It’s obvious, isn’t it. No one wants to be tolerated.
Sadly, the knowledge doesn’t stop us from dishing tolerance, sometimes, to our spouses.
He is excited about a new developments at work and he starts to share just about the time you are “decompressing” through social media.
You don’t want to look uninterested so you try to keep up with the conversation. With eyes glued to your phone. You only perk up when you sense his exasperation, “You’re not listening to me, are you?”
Your hackles rise. Apparently, he doesn’t appreciate how much you’re “trying to be there for him,” even when you’d rather be doing something else (like resting.)
But what’s the deal here?
Before we go on, let me clarify that this post applies to husbands too. Wives don’t want to be tolerated either. So this post applies to husbands too. It’s just that most of my readers are wives hence my emphasis. But yes, if you’re a husband reading this post, these words apply to you too.
Back to our couple.
So you feel a particular way (leave-me-alone), but since you love your spouse so much, you overlook how you feel to “be there” for them. But your spouse picks up the detachment and calls you out. And it makes you mad.
I get the “I am trying so hard, why isn’t it enough?” feeling.
Sometimes a wife is just trying to do her best, all things considered, and when the best isn’t enough, it can be frustrating.
But may I propose a better way to deal with your predicament.
Honesty with your husband. Telling him what you need instead of serving half-attention and hoping it will suffice.
Now, I am not slamming wives for trying to give something even when they can’t give everything.
Actually, what I have an issue with is the mainstreaming of martyrs-complex in marriage. Where we don’t aspire for joy and gladness and enjoyment but instead settle for a joyless, bland existence with our spouses.
But a healthy marriage is meant for more. Our healthy spouses wants to feel like they are more important than your job, the kids, your hobbies etc. They want to feel prioritized.
They want to feel celebrated, not tolerated. And that value is often communicated in how we spend our energy, in season and out of season.
In fact, couples who have great marriages have learned to prioritize one another, no matter what is going on in other areas of life.
Our need to to be valued does not decrease the longer we are married. In fact, it seems to go up!
And it makes sense because the reason we are married is because our mate took the time to make us feel prioritized.
Here’s how I put it in my book Chapter 5, Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years.
“It’s hard to pull off dating life in marriage. You can’t be in high heels and full makeup and great hair all day, every day. But the point I am trying to make is that the very things that drew you to one another, the things that made you interesting to each other, the small things that captivated you are the very things that keep your marriage exciting and fresh.
In fact, to get your marriage roaring, not just sizzling, you must discover and add more things to your retinue of love. So while you might not be able to wear that knock out dress he likes throughout the day, you don’t have to look like something the cat dragged in. You can comb your hair, wear clothes that show form, smell nice, be well-groomed, brush your teeth..” Chapter 5, Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years.
So, do you need a tweak of heart?
To accept that perhaps your husbands is not selfish to hate to be tolerated?
Here’s what I think needs to happen
Tolerating Your Husband? 3 Tips To Celebration
1. We need a change of attitude
To accept that what the Bible says is true.
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says
How would you do marriage if God was physically present in your life? Of course, He is present.
But how would you function if you could see the Author of marriage, checking up how you are living out the union He created? I get a sense there would be less pretense and more genuineness.
There would be more “Babe I love what’s going on at work! I want to hear all about it, but I can barely keep my eyes open…can we talk about it over breakfast tomorrow morning?” and less distracted “Mhh’s.”
2. Tolerating your husband? Consider slowing down
The reason I can write a post like this is because I have tolerated my husband.
I am quick to cross my t’s and dot my i’s without considering the attitude in which I do it. But my husband feels it, and over the years I have been learning to watch him and listen to the Spirit of God to know when I am off key. Not that I am always successful, but ignorance is no longer my defense.
A big reason we tolerate our husbands instead of celebrating them is because of tiredness. Frankly, we will never be able to eliminate fatigue from our lives. But we can organize our life such that fatigue does not become a daily excuse.
Consistent celebration, being present with our spouse, requires energy and a whole lot of intentionality. To be able to celebrate, instead of tolerate, we must regularly assess and cut out the things that drain our energy.
For example, shrinking your commitment circle can go a long way in preserving your vigor for what matters the most.
We must redefine boundaries with work, hobbies, friends, ministry commitments e.t.c. because life-as-two is a different ball game. You cannot be everywhere and still be present in your marriage. See Priorities: The Unpopular Gospel of Putting Your Marriage First
3. We must make sure martyrs-complex does not become the mainstream in marriage.
Such is life.
But a happy marriage has to have a better foundation than “sacrifice.” For example, you need to switch from “I have to service my husbands sex drive” to “God blessed me with a libido so I get to enjoy the gift of intimacy with my husband!”
(If you are struggling with libido, and many wives do, check out my journey here.)
It goes back to change of heart – how’s your view of marriage? Is it something you “must do” or something you “get to do”? If you marriage is a blessing, then you will treat it as such.
If your overall healthy relationship is at a challenging season , of course, you’ll feel the “sacrifice” more than the “blessing.” Even so, I believe we should be seeking God and asking Him to change our hearts and attitudes, even in the storm. You can pray something like:
“Father, please be glorified in my marriage. I pray that wherever I find myself, in good times or difficult, I will reflect your character. Meanwhile and in faith, I wait for change and healing in my marriage. I will continue to lean on your strength and believe you will guide me, give me wisdom and strength so I can honor your name.”
Click here to Pin the Prayer
If you’re married to a problematic spouse where abuse, abandonment and chronic neglect or infidelity, I am so sorry. You are worthy of love, empathy, kindness. This article is not speaking to those situations. It’s impossible and unsafe for you to apply the ideas covered in this article to your marriage.
This post is addressing spouses in generally well-adjusted relationships. Please talk to a licensed counselor who is trained in trauma and abuse in relationships, talk to the authorities if you feel physically unsafe and create boundaries. Check out this page for resources.
Tolerating Your Husband: Better or Best?
Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were hosting Jesus and his disciples in Martha’s home. While Martha busied herself with hosting responsibilities (it was her house after all), Mary decided to hang out with Jesus and listen to his teaching.
Her “idleness” upset Martha and she point-blank asked Jesus to redirect her sisters priorities.
We can learn a lot from this story but as a Martha-type, one of the things I love about it is the gentleness in which Jesus dealt with her. He did not chastise her for working her hosting responsibilities.
He did not say “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over unimportant details!“, rather he said “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!“
Perhaps your details are important – someone has to cook and clean, meet work deadlines, care for others e.t.c. Marriage has seasons and there will always be work because it’s work is a part of life.
But God wants us to understand the difference between “all these details” and “the one thing worth being concerned about.” Mary discovered her one thing and Jesus said it would not be taken away from her.
Jesus is our one and only thing. And when we submit our lives to Him, and seek Him continually He is faithful to direct and correct our priorities. Will you believe him? Will you listen?
Question – Is this an area of growth for you? Are you tolerating your husband and want to start celebrating him? What do you need to do so you can be more present in your marriage?