When Your Spouse Isn’t Who You Thought He was

Spouse is not who I think he is

Your spouse: you chose him, and he chose you.

Only thing is, sometimes it seems your spouse isn’t who you thought he was. At least, sometimes he’s not. Maybe he was different when you were dating or maybe you just didn’t pick up on those idiosyncrasies. Perhaps you didn’t listen to the advice of others or maybe everyone else thought he was the guy for you and you didn’t consider otherwise. Maybe you’ve just figured out that he is just like your dad (which might not be all bad), but you don’t want your marriage to be like your parents’. Or you wish he was more like your dad, but he isn’t.

Perhaps you thought you knew him well enough – and you were certain love would carry you through.

And now? Now he’s not your prince charming, and sometimes not your protector.

You feel hung. Hurt or betrayed. Hemmed in.

Sometimes you feel a little scared. Did you make a mistake?

What were you thinking? You thought you knew him pretty well, but did you?

So what do you do?

You’re a Christian. You believe in “’til death do us part.” You know this is right – and good.

But sometimes it’s hard and a little scary.

You want a happy marriage – a good marriage,

but you’re not sure what to do about some of your feelings and some of your fears.

When we struggle with life, there isn’t always a simple formula to make things right. It’s not an easy three-step thing we can do that guarantees success. So we flounder – and we wonder who to talk to and what to do. Really, who wants to share with someone else that marriage is more difficult than easy?!

Whisper in your spouse's ear.

Let me tell you some things that will guarantee your success as a spouse.

These are not things that most folks will tell you to do. In fact, some folks will tell you to do the opposite. You’ll have to decide for yourself because only you can walk this journey. You’ll have to decide what outcome you want and then choose the path that brings you that outcome. I can assure you that, if you do these things consistently, it will make a difference in your spouse and in your marriage. Guaranteed, it will make a difference in you.

  1. Commitment. It will make or break your marriage! You’ve got to be committed to your marriage and to your man. This means even when you disagree with him or you find him unattractive, you stay committed. If you allow your mind to think of Divorce, then how committed are you? That word shouldn’t be in our vocabulary if we plan to be committed for life and until death parts the two of us. If you’re both committed, then you will find a way to work things out. It doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead. It doesn’t mean that you become a martyr because you believe divorce is wrong. You stay committed to the person and to the principle of being one. That means you work at becoming united in the things that matter. You won’t give up or give in to anything less. You’ll hang in there while you work through things. You’ll disagree and cry, you’ll feel discouraged and want to give up, but you’ll stay in that place of commitment.
  2.  Communicate.  Men are often clueless about things they say and do that cause hurt. Educate him in a respectful way. Talk. Tell him. Don’t hide your feelings. Think ahead what you can say so you will be kind yet firm. Choose the right place and the right timing. Don’t say, “You always” OR “You never,” ’cause it just ain’t so, ever. Instead, explain to him so he can understand. Use these words: “When you . . . it makes me feel . . . ” In using these words, you’re telling him what he has done and how it makes you feel. You’re not accusing him of not caring, just that it makes you feel like he doesn’t care. Try saying, “When you fail to ____, it makes me feel unloved.”  “When you wouldn’t go to ____ with me after  I asked you to, it really made me feel that I’m not important to you.” He won’t know unless you communicate with him. Don’t withhold how you feel about your hurts or failures. It’s never right to keep your mouth shut so he won’t be upset or because it’s not worth the price you might have to pay. Keep talking, keep telling him, keep respecting him and thanking him when he does things that are right and good.
  3. Change yourself. Don’t try to change him. Yep. Ask God to change you. Ask God to help you love and respect this man to whom you have committed your life. Remember the things that attracted you to him before marriage. Focus on those things, for starters. Now add to your list. Ask God for wisdom, then listen to the wisdom you get from God – and do it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive in your man. That’s changing you by changing your outlook. Make a note of the things he does right and that he does well. Focus on the positive and not the negative. If it helps, make a list of things you like about him (then whisper those things, one at a time, in  his ear.) Keep praying and asking God for wisdom. Keep praying for your man, and ask God to help you change you. Give God permission to work in the heart of your spouse, but don’t tell God what to do or how to do it or when to do it!
  4.  Respect. This is a basic need of any man and husband. He’d rather hear that you respect him than that you love him. ‘Don’t believe me? Ask him! My husband will vouch for that. Respect is a basic need of any man and of any husband. That’s why scripture tells the wife to reverence her spouse instead of telling her to love him. If he has your respect and admiration, he will want to conquer the world. A sincere husband will want to make you happy if he knows he has your admiration. It’s not good enough to just not say anything negative. You’ve got to show and say positive things and let the world know you’re proud that he’s your man. You’ve got to say it and show it by how you act. Things you say to him or about him to others tells the world whether or not you respect this man. Believe me, it shows. When you let your spouse know he has your respect and your admiration, he will want to do things to help you feel special.

When spouse isn't who you thought he was

Marriage brings together two people from different families. Sometimes they are from different communities, different cultures, and different backgrounds. No matter how much alike you thought you were, you’re still different.

A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes work.

But oh, is it ever worth the sweat and tears! I can’t guarantee that following these steps will change your spouse, but I know they will change you. Your outlook will change and you won’t need to feel hemmed in and scared anymore. I think that, in time, you’ll see some neat changes in your spouse as well. You might be surprised; he might just become even better than you ever thought he’d be!

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  1. Wow. These words have helped me! And gave me a slap in thr face that i needed! But i needed to hear this! I hope by changung myself i can bring the best out in me and in him and hope that thing get better.

  2. Bless you, Karla. The things I write are often from (at least part of) my own experience, so believe me when I tell you that I can identify. You’re on the right path though. Hang in there! Keep doing what you need to do – and you will find joy. I also think you’ll see some amazing differences in your marriage, in time. Let’s pray for some great surprises!

  3. I’m so tired of googling for marriage advice and finding these phony, pseudoscience bible blogs. How are you even close to the front page? I want advice based on evidence, not some wishy washy book written by men thousands of years ago. I mean, Timothy 2:12, come on.

  4. Dear Just Looking for Answers,
    Thanks so much for dropping in and sharing your perspective. Wow. It sounds like you are really frustrated. I’m sorry.

    For starters, the “examples” I gave on this blog are from actual gals that I know. They range in age from 25-60. I’ve heard their stories and I’ve learned from some of them. I’ve also been able to share my experiences with others. The situations are typical of folks I know.

    Good marriages have struggles. There is no quick remedy or solution even for a good marriage. It takes time, commitment, effort, and perseverance. A lot of times there is hurt and there are tears. Yet I know that what I shared in this blog post works – because I have experienced it.

    In a few weeks, Dave and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. If I had the chance to go back and choose, I’d still choose this man. BUT we have had struggles and hardships and there were days I wondered who in the world this man is that I married!

    So the advice I shared in this blog post comes out of 32+ years of personal experience (which you could call evidence). As a teenager, I observed marriages – some happy ones and some certainly unhappy ones. I knew what kind of marriage I wanted, and I talked to the folks who had good marriages to see what made their marriage “work.” I got advice from experienced people who had been married for 20, 30, 40 years and had the evidence of a good marriage as proof. You know what? The advice I was given then and the advice I follow now came from that Book written by men thousands of years ago.

    Studies today validate that men desire respect more than love, more than sex, and more than fame. Studies also show that women desire love more than sex and more than fame. These are secular studies that have nothing to do with the advice in this Book. Google is a great tool to find these studies!

    So no matter who we want to credit with these principles, they work. I believe they work because the idea comes from the One who created me. Even if someone doesn’t believe in a Creator-God, the principles still work. If a person wants to have a good marriage. IF a person chooses to believe the Bible, then the reference I gave in Ephesians explains the basic need that comes out in these studies. But you don’t have to believe that this book of Ephesians is really valid today to have a good marriage. All you have to do is find people who have the kind of marriage you want and find out what they do. Truly good marriages are sometimes hard to find, I know. Yet I have some good marriages around me, and I know what they do – (evidence) – and I know they are out there.

    You know what? I think you’ll find that those folks follow the same principles I do. It might not be for the same reasons, but they have found the formula that works for a good marriage. You can take God out of the equation and just practice these principles without prayer and without believing in God. For example, in #3, you can decide to focus on the positive and focus on changing your attitude and your outlook on your own. You don’t have to believe in this book written by men thousands of years ago. Folks who do this are often surprised at how much it will change things in a home. (I personally believe that praying about it helps me stay focused, and I believe I have experienced strength that is not my own, but I’m not here to debate that point. A person does not have to pray to follow this suggestion.) In #4, you can practice showing respect because I have told you from my experience that it works and because other women I know have practiced this principle and it works. It’s not a magic formula, but it it is evidence, and I know it works.

    You don’t have to think that Ephesians is valid because it was written by men thousands of years ago. Forget that this principle is there in the Bible. Yet folks can learn from someone human like me that showing respect for your spouse will change the way he feels and responds to you and it will improve your relationship and your marriage. If a person is struggling in a marriage, for example, the worse thing she can do is find someone who has it as bad as she does and then start commiserating together. (Oh wow, have I ever seen this happen! The blind leading the blind, and they both stay in the ditch.) 🙁 The best thing one can do is find someone who has a marriage like the one you’d like to have, and then learn their “secret”.

    I’m not a doormat or a slave; I’m not a servant or a sexual object. I am a woman dearly loved by a man I respect and admire. I am pampered, pursued and loved, taken care of emotionally and physically (and spiritually, if that matters to anyone else who is reading this.) My sisters-in-law tell me I’m spoiled. Most days, I am. Other days, we struggle to get through a situation and have to re-work these principles. I think you’ll find that the things I said in this blog are the things that make a good marriage great. You’ll never know until you try. 🙂

    If you’d like to PM or continue communicating via email, you are welcome to do so.

    I wish you well and hope that you can find answers in your quest. 🙂

  5. I appreciate the article, but im just not sure how to respect (admire)someone who isnt self motivated anymore. I dont think he ever was i just never saw it due to lust and now 23 yrs later Im tired. I have to motivate myself to stay away from depression and mental issues. He plays phone games for about 10 hrs a day, works out for an 1hr, sleeps about 8 the other 5 or so he is watching t.v sports but still messing with his phone

  6. Thanks for dropping in. I am out of town for an event, so I will respond to you next week. Is that okay? If you can give me your email, I will be happy to write to you privately. My email is: mywindowsill6@gmail.com

    Blessings to you!

  7. Hi Kei,
    I have not heard from you, but would love to chat if you are able. Please let me know if you’d like to continue the conversation, and how. 🙂

  8. Hi Gertrude,

    My husband and will shortly be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. I accidentally found out he had some things on his phone. An emergency in January this year landed him in the hospital for a week. In setting things up in his room, I was plugging in his cell phone while he slept and a message popped up on his screen that included an inappropriate conversation with another woman. I was shocked. I had never suspected such or had seen any sign of him conversing with anyone else in the manner that this conversation held in all the times I’d known him. I felt (still feel) completely betrayed. When I asked him about it a couple of weeks later and when he was feeling better, he said that he had not had an affair. It was just talk. I won’t happen again. I regret to say it has. Not with just the one woman, but at least 3 others. He’s not the man of high values I thought he was. But out of all of this heart-ache, I realized something – an epiphany of sorts. I had put him on a perfect pedestal – without truly knowing it. Something I promised myself I’d never do. I’ve forgiven him, I know he still does it, I pray for him regarding this matter. I can’t change him. Only he, through Jesus’ hands can change it. God and I have to work on myself, my self-esteem (that took a hard blow) and my relationship with my savior. I will not divorce over this. I just have to make sure I’m okay. Right now, I’m not but am seeking Christian Counseling. Thanks for this post.

  9. Thanks for dropping in. I have sent you a private email. Hugs to you – and prayers.

  10. Hi Gertrude,
    I loved the article and do believe what you wrote could work. However, my situation is more complicated due to my husband’s ADHD and the way both our families modeled love. I would love to chat with you more as I think your attitude and advice could benefit me and my marriage, if you have the time.

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