“My husband says nice things about me to others, like how much he loves me, but he doesn’t say it to me.”
“When they tell me what he says I find it really hard to believe. He sure doesn’t act like it at home!”
Can you relate? I know I could years ago and I hear similar complaints often from family members or friends. It can change, I promise. This is SO important to understand.
I use to feel hurt by not hearing the kind words my husband would say about me to others. I use to feel unloved by him because he could joke around, make fun, or belittle me at home but not say kind things to my face. To hear he was saying kind things to my friends, but never saying them directly to me was just plain weird. After a few years of this, no matter how much we talked about it, I started to believe there was something wrong with me.
I would often make a point of saying kind things directly to him. I wanted him to know how it felt to hear how gifted I thought he was, and how much I loved him. I would pray for him, honor him by respecting his decisions as often as I could. I hoped that he would reciprocate, but to no avail. I tried asking if there was anything I could do to help make his day brighter, hoping it would be an example to him. It never mattered, therefore in my mind, I didn’t matter. I’d become emotionally exhausted thinking about it.
“As long as he says nice things to others, who cares!” one of my close friends said.
Well I cared. I had two sons who were watching the way we treated one another. I couldn’t discuss how I felt with my children without sounding like I was putting their father down, but these were two young men who were learning to do the same thing. I wanted them to have a healthy example of relationships between husband and wife, but I didn’t know how to create it.
Here’s how it all changed
My husband didn’t lack communication skills. He is intelligent and as fearless as they come. He can hold the attention of any man, woman or child by telling stories of his sea tours or how to fix just about anything. People were in awe of his woodworking skills and his knowledge of directions, fishing or most any topic you asked about. So knowing all of this, I assumed it MUST have been something I was doing wrong. Right?
My husband is a great man that was never taught to be; vulnerable, socially graceful or merciful in a consistent manner. In truth, I don’t know too many men today, raised without a father or raised with an angry one, that are. Jon learned that being right was important and belittling was like a game of fun banter. Rarely did a relative or friend compliment their spouse, to their spouse, if ever. They certainly spoke plenty about other women however. (That’s a can of ugly we won’t go into right now but suffice it to say being around people of excellent character helps tremendously). Controlling and harsh was ‘manly’, which is probably why military life suited him just fine.
Uncomfortable means growth and many times goodness
Expressing genuine kindness or being romantic is anything BUT comfortable when you first start out. Especially when you’re use to the opposite. You’d rather do yoga with a blanket over your head than to say or do anything that will cause awkwardness. Its something you try to avoid at all costs because its unfamiliar.
Well guess what? If you were getting paid to do it you’d do it no matter how challenging it was. Understand that you MUST get uncomfortable at times in your marriage because it’s important to growth and to the goodness that comes with it. Believe me (men), there are plenty of benefits to whispering sweet somethings in your wife’s ear.
One of my favorite verses is; “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”
In order to “begin” you have to start somewhere.
I asked my husband this question recently, to verify what I’m sharing here is fact.
“You remember how it use to hurt me when you’d talk to others about me in kind ways, but you wouldn’t say kind things to me directly?”
“Yes.” he replied.
“Can you please help me understand why you did that?” I asked.
I saw my husband look down and reach into his heart for the answer. He responded, “It was uncomfortable. It was much easier to tell someone else than it was to tell you.”
And so it is… Not. About. You.
Major clues of love
I had to understand where Jon came from, his background, his examples, his relationships in the past in order to relax in the truth that it wasn’t anything I was doing wrong. In fact, I was doing a LOT of things right, but he didn’t know how to receive them. Once I accepted this, I realized it was now my turn to find grace and mercy. I asked God to renew my mind. I made the decision to never let his words bother me again. To only see the things he does around me, with me and for me, as his way of showing love.
Occasionally Jon asks me what he can do to make my life easier, and I will tell him. If these moments go unnoticed, or are taken for granted, you’ll be missing out on a whole lotta lovely experiences, expressed by the one who finds it uncomfortable to say how amazing and beautiful he/she really thinks you are.
* He got up last and made the bed. I love that.
* He found an old clock movement by digging in old boxes in the basement. I didn’t know we had it but he knew I needed it.
* He made a few blocks for me to complete my wood working project.
* He brought up the Christmas decorations from the basement.
* He went to play golf and on the way home asked if there was anything I needed. Then picked up the items at the store.
* He made his own dinner since I was in the middle of several projects.
* He made coffee for our guest.
For him, these things express his love without the need to say a single word. To me, they are a treasure trove of moments that I never want to take for granted. He loves me. I know it. He’s here because he chooses me. He tells me kind things often now, but not because he’s comfortable. He tells me kind things because he understand that learning something new is often uncomfortable.
Sometimes he says I’m pretty stinking fabulous with his mouth, but most times he shows it with his whole heart. Either way, I’m one blessed gal with a lot to be thankful for. I told him so before we went to bed that night. He turned the compliment back on to me instead of accepting it. We still have work to do in some areas, but all in good time.