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20150825_100408

“Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected”

20150825_100408

A Fellow Wife shares her perspective 3 years into her journey to become a godly wife. This is a follow up to Monday’s post about  oneness in marriage – that there is a healthy amount of space needed in a godly marriage:

One (personal) thought I have is that closeness with your husband looks and feels a LOT different than I anticipated. Not in a bad way, per se, but just different. It’s almost a closeness that results because of openness, if that makes sense. It’s not a tight knit enmeshed closeness but a more precious one because it’s given so freely. It’s a LOT of letting go and waiting for him to choose to be close to your in his time and his way – both of which will be unique to his personality and preference…BUT that’s my thought about our marriage and our experience.

I LOVE the small ways my husband is showing me he feels safer and how our relationship is evolving. But I also know we still have a LONG way to go. And I have to leave that up to his timing and God’s plan for our relationship.

For me, things started REALLY clicking in place in March when I really got the concept of space. I can kind of look back and see an evolution of my journey:

  • Oct 2012 -I realized our marriage was “off” and desperately wanted to fix it and be a godly wife but had no idea how to do so and despite my best attempts, kept falling flat on my face. I went in the absolute opposite direction for awhile! Didn’t know any better!
  • Sept 2013 – my husband hurt me by making some selfish choices and I really saw that marriage was not going to be what I had pictured. LOTS of bitterness to wade through but every now and then I would catch a glimmer of what could be in the bright someday future.
  • March 2015 – Big blow up where I realized how very little control I truly had and that there were many levels of damage in our marriage on both our parts and we’re both just humans who will fail sometimes.. and that nothing was EVER going to work until we did marriage God’s way – down to the letter. And then… I started getting the concept of space. For me, space was KEY and HUGE to really GETTING respect.

Since that time… goodness, has it really only been 5 short months? Things have changed and shifted in many ways. I still flub, as you know, but can get on track easier and keep my mind focused easier where it needs to be. He is responding differently to me and our relationship is shifting LOTS – some in minor ways, some in major. He’s softening and opening up. I’m relaxing and learning how to be true to my feelings and hold him loosely. And I can see some of his heart- finally… the heart he really has not the one I want him to have. And it’s still good. 🙂

Your post on Separation-Leads-to-Greater Intimacy Paradox was one that I read. And read. And reread. It was one that I knew had some very valuable wisdom in it but it was so hard to wrap my head around for a long time.

I think that talking about what is unhealthy is EXTREMELY important!  You have to stop what you’re doing wrong before you can start doing what is right, I think. Just like when we teach our children to share, we have to correct what is wrong – selfishness – before we teach a new step like offering to share. Again – my thoughts. You can’t do right until you know what you’re doing wrong.

For me, it was SO painful to realize that being enmeshed was wrong.

I didn’t even know what the word meant. I had to look it up. It was shocking, upsetting and more to understand I was that. And that it was bad and unhealthy. (For a description of being enmeshed, check out Monday’s post. If I am enmeshed with my husband, I am idolizing him.) I did not like the thought of interdependence. Too much forfeiting “control.” BUT – I came to realize that I had no control (over my husband) and that being vulnerable drew my husband to me. Giving him the opportunity to choose was vulnerable and that’s not an easy concept to accept and come to, either!

Another step for me was turning my thoughts to ME – what did I enjoy?

How did “I” feel individually vs. how I wanted “us” to feel? How did “I” feel about certain issues in our life? I had to learn it was okay to honor myself and my feelings and desires. Not in a push them over on my husband way but in a my feelings matter and they matter enough to be presented in a way that says they’re special and don’t have to be steamrolled to get my way.

Self-care and being kind to myself was another step. I think this step is very important! Time with God really is the most important way to give yourself self-care and if that suffers, we suffer. But I think as women, we also have to learn to treat ourselves with kindness and allow ourselves to enjoy our own personal interests and lives. Then we learn to fill our own needs with God’s help so we don’t drain our men.

Being confident in who we are in God and content in ourselves draws our men to us. And while drawing our men to us, it’s also a way for us to just be happier in our lives at the same time. It’s such a sweet spot – but SUCH a journey!! And not always easy to stay there.

THEN we begin to have real intimacy, I think.

Laura Doyle’s recent book REALLY offered me some wisdom too… these 2 points in particular:

  • Asking yourself if something is “on your paper” or your husbands. Realizing where your line/boundary is. Stay on your own paper!!!!
  • Honoring your true desire. Another important point is realizing that under every complaint or criticism is a TRUE DESIRE you should honor. Expressing that through saying “I’d like” or “I’d love” or “I want” is a much sweeter, truer-to-yourself way of communicating.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I loved what a reader shared on the post Monday about how intimacy with our husbands is very much like the tide at the beach. Our husbands draw nearer and then they go away. It is easy to get really excited as they draw near and then panic when they pull back. But if we can understand that this is a natural cycle in marriage, many times – I think we can relax and just enjoy when they come close and rest in our husband’s love, knowing that (unless there are major problems), our husbands’ love is pretty constant whether they are currently “emotionally connecting” with us or not. It was very helpful to me to learn that Greg always feels connected with me, unless I disrespected him. I thought we were only “connecting” when we were having deep, emotional or spiritual discussions. What a blessing to know that he always feels connected to me. I began to rest in that – and it has been such a gift!

I read something about parents of a baby with Down’s Syndrome one time – about how being pregnant (thinking they were having a healthy baby) was like planning a trip to Paris, France. But when the baby is unexpectantly born with Down’s, it was like expecting Paris, but being in Holland. At first, a lot of parents grieve. But then, they realize that there are some beautiful things about being in Holland and the ones who decide to enjoy Holland realize they have such a gift in their precious child.

I think that bonding in marriage is a bit like this for many of us as women. (Not that our husbands have Down’s Syndrome – of course – this is an analogy to dealing with our unrealistic expectations.) We had so many Hollywood and Disney expectations going into marriage. But our husbands are not fictional romantic leads in a movie or book who act in feminine ways emotionally. They are real men. We may be bitter at first because we thought we were going to Cinderella’s castle in Disneywold, but we ended up being at a beautiful beach instead. Perhaps, we can decide to be thankful that we are at the beach and enjoy the beautiful sites and explore this amazing place with God and our husbands. 🙂

Much love!

RELATED:

A Fellow Wife’s Posts

Posts about Giving Your Man Space

PS:

If some of you are struggling with the opposite problem – please leave a comment and we can have a discussion about that issue, as well. Perhaps we may need a post about that, too – the importance of a wife who tends to be too distant learning to come closer and be more vulnerable when a husband is feeling too much space.

86 thoughts on ““Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected”

  1. Great post. I would like to know more about how to tell if a husband who demands his space, and gets it, may be getting too much space. Also, some examples of lovingly giving space, and examples to avoid of unloving space. I feel I oscillate from one extreme to the other and trying to find that steady state.

    My husband says he feels no connection or intimacy. I crave that with him, but he gives clear signs I am not to touch him sexually or kiss, or hug him unless he initiates, but I also see how much he misses those things and is hurting. He has a willing wife, but refuses me. Is this true rejection, or some kind of guilt, shame, doesn’t feel deserving of my love or something else? Not sure if the tide has evaporated or is just far out to sea. I’m on the beach waiting patiently, but it’s bone dry and no wind in sight.

    1. LMSdaily115,

      My understanding is that if a husband feels there is too much space, he will probably begin to close the gap and draw near to his wife. That is what I have seen many times. But there can be a long period of time at first – when he is so wounded, and not sure that the changes are real in his wife, where he stays far away. As he continues to see over many months, maybe years, that his wife really has changed and that he is safe with her, he may begin to come slowly back toward her if there is too much space.

      A wife can help this process by doing things like:

      – smiling at him
      – enjoying whatever level of interaction he is able to give
      – being content in Christ even when he is unable to meet her needs in the marriage
      – finding real things to respect about him and making occasional comments (a sentence or two per day or per week, for example)
      – avoiding negativity, being critical, condemning him, shaming him, scolding him, looking down on him, etc…
      – seek to honor his leadership
      – ask for his advice and take it and thank him
      – extend grace and forgiveness
      – share her own vulnerability as he draws closer to her
      – avoid trying to control or disrespect him
      humbly, gently, respectfully confront sin if necessary and prompted by God
      – establish healthy boundaries – let him be responsible for himself, you be responsible for yourself
      – be available and willing to accept, receive, and bless him

      I think he is VERY critically emotionally/spiritually wounded. It can take months, maybe longer, for men to process all of this. But you are doing what God has called you to do to bless him – and you are doing everything in your power to make your home and marriage a safe, nurturing place. There are major issues he has to wrestle about himself with God. Thank you for waiting patiently and for praying for him and ministering to him!

          1. I’m sorry if I’m responding in the wrong space, it’s hard for me to figure out. Anyway, I had a question about submission. I’ve read a lot about it, but it’s still pretty vague. What does it practically mean? My husband and I never argue, really, and we agree on most things. Where we disagree we tend to mutually discuss and one of us will be convinced and it stays respectful. That doesn’t seem submissive, though? In practice, it seems we work best making decisions jointly since we both bring helpful perspectives to the table, but that seems pretty egalitarian. How is he leading if he’s not making unilateral decisions? I guess, in theory, I would cede to him but in practice, I can’t even imagine a situation where we wouldn’t be a team. Sorry, this is very confusing.

          2. A.,

            What you are describing is ideal! That is how Greg and I handle most issues. The only time submission is really an issue is if you have that respectful discussion and you can’t agree on something. Then the wife concedes to her husband to make the final call, knowing he bears the ultimate responsibility for the decision before God.

            You can search, “biblical submission” on my home page for more posts about it. But it sounds to me like y’all are doing great! As long as your husband believes that he has a voice and is also being heard, and he is not just passively yielding to you – I think you are doing fine. 🙂

          3. Thanks so much! I’ve been reading up on it, and it’s still a little hard to grasp, since it seems like it’s “supposed” to be hard. Or some people I know interpret it as the husband making all the major decisions, but I guess it looks different for each couple.

          4. A.,
            There are different variations of respect and submission from one couple to another. I think that a team approach is ideal. If y’all just discuss things and both are giving valuable input and both feel heard and then when you disagree you continue to talk until you work out a solution you both agree with – that is how most decisions should be in most cases, in my view.

            If you have a lot of disagreements, then things may look a bit different.

            But it sounds like y’all are doing really well!

            ENJOY your amazing marriage! 🙂

      1. I agree with April. He sounds deeply wounded. I am not implying it is you, but it runs much deeper than an insecurity about gaining weight or losing hair.

      2. I have had a other light bulb moment as a result of praying on this post, and my total breakdown of emotions and all I learned about godly respect. Needless to say it was a bad weekend with wonderful results.

        I had heard and read that men “come and go” emotionally and women freak out about the going parts and cling desperately to the coming parts. I never understood that, even after reading this post and others.

        A tide. How has my 19 years of marriage been at all like a tide? A rollercoaster maybe, a mountain and valley trek, I wasn’t getting the tide thing. Women don’t “tide” but men do. Hmmmm.
        As I lay in bed one night facing my husband, his phone chimed and he woke up out of a dead sleep and picked up his phone. He began to text another woman. I saw her name plain as day. I was jaw dropped befuddled.

        I thought, he is having an affair right under my nose. This is a work person. My mind started shooting rapid fire thoughts trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Intense jealousy, rage, hurt barrage my heart. I could not lay there silently any longer.

        He has denied he was having any kind of affair over and over. I called him out, as respectfully as I could, but I was overwhelmed. From 11:00-1:30 in the morning, we talked, I cried, I shot back about how hurt I was. All the day before I was practicing respectful words to try my best to understand his feelings and not try to force my own agenda on him. I failed miserably on this night.

        I did, however, pray in the middle of this, I did my best and it was better than before. I recognized this poor man’s need for sleep and agreed to end the conversation for his health. I was wide awake…all night. In my misery I did not know anything else but to pray to God and ask him to hold me and comfort me tonight. Nothing else, just comfort.

        I was tired of thinking, panicking, worrying. I had nothing left. I got about 2 hours of sleep. I was strung out the next day and still very hurt. I prayed God to help me get some sleep. A 3 hour nap later, my husband called, asked how I was doing, was genuinely concerned about my state of mind. Encouraged my changes he had seen, reassured me I was a good person, he acknowledged how hard this must be, but did not give me false hope. Ok. A blessing.

        I trudged through the day. He came home. It was tense. Another night wide awake. But he knew how I felt about his phone addiction and this woman. I prayed to God for some way to understand what is going on and what my next steps should be. I Googled “emotional affair”. The usual stuff came up about sexual attraction, how dangerous it is, how the typical path progresses.

        Then it occurred to me that an affair, emotionally or physically is placing your heart on something or someone or somewhere it should not be. He was having an emotional affair with “work”. I realized this is not the first time, many times in the past. This ebb and flow. His “buddies”, his hobbies, his parents, brother, he is a 1000% in kind of guy, nothing half way, but as one phase ended, we would draw closer, then another phase started, he went away again. This is just an EF 4 size tornado type of emotional affair, in the past they were more EF2 or 3.

        But the 2nd touch of God was when I realized I, ME, have done the same thing. I have placed my heart onto, work, my kids, a hobby and volunteering. I have cheated on my husband over and over with my heart. The very act of placing your heart in someone or someTHING else is so very hurtful. I couldn’t see how much I hurt my husband in the past with my heart affairs until I realized we have done this cycle for over and over again for most of our 19 years together.

        When his “tide” comes in, he is essentially checking in to see if I had drawn closer to him, missed him, was ready to put him first on this plannet. I had not, so his tide went out again in search of connection, intimacy, oneness with someone.

        Had we both understood God and his love, we could have weathered the storm and not retaliated. Women do not tide, I was always hurt by his retreat and I could not trust. Now that I know God, and can find my trust in him and lay down my hurt, I think I will be much more ready to put my husband in his proper order…God first, husband second, not last or behind anything else.

        For now, I will trust that my husband, although far out to sea, will come in to shore one day to see if I have my arms out to him finally. With God’s help, I will take this opportunity to learn all I can about how to place my husband before anything else on this earth. I will be ready to love him properly. God can love me during my time of learning.

        Heart affairs are all around us, also called idols. It’s OK to have your heart on God, because we can always trust God to light our path. But we are also commanded by him to love our husbands as we love the Lord, why would work, hobbies, other people including our kids, family members or coworkers ever get placed before our husbands? Because we are idolizing our husbands OVER God… not goid, our husbands WILL fail us at some point, they are human, we need to stop running to other things when this happens to find fullfillment, run to God, our husbands probably won’t mind, they will, in fact, benefit from it.

        Anyway, THAT happened this weekend. Blessings and prayers to all my peaceful wife sisters out there. I will be praying for us all to learn God’s plan for us and our marriages. {{Hugs}}

        1. LMSdaily,,

          Oh no!! 🙁

          So he admitted that he is having an emotional affair? I just want to be sure I understand. Is he willing to stop texting this woman from work? Does he acknowledge that what he is doing is wrong?

          Ugh. My heart just aches for you, my friend!

          I pray God will bring your husband back to Himself first, and then back to you to restore your marriage. Praying for His Spirit, His wisdom, and direction for your every thought and step. I wish I could give you a big hug!!!

          1. I already knew this about him, but there are also 3-4 other male work friends that he is also deeply involved with. That’s the thing, it’s an emotional affair with an “idea” not really just a person. In the past, we have had emotional affairs with work, hobbies, volunteering and other “safe” friends. The main point is that neither one of us had each other as a priority OVER these other things.

            Think how much God grieves when we do not put Him first. We are having emotional affairs with ourselves, our husbands, our money, our pride etc. Other than God, our spouses should be nextnon the list. However, an affair is still an affair, it hurts to not feel special or cherished or #1 to someone. I have had 3 big e.a. myself that I can see hurt my husband very much, but I thought they were ok…work, my kids, volunteering. All good things, right? But they still pushed my husband far down the list from where he should have been. He gets the #2 spot, God gets #1.

            I had to figure out why his working and constant phone stuff hurt. He is definitely on a slippery slope with this woman. I called him out on it and I told him it hurts EVERY time. Weather he continues or not, I cannot control him, but I am leaving that up to my husband’s conscience (the Holy Spirit inside him) and God to handle. He knows how I feel about it. In the mean time, I am preparing myself to be able to love him like God commands me to as much as I can now, and keep learning it better every day. If, and I mean “IF” my husband’s tide come back toward me, which I suspect it will one day, then I hope I am better equipped to love him as a partner, wife should, and not as a single human being. I will use my time wisely to learn God’s way and not run away to my own emotional affair (which could become church, girlfriends or a hobby) to find my feelings of acceptance, worth and appreciation, I know now how to get that from God.

          2. Also, he cannot stop texting her. They are work partners. And much of what they talk about IS about work, but not all of it. He is not quite willing to stop yet. I think he needs some time to mull over what I have said and see another side of it. I know this concept seems a bit “far out”, but it would be the same thing if you let your online ministry become more important than your husband.

            Part of learning the respect you teach in your blog teaches us to listen to our husbands when they feel hurt. I suspect Greg now let’s you know if you are blogging too much, and you respectfully stop or back down and give him the attention he needs. This is good. How many of us women think what we are giving our hearts too (besides our husbands) is a good thing, a safe thing? Kids, work, volunteering, even church? We can get consumed by any of it, but it is so important to not give our hearts to the wrong thing. God first, spouse second. Then things work out.

          3. LMSdaily115,

            I definitely understand putting other things before God or your spouse. That is not good! I have to be very careful with balance – that is one of the hardest things with my ministry, too. And yes, Greg has asked me to back off of ministry before – and I did pull back and gave him and our children more attention when he has shared that with me.

            It is so important that we watch our priorities, our time, and our motives.

            Thank you!

          4. LMSdaily115,

            Thank you for explaining in more detail.

            I am praying or you both, my dear sister! For God’s wisdom, power, and strength for you to be the wife and woman He calls you to be. And for God to work in your husband’s heart to draw him to Himself and to bring healing to the marriage, as well.

  2. HelloThank you for sharing this; I can relate to this woman’s experiences. Useful information,SandraSent from Yahoo Ma

      1. Hi April-

        When I first read about husband being idols and being meshed i glanced over it but as i read todays post and all that we have been going thru, i know that there is something about this that is very true in my marriage. God has been revealing sooo much to me and now i feel like i am standing before a HUGE mountain and i dont know where to begin. i will not go around it to avoid it.

        I desire more than ever to be filled, to overflow with His Holy Spirit.that Jesus be Lord over all of me and in me.to be that gentle,quiet peaceful spirit that is so pleasing to my Lord. Only Jesus can change me. The mountain in front of me is for me trust Jesus but the enmeshing that is there – i dont know where to start. Please walk this road with me, I am willing to be transparent and welcome any advice and all prayer.

        Much love to you

        1. fam6,

          My whole blog is about this, almost! There are MANY posts here that will help.

          You might start by looking up these terms on my home page search bar and reading the posts and praying over them:

          – how to make your husband an idol
          – idol
          – idolatry
          – control
          – needy
          – insecurity
          – security
          – discontentment
          – contentment
          – submit to God
          – submission means we hold all things loosely
          – identity in Christ
          how to stop idolatry and truly live for Christ
          Yes, there is a mountain of sin for all of us to face in our lives. But God can direct us and show us the way to deal with this, to repent of it, to turn to Him, and to submit to Him so that we can get rid of all of that sin and He can regenerate our souls and bring us to greater and greater spiritual maturity. 🙂

          I’m so excited that God is opening your eyes! I know this part is painful – but it is a HUGE first step! We can’t change what we can’t even see.

          I had to write down all the sins God showed me and purposely reject them and turn to Christ and beg Him to change me. I spent 6 weeks in the beginning just confessing sin every day and writing pages of sins that God revealed to me.

          Let me know what God is speaking to you! I am honored to get to walk beside you on this road, my dear sister! 🙂

        2. Hi April. i have such trouble trusting my husband.

          16 yrs. ago in my pride – because we were going thru a really hard time – i suggested we seperate for a time. He was so hurt. His parents were visiting and he left with them. Our oldest was in kindergarten and our youngest at the time was 6 months. Over the period of a year he came back 3 times and one of those times I became pregnant with our fourth. In that time was the first i began to understand honoring my husband no matter what. God assured me one day my “marriage would be better than ever”. He came home but not to God (he was a born again believer). I had to learn to let go of control.

          I went to church with our children while he stayed home and prepared picnics for us and we would go together after church. Through a physical ailment he had to go see a physiotherapist and he was born again. My husband walked thru the door that night with tears in his eyes and said to me, “I’ve come home!” Meaning – to God. For a year I learned to love my husband without expectations. I feel like he betrayed me by leaving even though it was my idea. I have always had some insecurity about myself.my thoughts are my enemy.

          Lately it is getting worse and i feel that one day he will just tell me that all along i have been right and he has had affairs (he has NEVER Ever given me any reason to think this apart from his raging anger when he gets mad). I know that God is over all. But this fear is crippling me. Sometimes i just hate myself, how i look because i am so overcome. I watch his eyes when we are out to see if he is looking at a woman. And if he does and i say something he always denys it. If he would say, “Yes, i saw her but i’m not attracted to her,” it would help me trust him but he just denies (rightly so-out of fear what he thinks my reaction will be instead of being completely honest and giving me a chance to show him how i will react with honesty).

          I feel so messed up inside but this is my greatest struggle.

          1. Also, so many people love us, and many times have said how much my husband loves me. even a clerk at a store was brought to tears(probbly with what she herslf was going thru) by the way he was with me. he is real-not put on. im so confused. he did have a past with another girl( and one night stands with many as a teenager and before he knew Jesus. and that hurts me too even though it was before me.

          2. Fam6,

            So – he was with other women before y’all were married – and you are maybe holding bitterness against him for that?

            What would happen if you extended grace to him about the past before you were even married – and if you rested in your husband’s love? What are your fears?

            What if you actually have the intimacy and amazing marriage you want – but you won’t receive your husband’s love? What if he is completely faithful and your fear is creating all this anxiety and drama and angst for nothing?

            The awesome thing is – God heals broken marriages and people – even ones who have been through adultery. It sounds like your husband has not been unfaithful from what you are saying. But I have seen God heal countless marriages and make them much stronger even after the “worst case scenario.” He can certainly heal you, your husband, and your marriage! No matter what has happened in the past.

            Is it possible that this is a lot more about your fear and insecurity than it is about him? Maybe he is a loving, devoted, faithful husband who is trying to give you so much love – but you can’t receive it?

            If you have not received God’s love and grace – you may not be able to receive your husband’s either.

            If you don’t know who you are in Christ, if you are believing lies – those lies have to go and you have to build your life on truth.

            It will be really important to begin to take your thoughts captive for Christ. 🙂

            Have you read Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss? That may be a great place to start! Another book that may be helpful is Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel. Have you read any books about understanding how men think?

          3. Hi April- yes, its hard for me to accept . he also has continually bought up my past 2 boyfriends who i was intimate with before i met him-33years ago.we are so immature. i am afraid to rest in his love.afraid to trust him. maybe i do have the marriage i long for us to be and maybe it is all my drama and fear that causes a lot of stress in our marriage. yes maybe it is more about my fear and insecurity than him.maybe i really do need to know who i am in Jesus . when i think about taking my thoughts captive and i am hurt( my feelings) i just throw it out the window and let my ugly flesh rule.I want to honor Jesus and yet i feel so foolish admitting to you that sometimes my flesh means more to me than Jesus my Lord.- how horribly sad to write this .I will look up the book you suggested.Thank you dear sister

          4. Fam6,

            Okay, so let me see if I am understanding correctly, please – my dear sister.

            You wanted your husband to leave – which hurt him deeply – but you resent him for leaving and feel betrayed because he did what you asked him to do.

            He returned to God – WOOHOO!!!!! THAT IS AWESOME! How long ago was that?

            But you still don’t trust him – why is that, do you think?

            You have been accusing him of having affairs without any evidence other than his anger?

            You believe that if he were to say another woman looks attractive (any woman on the planet), it would mean that he didn’t love you – even though he doesn’t want to be with her and he is being faithful to you? So, do you believe that if a man notices that a woman is attractive – and sees a temptation to be attracted to her – that is sin? Even if he does not lust? In my understanding, a man can “feel attracted” to a woman – realizing she is beautiful or attractive – BUT at the same time, he can choose to focus his thoughts on his wife and he can reject the temptation to lust. If a man came to church and was handsome and magnetic and charming – you may feel that he is attractive, you may even feel some chemistry – but does that mean you will fantasize about leaving your husband for him or that you are not satisfied with your husband? No, not at all! You could just turn your thoughts away from the handsome guy and focus on your husband. It wouldn’t mean your husband should be insecure in your love at all, right?

            Are you finding your security in Christ, my dear sister? Or are you trying to find it in your husband’s actions, words, and in his sinlessness? Do you expect your husband to be Jesus to you? Do you expect him to be responsible for your happiness and your deepest spiritual needs?

            What do you mean – raging anger when he gets mad?

            Are you safe?

            Are you saying he gets extremely angry when you accuse him of having affairs and he insists he is not having any affairs?

            Are you able to trust God completely? Or are you holding things back from Him?

            Until you are able to trust God – who is perfect – you can’t begin to be able to trust your husband, who is human.

            Much love to you!

          5. I think deep down inside- I wanted him to be a knight in shining armour and fight for our marriage-even against my words. it absolutley broke my heart when he left but i was too prideful to say”lets not do this”.my horrible awful pride- has always been a plastic shield for me- never really protecting me .

            he returned to god 15yrs.ago but he often defaults back to flesh – he was brought up in a very religious home where his dad was the pastor and his family looked to his dad as god and his dad never shared Jesus with him – only from the pulpit. alot of religion and when he found Jesus – we were looked upon as freaks.

            i see him default to this old religous ways when things get rough for him. he then turns on me and seperates himself from what we share together in faith -it comes from the anger inside of him. after he has calmed down he regrets what he has said . he has a gentle heart. as for looking at other women. i totally understand that we can look at people and think handsome or beautiful. if only he would admit to me if i notice then i would not feel like he is hiding from me – not being honest.

            my security is not in Jesus- or else i wouldnt be so emeshed with my husband. i am just beginning to see that maybe he is an idol in my life – expectations for him to be the , Godly,God seeking,Gods way of dealing with life issues, man that i think i need.(this sounds so terrible) but it may be true.

            I am safe- yes he gets extremely angry whenever he feels threatened or cornered. he is so defensive even at things that are not even intentionally meant to question him. he has always had this way of self protection. he lashes out verbally (horribly things he has said)

            I am just beginning to lay it all before God – every little thing-it is baby steps. i hope i have answered you questions- they have provoked me to do some thinking as well.

            Thanks April.

          6. Hi April- i appreciate any more thoughts you have on this. I listened to Nancy Demoss- lies women believe… on youtube and it was very helpful. she slao has another video about holiness. I started to watch that as well. it is very helpful.Thanks so much and take care

          7. fam6,

            You know what? I have to smile that you wanted your husband to fight against your words for your marriage. That is something a lot of us ladies dream of! And we see that kind of scene portrayed in movies often. It is SO romantic!

            But I have to tell you – in the real world, men are driven by respect. So they, out of respect, will generally choose to honor your request for them to leave – rather than fight against your words and demand to stay. They don’t want to be disrespectful. If you ask for something, they think that is what you want. Your husband honored your request because, I think, he is generally an honorable man.

            So the key is to only ask him for things you really want. 🙂 Men are generally pretty literal. They will assume you mean what you say.

            You both have a lot of growing to do -but I pray you can have grace for each other as you each grow and as God’s Spirit works in your hearts. 🙂

            As your husband feels more safe with you, he may eventually feel like he can be honest if he thinks someone is attractive. I don’t know that it is really necessary to ask him about that. Of course there are women who men will think are attractive. But that isn’t really relevant if he is not thinking or acting on it. So – might be best to just enjoy that he chose and chooses to be with you and be thankful that you have all of his faithfulness and attention. 🙂 Rest in his love rather than freaking out that he might think another woman – that he doesn’t want to be with and isn’t even consuming more than a half a second of his thoughts – is attractive. Does that make sense? But as you are a safe place, he may be willing to share more about his struggles and temptations – as he sees you are on his team and you won’t be upset. He doesn’t want to hurt you – and he knows that he is faithful. So right now, I would guess it is just a lot easier to try to avoid hurting you. especially because these are not women he cares about or will even be thinking about in the next moment.

            Even unintentional disrespect from a wife can cause a husband to feel very disrespected. He may not realize that you seriously don’t know that you are being disrespectful and he may feel like you are doing that on purpose to undermine and cut him down. As you learn more about respect vs disrespect, I would expect that you will figure out how to understand him better and avoid disrespect, and that will probably help cut down some of his anger quite a bit.

            Much love to you!

  3. Your timeline could be my timeline- almost exactly to the month. And it has been a long journey back to friendship and closeness. What I have such a hard time with is – here I am, willingly trying to give him space, trust, and be the “good wife” after the hurt he caused – and yet, he rejects me. He is ok with being friendly, but nothing more. He is ok with talking, some touch and hugs, non-sexual kisses, and hand holding – but if I try to in itiate anything beyond that, he turns me down. Why? He was originally the one to break my trust (though I will admit my dealing with that led to him not trust in me), but I thought things were better. My husband hadn’t been sexual with me in any way in over a year. And I’m doing everything I can to show him im safe, forgiving, and accepting of him. Ive followed April’s advice, I followed the advice of others like Emerson Eggerichs, but something is still keeping him away from me.

    This is almost more painful than the hardships we went theough, because now I’m afraid to show any negative emotions for fear it will cause him to reject me permanently.

    1. MHMC,

      I am so thrilled about all that God has been doing in your heart – and your marriage. It sounds like your husband is doing a lot better than he was – and the marriage sounds more stable than it was at first. But there is still a lot of pain somewhere.

      Is it okay if I ask you a sensitive question about a possible addiction/sin for him?

      I know there can be a time where a wife goes through The Frustrating Quiet Phase where she may not share many of her negative feelings or concerns. But that should not be a permanent thing. I do want you to be able to share your feelings, concerns, needs, and ideas.

      I don’t want you to live in fear. There may be times God prompts you to share your needs and your concerns, or to even gently, respectfully, humbly confront him about his lack of sexual involvement with you – and how that is creating major issues for you. But only God can give you the right timing and approach on that. Ultimately – your goal is not to keep him from rejecting you – but to please and obey God. Does that make sense? So, if God is saying – wait. Don’t push him. Then wait. But if God is saying, okay, now it is time to say, “Honey, I know I have hurt you so much in the past. I have been doing everything I know to do to make things up to you and to become the wife God desires me to be and that you need. I am thankful that you are here and that we are together. I love you! You are my husband! I have sexual needs and a sexual desire for you that is legitimate. I want us to enjoy each other again.” And then, maybe give him some time to think about it – maybe even days or weeks. And, if God prompts you, say something like, “What do you suggest I do?”

      Praying for God’s wisdom for you, my precious sister!

    2. MHMC,

      Just wanted to share a thought. Some guys are truly terrified of being vulnerable. If he messed up once, he may be afraid of failure and of putting you guys back in that place again. He may feel so content to have your friendship back and peace in your home that he doesn’t want to mess up a good thing and so teetering on this final step – especially if he really didn’t know how to fix it the first time or didn’t understand how his actions got you guys there.

      Some personalities also struggle with resentment d/t their own expectations of ‘perfection’ from their wives and what reality presents. They can be hypersensitive individuals that crave complete emotional safety before they can be sexual even if they can’t show to another the empathy, acceptance, or grace they themselves need. Over a year is a long time to be non-sexual with one’s spouse. I’ve read that 3 years is not uncommon for a variety of reasons. That seems daunting and I’m not suggesting that’s what you’re headed for! I’m just saying that for those of us who have similar sexual struggles and lots of waiting while doing all we know how, it may help to hear that for many marriages it’s just another valley to walk through.

      Both my spouse and I have struggled with making the other an idol and – at the very least – I’ve had to consider how, moving forward, I demonstrate that I can handle my spouse’s mistakes and faults. I also really like April’s response. When timing is appropriate, I may do the same with my spouse.

      Hearing how you and your husband are touching again and sharing sweet moments really made my day.

      1. Yes, you make a good point that I have considered for some time- perfectionism. He expects so much from me, that he himself will not do. Often, I feel like they are requirements for more affection, and when I dont meet those requirements I get nothing. This has led me to realize that nothing I “do” will change our predicament. I cant meet up to all his expectations, and I just pray someday he leaves them out of our relationship. I do realize he has some very sensitive emotional needs, as do I. And I do realize that he has a deep fear of failure. Right now he pours himself into school, and I get very little. We have talked about this, and he acknowledges this, and he has made some effort to put me first. Last night I called him feom work and asked to go out for dinner when I was done, so he met me at the restaurant. This is part Of my spontaneous nature, which he hates, but he is obviously trying, and I will cherish the little things. I cant imagine going three years, but honestly, the Mount of pain suffered after a year of rejection, I would Probably just turn off all desire and shut down. It is hard, and right now I have hope. If that hope was removed, I wouldnt even try to be close to him.

        I do accept his failures and mistakes- we have discussed this much, and I am CONSTANTLY reassuring him of my affirmations of him. I have been aware of the sensitive nature of his ego, and most days im fine to delicately encourage him, however I have to admit, that the longer I go with rejection, the less interested I am in continuing to encourage and pamper him. Sometimes its like trying to feed a wild animal. You coax, and whisper, and wait, as it slowly, timidly makes its way toward you, and then you accidentally shuffle tour feet and it runs off. That is exactly how I feel when it comes to affection from my husband.

        1. It may be helpful for you to look up the INFJ personality. It’s from Myer’s Briggs personality temperaments that appear to represent only 1% of the population. See what comes up in case it seems to fit your husand along with ‘ highly sensitive people’. Some of what you’re saying sounds so familiar and after learning so much in the last 2 years, it was the icing on my cake that helped me unravel so much of what my unique husband couldn’t say. Identifying your temperament may be helpful for you to understand your own needs, strengths and weaknesses too and how your temperaments tend to mesh.

          I’m not quite sure how to keep from shutting down in this instance. I’m still working on this myself. A devotional called ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young is helping me to rest in being completely safe and feeling loved by my Lord while accept the blessings of the marriage even when my vulnerability is not safe with my husband. My vocation of marriage and compassion towards my husband has purpose in that it is a living witness for Christ. I can also see how functionally, we really do benefit each other. This is what I hold onto while I try to enjoy but hold loosely the moments of closeness. I think so long as I can see the greater meaning in my circumstances it keeps me from getting weary and giving up/in too soon. I have met couples who’ve been married nearly 70 years confess to having a bad decade or so and their love was beautiful. If you find that this temperament does represent your husband well, know that they are known for their devotion to that special one they’ve chosen as a life partner as no one else will know them quite so well.

          1. Refined, somehow this phrase you wrote brings me comfort: ” I have met couples who’ve been married nearly 70 years confess to having a bad decade or so and their love was beautiful.”

            Also, I saw in some comments on another blog post here a reference to personality type tests, I think. I remember there was a link, but I don’t know what post it was now. Interestingly, that same day or the next day, my sister texted something to me about a personality test. And, then again – the other day I started reading a book where the author said that many of the misunderstandings and conflict in marriages and relationships that he’s seen are due in large part to personality types.

            Hmmm….so, maybe God is trying to tell me something…. 🙂

  4. My problem is the opposite. I am a quiet and private person, as a child was always content to entertain myself, and I cannot get my husband to respect that that is my nature and that I need time alone. He works from home and I am homebound so it’s a real issue for me.

    1. Elisabeth,

      If you search “introverts marriage” there are some helpful resources online that help to describe to extroverts what it is that introverts need in relationships. That could be helpful.

      I wonder if you can compromise a bit and say, “I would appreciate having X amount of time to myself at these times – that helps me to recharge and energize because that is just my personality. And I want to be with you, have special time together, and meet your needs, too. So then at these times, let’s do the things together that are important to you.”

      Would something like that be helpful, do you think?

      What kinds of things does your husband expect or desire from you that are difficult for you?

      Much love to you! Thank you for sharing!

  5. i definitely need that other post you mentioned at the end. I fluctuate between the two extremes.
    Thank you for doing such important spiritual work- I have been reading for a couple years, now, and slowly I think my mind is changing in regards to how I view my marriage. I still need a lot of work/ have a lot of work to do!

  6. It is difficult for me to back off and give my husband space due to fear…fear that if I back away and there is a gulf between us, that he will wander away in the opposite direction.

    The feeling is somewhat like “circling his canoe,” as in my mind I constantly paddle around his canoe, saying “grab this rope! Pull us closer together! ” If I am not vigilant and don’t put alot of energy into circling around him, then our canoes will drift apart, and we will be swept apart further by the river of life. The psychological term is “anxious attachment.”

    The point is: I draw closer to him because I am driven by my anxiety, not necessarily anything he has done or not done. In Harriet Lerner’s book “The Dance of Intimacy,” she explained that distance is used to manage anxiety. For some men, too much closeness can raise their anxiety, which they manage by backing off. For some women, when they have anxiety, they try to manage it by drawing closer.

    I have worked very hard over the past year to try to recognize when anxiety is pushing me to “circle his canoe.” It is best to just stop, sit still and try to recognize the anxiety and other underlying emotions. This works better than ACTING on the anxiety. By doing this I have allowed enough space for my husband to come towards me and even pursue me, hallelujah! Lol!

    And of course, the more I am able to allow space so that my husband can feel pulled rather than smothered, the more I can experience over and over and over, that he does come towards me every time. This really helps to get rid of the underlying fear.

    I am definitely a work in progress. Thank you for the encouraging post.

    1. Marked Wife,

      Love this! Circling his canoe – that is a great description! And I love that explanation about managing anxiety with distance. Thank you for sharing that.

      I appreciate your examples and insights. This is so helpful!

    2. Hi Marked Wife (and April and everyone else)! My story sounds a lot like yours! I have been learning to be a respectful/submissive wife for about 3 months now and have felt closer to my husband than I had in years. We now spend a ton more time together and I have been applying lots of things from April’s blog, The Love and Respect author, Dr. Laura, and The Surrendered Wife.

      I had years and years of rejecting him and not putting him first. He was second to our kids, my mother, lots of things. Things are so much better now between us. However, as a result (I think) of us being closer, I am now scared to death of going back to how we used to be. I have had anxiety and codependency feelings arise now and I decided to start seeing a therapist. I fear I have made my husband and my marriage an idol.

      I feel like I can easily make my husband feel smothered now and so April’s many posts on space and separateness (and even idols) have helped me a lot. I would love if I can receive some suggestions on how to give him space without feeling like he will never come back. I get upset (inwardly – I try to not let him know) when he works late, goes out with friends (he rarely does) or basically does anything away from me! This is unhealthy I know and am trying to put Christ first and be a healthy whole person on my own.

      I would love if any of you even feel like we could message each other privately for support but I’m not sure if that’s approved by April or not? I feel like I tell him too much how I worry and that is a turnoff to husbands and feels like a lot of pressure. To add to my distress, he is leaving for a 4 night business trip tomorrow with his female boss. We have had numerous conversations about appropriate boundaries and I completely trust him, but sometimes my anxiety runs away and I get very worried. I want to be able to enjoy my time alone with the kids doing fun things while Dad is gone but I am feeling so sad about him leaving.

      Thank you so much and I am thrilled to be on this journey with all of you! We will celebrate our 20th anniversary in October and I regret that it took me probably 18 years before I got a wake up call to change.

      1. Stephanie,

        So many of us do things like this – put other things ahead of our husbands – not realizing the damage it does to our marriages. I know I did this, too. But then, we must be careful not to put our husbands before God and make them into an idol. It can be a tricky balance – but God’s Spirit can give us wisdom – which we all desperately need!

        There is a link on this post to A Fellow Wife’s posts and also to posts about giving healthy space that may be very helpful.

        Anxiety, worry, and fear are not spirits from God – but rather, from the enemy. The more you focus on Christ, understanding who He is and His sovereignty, the more you can rest in His peace and not give way to fear. 🙂

        I have some posts about fear that may also be a blessing.

        And about finding our security and identity in Christ alone and overcoming feelings of insecurity.

        If the other ladies would like to exchange emails with you – I can arrange that. 🙂

        Much love to you! And Happy 20th Anniversary coming up! I praise God that He is opening your eyes now. 🙂

        1. Thank you so very much for responding to me! It is truly a blessing in my life that I found your blog!! I have a question about giving space, if you don’t mind. Sometimes I feel like I am being “fake” if I purposely do not contact him. What do you think about that? I have told him several times that I was having a hard time with him taking this business trip and he said he understands but I need to “put my big girl panties on” – lol – and “it’s only 4 nights.” Could this be a form of me disrespecting him? After numerous conversations about it, I still feel insecure? Is it disrespect if I feel insecure and that comes across to him as not trusting him and not being secure in our marriage? Should I then backoff? Can you please advise me on how to contact him while he is away? Should I wait for him to call/text me (unless there’s some urgent matter)? This is where I feel like I am being fake – I will miss him so much but maybe I should not tell him how much I miss him?

          I feel like I spend my days lately just waiting for him to contact me (It reminds me of when we were 19!!) and I get so sad on the days that he is too busy to text or call me in the way I would prefer. A couple times a week he will text me that he loves me so then the days he doesn’t do this I feel insecure. My counselor is helping me to understand that if he loves me in the morning when he leaves for work then of course he still loves me at the end of the day regardless if we’ve spoken to each other or not. She even wants me to have a day where I specifically ask him not to contact me at all for the whole work day so that I will see that everything is fine. This really stresses me out to even think about! Is this a form of control on my part? I grew up in a dysfunctional home so your post about codependency really helped me a lot! Unfortunately I struggle with abandonment issues (from my childhood) and now that he (also Greg!) and I are close again it is bringing back all those old fears of my childhood abandonment.

          Thank you so much for your support and Christian love! God bless you!!!

          1. April, would it be ok if I asked you a couple questions? I don’t know if you saw my previous (2nd) post. Thank you so much!

          2. Stephanie,

            Of course you may ask me anything you want to! I used to be very clingy and needy with Greg, too. I will gladly share anything I can to help you overcome your fear and find God’s peace, power, joy, and strength. 🙂

          3. Stephanie,

            I try never to miss a comment – but it looks like I missed this second one. Thanks for saying something! 🙂

            Well, yes – it is disrespectful if you are clingy, needy, and/or insecure. It sends the message that you don’t trust him – and that is the opposite of respect. You are saying you don’t think you can turn your back on him for more than an hour or two without verifying his love is still there.

            Most men think of their love as being pretty constant and unchanging. Most women seem to believe that their husband’s love is very fragile and could vanish any second, which is why we want reassurance. But it is a weird concept to the men I know for them to try to understand that their wife thinks their love could suddenly change. To them, they married us, so that means they love us. To them, asking if we still love them is like asking every day if we still own the house we bought and are living in. It seems unnecessary.

            It feels “fake” not to contact him because you are not used to giving space yet. But I am pretty sure he will not be offended. He may be thankful that you are resting and trusting in his love.

            Scripture says that “perfect love casts out all fear.” And “he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) Even if you can’t trust your husband fully – you can trust God. You don’t have to act in fear. In fact, God says that He “doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). So if your motives are fear-based – that is not from God. Guess where fear comes from?

            If you haven’t, you may want to search my home page for “fear” and check out some of the posts. You can also search “needy” and “insecure,” “insecurity,” and “security,” and I think those posts may be very helpful.

            When we begin to tear out our idolatry of our husbands, and begin to truly trust God instead and rest in His sovereignty – it feels very foreign. For me, it was like learning Chinese. And it felt like emotional and spiritual contortion to give space and to learn to respect and avoid disrespect for about 2.5 years into my journey. It would have been easier for me to email Greg 87 times per day than to stop emailing him. But that is what I had to do. Stop contacting him so much at work and stop emailing him. I was not emailing him to bless him. I was emailing him because I wanted to feel more connected. The emails didn’t make him feel more connected to me. Because words are not his thing.

            Yes, back off. And let him call/text you unless there is an urgent matter.

            If he contacts you – then tell him you love him and can’t wait to see him when he gets back.

            I used to seriously email Greg all through the day and check my emails every 5 minutes to see if he emailed me back. When he didn’t send me an email at all – I would be devastated and by the time he got home, I was resentful and bitter and in tears. Not a good welcome home plan, by the way!

            There is a need to have some healthy space. Now, I am THANKFUL that I can be independent of him spiritually and emotionally and that I can find all of my contentment and security in Christ and I don’t freak out or cling to Greg. It is much more enjoyable for him to be with me, too. And it is easier to be around myself! 🙂

            Most men are at work when they are at work. They think about one thing at a time. It is not that they don’t love us. It is that they are focusing on work. Too many emails can be distracting, and then if there is drama on top of that – oh my. That is just not good!

            My husband shared with me that he always feels connected with me, whether we talk or write to each other or not. I would venture to guess your husband probably feels the same way, too. Maybe you can just rest in his love instead of seeking constant reassurance. And when you feel like you need reassurance, go to God’s Word and spend some time abiding in Him and praying and receiving the connection you most need with God. When you allow Him to fill up your heart, mind, and soul – you can seriously be content, joyful, and peaceful no matter what is going on with your husband. 🙂

            Yes, this is a form of control, disrespect, and probably idolatry of your husband that you can’t go all day without contacting him. You can and should be able to make it 8-12 hours without reassurance. He married you. He is with you. He is providing for you financially. Look at his actions. He comes home to you to be with you. He probably tries to show you his love by his actions, not by his words. Receive the love he has for you in the way that he shows it. 🙂

            Thankfully, your husband is not your mom/dad or whoever abandoned you. I’m glad you are talking with a therapist about this. That is awesome. It sounds like she is giving you good advice from what you are describing.

            God can heal your fear of abandonment. As you trust fully in Christ for your contentment, identify, and security – you will never have to fear – because His perfect love melts all your fears away. You will have to wrestle through things to get to that point of trust and faith. But it is so worth it!
            Much love!
            April

          4. April thank you so much for your response! I am so grateful to have found you and appreciate your support and help more than you know! I have felt called by God recently to start the Respect Dare small group at my church in January. I would love to help other wives avoid some mistakes that I have made through the years and start doing marriage “God’s way!” You are such an inspiration and blessing to me!

            Thank you for telling me what I need to hear about my neediness being a form of disrespect to my Greg. We are doing so much better in just about every way except this area (I think because we are closer and my walls have come down my neediness has gone up).

            He recently took a new position at his company that is requiring him to work more both at the office and at home and now he frequently has to be gone from home 11 hours a day. He has asked me to be understanding of this transition and I tell him I would like to be a blessing to him and not a burden but that it is difficult for me to not be pouty when he is so much busier. April, I should not say this to him any more, correct? He obviously knows how I feel and I don’t need to keep reminding him, right? This will make him feel possibly that he isn’t being supported and that I am not able to be understanding. I understand now that a man’s work is a big part of who they are and providing and achieving is so important to them (for their wives and families). I feel that now that my kids are older (16, 14, 10 with only the 10 year old left at home as a homeschooler) I have more time to just focus on my husband as my kids are not as dependent on me any more. All this extra scrutiny on my marriage is not good and like you say, I need to put that extra time into my relationship with Jesus. I have been doing what you say in your posts about fear and replacing my anxieties with scriptural truths. Thank you so much! The way you described how you would almost be in tears by the time your greg got home is exactly how I feel on the days that I barely hear from him all day. It takes up a lot of negative energy on my part and is very tiring.

            My Greg is like your Greg in that he almost never feels disconnected from me. I, on the other hand, feel disconnected if we haven’t spoken or written during the work day. I will try hard to do as you suggest and when I feel this way turn to the bible instead.

            He is gone on a business trip this week and he had to travel with his female boss and then meet other colleagues in NY (we live in CO). Last night when he called me he said all on his own (I didn’t bring it up!) that he has been honoring me and not spending any unnecessary alone time with her (I had a lot of anxiety about this in which we talked about it too much before he left). I thanked him and told him I trusted him. That made me feel good plus he texted me this morning that he missed me. Nevertheless, he just told me that he and like 5 other colleagues are going into NYC tonight. I texted him back “Fun!” and that was it. I feel quite jealous and anxious about this. I know it is irrational and I should be excited for him but the Enemy in my mind tells me things like “He will have so much fun without you and would rather be with them than you.” This makes me so sad and I have a hard time silencing this talk.

            Anyway, thank you again for “listening” to me! I appreciate you so much!

          5. Stephanie,

            Something that helped me was to realize that I was trying to “measure” our relationship by certain things like:

            – how much time we spent face to face talking
            – how much time we spent cuddling
            – how often he emailed/texted me
            – how often we had sex

            I learned that instead of trying to measure our intimacy by these things I could check off and count, I need to stop all of the measuring and just rest in his love and enjoy being with him and what he was able to give to me when we were together. And I learned to enjoy resting in his love when we were apart.

            But the thing that helped the most was taking that feeling of loneliness and desire for connection and turning all of my attention and focus to God. He is able to fill me up and meet those needs in ways Greg never can. Then when I am filled up properly with Jesus – I can enjoy Greg and what time we do share without freaking out or trying to demand more attention or being needy. I don’t have to be needy because my cup is overflowing from God’s Spirit. So now, instead of being needy and clingy and thinking about what Greg can do for me – I have the power of God to seek to bless him and to seek to please Christ above all else.

            I’m really proud of you for the way you are handling things so far. This will take some time of wrestling with your thoughts and learning to take thoughts captive. That is okay. At first, it will not feel “genuine” because it is like learning to speak a new language. But you can do this – and you will find that when he comes back, he still loves you as much as ever. His love is not dependent on a word count with you each day. And his love is not going to vanish because he is on a business trip.

            Use this time to do things you enjoy – and especially to focus on Christ and intimacy with Him. 🙂

            Ooh! Here is a post that I think will be a blessing – My Demon

            Much love and the biggest hug to you! 🙂

            I’m SO PROUD of the progress you are making!!! WOOHOO!

          6. Stephanie, one wife mentioned, in another post, how she noticed that she didn’t get all wound up in her husband and his “stuff”, when she had something really interesting to do. So if she had a women’s conference, or a mani-pedi-lunch date with her sister, or maybe just shopping at the greenhouse for plants to put into a terrarium…then she noticed, if her husband was busy, it was more like “that’s ok (I’ve got my mind on this project anyway).” Think about how many useful and worthy things could be done with all the missing-clinging-worrying time. Heck, you could be making quilts! Or grading Bible study lessons for the prison ministry. Volunteering at the cancer center, or the soup kitchen. Making cards for a greeting card ministry. Taking an on-line class (art appreciation, sociology, anatomy and physiology, gosh, the options are mind boggling!). Crocheting baby blankets for the pregnancy center…right?!
            I work at a school and I really notice that my marriage starts to fall apart when I am off for the summer, and have all that free time. It’s almost like I then turn the full intensity of my interest on my marriage, and it’s like a magnifying lens in the sun…not good. It helps when I have something else going on (work, a class, a project) to kind of siphon some of the intensity off…husband comes home and has room to breathe and relax, rather than having to run and hide the minute he hits the door and I’m in his face. Men respond to space, they really do. Until you draw back and allow a gap, he can’t even come forward. Think about that. If you are always in his face pushing and pushing and pushing, he has to back up. There’s no other place for him to go. But if you step back and allow space and a gap between you, then he has some place to step into.

          7. Marked Wife,

            Exactly! What I did for the first 3.5 years was dive into researching, studying about godly marriage, studying how to understand men, prayer, Bible reading, seeking God… And then, God gave me this ministry. So now – my time is filled up with being with God, praising Him, thanking Him, ministering to my family, working part time, and LOTS of ministry. I get my ability to have spiritual connection with people here. And I get to be very connected with God. Then I am filled up when I see Greg – and I am not needy. I actually have plenty to give to him. But I don’t freak out if he doesn’t want all that I can give him. Does that make sense? He doesn’t need as much attention as I am able to give. So – I try to balance things so that I am giving him the attention he wants but not a bunch more than he wants. My husband needs time to himself to recharge.

            I can be totally content if he is working on renovations for hours every night or if he is watching football or whatever. I don’t resent him anymore. I have plenty to do that gives my life lots of meaning and purpose. I know I am where God wants me to be. Now my trouble is trying to fit everything I want to do into each day!

            That is interesting about summers. Thank you very much for sharing!

            Much love!
            April

          8. I agree here, but just keep things in perspective.

            Remember to keep God first, husband second type of thing. Be careful not to let the enemy take your heart away where you pour yourself in those distractions and then there isn’t enough left for your husband when he is searching for you. I made that mistake too many times with volunteering, work, kids, hobbies and when he saw that I didn’t notice him through my “distraction”, he found his own distractions. Then slowly, the divide got bigger. Not trying to scare you off, but that is why God needs to be first. Then husband, then kids, job etc.

            But giving him a bit of wiggle room is a gift to him. Men don’t like to be hugged and squeezed all the time (figuratively). They want a wife who is secure and confident in the love they have for their spouse. Men feel too much pressure to be perfect if you only breathe when he breathes. Be a whole complete person in yourself. That way you are strong for him when he needs you too. Ebb and flow. Men come and go.

            We as wives need to wait patiently during the ebb. In the book men are from mars, women are from venus, she describes this ebb and flow as if men were like a rubberband. They need to pull back a bit in order to have the momentum to spring toward you agsin. Once they spring back, they stay for a bit then feel the need to pull a bit in order to “miss” you again. Hope it helps.

          9. LMSdaily115,

            Yes, there needs to be balance. We don’t need to smother our husbands or be needy. But we do need to be attentive and ready to give our focus, energy, love, admiration, and respect to our husbands and not veer too far away, either.

            If a husband says, “You care more about church than you do about me!” Then, it may be time to cut out some church activities, most likely. Many times husbands will say something about feeling like they are not a big priority to their wives if they feel their wives are overly involved in other things. They can give us much needed wisdom about when it is time to slow down and focus more on marriage and family.

            Great point!

          10. Thank you so much ladies for taking time to help me! It is such a blessing to share this journey with you! In my decision to become a respectful wife (along with my childhood baggage of abandonment issues) I unfortunately have placed my husband as my idol – I have been too needy.

            He is getting home from a business trip today and yesterday on the phone with him I “lost” it slightly and told him I have a lot of fear (I will add that he already knows my fears and my insecurity issues) and I didn’t want to tell him those things but I was feeling so lonely and my anxiety was welling up that I didn’t control my tongue. He didn’t get upset at me but I know that this is tiresome for him.

            Please pray for me to get better! I am seeing my therapist today so that should help. April, the way you describe the way you were “in insatiable pit of neediness” or something like that – fits me to a T! I do not want to hinder the progress I have made in my marriage by smothering my husband! Please tell me what things I should stop saying to him. should I stop saying “I don’t want you to work late”, “please let me know when you’ll be home”, things like that? He obviously already knows these things and is likely feeling torn between working and pleasing me.

            I do not want to burden him. I want him to desire to come home and be refueled and refreshed. Also, he likes me to just sit with him while he reads or watches tv or even just be with him while he is outside. I like to do this with him now but will this make him feel crowded by me? How will I know if he wants me to go away to a different part of the house?

            Thank you for trying to answer my questions. I have only been sleeping 4-5 hours a night due to my anxiety. Thank you for your prayers!!!

          11. Stephanie,
            You want to find a godly wife mentor type of friend to be able to call to talk with – or you can write a comment here – when you are feeling anxious. And even more importantly – I suggest going to God in prayer and writing out all of your fears and anxieties and then focus on God’s promises to you as a child of His.

            Your anxiety really doesn’t have anything to do with your husband – it has to do with your own thoughts and maybe some lies and warped thinking you adopted long ago as a child that need to be corrected.

            You can just say, “Let me know when you plan to be home, Honey. Thanks!” Or, “I’m excited about getting to see you later. Have a great day!”

            I would love for you to read Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

            If you got a chance to read my posts about fear and idolatry – what has God been speaking to you? Idolatry causes anxiety because we are looking to something that cannot meet our needs and we are trying to control things we can’t control. That is REALLY, REALLY stressful!

            Your anxiety and fear will go away as you learn to look to God, rather than you your husband to meet your needs.

            When you are alone and he is at work or on a trip – that is the time God is calling you to be with Him and enjoy connecting with Him! Listen to David Platt sermons about God’s sovereignty and who He is. Sing praise music at the top of your lungs. Journal your fears and anxieties and imagine laying them all down before God at His feet, allowing Him to carry the weight of them. Choose not to believe the lies but replace them with the truth of God’s Word. There is a LOT of heart work to do here. A lot of throwing out the sinful, ungodly ways of thinking and a lot of embracing God’s truth, instead.

            Some other books that may be helpful:

            The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee
            Radical by David Platt

            What do you believe will happen if he is not home with you?

            What are your greatest fears?

            What are you doing to feed your soul and get filled up with God and find your identity, security, power, strength, fulfillment, and contentment in Christ alone?

            Your anxiety is not from God. It is not from your husband. It is from this desire for control or idolatry of your husband or lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty, acceptance, love, peace, and joy. Ultimately – it is from the sinful nature, or the enemy.

            You have a choice. You can choose to believe the lies of the enemy and continue on in anxiety and fear, trusting self rather than God. Or you can choose to believe the truth of the Bible and trust that God is who He says He is, reject the lies, and embrace God’s truth and love. The closer you get to God, the more your fears and anxieties will melt away.

            Some questions to ask yourself prayerfully:

            Is God trustworthy?

            Is His Word true?

            What are my fears and what idols/motives do they reveal?

            Do I believe that God is sovereign?

            Am I trying to be sovereign myself?

            Am I trying to get my husband to meet my God-sized needs that only Christ can meet?

            You can absolutely find all of your contentment in Christ and be content, at peace, and full of joy equally when your husband is home or when he is unavailable.

            He is not your source of power, fulfillment, purpose, identity, and security. No person is. Only God can do that!

            You may want to pray, “God, I bring you my fears and all of the sadness and pain from when I was little and felt unloved and abandoned and I wasn’t loved perfectly and my parents failed me. I reject the lie that I am alone and not safe. I reject the lie that I need a person to be with me to feel secure. I reject this anxiety and fear that is from the enemy. I receive all that You want to give me. What will You give me as I bring all of my pain, hurt, and brokenness to You?”

            And then, you may find that God says something like, “I will never leave you or forsake you. I love you perfectly, Stephanie. I was there with you when you felt alone. I was beside you when people failed you. I have carried you and i will continue to be with you. No one can take you away from Me. I can bind up your wounds. I can heal your fears. I can give you the strength to turn away from idolizing your husband and help you learn to find all of your contentment in Me. I can meet your deepest spiritual and emotional needs. I want you to abide in Me and be connected with Me all the time. I can fill you with my Spirit until you are overflowing with My love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you feel that fear and loneliness – it is a signal to come running to Me! Let me minister to you and restore your soul. Let me lead you beside the still waters and into the green pastures. Let me feed your soul and fill you up. Look to Me for help. Look to Me for strength. Surrender everything you have and all of your dreams to me. As you give me all that you are and all that you have, I will give you all that I am and all that I have. You will mount up on wings like eagles. You will run and not grow weary. You will walk and not be faint – when you are looking to Me alone to meet your needs. I am able to fill that emptiness. I am what you are looking for. Stop running. Just be still at My feet and experience My love for you. People will fail you, but I never will. I am faithful – even when you are faithless. I can and will make something beautiful of your life if you will trust Me and allow Me to shine the blazing Light of My Word into the darkest corner of your soul. We can tear out the lies and sinful thoughts together and then we can rebuild on Christ and the Bible. I will give you a new Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. You will rest in My peace and joy. Rest in My sovereignty and love. Let today be a new beginning for your relationship with Me. I am what you need!”

            Much love to you!

          12. I think about your situation quite a bit lately. I understand your fear. Remember, fear comes from the enemy.

            My mom gave me pretty good insight one time: imagine a parrot in a cage. If you keep grabbing at the parrot to try to “get” it so you can play, hold, touch it, the bird might get really defensive and start to bite back. The more you grab and reach, the more repulsed the bird gets. However, if you simply put your hand into the cage and rest, the bird might nip a bit until the bird begins to trust you. As you are still and rest, the bird will begin to move toward your hand, “sniff” it, touch, then eventually walk onto your hand. Then, slowly, you can bring the bird out of the cage. As the bird learns to trust you on “his” timeline, the relationship can grow.

            If you keep smothering him with a fear that has nothing to do with him, your own abandonment issues, he will start to feel like you don’t trust him. God will make up for any shortcomings that humans have. There WILL be times when your husband lets you down, doesn’t meet your expectations, hurts you unintentiobally, or even intentionally.

            What will you do when this happens? Can you learn how to love him and show that respect even if there is a time he doesn’t deserve it in your eyes? Can you learn to be secure, even if some horrible accident happened that took your husband away forever from you? How would you carry on?

            You need to journey with God to discover the perfectly made person you are already (in Christ – added by Peacefulwife). Focus on what you can bring to the marriage to bless your husband, not just what he gives you. Do you want him to feel the needy greedy black hole of responsibility of making you happy? That is not his responsibility, it is yours. He can do things that you choose to be happy about, but I assure you, you will want more and more and he will start to fail to meet your demands and then you will become like a monster he wants to flee from. (Experience talking here, I was horrified at what I had become!)

            I pray for you to bypass 18 years of frustration and sorrow and hurt by learning how to be secure in God now and not idolize your husband. He is still human. He will make mistakes, will you be able to overlook that? He wants a confident partner, not a clingy appendage. Don’t become “child-like” where he feels you are a burden. He will need to go to you for support and comfort sometimes, but in order for men to do that, they need to see that quiet strength and peace, confidence and acceptance.

            Face your past fears with your counselor and realize them for what they are. But you do not have to be imprisoned by your own fears. Live in faith, not fear. Trust your wonderful loving husband, find your self-control and understand the “gift” of space and time you can give him. In the end, it will be better than you could ever hope for. Don’t be afraid to let him know that you are aware of your vulnerability, and ask him to help you learn what would bless him.

            I ask my husband every day what I can do to help him out. This is a man who doesn’t look at me, touch me, kiss me, or even tell me good bye or hello when he leaves or comes home. Many of my friends told me I am crazy for staying with him. But the Holy Spirit has put it in me that it will work out. Even though I cannot see a way, God has a way.

            Today, he hung a fresh towel on the hook for me. So small a gesture, but it made me smile with love for him. There is a wonderful, loving man in there who wants so desperately to reach out. I have made him so afraid in the past. In my mind, he is hiding far away in a cave trembling in fear of that monster. It will take much time, but I will rest and wait on God and my husband. I don’t think I am safe enough for him right now anyway.

            I want to be better for him. When he decides to venture back to me, I want to be the confident-in-who-i-am wife that puts him first in this world, under God and God only. I want to be the warm, loving and understanding arms he can feel safe with. I don’t want to be another badgering requesting force asking him to give something without getting anything in return.

            God is helping me to learn what true, unconditional, agape love is. The same love God has for me and you. We are supposed to love our spouse that way. You can be needy and clingy to God, because he knows your heart, but men can’t handle that. Go to God to heal your insecurities. I wish I could show you a movie that showed two paths…one I went on, the pain and hurt, and one that God can help you create, full of love and respect and beauty.

            My hugs and prayers are going out to you my sister. Get on the right path and you will become so strong and full of peace. You will radiate to your husband. You will not be sorry. Much love.

  7. “If some of you are struggling with the opposite problem – please leave a comment and we can have a discussion about that issue, as well. Perhaps we may need a post about that, too – the importance of a wife who tends to be too distant learning to come closer and be more vulnerable when a husband is feeling too much space.”

    Hey April,

    Thanks for the request from the rest of us. I’m wondering from the above mentioned quote if the husband always sets the pace regarding closeness? If a husband wants less = wife might back off a bit & a husband wants more = wife comes closer.

    Plainly put, I don’t believe I tend to be “too distant”, I believe my husband may struggle with boundary issues and what you defined as “emeshment” feels like love.

    What standard do we use to define these things? What can a wife do while fully submitted unto the Lord, that is helpful (because we are helpmeets) and respecting under these circumstances?

    Some examples,

    He works a job with flexible hours often coming home as early as noon (3-4 days a week on average) because he’d “rather be home with you guys.”

    He didn’t go to a men’s outing to a specific function in our area because he’d “rather go with my wife.”

    He has apologized to me on different occasion for not reminding me to take Advil when I was dealing with a specific ache. (I thanked him for his concern but said no apology was necessary as I was able to discern my pain level and take the Advil accordingly.)

    He used to ask me regularly as we were walking in to church if I needed to use the restroom (this one he did in front of people for some reason). The answer was: “Oh! Welp, if it comes up I know where the restroom is.” (This one came out with a bit of an annoyed and embarrassed edge to my voice. I was both.)

    The Lord has been working in me some areas where I could give a little more (more verbal encouragement, more instances of physical touch throughout the day, more appreciation for little things that my husband does, and more smiling – which is surprisingly difficult). And I have – its been ok but it hasn’t resulted in any “closeness” at least as far as I’m concerned. But, I think maybe it’s helped my husband not be so overbearing with these things.

    Any thoughts? Questions? Resources?.

    1. Anon for a Moment,

      Husbands can be enmeshed or too controlling, as well. I had to chuckle a bit at some of the things he is asking you. And I can see why you feel like you can handle those things on your own. Sounds like you are an intelligent, competent, grown woman. Makes me wonder something – what was his situation growing up? Was he in a position of being a caretaker for someone – a child or someone with a disability/long term illness? Or is he in the medical field?

      What was his parents’ marriage like?

      What was your parents’ marriage like?

      Has he always tended to be this way – with making sure you are taking care of your own daily hygiene and health needs, or is this something that happened later?

      I think it is great that he wants to be with you a lot. For many wives, that would be ideal. But I can also appreciate that it could be good for him to have time for friends, too.

      How would you describe both of your personalities in general?

      Do you believe he idolizes you or connection with you, possibly?

      How are both of you doing in your walk with Christ, as far as you can tell?

      Whwt would the ideal relationship look like to him? Might be a good question to ask him? Maybe try asking what he would like in the marriage? And what would the ideal level of closeness look like to you?

      Do you believe he feels respected by you?

      Are there things he says he needs from you?

      Much love, my dear sister!

      1. d,

        Goodness, my friend – this is a mess, isn’t it? How I wish no wife had to face issues like this!

        How is your relationship with Christ going?

        What does your husband say he wants in the marriage?

        Does he have any mental health issues, other addictions, or serious sin issues that you know of? How about yourself?

        Have things always been like this?

        How severe is the porn addiction, to your knowledge?

        What do you want in your relationship with Christ?

        What do you want in your marriage?

        Have you been to any counselors?

        Have you tried to address any of the issues about his lack of transparency and your concerns about if you can trust him?

        How did he respond?

        Does he ever apologize to you for anything?

        How do you treat him when he is being so distant and involved in so much sin and acting suspicious?

        Does he talk with you about how he is doing at all?

        How long have you been married?

        Much love to you! And a HUGE hug!

        1. Dear April some your views are strange to me haha. And go against the views i had about marriage. Even before i met my husband i think that i would have thought it right to run away and divorce over porn, adultery, drug abuse! I want to pray about these views, but they may not change. Its hard to talk to my husband about things sometimes, he gets angry easily and hes much older than me. Often when i say things his first reaction is to mimic my voice.I often have to work myself up to have courage just to ask for simple things but im becoming more confident with time. So talking about porn is going to be a big thing! Please pray for me for courage. I do really wish to have sex but its horrrible to think his mind would be full or porn images during sex. Its also difficult because we dont sleep next to each other. I sleep next to our baby- he was the one who enforced this rule. I try to pray about everything. sometimes reading the resources is painful especially seeing views of christian men who are convicted that porn is wrong. but i will still try to read the site in future. Please pray for me. Lots of love

          1. d, I felt compelled to just say that I’m so sorry for your hurt and the painful situation you are in right now. I will pray for you now that God will do something in your or your husband’s heart or speak something to you in the next few days. That you will know that God is moving and speaking and cares about you, your family and your situation. And that He will give you hope, clarity and wisdom for what direction to take.

          2. d,

            Pray about these things. Study Scripture. Read the post about Divorce and the Bible – and seek God and His wisdom, my dear sister! Let us know how we might support and bless you and pray for you! 🙂

          3. d,

            I invite you to check out the post at the top of my home page “the Bible and Divorce.” There are very few biblical grounds for divorce for a believer in Christ. Even adultery – there is a question about whether it is more likely that Jesus was talking about someone having sexual relations before marriage without telling her betrothed about it. Then if she was discovered, he would divorce her – like Joseph had planned to do with Mary when he realized she was pregnant and it was not his baby.

            God can convict him, my dear sister! You can’t be the Holy Spirit – but the real Holy Spirit is very good at His work. We can trust Him.

            How have you attempted to approach him before? Would you like to talk a bit about that?

            If he believes porn is not wrong – he is deceived. He has been blinded by the enemy.

            Have you tried asking him how you could best support him and meet his needs in the marriage? Maybe he would be willing to share what his needs are?

            Is it possible he may be dealing with shame? The post yesterday may be very helpful.

            Something to prayerfully consider:
            Have you tried gently, humbly saying, “Honey, I really want to be sexually intimate with you again. But the porn use hurts me. It feels disrespectful to me. Would you consider please stopping the porn use, and maybe we can work on rebuilding our sexual intimacy together? That would mean so much to me.”

            Maybe he will mock you. If he does, I vote to say, “This is really important to me. Thanks for listening to my concerns.” And then let him think about what you said and let God work on his heart.

            And, I would strongly suggest reading Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel.

            Much love!

      2. o Ooh Boy! What a lot of questions you ask, my dear April!  Let me get started and we’ll see what happens. For the record, the why isn’t so much an issue for me – but the “how to handle” as these instances come up regularly. So, to the questions…

        o
        o Makes me wonder something – what was his situation growing up? Was he in a position of being a caretaker for someone – a child or someone with a disability/long term illness? Or is he in the medical field? He is not in the medical field, nor did he care for someone growing up. He did take an active interest in caring for an ailing parent but this behavior preceded that event.

        What was his parents’ marriage like? My hubby is man of few words but I will give you what I believe to be an accurate understanding. Hubby is 3rd of 4 children, the only boy. Growing up Dad wanted a more rough and tumble kind of boy, my husbands conflict-avoiding and passive nature was an issue even then. His parents divorced when my hubby was a young teen. Hubby found great restoration in the relationship between him and his dad after a brief (one summer) period of separation. Dad was the one my husband took active interest in caring for during a serious illness. However, this happened when my husband was (and still is) in his 40’s.

        What was your parents’ marriage like? Divorced when I was quite young. My dad was absentee most of my growing up period. God has restored this relationship. (Yea God!) I was shocked to realize my dad and my husband have don’t have any memories of my family being intact. They divorced when I was 4 but separated for sometime before.

        Has he always tended to be this way – with making sure you are taking care of your own daily hygiene and health needs, or is this something that happened later? This began in marriage not during dating but very early (almost immediately) in our 10 year marriage. Not all the things he does are health and hygiene related. However, I never reacted in a favorable way to this so it stops for a while. Until he forgets and it comes up again.

        I think it is great that he wants to be with you a lot. For many wives, that would be ideal. But I can also appreciate that it could be good for him to have time for friends, too. Honestly April, I don’t think women who say that understand the depth and severity of this. It’s like a woman always wishing that her husband would do what she stays – until she’s married to a man who always does what she says. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

        How would you describe both of your personalities in general? He is extroverted, social, loves small talk and jokes. I’m more introverted, enjoying time with people but tend more toward depth than breadth in my relationships. He’s more passive and indirect. I’m more of a get it done and keep moving kind of girl. I’ve had to learn a lot about how to interact with my husband in a way he finds respectful. He feels overrun, I believe, by my neutral self. Learning how to move into a lower gear has been helpful in many ways. If I currently have an issue it’s that this lower gear I’m living in has almost made me more passive too? I used to be a woman of great passion and zest but now I’ve learned how to receive what good comes, being thankful, and let God worry about the rest. It’s been fine really, except my general zest feels neutered-like I’m walking around at room temperature. I don’t know if I made any sense.

        Do you believe he idolizes you or connection with you, possibly? I believe this is possible. I feel as if sometimes he forgets that I’m a sinner too, believing my yea or nea on something is the end all of everything. If I express my thoughts AT ALL, there is a serious likely hood that he will agree and do whatever I say. I have learned the art of asking series of questions that help him know what he thinks about something and hold back a lot (not all) of my thoughts. I did go through a period of “Whatever you think, dear.” It wasn’t any good. Turns out this is a way I can bless my husband to hold back, interact (with questions, short info that I may discern that he may miss, many times a refusal to come down clearly on one side or another just long enough for him to figure out what he thinks, then encourage build up so that he feels strong enough to do whatever thing.

        How are both of you doing in your walk with Christ, as far as you can tell? I’m doing well Daily time with the Lord is life-giving. I’m missing and looking forward to some deep study in the company of serious God-seeking ladies. My group was on a summer break and begins again in September. I see my hubby reading the Bible from time to time (maybe 2 times a week then not for a few weeks then 3 times, etc.) He doesn’t talk about spiritual things so I can’t tell you more than that.

        Whwt would the ideal relationship look like to him? Might be a good question to ask him? Maybe try asking what he would like in the marriage? And what would the ideal level of closeness look like to you? These are great questions! It has been a while – so I believe I can update my info. I’ll prayerfully bring these to my husband at a proper time. May be a while before I have an answer for you (if at all.)

        Do you believe he feels respected by you? Overall, I do. I think this is partly why he wants to be around me so much.

        Are there things he says he needs from you? Not recently. In the past, physical touch (non-sexual), just random during the day. I’ve already been working on that. Truth is April, when I get a little love spoken in my native language the ease of this goes up astronomically! I understand many more of his actions as being loving, but they don’t “fill my love tank” so to speak. I have to be intentional, which is kinda fun sometimes – to get to see the blessing in his smile.

        I can’t wait to see what you say, April!

        May the Lord give you continued wisdom and bless you abundantly in your continued sacrifice.

        In His Love,

        1. Anon for a Moment,

          I do try to be thorough – I want to try to understand the situation as clearly as possible before attempting to point someone toward Christ and toward healing. Maybe it is the pharmacist in me that has to ask so many questions? 🙂

          I kind of wonder if having your dad out of the picture for so long when you were very young may have taught you that not having a man around was “normal.” What we learn as young children programs us about expectations in our own marriages in the future. We can override those expectations – in time – but, I think that your background, and also your husband’s background of being around his mom and sisters more and being somewhat more distant from his dad may also contribute greatly to the dynamics in your marriage today. Maybe he didn’t grow up thinking of himself as a “manly man” like his dad wanted. He may have related more to his mom and sisters. I think it is significant that you didn’t have men around in your family, and that he maybe wasn’t really close to his dad until later and that he had no brothers. So he may have been more influenced by his mom’s and sisters’ interactions and way of relating than by his dad or a masculine way of relating. He may be reflecting the way his mom loved her children? Not totally sure.

          I think you both may be introducing what was “normal” to you growing up into your marriage now. But the expectations are very different. Maybe your husband was very close with his mom and sisters and used to being with them and interacting a lot? Maybe they were his main social support and friends?

          Do you believe that people pleasing may have been an issue for him? It sounds like he does not like conflict – maybe that is scary?

          It sounds like y’all are doing pretty well, overall. And that your relationship with God is growing and thriving. It also sounds like your husband is motivated to pursue God on his own at his own pace. That is awesome!

          I assume you have respectfully shared the things that really speak love to you?

          Maybe it could be interesting just to have a friendly, casual discussion with your husband about his desires in marriage, his needs, what speaks love/respect to him – and to get a better feel for his perspective?

          As far as when he oversteps boundaries into your space, I think you could handle it without resentment by smiling and letting him know, “I’ve got this, Honey. Thanks.” End of discussion. I think he is trying to show love to you and take care of you. Maybe you can do more to praise the ways he shows love and cares for you that are most meaningful to you? And maybe these little things he reminds you about – you can just let him know you have it under control and not make a big deal out of it?

          If it is seriously happening a lot – it could be helpful to sit down with him and thank him for the way he loves you and cares for you and tell him some things you really respect and admire about him – and then gently let him know that certain things are your responsibility, and you will let him know if you need help, but you generally prefer to handle those things for yourself.

          From what you are describing, it doesn’t seem that your husband is controlling in a malicious way or in a purposely oppressive way – it seems that he believes he is loving and caring for you. Might just need a bit of redirecting.

          The post, Control and Boundaries may be helpful.

          Much love to you!

    2. Thank you April! i am crying as I read the sweet loving tender words you wrote to me! I will write back to you later! Thank you for being there for me without even knowing me!!!
      Love, Stephanie

      1. Stephanie,

        My sweet sister – these are God’s Words to you. 🙂 Yes, they are coming through me. But most of them are straight from Scripture – and they are His heart for you!

        You are most welcome. May today begin a big new step toward God and toward healing. 🙂

        Sending you the biggest hug!!!! One day – we will meet face to face – whether on earth, or in heaven – and have a proper hug.

  8. Hey April thanks so much for your reply.
    You and your husband are doing such a mighty thing, I pray God strengthen you guys. You are both just like sunshine to this dark and broken world.

    It’s been a mess but I trust in God that good things will come out of this, I trust that I will look back on this situation and give Him the praise He deserves for how He would have helped me.

    I try to keep God on my mind, I want to continue to improve my relationship with God. When I speak to Him silently in my heart I feel peace. I’ve wasted so much time thinking useless and sinful thoughts in life. I want to get to a stage where I constantly feel and acknowledge His presence. God has really been working on me through your blog, I feel more peace.

    My husband hasn’t had a specific conversation about what he wants. Should I ask him? I know he has been cross at times I was frowning a lot, I know he has felt in the past that I put my parents wishes above his. I know he has felt I have been careless with money. I know he has felt I could be more thoughtful about caring for our daughter. I know he has felt unappreciated. I think he wishes I was more mature- he is 11 years older than me.

    I don’t think there are any of the issues you mentioned like addiction.

    Things have been a challenge, I feel he has a bad temper and says hurtful things to me a lot. Learning to take care of a baby has also been a challenge.

    With the porn , I only found out earlier this week that he had used it on his phone. I first found out he used it when I was pregnant on the ipad that we share. There was a time I think I caught him watching it on TV shortly after I gave birth but I’m not if this was a dream or not, I brushed it off and didn’t dwell on it. However back at the time I found out he used it on our ipad I told him I would not put up with it in our marriage. I got so upset talking to him about it I was bawling. I really wanted to be intimate with him at that time but he had been refusing me. I told him i felt he wasn’t attracted to me. He said it wasn’t true and that the reason he wouldn’t have sex with me was that I was heavily pregnant and he felt it was bad for the baby. He told me I wrong to feel that way because porn didn’t stop him feeling attracted to me before I was pregnant. He didn’t think porn was a big deal and feels lots of guys do it.after everything I felt that him seeing me so upset and hearing how I felt would make him stop. I also prayed about it and believed it would stop at the time. However I guess he may have just continued to use it, I don’t know if he’s tried to stop. Currently we haven’t been intimate in about 7 months. So this week i decided to ask to use his phone , I expected to find things, I couldn’t see much because of the locks on his phone. But I saw the porn. I haven’t confronted him about it yet. I have been trying to prepare myself- I read your post about husbands battling with porn and I have read some posts on the xxx website. So I want to confront him in a non judgemental way.

    In my relationship with Christ I want to get to a place where I acknowledge His presence constantly. I want to be filled with His spirit more.

    I want a marriage with someone who is trying to build their relationship with God and who is striving to live a holy life. I feel I don’t have that , so I don’t want my marriage anymore.

    We haven’t been to a counsellor before. I feel he would say no. But should I suggest it to him anyway? However I don’t want a councillor who will give bad advice.

    I haven’t asked him but I feel like asking him to take the locks off his phone so I can see his stored images and read his messages. Should I ask?

    He never apologises. He has gotten angry and rude when I asked for an apology in the past.

    Since I saw the porn this week I haven’t mentioned it. I have tried to keep doing my duty as a wife e.g. Serve him his meals. I have been frowning sometimes, but I still try to smile.

    He doesn’t talk much about how he’s doing apart from mention he has a headache or not slept well. Things have been really tight with money. We are also moving house later today. (I am writing to you from the UK). We have been married about a year and 9 months. But we’ve only lived together for about a year.

    I love you so much April. BIG HUG!

    1. d,

      (Just so you know, I have my settings on the blog so that if someone uses the word, “porn” – I have to approve the comment before it will show up. I received all of your comments. 🙂 It just may take a bit of time for me to get to them overnight or if I am not available for a few hours – but I will approve them as soon as I can!)

      Ok… Whew! Lots of pain here. 🙁 I’m so sorry!

      I’m really glad that you have read the post about porn and have been reading on the http://www.xxxchurch.com site. That is a fantastic resource! Also, http://www.menarevisual.com is helpful, I think.

      Here is what I believe may have happened – if your husband didn’t use porn before your pregnancy:
      A lot of men get squeamish about sex during the last trimester of pregnancy. There are a variety of reasons for that – sometimes they think they will hurt the baby, sometimes they think the baby will know what they are doing and be permanently scarred for life, sometimes they just see that their wife looks very pregnant and it is a difficult thing for them to think about sex with a mom (for a first time dad), sometimes they are afraid they will hurt their wife, sometimes it is just all of the changes in their wife’s body that throw them for a loop.

      So, it is pretty normal for a man to be less interested in sex during the last trimester of pregnancy. And if he believes that porn is “no big deal” and maybe he doesn’t even realize it is a sin, he may think that is a legitimate route to go with his sex drive until his wife has had the baby and healed.

      Of course, porn IS sin and it can be devastating to a wife to find out that her husband has used porn. BUT – I do not believe that a husband’s porn use would generally mean that a wife needs to leave or divorce her husband. There may be severe cases where men are extremely addicted where a separation could be necessary and very intensive counseling and accountability would be necessary. Or – it is possible that if a husband continues on and won’t repent from the porn use, that more drastic steps may need to be taken. But – usually, a husband and wife can deal with this painful issue without having to separate.

      The human heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure – apart from Christ. But in Christ, we have every reason for hope! We all have certain sin tendencies we think are not “as bad” as other sins. We might think our pride, our bitterness, our jealousy, our dishonesty, our gluttony, our food addiction, ungodly motives, our romance novel addiction… or anything else might be a “tiny sin” and “not a big deal.” Of course, any sin violates God’s standard of holy perfection and grieves His heart. And any sin brings destruction into our lives and into our marriages.

      But we do not have to have sin-free marriages in order to have healthy, healing, and growing marriages – thankfully! I wish our marriages were all sin-free. That is the goal! But if our husband does stumble into porn use – there are things we can do to gently, humbly, respectfully help him.

      I would imagine that he hides it from you because he doesn’t want to hurt you and you got so upset before. I understand exactly why you were very upset. But the more you freak out – the more he will hide and feel that he has to retreat from you. The more you can be calm and be on his team and ready to support him and help him against this sin and the enemy of your souls, the more safe he will feel to come toward you with his temptations and to – hopefully – come to you for sex.

      Have you tried to initiate sex with him in all of these 7 months?

      Your husband has stumbled. He doesn’t realize how big of a sin porn is – but it is not time to throw him away. God can heal your marriage, my precious sister! It hurts to be sinned against. But I have seen God heal countless marriages where there was full blown adultery or drug addiction and all kinds of other sins. Porn use is sin – but it is not beyond the reach of God or the blood of Christ. You can choose to bless and support your husband and there are many things you can do to restore proper intimacy and to support your husband in not turning to porn for comfort.

      Do you have the ability to buy the book “Through His Eyes” by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross? That book has MANY helpful chapters for wives about how to help their husbands and how to respond in productive ways that won’t sabotage their marriages. Many wives tend to freak out and then hold resentment and bitterness and withdraw sexually from their husbands. These responses are understandable, but these responses also push their husbands further toward porn and away from the marriage. Not good! He is not your enemy. The sin is the enemy. And Satan is the enemy. Battle the real enemy, not your husband!

      Does he tend to apologize without words by doing something kind for you when he knows he has hurt you?

      What are you doing to show him respect and honor in the marriage -not that you respect his sin, but there are good things he does, too, right? Are you thanking him and showing appreciation for him working to support and provide for you and your daughter? Are you smiling and him and welcoming him home? Are you making your home a place of peace and joy? Are you accepting of him – without condoning his sin – and thankful for his strengths? Or does he feel only condemnation, judgment, negativity, bitterness, and coldness from you?

      Are you doing all that you can to support him during this financial crunch?

      What do you believe God desires you to do to strengthen your marriage and bless your husband?

      Much love to you!

      April

      1. Dear April its embarrasing having so a comments show up! Please feel free to delete some. My husband definately did use porn before my pregnancy. I wish i knew before marriage so i could run away. Ive been scared that his porn use could turn him into a different person. There are many scare stories about the effects of porn. I dont want to wait around to see that.

        If i confront him about it and he thinks its no big deal then how do i convince him its a sin? Isnt it useless to stay married if he isnt trying to stop? Isnt lusting over someone else as bad as adultery?

        I havent initiated all this while for fear of him turning me down like in the past. But i think i will try , hopefully it wont be embarrasing. How do i do this without being demanding? I’ll try to buy those books you suggested. Sometimes when i try to show appreciation or thanks he puts me down.

        He works hard and hes a good dad. We just moved house and he did alot of the heavy loading. I think he is becoming less angry. He makes good decisions for the family. I try to smile and keep things peaceful. I dont express it verbally but condemnation, judgment, negativity, bitterness, and coldness have been in my heart- how do i get rid of this?

        Much love and prayers for you

        1. d,

          Porn is sin. And it is painful for a wife to discover her husband is using it. And it is destructive to marriages. Many sins are destructive to marriages – if not all. But that doesn’t mean that every sin requires a separation or divorce. There can be grace and the healing of God, thankfully! Bitterness actually destroys a lot more marriages than porn, drug addiction, or adultery. God can bring healing, my precious sister! Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and see what He desires you to do and trust Him to bring conviction to your husband.

          If your husband is a believer, you can share the verse about that a man lusting in his heart is adultery of the heart. Lust IS sin. And perhaps he may be willing to read some of the resources at http://www.xxxchurch.org. If he thinks it is not sin, he is deceived. But God can open his eyes. You can’t convict him, but God can.

          Lust is sin, but the consequences for lust should probably be different from adultery. Jesus did not list lust as a reason for divorce or separation. The man should repent of it, YES! But sins in our thoughts, even though they are sins, have different consequences from ones we carry out in real life. A person may imagine murdering someone in anger. But the consequences for that should be much less than the consequences for real life murder, right? A person may want to steal something and talk about wanting to steal it – which is sin. But the consequences for thinking of talking about stealing should be different than for actually stealing something. It is similar with lust. It is a sin, yes. And it greives God’s heart and is damaging to marriage, but there is hope and healing available!

          I encourage you to let him know you are available to him, if you are ready to do that. Perhaps it will be a step in healing. How do you show appreciation and then how does your husband put you down?

          How is your prayer time going, are you laying these things. Enforce God and asking Him to help you get rid of your sinful thoughts? Have you read some of the http://www.xxxchurch.org resources? What do you believe God is leading you to do?

          Much love to you!!

  9. Wow, it is amazing timing God has.. I believe I have become completely enmeshed in my husband and did not realize it. I focus on the Lord but most of me becoming a “better me” is focusing on who I am as a wife.

    I want us to do everything together when we don’t I feel sad. I want to talk about EVERYTHING with him. I just love him so much but its unhealthy! Im looking to him for my God sized needs.

    Just recently we had an incident where his friends invited us somewhere for a weekend.. I said well I have to work the day they are leaving but we can go the following day and also I have to work the last day they are there so we can just go those 2 days I am off. He said to me why dont I go ahead and go and you just meet us there. This was beyond me and I told him I would never do that to him I would go when he could. We are husband and wife and thats what we do! He said no I would never do that to you! I would make you go with your friends and I would just meet you or not go. We fought about this for a while and he thought I was being selfish and I thought and still do kinda think he is being selfish?! He told me he wasn’t sure what I think a marriage is but it doesnt mean we are attached at the hip and doesnt mean I control his every move and screamed this at me. I didnt understand but now I see many of my actions and behaviors have pushed him away and hurt him!

    I didnt know space was so important to men. I thought a marriage is doing everything together. I really need to read about this more. And pray God gives me wisdom and understanding on the subject for my husband and my sake! Thank you for your post

    1. Godsgirl,

      I can relate very much to how you have been feeling. I know I would have responded in a similar way earlier in our marriage. It is a matter of different expectations and different definitions of selflessness that y’all have. It is not really that one is right and one is wrong.

      He thinks of himself as being selfless and respectful to give you a chance to be with friends. And that IS selfless and loving. And he would receive your ability to give him a chance to be with his friends as you being selfless and loving toward him.

      You would rather go together – that is not wrong. It is just a different way of expressing love.

      I pray God will give you wisdom, my dear sister! There is much peace and freedom in backing off a bit and allowing our men to make their own choices – and appreciating the closeness when they choose to give it, rather than trying to force them into connection.

      This is a TOUGH topic for many wives – but it can be a really big step in healing and in helping our husbands not feel so smothered/controlled if that is how they have been feeling.

      Much love!!!! 🙂

  10. April,
    I request your insight into this situation please. I realize that it better fits your How a Man Thinks section, but I think it could mesh here as well.
    My husband and I have been married for 32 years and since having my eyes opened by God to my disrespectful and controlling ways a few years ago, our marriage has blossomed into one of joy and peace. Things are really easy between us and I am so thankful to God for it. 🙂
    My situation involves my feelings being a bit hurt and I’d appreciate your insight. My husband’s mother recently passed away at age 71 after several years of on and off cancer treatments. He has always been very close to his parents and I know my husband was grieving his mother’s death even though he “kept it together” for his Dad’s sake. The couple of days after her passing was a whirlwind of activity for us, calling, planning, supporting and helping his Dad. My husband was grieving but he would escape outside when his feelings overwhelmed him. You know, we women like to hug and cry on each others shoulders when we are sad, and I understood that my husband doesn’t grieve that way. I wanted very much to embrace him and comfort him, but he wasn’t receptive to it and it was okay.
    But when I stood beside him at the reception line at the funeral home and watched him hug/weep with person after person, it hurt. Whenever I’d tried to do the same, he’d resisted my comfort like he couldn’t handle it. It seemed he would accept comfort from anyone, everyone, but me. I have never said a word to anyone about this.
    I’m not mad at him about it at all, I’m just trying to understand.
    Is this just another way that men and women are different?

    1. W.,

      I am so excited about what God has been doing in your marriage! WOOHOO!

      I am not a grief expert. And I don’t know your particular husband. But here is my guess – perhaps he wants to “not appear weak” especially to you? Maybe he feels more pressure to be strong and “manly” in front of you than anyone else?

      Praying for wisdom for you, my precious sister!

  11. So what happens when you totally lose it with your teenage kids, yell, scream, throw out all you know about being Godly because they got on your nerves. Then you see the heavy shame you laid on both of them and realize that you dont deserve your husband and kids. They are too good for you and you are a horrible human being who has such an emotional core personality and you realize that it will never change. It’s who I am. I am a fraud and no amount of godly intervention is going to make me be able to stifle that drowning emotion. I crud he’d my husband, I am crushing my daughter and my lovely son is next. I shouldn’t be around them, they are better off not having to deal with me. What stage does this crushing realization fit into?

    1. LMSdaily115,

      If we take our eyes off of Christ, or we allow sinful thoughts to overtake us – this is where we all end up. I can crash and burn like this – especially with our children. Especially when we are rushing to get somewhere and they are dawdling and not getting ready quickly enough.

      Here is what you do – you repent. To God. To your husband. To your children.

      You admit your failure and that you don’t want to be a person who loses it like that.

      You go take some time to pray and restore right fellowship with God.

      You go seek to make things right with your family.

      You don’t hang on to the guilt and shame – because Jesus can cleanse you of all of that when you confess your sins to Him and repent from them. He cleanses you from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

      Then you get back up, fix your eyes back on Christ – breathe – and take the next step, realizing your total and utter dependence on Christ every moment.

      You kick out the lies of the enemy and give him no room in your mind but meditate on God’s Word and His truth.

      Sending you the biggest hug!!!!!!!!!!!

      We all have days like this at times. But hopefully, they will be less and less frequently – and less intense – and hopefully we will recover much more quickly. We will all continue the process of sanctification until we are in heaven. We won’t achieve perfection here. But we CAN walk in victory over sin when the Spirit is in control. That is AWESOME news!

      Much love!

    2. Lmsdaily115,

      I know by now you are feeling much better than you were when you wrote this, but I wanted to say that part of the love you show your family is to apologize when you do fail. Be as honest and humble as you can, ask for their forgiveness, tell them how that would have made you feel if someone did it to you….etc. That will be -is – so healing for the other party.

      And, God can redeem your sin and that situation. Yes, He can and yes, He will.

      You don’t have to worry about never changing. It’s already done. You ARE a new creation in Christ and you were acting out of the old you, the one that has been crucified with Christ and was buried. You have been raised to new life with Christ and THAT, my friend, is who you really are. As you believe and rest in that reality – the reality of what Christ has done for you and what He says about you now – you will walk more and more in Christ and less and less in your old self.

      Hope you are feeling better today.

      1. Thank you so much for that. I went to church on Sunday and the message was about how God’s forgiveness is so good. God likes to speak to me in lots of media, it takes much input for me. Radio songs, TV show lessons, even the newspaper, all talked about fogiveness. At least I knew what to do this time. The enemy really found a weak spot on me, but God helped me out of the trap. Thanks for all the love and encouragement!!!!

  12. Thank you for your posts and your Godly words of wisdom. I would love to see a similar post from the other perspective… women who prefer more space and are more emotionally distant and how to help yourself open up to draw closer. While I know this isn’t as common, I find this a struggle, and even more so as young children have entered the picture and we’re often just in “survival mode”. Emotionally connecting often felt hard before kids, but in some ways even more so now as emotions run higher and energy/patience runs lower. I am thankful to have a husband who pushes us in this area, but it is still hard and I recognize there are women who probably don’t have husbands who reach out when they don’t.

    Thank you again for your words of encouragement.

    1. Jennifer,

      We actually discussed this issue a good bit in the comments on this post – which may be helpful. My suggestions would be things like:

      – try to have the time you need with God alone (or at least some time – which can be difficult with young children)
      – try to have some time for you to recharge alone if you are introverted
      – maybe you and your husband can talk about scheduling time to be together, but perhaps you can ask him to help you see what you can take off your plate and how you can get more rest so that you have the energy reserves you need to make time with him a priority and are able to be fully present

      Questions to think about…
      – are you able to have time together when the children are in bed?
      – are you getting enough rest?
      – what do you need in order to be available to your husband? Have you respectfully asked for these things?
      – what does your husband need?
      – have you ever studied vulnerability?
      – are you afraid to share your heart? Or is it more a matter of not really knowing what you think and how you feel?

      Much love to you! Thanks so much for the comment!

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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