What do you do when your husband fails you?
My husband fails me all the time. Let me count the ways.
- He snores. Snoring was not on my list of ideal characteristics for a life partner. And don’t tell me that 98% of all men snore! So what? I’m good enough to deserve part of that two percent!
- He doesn’t show me affection at the exact time that I want it. Sure, he gets worn out and – most of the year – sweaty working on all the homesteading chores and projects. Sure, our only son who does not attend school demands our attention much of the day. Still, if J really cared, he’d figure out how to have enough energy to give me a spontaneous passionate kiss in the middle of the day.
- He can’t read my mind. The Guide To A Perfect Husband states quite clearly that by the time a couple has cleared a decade of marriage, the husband should be able to read the wife’s mind at least 70% of the time. J can’t. At all.
- He never spontaneously volunteers to do household chores. So, it’s not my fault there’s a quarter inch of dust piled up on every bare surface.
- He can’t carry a tune in a bucket. So I am left with the heavy burden of singing “Happy Birthday” to our son every year.
Yes, my husband has proven himself time and time again to be quite the imperfect human being.
In all seriousness, though, we have had challenges in our relationship that have threatened the well-being of our family. I know that other wives have faced much worse, such as infidelity and abuse.
However, if you look at divorce statistics and surveys about marital problems, you’ll find that often it’s the small annoyances and misunderstandings that lead to a broken marriage. Why? Because one or both of the spouses come to believe that the other spouse has failed them.
Are you struggling in your marriage today because you think that your husband has failed you? (Or, if you’re the rare man who might read this post, vice versa?) If so, here are several ways to get healed and move forward.
First, I have to address the Elephant In The Room:
If your spouse is abusive, GET OUT NOW.
If you have kids, take them with you. When he says he’ll never do it again, he’s lying. When he apologizes after leaving bruises on your body and acts all sweet, trying to make up for it, he’s just manipulating you to stay so he won’t lose his punching bag.
Or he’s afraid of ending up in jail.
If he has threatened to beat you up harder, even kill you, if you call the police, find out where the nearest women’s shelter is, figure out a way to get there, and go! Then get a restraining order on the a$%h@le (sorry; I have ZERO compassion for abusive men) as soon as you can.
All right, for the rest of you, there are less extreme steps you can take.
Remember that it takes two to Tango
Sometimes, you are doing everything you know to do to be a great spouse. But your partner goes out and does something to hurt you anyway.
More often than not, however, you have had a part to play in the problem. Take some time to look at the issue objectively and see where you may have had a hand in what you currently perceive as your spouse’s failure.
Stop counting on your husband to meet all your emotional needs.
Ladies, face it: we are hard to understand. Our brains are like a superhighway of connections, causing us to feel elated one moment and depressed the next. During a Certain Time Of The Month, some of us get particularly moody, especially if we are deficient in magnesium.
In addition, we women tend to look to our men for security in all areas of our lives. Did you know that this scares the manure out of them? Did you realize that all men are secretly full of insecurities and the pressure their wives put on them to be The Security Source is enough to drive them to jump on a yacht and sail around the world? Or at least develop a serious addiction to late night T.V.?
Your husband was not made to provide everything you need. That’s what Jesus is for.
I’m NOT sorry if you’re offended at the mention of Jesus. What I am sorry about is that if you are so offended that means that you have not yet entered into a relationship with Him so that you get what I’m talking about. Only the presence of Jesus in your life can bring you peace and stability – true security – regardless of your circumstances.
In short, stop making your husband out to be the Savior of the world. He’s not, and never will be, and it’s not fair to burden him with that expectation.
Stay grounded in reality.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read one of my books. And it was probably a romance. I want you to keep on reading romances, especially if the author is Emily Josephine. 😉
Here comes a bighorn sheep, its horns coming at you…BUT!
But, don’t be Madame Bovary. If you never had to succumb to the torture of being forced to read that novel during your years of institutional education, count yourself blessed.
During my freshman year of college, I took a course entitled “Masterpieces of World Literature.” Most of the books we were assigned in that class I liked. But one of them I do not to this day understand why it is considered a classic, let alone a “masterpiece”. (Although I have to say, the professor was more than a little eccentric. Okay, she was downright weird, almost creepy.)
To sum: Madame Bovary is about a young woman whose sole idea of a marital relationship comes from romance novels, and she has a serious wake up call when she finally gets married.
Even my inexperienced, naïve eighteen-year-old self knew that she was an idiot.
Romance novels are not evil in and of themselves. But they can cause even women who have been married for years to lose their appreciation for their hardworking, devoted husbands.
Because in reality, men do not act like the male protagonists in romance novels.
And in all fairness, you don’t act like the female protagonists. Let’s not even talk about looks.
Ditch the romance novel ideal of a man, and you may discover that your husband has, in fact, not failed you at all. Which leads me to the next point…
Change your perspective.
I used to get upset – sometimes, disproportionately so – about little things J would do. For example, not putting his shoes back in the right place after coming back from a run (we live in under 600 square feet, so tidiness is essential). Or not cleaning up after himself.
And I would nag and complain to him.
Then one day I woke up and said, “Okay, genius, this takes five whole seconds to fix myself. Is it worth stressing either one of us over? Is it worth causing a rift in our marriage relationship?”
Guess what my answer was. No, no, and NO.
Another way to change your perspective is to ask yourself these questions:
- Is my spouse faithful?
- Does he/she provide for the family well (in whatever role that is)?
- Does he/she respect and listen to me?
- Is he/she working on eliminating potentially relationship-destroying addictions (if present)?
If you can answer “yes” to all of those, you have nothing to complain about. But I do want to touch on that last one…
Gently and respectfully talk to your spouse about getting help for serious problems.
Women tend to get addicted to shopping. Men tend toward gambling and p*rnography. Both are equally vulnerable to substance addiction.
This is a sticky area, and often not easy to navigate. It may eventually require a physical separation for your safety and/or well-being (you shouldn’t end up as a pauper because your spouse has to regularly purchase illicit drugs), but it should always begin with a caring discussion.
Tell him (or her) about it.
Of course I was being facetious/humorous at the start of this post. Husbands cannot read their wives’ minds anymore than wives can read their husbands’ minds. If you have a need that you know they can fill, but they’re not doing it, respectfully and lovingly tell them about your need and what you would like them to do about it.
Just don’t expect them to be perfect. You may have to continue to throw out gentle reminders about it.
The long and the short of it
Wow, would you look at that. My husband has not failed me after all. He is just another imperfect human being. An imperfect human being who:
- took care of all my chores, plus his, for a couple of weeks when I broke my arm three years ago;
- has not retaliated when I spewed out hurtful words during times of hormonal mood swings (when I wasn’t taking enough magnesium!);
- has stayed with me during my periods of depression when I didn’t see a reason to go on (because I needed more magnesium);
- has not abandoned me even though our son, until recently, was a Holy Terror to raise;
- works his rear off on projects that I can’t do, even though he wasn’t emotionally vested in the end result;
- lets me have the time I need to write; and
- is a better father than either of ours ever was (based on my knowledge and experience).
Another wow. I think I’ll reward him a medal today…