Husbands, I think your eyes may open a little bit at some of the things that are mentioned below and I can only encourage you to take some of these things into careful consideration, and at least have a conversation with your wife so she knows where your heart is on the matter. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions or comments about the post, I'd love to hear what you have to say!
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Things Husbands Do That Make Their Wives Feel Unloved
by April Cassidy (peacefulwife)
As you all know, I usually only write to wives. And, for the ladies reading this post – if you are discontent or resentful in your marriage right now, I think that this may be a post for you to skip. I have been getting many inquiries from husbands who would like more practical information with specific examples for their side of the relationship – like I have been doing for the ladies. But I find that it works best when wives focus on their own responsibilities – and if you read about what husbands could or “should” be doing, it may discourage you. I will have another post for you to read today, too, ladies!
Gentlemen, I don’t know that I am completely qualified to talk about all of these subjects. I am definitely not attempting to “teach” you about being a godly husband or about Christlike leadership. But I have had so many husbands lately asking for more concrete information, that I decided to write a post for y’all! Here are some observations and possible suggestions from my perspective as a wife that I pray might be illuminating as you seek to honor God in your marriage and love your wife as Christ loves the church and lead selflessly.
Every wife is unique in some ways! This may not all apply, or I may have left things out that would speak love to your wife in some particular way. It is not an exhaustive list, for sure!
And – as one of my readers who is a husband pointed out – it is VERY important to love Christ MORE than you love your wife (or anyone or anything)! It is only by submitting fully to Christ and being empowered by His Spirit that a husband can do all that God asks of him in marriage.
A FEW VERY SPECIFIC BEHAVIORS THAT MAKE MOST WIVES FEEL UNLOVED AND VERY HURT (and some practical suggestions for alternatives that might feel much more loving):
- refusing to listen or talk with us (even if we are being disrespectful about it – our disrespect is usually a sign we are feeling unloved and we are crying out for your love.) If you can, it may be helpful for us if you say something like, “I care about your feelings. I want to hear your heart. Tell me what’s on your mind.” And – this is really important – turn off or pause the tv/computer/Ipad/phone and face her and look at her. Women talk face to face, not shoulder to shoulder. If you don’t stop looking at the tv, we think you aren’t paying attention and that you don’t care. Ideally, you would sit down with us at a certain time every day – after supper or after the children are in bed – and smile and hold out your arms or your hand and say, “Ok, Baby, tell me what’s on your heart today!” (that makes us feel like you care and want to know us emotionally/spiritually
- refusing to pray with us -I know many of us don’t approach you respectfully about this. And we are rebelling against God’s word when we nag and harp and constantly preach at you about spiritual things. Many of us have a lot of repenting we need to do about that. We long for that spiritual intimacy and your leadership so deeply, it is a very strong drive for us. If we are doing something that makes you feel disrespected – maybe you can gently, quietly and calmly ask us to change our approach. But it means THE WORLD to most of us when you say, “Let’s pray together.” If you’d rather pray in emails, or if you want to pray and have us pray silently along with you, or if you want to just put your hands on our head or back or shoulders and pray over us silently, or tell each other prayer requests and then pray quietly side by side – whatever way makes you feel comfortable – you could maybe suggest that. Hopefully we will follow your lead and be extremely thankful and appreciative!
- for many of us – if we leave the room upset, and you don’t follow us to check on us, we feel unloved. – I know you are doing the respectful thing and giving us time to chill out and calm down, but we feel unloved! That’s why we follow you so disrespectfully when you leave the room, we are trying to be loving and show we care. Confusing, isn’t it!?!
- never complimenting us - This is a REALLY tough one for most women to understand. We are so verbal, and it seems like nothing at all to ask you to say, “You look beautiful/sexy/gorgeous” sometimes, once a month or once a week or something. We are pretty insecure about our looks and our bodies. We NEED your reassurance and loving, sincere compliments. When you don’t compliment us, ever – it makes us feel like there is something wrong with us, we don’t measure up somehow, we aren’t “woman enough” or something – and we can get a real complex about it! I know that you may just not be very verbal. And if we are pressuring you about compliments, I can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to give us one just because we demand it. But – your words of affirmation about our beauty and sexiness are CRITICAL to us. We cherish your compliments. A few ideas – “I love the way your eyes sparkle.” “Your hair is so soft and sexy.” “Your smile lights up the whole room! I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to be married to you!” “That dress looks great on you!” “I love looking at you.” “I can’t wait to hold you in my arms – you are so beautiful!” “I love it when you wear your hair down/up/like that.” “That color brings out your beautiful eyes.”
- refusing to take us to church -We may not be handling this like 1 Peter 3 says we should – and we are wrong if we are preaching at you or nagging you. Again, wives who are doing this need to repent to God and their husbands. We want to share spirituality and worship with you, and if we don’t see you taking the initiative, we may feel like we have to take over because you aren’t leading, or it seems that you won’t lead. We are scared to just sit silently and say nothing for months or years. We are VERY verbal and 1 Peter 3 does NOT compute very well with us sometimes. It means SO MUCH to us when you go with us to church.
- refusing to answer a question – If you need more time to think, I believe if you could say, ”Sweetheart, I need to think about that and process it for awhile. Let’s talk about it tomorrow after we put the children to bed.” And then please follow up with her at that time – wives could be much more understanding of this rather than just not answering and ignoring us for 30 minutes or more. Ignoring us feels VERY, VERY unloving! Most of us would NEVER do that to you!)
- watching tv constantly and not looking at us when we long to talk with you (it makes us feel like the tv is your priority, not us.)
- working a lot -We don’t tend to measure your work as a way you show us love – even though you probably do! We measure time spent with us, talking with us, sharing feelings and emotions and being together more as a measure of your love. When we feel like you are at work 10-16 hours per day and have no time for us – we feel abandoned, unimportant and unloved. I know that you are trying to be the best provider – and that is AWESOME! But if we have money, and don’t have time with you – it doesn’t feel like love to us. We’d rather have TIME with you and not have so much stuff, usually, than have fancy things and no time together with you!
- rolling over and going to sleep when we are crying or upset – A man may feel like he just listened to his wife’s sea of negative emotions for the past hour or two and he can’t take anymore – it’s about to drown him! And she is still not done! He may need to sleep on things and process all the negative emotions overnight and clear his mind. (Men are biologically built to need to do this at times) BUT, if we are still crying or really upset – you rolling over and going to sleep screams, “I DON’T LOVE YOU AT ALL!” to us. I would like to suggest saying something like, “Honey, I care VERY much about your feelings. I hate seeing you so upset. Come sit with me and let me pray for you, and then we are going to cuddle and get some rest and see how things look in the morning. It’s late – we are both tired. You are important to me. I love you. I’m not going anywhere. You are safe here with me. This issue is nowhere near as important or as big as our marriage covenant. We will work through it. God will give us wisdom. Don’t be afraid. I’m right here. Everything is going to be fine within the next 24 hours!” – then maybe hold her hand and put your arm around her while you pray for her. Wipe her tears. Look her in the eyes and kiss her lips tenderly. Kiss her cheeks and her forehead and her nose if you want to – that would probably make her feel very precious and loved. And then take her hand, lead her to bed, tuck her in, cuddle with her for a few minutes/play with her hair/rub her back/hold your hand over her heart (this can be really calming for some of us) and reassure us one more time, “Everything is ok. I love you. We will work through this. You don’t have to worry. There’s no reason to be afraid. God is here with us. I’m here with you, and I am not going anywhere.”
- wanting sex when we haven’t had a good emotional/spiritual connection in days - I know that you probably need a sexual connection to be able to open up emotionally and spiritually with your wife – she is the opposite! That can be really frustrating at times – but God uses this to make us all more selfless and holy! If we are not very warmed up to the thought of physical intimacy – try allowing us to talk and listening to us for 15-30 minutes. Pray with us. Turn off the electronics and focus on our hearts and souls. Maybe a massage or bath together could help us relax. And – doing some chores for us or helping with the children helps most of us A LOT!!!
- expecting us to work full time AND do ALL the housework and ALL the childcare every second when we are home - We are human, too. This is just TOO MUCH for any woman to do and still have energy, respect and desire left for you, in my book. See what can be taken off her plate. Be willing to humbly help with the chores or taking care of the children. Hopefully we won’t criticize your help! We should be very grateful!
- rejecting us sexually, refusing to touch us or kiss us - This HURTS VERY, VERY, VERY deeply! If we have done something disrespectful, please tell us gently and humbly how we have HURT you or caused you PAIN. We will respond to those words better than the word “disrespect.” Many of us do not connect with the words respect or disrespect at all – it just doesn’t make sense and often is not on our radar, sadly. But if you talk about feeling unloved or wounded emotionally – we can understand that and we will tend to want to apologize and make things right! That’s what women usually do when they find out they hurt someone. If you are having medical issues – maybe you could at least verbalize your desire for us and still cuddle and kiss with us so that we know you still desire us. There is no pain deeper than being sexually rejected by our spouse, as I am sure many husbands are well aware.
- looking at porn or at other women lustfully - Many of us DO NOT GET THIS. Most of us are not visual like men are – and it is hard for us to identify with visual temptation because that is usually just not in our thinking processes at all. We take this VERY personally as if there is something WRONG with US. Sometimes we way overreact to a man’s visual temptations. I wish that wives could be more empathetic about what men go through visually in our culture and be a safe place to talk about struggles and pray with their husbands. Some wives aren’t there yet. They need reassurance from you about your heart and attraction for them. Porn in particular can be quite devastating to wives. I pray that God might give resources and strength to men who are caught in pornography addiction and that He might give them wisdom how to best help their wives heal. I have some resources I can refer you to if needed – firstname.lastname@example.org They are also on my post on www.peacefulwife.com about Handling our Husbands’ Visual Temptation.
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