Advice for the Frustrated Wife – Part 1


blaming GodEvery week I receive an email from another woman who is frustrated with her husband.

Every week I read exasperated words like “I’m fed up with this,” “I’ve had it with him,” and “What should I do?”

Every week!

That tells me there are a lot of you out there who are feeling like that…but most of you never reach out for advice or help. You stuff it in and keep dealing with it…or you call it quits.

So this is an open letter to every one of you who has “had it” with your marriage. (And if this doesn’t apply to you, please pass it on to someone you know who can be encouraged through it.)

I understand your frustration with your husband. Every wife is frustrated to some degree with the things her husband is or isn’t doing. He doesn’t treat you like he once did. He seems distant. He doesn’t communicate at a deeper level. In some cases he constantly criticizes you. In most cases, he’s ambivalent and resigned.

You say it has led to a deep depression. You cry a lot. You wonder when things will change. Or, today you have decided you no longer want to wait for the change. You’re calling it quits.

I remember the day I, too, felt depressed.

I concluded that the only way I was going to be happy is if my husband made certain changes. You see, I, too, married my husband to meet my needs and make me happy. I don’t think I consciously did that, but we all, in our own selfishness, expect marriage to fill us, complete us, and make us happy. We expect we will never be lonely again. We think life’s problems will be solved and the holes in lives will magically be filled.

The truth of the matter is that each of us is an incomplete, broken individual who marries another incomplete, broken individual. (Romans 3:23 says ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God — just one of the ways we are all broken.) So, the reality of marriage today is that two sinners come together often hoping the other person will complete them and then they find they are disappointed. However, God is the Only One who can meet all your emotional  needs. He’s the Only One who will never disappoint you.

I had to learn this lesson 20 years ago and it ended up saving my marriage. When I quit looking to my husband to be god –and fulfill me in every way possible– and started looking to God to be my “spiritual husband” (Isaiah 54:5), it is then that I took a great deal of pressure off of my husband so that he didn’t feel he was continuing to come up short. And that made him want to pursue me again.

Dear friend, your husband will never be able to meet all your expectations and emotional needs, nor change the way you are feeling so that you are no longer depressed. In fact, he probably already suspects or believes you find him responsible for your depressed state. That might be the very reason he is distant. You’ve already given up on him, in some ways. So it’s possible he has given up on himself, too.

I really do understand when you say you are “fed up” with your marriage. There have been days I have thought the same thing, too. But those are the days I am focused on me, and I must remember that marriage was not God’s gift to make me happy. I truly believe it was God’s gift to me to make me holy. Marriage is our practice ground for dying to self…for loving another as God has loved us. You and I make mistakes, too. We disappoint our husbands as much as they disappoint us. The key is, will you die to self (Galatians 2:20) and love that man and extend grace to that man as God has loved and extended grace toward you? You made a promise to him, and to God, before witnesses that you would. This is the test on days and in seasons of life when you don’t feel like loving him anymore.

I know these are tough words, but stick with me, my friend. Watch for the rest of this blog next Tuesday (Advice for the Frustrated Wife – Part 2), in which I will answer the question “What should I do?” with two steps that can change your heart and your marriage for good.

In the meantime, what is one small way you can love your husband as God loves you? I’d love for you to share it with me in the comment section below.

Cindi
About me

Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning author and national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She has nearly 30 years experience ministering to women and inspiring them to let God meet their emotional needs, grow stronger through their alone times, and pursue their dreams with boldness.

20 Comments

Tabbie
Reply December 3, 2014

Hi Cindi,

Thanks for this post.

Due to our falling short of God's glory because of our sins has made us very selfish and so blind.

I now believe I need God more than I need any one or any thing else. Am reminded of what Jesus told His disciples, if you love me more than these then you are my disciples.

This calls for a whole heart transformation. Only God can help us. Dying to self is not an easy thing but with God's help we are well able.

One thing I will keep in my heart is the truth about only God can full satisfy me, meet all my emotional needs. He is my Father I have to see it that way so that i take off that pressure from my husband.

To love my husband I will take off that pressure from my husband.

Thank you so much, God bless you.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 3, 2014

    You're welcome, Tabbie. I'm excited to hear how God blesses your marriage and strengthens you from the inside out as you look to HIM first for all that you need.

Christina
Reply December 3, 2014

There is a difference between wanting a husband to meet all of your needs and a husband who is rude and has become a grumpy old man. He has lost all of his joy at 54 years old; has had five surgeries and still works like crazy - but the only time he communicates with me is with grunts and gripes. Understandable because of his physical pain, but inexcusable as a spouse. I have three friends whose husbands are all the same age, retired military too (like mine) and they all have grumpy man syndrome. We love them, but it is very difficult to live with them. We feel lost as to what to do.....in spite of 'turning it over to God'.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 3, 2014

    Christina, thank you for your comment that represents how SO many wives feel. I believe the "grumpy man syndrome" is quite common in a man during his 40s and 50s. You're right...our turning it over to God doesn't excuse a man's behavior and lack of courtesy toward his wife. He is still commanded in Scripture to love his wife AS Christ loves the church. However, it's not realistic for us to WAIT until that happens. That's why I encourage women to work on their hearts during this season of our husband's life, so we can be stronger and more stable and capable of dealing whatever comes our way. I have a free downloadable article on my website (which is an excerpt from my book, When A Woman Inspires Her Husband) called "Loving Your Man as God Loves You" that might help you and your girlfriends in this situation. For me, it has always helped to think about how much God loves me in spite of my moodiness, bad days and grumpy times. (I tend to think that I'm never that way, in comparison to my husband, but I know better!) ;) Thank you for your honest response. And check out this article when you get a chance.

Patty
Reply December 3, 2014

Dear Cindi, Thank the Lord for you and this work! I've certainly been needing this series! I will write more next week but I'd also like to thank God for some of the previous comments. I have a lovely husband who has a very dark side to him. He truly loves others but can be quite cruel or grumpy. I'm too tired to go into detail this week, but I will say my best friends have hailed me as the most forgiving and gracious wife. I have committed to being the Proverbs 31 woman. I am committed to the Lord's plan for this marriage, especially since it's not my first. My husband of nearly 26 years has always given me grief. He was abused for years as a child and I didn't know until much later than the wedding. He has struggled with being interested in intimacy, and now isn't even well enough for it, or so he says. He looks and acts strong in all other ways so nobody would guess he has little to offer in that area. We are told as wives to be open sexually to our husbands. My husband was caught being quite involved with pornography, drugs, drinking, lying and deserting me for days every 6 weeks...for years. It didn't get discovered until a trauma occurred. He travels for work. I now have to put up with constant upheaval. My kids are sick of it. I'm struggling with motivation to wait on the Lord. This is rare when a marriage devotional really addresses my areas of trouble. We've had counseling but need more. We pray. I pray. Life goes on and as we age I can only imagine how I can keep trusting the Lord has a plan. Sometimes friends have known of our struggles and they don't believe it and can't really do more than pray. It's complicated. I trust and carry on. It is exhausting at times. Thank you and I'll continue to pray, study, and seek proper private counseling. ROMANS 8:28

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 3, 2014

    Patty, Thank you for your comments. It's so good to know we have a God who is intimately acquainted with all our ways and understands everything we are going through, isn't it? I often think about how I'd rather have difficulty in situations here on earth (including with my marriage) and a closer intimacy with God as a result of it, than to have a trouble-free life and never know God in a way that transforms me. Seriously, as I was writing my book, When Women Walk Alone, I took a good look around me. The women I knew at that time who were the strongest spiritually were women who "walked alone" in their marriage in one way or another. I think that's how they gained that close, intimate relationship with God....they HAD to lean in close to their Lord to survive their marriage. I know your heart is to please the Lord, Patty. And for that, He will bring you joy, even when you think there might not be any left. Stay strong, my sister. And keep reading. :)

Joy
Reply December 3, 2014

Dear Cindi,
You very well may have saved my life and marriage by this article. The joy of living has left my life until I read this! God is using this to speak to me and I am gonna cherish it.
Everything you said is spot on! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
I am looking forward to more from you next week.
Joy

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 3, 2014

    You're welcome, Joy. Thank you for reading and thank you for the encouragement. I am grateful that God is speaking to you through this.

Becky
Reply December 4, 2014

Dear Cindi,
Couldn't have asked for more this morning than a word to meet my area of need.
You are truly a vessel for use by God to talk to women in these last days!
Will keep on reading the article to appropriate those word.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 5, 2014

    Thank you, Becky, for your kind words. And thank you for continuing to read....

Cynthia Morgan
Reply December 5, 2014

Dear Cindi, thanks for your strong words of wisdom, yet I am in a relationship, where as my husband is a control freak; how much money I spend, he tries to interfere with time spent with my 23 year old son and my visits to my dad,even discourages me from going to college to further my education saying I'm too old to go back to school.I have no close friends to hang out with and feel trapped with no outlets. I constantly pray and ask Jesus for the answers, but nothing seems to change. It's to the point he discusses all of our marriage decisions with his mom before me, like: purchases for the home, a new car, etc. and it's driving me crazy.I tell him I love him constantly and go out of my way to make him feel comfortable: working,sex, cooking! But it's never enough. I'm tired and want out...

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 6, 2014

    Cynthia: Thank you for your honesty. I think every wife knows what it's like to be tired at times, because of what she's dealt with. And it's in our nature to want out when difficulty comes. But God allows difficulty in our lives to make us more like Him....for us to understand grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love, and for us to know what it means to die to self and live for Christ. This world tells us "You deserve better than this" and yet God's Word tells us "humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10)." I know that when we rely on God to take care of the situations we can't control, He will work things out in His way and in His timing and it will be so much better than when we try to control things. God also has a way of working on our hearts when we come to Him and say "I've had it. I want to do things YOUR way no matter what it costs, no matter what it means for me." Don't think for a moment God is going to make you miserable for being obedient, being humble, and being a servant. He blesses when our intention is for His pleasure, not our own. Instead of asking Jesus for the answer and expecting your husband to change, look to God AS the answer and offer your own heart for change. (I often tell women "God will often lead us out to the edge where we're desperate for something to change so He can change US and make us desperate for HIM." My personal encouragement to you is Psalm 62:8: "Trust in Him at all times...; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

sherrii
Reply December 6, 2014

This was good and I'm looking forward to the follow up article. Unfortunately, my husband and I have already decided to separate and divorce, but I still read things like this to help keep me spiritually grounded and focused. A small part of me also wants to have a glimmer of hope because I'm sad that I'm losing my family unit - even though we haven't ever really heen happy - I think largely in part because of selfishness and neither of us really fully submitting to or respecting the other. It's truly sad, too, because I can see a lot of these things and can do nothing about them in the natural. I can only pray, which we know is the BEST thing, but when you're hurting and longing for an end to your suffering, praying can sometimes seem futile.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 6, 2014

    Sherrii: Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate you continuing to read on topics like this and wanting to stay grounded and focused. I understand, too, you wanting to have a glimmer of hope for your marriage and family. Scripture tells us God is the "God of hope" and that faith -- the ultimate act of obedience -- is "the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). People who do not know God have no hope. But how can we, as people of God, say we have no hope when we know a God who can do all things? ("Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things" Jeremiah 14:22). My prayer for you is this: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13), even when you are praying and it seems "futile." You have a God who hears your prayers even if it seems like He's not doing anything about it.

Brittany
Reply December 9, 2014

God saved my husband and I from getting a divorce twice, so I know God is a good God! We still have issues in our marriage and I've suggested counseling but he doesn't seem open to it. We still don't have good communication and he has shared concerns of counseling making things worse. He feels everything is fine but I don't. We lack intimacy and good communication. The only time we spend together is coming together. There are no dates, we don't even kiss. The love is there. I am more submissive than before. I admit I have my days where it seems I don't have self control. I don't like being talked to as a child and he accuses me of doing the same thing. I have a bad past and because of it I don't feel good like him. He has always been a good guy and got saved at a young age. And I feel often like I'm not like him and God has great things in store for him and not me. We've actually come quite a long way even though I'm not making it seem that way. I'm really frustrated Cindi. Not just with him but myself and to be honest at God. I don't know where my hope has gone and I pray I still have my faith. This year hasn't been a good one for me. I can only hope 2015 will be better. Spiritually and mentally. God bless you.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 9, 2014

    Precious Brittany -- God sees the desires of your heart. He knows you want a fresh start and that you want to be the wife He designed you to be. Trust Him. And don't listen to those voices that remind you of your failures. God has taken your sin and removed it from you as far as the east is from the west. He sees you as spotless in Christ because of what Christ has ALREADY done for you. Live in your new nature and keep clinging to Him. And it is my hope, prayer and expectation that 2015 will be a great one for you, spiritually, mentally, and relationally.

Chery
Reply December 27, 2014

Okay, so this is an "ah-ha" moment! You somewhat touched on this somewhere (blog? Books?) before and it struck a chord with me. But, I must admit went in and then went out on its merry way. After reading this several times I am feeling lifted! The frustration and disappointment I feel at times toward my husband (who's a great guy after reading the above comments) is misplaced...wow. When I feel he is being harsh, he is just a sinner like myself, and I need to look to my "spiritual husband" as you say. I find myself so grateful for you and your Godly heart Cindi:-)

    StrengthSoul
    Reply December 27, 2014

    Chery, thank you for sharing your "ah-ha" moment with me and my readers. I know you are committed to your marriage and you often talk of its priority in your life, so I appreciate you admitting there is an area where you, too, can get blindsided. Honestly, every one of us forgets at times that we are sinners and so are our husbands. This world constantly shouts expectations at us through what we see on Tv and in movies and what we hear in songs. And this world also tells us to leave when we're unhappy. But only God can be the Perfect Lover and by looking to Him first, we can appreciate what we do have on this earth with the men who are truly trying to be the best husbands they can be. (Looking to God first also changes us and softens our hearts and makes us more desirable in our husbands' eyes, too, I believe.) I look forward to your comments on my blogs, Chery.

      Chery
      Reply January 2, 2015

      Seems I was not the only one struck by your post. Usually there aren't too many comments, but WOW, I was taken back at how many this generated. And quite a sore subject for many. It's sad that marriage can be that. Yes, our marriage is our #1 priority, but it has been tough road and every day we work on it. I guess because we are who we are (sinners). I love how you say, "...marriage was not God’s gift to make me happy. I truly believe it was God’s gift to me to make me holy. Marriage is our practice ground for dying to self…for loving another as God has loved us. " Boy, that's a BIG ah-ha. When I first read it I felt as if I should write it on my forehead in Sharpie! Truth is the first 6 months we were married was blissful as we were all gone on being married. Kinda like the "honeymoon" part in the beginning of dating. Then things started to show themselves, which would equal our sin. We were not Christians at that time. The next 7 years were REALLY tough. In the 6th of those 7, I (from a long line of successful marriages) decided we should separate. My husband didn't want to ( coming from divorced parents). I think now, I probably didn't want to separate, but thought I might "threaten" him into what I wanted him to be. I had this crazy notion I could "fix" him all the time. Such control issues. Silly girl. I had no idea at that time that he was "fearfully and wonderfully made". Long story short...hahaha...like there's a such thing with me:-) We never separated, dug in and worked on ourselves and our marriage like crazy, and it got better. I might ad that I started first and he was quite attracted to the changes I made (despite how difficult he remained) and he followed suit in time. Today at 31 years, we have a wonderful marriage that I NEVER had imagined. BUT as I said, it's daily working at it! There's lots of times I think I grant him more grace than I get, but then I feel sometimes it's just the opposite! I just want to make sure I honor my marriage according to my vows..."for better or worse", and serve my husband so that it is pleasing to my, as you say, “spiritual husband” . In our ever so disposable society/world, MY MARRIAGE WILL NOT BE DISPOSABLE!!!

        StrengthSoul
        Reply January 3, 2015

        Amen, Chery. Thank you for sharing with us that things DO get better when you work at it and keep God at the core of your marriage. No one is free from frustration in marriage. But God comes through in mighty ways when we surrender to Him, as you've seen. Thank you for being such a great testimony to the commitment of marriage.

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