Do you often wonder if your husband really loves you?
It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I’ve got a pep talk for you ladies! Let’s believe the best!
I face a bit of a quandary here on this blog.
I get email after email and comment after comment from women with the most awful stories. They’ve been married for six months and her husband couldn’t care less about her–he only cares about his friends. He thinks she’s ugly. He tries to manipulate her by saying snide things to her kids. For ten years he’s never cared at all if she gets any pleasure out of sex–he wants it all about him.
Now, perhaps this is all true. But if I were to take all of these letters at face value, then it would mean that there’s an epidemic of narcissistic husbands out there who don’t care about their wives at all! And not just that–they actually delight in hurting their wives. And not just that, but they’re also brilliant actors, because none of this behaviour was visible before they were married!
Okay, I’m being tongue in cheek, because there is no doubt that many women are walking through extremely difficult marriages.
But I wonder if what often happens is something far more mundane: our husbands do something or say something that could be interpreted in a variety of ways, and we choose to believe the most negative one.
Virginia George wrote a great post called The Principle of Good Intent recently. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but here’s just a start:
It’s easy in the midst of an argument to see the fight as a personal attack on your character. When we feel our character is being attacked, our feelings belittled, or that our efforts are not enough, it’s important to stop and take a breath, and choose what we are going to believe...
There are times when I don’t feel like my husband loves me. It could be because he was rude, or didn’t help me when I asked for it, he snapped at me, or simply didn’t show me love in the way I was looking for it. In those moments I feel unloved.
But in those moments, I have a choice. I can believe that I am unloved, that I am not enough, or I can choose to believe that’s untrue. I can choose to believe his words when he says he loves me, and that he wants what’s best for me.
What happens in a marriage if we consistently choose to believe the worst?
You’re making love and you’re not that into it, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He finishes, and he leaves you hanging. You’re sure it’s because he thinks sex is all about him.
You get angry and hurt. The next day he leaves the house without kissing you. You’re sure it’s a rejection.
He doesn’t call during the day, and you start to wonder if you even matter to him.
When he gets home you avoid him. You put dinner on the table, but just talk to the kids. He picks up his computer after dinner and goes and plays something, avoiding you.
And this gets repeated, for days, and weeks, and years.
Soon the resentment between the two of you is so great that he may start actually doing things out of anger. You start reacting in anger, too. And the cycle gets worse and worse.
But what if your interpretation at the very beginning was wrong?
What if it wasn’t that he didn’t care about you, but he didn’t want to put pressure on you to have an orgasm, because you’ve felt that pressure before? And he wasn’t sure what you really wanted.
And the reason he didn’t kiss you that morning was because he had a meeting scheduled with a co-worker that he really doesn’t like, and he was practicing in his mind what he was going to say.
What if, when he walked in the door that night, he felt deflated after that meeting and really wanted to talk to you about it, but he sensed that you were cold towards him, and so he retreated onto his computer?
Can you see how this type of thing can seriously harm a marriage–when we assume that our husbands truly don’t love us?
Let’s do a reality check!
Next time you feel hurt and angry that your husband doesn’t love you or doesn’t care about you, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my husband the type of person who would not care about my well-being?
- Is my husband the type of person who would deliberately insult me?
- Is my husband the type of person who takes pride in making me feel badly?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then I strongly recommend you read this post on emotionally destructive marriages.
But if the answer is “no”, then tell yourself this, “I must be interpreting this situation wrong,”, and then simply ask him to clarify what he’s saying or what he’s doing!
Do you have a hard time asking for what you want?
Shaunti Feldhahn, in her book Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, found that one of the ingredients in a happy marriage was that both spouses believed the best of the other. When they had the choice to interpret something that either showed their spouse in a good light or a bad light, they chose the good light. And her studies found that the vast majority of spouses, even in only semi-happy marriages, do honestly want the best for their spouses, too, even if we don’t always feel it!
Like Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, just think about the good things and focus on those first.
I have more on her research about believing the best here.
So believe he means well.
When we believe the worst, it spirals, and often, after a number of years, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have walls of hurt and you honestly stop caring. But usually those walls of hurt were not built because of true meanness. They were built out of misunderstandings.
Believe the best. Stop the misunderstandings. And enjoy a much happier marriage!
Take this one step further–4 questions to ask to make sure you’re not misunderstanding anything!
This is one of the key concepts in my book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. We can choose how we think about things and what we focus on. If you have trouble with this, or if you’ve found yourself on this highly negative spiral, pick up the book! And if you find that you believe the worst because there honestly are big problems in your marriage, then I also show how to address those, too.
Find 9 Thoughts here.
Do you have trouble believing the best? Let me know in the comments!