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 desires sexual intimacy, but you don’t feel like it. But his pursuit begins to wear down your excuse/reason and you give in. Afterward you feel pretty good about “servicing his needs.”
Until he expresses disappointment with your sex life. You can’t believe that he (once gain) failed to appreciate your giving, considering how much of a sacrifice sex is.
He is excited about a new developments at work and he starts to share just about the time you are “decompressing” through social media.
Since you don’t want to agitate, you try to keep up with the conversation. With eyes glued to your phone. You only perk up when you sense his exasperation, “Why don’t you listen to me?” he asks.
Your hackles rise. Apparently, he doesn’t appreciate how much you try 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 reiterate; wives don’t like to be tolerated either. So this post applies to husbands too. It’s just that most of my readers are wives hence my emphasis.
Back to the issue. 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.
I get the “I am trying so hard, why isn’t it enough?” reasoning.
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 marriage is meant for more, regardless of the season you are in. Your spouse still wants to feel like he is more important than your job, the kids, your hobbies etc.
He wants to know that no matter what is going on in your life, you’ll make room for you. He wants to feel celebrated, not tolerated. And that value is often communicated in how you spend your 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.
Plus 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 Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years
“It’s hard to pull off courtship 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 and wear what he likes..” 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
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 feel the weight as I type these words)
I get a feeling 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. We need to slow 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.
Yes, sometimes you’ll make love when you don’t really feel like it. You will listen when you’d rather talk. Sit down and connect when you’d rather be folding laundry.
Such is life.
But a happy marriage has to have a better foundation than “sacrifice.” For example, you must 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 relationship is at a difficult place, 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 bad, 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
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 Jesus lives in us and calls us to do good works.
But He 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? What do you need to do so you can be more present in your marriage?