Why Doesn’t My Spouse Change? Functional Fixedness

Adobe Stock Gemeinsam schmollenMarriage Missions Editor Note: The following article is one that is written to wives; however, most of it could also have been written to husbands because a lot of the same principles apply. We pray you will glean through it and learn what will apply in your marriage:

Dr. Melody Rhode often uses a psycho-neurological term to describe a man’s reluctance to change: FUNCTIONAL FIXEDNESS. Men don’t normally change if what they’ve been doing seems to be working for them. When a woman allows her husband to treat her with disrespect, he has no motivation to change —and so it’s unlikely he ever will.

Melody notes, “There’s a simple question I ask wounded women who seek help to endure belittling or degrading treatment from their man: ‘Why does your husband treat you badly?’ Answer: because he can.” This is not, in any way, to blame a woman for the abuse but to develop a new blueprint for a different future.

Melody continues. “If what he’s doing is working for him, why change? He needs a compelling reason to change, and it needs to be more compelling than your unhappiness or private misery with the situation.”

I would think that a God-fearing man would be motivated to change simply by understanding that his actions hurt you. But I’m also a realist. Some of you may be married to a man who doesn’t much care if his actions hurt you, as long as he gets what he wants. In such cases, allowing the behavior to continue while complaining about it won’t change anything. It’s not your pain that motivates him but his pain. You have to be willing to create an environment in which the status quo becomes more painful than the experience of positive change.

Here’s the trap I’ve seen too many women fall into: a woman keeps expressing to her husband how he is doing something (or not doing something) that is hurting her. Even after several such conversations, he doesn’t change —or he’ll change for a few days and then go back to his old habits, at which point the wife complains again.

Still, no long-term change. The wife reads a book or attends a seminar and decides she needs to find a better way to communicate so she can get her message across, but even after this, there’s no permanent change. Her error is assuming that she’s not getting through. In point of fact, she is getting through to her husband —he may fully understand and be completely aware of her pain, but he’s not motivated by her pain. If he likes the marriage as it is, he’ll put up with an occasionally disagreeable conversation now and then.

In such cases, spouses need to make a serious evaluation. There was a point in “Jenny’s” marriage when she realized, based on her and her husband’s parents’ health history, that she and “Mike” could be married for sixty years. At the time, Jenny had been married for just fifteen years, but that left, potentially, another forty-five years of being together —which also meant another forty-give years of a situation that Jenny wasn’t sure she could live with.

“There is no scenario in my life plan in which I want divorce —none,” Jenny told me. “At the end of my life, my fervent hope and determination is to be, unreservedly, a one-man woman. But I also know enough not to overestimate my patience. I could put up with some disappointments at the time, but was I willing to live with this for another forty-five years? At that point, I felt I needed to be more honest about some struggles and more up-front about making a change. It created some discomfort for a season as I stopped pretending that everything was OK — but was a season of discomfort worth changing the course of our marriage for the next forty-years? Without question!”

Without nagging and without pretty recriminations (withholding sex, the silent treatment, a critical spirit, and so forth), Jenny gently but forcefully made her husband see that as long as he acted the way he did, their marriage was going to suffer in specific ways — ways that affected him. It was only when Mike started feeling his own pain that he was shaken out of his functional fixedness enough to change his behavior.

I believe Jenny makes an important point: be wary of over-estimating your willingness to live with a glaring hurt or a gaping need. Don’t pretend that Satan won’t exploit it or that you won’t be tempted by another man who happens to be strongest exactly where your husband is weakest. If, like Jenny, your ideal life plan leaves no room for divorce, you must honestly accept your weaknesses and be willing to create a climate in which your spouse will be motivated by his pain. This is a courageous and healthy movement toward your spouse and toward preserving and strengthening your marriage, and it is an act of commitment, not rebellion.

All this requires a very specific application based on your spouse’s personality, so I can’t give you “five steps to overcome functional fixedness” here — but you’ll receive plenty of ideas and suggestions as we touch on various topics throughout this book. [This is a good reason to obtain this book.] At this point, it’s enough to say that if merely communicating your hurt isn’t solving the problem, you’re most likely dealing with a case of functional fixedness, and you’ll need to be strong to address that issue.

Some women fall into the trap of failing to speak up for fear of losing their man; they don’t want to “rock the boat,” even though it appears that the boat is headed toward a waterfall. But this passive acceptance makes it more likely that the husband will stray; he won’t respect his wife for putting up with his poor behavior, and this attitude will only reinforce his disrespectful behavior. Sadly, many women think their husband’s anger is the great enemy of their security, but, if fact, weakness and the corresponding relational boredom pose a far more potent threat.

If you can stand strong and secure in your identity and in your relationship with Christ, courageously making it clear how you will and will not be treated, you will be amazed to see how to respect and show for yourself rubs off on your husband.

Things Must Change
Here’s the male insider’s view, right at the start: you have more influence over your husband than you realize. When you are a woman of respect, the last thing your husband wants is to lose you. If he things he can heave you and his aberrant behavior, he’ll take both. But if the day comes when he knows you won’t simply turn a blind eye to what he’s doing, when he thinks he might even lose you if he continues down the path he’s walking, he’s going to be shaken out of his functional fixedness and at least consider making changes.

…Dr Melody Rhode sees the threat of a husband’s losing his wife as perhaps the greatest possible motivator for a husband. Of course, we have to place this within the context of a covenantal, committed marriage. The Bible is very specific and very limiting regarding what constitutes an acceptable divorce. Discontentment, seeming incompatibility, and mere displeasure don’t qualify! Melody points out, “A woman’s power needs to be surrendered to God and used for his purposes, not our own.”

She also stresses, however, that most women, because of our culture, don’t realize the power they have to move their husbands. “They feel powerless because of their sex,” she observes, “and this has resulted in a lot of pent-up anger, frustration, and even desperation.” As your brother in Christ, I’m encouraging you to be bold, courageous, and strong. Use the natural and very spiritual influence and role that God has designed for you to move the man in your life.

… Our culture in general —even Christian culture —is on a long slide toward passivity that completely goes against who God made us to be.

Let me be blunt: hope is not a strategy. Merely “wishing” that your husband would change, merely “wanting” your marriage to be different, won’t do anything. The problem is that some Christians spiritualize wishing —we call it “praying.” Please understand, I’m not knocking prayer; I’m challenging a misconception about prayer, namely, that we can merely voice our displeasure and expect our world and our relationships to be transformed. True biblical prayer is about much, much more than that. It involves receiving our marching orders and then acting on them.

A good marriage doesn’t happen by accident, and a good marriage isn’t maintained by accident. I’ve never written a book by accident, and you can’t build a business by accident. These endeavors require deliberate choices and much perseverance. When you start acting instead of merely wishing, when you begin taking initiative instead of simply feeling sorry for yourself, you become an active woman, and active women mirror the active God who made them.

Active God, Active Women
Genesis 1 provides our initial glimpse of who God is. The first thing God wants us to know is that he is an extraordinarily active God. In Genesis 1 there are thirty-eight active verbs describing what God does: he creates, he speaks, he separates, he calls, he blesses, he gives, and much more —all in just one chapter.

Then —and this is the key —he tells the woman and the man to do the same: “God blessed them [male and female] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28).

God made you, as a woman, to rule in this world, to subdue it, to act according to his image. Sin begins with sluggishness, despair, and despondency. People give up on their marriages, give up on prayer, give up on their churches, give up on their kids, and eventually even give up on themselves. They say, “It’s no use,” and start to sulk instead of painstakingly remaking their marriage —simply because their first (or even tenth) attempt failed.

This may sound like a hard word, but readers of my previous books know I’m not one to shy away from that. Your marriage is what you make it. The relationship you have is the direct result of what you’ve put into it, and in many cases, a marriage can rise only to the level of your courage. Initial romantic intensity is unearned; it seems to fall on us out of nowhere. But marriage has to be built stone by stone. We have to make deliberate choices; we have to be active and confront the weaknesses we see in ourselves and in each other.

The above article comes from the GREAT book, Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands written by Gary Thomas, published by Zondervan. There was so much more in this chapter and in the entire book that we would have liked to include in this article. But you’ll just need to find a way to obtain the book to see what else Gary Thomas has to say on this subject (and others). You’ll be glad you did!

— ALSO —

Below are some links to additional articles and blogs that we suggest you glean through to see if you can find more information that will help you in your marriage in some way. If the article is written to wives and you are a husband looking for answers, or the reverse is true, please read the article anyway and see if you can adapt the info given to help you.

WHEN YOUR HUSBAND WON’T CHANGE

WHEN YOUR HUSBAND WON’T CHANGE – Part 2

MY WIFE WON’T MEET MY EXPECTATIONS

HOW TO GET YOUR SPOUSE TO CHANGE

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84 responses to “Why Doesn’t My Spouse Change? Functional Fixedness

  1. I have tried everything… to where I’ve given up and went to counseling myself, but he won’t go. He makes financial desisions that have put us in a lot of difficulty more than once, some things sexually he has done that I’ve told him I didn’t like or it was painful and it didn’t help my interest. So you would think if he wanted more he’d make those changes… he is passive… won’t talk… never apologizes. I have disagreed with things and it didn’t matter he did it anyway. I’ve suggested he get counsel elsewhere if he didn’t think I knew what I was talking about and we could discuss it… Where do you say enough is enough?

    1. I have a husband exactly like this. We’ve tried marriage counseling and still, in his mind, he does NOTHING “wrong” or can require different actions on HIS part. Even though he has been explicitly told otherwise. The kids hate it. Expressing my thoughts or point of view are met with derision. I’ve been told THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE, because HE WILL NEVER CHANGE (for whatever reason -saw it growing up, no empathy, whatever…).

      Please, don’t put a ton of thought into what you’re doing “wrong” -start to focus on what you would like to do that makes life enjoyable. If you wish to stay longer in the marriage -start looking for activities AWAY FROM HIM that you’d enjoy. It will really help. DO NOT ALLOW your children to copy his behavior, even if you have to talk to them separately, away from him. DO your BEST not to respond to him at all if he’s disrespectful. This may mean altering your conversations around him, but not around your kids (i.e. limit the number of possible situations where he can use it as a way to disrespect you).

    2. You just described my husband almost to the tee. Just missing cursing me or, ridiculing me, making sure I know I am a nothing and playing childish mind games on me constantly. I’m so sorry you have to go through that, I’m be praying for you.

      1. What I get from my husband is the childish non verbal games. He makes a mess, then tries to play the victim. We have been married for over twenty years and you would think he would have grown at some point! I’m not interested in his behavior anymore- I want to live happy.

  2. I was a heroin addict for 10 yrs. My husband knew this before we married. I asked before hand if I was to relapse if he would leave me and he said the first time no but he would make me go to rehab and set boundaries. After 2 yrs sober 7 months into our marriage unfortunately I relapsed for 4 week’s. I lied, stole money from our account, and risked the safety of our family.

    I went to rehab came home got a job and have been obeying the boundaries that’s been put in place. He’s trying to decide whether or not he will be able to trust me and if he’s going to divorce me. I didn’t commit adultery during my relapse. There is a girl he works with that he gives a ride to everyday either on his motorcycle or in his car. The other night I looked at the texts between the two of them and some were of sexual content and he has also had her over for coffee while I wasn’t home. I had at one point asked him if there was anything going on between them and he said no, so when I confronted him about the texts he said they were jokes because of an accusation of an affair.

    We are a Christian family but both have taken a step back from God. But for the last several weeks I’ve been back in church as well as attending rehab aftercare at a faith based recovery facility 3 night’s a week after work. He says this other woman is his only friend, which hurt. I told him it did and his response was because of my relapse I’ve lost the friend title and I’m just his wife. He won’t attend counseling or do anything to work on our marriage together and as of now I don’t know what to do. Please help.

  3. I’ve been married only 5 months… we’ve been together a little over three years. He works and is an amazing provider and at times he’s very good to me and our kids. He had 2 kids previously and I had 2 before him as well. I don’t work but I am in college, I take care of all 4 kids by myself for the most part, keep a clean house, keep the laundry done, and cook everyday. My husband is frequently mean to me, too rough, makes fun of me, calls me names, cusses at me, acts like he works and pays for everything and I do nothing. He has even yelled at me in public or in front of family; the kids are tired of the arguing.

    I’ve gotten to where I have no confidence and feel depressed. I’ve tried talking to him about it… he usually says he’s sorry and things are better for a few days. I’ve even left him several times. He promises to change, I come back, and the change lasts a few weeks. He’s an alcoholic but if he doesn’t drink he just sleeps and the grouchiness is worse. I’ve prayed. Felt it didn’t work. I feel like giving up. I’ve dreamed of leaving but with no job, money, and no family to help with the kids while I work and go to college I’m stuck. And really, we’re a good family but the emotional abuse is tearing me down.

    1. Hi, I read your post and my heart goes out to you. What I am about to tell you will be of little help but I want it to serve as a future reminder. I have spent 30 years with a man not unlike yours. I have no money, no friends and I am forced to do cleaning jobs to buy food etc. as he is not a good provider and in 30 years I have had nothing. Our home is a mess; I have never had the simple things in life like haircuts, new underwear.

      It all sounds so silly but with four children to bring up and not a penny to our name as he does as little as possible (and that’s been 30 years) so he will never change and as soon as my last child reaches 18 I will be off. I would rather sleep on the streets than spend any more of my shameful life with him. I do feel very ashamed when I think how much I’ve put up with and now at 51 I am still putting up with it for the sake of my children. But in truth they have seen how he treats me and they now as adults do the same, so I really have messed up.

      So, what I am trying to say is we only get one life please, please, leave now while you can get help from social agency’s as believe me there is nothing worse than sitting down and realising you have lost 30 years of your life already and there is no getting it back. So please believe me – get out now as these people never change and you will you will get weaker and he will destroy your every being. Good luck, my thoughts are with you.

    2. Brittany, I feel your pain. I have been married, retired, and moved away from family and friends who love me. Things fell apart after, and I found myself up and down the highway to regroup, giving it a few days to go back. When I did it was ok for a few days then out of no where it would start back up with cussing, grabbing, and mental abuse. Then he gave both of us a knife. I was scared to death, so scared that I talked my way out of it by saying I have no fear in man, but in God… that I needed my sons and family.

      I have been accused, mentally, physically, and verbally abused. What I’m saying to you is don’t stay in something that will not change. It gets worse. Think of your children. If a boy does not respect you, then you don’t need him. There are places for you and your kids to go. Speak about it and don’t think it’s going to be ok. Call this hotline… they will help: 800-799-7233. My advice is to get out. Always have a Plan B… have emergency bags ready to go to make a mad dash. My heart goes out to you. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Have peace in your heart. If you love you and the safety of your children, and he knows you have no where to go, he will use that. Be strong or the stress will kill you. I was married 4 months, was jumped by my husband 3 times, but he did not hit me. He verbally abused me, and it’s way worse than mental or physical… again, get out.

    3. Brittany, I don’t know where you are at with your situation now, but I looked up on the web site and found this. Get with the Hotline for abused women and your children are a part of it. If you don’t love yourself, think of your children.

  4. My husband refuses counseling. He emotionally disconnects and cuts me off when he’s angry at me. This can go on for weeks on end. We have had so much counseling, marriage intensifies and seminars. He knows what he’s doing and how he’s hurting me but he doesn’t seem to care. He says he does not want a divorce and his only solution was for us to live in two separate homes. He also wants me to sign a post nuptial agreement that I don’t want to sign. I finally bought a home to move into and now he’s angry even though that was his solution. In the past I have over functioned in the marriage by trying to figure out ways to fix it. I’m tired and don’t want to do that anymore. But he just sits back and refuses a divorce but won’t be proactive about working on the either. I don’t know what to do.

  5. How can you continue a relationship when it’s so one sided and distrusting? Both people are Christians, but being born again only helped both stop doing outward things. But with one of them that old man keeps sticking its head up, repenting then up again, repenting, then up again. This is done over, and over, with no consistency. I’m happy in Jesus and I want to stay that way, not treated in a ungodly way; that is not God’s plan for me. Jesus came that we might have life and… abundantly, not lacking anywhere in Him. Self-righteousnessness has a lot to do with things and knowing it all with no room to be told another perception without it appearing like you are challenging them. Well, in the meantime, til my change comes, I will continue to serve, and worship God because I love Him.

  6. This does NOT include domestic violence. We need to meditate on 1 Peter 4. Ephesians 6:12 says, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness. Basically Satan. So husbands caught up in the wake of “the fall” trapped by Satan… not willing to change? No surprise. I am there too. A rebellious and prideful “Christian” husband. No fear of God and teaches Sunday School. Yeah, I have one. Yet, I know, that I know, that I know God called me to marry him. I have two beautiful children Adopted from Korea to prove it. Can’t adopt children from Korea without a husband or an infertile man (long story). :)

    To this, I say God gives His toughest battles to His strongest warriors. We need not be victims but feel PRIVILEGED that God is using US….lil’ ole’ US for His glory. Tough pill to swallow. Suffering in generally just seems unbearable. I used to think I stay for the salary. Our child has Autism and I stay home so I can be there for both of our kids. For this, I am grateful. Now I realize I stay for God’s glory. Let’s face it, God can and is able to cover our living expenses. Jesus suffered so much more than I am, yet I am sinful and He is not. He didn’t deserve to suffer. So when I’ve asked WHY GOD? I look at Jesus, His suffering and sacrifice and say to myself… Why Not? My sinless brother, God’s son, endured such suffering. And at this moment, though it’s difficult, God has not asked me to suffer as much as He. I have become more heavenly minded.

    Understanding our life on earth is nothing but a vapor and eternity is going to be paradise and forever. Hallelujah! Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; …Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected, I am your husband” Says your God.…I’m allowing God to fill in the gaps. Although the work is hard and persevering difficult, I also have fantastic, strong, honest Christian friends to help me through and offer godly wisdom. I am so grateful for them! All the while God continues to equip and change ME to ultimatelyfulfill my call here on earth (our kids) and prepare me for the one in eternity with Him.

    Reading this article gave me an idea…since I have continued to call my husband out when necessary and it works only for a time, I’m going to withdraw money from our bank account, hold it in an envelope and the next time he rages, comes home late without calling, or is not loving me sacrificially as Christ loves the church without genuinely repenting, I’m going to give him the envelope and tell him to go take a time out in a hotel. I will no longer allow my children to think his example is acceptable. If I had an adult child not willing to follow the law of love in our family, I would tell that child if he/she wants to live rebelliously, then he should do that under his own roof. If my husband continues to act like a child, he should be treated as such. Will God’s envelope of money change my husband? Only He knows. Should my husband leave and return, I will treat him like the prodigal and throw him a feast. I will do this one time.

    Setting the precedent that he can leave and come back is not biblical since the prodigal went away ONCE repented. And at least in doing this, I will be leading my children by example and showing them there are consequences to not living God’s way. Which by the way doesn’t mean to be perfect, but WHEN we sin, we are called to REPENT which means to be truly sorry and make a change. I believe repetitive wrong, behavior is form of passive, aggressive abuse. And we all need to remember HURTING PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE, but we are also called to correct and speak the truth.

    Needless to say, I am standing firmly on 1 Peter 4, continuing to be equipped by God with the following resources and real support from people and in the end, when either I die on earth or the trumpet sounds, I want Him to find me in Him and not allowing my husband’s behavior to define my character and my reactions, nor will I continue to place him as an idol in my life which is ultimately what we are doing when we focus on our husbands so much. We need to find our identity in Christ. Not in how people treat us. If the apostle Paul can write from his prison cell knee high in sewage, REJOICE AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE, we can rejoice too. Just like Paul, we all feel trapped and imprisoned by our marriages.

    It’s sad to read all these stories, but I take solace in the fact that I am not alone! If you’re willing to stay, in order to thrive in our circumstances, we need to get our minds off ourselves and BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor as Jesus asked us to. THAT is how He is going to find this WARRIOR when He comes for her. How we live the rest of our lives on this earth is completely in our control with God’s help. Response (or lack thereof) is everything. Jesus took such a beating (not that I’m asking spouses to be abused.

    FYI: my marriage is sexless thanks to perversion and pornography (another story) ), but Jesus didn’t respond… and in the end, His betrayer, Judas….hung himself and sin was conquered. What would happened in OUR lives if we lived in obedience to scripture, including being confrontational and persevering until God moves…THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS! Praying for all of us. Resources: Kingdom Woman – Tony Evans, WARRIORS: In the Spiritual Battle Victory Is Ours – Maricarmen Campos, Unoffendable – Brant Hansen, Living Beyond Your Feelings – Joyce Meyer, http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-with-a-Narcissist

    1 Peter 4 – Learn to Think Like Him – Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. Glory is Around the Corner!

    Glory Just Around the Corner Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

    If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they’re on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that’s a different matter. But if it’s because you’re a Christian, don’t give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!

  7. Could you tell us specifically what “Jenny” did, please? I know it may not apply to my situation, but it might help me figure out what *I* need to do!

  8. What I see over and over is that eventually a longer term monogamous relationship like marriage will start out happy and exciting with both spouses attracted to each other, but over time the happiness and attraction dies.

    Worse yet, it is replaced by anger, bitterness and feelings of betrayal and emotional distancing. To further justify themselves about their feelings, spouses will begin to keep a careful detailed record of actual or even perceived wrongs in their minds… and in their hearts. Eventually thoughts of “life would be better without them” which then eventually leads to life would be better with someone else creeping in. People have a tendency to convince themselves that the grass on “this side of the fence” is wrong… it’s bitter… I only have but so long to eat grass… I can’t waste my life eating this yucky grass on this side of the fence, and wow look at all that yummy grass on the other side of the fence! Yeah, my life sucks because of this grass here but it would be so much better if I can somehow get some of that other grass on the other side of the fence! (Hopefully my little analogy about fences and grass is not lost on the city folks that we’re talking about people and marriage.)

    In case my words are being read by someone in that situation, well let me say this to you loud and clear… NO MATTER HOW GOOD A STRANGER SEEMS… NO MATTER HOW ATTRACTIVE A CO-WORKER APPEARS and NO MATTER HOW SEXY OR YUMMY THAT OTHER PERSON LOOKS TO YOU, THERE’S PROBABLY SOMEONE OUT THERE THAT HAS HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF THEIR CRAP. Yep -believe it or not. And will you really know the whole story by just hearing their side? NO WAY!

    And if you think leaving to be with another person will fix things I am here to tell you maybe… probably for a season of time it will -but don’t be naive, most likely after a time with that new person, you might be right back to the same hurts, the same disappointments the same bitterness and the same feelings of betrayal. Nothing changed and nothing got fixed except now you have the baggage of divorce to tote around with you and deal with.

    So in case this is you -The grass always looks greener on the other side but it’s not usually actually greener on the other side. I assure you there’s a cow munching that same grass over there on the other side of the fence that has had just about all they can stand of that crappy grass and is looking at your grass thinking it looks pretty good.

    This is because people tend to portray themselves to the public as good… as desirable… as sexy. They make themselves attractive, they hide their faults and their flaws, and if you eventually get close enough to have intimate conversations they will portray themselves as victims; wonderful beautiful people that are victims of this other horrible, terrible spouse. BUT YOU DONT KNOW WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN THEIR MARRIAGE OR WHAT THAT PERSON IS REALLY LIKE… and like the grass on your side of the fence, given time and disappointments and hurts and emotional betrayal and distancing that person will be just the same as the one you are with right now.

    So be careful with the fantasy of just getting away or with someone else it will make things right; perhaps it will for a season, but perhaps after a while of eating the grass on the other side of the fence you might realize that it’s no different or no better than the grass you had on your own side of the fence.

    Just a thought. I can’t say what you should or should not do… leave a spouse or have an affair or whatever, but when you make your choices and live your life don’t be deceived… THE GRASS ALWAYS LOOKS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE.” Best wishes to everyone that reads this.

    1. I think you are right! in some rare cases though, the grass IS greener on the other side :/ hard to make the right choice.

    2. Very good senario! Really to the point and makes so much sense. If only people would realize before they do commit adultery! This is 100% true life in marriage..If only one would think!! Thank you!

  9. I have been a victim of emotional abuse and disrespect meted out to me by my husband. However, it took me a long time to realize that I have indirectly contributed to my abuse and disrespect by allowing it to continue. Once I became assertive and took action, my husband changed his behavior for the better. Yet, it still bothers me that the man who is supposed to love and cherish me fixed his bad behavior as a result of the consequences I subject him to. To this day I can’t get over the fact that he treated me so disgustingly.

    1. Annie, can you please describe what ‘action’ you took and why your husband was motivated by your actions? My husband speaks to me with less respect than the dog. He is patient and polite with others but to me he feels he can unleash and degrade. Other family members, both his and my own have said they don’t know why I put up with it. But when we’re alone I do tell him not to speak to me that way and that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being disrespected. But then he turns it around and blames me and seemingly can’t understand that it’s him.

      I’m a positive happy, polite person,and suddenly he just snaps at me because I asked a question or got in his way. I get such a shock every time, I should be used to it, but it makes no sense to me so I still get shocked by it. Gradually I’ve given up many of my interests and now follow his. At the moment I work and he doesn’t, having quit his distressing job.

      I’m a good wife and want the marriage to work, it is the second marriage for us both, so we both need to learn and not just give up. I’ve seen councelors but he will not. Nothing has changed. I don’t want to continue to be put down and isolated partly because of my duty to my own life and also because it sets a bad example to my daughter who hates the way he speaks and reacts to me. Perhaps your actions would work with my husband also.

  10. I truly enjoyed reading the article; it was very refreshing and insightful. It is a blessing to read about those trying to keep marriages together instead of finding a quick fix to end them. Nothing in life is perfect nor promised we are here today and can be gone tonight or tomorrow. Satan is very busy and a lot of us have been deceived by World’s Meaning of Marriage versus God’s True Meaning of Marriage. God created the World; the World didn’t create God!! We need to Pray for God’s Discernment in our life decisions. Thank you for all your support and awareness given in your article. May God continue to use you to Help and Bless others who struggle to find their way in the walk of Marriage.

  11. It really saddens me as I read through some of the comments posted of the cycles of abuse in marriage around the world. God sent his only son to be crucified for us all yet we are still being crucified and crucifying one another. Lucifer will stop at nothing. He hates anything of God and Marriage is Designed by God. Just when a person feels they are going through some rough patches in their life, there is someone else living a rougher storm.

    Sometimes it easier to vent your problems but most of the time you can’t wrap your head around what is really going on. Being physically, emotionally or mentally abused is not a good thing for anyone. Hardness of Heart is not good. Forgiveness is a Required Process in Marriage. God said it I didn’t. The emotional stress had gotten so bad for me at one time I was crying and crying and snotting; my chest was hurting my heart was pumping really really fast.

    I had a migraine I was furious and delirious all at the same time I had just gotten out the hospital from having a Lupus Crisis a month and 1/2 prior and I was still recovering. I was flipping through my Bible and playing on google and talking to the Lord at the same time. I ended up on the story of “Hosea and Gomer” The Greatest Love Story In The Bible. I challenge all you to read it. However this story has nothing to do with physical abuse. FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY.

  12. I have been married for 26 years, my 3rd his 5th. He’s retired Air Force and seemed he was Mr perfect. I soon realized he lied about everything! He bragged he was air rescue in Vietnam Nam. He never saw one day of combat! After confrontation over all these years of lies, he began to be very disrespectful to me in front of family, friends and public. Everyone knows of his past and lies and I realize now once people know the truth about him is when he becomes very hateful and disrespectful. Everyone hates the way he treats me. It has come to a point when we make plans for dinner or golf with friends it seems he starts gearing up to be this demon.

    He shows respect to our friends and his family yet he’s alienated everyone from my family. Doesn’t even speak and makes everyone uncomfortable. He has in the past tried to get me to sleep with his buddies, which I have no desire, we haven’t had sex in 16 years. This is no way to live, it eats away at my soul everyday. I think I would be happier with my 2nd husband who was physically abuseive.

  13. Good morning. I’m not sure that this will be seen or responded to but I’m at a cross-roads in my marriage. My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years and we have three beautiful daughters. For most of our marriage I have not been the best of husbands or fathers. I’ve been controlling and demeaning to my wife and kids. I take full responsibility for what I’ve done. Well on Nov 8, 2015, my wife announced that she was done and wanted to be free to find someone that can do the things that will make her happy without her having to tell them. My wife’s biggest complaints of me has been my tone when talking to her or the kids, and the fact that I don’t do enough around the house on my days off from work. She feels that if I’m not off with her and the kids then I should be fixing things and cleaning because that is what she does when she is home.

    Since that dreadful day, I have apologized to her and repented my sins to God and asked him to take over my heart and lead me to becoming a better person. He has forgiven me as I knew that he would but the transformation that I’m feeling is far better than I ever imagined. I’m happy. I’m working two jobs to pay off bills so that she can have her divorce without the stress of car payments and credit card debt. I’m developing a closer bond with my children, and I’m being more productive around the house and watching about a 10th of the amount of television that I use to watch.

    My wife has noticed the changes and she feels guilty that I’m doing all of these things to be a better husband and father. She has somewhat mocked my relationship with God and suggested that I may be better off with a “Bible Thumper”, her words. I found this last comment to be very disrespectful. The bottom line is that she is resentful of the fact that this change in me only happened after she told me she wanted a divorce and not earlier when she asked me to change before. In her words, if I had changed my behavior earlier then we wouldn’t be divorcing and all of the petty differences that she sees in us wouldn’t matter. I’m staying true to my newly re-energized faith and trying to save my marriage. Does anyone have any advice on how to soften my wife’s heart? Thank you.

    1. Hi John, I am only just seeing this text now… I hope not too late. It seems like your wife has been holding in her feelings for too long, and that, although you have known you were “controlling and demeaning,” you did not know the full impact this was having on your wife, until that conversation on Nov 8, 2015.

      I can only say that you just have to keep doing what you are doing… less TV, more chores around the house, etc. Have you had additional talks with your wife? Have you told her you wish you had been a better husband earlier… that you regret changing only after she threatened divorce? Have you talked with her and considered the impact of divorce on the children, and on her own situation? Perhaps she is talking “divorce” because she feels she has no other option? Maybe she has not full thought through the outcome of divorce… Does your wife REALLY want divorce? From what you say here, I am not so convinced. Difficult to be sure. This is compounded by the fact that you seem to be a believing Christian, while your wife does not understand this yet.

      Talking with a Christian counselor, getting support from trusted friends, continuing to do what you are doing, and above all, PRAYER! All these seem to be good things to be doing. The Bible tells us in Romans 12.21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” and 1 Peter 4:8 “Keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.” I hope this helps John, Take care, WP (Work in Progress)

      1. Thank you for responding. I’ll try to answer all of the responses with one email. Since posting my initial thoughts, things have become different. Not better and not worse, but different. I started to go to church on my own the beginning of the year and after a few times I asked her to go with me. We have gone a couple of times together and each time the message has been about foregiveness and grace. If those aren’t signs then I don’t know what else she needs to see.

        Last weekend she decided, on her own, that we were going to church and asked my oldest daughters to come with us so that we could go as a family. Afterwards, we stopped for dinner and picked up some ice cream to take home. I did not get any for myself but she sat down beside me and shared hers with me. This behavior is very confusing to me. I don’t know if she’s trying to come back but the past is preventing her, or if she’s setting me up to be best friends after divorce. I’m not sure. I told her that I love her more today than I did yesterday and that I want to remain married, I know that it will take work and effort but I was committed. I also told her that while I like that she is not freezing me out anymore, that I don’t know how I’ll handle a relationship with her if we are not married. i.e.: don’t call me to hang out of fix things around your house.

        I’m concerned that it may take divorce for her to see what she is giving up and that would put my youngest (7 yo) through an emotional roller coaster that I don’t want to imagine. I am practicing patience and continuing to be the best person, father, and husband that I can and hope that it’s enough for her. I have faith that God will provide for me and us in time. Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes. Have a blessed day.

        1. Hi John, Things certainly seem to be looking up!! Very interesting that the message each time is about forgiveness and grace!! Very hopeful development! Her sharing ice cream with you at dinner… also very positive! I wouldn’t worry about the “ulterior motive” so much- just that fact that she did that has to be a good thing!

          Your 7 year-old… Oh Oh! The children are the ones who pay when the parents break up… but of course you know that. I certainly hope you wife knows that too! I have a friend who recently finalized her divorce… her comment was, “I had NO idea how expensive, and how emotionally exhausting a divorce can be!” (She was the initiator.)

          You really seem to be on the right track here John… I have high respect for you. Perhaps the site below can give you more ideas? http://marriagemissions.com/100-ways-you-can-love-your-wife-her-way/comment-page-4/#comment-347263

          Take care… and keep doing what you are doing! WP (Work in Progress)

    2. Wow, John, I applaud you and I praise God with you for the change that has taken place in your life. Wow. Awesome. I encourage you to stay the course, John, and not be influenced in anyway by what you see with your eyes, BUT view it by the same faith that you know changed you. That is the same God that can and WILL do the work in your wife. The enemy is the accuser so understand that that is who your fight is with, not your wife.

      God has give us authority over him but he is not powerless, as so many people say. We have to fight and we as Christians do our fighting on our knees. Jesus makes intercession for us. FIGHT. Stand On Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” DON’T GIVE UP OR BE discouraged by what you see or hear. Continue to trust God! Again, I rejoice with you in what God has done in your life.

      1. Very true Tiffany… I am glad you mentioned the faith in such clear terms… seems very difficult for John. Thank you for this response. Your Scriptures are just right! We need to pray for him and his wife… of course. WP (Work in Progress)

  14. I have been married for more than 21 years. We have two sons. I love my husband very much and my kids love him. At the beginning of our marriage he told me to do things (example to drive bicycle on dangerous places or eat bad food) and because I refused he hit me (not very strong to hurt me) or did not let me in the house. After our kids grew he stopped hitting me, but started to ignore me, or if I did not do what he liked he stopped talking to me for months. Sometimes even for no reason he stopped talking for 3-4 months.

    Since the beginning of our marriage until now he has been ignoring me like I am some trash. 15 years ago he met a 7 year older than him woman (and not pretty woman) at his job and was telling her everything that happened between us. 5 years ago she divorced and he started an affair with her but I was not sure because he was telling me that she is only his friend and he is only emotionally friendly dependant on her. 3 years ago he moved to Canada (me and my kids came one year ago, he sponsored me to get my permanent resident visa), and she still lives in our home country. But my husband talks to her on Skype every night for more than one hour in the basement.

    I have told him I love him very much. Many times I went to hear what he was talking to her. He is promissing her that he will bring her to Canada, and marry her. He also tells me that he will leave me and our kids. But she does not have a visa to move to Canada. She is 56 years old; he is 49, so I think he is misusing her to abuse me emotionally. If he wanted to be with her he would not separate from her 3 years ago.They have been separated for 3 years so somethimes she threatens him to break. Three months ago he lied to her that he started the procedure for her visa.

    Over the last 20 years I cried a lot, suffered, but a month ago I decided to hold a distance to him. Three days ago I moved to sleep in another room. But he continues to talk to her every night on Skype. I really do not know how to change him. His father and brother have the same behaviour. I miss him very much but as a good husband. I do not like to divorce him; is there any way to change him?

    Please advise me how to change his abusive behaviour. I cannot convince him to see a therapist. I know that with adequate help he will change. He is not a bad person he has just been threating me how his parents taught him. As per your experience do you think he will really leave his kids, his wonderful family to live with her? Will he bring her to Canada? Why is he doing this when he has a wonderful family? Is he in love with her? Is he only emotionally dependent on her or is he just using her to abuse me?

    1. Danica, this is really a mess. There are so many levels of messed up thinking and behaving that are going on here that you need MUCH more advice than I could give you here. You need to talk to someone who is marriage-friendly, yet will listen to what you need to say, and talk to you straight. Your husband may not go to counseling, but you need to talk to someone. There needs to be some changes. It would be crazy to think that your husband will all of a sudden “get it” as far as investing his time into your marriage and family life again without making some radical changes. He needs to be shaken up into stopping this nonsense. You need to talk to a marriage-friendly counselor to see what they can suggest, after hearing your heart and your telling them of your circumstances. At first, I wouldn’t tell my husband I’m reaching out to a counselor until the counselor tells you it’s advisable because your husband may want to squash that idea. He probably feels he has a good thing going, so why stir up the nest. Please reach out and then see what you are to do from there.

      I GREATLY encourage you to contact the ministry of Focus on the Family — Canada. Their web site (with contact info on it) can be found at: http://www.focusonthefamily.ca. They can listen to you and then direct you further to someone else within your area, or over Skype, I’m sure. Please don’t keep closing your eyes to such bad behavior. Marriage is not a game of intrigue and taunting. Your husband needs to be either all-invested in your marriage or some real changes need to happen. I’m hoping the counselor can help you to do some things that will eventually wake your husband up, but he has a free will, so I just don’t know. But this is too troubling to keep on this way. You need some serious help. I hope you will reach out for it, and I pray the Lord will give this counselor great wisdom in unraveling this thing and coming up with a good plan. I also pray for you, your marriage, and your family.