Skip to main content
316936_9954

Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

316936_9954

In the last post, we talked about choosing to believe our husbands and taking what they say at face value. (NOTE – These posts are not for wives who are facing very serious issues in their marriage like drug/alcohol abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, abuse, pathological  lying issues, or unrepentant infidelity. If that is your situation, please don’t read my blog, but seek appropriate one-on-one experienced counseling.)

Now, here are a few questions for us to prayerfully consider…

  • Can our husbands take what we say at face value?
  • Do we speak in a straightforward manner?
  • Do we communicate truthfully ourselves?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10

If I say, “Yes,” is that what I really mean? Or do I expect my husband to decipher that I said “yes,” but I really mean, “no”?

Do I send mixed messages to my husband? Do I expect him to have to read between the lines to guess what I am really thinking? Or do I communicate clearly and concisely to my man? Most men truly do appreciate it when their wives say what they mean and mean what they say. (Gentlemen, you are welcome to jump in and comment here.)

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

What if we challenge ourselves to speak the truth to our husbands and to communicate honestly and vulnerably?

This can get a little bit dicey when we are in the process of learning respect – because sometimes when we try to be honest, we also come across disrespectfully. BUT – it IS possible to be honest and respectful at the same time. I promise! That is the goal – to share our feelings, needs, concerns, ideas, and wisdom effectively – and to do so without being hurtful, disrespectful, rude, controlling, unloving, etc…

It is also possible to be honest and straightforward without arguing, nagging, complaining, criticizing, or being negative. I do admit, it takes a lot of prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and tons of practice… but God can empower us to do this!

Some ladies think that we are sparing our husbands feelings by being very vague, by giving hints, or by not directly saying what we need, think, feel, or want. That would be respectful, right? We may think it is rude or demanding of us to have any needs and to voice them. Actually, the men I have corresponded with often feel disrespected and confused by this kind of unclear, murky communication. It is my understanding that it is frustrating for husbands to have to jump through hoops and be mind readers to know what we are thinking. Women sometimes value nuance in order to try to spare people’s feelings, but not everyone can read into our hints. Our men, in particular, may appreciate us just being upfront and direct in a friendly, calm, pleasant, concise way.

When we are vulnerable and we share our desires and feeling directly with respect – it draws our husbands to us, and makes it easier for them to understand our desires and makes it a lot more likely that we will receive the things we would like. 

(Laura Doyle talks about this in The Surrendered Wife – a very helpful, but secular, book.)

Two Examples:

1. If I need help and am overwhelmed with the housework and children – I could refuse to ask for help. I could let my pride get in my way of my needs. I could dishonestly tell my husband that I don’t need help but secretly expect him to see I do need help and think, “If he really loved me, he would just know I need help and he would help me.”

But if I really do need help, and I won’t ask for help – then I resent him and huff and puff and storm around the house, slamming doors because he believed my words – that is not okay. It is sin on my part.

A lot of men don’t jump in to help unless they are asked because they believe it would be disrespectful to help someone who said she can handle things on her own (Nina Roesner – The Respect Dare blog). If I need help, it is good for me to say, “Honey, I am really feeling overwhelmed tonight. I could use some help with the kids and the dishes, please.” Then, perhaps my husband will help me.

2. If my husband didn’t clean up behind himself in the kitchen and I don’t like that, I can say (in a pleasant, friendly way), “Sweetheart, would you please wash the dirty dishes in the kitchen, thanks so much!” If I tell him, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do them,” but then resent him or lash out at him later – that is not good. If I really don’t like it when he leaves a mess for me, I can share respectfully that I would appreciate him cleaning up after himself.

If he can’t or won’t take care of the mess, I have the power in Christ to clean up and to do it out of love for God and for my husband and to lay aside resentment. I don’t have to be held hostage to resentment.

I can ask for what I need. But even if I don’t get what I want, God can empower me not to live in sinful thinking and to walk in victory over temptation as I stay totally yielded to Him.

A big key to honest, godly communication is for us to examine our motives.

  • Why am I afraid to say the truth about what I feel? Is there anything ungodly in my thinking?
  • How am I going to respond after I say what I plan to say? Is there any temptation there for me?
  • How can I be honest, authentic, vulnerable, respectful, and loving? What is God prompting me to do?

Sometimes we are afraid to share our real needs and desires. We feel guilty even having needs or we think we are being selfish to say what we want. Where does that awful idea come from? We are real people, my dear sisters! We are allowed by God to have our own feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, and desires. We don’t have to pretend that we are two-dimensional, second class people who are not permitted to have thoughts, needs, or feelings. Now, if I am ONLY concerned about myself and don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, or desires – or if I do not put God first – then I may be selfish. But simply sharing what I need and want is totally fine. Then I can trust God even if I don’t get what I think is best and seek His will above my own.

I don’t have to feel guilty for sharing my feelings, needs, and ideas!!!

The other side of the coin is – I want to avoid resentment after the fact. If I am going to resent my husband (or someone else) if I say a specific thing or agree to something, maybe I need to re-evaluate what I need to do in order to be truthful, vulnerable, and authentic. I also want to make sure my motives are not to hurt my husband or someone else. If there is any sin in my motives (bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred envy, pride, etc…), I need to stop, pray, and get my motives right with God before proceeding.

Alternatives to Sharing My Needs and Feelings Directly:

If I don’t believe I can share what I need and think honestly in a straightforward, loving, respectful manner, I am left with a number of destructive, sinful approaches like…

Speaking in a direct, honest, straightforward way prevents a great deal of hurt feelings, confusion, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and destructive interactions. It promotes unity and harmony.

SHARE:

How have you communicated in ways that created confusion in your marriage at times?

Are you afraid to be honest and direct with your husband in a respectful way? If so, why do  you think that might be?

If you have learned to communicate in a more straightforward, honest way – please share your story if you would like to. What has been the outcome so far?

Men, is there anything else about this you might like to share so that we can better understand our husbands?

RELATED:

Verses about honesty

Posts about Bitterness

Posts about Forgiveness

Posts about Fear

75 thoughts on “Another Challenge – Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

  1. April, these challenges are too hard! 🙂 I don’t think I communicate in a confusing way, but if you ask my husband he would say I do. It boggles my mind that he is so capable and intelligent but hints seem to fly right over his head. I am the queen of hint giving and he is the king of hint missing.

    Because of my past and the issues I’m working to overcome, no, I don’t think my needs are important. I often put myself last, and yes, I get resentful. I see that it might be sinful, but it’s hard to overcome.

    “We feel guilty even having needs or we think we are being selfish to say what we want.” Yes! This! This is the whole thing in a nutshell right here. In fact, I get irritated with people who whine and complain and always get their own way, and I do NOT want to be like them. I get mad in my heart and think “why does so-and-so think they just deserve whatever they want?” I’d rather say nothing ever and go without my needs being met than to ask for things like a brat would.

    In fact, and this is weird, I often get upset if my husband does something for me. For example, I’ve been meaning to get to the car wash but life keeps getting in the way. Yesterday he vacuumed out my car for me. I’m pretty sure he thought he was doing a nice thing and wanted me to be happy about it. I thanked him with a smile, but inside I was so upset! Because all I could hear inside was “you idiot! You failure! He works all week and then has to vacuum YOUR car because you are a loser who can’t get done the things you need to get done. You should have done it before he ever noticed it needed to be done. You are a failure as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, and as an adult. Loser.” I know, my self talk isn’t very nice, but I should have just made more of an effort to get to the car wash. I don’t like being incompetent. But I can’t say anything because he will act all confused and be like “I was just trying to do something nice for you.” It’s frustrating! I am happy, however, that I was able to smile and say thank you and I was genuinely thankful, even if it made me feel like an incompetent loser. Baby steps!

    And take intimacy. We struggle in this area because I’m more attracted to him than he is to me. Although he’d disagree. Maybe he is chronically tired, whatever. But we have been communicating more and things have been improving, but my guard is still up and I’m still very leery of sharing my feelings and coming off as needy. So I’m not going to risk initiating, or even tell him if I’m feeling “in the mood.” We had a great weekend, and yesterday we “flirted” all day long, and at one point I felt badly because he seemed very flirty, but the house was full of kids. He said something along the lines of how much he enjoyed flirting with me, but we could wait until later. Well of course by the time later rolled around, he was tired. I could tell he was trying to figure out what I was thinking. I asked him “are you in the mood?” (Knowing he wasn’t) and he asked me “are you?” (Probably knowing I was.) so then we got into an “I asked you first” situation, because I know he didn’t want to answer me because he knew I’d feel rejected. I hate when he plays these dumb games, when we both know the truth. Anyhow, he finally answered with “I don’t know” so I just said, “let’s just go watch TV”. And then he’s all like “I don’t want you to be upset.” That bugs me. Why can’t I have feelings? I’m letting you off the hook, so why care if I’m upset? I mean, I wasn’t pouting or acting upset. I was let down on the inside but I wasn’t bugging him about it. So why can’t you just leave me alone and don’t try to act like you care?

    Wow! 🙂 This was supposed to be a quick comment! I guess I need to be more straightforward in my communication with my husband. But I probably won’t. I was raised that you do not ask for things you want. If someone wants to give you something or help you out, they will, but you never, ever ask. I’m pretty sure that’s why I can pray so easily for others but have such a hard time praying for myself. I don’t feel it’s right to bother God with my “wants” or less important “needs.” I know that’s wrong thinkng and I’m working to correct it.

    Thanks for another thought provoking post!

    1. Becca,

      It is not a sin to express our needs, concerns, feelings, and desires. In fact, it is irresponsible of us not to do this. How could we expect anyone to “just know” if we don’t tell them what we need clearly? That is unfair of us. And then, if we don’t share our needs and are filled with resentment because people didn’t meet our needs – that is just plain sin on our part.

      You do not have to whine and complain or be selfish in order to be clear, direct, honest, respectful, and vulnerable. It’s easy to slide into being a martyr – which is not glorifying to God either – if we don’t clearly communicate our legitimate needs, feelings, and desires.

      Have you been around any martyrs? It is really frustrating to live with someone who is a martyr. They repel everyone. Better to just be honest and upfront!

      You are not a failure about the car wash. Your husband did something thoughtful for you. I’m glad you didn’t ream him out for being kind and thoughtful! THANK YOU! But the way to think about that is not, “I should have gotten the car washed. I’m a loser.” The way to think about it is, “Aw! My husband is so sweet. I really appreciate how generous and thoughtful he was to do that for me. I’m going to enjoy how clean my car is.”

      Your negative self talk – as we have discussed many times – is extremely toxic and destructive. I will personally have a big celebration as you continue to get rid of that nasty stuff!

      I am really looking forward to seeing how God changes the way you look at the interactions you have with your husband and the way you think about him and talk about yourself. I am not going to try to address that particular issue right now. We have talked about it before – I pray God might help you see what He wants you to change so that you can believe your husband that he is attracted to you even though he may get tired and that he does care about your feelings and doesn’t want you to be upset if possible.

      You absolutely can have feelings. But my prayer is that they will be based on reality not on wrong thinking.

      The way you were raised was messed up, my dear sister. It is okay to reject the things that are dysfunctional from your family of origin. They do not have the gospel truth about relationships. Question the way you were raised and your thinking in light of God’s Word and embrace His truth. 🙂

      God has a lot of verses in Scripture about the importance of asking for what we need. “Ask and you will receive. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Seek and you will find…” for example.

      Verses about asking in prayer: http://www.openbible.info/topics/asking_in_prayer

      Much love!

      1. Hi April,

        We’re getting there. I still have a long way to go regarding the way I think, but I’m learning to catch myself. Like with the car wash, in the past I would have been outwardly upset, and dwelled on it for days. I might have even dropped whatever I was doing, even if I was cooking dinner or something, and taken the car to the car wash. And it might seem like that’s martyrish, but I would have felt so badly and so guilty and so upset that he felt like he had to do it, that I would have been really mad at myself for days. It was different this time. I still felt upset that he felt I was incompetent, but at least I didn’t show it, and I thanked him sincerely. I do think maybe he was trying to be nice. I still have trouble feeling like I deserve someone to wait on me like that, but I’m getting there.

        As far as the rest, we are making progress. I’m trying to not read into what he says or does, but it’s a very hard habit to break. It’s also very hard to go from being repulsive and unloveable (even if it’s just in your mind) to someone who is loved. It is harder than ever! But I am trying. I really, really am. I don’t yet trust myself not to slip up, and so I need to do a LOT more praying.

        Thanks for the challenge, even though I don’t really like it so much! 🙂

        1. Becca,

          I realize it is going to be a long journey – like it is for all of us! I’m really proud of you for the way you handled the car wash so much better than in the past. THAT IS AWESOME!

          Godly love is generous. It gives gifts freely without strings attached. If you haven’t experienced that growing up, maybe you feel compelled to feel guilty for receiving a gift from someone who loves you? But – godly love just loves to give because it loves. Not with ulterior motives or in any attempt to manipulate.

          It’s awesome that you are seeking to learn how to receive gifts and love graciously without resentment or fear. 🙂 WOOHOO!

          It is a VERY hard habit to break – most of us have done these things for a lifetime. But God can help us to do this! I know that receiving God’s love and the love of others, including your husband, has been a very tough thing for you in the past. I know it seems so foreign and unnatural and even “wrong” to just gladly receive love. But that is what healthy love is about. This is how God wants us to receive His love and this is how we can receive our husband’s love, too. 🙂 It is painful to get there, but SO SO SO worth it!

          We all slip up at times. Especially in the first few years – but we can slip up any time. Then we just get back up and set our eyes back on Christ and keep going. 🙂 God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Thankfully! Jesus did that for us. 🙂 We don’t have to pressure ourselves to be perfect either. There is grace!

          I know you don’t like it. It feels “wrong” right now. But you are most welcome, my dear sister. 🙂 In time, you will see that the old ways of thinking you had feel repulsive, and the new ways are so obviously freeing, true, and right. 🙂

    2. Becca, I read this post yesterday, and all night it rattled around in my head. April’s comments are all good advice, but I felt I had a few things to add, if you allow.

      What if your husband sees your heart, knows that you give 100% to all you do, but sees that you are too critical of yourself? Could his heart be breaking for you to see you stressed out and calling yourself a failure as a human over not washing a car according to your timeline? Maybe he knows that the relationship between him and you is waaaay more important than if a car gets washed. Maybe he really wants to see you be more gentle and forgiving of yourself, but he knows he cannot control that in you?

      Sounds like he is doing all he can to be loving and kind to you, but how loving and kind are you being to yourself? All of that negative talk is from the enemy, it’s his style, it’s his mantra…create self doubt, hatred, and reduce your self worth and then he wins. God is love. We are told in scripture to love others as we love ourselves. How much do you love yourself right now? Why is that? Do you have to remain there because of your circumstances in the past, or does God give you what you need to become a victor instead of a victim?

      I totally get where you are coming from. I would venture to guess you might just be a perfectionist, weather in an effort to control because you didn’t have much control as a kid being abused, or for whatever other reasons, but you are exhausting yourself trying to achieve the impossible! When I finally realized how imposdible being perfect is, because only God/Jesus is perfect, I started to ease up on myself. I can now laugh (just a bit, but getting better at it) when I am not perfect. I strive for “excellence” instead of perfection. Even when my motives were for the right reason, I went about it all wrong. I was cracking under the weight of that pressure, my husband and kids were too. I demanded perfection from everyone. Including and especially myself! What a depressing and sure-to-fail way to live!

      Watch April’s video about perfectionism if you can. I even commented about how uncomfortable I felt about her purposefully messy house in the background, then had to laugh about it. Control comes in tricky ways. Although you have every right to want to be in control of your life, situations, not rely on others, and only rely on yourself (because very real trust was broken in your past), God does not want you to be an island. He wants you to look to Him and trust in Him. Do you truly trust in God? Or do you think He will let you down and hurt you too?

      Until those hurdles are dealt with, completely, you may struggle with this forever.
      1) Trusting God
      2) What is in your power to control, and more importantly, what is NOT.
      3) forgiveness – for yourself, for those who are in your past, for God in your mind for letting an innocent child be abused?
      4) gratitude, for God sending you a wonderful, caring husband who loves you for who you are and us willing to vacuum your car even after a long day at work, simply because he loves you deeply….broken and all.

      My dear, sweet sister, I cannot imagine how deeply hurt you are from your past. How sad I feel for you having to go through that as a child! However, God uses all things for your good. Because of your trials, you are a hard worker, persistant, determined, and a survivor. You didn’t let your past consume you and give up on life! Celebrate the strengths you gained from this, but turn them to good use.

      You are not a failure in any way!! You are a child…of God and you were fiercefully and wonderfully made. You are not a mistake. You are a VICTOR, not a Victim! This is where you take control of your mind and stop letting Satan have your joy, your power, your energy. Take pleasure in the gift God gave you in your husband. Treasure him and thank God daily for his gifts…of your husband, your life, your mind, your abilities, and even thank him for your mistakes because they give you a chance yo learn from them, grow closer to God and one day, you will find peace in letting go of the past.

      I pray for your healing with the love of God and that you can face you past with courage and determination…I already know you have what you need to succeed. Don’t let fear keep you from your proper destiny. Fear is not from God, it is from Satan. I pray for you to start to learn how to love yourself and in such, learn how to love others with a deeper understanding. God can and will help you if you ask Him to. But trust in God is needed. That’s the part that feels like flinging yourself off a cliff. But what do you have to lose? If you can’t trust God, who can you trust? Not even yourself! My heart goes out to you today, Becca, I hope you feel the good tight squeeze hugs I’m sending you right now!

      1. Lmsdaily115, thank you for this! This was an incredibly thoughtful reply, and you gave me a lot to think about. Thank you for taking the time to write this!

        I do trust God more than I trust anyone else, but I’m not sure if I’m trusting Him completely. I need to pray about that.

        I’ve been praying for you as well. Thank you for the prayers and I’m sending a hug right back to you! 🙂

  2. I love your posts and they are so extremely timely for me every single week. I am engaged and learning to trust, submit and respect my fiance heading into our marriage. I really struggle with being clear on what I want/need and not being resentful when I don’t get it. I am also struggling with the fact that I have been trying/working on being more honest and sharing my feelings and desires in a more respectful way however my fiance seems to use being tired and forgetfulness as his defense against helping me or hearing me. He was never like this when we 1st started dating, he was over the moon excited to help me out and was constantly asking me what I thought or felt about situations. I am getting very lonely and confused in this walk to be a better more peaceful submissive wife. I could use some advice.

  3. April,

    Not communicating my needs and wants clearly caused heartache and misunderstandings earlier in our marriage. I expected my husband to know what I needed sexually but he didn’t. Reticence to discuss such personal things plus assuming that “he should know or at least ask if he loves me” made me feel unloved and him feel troubled and confused, because he wanted to please me. A growing awareness of how unreasonable this was made me stop. I realized what an insecure person I was and vowed to stop expecting my husband to shore up my security constantly and work on myself. I began to take him at face value and not read things into whatever he said or did beyond that. I also strengthened myself with prayer and reflection and kept working hard to change, even when I fell into the old pattern from time to time. My husband began to relax in our relationship, and so did I. He knows I will tell him what I need now, and he often asks. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it will be a blessing to many wives. 🙂 How I praise God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in your life! 🙂

  4. What I wouldn’t give for clear answers to questions.

    And what I wouldn’t give to be allowed to give clear answers without fear of revenge.

    1. AnonyMan, I’d love for you to elaborate on this. It drives me insane that oftentimes my husband won’t say what he’s thinking until he knows what I’m thinking. Almost like he’s wanting to answer me the way he thinks I want to be answered. It’s infuriating! Just be real.

      So your comment intrigues me. How I wish men liked reading their wives minds – at least when we give abundantly clear hints – and how I wish my husband would just say what he’s feeling.

      Please elaborate if you have time. Thank you!

      1. Becca,

        If a wife freaks out when a husband is honest – he learns to keep a lot of things to himself. Greg learned to do this, too. He shared years later that “it wasn’t worth it” to try to explain to me what he really thought about things because he knew I would insist I was right and he was wrong and I would just argue and argue to convince him I was right. I missed out on knowing my husband’s heart and thoughts for so many years because of my pride and disrespect. 🙁 That breaks my heart!

        Now, he feels safe to share things with me – even if they are hard things. I would MUCH rather he be honest and truthful, even if it hurts, so I can deal with the real issues – than keep it to himself.

        God can bring increasing healing like this in your marriage too as you show your husband you trust him, believe him, take his words at face value, and don’t flip out if he shares something difficult.

        Much love!

      2. In the last post I explained that the wife’s mood is one of the most powerful forces in the household, and can be used for good, or can be used as a weapon. Men judge their effectiveness of how good of a husband they are on the happiness and contentedness of their wives. If she’s unhappy or not content, then you must either serve her or work harder for her until she is happy or content with her lifestyle.

        Having said that, frame a disagreement you’ve had recently in this context, and apply your husband’s thinking to this thought process rather than the thought process you might normally use. As you can see, the thought process of your husband likely is both good and selfless from what I’ve heard you describe of him.

        April is right, that it’s “not worth it” to discuss anything with my wife. For instance, we recently got out of debt, saved up an emergency fund, and the reduced monthly expenses let her start to stay home and work part time from home to stay with our son.

        In my mind, I’ve solved like 3 problems in service to her! We’ve gotten her home, we’ve cleaned up the debt, we’ve got retirement and college accounts set up and auto-investing each month. Life is good! In my mind, I’ve started the process of leaving a legacy and providing for my family. I can start to relax a little, maybe splurge a little, right?

        Well I brought up I was interested in moving up in car quality. I currently drive a $2,000 13 year old car that my wife bought 7 years ago. It’s 2 door, rear wheel drive, and the tires will be in need of replacement in 6-7 months. Is it unreasonable to want to move up to a $4k or $6k car? I didn’t think so, so I brought it up.

        I got blugeoned with everything in the book from a guilt trip about how the debt was mine and that we will be “catching up” for 10 years, that I would want a car before I even gave a thought to taking her on a vacation, that the car was fine, yada yada yada. My tiny little dream was crushed.

        Now tell me, why would a husband want to bring up a dream or speak his heart? He will either be crushed. He can count on it. So what do I do? Keep the peace, drive the stupid old 2 door, rear wheel drive, high mile beater car. Whatever keeps the peace.

        I can’t speak my mind, I can’t be honest. My dreams aren’t respected or considered.

        Then on the flip side, we talk about wishing our wives were honest about what THEY wanted. Why wouldn’t she just peacefully bring her dreams and wishes to us? Your average guy will work hard to make it happen. He’ll put it on the list of “things to do.” It might not be in the priority list order you want, but a good man will put it on the list (as long as it’s not an irresponsible idea).

        Why hint? Why not be clear? Why make it hard? Paint those dreams in high definition for him so he can make it come true. To be unclear is to be unloving. It leaves people guessing and they’ll fall short (in your mind) because they didn’t get the details you had in your mind. A good Christian wants to serve, but you can’t serve what you don’t know. Hints are a baaaaad strategy with men.

        God bless, sister. I hope my post wasn’t too long.

          1. Yes. I agree. Excellent perspective. Why do us women think our men are mind reading super heroes? Ugh. Makes so much sense when you spell it out clearly for us. Thanks, anonyman, your direct masculine viewpoint is sometimes shocking to me, but I cannot find fault with it. Sometimes shocking is just what we need to wake up our thinking to a new direction. I personally love your directness….and we women loooove detail, so don’t stress on that part. Thanks for giving us the sneak peek into the minds of most men!

          2. LMSdaily115,

            Isn’t it crazy how clear things are once we begin to understand a masculine perspective? Then it kind of makes you wonder, “Wow. How did I not see that before? It makes TOTAL sense. In fact, it makes more sense than the way I have been looking at things!”

          3. You’re welcome, I’m glad it was useful to you. Keep the faith sister, it’s good for you now, and good for you eternally. Here’s to all of us growing in sanctity in our lives, bringing us closer to our eternal salvation. Godspeed!

  5. I can relate to this post so much! Before my journey as a surrendered wife (and I’m a newby), I was a typical, “independent woman”. I speak my mind on many, probably too many things. The funny thing is, I have always had a hard time expressing my wants. Growing up in an abusive home, I was never allowed to make choices and I think that has followed me into adult-hood. Not when it comes to things like, what I want to do in life, because I’m a very persistent, outspoken and goal-oriented person, However, when it comes to personal desires and needs, I think the vulnerability is what really challenges me. This has really hurt my relationship and my husband has often stated that he doesn’t feel like I want to make myself vulnerable to him.
    Its so hard and awkward! I want nothing more than to feel free and comfortable with my husband. In the past though, I’ve felt very judged by him ( i have seen texts he has sent to other people complaining about me) and this just makes it so hard to open myself up.
    You made a very good point about husbands shutting down, too.. As a matter of fact, in a recent counseling session, my husband expressed a concern that he didn’t want the burden of “making me happy”. I was very offended and defensive and this was obvious because I let my emotions get the best me. I’m glad that our counselor called me on it and pointed out that this type of reaction is why my husband shuts down. Yikes. To be fair though, I think it has to be “safe” for us to share with our husbands too. Don’t our husbands have somewhat of a responsibility to create a safe place for us to share as well? Idk, this is something that I get confused about and struggle with….

    1. Novembergirl,

      I’m so very sorry that you experienced abuse as a child. 🙁 How I wish NO child ever had such a difficult and painful experience in their own family.

      Check out this post:

      Control and Boundaries

      Vulnerability is required for real intimacy. But yes, both husband and wife have a responsibility to create a safe place for their spouse. We can’t force our husbands to be a safe place for us. But we can ask for what we need and show respect for ourselves and our marriages by letting our husbands know when we do not feel safe.

      Check out:

      Am I responsible for my spouse’s happiness?
      The Idol of Happiness
      I Am Responsible for Myself Emotionally
      I Am Responsible for Myself Spiritually

      Sounds like your counselor is doing a good job from what you are describing. I’m glad he/she is calling each of you out on things and helping you to build a strong, godly, healthy relationship. You have a lot of scars and wounds and messed up thinking to work through because of your background – but God can absolutely heal you! 🙂

  6. I am paralyzed to tell my husband what I truly feel. This is my burden I am desperately praying for God to help me with right now. I have soooo much going on in my head I want to say to my husband that I get overwhelmed. I know he will get overwhelmed if I open that Pandoras box. I am so afraid that the frustration, anger, cry out for anything from him will just explode. I keep trying to wait on God, let things happen without me trying to control them, but I wonder if I am just hiding behind God. Am I supposed to learn something hete and I am just missing it?

    I feel super unsafe telling him my feelings because: 1) he tells me and acts like he doesn’t care how I feel and it’d just my problem niw, not his to deal with…total abandonment there. 2) he doesn’t hear me anyway. It goes back into HIS feelings, needs, hurt 3) I am totally emotionally neglected by him that some days it’s just do hard to breathe. I would be mentally insane by now if I didn’t have God in my life, I’m a Newby too. 4) he constantly assumes my motives, like if I don’t answer a question immediately, then I must be trying to think up a lie. In actuality, I am considering his viewpoint and maybe even learning to agree with him. It’s such a slap in the face to even bother trying. Yes, I feel like a martyr, but I don’t want to be. I wish I felt like I was talking to someone who cared about me. Instead, I feel he is incredibly cruel and lacks basic humanity. I can lay next to him buck naked for an entire month, and he would never know it. No touch, no looking at me, no interaction. I feel like I’ve been put in the hole in a prison. Idolation, abandonment. I’m not doing well with this issue this week atvall. I waffle between “God is enough” and some semblance of peace. It almost seems as if it would be better if it was all over and I could be happy with just me and God. Every day the wound is reopened, I force a healing based on forgiveness and love. And it starts all over again the next day. When is it ever enough? How much do I give, really unselfishly give and have it dropped and ignored at my feet before I just stop torturing myself? I am scared to death of saying how I feel when I am not in total control of my emotions. It takes me WEEKS to build up the courage to talk about anything relationship wise. I am sure he senses this, but he does nothing to help encourage me, relax me or set up a feeling of safety. I can’t seem to trust that my raw feelings will be tended to. It feels like I’m sticking my neck out, only to get chopped off.
    I know there is something I’m supposed to learn here, but I seem to be blind and terrified. I want yo overcome it, I have a feeling it would be a huge success if I could. Help??

    1. LMSdaily115,

      I know that I had a long “Frustrating Quiet Phase” in the beginning of this journey myself. I had said so much about what I wanted and needed for so long, that when I saw how much damage I caused and didn’t know how to express myself respectfully, I did a lot of saying nothing for awhile until I began to get my bearings.

      There can be a time when it is appropriate for a wife to say nothing if she has caused a lot of verbal harm for a long time. There can be a time of waiting for her husband to heal and for her to learn more wisdom and discretion. Then there is a time to say something. This requires God’s wisdom and prompting – or we can make a big mess!

      I can certainly understand why you feel very discouraged. 🙁 There has been a lot of waiting – a lot of very painful waiting and watching your husband react in some extremely hurtful ways. My heart breaks for you both!

      I don’t think he is well enough to be able to process your feelings right now – in some ways – or to try to look out for your needs. I think he is very critically wounded and still in the spiritual/emotional ICU.

      You did an awesome job a few weeks ago sharing your needs and concerns and your heart as you listened to God’s prompting. And your husband did hear you.

      God knows what you should say and when and how to say it. Continue to cling to Him. He is your Rock, your Fortress, your Refuge, and your Strength. A very present Help in trouble.

      It would be a lot easier to be separated. I don’t know if that is what God desires you to do. I am praying for God’s wisdom for you, my dear sister! I know there is beginning to be some healing. I think it will still be more time before it feels more “mutual” in your marriage. But I do believe that day is coming, my sweet friend!

      1. April. I agree, I am VERY familiar with the quiet phase. For some reason, this feels different. Before, I was quiet as you said, because I realized how everything out of my mouth had been so disrespectful that I wanted to stop hurting people immediately. Because I didn’t know the right way to speak, I knew not to say anything at all until I could absorb those lessons more fully.

        This feels more like no matter if I speak with every bit of honor, respect, and love to him, he doesn’t hear me or even care about what I have to say. In fact, he rarely asks how I am doing, so it seems pointless. I feel I am giving a genuine gift and he slaps it out of my hand and says “I never asked you for anything and I don’t want anything you have to offer, ever!” This is so crushing. How can he ever learn to trust, feel safe, have any affection or relationship when all attempts on my end are continuously rejected? Maybe that is the issue. ..the rejection is what hurts the most. I thought I had faced that very scary fear and overcame it. I guess there were maybe LEVELS of rejection/fear. I took care of some of them, but not all of them.

        I am glad I brought this to you. Maybe I wrongfully felt my husband must have progressed to where his humanity came back, I think I am wrong, STILL too impatient and expectations shot up like a rocket….again. I hope I can truly figure out how to rest in God one day, but “hear” him when I am supposed to act. That’s the hardest part for me is trusting that I am hearing God or the enemy or my flesh. I am constantly doubting this.

        Maybe my husband IS still very emotionally comatose. I was thinking of giving him a printout of the things men do that are unloving to women etc so that he had an idea of how to deal with the 2 “female emotions” (13 year old daughter and wife) in his home. Maybe I still need to wait. Thanks for the advice.

        1. LMSdaily115,

          So, here are my thoughts from my limited understand about what your husband may be thinking…

          In your husband’s mind – you have only just shown signs of improvement and not arguing for the past 2 months. I know you have been working VERY DILIGENTLY for almost a year on allowing God to radically change your heart, mind, motives, thoughts, words, and actions. So – for you – the changes in you have been going on for many months.

          But in his perspective, this is a new thing. The changes he has been able to observe or notice are still fresh. For a man, two months of a wife’s changes is a very SHORT period of time. He still would tend to feel extremely insecure that she was going to revert back to her old ways and that this might not be for real. He also has a lot of catching up to do with understanding where you actually are and that you aren’t the same woman you used to be. He thinks you were the old you until 2 months ago. So there will be a lot of skepticism for probably a number of additional months, would be my guess, at a minimum.

          You are giving genuine gifts. But he doesn’t trust yet. This is a slow process. If we feel like our changing happens pretty slowly and we wish we could speed it up – our husband’s changing happens even more slowly many times.

          You are both on your own journey and you both have your own steep learning curve.

          I don’t know that I would say he doesn’t have his humanity back. But – this is a very gradual process, especially with most men. He is going to be cautious and afraid to believe the things he sees in you are real. And even when he does believe that what he sees in you is real, then he will have to begin to deal with his own sin – and that can be a rocky, bumpy road for everyone in the family for a while.

          This is the hardest thing – to learn to properly discern God’s voice vs. the enemy/the flesh. But that is the MOST important thing! As I know you have already seen.

          I don’t think he is ready for you to give him a list of criticisms at this point. I think there will be a time in the future when you can share this stuff – if you really believe God is prompting you to share now, you could. But – in my view – his wounds are still so raw and he is not able to see past his own pain yet. Sharing this kind of information would be for when he is able to see his contribution to the pain. Does that make sense? And, honestly, once God opens his eyes, I don’t know how much you will need to share. I think God will reveal a lot of these things to him. But I pray for God’s wisdom for you, my dear sister!

          However – as he does things that are hurtful or unloving – it may be appropriate to address them then. One at a time. “Honey, that felt hurtful.”

          1. April,
            Reading this response, was very helpful! I struggle with this all the time because I have been SO diligent with learning on how to be a surrendered wife. I think in the past 3 months, I’ve read 5 or 6 books and I’m on this post all the time. It is frustrating when my husband still only sees when I stumble and struggle and is inconsistent with his own feelings about it (sometimes he sees slight changes, sometimes he says he needs more consistency).
            When you said our husbands are hurt and can’t see past their own pain….this is evident. How can we not become hurt and bitter when we are also hurting so deeply and they are not able to recognize that fully? Especially, when my hurt and trust was broken by him initially? This can feel so defeating and I struggle with feeling too “passive” when I’m so focused on HIS needs and don’t feel like I can “require” my needs be met. I know this is sinful thinking and most of the time, I ask God for patience.
            I sometimes get frustrated because my husband and I have only been married for 2.5 years. 10 months into our marriage, he had an emotional affair when I was 8 months pregnant. And now, we have been separated for 3 months. I feel like he gave up so easily, or at least made the “easier” choices when he wasn’t happy with how things were going.
            I guess this is why I struggle with not holding resentment. I do my best to put on my “happy face” and be joyful so that he wants to be around me but it’s only through God’s grace that I don’t completely shut down at times.

          2. Novembergirl,

            I think the post I am planning for Thursday may be helpful, too.

            But – this journey is very much like learning to walk or learning a new and very foreign language. It is a slow process. Sometimes husbands expect this to be a “flip the light switch” process, but it just isn’t! Especially not in our culture where we have been marinating in disrespect and such godless, worldly ideas for so long.

            The way we can avoid being hurt and bitter is to think in the power and love of Christ with His perspective. What did Jesus do when the Jews were having Him crucified? He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

            When people are acting in the flesh, they are blind to the things of the Spirit of God. They can’t see. If they could see what they were really doing – they would NOT do those hurtful things! It helps me to know that when people are lashing out at me or mistreating me, they are far from God and have blinded eyes. If they knew how to love with God’s love, that is what they would do. What is coming out of them reveals their character and what/who is in charge – whether it is God’s Spirit or the sinful flesh. What comes out of a man is not about other people, but about his own character.

            It helps to remember I am only responsible for me.

            I think another key is that the focus isn’t to be totally on “his needs.” The focus is to be on Christ. Total submission to Him. Pleasing Him. And blessing others. This is not about making your husband an idol and doing whatever he says he wants. it is about the Lordship of Christ and doing whatever Jesus desires us to do. There is a really big difference!

            It is also helpful to think about that someone who is in that much spiritual/emotional pain and who is hurting that much is kind of in a spiritual ICU. If your husband was in the hospital in the real ICU, you would not resent him for not fixing supper for you or for not getting you a glass of water. You would understand that he had serious limitations. You would realize that even if you had a broken arm, if he is on a ventilator and his organs are failing and he is on the brink of death – you would not expect him to take care of your needs, even though you have legitimate needs.

            It is a very similar thing spiritually. If he is spiritually dead, or in a spiritual coma – he does not have the ability to meet your emotional/spiritual needs, even though your needs are legitimate. As you seek to bless him and pray for God to heal him – and as he gets stronger – he may one day be able to meet some of your needs. But this is a great time to focus on the sufficiency of Christ and His ability to meet your needs and the ability He gives you to be content in Him no matter what your circumstances.

            Those choices he made were wrong. And hurtful. You will need to see him rebuild trust. But he also has pain and needs to see trust rebuilt, too, most likely.

            Much love to you!

          3. Thanks, April. Your analogies are very helpful. I know this is part of what God is teaching me; learning how to be fulfilled by Him and not seeking for my husband to determine my level of happiness or satisfaction.
            The funny thing is, my husband was the one that brought me to Christ. When we started dating, he took me to church and has really been a positive influence in that way. I guess that’s why its hard for me to comprehend sometimes that he may be spiritually far from God even when we go to Church weekly and attend “small groups”. As a newer believer, I’m learning that outward behavior is sometimes very different from a person’s inner spirtual health and sometimes those who seek God the most, are those that have the most inner turmoil. If that makes sense.
            Maybe this is part of making my husband an idol? Since he is a more “developed” Christian, maybe I expected more from him? I remember when things were not good, I found texts he sent to his “Christian friend”, stating that I was a pagan and that he made a bad choice and didn’t let the Holy Spirit guide him (I think he meant for his choice to marry me). This crushed me! It also confused me because his very action of saying this was very hypocritical in my opinion. He doesn’t even know I saw this.
            But you’re right, I have to let go of some of this and give it to Christ so I can truly forgive and be bitter-free.

          4. Novembergirl,

            YES!!!! That is such a critical lesson – to learn to be fulfilled by the Lord alone, no matter what your husband is or is not doing.

            It is difficult when you expect someone to be more mature in Christ than you are – and they fail you at times, or there are areas where they seem to be weaker. It is easy to put people on pedestals and to expect them to always be the “more mature” one. But – that is not reality so many times. I know I have faced this quandary myself in some relationships where I expected people in the generation before me to be so much more wise and mature in Christ. But the number of years a person has been a Christian doesn’t always predict how sanctified they are and how Spirit-filled they are.

            True, we can’t judge very accurately where people are spiritually looking from the outside. And there are so many things that we can’t see – we do have to be careful to lay down expectations and to not judge in an ungodly way.

            If a believer marries an unbeliever, that is sinful in God’s sight. But that was his choice, if you weren’t a believer back then. It was not your responsibility if he made a “poor choice.” However, I PRAISE GOD that God has brought you to Himself and that you are seeking to live for Christ now! WOOHOO!!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Perhaps your husband is stuck spiritually somewhere. I don’t know. But you are not limited by where he is. You just let God work powerfully in every corner of your life and soul – transforming you by His Spirit. And we will trust together that He will continue the good work He began in your husband. Perhaps, God is answering your husband’s prayers in your life – and then – you will be the one God uses to pray for your husband’s continued growth. 🙂 How cool is that!??!?!

          5. April,
            So, I’m struggling with a particular issue and I have yet to bring it up to my husband because I don’t know if I should. It’s been bothering me, but I don’t know if that’s my controlling self wanting some control or if I have a legitmate reason to feel the way I do. Any suggestions would be helpful.

            We have a joint bank account…savings and checking. We use our checking account to pay all of our bills. We also have a joint savings account which we both put money in each month. As you know, we’ve been living separately (against my will) for 3 months now. This means we are now paying 2 rents and bills for 2 households (this was one of my biggest and voiced concern in the beginning). About a month into our separation, I felt like things were improving. We were getting along, and showing more effection toward each other, etc. He sat me down and expressed his desire to reconcile and proceeded to explain that he felt he should have the final say in decisions. (i struggled with this internally) and that he believed our finances should be separated. Why would he want to do this if we’re trying to reconcile?? This triggered ALL kinds of fear and I was angry! Needless to say, that conversation did not end well at all! This was before my surrendered journey. The topic never came up again.

            However about a month or so ago, he had to go on a busines trip that would give him lots of overtime. I noticed that his check did not get deposited as it normally does. But I didn’t mention it or question him about it in attempts to demonstrate trust. It has continued….however, I’ve noticed that he will deposit half of his checks into our account and the others, he doesn’t. We have plenty of money in the account, so that is why I haven’t brought it up. Its really not about the money, but I just feel like some kind of conversation should have taken place since I have continued to put 100% of my paychecks into the joint account.
            I can understand his hesitation since his first attempt with talking to me didn’t go well but I feel part of growing together is getting to the point of havng discussions, even when they are not comfortable. I’m assuming he is paying his rent and his own bills with the money he doesn’t deposit into the account. Am I out of line here? Should this be something that is discussed, or least some kind of notification so we are on the same page and I’m at least in the loop even if I don’t agree?

            I know you’ve read Surrendered Wife and you’ve stated that you have given your husband the sole responsibility of the finances. Can you tell me your take on this? It has been eating at me and I just want to put it at rest.

          6. Novembergirl,

            I gave my husband sole responsibility for our finances 2.5 years into my journey to be a respectful, godly wife because I realized I was trying to control him and he resented me for that. BUT – we were not separated.

            It is a very different thing to be separated and for a husband to insist on making all the final decisions and to begin handling finances in a different way suddenly. I don’t know what he is doing or why or what his motives and intentions are.

            I think this may be something to discuss privately with your counselor and even more importantly – to pray about – before attempting to address it. Could this be a red flag? Yes. Could it be “no big deal” – possibly. I don’t know your husband or his plans. I don’t know if he is trustworthy. I don’t know where he is spiritually.

            If you do address it, I would want to address it calmly and with friendly curiosity, not like you are the inquisition and firing squad. But this could be something important that is going on.

  7. And another thought, is this just female stonewalling? I’m sure my husband has no respect for this lack of communication on my part. Maybe he is just patiently waiting for me to figure it out on my own. In the meantime, I am just growing in resentment. He says he felt like I did this to him. I can understand how he might have felt thatvway, even though I didn’t mean it, but wouldn’t he have a better idea of it having been on the receiving end before? Is he really that cruel and mean to turn around and do it back? Ugh!

    1. LMSdaily115,

      If he could love you in a godly way – he would. Right now, apparently, he is doing the best he can.

      If you are growing in resentment, though, that is a problem. Resentment is so very toxic. I pray God will help you know what to say and what to address and when and how and how to let go of the resentment.

      1. And another thought (In keeping with my reply structure, lol) maybe I can just thank God for working on my husband’s heart enough that he has checked in enough to start helping me with the discipline of the kids. Before, he just walked away throwing his arms up in the air, but now he is trying to be actively involved.

        If he blames me, I reinforce that I am only one parent, the kids have a much better chance with two. Even though he handles things very differently than I, maybe being a bit too harsh for my liking, I no longer get in his way. He is not abusing, berating, or hurting the kids as far as I can tell. I no longer jump in to the kids’ defense and undermine his authority.

        I don’t feel as guilty for not being a perfect parent, and I thank him for his help and support and encourage that I am proud of how he handled that. Improvements-yes, jealousy of him checking back in with the kids and not with me? -yes. I guess I’ll wait my turn. (tail between my legs-conviction, ahh yes!)

        1. Hey LMS and April,
          I was reading your comments and April’s observation really hit home ….no one likes to hurt whether physically or emotionally. When we hurt ourselves physically we either build up scar tissue that basically limits that part of the body or we get it operated on or we develop a limp or whatever to cope. We soldier on but basically we are more useless than we were. I’ll tell why I was getting frustrated and confused today in a sec but April’s comment was so grounding and humbling because I was looking through my eyes and completely forgot about her feelings and struggles to my own shame.

          I was a financial nightmare to live with and my lies and deception to cover it up made it totally intolerable for my wife and it was a major reason she jumped ship. Because this is anonymous I can use some real numbers so that it has context. We are separated but I put $400 in my wife’s bank account every week to do what she wants with, I pay the house mortgage (which used to be WAY behind) it’s now months ahead, pay all the bills, etc… and I have turned my business around from earning a few thousand a month to now earning massive amounts every month and growing like crazy.

          To be fair to my wife, this has happened only in the last few months. I work hard now but I am richly rewarded for it. I’m using money because that’s my wife’s security at the moment, but it can equally be our spouse’s attention or whatever. A day’s work pretty much pays the mortgage for the month. Another day’s work will pay the month’s overheads – I’m not bragging here, this is God’s grace and you would not have wanted to be near me financially before I repented. He has allowed me to do this but I am so so aware it is Him.

          But from my wife’s perspective she just can’t see it even though it is black and white. Like I said, I was getting frustrated and upset until I realised I have not a got a clue how my wife must be hurting so much and I just don’t know how to get through and I have to just keep on walking and trust God.

          Thanks again April, you probably help all of us keep ourselves in check!!!

          1. Gary,

            Thank you for sharing. I love your description about the scar tissue and how physical injuries impact us for long term. That is a great metaphor for our spiritual injuries and emotional injuries, I think.

            I praise God for the way He is changing your heart, mind, soul, and desires. I am so thankful you are working to prove that God has changed you and that you are being responsible financially and working hard. That is awesome!!! As you continue to do this, you will build a new history of being dependable, trustworthy, and responsible. Eventually, your new godly history with God’s Spirit filling your life will overshadow your old history. But it will take time for your wife to feel safe and to believe that this is real and lasting.

            I believe you are on the right track, my brother. Continue on in Christ. I know He will continue this good work He has begun in you. 🙂

            In Him,
            April

        2. LMSdaily115,

          THIS IS HUGE!!!!!!! DEFINITELY thank God for your husband being involved with the children. THAT IS AWESOME! I hope you are praising him for his leadership and involvement. I have some posts about respecting our husbands as fathers, you can search “father” on my home page, if you are interested.

          I love how your thoughts are changing and how you are handling things. I am so excited about all that God is doing in your heart!!!! WOOHOO!

          This happens in stages. First, he will feel more safe connecting and plugging in with the kids. But as he sees your support, honor, and respect – it will pave the way for him to want to connect back with you, too. 🙂

  8. I really needed this reminder about being direct about my wants and needs. Funny, the only source of marital conflict for us is me not saying what I want even when he asks me. Even the act of choosing a restaurant can result in hurt feelings if I’m not careful.

    I’m a pretty easy going, non-confrontational person.I really don’t care which restaurant we go to because I can be happy wherever we eat whether it’s fast food or table order. My husband however has solid ideas about what he wants to eat on any given outing. “Where do you want to eat?” he’ll say. My mind immediately goes into overdrive trying to figure out what HE might want to eat. I’ll answer something vague while I stall for time to evaluate the situation. If I select a restaurant that I generally like but is hit and miss with him and we go there upon my request, he finds fault with EVERYTHING, the service, the food, the temperature of the restaurant. haha

    Since I really am flexible about what to eat, I generally try to pick something I know he likes. But.. if he figures out that I’m doing this, he gets flustered and says “Why can’t you just say what you want!” And I say it’s because I really don’t have a preference and he gets more snippy. It’s really funny, actually.

    Our adult daughter has likened our silly recurring restaurant skit to the cartoon scene between Lucy and Charlie Brown. My husband is Lucy placing the ball and saying “Come on, choose a restaurant.” Hilarious!!

    My sweetie is a planner. He loves to plan our vacations and day trips. He scouts for weeks ahead of time planning where we’ll go, where we’ll stay, what we’ll see while we are there. I am happy doing whatever he chooses to do and if I see something I want to do, I say so and we go do that too. So it isn’t at all one-sided and I am unafraid to say what I want. He is a wonderful man who works very hard to please me because he loves me.

    To solve our restaurant choosing issue, I now try to not pause before answering or hedge around an answer, I just pick three restaurants that we both like and we work together whittling down the choices. Works much much better. 🙂

    1. W.,

      I think that if we have strong preferences about restaurants, for example, ourselves – we tend to think that others would, too. It can be mind blowing to imagine someone not having a big preference if that is how we think. I can definitely appreciate this tension!

      I love how y’all have worked this out. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  9. Ladies,

    Here is something I shared on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page today:

    Is there a woman in your life – maybe at work or in your family – who doesn’t tend to communicate her needs and desires clearly and then gets upset that people don’t do what she wants or needs?

    What do you think when you ask if you can help because she looks stressed and she says in an irritated, angry tone with a scowl on her face, “No, no! I’m fine! Don’t help me!”

    Does she mean “Don’t help me, I’m really fine”? Or does she mean, “You better help me or I will make you pay!” Do you enjoy interactions with this person? Or is it stressful for you?

    Imagine the difference in the atmosphere in your family or work environment if everyone simply, respectfully, briefly shared their real desires and needs in a straightforward way.

    When someone is controlling, manipulative, or pretends to be a martyr or uses guilt or people pleasing to try to force us to do what they want instead of just asking – it feels icky to be on the receiving end of those kinds of strategies. In fact, many times, the person on the receiving end is in a total lose-lose situation.

    Take this person at her word and then face her wrath for not helping her as she describes what a martyr she is and how unloving you are. Or treat her like she is not telling the truth and help her (which would be disrespectful of what she is saying she wants) and possibly still face her wrath for daring to help her when she said not to.

    It is a GIFT and a BLESSING for our families, our husbands, our co-workers, our children, and everyone in our lives when we simply say what we need and ask for help if we need it instead of trying to give hints or expect people to “just know” what we need. It is a much less complicated way to live for everyone involved and this kind of straightforward vulnerability where we simply share our desires and needs creates real intimacy and connection.

    – I need this, please.
    – I would really love to do that.
    – I don’t like X.
    – I want Y.
    – I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…

    We take responsibility for our own emotions, spiritual well-being and needs this way. We give others the opportunity to bless us. We are honest and authentic. We can do this respectfully without being hateful, resentful, hurtful, disrespectful, controlling, or sinful in any way.

    If others can’t or won’t give us what we want – that is okay. God can empower us to move forward with grace rather than resentment. We can learn to seek God’s will far above our own will and to rest in His sovereignty even when things don’t turn out our way – trusting His promise to cause everything to work ultimately for our good and His glory if we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29).

    PS
    If you decide to stop trying to give hints and to be more direct about your feelings, desires, and needs – it could be wise to give your friends, family, and coworkers a heads up. “I realize now that I tend to try to give hints instead of just communicating what I need or want directly. That may be frustrating for people around me. I apologize for not communicating clearly. From now on, I want to work on saying what I really need and how I feel in a respectful, pleasant way.”

    1. Good morning! I’m not arguing with you, and I’m still mulling this concept over. But I myself found it interesting (and disturbing) at my gut (instant) reaction to your list above.

      – I need this, please. (Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be greatful for what you already have.)
      – I would really love to do that. (Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)
      – I don’t like X. (So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)
      – I want Y. (Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)
      – I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy… (Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).
      (This list is crazy! But April is a godly woman who cares about us and has spent countless hours studying on these things, and taking the time to share them with us. Maybe I should look at the list again. But I don’t know…)

      Argh! See how annoying my brain is? I know my thinking isn’t the healthiest. But see how quickly and annoying it is? I mean, I had those thoughts that quickly and loud and clear. The blessing is I’ve finally come to the place where I realize that I need to change my way of thinking, no matter how ingrained it is.

      What confuses me is how wrong it feels. Logically, changing my thinking might be the healthier thing to do. But it feels so wrong. It’s nuts! I mean, if I heard someone else talking like that I’d be shocked that anyone would feel that way. So why do I? I need to pray. I pray every day, but so seldom for my own self. I need to learn to do that.

      I give hints out of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of being seen as selfish. If someone, especially my husband, wants to do something or help me with something, he will. If I ask I’m being selfish, bossy, entitled. I never want him to do anything he doesn’t want to do, and especially not for someone like me. So if I hint and he gets it, great! If he doesn’t get it, or wants to ignore it, then I won’t feel bad for acting needy. Plus I don’t like needing help and being a burden. I started watching your video about perfectionism and I started watching the one about the sin of people pleasing. This is all so foreign to me. I always saw people pleasing as the right thing to do. Isn’t it good to try to keep everyone else happy? I have a lot of work to do. A LOT more than I realized. Grrr…..

      Have a great day!

      1. Becca,

        I know very well how vastly different your thinking is from what I am describing – and how toxic your thought processes are. I know that this list “feels wrong” to you because you have a number of fixed beliefs that cause you to believe some powerful lies about what real intimacy is and what is right and wrong in relationships. I want to see you set free from those things.

        I really appreciate you sharing your gut reaction to these different statements. I know that the reactions you shared “feel right” to you and “feel pious” – but – what is the result of your thinking? Does your approach lead to intimacy, harmony, peace, and spiritual life? Or does your way lead to resentment, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, and angst?

        I’m not sure if it is your mom’s voice that has become your inner voice. But – my precious sister – it is time to seriously question your beliefs about healthy relationships.

        Right now, you are depending on your feelings. But – just like pilots must train to learn not to depend on their physical feelings when their jet spins out of control, but to trust the instruments instead – I am asking you to understand that your feelings are leading you into a death spiral spiritually and to trust the instruments of God’s Word. Your feelings are not the source of absolute truth – and they can and do lie to you. Especially when your feelings are based on incorrect, unbiblical fixed beliefs.

        Fear is not of God. Fear is a powerful motivation. But it is not from God. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and sound mind.

        You are not being selfish or bossy to ask for something you would like or to ask for help if you need help. It is not a sin to need help. If you try to force someone to do what you want – that is selfish and bossy and controlling. But there is a world of difference between sweetly asking for something you would like vs. demanding it or trying to make someone do something.

        If your child is hungry, and she tells you she is hungry and would like a piece of toast – is she wrong to do that? How would you know what she needs if she doesn’t ask?

        You are only responsible for you. Your husband is responsible for his response. It is up to him to say no if he doesn’t want to do something. Then you can accept that. “especially not for someone like me.” Ugh. I really wish I could tear those self-hating thoughts out for you. But – you are going to have to do that. I can’t do it for you.

        Acting needy is VERY different from simply asking for what you need or want or desire one time. Begging is very different from asking in a pleasant, friendly tone of voice, “Honey, would you please help me with this? Thanks!”

        Check out “Control and Boundaries.”

        God says that seeking to please people and have man’s approval is wrong. Our goal is only to seek His approval. If we put the approval of others above CHrist- we are making people into an idol in our lives. It is fine to seek to love and bless people. But if their approval is our ultimate goal, that is sin.

        We are about to get into some of the core fixed beliefs you have, I think, that are creating all of the problems for you. These things you are sharing are SUPER helpful for me to better understand where you are.

        This is a VERY important conversation!

        Hope to share more later!

        Much love!
        April

        1. Becca,

          YAY! I have an extra few minutes. I want to go through all of your gut reactions later tonight if I can and help you hash through those if you would like.

          But, I think it could be important for you to do a study about asking for help in Scripture.

          Think about this – did Jesus ever do a miracle for someone who didn’t ask Him to heal them? If the person themselves didn’t ask, a family member or friend asked Jesus to heal the sick or demon possessed person. Every time. Jesus expects us to need His help and to ask for His help. When we ask, in faith, He acts on our behalf.

          Remember the parable of the evil judge and the poor widow who kept asking for help. Did Jesus condemn her? No! He praised her and said we should persevere in prayer just like she persevered in asking for help and justice from the ungodly judge – and He said how much more God would listen to and care about us.

          There are so many verses where Jesus commands us to ask for His blessing and help and for what we need.

          The Lord’s prayer. Read that when you get a chance in Matthew 6 – Jesus commanded us to ask God to provide for our needs, to ask for forgiveness, and to ask for things for others. Prayer is about praising God, thanking God, repenting of our sin, and asking God for things in accordance with His will that will bring great glory to Him. But we must ask.

          To think that needing help or asking for help is where a lot of us get tripped up in our own pride. Pride says, “I don’t need help.” Pride refuses to ask God or other people for what we need or for our legitimate desires. Pride says “I don’t need God, I can do this myself.”

          Ok, gotta go for now.

          Much love, my dear sister! 🙂 I know this is kind of rocking your world. So take all the time you need to mull over it. 🙂

      2. Becca, I laughed at your thinking, not out of disrespect, but because you recognize you frustrate even yourself! Our brains are our own worst enemies, sometimes. I too, thought that way…but it’s exhausting. A couple of thoughts…
        1) if you were a fisherman at a new pond, and a local told you where the best fishing holes were, would you be grateful for the advice and take it? When you express your dislikes, likes, needs and wants, you are actually giving your husband a gift…a gift of knowledge so he can have the best success at scoring a better chance at doing things for you that you enjoy, need etc. It also helps him avoid things that don’t really do anything for you.
        2) If you cannot express your raw thoughts and feeling to God, or even yourself, then you have placed yourself into a prison of sorts. Read the book of Job, or even Psalms. The authors expressed great emotion and honesty to God. You are just as deserving, valuable and cherished as anyone else. Especially in the eyes of God. He cares for you and wants what’s best for you. The love God has for you is greater than we can imagine. He gave his only son to save us unworthy, imperfect sinners from death!
        It’s very okay to be honest with yourself about your feelings and express that. The selfish part would be if you demanded those things, expected them, tried to control people to give/do/say what you want. You are merely stating your opinions and facts about yourself, you are not demanding they be met. THAT is the difference I think April is trying to point out. What if you actually made a list of your likes and dislikes? This would be info only for those that wanted to know, like a flyer for anyone interested. Do you think your husband or family members would pick up your “flyer”? If my husband had a flyer like this, I would think it a golden ticket so I could choose things that were meaningful to him. If I want to do a kindness for someone because I love, care, want to bless someone, then it’s nice to know where my best chances lie. Cooking my husband’s favorite meal is no good for him because he is never home to eat it, but meeting him for lunch with some of his favorite picnic type items would be very appreciated. Hope this all helps. You are important and deserving and valuable too. I pray you can accept that about yourself and find that God counts you in, even if you or Noone else does.

        1. LMSdaily115,

          I love the idea of a list of our likes and dislikes. That may be a very helpful and healing assignment as we begin to learn to speak our feelings, needs, desires, and ideas more clearly.

          Thank you so much for sharing your insights with Becca and for loving her with me. 🙂

      3. *Becca,

        As soon as I read this, I remembered everything that having my teeth straightened, at the age of 30, entailed, and realized it’s a great physical analogy of “straightening” twisted thinking. In preparation for braces I had to have four impacted wisdom teeth literally sawed off my jawbone, under anesthetic, just in case they became infected and caused problems during the straightening process. This resulted in loss of feeling in my lower face, but after two years most of the feeling returned. If you’ve ever had braces, you know that it involves monthly visits to the orthodontist for over two years, and each time your teeth are pulled just a little bit more into the proper position. Each time this was done I was in pain for over two days, because my teeth were being MOVED and my body didn’t like it! After all, I’d been able to stick a saltine cracker between my two front teeth for a long time! 🙂 I had to endure this pain, but also almost learn how to chew again, in a drastically different pattern than the old. While the braces were on, I also had to be careful about what kinds of food I ate, lest they interfere with the corrective hardware. Many days I looked in the mirror and wondered why I had EVER undertaken this process. I looked so ugly (I thought), was so uncomfortable, and it was so expensive financially. It was easy, back then, to convince myself it wasn’t worth it and I should just get back to my orthodontic “normal.” Thankfully, it’s not easy to back out, once braces have been put on, or I might have done just that.

        After two years, the doctor took off the braces, and I couldn’t believe the beautiful teeth I saw in the mirror! It took me a long time to get used to my new look, but it’s been SO WORTH IT. Also, the doctor applied a permanent retainer to my upper teeth because he said my teeth might move back since my lower jaw was still too short–“insurance” that it would never happen.

        Isn’t changing long-standing patterns of dysfunctional thinking a lot like straightening crooked teeth? Removing poisonous thinking (extracting rotted wisdom teeth) experiencing repeated discomfort after spiritual correction from the scriptures (monthly tightening) and then when trying to think differently (learning new ways of biting and chewing) and enduring the general discomfort and strangeness of change? Even the permanent retainer is a lot like staying in God’s word to make SURE the change is permanent, since only in his grace and by his power can we have the power we need to change–and NOT to regress back to the old sinful thinking of the past. Just thought it might help a little to think of what you’re trying to do here in the light of this analogy. The beautiful “smile” you have a the end will be so WORTH IT!

      4. Becca,

        I got called in to work extra yesterday and spent Wednesday night in the driveway messing with my engine on my car that had lost almost all of its coolant and was hissing terribly. I have been so looking forward to addressing some of these thoughts. My apologies that I couldn’t get to it sooner!

        1. I need this, please. (Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be greatful for what you already have.)

        If I were being whiny, I would repeat myself over and over again and verbally try to force other people, with a really irritating tone of voice, to do what I wanted and I would continue to whine until they did what I wanted them to do. That is not a godly approach. But to share my desire or need one time in a pleasant way – is perfectly acceptable. I would love for you to find any verse in Scripture that says we cannot ask for what we need or want from others or from God. What I believe you will find – is that there are a lot of verses that tell us to ask for what we need and desire – but that we are to do so with godly motives, not sinful motives.

        There are times we genuinely do need things. If I am very sick and can’t get out of bed – I need help with the chores and the children. If I have older children, they can help me. But if the children are very young, and I have the flu and can’t even stand up – I definitely need someone to watch the children or they will be endangered. If I have been called to work extra at work, I need someone to pick up the kids from school or they will sit there until way past the time all of the teachers leave. I may even need help with things around the house if I am working a lot because I only have so much time in the day.

        I think it is important to differentiate between a need and a want. There are things I want that I can live without. But there are some things I truly need – or that others truly need. We all do have legitimate needs – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter, love, acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, grace, etc…

        2. I would really love to do that. (Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)

        Perhaps you are thinking of this passage:
        Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

        But let’s read that closely. The key is that we don’t do something from selfishness, not that we have needs or desires. We are to think about others and their needs, considering other people more than we consider ourselves. But look at the last part, it doesn’t say, “don’t look out for your own interests and only look out for the interests of others.” We are allowed to look out for our interests. But we are not to do so in a selfish way or with sinful motives. And, ultimately, we seek God’s will above our own.

        3. I don’t like X. (So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)

        God never says that we cannot have our own opinions, desires, preferences, and emotions. We are free to express them to Him and to others – again, as long as we do so with pure motives and we don’t try to force our way on others. There were times when Paul disagreed with Peter and confronted his sin to his face. He saw that something was sin, and he expressed his displeasure. That was appropriate.

        But even in smaller issues, it is not sin for me to say, “I prefer Japanese food.” Or “I’m allergic to shellfish, so I am so sorry, but I can’t eat crab.” Or “I don’t like being around a lot of cigarette smoke.” Or, “I don’t want my children to see movies that are over PG.” Or, “I don’t like that color paint chip – I think I would like this color more.”

        If others don’t agree, over the color of the paint for the walls at church – I can submit myself to whatever they would like and not cause a fuss. If my husband and I don’t agree on a paint color, I can decide to selflessly allow him to choose the color he prefers. But there is nothing wrong with me stating my preference calmly – usually once.

        4.I want Y. (Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)

        God invites us to share our desires with Him. Jesus certainly expressed that He didn’t want to go to the cross. But then He submitted Himself to God’s will. Prayer is about our praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins – but then it is about our sharing our desires and our seeking to line up our desires with the desires and will of God. As we approach God in prayer with our desires and seek His desires above our own, He helps transform our desires to match His own. But there is nothing wrong with us asking God for what we desires if our motives are pure.

        James 4:1-10 is all about this. We don’t have because we don’t ask God, and when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, that we might spend what we get on our own pleasures. The problem is not that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. God invites us over and over to ask of Him. But we do need to watch our motives.

        Those who came to Jesus for healing, He often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And then, whatever they asked Him for, He would do for them. He healed them. There is no one I can think of who asked Jesus to heal them whom Jesus refused.

        I can say, “I really want another baby.” Or, “I want to spend some time together this week, Honey.” Or, “I want to think about changing careers. Would you pray about that with me, please?”

        5. I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy… (Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).

        Also, there is nowhere in Scripture where we are commanded to be fake and to not share our real feelings. We are not to share in sinful anger or in sinful manipulation. We are not to try to make other people do what we want. But we are responsible to share our own feelings and concerns with God and with others. Have you read the Psalms? David shared all of the range of human emotions with God there. Did God consider him to be weak because of that? No! God said David was “a man after My own heart.”

        The world sometimes says that sharing feelings and being vulnerable is “weak.” But vulnerability and sharing authentically in a loving way is genuine intimacy with God and with other people. It draws us closer and strengthens the bonds of love and friendship.

        Yes, you have a LOT of work to do. That I what I have been saying in love for all this time. 🙂 We ALL have a lot of warped thinking when we begin this journey. I sure did! You have a lot of very destructive ways of thinking about yourself, God, your husband, and relationships. But God is right there to help you – and I am always glad to help in any way I can, too. 🙂

        Much love to you, my precious sister!

        1. Becca,

          Another thing is – I see a lot of “people pleasing” in your gut reaction to the statements I shared. “People will think this…” “People will judge you…”

          Thankfully, we are not to be slaves to the opinions or approval of others. Only God’s approval matters ultimately! We do not have to have the approval of people as an idol. I used to do that. But it was destructive.

          Here is what Paul has to say about people pleasing:

          Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

          And here is another passage:

          for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:43

          Here are some helpful posts –

          The Snare of People Pleasing

          Examining the Real Motives Behind Perfectionism and People Pleasing

        2. Oh, Becca!

          Would you consider allowing me to use this last comment where I went through your 5 “gut reactions” as a post anonymously? I know MANY other women are thinking the same things you did when you shared. I believe it would be a tremendous blessing for us to all hash through these thoughts together – because they are thoughts the enemy gives to many people.

          And, I would like to do a second post about the issue of avoiding upsetting others and the idea of people pleasing, lifting a few of the quotes from your self-talk in response to those 5 statements I had made – if that might be okay.

      5. Hi Becca,
        Have you ever heard of a book called, “Living Beyond Your Feelings” by Joyce Meyer? I’m currently reading it and maybe you might enjoy it too? Its a Christian-based book that uses a lot of scripture but more importantly, it talks about taking control of emotions, so they don’t control you. I can relate to being a “people pleaser” and not wanting to impose anything or burden anyone. Just thought I’d share info about the book in case it might help in some small way. 🙂

          1. Hi April,

            We just got home from a family vacation, and this is the first chance I’ve had to catch up. I prefer to read in peace and quiet, with time to think.

            Thank you for your reply. Of course you may use my comments in a post.

            As usual, you’ve given me a lot of meat to digest. I will reead over this again and be in touch soon.

            Thank you!
            Rebecca

          2. Becca,

            I’m so glad you got to have a family vacation! I hope you all had a wonderful time. 🙂

            Thanks for allowing me to use these comments in a post.

            Much love to you! 🙂 Take all the time you need.

  10. I guess what I ask myself is, “Is this his way of establishing that he is the leader of our family and that he needs the ability and freedom to make choices about finances, etc.?”. I have brought it up to my counselor and I have chosen not to bring it to the table quite yet since there are more pressing issues right now. I don’t necessarily agree with his tactic and the amount that he is “witholding” isn’t much more than is required to pay his rent/bills. So i guess in a way, that makes me slightly less worried that he is doing something super mysterious with it.
    I guess my main thing is, I would have liked a disscussion about it to allow me to be on the same page. As far as having the final say, yes this is particularly challenging living separately. But isn’t it a catch 20/20 when I’m trying to rebuild trust? Wouldn’t it be counter-productive to not submit to him during this time because ultimately, this is the type of relationship that both my husband and God wants? Anyone have experience with this?

    1. Novembergirl,

      It would be great to have a discussion about this. And yes – this is a catch 22 because if you want to rebuild trust – being cooperative with him may be helpful. However, if he is truly not being trustworthy and you are separated – that is something to consider prayerfully as well.

      Ultimately, I believe only God can give you the wisdom you need because only He knows exactly what is going on. I think this will require great sensitivity and surrender to Christ – of course – that is what is required of all of us.

      I’m not sure that anyone else can give you the wisdom you need because they don’t know your husband. It’s possible people could share their stories, and that may be helpful. Or not.

      I pray most of all for you to cling to Christ and seek His direction and prompting, my precious sister.

  11. April,
    Thank you for this post – I really needed to read it.
    My husband has been saying to me quite a bit lately, “I wish you would just say what you mean!”
    Which is confusing to me, because in my mind I have been clear.
    But if I look deeper, sometimes I am afraid to state things honestly, like my need for help at times, because I feel like, what’s the point asking if he will just say no?
    So then I carry resentment (from something he hasn’t even done or said yet!) and swing between vaguely hinting and angrily demanding. There are also times when I am able to joyfully serve, in God’s strength, but too often (I think) I am trying to carry it all myself – the things that need doing and the weight of my unexpressed needs.
    I’m finding daily life pretty hard lately, being pregnant with my third child. I do need to learn how to state my needs honestly, without expectation and without an agenda.

    I really liked when you said this:
    “I can ask for what I need. But even if I don’t get what I want, God can empower me not to live in sinful thinking and to walk in victory over temptation as I stay totally yielded to Him.”

    Very helpful!

    1. Seriouslyserving,

      If you are pregnant with your third child, you will need to be able to ask for help sometimes. Asking for help is very humbling! I know I would rather be able to just do everything myself.

      But if we are heading into resentment – that is a big, toxic problem. I’m so glad this was a blessing to you. And I pray you will be able to learn to speak your feelings, needs, desires, and concerns honestly, respectfully – and without strings attached. That is the tricky part. If we try to demand what we want or we resent others when they say, “no,” we are expecting other people to submit to us. I did this so much earlier in our marriage. As if it was my right to control how people responded to me. It is hard to hear, “No,” or “wait,” or “I can’t help you right now,” – but God can give us the power to deal with those disappointments and struggles. Sometimes – those moments are gateways for us to see the miraculous provision of God. And sometimes those negative responses are times of refining and purification for us spiritually.

      So glad this was a blessing. Congratulations on your new baby-on-the-way! 🙂

  12. Lms,

    I read one of your comments on April’s husband’s blog and I actually thought you were my wife…. Fweewww. Some other comments made it clear you are not.

    My wife has damaged me so badly that I cannot even describe in words. In fact our marriage is what brought me to me I knees to seek the Lord.

    The years condescention, disrespect were clearly one of the worst.

    Her rejection in bed was probably the worst. As she became aware of that about 4 years ago she made herself available more, but she refused a lot and now she seems to “tolerate” it.

    We had a discussion on what might help because about a dozen times she would say she will make it up to me, but never has. So she asked what she could do to make it up to me. I gave her a specific that is not sinful or yucky as I am a believer and I would never cause her to sin. Anyway, she gladly accepted, but there is not fruit in her yes.

    Her disrespect is something I believe will always be there. I subscribed her to this blog because she is a believer too…. that backfired. She refuses to learn from me so I thought maybe a blog like this. My suggestion that she might gleam some wisdom from this or anything comes back to bite me. This is after she says she is willing to learn from me or point her in the right direction.

    The point I am getting at is that it is very difficult to have feelings for her or care. At times I do, but really the chickens have come home to roost so to speak.

    Counseling, even with very highly nationally respected pastor did nothing as he turned out to be feminized.

    I know it is hard for her too. She probably is fearful to bring things up, but as someone who use to care deeply and was always there and asked questions to know her, I have nothing but the feeling of shame from what she would call me and the neglect I had in bed.

    She will come to bed and be available, but I will not touch her unless I want to initiate intimacy. This is so sad, as I would love to go back to rubbing her feet and shoulders etc., but I can’t bring myself to do those things. I cant even bring myself to help her around the house any more because she would demand I do those things and would be rewarded in bed, however that reward never came.

    There are days or weeks that go by now that she will respect me and I think our marriage is great only to find out she was not nagging me or disrespecting me to keep the peace. I tell her thats a good thing, but to her she feels like a subdued wife and not a respectful wife. She has no filter. If I tell her the sky is blue, she will correct me and say it’s light blue or baby blue. She cannot bring herself to just says yes its beautiful.

    I do want sex so badly and only with her for the last 21 years, but now that I’m getting older I do not care to with her behavior.

    That is what it boils down to. Her behavior is so off putting that it makes her look old and ugly.

    I will always love her, but I no longer care if she is happy. No where in the bible does it tell me to make sure she is happy. It state a man will seek to please his wife and I thought what she told would please her would actually please her and we could be intimate. She lied because I did those things and intimacy never grew. Her yes was no.

  13. Do most husbands do things when you ask? I ask and he says maybe and doesn’t do it or no and doesn’t do it 95% of the time. I get so upset as I only ask when I really feel overwhelmed. I’ve learnt it’s better to not ask as asking and being turned down makes a bad situation worse. Sometimes I get so cross I tell him he’s lazy and that leads to an arguement. I try to keep the peace, but I don’t know if there’s any other way I can get him to help. If I start to tell him I’m overwhelmed and start to look emotional he tells me to be quiet.

    1. Charli,

      When I was unknowingly really disrespectful and controlling for the first 14+ years of our marriage, there were times Greg frequently did not do what I asked. I know now that it was primarily my approach and attitude that turned him off. Now, he will often do what I ask – but I ask without pressure, usually just once – and I can be content no matter what his response is.

      1. I, too, did this. Now I am trying to teach my teenagers the value of asking for help or addressing an issue in a respectful, loving way. In order for me to conscientiously get ready to ask, I put things into 3 chunks

        1) “I feel….xyz”
        2) “when abc happens”
        3)-“I would like or need help with def”

        In this way, I don’t become accusatory, I can ask in a straightforward way, and it is asking in a way that addresses the situation and not attacking the person thus hurting the relationship. I know on the psychology world there are “manners” to for having successful discussions. I don’t know them all, but I know using “I feel” statements are one and refraining from interrupting, calling names and jumping to conclusions. There is a part about restating the message in an effort to clarify too.

        Regardless, just this morning, my son (age 12) is screaming at my long haired teenage daughter (13) about her hair in the shower. He came in like the judge, jury and executioner attacking her and saying “you’re so gross”. She DOES try to remove the hair, my son is being nit-picky, he approached her all wrong. She said “I would be glad to re-clean, but if you talk to me that way, I’m gonna just take the hair and throw it at you!”

        In the same way, often WHAT we say or need is not the issue, it’s HOW we say it that motivates or repulses.

        If your husband refuses to help, well, that’s his choice, but what are the consequences? Will you just do it anyway? Can you accept his “no” or are you demanding help? Are there things that you do that HE should be doing for himself and are quite able to?

        For example, I would call a dr. office, pick up a script for medicine, take it to the pharmacy, and pick it up later. I hated doing this because he would just set his empty on my side of the counter, no please. No thank you, no effort on his part. I would resent it. Finally, I just stopped. He is capable of taking care of himself. If I want to bless him to do something nice, I give him a foot rub, I scratch his back, I run an errand that he physically cannot do due his work hours or out of town schedule. But I was really being an ebabler and a people pkeaser. It was exhausting me. It also now gives my husband a chance to feel successful at taking care of something…himself. I did it all because I felt it was selfish to deny him anything. This is a super hard concept for me and I suspect, most women. It flies in the face of our nuture nature.

        Now, if he says no, I simply say “okay”. I accept it, but then he notices when everything isn’t done anymore.

        We have the same 24 hours as everyone else. I also read that men will respond to “WOULD you or WILL you please” phrases, rather than “COULD you or CAN you” phrases. The difference to them is – does she think I am stupid? Of course I CAN take out the garbage, but she didn’t ask me if I WILL take out the garbage. If I have a choice, then I should be given the option to say yes or know. But I AM capable of taking the garbage out”. To women, this seems trivial, but to men, it feels like an attack to their abilities.

        I would encourage you to pray about your particular situation and how you are approaching you’re husband. I don’t know your situation. I don’t know if my situation even would apply, but this was huge for me to learn how to stop enabling. To understand the concept of boundaries and responsibilities is still something I am struggling with. I pray for God to bring you understanding and patience. I pray he helps you with feelings of being overwhelmed and knee-jerk reactions. I think with a different approach, your husband wouldn’t mind helping. Hope this helps, my dear sister. Much love.

  14. Thank you for your reply April. I don’t think I’m being disrespectful anymore unless I’m totally overwelmed. I just think he thinks it’s my job to cope by myself. The other issue is I’ve never been a good verbal communicator and when I ask things I get anxious and mix up words and forget wordsor ideas and he gets upset as I’m not succinct and that makes it worse. Its become a bit of a vicious circle of late.

    1. Charli,

      I wonder if it might be helpful to write down what you want to say ahead of time – or to send it in a brief email/text so that you don’t forget? I know that helps me, at least.

      Praying for God’s wisdom for you both!

  15. Here is another way to think about it:

    Good governments allow their people to speak up and share concerns and to share their ideas.
    Good managers want to hear what their people think and want to know if there are problems and want to help their employees succeed.
    Good parents care what their children think and how they are feeling and want their children to share these things with them.

    So, even children, employees, and citizens should have the right to share concerns, needs, desires, feelings, and ideas.

    Where is it where people are not permitted to say what they need, how they feel, or what they think?

    – those who are literally slaves
    – those in extremely oppressive countries with totalitarian regimes
    – those who are in abusive relationships

    That is not what we would want – or what God would want – for anyone! God values each person having free-will.

    Here are a few hallmarks of abusive/dysfunctional personal relationships:

    – It is not okay to talk about your feelings
    – We are responsible for your decisions and emotions.
    – You are responsible for our decisions and emotions.
    – Conflict is unacceptable.
    – Disagreement is not allowed.
    – You are not safe here.
    – You are not important to us.
    – Your input is burdensome and unnecessary to the situation.
    – We only love conditionally with strings attached. If you don’t perform, we won’t love you anymore.

    Some hallmarks of healthy relationships:

    – It is okay to talk about anything and to share your feelings about anything.
    – We will work through conflict together. Conflict is inevitable. We won’t always agree. But we will always love each other and work through it as a team.
    – Conflict is an opportunity for growth.
    – We love unconditionally.
    – You are safe here.
    – You are important to us. You are precious and very valuable.
    – Your ideas, feelings, concerns, and desires are important to us.

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.

%d bloggers like this: