Tag Archives: save your marriage

I Love Him, but I Don’t Like Him

Have you ever been in the midst of conflict with your spouse and thought “I love him, but I sure don’t like him!”? I hear this from a lot of wives. Certain qualities of their husbands generate feelings of warmth and appreciation, but other qualities drive them into resentment and contempt.

What we love

In my talks with these wives, appreciation for their spouses usually comes from a glimpse into their husbands’ softer sides. When we share a memory that makes us both laugh, or receive a “thank you” for something we did, or get a spur-of-the-moment backrub (my favorite), we naturally feel drawn toward our partner. We smile when we look at them and look forward to spending time together.

What we hate

Unfortunately, for many wives, glimpses into their partner’s soft side are few and far between. Over time, the patient, kind words and thoughtful gestures have dwindled, replaced by harsh words and criticism, to the point that the last thing we want to do is look lovingly into his eyes.

In my experience, this is usually the result of “hard side” behavior from the husband. (For those wondering, yes the roles can be reversed.  Sometimes it’s the wife exhibiting these behaviors.  But for now, I’m addressing what I see most often.) Typical behaviors include:

  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Rage
  • Excessive criticism
  • Difficulty to please
  • Verbal, emotional and sometimes physical abuse

It’s tough to live with someone like this. They maintain control by intimidation, or by playing the victim.  And these husbands have a special way of turning the tables:

''“When we see our partners’ soft side, we’re naturally drawn toward them''. Click To Tweet

When their wife expresses hurt, the husband can find a way to make the situation about himself, rather than about hearing her pain.

Why this happens

When someone is using hostility and intimidation, they’re trying to regain a sense of control in the relationship. Your husband is hearing something from you – or maybe from someone else – that makes him feel “less than.” He’s afraid he’s not measuring up in the workplace, or at church, or compared to his friends, or maybe even in the bedroom.

These husbands need to hear the truth, but frankly they’re too fragile to handle it. Many know this. But knowing doesn’t always translate into behaving differently.

For us as wives, responding to this insecurity often means hiding our true feelings. We can’t express what we really want or need, because it kicks off another cycle of hostile behavior from our partner. That’s when our resentment kicks in. And it breeds contempt for our spouses, and for ourselves, since we know we’re living a lie. We act like everything is okay, when in reality our lives are crumbling.

What you can do about it

You’re reading this blog because you’re not willing to live this way any longer. Here’s your action plan:

1. Realize this is about differentiation. Your husband is having a hard time differentiating what’s going on in his world from his sense of worth as a person. When you give him information that’s painful, he’s likely feeling shame, and he lashes out to bury that pain.

2. Listen, but don’t surrender. You can acknowledge his feelings without agreeing with him. Hold on to your core truths. You know what makes you special.

''“Hold on to your core truths. You know what makes you special.''. Click To Tweet

3. Tell him you love him, but not this behavior. You must be honest about your feelings. Hiding them won’t work. They’ll come out another way, usually through seething resentment, which is a ticking time bomb for the relationship.

This isn’t a magic formula that will heal all hurts. But it can give you a firm place to stand for more conversations.

Most people find it helpful to have an experienced person coaching them through a process like this. If you’d like to explore this, give us a call or schedule an appointment online. We can help you like your husband again, in addition to loving him.

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Which Is Easier: Quitting Your Marriage, Or Fixing It?

quit or fix

I’ll give you my short answer right up front – In the long run, it’s much, much easier to make your marriage work than to give up on it.

That probably sounds counterintuitive, especially if you’re in the middle of the messy daily slog of a damaged relationship. And it runs counter to what you’ll hear from many of my marriage-counseling colleagues too:

Don’t feel guilty about ending the marriage; there is no shame in divorce. Ever.
Walk away if you feel it’s time.
If you feel you would be a better version of yourself without your partner, then go.
If you are miserable, it is better for you both to walk away…give
 each other the chance to experience a new beginning.

I grieve when I hear these.

Marriage is a sacred contract for good reason ''I grieve when I hear someone say it’s easier to end a marriage than try to save it''. Click To Tweet

Would you go into a business partnership with someone you thought might walk away at any moment? Of course not. You make a contract holding both of you accountable to not letting this happen.

In business, we contract. In marriage, we commit.

We commit to work through the problems in sickness and in health.

We commit even though some days our spouse is a jerk.  And on the days we’re the jerk.

We commit whether all our needs are being met. Or not.

We commit knowing there will be days we simply do not feel the love.

We commit because marriage is more than a contract. It’s a pathway to living up to who we want to be. ''In business we contract. In marriage, we commit''. Click To Tweet

If you quit, what will you miss?

This may not be the feel good answer you want to hear,  but when you endure hard days in your marriage, you grow.

Every marriage has potential walk-away moments.  In fact, any relationship of depth has those moments. Mine certainly has.  Yours will too.  Leaving may feel like a quick fix,  but in the long run, it doesn’t solve the problem. Or make your life better.  If you leave, you’ll simply repeat the destructive cycle over and over again, missing out on the growth that comes from enduring the hard days.

Growth comes from productive pain.

I teach my clients that un-productive pain is the cycle in which nothing changes or gets better. It just hurts.  If you’re unhappy with your marriage and considering divorce, that’s probably where you are right now.

Productive pain is similar to losing 20 pounds. You make the decision. You start to restrict your calories and increase your activity. It’s hard but you stick with it, working through the pain to get your desired result. You grow from productive pain. It has a purpose.

''Productive pain is pain with a purpose''. Click To Tweet

Now am I saying every marriage can be saved? Absolutely not.

If there is ongoing abuse, you need to leave the relationship. But most marriages can be saved.  And not just saved to survive. They can become partnerships of healing – for yourself and others.

Let’s be clear: There are painful times ahead

But let’s choose productive pain over the unproductive kind.  One ends in personal growth, a stronger marriage, and a deep connection that lasts. The other ends in agony, divorce, and a likely repeat of this vicious cycle.

The commitment is worth it. I’ve seen it in my life and the lives of friends and family. When things get hard, I’m going to honor my commitment and fight for my marriage. The alternative is far worse.

If you feel the same, but don’t know how to make your pain productive,  give us a call or schedule an appointment with us online. We can help you figure out what’s going on in your marriage and teach you how to fight for it.

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