What Advice Would YOU Give Her?

Once in a while I get an email that makes me cry, makes me wonder. In lieu of today’s Respect Dare, #20, and the entire “love your husband well” thing, I wanted to share the below with you, as I’m at a complete loss. Got thoughts? Please feel free to share them in the comment section, Titus ladies!

I have been working on my marriage for 15 years. I have fasted and prayed, learned and applied.  I have daily time with God that is set aside, and feel like I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, but my marriage doesn’t get better, no matter what I do. I’m still a disappointment, and I have no idea how to communicate love to my husband. He says he follows Jesus, but spends no time studying or with other men, although he does go to church. He has told me he doesn’t need to change, that I need to accept him the way he is. I have asked him how I can do better at this, but he doesn’t have anything specific – I don’t criticize him, so I don’t know what he means.

I have done the Love languages book – not one of those things applies to him. Literally each time I compliment him, he responds with, “You’re just saying that to obey God. You don’t really mean it,” but I do, and it hurts to not know how to give love to him.  I do little things for him like pick up his dry cleaning, keep our home clean, make meals he likes, greet him with, “Hey! I’m so glad you are home!” and I see him off each morning, too, making him coffee and breakfast, and lunch when he wants me to.  He complains about how I do some of those things, and I try to do them the way he wants them done, but none of them seem to make him pleased. I keep the laundry going, although I get behind sometimes and it doesn’t get put away, but there’s always clean clothes and he says that isn’t a big deal. I ask him about his day, am interested, but he doesn’t share much. I try to keep him up to date with what is going on with the kids, too. I don’t talk too much, and am told by others that I’m a good listener. I try to be his friend. I give him my full attention when he speaks, I don’t interrupt and I manage the kids when they interrupt him.  He interrupts them and me, but I don’t say anything about that. Sometimes they do, which he doesn’t appreciate.

I instigate sex. I never turn him down. He takes care of himself and seems to forget that I’m even there, although he sometimes complains that I’m “boring.” I’ve worked on that, but then he complains that I’m being “phony.” I don’t know what to do. I’ve done just about everything in your book, and asked him a lot of questions about what he finds respectful and adjusted my behavior accordingly – I don’t mind submitting to him at all, and when I offer a different opinion, it is almost always by starting it with, “I don’t know how this fits, but one thing I’m wondering is…” When I ask him how he receives love, he tells me, “I shouldn’t have to explain it.” He still just seems grumpy and disappointed or something with me. I sometimes get a smile from him, but he often scowls and disagrees with my contribution to conversations, so I’m just not talking a lot because I’m often wrong to him, even though what he hears me say isn’t what I mean.  I’m just worn out from the constant negative perception and feedback.

I don’t know what to do.  I make him defensive and am at a loss as to why.  When I asked him about it, he said it was because I can be wrong sometimes so he doesn’t believe much of what I say – and it’s worse now that I tried to get things to change (after about ten years of this) by asking if we could go to counseling. He has a stressful job and is worried about losing it, but that’s never happened and he’s worked there for many years. I feel like I’m dying in this relationship, like I’ve tried really hard and just keep failing. 15 years of failing. I’ve been appreciative when he has done something kind to me, trying that “whatever you pay attention to grows” thing you say. It hasn’t helped.

I feel so alone and unloved. I tried again recently to talk about how I felt, but he responded with, “You think you’re hurting? All you think about is yourself.  You’re too sensitive.” I have honestly only “confronted” him a handful of times, and yes, once I was really emotional, but the rest of the times I was calm but truthful. What do you do when you have literally done everything you can do?  I am not angry, just sad at constantly being such a disappointment to the man I married. I do feel privileged to suffer for Christ, but I also feel like I can’t talk about it much, because that also seems to upset him. What do I do?

~Lonely Wife

I have been praying for her, and am in dialogue with her – she gave me permission to open it up to the very wise women (and men :) ) who have joined me here.

So what do YOU think? What advice and Biblical counsel can you give this broken-hearted woman?

Love to you,

~Nina

 

Comments

  1. says

    Forgive me if this has been discussed already. I only glanced through the comments. From what Lonely Wife describes, it sounds as though her husband either 1) simply doesn’t love her or 2) has issues showing it. Chances are it is combo of the two. But here’s the thing – WHY is he this way?

    I did see some comments regarding that the wife should not be looking to her husband for her self esteem of fulfillment. Only God can truly give you what you need and perhaps what she truly needs IS this man. She just doesn’t see it. I spent years fighting to get my husband to love me in the way I wanted/needed to be loved. I knew I was supposed to marry him for God was quite clear when answering that prayer question. So I spent a few years being pissed at God that He would give me this unloving and sometimes abusive man.

    Slowly it came out that my husband has PTSD. Depression, constant stress and other weird chemical problems in his body often dictated his actions. It wasn’t until I learned of this illness and the numerous horrors in his life that caused it, that I was able to begin the journey towards a better relationship. Understanding WHY he was often so distant, seemingly uncaring, walking like a ghost through life, or on the flip side -fly into rages or other manic episodes helped tremendously not to take it all personally.

    It blew my mind that a man could hide something SO drastic in his life for so long. His PTSD was a result of sexual abuse as a child and a severe moral injury suffered during his service to our country. My man simply had no idea HOW to love someone. He grew up in a home where love shown was conditional and often manipulated. Sex was simply a a physical act of release, not something done to show love. He had very thick barriers around his heart and soul but was smart enough to know how to get a girl to fall for him.

    Once I finally discovered all this, I realized WHY God put this man into my life. Not only did my husband NEED me but I also needed someone who constantly reminded me to seek solace, grace and wisdom from my Lord on a daily basis. I had a “good” life before I met him. Things were easy, I had a “perfect” husband and plenty of income and guess what – I would often forget who to thank for it. Days would go by without prayers. Then I lost my job and my husband cheated on me and left. Suddenly I was back to seeking God.

    So the advice I would give her? Seek to understand WHY your husband acts like he does. His behavior is likely less a result of anything you do but more a result of how he feels inside. He probably doesn’t feel like he deserves your love so the nicer/better/more godly you are -the more he inwardly feels bad about himself and resents you. This is something HE has to work on. You can’t force it. If he can figure out how to love himself he may be able to finally see how to love others.

    We PTSD wives are all told that we need to “work on ourselves” – not in the sense that we can be better people, but that we need to de-stress ourselves too. Your life has been so wrapped up in HIM and making HIM happy. What have you done to make yourself happy? It’s not as selfish as it sounds. When you are happier you are more able to be the kind of wife he needs -the kind of mother your kids need. Many wives stop doing the things they used to to have fun. I had girlfriends, I used to karaoke, I used to do community theater, I used to love going to movies. All that stopped when I married. My life got filled with trying to make my husband happy- which actually put more pressure on him. When I stopped pursuing HIM all the time and started doing things I liked without him, it was like he woke up and remembered why he fell in love with me. But even if he didn’t, I found FUN again in my life.

    Lonely Wife -don’t give up. God placed you in his life for a reason. You may not see it now. You may not see it until you are in Heaven and understand ALL, but know that a life spent pleasing GOD will always be rewarded sooner or later. Prayers for you!!

    • April says

      Ruby, I echo your sentiments and you stated it much better than I could. Sometimes, there is a pain not caused by us that causes the behavior towards us. Sometimes, our action reminds us of those hurts. Sometimes it is insecurity. It seems our journeys are quite similar. I didn’t stop necessarily focusing on my husband. Instead I tried to listen to God and do what he was leading me to do. Whether that was in regards to taking care of myself OR reacting/not reacting/doing/not doing for my husband. Once I stepped out God’s way, the relationship finally started to heal.

      Lonely Wife-may I suggest you focus your attention on your relationship with God. He will give your clear directions. Your are loved by him. Praying for you!

  2. says

    You will find my comment on the previous posting “Giving Him Sex.” I have been in this type of marriage for over 24 years. Unlike those who felt abused by counselors, the counselor I went to-alone several years ago as well as every friend or family member I confided in all said they were not suggesting divorce but all felt that me seperating would be the only thing she would likely understand because I had (and still do) all that I should be doing every day and am just being a door-mat. We are both in church but our marriage resembles nothing of a biblically-based relationship and I’m the only one that seems to want it to.

    Sadly, the one time-7 years ago that I planned to take that action, I never had the guts to leave. Between being afraid of hurting our kids (who unfortunately-regardless of being old enough to understand what they witness each day-one is about to be a Jr in college now and the other just graduated high school and starts community college this Fall, simply don’t support me) and the fact that she works at our financial institution and handles the finances and I’ve never had to live financially independeny.

    I went from living with my folks to living with her and she had only been out of her parents home for about 2 weeks when we first got together, and having seen her brother be almost homeless during his divorce, I stayed. I even mistakenly thought seeing her brother divorce would make her realize that the stubborn, unwilingness to change, that her whole family lives by needs to have the chain broken somewhere.

    And now she has another sibling very likely headed down that road and for even more serious reasons, but no such luck.Instead, there is just this “oh, well, that’s life” attitude about it, rather than her learning to change and then trying to intervene as an instrument of change for her siblings-and other members of her family-even if they don’t listen. But she thinks you are supposed to just mind your own business and let people do what they want-even when the actions of those people begin to invade your own home and relationships.She never tried to stop me the day I started to leave, and probably still wouldn’t today, so it’s no wonder she won’t fight to help the relationships of others.

    Recently I told myself I would start backing off on being the primary housekeeper. Meant to start the 1st of this month. I’m too much a creature of habit-it’s all so natural to me I just do it all without thinking like a mindless zombie everyday. I also said I would leave our church because they are unequipped and unwilling to get involved in realationship matters and I have had to go outside of them to find help for this and other needs-as well as a host of other reasons but as my wife and daughter don’t seem as though they would leave with me. Though they acknowledge the issues, they seem content to stay there and put up with them-again out of their own unwillingness to change anything else. And the fact that my working evenings, weekends off and on (been trying to change that for over 5 years, but work-like them, seems to insist on keeping the status quo) makes for very little time together but church is one place, we are always together-at least on Sunday mornings, I have not taken that action yet either-even though I already know what church I would go to.

    I definitely feel her pain.

    • Nina says

      John, sounds like you have had a seriously rough go of it. Praying for you sir, even though you sound like a strong man. Hang in there. He is with you.
      Love in Him,
      ~Nina

      • says

        Thanks! If there is a way you can edit my comment to either include only my first name or list me as Oldgravelroad, I’d appreciate it-don’t know what I was thinking when I posted my full name.

      • says

        Same things that have stopped me all these years. How I will look to the kids, fear of having to learn to live on my own financially after 25 + years of my checks getting direct deposited and having no worries in that area. Knowing that even my leaving probably would change nothing on her end and even though divorce would not be my initial goal, it would probably be the end result.

        Her family already thinks that divorce was my plan when I nearly left 7 years ago because all they heard was the word divorce and missed that I said no one I confided in suggested divorce, but rather a trial seperation. So as with everything else, instead of them admitting that I have worked hard to try to bring change and encouraging her to swallow her unchanging pride, and get counseling with me (because certainly no one in their family needs to change), instead, I have already been tried, convicted and execute in their family court. So if I left, that would further validate that belief for the and anyone else thst believes as they do.

        • says

          I’m probably going to sound like a broken record here to Nina’s regular readers, but here goes.

          Have you read Boundaries and/or Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend? What I hear is a lot of fear or what your wife will do and what others will think. You can’t change anyone else and you can’t control anyone else.

          You can get yourself healthy and that may cause others to change how they relate to you.

          I’m not sure if you’ve ever read The Respected Husband blog, but he’s got some great posts there. I very much liked this one:
          http://respectedhusband.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/let-go-from-passive-husband-to-a-husband-with-passion/

          Praying for you today,
          Trixie

        • Dee says

          DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS? If you say yes, then live it. Treat your wife like God wants. Be the godly example your son needs and show your daughter what it means to love, even when it isn’t pretty. I’ve had to realize that God wants us in some instances to be holy over happy.
          BTW, quite by accident I misclicked & was taken to your wordpress, info on your entire family, including wife’s FB, work, etc…. A public forum is hardly the way to approach this as a godly husband. KC is a small area to some.

    • Jim says

      OldGravelRoad:

      My heart goes out to you. Although you didn’t give a lot of detail, your situation sounds a lot like mine. I was married for 23 years to an abusive, manipulative, controlling wife.

      She always held the threat over my head of “I’ll leave”. I thought it better for the kids that we stay together, so I walked on eggshells till they both graduated from high school. I then backed off of the eggshells, and as I expected, a couple of years later she left and then divorced me.

      First of all, let me state up front that only the victim of abuse has the right to decide when he has had enough, and when it is time to get out of there. If in your opinion you have had enough, then you have every right to leave whenever you want to. I can’t say for sure if the Bible would allow for divorce (unless she has been unfaithful to you), but you certainly have every right to separate from her. In fact, now that both of your kids are grown, they need not be a factor in your decision process.

      In order to leave with minimal disruption to your life, I would suggest that you immediately do the following:

      –> Open a new bank account, in your name only, and then have your paycheck deposited to that account. In this way you, not she, will be in control of your earnings. If you choose to stay and give her money for household expenses, that will be entirely your choice. However, if you choose to separate, you will have money to live on. If she complains that she now doesn’t have the money she needs, that is too bad for her; she shouldn’t have run you off by being abusive to you.

      Make sure that you update all automatically-paid bills to now come from the new bank account.

      (You probably don’t want to get a Visa debit card with your new account, because your wife might find it. I would suggest waiting till you have separated to get a Visa debit card.)

      –> Get a trusted friend to help you figure out how to pay bills. Start that discussion immediately, so you’ll be ready if and when the time comes to separate.

      –> Get a post office box, and switch all of your mail to the PO Box. In this way, you won’t lose access to your mail. (My then-wife was stealing my mail after she left me, so I got a PO Box.)

      Once everything is switched over to the new account and you have switched all of your mail to the PO Box, you can then leave whenever you want, if that is what you choose to do.

      You may want to consider filing your taxes as “Married filing separately” from now on. I can’t tell you how relieved I felt the first time I did that, even though I had to pay more taxes that way.

      Soon after I got married, I discovered that I couldn’t depend on my wife to wash my office clothes. I had to do my own laundry in order to make sure I had clothes to wear to work. For many years I did all of the household laundry. But I grew tired of my self-employed wife leaving that task to her full-time-employed husband, and then complaining that I wasn’t spending enough time with her (because I was too busy doing laundry), so I quit washing her clothes.

      A few months before she left me, I had had enough of her mind games, so I moved into the spare bedroom. I finally had some peace in my life.

      Do what YOU know that you need to do, regardless of what anyone else tells you. Being a long-time victim of her abuse, it may be hard for you to make independent decisions which go against her wishes. YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO ANALYZE THIS FOR YOURSELF AND TO MAKE YOUR OWN DECISION REGARDING SEPARATION.

      Jim

  3. Dee says

    One word. Porn. It makes wise men putty in the enemies hand. If not that, perhaps a traumatic event from childhood? Molestation, rape…it happened to mine & that sort of thing on young boys has a lasting effect. I married mine not knowing he’d been sexually molested for years as a little boy. I have no easy fixes, but know we need to keep seeking Him. You have sisters out here in similar shoes. Love you.

    • says

      Get help. Porn can drive men (or women) to commit crimes. It is not a victimless indulgence. Seek out counselors who understand the very addictive/destructive nature of pornography use.
      Make his life uncomfortable enough that he wants to quit. A good Christian therapist can help you do that.

  4. says

    One last thought: While I still believe that (Lonely Wife’s) hubby is verbally & emotionally abusive (because he sounds like my own husband), I also wonder if maybe all of her actions make him feel immascuatlated (sp?) — like he can’t be the “man” of the house? She is doing so much, and trying so hard, and he feels *disrespected* because of this — like he can’t provide (or isn’t providing well enough) for the family… she’s doing it all.

    Just an idea.

  5. Winifred says

    You are constantly watching and weighing your husband’s reactions and he can feel it. Stop that and just let go. Live in the moment. You will become happier and your husband will feel it. Let every situation just flow- that’s what I mean by letting go. Good Luck.

  6. Tiffaine says

    B has it right on the money. The only thing I can say beyond her words are this… You seem to be wanting your husband to fulfill you. Your happiness is wrapped in him. This is not a place you will EVER find the true happiness you are seeking. That can only come from the Lord. The last year and a half my marriage was in shambles. Issues such as yours compounded with mutual infidelity… My marriage was saved by The Lord no doubt. My heart changed to see Him and that I had lost my focus on being the servant He made me.. I feel as though my husband’s heart changed too. It took a long time and many hours on my knees litterally crying out to The Lord.
    Find the right prayer. Find the right balance. Ask God to speak to you in a way that will be un-mistakable. One night while praying, lying awake at 2 am in tears, I HEARD the voice of God speak to me. Not a feeling.. I HEARD Him with my ears! I was told that my husband would change when I did and then my marriage would be saved. I didn;t think I had anything else to change, but boy was I wrong! He then revieled to me over the course of the next week what exactly I needed to work on.

  7. says

    I hear this beautiful wife’s heart, and I hear her pain, her faithfulness, her witness to her husband, but I wonder if there is an element of balance missing?

    My suggestion, is that her beloved probably needs to be allowed the chance to experience a crisis? A crisis where he feels that the pain of staying the same is going to be greater than the pain of change? He sounds like a man who needs to experience the natural consequences of harming the souls of others; that he might be confronted with his need for change, rather than sheltered from it. In love, and with gentle firmness, he could experience limits in these most precious relationships (not that he’d “feel” loved, but he would be “being” loved), limits that frustrate his flesh, and may cause him to cry foul, but would not harm him.

    As I sought to work on healthy boundaries in my own life (which included within my marriage, and in my parenting), it brought a lot of good. A lot of growth to me, to my husband, my children, our whole family. It was not easy, and we often found our flesh railing against the changes But it has also without a doubt increased the blessing and strength in each relationship, and continues to do so. Such a venture requires much prayer, and a lot of support, as well as willingness and courage on the part of the person choosing (in this case “Lonely Wife”). Praying she knows the way forward with certainty.

    Much love in Christ,
    Marion

  8. says

    Peggy:

    I would stop looking to your husband for approval – perhaps he is just not able to give that at the moment. Plus, he does come home every night and goes to work every day. That is awesome! Someone suggested looking at things you can be gratefull for. May be a good place to start. The guy is probably feeling that, no matter what he does, it is not enough, and has given up trying. Also, develop some women friends. A man really cannot meet all of your emotional needs, and it is an unfair burden to place on anyone. I am talking from experience. I have had to learn to do this. My marriage (and especially me) are much happier now. My husband is happier as well.

  9. B says

    I have gone through similar things in my marriage. In some areas, my husband is not treating me as harshly as yours treats you. In other areas, I also felt the same aloneness. I felt like I was competing against an unseen enemy. I also instigated sex and hated having to do it – he would turn me down often. Tell me how I wasn’t doing it right. There were a million little things that culminated into me starting to die on the inside. But it looked like we had a great marriage on the outside. Women would even tell me that it was obvious that he loved me, or they wish their marriage was as good as mine. I thought maybe I was a little crazy, but there it was, this pang in my heart whenever I saw a man instigate a kiss with his wife, or see the desire in his eyes to be with just her. There was something missing and I certainly didn’t have his “attention”. I read books, asked him what I could do better, etc. Much like what you have done.

    Truth is as many people here have said, YOU can’t change him. Yes, you can do all the right things, rely on God, be a godly wife, work on you, but if he is giving you the run-around, there’s not a thing you can do to make him happy. Hand him over to the Lord. I would also as many have suggested, let go of the responsibility that is on you right now to make your husband happy. God can change him, yes. But it will be by the work of the Holy Spirit through possibly your sweet spirit that you have been lavishing on your husband all this time.

    Also, I might recommend seeking a 3rd party. You will need to be very selective. Perhaps your Pastor or a counselor. No doubt if your husband is as unhappy with you as you have stated, he might acknowledge the need for counseling. If he won’t join you, then you go. Get support. Find someone who will really listen to you and not be taken in by simply words spoken well that your husband might say. Find someone who will not let little things go. Someone who is perceptive.

    I have been in some abusive counseling situations, so do get a vibe from the counselor before you go full into submitting yourself under their counsel. I’ve had a counselor treat me as roughly as my husband did, another got frustrated with me, another rebuked me in front of my husband for separating from him – which was something I did at the Lord’s leading. Some really damaging things have happened at the hands of counselors. etc. I know that some do not understand and don’t really listen and insist that there’s something you’ve got to be doing wrong. My advice is if this starts to happen, move on. Keep talking until someone finally listens to you and can perceive your husband’s issues. You’re not crazy. You’re NOT crazy. If you can find a good counselor, it may help for your husband to hear from another person the same things you are saying. But again, God must work on his heart – perhaps He could use a counselor’s words also.

    In the end, for us, it was pornography with additional horrifying sin that I will not go into, here. If he does not desire sex with you, and you are left to instigate or it doesn’t happen, I would be concerned and would be aware that this could be closer to the root of your problems. Pornography does cause the type of selfishness and self centeredness that I read here regarding your husband. Of course it could be something else and I don’t want to make a judgment or label it. I would just be aware that it could be present in your marriage.

    ***I recommend Leslie Vernick for some sanity support. She is a Christian counselor that deals with abusive relationships. She has a book out on emotionally abusive marriages, has a blog, etc. Perhaps you can get some insight and support there. http://www.leslievernick.com ***

    May God be ever close to you, sister. Listen to and hear the loving words to you from His Word. Accept your value. Get the love you are starving for from the Lord. He CAN fill those voids. He WILL comfort you in the night. He cares about your heart and I’m pretty sure you please Him! One thing I’ve learned lately is that God is more kind, gentle and loving that any other human can ever be. Duh, right? But really, when I was under spiritual abuse from counselors, emotional abuse from my husband, I had to draw on that and realize that even though these people are in authority over me, they are simply still just humans and not a representation of the things God would actually be saying to me right now. God has different words for you then your husband is spewing out. Believe that He would say gentle and loving things you now.

  10. Sue says

    There is a great book by Jan Silvious called “Fool Proof Your Life”. It describes people who are fools according to the definitions in Proverbs. very biblical. Gives good practical advice. This husband sounds foolish.

  11. says

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I survived a 15 year marriage like this one. Everything you said sounds so much like my exhusband that your letter made me cry. I truly understand your pain and i also know that there are a hundred more things that you have not shared.
    Your husband is emotionally and verbally as well as sexually abusive toward you. (yes, using porn in a marriage and blaming you for the sexual dysfunction is sexual abuse) You feel all of guilt, shame and at fault because of his abuse. There is nothing you can do right. You will never be enough for him. He will keep you on eggshells, keep you thinking you are the crazy one for feeling that something is wrong but you cant quite identify what it is that is wrong so it must be you?
    I encourage you to educate yourself and look after yourself because he will not. It took me 10 years to figure out why everything I tried didn’t work and he was unresponsive. Why everything was my fault etc. These men do not think like you and I do. Their first regard is for themselves only and you are just an extention of them. The Respect dare works GREAT in marriages where respect and love are valued but in a marriage where power and control are one sided the respect dare will only hurt you more. The same goes for couples counseling. You will only be hurt by it because they will twist it and use it against you. :(
    God does not call us to live with abuse. In fact all through the Bible we are released from abuse and called out of it. I encourage you to educate yourself. Here are some great links to help you through your journey. http://www.WHEnetwork.com, http://www.cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com and http://www.focusministries1.org
    You may also contact me directly for more information.

    • says

      I agree that this is abuse. I read through your story, and it is mine — I’ve lived with very similar things for the last 16 years. I am soooo sorry you’ve had to deal with this! :(

      Read “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans. Here’s her website: FAQs . It was eye-opening for me, and helped me see that it’s NOT my fault — nor is any of your husband’s behavior YOUR fault! You are NOT a disappointment!

      Here is an article from Christianity Today that talks about Christians and emotional abuse.

      I do agree with the ladies, here, though, in that you need to stop “trying so hard”… let it go. You are looking for your husband to approve of you, and it isn’t going to happen (I’m sorry). But God has already approved of you… I know it’s hard, but you need to learn to let go. I had to let go of worrying whether my husband would leave me. I had to learn to quietly (in my head) remind myself that it’s NOT my fault, and God is with me (Emmanuel). No matter what happens, God’s got me, and our kids (we have 2).

      {{hugs}} to you, my friend. And, please feel free to email me if you want to talk!

    • Jim says

      Taffy:

      Thank you for your post.

      I went through a 23 year abusive marriage. Emotional and sexual abuse were constant, plus there was some physical abuse — she gave me a black eye a few years ago.

      I walked on eggshells till both kids finished high school, because I figured that an intact marriage was better for them, even though it most certainly was not for me. (She constantly held the threat of leaving over my head, and that was the reason for my walking on eggshells.)

      Finally, just like God delivered David from Saul, God delivered me from the monster who tormented me. She chose to leave and then divorce me.

      Abuse is NEVER the fault of the victim, because there is absolutely no justification for it. I could have been a better husband, but I was a good husband. But I did absolutely nothing to deserve the abuse.

      Again, thank you for your post.

      Jim

  12. April says

    I have felt your pain. I will be married 19 years this September and my marriage has only begun to heal a little in the last 3-4 years. My husband has a porn addiction. He is also very selfish. He has an explosive temper. But he is also much more than all of that! I read a ton of books and went to counselling alone. What finally changed ME was when God revealed to me that my husband’s sins are not against me, but against Him. If I devote my love and attention to God, it is much easier to love my husband, truly, for who he is regardless of his actions. I still get upset with him, but he has grown and changed so much. For ages he HATED his job, and when God began healing my broken heart, I began to fast and pray earnestly for a better job for my husband. I didn’t tell him that I was doing this because I knew he struggled with the idea that I was disappointed in his ability to provide for us. It wasn’t true, but I could never convince him of that. Anyway, he was blessed with a slightly better job. We also found a good church home. It hasn’t been a huge 180 degree surprise change, but it is still a miracle only God could have managed. I still have to remember when my feelings are throbbing that it is between him and Jesus. It doesn’t change how much I am loved by God. I keep my love tank full by going to Jesus. It isn’t fair to ask any other person to fill that God shaped hole.

        • Jim says

          Whenever God does something wonderful in our lives, it is always time to rejoice!

          I could go on and on about what God has done in my life, but that isn’t the purpose of this blog.

          I will say one thing, though, since the subject has been discussed here: GOD HAS DELIVERED ME FROM A PORN ADDICTION! I am so thankful to have that curse out of my life!

          • April says

            That is fantastic!!! My husband is on the road to recovery but still in a fragile place. I think it is helping him to know that I am not the reason he is quitting, and he isn’t being watched, no one is waiting for him to mess up, its all between him and Jesus.

          • Jim says

            April, mainly because of you, he will very soon be free. Keep loving him and not watching him, and he will desperately want to live clean FOR YOU!

    • April says

      Oh, one more thing I almost forgot… my husband never spontaneously said he loved me or showed it… or so I thought. One day God revealed to me that every day, before he went to work, he would say something along the lines of “be careful”- which annoyed me because I assumed it meant he thought of me as a child- which actually translated to “I genuinely care about you, and I will be gone and unable to protect you myself, so be safe until I return” so, all that time he was telling me that he loved me and I didn’t hear it! Ask God to translate and you may be surprised too :)

  13. Veronica says

    Hello,

    If you’re Catholic, definitely taking Holy Communion more often (of course after forgiving everyone that you’re mad at, if possible, and after going to confession) helps me no end to avoid conflict in my marriage and with my children. It’s like Jesus is poured into my heart and then other souls seem to have fewer dissapointments in me, and I am much less defensive. Without Holy Communion my marriage would have never come to pass, both my husband and I have difficult past.

    I personally am praying for a church group to be part of with my husband, where we pray for and over each other, where they help us to move forward on a path of spiritual formation. I also recommend Neal Lozano’s book Unbound, to help us and others become free of past hurts, addictions, and lies. Often it’s what we believe about ourselves that does us (and our husbands) in.

  14. Sherry says

    Dear lovely wife,
    I have been in your shoes. Then I discovered my husband was addicted to porn. It was many years (like 20) that he ignored me and acted like he didn’t want to be in a relationship with me. (I actually thought he was gay and didn’t want to admit it,.) It was when I finally took care of me – went to counseling for me, worked on the things I liked while being respectful of him that I began to change. I set healthy boundaries. Think of the verse of “Don’t throw your pearls to swines”. Maybe when you start to find yourself he might notice. Maybe not, but that is OK to if you are doing what God wants to have you do. We wives are not to sacrifice ourselves on the alter of a dysfunctional marriage – don’t make your marriage an idol. Get a good counselor, a good support group or Stephens Minister and read good books like the ones suggested above. One person cannot make a relationship happen. Pray always.
    God Bless you.
    S

    • Growing up spiritually. says

      I have only been married for three years, and I’m far from a perfectly loving and submitted wife, going back and forth between overly passive and a little too assertive at times, so I’m really not sure what “steps” you need to take, but in my own life I find that it’s often helpful for me to chuck the “steps” and “formulas” and just release my pain and anger to God by hanging out with him and being brutally honest about where I’m at. And getting in the Word after that. Maybe just let God hold you. And go to solo counseling or a women’s group at church or whatever you like to be a healthy, happy you in spite of your husband’s attitudes and actions. Because maybe he’ll never change. He has free will, and you can’t control him by being a kind, loving wife. He has to want to change for himself and God, not for you or anyone else. God already knows your desire for your husband’s love, so rest in that and keep moving forward. For you. Perhaps your husband will be attracted to you as you display more independence and pursue things you like to do, which will create space between you and him, space for longing (I read something like this in “Boundaries in Marriage”). It sounds like at some point early on, your husband got the notion that you were making changes in yourself in order to change HIM. Maybe he feels threatened by that. So maybe just enjoy God and enjoy being you and enjoy your children and enjoy personally meaningful activities and surrender your husband to God. He may change, or he may not, but you’ll be taking responsibility for your own happiness and be more able to control the outcome of your situation.

  15. Louis says

    First, any advice I could ever give anyone that is based on a singular point-of-view (Lonely Wife) may have you going around in circles, no matter how well-intentioned I am trying to be… One person’s point of view in any situation is only one of many viewpoints.

    The advice I would give is to write him a letter that explains your point-of-view: your feelings about the marriage, what you would like the marriage to be like, your fears that the marriage will never fulfill itself to what you envision and hope for. Then, ask him if he would please do the same for you. Ask him to share his current feelings about the marriage, what he would like the marriage to be like, and if he has any fears about the marriage. Finally, ask him if he would please acknowledge when he has read your letter, and to indicate whether or not he intends to share his thoughts/feelings back with you in a similar manner.

    Why a letter? It is a non-confrontational way to communicate difficult topics and allows him to process and respond in his own way without feeling as threatened. It also honors and respects him by allowing him the time/space he needs to honestly evaluate his thoughts and feelings. Although you may have shared these topics verbally with him, he may not have actually “received’ any of them due to other factors.

    If he actually reads the letter – that is a good sign. If he responds that he read it and will respond back – that is a great sign. If he doesn’t respond at all, and a follow-up probe asking if he has read it is not met with a positive response, I would take that as a ‘status quo’ sign. In that last case, you can: (a) do something ‘louder’ to wake him up and see how bad things are for you, or (b) he may be narcissistic and simply not really care about you (i know – ouch). If he is a narcissist, caring for himself is all that really matters and he is just fine living with how much he gets without hardly giving at all. With a narcissist, nothing you attempt will ever make your marriage what you want it to be…narcissism cannot be fixed or changed, but you can choose to accept things as they are knowing they won’t change and simply be who you need to be with self-sacrificial love, mirroring Christ’s own selflessness in your marriage.

    Jim / Realmom59 – Also been there…and you really have to experience it in a marriage relationship to ‘get’ it. Most simply won’t see, understand, or believe the narcissistic personality because the narcissist wears a different mask to others.

    Hope this is not the case for you, Lonely Wife, and that you get a caring and heartfelt letter back from your husband that opens the door to real communication regarding your marriage.

    • says

      Advice to her would be that I have too been there and felt the same way. Lonely wife…ashamed and unreachable due to an illness that almost ended my marriage. I lived in fear for eighteen years. I turned down engagements with friends and kept a tight lip on my home life. I was lost and lonely. I would encourage her to keep praying about the circumstances because God is the only one who can change someone. My husband and father of my children and my family is in a much better place now. Things have changed drastically in the last two years and I owe it all to the Lord. I know it began rough and the road was hard, but the REspect Dare was the beginning of so much more for us..I am truly grateful to the ideas and how the Lord worked in me and through me to build trust and respect.

    • says

      Louis,

      I’m going to have to disagree with you on this statement;
      “With a narcissist, nothing you attempt will ever make your marriage what you want it to be…narcissism cannot be fixed or changed, but you can choose to accept things as they are knowing they won’t change and simply be who you need to be with self-sacrificial love, mirroring Christ’s own selflessness in your marriage”

      Jesus is in the redemption business. I don’t think we should assume that a narcissist can’t be changed by the Holy Spirit.

      It’s good to have realistic goals and the understanding that you can’t change your spouse, but I wouldn’t give up all hope. We don’t really know if he’s a narcissist. People that suffer from addictions look pretty narcissistic while they’re in bondage to their addiction and can look completely different when they are in recovery.

      I’m not trying to argue with you. I just want to offer a little encouragement that her marriage could see a miraculous turn around.

      :)

      Blessings,
      Trixie

    • says

      I have to disagree with the “write a letter” advice. I’ve done that, and because my hubby is an emotional/verbal abuser, he just turns everything I’ve said around and uses it all against me. He makes ME out to be the “bad guy”… it has NEVER helped (except maybe to get my feelings out for my OWN benefit).

      I see the point, though — trying to make yourself and your feelings heard. And while that’s good, and your husband *should* be there for you, I know that in an abusive relationship, it doesn’t happen. He can’t see past his own self to be able to “hear” you.

      This is why it’s important to lean into God, and to get stronger in and of yourself. Work on being okay with yourself, and on seeing yourself as capable and strong and independent. Let God handle whether or not your husband changes — it really isn’t up to you.

  16. says

    That is the book, Jennifer! I just sat down and before I saw your message Shaunti’s name popped in to my head. Thank you!!

  17. says

    Many difficult situations, I’ve been there myself. Many good responses.
    Please make sure you grab hold of a life preserver; pray for a trusted friend or two and make and keep plans to have fun. Continue to fall on your face before God, and listen. Be teachable.
    My marriage made it through the dark valley and we’ve come out the other side.
    Change for you, and him takes time, start today.

  18. says

    I have read the comments, some very wise words from Titus women here!

    Here are my thoughts.

    1) Give him to God. Entirely. Surrender your husband and marriage to God. I had to do this. I was struggling to find ways to reach my husband. Praying for a softened heart. Praying for his interest. Then one night it was pressed hard on my heart that it wasn’t about me. Our marriage is more and he and I. It is us and God. And only God can reach him. Keep on keeping on sister, but put the hurt in God’s hands. I’ve prayed, “Lord here is my husband, whom I love. Only You can open eyes and move hearts. I will wait for You to move and continue to love him.”

    2) Be kind to yourself. Do things for you. Sacrificing as we have to our marriages isn’t the serving God needs us to be doing. It made me bitter and easily angered. But when I started to say, “Hey if there isn’t anything you need from me, I’m taking some time for me.” he sat back. And more often than not now, a few years later, it is his idea for me to take some time. For things that fill me up.

    3) I printed out some resources, like the iMom “Ways to pray for your marriage” and “ways to pray for your children”. I put them up in the bathroom. I didn’t say at thing. I just prayed them as I started and ended my day. HE never said a word about them but one day the tape gave up and one of them fell down. HE was the one who put it back up.

    4) List the things you love about him. That you are thankful for in your marriage.

    and last of all, and not the very least, is a prayer I say that helps me.

    “Dear Lord, please show ____________ Your love and presence in a real and tangible way today. Open their heart to You. Let them see and feel You working in whatever is bothering or troubling them. Bless them and keep them safe.”

    Praying for you sister, don’t quit!

  19. says

    I’m in a somewhat similar situation… The things that I have learned are…

    1) Don’t take it personal. My husband’s first words to me (and my oldest who is not biologically his) in the morning are usually something negative. This morning, for instance, it was something along the lines of “your face looks darker… like your Mom… yuck.” What he doesn’t know is that this weekend, while at my Mom’s, she paid for me to get a facial because one of his biggest complaints is my mild acne. I’ve started using new product on my face trying to clear it up… so far I am happy with the results… but, apparently, he’s not. Sometimes it is that the house “stinks” because I’ve cooked lunch/dinner in the morning and he hates to wake up to the smell of any food. Hubby has told me that I need not take things personal… it’s hard but it’s true… I don’t think our husband’s always intend to hurt us with their words… sometimes they’re just more blunt and candid than we are.

    2) Praying for compassion over hubby’s struggles has made me so much more of who he is. It’s helped me to realize, over time, that I’m NOT always the problem. Sometimes he’s grumpy because that’s just the mood that he is in. If I automatically assume that it’s because of me or something that I have done, then I become defensive and before I know it we’re fighting. I remember, clearly, one evening when he was sleeping and he seemed “angry” even in his sleep… I realized then that it’s really not something that he can always, if ever, control. This has given me the ability to be more confident in my own circumstances and the heart to genuinely ache and pray for him in a way that I didn’t before.

    3) Do the things that are important to you and make you feel better about yourself. Seriously. Even if it means something doesn’t get done for him that he’s said isn’t so important to him. I make hubby’s lunch.. and our children’s.. and my own. I’m often scrambling, tired, and overwhelmed before and after work. My husband has told me it doesn’t make a difference to him if I peel the cucumber before I cut it or if I peel and cut the kiwi for him before I put it in his lunch. He doesn’t mind doing those things himself and he would rather I have more time for something else than hear me be overwhelmed for having done something for him that didn’t matter so much.

    My BIGGEST issue (with myself) is that I struggle to set aside the time to spend with God and do the things that I are important to and for me… I’m still learning. I’ve recently done a few things to make myself feel better (like getting the facial) and let me tell you, it helps SO much. If you have the means, go out for a little bit with some friends, go get a pedicure, get a massage… If you’ve been wanting to read a book or take a bath in the evening, do it. You can still make sure that hubby’s needs met by saying something like “Honey, I’m going to go [take a bath, read a book, go out for coffee with the ladies] this evening… Is there anything that I can do for you before I leave at [6:00]?” Of course, you’ll want to be sure that he doesn’t have any plans before scheduling anything… You can even ask a day or two ahead of time “Honey, would you mind if I [take a bath, read a book, go out for coffee with the ladies] tomorrow evening?”

    4) Someone else commented about initiating the hokey pokey with your husband. I can not tell you how many times I have danced that circle with my hubby. It is CLEAR to him when I am doing it out of “obligation” or when I am doing it because I genuinely *want* to. Sometimes, it’s just hard to be the wife that always wants to do “it” and, sometimes, that’s okay. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Unless you and hubby have a set schedule (e.g. we do it M, W,F or whatever), then let yourself be okay with NOT doing it sometimes (as long as he doesn’t pursue)… and, if he does and you’re not in the mood, Nina has some phrases that she’s shared recently… maybe try those.

    5) Pray, pray, pray. Praying in gratitude helped me a lot. I saw a counselor once who recommended that I prayed gratitude over one thing per day about my husband. It changed my perspective quite a bit. If you know that hubby is going to have a stressful day or meeting, pray about it for him. As his wife, you have that right – and the “power” – to pray on his behalf and make a difference in Christ. Have you read Stormie Omaritan’s “Power of a Praying Wife?” Let him know that you’re praying for him… ask him if there’s anything that you can pray for. “Honey, I know that you have that really big meeting at work today. I just want you to know that I’m praying for the outcome.” Engage with him in discussion on what you’ve read in the Bible, if you haven’t already… “You know, today I read something really interesting in the Bible.. I’m wondering if you might be able to share what you think about it.”

    6) See a counselor or find a trusted prayer partner, if you can and haven’t already. Having someone to talk about these things with and receive God-advice is SO helpful. Someone to come along side you and pray… I can not tell you how much of a difference this has made in my life. I learned things about myself that I never knew… and that has poured into my marriage and the relationships with my children.

    I think the biggest time, sweet sister, is to take the time to pour in to your OWN life. Yes, it is good to be respectful and yes, it is good to take care of our husbands. Taking care of yourself will make those things come more naturally and help them to seem more genuine. Also, remember who you are in Christ. Do not let this marriage and your husband’s perspective drain you of your God-given gift of heaven on earth. Believe me when I say that I get it… your marriage is not what you hoped it would be… what you still hope that it WILL or CAN be… but I have faith that you are exactly where Christ wants you to be and He is going to move you from this valley to the top of a mountain to rejoice in His name. I will continue to pray for you.

    • says

      Oh!! I meant to add that I remember back when hubby was NOT happy with his job… He was SO much more difficult to live with and be around. His negativity was like 100,000,000,000 times worse. It was like the job consumed and brought him down… ALL the time. Your husband’s displeasure in his job could very well be the reason he is so negative and defensive all of the time. :(

      There’s a book that talks about how much men are affected by their jobs and how much of their worth is tied up in their work and providing for their family. I’ll have to try to find the book… it helped me quite a bit to understand my husband. I will have to look it up and come back to let you know what it’s called.

  20. Melanie says

    I am finding that there are more of us in this situation than I thought. That, in itself, is reassuring. I appreciate all the advice. Thank you

  21. Laura says

    One more book reco to add to the ones suggested by others: Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man by Scott Wetzler. You are not to blame for your husband’s inability to communicate, receive love, etc.

  22. says

    I didn’t read all the above comments, but a lot of them, and I agree with what many have said. Quit trying so hard. There are good things here. He’s going to church with you. He’s not having an affair (or at least you didn’t mention that there was any evidence). Everything is ok, but not like you’d like it to be. So just focus on living for Jesus and quit trying to get a positive response from him. Do the things that you think the Lord wants you to do, but don’t do it for the purpose of getting a positive response from him. Do it just because it’s right and out of love for him. If he doesn’t respond at all, that’s ok. Stop asking him so much about what he wants or likes. Just be the best you can be and try to find other places that will give you positive affirmation (God, your kids, your friends, your family, etc). He may be broken inside and you can’t fix that. Be grateful for what is good and right, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

  23. says

    I think she needs to stop. I say that because i feel like she’s written much of my story. This is the path God has me on right now. Stop. Just like this precious lady, I was “doing” all the right things with no effect. However, in the last while now, just over a year, God has taught me to stop. A very simple verse that caught my attention is the one in John 5:19: So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

    Sometimes I, and perhaps this wife, have been guilty of putting our dream marriage and relationship on the altar of worship instead of the altar of sacrifice. I have learned it is time to do just what the Father tells me to do. When I go to prayer I don’t come anymore with a long list of requests… instead I sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to show me what HE is already doing and to teach me how I can pray to join Him. I ask Him if there are any specifics steps to take.. .and then immediately obey whatever He shows me. The hardest part for me has been to stop doing the things and going in the direction that God isn’t going.

    I believe I have, for close to twenty years, done so much – everything I knew and was told – and it was a constant burden. A heavy burden. Now… I’m doing so much less. I’m no longer focused on my marriage but on obedience to God. I remember the first day that God specifically told me not to pray for my marriage – but to pray a different kind of prayer. ACK!!! I thought I was going to love my love and devotion and my marriage all together. Somehow I had begun believing that without my striving – even in prayer – my marriage would fall apart. The truth is, God doesn’t need my striving to keep it together. He also doesn’t ever promise that my striving is ever effective!!

    My greatest recommendation to this lovely lady is to say stop doing. Instead, ONLY do those things you see the Father doing. Listen to Him every single morning and get your to-do list for the day.. .including what to do and what not to do for your husband. Depend on God fully.

    Mat. 7:22-24 is a reminder that we need to listen to God’s words and obey them. There are many (and I believe I have been guilty of this in my marriage) who have done lots of great things. We’ve done all the RIGHT things… to no avail. And in the end we will reap no reward (our marriages won’t change) because we were not obeying the will of the Father. We need to be in His Word, which you say you are. Great!! Now… along with me as I strive to do this too, I invite you to make a point of doing ONLY that which God calls you to do. Not the books. Not the counselor. Not anything unless God directs you. If He says to see a counselor… then go and obey what she says. If He says to stop making breakfast for your hubby… stop. Whatever He says.. do it.

    Be encouraged. There is life and joy in following Jesus… and He takes that heavy burden and makes it light. I know.. .I’m living this now.

  24. realmom59 says

    Bless your heart, I can certainly empathize with your struggles, but I would advise you to stop working so hard, you’re going to kill yourself from trying, and your children need you! I have left some reading suggestions, “The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Professional, reassuring advice for coping with the disorder – at work, at home, and in your family (Everything Series) Paperback” (it’s very hard on the children.) Read “The verbally abusive relationship: How to recognize it how to respond” by Patricia Evans
    Someone else mentioned porn addiction, that also may be present. The Porn Harms website offers great support for the loved of ones of porn addicts if that turns out to be the case.
    There also may be Christian support groups in your area. Focus Ministries offers support to Christian women facing various types of abusive relationships (verbal/emotional).
    But I would add, love Jesus, lean on Him, and Pray! Remember, Jesus loves and accepts you, and He has a plan and a purpose for your life apart from your husband only. Pray, find supportive ministries and ask them to pray. Find your gifts and enjoy and use them. Don’t make your husband your idol, he’s just a flawed human being like you, give him space! Don’t make your home and children and life all about your husband, make it about Jesus and walking with Him regardless of what your hubby does or doesn’t do or can’t do.
    Be kind to yourself and lean on the Lord.
    God bless you!

    • Jim says

      Sound painfully like you’ve been there, realmom59.

      Wow. I think I tried everything you suggested. Nothing worked for me. She ALWAYS had the upper hand, and she knew it, and she wouldn’t ease up. Finally, when I quit walking on eggshells, she left.

      I know this is about Lonely Wife, not me. Sorry if I’m going on and on. Still a lot of pain in my heart.

      • Julia says

        Jim, Don’t be ashamed to seek counseling from someone who helps those recovering from living with someone with a personality disorder like Narcissism (NPD) or other disorders. It’s important for yourself, your faith, and your family that you recover! God bless!

        • Jim says

          Julia:

          I very much appreciate your advice.

          I am getting therapy from an excellent therapist, as well as being in the Divorce Care recovery program.

          Jim

  25. says

    One other thing that I hate to have to bring up, but given your statements about him taking care of himself and calling you boring. That kind of behavior and response is very common in men with porn addictions. I believe you said your husband is a Christian so he know that porn is sin. If he’s addicted he likely hates himself for this sin. It can make him resentful of you too, because every time he looks at you, it’s a reminder of how he’s failing you as a husband and Jesus as a Christ follower.

    After you’ve learned about how boundaries work you will be in a better place to come along side him and support him in getting some accountability in his life in regards to porn if that is the problem.

    You might find some help here:
    http://site.themarriagebed.com/problems/sin/the-problem-with-porn

    Be blessed,
    Trixie

    • Jim says

      Trixie, I appreciate this perspective that you bring up. I hadn’t thought of it, but it makes a lot of sense.

      I’m doubtful that her husband hates himself. It sounds like he loves himself very much. If he is indulging in porn, he probably justifies it, just like he justifies the way he treats her. In fact, he may not even give it a second thought.

      I know how it is to be married to someone who thinks only of herself, who in her mind the world revolves around her. Sounds like she has this kind of husband.

      • says

        Jim,

        I know on the surface it looks like he suffers from loving himself too much, but often the root core problem with porn are problems with insecurity that manifest themselves in bad behavior and seeming narcissism. I think if you do some reading around in Christian forums, you’ll find that many of the men that struggle with this hate themselves for it.

        It’s so tempting to read these kind of emails and think how horrible that husband is, but we are all broken and need our Savior. I love your compassion here and am gently suggesting that we all remember:

        ” Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

        Trixie

        • Jim says

          Trixie, I really do appreciate your perspective and comments here, because there are always things that we don’t know and can learn from others.

          It’s just that her husband sounds so much like my ex wife — cared only about herself, and abused me in so many ways for decades.

          I hated myself when I struggled with porn. But I actually cared about doing what was right. If her husband does care about doing what is right, then he likely does hate himself if he has a porn addiction.

          Again, thanks for your comments. I honestly don’t want to be disagreeable, it’s just that her husband sounds just like my ex-wife.

  26. Jim says

    Wow. Leaves you speechless to read this.

    The first thought that comes to my mind is, I wish I were in his shoes. What a wonderful wife he has.

    I think she is trying too hard. I think she needs to tone it down some. Perhaps he will respond when his very devoted wife isn’t quite so devoted, and he feels like he may be losing her devotion.

    Here are some specific examples, to clarify what I am talking about:

    Literally each time I compliment him, he responds with, “You’re just saying that to obey God. You don’t really mean it,” but I do, and it hurts to not know how to give love to him.

    > Perhaps you should back off on giving him so many compliments. Tone it down to a level that isn’t so hurtful to you. Then when you do compliment him, it will be more genuine in his eyes. Maybe he will even miss the compliments.

    I instigate sex. I never turn him down. He takes care of himself and seems to forget that I’m even there, although he sometimes complains that I’m “boring.” I’ve worked on that, but then he complains that I’m being “phony.”

    > Don’t instigate sex. Let him be the one who makes the first move. Perhaps it seems to him that you are bored, because you are making yourself do it. Am I wrong about that? I get the impression that you are forcing yourself to do it, to try to please him. My guess is that you really don’t enjoy initiating sex, and that is what he is noticing. Whatever you initiate should be what YOU want to do, not what you think HE wants you to do.

    When I offer a different opinion, it is almost always by starting it with, “I don’t know how this fits, but one thing I’m wondering is…”

    > Perhaps you shouldn’t be quite so “respectful” in the way you offer your opinions. If you have something to say, just say it, without walking on eggshells. I’m not saying that you should be disrespectful; but I think you’re being too “respectful”; you’re erring in that direction.

    When I ask him how he receives love, he tells me, “I shouldn’t have to explain it.”

    > The Five Love Languages (by Gary Chapman) may give you a better understanding of how he receives love.

    I don’t know what to do. I make him defensive and am at a loss as to why. When I asked him about it, he said it was because I can be wrong sometimes so he doesn’t believe much of what I say

    > I know that this will sound hard, but when he says something like that, I think you need to let it roll off of you like water on a duck’s back. In other words, let a statement like that pass; don’t take it personal. A lot of what men say isn’t meant to be taken personal. (I’m quite sure that that makes no sense to you, but please trust me on in.) It is possible that this is what is going on here. (Maybe not, but maybe.)

    I feel like I’m dying in this relationship, like I’ve tried really hard and just keep failing. 15 years of failing.

    > Do you ever get out and hang out with your girlfriends? If not, you really need to.

    What do you do when you have literally done everything you can do?

    > You do two things: (1) You rejoice in God that your conscience is clear, and (2) You put your hope in God, not your husband.

    I am not angry, just sad at constantly being such a disappointment to the man I married. I do feel privileged to suffer for Christ, but I also feel like I can’t talk about it much, because that also seems to upset him.

    > Please don’t be sad about this. You can’t please some people, even your spouse. But you are well-pleasing to God, and He loves you and has compassion on you in this situation more than you can know. I believe I can understand what you are going through, because your husband sounds just like my ex-wife. We were married for 23 years. Nothing I did was good enough for her. I walked on eggshells till both kids had graduated from high school, so that she wouldn’t leave me (she continually held that threat over my head), because that would have hurt the kids. (I stayed and “took it” so as to be a buffer for the kids.) Then, when they had both graduated from high school, I backed away from the eggshells. As I suspected, she left me and divorced me a couple of years later.

    God bless you, Lonely Wife. All our hearts go out to you.

    • Growing up spiritually. says

      I walk on eggshells sometimes when I disagree with my husband or am angry with him, not because my husband is a bad guy, but because I’m scared about handling things wrongly in God’s eyes (i.e., I have an unhealthy performance mentality) and because I’m afraid of losing my husband’s love. Now, these issues are not based on anything that God or my husband have done, but rather on my childhood, my perfectionistic tendencies, etc. My husband feels like I think he’s “mean” at times because of how I tip-toe around him. He wants my respect, of course, but he doesn’t enjoy my overdoing it at all. He perceives my overdoing it as an unhealthy fear of him, and he takes it personally, like I think he’s a jerk. It puts him in a grumpy mood. So I agree with Jim and many of the commenters here that, yes, sometimes we should do acts of kindness even when we don’t feel like it because they’re the right thing to do, but overall, people intuitively know when we’re acting out of genuine love vs. when we’re acting out of obligation or to get something from them (like love, acceptance, etc.), so we shouldn’t try so hard all the time. In our relationship with God, God wants us to obey him because we genuinely love him. Love first with obedience as a fruit of our honest devotion to him. I believe our relationships with our husbands should be similar to that. Don’t make your husband a project.

      On a side note, I have realized more and more that loving and respecting myself is key to loving and respecting anyone else. My husband isn’t able, nor is he supposed to fill the void where I’m supposed to be accepting and loving myself and accepting God’s unconditional love. By loving, caring for, and respecting yourself, you unconsciously tell others that you are someone who deserves and rightly expects these things.

  27. Colleen says

    It’s hard to know, without knowing him or watching you two together, but a couple thoughts that come to mind, in case anything helps: He could be depressed if he is always negative and nothing makes him happy. You might look into the signs of depression. He might also be struggling with something himself that he doesn’t want to share. One thought, since you mentioned he said you were “boring” would be to find ways to make yourself more interesting; find a new hobby, new clothes, some interests of your own. Maybe you are too focused on him and he would like it if you had your own life and you were a bit mysterious and exciting. Plan some dates or things to do that are different from what you normally do. Mix things up, shake them up. Even if he accuses you of doing it because of a book or something, he may still like it. Don’t immediately give up. Another thought would be to get in a couples Bible study so it isn’t just you telling him he needs to get in a study. Attend a marriage conference maybe. Things where you both can learn together. Also, think back to what you did when you were dating, or early in your marriage when things were good. What was different?

  28. says

    I love what Amy said here. I would add one suggestion. Read Boundaries and then Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They are both Christian psychologists. I think it will help you not be so hurt by his criticism. Some Christians are afraid of setting boundaries because they think of it as making rules for another person. Boundaries are not rules and they are for you, not someone else. They help us learn what we are responsible for versus what we are responsible to. 2 can’t become one if there aren’t 2 whole people to start with. When boundaries get blurred we end up feeling responsible for things that are not within our sphere of control. You can’t change someone else, but you can change how you respond to them.

    I applaud you for your patience with your husband and your obvious love of God. Bless you sweet sister!

    Trixie

    • realmom59 says

      Good answer! These books are very helpful,but I have a caveat, if your husband has a certain personality (call it a disorder if you want) the boundaries books will have limited effect. I would suggest she go to a supportive counselor for herself, living with someone like this is very difficult and if you haven’t done it you can’t know! Read some books on Verbal/ Emotional Abuse and make sure you are aware when that is happening because it is very hard on the children. Read “The verbally abusive relationship: How to recognize it how to respond” by Patricia Evans Another book you might consider in helping you live with your husbands personality may be “The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Professional, reassuring advice for coping with the disorder – at work, at home, and in your family” (Everything Series) Paperback by Goodman and Leff. Sometimes understanding that your loved one cannot (or not without great difficulty) be “normal” is a great relief and helps you change your expectations about the relationship. Gifted people are often a little different than the rest of us and they can be hard to live with and difficult to please. By God’s grace I wish you strength and peace in your situation. I have found much relief in realizing the uniqueness of my loved ones and changing my attitude and response accordingly!
      You are to be commended for hanging in there and doing all that you do for your family! God bless! Praying for you!

    • kidsncows says

      I also highly recommend the Boundaries books, and the videos that Drs. Cloud and Townsend have on their website. I would also go ahead with personal counseling. At the very least, the books will help you have peace with what you are responsible for and who you are responsible to. It is never about changing the other person (though we wish they would :) ), but about managing yourself. This internal shift often instigates change in the other person as a good result, but if it doesn’t, your obedience to God is intact, and your conscience is clear. It sounds like your heart is truly in the right place with wishing to please God. A person can go beyond where their responsibility lies, though, and become a doormat. Learn about setting boundaries. I can’t tell you how helpful these books were to me.

  29. Sonna Ruth says

    On Thursday my husband and I will be married 48 years. I can really relate to you and have loved reading the responses above. The big thing that I learned, even before I ever learned anything about respecting my husband, was God showed me that I didn’t have to have a miserable day no matter what my husband had said or done to me. The Lord gave me the verse in Nehemiah 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” The Lord reminded me that He is the one who gave me a good day and He filled the hole in me that God created for Him to fill, not my husband. As I learned to be joyful in the Lord, a lot of the pain and bitterness went away. I was much happier in spite of my husband’s very negative personality and responses to me. The only thing I can say now is that I am very thankful I hung in there and have watched how God has changed my husband. I now have a Godly husband that I respect and appreciate. I used to say that I didn’t know if I could retire from my job and stay at home because I was afraid I might kill my husband. But I have been retired almost 3 years and he is still alive. Praise God!

    One
    piece of feedback that my husband gave me rather recently was that I took way too many things personally and shouldn’t have because he didn’t mean them personally. It’s hard to not take them personally when you don’t know any different.

    For the sake of your children, hang in there with the Lord. They will thank you in later years.

    Sonna Ruth

  30. pco004 says

    I’ve been where your husband is today. I created a wall between myself and my wife. I refused to open my heart to let her in. I judged everything. I suspected everything. I was selfish and prideful. It took a huge fall to see that I was the source of the majority of the issues in my marriage. I wanted to share some thoughts about how Abraham’s faith (and patience) was tested over many many years.

    In Romans 4, the Apostle Paul refers to Abraham, who never wavered in his faith, despite having no real reason to believe he would see God’s promises fulfilled in his life. The book of Genesis records the story between God’s promise to Abraham and the hero of the faith we remember him as today. Along the way, remaining faithful was not as easy as it may have sounded. Often times, the promises of God don’t seem to make sense in light of what we see. When that appens, it can be difficult to keep our hopes up.

    For Abraham’s faith to be strengthened, it had to have something to push against. Nothing gets stronger without resistance—not a marriage, not a church, and not a dream… Your faith needs a fight in order to grow.”

    In Romans 4:19, Paul writes that Abraham “faced the fact” that hope seemed to be lost, yet never wavered in his faith. When God promised Abraham that he would make him the “father of many nations” in Genesis 12, it didn’t make sense to him. Abraham was 100 years old, without a son, and his wife was too old to conceive. Against all hope, however, Abraham still found a way to believe in hope and thus strengthened his faith. In the same way, our faith grows whenever we can push against all odds and find a hope to cling to within us.

    Still, it can be incredibly difficult to find our faith in the midst of seemingly impossible or hopeless situations. Throughout his life, Abraham was forced to work through numerous limitations, mistakes, and circumstances that worked against the promise God made to him. Today, we live as recipients of many promises of God. However, many of our struggles can seem to weigh down our hopes and keep us living in discouragement.

    Sometimes, the facts of our present circumstances stand in clear contradiction of our hope. Other times, reminders of our past failures can come back to haunt us and cause us to lose hope. In all of this, our feelings, perhaps the biggest challenger to our faith, will drive us further from finding the hope of glory within us.

    In Romans 4:20-21, Paul wrote that Abraham was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, believing that He was fully capable of performing all that He had promised. In Hebrew, the word “glory” means “weight.” Therefore, to say that Abraham gave glory to God would literally mean that he gave weight to His promises—more weight than he gave to his facts, failures, or feelings

    Everyone…especially in marriage…goes through ups and downs in their faith, with many of the “downs” driven by the overwhelming nature of our discouragement. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17, God’s glory will outweigh any of our struggles. The hope of glory—and all of God’s promises—are within us, lifting our hopes above all our doubts.

    • Heather says

      Abraham wavered in faith. Ishmael. Hebrews only speaks of their triumphs and doesn’t impute or remember the “hall of famers” sins. Just like God does us.

  31. Letitia says

    I agree with everything Amy said. Try not to beat yourself or feel inadequate because you aren’t getting the love and acceptance you want/expect from your husband after so many years and so much effort. Remember that God sent His only Son for you therefore even if your husband doesn’t treat you well, we have a heavenly Father that thought enough of us to sacrifice His Son for us. You are more than worthy of love! Our husbands are hurting and fallen just like us. They show their pain very differently though. Often, they hurt us or find shortcomings in us as a means of deflection from their own issues. Even if he won’t do couples counseling with you, I strongly suggest you seek personal counseling to help cope with the hurt and disappointment you feel and to better understand how you can heal and grow spiritually even in such a painful situation. To reiterate what Amy said, don’t give up! In God, there is always hope.

    Blessings,

    Letitia

  32. Barbara Ziesemer says

    Dear Sister’
    Keep crying out to God in prayer and keep doing what you are doing. I know it hurts when you husband criticizes you, but in love continue. I sense he has issues of insecurity and “judges” you by how he feels about himself. Your love and faithfulness are speaking to him. And his failure causes him to turn on you whom he sees possibly as having everything under control. Focus on pleasing God rather than doing & gaining approval from your husband (while still pleasing him) Most of all don’t listen to Satan’s lie that you are a failure. Not to say that you are perfect, we all fall at times but by God’s grace arise and press on toward the goal. Find a sister or several locally who will hold you up in prayer and encourage you. And focus on building respect in your children. I walked a lonely road myself and now as we are nearing the 50 mark, I am seeing some fruit.God sees your situation and will give you the strength you need.
    In Christian love,
    Barb

  33. Amy Charles says

    I totally relate! What God had to teach me, is that my husband has his own pain.It sounds like your husband cannot receive from you what you’re offering and it may not be that he thinks you’re the problem. Wondering if he may believe deep down he isn’t worthy? Like he is suspicious of your actions because if his own failures or fears or the enemy’s deception about himself. We can do our part but until your man gets some healing for himself, really submits himself to Christ and opens up his heart to be searched out by the Spirit to target the brokeness, the deception he may be believing about you, himself or even God, things will remain one sided. My experience was: the closer I got to Jesus and the more at peace I was, the more uncomfortable he became. Even accusitory about my “super spirituality” which was not anything but the fruits if the Spirit making him uncomfortable in his yuckiness. The light of Christ in me revealed his insecurity which was grounded in his past broken relationships & perceived failures. It was at the 15 year mark that we had our greatest difficulty! So, just know your story reads so familiarly to my heart. There is hope!! I continued in obedience to respect my husband and God gave me such compassion and understanding for my husband’s hurts and insecurities. But that only happened as I presented my life to Christ and through the Word and Holy Spirit let Him teach me about my own feelings of inadaquacy. He taught me how loved, valuable and precious I am to Him and how I had sought to be validated by those around me. I realized this had led to a lot of heartache throughout my life. As I came to understand this about myself, I was able to understand that my husband had similar pain. By the Spirit’s leading, my husband has allowed me to carefully bring things to light that he has kept buried for much if his life and I am seeing the freedom come! He is understanding why he feels some of the emotions and why he holds back in showing love. For him, it was a safety thing based on past hurts. He didn’t trust. But he is learning and so am I. I’m learning how to help him, love him and encourage him..slowly and gently ;)God has and is working a miracle in our marriage and in our hearts! Don’t give up! Pray for God, through His Spirit, to help you discern what’s going on in your husband’s heart. 1Cor.2:8-16 God is faithful! Phil.1:6
    For God’s Glory,
    Amy

    • Elizabeth says

      Precious fellow wife,

      YES, these were my thoughts exactly as I read your post. Not only past hurts, but possible feelings of inadequacy and/or discomfort over sin, all of these could be causing such behavior–or some combination of these factors.

      One thought struck me before anything else, however. Your husband may not believe you truly love HIM. He may believe that you are “performing” is a sense, as a way of pleasing God, striving to be “good” to measure up to God’s standards–which is true. But you may–by the very intensity of your efforts–be giving him the impression it isn’t genuinely motivated by love for HIM. It may almost feel like a performance to him. My husband has confronted me about my feelings in the past, when I was (wrongly) afraid to even express any anger, fearing it showed disrespect. He wanted honesty in our relationship more than anything else, not a “Stepford Wife.” He wanted ME. He wanted me to be who I am, to do the things I love, to live life as the “wonderful woman” he married. He did NOT want someone who forgot who she was and merely became a satellite of her husband or a saint concerned only with God’s approval. Counseling–with or without your husband–is definitely a great idea. So is spending time with people who feed you in positive ways and developing your own interests and talents.

      Above all, please know that your faithfulness not only pleases God but is a living example of what loyalty really means and greatly encourages us all. May knowing that bring comfort and God’s spirit give you strength and peace. Much love to you!

    • Peggy says

      Thank you all for your comments to Lonely Wife – I needed them today more than you can know. I have been studying from Respect Dare for a while trying to heal from my husband’s 2 affairs. I have prayed and prayed but nothing seems to change, when I try to talk to him about our issues he turns the tables and blames me for everything….seems to take no responsibility and is indignant that I can’t ‘just get over it’. I think I have been guilty of trying too hard to do ‘all the right things’….please pray for me that I will be able to focus on God and not let my fears become my idol.

      • Jim says

        Peggy: Please try to please God, not your husband. I’m sorry to say this, but he may not want to repent. The only one you can please is God. And He will be very pleased with you. In fact, He probably already is.

        I had a wife who I could never please — nothing I did was enough. When I finally quit walking on eggshells, she left me and divorced me.

        I’m really sorry to bring that kind of news to the discussion. My purpose in saying it is to say that even if you are absolutely perfect in every way, even if you have done everything humanly possible, sometimes that doesn’t even work, because your spouse doesn’t want to change. But your hope is in Christ, not in your husband.

        Keep doing your very best, and I and others here will be praying for God to work a miracle. And also that you can keep your spirits up. You aren’t doing anything wrong here, you are doing everything right. Please be encouraged in that.

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