How Can She Say I Don’t Value Her?

Value Adobe stock Young couple arguing and fighting wind down timeYou may wonder, “How can my wife say I don’t value her?” If your wife is like me, she says this after she’s carefully weighed some very telling evidence that her husband doesn’t regard her ideas, concerns, or abilities.

What made this conclusion so hurtful in my case was the feedback I was receiving loud and clear from my husband. It merely reinforced a message I’d been getting all my life. It started with the mistreatment I suffered as a girl. The dating scene where women are often treated like sex objects conveyed the same judgment. Then I felt much the same way when I became a pastor’s wife. I felt I was a mere accessory to my husband’s career.

The Underlying Theme

Whenever I remembered those life experiences, I kept picking up the same old underlying theme, in the background of my life. I felt I was worthless, didn’t measure up, and was bad.

For so much of our marriage, I never even thought of myself in the context of value. My focus was not turned on me, but rather on my husband Randy. I focused on his needs, his job, and his value. Also, I focused on his present and future calling, and what I needed to do to help him get his work done. It took years for me to become painfully aware that my own feelings, opinions, fears and insecurities, my own personal dreams, my worth as a woman with a good mind, good ideas, good intuition, and valuable skills had been lost. They were not even part of the value equation.

A Different Understanding

I now understand that Randy didn’t set out to disregard me or discount my worth. He was oblivious to the fact that value was an issue.

Many couples whose marriages don’t survive find this value issue at the heart of the problem. In fact, I have in front of me a very sad letter from a man who admits he didn’t consider these questions until it seemed too late.

Only after his wife left him did he begin to understand her true value. He summed up his sense of loss in the following words that are part prayer-poem part heart-cry. [It is based on the scriptures that tell us that we are cleaved together in marriage. So when one of us leaves, one half of us is missing.]

He writes:

O God, where is my right side?
The one that I fell in love with when I was young.

O God, where is my right side?
The one I married, the one you said was bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.
(And I took for granted.)

O God, where is my right side?
The one who has the beautiful smile and laugh.
(I never told her every day.)

O God, where is my right side?
The one who wished to talk and wanted me to listen.
(But football games, friends, and family were too important.)

O God, where is my right side?
The one who wanted me to hold her hand and put my arm around her.
(Not just as a prelude to sex.)

O God, who loved you and prayed over our family.
(I didn’t lift her up in prayer or jump for joy when she felt your loving touch.)

O God, where is my right side?
The one who wanted to be a wife and mother.
(Not the breadwinner and part-time father who handled the bills alone.)

O God, where is my right side?
The one who finally got tired and left.
(Because I couldn’t or wouldn’t be the man she wanted me to be.)

O God, where is my right side?
I look for her in the now-empty recesses of my life
(not wanting to admit that I just didn’t value her the way you wanted me to).

O God, where is my right side?
I know in my heart I found her once, in the wife of my youth.
And I know I can’t win her back without you.

So I pray for a second chance.

I hope that a spark of love she once had for me still burns.
And I pray that the fire of our love might blaze once more
ten times greater than before so that our lives together will be
A powerful witness for you. Amen.

How can she say I don’t value her?

If you’ve ever asked that question, let me summarize. Let me bring the heart of this discussion into focus by asking you a few very pertinent questions. Do you value her as a person or do you merely value her for what she does for you? Do you value her only because she is a good wife, a good mother, and a good homemaker? Have you given any thought to her value apart from what she does for you?

How much do you love your wife as a person? Enough? A lot? Immeasurably? Have you ever even thought about it?

So what does she want from you anyway?

She wants you to:

  • Affirm what she does, but more importantly,
  • Affirm who she is.
  • Receive and validate her emotions.

This article was written by Holly Faith Phillips with Gregg Lewis in the book, What Does She Want From Me, Anyway? It is published by Zondervan Publishing House. This book gives honest answers to questions men ask about women. Drawing on the hard-learned lessons from her own marriage to Promise Keepers leader Randy Phillips, Holly addresses the tough questions men are asking.

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Filed under: For Married Men

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4 responses to “How Can She Say I Don’t Value Her?

  1. (USA) Might anyone have suggestions on how to “affirm who she is” as noted in the article? What does this mean? I know that it is easy to affirm what she DOES, but, much more complex (and worth it, right?) to affirm who she IS. Any examples?

    My wife’s primary “love language” is words of affirmation and I am interested in affirmations of WHO SHE IS so I can be as effective as possible with my words.

    1. Hi Clint, How wonderful that you want to learn this! We should ALL lean into being continual students of our spouses. Some people think we should “naturally know” what our spouse needs from us because we “love” them. That’s ridiculous. When we marry, we put ourselves into a continual classroom to learn what we need to, because of life has a way of throwing us off our feet because it’s so fluid. We’re all so different and when life mixes things up all the more, we need to learn what it will take to grow closer together, rather than farther apart.

      What a blessing for your wife that you want to learn this. I’m not sure this will help but I found a few articles that might bring you a few more insights as you prayerfully read them and apply what will work with your wife. The first is titled, “Affirm Foundation” and is found at: The next is an article titled, “What Kind of Encouragement Does Your Spouse Need” and is found at: The next is titled, “Speak Affirming Words” and is found at: And the last one is titled “Affirm Your Wife” and is found at: I hope this helps.

    2. Some suggestions or ideas that I have come across to affirm WHO SHE IS are the following: If she is good at nursing kids’ boo boos then tell her that you appreciate how she is caring. If she is generous with others (time, energy, etc) or generous with you as a husband, then tell her that you see her as a generous or selfless person.

      Those are a couple of examples that, in a vague way, show the type of “who she is” attributes to **keenly identify** in your wife and about which to make genuine positive comments or affirmations. These could be anything!They could be bold and obvious, or extremely subtle. And maybe she doesn’t even realize some of these things about herself (imagine the affirming power of identifying and telling her something she might not realize as something positive!)! I am actively trying to find those not-so-obvious things ON MY OWN so that I can both understand these characteristics about my wife and appreciate and affirm them.

    3. Gratitude and affirmation are not the same thing. If your wife has affirmation as her love language, saying “thank you” for something may not be enough. She very likely needs to hear the “good job” or “this is great” or “I love it” along with your gratitude. If you’re like me, you may think that just saying “thank you” provided the gratitude and the affirmation. But, your wife still hasn’t been affirmed by you even though you may feel you have affirmed her. You need to intentionally put the affirmation to words for her.