"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Husbands Leave, Part 1: Significance

Photo from www.fanzwave.net
A couple weeks ago I posted a list I received from someone I met at an Iron Sharpens Iron conference.  My friend had an inventory of reasons husbands leave their wives.  Basically it all boils down to how a man feels about himself when he is with his wife.  You can read my post here.   

The first thing on his list was significance.    Many husbands need to feel significant.  It’s like air or water.  It’s a basic element in a man’s life.  We want to know that we are a high priority; that we matter to those around us, especially our wives.

First let me give a definition of the word significance.  The Merriam – Webster Dictionary defines it as the quality of being important. 

What, then makes a husband feel important when he is with his wife? 

Basically it boils down to this.  When she is willing to put aside other things to spend time with him, or to show him that he takes precedence over everything else (except God, of course), then he will feel significant.

If she places him lower on her list of priorities, he likely will not have a warm fuzzy feeling when he’s around her.  He will be less than satisfied with the marriage relationship, and will be vulnerable and open to temptation by any woman who makes him feel more important than his wife does.

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Scenario 1:

A husband rents a favorite DVD and wants his wife to watch with him.  She is very busy organizing the freezer, then cleaning the oven, so she is unable to watch.  If this happens once, it probably isn’t a big deal.  If it is a consistent pattern, however, it spells trouble.  The husband will eventually stop bringing movies home, and will occupy himself elsewhere instead of with his wife.

Scenario 2:

A husband tries to initiate sex with his wife.  She shares with him a list of things that have to be done around the house.  She lets him know that she is more than willing to “do the deed” after the items on the list are finished.  They both go about their tasks, after which he or she or both fall asleep.  Voila!  He is feeling less important than housework.  Eventually he will just go to bed without her every night, not even bothering to wait up for her.

Scenario 3:

A husband asks his wife to pick up his suit from the cleaners.  It’s important that he have the suit because he has an important meeting in the morning and he wants to give a good impression.  She gets busy with other things during her day and forgets all about the suit.  Again, like in scenario 1, if it is a one-time thing, no biggie.  But if it happens consistently, then clearly he will feel (and rightly so) that he in fact is a very low priority for her.  Eventually he will just take care of his own errands, being self-sufficient, not bothering to ask his wife for a favor.

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You see, husbands need to feel like they matter more than the housework, more than having a clean oven or an organized freezer.  They need to feel significant when they are with you (and when they aren't). 

Don’t get me wrong.  Feeling insignificant is not an excuse for bad behavior such as abuse or infidelity.  However, by choosing to place their husbands lower on the totem pole, many wives face the penalty that comes with making that choice.  They place their marriages in a precarious position.  Even if their husbands don’t run out and grab the first woman who smiles at them, there will be consequences in terms of the lack of loving feelings it produces in the marriage. A husband will be less likely to want to spend time with a person who has placed such little value on his significance.

One deep desire drives every (man’s) heart: we need to be significant. We need to know we matter.  Our need transcends doing something special; we long for being something special.  - Sam Williamson

And, um, before you get all hyper on me and yell at me for ignoring the fact that many husbands place a low priority on their wives … Yes, they do. Granted. There are many men who place jobs, hobbies, friends, etc. far above their wives.  They too will pay for their choices.  And I would address that issue if I were a woman blogging about stuff facing Christian wives, but I am not, so I will stick to what I know and let someone else deal with the flip side.

Let me know what you think about this topic.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.


From the inside out,

TB

22 comments:

  1. I'm guilty. There was a time in our marriage when I put the kiddos ahead of my husband. But, that was just one of several issues (on both of our parts) that needed repaired in the marriage. We have since had a marriage overhaul and thank God daily for the joy we get from our marriage now. Frankly, nothing turns me on more than to see my hubby help around the house. That is not a manipulation. It just tells me how much he values my work around the house which in turn makes me love and respect him all the more.

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  2. I'm glad you and your husband have had such a resurgence in your marriage. Helping around the house should be on every husband's to-do list, not out of duty or guilt, but simply to bless his wife and make her life a bit easier.

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  3. This seems to ignore the fact that we are to receive our significance from God. Our relationship with the Heavenly Father should fill all of us with a feeling of import and significance. The reality is that a man that needs continual validation of his worth from his wife, will be perceived as "needy" and to be honest "needy" is not attractive.

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    1. I agree we should get our significance from God. However, your argument ignores the fact that God created woman to complete man, because he needed a help-meet. Men ARE needy. Our Heavenly Father understood that. He saw man's loneliness and declared that it wasn't good. He provided a help-meet for man so he would have someone to complete him, to give him the daily, on-going stuff he needs, like significance, sex, love, respect, etc.

      Otherwise women would be unnecessary.

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    2. if a husband says he hates himself then not matter how much a wife tries to love him by words or deeds it won't matter. the Bible says, love others as you love yourself. if you don't love yourself, you can't receive or give love

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    3. Hi Thomas,
      yes, a man needs respect and affirmation, and the most significant person from whom to receive it is his wife. No man is an island unto himself.
      It is said that most men need a loving wife to feel worthy and successful in life, but this is a much less common characteristic for women. God made a helpmeet for men, but not for women.

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    4. Thanks TB. This was really enlightening. I also smiled when you said that there will be those who ask, "What about the husbands who do the same to their wives." I loved your response. Yes, stick to what you know, from the man's perspective, and leave the other stuff to the women bloggers. So, as a woman, reading this, I get it and will continue to read your blogs for the reminders. We all know what we should be doing and we all will agree that life gets in the way, no matter what life is at the moment. But, this reminds me to continue to make sure that my husband, after God, is truly a significant part in my life.

      Thanks again.

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  4. I am separated from my wife...she left when after over 30 years of giving, being sexually starved, and being far from a high priority, I disconnected emotionally. She could not handle NOT being the center of my world, even though I was
    barely on the perimeter of hers.

    Your discussion EXACTLY fits, I didn't realize what was happening, but now I see it. I am not sad about the bad treatment I am missing, but I feel as though I lived a lie all of those years. To her I am the bad guy....none of your points would even cross her mind. Stumbling through depression and seeking hope for a future....I appreciate the clarity I received from this, thanks.

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    1. Many times spouses don't realize the damage that is caused by the misplaced priorities. I pray that you work this out. 30 years is a lot of time to throw away.

      Even though she left, I would urge you to still be the husband she needs by loving her, and giving her whatever you can. God bless you.

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    2. I am in the middle of going through what you have (original poster). I have prayed constantly for me, her and our marriage but keep getting beat down from her not keeping her word, not listening what I ask and not making love to me. She used to make love to me which seemed to take care of the other issues but now it just keeps beating me down more and more. I am at a loss other than keep praying and trusting God. There is the other issue of having over $2,000 in a account that has my wife's name and daughters name (my name is not on the account). This money was insurance money to repair our great room ceiling which had leaks. So far God has kept me strong and a couple close brothers have been huge but nothing seems to work. I even loving tell her what she is doing that hurts me and it does not faze her. Any suggestions is appreciated...

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  5. We have been married a little over seven years. It does not matter how hard I try-he still feels unloved. He cheated on me a couple wks ago trying to get my attention, since then and even before I have been trying to understand what it is he needs from me most. He feels that i have only been putting in 2%. Your article makes sense. Hoping it helps and that its not too late for us. To all those who think that a relationship with Christ is supposed to fulfill all our needs-think again please! God created the marriage relationship as a representation of the Christians relationship with Christ. Problems in the marriage may be signaling a lack of surrender in the Christian walk, personal opinion based on my experience.

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    1. I pray that the Lord will heal your marriage.

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  6. I agree that we all have a need for approval, significance, and affirmation. The act of seeking these things from other people indicates a problem with self esteem. The definition of "seeking" is "to pursue, search, follow a path to a goal." A Godly man must seek God. When I stopped pursuing, seeking the favor, approval, affirmation, and esteem of people, I began to find God's approval. Then and only then can I realize the respect of others. A wise man once said, "If you want self-esteem, do esteem-able acts." I have to turn away from (repent) seeking approval/significance from my wife, boss, parent, or any other person, I can turn toward seeking God and then I get what I seek from Him.
    Approval/significance issues always begin long before marriage, and are temporarily met during courtship. To ask or blame anyone other than myself to deal with this spiritual defect, is like walking backwards down the stairs while telling myself I'm getting higher. Like every other aspect of living a life guided by God's Spirit, we all need the help of someone who has been there and experienced God's healing. Sorry this post is so long.

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    1. Respectfully, I disagree.
      If you choose significance from only God that is fine but do NOT get married for you starve your spouse of the attention needed. We are not all one sex on this Earth - obviously we are two. It is our duty to lay down our life for our spouse as Jesus has laid down his life for His bride.

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    2. ... just do it. Don't talk much about the past.
      just rock his world for moment, take a chance, and "your" unimaginable.... chances are he will rethink leaving.

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  7. Sometimes its hard to make him a priority when I work and do all the household chores and pay the bills. I get frustrated because I'm trying to get everything and he is on his cell
    phone looking at car parts or things to put on his facebook page. Dont get me wrong I really do love him but I feel more like a mother than his wife.

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  8. What do you do about the husband that you love with your whole heart, second only to the Lord, and yet who rejects your love when he fills his mind with lies from the enemy about you?

    What do you say to the woman who has been faithful in her marriage, doing all that you outlined...praying over him, loving him, speaking and demonstrating love, choosing to love him even through intense emotional, psychological, and even physical abuse, praising him and his accomplishments...only to be abused again and again, lied to, manipulated, told she is going to be abandoned, blamed for their child's death when she miscarries? What do you say to a woman who loves her husband even when he threatens her life, or tells her he's cheated on her with other women, but then says those were only lies to hurt her? What do you say to the woman who's heart is broken because her husband abandons her with accusations that she's trying to control him because she wants to Skype with him while they are having to spend time apart? What do you say to a woman who wants her husband to know how significant he is to her and tells him every day, but has to stand up to his abuse and tell him what he is doing to hurt her? What do you say to a woman who has had to put distance between herself and her husband because she is afraid for her life? What do you say to the woman who's husband says he's leaving his wife because he hates the way he feels when he's around her, but what he feels is anger, bitterness, hate, and unforgiveness against others that he has displaced on her and is blaming her for, and then feeling guilty because his wife is holding him accountable in order to stop the abuse from continuing? What then? This article tells why a man would leave his wife...like it's all her fault. But what if she's done the best a woman can do under God?

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    1. Sometimes you have to create safety zones in the relationship so your husband cannot continue to inflict pain on you. It's learning to become the captain of your own life. You decide your emotional health, Not letting another dictate or manipulate how your feelings. Expample: if you husband threatens you physically, do not stand for this, call the a higher authority, your dad, his dad, the police, any who can help him understand this is not acceptable.
      If we keep quiet and let unacceptable behavior go on, we are partly to blame. Don't keep quiet and don't allow his evil behavior.
      It's call tough love. So set limits on what you will accept and what you will not.

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  9. Very true. This is very difficult to communicate to a wife out of fear of looking "needy" which in itself is an unattractive trait to women. Or, if the wife has a tendency to be reactive we often feel we'll only make matters worse. So... you make do with what you got, lower your expectations and remind yourself "Life's not about me." Probably not very healthy I know, looking forward to reading more.

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  10. It is best to just keep your head down and try not to make her mad. I mean really, when you get married you cease to exsist as an individual and everything becomes hers. The money, the house, the cars, the kids, and you, are all hers. I didn't think like that until she made it a point to "educate" me on the fact that she not only owned everything but that she can and will use the police department to enforce that ideology. Trust me, when your sitting on your couch in the evening and the police come into your house.... I mean your wife's house and arrest you for something you didn't do and by the time you get cuffed and taken out all her friends are waiting in the yard to watch so that she makes sure everyone knows your a bad person and you had better stay in your place. There is really nothing you can do. Best advice, do not get married then there is no issue and use disrection when having children or wind up like me. Getting up at 3am and working until 8pm so your "wife" can have a nice life and brag to her friends how much she has while she slaps you in the back of the head and orders another drink....

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  11. For 18 years I did not understand the damage I was doing to my husband and our marriage. Now that's husband wants to leave I get it. Why was I so blind? I want another chance but he is very closed physically and emotionally. What can I do to show him I desire him above all else.

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  12. This is where i fit on my wife's list. 1 - God, which should be first, so completely on board with that.
    2 - The children - again as it should be. Now here's where things go askew. 3 - a hot cup of coffee. 4 - keeping up with Facebook posts. 5 - Pintrest. 6 - the dog. And finally 7 - Time with me....tentatively.

    I'm a guy that could have sexual relations on at least a daily basis, but that is even further down her list than time with me, and I am lucky if it happens once per week. I wasn't always this way and no matter how much I do, around the house or romantically, nothing seems to change this....even after she once said "well if you did more around this house maybe I would be more willing to have intercourse", and I diligently tried this for quite a while, but when nothing changed I just gave up. I love my wife dearly, but I'm afraid that if presented with the opportunity I would probably stray just for the affection of a woman.

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