Is it possible to love an unloving husband?
I remember walking into our apartment after our honeymoon to find our flat in complete chaos – friends had discharged a truckload of gifts into our living room floor. We could barely see the carpet.
My always-creative husband came up with a brilliant idea. Pile everything to one side of the living room, continue with “honeymoon at home” and deal with chores later.
It was an excellent idea, but at the back of my mind, I felt we were postponing work. I wanted to dive in and fix everything right away.
And for a long time, that was my approach to our relationship as well. Whenever we had conflict (and we had plenty), I wanted to fix issues right away.
I agitated for change and despaired when it took too long. I’d even wake him up at 2 am “to talk.” (Did not go well in case you are thinking of trying.)
My husband, on the other hand, was a firm believer of “pile everything to a corner and deal with it later.” He needed time to think and figure out what he was feeling. Only after that was he ready to talk.
And that put him in the “unlovable husband” division.
Over the years we’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to find a healthy middle. Not take too long to address things but not hurrying things up either.
But mostly I have learned not always to assume the worst about my husband when he takes time to process.
After speaking with hundreds of wives over the years, I am now convinced that giving our husbands a little more space, having a little faith in them and pressing through issues without kicking them on the shins (word picture) does indeed lead to healthier marriages.
Still, our men are imperfect, and it’s incredibly hard to love someone who sits on your raw nerve. See Where Did The Honeymoon?
But that discomfort is part of what we signed up for when we said: “I Do.” We don’t get married for the feels and butterflies only but also for the growth and Christ-likeness that comes from “iron sharpening iron.”
In his book “Preparing Your Heart for Marriage” Gary Thomas says
“One of the best gifts you can give your spouse is enthusiasm; not just accepting each other’s differences, but celebrating those differences, admiring those differences, and being thankful that your life together will be that much richer and more well-rounded because the two of you are different.”
In this article appearing in Sheila Gregoire’s blog, Enthusiasm: The Secret Ingredient to Intimacy, Gary goes on to say
“We naturally think our marriages will be happier if our spouses would become just a little more like us. (But) this is a despicable lie, almost the very definition of pride, and it impacts virtually every aspect of marriage.”
With that as the background, let us talk about 3 simple things you can do today to love your unlovable husband
Please note: In this article, I am addressing wives in mostly healthy but stretching marriages aka normal marriage relationships. If you are in an abusive marriage, facing adultery or have been abandoned, please seek professional help immediately.
1. Give him the space he needs
For my husband and many men, emotions are a jungle; the way forward is rarely plain or straight cut.
In his article Communication in Marriage: A Husbands Perspective my husband wrote,
“My wife will always be more emotionally intelligent, and that means that what comes easily to her may be a jigsaw puzzle for me. I have to figure out what I’m feeling, then find the words, then be brave enough to share it.”
Most men need time to figure out what they are feeling, time to find the words to explain what they are feeling, time to separate logic and the feelings, and finally bravery to share the results.
Happier is the wife who gets her husband’s need for time and space. And blessed is the wife who allows her man to process without punishing him when he’s finally ready to talk.
2. Have a little faith in your unlovable husband
We tend to assume the worst when our guys fail us. I know I did.
When he shut down, I thought he was the most spiteful and prideful person I ever met. See When Your Husband Won’t Talk – 3 Things To Do.
And so I reacted to these perceived attitudes, and we continued to turn our wheels in blues-ville.
It turns out my husband was struggling with a profound sense of failure. Like most new husbands, he was in over his head in every area of his life. And he was also without a job. See When Your Husband Has Lost His Job
Are you wrestling with chronic marriage overwhelm? Can’t communicate without fighting? Maybe you just want to love better and create the marriage of your dreams. Get on the road to a great marriage when you pick up Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years Amazon Paperback I Amazon Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF . Or click here to go to book page.
Next time you want to assume the worst, doubt yourself. Think about the other times you’ve been proven wrong.
Give your husband the benefit of the doubt.
3. Press through issues without kicking him on the shins
Most people know how to fight but not many know how to fight fair.
We don’t know how to disagree without throwing our spouses under the bus.
Name calling, sulking, attacking his friends and family, threatening to leave, publicizing his flaws, manipulative tears, shutting down are all below-the-belt hits.
But it’s possible to disagree while being respectful. It’s possible not to sweep things under the rug while being civil. It’s possible to establish relationship boundaries while living in peace.
It’s possible to seek help for your marriage without looping in your entire family and group of friends.
Need your marriage to heal? Then don’t kick your spouse in the shins while in-process.
Do your part and trust God to do His.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18 NLT
Do you need help getting to the root of your conflict?
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