I have been reading your responses to the questions of others and appreciate the biblical approach you have taken, such that I feel comfortable in consulting you myself. From the outset, I will say that I’ve learned of your web site because my husband has sought your guidance about our marriage in times past. Undoubtedly, he will either learn of my question by viewing your site, or by checking the email account (which we share and bears his name) and seeing your response. I’m not writing for that purpose, but rather to get an objective view of the situation in which I find myself.
That being said, I fear my husband is engaging in an unhealthy friendship with a co-worker. (Due to various betrayals of trust, some of which he acknowledges, others he refuses to acknowledge, I’ve checked his work email and noted his confiding in her and complimenting her when he barely speaks to me. This discovery coupled with the way he treats me, the fact that he has told me he doesn’t want us to have any more children, and countless other instances of hurt and insult I’ve endured, is painful, but all he can see is that I shouldn’t be checking his emails and defends his actions by finding fault with how I discovered his actions or what he feels I haven’t done to make him happy, respectively. He vigorously denies any wrongdoing but is so defensive, which causes me to fear the worst. This defensive behavior is what he has exhibited in the past when I have discovered him doing something wrong—i.e. purposely avoiding my phone calls or viewing inappropriate internet web sites.—Denial is generally his first move.) I hope that all is as he says in terms of his remaining faithful to God by remaining faithful to our marriage, but I see a problem in the fact that that he sees nothing wrong in what he is doing in befriending this young lady in this way.
He and I have been having difficulty in our marriage, and I feel it is the devil that is trying to destroy us as a team. I know that the devil will not attack you where you are strong, but rather where you are weak. He will not attack you with what doesn’t appeal to you, but rather with what does. I know my husband, and I know if the devil is trying to tempt him in this way, what he is likely to send. The Devil’s done me the same way, but I make every effort not to engage. I see him trying to tempt me because I feel unappreciated with attractive men that are complimentary towards me and that the devil would have me believe would treat me better than my husband. I find myself comparing our relationship to other couples that seem so loving, such that it looks like the grass is greener on the other side. (But the grass always looks greener if you’re not the one that has to cut and maintain it.) I believe, however, it’s a trap and that we must guard against that, and rebuke the devil when we see he’s trying to set us up. We both work in the church, and it is growing due to God using both of us for the cause of Christ. We can do much more for the cause of Christ as a team than either of us could ever do by ourselves. So, I feel like the devil is trying to attack our marriage—our weakness, not only to hurt us and our family but to bring shame upon the church should we ultimately divorce. At one time, I wanted a divorce and thought about it on an almost daily basis— one day in the heat of an argument, out of rage, I made the mistake of suggesting that to my husband (he now blames me for his current feelings due to that out lash even though I’ve apologized many times). However, I don’t want to divorce now because I know that God hates divorce. I love God more than I love myself and I always want to please him. With that epiphany, (which, by the way, reading one of your responses really brought it to home) I no longer find myself thinking about divorcing my husband…it’s a good feeling.. And I’m thankful to God that he answered my prayers in that way. I had to submit those feelings to what I know is His will for marriage, and through much prayer, I feel much differently now. So I know he can change hearts- he changed mine.
I know my husband tries to be a good man, and I’ve grown to love him for who he is rather than trying to change him (as they say — when men and women marry, the woman hopes to change the man, and the man hopes the woman won’t change -- guilty.) I realize now that the easy thing to do at any point is to give up on my marriage; the hard thing to do is to fight for it. I realize that I made a commitment to my husband and to God, and I trust God that if I wasn’t supposed to marry him, I wouldn’t have (I prayed continuously about whether I should before we married). I realize, however, that my husband, a man that used to adore me, now, due to difficulties — some of which I have to admit I caused (others I did not) — he now, considers divorce frequently, and it’s disturbing to me. Particularly, now that I’m sure that God doesn’t want married couples to divorce. I also, am an eternal optimist, and even when I get down, I know that God has always taken care of me….this is no different. I truly know that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. This gives me hope, and I constantly pray for my husband and his heart toward me and my heart toward him.
I know I have not always been the kind of wife and mother I know the Lord expects me to be (where normally I’m a classic overachiever- I have often failed), and it may have taken a while, but I get it. Marriage is not a contingency arrangement — if do for me and I’ll do for you. Love is to be unconditional, and what I’d been giving was conditional love — love conditioned on whether he took out the trash, watched the baby, paid the bills on time, helped around the house, or told me he loved me at times other than when we are making love). I see now he was trying then, but I wanted him to be perfect and he wasn’t (at the time little did I know- neither was I). In addition, at one time, I had been so depressed about our marriage and the help and love I was or wasn’t getting from my husband that I could barely function — I had no energy to clean the house, I was sick with headaches, colds, and ailments all the time. But God helped me realized I had to snap out of it. God gets the glory for that!!! God caused me to realize I had to be the kind of wife and mother I promised God I would be if he blessed me with a good husband and a child. He did his part, and I realized that no matter how badly I thought I was being treated, I had a duty, commitment, and obligation- to GOD- to do my part. I think part of the reason it took so long for me to realize this is what I’ve been afraid to give my husband my complete heart. I have so much love to give him, but many times the more I give, the more it seems like he sees it as a weakness and takes pleasure in rejecting my efforts to be kind or affectionate. Especially now. I have given so much of myself and feel under-appreciated and unwanted many times. But I know the Lord knows and everyone must give an account for the deeds done in our bodies. The Lord has used me to bring good things to his life, like education, jobs, a real family, a child, a church home, yet, he doesn’t realize that. I don’t have to get the credit, I give the glory to God and know that I can do nothing except he used me and allow me to, but it would be nice to feel appreciated. Even so, I realize that’s not an excuse—(to take the approach that because I feel unappreciated, I’m justified in failing to do what I know is right).
When I think about my life, I know that God has blessed me tremendously, but at times, when my husband is the one that wants to divorce me and “is not pleased to dwell with me,” I wonder how I have benefited from being married to my husband, and whether if he decided to divorce me I should put up a fight for my marriage or “let him depart?” Perhaps that’s a selfish though, but it is a natural one when I think of all I’ve tried to do to be his helpmeet. The only thing I have ever wanted was to help him be the man I know the Lord wants him to become (even though it may not have come off that way), the only thing I have ever asked him for was his time and his heart — to be honest, that’s all he ever had to give me. I wasn’t with him for any other reason. An education — God gave me that before I married him; a house — God gave me that before I married him; a job — God gave me that before I married him; Financial blessings -- God gave me that before I married him; the church — God gave me that, I been a member for a long time and studied with him to become a member. (I’ve always thought God gave me those things so that I would not credit man with providing for me, but rather God — and I do, but perhaps somewhere I’ve focused too much on my relationship with my husband, and not enough on my relationship with God, which impacts my relationship with my husband.) Be that as it may, the only thing I didn’t have was my child (whom I am very grateful to have, I’m so blessed in that way!) and someone to share my life with, someone to be a partner to me and help me get to heaven. I used to tell people I married my husband because he helped me be a better person. That’s hard to say now. On the other hand, maybe God expects more of me because he has given me so much. Maybe he expects me to operate on a different level, to endure what I perceive as mistreatment and an unappreciative husband, and show my husband how to love me by the way I love him. (That’s Christ’s example). That’s what gives me any hope in this, that I know that God can fix the problems in our marriage—whether I have caused them or he has caused them. That’s what causes me to want to continue to try to be loving toward him, even when it’s met with rejection and harshness. I feel like in the words of a popular Christian group, I’m at war with myself. Or a popular author among Christians: ”When I would do good evil is always present.” (When I want to do right by him, I think of all the pain and hurt he has caused me, and his audacity to want to divorce me… Then, on the other hand, the Christ in me just wants to do whatever it takes to have peace and be like Him in my approach and dealings).
I guess right now though, the matter at hand is the fact that the pressure and rigors of life have caused us to grow apart. Past issues of betrayed trust have caused mistrust in the present — even though my husband may not be doing anything, at present, to warrant the mistrust. Now, I fear the devil is trying to use his co-worker to divide us further. Whether my feelings of mistrust are warranted or not, I cannot say. What I can say is that during our marriage I have been deceived many times (where he says he was when that’s not where he was, his buying a ring for my anniversary with my own money and acting as he saved for it, his struggle with viewing inappropriate internet web sites, and attempts to blame such behavior on me and my failure to be a good wife to him). I want to be Christ-like, but I don’t want to be naive in my efforts to so do. I want peace, but I want to address where I see a problem. I’m trying to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove in working through this situation. How can I achieve that? Any advice or encouragement you can render is greatly appreciated.
There is a period of time in every marriage when the novelty of the newness wears off but comfortableness of reliability has not yet set in. Typically it happens about five to ten years into a marriage. Even as I read through your note, I see clues that both you and he are looking for the same thing from your marriage. But because you both stumbled in different ways early on, you are having difficulty finding it.
Most women find men to be simple in their motivations and needs, especially when compared to their own motivations and needs. So simple that many women dismiss it thinking that such a simple view of a relationship cannot be correct. They start digging for something more complex and are puzzled that they don't find it.
The simple fact is that God did not make men and women the same. The differences are not just physical, there are differences in our mental makeup as well. I want you to go purchase a copy of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The reason is that it is a book written by a woman for women about what makes men tick. She's better able to explain it than I am.
You know you are losing ground with your husband, but your fears are leading you to attempt a "solution" to the problem that is actually forming a barrier between you and your husband. It is not intentional, but because you aren't fully grasping the nature of the problem, you are taking the wrong approach.
In God's design, the keeper of the house is the woman.
"The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things -- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5).
The idea of "homemaker" or "keepers at home" is far more than someone who does housework. The woman is the guard and keeper of what makes a home a home. She controls the mood of the household. She is the center of what makes the people in a household a family. I believe this is why God made women able to do and think of many things at the same time. (Unlike men who tend to focus on one problem at a time.) They must in order to juggle so many relationships at once.
I've always found it fascinating that Paul tells older women to teach younger women to love their husbands. You would think that love would come naturally, but Paul's point is that it doesn't always happen that way. The word for "love" here is not the same word used for a husband loving his wife. Here the Greek word is philandros, a compound word of phileo (love of a companion) and andros (man or husband). God designed the woman to be a man's companion. "Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."" (Genesis 2:18). Men need a best friend. What I suspect is happening is that your husband is missing the companionable relationship in your marriage. Whether he realizes it or not, he is finding substitutes at work. The solution is not hard. Most women find it so trivial that they dismiss it as unimportant, but the simple fact is that you need to be your husband's companion. Ask him how his day went. Give him some of your time so he can vent his frustrations and express his dreams.
In a marriage, it is the little things that are important to making a marriage work smoothly. Too often we look for major earth-shattering changes to turn a marriage around and really all that is needed is small course adjustments over the years and small deeds of kindness to say we love and care for one another. I want you to get Dr. Laura's book to learn some of the simple "tricks" of the trade and put them into practice. You are the wife, the stability of the home is in your hands, so start learning how to make the most of the gifts God has given you.