I am sure we have all thought at some time how much better life would be if husband would just change! We all know that we shouldn’t marry a man expecting him to change and yet we fall into the trap somewhere along the line thinking that he needs to change. Then we get frustrated that he won’t.
As married life goes on we see things that we think our husband should be doing. We consider these things his responsibility. Because he doesn’t do these things we take the luxury of blaming him for the circumstances we find ourselves in. We sit back and allow ourselves to get annoyed at him for not dealing with things as he should.
As wives we must stop the cycle of annoyance, anger and bitterness. We must stop with our reactions and demands for change. Instead we need to look at our own heart, our own attitudes and our own actions. We are responsible for our own reactions. We are not responsible for our husband’s actions.
He won’t change – and what you can do about it
There are five common situations where we get caught up in blaming our husbands and expecting him to change:
1—He doesn’t get involved with the kids (or he is too authoritative)
2—He won’t talk to me or spend time with me
3—He spends too much time away from home
4—He brings work home, or he works too long
5—He doesn’t do anything around the house to help
Even as I list those five things each sentence starts off with ‘he’ – it seems as if the problem is his problem. But as the old adage goes – when you point the finger you have three pointing back at you. And this is the heart of it – we can’t change our husbands. We can’t make him do any of those things differently. But we can change our attitude and our actions.
In Joyce Myer’s book, “Help! I’m Married’’ she says, “It’s not your circumstances that make you unhappy; it’s not having things right on the inside of your heart.’’
Tips to help Me Change when He won’t
1–Remember that he loves me, and he loves my kids. This is a good time to find tolerance – showing respect to another person who does not share my perspective.
2–Get to know my man. A long time ago Peter and I did a personality profile test and one thing it revealed was that Peter liked to collect all the information (and I mean ALL the information) before he said anything, and I like to talk along the way. This is a point of difference that when I understand (and accept) I can work around without demanding that he changes.
3–Be grateful for what he does do. I am very grateful for the income Peter brings into our family so we can live comfortably, so I could homeschool the kids, so I can blog, so I can help others in the community. I am grateful for the sense of security his perspective brings as we go through life. Gratefulness changes our heart.
4–Do what you can do. When my kids were young and I struggled with different things my Mum would always ask: What can you do? She helped me think outside the box, to think resourcefully, to find solutions to a problem.
Look for creative ways to fix the problem, not fix the man, but fix how the circumstance affects you. This is the issue of boundaries – and if you haven’t read Boundaries by Cloud and Tounsend then I recommend that you do. If there is a circumstance that affects you, you can make a change so you can be true to you.
5–Find ways to show him I love him. Sometimes we have to separate his actions or lack thereof from our love for the man himself. Show him you love him. This is very hard when we feel other emotions and are actually trying to blame him for those emotions! But the key is sacrificial love; love regardless of the other person’s response.
Many times these things cannot be done by ourselves. We need God’s help to love this way. Pray. God cares and has solutions. Another thing that can help us is to find a friend to help keep your focus true. Don’t get together and husband-bash – that is not helping you change or keep your heart soft towards your husband, but get together to be strengthened in your resolve to keep your eyes on Jesus.
Things to avoid
This is a simple list
–Don’t Nag. We are all familiar with the Proverb that highlights the annoyance of the nagging wife. Maybe we don’t call what we do as nagging – being critical, complaining and passive aggressive snipey comments, wears a man down much the same.
–Don’t compare with other marriages. When we see a lack in our own marriages we assume that if another marriage doesn’t have that ‘problem’ then they must have a great marriage. But it isn’t like that at all. Each marriage has it’s challenges. Don’t compare your marriage with another marriage – spend your energies working on the marriage you are in.
–Don’t manipulate. There is a very fine line between doing what we can do in a circumstance and making a man feel manipulated. We must become strong in looking after our own junk – and letting him look after his own. He has the freedom to be who he wants to be. You can’t change him, and he can’t change you (but the Holy Spirit can change both of your hearts)
–Don’t become independent. It is very tempting to just do life on your own and leave him out of it since he’s making these types of decisions. But that isn’t marriage either. Always be welcoming, inviting him to join you, but you can’t make him, neither can he make you have a miserable life because he doesn’t want to take part. So there is a balance, but don’t start living without considering him.
But don’t be a Martyr
None of this means that we can’t talk about the struggles we are going through or the things that we find hard in our marriage. We just need to choose our time, our tone, and our words carefully. Be wise. Be prayerful.
In one period of our marriage I wrote my concerns and feelings in a letter and gave it to Peter. He had promised to read it and at some stage get back to me. A letter gave him the space to think about it and find the words to talk to me about what I was feeling.
It is important that we communicate how we feel but we will communicate much better if we aren’t intense and angry at him. We can tell him how his shutting down, or not being available or whatever it is, we can say how that makes us feel. But leave it at that. We can’t make him change. We can appeal to his heart – so he can choose to change but all in his timing. In the meantime, we can choose to love and respect him.
So though these things are hard, we have a choice in how we are going to deal with them. This doesn’t mean we are martyrs and don’t look after ourselves – but it does mean that we focus on our responses, our attitude, our heart and let our husband deal with his.
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