Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. I get a ton of questions, and I don’t have time to answer anything personally. But when something comes along that looks like it would apply to a lot of people, I like trying to answer it on the blog.
Today we’re going to deal with what to do if your husband changed after marriage.
A reader writes:
What do you do when your husband changes who he is after you are married? I’ve been married for 3 years and prior to saying “I do” my husband was a fun guy, he liked to go out on dates etc. Now he’s not into anything, I try to get him to do stuff with me and he just say’s he’s not into it anymore. He’s even recently decided that he doesn’t need to get me presents anymore. He doesn’t see why he has to get me a Christmas present which he didn’t until 4 day’s later when he felt guilty. On Valentines day, he worked extra duty and went to get his hair cut. I saw him for and hour that day. Then we have a big fight on why it would have been nice to just get out of the house with him and do something together. I didn’t need gifts. He told me I was high maintenance expecting him to do something nice for me on Valentines. I don’t know what to do.
That certainly would be frustrating, and I can understand feeling so lonely and rather taken for granted.
I want to give a few very quick thoughts with some links to longer posts I’ve written which may prove helpful, and then I’ve got a broader point to make–so read on!
1. Do You Know Your Husband’s Love Language?
From what I can see in this very brief letter (which obviously is missing a lot of key information), her love language is likely quality time or gifts. She doesn’t feel loved because in her experience, he isn’t thinking of her and caring for her in the way that she needs.
We tend to like to give love in the same way we like to receive love, so she’s probably wanting to spend time with him to show him that she loves him, and she’s not able to. But what if his love language is words of affirmation? Or service? Or physical touch? It could be that he is feeling just as lonely.
So I’d encourage you to look at love languages and talk to your husband and see if you can figure each other out. Lots of people like taking personality tests on the internet, so this may be something he’d join you in.
2. Are You Meeting His Needs?
She’s really upset because he’s not meeting her genuine needs for connection, and that definitely is lonely. But rarely have I seen a marriage where only one person is lonely. Often what happens is one person becomes upset, so they lash out in hurt, which makes the other spouse defensive and hurt so they withdraw. The other spouse is now hurt, too.
I know this is hard to ask yourself when you’re definitely hurting, but are you meeting your husband’s needs? Let’s take a look at ourselves first before we point the finger at him.
Why am I The One Who Has to Change? (if you’re uncomfortable with my suggestion here, read this post, too!)
3. Can You Find Things to Do Together?
She has a big need to spend time with her husband–and that is a legitimate need. Sometimes, though, we need to take the initiative and find things that will work for both of us.
Here are some posts that might help:
4. Marriage is a Big Adjustment–and It’s all About Expectations
Is the problem that your husband changed after marriage? Or is it more that he just didn’t change the way that you expected him to?
Marriage is a HUGE adjustment for most couples, and while some enjoy a “honeymoon” period where everything is wonderful, I think far more find those first two years the hardest of their lives. We had ideas that once we were married we’d eat dinner together every night, and we’d do stuff together, but maybe he didn’t share those ideas. Maybe he thought he’d just continue to have fun–but with you along for the ride. It’s not that either of you is wrong; it’s just that you had different ideas of what life was going to be like. Most of us didn’t really know about marriage before we got married.
Maybe what you need to do, then, is to talk about your expectations and your dreams and your visions for you as a couple and as a family. If we can actually talk about our expectations, then we can start to understand our spouse better and figure out how to adjust. But if you never talk about the expectations, we tend to make a lot of assumptions–including assuming that the other person doesn’t really love us the way we love them.
This post may help you inspire some conversation:
Do All Men Change After Marriage?
Everybody changes after they get married, as Dayna Bickham wrote about so well last week in our Wifey Wednesday.
But I’m not sure the problems we encounter in marriage are as much about people changing as they are about the fact that once we’re married we learn people’s true selves.
And what worries me is that many people get married without really knowing the person they are marrying.
What I see in this letter, for instance, is that before marriage they went on dates, but after marriage they don’t. Now, I think dating is fun, and should certainly continue after marriage. In fact, I’ve got a post on cheap date night ideas for married couples, too!
But here’s the thing:
Doing “dating things” is not preparation for marriage. Going out on dates tells you almost nothing about what that person will be like once you’re married.
You don’t need to know whether or not someone is capable of taking you to movie and a dinner. What you need to know is what they do on a day-to-day basis, when they’re at home. It’s the home life that counts, not the dating, because dating isn’t real.
I know a young couple who has started seeing each other in the last few months, and they’ve fallen quite hard, too. But while they see each other constantly, they’ve only been on three real “dates”. They simply don’t have the money. So instead they hang out with friends, or go on walks, or just spend time talking and cooking together. They go to church together. That’s a better preparation for marriage if you ask me, because that’s sharing real life.
Too often when we date we don’t share real life, and so you truly don’t know what this person is really like. It could be that this guy hasn’t changed at all–it’s just that she never really knew him.
That’s why I’m very adamant that we need to ask our friends those hard questions before they get married.
Sit them down and drill them, even if they’re uncomfortable, because it’s better to do that than to have a friend marry badly. And as I said in my post last week, one of the key questions is: What do you DO together? If the only things you really “do” together are dating things, then you don’t know how you will act when you actually marry.
And the other key question? How does he treat his mom? I know some men treat their moms like queens and treat their wives horribly, but that really is the exception. Most men who treat their moms well also treat their wives well. If he doesn’t send his mom a Mother’s Day card, and doesn’t remember her birthday, and doesn’t care about Christmas, it’s unlikely he will for you, either.
We don’t know enough about this letter writer, and so I’m not trying to say that all of this was necessarily visible before she got married. But I do think for many people it is. You meet someone; you get infatuated; and you spend time together being all romantic. But that’s not the basis for a life together. You have to have shared purpose, and shared values, and a shared vision. That’s what’s really important in a future spouse.
What if you don’t share anything important with your husband?
Then it’s time to start building the relationship from the ground up. Work at being his friend. Find things to do together–even things you never thought you’d enjoy. Figure out what his love language is and really love on him.
You made this vow, and the vow matters. Bailing on the marriage is unlikely to bring you a lot of happiness, but working on the marriage you have likely will. So ask God for grace and patience and focus on what you can do to make things better, not on what he can do. You just may find that you enjoy being with him after all.
What about you? Were you surprised that your husband changed after marriage? Did he go from a romantic guy to someone who missed birthdays? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments!