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The Snare of People-Pleasing

This is an issue so many of us have… Thought it might be a good time to bring it up again. 🙂

25 thoughts on “The Snare of People-Pleasing

  1. Thanks for the reminder on that topic. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it and it feels good to think about how so many of my behaviors and attitudes have changed. I default to people pleasing when I forget to do what I now know how to do. I had to learn how to listen, problem solve, speak up, discern options, etc. I was fearful because there were a lot of adult skills I needed to operate in my marriage and this world that I just didn’t have. Everything seemed scary and so I leaned too heavily on other people to save me. But the more I learned, the less I feared and the more mature decisions I could make. God is so good.

  2. Right on time! I know I have read this before but I wasn’t ready for it at the time or it didn’t sink in.

    Through this process, I have felt so guilty about every thing I have done in the past that I always am the one to make things right whenever my husband and I disagree. I think that since I have done more wrong then it is up to me to fix it all. This has not been good. My husband, anytime we have a disagreement about something, escalates to anger quickly, raises his voice, points his finger and brings up my past acts of disrespect. These are not big issues either. It can be something very small like where I cut the watermelon.

    He has a lot of resentment and anger and I, by trying to always smooth things over have not helped at all. I have taken on the responsibility of his behavior as well as my own.

    So this week was my birthday. I approached him and asked for my birthday that he stops yelling and talk in a calm voice when he disagrees with me and stop bringing up things from the past that I have already apologized for and he has said he forgives me. He yelled at me that he didn’t trust me that I was not going to go back to being that way.

    Now every instinct in me wanted to make things right but God not only whispered, he all but shouted NO! So for a week now my husband has slept in the spare room and pouted on and off stating he is the victim here. When he does I state that I have apologized and apologized for my past behavior but I really need him to work on how he communicates with me, that his yelling and pointing out my past mistakes is very hurtful. I say it softly and respectful.

    If you walked in our house, you wouldn’t see anything wrong. We still go about our day, even laughing about something several times a day. We still go and do things together but there has been no physical contact at all and no I love yous. Every time, I feel the urge to go make it right, God says NO! Let him come to you.

    It is hard but I see that all I have done is take all the blame for everything, chased my husband, done special things to please him even when he was wrong all so I could fix everything. I felt like I deserved his wrath because I had been so disrespectful in the past. I can see that it is important that my husband forgive me and he hasn’t. And that God needs a chance to speak to him and for me to stay out of the way.

    I think this is an example of the difference in Command Men and Mr. Steady. I would love to know what ThankfulHusband has to say. I have almost been like the “mommy” making things better for my angry child rather than being an adult and letting my husband deal with his anger and unforgiveness on his own.

    1. Daisymae,

      This is very interesting – and PAINFUL!

      Sometimes, when a husband is faced with his sin – he will do all he can to turn it back on his wife. If he can blame you – he doesn’t have to think about his own sin. He feels justified.

      I believe that it is GOOD for a wife to ask her husband not to yell at her. It’s not ok to yell and scream at each other. That is very hurtful. And if an offense has been forgiven, it should be off the table. I agree with what you asked him about.

      I am also very glad that you are carefully listening to God’s Spirit and walking in obedience to Him. His direction is so critical. He alone knows what is happening in your husband’s heart and what is best for you to do at a given moment.

      I hope that you might allow me to share this as a post – I think other wives may need to see it. If you would like, we could wait a bit until you see how it plays out. But even without the resolution – This is a very important thing you are learning!

      Much love!

      1. April, It is fine for you to share. This is so very hard for me. Maybe it can help someone or maybe someone will share something that will help me.

    2. UPDATE: Yesterday morning he was being very quiet and thoughtful so I ventured and said, “Have you thought anymore about what I said?” He came to me and hugged me and said he wouldn’t do those things again. He seemed very sincere and we had a good day yesterday. 🙂 I know we both have to make a lot of changes in how we communicate and there will be bumps but at least it is a start.

      1. Daisymae,
        I am so glad to hear this resolution! I know it took longer than you wanted. But it sounds like a real heart change. That is wonderful!!!!!! I am so thankful you were being sensitive to God’s Spirit. 🙂

  3. DaisyMae I think you handled it just fine. In fact, perfectly. Continue to love him, to speak respectfully but I think it is absolutely fine, in fact imperative that you do this. You would probably enjoy a book called Married Without Masks by Nancy Groom that is about just such situations. She talks about how going and apologizing for a husband’s bad behavior or trying to smooth it out (like in alcoholism) isn’t sumbmissive at all. It is trying to control your husband and the situation instead of allowing God to work in his life.

    1. Elizabeth,
      Love this! Thank you so much for sharing!

      It is SO HARD for us as wives to be still when God is working on our husbands. But there are times when we do need to say, “This is not ok.” You said it softly, humbly and respectfully. Now just let that hang in the air and let him digest it.

      I agree about being available to love him and to speak respectfully.

      Thank you so very much!

  4. This is timely for me as well. I have been doing SO much work on myself to make this marriage work. Sometimes things are better and I thank God for those times. A lot of the time, my husband ignores me to focus on work or to de-stress from work or to sleep on the couch because he is so tired from work. He has a lot of fun times at work and a lot of female friends. This bothers me a lot, but while trying to change my behavior and be more respectful, I let it go and don’t mention that or other things that bother me. A lot of times the hurt passes, but there is still this underlying nagging feeling that he doesn’t love or care about me and prefers the company of others. This week, I hit a wall. No matter how understanding I was, he was still distant. I have constantly been giving it to God, but last night, I felt that I needed to speak up and tell him that it hurts me that he is friends with a few attractive women at work. He blew up at me, of course, and I have been trying to patch things up…..make him not be mad at me anymore and it only makes things worse. I now see this is me, trying to control the situation and him.

    I really believe God told me to speak up yesterday, because much prayer and giving the situation over to Him had taken place prior to that and I still felt the urgency to speak up, knowing it would cause conflict (which I hate and try to avoid). I guess now I need to trust God to work on my husband’s heart and mind. He wouldn’t have had me speak up if He didn’t want to use this.

    I would appreciate any prayers today. My husband is not a believer. I was a very surface “believer” with no real relationship with God when I married him. When we were on the verge of splitting up 6-8 months ago, I know I heard God tell me that I needed to stay and show my husband God’s love. That’s when I started this journey and started really digging in and getting close to God. Last night, I was at the point where I really wanted to leave, but that command to stay and not divorce an unbelieving husband stopped me. I am feeling like I shouldn’t have said anything…..that his anger is all my fault, but if I am reading this post correctly, I shouldn’t be feeling that way, but should get out of the way and let God work?

    1. NW Girl,

      There are times we absolutely need to share our concerns – in a respectful, gentle, humble way.

      It would be extremely challenging to be married to an unbeliever, especially as you are new at this and seeking to grow yourself. I will pray for you right now! And for your husband. I am so excited about what God is doing in your heart.

      Would you like to share how the conversation went? We could talk about alternative ideas or ways you could approach him more respectfully.

      There may be times when he gets upset because you share you are hurt – but he is doing something wrong. He may not like facing his own sin. That does not mean you are wrong with what you are asking. I don’t know how close he is to these women. Sometimes people blow up when they are confronted because it hits close to home or they feel guilty.

      Your job, ultimately, is only to please Christ alone. That is my prayer for you!

      Much love!

      1. He is a very friendly and charming guy, so he has a lot of friends at work….male and female. Because I am a female, I know how women can attach more meaning to friendliness…..especially when the man is handsome……and run with it, married or not. I don’t worry about the older, overweight, or unattractive ones. It’s only the younger ones that bother me, because that’s the one area I can no longer compete with and win. (yes, I know this is messed up thinking. I continue to pray for healing in this area).

        There is just one co-worker that currently bothers me. She is 28 and a newlywed….a former cheerleader and current dance coach for a local high school. I don’t think there is anything going on. There is no evidence of an affair or anything like that. This is one of those women that has the attention of every guy out there…..and is used to it. She jokes around with my husband in the office and has loaned him a movie dvd. He was one of the few coworkers she invited to her wedding. Clearly, they are friends…..and for some reason, even though I don’t think anything has happened or is likely to……this bothers me. I think maybe it’s because they became friends right as my husband and I were on the verge of splitting up……or maybe it’s because I am used to being that girl that gets all the attention (something that gets less and less every year I get older)…..I don’t really know what it is, but I don’t want to feel that way.

        Sorry for all the background…..but I thought it might help.
        I approached the conversation when there was an open dialogue about work friends and I was as honest and vulnerable as I could be. I told him that I wish it didn’t bother me that he has a very pretty, young work friend, but that it does. He insists that it shouldn’t because there is nothing inappropriate going on. I told him that I believe him….that I know my insecurities about getting older and loosing my looks are the root….but that I don’t understand why he has to be friends with her. I also told him that it is hurtful when he purposely doesn’t tell me about their jokes and office fun and then I see it on facebook. The hiding of the friendship from me makes it worse. He says it’s to avoid me “going crazy” over it…..and I can see his point as I have, in the past, had a huge problem with jealousy of all his female coworkers. We have had huge fights in the past, as I thought his distance and lack of attention for me meant he must be cheating. I now realize that it was my lack of respect and the ugliness inside that was causing him to withdraw attention and affection.

        There were several good things that came of our discussion Friday night. I was able to share my heart without yelling, crying, or disrespect. He was able to open up and share his fear of me cheating on him and I was able to look him in the eye and assure him that I haven’t and I won’t. He says that every time I bring this girl up, it feels like I am accusing him of cheating and this really bothers him. He says “you have faith in your God that you can’t even see. It hurts that you can’t have faith in me”

        I can see now that fear of my husband cheating…..or being fearful of his friendships with certain women is seen as disrespectful by my husband… I know I must get victory over this. Is it my pride or ego that is getting in the way? I am seeking God’s wisdom on this. I know that God wants me to love as he loves, including the women that I am jealous of…..and this is hard…..but I KNOW that I must decrease, so HE can increase. I am reminding myself of this all the time.

        Thank you for your prayers! God is definitely at work.

        Much love to you, too!

        1. NW Girl,

          I don’t often quote Dr. Phil. But his statement, “what I fear, I create” is so true. The more your husband feels accused and feels you don’t trust him, the more you will repel him toward the very thing you fear most.

          I personally would prefer for spouses not to have close friends of the opposite sex. I think you have explained your feelings quite clearly on this issue. Now, maybe you can rest in his love and even more, rest in Christ to give you strength and focus on today and enjoying your husband and being the wife God wants you to be today. Your confidence in yourself, your faith and trust in him, your joy, your peace, your understanding of his masculine needs and your eagerness to bless him may do a lot more to draw him to you than your insecurity or fear would. I wish he wouldn’t talk to this woman on FB. But most of all, I pray for you to be close to Christ and filled with His Spirit, His joy, His supernatural peace and trust in His sovereignty. I pray for God Cato create in you a gentle and peaceful spirit that does what is right and does not give way to fear. I pray you can be motivated by your love for Christ instead of allowing fear to motivate you.

          Thanks for the explanation and I am looking forward to seeing all that God has in store for you!

  5. Thank you Elizabeth. This is really hard for me. I feel so much guilt for not fixing it but God keeps saying Be still. I will get that book!

  6. April, your encouragement means so much to me. Thank you for being a big sister in Christ.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how things turn out too, Daisymae. I will be ordering a copy of that book, myself for similar struggles. Thanks, Elizabeth.

    1. Refined, So far still a stale mate. He has said that he will stop yelling but he says he doesn’t see anything wrong with bringing up past things to make his point. I asked him how he would feel if I brought up past mistakes of his and he said that is not the same at all. ….sigh…. I am praying hard about this.

  7. I have gotten to the point where I enjoy blessing people, but I can step away if it’s too hard without feeling guilty. Our husbands and children only have one wife/mother. Those roles are irreplaceable. Everything else is something someone else can do.

    1. And sometimes husbands want us to provide things that aren’t possible. We just have to do our best and then let go.

      1. Lisa,
        That is true. There are times when we have to acknowledge our limits and know that we are seeking to honor Christ and bless our husbands but sometimes husbands expect more than is possible and we just can’t meet all expectations. That is hard!!!

    2. Lisa,
      I think this is great! It helped me to realize that I had to say no to someone. I was either saying no to a coworker or church member or friend or I was saying no to my husband and children. Also, realizing that I only need God’s approval ultimately, and seeking to honor my husband’s God-given authority and realize that others do not have authority over me was a big help for me, too, to break that addiction.
      Thank you for sharing!

  8. This is kinda off topic but I’m just needing some prayer today. We are visiting my in laws and while I’m not a people pleaser my husband is. It’s very difficult around his family bc they are controlling but he is fine with them being that way. Among other things I’m just feeling a lot of anger, not acting on it, inside and don’t want to feel this way. Things had been getting better but we’ve been doing worse for the past couple of weeks. Something hard is that my husband won’t really do anything with me and my daughter. And today he’s swimming ( something he will never do with us) with his nephews and having fun. I know it’s silly but that just really hurts me bc we’ve asked him so many times to swim with us and he won’t. But that’s why I’m coming here. I know I’ll get some perspective. Thanks for letting me “vent” I don’t want feel angry. I’ve been praying and reading my bible today too.

    1. Jeanne,
      I am glad you are trying to work through your anger. It is so toxic when we hang on to it. Praying for God’s perspective, wisdom, grace, mercy and love for you. Praying for this to be a time of lots of learning and growth for you and that God might give you greater insights into loving your husband as He loves him. And that you might enjoy your husband and his family, even though they are all sinful people. Praying for God to empower you to lay down expectations and to know what to say, if anything, and when and how. And praying for you to see the strategies of the enemy, submit fully to Christ and resist the enemy. Praying for you to have the chance to let God’s love flow freely through you to your husband and his family and for healing for you and for your marriage – and most of all, for God’s greatest glory!

  9. Oh my! So my hubby was just “accusing” me of this YESTERDAY. Playfully teaching me how to say “NNNNOOOOOO”. So I asked him this morning to look at this list sometime today and get back to me with an honest assessment. . . He reported tonight that I am clearly suffering from MANY of the reported “symptoms”. :(. Looks like i have some more work to do. . .

  10. I am slowly making my way through your posts. The number of your posts that hit home with me continues to amaze me.

    People pleasing has always been a problem with me. Especially with my dad. And it has gotten worse since my mom passed away. He has gone into a downward spiral, and I continue to give him the benefit of the doubt. It has caused numerous issues between my husband and I. I know what my husband says is true. It is just extremely difficult for me to do/say anything that I KNOW will hurt my dad. It has come to the point where I have to choose between my husband or my dad. I’m just so unsure of how to break free from the guilt I feel from choosing my husband over my dad.

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