I am SO glad you sent me this conversation! But I encourage you to approach this with a totally open mind to whatever God wants to show you. This will be painful. But it will get you to the place you need to be in order to be a godly wife. So, bear with me! And keep in mind, I used to do this EXACT same stuff – some of it word for word the same kinds of things I used to say to my husband. So I am not judging you here. I know where this road goes that you are on and the damage you are doing. And I know the path to God’s way. I will be speaking the truth in love to you. It will hurt. But until you see what you are doing to hurt your husband, you can’t change it. Let’s walk through this together.
Let me set the background… Last week was a hard week- one child had been sick and I had made several trips (out of town). Our twin daughters’ birthday party and sleepover was scheduled for Saturday night. My husband works a lot of hours on a difficult schedule, which I do respect and appreciate. So, Friday night, I am tired, My husband is zonked and laying in bed recovering from his week. I have worked at my job that day and have turned my attention to cleaning the house for the party. Which means it has to be a specific way for me to be satisfied.
Issue #1 – “it has to be a specific way for me to be satisfied.” That is FINE when you are asking that of yourself. But if you try to impose your standards on your husband, and try to MAKE him do things your way – it will not go well. (ESPECIALLY when he is exhausted!)
I ask Mark (not his real name) to help me by folding towels while he is watching tv in bed. He says yes. I bring him the towels.
So far – this was great. You asked for help. He said yes. That is fine.
He goes back to sleep. I stew but do not say anything at this point.
A more constructive approach would be, “Wow. Mark is so tired. He works really hard to provide for our family and has such a grueling schedule. It was generous of him to agree to help with the towels. But it is not a big deal if he is too tired to help. The towels being folded are not more important than him getting rest.”
Saturday morning, I am feeling neglected and in need of attention so I say, “What do you plan to do tonight? I thought we might spend some time together after the party.” (which did not work out with a passel of giggly girls here and I should have known better, but I was just missing my husband and wanted time with him!)
Again, saying, “I miss you!” “I want to spend time with you tonight if we can” is totally fine. I like how you said what you wanted to do.
His answer, “Nothing.”Me, “Well, would you like to sit with me and maybe watch a movie?”Him, “I’ll be right here.”
We have the party and the sleepover. Mark retreats to the bedroom when the giggly girls get too much. I understand and do not hold this against him. After all, our son is in hiding from the giggly girls in his room. I enjoy the giggly girls but I am a girl.But tension is still brewing…
From what I can tell – the tension is totally on your side and in your mind at this point.
Sunday morning, while I am doing an assembly line of breakfast and ponytails for the girls, Mark says “Are you not going to iron the girls dresses?” (I am in the bedroom when he asks this). I iron everything. I have ironed all of our family’s clothing.I answer with a tone, “You can iron them if you want.” I thought, my goodness, I am having a hard enough time getting them ready! Get up and help me if you want to give orders! But I did ask the girls if they would like me to iron their clothing and looked them over and they were okay without being ironed.
I think a more respectful way would be to completely avoid “the tone” and say, ” Thanks, I’ll look and see if the clothes need ironing. I’m not sure if I am going to have time.” And then if the clothes needed ironing, you could say, “You know what? You’re right, I do need to iron the clothes. I am going to need some help with X if you want me to have time to iron, please.”
So…. the days goes on and after church that night is when the tension comes to a head.Me: I would love to go to bed.Mark: I am going to bed. (which is unusual we almost always go to bed at the same time together).
He sounds like he may be REALLY tired.
Me: It must be nice. I still have tons of work to do before my head can hit the pillow. You could help me, you know.
I think you could have said, “I want to go to bed with you so much! But I still have so much work to do before my head can hit the pillow.” But I would NOT say “It must be nice” – that sounds disrespectful towards him, like you are ungrateful and saying you are doing more than he is. Competing about who is “doing more” in the marriage is a recipe for disunity and destruction.
Mark: What do you have to do?
Ok – he is going into helping mode (that is how men try to assist us!) and is going to evaluate what you think you need to do and help you decide if it is truly necessary or if you can go ahead and go to bed like you want to do.
Me: Help our daughter wash her hair when she showers, sweep the floor in the kitchen, fold laundry and move a load to the dryer, iron the kids clothes for tomorrow. Why don’t you sweep the floor for me?
The list of what you need to do is fine – as long as your tone of voice is pleasant. You can smile and say, “I would love it so much if you would sweep the kitchen for me.” or “Would you please sweep the kitchen for me?” With a smile and flirty wink maybe?
Mark: Why does that have to be done tonight?Me: It doesn’t matter why! Can’t you just help me?
YIKES! This is where things start to go downhill. You can say, “I would really like to have it done tonight. That way I don’t have to keep thinking about it.” “I am not sure I will have time in the morning.” or “You know what? You’re right – it’s not the end of the world if it waits until tomorrow.”
Mark: I am not sweeping the floor.
THAT IS HIS RIGHT. He does not have to sweep the floor. He has the right as an adult to decide what he will and will not do.
Me: Why won’t you help me? I know I don’t work as many hours as you do but I do work! I could use some help here! (I am still mad over the towels).
Asking why is almost always perceived by men as being disrespectful. Let’s avoid that question in general!
Mark: I am not going to help you with housework.
You could say, “Ok. I respect your decision. But I am feeling really overwhelmed. What do you see that I could skip tonight?”
Me: You must think that it is completely my responsibility. It is not fair that it all falls on me. It is really selfish of you to not be willing to help me!
Now you are assuming a lot of EVIL motives on his behalf. NOT a respectful approach. Do not assume evil about him! Let him speak for himself and believe what he says.
Mark: When you go to work and make what I do, then I will stay home and clean house. And if I am selfish, I just am!
He counts his being a provider as the biggest way he contributes to the family and his main way of showing love. He is defending himself and his masculinity and role as a provider from your really disrespectful attack. The man has a back bone and won’t cave in to manipulation and guilt. THAT is a good candidate for a leader in the marriage! I am now extremely thankful that my man didn’t cave in to all my disrespect in the past. I was hateful about it at the time, but he is a man who stands by his convictions, and that is a HUGE gift!
Me: If you aren’t going to help me in the house, you could at least do what needs to be done outside and maintenance things. (which he does most of the time but I am angry he hasn’t fixed something on my car I have asked him to fix for 3 weeks in a row).
YIKES, YIKES, YIKES!!!!!!!!! It is late at night. He is tired. You are overwhelmed with things to do and you are really tired and PMSing – NOT THE TIME to attack him about anything, but now you are switching topics and launching a fresh attack. And you will NOT drop the argument – NOT GOOD.
Mark: What needs to be done that I am not doing?
I’m really amazed he is still talking with you at this point!
Please notice – he has not sinned against you during this exchange. In fact – he remains respectful the whole time. (unless his tone of voice was starting to get angry – and I would understand if it did!) I don’t see anything he has done that is “wrong” against you in this entire conversation. He’s not perfect. He’s a sinner, too. But so far, I am not seeing him do anything sinful here. He is just not doing what you want. But that is not sin.
Me: I have asked you for 3 weeks in a row to fix my car! (It messes up when it goes through the car wash). I don’t want to have to nag you!
Best not to go here AT ALL. Not the time. Not an appropriate moment. Maybe the next day or sometime during the week, you could say sweetly, “Honey, I want you to take a look at my car when you get a chance. Thanks!” And then he will get to it when he gets to it. You don’t have to nag! You just wait. If it’s not a priority to him, then let it go. What happens when it goes through the car wash? Can you skip the car wash until he fixes it? If he sees the car getting really dirty, it will probably be a perfect silent reminder that the car need fixing. And if a dirty car doesn’t bother him – ok! NOT A BIG DEAL!!!!!!!
Mark: Then don’t!Me: I have to! You won’t do anything any other way! I WANT my car fixed! And you aren’t doing it. If you have no plans to do it then I wish you would just tell me you aren’t going to and that you have no plans to fix it! At least be man enough to say it!
OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW you just didn’t go there! 🙁
THIS IS REALLY BAD. REALLY, REALLY, BAD.
Mark: I will fix it sometime but it will be when I get to it.
I am still in shock he is still having this conversation with you. Wow. I think most husbands would have stormed out of the house way before now or lashed out in anger. This is a totally reasonable answer he is giving you. This man has the patience of Job!
A good answer here would be something like, ” Ok, Sweetheart. Thanks!”
Me: I want it done now! I want to be able to drive through the car wash! And it is not fair that we both work but you don’t help!
You are being selfish here, very impatient, unreasonable, (hormonal?), disrespectful, and insulting. 🙁 Makes me so sad! You are both tired, not a good time to try to have a big discussion!
Mark: No one told you you have to work. I don’t care if that is something you want to do but don’t blame me if you can’t balance what you need to do.
He is right here in my view! If working is really stressing you out so much – your husband just said you don’t have to work. WOW! I would LOVE to hear my husband say those words! What an answer to many years of prayer that would be at my house!
Maybe it is time to quit your job if that will make you be more rested and have more time to get things done and NOT be so exhausted and disrespectful to your wonderful man!
Me: I am working because we can use the money. We can’t make ends meet without extra money. We needed more and one of us had to do something! (I already know this was a terrible thing to say. I knew it was bad when I said it but I was angry! And he makes a really good income- but we have had a lot of various financial situations come up through no fault of our own)
YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Saying those three things you just said is THE ULTIMATE disrespect for your man as a provider and a man. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE I am begging you – I am on my knees – NEVER, EVER, EVER say anything that might remotely sound like you don’t appreciate his provision and like it’s not enough for you and you are ungrateful and not satisfied. MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR disrespect.
Mark: Well, I will not be sweeping the floor and that’s the end.Me: I knew you wouldn’t the first time you said you wouldn’t. And if you think I am going to sit here and fight with you and cry all night you are wrong! I have too much to do.
More disrespect. 🙁 WHEW!
I get up, do my needed things and get ready for bed. Mark goes to asleep in his recliner to ‘escape’ me. I know that is what he is doing- I have seen him do this before. He comes to bed after I am asleep.
I don’t blame him for escaping you. You were awful that night. He wasn’t safe with you. 🙁 He was also probably trying to contain his anger at how you had treated him and didn’t want to go before the firing squad again.
The next morning when I get ready to leave to take the kids to school, I go in to kiss him goodbye because we never part without kissing goodbye and saying I love you even in the midst of an argument and I am grateful for that.Me: I am leaving.Mark: I love you honey. Be careful. Kisses me.I am not ready to let this go!Me: You were mean to me last night.
WOW!!!!!!! When you actually see what you have done the night before – you are going to seriously kick yourself for that comment. You should have been begging him to forgive you for your outlandish disrespect and contempt and lack of gratitude for all he does for your family and for trying to control him and make him do what you wanted.
Mark: Do you think you weren’t mean to me?Me: No, I didn’t act right either and I am sorry.Mark: I am sorry, too, honey.Me: But you need to help me!
WHAT??!?! You are STILL not letting it go. WOW! Better to let it go after you both apologized. You can want him to help you. But you are trying to control him. If you apologize and say, “but…” You just negated your apology. And you added to the disrespect meter again.
Mark: I know.Me: Will you help me in the future?
Wow. You just won’t drop this will you? That is disrespectful too! To keep on going on and on and on and not just dropping the issue is really disrespectful and annoying to most husbands.
Mark: Yes. (He says this grudgingly. But saying and doing are two very different things is what I am thinking and who wants to ask if it is going to be a fight? And my car is still not fixed!)
He is saying yes to get you to drop the issue already! You aren’t going to let him say no. You are going to try to control him and force him to say what you want no matter what he thinks is best or right.
So, I leave and we go on but I don’t feel resolution and am unhappy we had this fight and it went the way it did….I don’t want to misrepresent us- we can go 6 months without a cross word between us. He really is good to me in many ways and I love him dearly. I just don’t know how to communicate with him. I know I can learn a different way. What is a better way to handle a conversation like that?
Thankfully – PRAISE GOD – this wife saw her disrespect after this email and has made leaps and bounds with God’s help over the past few weeks. The conversations they have had lately don’t even sound like the same couple. Thank You, Lord!