I launch the topic, but then I hope you’re join me, writing your own marriage post and linking in back here. (and I’m going to cheat and make this a Works for Me Wednesday post, too! Go on over and see more Works for Me Wednesday posts here).
And I got thinking about this whole issue quite a bit. What do you do when your husband acts “just plain stupidly”? I’m talking down, aren’t I? And it’s never good to talk down to your husband. We should always guard against that. But let’s be honest (and I do want to be honest here in Wifey Wednesday, or else what’s the point?). What if you have a conflict with your husband, whether it’s about food or not, where he just doesn’t get that there’s a problem, and he has no desire to change, even if it’s really, really bothering you?
Some of these things may be serious, but I don’t want to address the ones that are actually really sinful (like if your husband’s an alcoholic, or a pornography addict, or something). I’ve dealt with those elsewhere. I mean the run of the mill, everyday conflicts where you just can’t get him to see. It could be the food issue, where he won’t try anything new. It could be that he watches really inappropriate television shows in front of the children, and refuses to give in. Maybe he won’t eat dinner at the table but wants to watch TV all the time, and you have no family time. Maybe he won’t ever play with the kids or put them in bed. Whatever. Things that really bother you, but he just has no interest in changing.
What do you do?
Here are my thoughts, in order. They’re a little harsh, and I’m sorry. But we’ve got to speak the truth here.
1. Realize that you cannot change anyone else. In my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum I dealt with this quite a bit. Often when we’re upset in our marriages we think the problem is all him. If he would just smarten up, we’d be fine. But what’s the point in thinking that? You cannot change him. You need to stop trying. I know that sounds difficult, but keep reading, because I do offer hope.
2. Try to see him in a different light. He is God’s gift to you. As someone wrote in the comments last week, perhaps 20% of what he does really bugs you, but focus on the other 80%. Learn gratitude for what he does do and accept him for who he is. The more you accept him, the more he feels competent and strong, and the more likely it is that he will want to grow as a person. Men have a deep-seated need to be competent. If they feel disapproval, they often retreat (into television, work, etc.). Treat them well, and they’re more likely to grow. But don’t do so in order for them to grow. Do so because you want the best for them and you honestly are finding things to be grateful for.
3. Pray God’s will for your husband. Instead of praying that he will improve in the areas that you find difficult, pray for him that God will help him in his various roles. Pray that he will become the man God wants him to be, not the man you want him to be.
4. Pray that you will be the best wife you can be for him. I know he’s hurting you. I know he’s doing things that you wish he wouldn’t and that really bother you. But ask God what you can do to show your husband love. What can you do to be the best wife you can be? Instead of focusing on what he is not doing, focus on what you can do. God will honour that, and you will feel better. Dare yourself to be as good a wife as you can (which doesn’t mean excusing sin; it just means learning to love). As you build gratitude for who he is (#2), pray for him (#3), and focus on your own roles (#4), you’ll likely find your attitude towards him changing.
5. Change what you have control over. If he is treating you disrespectfully, for instance, you don’t need to nag him about it. You don’t need to fight about it, or withhold from him. Tell him how you feel, but then put yourself in a position where he can’t treat you that way. I list a whole bunch of different scenarios like this in To Love, Honor and Vacuum, but let me give you an example. If he wants to eat in front of the television, that is completely his perogative. But that doesn’t mean you have to serve him there. Set the table, have the kids sit down, and if he wants to bring his plate elsewhere, he can. He’s an adult; he can do what he wants. But you don’t need to facilitate it. This one’s kind of controversial, and some of you may disagree with me here. Feel free! But I think it is important to make it a norm that the family does things together. If he chooses something different, that’s fine. But family togetherness is the norm.
6. Work for your children’s benefit. If you feel that they are losing out on time with their dad, then you should still give them that time. If their dad isn’t leading family devotions, you need to do it with them. If their dad isn’t reading to them at night, you need to do it. Always leave the door open so he can join you, but don’t abandon something important simply because he won’t do it.
7. Find your own peace in God. If you are feeling put upon and taken for granted, then go to God for your peace. Don’t rely on your husband to meet all your needs; he never will. Get involved in a good Bible study. Fill your time focusing on God, and not on your husband’s shortcomings. Put praise CDs on and let music fill the house. Seek out a godly mentor that can help you grow in the Lord (not help you vent all your frustration about your husband). Look to Jesus, not your husband, and probably the problems you have will minimize in importance.
If you want more encouragement for how to handle your marriage when you want it to change, but you don’t see any hope, check out To Love, Honor and Vacuum!
(Here’s a quick 1 minute look at the book:)