When you've told your husband that he needs to improve and instead he gets angry and shuts you out, it's really hurtful.
When he continues to ignore you and do the same things that you told him were bothering you, it can make your blood boil.
He's just not getting it. I mean, does he even care? It certainly doesn't feel like it. Maybe there's something wrong with him, you wonder.
His refusal to change not only hurts, it can make you feel hopeless. It's a lonely and painful place to be, especially because the desire of your heart is to feel your husband pursue you, spend time with you, be affectionate with you, and make you feel loved.
So what can you do? Unless he improves your marriage won't improve because marriage takes two people. It feels like there's just nothing you can do. You've tried everything. You're at the end of your rope!
But here's why you likely have WAY more options than you think.
Allow me to introduce you to the failproof formula for what to do when you're struggling with Mr. Stubborn.
Here's the secret...
Instead of giving him an F for failing you, give him an A, A, A, A, A.... now watch what will automatically happen in your relationship.. It's A for Amazing!
1. A for Acceptance
I'm not talking about putting up with unacceptable behaviors. I'm talking about giving up your strenuous efforts to try to change him. (And putting all that extra time into doing lovely things for yourself...like bubble baths, dancing to fun music, catching up with a friend--you work hard girl! You deserve to treat yourself well!)
Because the problem with constantly telling your husband why he needs to improve (even if he does!) is that it sends him the message: "You are not good enough for me the way you are."
When he hears that the beautiful woman who captivates his heart believes that he's not capable or good enough, all he hears is you don't really love him. (Even if you never said those words! Crazy, right?) For a man, love is acceptance and admiration.
What seems like "honest communication" on what he can do to improve your relationship, he takes as a form of profound rejection. Then he gets angry, and shuts down. (Sound familiar?) It's often because he may not feel your acceptance of him, that will likely lead him to continue doing those painful behaviors, which leaves you feeling even more frustrated! Grrr!
Let me put it this way. Imagine if your husband said to you, "honey, you used to look lovely, but if you could just lose a few more pounds and change your hair style then you'd really be beautiful, and THEN, I would really love you."
You'd probably want to smack him in the face!
That's the female equivalent of the male experience.
Your man cares so deeply for you, but if he feels that you are constantly disappointed in him, he'll feel really demotivated, rather than motivated. He'll begin to feel like no matter what, he just can't win with you. (And we can't have that!!!)
So just for today, experiment with taking your focus off his flaws and put it more towards doing lovely things for yourself (bubble bath, glass of wine, dancing to your favorite tunes, having coffee with a friend) How does it make YOU feel?
2. A for Apologize
If you find that you've been constantly criticizing your husband, it may be that you owe him an apology. Don't worry. I did it too. Like the time I criticized my husband in front of our extended family. It wasn't my best moment and I needed to own up to it.
The good news is that as his wife, you don't have to be his Guardian Angel who sits on his shoulder and tries to help him to become a better man. He already has one of those (wink)
Besides, you have more important things to do like sneaking in a quick nap before your toddler wakes up, painting your toenails and feeling pretty, and catching up on hilarious mom-memes. You're job is much more fun. You get to be the happy fun woman in his life who inspires his sexual attraction to you, so that he pursues you in that attractive masculine way.
Give him the time and space he needs to put his energy into thinking about how best to make you happy. (That's the best!)
3. A for Admire Him
Admiration from his woman is the deepest and most powerful way a man feels loved. It's his core desire in romantic love. Just as your ache to be adored is so deep and so real, so also is his desire to be admired.
So what do you love about your man? Is he looking handsome? Is he super smart? Does he work hard? Do you just love his sense of humor? Think of at least three things you love about him and tell him out loud.
Because there's nothing like the admiration of his woman that deeply touches the heart of a man.
4. A for Appreciate Him
John Paul II notes that one of the most amazing aspects of your feminine genius is being a BRIDE of your bridegroom's heart. What does that look like practically? In his own words:
"The bridegroom is the one who loves, the bride is loved. It is she who receives his love."
RECEIVE HIS LOVE....Oh my gosh. It's just amazing.
Everyone knows it's better to be grateful than ungrateful in relationships. But few reflect on what gratitude has to do with sexual complementarity.
Receiving your husband's love for you is the relationship equivalent of receiving him in sex.
In sex, your man literally spends his whole energy giving himself to you. Your part is to receive him, which has the possibility of producing a mutual climax.
So receiving his love for you is the recipe for feeling outrageously happy. He's absolutely thrilled that he's been able to contribute to your happiness. And just like sex, receiving his love for you brings happiness for both of you together.
You know that expression, "it is in giving that we receive." For wives, it's the opposite. It is in receiving that we give! All you have to do is to just acknowledge his efforts by thanking him, a.k.a. "receiving his love."
What are three things your husband does for you? Tell him you appreciate it.
5. A for Always Return to Your Own Heart
When I found in myself the urge to criticize my husband or find ways I thought he should improve, the truth is that there was something important going on in my own heart.
Truth be told, I was either afraid of something, or I wanted something, usually both together. For example, if my husband was working too much, I feared that he wouldn't be able to watch the kids so I would never get some much needed "me" time. Fear: If I don't help him to be more efficient, I will be stuck in chaos-ville with crying kids endlessly screaming "Mommy!" Desire: I'd like to have a sanity break from the kids so I can get some "me" time.
The urge to criticize your husband's behavior is often a sign that fear is controlling you. (Believe me, I get this and you're totally not alone.) But here's the good news. Your fear is always tied to your underlying desire.
And you have the power to untie them.
In one of his most profound writings on marriage John Paul II insists that the secret to a happy marriage is this:
"Love is always stronger than fear."
Fear says, "I'm so afraid that you'll fail me, so I need to criticize and complain." One wife I coached, Amanda, was afraid that she'd never be able to exercise because her husband has such poor time management. She'd be stuck all weekend watching their baby, while he went back and forth from the hardware store.
Amanda constantly suggested ways he could improve his approach, but it always ended in a fight. What she didn't realize is that constantly questioning her husband's judgment sends the message, "I fear you are incompetent" which is always hurtful to a man.
Her fear was clear, and it was tied to her desire. But I helped her to untie them.
When Amanda zipped her lip about her fears, and only shared her desire, "I want to go jogging on Saturday morning," she found that her husband was more than willing to watch their son on the weekend.
On that day, love became stronger than fear.
And let me just emphasize the "er" in stronger. You may still feel the fear, but you'll get a much better RESULT if you ALWAYS return to your OWN heart, by zipping your lip about what he's doing or not doing and just sharing your own desire instead.
So let me ask you this...
Underneath your fear, what is your desire? ("I would really like_______") Share your heart with your man and trust that he's completely capable of coming through for you.
The love of man and woman isn't just sacrificial love, like volunteering in a soup kitchen.
It's what John Paul II rightly calls "betrothed love." It's a love that vulnerably reveals your own heart and trusts that your man has what it takes to be the hero of your heart.
Because that's how a woman inspires a man.