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A Wife Completely Shuts Her Husband Out – a Guest Post

Reminder – My first book, The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord, is available if you are interested. Everything you need for the first few steps of this journey to become the wife God calls you to be is organized and together and I pray the book may be a blessing to your walk with Christ and your marriage. If you have already read the book, please take a minute or two to share an honest review on Amazon. Thanks so much!

From a sister in Christ:

I am relatively new to this blog, but have become a faithful reader, and I wanted to add something to your list of what NOT to do when you feel forgotten by your husband. It is something that I did and it literally lost me several years of my marriage, even though on the surface it seemed like a reasonable, even right thing to do.

A few years ago I started questioning my awkward marriage and came to the conclusion that since my husband was not a godly man, and riddled with faults, and I wasn’t getting what I thought I would/should in a relationship, that I had made a mistake in marrying him. So instead of doing any of the things you listed, I adopted a long-suffering, “I made my bed and now I have to lie in it” attitude. I couldn’t bring myself to “chase” someone who clearly preferred the TV over me, so…

I just emotionally walked away from the relationship.

Instead of asking for what I wanted, I became my own person and completely stopped communicating. I was still there physically, cooking and washing his socks, etc., but I very determinedly asked nothing from him anymore, not conversation, advice, support, or even love. I even got a job so he wouldn’t have to pay for my groceries or anything. If I was sick I wouldn’t ask for help, and if something needed to be done that I physically couldn’t do, I would pay someone else to do it rather than “bother” him about it.

Looking back, I realize it was so stupid and prideful of me to live this way, and it left my husband wondering what the heck he was even doing here (something I wondered as well). But I couldn’t stand the thought of needing him and being rejected, (it was more than just TV watching and not just once) so I stopped needing him altogether.

Finally, I stumbled across your blog and I remember just crying and crying as I realized how wrong I was and how disrespectful and distrustful I had been. God gave me this man for a reason, and I was just throwing it away. Since then I have been more respectful, understanding of his masculinity and how he relates (it’s not necessarily a rejection!), and open (although I still don’t talk a whole lot, I don’t think it’s in my nature).

My husband’s relief and delight in this change is practically palpable.

It turns out he actually wants me to need him and desire him. Just by showing him respect in asking him for things, he is a changed man, and I am so thankful for your blog and your writing, and to God for showing me what I was missing by not being vulnerable.

I will never be a fit-thrower, but it is just as damaging to ignore your own needs and desire for attention from your husband. You CAN turn these needs off and shut them down, which might be a relief for both of you in the short term, but it kills the relationship and really makes it kind of pointless.

I think this is kind of dangerous ground too, because it can feel so “right” somehow. After all, what could be more noble than being low-maintenance? I actually thought I was being a very good wife most of the time. I never complained, never drew attention to myself, and never needed anything.

But what I actually was without realizing it, was just a good housekeeper. My husband didn’t have a wife, he didn’t even have a roommate. He just had a person who shared his house and his bed. I made it impossible for him to “know” me as he is told to do in the Bible. It wasn’t a marriage, it was two people living independently in the same house.

And yet I congratulated myself on “not being needy” and never bothering my husband. It felt right most times. But I didn’t know what I was missing, and that I was robbing my husband of his wife as well as the opportunity to be a living witness of God’s grace to this man. It is a very self-righteous, and dangerous way to live, and a high price to pay for pride.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I think that some women may think, “I am dying to self,” by adopting this perspective that the author shares here. But this approach leads to division and hurt not healing and the Life, love, and unity of Christ in our marriages. It is not the kind of dying to self that we do in the power of Christ – it is more of a “power of the flesh” kind of thing, it seems to me. Here are some posts on similar topics for those who may want to research this mindset a bit more and how destructive it can be..

I Can’t Ask for Things. I Shouldn’t Have Desires, Emotions, and Needs… by Radiant

Cinderella and the Gospel by Radiant

Also, let’s keep in mind there are times when God calls us to wait, be still, and pray. And there are times when He prompts us to speak. Let’s be listening carefully to His voice of wisdom and discernment in our particular situations.

NOTE:
Revive Our Hearts Ministries hosted a massive worldwide prayer event for women last Friday night called “Cry Out!” If you are deeply burdened for your country and want to join with tens of thousands of women from around the world to pray for revival, please check out this link and watch the video that was live streamed on Friday.

 

51 thoughts on “A Wife Completely Shuts Her Husband Out – a Guest Post

  1. OH MY!! This post EXACTLY describes what has been going on in my marriage!!! I used the words “Emotional Divorce” in referring to what I felt I HAD to do to survive my marriage. God had worked a miracle for me back in 2012 when I was very verbal about wanting a physical divorce from my husband. In fact, I boarded a plane to go visit my mother for a few weeks, while under my breath saying to myself that I was fully prepared to just not return home.

    It was there that God met me and touched my angry heart and told me “if you want the marriage you desire, go home and submit to your husband”. I did obey and returned home with a new hope. My husband and I began to talk and make changes. Some of those changes even included a new conviction on his part to ask me to change the way I dressed and to wear a head covering. (He is of a Mennonite background.) Though I was shocked to hear his request after not hearing the like of it for the 20 years of marriage we already shared, I found the courage to honour his request.

    Life didn’t become easier when I chose to submit, in fact, I believe I all of sudden drew the enemy’s attention by the choices I was making.

    It wasn’t until just this past week that I began to look back on April’s posts and even purchased her book. That’s when God made me realize that I once again returned to the “Egypt” of my past, disrespecting my husband, living in bitterness and resentment and now “emotionally divorcing” my husband simply because I came to the conclusion that things were not going the way I had expected and God had “tricked” me into this submission thing by promising me the “marriage I was looking for” but did not deliver said promise. I was a mess!!!!

    But thankfully, I was given a second chance and just reading the first couple chapters in April’s book, it was as if God was making me look into a very revealing mirror to my heart to see what really was going on. I have repented and have now decided to return to God’s call for me to be a “peaceful wife” and to honor and respect my husband, not because he deserves it, but because God commanded me to do so.

    I’ve been focusing on looking to Him for my peace and joy and the meeting of my needs and trusting my life in His Hands. My husband hasn’t really said anything about my change of heart, though he did say he noticed this book I was reading and was wondering about it. Please pray for me as I continue to correct the wrong in my life with God’s grace and power. Thank you April for your ministry and for your book! God bless!!!!

    1. MiSy69,

      It is wonderful to meet you, my dear sister! I love that you are seeking God and that He is speaking to you. That is AWESOME!!!!!!!!! Praise God!

      I pray that He might continue to do His good work in you and in your husband for His glory. Let us know if you would like to talk about anything or if you would like prayer.

      Much love to you!

      1. April,

        Thank you for your response and encouragement. I would love to connect … I do have many things I could talk about. My challenge has been to find someone who understands the struggles of a controlling woman who’s married to a very passive husband. The Mennonite community I reside in now often makes me feel insecure and misunderstood, especially among women who were raised to be submit to male headship. I often feel like I’m looked at by the men here as a woman from another planet and maybe are saying to themselves, “Wow, I’m so glad my wife isn’t like her.” (referring to me)

        I do know God has been working in my life on many levels and my 2 year drift back to “Egypt” isn’t so bad compared to the many years I’ve struggled before. I should be grateful for my circumstances and just get up, dust myself off and move forward. But it’s so hard not to be paralyzed by shame and sorrow for all the mistakes I’ve made – never really finding the ability to forgive myself. Oh and the fear of being vulnerable ! Submission is not very easy for me when all the men in my life have hurt me or disappointed me, but I know you’re right, the actions of them are no reason to disobey God’s command. Dying to self and submitting to God first is my new priority, trusting in Him to take care of all the other details.

        Thanks for your prayers! They are coveted !!!

  2. Very timely post. I am struggling with this concept greatly. I have been fighting so hard not to just emotionally shut down to my husband. Since he asked for a divorce, almost 2 years ago, I started my journey of respect and learning God’s way. I had such high hopes that with God’s help, this marriage can be restored.

    Instead, my husband is more unreceptive, uncaring, insensitive and lacking compassion than ever! It baffles me how another human being can look at someone struggling with a complete lack of emotion. I try to be vulnerable and ask for help, and I get nothing but him crushing me down. I feel like I keep taking the risk to reach out and I get my hand slapped.

    For example, today I’m so, so sick with the flu. I asked if my husband would take my daughter to school. I feel dizzy, hot and coughing like crazy, huge headache, etc. He plainly said NO. It would be too inconvenient to wait 15 minutes because he will get caught in traffic. Sigh. I really needed him. I really thought a husband is supposed to have your back, help you up when you are down. Not push your head under when you are drowning.

    There is nonpartnership, no wanting the best for the other or caring for another person hete. After 20 years of marriage…there is not one ounce of caring from him. How do I NOT shut down and live as if he is not in my life? I can’t rely on him. It hurts, every time I try to include him. I can’t possibly be rejected any more by him. Maybe I don’t understand how this vulnerable thing works, because I just keep getting hurt every time I try.

    1. LMSdaily115,

      I do think that it sounds like the wife who wrote this post had a different situation with her husband than you do. I think there can be times when – if a husband is unwilling to engage in conversation or in helping his wife and if he continues to reject her requests or her offers – a wife may have to pull away. But the difference is – I believe a godly wife would not pull away in anger or bitterness. I believe she would pull away out of respect for her husband’s inability or unwillingness to receive relationship from her. Does that make sense? And if she sees God is changing her husband and that he is softening, she may decide to reach out to him as God prompts her to. Or, God may prompt her to reach out even when he still seems very hard-hearted at times.

      If he flatly refuses to help you when you are in such obvious need, you may not be able to depend on him. 🙁 That is heartbreaking. I don’t think you are necessarily doing anything wrong. I think he is in a very spiritually toxic place right now – held completely captive by the enemy.

      I hope you have some friends who may be able to help with taking your kids while you are sick. I hate that things are so painful and difficult, my dear sister! I am praying for God’s provision, strength, healing, hope, blessing, and power for you in the midst of this great trial!

      All,
      Please join with me in praying for our sister – I believe she is facing spiritual warfare in a great way right now.

    2. I agree with what April said….my first thought is that your relationship is different than the person who wrote this comment.

      I’m not sure how you couldn’t somewhat shut down to some extent emotionally with what you’re going through. To me, that’s just the consequences of the reality of your situation. I think on many levels, “shutting down” can even be somewhat healthy — as long as you aren’t shutting God out and not processing or dealing with your emotions. A bad shutting down would be completely shutting down emotionally with everyone in your life, including God. Not healthy. But protecting your heart when there is no safety in a relationship? Normal and healthy, most probably.

      I wish I was there to bring you some soup and help you with your kids. I really do.

  3. Perhaps someone can help me here. I have been a reader of PW for about a year now. However, I have been working on my 25-year marriage for the last 15 years in a “righteous standard” which is how I see this website is certainly all about, and has helped me greatly!

    About six years ago after constantly looking for my husband to “meet my needs” I realized this was the thing that seemed to fuel the strife and anger the most. When my expectations were not met I would share with him (sometimes kindly, sometimes not) how it disappointed me/let me down, and the battle would begin, and sometimes last for days. He does not like hearing or admitting how he could have possibly done something wrong, so it must be my fault.

    So, therefore, I realized “all I need is Jesus”–literally! In our time of discussing these things in a “peaceful time” I shared this explanation with him, to which he totally objected to and became very angry. For whatever reasons, he refuses or can’t seem to get the fact that I am so totally aware and thankful that God has blessed me with an amazing husband who loves me and wants to take care of me, and because God knew that this particular man had something that I needed, and visa versa, but any and all expectations that I have and put on him and he on me, could, and most likely will be let down. The only thing he hears me saying is, “I don’t need anything from you.”

    I understand the sensitivity of a man and his great need to feel needed and honored, and I truly feel as though I have done and do this. To need him now, in his eyes, I believe is, “I need you to tell me when to talk, what to say, how to dress, carry my groceries, kills the bugs, etc., etc.”. I feel like now I have “created” this “monster” because of my over zealousness to show him I need him.

    There are spiritual issues here, as well. We are both believers in Y’shua/Jesus as the Messiah and as our Great Redeemer, but for 15 years, while he has been off at work, I have been immersing myself in the Word and trying to figure out how to get this right. I am so very thankful that God gave this blessing to me (my husband), just as the wife is a blessing to her husband, because he has allowed me to have this time to grow in the knowledge of God.

    We are both retired, and he even seems jealous of my spirituality. I try very hard NOT TO LORD IT OVER HIM. There are just many times that people ask me things, and I have an opportunity to minister to others. He also seems to be my worst critic as far as how I minister. I try to be very open, realizing that, ok, the Lord could be and does very often speak to me through my husband. BUT, is it everytime?

    How do I get this “needing him” but “not needing him” through to him? If you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate. Thanks…

    1. I think as women we often can see ourselves as spiritually superior to our husbands, and our husbands can feel that and know that. I have often done the same, but am surprised when I hear the thoughts of my husband, and that there is much more going on there than I ever realized. I would be very careful to not let those prideful thoughts to creep in. If he disagrees with how you minister, maybe he is right, you have to look at that as a possibility. We are called to submit to our husbands, and if he is a believer, and a godly man, I would submit to him in that as well. I don’t think any good can come in a ministry where you are in rebellion to your husband, except maybe in an extreme case where the husband is in extreme rebellion to God.

      While all we need is Jesus is true to an extent, God gave us our husbands because we need them too. He often uses our spouses to refine us and make us more holy, for an example of how Jesus loves the church, for love and comfort. Men need woman and woman need men. It’s been that way since the begining. God said it is not good for man to be alone so he made him a helpmeet. While we shouldn’t make our husbands an idol, we should make sure they have the important seat of honor in our homes that God meant for them to have.

    2. Mission61sion,

      It is wonderful to hear from you, my dear sister! I am so thankful you are seeking God wholeheartedly and that you desire to become the woman He calls you to be. 🙂 That is awesome!

      Would it be okay if I ask a few questions to get a bit of a spiritual pulse on you so that I can get a more accurate picture?

      A few thoughts as I mull over what you have shared so far…

      1. I am not sure that all husbands would be able to clearly hear “all I need is Jesus” from their wives. It is SUPER easy for a husband to hear something very disrespectful in a conversation like that, even if a wife doesn’t intend to be disrespectful. If you talk about that you will be “let down” by your husband with all of your expectations of him – to a man, he may hear, “You are a complete failure as my husband and you are so unreliable and incompetent that I can’t and won’t depend on you for anything anymore.” That would feel very insulting to most men. I don’t think that was necessarily what you were trying to communicate, but is it possible that could be what he may have heard?

      2. No, God doesn’t speak through every single word of any of us all the time, I would dare say.

      I think maybe what you are trying to communicate is that you are trying to establish a healthy relationship instead of being enmeshed? Is that maybe more of what you would like to share?

      When you say he is a “monster” now, would you be able to elaborate a bit on that?

      What are your general personalities?

      Much love to you!

    3. Hi, Mission61sion,

      You know what? Because I have been through similar dynamics in my marriage, I can completely relate to much of what you are saying.

      My personal opinion is there is no need to worry about what you said in the past. Your heart was not to hurt him and you didn’t share what you shared in that manner (at least from what I can tell from your post). It seems like you have tried to explain what you meant better to him and it still hurts him. I don’t know of a way to change your husband’s mind to really understand what you were saying. I know that there were times I would approach my husband about needing help on a parenting issue and he heard me saying “You are a terrible father”….something I would never say. It wouldn’t matter how I went to him and asked or tried to approach the subject, somehow I had always told him something horrible that I didn’t really say. Sometimes, it is time for our husbands to grow and be stretched and this is painful for them just as it is for us as we grow and stretch.

      I don’t think a wife can always protect her husband’s feelings. Sometimes they are hurt for legitimate reasons. Sometimes, things are said that hurt their egos. Sometimes, it’s not bad for egos to be hurt. Sometimes, it is actually necessary for growth. I spent a lot of time trying not to hurt my husband’s ego and I also felt like I got to a place in my marriage where I had fed into something really unhealthy. Actually, I know I did. And, so I can really relate to a lot of what you wrote.

      No, I do not believe that every time a husband speaks, God is speaking through him. If he is a Spirit-led man, then you would want to really weigh what he was saying. This is when you have to take what he says to God and ask God to show you the truth. There were times in my marriage my husband would accuse me of something and I knew that God was saying that it wasn’t truth. I had to respectfully stand against it and stand on the truth of what God was saying about that particular thing. Doing so definitely rocked the boat in my marriage, but we have experienced a lot of growth as a result of that rocking. It was worth it for my marriage, but it does not come without risk.

      Have you read any of Leslie Vernick’s books or on her blog?

        1. Thank you, April, for allowing me to share my story and for your understanding to wives whose marriages don’t fit in the typical “mold”. 🙂

          1. CIC,

            To me, the more voices and stories we have to share, the better! What works for one marriage in one situation at a specific time is not always what works best for another with different issues. Ultimately, we all need Christ and His wisdom and His Spirit. I am thankful for your willingness to share and I know your insights will bless many other women. 🙂

            Much love, my precious sister!

  4. This post is very timely, and I know it is for my heart as well! I struggle with this and have for a long time now. I started doing this a long time ago, and it wasn’t until I found April’s site as well that I realized some new things and saw that I wasn’t exactly on the right track, either. But even now, after a lot of things have happened and changed, I still struggle with it, b/c like some said above, it just seems like the right thing to do at the time. It seems like my husband actually WANTS me to not need anyting from him b/c everytime I do, I am either rejected or ripped apart for needing him/being vulnerable.

    Just this weekend I had a situation that could have turned into major bitterness, but instead I didn’t allow my needs/vulnerability to be shot down.

    I was feeling very sad yesterday—could have been hormones, real, or just my own thoughts, or even perhaps a spiritual attack—- but either way, I was feeling very sad about how I feel alone in raising my son. I didn’t tell my husband anything until he saw me crying to my self and trying to hide it as I did thing around the house. He asked me what was wrong, and it was almost like I knew better than to tell him, but he insisted. So I told him “I feel alone in what I do with my son”…….. instead of any kind of consolation or comfort, I got ripped apart. My husband took this as an attack, me blaming him,and he got extremely offended. I calmly told him that it actually had nothing to do with him, and I was just telling him how I feel because he asked why I was crying and trying to hide it. After some other unnecessary moments, my husband left and I just remained calm and told myself that I’m not going to get bitter or pretend I’m ok just so he feels ok about his life.

    When he returned after leaving for a little while, he apologized, and asked if we wanted to go to an autoparts store with him. I said I was upset and that he hurt me with all those words and I was not ready to go anywhere and that I wasn’t going to pretend to be ok b/c I’m not ok with what just happened.

    After some more time and him trying to make amends, I just calmly refused to cover my true feelings and forgave him but told him I was still hurt by what happened.

    He went to the store by himself and later on, things turned around. I wanted to become bitter and I told myself those same old tapes of “you need to just stop telling him how you feel, stop needing him to be there for you, stop involving him in your life” type things. And instead, I decided that yesterday was not the day to figure my life out, as I was obviosuly emotional for whatever reason. I told my husband that I wasn’t going to try to figure my life out yesterday and I was just going to enojy the day with him and my son instead. Everything was pleasant and fine after that decision and he apologized and we talked about why I felt alone in what I do some more and my husband was able to see that it was just my feelings and I wasn’t attacking him at all.

    Thank God!

    I know the enemy is the one who wants us to believe we need to be “independent” in our marriages b/c if we are united, and not taking every little thing as an offense and turning it into what we think we need to do, we will stand for something much greater in our marriages—-the representation of Christ, and oh how the devil hates that!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Satisfied Wife,

      You know what? I love how God led you to handle that. And I love how things worked out – but it was not because you tried to force the conversation. Sounds like your husband needed some time to process things. Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

  5. How I can relate… I think at the crux of this is always my ego… I get my feelings hurt by whatever he throws at me, and then I withdraw or I don’t say anything in the first place…it is very hard to keep getting bashed verbally and come back and be vulnerable, again and again…only with God’s help, Him being there to receive my hurt feelings, my pain, my insecurities etc., and telling myself over and over again, that this is not about me, my husband or anything other than serving God!

    My husband’s actions are not “right”, but it is not my place to correct him, or to hold those things in front of him… by him seeing the result and me voicing my feelings in a neutral way… e.g. “I feel overwhelmed taking care of all of this”, “It would be awesome if you could…” “I feel sicker than a dog… I really could use help in…” and not getting upset if he declines, there is an opening for him to step up, or not… either way, I at least I let him know what is going on and what I need, and created an opportunity. Then to graciously smile when he declines…(even though I feel like slapping him instead) creates the security for him to maybe step up the next time…and the gracious smile actually makes him feel bad, because then he cannot justify his behavior by your bad reaction!

    I totally have to force myself to interact, to keep making myself vulnerable and keep asking for his help, despite me anticipating his reluctance and resistance, or him giving me the guilt trip of how much of an inconvenience it is for him to have to do it, because that is “his paper” as Laura Doyle would say… and that is really hard, because I immediately take it personally, a rejection when he gives me the speech of “what a slave he is being”…
    And yes, it feels like an ongoing battle between the easy (just withdrawing and doing it yourself without ever needing him), and the very hard (being vulnerable, putting your heart on the line asking for help and then being rejected time and time again)… but that is ultimately what is bringing glory to God and strengthening the marriage.
    And, as in my case, if your have two people that tend to withdraw and isolate, then it is even more important for me to force myself to interact, because otherwise the gap will widen and widen…

    Emotions are very powerful…that is why it is essential for me to stay grounded in the word, listen to uplifting Christian music and surround myself with gratitude for what I have and the gifts He has created just for me! I cannot let my husband’s reaction be the deciding factor, because, guess what… I would always choose to avoid!

    I am so grateful to walk this journey with my fellow sisters here… it is so much easier to walk this road linking arms and walking together!!

    Blessings to all of you!

    A Lifelong Learner

    1. Wow,

      A Lifelong Learner – what you are enduring is not easy. Not at all. It would absolutely require the power of the Holy Spirit. But how I praise God for what He is doing in your heart and how He is empowering you to be the wife and woman He calls you to be in spite of your husband’s resistance. I know your words and Spirit-filled example will be a blessing to so many other wives today who are struggling.

      Much love! Praying for God to continue the amazing work He is doing in your life and I pray He will deliver your husband from captivity and set him free in Christ!

  6. This was rather timely for me as well. Recently, my husband and I had a disagreement on something that was a pretty big deal. Every time we would talk about it, it would get so heated that he just refused to talk about it altogether. Because I was so hurt by this, I froze him out for a couple of days…which I never do. Normally, I want to resolve things right away, but since he had shut the door on that option, I felt like I had no other choice. Well, I did have a choice, I guess. I could have just taken the high road and respected his point of view and just moved on. I could have still been joyful and loving even though I wasn’t getting my way.

    Now when I say I “froze” him out….I wasn’t giving him the silent treatment. I would say hi to him when I saw him, bye to him when he was leaving. If we had to discuss something small relating to the kids, the house or the calendar, I would do that. I was curt and to the point, and not nasty, but not joyful, either.

    In a way this was a good thing, because I didn’t want to yell or nag. I also needed that time to really think and to pray. But I kept thinking that if I held out long enough, that he would approach me and either apologize or wish to sit down and have a long discussion about it. That never happened. It wasn’t until I finally caved and asked if we could sit and talk that things started to heal.

    Those few days were torture for me. To be silent, to not have that connection to my husband. I can see where weeks, months or even years of this would be so damaging to a marriage. And I see now where my pride reigned supreme and hindered me from making the first move. The post didn’t say if the husband ever approached the wife to try and work things out, and I’m not sure where my husband and I would be today if I would have continued with the non-communication.

    1. Mrs. G.,

      It is very painful when there is so much tension in any relationship, but especially in our marriages. I think there can be times when we may need to withdraw a bit to pray and to be quiet for awhile – not out of resentment, spite, or hatred. But just a respectful space as we sort through things sometimes. I’m glad that you were speaking to him, and not totally refusing to speak.

      I’m glad that you decided to move toward him and that y’all were able to heal. Yes, if people decide not to speak at all or to continue in this cold shoulder kind of stance indefinitely, it can certainly cause damage.

      Thank you for sharing and I am so grateful things are doing better! 🙂

    2. Mrs. G,

      It seems to me that you handled the circumstance very respectfully and in a way that honors God. I see nothing wrong with pulling away and having to process. I also don’t think you “froze him out”. But, that’s just my opinion. 🙂

      I recently went through a several month period where I kept having to pull back for various reasons and for varying amounts of time. I handled the situation much like you — gave common respect as I would to any human being. Called if I absolutely had to about something, responded to him as needed, etc., served him his breakfast beverage in the morning as I always had. But, otherwise, very pulled back. It was the only “language” my husband could understand of what his actions were doing to me. No matter how I had tried before to explain my hurt from certain behaviors, he was not able to listen and it always came back to putting blame on me. I had worked for a long time on respect and tweaking my delivery when I needed to approach him about something that had hurt me. I kept thinking that it must be me, I must need to figure something else out here. I finally realized that the weight of a marriage isn’t only on one person. I pulled back for multiple reasons (one of those was that I decided I wasn’t willing to pretend that things were fine when they really weren’t — which, if you think about it, is living from truth!!!) and still find that many times it is the only thing that will communicate to my husband that I am really hurt.

      It is extremely painful for me to go through these times of silence, but God has also used those times of silence to bring me to an awareness that He is enough for me and that I can find joy in Him and in life even during those times.

      I agree – many weeks or months or years of silence would be damaging to a marriage.

      During those periods of me pulling away, there were times that I was so frustrated that I was always the one pursuing reconciliation that I just couldn’t fathom doing it yet again. But, I just kept trusting God in those times of silence that He would move my heart and lead me when it was time to approach him for reconciliation and healing in our marriage. And He did. After a period of time, I would feel my heart be ready to try again. And those talks almost always went well because my husband was ready to hear me and was more able to see his part in some of the breakdown of our relationship. And, I personally think that the actions God led me to (pulling away and acting from truth rather than keeping “peace” and sweeping things under the rug) were effective in initiating some needed change in the way my husband relates to me in our relationship. We are BOTH still learning and needing to keep tweaking things in our communication. But, we were at a standstill where I was doing all the changing and working in our relationship and there were some unhealthy things going on for a long time that needed to stop.

      So, I’m just wondering — do you really think you were prideful in what you did? It seems again to me that you might have been legitimately hurt. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting our husbands to pursue reconciliation after conflicts. I know in my case that it is very hurtful to me to feel like the pursuing of reconciliation was in my court in an unbalanced way for much of my marriage. But, I do have to say that I have come to a place that, as the believer in our marriage, I know that I may have to be the one that will make the first move. But, I don’t think that’s the ideal in a marriage at all and I don’t think it’s wrong for a wife to be hurt by that.

      1. I have found that I cannot emotionally, mentally or physically handle fallout from communication. The last time we had a really bad confrontation it took a few months of therapy for me to heal from it, it was that bad. I finally went to a therapist because I couldn’t sleep or function well after the confrontation, and I would spend a day or two sometimes huddled in the walk-in closet shaking…..I come from a background in which I just can’t handle that level of drama.

        So, for me, closing down was the best way to go. I make sure I ask him if there’s anything more I can do for him, pack lunch each morning, get laundry done and hung up before breakfast before I have to start homeschool (we homeschool at his decision, and it is an increasing burden and headache for me because it is not really working in our family), he has breakfast served him each morning…..and, yes, there are times I want to scream out loud because I am so ALONE. You need sometimes to just excuse yourself from a potential problem and leave the house and just lose it. Cry, ask God “why”, all those things are OK, just as long as you don’t do it in front of your husband and get yourself in another mess as a result. Especially if you have children. They need calm in their lives and they don’t need to see you crying and begging for forgiveness and your husband raging at you and saying “words” at you. You’re going to end up accused of causing the problem, and it’s not worth it. It’s not good for the kids. Likewise, it’s not good for them to see an unhealthy marriage, either, but you can at least tell them when you’re alone with them that a marriage in which the parties are uncomfortable isn’t healthy either, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting good counseling or help if you find you cannot reach a healthy relationship on your own. This way they will know. You can also put them in touch with good role models in various activities who will demonstrate healthy conflict resolution.

        Perhaps every now and then you may sense that he *might* be interested in discussing an issue. The telltale sign is if he starts grinning at you and gets up and walks away. That’s the sign to forget about it and shut your mouth; he really isn’t interested and you would do well to just adjust to that. I now do the same; when a discussion ends up going too far into the direction to the point that it’s overwhelming me and I cannot absorb the “verbal chores” (this is my terminology for a list of “you shoulds” that I just cannot mentally handle right at the moment), I simply get up and leave the room and go somewhere else. To say, “I cannot handle this right now; I feel like I am being given a list of more chores and I am already feeling overwhelmed” — BAD news. Just get up and leave the room, and it will naturally end and you will have relief and silence.

        When you first do this, it’s hard. It’s like detoxing. Over time it gets easier, until finally it is second nature and you are in a far more peaceful and amicable situation than you were before, even if only by default. You are basically reduced to the level of housekeeper, educator (if you’re a homeschooling mom), and in my case completely celibate, but it has its compensation. If you have children, it makes up for a lot. Once the kids are grown, you need to be prepared to have something to do that will bring you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in life. Since my little ones are getting older, I decided to do work for the election this year — plus it pays reasonably well, and that always helps. My older children will be voting in a few years, and this shows them the importance of doing one’s civic duty. It keeps your mind off other things and on things that are both productive and interesting.

        1. I am so sorry for your situation, Anonymous. Stories like yours break my heart. I wholeheartedly believe there are other godly options that you could choose – *however*, I can tell from your comment that they would be very scary steps to take. Have you checked out Leslie Vernick’s blog or any of her books (The Emotionally Destructive Marriage)?

          Father, I pray for our sister, Anonymous. God, you know this situation. You know her pain. You are concerned for her and her family. I pray that your voice will break through the confusion and the pain and that you will speak words of life, healing and hope to her. I pray against the enemy’s plans to completely destroy her and her family. God, I pray that you would do an amazing work of healing in her heart that will forever change her. I pray for her story to be turned to one of victory and that her story and experience will be used in a mighty way for your Kingdom. Bring conviction and repentance to hard hearts. You are her Defender, her Sustainer and the Keeper of her heart, Lord. Our eyes are on you, for you are our only hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

        2. Anonymous,

          My heart hurts so much for you, my sister. And for your husband and family. It sounds like things are maybe a lot better than they were. But – it also sounds like there is a lot more healing to be had for you, even if your husband doesn’t change.

          Would you remind me, please, if you would like to share, are there any mental health issues in the marriage? Did you both come from very difficult backgrounds?

          What does your counselor suggest you do? Does she advocate the shutting down as the most healthy thing you can do at this point? Is this – the way things are right now – the goal? Or is there a specific goal for healing?

          What would you like to see happen in your walk with Christ?

          Praying with CIC for you, my precious sister. I agree with her that Leslie Veronick’s site may be very helpful – but it is possible that you may need to be in a much stronger place spiritually first, before you would be ready for that, from what I seem to be hearing.

          Sending the biggest hug!

          Much love,
          April

          1. April (and Anonymous)

            Not sure if you’re aware or not, but a major part of Leslie’s coaching/teaching is built around developing what she calls CORE strength. Here are a few links. I don’t even remember really reading much about this idea myself, but I found it really interesting that the first point is that you need to be committed to truth and reality. That is definitely one of the main things God taught me this last year — to stop pretending and start living from truth.

            http://leslievernick.com/developing-strength-in-a-destructive-marriage/

            https://christiancounseling.com/blog/uncategorized/building-four-4-essential-core-strengths/ (this is an article written by Leslie Vernick)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyPCvrKquck

            C- Committed to truth and reality
            O – Open to growth, instruction and feedback
            R – Responsible for our self and respectful to others without dishonoring our self
            E – Empathic and compassionate toward others without enabling someone to continue to abuse and disrespect us

          2. Content in Christ,

            That sounds really helpful. I hadn’t seen that part of her writings. Thank you so much for sharing! Yes, we do have to have strength in Christ in ourselves and healing for ourselves individually with God’s truth and His Spirit empowering us before we could ever begin to address really tough situations, many times.

            My prayer for all of us is that we might be healed in Christ and walking in wholeness in Him – hearing His voice and responding joyfully in obedience. Then we can hear His “voice behind us saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'” Like Scripture says. 🙂

          3. Wanted to add, too, that Leslie Vernick does make a point to say that a wife (or husband) should not take steps to confront their spouse in an abusive situation until their CORE strength is built up and they are ready to respond in God-honoring ways (not out of retaliation, bitterness, etc.)

      2. Thank you, so much, ContentInChrist…you really, really hit the nail on the head for me! In fact, I think I will have to print your response out for future reference. This has really made me think so hard about my marriage. I have always been the one to push so hard with things, to pursue things with my husband, that during times of conflict it can be so stressful.

        I’m very impatient and I want things resolved when I want them resolved (I believe this is where the pride comes in). But yes, as tortuous as it was to keep silent, it really did end up producing the true fruit of what I was looking for. I agree with you that at these times, we have to remain very close to the Lord and listen to how He is leading us…and I experienced the same exact thing as you…where I felt the Lord prompting me to approach my husband when the time was right.

        I am also going to revisit some of April’s previous posts on codependency, enmeshment, and idolizing our husbands…because I greatly struggle with these issues.

        Thank you, my dear sister, for putting a voice to exactly what I was feeling!

        1. You’re welcome, Mrs. G. Yes, those posts that you are going to look further into were some of the very issues that I started seeing come to light as problems in our marriage. I idolized my husband (and therefore, was so scared to speak and stand on the truth because I was scared of losing him), I was definitely enmeshed and there was codependency going on.

          I pray that God will continue to lead and guide you. Honestly, it excites me because I know the freedom that is around the corner for you. It might be a little painful getting there (don’t read too much into that!!), but it will be well worth it to get to the place where Christ is number 1 in your life and you realize that He alone can fill you up, meet your needs and love you the way you want to be loved.

          Really, it all has to begin there — the foundation of Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done for you. You will come to a place where you know who you are in Christ and learn how much He loves you, how sufficient He is for you. He can and will do that for you, I’m confident.

  7. As I read the comments I see a fairly common theme. This theme is common to most blogs and books and counseling about marriage and I believe is damaging to marriage. It is the subtle assumption that women have some biblical right to judge their husbands. Marriage is fundamentally about the husband, as the wife was made for him; no different than the marriage of the church to Christ is fundamentally about Him. We do not judge Christ but He does us and scripture is clear that husbands judge wives so she may be presented ‘without spot or blemish.’

    If wives have the perspective they can judge their husband and then change their behavior [wife’s behavior; ie, not submit] or try to change the husband because of what they have judged, then the wife holds the headship; she reserves the right to do as she determines. That is the reason that the commands to women are black and white with ZERO qualifications out of those commands [Plus, an inch would become a mile].

    As close as many women’s ministries [and pastors] get to teaching “women obey,” most all noticeably leave an ‘ace in the hole’ for the wife to squirm out and take charge. This not only frustrates all, it blasphemes God.

    Men know when their wives are not respectful or submitting on the inside even when everything on the outside may appear righteous. I encourage all women to ask the Lord to scrub their hearts and reveal their real condition and to then be true to self about that condition. Then, as Shakespeare says, “You can then lie to no man” and your husband will pick up on that in God’s time.

    Blessings on a fine ministry April and may there be special rich blessing to those, in particular, that have poured out their hearts here.

    1. sipcode,

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. I realize that some teach that husbands are an “absolute authority” on par with the very authority of the Lordship of Christ. I don’t believe that this is biblical, and, in fact, I believe that this is idolizing the husband.

      No human authority has equal authority to that of God. No sinful human authority can claim deity or perfection. Believers have the responsibility to intelligently submit to those in authority over them – whether it is to parents (for underage children), a husband, a boss, the government, the police, or a pastor. There are qualifications on the commands for women to submit and her submission is voluntary – her own decision to make out of reverence for Christ. They are to submit “as to the Lord.” If a husband asks a wife to do something sinful in clear violation of God’s Word, that would not be submitting “as to the Lord.” All believers must, at times, refuse to submit to authorities who are leading into clear sin.

      If a human delegated authority – who has been entrusted to care for, lead, shepherd, and protect those in his/her care – abuses that position – that is sin on the part of the person in the position of authority. We don’t judge God – for He is perfect, holy, and blameless. But husbands cannot claim these things. Husbands are fallible and can make mistakes or even commit sin.

      Please check out Spiritual Authority (class notes from a minister at my church) for a synopsis of biblical teaching about God’s design for spiritual authority and to see the times when a believer must not submit to a human authority. This post also contains examples of times when believers were right to refuse to obey human authorities in order to obey God.

      For additional teaching on proper use of spiritual authority, please check out Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Or search http://www.desiringgod.org (John Piper’s site) or http://www.radical.net (David Platt’s site) for biblical manhood and womanhood, or for “authority.”

      May God richly bless your walk in Christ, brother. 🙂

      In Him,
      April

      1. Marriage is designed by God to be a great blessing to men. Wives are to be their “helpmeets,” it is my understanding that this same word for “helper” is used of the Holy Spirit for the church. Marriage is also designed by God to be a great blessing to women and children, as well.

        However, the ultimate purpose of marriage is to display the gospel of Christ and to bring glory to God. 🙂

      2. sipcode,

        I do appreciate you clarifying your perspective in greater detail. Thank you for sharing your time and for your passion regarding your beliefs.

        I spoke with Greg, my husband, about your views on the subject of submission in marriage and how I might best respond. He has recommended that I discontinue this conversation at this time.

        May God richly bless your walk with Christ, brother.

  8. Ladies, please help me understand something. I think I have ‘connected’ with something today and want to run it past you.

    My 6YO often will get ‘stuck’ and ask me to ‘free’ him. For example, he will be ‘stuck’ in a puddle or ‘stuck’ between two couches and will say that he ‘can’t’ get himself out. It’s completely obvious that he is able to free himself but doesn’t want to, and typically I have taken an encouraging approach saying “I’m not going to get you out, I know you can do it!” Sometimes I have found it frustrating that he will pretend to be stuck when I know he really isn’t.

    But, today something ‘clicked’ for me. He already KNOWS that he can get himself out but he actually really wants reassurance that I love him and that I am there for him. It’s his way of ‘testing’ that I am there for him. So, when he got ‘stuck’ tonight (between the bed and the cupboard if anyone is interested) I said “You know what? I reckon you know that you can get out yourself and I reckon you just want me to get you out so you know that I love you, so let me help you out coz I definitely love you!”….his face broke into the BIGGEST sort of embarrassed grin and he just nodded and said “Yes” then grabbed me in a bear hug as I pulled him free 🙂

    But, it made me wonder…..do women do the same thing???? 🤔 If you say to your husband “I can’t (insert whatever)” when the reality is that you probably physically can are you really saying “Hey, I just wanna know that you are here for me”????

    Maybe I’m WAAAAAY off, but it kinda seemed to make sense at least a bit. Can you please share if I am on the money? HH

    1. Hi HH,

      I think so, to some extent. It’s nice to know we can depend on someone. 🙂 For example, I’m quick to hand a bottle or can to my boyfriend if I can’t get the top off the first time. I know that if he wasn’t there, I would wrestle with the thing until I got it off myself. This is also sometimes the case for emotional problems. If something bad happens when I’m not around him, I cheer myself up. But if I feel bad about some other problem when I’m with him, I tell him and he says something that makes me feel better. It’s a reassurance that he’s got my back, cares about me, and is looking out for me.

      Of course, there is a fine line between this and just being lazy – when we women depend on our men for everything, forgetting how to look after ourselves, we don’t do ourselves (or them) any favors. This is something that I am trying to work on in my relationship with my boyfriend – relying on him while still relying on myself, if that makes any sense.

      In Christ,
      Flower

    2. I agree with April – and I think there could be a variety of reasons for it…some of it could be insecurity and really wanting to know that the other person loves me (and so the action “proves” the love or care), some of it could be manipulation (just to keep someone at your beck and call or to enjoy “power” over them – probably also from a deep place of insecurity, but maybe with some darker aspects to the behavior), some of it could be like Flower mentioned where those times of “needing” strengthen the bond of the relationship. I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately.

      I love your stories about your children, HH. They sound so precious.

      1. Thanks CiC.

        Yes, my children are precious. They are really helping me get through this, having someone to pour out my love on helps take my mind off the pain.

        HH

  9. I feel like I’m so confused on how not to “shut my husband out” but I don’t want to be vulnerable because he says hurtful things that I don’t want to hurt. I recently commented on one of your blog posts, about how my husband expressed enjoying spending time with me, but the last few days he did a complete 360. He has been harsh and rude with his requests and when I express that his tone of voice is what hurts me, not the requests he gets angry with me and says he “has” to tell me more sternly or I won’t hear him out. This isn’t true though. I’ve long awaited for him to communicate with me respectfully, but he doesn’t understand that his tone of voice hurts. I, in the past have communicated rudely with him, and sometimes I catch myself doing it and have to apologize. I am going to continue still to try to communicate in a respectful way, but what else can I do? He tells me I am too sensitive and need to learn to “take it” but he isn’t realizing that I will better hear him out without being sad about it if he would just speak to me nicely. I realized today just how hurtful his tone of voice was, and he made me feel like a servant rather than his wife in how he spoke to me. I than heard him in the other room mumble “wow” even though after he told me how I should do something I said “okay”. He also called me an idiot a few times yesterday because he was mad at me, and when I respectfully expressed that when he said that to me, it makes me really insecure. He just said that I should consider why he called me that.

    I’m so hurt. How do I not just shut him out emotionally when he treats me like that?

    1. Ashley KB,

      Yikes. That sounds very painful. 🙁 Did something happen that seemed to be a trigger? Is he suddenly under a lot of stress? Is there something that you possibly did that he took offense at? Has he ever acted like this before? What is he trying to tell you? Is there something he keeps telling you over and over that he says you are “not getting” that might help us figure out what is going on with him?

      How do you try to respond when he is hurtful?

      You are most welcome to search my home page for:

      – conflict
      – confronting our husbands about their sin
      – harsh husband
      – command man husband

      http://www.leslievernick.com is a helpful resources for wives experiencing emotional abuse.

      How is your time with God going, my sweet sister?

      Sending HUGE hugs and much love to you!

      1. Hi sister,

        No he has never acted like this towards me and he is under stress and he is attempting to quit smoking. This is something he quit a long time ago but was never truly rooted out and something he has struggled with before. I understand that this may cause a lot of stress on him. He has been having a lot of conviction on his heart about it. He has also recently lost a job sp his faith is low at the moment and God has shown me he’s struggling with shame.

        My time with God has been great, I have felt like His presence is with me more than I ever have. I have been obeying His voice more than ever before, though! I know these things aren’t true I just want to be able to set healthy boundaries to say I will not tolerate that, without shutting him out emotionally. I know he needs to feel the love of Jesus more than ever, but I want to do that without allowing that type of behavior. Whenever he said that to me, I politely asked him not to do that. He later did apologize and I want to assume the best, that he is genuine. He has never acted like that towards me in the past. It was just so shocking to go from point a) where he really seemed to be responding so well to the changes God is making. To point b) calling me hurtful names.

        Please keep him in prayer about the smoking. God has shown me he is trying to do it in his own power and that is causing even more of a struggle to quit.

        1. Ashley,

          Have you ever read about quitting smoking and the issues that accompany that? I had to take some continuing education as a pharmacist about it – and if he is now in the beginning of smoking cessation, that could be the entire issue. People tend to become extremely irritable, tense, easily upset, grumpy, etc… as they stop smoking.

          And if he also recently lost his job – wow. That is a really tough thing for anyone, but for a man, he often gets his identity greatly from his job. So – it sounds like he is in quite a crisis of faith right now.

          I’m glad that you politely asked him not to do what he did when he was rude. I am very glad that he did apologize later. That is a very good sign.

          Usually, the first few weeks of smoking cessation are the worst. I’m so glad that your time with God is going really well. I pray God will flow His power, love, and healing through you to bless your husband who is under incredible stress right now emotionally, spiritually, and chemically.

          Much love to you!

          1. Hi sister April!

            Yes, I myself was a smoker for two years and so I know that feeling of being irritable. However, I wasnt a smoker since before I even knew my husband. That was my teenage years! Praise report on this very issue. Tonight my husband said to me that he didn’t know if he could quit smoking, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to. I am trying to keep the approach of “winning him without a word” as before I used to harshly rebuke and preach to my husband when he did wrong which I’ve learned is ineffective as it can make a husband feel shamed, embaressed, discouraged and hopeless. However, this was a good opportunity to lovingly remind him that in our own strength it is Impossible but if we seek God about it and rely on Him solely, then it can be possible. I did press too much about it, only said that. Praying for a testimony soon! God is doing good things. I felt so discouraged when I originally posted but having more faith.

          2. Ashley KB,

            I’m glad you are cheering him on. This is a difficult thing to do, for sure. Nicotine is arguably one of the most addictive drugs in existence. And when a smoker quits, their brain chemistry goes very haywire for awhile.

            I was thinking, too, it may be that when he is harsh, you could consider prayerfully saying something like, “Honey, I know this is not the real you. The real you treats me with such respect and honor. Is there anything I can do to make things easier or to be a blessing to you right now?”

            Much love to you! So glad you are clinging to faith more now. 🙂

  10. Oops I meant I did not press too hard about it, only told him that. He responded well and said “that is true” I am praying that through is reminder he will stop trying to pursue it with his own conceits and just whole heartedly seek God about it.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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