This is not what you signed up for. When you said Yes you thought you were getting friendship, intimacy, even romance. That may have lasted through the honeymoon, but it’s long gone now. All he seems to want is sex. You feel objectified. Or perhaps he doesn’t even want that. You feel invisible. Lonely in marriage feels even worse than lonely single. But perhaps it’s time to let your husband off the hook.
I’m not talking about excusing bad behavior. Toxicity, addiction, or abuse are never OK, and I have plenty of things to say to husbands who don’t treat their wives well.
But today I’m talking to you woman to woman. God made you unique and beautiful, with needs and perspectives that are different from your husband. And looking to any human being, even a “good” man, to fill you up will always leave you empty and disappointed. It’s almost certain your husband “should” do many things differently, but today is about you.
News flash; you can’t change your husband! (As if you haven’t learned that by now.) Your husband can change, but that’s not something you can orchestrate. But you can change you. And doing so will change both your internal emotional world and your relationship. Here’s what it looks like to let your husband off the hook in the right way.
Learn to Feed Yourself
Your husband is not your source. His “job” is not to fill you up or make you feel good. When a husband loves well you do receive a lot of soul nourishment. But looking to even the very best human being to fill you up will always leave you disappointed. One of the results of the fall is that you, Eve, look to Adam, and you leave empty. That’s not God saying “I’m punishing you (Eve) in this way.” (See Genesis 3:16) Rather, it’s a description of what sin and evil does to a woman’s soul.
You may respond to that emptiness by trying to be your own source, refusing to need anyone or anything. Or you may respond by using manipulation and control in an attempt to force someone (your husband) to give you what you need and want. Neither approach works.
The only way you can ever be filled up is by learning to feed yourself. This means learning to identify when you’re “hungry,” finding appropriate healthy godly nourishment, and actually taking it into your being.
Such nourishment includes things such as time with positive uplifting people. You need deep human connections beyond your marriage, people who uplift you by being in their presence, who can see and hear you. It includes time taking in beauty from nature, art, music, etc. It includes time in creative pursuits, using your gifts in ways that bring you joy, and taking in nourishing media such as books, podcasts, online material, etc.
And it includes spending time in the presence of God. Feeling felt by Him changes you on the inside. Learning to experience Him as your Husband lets you come to your marriage from a place of fullness instead of emptiness.
BE the Invitation
What’s it been like to be married to you? Would you want to come closer to you? Would you feel inclined to spend time with you? Or would this describe you: “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman” (Proverbs 21:19)?
One of the most common complaints I hear from wives is that their husband doesn’t listen, pay attention, spend time with, communicate with, show affection, etc. When your husband has taken a small action in your direction, how have you received him? Has he been met with something like, “Well, it’s about time!”
Most men, especially, won’t keep trying something where they cannot be successful. Can your husband win with you? Or does he get the sense that nothing he does will ever be enough?
Being the invitation requires that your own soul is nourished, and then it shows up in little ways. Look for, notice, and explicitly voice appreciation for whatever he does that is closer to what you find nourishing; he’ll want to do more of that. If there’s a problem to address, work toward a solution with him rather than criticizing his efforts. Work toward being a safe place where he can let down the walls around his own soul.
Take a Step Toward Him
If yours is a toxic marriage you’ll need to approach this differently. You cannot fix toxicity by being “nicer.” But otherwise, intentionally move closer to your husband. That usually starts with taking a mental step toward him. Think about him during the day and send a short, even flirtatious, text message. Hold his eyes a little longer. Make that kiss last. Not only will your husband notice, but your heart and your body are more likely to follow as well.
Seek to enter his world. It’s likely you will each have some interests of your own that you don’t share together, but where possible show interest in what interests him. Many men communicate easier when doing something alongside their wives rather than talking face-to-face. Asking thoughtful questions also shows you’re paying attention to what he cares about.
And stay on your knees. As you move closer to God, your heart will be more open and inviting to your husband also. This is not becoming more “spiritual;” instead, it’s getting your deepest needs met by God first and letting Him change you from the inside out. That then makes you more able to connect with your husband in a non-demanding way.
As you let your husband off the hook you can become more of an almost irresistible force drawing him closer to you. And that’s when so much connection can happen.
It’s you learning to love well. And your own soul will be nourished in the process.
Your Turn: As a wife, where have you been looking to your husband as your source? Have you been demanding or contentious? How do you feel about the idea of “letting him off the hook”? Leave a comment below.
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