Explaining Your Needs and Desires to Your Husband

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Make a list of the needs and desires you would like to see your husband fulfill. Divide your list into four categories: emotional needs, physical needs, spiritual needs, and mental needs. In some areas you may have an overflow of needs, and in others you may have to struggle to think of one need. But delve into your feelings until you believe your list is complete. Condense the list into the smallest number of vital needs so it doesn’t appear overwhelming.

As you explain the list to your husband, remember to discuss one need at a time until you’ve covered each subject. Your husband may have trouble accepting the importance of some of your needs, so you may have to discuss the difference between men and women where sensitivity is concerned. But be sure to maintain the right attitude while explaining. When you appeal to him for understanding, avoid self-pity, jealousy, and whining. These approaches are repulsive to anyone, especially your husband.

Finally, as you begin to discuss your needs, be sure to use the salt principle when appropriate. Look for creative ways and times to share these needs. For example, you might want to write your husband a letter explaining a few of your deepest longings. Be careful not to accuse or imply failure on his part; just explain how you feel. Let him read it alone if he chooses. Be sure he can read it during a calm, tension-free time of the day.

The Worst Approach
One woman told me she was extremely discouraged about her husband’s lack of interest in her. He had a tremendous drive and interest in his work, his friends, his pastimes, but almost no interest in her or their children. She talked on and on about how much she had tried to get him to change. Nothing seemed to work.

When I discussed it with her husband, I found she had continually confronted him with his failures as a husband. He said she always seemed to choose the wrong time to talk about their problems— “Just when I was trying to unwind.” To top it all off, she came across as a combination of prosecutor, judge, and jury.

Just before he went to bed, just as he got home from work, almost anytime he “let down” around her, she started condemning and reasoning.

I began to see that she had what I call a “contentious spirit,” one that always contends for its own way. She was constantly pushing him into a corner, trying to make him see her point of view.

Even the Bible describes the effects of a contentious woman. She drives out a man like the searing desert sun; she drives a man to the corner of a rooftop; she drips on a man like a steady rain (Proverbs 25:24; 21:19; 27:15).

What perfect analogies. Around the house this woman’s habits were as annoying as a constant dripping-like a leaky faucet. Her contention was like the sun beating down on a wayfarer in the desert. No matter where her husband turned, he couldn’t get away from it. He found no oasis of relief because she continually reminded him of his failures. Finally, her actions forced him to the corner of the rooftop with nowhere else to go.

Want to know what brought him down off the rooftop in a hurry? His wife got rid of her contentious spirit. Consequently, she inspired a tremendous change in her husband. Today she describes him as a much more loving husband who meets her needs in ways she never even dreamed possible.

Explaining your feelings and needs is not the same as voicing complaints. One couple, who constantly bickered, determined to go through a whole week without voicing any criticism. Rather than argue, each time either of them became irritated, they wrote it down.

Each time either was annoyed by the other’s failure, he or she wrote it down. They placed each “complaint” slip in one of two boxes, a “his” and a “hers” box. At the end of the week, they planned to open the boxes. He would read her complaints and she would read his.

Saturday night finally arrived, and he decided to go first. He opened the box and began to read the dozens of little notes, one at a time. His eyes reflected the hurt and disappointment in himself as he read the complaints. “You’ve been promising to fix the screen door for six months, and it’s still not fixed.” “You never put your socks in the dirty clothes.” “I’m getting sick and tired of having to pick up after you everywhere you go.” He was sincerely grieved by all the ways that he had offended his wife.

Then it was her turn. She opened the box and pulled out the first slip of paper. She read it with a lump in her throat. The next note brought tears to her eyes. Picking up three more notes, she read them quickly and began to weep. Every note in the box read, “I love you.” “I love you.” “I love you.”

Like many wives, you have been fooled into thinking that one day your complaints would finally re-mold your husband into the perfect mate. But I hope the example above clearly illustrates that unconditional love and tenderness, not complaints, can transform a cranky opponent into a humble, loving partner.

However, it is important to verbalize your feelings. One wife touched her husband’s heart with the note she wrote him. He actually changed his weekly schedule to include more time with her. The note read:

“Many days I feel like a shining little red apple —one of the top ones in a barrel. Everyday you come by and choose one, but never me. Your hand comes close, sometimes you even lift me up, but always you choose another. I’ve got a little worm growing inside me, and each day I become less attractive. I long for the day that you choose me!”

The above article came from the wonderful ministry of Dr Gary Smalley (from a newsletter we received from his ministry). Gary Smalley is the founder and chairman of the board of the Smalley Relationship Center which is one of the country’s best-known authors and speakers on family relationships. He has published more than 40 books. Gary and his wife, Norma, have built a family of three children and eight grandchildren. You can read other helpful articles provided from this wonderful ministry by clicking on the following: The Smalley Family Official Site.


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36 responses to “Explaining Your Needs and Desires to Your Husband

  1. (UNITED STATES)  This article really touched me and hit home. Especially the part about the "I love you" notes in the complaint box. I recently tried to sit down with my husband and go over the things that he and I would like the other to improve upon in our marriage. It was my idea, of course, so I went first and boy did I ever lay it out there. I listed nearly a half a dozen areas that I felt he could, and should, work on.

    I had a couple things on my mind before I started and I listed them one by one, each time providing examples of how he had gone wrong. By the time I got to number three I was on a roll. I began to think of what he might complain about on his turn and then began essentially mirroring those complaints. I begin to think, I know he’ll complain about me doing "so and so", but he does that, too, and just that quickly I’d tack the offensive behavior onto my list.

    My husband just sat there listening intently, even though him not listening to me had been #1 on my list. I probably would have continued to add to the list had I not felt a little shame and pity for him because he looked genuinely hurt by my words. When I was finished I felt so much worse than when I started. Not only did I feel guilty for clearly hurting my husband’s feelings, but I was now anticipating the worst as it was his turn to clue me in to my faults.

    There was only silence, and I found myself nearly begging him to begin. I needed him to bash me like I had done him to ease the sting of guilt and shame I felt for saying the things to him that I had. I could see that it had hurt him for me to rattle off all those negative things about him, and with such eloquence and ease. After soaking it all in, he looked up at me and opened his mouth to speak. Finally, I thought, he’s gonna let me have it. "I love you, Baby.", was all he said. "I love you, too.", I said. "Now tell me what I need to change.", and I waited, but nothing could have prepared me for what he said next. "I love you just the way you are. I really can’t think of anything that you need to change, and I’m sorry that I haven’t been the husband that you need me to be."

    With that I began to cry, to sob, and my horrible husband with all his many faults held me and consoled me and repeated how much he loved me. I felt horrible. All my shortcomings as a wife and Christian raced through my mind. How could he not see them as clearly as me? How could he comfort me so readily when I had been so cruel? My mind raced with these thoughts.

    I looked up at my husband, the sincere concern for me in his eyes made me fall in love with him all over again. I told him how much I loved and appreciated him and how horrible I felt. His expression of love to me instead of him biting back was certainly more effective than any list of complaints. Instead of berating me that day, my husband simply set an example for me of the how I should behave. He turned the other cheek. He accepted accountability for my perception of his failures, despite their lack of substance, yet didn’t demean me in return. Then he comforted me and offered his unconditional love. His kindness shined a gentle light on my own failings.

    I realized that day that I had a truly amazing husband, and a lot of ways about myself that needed vast improvement. Since then I have been praying and working hard to be the wife that God intends to me to be, and our marriage has been stronger than ever.

  2. (USA) Hi “Me”, Your testimony of what happened to you and your husband is truly touching. Thank you for sharing it and for being vulnerable to share so many of the details.

    Upon reading what you wrote I felt drawn into the love that it demonstrated. I hope you won’t be harder on yourself than you should be (and yet will honestly learn what you need to learn as well). You had some grievances to work through, and that is valid. And you should be able to talk with them over with your husband. But as you learned, we all process things differently. You just need to learn how to express that which you need to say to your husband in ways so that it would be easier for him to take. They might still hurt him, but that’s ok. He’s a big boy. You just want to make sure that you don’t hurt him unnecessarily by the way you approach the matter. And the same goes for him. He needs to be able to tell you what is really bothering him, but do it in ways that doesn’t cause unnecessary pain.

    I can see from your comment that you see that now. I’m so glad the end result of what happened between you came out in such a loving way. Your husband has a lot of class and exhibited grace love in action.

    Sometimes we will build up grievances and keep stuffing them in until things build up to such a degree that when we go to express them, it’s like a volcano that explodes beyond what we expected. I’ve been there and have done that myself, so I know how that can happen. And when it does, it’s not a pretty picture — nor one that is honoring to either of us.

    I’ve learned that when I’ve done that, it defeats the main thing I am trying to accomplish, and that is to resolve the problems that have built up between us. I just add to the problems when I save them, let them grow, and then dump them in such quantity and massiveness.

    It absolutely floods my husband’s mind (because he doesn’t handle big doses of relational stuff all at once). He needs it in smaller increments so he’s not overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve learned to keep shorter “accounts” with each other as far as things that are bothering us, and I’ve learned with my husband Steve, not to make our time of conflict resolution too lengthy. It’s better for us to revisit the subject several times rather than one long time because it can slide into problems and my husband can go on over-load and then I react to that.

    I’m different than he is in that area of conflict resolution. I would much rather work the whole situation out at once. But I’ve learned that we do better as a marital partners when we compromise and do things over a longer period of time. I still get them resolved, and he isn’t so over-whelmed all at once.

    I’ve also found that when I dump a bunch of stuff upon him, my husband gets defensive and misses the point of what I’m trying to say then I get angrier because I feel misunderstood and get defensive as well as try to further my points. And it goes back and forth. Again, all of that just defeats my original purpose — to come CLOSER TOGETHER, rather than farther apart in our relationship.

    And when I dump too much relational stuff on him of this and that and become hysterical and historical in all I bring up, we end up fighting instead of really resolving matters as two adults — two partners. It’s like what Max Lucado said about marriage relationships, “Conflict is inevitable; combat is optional.”

    My husband Steve and I have learned a lot about each other and about conflict resolution in the almost 37 years that we’ve been married that has truly helped us in our marriage. I’ve told him how I’ve seen so much maturity on his part and how I can see he really knows me so well when we’re conflicting. He gives more grace and understanding and is less defensive. That means a lot to me. He approaches matters more like your husband did, and you’re right, that really throws us off balance and makes us look at the situation with new eyes and less volatility when a marriage partner does that.

    I encourage you to keep praying about what happened and ask the Lord to show you how to approach your husband to work through the issues that are bothering you. You need to be able to tell your husband what is bothering you in relationship matters. You then, both need to work on what can be done.

    We have a lot of great tools that could help both of you as you go through them together in the “Communication Tools” section. Use what works for you. Recognize that every couple is different. Use, adapt, throw out, re-adapt, and work through the tools that are offered. Become like students in this. It’s SO worth the peace it can bring to your home and relationship.

    At first, you may have a few tougher times working things through because you’ve built up a lot of things over time that is bothering you. But be patient with each other. And then when you get through what you have been holding onto, keep shorter accounts in the future and work through your differences sooner rather than letting them accumulate. I pray God blesses you in your effort.

    Again, thanks for sharing your testimony. It caused me to embrace the both of you in my heart and prayers. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

  3. (PHILIPPINES) I was so touched by the words used by her husband. Saying I love you is very difficult to say in the middle of crisis, but he still manages to express it. And that makes a wife realize how much understanding she will give to her husband. I know how it feels like when a husband disregards your efforts in moulding your marriage. It is necessary to have trust, patience, understanding, open communication and most specially, praying to God together for guidance. God bless us all

  4. (UNITED STATES) I love how your husband handled your conflict. It brought me to tears. It reminded me of how my first husband would have responded. I was just married in March for the second time. I love my husband and if we did the same exercise I could respond to him with just I love you, I love you, I love you.

    It is not that he does not have faults. It’s just that when I hear what other married couples complain about it, it just seems trivial. I mean if he does not pick his socks up or leaves spit marks on the mirror, it really does not bother me enough to make an issue over it. I’d like to think that I pick my battles carefully.

    Now, on the other hand, he complains about what I do or don’t do right every chance he gets. I disrespected him in some way, I am not intimate often enough and when I am, it is not adequate enough. Whatever he can think of. But I know he loves me. When he is not working I have his undivide attention, be it good or be it bad. I just do not know what to do.

    1. (ZIMBABWE)  Hie Rose, We may be apart but I really relate with what you are going through. My husband will point out something I have done (or rather, haven’t done) every other day and I on the other hand, will take every effort to overlook what he has done or said. The worst is when someone like this does not even realise when they are wrong. It is really difficult and needs the grace of God to overcome.

  5. (INDIA)  I am a highly orthodox Indian. I am right now in US. I have married an Indian whom I believed is as orthodox as me but he is actually not! He has lot of friends who are girls. I have lot of friends who are boys. But he moves with his friends who are girls too much more than I move with my friends who are boys. I am not able to tolerate that. Moreover, his friends who are girls are horribly difficult! I have told this to my husband several times but he says, it’s their nature and he cannot stop them. I love my husband. I cannot live without him but at the same time I am not able to tolerate his behavior with these horrible girls too!

    He never takes me out! We have never gone to a restaurant alone. Honeymoon, a dream! He always teases me, comparing me to other sexy good-looking girls and says that he likes them for their beauty. Though he says all these for fun, he says this at least 10 times a day which makes me feel he is serious. I am not so very good-looking but I am sexy as all say. But I am depressed and have ill-health these days because of those girls and I won’t dress up well for the same these days. A few of my friends say that since I don’t dress up well and look sexy everyday, my husband is losing interest in me. That’s why he does not care of what I am doing, what my feelings are or anything about me!

    Has my husband lost love and interest in me? Should I now forget everything and concentrate in bringing my husband’s interest on me back? Should I now work on looking sexy to my husband and make him get infatuated with me, forgetting my career and health? Is this the reward of true love?

    Should I now start my new work on keeping a person (husband) who cannot just stop one of his friends from hugging him in front of everyone? Should I do all these things to keep a person with me who never does what I like and never gives up what I don’t like? Please help me in this! Please help me to live! Though not for him, I’ve got to live for my parents until they die at least!

    1. Dear Indian; I want you to know that you are truly a beautiful person. I am really sad to read that you are feeling so low about yourself due to the infatuation your husband has with what a woman looks like; this idea of what the world calls “sexy”. I highly suggest you and your husband view a movie together called Mark Gungor: Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage – DVD. What he is doing, having physically close contact with other women, is biblically wrong. Spiritualy and emotionally wreaking havoc on you and doing a GREAT disservice to your marriage. Accepting another woman’s advances, hugs, touching, outside of a hand shake, is not appropriate.

  6. (TRINIDAD)  I am sorry to learn of your problems Indian! Have things change since you posted this comment? First of all I would say there is no excuse for your husband to be disrespectful to you with other women. However, did you try to communicate your hurt to him in a nice & loving manner? I would suggest to you, since you mention that you also have male friends ask your husband whether he is offended by that fact… and to assure him that should that be the case you would immediately change the nature of your friendship.

    It is difficult to ask your husband to change things if you are not willing to change. I sympatize with you because it a genuinely hurtful situation where other women seem to have priority with him. Maybe you should also ask him why did he choose to marry you & to focus on those positives. See where it goes from there!

  7. (TANZANIA)  Indian, How my heart goes out to you! Very sorry for what’s happening to your marriage; it realy hurts. I don’t know your Indian culture but there are things that are not tolerable for any culture. My advice is please try talking to him in a nice, loving way and try explaining to him by how much his hurtful words are hurting you. Also try reducing boyfriends yourself, he might be trying to revenge you silently.

    Also do not involve God in this, my prayers with you!

  8. (UNITED STATES)  I love my husband very much. But for many days I feel like a shining little red apple —one of the top ones in a barrel. Everyday he comes by and chooses one, but never me. His hands comes close, sometimes you even lift me up, but always you choose another. I’ve got a little worm growing inside me, and each day I become less attractive. I long for the day that he will choose me!” On days off he never stays home, but when he needs to be with daughter he stays home. He ignore me and doesn’t respect me. Never shows love.

  9. (USA)  I googled “How do I express my feelings to my husband without him getting defensive?” and I am so thankful I came across this site.

    As I am typing this, I am in tears, hurt, feeling useless and not sure where to turn or what to do. I am in my home office and my husband is in his “man cave.” I am feeling so distant from him at this moment and I HATE it!

    We have everything going for us –our relationship (for the most part), our children, a nice, comfortable home, our health and so much more. We do not make tons of money but we do appreciate all the “non material” things we DO have. These things are what is most important.

    Two of the “more” important things to me are our emotional connection and the ability to express our feelings and thoughts to one another. This is lacking and I am not sure how to improve this.

    I am able to express my happiness, joy, excitement, etc. and he always responds well. When I feel the need to express my hurt, anger, etc., in regards to our relationship, no matter how I do so, he takes offense. This is been going on for a while.

    I ALWAYS rehearse how I am going to present things to him without hurting him, making him angry or defensive. I do take his feelings into account. I do not point fingers and say YOU did this or YOU did that or YOU didn’t do this, etc. I say things like, “I am feeling hurt because Macey (our 8 year old daughter) called me back instead of you. I know you were bust at the time I called, however, when my phone rang, I was excited thinking it was you on the other end and was disappointed when it wasn’t.” I ask questions like, “When I am angry or upset, what is the best way to tell you, without making you defensive?” I will also say things like, “I know I goofed up our anniversary, hurt you and I am sorry. To this day feel guilty about it.” I do this because I want him to know that I am not perfect. I know I have hurt him, realize and feel horrible about it.

    I have finally gotten to the point where I felt the need to let him know how I was feeling. I cannot and will not keep things bottled up. Could I pay my a therapist to help? Absolutely. Would I rather talk to the man I married, the man I should be able to share all my feelings with? Absolutely.

    He came home from work two days ago and appeared to be in a good mood. I felt it was the perfect time to let him know how I was/am feeling. So I said, “We need to talk. Maybe now is not the best time because Aubree (our middle daughter) is home.” He looked puzzled. He was heading upstairs and “invited” me to follow him. Once he sat down, I explained that for years, this is how I have been feeling and need to know the best way to share my feelings, concerns, anger, etc., without him getting defensive. I said that I wanted HIM to be the one I talked to and not a therapist.

    At one point he replied, “Isn’t that what you are paying a therapist for?” This crushed me!! I also explained that I am not feeling this way all the time. I made sure to let him know I am not bashing him. At another point he told me that this was all “dizzying.” He also mentioned that I am looking for answers for things he doesn’t have answers for. I mentioned that I know I have goofed up, apologized and felt hurt that I have hurt him. I pointed out a time that he was angry with me. He expressed his anger. I understood it and have not done what angered him again. He told me that he has to censor everything he says to me because of my insecurities. (He works with all women, they share stories, laughs, etc., and apparently he doesn’t tell me everything because he is afraid of how I will react.)

    So then the silence begins. He goes his way and goes about his business. He will talk to our kids and everyone else like nothing happened. I, on the other hand, get sick to my stomach, can’t eat, and have all these uneasy feelings. I HATE them!! I eventually approach him and ask why the silent treatment and he says, “I am laying low, so I don’t get my head blown off.” NEVER did I come at him in such a way. Why does he take it and feel this way???

    All I want to do is make our relationship better, stronger and more complete. I don’t want to feel the need to bottle up my feelings because of the outcome of expressing them.

    I am not a nagging wife. I do not make demands. I do not yell, gripe, moan or groan. I give him space, when he needs it. I try to lighten things up, when the air is heavy. I act goofy, when I feel he needs a laugh. HELP!!! What am I doing wrong???

    1. Hi Amy, Trying to open up lines of communication between husband and wife sure can be difficult sometimes! I know. Being married almost 40 years (and having a great marriage through most of those years), means that my husband and I have crossed that bridge and have built additional bridges many, many times. It’s hard, but it’s sure worth the effort! You can’t have the best of marriages without building communication bridges. It’s as simple as that.

      You ask if you are doing something “wrong” in your approaches to try to talk to your husband. Honestly, I don’t think so. But another question to consider is this: Is what you’re doing working? See, your approaches may work for some people or in some incidences and not others. And if they aren’t working when you need them, then it’s important to consider if you can approach issues differently.

      It seems that you and your husband, while you have a great marriage in other ways, are somehow missing it, as far as being able to express that which is bothering you and that which doesn’t put the other on the defensive. And the reasons for this to be happening are so wide and varied.

      All I can say is to ask God to show you what you can learn about your husband’s style of communicating, what will work and won’t work in approaching him when something is bothering you –what is the combination that will work in helping you to build communication bridges, rather than walls in your relationship. And then open your senses, expecting God to teach you. Read what you can find on our web site, as to communication styles, methods, tools, and how gender differences can sometimes play into communication. Read up on how husbands and others who are different from you, approach matters where communication is important. We have lots and lots of articles, quotes, testimonies, and recommended resources and web sites posted on this web site to give you a great start.

      You might look at all of this and wonder how you could do what is needed. And why should you do this when you may perceive that the problem is his and not yours? What I say to that is, “How do you eat an elephant?” You do it one bite at a time –if you look at the whole thing, you’ll be disheartened. Just proceed one bite at a time, as you have the time. You vowed to be married for life to your husband. So you have a lifetime to learn about what it takes to make your life together the best it can be. You don’t learn all you can by saying, “I do,” and then think the rest will come natural –that everything will fall into place, because of the love you start out with. Your original love won’t stay in tact and your relationship issues won’t naturally fall into place. Yes, it will fall, but if you want it to fall into a good place, you will need to apply a lifetime of learning to it, and applying what you learn. It’s not just what you live through that’s important, but what you learn through and apply.

      Also, in all of your studying, keep in mind that “one size does’t fit all.” You may come across some advice which won’t work or needs some tweaking, or God will re-style it for you for your personalities in some way. That’s ok. Go with the flow of what God teaches you.

      I’ve sure learned A LOT about my husband and about marriage, since the old days in the beginning of our marriage where I thought I knew it all. The more I learn, the more I know, I have a lot to learn. I’ve ESPECIALLY learned that women aren’t the great communicators that I once thought they were. We are just different. It’s not that I’m a great communicator and my husband (who can be quieter on more issues than I will be) is not a great communicator –we’re just different. And when you work with two differences, it’s amazing what you can learn! If we communicated the same, we wouldn’t learn much!

      So, please don’t look at what’s “right” or “wrong” but different. And if something isn’t working, look to see what you can learn to make it work, somehow. I hope you will. I suspect you will. You sound like an awesome wife, in many ways. I pray God’s blessing upon your search to improve your marriage in the ways it’s needed.

  10. (USA)  What if your husband really doesn’t do a thing around the house? What if all he does is watch TV? What if he never says I LOVE YOU? Why is it always the WIFE that has to change? What if he cheated? What if he is just “There” and unavailable emotionally?

    These articles always blame the wife when she asks for what she needs. There are guys that are bums and users. IT is not always the wife’s fault. When a woman gets to the point where she is SO frustrated that she is nagging, maybe she should just dump the jerk. Some men are just too self centered.

  11. (KENYA)  I have read all your comments. It’s good to know that one is not alone in every situation. I am also going thru the same. My husband is the one to say I love you. But he makes me feel abandoned. He chooses his family over me and my 2 children. Currently we are undergoing a difficult situation where we are both homeless and jobless. I am staying with his cousin in a diferent town while he is staying with his brother.

    This is to say we are in a long distance marriage most of the time. He was out of the country for 2 yrs. He came back for 2 yrs and then went back again for 1 yr. Now he is back. We are like strangers, he has shut me out of his life completely (that’s what I feel). I only get to know what is happenning in his life when I go thru his emails, only when he has forgotten to log out.

    We have had problems of infidelity. He is seeing his ex (they are in constant communication) and when he came back from Europe he had photos of a lady in his wallet. This has made it difficult for me to trust him. But thank God I am very patient, even after coming across photos of him and his ex and now this recent ones. I have never asked him about it. Instead, I keep it to myself.

    This is my first time for me to talk about my problems. No one knows, not even my family. Despite all that, I love him very much. That’s why I hurt even more when I don’t get his attention. Right now its been 5 days without communication. He did send me a text msg 5 days ago that he is on his way to visit his mum. Since then nothing.

    He has been pursuading me to give him a fake divorce to enable him get “married” to someone for him to get European citizenship. I have agreed and am still waiting for the papers. I am so confused right now, so hurting and very stressed. I have been living with relatives for a year, plus. Searching for a job has not yet been successful. I am a complete shadow of my former self. But one thing that has kept me going are my kids and I thank God for them always! Thank you people, and God bless!

  12. (USA) I’m completely touched by what I have read and only hope for the same with my husband. The problem is it’s all my fault according to him, and he is so back and forth with his emotions, I feel like I’m going crazy… I would honestly say he is emotionally abusing me. I just wonder, is their any way to get him to see what his words are doing to me? I hope I have a happy ending.

  13. (Cape Town) Hi, I have been married for 12 years and have two children. My husband and I are not rich but we have what we need and the love and mercy of God everyday. I feel lonely though, my husband is not romantic and he hardly takes me out. Whenever I speak to him about it he says we do not have time or we don’t have money. He thinks that it takes money to something special. There was a time that I wanted to end the marriage but we decided to speak to a Pastor and his wife where he promised he will try and make me feel special. It has now been 6 months and still nothing.

    I spoke to him again about it and he said we will be ready one day to do things. Am I unfair to want to be made feel special once in a while and why are men so clueless on this? I always have to explain everything to him. It hurts to think that he does not know me after all these years. I always do things for him. Am I so wrong that I want my husband just be a little romantic and not think that “lovemaking” is the only closeness there is?

    Please help me understand and maybe if I am wrong then I will accept it. He says he loves me everyday but is love enough? He helps me with eveything around the house but that is his way of making me feel special. I don’t know anymore.

    1. Perhaps you start by dropping the attitude that men are clueless. After all, the irony is, if you don’t get why your husband is doing what he does, logically, it would mean you’re as clueless as you suggest he is. Being called clueless or being thought of that way is unlikely to motivate him. Even if you don’t say it, he probably gets that message via non-verbal communication such as body language. If you approach this from a critical perspective. He is clueless, he doesn’t get it, etc. It will just bring both of you down. It’s a downward spiral.

      Instead of asking, why don’t we do… or why don’t you ever do… take a positive approach. Remind him of something he did that you liked and ask him to plan that again this week, this month, etc.

      But also come asking if there is something he wants. This cannot be all about you and your unmet needs. Sounds like he has some concerns about money. Or maybe you show him the way. Plan some dates that don’t cost anything and show him how it’s done. Don’t just leave the entire burden on him and say he should just know what to do, and if he doesn’t he’s clueless. That’s a recipe for failure and disappointment.

    2. I agree with Tony. I was hoping that a man would respond to your pleas. Take it from a woman who used to be in the same place –I used to believe my husband was completely clueless and out of touch with my needs. But I’ve since learned that yes, some men ARE clueless, but we’re equally as clueless if we don’t know how to help them to treat us as we need, or treat them as they need. We aren’t anymore “in touch” with what’s right or wrong. It isn’t about what’s right or wrong, but what is the wisest way to approach these matters. When I learned differently and stopped judging my husband and started recognizing that I needed to approach these matters in healthier ways, rather than playing into the blame, shame, “I’m hurt and it’s his fault” mentality, things definitely took a turn for the better.

      Now yes, there are some spouses that are abusive and others who have mental health problems going on, and others who are “clueless” because they are selfish by nature and intend to stay that way. Those are especially difficult circumstances to be in, but in most cases, it isn’t that way at all. There is just some type of disconnect going on for different reasons.

      Sometimes our spouses (whether it’s a husband or a wife, depending upon the circumstance) need for us to guide them by example, and eventually they “learn” how to do these types of things in a more natural way. For some spouses, he or she may never catch on (but don’t jump so quick, because some are just slower learners in these types of matters)… if that’s so, then be the initiator. There’s nothing wrong with that. So what? Who is perfect in all ways except for Jesus Christ Himself as a husband? Are you the perfect wife? I’m sure not! Instead, recognize that you have a good husband in other ways but not so great in that way. If so, be the one who initiates. That doesn’t mean that you can’t still have meaningful times together; it just means that your skill is being the one who brings more of the heart –the romance into the relationship.

      Make it a fun goal to find ways to bring romance into your marriage in inexpensive ways. Ask God to help you to not look at your husband as deficient in these types of things, but as one who may need help. I sure need help in some things that I’m not as good at, and my husband needs help with some things he’s not as good at. And sometimes one or the other of us just needs help at the beginning to awaken “giftedness” that is deep inside. Who knows? What matters most is that we help one another as husband and wife. Keep in mind what we’re told in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who fails and has no one to help him up!”

  14. More people would hear me if just opened my back door and screamed my sexual needs and desires out the back window. My husband and I haven’t talked to each other in years. WHY!!! Well we have been married 45+ years and he doesn’t ever want to listen to me or any one else.

    Problems started on our wedding night. We did have sex and maybe it lasted 20 minutes. We didn’t even see each other naked and still haven’t. He told me the next day that sex, me and marriage was gross, disgusting, messy, smelly, pointless, no real meaning and that he never wanted it again. He even slept out on the hotel patio all night after sex. Also he couldn’t understand how any human could do something so vile to another human. To him it was inhuman!!

    He refused to go on our honeymoon. I was told to go myself, that I would find someone to shack up with for a week. It was horrible for him to say that. I cried, yelled and all he did was say I’m going home, and I could come along if I wanted. He headed out the door and I threw my stuff in my night bag, put a coat on over my half naked body and ran out behind him. He said no more to me!

    At home he moved all his things to the basement and all of sudden he worked nights. To this day we never speak except he grunts and moans about something I would like for him to fix. That’s the only time he comes upstairs. He’s a hermit like person, no TV, radio, computer, phone or any kind of reading material, long scraggly hair and a beard to match and old clothes I swear came from Good Will. I just became me and only me and I visit my shrink and doctor and take my anti depressant meds.

  15. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and let me tell
    you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.

  16. Hi Cindy, Great article indeed. I am a very lonely and busy/depressed wife at the same time. This year we are celebrating our 10th year anniversary, I keep asking myself how did we made it. I mean we both work, the ministry, the kids and my studies. As I write this comment, I’m tired. I need to rest. If any conversation starts it ends with fighting. I don’t know how to raise my concerns with my husband because it ends up with a fight and I will be more hurt.

    In the meanwhile I’m always told how I don’t do things right. The house is date, the meals are not well prepared, or the food is burnt. In the morning I’m making him late, I must wake up early, prepare the kids, make their beds, plus our bed, do their lunch box in time. Other things of the ministry also I need to do. My studies, I don’t want to lie, I’m tired. His complaints have just shut me up. Even if he’s doing something wrong, I don’t have the guts and strength to tell him because it will end up in a fight or me getting blamed of all other things. Our toilet has been leaking for more than 2 months but I am quiet, the geyser is also not working but I am not complaining. I wake up every day to boil the water with kettle for us to bathe. He is busy postponing to the weekend and when the weekend comes another weekend. I’m very tired of the situation. I don’t know how to communicate with my husband. There is nothing I say that he will listen to or even do. I have developed the attitude of doing things myself if I want it done. Please help me.

  17. How do you deal with resentment that has built up over years of not communicating? For years I have told myself to just keep quiet and let it be. But now, I can’t hold it in any more and it feels as though the resentment has totally covered up my heart. As if I can’t feel anymore, even when good loving things are done.

  18. I am having a lot of problems with husband. He’s incarcerated and is always thinking I am cheating. I am so faithful to him and it is causing a lot of problems were I had it help me please.

  19. I’m amazed at how many wives are in this same boat. I feel on the fence about my emotional response to this. Should I be encouraged that I’m not alone? Or should i feel hopeless? This is how it is. I do know that males and females are created in the image of God. I wonder what aspect of God can I glean from my need to be honored as a spouse, and my husband’s ability to be – what we view as aloof- but maybe it’s really a gifted ability to be uneasily rattled by what’s around them. It is from experience a definite process.

    I like to write. My husband reads that as avoiding the conflict. He like to address issues head on. I’m adapting to his style of addressing our grievances head on. I’m learning that I have to be patient with myself. It’s still challenging to not feel personally attacked, but I remind myself that I expect the freedom to express my grievances with him, and I afford him that room. No bashing. No words displeasing to the Father. Not easy, but I work at hearing his heart.

    Part of our issue is, I’ve only recently made progress in this area and he’s not used to me being open. I used to do the “quiet docile wife” approach. Don’t say anything. Don’t ruffle the feathers. I realized it built resentment and was not honest. My husband isn’t afraid to voice his opinion with people. I used to envy that. He says he can’t control how others respond. I now realize as a wife we want to control or husband’s response. But we can’t. They cannot read our mind. If he gets offended, so be it. I’ll get offended too.

    The thing is to communicate, then be humble. Swallow pride, and pray. Don’t be afraid to escalate. Every passionate endeavor is loud. Preaching is passionate. Worship is passionate. Winning is passionate. Just don’t allow the anger to flare where it’s controlling you. I argue and control my tones. When I get loud I do so with decisive intent to emphasize my passion. I used to think taking in calm controlled tones was the best way to argue peaceably. I’m learning it’s ok to argue honestly. Just don’t let the sun go down on your wrath like the Bible says. After a verbal conflict reflect and pray. I process what I’ve heard and make a commitment to honor what he’s expressed. Each argument is a learning experience. We learn one more new thing about one another. I’m appreciating it more each time.

  20. My husband of 10 years abandoned me and our children; he cheated and I caught him he said he was sorry but placed that heavy blame on me. He apologized and says how much he loves me and wants to now be with me. He tried for about a week to show he loves me and so on, then out of nowhere he’s back to being so hateful, cruel with his words, and has even lost control of his anger. I love this man and have been through hell with him still to come on top together. This time he is so close, but yet I feel we’re ages apart; I feel so neglected and hurt, I try to talk about how I feel but he either doesn’t listen or brushes it off with sarcasm. I am lost as to how to get through to him and to let him know I need him more than just in the bedroom. I’m spiritually, emotionally, and mentally all alone and I’m silently crying deep inside for him to take notice and help me work on our marriage and become one again. Please, any advice would be so great.

  21. I am a 30 year old woman who has always been told by my family my whole life that when I am upset or my feelings are hurt that it is “my problem.” Over the years I have found that I have a lot of compassion, kindness and do selfless acts for others. My problem is whenever I face disappointment with family or we have a lack of communication with my spouse or my feelings are hurt and I am told again it’s my problem and I should not get mad or sad so I have to give the silent treatment to cope.

    The truth is I am beside myself with anger, sadness and hurt and no way to dig out except to not feel or care at all. I have recently exploded with screaming and have used curse words to my brother and or spouse because they don’t feel like their actions or words are hurtful. I am a Christian and recent advice was you can’t change people and its hard to change yourself and not to focus on the negative but to focus on the positive always. I can focus on the positive but when I tell my spouse he is eating too fast and I tell him he needs to count his bites because I am concerned, he tells me to stop and that’s annoying. When I brought it up a day later after I gave him the silent treatment and didn’t kiss him good night, he said that my emotions need to be kept in check and that he didn’t do anything wrong and that apologizing does nothing.

    I feel alone and I feel like no one in my life gets me. I have anxiety and when people are aggressive or confront me in a bully or disrespectful manner I usually cry and later confront them to talk it out because I don’t want to appear as a pushover or as a child. Many times I feel better but when I confront family or spouse on their actions or behaviors again I am told I am crazy or need to control my emotions. I don’t know how Jesus controlled his emotions when Peter said he didn’t know him or how when the disciples fell asleep when praying how that made Jesus feel. He was always kind and when Peter was wanting to fight off the guards in anger Jesus told him not to. Does God not want us to feel or to at least be so forgiving that we don’t care when people we love hurt us? Only God can give peace, grace and mercy. I can’t save my relationship by acting like I’m a robot. What can I do ?

  22. I really found the letter about the apples helpful and understand that I have the wrong approach for letting my husband know my needs aren’t being met. It’s been about three years of doing the wrong things ;( this makes me feel sad. I’m going to read some of the suggested material to assist me. It just seems like a very slow process and can’t do this alone. I hope through my faith in God and family I can change.

  23. Wives are more attentive through out the day so of course husbands have less complaints. Men aren’t attentive and they actually choose to ignore needs until you are at your wits end and then they scurry to change or accuse you of nagging. Let’s just be honest here. Stop putting so much weight on the woman without examining the when’s and what’s TRUTHFULLY.

  24. Hi, I need ur help. My marriage is not going well. I have been married for 10 years now and with child. My husband doesn’t live with me but visits me every six months. In fact, it is not easy because when he visits me he stays for one month and within the one month we only argue until the last week when he is about to leave again before he changes his character by being nice. When he is far from me we argue sometime and he does not call me but I always call him and he never asks me how I am doing. When I complain about his behaviour he gets so angry and doesn’t answer my calls for 2 to 3 weeks. I am not happy because my marriage isn’t doing well and I want to die. I love my husband so much that I can’t live without him but I am also suffering too. Please I need some advise. Thank you.