Does he have a problem with anger? Or does he avoid emotional intimacy? Or both?
If you have either of these in your marriage, you have probably done everything you can think of to fix your spouse.
But here’s the deal.
You cannot fix another person.
You cannot fix him, and he cannot fix you.
But that’s what most of us try to do. We try to change one another. We judge what we see and deem it “wrong.” Even if we do know exactly what the other person needs, we are still powerless to do anything about it. Because change is the domain of the Holy Spirit.
You choose whether to live under the curse.
When Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit, they both faced death for the first time. Spiritual and relational death. A curse was pronounced over each of them, as well as over their relationship with one another.
She would bear children in pain.
He would struggle to make a living from the earth.
Her desire would be for her husband: to fix, manage, and control him.
He would rule over her: that is, resist her efforts to rule him.
You can choose Freedom in Christ.
Jesus didn’t die to set God’s people free from the Romans (other people). He died to set us free from our own sin. So that we could walk with Him. Talk with Him. Learn from Him. Grow with Him.
So if you want your husband to change, follow the path of freedom and allow His Holy Spirit work in you instead.
Let Him teach you about your own value and show you how much You mean to Him.
You’ll be less likely to depend on your husband alone to meet your emotional needs.
And you just might inspire your husband to be a better man. How cool would that be?
p.s. What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander, guys!
If you want your wife to change, follow the path of freedom and allow His Holy Spirit to work in you instead.
Let Him teach you how to focus your anger in the right place.
You’ll be less defensive and better able to show up for intimate conversations.
You just might help equip your wife to be a better woman. How cool would that be?
Well, if we think of it only as catering to the husband’s wants and needs, it becomes emotional and psychological suicide.
However, true submission requires strength.
Hers. And his.
If we translate the word “submission” into today’s terminology, it simply means “interdependence.” Neither person runs over the other. Instead they work together. As a team. Each playing his/her part.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
~ The Apostle Paul, Letter to the Ephesians
“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Dependent people cannot choose to become interdependent. They … don’t own enough of themselves.”
~ Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Herein lies the problem.
To “own yourself,” you must possess true internal strength and confidence. Not that you’re invincible, but that you have faith that you and The Lord can handle anything that comes your way.
You aren’t afraid of the struggle and are open to learning something new.
Is Dr. Debi perfect? Ha!
By now, you’d think I’d know myself pretty well, and I do. Yet I’m amazed at how The Lord continually reveals truth to me … not only about others, but also about myself. I thought I was pretty good at that “submission” stuff in my first marriage, but I didn’t realize that I didn’t understand the whole equation.
My own submission wasn’t by choice. It was rooted in fear.
Fear of displeasing my husband … and losing him. After all, my own father had abandoned me when I was a toddler. And because of my fear of doing something “wrong,” I wasn’t a truly strong woman.
My sense of my own value as a woman was way too dependent on my perception of his opinion of me. Consequently, I worked hard to avoid his anger … and lost myself in the process. And I lost my husband, too.
Many women today believe they are strong.
But could their strength also be fear-based? We often have to toughen up (build walls) to help us get through life, and we lose our true strength in the process.
In other words, we develop a defensive strength, rather than a strong sense of (and value for) who we are as women … femininity and all.
Defensive strength causes wives and husbands unnecessary pain. Everyone loses.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s grow stronger & more confident together!
p.s. If the thought of submission (interdependence) causes resentment to rise up within you, then you probably need some healing and a Daily Dose of Self-Confidence. Learn how to get your emotional needs met at the next Women’s Retreat!
Sonya asked me, “What do you do when your husband takes you for granted?” She felt unappreciated. Overworked. Like she couldn’t please him to save her life. She was working hard to be the best homemaker in their empty nest, just as she had always done. Trying to anticipate what he needed and wanted from her. But she was missing an important ingredient in her formula for a great marriage.
In truth, her husband just needs to know that she …
likes who he is,
wants to be with him, and
isn’t taking him for granted.
If she could find a way to communicate that to him, she could solve 95% of her challenge.
And he would make her feel so much more appreciated.
Here is just one example for your consideration.
What to do when your husband takes you for granted.
I recorded my answer during a live Q&A on Zoom. Here’s the transcript. The video is posted below.
I’m here to help, so let’s continue the dialogue. Feel free to post in the comments box below. If you have a more personal question & would like my response, contact me.
You know, I think actually women are more likely to take men for granted than the other way around. I actually do. Men just kind of figure out,
“This is the way it’s going to be.”
And they give up. So what may look like he’s taking his wife for granted is he’s just trying not to rock the boat. So he doesn’t ask for anything.
Well, you know we talked about that before. About how men don’t like to bring up something that they’re not happy about. Because it could either
hurt his wife’s feelings or
it could make her angry.
One or both of those things.
So he keeps it inside of him, and he just really learns to settle. If makes sense …
and because he’s not complaining, and because he shows up every day, and he’s doing all the things that a woman wants him to. You know, except maybe helping around the house a little bit more, feeling more connected. And he really doesn’t know what that means.
He doesn’t know what being “more connected” is.
But he just learns to settle. He just comes home and does his thing. And the common conversations among men are
Just try not to get in trouble with the wife.
You know that saying: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” So you try to keep mama happy.
Which oftentimes means that you don’t ask for anything. You see her flittering to do all of these things, and she seems to be filled with all kinds of anxiety about kids and the house and getting everything done.
And there’s really no room for the husband to even mention his needs.
Who’s taking whom for granted?
I watched a video yesterday the title of it was Self-Made and it was on Amazon. [Correction: It was on Netflix.] I’m not sure if you’ve seen that, but Octavia Spencer did a really good job of portraying the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. She’s African American, so you have all of these cultural issues that are part of the video. … I think it starts in 1908, so we’re talking more than a hundred years ago. A long time ago.
She’s married to an abusive man in the beginning, and her self-esteem is just in the pits. She takes in laundry … all these things are going on. And then she ends up marrying this really nice guy.
She finds out … I don’t want to spoil the whole story for you … but she she finds this haircare product for African American women, and she wants to sell it. But the woman doesn’t want anything to do with her, so she develops it on her own. And it takes off.
The reason why this comes to my mind is that at one point this really loving husband that she had … makes suggestions for her … about how to get the rich men to invest in the factory she wants to open.
But she dismisses him. She totally pushes him [her husband] aside, and she says,
“No, this is my company.”
She just keeps referring to it as “my company.” And she ended up pushing this perfectly loving man to the side … basically tell him, “I don’t need you. I don’t need your input.”
Well, she does find a way. … Obviously the story is that she’s a self-made millionaire. She does find a way to get the backing, and she goes through the women.
But in the process, she totally disrespects her husband. He even says,
“What good am I?”
She’s got him doing women’s hair, and the things that he’s capable of doing. … I believe it was advertising, that he had a specialty in advertising. And she wouldn’t even listen to his input. He ends up having an affair, and they divorce.
They both still love each other, but they didn’t handle that very well.
I don’t think that women should submit to all men. I am right up there with: “We’ve got rights. We’ve got brains. We should do things.”
But if we’ve got a partner, we need to learn how to work together. Nothing in the marriage is ever mine and yours. It’s ours. Something we do together.
That’s part of where I think the the whole shift – and I know I’m going on a different topic than you originally asked, but it’s on my mind. This whole shift from the way that men, in their vulnerability, used to suppress women to help themselves feel better. Now we flipped it around.
Instead of making things better where we cooperate more, we’ve actually made it worse. Because now, in finding our voice, we’ve told men to “shut up.”
So across the board – unless a man wants to be a real jerk and do some of the things that you know have come up recently – you know about men taking advantage of women, which that’s a whole other topic.
But women really take advantage of men and just run over them. I don’t think that’s what we’re supposed to be doing with gaining our rights.
So that’s kind of a sidebar in in your question. But I think it’s really important.
So men just learned to settle.
It’s just the way it’s gonna be. They’ve lost their voice, and everything revolves around the woman now.
I think it’s a product of us being really really misinformed about what the marital relationship is supposed to look like.
When your mate talks about something that you find boring, what do you do? Do you keep doing what you are doing? Interrupt with something you find more interesting? Wait for him/her to take a breathe & then chime in? Or do you make eye contact & actually listen?
In studying couple communication, Dr. John Gottman & his team of researchers observed that partners continually make “bids” for one another’s attention, closeness, and reassurance.
These bids were made through comments, questions, glances, and/or gestures.
The couples seemed to be asking, on a regular basis:
Are you there? Do I matter to you?
Sometimes they got the responses they wanted.
If they didn’t, they tried again.
You’ve watched it happen, right?
It’s most obvious with children.
A few moms are relaxing at the park while their toddlers are playing in the sandbox. One particular mom is engrossed in conversation with her friends, and her 3-year-old tries to get her attention.
If he’s unsuccessful, he doesn’t give up.
If at first you don’t succeed try, try again!
He’ll keep calling her; and if she doesn’t respond, he’ll get closer to her … and louder! He may even resort to attacking her to get her to pay attention to his needs.
Couples communicate like that, too.
If a hello or a smile gets no response, partners intensify their bids.
Like the toddler, they may get louder, even attacking or criticizing.
However, strategies like criticism will naturally elicit a negative response (defensiveness) and launch a negative pattern of interactions that could escalate into a full-blown argument.
Not exactly what you were hoping for, right?
A Word (or Two) About Sarcasm
Sarcasm is a common method of asking for attention without seeming to really need anything. Your needs for attention (and your vulnerability) are hidden behind a screen of purported humor.
Sarcasm is also a very effective way of shooting yourself in the foot. It sends a mixed message. In reality, you’re asking for attention. But the message your partner gets is that he or she is dumb, clumsy, or lacks value — not a great way to get the positive attention you’re really looking for.
When a man’s partner doesn’t respond to or even recognize? his bids for attention, he may simply give up trying.
QUESTION: So what can you do with this information? Get involved in your own research by observing your own behavior.
How many times and in what ways did you ask for your partner’s attention today?
Did you get the response you wanted?
How can you increase the effectiveness of your bids?
Please remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation! Fear is even more contagious than COVID-19, and fear’s goal is to divide & conquer us all.
So which of these approaches are you choosing in response to self-quarantine?
Desperate times call for desperate measures,
or desperate times call for innovative strategies?
More & more people are choosing #2. For that we are ever grateful. So much more productive than hoarding toilet paper, hmm?
Someone on social media noted that our entire country is in the midst of a massive experiment about working from home. Companies that would not consider that before are embracing the technology. I believe it will prove to be a lasting benefit for employees and employers alike.
For some, working at home just isn’t possible. So others, such as restaurant owners, are being highly creative, too. Even supporting one another to create curbside pickups at their competitors’ establishments. How cool is that?
I’ve been working at my home studio for more than a year now, offering TeleHealth instead of in-person counseling. But I started thinking about how I can provide more community support.
Then I remembered how I used to meet up with friends at our favorite coffee shop, where we’d share stories and concerns and hope. “Why not do that?” I reasoned.
So we’re launching Coffee & Conversation on Tuesday, March 24!
We’ll chat online (via my Zoom account) just like we would if we met at your favorite coffee shop!
To join us, just RSVP using the form on the right (or below if you’re on your mobile device), and I’ll see you there!
Have you ever wondered why some couples pull together during a crisis, whereas others are driven apart?
This video will help you discover ways to better face any crisis together.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Men and women use language differently, and that probably affects your couple communication more than you realize. Because you respond to what you think you heard, which is not necessarily what your mate was saying.
In the video below, you will learn the importance of understanding your mate’s Bottom Line Question.
And once you know the real question behind the question, you’ll greatly increase the probability that you will automatically give the answer he/she is hoping for.
To answer before listening –
that is folly and shame. ~ PROVERBS 18:13
Women (and men) usually take one of 4 approaches to love. These patterns will, no doubt, sound familiar.
These three of the 4 approaches to love don’t work in the long run.
PLEASING (moving toward)
Of course, you want to please the one you love. I want to please my man, too. However, I know I need to maintain a balance, or we will both lose.
As as Christian wife who wanted to please her husband, I thought I was pretty good at that “submission” stuff in my first marriage, but I didn’t understand the whole equation.
My sense of self depended heavily upon whether or not my husband approved of me and/or what I did. He often didn’t. In fact, he didn’t seem to like me much. And I must admit, at that point, there wasn’t much I liked about myself.
My submission wasn’t by choice. It was rooted in my fear. Fear of displeasing my husband … and losing him. And because of my fear, I was never a truly confident woman. And I lost my husband.
CONTROLLING (moving against)
Many women I meet are good at that “strength” stuff in their marriages. But is that strength also rooted in fear?
Sometimes we toughen ourselves up to get through life, and we lose our true strength in the process. In other words, many women develop a false sense of strength as a defense against being hurt. But in the end, it causes them and their partners to experience unnecessary pain, and they both lose.
AVOIDING/IGNORING (moving away)
Is the opposite of fear actually love? Or is it indifference? Sometimes we build walls to protect ourselves from rejection or hurt. However, defensiveness simply doesn’t work in marriage. Ever. Because one partner’s defense will always cause the other partner pain and lead to more defensiveness. That’s what the Negative Cycle is all about.
NOTE: All three of the above approaches to love are based in fear.
Balanced & Beautiful (moving together)
The fourth approach is described in 1 CORiNTHiANS 13:4-8b. Its Foundation is built upon knowing you are already loved. By Jesus, Who is Love Himself.
Love is large & incredibly patient.
Love is gentle & consistently kind to all.
It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else.
Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.
Love does not traffic in shame & disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.
Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
Love joyfully celebrates honesty & finds no delight in what is wrong.
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.
Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving.
Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.1 JOHN 4:18, TPT
Man and woman are created as partners. Essential partners in the work of the Kingdom of God. Through Christ, we are redeemed to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Man is the Leader, and woman is the Follower. He’s not a dictator, and she’s not a silent, powerless subject. She has way more power than she realizes, but more about that later.
Fortunately, as we get things back in their proper, Heavenly perspective, man has what he needs to do his job, to live out his life passionately doing what God designed him to do.
Do you wish you were married to a different man? Or could change the one you have? You’ve probably heard the saying that when a man marries a woman he’s hoping she’ll never change, whereas a woman marries a man hoping that he will. It’s actually more than a hope for her. He may actually be her Main Project.
But men are not projects. They are people.
I don’t like to be the bearer of bad tidings, ladies, but God only created one perfect man thus far. And he’s required nearly six decades to refine!
On the Bright Side, however, if the Lord is doing such a great job on this one, I believe He can do the same with your guy! Your man can be so much more, and you can actually help him become Your Fearless Leader in the Dance of Romance!
Simply put, it’s a woman’s job to love her man and pray for him. It’s God’s job to make him grow … and according to His plan, not hers. PROVERBS 3:5
Your man wants to be your Leader in the Dance of Romance … to protect you and to guide you and to hold you … to choreograph the Dance to maximize your pleasure in being with him.
But much of the time we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by doing all the things that don’t work to change him … instead of doing things that do work to change him … things that he actually wants you to do to shape his behavior! Go figure.
What happened to you growing up matters because it’s how you learned about Life and Love … and God.
Your story has taught you a lot about who you are, and it’s taught you about other people.
Some of what you’ve learned is true. Some isn’t.
That’s what this website is about.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32
Your Love Story Matters to God. Always.
I know the plans I have for you. They will stretch you. They are stretching you now. My plans are for your good and the only way you will be truly happy. Trust me. You are more dear and precious to me than you realize. I put those desires in your heart, and I am the only one who can fulfill them. Walk closely to me. You cannot screw this up. You cannot even delay it when you become fearful because I’m at work in your anxious times, too. Do not let shame rule over you. Do not listen to those lies. I will turn your mourning into dancing. You will face challenges, and you will overcome them all. Watch me. Watch what I do next. You’re going to love this one!
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~ Psalm 16:5-8