I know what it’s like for a wife’s heart to grow hard and cold toward her husband. I let that happen in my first marriage of 18 years…a marriage that ended in divorce. Don’t let that happen to you. Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for!
In my experience, the reason a wife’s heart grows cold usually comes down to two things. She has not established firm, clear boundaries on disrespectful or destructive behavior…or she has expected her husband to make her happy and blames him for failing to do so. Could one of these reasons apply to you?
Boundaries: It is Biblical to lovingly confront someone who is sinning against you and establish boundaries in that relationship…with the goal being that the person will repent and be welcomed back into full relationship. Read Matthew 18:15-17 to learn what Jesus has to say about this. Also keep in mind Galatians 6:1, which says. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”
Expectations: If you expect your husband to make you happy, realize you have an unrealistic expectation! The only one who you can trust 100% to bring you fulfillment, joy, and perfect love is….the Lord! Make the relationship with Him your top priority, and once you feel secure in that relationship, your heart will likely become softer and more compassionate toward your husband.
Some of you have had a rough couple of months or couple of years in your marriage. You may have a mountain-size load of resentment toward your husband. Perhaps your husband also holds a gigantic amount of resentment toward you. If this is you….if you find yourself in the pit of despair regarding your marriage, I want to encourage you to blow up that marriage. Yep. You heard me right. Blow up your marriage in order to start fresh and build a better one, with the same husband!
Sometimes, we just need to start over when something in our lives has gone terribly wrong. However, our first impulse is to throw out the whole thing; to discard the thing that has brought heartache and disappointment. But that doesn’t give God any room to work, and that attitude basically lets both your husband and you off the hook in terms of making any changes in how you do relationships. If you toss out your existing marriage, you’ll just bring the same dysfunctional patterns into your next relationship.
So, how about completely resetting your marriage? Listen to what God says in Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. What if you were to apply those words to your marriage? The devil wants to keep you focused on past hurts. That way you will be forever stuck. Don’t fall for his evil plot against you!Starting today, stop dwelling on the past, sit down with your husband and ask him if he would be willing to start afresh, with BOTH of you putting actual daily effort into blessing the other, serving the other, speaking the other’s love language, and showing care for the other. This attitude shift can accomplish absolutely amazing things!
If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage, and if you’re a believer, you’re likely dying to know what God wants you to do in this marriage challenge. You desperately need his guidance and counsel! The good news is that He loves it when his children seek his guidance. He loves his people to inquire of him!
The question is how. How do you receive his guidance for the issue in your marriage. Well, the first and most obvious answer is to study God’s Word. He has placed so many super helpful instructions on relationships in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Secondly, it’s almost always helpful to consult a godly mentor or counselor or pastor. Sometimes we need someone who can look at our marriage situation more objectively than we can, as well as someone who will remind us of God’s instructions for relationships. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
But thirdly, and often most importantly, we should seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because God is the only one who actually knows the future. He’s the only one who knows if your husband is going to change. He’s the only one who knows exactly what to do and when. John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
So ask God specific questions about specific issues in your marriage. Ask what He wants you to do and then strain to sense the nudges from the Holy Spirit. You probably won’t hear God speak out loud, but Jesus does say his sheep will hear his voice. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. So pray, and then be quiet and listen for those nudges from the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to guide you!
Dog-gone it. Sometimes marriage is so hard. Sometimes, the imperfections of our spouse end up hurting us…deeply. Your husband may have wounded you with an anger problem. He may have cheated on you with porn or a real-life woman. He may have spent more time with his hobbies than he did with you and the kids, and that really hurt. Hopefully, he’s no longer doing those things.
However, even if he has made some positive changes, the wounding can be so severe that your heart might feel a little like a cracked egg. It’s kind of like Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and went splat! Even if your husband repents, how can your heart be put back together again?
Here are two thoughts that may help. First, ask God to give you the same kind of compassion for your husband that God extends to us when we mess up. You might want to meditate on Colossians 3:12-14 which says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Second, use this moment to examine your own actions and see if there is something God wants you to learn. During some of the times in my life when I was most hurt by others, God gently showed me ways I contributed to the mess. Have you been reacting to your husband’s behavior in disrespectful ways? Have you avoided conflict and let resentment become toxic? You and I probably both have some things we should learn. Let’s commit to being humble and teachable.
Nothing will repel your husband (or boyfriend) more quickly than….you acting all self-righteous! However, this is exactly how women act much of the time. We don’t intend to come across as self-righteous, or “better-than”, or arrogant, or “experts” on everything, but we can definitely come across that way to our men! Having that kind of attitude ruins relationships. As Proverbs 18:12 says: “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
So let’s examine ourselves. Do you often correct your husband, giving the impression that you know more than he does? Do you give long-suffering sighs when he forgets to do something, giving the impression that YOU would never do such a thing? Do you make sure you let him know he has disappointed you, while being quick to defend yourself if he says you’ve disappointed him?
Maybe it’s time we stopped acting “better-than” our men! We are ALL a work in progress. Let’s strive this week to display a humble spirit. Instead of repelling your husband, your humility will draw your husband toward you. Wouldn’t you much rather be a fragrance in your husband’s life than an odor?!
Every wife is going to have moments (or weeks or months!) that she’s disappointed with her husband. No man is perfect, and your husband is bound to frustrate you, annoy you, or fail to meet your expectations from time to time. The question is: How can you keep from being seriously discouraged or resentful during those times? I have found 4 things to be really helpful:
1) Clearly communicate your expectations and desires! Men are not mind-readers, yet often wives expect their husbands to “just know”! So, think about the areas in which you’ve been frustrated or disappointed. Then calmly and clearly tell your husband what you desire or need, as well as how much you’d appreciate him making an effort to meet those needs and desires.
2) Be grateful for what he does right! Isn’t it strange how most wives tend to gravitate to focusing on what their husband is doing wrong, but barely give a second thought to what he’s doing right?! Stop right now and ask God to help you see the many good things about your husband and the positive things he does. This is the essence of Philippians 4:8… “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thing.”
3) If your husband is actually sinning against you, it’s time to stop wringing your hands and it may be time to take action! In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus instructs us to confront the person who sins against us, and to even get others involved if necessary.
4) Pray, and never give up! Prayer truly can move mountains, and Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 that we “should always pray and not give up“. So go to battle in prayer, and ask God to reveal His love to your husband and to mold and shape your husband’s heart.
Do you keep replaying your husband’s past mistakes over and over again in your mind? Do you find yourself dwelling on how he’s disappointed you in the past? Let it go! Thoughts like that become toxic…to you and your marriage. Hebrews 12:15 makes this point: “See to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many.” If you keep rehearsing your husband’s past failures, you will end up growing more and more resentful of your husband. The resulting bitterness acts like poison to your own heart. You become a dried up, miserable woman.
Even more damage is caused when you verbalize those past mistakes to your husband. Yet many wives do that. They repeatedly bring up their man’s past mistakes and almost wield them as a weapon against their husband. His heart gets sliced and diced in the process. His heart becomes poisoned against his wife as well.
It’s time to decide to release your husband from his past failures. The Bible is pretty clear about your need to release bitterness and resentment. Ephesians 4:31 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” Sochoose to exercise the same grace God has given you!! News flash: You’re not perfect either. By the way, releasing your man from his past mistakes doesn’t mean you should ignore current sin. If he is currently sinning against you, determine to respectfully confront him and work through the problem, perhaps with the help of a counselor or pastor.
I wonder what would happen if you asked God to transform your character into His character and then you actually began striving to display His character in your marriage? I bet your marriage would begin to thrive!
God describes His own character in Psalm 103:8, where the Bible says “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Even just pressing into one of those 4 qualities could make a huge impact in your marriage. What if you started displaying grace toward your man? Grace simply means giving someone undeserved favor and loving kindness.
I’m not saying you should ignore destructive patterns of sin in your husband’s life. However, I am recommending that you work to extend kindness to your husband even when they’ve annoyed you or disappointed you in small ways. In fact, what if you were to extend grace by choosing to believe that he didn’t mean to disappoint you? What if you were to give him the benefit of the doubt? Extending that kind of grace could change your whole attitude toward your husband…and could draw his heart toward you!
Perhaps, we could sum it up this way. The appreciated wife leaves a fragrance, not an odor!