In my last blog I challenged the wives to be the mature one in the relationship and consider changing the tone at home. I promised to challenge the husbands equally, so guys…now it’s your turn. Here’s a testimony from a husband who realized he could no longer assume his marriage was ok…he needed to step up and save it. He figured out what it truly means to unconditionally love, even when not receiving anything in return. I salute him as an honorable man!
My wife and I were high school sweethearts and have been together 19 years and married for 15. Most of our marriage has been great with many more ups than downs. Then about a year and a half ago, we began arguing much, much more than we ever had before. I became more withdrawn and angry, and she became completely uninterested in me sexually and affectionately. We both seemed to blame much of this on the stress we were under. After we talked out a particularly nasty episode of “Blame Your Spouse for All Your Problems,” things seemed to get better for about six months.
Oh how wrong I was!
One day it was like someone just flipped a switch in her, and she completely withdrew from me. I tried to push her to talk but she was not responding to my barrage of questions and complaints about her.
I finally said, "Don't you want to work this out?"
I was absolutely floored when she replied, "I don't know."
In my mind this was just another stupid argument about the same old thing. Of course we would work it out, we always did before! She just said that all she knew is she wasn't happy, and hadn't been for a while.
It was as if a truck hit me and was parked on my chest! The one thing I felt I had done right in my life was to be a good husband, and now I was faced with the fact that I had driven the love of my life away from me.
After a few tense days, I got up the nerve to ask her point blank, "Are you going to leave me?" to which she replied again, "I don't know.”
(Later I found out things were much worse than I had originally thought. She had already sought the advice of a divorce attorney "just to see what her options were" and was having an inappropriate relationship with a male friend that was on the way to becoming an affair.)
I set up an appointment with a family therapist, which she balked at but did come to the appointment. The best thing to come out of the session was as ‘homework’ we should get a copy of your book (Love & Respect)… Now let me tell you, I am a big skeptic of most self-help type books, but I was desperate to find a way to reconnect with my wife and keep my family together, so I headed for the bookstore. I started reading as soon as I got home…it was like the first few chapters had been written about us! I now realize that we have been on the Crazy Cycle to some degree for probably five years! I was blaming her for her not being interested in me anymore, but seeing how I was really hurting her all this time, I understood for the first time what was really happening! It was so simple once I saw my actions through the eyes of Love and Respect! She didn't feel loved! I have always said it frequently, but my actions told her another story.
I have finally let go of all the small stuff that I grew into a big problem. I was always ready and willing to fix our problems, but I was never able before because I was trying to treat the symptoms instead of the cause.
I FINALLY GET IT!!!
We aren't in the same place yet (in our healing) and it is very frustrating at times not having her respond to me, but I realize that she feels like she worked on this problem for a year and got no response from me (in my defense, I didn’t even know we had a problem at the time!)…and she is exhausted from trying. With God's help, I will continue to work on us every minute of every day to help her and to put my own feelings of frustration aside. As you said, it is not fair, but no one ever said life or love was going to be fair, and in the end the reward of having my wife back will be well worth it!
I feel that although she knows that she has had a part in all of this, she doesn't really own up to her part of the blame at this point and is still putting it all on me. That's okay, I feel like I deserve most of it and I'll continue to work on my share whether she is ready to take on hers or not.
My biggest challenge at this point is trying not to get my feelings hurt, and balancing my love and support for her without smothering her.
I only pray that it is not too late for us, but with hard work and God's help, I know we will pull through this. He has told me that it is going to be alright with us, but that it is going to be a long, hard fight. But anything worth having takes working for, and I don't mind getting my hands dirty!
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to make me a better person and husband, and may God bless you for writing this wonderful book. (Anonymous)
Men, do you find yourself in a similar situation? To continue loving unconditionally when receiving very little in return is a tough test. Will we persevere out of obedience to Christ, or crumble in defeat? Remember…it’s always darkest before the dawn. You can do this!