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Wives Share What They Have Learned – Part 1

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I think that most of us have realized, this approach does NOT work and is very unattractive to our men – understandably so! 

Wives share what they have learned about how to approach their husbands when they want their husbands to spend more time with them. From our discussion last week. Thank you to all the wives who shared! I don’t expect today’s post to be as big of a trigger for as many wives as hearing from the men was.

WIFE #1

This was a huge area of discontent in my marriage. I realize that it was too many expectations, my need to control the situation, and selfishness on my part.

When I look back my husband always spent time with me, but it wasn’t always the way I wanted.

Also, being a stay at home mom, I felt like he owed it to me to spend time with me when he was home. When he didn’t I became resentful and bitter. I didn’t always enjoy the time we spent together, there was more than one occasion that I ended up in tears because things didn’t work out how I wanted when we were together. I would be hurt if he went to the store by himself, let alone go do something fun.

  • I didn’t really consider how he felt after a hard days work, how he needs much more quiet time then I do.

He is an introvert while I’m an extrovert. I didn’t think about how much he hates being around large groups of people because I love it. That he just doesn’t talk much, and I can talk forever. Or even that he doesn’t like to be touched, but that he will put his arm around me and snuggle with me on the couch because he loves me. How the things that didn’t mean much to me, made him feel so connected.

I was so worried about making sure my needs got met that I missed so many opportunities to connect with my husband.

Once I stopped trying to make him meet my needs, I was able to let go and enjoy. This summer, for example, we went camping with some friends, he spent most of the time fishing by himself, or with the other husband. I could have been bitter and angry, but I had a really great time playing with the kids in the water, getting to know his friends wife, and just being outdoors. Then on the way home, a 3 hour drive with 4 kids under 7 he decided he wanted to take a scenic drive, just to see where it led. The old me would have wanted to control the situation, say, “Um, no thanks, 3 hours is enough,” but instead, I said sure let’s do it. It ended up being an extra 2 hour loop that brought us almost right back to where we started. But we had such a good time. It was so worth it.

Trips like this didn’t happen a few years ago, I would have been angry he wasn’t spending time as a family, and missed the time he did spend with us joyfully around the camp fire, I would not have added 2 hours to our drive, or enjoyed it if we had. And we would have both been bitter and I can say for sure, he wouldn’t have wanted to take me anywhere for a while.

The biggest change was for me to start looking at thimgs from his point of view not mine.

I still get a pang of jealousy when he goes somewhere with his friends without me, but then do something for myself instead, and he ends up coming home to a happy, refreshed wife which makes him want to spend more time with me. And it’s so freeing to not feel angry.

It took a long time to get here, though. There was a lot of healing to be done. At first, when I asked him to spend more time with me, he felt frustrated,  like I was saying he wasn’t doing enough. Now it looks different. I just ask him if he wants to do something with me. Most of the times he will.

 

WIFE #2

My husband and I have struggled with this.

My husband is not a big talker and over the years I know that I have made spending time with me not a safe thing for him.

I’d want to talk over everything during any and all activities, and I’d complain about situations and tell him what he should do, etc. We’d regularly end up fighting. He likes clear, concise, non emotive talks. I’ve seen his face light up when I talk to him in this way. It’s a language he can handle and he feels safe. He loves getting together with male friends and chatting to them. Sometimes I feel envious of this, but I think it’s the way that males talk. He feels safer and I know I have to work on how I talk to him. I am so much better than I was and I really can’t believe it took me so long when he was telling me all along. In my pride I thought I knew better.

  • If I stick to facts, lose the emotion and the complaining and keep it pleasant and positive, he responds. I was the wife in Proverbs 27:15. No wonder he didn’t want to spend time with me!

He was sick with chronic fatigue for many years and as a result can’t handle too much loud noise and being touched actually gave him pain and still does at times. Being a teacher, he comes home from work and wants peace and quiet. I have had to alter my expectations and realise that the world is not going to fall apart if we don’t talk. I’ve got better and keeping myself occupied and learning to be content. There has been a lot of sitting with him while watching tv, but just being in the same room with him makes me quite happy now. He is a musician and will play one of his instruments and sing while I cook or clean and that’s really nice.

The more pleasant I am the more he ventures out of his office to seek me out, to share something with me or hug me.

 

WIFE #3

I have had success with changing my approach. If I say, “you never talk to me,” a man can feel criticized. So I try to say, “I love it when you talk to me. I love the way it makes me feel all warm inside. And I really love the sound of your voice. ” (and I really do love the sound of his voice!). This approach, coupled with the right timing, has gained me some satisfaction with Conversation Hunger.

 

WIFE #4

Hi April, I know we’re all at different stages in our marriages (and feel free to edit this comment if it may be a trigger for others). I’m so blessed, usually my husband wants to spend time with me! (I don’t think this is anything I’ve done – I’m sure it’s the transformative work of Jesus in my husband’s life.)

But when my husband does pull away, it’s always because I was rude – selfish, snappy, condescending :(.

I’ve been married almost three years, and I didn’t know men were so sensitive! But I’ve learned some of them are. Nothing drives my husband away faster than when I talk to him like he’s a child, or get a disdainful tone in my voice! Or when I embarrass him by disagreeing with him in public, or trying to boss him around, even in small ways, like, “Honey, you should tell blah, blah, blah story.”

Funny how good manners and the fruit of the Spirit are really similar :).

On a different note, I’ve found it’s important for me NOT to get my feelings hurt if I feel he isn’t listening. Early in our marriage, I’d be chattering away (usually while he was driving) and he said to me, “Sorry, all circuits are full.” He meant he had to focus on driving and couldn’t give me his attention at that moment. His simple communication helped me understand I couldn’t have his attention at that exact second.

 

WIFE #5

I think having your own hobbies/interest outside of your hubby helps a lot. I know when I am busier and doing things- (out shopping, errands, spending time outside the home with the kids, other people, visiting family, etc.) I am not nearly as focused on my hubby and how much time “we” are together. Most all my friends have moved, so that leaves me a lot of time; however, his few good friends are still in the area so he likes to visit with them for sports, etc.

I know I can’t hold that against him just b/c his friends are around and mine all moved. Also – learning how men relate differently and consider “shoulder-to-shoulder” time the same as we consider girlfriend talk time. (from “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs). So I try to sit with him and watch his sports, etc. and if you change your mindset and realize that is HIS bonding time, then it helps.

Also, saying it in a non-confrontational way so as not to accuse him or come off like you’re saying he doesn’t spend any time with you. I know my hubby likes to be out and is not a homebody so if I just suggest, “Hey, would you like to go to X this Saturday maybe for an hour or so?” He’s usually down and wants to go. If I ask, “Hey, do you want to watch a movie together Friday night?” He usually always says, “Ok.”

Now if I start off complaining and whinny saying how we never spend time together, he’d rather be with his friends, etc. (which sometimes seems true to me) he will automatically go in defense mode and it starts a bickering session.

I think the best approach is to gently let him know, and if he does not respond at all, wait another week or more and gently suggest it again, maybe even suggest doing something with the kids together as a family if he never ever spends time with you alone. And then pray about it daily. Also changing your mindset on how men like to “hang out” and what they consider “spending time together”. Then, when he isn’t, you won’t take such offense to it or take it so personal.

What was a turning point for me, is your blog (of course!) and learning how men relate, etc… – but what was really an eye opener was recently when my hubby had plans to watch a football game with a friend and I myself had something I reeeeally wanted to do on my own. I realized I could care less at that moment what he was doing and that we wouldnt be spending time together- all b/c I had something important to me I wanted to do and not having to “tend” to my hubby during those hours (for lack of a better word) was great b/c I had things I needed to do.

So the lightbulb went off and I realized how sometimes it bothers me when he is busy with others, such as friends, and then when I am busy myself it doesnt bother me at all. Which is not fair to him. but its funny how if your feeling the slightest bit lonely or needy that if he’s busy with others or he’s just not busy with you, it will aggravate you way more. So I try to stay prayed up about this subject ahead of time now- and what I do is if I am not busy at all and I was hoping in my mind to spend “quality time” with him and it does not happen for whatever reason, then that’s God’s cue to me to break out his Word and study, spend time in prayer that I wouldn’t have otherwise, read a good biblical book, or listen to praise music. So those are my suggestions!

30 thoughts on “Wives Share What They Have Learned – Part 1

  1. This is so good! Thank you for the reminder that our husbands can take our dissatisfaction SO personally, even when it’s a situation that is not their fault or responsibility. In this week’s Elevation podcast (about marriage), the pastor said that most men always feel like they are failing or not measuring up in some area of their life. This really convicted me. No matter how gently I say it, if I am always telling my husband how he can do a better job in our marriage, it is the same as always telling him he is a failure at home. Then I can’t be surprised or upset that he puts so much focus on and time in at work. At work, there is a clear path to success…..cause and effect. He knows that if he does ________, he will get the reward of recognition (and maybe even praise). I KNOW this is something God wants me to get ahold of and learn, because “coming in second” to his work has long been an issue in our marriage…..and the very things I was doing to “fix it” were actually making it worse.

    Thank you!!!

    1. NW Girl,

      Great insights! Add to that the fact that when a wife always seems unhappy or can never be pleased, her husband feels HORRIBLE about himself. He usually thinks it’s a direct reflection of him doing a terrible job. Men love being around happy and content women. We we can’t be pleased or rarely seem happy, it is very detrimental to our husbands.

      I am a happy and positive person by nature. The times when I’m unhappy speak volumes to my husband and bother him a great deal. My unhappiness doesn’t even have to do with him, but he will immediately feel the need to defend himself. I thought this was really interesting. I think that men are wired this way and that, if their wife is not happy, even if they weren’t the cause of her unhappiness, it wounds them deeply and shakes their confidence in themselves.

      1. thejoyfilledwife,
        This is very helpful!

        I know that for me, when I began to be joyful in Christ instead of negative, unhappy, upset and complaining all the time – Greg began to care a lot more (and show that he cared) about my feelings. Now, if I even look upset, Greg wants to know how I am doing, what is wrong and how he can help.

        For many years, that was definitely not the case. He would ignore me, avoid me, not listen to me and act like he couldn’t care less about my feelings. Now, I know that I was completely impossible to please and never happy and that he gave up trying to make me happy. Eventually, as he saw that I was thankful, appreciative, safe, friendly and positive, he began to feel safer around me and began to take down the walls he had built around his heart.

        But yes, if a wife is unhappy, it is very hard for a man not to blame himself. Most men LOVE to have happy wives. Even though they should measure their success as men by God’s approval, just like we should measure our worth and success by God’s Word – it is easy for a man to gauge his success as a man, husband and father by his wife’s happiness.

      2. Joyfilledwife,

        So so so so true!!! I can attest that one of my most powerful tools is my smile. I used to think it wasn’t fair that so much of our emotional health and connection depended on my tone and expression. But I’ve come to see my happy heart as a gift from God to me and my smile as an extension of that gift, a way to share sunshine with my family. I don’t hide when I’m down, I just make it my own responsibility to address my own issues. It’s such a simple thing, but I don’t take it for granted anymore. In two seconds flat we can convey admiration, approval, satisfaction and happiness, reciprocated desire or reset the whole day.

        Praying for you and your surgery, Daisymae!

  2. Good thoughts!

    I have been trying to remember to do what #3 talked about and make more positives comments about how much I love something rather than complaining about not getting it.

    #4 Yeah I do too much of “Honey you should….” My husband recently vocalized this to me which I was glad he communicated instead of just getting angry.

    #5 is something very important for me. It is something I really need to focus on after I recovery from surgery. I have been practically home bound for months and I need to stay busy so I don’t overwhelmed my husband with my neediness. I am very blessed that he does love to be a home and spend time with me. But sometimes he just needs quiet time after work. It is not fair for me to depend on him for all my entertainment.

    On a positive note…. Our dryer broke and we are waiting for parts. Because of my weak state I can’t go out in the sun and heat to hang clothes. My husband came home yesterday and made me a clothesline on the patio so I could more easily hang things to dry. I didn’t ask him too. He noticed that I had been laying things on the patio chairs to dry. I am trying to make note of all these things that he does to show love and not overlook those little things.

    My surgery is Monday 22nd. This is my 3rd surgery date. I really hope this one will actually happen. I would appreciate your prayers. 🙂

    1. Daisymae,
      You haven’t had your surgery yet!?!? My goodness! Praying for you to be able to have it at just the right time and for your recovery. And praying for God to use even this trial for His greatest glory and your ultimate good. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing about that saying “you should” to a husband can feel disrespectful. We don’t even think about our wording sometimes, but “you should” “you ought to” “you need to” “you better” “I’ll have my husband do X” kinds of phrases coming from a wife can definitely smack of “control” to a husband.

      What a thoughtful man you have! That was so sweet of him to make a clothesline for you. 🙂

      1. Not yet. I am suppose to Monday but I am not holding my breath. 🙂
        Every delay, God is showing me something else I need to work on. I can see parallels in my suffering and how I make my husband suffer. That is probably confusing to all reading it but it makes sense to me.

  3. Daughter,
    That is a great test! “Would I be upset if my husband said this to me?” Sounds kind of like the golden rule. 🙂

    I also love that you shared what you do to refocus and check your attitude. This is beautiful!!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I LOVE all of this–especially the part about seeing things through my husband’s eyes. It took me a while, but I finally started to acknowledge that he WANTS me to be happy! Some part of me used to think maybe he was being passive aggressive or mean, even when he was just going about his business! Now I am finally starting to see things through his eyes!
    For example, I have struggled with being controlling about money for a long time. Recently my husband bought a gift for me that cost WELL more than what I would have approved of spending. The OLD me would have been ungrateful and reprimanded him for it. INSTEAD, i choose to be thankful and just lavish him with praise for his thoughtfulness and generosity! And like Wife #1 said, it is SO freeing to not be angry!

    1. KD,

      I love what you shared!

      I actually believed that Greg was purposely trying to be as hateful and unloving as possible and that he was sitting around plotting how to make me most miserable the first summer we were married and he and his dad were working on fixing up an old house for us to live in. They worked on it 6 nights per week until 1am after their full time jobs. Now, I know he was trying to hurry and finish the house FOR ME. And that he did love me. But that he was exhausted. That is why he didn’t give me much attention. Not to mention, I was so disrespectful to him in response.

      Now, I know that he is genuinely good willed toward me and loves for me to be happy. That is a SUPER important revelation – to see that our husbands are good-willed toward us and are on our team. That helps us not immediately assume the worst, but instead, give the benefit of the doubt.

      And I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you shared here about being thankful for the gift he gave you instead of punishing him for giving you something amazing. This is beautiful!

      Much love!
      April

  5. I love what Wife #2 said: “He likes clear, concise, non emotive talks. I’ve seen his face light up when I talk to him in this way.” I know each husband is different, but if this has the potential to make my husband’s face light up…I’m so gonna try it! I know he loves talking with his friends and talks a ton at Community Group. This concept is so simple and yet brilliant!

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