Feeling as though someone else doesn’t care as much as you do hurts a lot. You want things to work out between you and your spouse, but you don’t see any evidence that your spouse wants the same thing. What can you do when you care more than your spouse?
You may feel either desperate or powerless if it seems your spouse doesn’t care about your marriage. Waiting for your spouse to change, or trying to manipulate them into acting differently, will only make things worse. You cannot change your spouse.
But that doesn’t mean you are left with no options. You do have influence, and you have your own heart. So, how do you survive when you care more than your spouse? What can you do? Here are some things within your control.
Care For Your Own Heart
Feeling as though you’re carrying the whole load in the marriage is discouraging. You can’t indefinitely bring fuel for two people, and that easily leads to bitterness. Resentment can choke any life that may be present between you, poison your own soul, and create a barrier between you and God.
So guard your heart diligently. Beware of contempt growing in your soul, and deal with it. Refuse to give an inch in the direction of an emotional affair. If God has called you to stay in a difficult marriage, your heart will need extra tending. This does not mean you ignore the realities of your relationship, but it does mean you relentlessly root out bitterness and replace it with intentional grace.
You will need to treat your heart with great honesty and love. Don’t wait for your spouse to give you the nourishment your heart needs. And don’t allow your heart to go even an inch in the direction of an affair. You will have to learn to find healthy nourishing godly relationships with others in other contexts. Find the people who will not commiserate with your misery, but will support you in being the kind of spouse God has called you to be.
Seek to Understand
What you see as evidence that your spouse doesn’t care about your relationship may not always be accurate. Regularly work very hard to put your own feelings aside and look at the world through their eyes. This does not minimizing your own heart’s needs, but it gives you the only chance you have of understanding how to connect with them.
What do you know about your spouse’s family of origin that is impacting their ability to show caring in your relationship? What wounds are they trying to “manage” in their soul? What pressures are they feeling? Could you be adding to those pressures by how you are responding?
Again, this does not excuse bad behavior on your spouse’s part. It only means you must seek to understand if you want any chance to make things better.
Your spouse is 100% responsible for his/her own behavior. But so are you. It’s possible you are the completely perfect husband or wife and your spouse just doesn’t see it.
But it’s more likely that living with you is not like living with Jesus. What is there in your own attitude, words, behavior that could be making you more difficult to live with? What’s it like to be married to you?
Some people may read this and naturally shoulder responsibility that is not yours, but is really your spouse’s. That’s codependent. Others may feel like saying, “If my spouse would only do …, then I would be nicer to live with.” That’s blaming him/her for your behavior, and that’s wrong.
Determine to own 100% of your own role in this, no more and no less. You are likely to need outside input from godly friends, a counselor, and God Himself, to wisely know the difference. You won’t do it perfectly; just keep coming back to that framework.
Pursue Hard Conversations
You may have tried “talking to him/her” multiple times. But have they heard you?
You may have avoided talking about your frustration because it seems too difficult, or doing so seems to always end up in a fight.
Take the initiative to plan a difficult conversation. Do your homework. Plan the setting at a time and place when your spouse will be most able to hear you. Do not go into such a difficult conversation expecting your spouse to suddenly change, or to suddenly start making you feel “better.” Be ready to listen, and be specific about the actions you are requesting. Remain focused on working toward a solution.
There are times setting boundaries or doing an intervention becomes necessary. Remember that trying to punish your spouse, bullying or shaming them, will only push him/her farther away. Your goal is to seek to connect.
Stay On Your Knees
Who does God need me to be to my spouse in this season?
That’s one of the best prayers to pray when your marriage is difficult.
Another great prayer is, Lord, what is Your perspective on my spouse’s heart? And on my marriage? If your spouse has an evil heart, that makes a difference in how you will proceed. If this is truly simply a difficult season, that too makes a difference.
You will need God’s presence to keep your heart clean from bitterness, to provide emotional fuel for your own soul, and to give you wisdom in knowing how to pursue your spouse’s heart. Until and unless God releases you from this marriage, you will need Him to help you know how to love your spouse well.
Remember that God loves and cares about your spouse even more than you do. Don’t stop inviting Him to intervene in your own life, in your spouse’s life, and in your marriage.
Your Turn: Does your spouse truly care less about your relationship than you do, or is it something else? When are you going to plan a difficult conversation? Leave a comment below.
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