Romantic movies have done us women a great injustice. They have fed us a lie that creates rifts in Western marriages. That is the idea that our husbands can and should fulfill ALL of our emotional needs. I have fed into that lie as well but the reality is that my husband doesn’t understand me. That doesn’t mean that I am doomed to unhappy marriage and neither are you. And here is why.
My Husband Doesn’t Understand Me…The Reality of All Marriages
Men and women have two very different ways of interpreting the world around them. There may be some overlap here and there, but in the end we are different. God created us differently. I see it in my marriage all the time and I am sure you do too.
For example, my husband knows not to make any negative references to my appearance. He never comments on my weight, wrinkles, or love handles. Experience has taught him that those kind of words are hurtful. However, he doesn’t have the slightest idea why.
Sure I have explained it to him. I have told him about my childhood traumas and how people used to make hurtful comments about my looks and weight. He intellectually understands the pressures on women from beauty magazines and gorgeous actresses that never seem to age. He knows that any type of negative comment about my looks will weigh me down and he wants to protect me from that pain. But he doesn’t really understand the why behind it.
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I know this to be true because he has asked me numerous times, “I just don’t see why it is not enough that I think you’re beautiful exactly the way you are?” His male compartmented mind cannot comprehend the complex circuitry of the female mind. And in all honesty, I am not sure that I understand it all myself either, so how can I expect him to?
The male and female mind are too different. There are some similarities of course and some men may have a better understanding of women than others, but in general, most good men are like my husband. They love their wives, wished they could understand them, but at the end of the day they are left scratching their heads as to why we do, say, and feel the way we do. Experience will teach them to adjust their behavior and their words out of love for us, but it is not necessarily because they truly understand.
My Husband Doesn’t Understand Me…How It Can Unravel a Marriage
The idea that our husbands will or should completely understand us creates a standard that they will never be able to fulfill. The result is that it leaves us wives feeling empty and continually disappointed when they fall short. Our husbands sense our disappointment (or more likely we have expressed our disappointment) and they are left frustrated. Their frustration can escalate to the point where they stop trying altogether because they know they will never be good enough.
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I have seen this cycle play itself over and over again. It has happened in my own marriage, but worse yet, it has been the cause of divorce in others. Somewhere and somehow we have come to believe that we are entitled to a fairytale. And when we don’t get it, we want to throw our marriage out the window. We start feeling like we are suffocating and then we just want to call it quits or we live in a constant state of disappointment and frustration.The idea that our husbands will or should completely understand us creates a standard that he will never be able to fulfill. The result is that it leaves us wives feeling empty and continually disappointed when they fall short. Click To Tweet
My Husband Doesn’t Understand Me…How It Can Strengthen a Marriage
When I accepted that my husband will never truly understand me, I found it immensely liberating. It allowed me to see all of my husband’s other great qualities. I was also able to free him from an expectation that he can never fulfill.
He may not fully understand me……but he seeks to protect me.
He may not fully understand me……but he listens to my frustrations.
He may not fully understand me……but he provides financially for me.
He may not fully understand me……but he seeks to comfort me.
He may not fully understand me…..but he loves me.
Accepting my husband for who he is has drawn us closer together. My acceptance, I know, makes him want to draw closer to me. That has strengthened our marriage and strengthened our bond and built our intimacy. On the other hand, when I put undue pressure on him, his tendency has always been to shut down and pull away.
Who Can Understand Me?
The Role of the Women in My Life
Understanding that there are just some things my husband can’t do for me, sets me free to let others fill that void in my life. I was free to let my sisters, mom, girlfriends step into the areas where my husband was just not able to. They understand my body image issues. They understand why certain things frustrate me and why others don’t. And they understand why ice cream can make a bad day feel so much better.
That was not an easy step for an introvert like me, but I was so glad I started reaching out. In the same way, I want to encourage you to reach out to the women in your life that can help fill in those areas that your husband, despite his best efforts, just can’t.
The Only One That Fully Understands and Knows Me
The most important lesson that I learned through this experience was to let God fulfill all of my emotional needs. He is the only One that fully knows and fully understands me. Jeremiah 1:5 says,
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (ESV)
I can pour out my heart to Him and know that He gets me. He sees me. He understands me. However, when I would expect my husband to fulfill this role, I was idolizing him and setting him and myself up for failure.Only Jesus is perfect. Only God is perfect. Only He can fill the void of all the imperfect pieces. Click To Tweet
Marriage is not just between two people. God is always in the midst. Our husbands should attempt to reflect Jesus in the marriage, they are given that commandment, but they can never reach perfection. Only Jesus is perfect. Only God is perfect. Only He can fill the void of all the imperfect pieces. So take joy in all the ways that your husband tries to care for you, but for the areas that he falls short, let God sustain you.
Intimacy in a Marriage
I do not want to let husbands off the hook from developing intimacy with their wives in all its forms (emotional, spiritual, sexual). A lack of intimacy can be dangerous for a marriage as I detailed in my blog, “Pornography Victims in our Pews.” Neither spouse should ever stop trying. However, my goal here is to help us women recognize that our search for perfection in our spouses blinds us from seeing how truly blessed we might actually be.
For the Abused Wife
I always like to caveat this type of blog for my readers that may be in abusive relationships. I want to lovingly tell you that blog is not for you. If your husband physically beats you, calls you names, constantly puts you down, tells you are worthless, you are in an abusive relationship. There is a big difference between a husband that might forget a birthday and the one that calls you names because you forgot his. You are loved by an almighty Father and are precious in his eyes. Please seek help by either calling Focus on the Family and speak to a licensed counselor at 1-800-A-FAMILY or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.