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 sounded irritated as he said, “Can you put it in the container so I can carry it?”
“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.
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.
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,
Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments! 🙂 (and if you liked the article today, consider yourself invited to join us by signing up in the sidebar for the marriage tips articles – don’t worry, I won’t flood your email, and I promise not to share it with anyone else)
Here’s a few more articles you might find interesting:
Top 5 Ways to Respect Your Husband
Is Your Teen Complaining about Going to Church?
When You are the Only One Trying in Your Marriage
Struggling with Life Balance? (aka, “How’d we get in THIS mess?”) *If you are chauffeuring kids everywhere all the times, you’ll want to check this out!
How to lose the weight and keep it off (and yes, it really works!)
How to Help People (and yourself) STOP Freaking Out During Conflict
And if you are struggling with a man who is angry, defensive, and you’ve lost yourself and are super discouraged… you can get on our waiting list for the Strength & Dignity class that starts in two weeks. 🙂 And it is free. 🙂
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What do you think? Where are you in the journey – chime in below!
Man, of course I didn’t bother to read this when it came in my inbox cause I was having a good day…..tonight I blew up at my husband over feeling unappreciated and how tired I am of being told what I do wrong so often and getting so little in the way of encouragement. I’m tired,tired, tired of doing so much without an encouraging word or some kindness in return..and there’s the problem, my motives. And I know better, I’ve been here before, I’ve done things for the right reasons and you know his responses didn’t bother me so much. How did I get back here again? It set me off today to hear he is going to go spend all Saturday helping a relative with housework, this after being sick for about 6 weeks and hardly doing much of anything (other than his job)….I should not be upset about this, but I am, cause I’m exhausted and the children and I have been doing a lot to try to get ready for winter while he is napping or playing video games…..I so wish I had read this before I opened my mouth. Please keep me in prayers ladies, I used to be part of the strength and dignity group on FB but for personal reasons had to get of FB. Miss you all.
Saved ByGrace –
We’re moving the class to the website – sign up again if you need to – and you can join us in a few weeks over there!!
Love to you,
Doing for God, not hubby’s response… Wow. My job is to listen for God ‘s voice and do what HE says. Pride gets in my way because I think my way is best. Forgive me, Jesus.
I wish I could have read this 3 days ago and avoided all the angst I’ve been going through but I so appreciate you posting it now. I have felt unappreciated, taken for granted and unloved for days. God finally spoke to me last night in the midst of some very negative and destructive thoughts and told me to STOP! He told me to trust him and allow Him to work on my family and be patient. This morning I received a very affirming message from my husband. Your post is confirming everything God has been trying to tell me. I need to make God proud and allow Him to work in the rest of my family! Thank you for sharing!!
Even though you expressed feeling that you hadn’t communicated well, what you wrote was very helpful! Especially “people who are on their own journey.” The Lord is working and he is responsible to respond to the place where the LORD is working in his life, not the place where I would like to see change.
Thanks for the positive response – I’m glad you get it! 🙂 Often people are so caught up in their own pain, they can’t see. I’ve been there, myself, actually. 🙂 Thankfully not all the time, nor with many people. 🙂
I thought your comment about the Lord was spot-on and insightful! 🙂
Love to you,
The special note. …..”do something for them for their response….” really resonated with me. Being away from God’s guidance I lost sight of who was the center of my marriage. I agree this is a tough concept, pleasing God and finding happiness in service to God by caring for our husbands …..joyfully, without expecting them to respond in the way we want…. Or as my husband would say, which hoop do I jump thru today, and how many? Ouch!
It is our pride (meet this demand, make me feel a certain way) that leads to the shame of their failure (not meeting our expectations, almost but not quite right) and we set them up. When serve to please God, our heart is rightly motivated and the response from our spouse is not the focus. With God’s help I am working on my heart motivation! Thank you for this post it is a timely reminder!
This brings back memories of “testing” my hubby to see if he responded to my expectations! Thank the LORD I grew up! Sin IS I want what I want when I want it! These “tests” are usually about us and the power we possess, not our hubby!
YES. Good job and thank you for sharing this!! 🙂
Love to you,
Wow Nina! I am married for 3 years I am in my late twenties and my husband is 31. Reading through this was as if I was reading my own life story… the unappreciative husband who complains about everything I do for him, from food to the clothes I packed or did not pack for his week away from home, and is also usually not very friendly toward other people (and no, he was not always like this). I have felt frustrated and talked to him about this several times but I kept feeling like I was not getting through to him, no matter what I did. I find this statement so profound and liberating “…and when we do something for them for their response, we are trying to make a purchase, not serve God.” I will continue from this point by seeking God for His guidance for what it is God would want me to do for my husband for God, not that I can get the response from my husband that I want for me.
I’m so sorry. You might consider our free Strength & Dignity class. 🙂 This is a long hard path to walk – but you can walk it with sisters. 🙂
Love to you,
Hi Nina, how do I access the Strength & Dignity class?
Check the tab on the blog. 🙂
Love to you, Mojabeng!
A lot of red flags go up for me when hearing that your husband’s manner has changed since being married. Especially with him blaming you for the small day to day problems in his life. I recently learned of my own husband’s addiction to pornography. He thought, as many men do, that marriage would fix him which of course it didn’t. In your prayers, I encourage you to ask God to reveal anything hidden that should be known. My husband is in recovery now & it’s made all the difference. God is healing both of us & thankfully we are continuing together.
Hi Laura, to God be the glory for the preservation of your marriage. May He enrich it better than before! And yes, only God can ultimately help us understand our husbands and be understood by them.
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