I have a friend who is seeing a marriage counselor because her marriage is hard.
She shared recently with me what she considered a “really small incident” that represents a ton of others. One morning she rose early, made her husband’s lunch for him (usually he made it himself because he leaves really early in the morning and she is usually still asleep) and sat down to read her Bible.
When he was ready to leave for work, she said, “I made lunch for you today.”
He said, “Can you put it in the container so I can carry it?”
She noticed he didn’t thank her and instead sounded irritated.
“Sure, where is it?” she replied.
“On top of the frig,” he answered.
She got up and put his lunch in the carrier and then sat back down.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Zucchini bread, vegetables and manicotti,” she replied.
“Oh,” he said.
A few moments later, he finally said, “Thanks.”
She felt sad. They hadn’t been physically intimate for weeks, and interactions like these were common – you know, the ones where she does something for him, hoping that he’ll be pleased and instead she’s met with criticism or suggestions or questions about how to make it better.
She told me she sat at the table for a long while after he went to work, crying because she felt so lonely, and ashamed at her neediness.
She then said, “It was my own fault.”
I thought, “Huh?” I mean, I know her husband. He works hard, shows up for things with their kids, but he’s a hard guy, not really friendly, generally kind of grumpy.
“My therapist told me that I need to stop expecting my husband to act like anyone but my husband. I keep thinking, hoping, praying, whatever, that he’s going to act differently than he does. That he’s going to act like Carol’s husband or Joann’s. He isn’t going to. He’s not them. He can’t. He is going to be the way he is. I need to stop wanting him to be something he is not. I also should have said something 20 years ago when he first started acting like this, right after we got married. He wasn’t like this at first, and I just put up with it, made excuses for his rude behavior, and now here we are and I feel alone in my marriage,” she said. She also remembered that he never asked her to do this for him – and found out later that he liked making his own lunch. So what she did in an attempt to be loving, was actually having the opposite effect.
Genesis 1:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
When I read that this morning, my friend’s story came to mind. I realized that there was a brief moment in the garden when Adam and Eve were like naked 3 year olds together, oblivious to their nakedness, totally comfortable with each other. Yesterday while doing research with a friend, I read in one of my commentaries that God made man and woman subject to the sin of pride – that it rules over us – and I longed for a marriage for my friend and myself and you where shame had no presence.
Shame is the result of the fall, and pride is the root of all of our sin. Without pride, there is no shame. We often hide our true selves from the people we live with because we are thinking about how they are going to treat us in response and we are dwelling on past hurts. We often fail to have healthy expectations of the sinners we live with. We expect them to behave differently than a sinner. We forget we are also sinners. This is different than being wise in not trusting our emotions – a lack of self-control and wisdom will damage our relationships if we act on our emotions instead of checking them with God. We destroy the intimacy in our marriages even further when we unplug from God, letting our emotions rule us, having thoughts about our hurts and disappointments that we don’t work through with Him. He always has an answer, a suggestion, and will help us deal with our emotions in a healthy, holy way if we will but let Him.
Yes, people should be appreciative and loving toward us, but we cannot control another person’s behavior – and when we do something for them for the response, we are trying to make a purchase, not serve God. Often times we need to recognize that we are dealing with people who are on their own journey, usually in a different place than we are, and while not making excuses for them, do what God wants us to do for them, instead of what WE think we should do. In that, we often will not have our pride attached to an expected response, because we will sense His pleasure with what we have done. We will also not be wrapping our identity up in the responses of other people – another pride/shame based response.
It’s a fine line – often with the outward behavior looking the same, but with the internal confidence that comes from being in alignment with God’s will, and in deep relationship with Him.
I’m not sure I have done a good job communicating this today. It’s a difficult concept to grasp, one that I struggled through for years, and still have issues with, especially when I wander away from God, as we are all prone to do at times.
At any rate, today, I dare you to ask God how pride and shame have crept into your marriage, separating you from the Father and your husband. Dare you to pray for him to reveal these things and change us all.
Love to you,
What do you think? Where are you in the journey?
This nailed me between the eyes…
“I thought about the verse in Ephesians that says, ‘Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything’ (5:24) That word ‘everything’ feels mighty big. Maybe too big. But I think this verse means husbands are to show leadership and, as with any case of leadership, to have a ‘leader’, there must be a ‘follower’. Can I learn to follow my husband? The word ‘follow’ doesn’t feel so great either. What if he leads us somewhere where I don’t think we should go? Or want to go? But isn’t that what trust is about? And if I trust that God has put my husband in my life, then shouldn’t I trust my husband? But then another thought hit me. Does my lack of trust at times actually keep my husband from embracing his God-given call as the leader of our household? Do I ever get in the way of him pursuing the role God intended for him. That’s a question that’s giving pause. I’m so concerned with what following (my husband) might do for me [or in my case, to me], that maybe I’m not thinking about what following (my husband) might do for him.”
My So-Called Life As A Submissive Wife by Sara Horn
How long do I have to pray for this man before something positive happens?! Will anything ever happen? It seems like my prayers are having the opposite effect. What is going on?! He seems to be getting worse rather than better. I picked up my prayer books this morning and started weeping instead. With tears flowing down my face I fumed, “I don’t want to pray for this man anymore! I’m tired of praying for this man! Are you even listening to my prayers, God?” I resisted the impulse to throw the books against the wall and picked up my Bible instead. I read aloud to myself from Psalms, the tears blocking my vision. I didn’t feel any better after I finished reading. For years I’ve been hearing God say, “Be still. Wait on Me”. At least I think it’s Him. It might be my fear of being alone, my codependency, my abusive childhood coming back to haunt me again. His financial irresponsibility, his drinking, his non-compliance to doctor’s orders for his diabetes and heart disease, his lack of interest in anything I’m interested in…. Am I supposed to just keep giving and waiting and being unfulfilled in this lopsided union called marriage? I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE, GOD! But even now I can hear that voice in my heart, “Be still and know that I am God.” Sigh… but what does that have to do with my marriage.? Everything? Nothing? Some things but not others? I wasn’t designed to be the leader of our home. But someone’s got to do it because he won’t step up to the plate. But I have to say to God in reply, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.”… though you slay me God, yet will I praise you. You are all I have. You are truly all I have.
Hello. If he has a drinking problem, and is irresponsible, probably you need to go to Al-anon to get some support for yourself. It is so hard to do this on your own without support. I do relate. I think it is very difficult for women today – as we seem to have more demands and expectations than ever before. Somehow, I do not think that is the way it is supposed to be.
Reblogged this on Life According To A Lady…Who Stay's PrayedUp♡ and commented:
Phenomenal Article 🙂
Any good was all Him. 🙂
Love to you, so glad you are here! 🙂
Reading all this I feel horrible. I really don’t know how to be nice and calm and respectful anymore. I feel like I am a failure because I will never be able to be so perfect. My husband has betrayed me and left us and I am still fighting for this family… Thinking I have to learn to be nice and respectful. But on the way I even lost almost all my faith. Where is God?? Where is he? My biggest fear that God might not exist is tormenting me. And this only because I try to follow all these rules. But I have no strenghth anymore. I am giving up. Sorry.I’ve come to the end of my rope and am only struggeling to not fall any deeper.
Amada, dear, bless you for being here and reaching out with a comment. No one here is perfect. We are all learning together. God is holding you up, honey, please know that.
And there are oh-so-many praying for you as well.
Oh, Amanda… This is not a journey to perfection. This is beautiful journey that goes through pain, and mistakes, and also failure. We’ve all failed. We all fail daily. Don’t ever let the fear of failure or fear that God won’t be there from taking another step or from starting another journey. We will all be here rooting you on, and praying for your strength.
The fear of being abandoned is, I think, one of women’s greatest fear. So many have hurt us and left us scarred that we assume God is going to be next, just like everyone else.
He isn’t. He’s good. He’s more real than you could ever imagine.
Oh Amanda – please know that God is with you, He is waiting on you and He has a plan to prosper, not harm you.
I can relate so clearly with your feelings – I was you just 6 short years ago. After 10 years of marriage my husband was lost in addiction to online gaming (60+ hours a week). My Mother had just filed divorce after 40 years of emotional and verbal abuse. My Daddy had literally walked away without even saying good-bye. I had alienated most of my friends. My church had asked me to step off the worship team (which was my passion) and the God of my life, the Savior who died on the cross for me, the ONE and only true Love – was silent.
I wrote this poem:
Where would I go?
Where would I go if the voice in my heart stopped speaking?
Where would I go to find another voice to hear?
Would I be deaf or would the voice just be silent?
And if I were deaf, could I still see and know?
Where would I go if I could see a path awaiting ahead of me?
Where would I go to know if it were right or wrong?
And if I took the path?
Where would I go if the road I was walking had been torn in half by and earthquake?
Where would I go if I had already taken a step on that road and knew I was falling in the crevice?
Where would I go if I wanted to keep falling – though a had is reaching down to help me?
Would I reach back?
Where would I go, back on a road, but wishing I were still falling?
Where would I go, knowing that others were watching and could follow me?
Where would I lead the one that are behind me?
Would I still go?
And this from my journal around the same time:
“Today I didn’t want to go to church. It is Sunday and habit wins so I got dressed and took the children with me. I went to that service and I wanted to believe. The speaker talked about urgings of the Holy Spirit to pray with and for others. I couldn’t take it, against everything I’ve ever learned about respecting a pastor and others, I had to just leave. I got up and I walked right on out because that was better than what I wanted to do. I wanted to scream at them all. I wanted to shout to the crowd – Who is not listening? – Because if I’m not drowning, someone needs to tell me that. And if I am drowning, please, someone, send me a life-vest.”
Amanda, it’s been 6 years and I can still feel that sick lonlieness and defeat. Today, God is the same as He was then – but I am very different. I lived that darkness for about 18 months. I got to where you are now. I chose a life of sin. I drove after drinking more times than I can count and hoped every time that I just wouldn’t make it home. I was convinced that God must not love me, but I was by that time separated and raising 6 children on my own. I continued to go to church mostly because I knew that for those 2 hours someone was taking care of my children. I praise God for my childhood brought up in church, for habits formed that carried me during that darkness.
Many people tried to reach in and pull me from the crevice, others sent me life-vests of scripture and encouragement. Then, one day, I remembered the moment of my salvation. I was reminded of my own dark soul, and how Jesus was sent away from His Father, He willingly died for me, in my weakest, most fleshly and sinful moments He still loved me enough. I didn’t write down that date and by that time I had stopped keeping a journal. All I know is that for that day I was thankful. Then the next day I read this : “the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfullness; His mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23) And for that day, I could hope that He was still there. The days turned into weeks and months and every morning when I woke up, He was there, waiting on me. THAT is what I cling to every.single.moment of every.single.day. “For the Lord is good. His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfullness is to ALL generations.” (Psalm 100:5) He is my dearest friend today and He loves you just the same.
I hope you are feeling His love through these beautiful women. 🙂 They totally get it – and they’re right.
Glad you are here…
Love to you,
I’m so sorry. I understand your pain because I feel it, too. Please don’t give up. You are NOT alone.
We recently moved to our homestead and I had a moment that was a lot like the lunch incident. I had packed boxes with neat and in my not so humble opinion near perfect organization and order. In fact I declared proudly that I was a “Master of Organization”
Oh yeah. I was asking for it. I’m still hearing it actually.
We got to our new home and the guys worked their magic unloading boxes and we began the process of getting at least the kitchen, bedrooms and den put together so we could at least get through the basics of the day without having to look for it in boxes.
We also had and are still working on getting the fences fixed, the sprinklers working, the house power washed.. the list goes on and on.
Upon which I promptly got sick – but I didn’t know I was sick. Words and voices all sort of blended into a mud soup that wouldn’t lift. The room was swimming and the world had too many edges and they all hurt. My productivity went down the tubes. My hubbs repeatedly asked if I was sick, if something was wrong, if I was upset about something, but for the life of me I just couldn’t put together the words to explain that I was flat on my butt sick but couldn’t really get it together to figure out what was wrong. He was getting pretty annoyed because I really wasn’t doing much other than staring at him when he spoke. After a day of this it was just tears because I couldn’t come up with much else. That and my worrier wants me in the Dr’s office for anything that might even remotely be related to some other health problems I have. I didn’t feel like dealing with him worrying and I hate that the Dr’s want to run every test known to mankind, waste my time and my money and when I’m under less pressure and have the time to get rested it usually resolves itself; so I just tried to push through. The gloom and dooms were getting me and even though I didn’t have words I knew I just felt horribly under appreciated for what I *DID* get done in light of how badly I was feeling. It lasted for about three days and I was bouncing back when he fell to the same bug.
He was a bit more understanding of where I had been for the last few days, but now he was sick and cranky and stuck on the couch and expecting to be loved and cared for.
We got through. That’s about all I can say for it. Sometimes just hanging on for that extra few days and remembering that marriage is a long road. We will go through times where intimacy isn’t as deep as we’d like it to be and we have to do our best not to build walls inside our heads that we’ll have to come back and break down later to return to intimacy. Stay naked in spite of the impulse to bristle, cringe away and cover up.
Sometimes after days like these I’ll wake up to the funniest thing at night. My husband sleeps in bits and blobs rather than all the way through, and when he’s awake he talks to me while I’m sleeping. He thanks me, he tells me he loves me. When I’m the least likely to respond or remember he’s talking to me saying all the things that when I’m at my most confrontational and least trusting I need to hear but can’t ask for.
I try to remember that if he can think and say these things when I’m completely non confrontational, he is probably thinking them at other times, but the door is closed and he can’t say them then.
MANDI. What a great comment! Wise words indeed. I love the “stay naked” 🙂
Love to you,
If we are doing something to get a response from someone else, it is actually a form of control. To men, that seems disrespectfull and they intuitively pick up on it. I know, because I do it constantly, and it does not work. I know it is hard to change. We do need to check our motives. We can change if we begin to do what we think God would have us do. He meets us where we are. Hope this helps.
This may sound terrible, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing the bare minimum and enjoying your life with other people. So your husband isn’t fun to be around? There are consequences to behaving terribly. He can sit at home alone (which he probably wants anyway) while you go out and enjoy your life. There are books and friends and coffee and a whole world of people that are pleasant to be around.
I’m with Lulu personally, my hubby likes to stay home, isolate himself, he doesn’t mind what I do & occasionally joins me, but I had to build a life without him of things I enjoy doing & what God calls me to.
I want to urge caution when you get to the bare minimum level. I was married once before and had that same attitude–if he wouldn’t do things with me I would do them with other people. I ended up divorced. I wanted him to make me happy–no other person can be to us what God is meant to be.
My current husband of 38+ years is not a super socializing/involvement type of person so with his agreement I am involved,in several things, MOPS Mentor Mom, Prayer Shawl, Bible Study, Apples of Gold, Bonco, and mentoring young wives/moms as well enjoying friendships with terrific women. I reserve time for Roy and me. Even if it me sitting on the couch with the computer, crocheting, or cross stitching, we carry on a conversation about what he is watching. He came downstairs a few minutes ago and I joined him on the front porch for coffee. I am intentionally his best friend.
I more than understand where you are coming from but don’t walk away emotionally, physically, or in any other way from the man God has called you to love. Don’t use the excuse that you were not a believer when you met and married. God knew where you would be today and if you will allow Him, He will use the challenging relationships in your life for good in your life, in your husband’s life and in God’s kingdom. You are teaching your children (adult, child, and baaby) how to be married. What lessons are you conveying? I do not speak pridefully but humbly from hard lessons learned.most of which were very contrary to my nature. Dig, dig, dig into God’s word and find all it has to say about marriage and relationships and apply, apply, apply it to your life. My way may not be so hot but God’s way works.
Mary, I’m very discouraged in my marriage and with my husband in general. Thank you for your comments. They provide a different insight. My flesh is so hurt, so angry, so abandoned my him. God, help me to intentionally be his best friend.
My counselor says my husband and I are in a very deep power struggle. She also says that he and I see each other as the enemy. I know that I am going to have to be the one to relent because I’m the more mature one, because I’m the woman, blah blah blah. As I read over my words here, I sound bitter even to myself. I guess I am. And my counselor is right, I do see him as the enemy. And I presume he sees me the same way. Who cares, dangit?! God cares. (And yes, I care, too. Although I don’t want to care.) Once again, I pray… Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Reblogged this on Simple Musings of a Pastor's Wife and commented:
Today’s comment from Nina are just too good not to share!
Sweet girl, This is hard because we want appreciation with skin on. We want people to express their appreciation in ways we understand. My husband is a quiet man whose idea of a compliment is “You’re not too bad for your age group.” (Yes, I know he’s joking.) My husband has been often critical of me and expects more of me than of other people. I have determined to have a sense of humor. I have decided that my sufficiency is of Christ and if I know I have done well before my Papa, my Savior, my Brother, my Friend, I will try to focus on that. When I get depressed and discouraged I put on worship style music and I worship and sing praise to the Lover of my soul. When I am disappointed I try to do something nice for someone else.
Part of the lack of intimacy may be that the man God has given you to respect and love on purpose, may sense that you see himn lacking and compare him to others. I love The Respect Dare because we are challenged to be intentional in our respect. We want unconditional love. Our husbands need unconditional respect about as much as they need oxygen. Focus on Jesus. Offer the lack of appreciation and disappointment to Him, to Jesus, as a sacrifice. If your husband never changes, you will. Your life wiil be sweeter bathed in God’s grace than colored with bitterness about what you feel is rejection. I love my husband more now than I did when I married him and that is an understatement. I don’t know how much he has changed but I know I have and it is good.
Love and hugs,
This is cool because I had this chat with my bro-in-law yesterday. He was saying how he is genuinely trying in a family relationship but the other person won’t let up. And I told him you can only do what you feel called to do and be forgiving. You can’t change any one or expect them to be different than they are. Only God can work in their lives and their hearts and in His timing and if they are listening. I just sent this to him.
Nina, I think what it comes down to his God knows the motives of our hearts. When our motives are pure we’re at peace with whatever the response is, when we find ourselves disappointed in our response, it’s likely we need to examine our motives. Might be time for a heart cleaning. Be blessed, Trixie
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