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Marriage
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How a Husband Can Lose His Wife’s Heart and Then the Marriage

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In the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge needs encounters with three ghosts—those of Christmas past, of Christmas present, and of Christmas future—so as to be able to step out of his shoes for a moment and see how his horrid actions and attitude are affecting those around him in negative ways that he can’t see otherwise.

This Christmas season, none of us will get visited by these ghosts to help us look in the mirror and evaluate our lives, specifically our marriages, but my hope in sharing the below email from a desperate young wife is that by taking an intimate peak into this marriage you will take a step back for a moment and honestly consider what your words, actions, and attitudes are communicating to your spouse. You may have received his or her hand in marriage on the day of your wedding, but are you beginning to lose their heart?

Please consider this email your “ghost of marriage future,” and make the necessary changes now before it becomes your “marriage present.”

Unfortunately, we have a really stressful marriage.

We just married three and a half years ago. I mostly try to think positive about my husband. Every day I write a note about what my husband did for me or something else positive he did. However, he is always stressed, criticizing, and defending himself. Nothing is good enough for him no matter how hard I work. He never seems satisfied no matter what I do. He is like a stone wall and blames me for every stress in our marriage. He thinks our marriage is a disaster and we are not compatible. That broke my heart to hear him say that. He thinks everything I say or do is cause to fight or argue.

I don't know what I am doing wrong. He is acting like I am a monster who always starts the fight. If I say something he feels I am fighting. If I don't say anything or try to explain I didn't say that or he misunderstood me, he still thinks I am fighting. He treats every disagreement as a fight or argument. And he thinks other people in good marriages don't fight or have this many conflicts. I don't think we have that many conflicts at all. I think both of us having different opinions is not a disaster. But he thinks it is. I don't know what to do.

I am always the first who apologizes, even if I know he was wrong. I give him daily positive words and encourage him when he feels down with his work. I work hard and look after my body. And he doesn't recognize any changes that I have made during our marriage or good things I have done. He is focusing on the bad things only. If I do fifteen or fifty good things and everything is fine between us for a couple of weeks, but something negative happens, he talks about our marriage as a bad one. 

No matter how sweet I say things and watch my tone, he thinks it is an argument. He said it's not the tone of my voice or how I try to say what I am saying, but 90 percent or more of the time he hears something totally different than what I really said and he feels attacked by me. That is sad because I am not that type of woman who wants to hurt her husband or pay him back for something he may have done to wrong me. 

He misinterprets almost everything I do or say no matter what. He is frustrated about everything and reacts aggressively or harshly. If he says something that hurts my feelings, he gets mad. He doesn't realize he was harsh or rude. I try not to say a word, but he doesn't allow me any feelings because he gets extremely mad if he notices any sadness on me and says I get hurt about everything, but this isn't true. I can deal with my feelings no matter what he says. How can I wipe out all my feelings that hit me at that moment? No action from me is acceptable for him.

I respect him and try respecting him even when he is not acting in a respectable way. Why does he always feel angry, frustrated, and stressed out toward me? He doesn't want to step toward me, sleep in the bedroom, talk to me, or go out to eat with me. He is getting farther away from me day after day, and he said he doesn't want to act like everything is fine between us because it is not! 

I want to treat him in the same way as I would hope to treat him if we were in a good marriage. I want to be with him in a nice way and not reject him even when we have an argument and I can't explain to him that if he continues this "I won't act like everything is good between us" attitude he will destroy our marriage even more.

He doesn't get it. 

Sorry for this long letter. I am just desperate because he thinks we have a bad marriage, and I can't change the way he thinks so negatively about everything. I am praying for him because I see he is suffering. I don't want to give up on our marriage, but he is acting like he is going to.

In an effort to focus on your marriage, your conflicts, and your attitudes and actions that are communicating volumes to your spouse—and not on speculating or judging what may or may not be going on in the above relationship—please consider the following questions and answer them honestly. Then prayerfully consider if you need to share the questions and answers with your spouse.  

My deepest hope here is to appeal to that husband who finds himself treating his wife as this man did. This man will lose the heart of his wife. Eventually, she will close off to him, and then he’ll act stunned. “How could she say she was dying in this marriage?” Well, this was marital death by a thousand paper cuts. Every day this husband was pricking the heart of his wife until she had nothing left. Is this what you want? I don’t believe so. Please then, wake up and change course. It is not too late.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. When you are stressed from work, children, or other matters not directly related to your spouse, do you sometimes take it out on him or her? In what ways? How often do you recognize that on your own and seek forgiveness? Do you need to do that now?
  2. You and your spouse will have different opinions, just as you will have different opinions on some things with everyone else in your life. How often do these differing opinions lead to conflict? Do differing opinions and conflict mean you are in a troublesome marriage? How healthily or unhealthily do you think you and your spouse handle conflict and differing opinions?
  3. How often are you the one who initially apologizes? Why is it difficult to apologize? If you rarely or even never apologize for any part of any conflict, what is that communicating to your spouse?
  4. When have you seen your spouse’s spirit deflate? Did you apologize and execute a more positive action or response? Why does ignoring times like these and “letting time heal it” instead not work long term? What do you need to seek forgiveness for from your spouse today?