It’s crazy, sometimes, how similar our lives are. I meet people who are going through things that are so much like where I have been. It’s also kinda crazy to think that the things I have learned are helping others. Go figure.
There’s a guy who is working through the marriage forum, reading everything and learning from it. We finally spoke this week. Great guy. Making progress after becoming a certifiable knucklehead like me. It was a good conversation. We talked about a few things that I haven’t really discussed on here.
He is in an honest, and slightly desperate, pursuit of a wife who is still deciding if it it going to work out. He made some big mistakes, just like all of us. He is working his way back, trying to become the husband she needs. She is resisting and keeping him at arms reach, most days. Our conversation dealt with a few of the obstacles to healing a hurt wife and restoring the relationship.
Think about these things.
It’s your responsibility to restore your family.
During our marriage intensive, Kathy described what it feels like to restore a marriage, from the wife’s perspective.
Imagine you are just out for a drive. Enjoying the day. Out of nowhere, some idiot, hits your car. This guy has been out drinking and runs you off the road, wrecking your car. You end up in the hospital, broken and beat up pretty badly. They assign you a doctor to help you get through the recovery process, it’s him. The drunk driver. He is the doctor who is now responsible for helping you heal. How does that affect you?
When your wife has been ignored, abused, humiliated, threatened and hurt by your foolishness; don’t expect her to respond positively at first. To you, it’s different. You want to help. You want to make things better. You have decided to change your selfish ways and focus on her. But all she sees is the idiot that caused all these problems to begin with.
It’s going to take time for her to trust you again. It’s going to take a lot of patient effort to prove that you understand her and want to love her right. If you get impatient, frustrated or upset… You are just proving that you still don’t get it. If you are truly concerned with her and her healing, you will be patient and understanding. If the focus has really been taken off your own selfish issues and turned to her, you will do things completely different.
You caused all this.
As good Christain men, we are quick to throw out words like “headship” and “submission” and “authority.” We are quick to claim that we are the head of our homes. We tend to be just as quick to let our wives take the blame when the marriage sucks. When it isn’t satisfying or enjoyable for either of us. When it just doesn’t work. When it all falls apart. Sorry buddy. If this marriage crumbles, it’s your fault. She is just responding to what you have given her.
I dare you to try arguing with me on this.
You have to stop basing your actions on hers.
I did this because she did that. If she would do this, I would do that. She doesn’t appreciate my efforts. She doesn’t really care. Seriously? Dude. Put on your big boy pants and grow up. This mentality is probably 99% of everything marriage counselors are trying to sort out. Get over it.
You have to understand this marriage thing better. If you understand Ephesians 5:25, this is easy. If not… Well, you will have some challenges. Dead man walking. That’s you. It doesn’t matter what she says or does, love her anyway. Keep doing good. Be thankful for the positive responses, listen and learn when the responses are negative. Ignore the tone, ignore the attitude. Listen and learn. Keep your personal feelings and reactions out of this until you have grown up more and she trusts you again. After she believes you care about her, then she will care what you think.
Stop smothering her.
We are kinda like dogs, they are kinda like cats. We are easily distracted, and easily trained. What gets rewarded, gets repeated. We will tolerate anything for some affection. Unchecked, we will play in garbage and trash the house. Like a dog.
Women are more like cats. Good luck slipping a leash on your cat. They don’t like being dragged around or told where to go. They eat until they are satisfied and move on. ( normal cats. Not mine. ) They will offer affection when they choose to give it. They don’t like being confined. They remain playful even when they are old. Like a cat.
Your wife will make up her own mind about how and when she allows you back into her life. You can’t force it. You can’t rush it. However, you can try to earn it and encourage it. Figure out who she is. Do good. Be patient.
Enjoy the ride.
For most men, restoring a damaged marriage can quickly become another task. Figure out the objective, sort out the details, make it happen. That’s not going to work here. Don’t become mechanical. Don’t treat her like a project. You can’t become a great husband and win her heart back by changing into a different kind of control freak. She knows when you are still in this pattern. She knows when you are treating her like a project.
You didn’t win her heart, originally, by being mister fixit and sticking to the plan. You probably won her heart by being someone she enjoyed being with. You were probably fun. You made her laugh. You weren’t so thin skinned and easily offended. You probably weren’t self defensive or selfish. During your dating time, I bet you were more concerned about her than anything. I bet you picked movies and restaurants based on what she enjoyed. I bet, while you were dating, it was all about her.
You were trying to win her heart then. You wanted to be with her so much that you forgot to be selfish. You so desperately wanted a relationship with her, that you were willing to forget your self consciousness. But, after she slipped that ring on, you had your trophy. You bagged your game and were able to focus your energy on other things. That was where you went wrong.
Turn your heart back to her. Find ways to make her smile. Prove to her that you are in love with her. Don’t try to convince her with your logic or reasoning. You can’t argue your way back into her heart.
…and here we go again. Back to the salvation stuff.
Love her like Christ loves the church.
Just like when you became a Christian. You were responding to a selfless love that cared enough to give up everything for you. Christ did it all. He lived and died doing what was best for us. His entire mission was about the bride. We meant everything to Him. We were His purpose. When I remind you of Ephesians 5:25, this is what I want you to see. His love for us drew us to Him. We were simply responding to that love. We opened our hearts to Him once we believed. She will respond only after she believes.
That’s what it takes to win her heart back.
If you are in the middle of this, get my book now. It was written specifically for guys who are trying to do this.
Click this link…21 Days to Save My Family
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.