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?
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,