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Almost every wife experiences this at some point or another. You
r man is busy with other things and you really want to connect with him. Sometimes he may not have a choice about how busy he is due to work, a crisis, an illness, or another emergency.
Other times, he may spend a lot of time hunting, fishing, spending time with friends, renovating the house, watching TV, playing guitar, running, playing sports, or playing video games.
It’s easy as a wife to feel upset in such a scenario. Really upset. Ignored. Unimportant. And unloved.
For many wives, we value verbally and emotionally connecting with them and spending significant time together each day. That desire to be with our husbands is a good thing.
We feel secure and loved when we feel like we have priority in their schedules.
The desire, itself, is not the problem. How we deal with this desire is what is important.
It’s easy to listen to the smooth voice of the enemy when we feel like our husbands aren’t spending enough time with us and to begin to make negative assumptions and accusations like:
- He doesn’t love me! If he loved me, he would make time for me.
- He’s a jerk!
- He should want to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with him or he is wrong.
- Our marriage is doomed.
- I should probably just leave if I am such a low priority to him.
- If he doesn’t care more about me, I should get a divorce!
When we feel unloved, we will be tempted to react in the flesh.
“We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against,” (Gary Thomas says, in “Sacred Marriage”).
And I would add to that, even if we simply feel sinned against or assume we are being sinned against, we are more tempted to sin, even if we are not actually being sinned against.
Sometimes, it can be difficult, at first, to discern this important difference.
There are a lot of things that could be going on when we feel unloved:
- Our husbands may simply have a different love language. They really are showing love in their own ways, and we aren’t feeling or receiving it.
- Our husbands may have different personalities and different needs/desires for alone time/recharging/hobbies than we do. For example, introverts tend to need a lot more time to themselves to recharge than extroverts. It doesn’t mean that the introvert hates his/her spouse when he/she needs some time alone. They can love their spouses deeply but still need some time to pull away alone. Honestly, we all need some time alone to spend with God and to get our bearings.
- Our flesh may be weak at the moment, which makes everything seem much worse – Our hormones are going crazy, we are sick, we are exhausted, or overwhelmed. Sometimes our emotions can mislead us and are not always trustworthy.
- We may simply have a misunderstanding because we assume our husbands should think/feel/react just like we do and/or act like women. They may actually love us and there may not even be a real problem. It may just be that we have different perspectives, paradigms, ways of connecting, and expectations.
- We could be sinning in some way. We may be idolizing our own happiness. It is possible that we could be sinning in some way with our motives, with our thoughts, we could be believing lies about God, our husbands, or ourselves. We may be idolizing our husbands. We may be codependent, expecting our husbands to be responsible for our spiritual and emotional wellbeing that are really our responsibility.
- Our husbands may feel disrespected by us and have an unloving knee-jerk reaction to what we did to them. Or we might both feel hurt by each other in some way.
- Our husbands may be unable to spend more time with us because of obligations they have. If they have no choice about having to be at work a lot, being deployed, being sick, being injured, or having to do a lot of work on the house that must be done, they may be trying to take good care of us and the family.
- Our husbands may be stressed and may need a bit of time to recoup.
- Our husbands may be depressed or overwhelmed about something. They may be mentally, spiritually, physically, or emotionally unwell and unable to engage the way we would really like them to.
- Our husbands may truly have wrong priorities. They may be abdicating their responsibilities as husbands. Maybe they really have a TV or video game addiction. Or maybe they really are being selfish, mean, and are purposely trying to hurt us.
Let’s be sober and aware of the enemy’s schemes here, sisters!
Acting in the Flesh Leads to Long-Term Damage
If we allow our sinful natures to take over, we will approach our men in destructive ways that sabotage the very intimacy we crave with our husbands. And – when we make negative assumptions and embrace unfounded accusations – we are very possibly believing lies, not truth.
We are opening the door to the enemy to gain a foothold and create division and strife where there may not even truly be a problem. That is tragic!
Every wise woman builds her house,
but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.
Yes, it may be tempting to act in the flesh in anger, to lose my temper, to cry, to scream, and to give full vent to an ocean of negative emotions. It is tempting to let my thoughts and fears run wild and to get rid of any filter on my mouth.
But even if the worst case scenario was true about my husband, me acting without any self-control is only going to make things worse, not better.
I may think, “If he could just know how much it hurts me that he isn’t spending time with me, he would change his mind and spend hours with me being loving, romantic, and sweet to me, pampering me and showering me with attention, affection, and conversation.
The louder I am, the more upset I am, the more I cry, the more I scream, the more I insult him, the quicker he will rush to apologize and make everything up to me.”
“He needs to know how upset I am!”
But does he really need to know this?
Does he really need to see me have an unholy tantrum? Does he really need to see me at my absolute worst to know what I want and need?
I may think, “Well, I need the freedom to be myself with my husband.” But what if what I am really saying here is, “I want the freedom to be my old sinful self. I want the freedom to destroy my husband and marriage.”
That kind of “freedom” doesn’t heal marriages and broken relationships.
Let’s stop for a minute and seek God’s wisdom when we feel lonely.
God calls me (and all believers) to crucify my old sinful self and to put on my new self in Christ. He calls me to act in the power of the Holy Spirit and to pour His Life and healing into my relationships.
He gives me freedom from sin and freedom to walk in His holiness, divine love, and godly strength. He gives me the freedom to bless and build up my husband and marriage.
What do I want long term in my marriage?
- To tear my husband down and to repel him?
- To inspire him to want to spend more time with me and build him up?
These are two very different goals which would require two completely opposite approaches.
There is a high price to pay for indulging in my sinful flesh.
If freak out, react in fear, try to control him, scream, argue, act like a prosecuting attorney, rant and rage for a long time, insult him, hate him in my heart, stomp around the house, slam doors, make demands, and/or pitch a fit, what messages am I sending to my husband?
Here are some things my husband might think:
- She is not emotionally stable.
- Wow, she has no control over her emotions and temper.
- She’s scary.
- How am I going to feel safe around her or trust her now?
- The last thing I want to do is reward her right now by doing what she wants after she just treated me so badly.
- I feel attacked.
- Why would I want to spend more time with someone who treats me like this?
- I feel completely overwhelmed by her negative emotions, like I am drowning and need to get to land ASAP.
- This doesn’t feel like love.
- The corner of the roof is looking more and more appealing.
- Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife. Prov. 21:9
- A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand. Prov. 27:15-16
It’s not worth it.
A few minutes of allowing the flesh to spew unchecked can cost weeks or months in my relationship, or even years. Rebuilding trust after something like this takes a long time. A husband will back away for his own emotional/spiritual safety if I act like this.
A Better Way When We Feel Unloved
When we find ourselves seething with resentment, unfounded accusations, bitterness, and negative assumptions, that is not a good time to talk to our husbands.
Yes, our emotions are screaming that we should RIGHT NOW! But God’s Spirit will prompt us gently to go pray and spend some time with God before we make a mistake we will regret.
Connect to the Right Power Source
Emotions are important, but they are simply indicators on our dashboard. They let us know something may be wrong. But they are not THE source of absolute truth. We need to pay attention to our emotions and examine what is behind them. But we don’t want to be slaves to our emotions. They are not always accurate.
God’s Word and His Spirit are always dependable.
It can be so helpful to journal our feelings and lay out our issues before the Lord. He can help us identify temptations and wrong thinking. He can give us wisdom we need to approach our husbands in productive ways. He wants us to tap into His Spirit for our power source and not try to be godly wives in our own strength.
Depending on the Holy Spirit
If we are believers in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit. He is the only One who can completely meet the deepest spiritual and emotional needs of our hearts.
He can even give us the ability to respond with patience, gentleness, kindness, and self-control even when our husbands truly are wrong. And God can give us His wisdom and perspective to realize what is true when we feel unloved, but our husbands really do love us.
He can talk us down off of the cliff so we don’t drop a nuclear bomb in our marriage and destroy it when all we had to do was respectfully share our desires.
No matter what our husbands do or don’t do, we can respond in the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God, if we are yielded to Him.
Our husbands are much more likely to respond favorably to us if we respond in the power of the Holy Spirit – with self-control, gentleness, kindness, and respect.
I also like to change up Philippians 4:12-13 a bit for this situation:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. Phil. 4:12-13
I know what it is to not feel I have enough of my husband’s attention, and I know what it is to have a lot of his attention. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I feel loved in the moment or not, whether I am getting what I want from my husband or not. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
Some things that draw my husband to me:
- My peace and joy in Christ.
- My genuine smile and pleasant, friendly tone of voice.
- My consistent ability to be a safe place for him emotionally.
- My asking for what I desire respectfully.
- Lots of times, that is all we need to do. It really is that simple.
- “Hey, Honey, I’d love to spend some time together sometime today.”
- I will often see much better results if I focus on asking for what I would like in a positive way, rather than getting upset about what I don’t like.
- My understanding and patience when he truly is in a situation where he can’t be with me as much as I would like.
- My willingness to encourage him to do some things he enjoys sometimes, even if it is without me, as long as it is not sin. Different people have different needs for recharging by themselves.
- Sharing my feelings in a humble, direct, vulnerable way calmly and without blaming him.
- My spiritual maturity to respond with poise, self-control, dignity, self-respect, and respect for him, even if I don’t get what I want every time.
Or, we may be able to join our husbands in what they are doing and bond that way:
- Sit with him quietly while he is working on a project around the house, smile sometimes, get him some drinks/snacks.
- Cuddle with him in a friendly way and read a book while he watches TV or plays video games.
- If he is open to it – go hunting with him, watch a TV show with him, ask him to teach you to play his favorite video game so you can play, too.
Please keep in mind that if you have been reacting in the flesh rather than in the Spirit for a long time (months or years), your husband is going to probably need quite a bit of time to feel safe with you emotionally again.
He will need to see over many months that this new approach is permanent and it is not just another manipulation attempt. Try to be patient with him even if you feel he is not very supportive as you change. Most husbands will feel a bit gun-shy and skeptical for a time until they really become convinced that these beautiful new changes are real.
If your husband is abusing you, cheating on you, has significant uncontrolled mental health issues, or is not in his right mind due to an addiction, please reach out for experienced counsel! You may need some help to discern how best to proceed.
Here is my YouTube video on this topic.
How have you learned to handle times when you want more of your husband’s time and attention in productive ways? We’d love to hear the wisdom God has given you.
Is God speaking to you about this subject? We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights.
3 Big Secrets Extroverts Who Married Introverts Need to Know – by www.crosswalk.com
17 Tips on How to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully
22 Ways to Destroy Intimacy and Trust in Your Marriage
25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally
20 Simple Ways to Enjoy Your Man
What Do I Do with My Desire for Verbal/Emotional Connection?
My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language
Bitterness of Soul – I Want to Be His FIRST Priority! by A Fellow Wife
A Fellow Wife Thinks about Giving Space
Oneness in Marriage – Not Too Close, but Not Too Far Away
Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected by A Fellow Wife
Thank you for this – it’s very timely as I try to repair years’ worth of negative behavior on my part.
You are most welcome. I was in the same boat 14.5 years into our marriage. It took a few years to undo the damage I had caused. How I wish I had understood these things 25 years ago!
Praying for you, my precious sister.
This post is exactly what I needed to hear. It’s what I’ve been struggling with for a long time. We run a dairy together as a family. There is always more to do than there is time. I struggle with feeling “connected ” to my husband (he says he feels connected just being together in the same vicinity ). We have a very small house and a large family (9 kids), so alone time is a challenge . All that to say, your post encouraged me greatly (I think the Lord sent it to me Himself through you????). Thank you!
I’m so thankful God used this to bless you. A lot of men, in my understanding, don’t necessarily bond with words like we women tend to. Many of them feel connected just being in the same room or house. I discovered that my husband always feels connected to me, unless he knows I am upset with him. That was really freeing for me. I learned I could just rest in his love and connection even when we weren’t having the face-to-face time I really love.
I’m sure alone time could be very challenging with your current situation. But I am excited to see all that the Lord has in store for you and how He will bless your marriage and family.
It is always amazing to me how your posts are always perfectly timed from God. There have been so many times that I have been feeling a particular way and mulling it around in my head, wanting to confront my husband about it – and there is your email in my inbox of exactly the problem! I have been brought to tears b/c of God’s timing. I am so thankful for what you do!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR MINISTRY!
Aw! I’m so glad that God is so amazing with His timing. He does that a lot. Love it. And I am so thankful He used this to speak to you and to bless you.
I’m struggling with this so much. This is the exact dynamic that exists in my relationship. Struggling with feeling low down on my husband’s priority list, struggling with loneliness, and being overloaded with work/ housework/ caring for children, then when I get frustrated and lash out – his disdain for me when what I need is a hug and some kind words, is devastating.
I’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I grasp the concepts and shed many tears over my failings and I know what I have to let go of but I continue failing. I understand intellectually but my heart wants to hold to my old ways which I know are wearing my husband down and impacting so negatively on my marriage. I need to truly trust that God will provide me with the contentment, love and peace that I desire.
Please pray for me.
Thank you for sharing. I can feel the pain in your words very deeply.
Obviously, lashing out at your husband is not going to draw him to you or inspire him to want to be more loving and attentive. And, I wonder if it could be possible that what you perceive to be “his disdain” for you might simply be his reaction to a negative approach?
Would it be okay if we do a bit of a spiritual check-up together? I’d like to see if I can see where you are stuck and help you get unstuck.
Wow this really is a great post! It was eye opening for me as I often feel this way.
One thing id love some guidance on is, my husband and his friends. I grew up seeing my parents attached at the hip to one another. They never did anything without each other. To this day, I will see and hear my dad ask my mom repeatedly to go somewhere with him and she will say I’m tired, I just want to relax or I don’t want to go! He will sulk a little and then say he’ll hurry home or won’t stay long. I can honestly say I’ve NEVER heard my husband say that. He rarely asks me to go places ???? but when he does, if I can’t he will be like ok! That’s ok! Or he’ll invite me somewhere and say you really don’t have to go though or don’t feel like you have to be there! Or I don’t think the other wives or girlfriends will be there. He soaks up every amount of guy time he can get. He really really enjoys his friends.
Me? I have lots of friends too! And always thought I was an extrovert until I married my extreme extrovert husband. I would love to spend more time with him. I’d love to do regular life things together like I saw my parents do. But he doesn’t see a need for 2 of us to go to the grocery. Or he will invite a friend over to help him clean our garage instead of ask me to help and pitch in. It’s pretty disheartening :/
He’s a great man and loving and wonderful husband. But just doesn’t seem to need me much which is hard, I def would like to feel needed by him- like how I see my mom and dad.
My mom once told me “your dad worships the ground I walk on, you find someone like that”
In hindsight I see what she was saying but maybe my parents approach to marriage isn’t all that healthy. While it was so great growing up around parents who loved each other it’s also pretty hard comparing my marriage to that and seeing my husband be so different and love being around guys, always asking them over, or doing guy stuff or loving friend time and I’m just over in the background waving like hi remember me!????
It can be really easy to compare our husbands to our own dads. After all, our parents’ marriage is what we saw every day for decades and it can become our “gold standard” for what a “normal, healthy” marriage is supposed to look like.
Something that I find to be freeing is to realize that every marriage is different. There are many healthy ways to live out a godly, beautiful, loving marriage. Not just one way. There are many different personality types and different kinds of marriage dynamics that are good. It’s not that one way is always “the best.” There are as many different marriage dynamics as there are marriages. Each one has its own unique fingerprints.
It’s great that your dad and mom enjoy spending so much time together. And it is very sweet and romantic that he didn’t want to leave her for long and that he articulated that and that he wanted her by his side every moment.
My guess is that your husbands’ parents had a very different marriage dynamic than your parents. And that your husband’s personality is very different from your dad’s personality.
My husband and my dad have extremely different personalities, too, even though they are both engineers.
It is not fair for me to expect my husband to think, talk, and act like my Daddy. Each man has his own strengths, his own personality, his own weaknesses, and his own way of relating. That is a good thing.
When your husband is okay with you not going, it is very possible that he is simply treating you with respect. It sounds to me like he is trying to not push or pressure you. That he wants you to feel like you have a voice and he wants you to be able to do what you would like to do without feeling forced into anything.
My husband doesn’t act like your dad either. Neither does my dad. Or my brother. Or either of my brothers-in-laws. Or my father-in-law. And all of these men in my family are very godly, loving, amazing husbands and fathers.
For some people, being “connected at the hip” like your parents are would feel smothering. For others, it would be romantic and wonderful.
The point is – people are different. People show and receive love in different ways. That is a beautiful thing. God loves variety.
Your husband can love being with his friends and love you, too. He can be a devoted, loving, caring husband and not be depressed if you aren’t with him every moment of every day. I think your expectations and his expectations are very different. And I don’t sense that either of you is “wrong.” It is just that your expectations are different.
The great thing is, we can adjust our expectations to accommodate our unique husband’s personality and love language. We can learn to receive love in the ways they show love to us.
My husband and I almost never go to the grocery store together. But he loves me deeply. He shows love for me in other ways – by running by the store today when I asked for some orange juice because I have a terrible cold, by taking the kids to see the new Lego Movie this afternoon without me because I felt too awful and the kids were sad that no friends could come hang out today. He shows love by researching financial decisions for weeks or months to try to make the best possible decisions for us. Or by remodeling the house to make it beautiful and practical.
He is an introvert. Big time. And he needs a lot of time alone. I used to get offended by this, thinking that he should want to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him. But he is a youngest child. His brother is 8 years older than he is. He was basically like an only child for a good part of his growing up years. His dad was busy being a pastor – attending meetings and visiting people in the hospital. He learned to play by himself in the yard with a football for hours at a time and he loved that. I am an identical twin who was used to having my sister with me constantly.
It is actually possible to need someone too much. We can idolize people or be “codependent” with them in a way that is not healthy. We can be needy and clingy and expect others to be responsible for our spiritual and emotional wellbeing. I did that with Greg for a long time. We were both miserable.
I encourage you not to compare your husband to your dad. But rather, to begin to focus on your husband’s amazing strengths, talents, and his ways of showing love. As you focus on the good things and the things you are thankful for, you may just be amazed how blessed you really are. Even though he is different from your dad.
You can check out some of these posts for some help with these issues, if you are interested:
– posts on how to make a husband an idol
– posts on expectations
– My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language
– 17 Tips for Asking for Things Respectfully
– posts about contentment
– Are We Responsible for Our Spouse’s Happiness?
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