What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, February 13, 2012

What to Do when Your Husband Doesn't Give You What You Need

It was a Sunday morning, two days after returning from a week out of town, when he said "I have something to tell you."

And you know, you just know... it is going to ruin the day.

And he says "I have to go out of town again next week."

Again? AGAIN? But he promised THIS time is would be different. THIS time he would not be away from home so much, THIS time he would put his foot down and set his priorities right.

This time.

But this is the third week out of four that he has been gone. And it is the week that houses his birthday AND Valentine's Day. And more importantly than ANYTHING, I NEED him here.

I am tired of doing it all, all by myself. I am tired of tucking four little, rambunctious children into bed each night and changing every single diaper and answering the 'boy questions' and leading family worship. I am tired of doing chores and taking out garbage and homeschooling and cooking and feeding a fire. I am tired of being a mother AND a father.

I am desperate. I can get through the school day and the dinner dishes and the fire starting if I had him to appreciate me. If I only felt cherished. If I only felt loved. But how can I feel love when I am lucky to speak to my husband once a day and to go to bed each night alone? How am I to feel cherished when my husband doesn't have time for me? When I can't kiss him? How can I keep doing what I am doing without him to comfort me and acknowledge my work?

"He can't do this to me again. I can't do this. I don't WANT to do this." I think.

He says "I don't understand. Normally you are so strong."

But I am weak. Very, very weak. Doesn't he SEE? He doesn't understand how weak even though I try to explain. I plead.

I feel abandoned. He made the choice to go back to work and I hated it and now, because of him, I live a life that leaves my children fatherless and me desperate and unlovely and alone. And I am stuck here, to be housemaid and schoolteacher and farmer and cook, all alone. This is my new life. And I don't want it. And I tell him so.

I get angry. I become very unlovely, indeed. My face is swollen with desperate tears and my words can't be taken back. But I don't want to take them back~they are real. I apologize for the venom, but not for the truth.

My tank is empty. It has been for two months. I've been running on fumes and I have done what I had to do while he is gone-but there is nothing left. I am spent.

Hours pass. I cry at every whim. But the venom I spit has left a strange hollow in me. A quietness. A tiredness. And in the quiet, I am stirred.

Matt can't give me what I need. I love him so much, but he can't.

And it occurs to me, I have been wrong to ask that of him. I have been looking for my tank to be filled, but I haven't been going to the right place. I've been going to the movies, instead of the gas station. I haven't gone to the Filler of tanks.

Maybe that is why divorce is so prevalent within the church? Because people realize they can't be fulfilled by their spouses? So they give up and move on, looking for fulfillment, without making the next, most crucial step of realizing the truth~

The truth that being fulfilled comes from somewhere else-SomeONE else.

You can seek it all you want~ fulfillment~ but you will never, ever, ever find it until you look in the right place.

I realize, too, that I have been blaming Matt for my shortcomings when the truth of it is....it is me. Me floundering. His heart need to safely trust in me. That means, when he is gone I HAVE to do the dishes. I HAVE to take care of the children. I HAVE to clean the house and keep the fires going and lead family worship. I HAVE to do chores and finances and schooling. That is what being a helpmeet is. That is what being a wife is. And I have to do it joyfully. That is what being a Christian is.

When your tank is dry and you are running on fumes~ go and get a Fill Up. Pray for strength. Pray for strength. Pray for STRENGTH.

Don't go to the grocery store. Don't go to the movies. Go to the Gas Station. Don't ask your husband to give your soul the rest it needs, He can't. Ask God. He can.

When times are desperate and the trials seem too much to bear~ stop thinking of yourself.

Think of Abigail Adams, who spent many years of married life alone and with responsibilities to the household, law firm and farm placed squarely on her shoulders.

Think of Juris Wippe, and the letters he wrote on his deathbed. Letters to his wife. To his children. Think about receiving such letters.

Think of George Muller and sitting down to an empty dinner table surrounded by dozens of hungry bellies and thanking God for his provisions, in faith, without a lick of food on the table.

Remember that God wants obedience in all circumstances and realize that your circumstances could be much, much worse.

When all you want to do is give up~ give thanks. Get happy. Count your blessings.

I stopped counting for a while. Now is a very good time to begin again.

#818: forgiveness

#819: startling realizations

#820: safe travels

#821: my husband, who has a birthday today

#822: God preserving my Darling from: death by waterski, death by electrocution, death by fire, dealth by ice hook, death by drowning, and many other deaths throughout his life.

#823: another shirt to smell as I sleep

#824: a friend who shares personal secrets for my help

#825:a winning streak

#826: straws to make sulfur water go down faster

#827: homemade strawberry wine and candles, dropped off this week by my sister-in-law

#828: old men who buy their wives flowers for Valentines Day, a day early. I saw it. They made more than their wives happy, they made ME happy.

#829: a washing machine that sputtered back to life miraculously and has given me a few loads of clean laundry before it has another 'poor spell'

#830: this verse:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

~Philippians 4:13

holy experience


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry he is gone yet again. May you find strength in the perfect husband, and creator...
My comfort...

Praying for your journey

Anonymous said...

I should say concentrate on v 5 but all is wonderful!

Loving Learning said...

visiting from Anns blog. Run to Him who is able... Strength to you and His peace that passes all understanding.

ulli said...

You have rediscovered where to find strength and fulfillment! Joy! Consider yourself blessed and priveledged to be the mother of your children and able to take over when Matt is away. And while your hard-working husband is away, be his helpmate by holding down the fort. Lead and teach the children as Matt would want you to. This, too, can be a source of strength to you. This is your life right now, it won't be like this forever. I'm sure Matt doesn't want to be away from home either. I had a similar life while raising our two boys. Hubby did what he had to do to provide for our little family. He was gone a lot. It was hard, but I tried to remember to enjoy my role and be thankful that I was able to do it. All to the glory to God! My best to you, Rebecca, and the journey you're on.

ulli said...

PS--Fabulous photos!!

Unknown said...

Hugs and prayers for you all.

Mary said...

Oh Rebecca, I wish I can hug you in person. Instead I send you virtual hugs.
I don't know you in person, but I have read your blog for years and I know one thing. Your husband is a hard working man, he is doing this not because he wants to, but because he has to. He does this because he does not want to struggle, he goes out of town so you don't have to go to work. Love does not pay the bills. You know all this.
Anyone with eyes can see you love Matt fiercely. But like you said, he cannot be your everything. It is just not fair for someone to fill that role, a mere human, even a good husband like you have. It is only God who can and who will. When you are alone think of the military families, think of the widows and single people. You are blessed that you love and are loved. You know this too.
Thank you for being honest and show your struggles. I am not saying the above to advice you, but because I repeat it to myself. My husband travels too, it is hard, I sleep with his shirt on too. But I know I am loved and so do you.
You are stronger than you think.


Mrs. Rebekah S. said...

This. Is so good. So true. Thank you for sharing your heart. I can really identify with what you're saying. I don't know you personally, but am sending hugs your way and praying for you while you spend the week alone. And while you do all the things you've got to do.

aeolian said...

I am so sorry you're going through such a trying time. But thank you very much for the example you've set for us all. It is so easy to forget that there is a God-sized hole in all our hearts that only One can fill.

I will be praying for you all!

Leah T. said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. I wish we still lived close so we could get together. I'm praying for you, dear friend. (((HUGS)))

Jerelene said...

Sorry that your dear hubby is having to be gone so much :( I will keep you and your dear family in my prayers....Keep looking upward Rebecca:) Hugs, Jerelene

Rosemary said...

I cried when I read your post. May you find your strength in God. Love, Rosemary

Dyana said...

Can I just tell you that I empathize so much with what you are daily going through? I too have a man who travels constantly! Only, he had the audacity to take me to a far off country half way around the globe!

You are on the right track... our strength is in Christ... not our husbands (no matter how wonderful and strong they are). Our husbands are a gift... a wonderful gift from the true gift giver.

We are called in this life to PERSEVERE. (see James 1:4)

When you are feeling lonely.. and resentful... run to Jesus and he will comfort your soul... and remember that there is a Sister in Christ somewhere in this world who his tucking her kids in, reading scripture and cleaning up the days mess in the stillness of a quiet house too... all by herself. We can think of each other and persevere together with a smile and the knowledge that we are right in God's Will for us at moment.

God is faithful... and good. Rest in His promise dear Sister in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Some of the most painful times in our marriage are the times that my husband has been neglectful. I can't lie, these times have been a major obstacle to me. I would rather have done it differently then to have to work through it now so many years later. If I had to do it all over again, I would work with my husband to have one accord. Letting sorrows, build is unhealthy in a marriage and yes, we forgive, but our sorrows, and disappointments can and do lead to resentment especially while you are carrying the load of the children. I encourage you in working to getting back to the farm and as quickly as possible....life is SO SHORT! Praying for you!

Jody said...

Happy Valentine's Day from our home to yours! Since your sweetheart is away, perhaps there are widows, single folks, or your kiddos who would especially enjoy a hand-crafted "Hello" today! I have been blessed by your desire to write letters to those who are alone. Today seems like the perfect day to extend this jesture outward once again!

Thanking God for His great LOVE for us this day! Thanking Him for Jesus, who gave of Himself willingly on the cross. Amazing Love!

Unknown said...

Aww. My heart hears yours, friend!! Thank you for sharing your struggles and remind us our our TRUE SOURCE!!! Lack of sleep has a way of blurring reality for me here and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this encouragement to press into the Lord!

Happy Valentines Day! And those photos are just gorgeous.

Mary said...

Rebecca~ I am praying for you & your family! May our Lord carry you through this difficult week & give you his peace & strength!

With much love~ Mary

Wendy said...

Rebecca, I feel like I can relate to this somewhat. Although Cory is here...he really isn't. He is not available much of the time due to all of his classes...it is like he has 2 full time jobs. There are many nights I go to bed alone, and wake up when he says goodbye...he is always busy...always. I know it is felt more by you though since he is a least a presence here...and that is better than nothing. March is when I start to feel like a widow. Baseball starts, and that adds more to his already overflowing plate. I think the pressure of having to do it alone just really wears you down...and sometimes...when I expect him to be home at a certain time, and it becomes later...I decide that I cannot handle it..there can be no surprises! I know it really may not be the same, or helpful for you to know this...but one thing I do think about is that God promises that He has a plan for our lives and it is to Prosper us, and not to harm us (Jer 29 I think)...that gives me the courage to go on, because I know that His plan is the best, and even if I make mistakes...it will still come to fruition. I will add you and Matt to my prayer book...I am sure it is really hard for him to have to tell you what you dont want to hear, and not be able to do anything to alleviate your pain...and I am sure he is in pain too, trying to do what he thinks is right, and feeling helpless. I love you guys, and if there is anything I can ever do for you...such as spend time with you to get your mind off of it for a while...please let me know! You are a really good supportive and encouraging wife to Matt.

Riahli said...

Wow I need this... I've felt this way, many times... and I needed to hear what you just said. Thank you.

Catie said...

I do the same thing with my husband--I look to him to fill me up instead of the only One who can. :) Thanks so much for this reminder, and again, your transparency. {hug}

Little Towhee said...

I don't want to come off as a know-it-all or preachy person, but I've been thinking about this very thing (that sometimes we ladies try to get our husbands to fulfill our "needs" or so we are told). I am in a similar situation, and my "empty" has been going on at least three and a half years. I kept trusting God that I would make it through, and I also kept trying to keep up the pace and forcing myself to continue trying to be a certain kind of mom/wife/homemaker. Yeah, my husband wasn't being affectionate, and he seemed more preoccupied with what he had going on. . . truly, that is a failing. And I cannot, in the end, say that it was me not trusting God or not asking Him to fulfill my "needs". My husband did need to do his part, and it was God's expectations, not mine, that my sweet husband change his ways towards me in consideration and being more sensitive.

Personally, I think what you need is rest, mercy and encouragement. Don't beat your husband up about it, but do tell him that you do have these feelings. And maybe, the best (and most realistic) way to cope right now with this life is to give up certain expectations you have of yourself. Slow down. Let the dishes go undone until the morning. Let the kids wear the same clothes for two days (maybe more) in a row without laundering them. Sleep in late if you can. Pare down the homeschooling to the simplest routine possible and just enjoy "being" with the kids. After all the kids are down, don't do another blasted thing. . . turn on the TV, watch a movie you want to watch with a hot cup of tea (decaf). . . just veg. . . Don't let others pressure you to do more. Hey, skip Sunday School and just go to worship service (or vice versa) some Sundays. Fix spaghettios and canned applesauce for lunch. . . serve it on paper plates. Etc.

Slow down.

Honestly, I think the Christian church is full of cliche advice to women. . . and this idea that women are expecting their husbands to fulfill their needs is ridiculous. I don't hear the church telling men that if they need sex so badly, then they perhaps should look to God instead of expecting their wives to fulfill that need. (Instead, we hear, give it up, wives! Even if you don't feel like it!) Wives, women, unique women, do have needs that God has given them. God, yes, can help fulfill that need and satisfy longings through a husband - just as a man, a husband has needs that can be satisfied and cared for through the wife He has provided that man.

I think you do have a need for tenderness, mercy, hugs/kisses, support, encouragement. . . and rest. God gave you a husband, and just maybe your husband can do something to meet those needs. Maybe that is God's way of seeing that you are cared for. . . through a spouse.

When your husband "needs" sex, you don't tell him to go have his needs fulfilled by God, do you?

Again, I'm not suggesting you ask your husband for the impossible. But the very least he could say to you is, "Rebecca, I want you to slow down and quit trying to do so much. I'm going to try to put us in a better position so we can be together or at least get some rest for you. Everything is going to be okay, and I hear you."

Rebecca said...

Thank you everyone for your support and love. Admitting things openly makes you very vulnerable and can be very intimidating, especially in so public a domain and I am so thankful that I can share openly here and that it will be well received.

To Jody~ I did those things on Valentines day too! I guess great minds think alike.

To Wendy~ Thank you especially for your comment. I hope we can get together soon. Your comment made me very happy.

To Little Towhee~ I appreciate very much your comment and must say, I have been taking your suggestions to heart: watching movies, letting dishes pile up, doing bare minimum (and we ALWAYS eat lunch on paper plates!) and just generally playing the part of slacker and enjoying every minute of it. ;-)

I know exactly where you are coming from when you say that we can not justify our husbands' weaknesses away and that we OUGHT to expect them to live a life that is pleasing and glorifying to God, just as we expect it of ourselves.

Our husbands, like us and all others, are progressing through sanctification-and failing often-and growing often...and that is right and good. Husbands who do not encourage, must learn to. Husbands who do not care, must. Husbands who do not uplift and support, should be! Husbands who belittle or abandon or are selfish-need to change. Husbands who are lazy with their affections need to get better.

We must realize though~ it is a process, just like our own-and takes time and a lot of forgiveness.

Oh my GOODNESS how I could use a good hefty dose of woo-ing. Been needing that for ever so long.

I didn't meant to imply my husband (or any husband) is off the hook.

What I did mean, very much, to say is that another persons shortcomings ought not to steal my JOY. Despite my husbands (or childrens, or pastors or neighbors or parents) shortcomings, my joy can (and ought to) be intact. My life should not be dictated by anothers actions or non-actions.

I am talking about the deep, soul-quenching joy here.

If it is~ if I can not find joy in my life because of lack of affirmation~ than that is the result of idolatry. I made my husband my god: looking for joy from him, seeking deep soul-quenching joy from someone who can't give it.

It is possible to find joy even in the grimmest of circumstances, because CIRCUMSTANCES don't give true joy. God does.

That is why Elizabeth Elliot could survive losing not just one husband but several-her joy didn't come from her husband or his love~so when her husband passed away, she was not left empty.

Even when husbands are total loads or completely inconsiderate or overworked and overtired or just plain lazy...

we ought to be able to find happiness.

But don't worry, Little Towhee-I told Matt that this knowledge doesn't get him off the hook. I still expect lovenotes and sonnets (and just plain HELP) from him.

But while I wait for those things to happen (longingly, to be sure), at least I can wait happily.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful post!! Full of wisdom and eloquently expressed :) I've pondered this much too over the last many months...

Katie said...

I am here...feeling like this, too.

mrsroberts said...

I can sympathize so much!