When You Feel Very Alone in your Marriage

Written by Sheila Wray Gregoire

In the Christian wife/Mommy blogosphere, a lot of patterns are evident.  Many of us who write give very similar advice. Rely on God. Focus on being the best wife you can be, not on changing your husband. Care for your marriage & kids first. Create a nice home. These things are all true, and I hope that people can come here for some encouragement in doing the most important job in the world!

I think most of you who do come here come to get help around the edges. In general, things are going well, but they could always use some tweaking!  Most of my posts, I think, are written with these types of readers in mind. You have a family you’re committed to, and you’re trying to work the kinks out. You love your husband, even if he does have faults (which you can obviously name).

Sometimes, though, people live in a much more desperate situation. I was talking to a friend who finally ended a very dysfunctional marriage last year. She said that sometimes she would read my blog and feel so sad, because it didn’t matter how much she did what I said, nothing every changed. The typical answers and typical advice weren’t cutting it.

Married, but alone

A lot of women out there feel very alone in their marriages, and if you’re in a marriage where you have found your soul mate, try to put yourself in these women’s shoes for a moment. Here’s a comment that was left yesterday:

I still can’t get myself to accept things. My husband does not have a physically demanding job. The past 4-5 months especially have been easy. He is admittedly not doing anything at work.

I cook, I clean. I care for the kids when they’re sick, no matter what time of day or if he’s off work. I run our special needs child to his three-days-a-week appointments. One of those days my other son has an appointment at the same place so of course he goes as well. Sick or not, I take care of the kids. I had the flu two years ago and the first day I was sick he dealt with the kids, but after that? He was pissed that I was still laying around and not doing anything so he got to slamming our bedroom door when he’d go out, not shushing the kids if/when they got loud, etc. That’s one of many times where he’s been less than considerate.

Of course if he has a headache and stuffy nose he’s swearing he has a migraine and he take several different types of medication and sleeps for 10-11 hours straight, yelling if the kids are getting loud.

We’re supposed to move and our house is nowhere near ready to put on the market. It should have been on by now but while he had 3 months to lay the new flooring in our house, he didn’t finish. One room still needs to be done. I, on the other hand, have all of the daily issues on top of painting every room in the house, getting the outside painted, repainting our kitchen cabinets, painting the cabinets in the hall and bathrooms, redoing the tile in our hall bath, rebuilding our master bath shower that he gutted two years ago and never finished, tiling both bathroom floors, de-cluttering and organizing so that the movers know what is storage and what goes.. I don’t have the money to hire those jobs out so I have to do it.

He occasionally mows the yard, and when our kids start a sport he’s gung-ho in the beginning but by the second week in he’s sighing and rolling his eyes when I ask if he’s taking one of our boys to practice. Inevitably they’ll have at least one practice or game per week that coincides with the other’s practice or game, and I count myself fortunate if they’re in the same park or building. Many times they aren’t and because he’s oh-so-worn out and has computer games to play, I’m running like a headless chicken. Throw in an active toddler and I’m busy, worn out, worn down, and just plain beat.

Yes, I’m bitter and resentful, not to mention completely jealous of women who have husbands who help out even when the husband has a busy work schedule.

Don’t suggest I have a talk with him because I have. Many, many times. And many times he’s sworn he’ll change and help out. The only reason I’m still with him is because when I left him a few years ago I couldn’t get a job anywhere and began having anxiety attacks. Not to mention lack of support from family and being made to feel like we’d worn out our welcome and I needed to quit being a child and just go back to my husband. So here I sit.

I can feel this woman’s pain. Can you? Honestly, what would you do if you were married to a man who did not care for your kids, played computer games all day, and didn’t lift a finger to help you? Now, admittedly, we’re only getting this woman’s side of the story, but I have talked to women who are living something very similar. It happens. Very frequently.

So what would you say to her? I’m going to take a stab at it now, but I invite you to answer in the comments, too. Perhaps we’ll have different approaches to it, but hopefully we can offer something that would be helpful.

First, let me say that To Love, Honor and Vacuum was written exactly for women going through this. In fact, I based the book on two women I was close to who were experiencing virtually exactly the same thing. So I know from whence I speak.

And let me tell you what I told them. You cannot change him; you can only change yourself. But you have a lot of power within you to change. God is there to help you create a godly home, where everyone respects each other and grows closer to Him. That is what He wants. Your job is to ask God to show you how to build respect and godliness within your home.

Part of that job may be to stop enabling others to act in an unChristlike manner. It sounds like you do all the housework, and he does very little. That means that you do a lot for him. You don’t have to keep doing this. You could sit down and tell him that you are exhausted, and some things are going to have to come off of your plate. Offer him alternatives. But show him that some of these things will directly affect him. (Laundry, for instance, or making the kinds of meals he likes. If you can live on sandwiches & cereal, it’s a lot easier to make, and it’s still nutritious!). Then take some of that time that you save and use it to do your devotions, to have a bath, to knit, to relax, to do what you need to do to rejuvenate. Don’t do it to punish him; do it to create a new dynamic so that you can keep going.

If you’re busy running the children everywhere, and he won’t help, ask him what it would take for him to start driving a child to soccer. Ask him if this is possible. Don’t ask him when you’re angry; ask him because you simply want help. If he can’t give it, you’re no worse off than you are now. But ask him what is keeping him from doing it? Is he not getting enough sleep?

Or take it from a different perspective. Ask him what are the most important goals he has in life. Share with him yours. Write them on your fridge. Now ask how he’s meeting them. If he wants to be a good father, then ask him how you can help him engage with the kids during the week. Does he want to take soccer? Bath time?  Bedtime? If he doesn’t, and he’d just like to play computer games, then ask him how he’d like the kids to think of him. Does he want them to remember him always being on the computer, or does he want them to remember him cheering them at games?

But if he just won’t, you have a decision to make. Can you keep living like this? If you were a single parent, you could not do it all. You could not run a house and keep the kids in all kinds of activities and hold down a job. You couldn’t. You would get help, or you would cut things out.

So if your husband won’t help, you basically are acting as a single parent. What will you cut out? Even if your husband has abdicated responsibility for the family, you can’t. And you can’t abdicate your responsibility to your marriage, either. I would suggest getting the kids out of activities as much as possible and making your schedule as easy as possible, so that you don’t burn out and you can keep going.

Finally, make family fun. Cut down as much as you can so you can get enough rest and sleep. And then use that energy to make your home fun. Play games. Go for walks. Laugh a lot. When family is fun, he’s more likely to want to be involved. When it’s all chores, he won’t. And the more unhappy you are, and the more you nag him, the more he will retreat.

Some people are just plain selfish. He very well could be one of these. Your job is to find peace and fulfillment in God, and then find ways to transfer that peace and fulfillment to the rest of those in your family. Don’t always resent. Don’t let yourself get bitter. Change your family life so that you do have more energy and things do get done.

Oh, and about the house: stop it. Don’t move. Stay there. Don’t put it on the market. So you lose money. I know that’s tough. But if you are always stepping in and doing everything, he never will step up to the plate. Talk about what’s reasonable for both of you to do, and then you do your part. If he doesn’t do his, then you can’t sell the house. Don’t nag him about it. Simply do your part. Whether or not he does his is up to him. And if he starts to suffer financially for it, then maybe that will inspire a burst of energy. Right now, he’s probably waiting for you to come through, like you always have in the past. Don’t enable irresponsibility.

One other thing about how to act biblically in marriage: there are two sides to the Proverbs 31 woman. First, yes, she did a ton and cared for her family well. But second, she had help, as someone pointed out in the comments yesterday. She had servant girls, but she also had a husband who was engaged in the family business, too. He was in the public square, transacting business, where he praised her. Yes, we’re to be the Proverbs 31 woman, but it’s difficult to do all of this without at least some help. If you don’t have that help, I think you need to readjust what’s expected of you so you don’t burn out.

God designed marriage to be a genuine partnership. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s very lopsided. Now if your spouse isn’t much of a partner, that doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to live up to your partnership. We’re to care for our homes and our kids and our husbands regardless. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and it doesn’t mean that we should do everything for those who persist in laziness, enabling very un Christ like behavior.

So that’s what I’ve got to say. What about the rest of you? Any thoughts on how to help her? Am I being too easy? Too harsh? What do you think?

This blog was originally posted on tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com . Used with permission.

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116 Responses to “When You Feel Very Alone in your Marriage”

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Marilyn,
    I am so glad that you found our website and left a comment. It’s hard to feel like you are all alone in your situation, even though it sounds like it has improved over the last few months. However there are still circumstances that are far from ideal. May I suggest that you might find it very helpful to interact with one of our online mentors who will email with you personally and walk alongside of you? Just fill out the form on this page and someone will be touch with you. http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    As the author of this article states, ‘God designed marriage to be a genuine partnership. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s very lopsided. Now if your spouse isn’t much of a partner, that doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to live up to your partnership. We’re to care for our homes and our kids and our husbands regardless. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and it doesn’t mean that we should do everything for those who persist in laziness, enabling very un Christ like behavior.’

    I would suggest that you set aside some time to talk to your husband without the kids present about what happened to his desire to complete his bachelor’s degree and beyond. You may find out that he too has some disappointments that he is dealing with and it will help to share those together.

    In closing let me pray for you:

    Dear Heavenly Father,
    I lift Marilyn up to you right now. Thank you that there have been some positive changes in her marriage in the last few months but there is still a ways to go. Help her and her husband to find a way to communicate better and to truly become a partnership in their home and their family. Give her the determination to put You first in her life Lord, and to live totally for You regardless of what he does. Thank you that You give us grace and strength for one day at a time in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Amen

  • Marilyn says:

    I think the woman in this post is lucky. My husband began verbally abusing me after we got married, which rolled into spousal neglect, emotional abuse, and then finally physical abuse. And when I ask him to talk to anyone about the physical abuse, he always brings up the fact that I started it because I slapped him in the face when he called me a B**** C**T WH**E, to which then he repeatedly punched me. WE have been married almost 8 years now, yes I know i’m an idiot for not leaving, I should have we both admit to that. But how he has changed a little it has been almost a year since he punched me last, and a few months since he called me a B. and he thinks he is all better, but he still doesn’t realize that The entire house hold with 4 young children aged 6, 4, 2, and 1 is not all my burden to bear. Just tonight he was yelling at me about how messy our house is when he has not done a thing to help in months. I even have to remind him a thousand times to take the garbage out. And of course he is one of those people who gets everyone else on their side. He use to talk to his parents all the time about how bad of a house keeper I am… we have 4 kids… so when ever his parents here me say anything of the likes about him not helping his father always gives me a phrase like, “well my wife is just a good 1950′s house wife” actual quote. I am so lonely. and to think when we married he told me he was called to be a pastor and a missionary, and that in a year he would be leaving for seminary after completing his bachelors degree. Now it is nearly 8 years later, he still hasn’t gotten his bachelors degree. I know I am called to be a missionary, I just don’t know what to do anymore. I am so alone.

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up my sisters and brothers to you who have gone through being left alone in there marriages. I pray that they will learn to spend time with you into this situation in there lives. In Jesus Mighty name Amen

  • Melissa says:

    My husband of almost 3 years is so much like this story. The only difference is that I AM functioning as a single parent – I hold down the full time job, pay him an allowance, take care of all household bills and finances, am looking at foreclosure due to a job loss in 2012 and having difficulty finding full time permanent employment – and the mortgage company is now looking to recoup the money I could not pay in monthly unreasonable installments.
    When I talk about taking away his “allowance” so I can focus the money on the bills and our young son (and I also provide for his other kids when they are with us) – he gets angry and threatens me. He sends messages “don’t take away my money or else!!!”.
    He is verbally abusive, has been physical a few times (nothing major, but close enough), and his nights out with friends or time with video games comes above me and the kids.
    He is in school for a 2 year degree, not finished and over $20,000 in debt (thankfully my name NOT attached to that), and watches our son 1 day a week, so I still have to pay daycare. He refuses to get another job with steady hours, and why would he? He has everything taken care of by me.
    Then he still gets on my case about not getting ALL of his needs met – and I try, but honestly I’m dealing with a spoiled teenager, not a husband, so it is difficult to be intimate when I’m dealing with all of this stress.
    The job I’ve been in since June 2013 pays well, but I’m in a situation where people are harassing me and trying to find things to get me fired.

    My christian friends are saying I need to look to leave him because I have my child to be concerned with, and the added stress of caring for him and his kids is taking its toll. Although I love my son’s brothers and do not want him to lose that relationship, my sanity is all but going out the window.

    I know that as a christian woman, I am to continue looking to God for my needs and comfort and I do that. But at what point can we say enough is enough? My husband goes to therapy but doesn’t think he has a problem. He says it is all my fault (including his drinking problem) – he is always looking for the easy way out. I am criticized by him for not keeping an uncluttered house, but after work and picking up my son during the week I’m exhausted and mentally drained.

  • Rodney says:

    My wife and I will soon be married 22 yrs and recently she changed jobs and a coworker and my wife are really close to the point where they talk at work the she comes home and they text all night and that means on game night movie night at storeseven when we went out for Valentine’s day in the B&B they had to text they have been running me down for me wantingmy wife and I to spend qquality time with the family and together and I get told at bedtime night love you and her friend gets goodnight sleep tight love you pleasant dream hope you sleep good etc in the morning I don’t get anything but her friend gets good morning its a beautiful morning and a wonderful day how did you sleep etc they say I’m not going to separate them and I have been praying real hard for Gods hand in this I’m not saying she can’t have friends but they take over her life they control her and if I say anything she gets nasty and she never tells the truth I catch her in lies all the time I would like info sent to.me so I can send it to her

  • Pam says:

    I look at all these comments and everyone has put up with conflicts in their marriages for years..as for me I recently got married last year and already things are getting out of hand and i just feel more restless through the days. I feel that i can connect to the same story, finding my husband is always playing computer games since he just got laid off and now finding out that we are pregnant doesnt make anything better. I feel that we both dont even connevt like we used to anymore, hes doimg his own thing in the room while im around the house doing chores and everytime I ask if he help me do just one thing it would take him longer than 20 minutes to do it so I would do it myself instead. When I am dreadful tired and I cant handle things since im prego and large he says to rest but then I tell him to help me do it so the job can be done then he says im nagging that if I dont want to do it then to just leave it for someone else to do it. On the other hand we live with the n laws so it doesnt make things any better. Before I got married I had a job was going to college and went to church like 3 times a week and doing praise and worship, since marriage I have felt weak and even farther from christ, im barefoot and pregnant with a husband who doesnt want anything involved with going to sunday class or service because he says that those things dont matter. I only hope and pray for the best of our future especially our baby and I only want my husband to be a good role model for our son.
    I am spiritually hungry for God so much I need to go to another women of faith event to be captured in Gods prescence again. I dont have any friends or family that I could talk to or trust so its so hard. Especially when I need my mothers shoulders and shes not there, I need someone and my husband is not there for me like how he should be. Its like I have to find a peaceful place where I can fall on my knees and pray to God in tears, surrendering myself to Godd. I only want to do my best for my husband and show him how much I respect him if only he could see and respect me for all that I do. Please pray for me. Thank you

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Joji, I am sorry that you have suffered at the hands of your husband for so long. How has this impacted your relationship with God?

  • joji says:

    Samantha speaks truth. LEAVE WHILE U R STILL.YOUNG AND PRETTY!!Selfish narcissistic jerks never change. God did not design u to be a DOORMAT. Sign me wasted twenty (20!) years trying to bring respect and gods go0d vibes to our lives But got nothing but abused sick tired empty broke and broken.

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up Jeff and any who read this blog, that You will comfort them in family life and support them in what they are doing in there family. In Jesus Mighty name amen

  • jeff ashton says:

    i am a loving caring and affectionate husband.I feel so alone in my marriage.My wife is so preoccupied with what is going on with her mind and body,that she wont even let me love her.I am not talking about sex.I do not even dare bring that up.I know she loves me however she sure does not know how to show it.She insist on pulling away.She is as honest and faithful
    as they come.She is aware and admits to me her short comings as a wife to me.However what she says one moment and does the next are entirely different words and actions. We are both believers however ….living lost and alone

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Wow Jackie you sound really discouraged and angry.Have you and your husband ever gone for counseling or some kind of marriage weekend? Perhaps trying to open lines of communication might help. We have an awesome partner ministry that puts on weekends for couples. You can find the location of one close to you by either going to the Canadian site, http://powertochange.com/familylife/ or the American site at http://www.familylife.com/events.

    Can I ask you a personal question? Have you got a relationship with Jesus? The reason I ask because I can honestly say that He is our greatest source of comfort, but He also uses His people to help minister to the needs of others. Perhaps you would like to connect with one of our online Mentors who can come along your side and encourage you through this heartache. Here is a link if you would like a Mentor to contact you via email: http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/

  • Jackie says:

    I know what your going through. I have put up with my husbands crap for 28 years. He asks like he camps out here. I do everything! If I yell loud enough, he’ll do so something and then he’ll act like its killing him. If doctors were to come in and measure his vitals, they would consider him clinically dead. I’m ready to move on.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Samantha, My heart goes out to you with all that you are dealing with. God does not desire that you remain in such a sadden state of affairs or being. You mentioned, “You do not have anyone…Just The Lord…no one wants to be around anyone who is having trouble.” The Lord is our greatest source of comfort, but He also uses His people to help minister to the needs of others. Perhaps you would like to connect with one of our online Mentors who can come along your side and encourage you through this heartache. Here is a link if you would like a Mentor to contact you via email: http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/

  • Samantha says:

    I am in the exact same situation and have been for many years.. I have tried everything and I am now ready to divorce and maybe have a few good years left to enjoy my life without a nasty husband who never helps me out and expects because he works, that I should be a whipping post for him.. I have prayed to the Lord, and He has not changed me or him.. All I know, is that I am getting sick because of him and I have to leave.. He has caused me so much anxiety, and fear that I have to be away from him.. It is so sad to think that all of these years have been in vain. and now when I am older, I don’t have anyone … I mean I don’t have anyone.. Just the Lord ..no one wants to be around anyone who is having trouble….All I say.. is leave while you are young.. don’t waste your life with someone that doesn’t care for you..like I did.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Shannon, you sound incredibly discouraged. May I suggest that you might find it very helpful to interact with one of our online mentors who will email with you personally and walk alongside of you? Just fill out the form on this page and someone will be touch with you. http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Esther thank you so much for your very wise words!!

    Lynn, my heart goes out to you. You have been in a very difficult situation. You are very right in saying that you have to take care of yourself. But does that have to be at the cost of your marriage? Chuck Swindoll once said, ‘that our outlook on life is not determined by your circumstances, but by your focus.’

    Is it possible to begin to focus on taking care of yourself? Be honest with your husband and let him know why you are doing it. The author of this article says it so well when she writes, ‘You cannot change him; you can only change yourself. But you have a lot of power within you to change. God is there to help you create a godly home, where everyone respects each other and grows closer to Him. That is what He wants. Your job is to ask God to show you how to build respect and godliness within your home.

    Part of that job may be to stop enabling others to act in an unChristlike manner.’

    Happiness or the lack thereof is never a reason for getting a divorce. But there are things that you can do to make changes in your home. I pray that God would give you the strength to do it.

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