We hope you enjoy this excerpt from chapter 5 of our new Christian marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another. It not only shows couples how to rebuild trust in a marriage, but it also teaches a very valuable lesson that many husbands will be wise to learn.
Marriage Is Like A Bridge To A Woman
For a woman, marriage is a bridge upon which she desires to safely walk. If that bridge has ever fallen through, she thinks twice before bearing all her weight on it again.
Most women simply want to know that their relationship with their husband is stable in the areas of unconditional love, commitment, emotional intimacy, and finances. Deep down, they desire to know that this bridge called marriage will hold up their sense of self worth as well as their expectations. When it shows signs of weakness, they tend to test its strength by doing what I call jumping up and down. This is usually done in one or more of the following ways:
1. A wife may withhold her love for her husband until she sees that he truly cares about her and not merely himself.
2. She may show hesitancy to act like everything is fine in the marriage.
3. Some act cold or indifferent about the marriage until they see viable change.
4. A wife might question her husband’s motives for making changes for the better.
5. A woman could display a lack of willingness to participate in physical intimacy.
6. She could be curt, and, at times, rude toward her husband.
These are all natural tendencies for a wife that feels insecure about her relationship with her husband. This, of course, does not condone this type of behavior, but it certainly explains why some wives are tempted to act in such a way. I often say that though this describes a woman’s behavior, it does not necessarily prescribe what should happen in a marriage.
Wooing Your Wife On That Bridge
Many a man has found himself standing on a broken down, dilapidated bridge called marriage, trying to encourage his wife to follow. While he stands wooing, begging, and, sometimes, pleading with his wife to trust him once more, she often reacts with reluctance. It is not so much her reluctance or lack thereof that will determine their success, as much as his reaction to her reluctance that will be key.
Some men, while standing on that bridge, feel either afraid or overwhelmed by the task. Others feel incapable. Either way, they will do well not to run and hide from their God-given responsibility to promote an atmosphere of safety in their marriage through sacrificial service and safe conversation.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Other men err in that they focus on their wife’s reluctance rather than their responsibility to strengthen the bridge with the planks of unconditional love and biblical character. This is a crucial mistake that many, if not most, men make as they work at rebuilding trust in a marriage.
Early in our marriage, I was guilty of such behavior. Rather than rebuilding the bridge of trust through unconditional love and kindness, I was more focused on the thought of my wife jumping up and down. This only served to delay any type of substantial success.
As a young married man, I would try to use my carefully constructed arguments and long lectures to reassure my wife, Melody, that the bridge would never fall through again. Looking back, I could have avoided countless one-sided discussions by doing more to repair the bridge than trying to sell her on the state of it.
When women show hesitancy to trust their husbands, men often become defensive. Although this is a natural reaction for most men, it will do little to boost a woman’s level of confidence. Men that are prone to such behavior will be wise to understand that there is a formula for rebuilding trust in a marriage. I call it change over time.
Men usually do not mind the numerator of my formula. Change is sometimes easy. It is the denominator of the equation that causes men to struggle.
When men repent or change their minds, they often change on the spot by making an about-face turn. Women, on the other hand, are vastly different in that they reverse directions by making a very slow 180 degree turn. This is often a tremendous source of frustration to men trying to woo their wives.
A Castle Around Her Heart
As we saw in the last chapter, when a woman is hurt, she will often build a castle around her heart and shut the door tight. As she hides out for safety, it is vital that the man patiently serve as he waits for her to open that door. Any signs of impatience will send out a resounding message that he is serving his fears rather than her needs. She will also be prone to perceive that he is simply using date nights, flowers, and charitable acts of kindness as a form of control to get her to conform to his wishes.
Order Our New Marriage Book
This teaching is taken from chapter 5 of our new marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another. For ordering information, be sure to visit our resource page.
This works with normal issues. But when ptsd or mental issues or even possession due to trauma is present in one partner it will not work. Accountability. I find that more men than not suffer from lack of true desire to submit to Christ as their true identity and headship thus no bridge was ever really truly established in the first place.
When do you know it won’t ever change, and it’s time to move on? I’m only 30, but with 5 kids(all with my husband) but bc of his childhood and young adult life he totally acts a fool in every area. I only knew him a short while before we were married, and yes that’s my fault, and yes I probably should have left him after a year of the verbal, physical, mental and emotional abuse, but I believe in marriage. The physical abuse stopped shorty after I threatened to leave, but he has continued with the verbal, emotional and mental abuse to myself and some of the kids. I really feel like a bad mom for even allowing him to that, but I’m still hoping he’ll change!! But I think down deep inside, I know he won’t. So how do I know when enough is enough? And will God frown upon me?
I am not a marriage counselor, but I am a physician. If there is abuse happening, and especially if it extends to your children, your role as their mother, and as the guardian of your own health and well being is to leave that situation for a safe place. You may choose to file for a legal separation instead of divorce, if you should choose to do so, which should signal your husband that you still want the marriage to succeed, but you must send a clear signal that abuse towards yourself and your children will not ever be tolerated. He may be very angry at first, but you must stand firm. He must see that you respect yourself, and will not allow yourself to be treated with anything other than respect. If he chooses to honor that, than you can have a mutually respectful relationship. Should he choose not to honor that, than you have protected your children and yourself. Your children need to know that a husband treating his wife in this way is not okay.
I know it is hard to think of leaving, and there are probably dozens of barriers that you can think of. You can do it. You are the Mama Bear, and your Cubs desperately need your protection.
Yes.. but i will also add.. that the father will still hqve his rights to kids.. and vjsitations now alone without you. so then you also need to take measures to make him havr suoetvjsed vjsitations or none if he is truly abjsive to them. no child deserves that.
First off be safe. Next, be respected and respectful. Next, get a serious book on God’s laws so that you strengthen your view of God’s view of right and wrong. Most women I find tend to allow pushy behavior because they dont have a clear view of God given boundaries. They tend to waffle (is he being overbearing??) and then throttle (back up or else!!) This convinces the man that his wife is unstable and he redoubles his efforts to take charge no matter what.
Next, decide what you are responsible for (areas where practically the buck stops with you) and never allow yourself to be overrun in that area. Responsibility and authority always go together. An emotionally abusive husband often wants you to carry the load and then he will try to micromanage to feel in charge. You should incorporate his views in your daily work and abide by an occasional veto of your decision, provided he speaks to you privately rather than just overriding you in front of anyone else. You want to get rid of the micro without discouraging his will to lead. Tough!! You can respectfully resign certain responsibilities if he tries to degrade you in those, but be prepared (ahead of time) to act to ensure you and kids are still taken care of. Dont get angry at over-bearing behavior. This is soooooo hard, because its sooooo insulting. If you get angry he wins (I know you are not even trying to fight, but by his very nature he is and he plans to always win).If you cant think of any constructive response calmly be quiet and do some other activity. This will at least cause him to wonder and usually stop or slow him down in his direction. Then you can take time come up with a more productive response or if its a mild overstep on his part just let his hesitancy sink in. He will avoid that situation in the future because he likes to feel in control.
Sometimes wives try to get their husbands to be a sounding board on child raising issues or other areas even. Hubby instead takes charge and attempts to fix the issue immediately. Far too often this occurs in the evening when everyone is tired and if husband had a lack of upbringing he will simply scare children(or anyone else) into submission. Wife is rightly horrified, but she has to avoid situation in the future. You MUST have a solution in mind when bringing a child-raising issue up to your husband. If not, he will take over (maybe harshly) and think he is doing you a favor. Then you call him an abuser and he will likely turn to some very ugly words in reply. Its downhill from there. God gave you children and the husband you have. God will give you the wisdom you need to handle both, so be confident in your ability to mother.
Emotional abuse, depending on what you mean by that, may be difusable so long as you dont get angry or try to talk him out of it. You can find tons of info but he wont listen to any of it so save your breath. Normally, Action only will speak to him. In the meantime make yourself the most beautiful, qualified, pleasant person you can be so that if you do “resign” or put some distance between hubby and you, he will be highly motivated to get you back.
Hit the nail right on the head!
God will not frown on you leaving. He cares about the institution of marriage but he cares about you and your children more. Abuse is biblical grounds for divorce. The stats on an abuser changing are very low. There is little chance he will change. Take care of you and your kids and God will make a way.
Is it possible he is Borderline Personality Disordered? Sounds like my ex husband (HS sweethearts, 24 years, 2 kids). I loved him and probably always will. Unfortunately, we couldn’t live with his abuse anymore. We’ve been divorced for 5 years now.