I would encourage wives to be open with your husband about where you struggle, what you are learning, why you want to make a change and how you are doing it. It makes it a conversation. It will helps us understand what is going on which ultimately helps us take down the walls. I know that I appreciate when my wife shares with me how I can love and support her.

    I think with many things in marriage….it is important that we let our spouse see that God is working through us. It all takes times, but the journey toward the marriages that God has planned for us are worth the effort.

    1. PaulC,

      I know that Greg felt the way you are describing. It breaks my heart now – but he didn’t feel like his opinion was important to me. I always thought that I was “right” and he was “wrong.” He gave up trying to express his opinions and feelings and just shut down for many, many years. 🙁

      I think that wives may be able to be open with husbands who are walking with Christ. But I would caution wives whose husbands are far from God that many times our words in that situation will only make things worse. I Peter 3:1-6 is our prescription from God in that situation. Actions are what our husbands need to see at that point.

      It is definitely worth the effort and as we continue to obey God just to honor and please Him – God is able to heal our marriages.

      Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

      Would you please allow me to quote part of your comment in the post?

      1. Absolutely. Please share any part that might be helpful.

        I know that you have many men that read these post. I would encourage these men to focus on what God calls us to do as husbands. It is important that we love our wives and offer the same forgiveness that God provided us. It will help you open your heart to your wife’s efforts which in return will give her the security and strength to make a change. Guys…just remember…we aren’t perfect either.

        1. PaulC,

          Thank you for the encouragement to the husbands. If they can open their hearts to their wives’ efforts, it will be so much more encouraging for wives to keep trying. This process of dying to self, repenting of massive amounts of sin we were blind to before, and allowing God to completely transform our hearts, minds and souls is a very difficult, painful, long, frustrating process. I don’t think that most husbands realize just how intense and involved it is. It’s not like we know how to be godly wives automatically – especially if we have had poor examples and we have been absorbing ungodly lies from the culture and listening to the enemy for many years. Most of us don’t purposely try to hurt our husbands. We are reacting out of our own pain. We often really don’t understand our husbands or what they need or how to meet their needs. We think that our husbands think and feel just like us – and we don’t understand how different a man’s perspective and ways of thinking can be from our own. This is a lot like learning a foreign language for many of us – we can’t master it in a week or a month. It takes time. Thank you for exhorting the husbands, PaulC!

          When our husbands are able to provide support, encouragement, unconditional love, grace, constructive feedback, patience and mercy – this whole process can be much easier. I am not saying “easy” but it is easiER when a couple works together on this as a team from both sides.

          However, ladies, even if your husband does not cooperate with you – God holds you accountable for your part. And God can do miracles even if your husband is not “trying” or “helping” or willing to work with you. I have seen it happen so many times! 🙂

  2. The ICU illustration is such a helpful picture. Wounds do heal and it is so worth it. It is getting some easier for me to stay off that throne of self love and idol worship and recognize when I am sneaking a foot up in that direction.

    I have seen the boy come out in my husband lately (7 months in). To see him laugh, joke and sing with me in carefree abandon, again, is so wonderful. Our marriage wasn’t in dire straits but my husband was wounded, I was frustrated and fearful etc.

    Blessings to all my sisters out there laying down self and picking up the cross today.

    1. learningever,

      This illustration helped me SO MUCH when I was beginning this journey. It is easy to feel the pain we are feeling that we believe others cause us. But sometimes we don’t really feel the pain we cause our husbands nearly as much. Especially if they don’t talk about it. We may assume they aren’t hurt at all. When I realized the extent of the damage my disrespect and control had caused in Greg – I was mortified.

      It is unreasonable for me to expect someone who is physically battered and wounded to the point they are on a ventilator in the ICU to get up and do things for me that I want them to do to meet my needs. I can wrap my head around that. It helped me to understand that I had emotionally and spiritually assaulted my husband to the point that he was barely functioning spiritually or emotionally. 🙁 Makes me cry tears of shame now. How could I not have seen what I was doing to him? But I didn’t. I was so concerned about what I wanted him to do for me – I had no idea what he needed or wanted. He wasn’t able to tell me. And I couldn’t guess.

      Once I understood how wounded he was – I was able to excuse him from jumping up to serve me. I was able to see that my needs, though legitimate, must go on the back burner because my husband needed attention, care and healing much more than I did. This helped me to have compassion on him and to want to do anything I could to make things right. It took a LONG, LONG time for him to heal. It was over 2 years before I had any clue what I was doing with respect and biblical submission. Then it was another year and a half before Greg felt safe with me again.

      I can’t just stand over his bed and yell at him to get up and take care of me. I was broken and humbled – seeing how much I had hurt my husband. I always loved him so much! I never intended to hurt him. But my intentions didn’t matter. When I hit someone hard with a metal bat – they have broken bones whether I meant to hit them or not. My unintentional disrespect hurt Greg VERY, VERY MUCH.

      I remember begging God to let us both live a little bit longer – so that I could have a chance to try to make things up to Greg. I didn’t want to die and leave Greg with memories of how disrespectful I had been to him. God was so gracious to allow me to have over 5 years so far to try to make things right.

      God showed me how to put down my weapons (my hateful, disrespectful, controlling, accusing, bitter, angry, critical, condemning words and attitudes). I’m so thankful! And He showed me how to begin to breathe life into my husband and our marriage by learning what real respect is, how to build up with my words, how to affirm, how to encourage, how to bless…

      Those good things didn’t come naturally to me. What came naturally to me was sin. But praise God that He was willing and able to change me! I am not perfect. I still have thousands of miles to go on this journey. But THANK GOD I am not where I was. That is totally a God thing.

      I pray God might show each wife how precious her husband is in His sight. I pray He might give us His love and compassion for our husbands. He loves them so much! I pray that we might allow God’s love to pour through us to our husbands as we learn how to understand and meet their masculine, God-given needs for God’s glory and our husband’s benefit.

      Much love!

      1. “I remember begging God to let us both live a little bit longer – so that I could have a chance to try to make things up to Greg. I didn’t want to die and leave Greg with memories of how disrespectful I had been to him. God was so gracious to allow me to have over 5 years so far to try to make things right.”

        Yes…I do this!!

        “God showed me how to put down my weapons (my hateful, disrespectful, controlling, accusing, bitter, angry, critical, condemning words and attitudes). I’m so thankful! And He showed me how to begin to breathe life into my husband and our marriage by learning what real respect is, how to build up with my words, how to affirm, how to encourage, how to bless…”

        I want to breath life back into him and our marriage. I want the chance to do that!

        “Those good things didn’t come naturally to me. What came naturally to me was sin. But praise God that He was willing and able to change me! I am not perfect. I still have thousands of miles to go on this journey. But THANK GOD I am not where I was. That is totally a God thing.”

        Sin comes so naturally AND loudly!
        Working on changing my response to that!

        Great post!!
        Thanks!

        1. PLM,

          I pray that God might empower you to abide in Him, to let go of all the sin, to die to self and to live in total abandon and submission to Christ – that His Spirit might open the floodgates of heaven to pour the treasures and spiritual healing and blessings of Christ Himself into your life, your husband’s life and your marriage for His glory! 🙂

  3. April,

    You made a really good point that if were doing this just to change our husbands then are motives are sinful. That it would be manipulation and not total devotion to Christ. I think it’s important to examine our heart.
    I look forward to reading your blog every morning with my coffee. I appreciate all the time you put into this. 🙂

    1. Amy,
      This process of becoming a godly wife and the process of sanctification is ALL about our motives all the time. It requires us to constantly monitor our motives and take every thought captive and replace the sinful thoughts with God-honoring thoughts. Yes, it is extremely important for us to examine our hearts.

      A big flag for me is if I find myself feeling disappointed in Greg – that is a clue that I need to take my heart and motives to God and examine my heart for sin.

      You are most welcome. It is a labor of love. I can’t keep this treasure of heaven to myself! 🙂 Please pray that God will empower me and enable me to be faithful to Him, that it will be His message, His Spirit, His power, His will and His glory that are at work here.

      Much love!

  4. This is so good. Its really what I needed to read today. I think my husband is in the “extremely wounded/shutdown” category and your example of him being in the ICU is so helpful to understand what he might be going through.

    I was listening to Nina Roesner on a Focus on the Family podcast this morning and she said something that stood out to me, “When my relationship with God is absolutely solid and firm and I feel deeply connected to Him, I can look at my husband as another believer, a brother that I am just walking tightly with through this journey of life versus having expectations of him meeting my needs, because God’s already doing that.” I really like that idea of me being able to view him as a brother in Christ and how that can change how I treat him.

    1. Jeanne,
      I love Nina Roesner! She has been such an incredible godly example and mentor to me!

      Yes- if we can view our husbands as humans on equal footing at the cross of Christ with us – that we are not better than they are, that we are fellow travelers on this journey – it helps so much! Especially when we realize that God can and will meet our needs – then we can take down the idol of “husband” and put him in his proper, healthy place in our hearts.

  5. From Rookie Writer:

    After Years of Disrespect, It’s Hard to Believe You’re Going to Change.

    This is my response to Peaceful Wife’s Blog post “Husbands Have Expectations, Too – GraceAlone’s Journey“. There are a lot of wives out here that berate and reject their husbands. And when they try to change they are surprised by the lack of support from their husbands. So I begin with my own marriage.

    Short story of my marriage. When I first got married I gave up on two hobbies that consumed my time; video games and freelancing. Since I married, I wanted to spend time with my wife. Before marriage things were great between us but when we got married and she finally came down after graduating from college; roughly one thousand and five hundred miles away. She changed dramatically. Affection, sex and conversation changed between us. I tried to start everything and she disrespected me with her words as well as actions. I tried for five months to be with my wife and she did not comply. I was told to go find something else to do or her favorite phrase “Spend time with the Dog.” I wanted to spend time with my wife and yet she rejected all advances like I was an enemy of the state or something. I became a little depressed but I’m not the person to let a situation consume me. Therefore I gradually picked up freelancing and video games. When I started to pick these habits again, I was out the loop completely. For those that don’t know me personally should note that I was heavily involved in both of these habits. I’m talking I was in online tournaments (fun and competitive) and had a lot of people I play games with. And some of these guys I did freelancing with as a team. As for the freelancing I had to start all over but the gaming everyone filled me in quickly. And after months of disrespect I found something else to do besides try to spend time with my wife; I still spent time with the dog. So instead of enduring the disrespect from the wife, I found other things to do.

    After a while, she changed again; year three of the marriage. She wanted to spend time with me. This is after rejecting and fighting with me about sex and other things. To make a long story short, I am not as open as I was at the beginning of the marriage because I don’t trust her with my heart. As she changes, I can’t open myself up like I was at the beginning. Have I put freelancing and video games down; no. Actually I play video games at least one night a week after she’s asleep; normally Friday. I wasn’t getting anywhere with freelancing so I gave up on easily. It’s hard to open up again.

    So I begin to explain a little.

    Proverbs 16:24

    Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

    Proverbs 18:21

    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

    During those hard times, I learned a bit about these two verses. I learned what to say and how to say it along with not lying. And remember that there will be times where I will have to be honest and just say it.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    I found out telling my wife certain things outside the home wasn’t worth the trouble; let alone things that needed to be said in the bedroom. However this is something else that I might need to bring up.

    After years of disrespect, It’s hard to for me to open up to her and believe if she will every change. I didn’t want to spend time with her to reduce disrespect and fighting between us. She got what she want since no matter what I said matter. And there was ‘no’ sex. Nothing. I couldn’t do anything right in her eyes. So when she changed for God, I had no idea what to do anymore. I didn’t know what to do when it came to initiating sex, what she liked to do or what shows she liked. I did know her favorite color though. That’s about the only thing I could remember was consistent. I didn’t know at the time but I treated the situation like this;

    Romans 1:28

    And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    Meaning that since she didn’t care what I think, what I wanted or needed. I gave up and her let do what she thinks is the right thing to do; bills and more. Its like when the police screams “Put Your Hands Up And Walk Away” with their guns drawn. I stepped back to keep the peace. I still did the bills but it was more like damage control since she spent so much it put us in the red; blamed me every time.

    So suddenly she wanted to change for God. And told me that she was going to change and my response was “ok.” That is all I said. No explanation. And than she asked another question.

    Do you believe me? And I answered honestly, “No.”

    Apparently this hurt her but there is no point of lying about it. It’s hard for me to believe she was going to change. After years she had to eat this sentence.

    “Actions speak louder than words.”

    I didn’t believe one word that came out of her mouth. Instead of believe anything, she had to prove that she was going to change. Instead of believe her, she had to show me. My eyes had to see it. I couldn’t honor the words coming out of her mouth since I didn’t trust her as much as I did. So trust has to be built back up and if you don’t put in the work. Trust will never be built. Now I didn’t make my wife eat these words but her disrespect and hurtful words and actions I didn’t trust her words.

    So for the wives that are changing. All the hurtful things you said to your husband during the times you berated and disrespected him. He’s not going to open up to you as easy as he was in the beginning. Instead of talking, its time to walk. Mainly you have to prove you’re going to change instead of saying it.

  6. Rookie Writer,

    I am praying for you, your wife and your marriage – for healing for all three and for God’s power and glory in your lives. Thank you for allowing me to share your story and your perspective. It is difficult for many wives to understand how husbands may feel – I hope that this might give wives a glimpse into how painful and difficult things can be from a husband’s side as well.

  7. I can only share my own experience on this subject.I suppose a little history of our marriage is in order. My wife and I have been married for 38 years as of January this year. Until roughly 2 years ago, I let my wife have her way in practically everything, because I was just tired of fighting. The one exception was the bedroom, and even that was sporadic.Even now, that’s the area, that keeps me from believing she is truly changing.Through most of our marriage, I have felt my wife would only be intimate because I wanted to, and it was a burden for her.I have always believed, that is a method she has used to try and control me. I can’t even begin to express the rage that threatens to well up in me, when I think she’s doing that. It would make the Hulk’s rage, look tame.It’s blinding, I can’t think, I can barely see straight.

    Yet God calls me to love my wife , as Christ loves the Church.That means to me, none of what I’ve written before now matters. I AM responsible to God for my wife, no matter if she likes it or not. No matter if I like it or not. So i clamp down on the beast. HARD! It took every thing I had at first, not to smash everything in sight. By God’s grace, I’ve gotten pretty good at it . I’m getting better at being loving towards her even when I’m in the middle of struggling with this.I do this because I see God’s patience and grace towards me.How can I then,turn around and beat my fellow servant?

    Lest you all think my wife is this terrible shrew, she is not.I would not even, say that she is selfish. In every other way, she is as kind and gentle and giving a wife as a man could want.She has been a good mother to our children.She simply has her priorities mixed up.She thinks I’m one of the children sometimes.

    With all this going on, I try to be open with her about my walk with Jesus, and what God is showing me. But that part of me regarding how I see our marriage? I can’t be open about it. I can’t let her see my heart. It would crush her, and I WILL NOT, WILL NOT, DO THAT.

    1. Ted,

      You know what? You bring up a really important point that I have heard from a number of husbands.

      Many husbands will not share their true feelings with their wives because they know their wives would be very hurt if they did. I think it is commendable for a man to want to avoid hurting his wife. I have not seen the same consideration of feelings in the reverse very often. I know that I never tried to hold back my feelings from Greg for fear that I would hurt him. 🙁 Of course, I eventually believed he couldn’t be hurt. But – I was so wrong!

      My concern and question for the wives is – if our husbands do not feel safe sharing their true feelings with us – how can we have true intimacy? How can we have actual vulnerability when our husbands don’t want to hurt us or don’t feel safe to share with us?

      I personally would rather, now, for my husband to share his true feelings, even if it hurt me – than to act like things are fine but for him to be hurting.

      I don’t think there is a one-size-fits- all answer to this dilemma. And, I think what specific husbands do will depend on how God is leading them and how their wives are doing at the time. But – it is something for us as wives to consider.

      Are we most concerned with deeply knowing our husbands and being a safe place for them to share vulnerably? Or are we more concerned with not feeling hurt ourselves?

      Something to prayerfully think about!

      1. I agree that there really isn’t a one size fits all answer for this.
        I believe in my marriage, at one point, my husband did care about hurting my feelings and he didn’t say anything… as time went on he did share a little, but would retract it when he saw how hurt I was. He would always end up apologizing to me and saying things were fine. Now, years later, its worn on him so much that he really doesn’t care about hurting my feelings and tells me exactly what I am doing and what I’ve done to him. Its really painful to know he doesn’t care anymore (understandable though), but at the same time I’m so glad I am finally hearing what he’s been saying. I HATE that I didn’t understand years ago. One of the things he recently told me about not knowing if our marriage would work is that he can’t go on pretending that things are okay. Yikes! This was an eye opener. I thought things had really been getting better over the previous year, but I was so wrong. I think we really have to let ourselves be “hurt” to hear the truth. Its so hard though.

        1. Jeanne,

          I agree! I don’t think that it works for a spouse to not share their heart and their needs. Any spouse who does that and who pretends things are ok when they aren’t will eventually blow up – I think.

          I really wish Greg had told me the hard things many years ago. It wasn’t a gift to me for him to pretend like he was ok. Yes, it would have upset me A LOT. And YES, I would have been very hurt – but we could have been spared 14 years of pain and frustration. I never did read his mind accurately. It is necessary to remove a little bit of gangrene before it spreads. It’s easier the sooner we address it! Painful, yes, but not as painful as it is if we wait and wait and wait.

          It is hard to hear the truth when it hurts. It is painful. But – it is the beginning of a path to healing.

          And – for someone to not share the truth in love – to me – would be deceptive. It is building a marriage on sinking sand if it is built on deception. That marriage cannot stand over time. There has to be transparency and honesty – not cruelty. But a desire to put Christ first and then a desire to share truthfully in a loving, respectful way – with a godly, healthy marriage being the end goal and honor to Christ being the end goal.

          Thank you so much for sharing!

      2. The thing is I am painfully aware, of how ANYTHING negative that I say to my wife affects her. Even allowing negative attitudes in myself affect her, send her into a tailspin. She IS the weaker vessel. Modern nonsense about how strong women are, is just that . Nonsense. And those who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.

        Another point to why husband’s may not respond, is this. If I respond too quickly, to my wife’s attempts, without testing her motives, I run the risk of allowing her to think, everything is OK now. I want a better, more perfect union,in my marriage, and with Christ than we currently have. I will not settle for second best. So I try to balance encouragement, with setting goals for us. All the while, knowing I can’t make her change, I can only show her the way.

        1. She is not as weak as she looks. It took me years to learn this.

          The “crumbling” in front of you is probably now just an automatic response. You have enabled this in her by always yielding to her emotional resistance to correction.

          This has had the additional effect of validating her views. If you always yield to her “pain” at being corrected, she will begin to think that she “must be right” because this is how you always respond.

          In fact, you are leading her into this, since women often take their cues from others regarding what is and is not acceptable.

          I challenge you: Do you think Christ will tap-dance around the truth when we give account of ourselves?

          Christ was always gentle with those who did not know better, and very harsh with those who did know better.

          Christ will not spare anyone’s feelings when it comes to telling Godly truth.

          Yes, female tears and emotional displays are like Kryptonite to many men, and I am not always as steadfast against them as I would like to be.

          But your woman is far, far tougher than you could ever imagine, and her tears will dry up quickly once she sees that they are not working. Then, you can expect her to try other means to get you to be silent.

          Ultimately, you have to toughen yourself against these things and be firm but loving with her. A man MUST NOT allow a woman’s emotional displays to be the final veto against his authority, his calling in life, or his sense of himself.

          I’ve told women in my life uncomfortable things that they needed to hear, and the outcome was not always pretty. I did notice, though, that once they realized that I could not be swayed by emotional displays, they calmed down much quicker than I originally expected.

          As a man, you can, and must set the tone.

          1. Jack,

            I am actually SO RELIEVED that my emotions and feelings are not the final deciding factor when Greg makes decisions now. That was WAY too much pressure for me to carry the ultimate veto card. Now, I am so unburdened to know that Greg will take my feelings into account, but they are not the basis for his decisions. He seeks most of all to honor God and he is accountable to God. So that helps put my feelings and emotions into a much needed and more clarified perspective.

            I am SO THANKFUL that Greg listens to me and cares about my feelings and desires – but that he doesn’t allow himself to be swayed by me but does what he believes is right. I respect his convictions and his faith. I am thankful for the times he has told me things that are uncomfortable. There were so many years he didn’t tell me those things and I just continued on in my sinful pride, arrogance and idolatry – to the detriment of both of us and our marriage and family.

            It is so reassuring to me to know that Greg carries the weight of leadership and the accountability before God for his decisions. It gives me great peace, comfort and strength to know that weight is no longer on me.

            I know that women may be terrified to think of their husband not basing his decisions ultimately on our feelings at first – because we are used to making feelings idols in our culture. But God desires us to base our decisions on His Word, not our emotions.

            I have a post about that on http://www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com last week “Basing Decisions on Feelings.” Hope to run it on this blog soon, too.

            Thanks so much for the perspective, Jack!

            Here is the main body of that post:
            ———–

            Emotions and feelings are good gifts God has given to us. Happiness, sadness, fear, anger and nervousness all have purposes in our lives and can be used for good. They help us know when there are problems and to be able to respond to our circumstances and to other people. They also can bring us and others great joy when we use them properly.

            In our culture today, many of us build our lives upon our feelings. We make decisions based on “what will make me feel happy right now.”

            Feelings are important. They can act as a compass and help us sometimes to know if we are headed in the right direction or not. They can be red flags to show us that we need to examine our feelings and to determine why we feel the way we do so that we can know ourselves, our hearts and make the best decisions. BUT…

            – Feelings alone are a very poor foundation upon which to make decisions.
            – Feelings are not infallible. They are not a source of absolute truth.

            It is possible to put our feelings above everything else in life. We may even, unconsciously, put our feelings above God in our hearts. We may decide that we have to do “everything” we possibly can to avoid being upset, sad, scared or unhappy – no matter what the cost. We may decide that we need to put our own current feelings of happiness on the throne of our lives, basing all of our choices upon “what will make me feel happy right now?”

            When we build our lives on feelings and emotions – we are building on sinking sand. When the storms come, decisions and lives that are built on feelings will collapse because they do not have a firm foundation.
            Jesus is the Rock. When we build our lives on Him and His Word, we are building our lives on solid ground that will not crumble beneath the load of our lives. When the storms come, our house will stand.

            HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT?

            When I face a decision, what level of priority do I give my feelings? Do I make them A factor, or do I make them THE factor?

            When I allow my feelings to be in charge. They become tyrannical. Obedience to God goes out the window. Love for others becomes “too complicated,” “too costly” or “inconvenient.” If all that matters is my personal happiness in the moment, my deceitful heart can justify any sin against God or against others because my only concern is “I need to feel happy right now.”
            When Jesus is my LORD. His Word is the deciding factor. I can certainly express my feelings to God. But then, if Jesus is Lord, I obey God. Period. No matter what my feelings are at the time. I value His wisdom much more than my own and His truth much more than my emotions.

            Here is a little secret about obeying God.

            Obedience comes first. Feelings usually follow obedience.

            But even if good feelings don’t follow my obedience to God, my feelings are not important in comparison with my obedience to God. God calls me to live a holy life, to live in the power of His Spirit, to walk as Christ walked. He says that if I love Him, I will obey Him. He says that those who do not obey Him do not love Him. (John 14:22,24)
            God will judge me based on how I lived my life according to His holy standards, not according to my emotions. The only way I can do this is to be filled up with His Spirit, abiding in Him daily and allowing His power to regenerate my spirit. Then He empowers me to live the way He commands me to live in ways I never could on my own. But I must be willing to submit fully to Him and abandon anything He says is sin.

            TEARING OUT THE IDOL OF FEELINGS

            It can be scary to stop basing our lives on our emotions if that is what we have always done. But there is so much freedom when we allow God’s Spirit to be in charge instead of our feelings! Then we are no longer slaves to our fleeting and ever-changing emotions. Being a slave to our emotions ALWAYS means we will also be a slave to sin. We want to feed the sinful nature and the desires of the flesh when we listen to feelings. When we die to our old sinful nature and live as living sacrifices for Jesus, there is great love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in increasing measure in our lives.
            Now, we allow God to be in charge and we boss our feelings around instead of allowing our feelings to “boss us around” and dictate what we will do in any situation. God’s Word becomes the standard and pleasing Him becomes our goal.

          2. I like to think of it this way:

            The husband creates a “space” in himself for full communication of his wife’s feelings. This space allows her to be free to express all her feelings (hopefully, with respect), without the worry that her feelings will be immediately acted upon or serve as the final arbiter of the decision.

            I know that many women are not always 100% sure of their feelings either, and even though they might fight it, they are glad to have their husband balance the emotions with his masculine perspective.

            On the other side of the coin, men need to understand that God gave women these feelings for a reason and that they are not acting in Godly leadership if the wife’s feelings are discounted.

          3. Jack,

            I love your description here. Would you like to elaborate at all? I think this is a wonderful topic for a post! I like the balance and they way you describe a masculine point of view here. Thank you!

  8. I would say this is spot on with what would be going on with most husbands.

    To amplify, what I would suspect is that whatever positive changes were happening would be withdrawn the first time I did not respond appropriately. So, if my wife, say, made me lunch to take to work with me, and I didn’t overflow with thanks, or respond with an even bigger favor, this would be enough to end the “experiment.”

    And, actually, things would be worse than before, because it would now be established that doing nice things for me isn’t an effective way to get me to change. The carrot doesn’t work; back to the stick.

    So, what this might do is send husbands into a panic that they better not screw this up, or else things are going to be even worse than they are now.

    1. Johnmcg,

      I want very much to accurately represent husbands when I talk about how husbands feel – so I appreciate your willingness to share!

      I have to agree with you – that the dynamic you are describing is very likely to take place – that a wife might get discouraged and stop trying if her husband doesn’t respond the way she wants him to. That is not what I want to see happen, of course!

      But it is very helpful to hear your perspective. Thank you – I think this will be eye opening for many wives!

  9. What if the situations are reversed? What do you do when you share with your husband and he says, “I wish my problems were so trivial. I wish I had your problems….” I always listen and sympathize with his problems. I NEVER make light of them or try to tell him he should feel that way…

    1. Elizabeth,

      I believe there is a lot more going on in your marriage – if I remember correctly – that your husband may be quite depressed, and that you have possibly been so quiet that you have not been sharing your feelings and thoughts much. Am I remembering that right?

      I think it is ok to say something like, “I would feel so loved and supported if you would just listen to me. My problems may seem small to you – but they are significant to me and I feel loved when you listen and reassure me that things will be ok and hug me. Then, I am happy to listen while you talk about your problems. I’m so sorry you are feeling overwhelmed, Honey! What can I do to bless you?”

  10. Yes, you remember correctly. He did apologize and I said sort of what you said above about feeling loved and trying to be vulnerable and he wanted me to share what was on my heart and this IS what is on my heart. I had already listened to him talk about his problems before this. I am sending him encouraging texts and e-mails daily. I hug him and pray out loud for him. I ask him every day what I can do to help him. I just haven’t had the courage to be vulnerable nearly as much since this incident.

  11. Why are men not always on board when a wife wants to change?

    Well, it is not necessarily against the wife.

    The reason men are skeptical is that many Christian organizations stealthily attack men.

    Sometimes, various Christian groups re-brand scolding into “help” and “leadership promotion” for men, when in fact it is the same old scold & shame tactics.

    So, when a wife wants to change, she risks being seen through that lens.

    Best way is to just change, without fanfare or announcement of any kind. Just change. In fact, the effect will be more noticeable if you just do it.

    1. Jack,

      I love this!

      Best way is to just change, without fanfare or announcement of any kind. Just change. In fact, the effect will be more noticeable if you just do it.

      Thank you very much!

    2. I have to add onto this. I believe most husbands try to bring this issue up with their wives but receive a scolding in return. That makes it hard for us to even listen to them when they don’t listen to us in return. So after listening to them and doing what they ask. And suddenly they want to change makes some of us not believe them. Especially if its been going on for long time.

  12. From an anonymous wife (yes, wives can be as wounded or more wounded than their husbands, please seek help if there are serious problems in the marriage!!!!)

    ———
    I read in your post from today about thinking of the husband as hospitalized and bed ridden and the wife as having had minor injuries-take care of him first. I disagree, as that is what led us down a spiral in the last couple years. If he is “hospitalized” then the nurses and doctors (The Trinity) are more capable to take care of him than the wife is. She needs to take care of herself first, to get better first. She cannot take care of him without doing that first. When she is healed and capable again, she can reach out to take care of him. When I was constantly trying to take care of my husband and not taking the time for me first it we were experiencing a detriment to our relationship. Not until I started taking care of me first, dealing with my own hurts first, speaking plainly about my feelings in the moment, and also putting into practice “do unto others” did things start to improve. The “do unto others” part was not trying to help him recover, but just basic decency. I had to do what I needed to do FIRST.

    I think there are instances in the Bible about not taking care of others first including but not limited to:
    Waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:4-8
    Taking care of our own issues before helping with others’ issues Matthew 7:3

    1. I hope that I make it clear – all of us – our greatest need is Christ! We can’t change people. We can’t heal people. We all need the power of God in our hearts and lives before we can do anything to minister to anyone else. And if there are severe situations in a marriage, we will need outside help.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Thank you so much for that article! It came at just the right time. My husband lashes out in anger at times not necessarily at me but it disrupts the home. He is over it in a matter of minutes but I am hurt. Then I say something to him and he just gets angrier. I was not seeing it as his wounded spirit and I should have. This happened just a couple of days ago. I did apologize for what I said and I asked him did it hurt his feelings and he said “duh”. I know it should have been evident to me that it did but I promise I did not think about it that way because his reaction was anger and I didn’t do anything to initiate his first angry outburst. He said that he knows he is quick to angry when he doesn’t feel well but he gets over it quickly and he wishes I could just realize that and not get angry back. I was glad that he shared that he was hurt and even about his anger. This article cleared up a lot of things going through my head.

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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