Do you feel like you went down the aisle on your wedding day with one man and later found him to be COMPLETELY different than you ever imagined? Do you feel deceived, thinking your husband knew he was deceiving you and you just don’t understand why? If he was different inside than he made himself out to be, what was he thinking? Why did he marry you, only to change a short time later?
These are all questions we receive from women we talk to and correspond with here at Marriage Missions. They’re all questions we struggle with to answer. But pastor and author Bill Hybels gives a little insight into this dilemma in his great workbook titled: Marriage … Building Real Intimacy.
Here’s what Pastor Hybels has to say on this particular subject:
The damaging process of shifting gears after the wedding day: Here is a detailed description of how this process can happen in some marriages:
The journey begins like this. A young man identifies the woman he wants to marry and begins the business of serious courtship. Time and money are no object, so he throws vast amounts of energy and creativity into the pursuit. He gives gifts, sends cards, writes poems, and delivers flowers. He also plans romantic dinners in elegant restaurants, takes long walks on sandy beaches, enjoys leisurely drives on country roads, and loiters in front of jewelry store windows. This man is on a mission. He has a worthy goal, and is motivated. He lets nothing stand in the way of winning the woman of his dreams. She becomes his top priority, and he will not rest until she is his.
He is smitten and wants her to know it. He rearranges his busy schedule to spend every possible minute with her. This man compliments her warmly, and sings her praises to friends and family. He talks about her constantly. And very slowly he begins to wear her down.
That’s right, wear her down. You see, she was a little suspicious at first. He was obviously in hot pursuit, but what exactly What was he after? Did he want a cheap thrill or a lasting relationship? A female trophy or a wife he could treasure? She knows the dangers because she has been hurt before. So she wisely guards her heart and maintains her distance. She observes, waits, and analyzes. Can this guy be trusted? Or will he dash her dreams six months after the wedding? She has heard the horror stories, and doesn’t intend to provide the plot for another one.
Showering with Attention
Meanwhile, the diligent young man showers her with attention, affection, and appreciation. He calls her four times a day, fills her mailbox with declarations of love, and buys her sentimental gifts. The weekends are wall-to-wall recreation and romance: dinners, movies, plays, and parties. And now — the offer of a diamond ring.
Almost against her will, she feels loved. She feels safe, secure, treasured, prized, and begins to trust him. She begins to believe that it will last. In fact, she lets herself believe that it will keep getting better and better. It appears to her that marriage will open the door to a future of unimagined joy.
Finally, the last bridge of doubt is crossed and she says, “Yes, yes, I will marry you. You have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you love me. You have courted me, romanced me, made me feel special and important and treasured. I can see that I am at the top of your priority list. You have won my heart. I will marry you!”
So the wedding date is set, the ceremony is carefully planned, and the honeymoon is arranged. It all comes off in storybook style. The newly married couple move into their cozy apartment and the young wife settles into the realities of everyday married life. She revels in the knowledge that she made a wise and wonderful choice for a lifetime partner.
And then it happens. Her husband does a terrible, horrible, unthinkable, and reprehensible thing. Oh, he doesn’t realize he’s doing anything wrong. But he does it, nonetheless, and deeply wounds his sincere, trusting wife.
What does he do? He shifts gears, and readjusts his focus. He figures that now that he got the “marriage job” done, it’s time to move on to another objective. The groom faced one challenge and beat it; now it’s time to face another one. So without giving one thought to how this is going to affect his wife, he calmly rearranges his priorities. He reapportions his energies, and launches out on his next mission, most likely in the marketplace.
There is no malice in his decision. In fact, he is probably not even aware that he’s making the shift. If questioned about his love for his wife, he would deny that it has faltered in the least. He loves her as much as he did the day he married her. He’s simply doing what he has been conditioned to do.
Most men don’t intend to hurt their wives. They do what they do without thinking. And, husbands aren’t the only ones who fall into this pattern. The unprecedented entrance of women into the marketplace has put wives at equal risk when it comes to refocusing their energies and neglecting romance. In many marriages nowadays, both spouses make the destructive shift.
A young couple we know were best friends all through high school. They dated happily throughout college, and married with the blessing of family and friends. But five years into marriage they sat across from one another on their living room floor, weeping over the lack of feeling in their marriage. They weren’t spiritually incompatible, and hadn’t lost respect for one another. They didn’t have serious temperament clashes or poor conflict resolution skills. The problem is, they had simply poured themselves into their careers and neglected to treasure one another.
We recently attended a small conference with a number of couples in the fifty-to-sixty-year age range. We observed that many of the men were unusually attentive toward their wives. Because we were in the midst of working on this book, we asked them why. Almost without exception, the men said, “This is my second wife. During my first marriage I was too preoccupied with climbing the corporate ladder to pay attention to my wife. I hurt her deeply for many years, and finally she couldn’t take it anymore. Now I’m doing things differently. I may have forfeited my first wife, but I’m not going to foul things up again.”
While some people let their careers get in the way of romance, others get sidetracked by parenting. They get so caught up in child-rearing responsibilities that they forget they’re husbands and wives first, parents second. In attempting to give their best to their children, they fail to give them what they need most: a happily married mom and dad.
Marriage Missions Note:
The book this article came from is actually a study workbook aimed for couples to go through together (preferably in a group setting). But it can also be done by the couple alone). This article was featured in the “Notes for Leaders” section. It is only part of the content of the entire chapter which is titled, “Whatever Happened to Romance?” But to wrap this section up, we want you to know that in the workbook section Pastor Hybels makes the following suggestions:
Take a few minutes to pray and reflect on the following questions:
- What were some of the things I did during our courtship and engagement that I stopped doing after we got married?
- What promises did I make to my spouse before we married that I have failed to follow through on after we married?
- If I have wronged my spouse in either of these ways, what can I do to make it right?
Take time as a couple to discuss the following:
- If you “shifted gears” after you got married and feel you might have hurt your spouse in the process take time to admit that you recognize your mistake. Let your spouse know you are sorry.
- If you have not followed through on promises made to your spouse, what are you going to do to make this right ? How will you show that you are a person of your word?
We hope this article and the above questions will be helpful to your marriage. It is also our hope that it gives you a glimpse into the quality of this workbook. We think it’s an outstanding study and hope you’ll find a way to obtain it and work through it. You can either do this as a couple on your own or in a couple’s group study. The book is titled, Marriage: Building Real Intimacy (Interactions), and is written by Bill Hybels, published by Zondervan.
This excellent study guide will help you and your spouse to draw insight from one another and from the other couples in a group setting. It’s one of our very favorites! It’s a 6 week study designed to build the kind of close relationship you’ve always wanted. Whether you need to stabilize shaky foundations or just want to make a good marriage even better this study book will do that.
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12 responses to “Husbands Who Shift Gears After The Wedding”
(KENYA) That is exactly how am feeling and it is so hard, I can’t believe he is the same person. I pray God will give me grace since I have tried talking to him about it, but it is all in vain. God bless you for these articles. I pray that we shall be victorious and that the bitterness be washed away. God bless
(KENYA) May the Lord help us. When courting I heard of the horror stories of gear shifts but I never thought it would happen to me. Sometimes I ask the Lord, "Show me where I have gone wrong." Sometimes I ask myself, " Lord why does it have to be like this and why do I have to be the one to suffer?" God help us. Thank you for yielding yourselves to be used of the Lord to encourage us who are in marriage. I shall hold on to Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 as I wait upon the Lord for guidance.
(UGANDA) I advise the younger girls before they get married to not be in a hurry; let them spend a good time of searching the details about that person whom she expects to be her future husband.
I had pizza with my husband. I told him how work was, and he got up angry and slammed the door on his way out. I am really sad it has been six days and no call or show. Was it the food or me? :(
(IRELAND) This happened to me and it now appears that my new husband may have a condition called Aspergers and as this is a lifelong condition with no cure there is little hope that there can be any reconciliation.
(FLORIDA USA) I am also from Ireland. My husband is from here. I can sympathize with you, really I can. Many things I did not find out about my husband until after we got married. He hid and lied about so much. I don’t know where you are at today but I’m hoping and praying you were able to work through the issues. We are still in the battle with ours, but I believe God is doing something here, though I don’t always get it. I’m hanging on… and waiting… and praying!
I am lost. I believe in the Lord and know that he’s going to help me through anything but I’m hurt and confused. My husband of only 3 months is lying to me about his finances. He will not put me on his account at the bank, and lies about little things. I’m very insecure of him because he flirts with women; he looks at them like they’re a piece of meat. I’ve told him how this makes me feel and he just doesn’t care. He says just get out, and leave.
He has been getting very crazy acting. When I confront him he smashes things and tells me I smashed the stuff up because I made him do it. He has had 2 marriages in the past and many in-between and he takes it all out on me. I understand that he has been hurt. He was in the military for 18 yrs and both woman cheated on him and took his money. 2 yrs ago he was with a 23 yr old and they were together 5 yrs. They had a little girl and the 23 yr old got killed in a car wreck. We’re trying to get custody of the child and he always compares me to the mother that passed away.
I am 45 yrs old my children are raised and I’m trying so hard to be a good stepmother to this little girl. I love her. He has no respect for me and he acts like he hates me because I’m not her. I try to explain to him that I’m me, not any of them and he just doesn’t get it. He goes for days without talking to me and it’s mentally wearing me down. I know that I should just give up but I can’t; I love him and the little girl and I believe in marriage but I also know that I cannot take it all much longer. I tell him that if he does not stop I’m leaving. He tells me to leave, then I am so heartbroken. He doesn’t act like he cares at all. He doesn’t even like to tell me that he loves me when I say it to him. I just don’t know what to do??? Jesus, please lead me; I am so very heartbroken and confused.
Hi there… I married a wonderful man and everything was perfect until we moved in together 3 weeks aftr the wedding. If I look at all my past relationships (not knowing how these men would be after the wedding) I would still marry the same man. He’s a doctor and well-loved by everyone (good boy image). From the 1st day we moved in together he shouted at me every day, cursed me, called me names, and there was minor physical abuse.
A couple of months after he admitted to me that he hangs out with gay men and does drugs (I pinched myself several times after he told me this as I couldn’t believe it; he doesn’t even drink occasionally). 2 weeks after he got a death threat because of some misunderstanding with the drug dealer/syndicate. 2 weeks aftr he got sick and died and I found out he had aids. You will never know who is the person you are marrying until after.
I found this website looking for answers before I suggest to my husband that we may need a marriage counselor. I want to comment that this also happens with those that are in their 50’s and 60’s as well, because I’m one of them. I dated my husband for 8 year and on 10/10 he asked me to marry him the same evening I was closing down from a 3 day family reunion as if it didn’t matter. I did ask what made him ask me and he said because he loves me. He did make it romantic by taking me out to dinner and I said yes, but he also set the date we would be married and that date was 12/12.
So I had two years to plan and it went well. He worked with me on the planning. We went to Vegas for the honeymoon and I thought we pretty much had a great time. He already owned a home so we were pretty much settled, but the week after we got back from my honeymoon I noticed a change in him and I mentioned it to him. His statement was yes, I have changed. And from that point on it’s been going downhill slowly and I’m his 3rd wife! Just reading the information in this article brings a little more light to the subject. So now I must clear the air, so I know what I need to do for me. There’s more to this story but I’ll stop there. I will say my God would not want me to live like this. I’m not just a body in the room for someone else’s comfort. Thank you for shedding some light in changing gears.
I would like to know how to get past the feeling of deception? The night before the wedding was to be a rehearsal (he is Catholic and I am not) the priest left and did not want to participate, myself, my bridesmaid and my family kept asking questions as to what is the process, who stands where, what happens in the ceremony BUT no one would answer us.
That night I wanted to cancel the wedding but was sadly talked out of it. Because, the bad feelings I had came true! Plans were agreed upon,the music selected but between my spouse, the priest, the nuns and my spouse’s family they changed the plans.
They changed my music for walking down the isle, the nuns were singing and the priest wanted his friend to translate not the niece of my spouse.
I have been told that I have changed during the ceremony, honestly I was shocked and did not know whether to scream, cry or run out the door. My husband and I have not been living together since the wedding as I do not know how to get past this feeling of deception. Tonight he told me I should have googled a Catholic wedding mass, I thought WOW this is a very strange thing to say after I kept asking asking questions with no response.
Like a friend of mine says, trust is a very thin thread that can be cut easily but try getting it back.
At this point I do not trust any of them! Tell me, how does one get past this feeling of deception?
I certainly know first hand what you ladies are enduring. May God bless you and close the doors that no man can open and open the doors that no man can close. Read Psalm 103 and Jeremiah 29:11. This time last year I walked away from the marriage from hell due to this man’s lies and sociopathic proclivities. Ladies, if just because you meet him in church does not make him a man of God. I did not meet mine in church but online. I do not recommend it. The internet is a wicked man’s playground.
Like many of you my abuser switched a few months after marriage. He really switched earlier that is when it smacked me in the face. Caught him online with mail order brides sites and beaucoup porn. He is an addict of porn. Trust me these type of switchers are psychopaths or sociopaths and they target kind and empathetic women.
Mine targeted me as he wanted a mother for his grandchild he was raising. I was wife number 4. Anyway, I had more since when I was 25. I hit middle age and fell for this loser who could not have looked my way years earlier. Sad. But thank God the Lord is restoring what the locust has eaten. Behold ladies! God will do a new thing but you have to get rid of that old thing.
These men are Ishmaels not the Isaac God promised. I had to repent and have shed many tears for following my will not His. After nearly 5 years of trying to make it work I left. And won’t look back. Thank you Jesus. God Bless you ladies and remember do the right thing and trust God for yourself and your families that see the train wreck you are in and are helpless. These men are devils with skin on it. They wont changes they will destroy you and keep moving. Do not let them.
My marriage to a ‘T’. He changed fast. Any conversation diminished. Me going to get my hair done went from, “you look beautiful” to “what that cost you?” (cue glaring at me in a disgusted look). His alcoholism took off, suddenly sitting next to me in the couch was no longer happening unless he wanted sex, he was getting snippy, snappy, going out after work for drinks and “forgetting” to tell me, going on road trips by himself. His insults disguised as, “I’m just joking”. It was all about him, his wants, his needs. Totally changed.
If this is most marriages, I’ll never marry again. It ruined my self esteem and confidence that I worked on after a bad childhood. He took me right back to no self esteem but I’m back working on self love and knowing I have worth.
I’d rather have friends to do things with, spend time with my adult children. It took me a lot to trust getting married and it’s a one and done for me. I have nothing left to invest in another gear shifting male. If this is what is being produced in this day and age, no wonder divorce rates are increasing, especially women initiating it.