Wifey Wednesday: Doormats or Wives?

Stop Being a Doormat! Why letting your husband treat you poorly moves you both away from God, not towards Him.
It’s Wifey Wednesday, when we talk marriage! And today I want to address a doozy of a subject: Do you ever feel like you’re being a doormat in your marriage?

I received a very thoughtful email this week from a regular reader of this blog. She wants some advice, and she laid out in detail what was going on in her marriage. Now, I only have her side of the story, but I do believe her, because I have seen an almost identical situation in two other friends’ marriages. In fact, it was watching these friends walk through their marriages that inspired me to write To Love, Honor and Vacuum in the first place.

Here, in a nutshell, are her issues:

1. Her husband does not value spending time with her. He  works and then he plays on his computer.

2. He doesn’t lift a finger around the house. He says that she cares about it more than him, and so she should have to clean it since he really doesn’t care. (She works full-time too. They don’t have kids yet).

3. He’s not overly eager to have kids, though when they were dating he always talked as if they would.

4. While he started out their marriage going to church, he’s stopped lately. Though he promised her upon their marriage that he would go, he says he’s just not into it, and she shouldn’t try to make him.

5. He wants her to work full-time because he wants the extra income.

6. He has a close female friend that he does a lot with online.

7. The wife has now developed depression and other clinical disorders, and needs medication to control it. She’s worried that she’s going to spend the rest of her life depressed about her marriage, but she doesn’t know what to do. She’s afraid of bringing children into the relationship.

Is she being a doormat? And if so, what’s the answer?

Let me tell you the similarities first between her and the other two women I knew. All had husbands who spent time with “the boys”, but didn’t have time to date their wives. None  helped around the house. All wanted their wives to work so they had the income. The other two (I’m not sure about this one) closely monitored what their wives bought, because they didn’t want them to waste any money, but they themselves spent money on whatever they wanted. When kids came along (in the other two cases) they really didn’t spend any time with them, either, feeling the children were the wives’ responsibility.

I want to help this woman.

But I am very, very afraid of the “typical” Christian answer.

I don’t think the typical Christian answer offers very much to this woman. Sure, we can say that she should pray, because she can’t change anyone. We can tell her to concentrate on meeting his needs, because that is what she is called to as a wife. We can tell her that her job is to love him, and that God will be with her while she does this.

I have said all those things in different posts, and I do mean them. But I think there’s a point where we need to go further, and I think this marriage may be at that point.

As I said, she is similar to my friends, and in my friends’ cases it became quite clear that their husbands were not interested in a marriage. They were interested in being children who just happened to be grown up.

The husbands got everything they wanted; they got to do whatever they wanted; they had no boundaries; they lived life exactly how they liked it.

They didn’t consider the effect it had on their wives (and in fact, both my friends were also on Prozac after a few years of marriage). They simply wanted to keep doing anything they pleased because they had a woman at home to cook them meals, make their beds, and occasionally have sex with them. They absolutely had it made. They had marriage without any obligations.

I am not saying that all men are like this, or that no women are. I have also known women who have acted like this in a marriage. I simply want to address these types of relationships because it was asked.

Here’s my feeling: God does not want us to enable unChristlike behaviour.

When Christ served, he often did very lowly things, like washing people’s feet. But it didn’t mean He himself was lowly. And when He served, He pointed people to God.

I believe that we can get into relationship patterns in marriage where our service to our husbands does not point them to God; it points them away from God. If our husbands are able to act however they please, and be completely selfish, immature, and border on controlling, then our marriage is not honouring God. I’m not saying that we should get out of the marriage; I am just saying that there is something amiss with our patterns of interacting, and we have to change those modes of interacting so that we can help both of us act in a more Christlike way.

I don’t think people should be allowed to treat others with disrespect.

I don’t think that’s Christian, and for far too long I believe it’s been asked of wives. Those are not the kinds of marriages that honour God.

So please, ladies, I am truly imploring you today: don’t come up with the pat answers. Honestly, without leaving the marriage, what should she do (or can she do) to turn it into a more God-honouring relationship? Telling her to sit there and take it, or that she needs to submit, even if you word it nicer than that, is not going to help.

Let me share some of my thoughts, and then I invite you to bounce around your own. Talking directly to this woman, then, here is what I would say:

1. We don’t have to put up with being treated as a maid.

He is asking you to work full-time so that you make a good income, and to then clean the entire house, using as justification the fact that “he doesn’t care anyway”. I would practice the art of having a conversation calmly without blaming him, but just talking. Here’s how it would go:

Sit him down, and ask if you can talk together about what goes into running a house. Let’s look at how much income we need. Now let’s look at the maintenance on the house. The housework. The cooking. He may not value those things, but ask him if your opinion should have any weight in this discussion. Then explain to him that if he thinks that the house is entirely your responsibility, then you are going to have to cut back from paid work.

Now, the setting of this conversation is important. Choose a time when he is not stressed. Go for a walk together after dinner (if you can get him to). Try a Saturday morning when you both have nothing to do. Ask him beforehand if you can spend the day talking or planning. If he refuses to discuss it, or he gets angry when you bring it up, say something like, “I am sorry you are angry. I really don’t want this to get into a fight. I wanted to discuss it. But since you don’t, I’ll just tell you that I’m going to quit my job. If you have another suggestion that results in a more balanced workload, I’d be happy to listen.”

The key is not to get emotionally invested in the conversation, if you can help it. You are trying to discuss something with him so that you can have a conversation (which it sounds like you don’t do very often). You would like his input. But if he won’t give it, he won’t give it. That’s not your problem. Do not react in anger; feel peace in your heart and not bitterness before you talk to him. Ask God to help you with this. And then start having that conversation.

2. Do Not Tolerate Suspicious Opposite Sex Friendships

Absolutely no way is having a close female friend acceptable. To me, this is a make it or break it issue in a relationship. He needs to choose between her and you. Perhaps others may think I’m being too harsh, but I believe affairs get their start in things like this. Besides, an affair is not only physical. If he is meeting his relational needs in another woman, he is cheating on his wife already. You may need to talk to a third party before you bring this up, like a counselor or a pastor. James Dobson has a great book called Love Must Be Tough about what to do when a spouse’s actions or relationships are jeopardizing the marriage. This is not something to ignore.

3. You need dates–even when you’re married

Or, if not dates, you definitely need regular time when you talk and connect. Ideally that would be at dinner, but he doesn’t seem willing to sit down and eat dinner with you. Talk to him about when is the best time to carve out time for the two of you. Give him some choices–like “do you want to go for a walk every evening, or would you rather have every Thursday be a date night when we go out for dinner?” But don’t give him the choice of nothing. And then insist on it. If he is on the computer and refuses to leave (which many husbands do), then I would sit down and have another serious conversation about how that computer is getting in the way of your marriage.

4. Now you need to work on yourself.

I’m really worried about the depression. Certainly much depression is biologically based, but for many women, depression is triggered by feeling helpless in a relationship–that whole “being a doormat” thing. We women grow up hearing that our primary purpose is to serve their husbands; we do this, but then far too often our husbands don’t love us in return. So your dream for your life is gone, and you see no way out. You feel very unloved.

You need to find your strength in God. Your husband will never love you as God does anyway; you need to grow close to Him. Concentrate on having a quiet time with Him everyday. Go to church, even if your husband won’t, and concentrate on Jesus, not on the deficiencies in your marriage. Learn to love God again.

Hope

And then learn to love yourself. You are a child of God. You are precious. You may not feel precious to your husband, but you are precious to God. So treat yourself with some respect. Exercise, eat right, and be healthy. That goes such a long way! Get involved in the community and volunteer. Take up a new hobby.

One problem that often happens in marriages like this is that the woman becomes so passive that it both encourages her husband’s laziness, and it allows him to see her as someone who isn’t really worthy of passionate love. She’s mousy and quiet, so it’s hard for him to get excited about her (I’m not talking about sex, although that’s a component. I’m just talking about feelings).

Don’t be mousy! Don’t let yourself be trampled upon and become a doormat! No matter what is going on in your marriage, you are more than a wife. So use your brain and learn a hobby. Watch interesting shows. Read interesting books. Grow a business. Start a garden. Do something that you can take delight in. When we are delighted, it shows in the rest of our life.

5. As you do this, though, try not to pull away from your husband.

Bring your new things into your life with him. Don’t develop super close friendships with others to fill a void from your marriage, because that can drive you further apart. Don’t run to your parents, no matter how wonderful they are, because that can also drive a wedge. Instead, focus on finding happiness in what you do so that you can be happier when you are with him.

To Love, Honor and VacuumThe one area where I’m really stumped is on children. I know you want kids, and I know you’ve dreamed of kids. But it sounds like your marriage is really unsteady right now. I get the impression you’re still young (if you were in your mid-thirties, I may have a different opinion). I think I’d wait and pray about it. But I could be wrong.

And finally, let me say that I wrote To Love, Honor and Vacuum exactly for women like you. If you feel like you’re being taken for granted, please take a look at it. It shows how we can reprioritize our relationships and act differently in our marriages so that we develop a healthy dynamic, not an unhealthy one that doesn’t reflect God.

Now, the rest of you: please help. I know there are others reading this blog in very similar situations. What advice would you give? How do you stop such dysfunctional patterns, especially before she has children? Please, no pat answers. Really think and pray about it, and be sensitive to the fact that as sacred as marriage is, some women are living through really tough relationships. And they need our compassion and help!

Christian Marriage Advice

 

Comments

  1. Kathryn Lang says:

    >I think #3 is the key. If you have your base in Christ then he will have to change or leave. Negative and positive can NOT dwell together!

  2. >I just finished reading a book called "Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti" by Bill and Pam Farrel. One of the ideas they came up with was to sit down with your husband and figure out which stuff around the house was important to you, and what was important to him. For example, if he's insistent that the dishes MUST be washed after every meal and that nothing else is acceptable, while you think washing them once at the end of the day is acceptable, then HE should take care of the dishes if it means that much to him.

    If you just have to have the floor swept every day and he doesn't care, then YOU take care of sweeping the floors. When there comes something that isn't as important to you and nobody wants to do it, you negotiate. You give him something that's really important to him in exchange for something that's important to you.

    If he is mean with the money even though you earn your share of it, I would say, particularly if he is in a relationship of any kind with a female friend, to open your own bank account if you haven't already, and have your paycheck to go there. You then spend YOUR paycheck how you see fit. Some of the bills, some groceries, and other stuff you need.

    With housework, if he doesn't want to negotiate at all, simply do what it takes YOU to get by. Do your laundry, and not his. If he never wants to help with dinner or the dishes, buy fast food for yourself and nothing for him.

    Make sure though that none of this is done in a prideful way. I'm sick of the "right" Christian answers myself. Sometimes things go deeper than that.

    My husband is a good man, he has been somewhat like this in the past, but he is changing, and I believe with him that it is his age and that he doesn't know any better from what he grew up with. But he has been trying hard. He still absolutely will not touch the dishes, and that makes me mad sometimes, but he will help with other stuff.

    He used to not change dirty diapers, and the church told him he didn't have to, that it was woman's work and that men hated it for a reason…that God designed them to hate it because it is the wife's job. Thankfully he no longer believes that crap and realizes it is just an excuse those men use to not help their wives.

  3. >I agree that some things just go deeper. When you try all of the 'right' things and the 'proper, unselfish' things with no avail, then you really have no choice but to restort to deserate measures. Then if those work, then I believe you have to get out of it. If you feel that you are doing EVERYTHING you can do to be the right kind of wife and fix your marriage, and you aren't met with anything but stubbornness and resistence then you have to take care of yourself. It's not fair for you to suffer mentally and emotionally just because divorce is "wrong."

    I agree with everything Mrs W had to say. Especially the part about a seperate bank account for your check and splittting of the bills. You work hard for your money and you deserve to enjoy some of the perks. Don't let your husband have what he wants all the time. Take care of you. Buy yourself some new shoes or a new handbag or whatever. Be good to yourself too.

    Here is the link to my post. No McLinky is showing :)

    http://thekirkland-family.blogspot.com/2009/12/wifey-wednesday-tough-stuff.html

  4. >I would like to say to the lady who sent the email that I can feel your pain and I know how frustrating it is living in that situation. I've been married for 18 years now and for the first 15 years of our marriage my husband was also selfish, immature, wild, and irresponsible. We were both young when we married but still that is no excuse to treat your wife with such disregard. I won't get into the details of my marriage because I think they are irrelevant here but I do think that it is a maturity issue. Men mature much later than women. My husband didn't show signs of maturity until about age 33 or 34. Our marriage was not what I expected it would be and I was lonely and miserable. God got a hold of his heart a few years ago and he is now a wonderful husband and everything I ever wanted. It is amazing to see the transformation. I also think God allows us to go through hardships and trials so we can learn to trust him. At least that is what I have learned through my experience. I know it's easier said than done. It's hard to let go and turn over all control and trust God to take care of the situation. God Bless!

  5. >Sometimes a spouse has to be told it's time to grow up and I've noticed that men take a while longer than women.

    he doesn't care if the housework is done? Then stop doing it, and by all means don't do his laundry.
    he doesn't want to go on dates? Go without him.
    I could go on and on, but the point is he has to grow up and realize life doesn't center around him.

    And more than anything he has to cut ties to the other woman. She may not be the "other woman" in that sense of the word, but it's most likely heading there.

  6. >Thanks for coming over to Flawed But Forgiven and asking for our “non-pat” answer! Lord knows, one or all three of us usually have one!
    This is “Libby” and I read this blog post with my husband sitting next to me. We both had the same response.
    #1 – It seems like he pulled a bait and switch. They both went into the marriage with expectations and then once married, he changed his mind. Whether it be about children or the attendance of church, or household duties – whatever – all of it – his plans changed and she was given no warning. He is very much taking the attitude of “now that I’ve got her, I can do whatever I want”.
    #2- He’s pulling away from her in every possible way. Physically – by spending time on video games rather than with her. Emotionally – by spending time on the internet with another woman and Spiritually – by refusing to attend church or have any spiritual life at home. My husband actually said “Major red flags!” as I read those out loud.
    #3- He’s showing no interest in their home life – he’s not just “not helping”, he’s refusing to take part in their home life all together. It’s as if he has no stake in their life as a unit. He’s investing nothing.
    I'll continue in another comment – – -

  7. >- – -continued
    A – Counseling is priority number 1. If he refuses to go, it’s a deal breaker. His refusal to go, is his non-verbal way (combined with all of his other actions) of saying he’s done. He’s out – he just doesn’t want to be the bad guy and say the actual words. As the wonderful, secular book says: “He’s Just Not That Into You”. And sadly, that’s what his actions are saying right now – he’s just not that into her and isn’t sure he wants to be.
    B – If he’s willing to go to counseling, then they should allow the counselor to set some guidelines. As a wife, I would insist that one of the guidelines be a total cut of all contact with the other woman. If he isn’t willing to do that – again, it’s a deal breaker.
    C – If they are taking part in counseling and working on their marriage: We would have E-Blaster or another spyware software placed on his (and her) computers (It’s $99). It isn’t meant to “spy” as much as it is to give accountability and a safety net. My husband and I swear by it – for all marriages whether good or not so good. Every day, I get a report of every website that was visited on our computers (we have three and my children – all boys- are also aware that we have the program on the computers); every keystroke that was made; etc. This means, if they are having “chats”, I see them word for word; I get a copy of every e-mail that they receive; I know all and see all. Do I check it every day? No – I don’t need to. But when my husband and I had marriage problems and trust issues several years ago, this was a saving grace for us. The accountability helped him control his impulses and knowing that gave me a lot of comfort and security.
    D – If he refuses to get counseling then she has every right to leave the marriage. He is committing adultery. Even if it isn’t physical (which my husband says if it isn’t now it will be soon), it is emotionally and it’s the same, if not worse. She has grounds “spiritually” for an ending of the marriage and should in no way be made to feel sinful for doing it.
    E – Pray. There is our Christian “pat-answer”. God is always faithful and whether this marriage is saved or it isn’t, he will continue to be faithful to both of them. We as humans make choices. We can’t control the choices that other people in our lives make, but we can control the choices that we make in our own lives. Her choice needs to be to cling to God no matter what happens. If her husband decides to go to counseling then it will be a long road to tow and it will be difficult – she will need to be covered in prayer! If her husband decides not to go to counseling and the relationship ends – she will need to be covered in prayer. No matter the situation, no matter how she feels, she needs to be running towards the Lord. He will make her path straight and he will take all and turn it for good.
    I don’t know if that helps at all, or if it’s what you wanted but that’s what my hubby and I think.
    Best of luck to both of them. We will be lifting them up in prayer!

  8. >Courtney–

    What is it with you and me and Mcklinky's? They never seem to work! So sorry. I fixed it, and put your link in!

    For the rest of you, thanks so much for being so sensitive! I liked what you all said, and I think I'll probably follow this up tomorrow with some excerpts from you.

    Mrs. W. alluded to something that foxxy said as well: maturity may be an issue. I know in some of my extended family, the men started off as rotten husbands, but as they hit their thirties and forties, they turned around. I really think it was partly maturity.

    Not that that excuses it; but perhaps it offers some hope!

  9. >Stefne (or "Libby"), thanks so much! That's such a thoughtful response.

    I just have one question. Do you think counseling actually works in a situation like this? To me, the diagnosis that you set out is spot on: he is withdrawing from the relationship in every way possible. Basically, he's just a big child.

    So what would counseling do? In his heart, he must know that he's being selfish. He just enjoys the benefits of it. Counseling, I think, is really good for getting over disagreements, when you've had outstanding issues you can't get past.

    He doesn't sound like he has outstanding issues. He sounds like he just doesn't care. And sitting in a counseling office and talking about all this isn't something I can picture him doing.

    I'm not disagreeing with you; I'm just honestly asking. In a case like this, is counseling best? Or should she just try to stand her ground on her own?

    I might even wonder about her getting counseling herself with some help in how to stand up for herself in the marriage. I don't know.

    What do other people think?

  10. >Good question -
    The reason we said counseling first was because it worked for us. It made a big difference for my husband to have a "third party" tell him he needed to grow up. He knew it and I knew it, but it was having another man (who he admired) tell him. This was especially helpful because my hubby's dad had never set a good example of what a Godly husband should look like. For me, counseling was a last ditch effort that actually worked. It was THE slap in the face that my husband needed.
    Do I think it works all the time? No. And I'm not sure it will work in this woman's situation.
    I also feel like sometimes it helps the woman be able to tell herself that she tried everything she could, but. . . .
    Does that make any sense?

  11. >Stefne–

    That's really neat that it worked so well for you. I can see your point–you needed to feel like you had done all you could, and he needed to hear it from somebody else.

    I wonder if it made a difference that the counselor was a man? Maybe hearing it from a guy was better.

    I think in many ways this is a maturity issue. He's selfish, just like a child. He needs to grow up and realize that marriage had responsibilities. Maybe he would hear it better coming from another man than just from his wife!

  12. Terry @ Breathing Grace says:

    >I think that a heartfelt conversation is in order. I agree with you on that, Sheila.

    I am not big on pat religious answers, and I have some practiccal stuff to add after saying this, but I really must point out that we can never dismiss the power of prayer, Bible study, and building a relationship with the Lord. Not because it will chang the husband, but because it will help give us strength, confidence, focus, and stability. These things, by the way are vitally important.

    As for the housework. I would suggest that this wife do the things that are the most important to her around the house, and leave the rest. Her husband claims not to care about the housework. He doesn't care right now because he doesn't have to. However, if a dirty fridge bothers him, he will express that before long. And when he does, this wife can respond with a calm and loving: "After a full day at work, I only have time to focus on certain chores around the house. I will get to the fridge when I can. However, if you have the time, I would appreciate it if you could tackle that for me." She has been direct, rational (a big thing for men), and asked for help in a non-threatening way. Tone and attitude is key here, however. What should be an easily delivered and readily received message could be ruined if it is construed as shrill or condemning…

    To be continued below

  13. Terry @ Breathing Grace says:

    >As for the change in this husband's attitude concerning children and church attendance: these things speak to the heart of his spiritual state and really are things that you must commit to prayer. If he is willing to continue to remain in the marriage, this is a key area where your only defense is prayer.

    The female friend has to go. Period. This is something that needs to be expressed clearly and in no uncertain terms. One of three things will happen: either he will comply, refuse to comply, or claim to have ended the friendship while taking the relatiionship underground. Like Sheila, i think this is probably the most serious of your problems and is the one hill I'd be willing to die on, so to speak. Don't share your husband with another woman.

    While dates are great, I don't find them to be hugely important. Maybe that's because we have a houseful of kids and no consistently available babysitters that we implicitly trust, but we get about two nights out a year. That's it. We have learned to make the most of a locked bedroom door after every one is asleep. We can talk, snuggle, or whatever whether we get out of the house or not. Of course, we did date before we had a houseful of kids.

    As for the working outside the home. You are not alone in this. It's just the world we live in. I would be very budget conscious, look for ways to capitalize on your talents as an entrepenuer, and hopefully by the time kids come along (praying that they will), your husband may be more open to your cutting back on work.

    I hope all my ramblings were of some assistance. Many of the comments were very good and I think there is plenty here to implement that could change things for the better.

  14. >Terry–

    Thanks so much for commenting! I always value your insight so much.

    Let me just clarify something, though. While I asked for no pat answers, that doesn't mean I think prayer "doesn't" work. On the contrary.

    It's just that too often in Christian circles we have the habit of being flippant. We hear someone in crisis, and we say, "you just need to pray!" Or we say, "just give it to Jesus."

    These things aren't wrong. We DO need to just pray. We DO need to give it to Jesus. But if you're in crisis, and that's what everyone says, it's easy to believe that nobody really understands the depth of your pain. And I think Jesus does.

    When we are in crisis, we need real compassion. Those "pat" answers are part of that compassion, but I just want us to make sure that we speak in compassionate ways. I am SO glad that everybody here has been so compassionate! I know the woman who inspired this post is eager to hear the responses, and I think she'll be very grateful!

    And by the way, I believe in meeting his needs, concentrating on your problems, and focusing on your issues, too! I just think that sometimes we need to go deeper, while still staying in focus with Jesus!

  15. Terry @ Breathing Grace says:

    >Oh, Sheila, I didn't think that you were dismissing the importance of prayer!

    I simply wanted to point out that unlike most people's directive to pray for the husband to change ( manipulative, God as genie in a bottle tactic), I think it's important to remember that prayer is part of taking care of yourself.

    When dealing with a spouse who is as difficult to deal with as this one seems, inner strength for its own sake is vital. Please know that I was not attempting to offer a pat religous answer.

    Somethng else occurred to me in the last hour or so. Are there men in this woman's church who might be able to extend themselves in relationship to this husband? Maybe she could invite another couple over for dinner to get the ball rolling.

    If her husband will not put himself in a position to receive good counsel, maybe a non-threatening relationship with a strong Christian male friend who shares his interests (golf, bowling, whatever) may put him in a place to get a picture of what a grown up husband should be, and that it doesn't have to be "the end of the good times" to grow up and be a man.

  16. >Terry–

    No worries! I didn't think you thought that about me (what a ridiculous sentence), but I just wanted to clarify.

    I think what you said about prayer was spot on–we need to stop praying for our husbands to change in the ways that we want, and just pray that God will have His way with both of us.

    I really like your idea about the Christian role model influences. I think having other couples over for dinner is a great idea. First, it forces your husband to have dinner with you and talk to you, just because there are also other people present. Chances are you continue the conversation after dinner, or at least you play a game together. It builds couple togetherness!

    It also gives him a chance to get to know other men who are more positive to their wives, and gives him better friends.

    So I really like that one! Anyone else have any good advice?

  17. >Howdy,Fannie here from Flawed But Forgiven crew! Libby did a wonderful job,she is the author out of the 3 of us. And i'm sure i'm saying the same thing as many of you have just different words but we all hear diff. too. He is acting like a spoiled rotten child so some tough love is in order,she did to some extent allow his behavior so she needs to show him the consequences of bad choices just like a parent does a child,set FIRM boundries,if crossed have set consequences. It might help him realize a few things AND he might actually begin to respect her as his equal. This is where a good Christian councilor for her can help. i definately agree with you,Sheila, she HAS to learn to love herself and find worth, i suggest looking up all the things God says about His children in the Word..AMAZING!! It can change her life and who knows maybe his in the process!

  18. >Thanks, Fannie! I agree with what you said about consequences, but realistically, what are those consequences when you're talking about a marriage? I don't believe in withholding sex deliberately, for instance, because I think that gives sex a very negative connontation in her mind. So what are those consequences? I list some common sense ones in my book, but I'd love to hear other people's takes!

    One other thing in response to Terry–she said she and her husband don't date, because of the kids. To tell you the truth, my husband and I don't really, either. But I think that's because we talk all the time. I gather Terry and her husband do, too. We don't need to carve time out to connect; we're always connecting.

    But if you're in a marriage where you don't connect, sometimes you have to specifically carve that time out. Then, once it becomes habit, it also becomes more natural!

    But I don't think people need to feel like they're somehow faulty for not dating….

  19. Alex Headrick says:

    >I wish there was a quick answer but I'd look to scriptures.

    Look at Abigail who was married to Nabal the fool. That story has a very happy ending, with Abigail marrying a king! King David to be exact. Look at all Christ endured on the cross, the abuse he suffered while turning the other cheek.

    And what about those verses taht say turn the other cheek, or if someone asks for your shirt give him your coat as well.

    The common reaction is "aren't you asking her to take abuse like a doormat?" Not unless you think Christ was a doormat! In God's world everything is opposite. The least shall be first, the servant a king, to find your life your must loose it etc. That's what God's kingdom is about, and that's how we point people that way.

    I've been there. I was married to a man who had no interest in me, looked continually at porn, lied about financial decisions, talked to other women, called me fat and ugly, etc etc. It was the worst four years of my life, but during those years I continually showed him love and respect. I voiced my unhappiness but then also voiced my love for him and how wonderful he could be.

    After four years, he finally turned around, sought counseling with another male, joined a men's study to keep him accountable, and at the end of all of it he thanked me. He thanked me for always treating him kindly even when he didn't treat me that way.

    I think it's when we do the uncommon things that we get someone's attention. It's uncommon to be treated nastily and yet turn around with love. That gets people's attention.

  20. Alex Headrick says:

    >And thinking on this…

    I think I'll ask my husband to come comment on this post. I'd love to see how he would put it, because he was alot like this woman's husband once. Maybe he can add some perspective into what changed him and how my actions helped or enabled…..

  21. >Alex–

    That's great that your marriage turned around! I'd be really interested in having your husband's take. That sounds interesting.

    It's funny you brought up David and Abigail, because I was going to use them, too, in the post, but then I ran out of room.

    My take on that story would be this: Abigail saw that her husband was going down the wrong road (he was insulting someone who was very powerful, and it would lead to his ruin), and she took it upon herself to do something about it.

    She took what was within her power to do (offer food, have servants help), and she did it, and in so doing she averted disaster.

    When we see our husbands heading towards disaster, too, I do think we have an obligation to do what is within our power to do.

    She didn't overstep her bounds. She didn't compromise her marriage vows. But she did do something that would have made her husband angry because she knew it was necessary.

    And I think sometimes we need to do that, too.

    I also agree with treating him kindly nevertheless. I think we should all think about how to do little acts of kindness to our husbands regardless. But that doesn't mean that we ignore it when he is headed towards destruction. I think we should do both; show kindness and show love, but also confront.

    It's finding that balance that's tough!

  22. >Hi ladies! Well, I had intended to just sit back and hear all your responses, but I wanted to give a little more detail. (I am the person who sent the email to sheila).
    I explained in the initial email, but we have not been going to church for a little while.
    We had a very hurtful experience at the church we were going to when I developed some medical conditions, and since then my husband has not been willing to go back to a church. I have suggested spending time with other couples and joining a bible study together–he is not open to these things. Because he is younger in his faith, he does not like to be in a lot of open discussion bible studies and he always says that he doesn't have enough time to spend with me or the friends he does have, so he's definitely not going to try to form new relationships just to ignore them.

    He has a normal 8-5 job, but also has a small video business that he has formed with his best friend. It started out as a hobby, but now is growing so much that he is gone filming several nights a week and spends most other nights and weekends editing his films. I have always encouraged him in this b/c it is his passion and eventually the goal would be for it to be his only job, but right now he is basically working two full time jobs.
    This is also where the "other woman" comes in. She is his best friend and business partner's wife as well as a person who operates one of their cameras and handles their accounting. Most of their interaction is limited to when the three of them are together, so I don't think the situation is as serious as it may have sounded in the email, but we have had to talk about it a few times. He thinks that it isn't something he should even worry about b/c he wouldn't only be betraying me but also his best friend if he had an affair, but I’ve tried to explain that that is what commonly happens! I know her and trust her not to do anything—I don’t think she has feelings towards him and I don’t think that he necessarily has feelings towards her, but he has said that he would prefer that I shared some of the common interests that she shares with her husband and him. I really trust that he would not act on any feelings if he had them, but still affairs of the heart are just as bad in many ways, and I know that they often start from sharing the same interests and passions…I've tried to join in and show interest in the things that he enjoys (esp. sports) but he would usually rather enjoy them by himself b/c he thinks it seems forced for me to do it.

    cont…

  23. >We have spent a little more time together over the past few nights but have not had serious discussions about any of this b/c I honestly want to enjoy a little of the time that we've had. Last night I did say "I wonder what an impartial observer would say if they watched our marriage" and he replied that of course I was the better spouse, that he felt there was no way he could be as good as me and therefore no reason to try. Then he said that he felt that he was a really good husband for the first six months or so and then just let it go. I guess that is to say that he is aware of what he's doing. Just selfish and lazy. It is definitely the "bait and switch" that Stefne mentioned. There have always been promises of being better and working on things later, and it would get better and then slack off again. He is admittedly lazy and selfish. Ironically, I have always considered him very mature, and he is in the fact that he was never a partying kind of guy when we were in high school and college, he always kept a stable job and made responsible choices. He lived on his own for a few years and did really well, but I guess he just assumes that is what I'm here for!

    Thankfully, he is not a miser with our money, and we are in a really good financial situation for our age, both with our full time jobs and side businesses (me with a direct sales business and also selling my baked goods and crafts) so we have things we are passionate about, we are just so separate.

    In general, things have come easy to him in life and he's used to doing as little work as possible and still getting great results.

    I have been wondering if I should just show him this post and the comments and the email I have exchanged with my best friend to show how I really feel, but I also don't want to hurt him.

    I know I have enabled him in his behavior. I love to spoil him and to treat him well, and it used to be reciprocated (and still is occasionally…) but I do those things out of love and don't feel that he loves me as much. I would never withhold sex to punish him and we also have a rule not to even joke about leaving the marriage, but I don't know how to enforce consequences. I don’t want to paint an unfair picture of him b/c he is not cruel or hostile towards me…he just does not want to take responsibility for things that he doesn’t care about and he does not want to do things that he would not naturally choose to do. I want to remain positive and know that things could be a lot worse—he loves me even though he doesn’t seek to show me using my “love languages”, he makes me laugh and we have fun together when we are together. We still complete each other’s sentences and seem so in sync in many ways…I’m just aware of some serious issues that have become patterns, and I know it would be much better to deal with this now while we’re still early in our marriage (3 years married, 7 years together) rather than let them become so deeply ingrained that they completely tear us apart. I think we’re too independent from one another!

    Thank you all so much for your comments so far, an keep them coming!

    Also…I think it’s funny but if we do have children, we’ve already decided to name them David & Abigail…ironic…

  24. Melissa G. says:

    >Hi there, i entered a photo contest on Facebook and we're in 2nd place! I really need my blogging friends help to make it to 1st! Only two days left to vote and we can vote once a day.

    Can you help us? Use the link to vote for Christmas Cookies submitted by Melissa Gill…

    http://apps.facebook.com/contestshq/contests/13594/voteable_entries

    Thank you so so much!

  25. >I haven't read all the other comments but I can also relate to parts of this post. (Mostly the firstone, he's playing xbox right now because it's our "no computer games" day). It's not a fun situation to be in. But I'm blessed in that my husband tries to listen to my concerns.

    Does her husband understand that there is a problem? Sometimes they are just oblivious. I would recommend the same thing as everyone else, to sit down and have a conversation with him. Don't try to hash it all out in one conversation. Just say "wee need to talk. I'm not happy with the way our marriage is. Would you be open to finding a way to draw closer to eachother? Do you have any advice on how we can fix this?" Something very simple.

    There are lots of great marriage books out there (one of my favorites it "The Five Love Languages") but I know that my husband would never read something like that. It sounds silly but maybe she could ask her husband if she could sit next to him when he plays computer and he could take his headphones off while she reads to him. It requires no commitment to change on his part and he probably won't listen for the first while. But with a little patience and a lot of prayer there will be some words and phrases that get through.

    Another things, meet him on his terms. I've started to play computer games with my husband. And since I've started doing that he not only plays less (strangely enough) but we have something in common to talk about. Sure we talk a lot of gaming stuff but we are now at the point that we go on separate characters where no ingame friends talk to us. This allows us time together and often we talk non-game things while playing the game. It's taken time but it's been worth it. Now I'm personally working on the next step: finding out of game hobbies for us to do together.

    I have to disagree about getting a separate bank account though. IMO that would just create more segregation. Taking an "allowence" is an option though. And maybe pick something for both of you (like house renovations, new car, vacation) and start putting any and all extra money into a separate savings account that is not so simple to withdraw from. Or even just save up an emergency fund (it's recommended to have 3-6 months income in an emerg fund).

  26. >cont'd…
    As for the church thing, just keep going by herself. Ask him every Sunday if he would like to come. always keep that door open but she can't force him to have that need. She can keep praying that he gets it. If someone asks about him at church then she can just let him know so-and-so wondered how you were. A big thing is to create a united front. Never say anything bad about your husband. Even if you wish he was at church don't tell people "oh he's sitting on his butt in front of the computer again." Say something like "he just wasn't able to make it." If they want more explanation then direct them to ask him. I can't remember the exact verse but "a gentle word turns away wrath."

    Housework always seems to be a big issue. Don't clean up after him. Don't wash his clothes. He's a grown man, he can do that himself. If he runs out of clothes then just patiently explain to him how to sort and how much soap and what temperature to use etc. Then step back and let him do it himself. He says that you do it because it's important to you. Let him do what's important to him.

    Ask him what would it take for him to want kids. Some men are afraid they'll lose the "freedom" they have without them. But don't bring kids into a bad situation. They will not make your life or a marriage better. They can really drive you apart if you're not both willing to make changes for them. Patience is a virtue when it comes to waiting for God's timing for children.

    Does she enjoy her job? Does she want to quit? If so, she needs to be upfront. Tell him that the job is destroying the person that he fell in love with and married (a little guilt trip helps sometimes).

    The female friend: definitely has got to go. Sorry but there's not ifs ands or buts about it. It's dangerous. The devil just needs an inch and he will take a mile. It's not that she doesn't trust her husband, it's that she doesn't trust the devil. And you really can't blame her for that.

    A big thing is to remember that although his behaviour (from our perspective) is unacceptable, the only person she can change is herself. I don't believe in divorce. If God put the two of them together (as it sounds like they believe He did when they first married) then He will provide a solution. As for the depression, there's nothing wrong with using medication to get you back on your feet (so to speak). That's another thing to talk with him about. She could say "I'm depressed and need your help." Men like to fix things. They like to solve problems. They are often bumbling when they do it though. Depression might be something she will have to fight with for a long time but, through faith, she can be assured there is a Light at the end of the tunnel. I suffered from depression during the first part of my marriage as well and my husband withdrew from me. But I learned during that time to cling to God instead of my husband.

    I know that prayer and patience can work miracles. And she can know that many women are praying for her and her husband to find eachother again as they read and respond to this.

  27. >Sarah–

    Thanks for piping in! Glad that you enjoy the comments!

    I understand what you're saying about how the woman may not be as big an issue as it was originally implied, but I still don't like the situation. I just don't. I think you need to take that one to God and ask Him for His wisdom.

    It is great that your husband is motivated in his career and wants to build his own business. But he still has to build his marriage, too.

    I'm glad you have fun together and laugh together. That's a great thing. Why don't you do something a little neurotic for the next two weeks? Everytime you laugh together, write down in a journal what you were doing that led to that moment. After two weeks, see if you can detect a pattern. When are you most at ease with each other? About what things? That may give you a clue as to how you can spend more time together without it being seen as a "chore".

    And Tessa, what great comments! I echo everything you said. Thanks for chiming in!

  28. >First of all, please don't give up on this marriage. It may "seem" over but it's not. Our great God is a God of restoration! It appears to me there are two people hurting in this situation–even though we have only heard one side. Perhaps, this guys is also depressed and grieving over "where did my cheerful, loving, sweet wife go?" Any chance he has been "checking out" for a long time because of the arguments, resentments, chastisement, frustration. He may be just as stuck not knowing how to fix it.

    I agree, the wife should most certainly pray, but before she goes to her husband for some changes, she needs to see what changes she can bring. I know it is easier said than done–this is where that important prayer comes in–practice smiling at him (her husband) every time she sees him. Make it a game, reward yourself, even fake it, but do it! Just please try this.

    Second, forget the distribution of labor conversation for the time being–this is merely a symptom of the larger problem–IT IS NOT THE PROBLEM!! Hire someone to come help with the housework, but do it with a SMILE!! NOT BITTERNESS!

    That's a start. . .

  29. >As far as the household chores, she shouldn't cater to him. If he dumps his dirty clothes on the floor, leave them there. Make dinner for two, but no special requests or homemade treats.

    Please continue to go to church and maybe get more involved. Ask him if he wants to join you.

    As for the working, is your income really extra? If you quit, are you okay with doing everything around the house? I would work this out before you do anything drastic.

    Please don't have a child with your marriage this way. A baby will not change him and will only increase your workload and resentment.

    And as for the female friend, she needs to go away. Period.

    Nurse Bee

  30. >After reading sarahe's further explanation I thought I'd share some things that I've found helpful in my marriage. I don't think they'd be a solution for a marriage with serious problems but I think they can help if you feel your marriage is going off track and needs a course correction.

    1. I make a point of looking for the good in my husband, every day. I keep in the front of my mind the qualities that made me fall in love with him, and the qualities I've discovered since then that have deepened my love and respect for him. I also make a point of trying to let go / forgive those things that I am upset about (unless it is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with.) If I am having a hard time letting go of something annoying I balance it against all his good points and that puts it in a better perspective.

    2. I look for opportunities to give him positive feedback. I thank him for the help he gives me. I tell him how nice I think he looks. I thank him for the hard work he does and the sacrifices he makes to support our family (I'm a stay at home mom.) I let him know how much I enjoy his company, that I think he's funny and clever, and more fun to hang out with than anyone I know.

    3. This one has been very difficult for me to learn. When I am upset and feel that I need to bring something up, I have to find a way to put my anger away, first. Otherwise the discussion becomes an argument with nothing constructive happening. He becomes defensive and stops listening to me, or looks for weaknesses I have that he can attack to put us back on a level with each other. (You're as bad as I am, so don't jump down my throat!) I spent a lot of time yelling at him until I figured that out. I also do my best to give him the time to present his point of view and listen carefully when he has a criticism of me (very difficult to do – I tend to get my feelings hurt way too easily!) (cont)

  31. >(cont from above)

    4. I pray a LOT for help in making my marriage stronger. I try to be specific – for instance, I pray for help in calming down before a discussion and help in understanding my husband's point of view. If I am having a problem with something he is doing, I try to avoid praying, "Please fix him!" and instead ask for guidance in figuring out what I can do to help my husband and make change easier for him. I also pray for help in being patient and avoiding criticizing.

    5. My husband is human, and I need to avoid putting too many expectations on him. (I'm a long way from perfect myself, after all. Does my complaint really have a leg to stand on? Have I dealt with the beam in my own eye first?) I want him to love me, to be patient and gentle with me, understanding and forgiving of my flaws. I like to be complimented, to hear good things about myself. He wants the same things from me, and that's not much to ask.

    6. In the end, he is his own person, with his own choices to make and his own relationship with God to work through. I cannot control his actions; I can only control my own. Most of the time we get along well, but we've had some serious long term disagreements over the years. He has sometimes made decisions that I vehemently disagreed with, decisions that caused real problems for our family. (In all fairness, I've done my fair share of making those kind of poor decisions.) When that has happened, I've had to decide how I was going to respond. Again, I've found prayer to be very helpful in figuring out what to do.

    We go into marriage thinking we are going to pull together, to be equally yoked, only to find that sometimes our spouses seem to be pulling less than we are, or even to be pulling in the wrong direction! I've always found those times very confusing and frightening. I don't think I've ever had to deal with anything in marriage that has been more difficult, in fact.

    Those experiences have also, however, been times of great personal growth for me, and I am grateful to the Lord for helping me get through them (more prayer!! Lots of prayer!) My husband and I have clung to each other, determined to make our marriage work and last, and the effort we've put into it has helped us both to mature, spiritually and emotionally. We are learning every day how to pull together more smoothly, how to make allowances for each other, and how to support each other through life.

    I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to lean on God in all of this. Not one of us has the wisdom or the perspective to always find the best solution. He does, and He's waiting to help us if we will let him. He knows how to make everything right again, and if you and your husband will turn to Him he will help you through this.

  32. >I have been following the comments on this situation and although I certainly have no wisdom on marriage (my first marriage failed, largely due to my own actions), I do relate very closely to this situation. My first husband was somewhat immature and I think what he wanted was another mother to take his mom's place. He was messy and inconsiderate, unhelpful to me around the house and indifferent to any sort of responsibility on the homefront. I tried the approach of just leaving his mess for him to pick up, but after about a week of stepping over dirty clothes strewn everywhere and piles of dishes and clutter, I would lose it, clean everything up and resent every minute of it. The resentment grew and grew over a period of several years. I think my ideas of keeping house and personal cleanliness would not allow me to just ignore his sizeable messes. I only say this because of the comments regarding how to "make" him take responsibility. I tried it and perhaps because of my impatient nature, failed. I worked full time, sometimes with a part-time job and sometimes going to school also, and "had" to keep up the house, the yard, the animals. Most of the demands of housekeeping I put on myself partly because of how I was raised. It drove such an incredible wedge between us, a wedge he couldn't or wouldn't understand.
    I agree that prayer can and does change things. I believe that no marriage is past reconciliation. I know that God's plans are bigger and better than our plans. I know that we are fallible and hopelessly flawed. I also know firsthand how easy it is to get bogged down in the drudgery of everyday sameness. I know there aren't any easy answers to this problem. Both people have to be willing to compromise for any real progress to be made, and only God can illuminate those areas for each individual. I am so glad I stumbled on this blog, in a world that is steadily becoming more corrupt, it is such a blessing to have Godly women, wives and mothers with whom to connect.

  33. >I think you had a couple of great clues of how to "reach" your husband when you explained more about the marriage.

    I'll start with "we're too independent of each other." This is huge to me. And it goes hand-in-hand with your husband's request that you join him in his business passions. Please seriously consider his request and pray about putting away your baking/crafts as a business and join him in his. This may only be for a time but I believe it would be a wise and loving gesture to him.

    It sounds like you are young in your marriage and since you are without children right now, what better way to not only show your love for your husband but it would help you possibly find a new interest and also help to further along the business that may become the income for your family.

    Marriage is always give and take. There will always be times you have to give for a season, and times you will need to take for a season. Give a little or a lot now, and I believe you just might reap great rewards!!

    • I’m not sure I’d agree that she give up her side business for his. He’s already badly taking advantage of her work ethic. It sounds to me like another way for him to squeeze more unrewarded labor from her. Tread with caution, Sarah.

      • Oh my goodness, I linked here and got so engrossed I didn’t realize I was commenting on a 5-yo-article! On the one hand how embarrassing, and on the other hand I’m so frustrated I didn’t find this 5 years ago. Sigh, oh well.

        • Don’t worry about commenting on an older post! I just updated the graphic, etc., and am re-introducing it to social media, so most people are seeing it for the first time! :)

          • Thank you. I only found your blog recently, so they’re all new to me! But seriously, I wish I’d found your blog years ago. But better late than never :)

  34. >Wow, this lady and I are parallel-universe versions of each other. We even have the same first name. I was nodding in utter recognition to just about EVERY point. Except two things that weren't mentioned. Mine doesn't seem to want me sexually either. I once tried standing next to the television (on which he was playing a video game) literally completely naked, and he looked at me, then went back to the game. He also has several of those female friends. One he skipped one of our anniversaries to go visit out of state. One he used to go out for coffee or lunch or movies all the time with until HER husband put his foot down about it, at which point my husband threw a complete fit about "what a controlling jerk" that guy was. A couple more were "possibilities" he had lined up to drive him to his vasectomy, because he claimed he couldn't trust me to do it. And yeah, the vasectomy. We have no kids. We're in our 20s. He was all about having kids when we were dating. I made it very clear I didn't want him to do it but it didn't matter. Even the marriage counselor told him to at least put it off, but it didn't matter a bit. It's been ten months since the surgery but I feel like there's a cancer eating my heart. I clearly don't matter, so what's the point in trying anymore? I would go down with this ship if I thought it would make a difference, but I see no evidence it will. Sending big hugs to (((((sarahe))))). I'm so sorry you hurt. This stinks. I have no practical advice, but I do remain convinced that God is still faithful. I will pray for you.

  35. >Anonymous,

    I am just really hurting for you. He had a vasectomy without your approval? And a doctor did that? That is absolutely horrid. I can't imagine.

    There are so many warning flags in your post, and I think you really, really need to see a counselor on your own. Even if he won't go. That is just not a healthy relationship, and you need someone to talk to who will say more than "pray through it". Of course you need to pray through it. But it seems to me that action is needed here, along with the prayer.

    If he's skipping anniversaries to go see other women and getting a vasectomy when you don't agree, there are serious issues. I really will pray for you, sister.

  36. >anonymous–i just wanted to let you know that at one point in our marriage we had a lot of sexual issues as well. my drive was a lot higher than his and i basically couldn't initiate sex without being turned down. Thankfully, that issue has gotten much better for us and he actually pursues me now. I have another friend with the same sexual issues and I think that is so hurtful for women–we are in a culture that constantly enforces that men can't get enough sex and then when that is not the case for our spouses we feel completely worthless. Thanks for the encouragement, and I will be praying for you as well! feel free to leave your email on my blog and we can chat through email sometimes if you would like.

  37. acpmessenger says:

    >I recommend reading Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud. I have been reading this book and it was the first time as a christian wife with the hearing the common answers sheila mentioned that I felt empowered and hopeful. I was starting to feel like I didn't want to live this life with no options and had tried the "Godly wife duties" with no change and I prayed all the time. I couldn't see how my Father would want me to sit back and let him treat me so badly but that is what I was being told. In my heart of hearts I knew God wanted me to stand respectfully for my self but did not know how, this book showed me how. Christ was gentle, loving, humble, but he was also assertive when he need to be. I pray things will get better.

  38. Hi! It seems so problematic these days when resentment between spouses causes a rift so gradual and big over time that it overcomes them. This woman’s husband does not respect her because he is too busy getting his ego stroked by this woman online. Honey…It’s time to pull the rug from up under this man and show him that you have the confidence to be the wife God called you to be or have the confidence to uproot this marriage and go another direction. Sometimes you need to be careful but drastic in these measures. God calls husbands to dwell with his wife with “intelligent knowledge” he cant be a student of your love if he is too busy chatting up some other female for a little immediate gratification. It’s time to break him down and humble him. Ask God to help you with this. I encourage you to read up on Dr. Harley’s website. If things don’t change, before you know it, 20 years of your life will be wasted because you werent willing to do what’s neccessary. Honey…you have to show a man. We are to convince our husbands by our conduct, not our words. Show him that you are willing to be the wife he needs and do just that, find out what he needs, but you are not willing to be a doormat while he dishonors your marriage. You are the joint heirs of life, you just gotta get it together. Your husband doesnt care right now, but he will once you do what is neccessary.
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  1. [...] some interesting discussions about marriage lately. It all started last week with the post “Doormats or Wives“, which started a great comment thread, that’s worth reading on its [...]

  2. [...] And here it is: My favourite post from 2009! It was a recent Wifey Wednesday: Doormats or Wives? What a great discussion in the comments, and in the follow-up post here. This best encapsulates my [...]

  3. [...] disconnected from you emotionally, and then you start trying to show them how much you love them, you actually end up looking pathetic (which turns them off even [...]

  4. [...] disconnected from you emotionally, and then you start trying to show them how much you love them, you actually end up looking needy (which turns them off even [...]

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