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How Husbands Die to Self

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FROM A WIFE:

I would be interested in learning more about what men go through when they are in that process of dying to self, and what it means for them.

From JAY DEE, a Christian husband and marriage blogger:

Alright, what do men go through:

1) We don’t get to make the decisions we want to make, we get to make the decisions that are correct. I control the finances, but that doesn’t mean I go out and buy every new gadget I want. It means I need to make sure there is enough food, enough money for clothes, enough for the mortgage, kids education, activities, babysitters, utilities, tithing, offering, medications, gas, car repairs, and on and on and on. About 50 line items in our household budget. More often than not, I spend less on myself so that we have more for other things that are more important.

2) We are ultimately responsible. For every decision we make, we have the responsibility to live with it for the rest of our lives. If our children leave the faith, it is our responsibility, because are the spiritual heads of the family. If they don’t get into school, it’s our responsibility, because we didn’t educate them well, or teach them about work ethics.

3) We have to be strong. Even when we don’t feel like it. Because we are the protectors, the one that holds up the family. When we’re scared, afraid, don’t know what to do, guess what? We don’t get to be. We give ourselves a shake, dust ourselves off and get to work, because that’s our job.

Our family used to be run by my wife, it’s now run by me. She has often said, she never wants the job back, it’s too much stress.

And it is a lot of stress, it’s the weight of, in my case 5 dependents, looking to me for guidance, for protection, for education, for spiritual leading. On top of that, I need to make sure I am growing fast enough to be ahead of them so that I can lead, because you can’t lead where you haven’t been.

So, does a part of the wife die when she sets aside her needs and submits? Yes, but often the husband will give it back to her, in the form of asking advice, considering her needs, loving her, etc.. When the husband sets aside his needs in regards for his family, there is no one to give them back. We must find contentment in that fact that we have done our job and hope that our family loves and respects us for it, because sometimes, they can get pretty upset that you’ve stood up for a greater good instead of doing what would be more fun and made a decision that is better for the long term goals than the short term comfort or entertainment.

And you know what? I love it. Not because of the power, or the control, or the perks, whatever those are, because they aren’t worth it. I love it, because I was designed to bear this, and I feel I am meeting God’s calling by being the leader. It’s not fun, it’s not a power trip, it’s so much more than that, it’s being in God’s will.

It’s a hard topic. I think the problem is our own pride gets in the way of us understanding the other role.

Wives COULD sit there and think, “He gets to make all the decisions, why does he get he wants all the time, and I always have to sacrifice and do as he says?!”
Husbands COULD sit there and think, “Lucky her, she gets to sit at home and do nothing while I go out every day and work to put food on the table. I’m the one who has to make the hard decisions, I’m the one who has to protect, when do I get a break? She gets to stay home and ‘play house’ all day long with the kids, while I have to carry all the responsibility.”

Or they could both realize they each have separate, IMPORTANT, roles to play and that neither would be as effective without the other.

But, that “dying to self” part is one of the three “impossible” tasks we are given as Christians (along with ‘Be content in all circumstances’, and ‘Let go and let God’). If we follow them, it’s heaven on earth, but it will take us more than a lifetime to master them.

Luckily, it’s not something that needs to be mastered in order to gain the benefit. Each step along way yields benefits to your life.

For those who are interested, I have a couple of posts on the topic that flesh out a few of my ideas on the subject:
http://sexwithinmarriage.com/2013/02/what-does-household-leadership-mean-for-the-husband/
http://sexwithinmarriage.com/2013/07/line-biblical-submission-doormat/

A Husband Talks about Our Body Image and Attraction

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A Christian husband explains about men, attraction and imperfect wives – and answers some tough questions.  GREAT STUFF here, ladies!  Be greatly encouraged!  I can’t say that he speaks for ALL husbands.  But I think he speaks for many of them.

HOW OUR SELF IMAGE AFFECTS OUR HUSBANDS

We (men) are fixers and we hate it when we cannot fix something. When you criticize yourself about your appearance:

  • we feel helpless.
  • it calls into question who we selected as a mate.

After all, we thought you looked pretty darn good when we married you. :o) Think of it like this: does your husband have an old hat, shirt, or pair of jeans that he loves? You can’t understand why he likes them – to you they are old and worn out, good for only rags. But to him, they represent everything that is good about clothes: comfort, familiarity, memories. Sure he sees the tears and the stains, but he doesn’t care. Those things fade in importance to the sentimental value that he has attached to them.

Same with our wives. We see the wrinkles, the extra… umm… padding, but we don’t care. We still see that amazing woman that we fell in love with in the first place and now we have added all the great memories too. You see wrinkles, we see laughter. You see fat, we see all the great meals and conversations we had. So take pride in yourselves, and rest in the comfort that we love you just the way you are.

A WIFE’S QUESTIONS ABOUT TRYING TO STAY ATTRACTIVE FOR OUR HUSBANDS

Christian men don’t help make it better. You read about the importance of taking care of your appearance, but I read almost nothing about the (if any) supernatural attraction that takes place when you’re married. It’s like if you’re a 4 because you’re busy and not taking extra time, you’d better step it up and become a 6 or it’s disrespectful to your husband. What about the person who is a 4 after putting in the effort? The message clearly isn’t “you’re beautiful and accepted the way you are” even among Christians. It’s discouraging because the demise of your beauty is inevitable. And how hard do you work? 1000 squats a week, no food after 3 pm?

At some point I want to relax. I just wish the body of Christ was somewhere a wife could be beautiful just for being her.

THIS HUSBAND ANSWERS HER QUESTIONS

It is true that we guys really pride ourselves on our wives appearance; we are driven primarily by sight after all.

However, it is not the same type of sight that you see. Understand; we know when you are trying to look your best and we love that, regardless of whether or not you think those efforts are a success. We see the women we fell in love with, the one we decided to spend the rest of our lives with; and while it’s great that you want to honor us with trying to make yourself look nicer (not to mention, it’s rather attractive), it’s not the lipstick, the eyeliner or those high heel shoes that we find attractive; it’s you.

I know it sounds corny, but it’s whats inside that counts.

Sure, we LOVE the outside, but we understand that the shell will eventually grow old and grey, and we’re ok with that. We’ll always see that person who took our breath away the first time we saw you, the woman we couldn’t believe would talk to us, the one that surprised us when you said yes. So don’t fret when those lines start to show, the grey hairs suddenly appear, and you just can’t hide those stretch marks anymore;

We don’t judge you like that. What we see is the most beautiful woman we ever laid eyes on, aged to perfection. 


Oh, and to the disrespect: is it disrespectful to not look your best for your husband?

Personally; I think that you are asking the wrong question. I think that the question should be: Is my husband grading my worth based on my appearance? If that is a yes, then he is objectifying you, not loving you.

If you are trying to be your best (and you are the best judge of that) then no, it is not disrespectful. By the way, this goes both ways too. A husband must show respect and honor to his wife, especially in this area. We as husbands know that you are insecure in areas and are constantly trying to cover up, work out, or disguise those areas that you don’t like about yourself. We get it, even if we don’t understand it. It is our job to lift you up and praise you, not in spite of your faults, but with them. You see your “faults” as you see them are the “quirks” that we love about you. We are privileged that you cover them up for the rest of the world for it means that we are the only ones that you feel comfortable with sharing them with; and that is honor and respect on a whole other level. 
Oh, and one more thing: if you get a compliment from you husband on how great you look; take it at face value. When he says “You look great!” know what he means? He means “YOU LOOK HOT!” It’s true, take it from me, I’m a guy. :o)

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

My husband says that if you only used your body to attract your man, you may have to worry about not looking perfect all the time eventually. “Whatever you use to attract him is what you will have to use to keep him.”  But he says he believes if you attracted your husband with your personality, your soul, your heart, etc… that husbands don’t expect perfection and are still attracted even when there are some flaws.  Interestingly, the things I always thought were huge flaws in my figure – my husband sees as beautiful.  I think sometimes we hold ourselves to impossible standards that our husbands may not even care about.

Ladies,

If your husband gives you a compliment – SMILE, say “Thank you SO MUCH” and accept that gift, ladies!

I don’t have the ability to do mass statistically accurate surveys of husbands.  Sometimes I am so jealous of Shaunti Feldhahn! 🙂  But I believe that this Christian husband’s explanation on this topic is probably pretty close to how most husbands feel.

I know my husband feels this same way about me! 🙂

Yes, there are some husbands who push their wives to lose weight and to dress up more often.  But sometimes I think that we believe our husbands want us all to be size 2 and look like swimsuit models.  I don’t think that is usually the case.  I think they want to see a little bit of effort sometimes – ie: that we are not always wearing old sweats and old t-shirts with stains and holes everywhere.  I think it is a gift we can give them to fix our hair and wear something pretty sometimes.  

But I don’t want ANY wife to feel pressure to conform to the world’s impossible standard of external beauty.  I hope that this post might be a huge encouragement to you in your marriage and that you might be able to joyfully accept the body you have – take decent care of it – and allow your husband to enjoy your beautiful body, too.  I don’t know ANY husband who expects his wife to starve herself or become bulemic or anorexic or obsessed with exercising for hours per day.  Those things are SCARY – and there are thousands of husbands who live with wives with eating disorders who would probably do almost anything for their wives to NOT make weight or being fit an idol.

Other husbands are welcome to comment constructively!

RELATED POSTS

Why Satan Rejoices When You Hate Your Body

A Husband Shares His Perspective on the Importance of Respect

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Here is a fresh perspective from a husband about the concepts of respect and disrespect.  I am extremely thankful for his willingness to take the time to lay out his thoughts so carefully.  I believe that his thoughts on these topics represent many other husband’s ideas, too.

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First a little explanation: for me, words have meaning; genuine power.

You choose your words carefully and then wield them in such a way that allows you to get you point across effectively and succinctly; much the way a blacksmith deliberately chooses the right tool to make and then hones the instrument that he is crafting. As a self-professed political wonk, I know that the definition of those words can be as important as the words themselves. Any perusal of the newspapers of today will show you what I mean. After all, how many times have you gotten into a disagreement with someone over a misunderstanding of a phrase or word? Having said that, I will take it that your definition of the word “respect” is the standard accepted definition (think dictionary :-)).
Respect, Trust, Submission.

I think that these three things go hand-in-hand with one another with the most important being respect.

“Why?” you ask:

You cannot trust someone that you do not respect and you will never submit yourself to someone that you don’t respect. It is possible to submit to the position (in this case the role of the husband and all that it entails) and not to the man. You see this all the time in Politics. A person will submit themselves to the office of the president, even if the person holding that office will never earn the individuals respect. This cannot work in a marriage.

You must respect the position (husband) and the man (your mate). Without either one, your husband will know it and take it VERY personally.

(From Peacefulwife – I can attest to this being true!  When I was first learning respect, I tried to just be respectful-  without actually respecting my husband as a man – it did NOT work. My husband definitely knew that I really didn’t respect him and he was deeply wounded.  I had to find REAL things that I actually and sincerely did respect about him – and once I began to find a few, more and more wonderful qualities began to appear in my field of vision.  Those things were there all the time – I had just been choosing not to see them and to focus on a few flaws I thought I saw in him.  My husband needed my genuine respect for the good in him as he was even if he never changed.)

So how can a wife show respect for her husband?

  • For me, no man wants to give his opinion and have it ignored.

Nothing is more insulting than asking for someone’s opinion, and then doing the exact opposite. Granted, you can listen to that opinion, state your disagreements and then listen to rebuttals; but in the end, if you ask for your husbands opinion, be prepared to follow at least part of it. Remember, we are hard-wired to be fixers; if you come to us asked for our opinion to a problem, we make the assumption that you don’t have a complete answer and are asking for one. No man likes to be in a group where their opinion doesn’t matter, and it holds true in marriages as well. If you don’t follow his opinion, or ignore it, you may find you have a husband that will simply parrot back to you your solution since he has come to the understanding that you don’t care about his opinion and he is just looking to get you off his back.

  • In relation to this: (and this is hard) present a united front to your kids and the world (within reason).

In other words, if he gives an opinion and a stand on something, stand with him on it, even if you don’t agree with it. (now I must add this caveat-If he is doing something that goes against God’s Word or will harm the family, I’d make an exception). By presenting a united front, you are respecting him in the rest of the world and to everyone around you. This is especially true in the social media world. We know our way around a computer too, and we can see when our wives undercut us.

(From Peacefulwife – this does not mean you have to agree with him at all.  It does mean that you sometimes “take one for the team” and support his decision, even when you would have done things differently.  This is the time when you tell him privately what you want and how you feel, but if he disagrees, you support his leadership and decision joyfully – trusting God’s sovereignty to work things out for your ultimate good and for His glory.  It is one of the greatest tests of our faith as Christian women, in my view!)

  • Build, Build, Build him up.

Contrary to popular belief, men’s egos are more fragile than Waterford Crystal. We are consistently trying to impress you. Even though we are married, that stage of doing things bigger and grander never really goes away. Sometimes this manifests itself in working too long at work in order to bring home a bigger paycheck, or pouring ourselves into some crazy home improvement project to show you that we really are Bob Villa.

Also, build him up to your friends and family. Do not let insults to him slide or even be laughed at.

If you aren’t willing to respect and defend him in public, he’s going to make the assumption you won’t do it in private.

If he stops trying to impress you, there is usually a good reason why; either you have criticized him for it, or you have ignored it all together. Both of these things can lead him to stop trying and eventually he will seek that praise from another person or peer group, leaving you out in the cold.

  • Respect his physical needs.

Imagine you have this great idea to a problem that you have had all month long and up until now you haven’t found a solution to it. Suddenly, out of the blue, this idea hits you and it is seemingly the perfect solution to this problem. You can’t wait to tell your husband about this truly eureka moment, but he doesn’t get home from work till the end of the day and he can’t be reached by phone. So, you wait…And wait. Finally, he walks in the door; you run over to him and excitedly tell him about this idea that you have and he looks at you, rolls his eyes, and sits down and turns on the t.v.

That gut-wrenching feeling of crushing disappointment that you feel? That’s the same feeling we have when our wives tell us that they simply aren’t in the mood, or they don’t want to be touched right now.

For most guys, physical intimacy is our primary mode of emotional connection, and to turn that away, turns us away. It is not simply a physical rejection; it is personal.

So respect his physical needs, and if you simply don’t (or can’t) show him that you love him but you simply can’t do anything right now. Think of it like this:if you really wanted to talk to your husband about something and he were to explain to you in the most perfect way possible that he loves you but he simply cannot talk right now, what words would he use? Use those. 

  • Understand how you say something can be just as devastating (or encouraging) as what you say.

We have done something for you that we have done for no one else – we have made ourselves fully vulnerable to your and your comments. Keep that in mind when you statements. We are not trained to make ourselves vulnerable for or to anyone and doing so takes a tremendous amount of trust. If you abuse that trust, you will that your husband will slip into a shell that you simply will not be able to penetrate. We have a tendency to overcompensate :o)

In Short
1. His opinion-very important, follow it, don’t disrespect it.

2. Build him up. Build up his importance in the family, his career, and as your husband. Want him to hate you? Tear him down in front of your friends, family or worst of all, your kids. He will HATE you if you do that. Your kids see him as Superman. You attempt to tear him down in front of your kids, you become the enemy. 

3. Respect him Physically – Understand how important his needs are and don’t discount them simply because they are not that important to you. Remember; talking is not that important to guys. 

4. Finally; watch your words and how you say them. We may not act like what you just said hurt us, but since we have made ourselves vulnerable to you; we will get mad at ourselves for letting us be open to you. Then we will harden our heart toward you. Also, know that your praises (when genuine) mean more to us than anything our bosses, our co-workers, or anyone else we know could possibly mean. 

More Mens’ Emotions

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Several other husbands have answered these questions for me in the past few weeks. (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3)  But I appreciate each husband’s answers.  I think we can learn something new from hearing different men’s perspectives.  A huge thank you to this husband for sharing with us!

1. How affected are you by your wife’s emotions (good and bad)?

A lot.  If she is happy and cheerful it makes me happier too.  I delight doing things to make her happy.  If she is down, stressed, upset feeling ill etc. I find myself wishing I had the power to clear all those things away so she can be cheerful again.  My protective instincts extend into the emotional side of things.

2 . How important is your wife’s happiness is to you when you feel respected vs. disrespected?

If I feel disrespected by her, I’m not really going to be paying much attention to her happiness, I’ll be focused on dealing with the negative impact of feeling disrespected and I won’t feel motivated to do something nice for her.

3.  How difficult is it to put your emotions in words?  Do you need time to be able to do this, or can you talk about emotions immediately during the conflict?

I need time.  It’s kind of like being in a dark room with a statue, and you know it’s there but you don’t know what it is and you need time to run your hands over it and get the shape of it.  Once you figure out what it is then the lights come on.

4. What makes you feel emotionally safe or unsafe with your wife?

Acceptance, empathy, understanding, her coming to my defense, those make me feel safe.  Being judgemental, demanding, critical, disrespectful make me feel unsafe.

5. How easily can a wife wound her husband with angry/hateful/disrespectful words?

Very, one sentence can keep me up all night, too angry or hurt to sleep.  I have no defence against her, she is already past all my walls.

6. Is there a dark side to your emotions that you don’t share with anyone, not even your wife, to protect her?  Would you be willing to describe a bit about this, please?

Yes.  When she hurts or angers me I often go silent because I know if I tried to speak while feeling that way I would say some very cruel things that I would deeply regret later.    The thought of what may happen to me if I ever lost her makes me seriously concerned that I would become self destructive in some way.

7. How would it affect your communication with your wife if you knew that your wife would be on your team and support you even if you were honest about your negative emotions and feelings?

I think it would have to be more than just ‘on my team’ for me to feel safe talking about those things.  I know she is committed to our marriage, but I want her respect and deep admiration, not just loyalty to a promise made years ago.  I would have to feel confident that I would not lose any respect or that she would think any less of me.

Joyful Submission and a Boat

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This is an email from a wife I first “met” online last July.  God has been doing a HUGE work in her heart!  I know you will be richly blessed by reading her story.
I haven’t shared something yet that has been stirring in our house…..its been another example of me laying down my “rights” or “my will” and joyfully submitting to my husband.
So here it is….
My husband has been talking about buying a boat for as long as I can remember…but more intensely in the last year.
I usually just listen… but occasionaly in the past six months I have said,

“I’m not sure this is the best time for our family, but I trust you to make the best decision.”  I’ve then let it go and prayed about it!

My husband is probably one of the hardest workers I know. When he is not photographing, or editing images, or taking care of our girls or doing other “business” work, he is working on house projects, working in the yard. He rarely ever just rests, unless its 9:00 at night and he’s winding down. He gets a lot of joy from accomplishing things and making our home beautiful! I love that about him. He is very self motiviated and driven!
So naturally, if the guy wants a boat..then yes go buy a boat! You deserve it!
But…there’s the spiritual side of me..the one that thinks..“Shouldn’t we be spending our money on eternal things?”  We have friends adopting children right now in third world countries…suffering daily for this…and here we are buying a boat.  I struggle with that.  My husband knows my heart though and God knows my heart.
So here is what I have learned and I feel God is teaching me.
My husband didn’t have much growing up.  His parents couldn’t afford to send him on ski trips with his other friends, his parents couldn’t afford snowmobiles like all the other families near by. Growing up in Canada near a lake, those things were things most families had and enjoyed together.  He doesn’t want his children to not have things because he couldn’t offer those opportunities. My husband also enjoys making memories with his family..another wonderful thing I love about him.  He wants a boat…not so he can escape and go fishing… but so we can enjoy quality time together.
So he told me about a month ago that he put a down payment on a boat. Inside I felt nervous, but I smiled and said,  “That is so great!”  He couldn’t wait to tell me all about it.  I prayed again knowing if this was not God’s will, God would change his heart or it would not work out.  (From Peacefulwife – LOVE THAT BEATUIFUL FAITH IN GOD!!!!) Last week, my husband called me while I was driving home from work  (he never calls me by the way…usually just waits until I get home from work to tell me things).  He said, “We officially have a boat and can pick it up during your next school break.”
It’s very hard for me to just jump up and down when a big part of me is not so sure this was the best financial decision for us.  BUT I did…I said, “Honey that is wonderful. I am so excited. That is great!  Please know that I really do think this is great and fun and our family will have a lot of fun boating together.”  Usually, I hold back those feelings and express the negative emotions first.
When I got home that day, he continued to talk about how excited he was and all the fun we would have together on the boat. I agreed and added that the girls would have a great time and mentioned several things we could get for them like tubes and life jackets.  This was also very hard for me because I usually just smile and nod (when he’s sharing something exciting and Im apprehensive about). I didn’t let my emotions take over though and I shared in his excitement by adding to it.  It felt really good to do that eventhough it was very unnaturual for me.  
 
I kissed him goodbye and he left for a photo shoot.  I proceeded to take care of the girls and quietly thanked God that HE enabled me to handle that well.

I praised God for my hardworking husband and how God was sovereign over my life! And how God would always take care of me and my family! 

My husband  got home shortly after the girls were all tucked in bed.  I was in the kitchen making his dinner.  He greeted me in the kitchen with a kiss and said, “Honey, I just want to thank you for not jumping on me about getting a boat and letting me get one.”  I smiled and said, “Honey, lots of men have hobbies, like hunting and fishing and playing sports, etc. I am just so thankful your hobby or your interest includes spending time with your family.”  He smiled and said, “of course it does.” 
 
I quietly in my heart thanked God for helping me in all of this!! A year ago, I would have NEVER handled things this way. I would have robbed him of this joy. I would have sucked the life out of him.  He would have probably demanded he get the boat and I would have missed out on all the intimate moments leading up to it.  
I also thank God for teaching me this:
We may never adopt children from Uganda.
We may never go on a missions trip as a family.
But God is allowing me to partake in an amazing adventure with my husband. I know men most want and need their wife to partake in an adventure together.  I am learning to be his helpmate. I am learning to trust God like never before!  And in all of this, I hope that God will allow our marriage and our family to bring Him Glory! 
And yet, perhaps this is just the beginning for our family! The beginning of us serving Him him and honoring him in untold ways.  I know that I believe in an amazing God who has this adventure planned for us. I pray deep in my heart that He would allow us to bring Him great glory.  I also know my role as a wife and as a mom and as a child of the King.  I pray that God would continue to empower me through His abounding grace to be a wife:
  • that has loved one of his sons well
  • that has been generous and kind
  • that forgives him when he sins
  • lifts him up when he’s discouraged
  • comforts him when he’s sad
  • shares in his glory when he succeeds
  • that encourages him to become all God intends for him to be. (Sacred Influence, Gary Thomas)
It was yesterday that we drove three hours – giddy and excited – to pick up our new boat.  My husband was delighted. That morning he said I have been excited for this day since I was a child. I said, I’m so thankful to get to be a part of it with you. And then as we drove home with the boat towing behind, he took my hand and said five sweet words I’ll never forget,

“Thank you for trusting me.”

 

I DO trust him, but even more so, I trust a faithful God!!  I have abounding peace and joy today!!
Thank you for letting me share this story with you because you are a huge part of this change in me!!!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE
I love how this wife shared her opinion and feelings in a respectful way.  I love how she prayed and trusted God’s sovereignty to lead her through her husband.  And I love how she trusted his leadership and got to experience such emotional intimacy.  It will be interesting to see how God uses this in their lives for His glory!
Do you have a story about how respect or biblical submission blessed your marriage? I’d love to hear it! (Husbands, if you want to send me a story about how much it means to you when your wife trusts your leadership and cooperates with you and respects you – I would love to hear that, too!)  

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

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This is a continuation of a series about How Husbands Process Emotions.   Thank you to this husband for sharing!  I am extremely grateful for the men who have been willing to sacrifice their time and put forth a lot of effort to answer these questions.  I pray God might help us all as wives to better understand our own men.  As we make comments, it is my desire for us to be sure to honor the men who shared and to honor our husbands.  It is a great privilege to me that these men are opening their hearts and sharing this kind of information with us.

  1. How affected are you by your wife’s emotions (good and bad)?

a)      Her emotions are just that …Her emotions… I try never to let my emotions get the better of me simply because I know that people who think with their emotions tend to be overdramatic and go a bit over board with things and usually let any given situation get the better of them other than the other way around…  meaning them taking control over the situation…

b)      When her emotions are good then obviously I am glad for that, when they are bad, they’re usually really bad and it then becomes a whole new dynamic. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding her bad emotions… things can usually be worked out.

 

  1. If your wife has been disrespectful for a long time, how does her disrespect alter how much her emotions affect you?

a)      Regardless of whether or not she disrespects me, which I have to say, she is mostly very respectful towards me, but on the odd occasion that she might disrespect me , her emotional state during a conflict would actually not sway me either way… I understand she is an emotional person and that’s just how she deals with things. I simply let her go on about whatever it is she feels the need to go on about then when she’s done I’ll say something.

 

  1. How important is your wife’s happiness is to you when you feel respected vs. disrespected?

a)      My wife’s happiness will always be important to me regardless of whether or not she respects me, or not.

 

4.  If you have a serious disagreement and your wife verbally attacks you and accuses you of things like being unloving, hating her, being a horrible husband, never listening, etc… what do you have to do in your mind to process that kind of negative emotion?

a)  Without fail, I always seem to find myself asking …”Why can’t she see that all I have done since we’ve been together has been for her and our family” … The I realize she is a person who needs things like, someone to listen and talk with, validation, and to feel needed. I, on the other hand, do not and I have to tell myself that from time to time and then act accordingly.

5. Do you think with words when you are working through how you feel or what your emotions are about a conflict with your wife?

a) Well I can say that I have in the past asked (out loud) “Lord what am I supposed to learn from this?” when I am dealing with something she may have said to me but for the most part I just think internally about it until I can come to some resemblance of certainty as to what she was talking about or what she was really trying to get across to me.

6. How difficult is it to put your emotions in words?  Do you need time to be able to do this, or can you talk about emotions immediately during the conflict?

As I just mentioned in the last question… I tend to need the time to go over it then I can say what I am feeling about it. However, there has been times when I just come right out and say what exactly is on my mind, usually ending up in a less than desirable outcome…

7. How safe is it for you to be genuinely honest with your wife about your emotions?  What makes you feel emotionally safe or unsafe with her?

Extremely Safe – Honestly …my wife is the only one whom I trust with any of my emotions. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can trust her explicitly when it comes to that.

8. How would it affect your communication with your wife if you knew that your wife would be on your team and support you even if you were honest about your negative emotions and feelings?

a) Pretty much the same as it does now… I already know that if there is anyone in this weird messed up world, who is on my “team” as you say …it is her, even with me being honest about my negative emotions and feelings.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

THIS is how I want our husbands to feel!  Most men don’t share their emotions with anyone but their wives.  If they can’t share safely with us – they have NO ONE in their corner usually.   I want us to be this haven and sanctuary of peace, acceptance, empathy, comfort and understanding for our men.

I want them to know they are safe with us and that we will do them good and not evil all the days of our lives.  I want them to know they can trust us.  This means – that we must be trustworthy!  I want them to know that we are on their side and that we have faith in them and that we support them no matter what happens.  This is the kind of marriage I pray for Christians to experience.  It is a win/win for both the wife and the husband.

How Do Men Process Emotions?

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We spent some time this past week looking at how several different men think and process problems at work and in their marriages.  I’d love to have even more husbands answer these questions to give us a broader picture.  But I’m so thankful for the men who have been willing to answer these questions for us.  They have given us some really helpful information that I believe will bless and benefit many marriages.  The more we can understand how men think and feel – the more empathy we can have for them and the better equipped we will be to communicate effectively and to love and respect them.

Today I want to begin an emphasis on how men process feelings and emotions (For part 2 ,  part 3 and part 4 click here). Not only do men often need time to think through issues by themselves before they are ready to talk about them with their wives (like we talked about in the last series on how men think), but they also often need time to decide how they feel.  And even when they know how they feel – they may need time to put their feelings into words. 

Men DO have feelings and emotions.  They may not show them to us if they don’t feel safe with us.  But they feel, too.  And they feel just as deeply as we do.

It has to be ok for our men to be men – and for each man to be his own unique self.  If they need time to think and process through issues and emotions, then let’s give them the gift of that time without making a bunch of negative assumptions about them having a  lack of loving intentions.  This need for time doesn’t have anything to do with our husbands’ love for us.  It is just the way they are made. If we can embrace and accept these differences between us – conflicts will be much easier to work through!

FROM A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND

I have a very difficult time explaining my emotions, but there is no doubt I feel the emotions. When my wife is happy I feel like I’m the best husband in the world and doing everything right. When she’s sad I feel like I’ve failed as a husband because my one duty is to make my wife feel happy and loved and cherished and sad or hurt is just the opposite of that.

I’ve had that discussion with my wife many times over the last 2-3 years. Because I’m not able to verbalize how/why I feel things it usually comes out that she says she is not responsible for my happiness. That is 100% true, she is not responsible for my happiness. However her emotional state sets the tone for the relationship. If she’s happy then I’m happy, or I could be sad or angry or whatever based on other parts of my life. When she’s happy I’m free to have my emotions based on what’s going on. When she’s sad I’m sad because I feel as if I’ve messed up.  

I might have just had the best day of my life at work and if she’s sad I already know I’m going to be sad.

My experience has been that women when the sympathize / empathize / discuss problems with other women don’t take on the emotional tone of the women they are talking to they have their own emotions are much more in-tune with them. They can still be happy and feel sorrow for someone they talk to. Men on the other hand when we sympathize with someone tend to take on that emotion as well. When men go to a funeral it could be someone we hardly knew, but a good friend of ours is feeling horrible. We go up and say sorry for your loss or whatever strikes us, and we in turn feel horrible as well. I think it comes back to the fact that men like to solve problems. We know deep down that if you are sad we want to be able to solve that but it’s not up to us to solve it so it makes us sad in response partly because you are sad and partly because we can’t do anything more to help the situation.

As to verbalizing emotions, I can say I rarely do that. For better or worse I’ve learned through life that when I try to say what’s wrong –  because I have a harder time explaining the emotion with words – that it tends to not come out the same as what it feels inside. For example if I’m feeling lonely and disconnected I might appear somewhat down and less talkative than normal.

When my wife would ask what’s wrong I have 2 choices:

1) I can say, “Nothing, just trying to process stuff,” which is usually a lie, but tends to produce results that hurt less even if it doesn’t actually solve the problem.

2) I can try to explain that I’m feeling lonely or disconnected and need some intimate / alone time for the 2 of us to get reconnected. That normally turns into an argument that all I want is sex or I’m too needy.

Because I don’t know how to express the feelings using the right words it’s safer to just stay quiet, but that also means that it will never get better.

We all have different ways to express emotions but it’s learning how those close to you express their emotions that really matters.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

Let’s allow our husbands’ needs and emotions to be just as important as our needs and our emotions in our marriages.  A healthy marriage is a safe place for BOTH spouses to say how they feel, what they need and to feel heard and significant to the other person.

Other husbands – I would love to hear your take on this issue, too.   Thank you!!!   I think that the more we wives can hear from different husbands, the better we can understand our own husbands.

 

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