Being Married to a Man Who Is Emotionally/Spiritually Shut Down

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From a sister in Christ who has walked this road and was willing to answer some of my questions about being married to a man who is very to himself and quiet…

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OUR BACKGROUND

This comes from being with my husband for 11 years (8 years of marriage), being his 4th wife, having 11 children between the two of us, 6 at home, 2 separations, and the last one almost ending in divorce (had a court date set). God still works miracles and although my husband did many things wrong, once i opened my heart to God he showed me how incredibly sinful i was being as a wife. Let me say that this email comes after being reconciled over a year and on June 21, 2013, we celebrated one year sobriety for him.

WHY MY HUSBAND WAS THE WAY HE WAS

First I want to say it is important as a wife to understand the REASONS her husband may be (non-communicative). In our case my husband finally opened up to me that he had been abused as a child an NEVER told anyone. This opened so many doors for healing for the both of us. He saw that I was still going to accept and love him and he could trust me and I understood that it wasnt anything that I had done for him to shut down and not even want to be intimate with me physically, but together we can overcome this.

To answer the questions….

1. How has God shown you how best to bless your husband?

God revealed to me that just because he needs to be alone and silent does not mean he doesn’t love me or is having an affair. Sometimes he loves to have me present in the room with him even if he doesnt feel like talking.. He just likes to know I am there. Other times he would prefer to go for a ride alone or stay home while me and the kids go somewhere and through Christ, I have realized that’s ok.

2. How do you handle your needs for emotional/spiritual connection in a godly way?

For any woman struggling with feeling alone, I highly recommend reading the book “Captivating.” It literally had me in tears and God spoke to me through it. There was part in particular talking about how God loves to give us “gifts.”  As I thought about it, I recalled times where I had seen things in nature that God knew I loved and He had shown me how much He loved me by giving me the “gift” of witnessing it. When I feel neglected or lonely, I turn to God.

3. How do you make it safe for your husband to share his feelings with you?

Oh my!!! I used to be so bad at this!!

I would ask my husband for advice on decisions with the kids, house, finances, etc and if I didn’t like what he said, I would voice that very strongly and do what I wanted to do anyway... talk about a shut down on his part!!

This took almost a year to regain his trust and it is still a work in progress.

I have had to SHOW him that I will respect his wishes over and over in order to get to where he is able to openly talk to me.  I can honestly say I think he feels I am a safe place now.  I try to listen to him an then offer my advice or opinion in a loving manner.  Even if  I disagree or am trying to point out something he has made a mistake on (and I do that rarely and usually only if pertinent) I do so in a loving manner instead of lashing out at him and belittling him.

(From Peacefulwife- some husbands feel disrespected if a wife offers any unsolicited advice.  Many men want to handle their problems on their own.  Some are only open to our advice if they ask us for our advice.  You’ll need to study your own husband to know what will work best for him. )

I am his other half and his partner, NOT his boss.

4. How does your husband show his love to you?

This is very difficult for him and for me to accept. My husband is not romantic.  He forgets things.  He’s not big on gifts or planning dates.

This had to be an acceptance on my part.

I know he loves me because

  • he listens to me
  • he values my opinions
  • he turns to me when he needs help
  • he comes home every night
  • he has given up alcohol

He doesn’t leave me little notes or presents and he doesn’t often surprise me or give me unexpected kisses.  I found  that I compared him to men that did those things and that was a trap from Satan.  

I have learned to read his facial expressions and nonverbal language and that’s enough for me .

 5. When did you learn to accept the ways your husband shows you love instead of expecting him to show it verbally?

I began a journey over a year ago to become a better wife. The first part of that journey only pushed him further away because it was too late.

He felt it was just a desperate attempt to get him to believe I had changed but

He didn’t believe it because it had been 10 years of me not listening to him and expecting things that weren’t his personality .

The journey is still ongoing but I don’t think he believed it was truly a change for me until I forgave him for an affair and loved him through it and he was able to tell me about his abuse.

6. Did you think marriage would change his personality and that he would talk more once you were married? If so, why?

This one doesn’t personally pertain to me because it wasn’t an apparent issue when we got married – but I do caution anyone who feels this way.  

Nothing can change a person except for God and that person’s will. 

You can pray for it, but it has to be a breaking of their heart and spirit to let God in… and frankly, it may need to be a breaking of your own heart to realize YOU are the one who needs to change.

7. What challenges have you faced in your marriage with communication?

I think this one I have pretty well gone over. It more or less had to be me realizing that my husband wasn’t really doing anything wrong. It was just his personality and I had to learn to work with him.

8. What makes your husband feel most loved/respected?

My husband feels the most loved and respected when he knows that I value his opinion.

  • If he is getting onto the kids and maybe doesn’t understand the situation or got the wrong kid, instead of calling him out in front of them,  I will ask for him to take a time out in the other room so we can discuss things.
  • In public, I let him speak.  So what if he got the day or the specific time wrong unless its someone’s birthday.  Does it really matter if the fish he caught was 5 lbs or 6 lbs?  Or who cares if the road you turned on to go to that cool place was on the right or the left??? Is it really worth making him feel inferior? It is very belittling to correct him in front of other people.

9. How have you been able to use your verbal/communication skills to adapt to your husband’s unique personality and needs?

I am a VERY communicative person. My husband is not. It is incredibly frustrating sometimes.

I have learned it helps me to write to him.

I write letters quite often.  I leave notes in his lunchbox, short texts throughout the day, etc.. Although he does not communicate much verbally, I do know that he enjoys reading my letters of affirmation. He likes to know that I respect him.

In situations like I listed earlier, I see the look on his face when I praise him in public or when I don’t correct him when he thinks I will – because he realizes he made a mistake. I used to call him all the time and interrupt his work. That was a huge distraction and annoyance for him.  I still want to do that because I like to hear his voice, but I have learned instead if I just absolutely must say something I jot it down and give him a note when he comes home.

There are so many other things I have learned personally.

While most people would have bailed on our marriage,  I am so thankful that I allowed God to use everything we have been through as a teaching tool.  It would be so easy to say he did all the sinning and I have every right to leave him – but in fact, I was a horrible sinner as well.

God is to be first in my life, and then my husband. I am learning that by working to please and help my husband I, in return, am finding more satisfaction and happiness.

It IS worth the effort! 🙂

RELATED:

The Introvert Husband – by the Genuine Husband

Being Married to a Man Who Doesn’t Talk Much – by Peacefulwife

How to Talk so Your Husband Will Listen and Listen So Your Husband Will Talk by Rick Johnson – AWESOME BOOK!!!!!!  I am going to be talking about this more soon!  But I heartily recommend it for single women and wives to learn to understand our men better and to learn how to better communicate in ways that are effective, respectful and powerful with our men – to bless them and our marriages.

Finding Her Voice

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This is part of a conversation between myself and a sister in Christ who is struggling to articulate her emotions, thoughts and ideas in her marriage.   Her husband wants her to talk and to share her heart and mind with him – but that is very challenging for her.  This is an open dialogue.  I am not an expert.  If you are struggling with this issue, please feel free to share your feelings and thoughts – struggles and victories.  I’d love to hear from you!  (my words are in blue.)
 
Hi April,

I think you’re right that I probably need time to process & consider things before responding, especially emotionally laden things.   Ok, so I’m going to tackle your questions/comments againThanks for listening!

I’m ok with the personality bit (ie. I don’t long to be more extroverted/social/etc), but I’m thinking that the habit side of it is probably negative–coming from my insecurities, unwillingness to trust others (trust God even?) –and damaging.  That’s what I need to change.
Here are some posts on  “Insecurity” and “Security”  that may be very helpful. 
  • Do you know what you think?
Not always.
I wonder if my dad being so dominant and strong in his opinions with little room for anyone having differing opinions, I just got used to being told what to think/believe, and gave up my independence in this area.  It makes for more peace in the moment (people pleasing?), but doesn’t help me out in the long run.  I would love to hear how other wives are able to learn to know their own minds and share their thoughts.
Some wives believe that it is not ok for them to say how they feel.  Sometimes they get angry at  others because they feel like  people don’t want them to talk – even though no one else has ever said, “It’s not ok for you to speak your mind and heart.”     Sometimes, very quiet wives think about things for days, weeks, months or longer…  saying nothing, and then explode  in anger and no one even had a clue that they were upset before that.
This “finding your voice” is not always a graceful or beautiful process.  At first, sometimes very quiet, non-communicative wives eventually get too angry because they don’t talk about their feelings soon enough.
It is a process of overshooting to be too quiet, then overshooting the other way and being too harsh/aggressive, then back and forth until they find a more balanced place.   I had to do the same thing – from the opposite side of the spectrum.  I told Greg way TOO much and at first on this journey, I became too quiet.  I had to go back and forth to figure out where the healthy place was.  It took time!  
Telling the truth is SCARY if you think it is not safe to do so.

Healthy relationships are places where it is safe to say what you feel and think and what you want.

I think I’ve ended up emulating my dad in many ways.  Which has led to so much disrespect for my husband because I get stuck on doing things my way, which is, of course, the “right” way as it’s the only way that makes sense and works.  Why wouldn’t he want to go along with my way?  And then we get no where, just butting heads, because we’re coming at the issue from two opposing directions with different goals and so can’t make any progress. 

And all this time I had no idea I was sinning, rebelling against God and my husband’s God-given authority.  I thought I had our best interest in mind and was doing what was best for us and could never understand why my husband didn’t see that and just kept doing things his way and messing everything up.  It never occurred to me that I was the one messing things up!

That sounds like ME!!!!!!!!!

Are you able to cry or feel sad feelings now?

I am able to cry/feel sad feelings now.  Even growing up I was able to, but just couldn’t let on about them. 

I thought, “Showing sad feelings wasn’t acceptable.  It shows weakness.  It makes others uncomfortable.”  

I’m not sure if that’s part of people-pleasing, that I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable, but I guess it does relate to one of the unhealthy boundaries you describe in “Control and Boundaries“–feeling responsible for others emotions.
Yes, that can be part of people-pleasing – thinking that showing negative feelings is not acceptable. That is not healthy!  Your emotions are important.  It is healthy to express your emotions, no matter what they are – but to do it in a respectful, non-condemning, non-blaming way.
My mom is very submissive, going along with my dad’s leading.  As a teen, this would really bother me because it seemed she never stood up for herself or had her own opinions or thoughts, always deferring to him.  I guess that was her being respectful and I know my dad wasn’t abusive, but his personality can be so strong that it seemed she just got bowled over by it.  She  came from a loving family (though not believers), however, her mother suffered from depression, sometimes very severe, and wasn’t always available to her so I’m sure that impacted my mother’s development.  Again, I guess I displayed unhealthy boundaries with her by feeling responsible for her feelings and always being so careful to agree with her opinions (perhaps because it seemed like my dad didn’t?) so I wouldn’t hurt her feelings, even to the point of giving up my own opinions and preferences.
Yes, if a girl grows up with a parent who needs care, is incapacitated or is an alcoholic/drug addict – she tends to take on unhealthy boundaries and tends to be overly responsible for other people and their feelings.  These situations can also make a girl believe subconsciously that she is somehow actually “sovereign” and “in control” of way more than she actually is as she grows up – if her parents seem to be weak, not in control, neglectful or absent.  She learns that God is weak and she is powerful and in charge and that all of her circumstances and other people’s behavior depends on HER.
I can’t believe I was so blind to my sinful actions for so long!  It really never occurred to me that I wasn’t being a Godly wife.  The descriptions and examples you share on your blog about yourself and how your eyes were opened fit me *exactly*.  I’ve thought I’m a pretty good person, I’m a good wife.  I actually remember praying, knowing that confessing sins is an important part of drawing closer to God, but actually drawing a blank on what to confess!  Isn’t that horrendous?  So prideful! 
In the back of my head, I knew that fact that I couldn’t think of anything I was doing wrong, for the most part, was a pretty big indication that something was seriously wrong, but it never occurred to me just how disgustingly prideful I am!  And it certainly didn’t occur to me that I was disrespecting my husband by trying to look out for what I thought was our best interest. 
So church is one of the big issues I’ve had to apologize for and step back from.  Finances is another.  And there are so many little things that are constantly entering my head that I have done which are  disrespectful.  They’re not even necessarily bad things, just the way I’ve gone about them (like volunteering at a nursing home by visiting with the residents on a weekly basis with my kids–good thing to do, right?  I never even *asked* my husband what he thought about it and if it was ok with him!) 
So I’m struggling right now with whether I should be bringing up each thing God brings to my attention with my husband and apologizing, or just the big things and letting a general apology cover the rest unless they come up specifically on their own.  I feel like he’s tired of me apologizing and I don’t want him to think I’m insincere because I’m doing it so frequently or for things he probably didn’t even notice at the time, let alone feel disrespected by.  I also feel like (and this is my pride and my insecurity kicking in) that I don’t want to add any more to his already exhaustive list of all my hurtful wrongs toward him.  I know he’s already having a hard time forgiving me.  I know this is wrong and probably connected to an idol I need to root out.
Probably one big apology is sufficient:
“Honey,
I realize now that I have been very disrespectful, prideful and controlling.  I had no idea I was doing all of that.  But I was wrong.  I repent to you and to God.  I want to honor your God-given leadership and learn to respect you and to be the wife God wants me to be.”
End of apology.  Most men don’t want it brought back up any more.  
They just want to see real change.
 
I’m heartbroken to say that my husband doesn’t really try to connect with me much now.  We’ve been very distant for some time and I’ve been missing him, but sadly I let my pride keep me from trying to bridge the gap.  So things finally came to a head a little over a month ago when he asked me if I was happy and I said “Presently, with how things are with us, no.” 
Ironically, I feel like I’ve been able to be very open and honest and vulnerable with him since that point.  Maybe because my eyes were finally opened to my terrible pride and my role in the state of our relationship.  I guess my pride probably has something (a lot even?) to do with my struggle to communicate openly–I’m insecure, fearful of disappointing, etc.  This is just occurring to me now.  Does it make sense that my pride would be what’s blocking my ability to be truly open and intimate with my husband?  More idols…
Yes.  Pride blinds us.  Mine blinded me completely to all of my own sin.  Pride repels other people.  And it makes it impossible for us to be vulnerable, to trust and to feel safe with our husbands – which means that intimacy cannot happen.
I would suggest just saying what your emotions are as you recognize them.
  • “I’m feeling so thankful today.”
  • “I’m really feeling happy to be here with you.”
  • “I’m feeling nervous about X.”
  • “I feel so sad about what happened on the news just now.”
My suggestion  for you is to just begin to label and speak out loud what your emotions are as you recognize them.  You don’t have to elaborate if you don’t want to.
The main thing to avoid is, don’t blame your husband, “You never spend any time with me, that is why I feel so lonely all the time!”
Instead try  –
  • “I’m feeling lonely.”  
And you could add, “I’d really love it if you had time to hold me for awhile.”
It’s ok to say,
  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed.”
  • “I feel hurt.”
  • “I feel upset.”  
  • “I feel sad.”
  • “I feel scared.”
If you need time, it’s ok to say,
  • “I feel upset.  I need a few days to process what I am feeling so I can tell you exactly what is wrong.  But I feel upset about this.”

Feelings are not weak.  They just are.  They are not wrong.

God gives us feelings as flags.   Anger can tell us if we are being violated in some way sometimes.  It’s important to listen to our feelings. They are not the most important thing in the world, but they are important!   And sharing your perspective, needs and desire is important!

The kinds of things I would hold back from him are generally negative feelings, something that I’m upset about and probably also upset that he doesn’t realize I’m upset and know what caused it.  So immature. My feelings would be hurt in some way and rather than saying “I feel x because of y.” I just stew. 

I think I try to deny or push away the feeling

  • I’m stronger than that. 
  • I don’t need to feel sad/hurt/neglected/lonely/unloved. 
  • Those are weak feelings. 
But the fact is, I truly would feel that way and couldn’t escape it and would then, I suppose, blame my husband for making me feel that way
Red alert!
Unhealthy boundary–he’s not responsible for my emotions!. 
But I still probably wouldn’t address it with him, just continue to stew, but by now it’s obvious to him that something’s wrong so he’d ask him.  I’d say “Nothing.”  He’d push and I’d say “I don’t know.”  And I think sometimes I really truly didn’t know!  I don’t know if I couldn’t get past the negative feeling to see what was causing it or what, but, of course, he couldn’t accept that I didn’t know what was wrong.  That doesn’t make any sense that I would be upset and not even know why.  And it doesn’t make sense, so how could I explain it to him? 
It’s ok to say, “I feel upset.  I am not exactly sure why right now.”
You may have to tell him, “I have been suppressing my feelings for so long, that it is going to take me some time to figure out how to listen to them and understand them.  I will just need a bit of extra time to know what I am thinking.  Thanks for understanding and for being so patient with me.”

If you say “nothing is wrong” when you actually are upset – that is not honest.

And other times I might know what was wrong, but I still couldn’t bring myself to tell him.  And I don’t even know entirely why.  I think because it’s just so hard to claim ownership of negative feelings toward/about someone else–the emotion itself is so uncomfortable; I don’t want to upset the other person; I don’t want to be rejected; I don’t want to be wrong; I don’t know how to explain/defend my feelings. 
You end up losing intimacy.
Sharing feelings, even negative ones, is vulnerable.  And vulnerability is a requirement of intimacy.  Emotional intimacy requires us to be “emotionally naked.”
I would end up making a huge deal of something that was probably pretty small and should have been easily dealt with. 
I can totally understand how frustrating this was/is to my husband, that I have this wall up that he can’t get through.  And, you know, I think part of me is upset that he hasn’t gotten through it.  I don’t know how to do it.  If he loved me, he’d figure it out and save me from myself, right? 
Again, unhealthy boundary–I’m holding him responsible for my emotions, my happiness, feeling he should be able to control me since I can’t, and am then hurt and disappointed when he can’t, either, which probably just reinforces that wall and my inability to communicate openly with him.  Wow.  I never realized I had such unhealthy boundaries.  Even reading that post, I didn’t see it until just now as I’m writing to you.
 
Ok, I think I’ll stop there.  This is really eye-opening, April, and I really do so much appreciate your willingness to be a sounding board for me and give me your feedback.  God has given you a lot of wisdom and a gentle and patient spirit that shines through in your words.  Thank you.  And I thank God for you, too.
RELATED:

Dying to Self – by The Good Wife

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This is a guest post by my precious sister in Christ at www.thegoodwife121.blogspot.ca.  She is documenting her journey to become a godly wife.  I am sure many wives are going to relate to her struggles and be blessed by what God is doing in her heart!

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Slowly it’s getting easier.

I noticed it while I was fuming over washing dirty dishes, it was a Sunday and I had wanted to go to church, but was unable to because Husband had a previous commitment, even though I was annoyed, I remembered my goals and came to an understanding that this was just life, and I would have to handle my disappointment.
Later I received a text telling me he was planning on going out afterwards, to his brother’s church where he played on the worship team – this put me firmly into the “Sunday all day/night alone with baby.”

I was ticked – all I had wanted was a couple of hours in the morning to go to church, and now I was having to have another long, solo-parenting evening while Husband did what he wanted to.

I started to scrub the dishes harder.

Like there weren’t enough long days, and with the baby being, well…2, those days generally weren’t filled with easy-goingness and happy times. It was work! Hard work! Not to mention keeping the house clean, getting laundry done, making special-diet meals and grocery shopping.

My pot was practically glowing by this point.

Finally I took a breath and I prayed: Lord, I am so frustrated and tired right now. Help me to check my attitude and focus on the good.

Slowly I started to feel that knot of annoyance loosen just a tad, suddenly I remembered all my prayers about Husbands spiritual life and praying that he would feel closer to God and have a better relationship with Him. How I had shed tears over his faith and had been so worried that he was falling away.
I bowed my head and sighed.

Here I was, getting upset because he wants to go to Church. Shouldn’t I be considering this as an answer to prayer, rather than an annoyance?

Finally my pride snapped, and I was able to let go of that anger that had started to boil inside.

Husband and I had, previous to this pot-washing incident, exchanged a quick phone conversation, and he knew by the tone of my voice that I was not in the best of moods, though when he asked, I denied it, of course.
Later that evening he came through the door, with his proverbial tail between his legs and clearly expected a row about the change in plans.
He casually asked how I was doing, (testing the waters, no doubt) and by that point I was actually able to be happy to see him and greet him with love and kindness.

Husband seems a little surprised, this was definitely not what he was expecting, and almost immediately he apologized for changing plans on the fly, and hoped that I wasn’t upset.

Wow…this was a change!

A normal chain of events would have been:

  • Change of plans
  • I get mad
  • Give husband cold treatment/guilt to get him to apologize
  • Husband defends actions and digs in his heels
  • I get hurt because he wouldn’t apologize or consider my feelings
  • Husband gets annoyed because I’m manipulating him
  • We fight until midnight, sleep separately and have a horrible night and next day.
But I was able to circumvent this by simply “letting go.”
It’s still a struggle and I think for a long time, it will be – putting my will aside for another’s is extremely difficult and doesn’t come easily to my nature, but I’m seeing real changes in how my marriage works when I started changing my own behavior for my own sake.
Please don’t misunderstand, this is something I am doing for me. I am changing myself not to become quote/unquote perfect wife, but rather wanting to be a Godly woman, and part of that is practicing humility and self-control, and through that I am seeing positive results in my marriage.
It is a daily ‘dying to self’ and ever so slowly, I feel that, through much prayer and help from the Holy Spirit, that I am able to accomplish this more easily.

I don’t know if I’m seeing more sweetness and kindness in my Husband, or if I’m finally able to focus on what was already there.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. 
For whoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
~ Matthew 16: 24-25

My marriage is that dirty pot.
It’s a good pot, a sturdy one that has gone through lots of wear and tear and has some dents in it, I just need to scrub it, not only see it for the burn marks, and the gunk stuck on it. I need to wash it, and care for it, and it should last for many, many years.

~ The Good Wife

“Misconceptions and Fears I Had at the Beginning of This Journey” – AND A CELEBRATION!!!!!!!

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I am amazed and in total awe of God to share that this blog has reached a milestone today of

1 million hits.

WOW!!!?!?!?!?!
I just have to get on my face before my God and thank and praise Him!  He blows my mind!
I started blogging on January 17, 2012.  I knew NOTHING about blogging or teaching women.  I am still learning every day!  I gave the numbers to God and said, “Please just bring me anyone You want to read each post.  This is Your blog, Your ministry, Your message.  I want to exalt You alone.”
Last fall, Greg had a little celebration for me on the blog when we hit 100,000 views.
I don’t look at the numbers a lot – it can be so easy to think that “more numbers = better” and I know God doesn’t work that way at all.  So I seek to leave all of that in God’s hands and let Him do His thing.
But –

This milestone is one I want to share with the sole purpose of giving praise and honor to God!  It is definitely a GOD thing, not an April thing.

I am extremely thankful that God is willing to use me in some way to reach others and I pray that every word might honor Jesus.  My own wisdom is worthless, only His wisdom is worth our time and energy.
Please pray that God might empower me and Greg to be faithful to Him and to each other, to withstand the attacks of the enemy and to accomplish each task He desires us to do.  It is my prayer that my life might bring God the greatest possible glory – no matter the personal cost to me.
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She started this journey 12 months ago – but only REALLY “got it,” in many ways, this past August.  I think what she has to share is very fitting as part of today’s celebration!  This wife is one of hundreds that I know of whose life God has radically changed.  I am so blessed to get to have a virtual front row seat to see His beautiful work in her life and marriage. 🙂

Misconceptions I would share with a new wife starting on this journey.

1.  I was afraid I would have to ‘dumb down’ acting as if I were a woman without a thought in her head.  This was not going to work for me.  I know I am smart and have ideas I can contribute.
TRUTH—–I can share my thoughts and ideas with my husband and he will most likely appreciate them.  I just need to share them as potential ideas and let him make the decision on what to do with them from there.
2.  I feared my husband would never show me he loved me again, without me pushing him to do it and letting him know what I needed.
TRUTH—-once I let go of him and decided to freely accept whatever he offered or didn’t offer, he became much more tender and affectionate with me.
3.  I feared that if I let my husband have a larger part in the finances, I would have less money for things I would like to have.
TRUTH— While there have been times my husband has asked me to spend carefully or not at all, he is actually much more laid back in what I buy.
4.  I believed I had to be a ‘plastic’ woman with no feelings at all to do this.  That I would have to always, as you said, sit and smile no matter what.
TRUTH- I am more in touch with my emotions than ever.
5.  I feared many things would fall apart without me keeping them together.
TRUTH- My husband actually has more initiative than I dreamed and has really been stepping up to the plate, especially with home maintenance.
6.  I feared that I would never get what I wanted again, whether it was a choice of restaurants or something much bigger.
TRUTH- My husband is actually much more willing to give me what I want.
7.  I feared there would never be any emotional closeness between us.
TRUTH- I can share all of my feelings with him, as long as I do it in the right way. He is actually more in tune with me now and my needs.  Sometimes he takes control when he sees I need rest and I love that.  He will freely tell me my hormones are talking in a loving way instead of an argument resulting from me being hormonal.
8.  I feared he would make huge mistakes with our finances and we would face total financial ruin.
TRUTH- He has actually proved to be very capable and made very logical choices with our finances.  Many times, he chooses differently than I would have but I can almost always see his way is better.
9.  I feared our marriage would die if I didn’t hold the reins.
TRUTH- It is growing and flourishing daily.
10.  I feared he would become harsh with our children.
TRUTH- He has become an even more loving and compassionate father.
11.  I feared he would become stingy.
TRUTH- He has never been more generous.
He is more comfortable leading me and I am very comfortable following.  Do I always get my way?  No, but I often do.  I have learned to lean on him and take direction well.  Each time I do, I am blessed by another layer of peace in our home and between us.
I NEED my husband to handle certain situations and to advise me at times.  I feel weightless as opposed to before I began this journey because he is carrying more and more weight and I am carrying less and less.  I am really free to just concentrate on myself, my part time job, my children and my interests.

When He Suddenly Walks Out or Hangs Up

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Ladies,

Many of us have experienced something like this with our men – “Things seemed to be going great!  My husband was talking, calling or texting with me when, seemingly out of nowhere, he storms out of the room or hangs up on me.”

WHAT ON EARTH JUST HAPPENED?

WHAT WE USUALLY DO

Most wives panic and begin trying to re-establish communication immediately.  They follow their husband out the door, demanding that he stop and finish the conversation.  Or they call or text frequently, ask lots of questions, beg to try to resolve the problem.

Women use words to fix relationship problems.  The more words, the better, right!?!   We don’t realize that words don’t do much for men.  Actually – sometimes more words can make things a lot worse for men.  Sadly, our intuition tells us to TALK to him right away to try to explain and fix things – and that is the opposite of what a man usually needs in a situation like this.  That is what a wife often needs, but husbands are VERY DIFFERENT FROM US!

When a husband suddenly shuts down, leaves, hangs up – or explodes with anger out of “nowhere,” there is a REALLY good chance that he is feeling disrespected.  Of course, there are other possibilities, but this is one that is worth thinking about first.

WOMEN DON’T ALWAYS NOTICE OUR INADVERTANT DISRESPECT – BUT IT REPELS MEN

It could be something very seemingly “minor,” from a woman’s perspective:

  • You used an “angry mother” tone of voice
  • You tried to have “the talk” with him about where the marriage “is going.”
  • You tried to make him to talk about emotions.  If he is not ready, this will almost always push him away.
  • You told him what to do – implying to him that he was inept, incapable, and unable to figure things out for himself.  Men REALLY value figuring things out on their own.  Men don’t offer unsolicited advice to other men.  That is disrespectful in a man’s world.
  • You tried to FORCE your own plans or your way on him.  Men will resist when they feel controlled.
  • You insulted him in front of other people.  THIS REALLY, REALLY hurts men.  Please DO NOT EVER criticize your husband or “tease” him by bringing up his weaknesses in front of others!!  There is almost nothing that would hurt a husband more than being publicly humiliated by his wife.  Be extremely careful only to share positive things about him with your family, friends, coworkers, children and on FB.
  • You were critical about his dreams, his goals, his career, his sexual abilities, his parenting abilities or something deep-seated in his manhood.
  • You took over and tried to lead in the relationship.  God purposely made husbands the spiritual authority in marriage.  When we try to usurp control, we usually create a lot of very difficult problems. (Biblical Submission)
  • You expected him to think, act and have needs like a woman and didn’t understand his masculine needs.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

If your husband just quit speaking with you or left the room, or the house – the best thing to do is going to be exactly the thing you don’t want to do –

Let him have some time

Just wait.

DO NOT FOLLOW, CALL OR TEXT HIM!

Do not pursue him.

If you initiate contact right now, it will feel even more intrusive, smothering and disrespectful to him.  Most likely, if you give him some time, he will probably approach you again when he is ready.

  • He may need time to process something in his mind, and if you call a lot and pressure him, it is going to make things much worse.

If you realize what you did specifically that was disrespectful, it may be a good idea to pray about if you should BRIEFLY apologize to him about your disrespect.  When I say briefly, I mean VERY BRIEFLY.  Men are usually not affected by words like women are!  He does NOT want a big, emotional, detailed explanation.  That will push him further away.  Sometimes it’s best to wait till he contacts you.  Sometimes you may need to email an apology.  That will have to be a Holy Spirit-led thing.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Most likely, his blood pressure was going up and he was afraid he was about to lose control of his words or his temper.  He is probably trying to protect you from his own anger by doing the honorable thing and walking out instead of staying to fight.  Many men feel that if they don’t leave when they are getting extremely angry, they may say or do things they will regret.  They ay need time to cool off before they do something terrible.

If you follow him or try to contact him and make him talk – that is inviting a conflict or confrontation, maybe even a physical fight.

Please, DO NOT DO THAT!!!!!!  This is why I am saying that he needs some time and space.

AN APOLOGY

You could say or email something like, “I see that I came across very disrespectfully to you just now.  I am SO sorry.  I was wrong to do that to you.”   If you don’t believe you have done anything disrespectful – then it may be something that is going on with him that doesn’t have anything to do with you – or it may be some type of disrespect that you are unaware of.

And then, do not contact him again.

LET HIM CONTACT YOU!!!!!!!! If you try to make him come back to you, you’ll push him away!  But if you let him think about your apology, and how wonderful you are – if you can be patient enough to give him the gift of missing you – he will probably eventually come back to you!  When HE is ready.

IN THE MEANTIME

  • Pray and spend time with God first.
  • Get things done that you need to do.
  • Spend time with a godly mentoring wife or godly friends who are willing to point you to Christ and His Word.
  • Enjoy your children.
  • Pray for your husband to find God’s will and to draw near to God.
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude and joy – thanking God for every blessing He has given to you.

This is a situation where we trust in God’s sovereignty to work out things for our best interests and we don’t try to be the Holy Spirit or try to be sovereign ourselves.  That would only make things worse and make it harder for our men to hear God’s voice!  

This is a time that you learn to wait on God and see how He works things out.  Waiting on God is a REALLY critical skill.  It’s VERY DIFFICULT TO DO at first, but it is worth it!

WHEN HE CONTACTS YOU AGAIN – My Suggestions:

  • Be friendly, pleasant and polite.  Apologize humbly if you did something offensive to him – without justifying what you did or explaining why you did it.
  • Do not demand a big explanation of where he went and why right now.
  • Listen attentively to what he wants to say.  If he is upset about something you did, listen and don’t defend yourself.  Apologize if you were wrong.
  • If he does not bring up his issue, eventually it may be wise to say, “Did I do something that felt disrespectful to you, Honey?”  and then listen carefully.

He will probably eventually bring up what the problem was.  Or it could be that he was feeling disrespected but can’t verbalize his feelings.

**** If there is MAJOR sin or extremely serious problems in your marriage, you may need some godly counsel from a mentor/Christian counselor/older Christian woman/godly pastor.  Please seek help if there is physical violence, an uncontrolled mental health issue, a major addiction, infidelity, etc…  Those things require much more specialized help than I can possibly address in a general post on marriage.  Please find godly help ASAP!

RELATED:

Why Pressuring Your Man to Talk RIGHT NOW about His Feelings Probably Won’t Work

Understanding a Passive Husband’s Mindset – an Interview with My Husband

Men and Emotions

How Men Think

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

Figuring Out What is Disrespectful to Your Man

Respecting Our Husbands As Fathers

Why Men Sometimes Need Space  a 6 minute Youtube video (my channel is “April Cassidy”)

He Won’t Talk to Me

Trying to Find Security in All the Wrong Places

Tone of Voice

Real Security is Only Found Here

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

Navigating Social Media in Ways that Honor Christ and Our Husbands

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***  It seems I had a technical glitch yesterday 🙁    If you are interested in reading, here’s the link to “The Wonder of New Life

Ladies,

I would like to encourage you to keep private relationship stuff private and off of your public Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, etc…

I personally believe it is wise to post things on social media like:

  • interesting, fun things you are doing
  • sweet pictures
  • positive comments
  • encouragement
  • funny little insights you may have that would bless other people
  • kind observations
  • respectful things about others
  • good things about your husband and family and friends

There are some things that I believe are NOT wise for us as women who are disciples of Christ to post on social media like:

  • PDA – unless maybe just a sweet pic of you and your husband kissing
  • rants about how angry you are at your man or anyone
  • crass/foul language
  • insults
  • jokes with sexual innuendo or explicit content
  • the details of a fight you have had with someone
  • a list of your man’s or your ex’s faults and sins (or anyone else’s)
  • personal/private conversations
  • complaints
  • arguments
  • pictures of you doing something that could be misconstrued or that may have the appearance of evil

There are SO MANY REASONS why it is wise not to post these kinds of things – employers may choose not to hire you based on what they see.  NOTHING you post on FB or any of the social media sites or even things you text on your phone are ever deleted from the server.  There are people who could dig these things up and use them against you in the future.

You cannot take back destroying someone’s reputation on FB.  The damage that we can cause to others on social media is astronomical.  I don’t believe it is ever appropriate to “air our dirty laundry” in public.  That is EXTREMELY disrespectful to anyone, and it does not honor God.

Our husbands need to be able to count on us not to bash them in front of others – but for us to be loyal to them, not sharing negative things about them – but speaking of them respectfully in public.

Go to a godly mentor if you are having a lot of trouble in your relationship – an older, spiritually mature woman who lives out God’s Word and is a prayer warrior or a godly Christian counselor. But other people do not need to know about the arguments, fights and issues you are having with your friends, family or husband.

I believe that God’s Word gives us a beautiful standard of how to use our words that we can apply to EVERY area of our lives –  even  social media!

TIME FOR A HEART CHECK:

Am I using God’s standard in how I speak to others in person and on social media???  Ask God to help you see areas that He wants to change…

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealedfor the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.1But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.   – Ephesians 4:29-5:20

 RELATED:

Your Words Can Cause Catastrophic Damage

Respecting  Your Man Around Extended Family

Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic

A Challenge for You – to do everything without complaining or arguing

Handling Adversity with Joy and without Complaining

Walking in Faith Instead of Control – an Update

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From the wife who gave up on her dream for her marriage  and who decided to stop pursuing her husband (in the wrong ways) – an update!
———————————-
HASHING THROUGH GIVING UP CONTROLLING MY HUSBAND
I was thinking this morning that it is hard for me to believe that if I am trying to honor God, put Him first in my heart and allow HIM to work on my husband in His time, that He will not honor my efforts.
Those fears are REAL.  But in the end, they aren’t NEW fears.  They are fears I have already had but tried to handle by controlling my husband and the circumstances we found ourselves in.  It is mind blowing that I actually thought I *had* control.
I didn’t have control.
What I had, at BEST, was manipulation and tools of guilt, bitterness and some truly real emotions I tried to share.  But I NEVER did have control.  That was an illusion I was fooled by.

It is a matter of weighing those fears with the peace of releasing my husband and having an open heart to accepting whatever God’s will is vs. keeping those fears and trying desperately but ineffectively to prevent them.  Not too much of a question, is it?

That does not mean it is easy to accept them or the possibility that the worst possible scenarios may occur.  But trying to control was not protection against any of those anyway.  Trying to control my husband and how he loved me- along with many, MANY other things in our lives was painful!  It was exhausting!  I remember having the thought, “I am so tired of fighting to get him to love me.  How much longer can I do this?  When is he going to do it on his own?”  and having that thought often, sometimes daily for probably the last year- two years leading up to last week.  But, although hurtful, that time was helpful to get me to the point of releasing my husband and releasing expectations.
BEING AFFECTIONATE  AND NOT MAKING MY HUSBAND AN IDOL OR SMOTHERING HIM
Change of topic here.  Small question…. I am still trying to sort all of the correct actions out in my mind…. it is fine to be affectionate with dh on my own, yes?  I am thinking it must be because you have mentioned that you are with Greg when you wish to be… and it is fine to tell him I love him spontaneously, right?
My understanding/ general gut-feeling is yes, it is absolutely fine to share my love for him as long as I am not trying to manipulate him to giving me a certain response and as long as I don’t go into excessive overdrive where I am smothering him and taking the lead for our relationship away from him (again).  I WANT to be able to express my feelings for him.  Am I off base or that is the direction I should be heading in?
A NEW APPROACH AND NEW RESPONSES
A couple updates from last night (cause I know you are just on the edge of your seat- LOL!)
-I was stressed last night. PMS, kids pushing it, money issues and then a small issue with my job just finished it off.  I tried to talk to dh about the issue with my job and at first he didn’t want to listen.  I was hateful to him.
Then I approached it differently and asked him sweetly if he had time to talk to me for a minute- each time my boss emailed me- and I asked him for advice and to help me figure out how to handle the situation.  He patiently helped me figure out the right responses to get my point across respectfully to my boss.  Later, I told him thank you for helping me and I told him I was sorry I was hateful to him.  I almost added a ‘but’ but remembered in time.*;) winking

He was very forgiving.  I could tell the apology went over much better without the explanation of why.

– Last night, we were in bed and he was reaching around in between us.  I asked him what he was looking for, thinking it was the remote.  He said, “Your hand.”
THIS IS NEW.  This is a BIG deal.  Did not happen up until the last week.  I gave him my hand and told him I loved it when he held my hand and that it made me happy.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
I believe it is great to be affectionate with our husbands – IF we are just being affectionate to bless them NOT to try to get them to do what we want them to do and IF they are receptive.

Why Your Husband May Not Immediately Do What You Want Him to Do

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Are we trying to control our husbands?

I had another impromptu interview with my husband.  I’m so thankful he is usually game for answering my questions!  He is able to express a masculine point of view very clearly now – I learn so much from him every time we talk!  My husband may not be speaking for all men as he answers these questions.  I hope other husbands might be willing to share their perspectives, as well.  But I think it is possible that other husbands may look at things the way my husband does – and this may be something to prayerfully consider for us as wives.  (If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – your husband has uncontrolled mental health problems, major addictions,  major unrepentant sin, physical abuse, infidelity, etc… this post may not apply to your husband.  Please seek godly, wise counsel ASAP!):

I was talking with my husband about a situation that – I would guess – probably happens in almost every marriage at some point, maybe MANY points:

The wife feels disconnected emotionally.  She feels like she is not a priority.  She feels like work, the TV, hobbies, the kids or friends are bigger priorities for her husband than she is.  She is feeling unloved.  So she begins to say things like:

  • Why don’t you ever sit with me?
  • I want us to sit together/cuddle.  We never spend time together.
  • I’m not a priority to you.
  • If you really loved me, you would make time for me and you would want to sit with me on the couch (or cuddle with me in bed) instead of sitting by yourself at the computer/in the recliner.
  • I want to be with you, but you never want to be with me.  You wouldn’t care if we never spent time together.
  • You need to sit with me right now!
  • Oh, no!  Where do you think YOU’RE going?????  You can’t go out with your friends.  You’re spending time with ME!
  • Why can’t you turn off the TV and talk to me????!?!!
  • Why did you even marry me if you never want to be with me?
  • You obviously love the TV more than you love me.
  • I have felt disconnected from you for weeks!  All you want me for is sex.  I feel like such a piece of meat to you.
  • You care more about football/hunting/sports than you do about me.  You need to spend some time with me right now!
  • I feel like we are just roommates.  You don’t love me at all.  Why don’t you ever just cuddle with me and talk with me?

The wife just thinks she is “sharing her heart” and saying what she needs.

She thinks she is being totally reasonable  – because any woman would feel the same way she does in her situation.  She fully expects him to drop whatever he is doing RIGHT THEN and come lavish attention and affection on her.  In all likelihood, she probably believes that her husband has the same emotional need to verbally connect that she does.  If we assume our husbands think just like we do – we can get ourselves into HUGE trouble because it is VERY EASY to assume that our husbands have evil motives toward us based on their behavior and our assumptions that our husbands’ motives must be the same as our motives would be if we were behaving the way they are behaving.  I hope you were able to follow me on that last sentence!

ASSUMING THE WORST OR THE BEST?

Unfortunately, our assuming the worst about our husbands does not promote a healthy marriage.  It brings out the worst in our husbands  – and in ourselves – when we make these kinds of assumptions.  

We end up sabotaging ourselves and preventing ourselves from getting the very emotional intimacy we really long for!

If we can take the time to realize that our husbands and men in general often have VERY different ways of thinking, feeling and processing life than we do – that their masculine perspectives are totally different from our feminine perspectives – we can offer grace, understanding and empathy assuming the BEST about our men instead of the worst.  This is the kind of environment healthy marriages need in order to flourish.

Another issue is that in each of the examples above – the wife was approaching her husband disrespectfully.  She was either giving him a directive (telling/ordering him what to do), making a demand or unfairly assuming that her husband is being unloving.  This is NOT the way to motivate a husband to do what we want!  

Men don’t like to be controlled.  Honestly, who does?? Husbands respond to RESPECT – sincere, genuine respect that is completely free of manipulation.

I would suggest something like:

  • “Honey, I’m feeling lonely today.  Would you please hold me sometime when you have a few minutes?  Thanks!”
  • “Honey, I really miss you.”
  • “I can’t wait to get to be in your arms soon.”
  • “I’m really looking forward to have a chance to just talk and relax together soon.”

I would say this with a smile and a pleasant tone of voice.  And then – be gracious no matter how he responds.  This is a respectful way to share our feelings and needs WITHOUT pressuring our husbands, making them the bad guy or making demands.  If he feels pressured, he will not feel like he has the freedom to delight you.  He may feel like he has to wait a day or several days to be able to really give you what you say you desire.

HERE ARE SOME OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS  (I hope some other husbands will also share their thoughts on this important issue, too!)

“If a wife demands attention/affection/discussion immediately, a husband is in a terrible predicament.

  • If he immediately does what she says she wants, he and she both know that his actions are not genuine.  He feels he has no choice but NOT to do what she demanded right then.
  • If he does not do what she says she wants, she will think he is a total jerk and that he is being extremely unloving.  He knows this.  He doesn’t like it. But he MUST know that he is acting because he wants to, not because she is ordering him to do something.

He has to wait a certain amount of time so that he can act in his time, not her time.

It may be that later that week, if his wife asked respectfully and doesn’t blast him with criticism/contempt/disrespect – he will try to make some extra special time to hold and cuddle her and show her affection.  But it will only be when it is HIS idea and he knows that she knows that it is not because she is forcing or coercing him – but that he wants to give her his attention on his own.”

A FEW OF MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHTS ABOUT “EMOTIONAL CONNECTION”

Greg says that – from his perspective – when I feel emotionally disconnected from him, it is MY emotional disconnection, not his.  He says that a husband “is  feeling very connected to his wife until she says she feels disconnected, then he feels like she is saying he has failed her.”

Most men are not motivated by feeling like failures.

I know that wives don’t intend to communicate, “I feel disconnected from you, so you are a failure in my eyes.”  But, maybe that could be what our husbands HEAR?  I don’t know if this is how every husband feels.  Maybe some husbands feel this way?

Greg says, “When a wife wants emotional connection, if he thought things were fine, it is a slap in the face to him.  If he was gone on a trip or very busy with baseball or kids or work, then he can understand her feeling disconnected.  If he is unaware of her disconnection, it is like wife has a hole in her bucket, he can’t fill it fast enough.  He feels he can never do enough to satisfy her.”

“Wives need emotional connection, husbands don’t need nearly what a wife would need.  Most men have very few emotional connections outside of their wives.”

“If the family has a very hectic schedule, a husband would be fine without talking all week, and would understand that this is what we have to do to get this done.  It’s not that I don’t love her or am not connected.  My love doesn’t change because of that.”

I asked Greg, “What makes a husband feel connected or not?”

He said, “Disrespect can make a husband feel disconnected and for some men, not having sex with their wives in a certain time frame can make them feel disconnected.  But

usually, a guy is going to be connected, and will not lose his connection unless his wife disconnects from him.”

MY THOUGHTS AFTER OUR DISCUSSION:

My feeling is that as a wife, many times our “neutral status” is feeling disconnected.   We feel we have to do something actively to feel connected (talking, cuddling, affection, time together, praying together).

Greg said he believes that “A husband’s ‘neutral status’ is  feeling connected and they have to do something  actively to feel disconnected.”

WHAT AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT!

When I learned that my husband thinks of his love for me as unchanging and constant, regardless of what he says to me or our time to talk in a given week, that was a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders.  Now, I am able to rest in his love and know that he feels connected to me, even if we don’t get to have the time together I would really like.   That helps me feel very connected to him – even when we can’t talk as much as I would like. Of course, I am also resting in my Jesus’ love that is unending and never failing, knowing that nothing can separate me from His love.

“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn talks about this – that most Christian husbands see their love as unchanging and solid.  Many of them have no idea why their wives constantly want reassurance of something that, to them, is steady and constant.  One man said (this is my paraphrase), “my wife needing constant reassurance of my love seems as unnecessary as if she were to ask every day ‘Do we still own the house?’  Of course we still own the house!  We bought it!  And, of course I still love you, I married you!”

Men do not always express love verbally.  For a lot of men – words aren’t worth much.   But that DOES NOT mean they don’t love their wives.  They tend to show their love in action.  They often show love by going to work everyday and providing for their families. They show love by running to the pharmacy in the middle of the night when the baby wakes up sick, or by putting gas in their wife’s car, or by lifting burdens from her when she is overwhelmed.  They show love by remodeling the house, taking the family to church, taking out the trash – by the things they DO.  And when they do these things, they do them out of love, not because someone tried to force them to do them.

A NEW APPROACH

I think if we approach our husbands as if they live in this mysterious (new to us) world of masculinity that we know nothing about and that we would like to explore his world with him – and ask questions with eyes of wonder and amazement and friendly, genuine curiosity – continuing to see the best in him – our husbands will be able to eventually open up to us more and more.

I would like to see us as wives assume that if we don’t understand why our husbands are doing something, that they have good motives towards us.  Unless they have definitely proven to be evil and untrustworthy, let’s assume the best about them, instead of the worst.  Let’s assume they love us (if you have SEVERE issues in your marriage, this may not be true – but most husbands do love their wives – especially if they are still with them.)  And let’s assume that they don’t have evil motives towards us.  Let’s assume maybe we don’t understand how they think and maybe their priorities are different from ours.  But let’s not assume they are ill-willed towards us and that they are our enemies.

RELATED:

The TV Issue 

How Men Think

How Men Think – Part 2

How Men Think – Part 3

How Do Men Process Emotions?

A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

More Men’s Emotions

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

An Interview with My Husband  (Understanding a passive husband’s mindset)

A Young Wife Discovers God’s Design for Her Marriage

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April,

thank you so much for this blog! I stumbled upon it just last week and have been reading your posts ever since.

I have been married almost for a year now and dealing with all the issues you talk about myself. For some time I have regretted the fact I do not have any experienced Christian wives to turn to who could teach me to be a good wife to my husband as the Bible encourages us to do.

Reading your testimony I was amazed to discover how much I am like you. I have an identical twin sister myself, I have always been a straight-A-student, top of my class in the university, always self-sufficient and reliable, becoming a teacher and attending church since I was ten.

Naturally, all the traits of my personality and habits from maiden life came with me to my marriage. I did not intend to disrespect or overrule my husband but I did it anyway for I never knew a better way. I have always made more money than him, and being very responsible with those matters (as he generously admits) I felt obligated to keep my eye on (read: have control over) our finances. I tended to remind him things when I thought he was about to forget something important. I never told him to spend time with me or skip his activities but often cried and pouted when he went out anyway knowing I did not want him to go. And so on. Needless to say what a burden it was on my shoulders.

I never understood his angry reactions to some of my comments or questions that seemed absolutely innocent to me. And it seemed to me he never understood my desire to be number one in his life after God. He always told me that I was but it was difficult for me to believe it for his actions spoke differently to me. Falling pregnant with our son right after we got married did not help things along, so our first year has been quite rocky.

I had been reading a lot about marriage and shared my thoughts with my husband, too. Fortunately he is eager to make a change for the better. But I had done it with wrong purpose and attitude – I always thought he was wrong and I wanted to change him. You can guess if it was successful or not.

Only when I started to read your blog did I see how mistaken I have been trying to lead him instead of him leading me. Though he might not be as educated as me and only a young Christian, he is entitled to do that for God has made it that way. I am the luckiest girl on earth to have a husband who loves God more than he loves me.

Now that I am beginning to understand what it means to respect my husband and to be a submissive and godly wife and started to act accordingly, I have seen such a difference in our lives. The biggest change has taken place in my own heart as I trust my husband and also God so much more. I also shared my thoughts with my husband and apologized to him for disrespecting him for so long. Surprisingly I have seen changes in his behavior, too. He has been more caring of my feelings and thoughts recently and really making an effort to love and please me. What a joy for both of us!

So thank you again so much for this honest blog of yours! It has been such a blessing for me already, though I have only read a few of the entries. I am glad I have finally found a godly wife to learn from even if she is on the other side of the world.

May God bless you and your family abundantly!

 

“Why Won’t He Protect Me from His/My Family?”

sad girl 1My hope is to point women to Christ and His Word. I don’t write for men because Scripture admonishes women not to teach or have authority over men. This does not mean that the Bible doesn’t apply to men or that they are off the hook with God. Husbands are more accountable to God for their love and godly leadership than wives are for their roles in marriage. 

I write especially for wives who tend to be dominating and controlling with passive husbands. If you have a very dominating husband – this blog may not be a good fit for you. If your husband is abusive –  please don’t read my blog in that case, but seek godly, experienced, wise counsel ASAP or check out www.leslievernick.com (specifically for emotional abuse)! Sometimes women with abusive husbands tend to think they hear me say things I don’t say. Please be safe! Don’t stay and take abuse – get out and get help if you are truly in trouble!

And if your family or your husband’s family is seriously hurting you or extremely toxic and your husband is not acting, please get somewhere safe. Don’t stay if you are in danger. There are times you may have to take action even if your husband is not on board – but my prayer is that you would seek God’s wisdom and do what He clearly prompts you to do.

——————–

This is a question I hear a lot. MANY wives are upset because they feel their in-laws (or sometimes their own parents or family members) disrespect them or try to control them and their husband does nothing to come to his wife’s defense. I talked with Greg about this issue.  Here are some of his thoughts:

A husband who feels respected probably will try to protect his wife – but she has to be willing to stay under his covering and protection. If she lashes out at his family members, insults them or disrespects them and creates a lot of hurt feelings, she will be on her own.  Her husband can’t protect or defend her if she creates a lot of problems for herself.  At that point, a husband will allow her to lie in the bed she made for herself.

Most men HATE drama. They don’t want to be put in a tug of war between their mom and their wife.  Yes, he should always choose his wife over his mom.  But he doesn’t want to hurt his mom.  He would rather not be forced into a position where he has to hurt the feelings of a woman he loves. But if his wife is honoring his leadership, genuinely respecting him on a regular basis and he knows she trusts him and admires him – he probably will be willing to stand up for his wife against someone else if he sees someone insult his wife – particularly if she didn’t do anything to instigate the attack.

WHY ARE THESE RELATIONSHIPS SO DIFFICULT?

In-law relationships can be very tricky.  We don’t have the long history of unconditional love with in-laws that we do with our own parents and siblings.  Each family’s culture is unique and it is easy for people from different families to have widely differing expectations about lots of topics.  Plus, attempting to navigate the new boundaries of a new marriage can be difficult for families who are used to being very involved in their children’s decisions.

Also, it is difficult for some parents to let go of control of their son (or daughter).  They love him.  They want the best for him.  But it is difficult for them to release their son to be his own man when he becomes an adult.  Some parents want to continue being the authorities in their children’s lives and don’t embrace God’s design for the authority structure of the new marriage.  If they think the have the right to be in charge and that they are still God-given authorities over their child, they can be quite controlling – and this is VERY destructive to the new marriage.

  • The new wife NEEDS to know that it is her husband who is in authority and in charge now, not his parents or her parents.
  • The husband NEEDS to know that his wife will follow his leadership, not her parents’ or his parents’.

CREATING NEW BOUNDARIES THAT PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE

It is critical for the husband, in my view, to set healthy boundaries with his family or with his wife’s family, if they are attempting to exert improper authority over the marriage – because he is the authority in the marriage.  Sometimes, it may be appropriate for the wife to do the boundary setting with her own parents.  Please pray for God’s wisdom on this! (some suggestions):

  • I love you Mom and Dad (and siblings)
  • God has placed my husband in charge of me now in my new marriage.
  • I want to honor you and respect you.  I’m so thankful for all you have done to raise me right.
  • Now it is time for my husband to be responsible for the decisions in our new family.
  • I welcome your ideas and suggestions when I/we ask for them.
  • Please pray for God to give my husband wisdom to lead me and our family well for His glory.

WHAT CAN A WIFE DO?

(My suggestions, for whatever they are worth.  The most important thing is for us to listen to God’s Spirit and obey His Word.) As a wife, you can’t force your husband to set healthy boundaries with his family or your family.  But, you can support, honor and respect his leadership.  You can close ranks with your husband and not allow family members or friends to divide you and destroy your unity. (Only say these kinds of things if you can say them sincerely and genuinely!)

  • Look to your husband when family members want to make you make a big decision and allow him to answer if he is there.   If he is not there, you could say, “I need to talk to my husband about that.  I’ll let you know what we decide.”  or “I’ll check with my husband.”
  • “You can talk with (my husband) about it if you aren’t comfortable with his decision.”
  • “My husband asked me to do X.  I’m going to honor him and do what he asked me to.”
  • “That is a decision my husband and I will be making together.  I’ll be sure to let him know about your concerns.”
  • Don’t speak negatively about  your husband to others!!!  This is REALLY important!  This protects your marriage and enables your husband to trust you and to know that you are loyal to him.
  • Talk about your husband’s strengths and the good things you admire about him to family and friends.
  • “This is the decision my husband made (or my husband and I have made), and I support him.”
  • “I know you are concerned about what we are planning to do.  Thank you for sharing.  We appreciate that you love us very much.  We will be sure to take these issues into consideration when we talk about our plans.”
  • “I trust my husband.”
  • “I have every confidence in my husband.”
  • “Yes this is a big decision.  We will be sure to be careful and thorough as we decide what to do.”
  • “Thanks for telling me your concerns.  We know you love us very much.”
  • “That is an issue I am not at liberty to discuss right now.  Thanks for understanding.”

Also – it may be best NOT to talk to extended family members about every little decision – or the big ones.  It may be best only to talk with your husband about them, and pray about them and possibly speak to a godly mentoring wife who is living out respect and biblical submission in her own marriage (if your husband is ok with that).  Then, when you have made your decision together, you may be able to talk about it with other family members – follow your husband’s lead on that.

Once you are married, you answer to God and to your husband.  You don’t answer to extended family and friends and coworkers.  It can be very wise, in my view, to not share all the personal business that goes on between you and your husband but to keep most of that private.  If you are in serious danger – you may need to reach out for help – or if there are some HUGE issues like drug addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, physical abuse, uncontrolled mental disorders – but understand that family and friends may not be as willing to forgive as you are when the crisis is over. Please pray that God might show you the healthy boundaries you need to have with your families  and for your marriage to be strong and vibrant.

HOW TO TREAT HIS FAMILY (some of my suggestions, but be sure you do what God calls you to do)

  • ALWAYS be respectful
  • don’t criticize them to their faces or to him – he hears criticism of his family as criticism of himself
  • don’t raise your voice
  • use a pleasant, friendly tone of voice
  • Don’t tear them down to other people
  • don’t try to change them
  • Accept them the way they are and that they are different from your family.  That is ok!
  • Be sure they feel included with seeing your children if at all possible
  • Allow your husband to be the one to deliver difficult news to them if possible
  • Respect the way your husband decides to relate to his family – Don’t try to make him do things your way.  Trust him to handle his family members and let him be the one to speak to them if there is conflict going on or if you are trying to avoid conflict.  His family can hear from him much more easily than they can hear from you.

NOTE:

I don’t ever intend women to hear “stay and be abused.” Or “if your husband won’t stand up for you, you have no choice, just take it.” My first prayer is that wives might be able to work on their end of things if that is needed (as per Matthew 7:1-5) and then she will see clearly enough to address sin issues with her husband. Sometimes just a wife working on her own issues may bring healing to the husband and marriage and inspire a husband to take the lead as he should if he is not leading properly – not always, but sometimes, depending on the situation. If he continues not to lead or a wife or children are seriously in danger – a wife may have to refuse to see her in-laws and keep herself and her children safe. If a husband won’t protect a wife who is walking in obedience to God’s Word, that is a big problem and it is not okay. She may need godly, wise counsel from a trusted counselor one-on-one. She may need to involve the police if she and her children are extremely unsafe. The goal, in my mind, is for each of us to listen to God’s Word and His Spirit and to seek to do exactly what He prompts us to do with right motives in our own hearts – so that ultimately He will be glorified.

RESOURCE for those with very difficult husbands, Nina Roesner’s “Strength and Dignity” eCourse

RELATED:

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sins

A Husband and Wife Handle a Controlling Mother as  a Team

Do Not Expect Outside Support

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

Control and Boundaries

Playing the Martyr Repels Those We Love

Using Guilt to Manipulate/Motivate is Destructive

The Snare of People Pleasing

Handling External Pressure on This Journey

Healthy VS. Unhealthy Relationships

You can also check out my Youtube channel  – “April Cassidy” –  I have a lot of videos about these topics and more!