I am so thankful for everyone taking the time to answer my poll questions last month about our expectations vs. the reality of how much contact our husbands make with us while the are at work. Texting, calling, or emailing can be a source of wonderful bonding for some couples or a source of a lot of hurt feelings and contention for others. I have shared the results of the two polls at the bottom of this post if you would like to refer to them – could be interesting.
Sometimes the thing that causes the most hurt feelings in our marriages can be our expectations – particularly when our expectations and reality don’t match up very well. One reader shared with me a few years ago, “expectations are premeditated resentment.”
If you read the survey results, you will find that there are a wide variety of expectations about how much contact wives would like to have from their husbands. Some wives are totally fine if they don’t hear from their husbands at all during a work shift. For others, it ruins their whole day – maybe even the whole relationship – if they don’t hear from their husbands a certain number of times per day on a given day.
Why? How can some wives be totally content with no contact, and other wives are upset if their husbands don’t contact them at least every hour?
I believe it comes down to expectations and where we find our security.
I used to get really upset if Greg didn’t contact me from work. Especially if I found out he wasn’t really busy and could have emailed/texted me. I took him not contacting me to mean things like:
- If he had time to contact me but he didn’t make any effort to contact me, he obviously doesn’t love me as much as I love him.
- If he loves me, he would MAKE time to contact me to tell me he loves me during the day.
- I should measure his love for me by how often he contacts me while we are apart.
- I should measure my security in our marriage by how often he texts/emails/calls me.
I sent him emails almost every day – sometimes really, really long emails to tell him how much I loved him because WORDS are my biggest love language. I was trying to do for him what I wanted him to do for me. I was following the Golden Rule, right? I thought that words and verbal/written communication would be as big of a gift to him as they were to me.
Turns out, my engineering-minded husband, doesn’t bond with words. When I realized that a few years ago – it completely blew my mind!
Words are not a big thing for him. In fact, he feels connected to me and bonded with me all the time whether we have any conversation or not. To me – earlier in our marriage – “bonding” and “emotional connection” only happened when we were talking face-to-face without any distractions or when we were having a typed conversation.
Sometimes, we can feel a lot more connected and loved by our husbands if we set down our preconceived expectations of how they “should” love us and we learn to receive love in the ways they actually like to give love.
When I found out that Greg didn’t bond with words and that he always felt connected to me unless I was upset with him – what freedom that insight brought me! I learned to rest in Greg’s love whether we were communicating during the day or not. I learned to expect that he did love me and to greet him with joy and gladness when he got home instead of with resentment and bitterness that he didn’t email me. I dropped my expectations of him contacting me when he was at work and accepted that he doesn’t bond with words and that is not wrong – it is just different from how I bond.
At first, this was really hard for me. I thought to myself, “It would be easier for me to send 87 loving emails to Greg than to not email him at all. This is SO HARD!!!!!”
These days, Greg does contact me if he has a question or something to share with me. And I do the same. Sometimes we are in contact multiple times through the day. Sometimes we don’t talk at all during a work shift. Now, I can be content either way. I have learned to enjoy the love he shows me in the way he shows it. I have learned to appreciate that – to him – just being together in the same room is bonding. Now, we actually do a lot more talking (which I love) because I don’t react with resentment and anger to Greg or try to force him to show love exactly the way I like to show love. I can ask for things in a pleasant, friendly, respectful way if I want to. But I can be content whether he emails me or not. I can be content whether he texts or calls me or not. I can be content whether we spend hours together in the evenings or not.
I CAN ASK FOR WHAT I WOULD LIKE:
I can certainly say, “Honey, it would mean so much to me if you get a chance to send me a little text during the day sometime. I feel very loved when you do that. ;)”
But then, if he doesn’t or can’t contact me, I can still respond with grace, respect, dignity, and poise. I don’t have to fall apart. I don’t have to automatically assume the worst. I can focus on allowing God to meet my deepest needs rather than trying to make my husband, a mere human, meet my deepest needs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when your husband is working is not a good time to try to have deep, serious, painful discussions about the relationship or to shower him with lots of problems. There may be some problems you need to share with him when he is at work that need urgent attention. But generally keeping the conversation light, sweet, and pleasant, while he is at work can be a blessing to him – unless there is truly an emergency, of course.
MY SECURITY IS NOT IN A MAN:
I have learned to find all of my security, peace, purpose, joy, and identity in Christ, not in Greg. If I idolize my husband and expect him to meet the deepest needs of my soul that only Jesus can meet, I am going to be clingy and needy with Greg and I will repel him. Not only that, but he can’t meet my deepest needs. He is not God.
I am responsible for my own emotions whether Greg does what I want him to or not. And I am responsible for my own spiritual well-being in Christ. I get to determine whether I will be joyful and content or not. My level of joy and contentment is a function of how much I allow the Holy Spirit to fill me up and to have control instead of my fleshly self. No one else can determine that for me.
I like to modify Philippians 4:11-13 a bit to fit our marriages sometimes:
ORIGINAL: I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
MY VERSION: I have learned that the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether my husband shows love in the ways I prefer or not. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. In fact, whether my husband meets my needs or he doesn’t, Jesus always meets my deepest needs and I will be abundantly content in Him!
POLL RESULTS FOR WIVES (Reminder, this is not a scientific, statistically accurate poll)
- Does your husband contact you when he is at work just “because”? (603 votes)
- He contacts me, but only if there is something he needs to ask me. 28%
- Yes, multiple times per day, usually. 26%
- Yes, once per day, usually. 22%
- Yes, a few times per week, usually. 9%
- No, he doesn’t contact me when he is at work – even though he probably could. 6%
- Yes, once a week, usually. 6%
- He contacts me, but only if there is an emergency. 3%
- No, but he is not allowed to contact me when he is at work. 1%
2. How often would you like your husband to contact you from work just to let you know he loves you? (537 votes)
- At least once per day. 43%
- A few times per week. 20%
- At least once per week. 13%
- Multiple times per day. 11%
- Once per month or so. 8%
- Never, I would rather he not contact me when he is at work. 3%
- He isn’t allowed to contact me from work – so it isn’t an issue. 1%
- At least every hour. 0% (2 votes)
- I’m not allowed to receive contact from him when I am at work. 0% (1 vote)
3. How important is it to you for your husband to contact you from work to emotionally connect? (523 votes)
- Important to me. 27%
- Very important to me. 23%
- A little important to me. 21%
- Extremely important to me. 17%
- Not important to me at all. 12%
4. If your husband doesn’t contact you when he is at work, how would you feel? (532 votes)
- totally fine – I would still feel loved by him and connected to him. 44%
- A little sad and a little unimportant. 43%
- Very sad and unimportant. 11%
- REALLY, REALLY upset, unloved, rejected, and devastated. 2%
POLL RESULTS FOR HUSBANDS (This is not a scientific, statistically accurate poll.)
- Do you ever contact your wife while you are working just to show her you love her? (257 votes)
- Yes, multiple times per day. 25%
- Yes, a few times per week. 24%
- Yes, once per day. 29%
- Rarely. 13%
- I contact her if I have a question I need to ask her, but not “just because.” 11%
- Yes, once per week. 5%
- I am not allowed to make personal calls/texts at work. 3%
2. Do texts/emails/phone calls during the day make you feel more bonded with and loved by your wife? (254 votes)
- Yes! I LOVE it when she contacts me and feel more loved by her. 56%
- I feel bonded with her and loved whether she contacts me at work or not. 39%
- I feel less loved or connected if my wife contacts me when I am at work. 5%
3. Are you concerned that too much contact from your wife when you are at work could hurt your job? (249 votes)
- No, it is not a concern at all for me. 65%
- Yes, it is somewhat of a concern. 22%
- Yes, it is a big concern. 7%
- I’m not sure. 6%
4. What makes you feel most loved and appreciated by your wife? (257 votes)
- Sex 40%
- Time doing something fun side by side 36%
- Words, texts, emails, phone calls, and conversations. 16%
- Praying together. 6%
- Eating together. 2%
(Several husbands wrote in that just being in the same room with their wives, not necessarily doing anything together, is the most bonding to them. Another wrote that when his wife anticipates his needs and meets his needs, he feels most loved, appreciated, and bonded – it could be any of the things on the list or something else entirely.)