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Are you and your husband arguing more?

Does it seem like you are on opposite sides of EVERY issue?

Do you feel unappreciated, unheard and undervalued in your marriage?

Are you all super busy and seem to spend no time together at all?

Do you find yourself asking the question, “Does my husband love me?”

Ways We Experience Love

As individuals, we all experience love in different ways. Dr. Gary Chapman, in his best-selling book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, discusses the 5 ways people receive love. Below is a listing of the 5 Love Languages and how you can be loved the way that you need.

  1. Words of Affirmation—Notes, cards, spoken words, text messages.
  2. Acts of Service—Actions that make your spouse’s life easier. (i.e., wash dishes, dust, vacuum, etc.)
  3. Gifts—Giving your spouse small or large tokens that have meaning to them. 
  4. Quality Time—Spending concentrated and focused time with your spouse.
  5. Physical Touch—Hand-holding, hugging, kissing, etc. 

In addition to the 5 Love Languages, understanding the definition of love can place the picture into better focus.

The dictionary definition of love is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” In other words, love is what one feels. In the article, We Are Defining Love The Wrong Way, Rabbi David Wolpe expands the definition to be “an enacted emotion.Love requires action. If you need more love from your husband, the following questions may help with a conversation. 

How can my husband best show love to me?

How do I feel cherished and valued?

What does loving me look like from my perspective?

Am I not loveable right now?

What do I need from my husband?

Am I struggling with issues of the day? (COVID-19, social unrest, etc.)

How can I talk to my husband about what I am feeling? 

How do I get him to understand what is going on inside of me?

Share your emotions with him. 

Our husbands are not mind readers. Being clear and concise about feeling lonely or disconnected is the way to go. It takes vulnerability to share your insecurities and fears with him, but it can be a bridge to a better and closer relationship.

Recognize that you each receive love differently.

Most husbands have a different love language than their wives. We most often seek to love our spouse in the language we know rather than the love language they speak. Additionally, husbands often want to make sure they provide for their wives and families. This may mean working overtime to get that special gift or go on that special trip for YOU, while you would be fine with him being at home with him. There is nothing wrong with either way. It is JUST different. 

Understand his need to fix it.

We often communicate to share details or process what we think or feel about a situation. While we are processing, he is thinking of a way to fix it in order to make your life easier. His intention is to help what he perceives as a problem, while you see him as not hearing or listening to you. When you share with him how you are feeling, try telling him you just want him to listen and when you feel like he “gets you,” then you can talk about possible solutions.

In the midst of the chaos and distractions of today’s society, it seems easy to get off-kilter in our marriages. Frustration and mixed signals can lead us down a path of feeling unloved, insecure and disconnected. Remembering that how we feel/give love looks different for each of us will allow us to ask for and receive the love that we need. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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I WAS MAD! Furious, in fact. Bitter and fed up. Totally resenting my husband. This was like the gazillionth Saturday in a row my husband got up and left the house to go do a job for someone. And I definitely felt like he left me with all the laundry and housework. Both of us had full-time jobs and paying someone else to do it was not an option.

This particular Saturday I decided I’d had enough. So, when he walked back through the door late that afternoon, I let him have it. I had rehearsed all day what I was going to say and how I was going to say it to make sure he didn’t miss a thing. The “deer-in-the-headlights” look I got in return let me know he was 100% clueless. He had no idea that resentment had been building up in me for a while. How in the heck could he NOT know?

That happened about three decades ago, but I remember like it was yesterday. That was the day I realized resenting my husband was more dangerous than his cluelessness.

So, here’s what this resentful spouse learned about how to stop resenting her husband.

Ultimately, I had to ask myself, “Are there any ways I am contributing to the resentment I feel?”

I learned that I was following behind everything he attempted to do like folding the towels, vacuuming, or even putting the dishes in the dishwasher and criticizing how he did it. I finally figured out that criticizing him made him shut down, so I decided to stop.

Instead of thinking he could read my mind or SEE what needed to be done, like the laundry basket I intentionally left sitting in the middle of the family room, I started telling him that I needed help with certain things. AND I didn’t tell him “the right way” (i.e. “my way”) to do whatever I asked him to do. 

If I am always at odds with my husband, I’m not very pleasant to be around.

I honestly don’t want to resent my husband. What I really want is for us to enjoy time together. I decided when I felt myself getting irritated and resentful, I would literally stop what I was doing, take a walk around the block, and ask myself: “What is really at the crux of the matter?” 

Sometimes, I actually noticed, I just needed someone to be irritated with and he was an easy target. Other times, something didn’t go like I thought it should—date night, dinner plans, or his arrival time home. Or maybe he didn’t do what he said he was going to do because he forgot or whatever and I felt justified in my resentment. Now what? 

One time when I was ranting about all of my husband’s shortcomings, a very wise woman asked me, “So, I guess he never experiences any of this from you, right?” The fact that she was 90 and I was 30 kept me from losing it. The truth was, she had a great point. I forget, not often, but I do. There are plenty of things I do that get on his nerves that he could resent about me.

Then she said to me, “In the end, what is it you want? I mean, what is your resentment going to accomplish in your relationship? At the very best you will be two people who figure out how to co-exist in the same house. At the very worst, you won’t stay together. Is that how you want to live?” The answer was an emphatic NO! At that moment, I decided I was going to kick ongoing resentment out of our house and relationship.

When I feel resentment trying to creep in, I figure out where it is coming from and if it is worthy of a conversation.

If I believe that it is conversation-worthy, I ask my husband for a good time to talk. PRO-TIP: We have learned that if you are tired, hungry, or angry, that is not the time to try and have a conversation. When I can calmly explain, “I am exhausted and need help with our daughter,” or “I really need time with you—I am missing us,” it is a much better conversation than, “You never help with anything around here,” or “I think you don’t love me because you never want to spend time with me.” Trust me with this.

✭ Let me be straight up with you: if you are experiencing resentment because you are in a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive relationship, seek help.Abuse is serious and unacceptable. It will be difficult to navigate change in your relationship on your own.

To Be Resentful or Not to Be Resentful?

If I were having coffee with my 29-year-old self, I would have no shortage of lessons learned to share, that’s for sure. Maybe one of the most important lessons I’ve learned when it comes to resentment is this: I have a choice. I can choose to be resentful or I can choose not to be resentful. When I can see clearly, what I know about my husband is, he is trustworthy, hardworking, funny, respectful, honest, a good father, reliable and he really does care about me and us. When I think about those things, often what I am resentful about pales in comparison.

What kind of guy is your husband? Have you trained your brain to only see his shortcomings? Here’s a challenge: for the next 30 days, focus on your husband’s positive character qualities instead of his “flaws.” Appreciation goes a long way when it comes to relationship restoration. How you feel about him at the end of the challenge might surprise you, and how he responds to you just might surprise you as well. 😉

Perhaps you’ve decided to wait around for him to realize that he’s the problem and he needs to change. If that’s the case, I am pretty confident you will be disappointed. It just takes one person doing something different to bring about change in your marriage. The question is, how badly do you want something to be different?


***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

When Buddy Curry was a professional football player, he thought life was all about him.

“I made up my mind to have as much fun as possible,” said Curry, former Falcon inside linebacker and 1980 Defensive Rookie of the Year. Toward the end of my 8-year career, all the things I had been doing didn’t seem fun. I wanted a relationship and to settle down.”

When Curry met the woman he would marry, he described himself as young and selfish.

“When we got married I had no clue how to be married,” Curry said. “As an athlete, I had been coddled. Most of the time I got what I wanted and like other athletes I thought the rules applied to everybody but me.”

Within three years the Currys’ marriage was in crisis.

“Every time I saw my wife do something wrong I called her out,” Curry recalled. “I was critical and I hurt her very deeply. Although people loved me because I was a pretty good guy, the state of my marriage made me step back and consider how I would learn to be a good husband and father. I knew I was not strong enough to make the necessary transformation by myself.”

Curry sought out older and wiser men to mentor him—men who would hold him accountable as well as encourage him as a husband and father. Instead of being critical toward his wife, he began serving her.

“Even though she very clearly wanted out of the marriage, I made a decision to learn new ways of relating to her,” Curry said. “My goal was to bless her and allow time for healing in our relationship.”

A pivotal moment in Curry’s life came with the birth of their first son. When he laid eyes on his child, he began thinking, “Do I want my son to be like me?” While he thought he had a lot of things going right in his life, he really didn’t think he wanted his son to be like him.

“I had been making a lot of changes in my life for the better,” Curry said. “When my son was born, I realized there were other areas that needed some attention. Realizing that my children are going to follow me was eye-opening.”

The Currys now have four children.

“Being a father has taught me about my own weaknesses,” Curry said. “I recognize that there is a generational transfer taking place and that I am sending my children into the future. I’d like to help my kids not make the same mistakes I made. I want them to understand the importance of self-discipline, what commitment to something means – even when the going gets tough. I want to teach them how to be a good team player.”

One of the most important lessons Curry learned is that you can have the best of intentions for your marriage and your family, but unless you’re willing to invest the time to make those things happen, it’s just wishful thinking. No amount of success in the world can make up for failure at home.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Eric was married with two children. Life at home was good, and he considered his relationship with his wife to be healthy. They frequently spent time together and intimacy between the two of them was good. He never considered having an affair until he faced a potentially compromising situation with a co-worker.

“Contrary to popular belief, most people do not set out to have an affair,” says Dr. Shirley Glass, infidelity expert and author of Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity. “Eric’s situation is all too common. It is faulty thinking to believe that being attracted to someone else means something is wrong at home. It is possible to be attracted to somebody else, even if you have a good marriage.”

Appropriate Boundaries Are Important

“The single most important protector against an affair is appropriate boundaries,” Glass says. “In a culture where men and women are working so closely, you must make sure you are not creating opportunities for an affair to occur. Especially at a time when you might be vulnerable – like right after a fight with your spouse. One of the most common doorways into an affair is where a man and woman who are ‘just friends’ innocently begin to discuss problems in their primary relationship. They are doing their marriage work with someone who might not be a friend to the marriage.”

According to research, 25 percent of women and 40 percent of men will have an extramarital affair at some point.

Glass says that openness, honesty and self-disclosure defines intimacy in marriage. Anything that interferes with that creates walls of secrecy and should be a signal of looming danger. For example, meeting the same person every morning for breakfast in a public place without telling your spouse creates a wall of secrecy in your marriage. If you’re uncomfortable talking with your spouse about it, that’s a warning sign.

Interestingly, only 10 percent of people who leave a marriage for their affair partner actually end up with them. Many say they wish the affair had never happened and that they had worked on their marriage instead. 

So, how can you guard against an affair?

  • Establish clear boundaries.
  • Stay connected to each other and keep the lines of communication open.
  • Instead of creating walls of secrecy, talk with your spouse. Eric came home to his wife and told her about what happened with his co-worker. They were able to talk openly about strategies for clearer boundaries. This strengthened their relationship.
  • If you feel attracted to someone else, never let them know.
  • Watch out for outside influences that encourage infidelity. For example, avoid an environment where other people are fooling around. Be on guard at business socials where drinking and dancing happen and spouses aren’t present.
  • If you have experienced infidelity in your marriage, it’s possible to survive it and be stronger than before. Unfortunately, it takes time for the wounds of betrayal to heal, and both parties must be willing to work together to move the marriage forward.

If you are working through infidelity, Glass recommends the following:

  • Stop the affair. The betrayed person cannot begin to heal until the affair is over.
  • Replace deception with honesty. The person who had the affair must agree to be accountable and create a safe and open environment by letting their partner know where they are.  
  • Because someone has violated trust, you must tell the story of the affair. The only way to tear down the wall of deception is to have an open window – no secrets. Usually, partners want all of the details. They need to put all of the missing pieces together and ask questions. The partner who had the affair must be patient, understanding and willing to share information. This is one way to rebuild intimacy.
  • Identify vulnerabilities in your relationship and begin to work on them.
  • Discuss what faithfulness and commitment means to you. Just because a relationship is not sexual does not mean you are not having an emotional affair.
  • Understand that this is a very difficult process and you may need professional help to work through your issues.

Eric was able to take a potentially harmful situation and turn it into one that fostered more open communication and trust in his marriage. The window of openness and the sharing of uncomfortable situations actually builds a marriage up instead of tearing it down.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! This course includes exclusive access to:

  • 5 downloadable relationship-enhancing PDFs
  • Videos full of easy-to-use communication tools
  • Questions to ask each other to spark a deeper connection
  • Fun activities to guide you through each of the concepts discussed

ADD TO CART

In his song Too Cold at Home, Mark Chesnutt sings, “It’s too hot to fish, too hot for golf and too cold at home.” Even if it’s boiling outside, it can be cold at home when it comes to your marriage.

Over time, many people seem to be willing to let sexual intimacy fly right out the window. Yet experts tell us that healthy intimacy is foundational to long-lasting, loving relationships.

In a letter to Ann Landers, a woman wrote about how her parents could not afford a honeymoon so they made a promise. Every time they made love, they would put a dollar in a box and on their 50th anniversary they would take a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. In spite of hard times, they never took money out of the box. Some nights the husband would come home from work exclaiming he had a dollar in his pocket. His wife would tell him she knew just how to spend it!

When each of their children married, they gave them a box and shared their secret. The couple took their 50th anniversary trip to Hawaii for 10 days and paid for everything from the money they saved in the box. As they were leaving on the plane, the husband turned and said, “Tonight we will start working on a trip to Cancun!”

Many pieces of recent research cite how much humans crave intimacy, but many married couples experience a void in this area due to hectic schedules, children (young and old), jobs, stress, etc. Whether you have been married a few months or many years, sex can be exciting, adventurous, fun and creative. 

You may be asking yourself how that couple made and kept intimacy in their relationship a priority for 50 years…

Well, here are some things relationship experts encourage you to think about:

  • Do you always make love in the same place, at the same time in the same way? If your answer is yes, consider doing something different to spice things up.
  • Describe what a romantic time with your spouse would be like. What would be your spouse’s description of a romantic time together? If you don’t know the answer to this question, do some detective work and find out.
  • Does your spouse do romantic things that you really like? If yes, tell him/her so. If not, help him/her to know what you like.
  • Consider sending love messages to your spouse during the day. Stick-it notes in the wallet, voice mail, e-mail, lipstick messages on the bathroom mirror, a special delivery, flowers with a message, a snail mail letter, or a note on the dashboard are all great ways to communicate “I love you,” “Let’s get together,” or “Looking forward to this afternoon.”
  • People find all kinds of creative ways to flirt when they are dating. Think about some of the ways you used to flirt with your spouse. Consider resurrecting those that worked best. The outcome might pleasantly surprise you!

According to Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of Super Marital Sex, “The marriage comes first. All other people and events come after the marriage. Children, parents, work and play all benefit most by marital priority instead of marital sacrifice, because the marriage is the central unit to all other processes. If it is true that we reap what we sow, then marriages are in big trouble – if we put as much time in our working as we allow for our loving, we would end up unemployed or bankrupt.”

If the temperature on the thermometer outside is not reflective of the passion level in your marriage, get creative. Be adventurous and take it up a notch. Even if the passion in your marriage is nonexistent, it can get good. And if it is good, it can get even better!

 

 

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

David and Claudia Arp believe that fun in marriage is serious business. They have written several books on marriage together, including the 10 Great Dates series.

“In our 30-plus years of marriage, we have learned important things like, if you don’t say what is on your mind when it is on your mind, it may not be there later,” says Claudia. “We have also learned that it is critical for people to be intentional about having fun in their marriage. Most of us lead such busy, stressful lives that many times there is very little left over for the marriage, especially when it comes to anything fun. When the fun dies in a relationship, it is hard to keep the marriage alive.”

Through the years, the Arps have made it a point to enjoy each other’s company and to have fun. One time when they got lost, instead of getting irritated with each other, they realized they were lost together. The kids weren’t with them, so they decided to make it into a 30-minute get lost date.

“We believe it is important to model a healthy relationship for your children,” says David. “Research has shown that the level of a couple’s friendship is a determining factor in whether their marriage will go the distance. In order to keep a friendship alive, you have to nurture it.”

The Arps have many good ideas to help grow the friendship in marriage, including this fun assignment: Kiss for 10 seconds in the morning before leaving for work with your eyes wide open. When you return home in the evening, do the same thing.

The key is to understand that you can turn any situation into a date, even a frustrating one. For example, you can go on a flu shot date. Or, if you find yourself in an airport with an extended layover, go to a gate where a plane is getting ready to take off. Pretend you are saying goodbye to each other. Once the plane leaves, move on to another gate and start all over again. You can do this for as long as your layover allows.

If your marriage could use some jazzing up with a heaping helping of fun, these great dates can build a stronger friendship into your marriage.

  • Take a trip down memory lane. Remembering your past can energize your relationship for the future.
  • Celebrate your differences. Reclaim that unity and diversity you felt before you married. List ways you are alike and ways you are different. For all the ways you are alike, figure out how to compensate for those areas. For all the ways you are different, determine how you can make sure the differences complement your marriage relationship instead of creating friction.
  • Make a date to talk about “us.” Lots of couples talk over each other. They talk about the kids, work, community service, etc. On this date, the Arps encourage couples to talk about “you.” Talk about positive things, your hopes and dreams, what you want your marriage to look like.
  • Have an encouragement date. Verbalize all those things you keep in your head, like when you think he looks really good, but you forget to tell him or when she cooks a great dinner, you think about how great everything tastes, but you never say anything.

“A number of years ago, we moved our office and David gave in to using an answering machine,” Claudia says. “The past few days had been rough so I decided to leave a message of encouragement for David on the new answering machine telling him I was really looking forward to seeing him at home and suggested some activities we could do.

“What I didn’t know is that David had some friends at the office who ended up helping him install the answering machine. Then they all went out to lunch. When they returned, one of his friends noticed he had a message. David hit play and the whole group proceeded to listen to my message. When it finished, the friends turned to David and wanted to know who that woman was leaving that kind of message on his machine. My red-faced husband tried to convince them it really was his wife. Needless to say, we have had more than a few good laughs over that one!”

Fun in marriage is serious business! To find out more ways to create fun and adventure in your marriage, take look around our website.

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

It was an all-too-familiar conversation. Jody went to see a marriage counselor hoping to receive guidance for getting her marriage back on track.

“After seeing the counselor twice, he told us, ‘You have three choices. You can separate for a period of time, file for divorce or keep on working,’” says Jody. “We were looking for someone to work with us on a specific plan for our marriage. Instead, we got a totally neutral counselor who didn’t seem to care whether or not our marriage survived. We weren’t neutral about wanting to save our marriage. He was.”

According to Dr. Willard Harley, psychologist and author of numerous books including the internationally best-selling book, His Needs, Her Needs, this is not unusual.

During one woman’s first visit with a therapist, she specifically said that divorce was not an option. However, at the end of the 50 minute-session, the therapist told her he thought she really should consider divorce. There was no violence in the marriage – simply love gone cold.

“People who seek help from marriage counselors usually assume that the goal of therapy is saving the marriage,” says Harley. “Unfortunately, most marital therapists are specifically trained to be nondirective or neutral. They see themselves as someone couples can talk to, but not someone who will coach them into changes that will ultimately save their marriage.

“How can a plan possibly achieve its goal when there is no goal?” Harley asks. “It’s no wonder that most marriage counseling is so ineffective.”

This does not mean that couples should not seek help. In fact, Harley encourages troubled couples to find a marriage counselor to help save their marriage.

“Couples need to understand that there are times when even the strongest of marriages needs additional support and motivation. Frequently, only a professional marriage counselor or marriage educator can provide that,” Harley says. “An effective marriage counselor or educator will help you avoid or overcome intense emotional trauma associated with a failing marriage, create a plan that will help your marriage, and motivate you to complete that plan.”

Whether your marriage is in significant distress or just in a tough spot, Harley’s tips can help you pick an effective marriage counselor.

  • Before setting up the first appointment, ask certain questions to make sure the counselor will help you accomplish your goals of making the marriage mutually fulfilling.

  • Ask to schedule a 10-15 minute phone interview. If the counselor is not willing to have an initial phone conversation, eliminate that counselor from consideration.

  • During the interview, ask about the following:

What is your goal for our marriage? (Answer: To help you both achieve marital fulfillment, and save your marriage).

What are your credentials and years of experience in marriage counseling? (Answer: a graduate degree in mental health (Master’s or Doctorate in Psychology or Social Work, with clinical supervision in marriage counseling).

This is our problem (briefly explain). Do you have experience helping couples overcome that problem, and what is your success rate? (Answer: Experience helping couples overcome that particular problem with more than 75% success).

  • After both spouses have a chance to speak to a few potential counselors, Harley suggests choosing the one that answers those questions appropriately. Then set up your first appointment.

Jody and her husband ultimately decided to divorce. Looking back at the whole scenario, they question if divorce should have even been an option. At the time, they both felt hopeless about their marriage. Without a recovery plan, divorce seemed to be the only answer for them.

If the counselor had given them a plan to save their marriage, they might be happily married today. They will always wonder if a more encouraging counselor would have helped change the course of their family’s life.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

“You don’t really listen to me and my opinion doesn’t really matter. I mean, you’re just gonna do what you want to do anyway,” my wife would say, never looking me in the eye.

Of course, every time she said it, I would try to make an adjustment and correct what I thought was the issue. Then one night, the tension overwhelmed us. We sat down and had a serious talk, heart-to-heart.

I’m not gonna lie, this conversation was hard, really hard. But, it made me realize that I had absolutely no clue what the real problem was.

In short, I discovered that my wife did not feel valued by me. She didn’t feel as though I valued her perspective, her intelligence or her input. She didn’t feel like I needed her.

This really bothered me, and I felt like her feelings came completely out of the blue. They didn’t reflect how I really felt about her at all.

I decided to ask other guys if their wives ever said things like that to them. The answer was “YES” time and time again.

I even asked some wives from our circle of friends, “Do you feel valued and needed by your husband?” The response was “NO” almost every single time.

So, I decided to ask my own wife a question that I’d never asked her before,

“What makes you feel valued and needed?”

She told me right away, and I didn’t have to guess, offer my own solutions or inaccurately try to value her in the same way I want to be valued.

Now, the challenge isn’t to understand my wife, but to show her how much I value her in the way that she needs.

Last night, I heard her tell one of her girlfriends on the phone about how great our marriage has been lately. So, I’d say it’s working.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-educated analyst who wants to enable men and women to have healthy, long-lasting marriages.

“I travel a lot,” says Feldhahn. “People frequently ask me what I do, and my usual response is: ‘I help women understand men.’ The men usually laugh and say, ‘You know, we really aren’t that complicated.'”

Feldhahn’s research found that in most cases, relationship problems happen when a husband and wife care deeply for each other and are trying really hard, but often in the wrong areas.

“I ended up writing For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men to help open people’s eyes so they start trying hard in the areas that will help them avoid hurting each other unnecessarily,” Feldhahn says. “We asked men and women ages 15-75 to tell us: ‘What are your fears, what are the things that light you up, and what makes you feel really bad?'”

Women wanted to know: Am I lovable? Am I special? Am I worth loving for who I am on the inside? 

Guys wanted to know: Am I adequate? Am I able? Am I any good at what I do on the outside?

“These responses were significant,” Feldhahn says. “‘Am I adequate?’ leads to an entirely different set of primary needs than, ‘Am I lovable?’ A solid three-quarters of the men surveyed said, if they were forced to choose, they would choose giving up feeling loved by their wife if they could just feel respected by her.”

Feldhahn realized that women could tell their husbands they love them and be critical at the same time. It happens by questioning his decision-making skills and constantly telling him what to do and how to do it.

“Trying to gain a greater understanding of this, I was speaking with a friend who made the statement to me, ‘I love my wife, but nothing I do is ever good enough,'” Feldhahn says. “I asked what he meant. He told me that they recently had friends over for dinner. When the friends left, his wife needed to run to a meeting so he cleaned up the kitchen. When she returned home she kissed his cheek and looked over his shoulder into the kitchen and sighed. She then went into the kitchen and started cleaning the countertops. I asked the husband if there was anything his wife could have done differently. He said, ‘Yes, she could have said thanks.'”

Feldhahn contends that many women make men feel that what they do isn’t good enough and that they are idiots. In fact, women often say it is their job to keep their husband humble. In reality, underneath the mask of confidence, most men want to do a good job in whatever role, but they aren’t sure they know what they are doing. And they hope nobody finds out.

“When we as women are thinking about something you know it because we process out loud,” Feldhahn says. “When men are thinking, they almost do an internal chess match before they ever talk about it. Our research showed that in most cases, if you see a decision, instead of asking ‘Why did you do that?’ if you will ask, ‘Help me understand,’ in most cases you will hear a long explanation.”

For example, a wife went out to a birthday party, leaving Dad with the kids. When she returned, she asked her husband why he had given the kids juice for dinner instead of milk. He got mad. She got defensive, and things went downhill from there.

“I asked the husband to help us understand. He said, ‘I went to the fridge to get the milk and realized if I gave them milk for dinner there wouldn’t be enough for breakfast. I was going to go get more milk, but the baby was already asleep, and we’ve been having a terrible time with her sleep cycle, so I didn’t want to wake her up just to go get milk. I decided to give the kids juice, which I diluted by half with water so they wouldn’t have as much sugar.’ The look on his wife’s face said it all. This was a perfect example of assuming there was no thinking behind the behavior.”

Feldhahn believes it’s important to let your husband be the dad he wants to be, not the dad you want him to be. Feldhahn encourages women to stop sending signals or telling your man he is inadequate and doesn’t measure up. Instead of questioning his decisions, assume he has thought about it and seek to understand.

 

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Marriage has a variety of implications- financial, legal, and… grammatical. Pardon my background as an English teacher, but the grammar of marriage fascinates me. Any marriage counselor will tell you that they pay close attention to the pronouns they hear in the office. The pronouns of marriage have important implications, as well as some lessons, if we are are willing to brush up on our grammar.

When two people are dating, there is a “Me” and a “You.” If all goes well, and both “You” and “Me” are willing to say, “I do,” the new pronoun that matters is “We.” This “We” signals the wonderful reality that two separate individuals have formed something beautiful that never existed before. Two have become one and now words like “We” and “Us” are charged with a significance that takes a lifetime to explore and enjoy.

My wife Monica and I took to calling our We, “Team Daum.” (Feel free to come up with your own, much more creative name.) We would often say to each other, “It’s Team Daum against the world.” It was a reminder that we had a relationship that we both needed to cultivate and protect. It isn’t always easy. “Me” comes much more naturally. Each of us had to commit to do the work to move past our “Me” and get to “We.”

As our children came along, they were added to the team and as parents, we were making decisions on behalf of a “We” that included all seven of us. We would sometimes huddle up like we were about to play a big game and put our hands together and cheer “One, two, three – GO TEAM DAUM!” Now, truth be told, our kids grew out of that real quick, but when they were little, it was a fun way to visualize that the family “We” was bigger than any individual “Me.”

There are times in every marriage when “I” is in direct conflict with “We.” The health of your marriage and your family is going to hinge on which pronoun wins. In any team sport, when an individual player puts their own agenda ahead of what is best for the team, the team will suffer.

What does the grammar of your marriage look like? Is it all “Me,” “My,” and “Mine?” Are there a lot of accusations of “you always” or “you never?” Are you cultivating and protecting the “We” that was created on your wedding day? All the best stuff in my family has happened when there was no “I” in “Team Daum.”

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***