Dear Dr. David,

I am married to a woman who is fearful of making changes in our lives. She is generally a timid woman who doesn’t like to make big changes. While she is more cautious, I like to take chances. I feel like the Lord is directing me into the ministry, but my wife isn’t ready for the changes it would bring to our lives. At what point do I just move ahead in spite of her fears? When should a person ignore their partner’s feelings and move in the direction they feel called?

~ Moving Forward

Dear Forward,

I am very concerned about the direction you are moving. While it is commendable that you are listening for God’s calling on your life, you seem to want to ignore your wife’s feelings. This could be marital suicide. When you married her you agreed to "defer to one another in love"---and that includes being sensitive to her temperament. You agreed to let go of selfish desires, to be sacrificial with her.

While it is no doubt confusing that you feel called to the ministry, and she does not, if you pursue this direction without her support, your mission is compromised and perhaps even destined to fail. You will need her support and wisdom in any pursuit in the days ahead, and without her full support you will limp into your future. Worse, she may sabotage your efforts if she feels you have been passive-aggressive with her. If she feels unheard, and is understandably resentful about that, her feelings are likely to go underground—which is not a healthy road of communication.

So, slow down. Keep talking to her—in a non-coercive way, and continue praying for God’s leading. And listen to her. Listen again, carefully, to her concerns. There just might be something you’re missing. Though you disagree with her, her perspective is still valid. Practice the fine art of negotiating—seeking win-win solutions. Find solutions that honor your desires and passions, but also take into account her concerns. God won’t lead you in a path that destroys your marital relationship.

Dear Dr. David,

What should someone do if they feel their spouse is being secretive and dishonest? When I confront him, he denies that he is doing anything wrong. I fear he may be seeing someone behind my back which really upsets me. How can I know if I can trust him? It seems like I care for him more than he cares for me. What are some things we can do to build trust in our marriage? What are some things we can do to build a stronger bond of love in our marriage?

~ Distrustful

Dear Distrustful,

Your short letter brings up many areas of concern. How long have you been feeling this way, and have you talked about these issues with him? You sound fearful, and I wonder what exactly is causing that. It is concerning that you feel like you care for him more than he cares for you. Has something happened to tear at the integrity of your marriage? You sense he is pulling away from you, and that is certainly a "red flag." You need to be working together to restore communication and love.

I sense from your letter that your marriage has been fragile for some time. Perhaps you have had broken trust in your marriage, or in your background, and are over-reacting because of that. Communication with your mate will do much to alleviate your anxiety. Getting objective counsel can also help determine if the issue is yours, or his.

It also sounds like trust has been lost--trust is something that is vital to any marriage. A small amount of distrust in a marriage can wreak havoc to the love relationship. It takes a long time to build trust, and yet it can be broken in an instant. Once it has been broken, it takes much time, and emotional and spiritual work, to rebuild.

On the other hand, it is possible you are seeing some "red flags" to which you should be sensitive. Consider these red flags:

• Does he have unaccounted for gaps of time?

• Does he resent being asked where he has been?

• Is he willing to share his extra time with you?

• Is his life "an open book," or are their "secrets" which he is unwilling to share with you?

• Is he willing to understand your fears and accommodate his behavior so you feel more trusting, or does he indicate that it is your problem?

• Is he willing to seek Christian counseling to work on these issues?

Your answers to these questions will tell you much. It is most important that couples work together to rebuild trust, love and devotion in their marriage. Even if trust has been broken, with God’s grace and some hard work, your marriage can be restored. Both people working together can create a bond that will last forever.

Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family?  Dr. David will address two questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com


David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including   Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage,  Saying It So He'll Listen, and  When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest book is titled When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit.  Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.