When Conflicts Don’t End
- Sheila Wray Gregoire To love, Honor and Vacuum
- 2013 19 Jun
Do you and your husband ever have the same fight, over and over again, without ever fixing anything?
Are you just tired, because there’s this one issue in your marriage where you just can’t make headway? What do you do when he just doesn’t get that there’s a problem, and he has no desire to change, even if it’s really, really bothering you?
Some of the issues you’re stressing over may be very serious, but I don’t want to address the ones that are actually truly endangering the sanctity of the marriage (such as alcoholism, or pornography addiction). That’s really a subject for another post. I’m really talking about those everyday things which can wear us down almost as much: he refuses to care for his diabetes, even though he’s profoundly overweight. He never spends time with the kids. He spends too much time on the computer. He doesn’t talk to you. And he has no interest in changing. What do you do?
Here are my thoughts, in order. And a warning: they’re a little harsh, because there is no magic answer. But I think they’re truthful, and that’s better.
1. Realize that you cannot change anyone else.
In my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum I dealt with this quite a bit. Often when we’re upset in our marriages we think the problem is all him. If he would just smarten up, we’d be fine. But what’s the point in thinking that? You cannot change him. You need to stop trying. Saying, “I will be happy as soon as he…” means that you’re also saying, “I WON’T be happy if he doesn’t….” You’re putting your peace in someone else’s hands, and it’s not healthy.
2. Try to see him in a different light.
He is God’s gift to you. Maybe 20% of what he does really bugs you, but focus on the other 80%. Learn gratitude for what he does do and accept him for who he is. The more you accept him, the more he feels competent and strong, and the more likely it is that he will want to grow as a person. Men have a deep-seated need to be competent. If they feel disapproval, they often retreat (into television, work, etc.). Treat them well, and they’re more likely to grow. But don’t do so in order for them to grow. Do so because you want the best for them and you honestly are finding things to be grateful for.
3. Pray God’s will for your husband.
Instead of praying that he will improve in the areas that you find difficult, pray for him that God will help him in his various roles. Pray that he will become the man God wants him to be, not the man you want him to be.
4. Pray that you will be the best wife you can be for him.
I know he’s hurting you. I know he’s doing things that you wish he wouldn’t and that really bother you. But ask God what you can do to show your husband love. What can you do to be the best wife you can be? Instead of focusing on what he is not doing, focus on what you can do. God will honor that, and you will feel better. Dare yourself to be as good a wife as you can (which doesn’t mean excusing sin; it just means learning to love). As you build gratitude for who he is (#2), pray for him (#3), and focus on your own roles (#4), you’ll likely find your attitude towards him changing.
5. Change what you have control over.
If he is treating you disrespectfully, for instance, you don’t need to nag him about it. You don’t need to fight about it, or withhold from him. Tell him how you feel, but then put yourself in a position where he can’t treat you that way. I list a whole bunch of different scenarios like this in To Love, Honor and Vacuum, but let me give you an example. If he wants to eat in front of the television, that is completely his prerogative. But that doesn’t mean you have to serve him there. Set the table, have the kids sit down, and if he wants to bring his plate elsewhere, he can. He’s an adult; he can do what he wants. But you don’t need to facilitate it. This one’s kind of controversial, and some of you may disagree with me here. Feel free! But I think it is important to make it a norm that the family does things together. If he chooses something different, that’s fine. But family togetherness is the norm.
6. Find your own peace in God.
If you are feeling put upon and taken for granted, then go to God for your peace. Don’t rely on your husband to meet all your needs; he never will. Get involved in a good Bible study. Fill your time focusing on God, and not on your husband’s shortcomings. Put praise CDs on and let music fill the house. Seek out a godly mentor that can help you grow in the Lord (not help you vent all your frustration about your husband). Look to Jesus, not your husband, and probably the problems you have will minimize in importance.
Post first published at To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Used with permission.
Sheila Wray Gregoire is a marriage blogger, speaker, writer, and mom. The author of seven books, including The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex, she loves encouraging women to strive for the kind of real intimacy in marriage that God designed. When she's not blogging at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
Publication date: June 19, 2013