Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

How to Love When You Feel Unloved

on October 2, 2013

In the spirit of truth-sharing, I’ll tell you that being the wife I am called to be is my weak area, my Achilles heel. I never feel so much like Paul in Romans 7, battling with the flesh, as when marital issues arise. How can I love my husband when I myself feel so unloved? Often Satan and sin have me so ensnared that I even become confused as to what “right” really is.
How to love when you feel unloved, Christian marriage, difficult marriage, feeling unloved

Lately I’ve been reminded of this weakness as our marriage is under extra strain.  I could make excuses.  Truthfully, the pressure just brings forth what is already there, lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to rise up.  Like many married couples, we tend to get caught up in the cycle of an argument that’s been played out time and time again.  And that can be so frustrating!  Revisiting those same issues makes us feel like failures, trapped by the past, stalled in our progress.

marriage, troubled marriage, feeling unloved, encouragement for marriage

But I’m not satisfied with a marriage that’s merely okay, and I mean that in the best of ways, I really do.  I desperately want to grow ever closer to the type of intimacy God intended for us  to experience as man and wife. I don’t want to be fatalistic or resigned in my outlook, even though I may feel that way at times.  Because if I settle for “this is as good as it gets,” then where is my hope in the God who transforms souls, including my own?

Marriage is hard work, just like parenting is hard work.  If it were easy, we would not be challenged to grow!  Marriage teaches me things about myself that I loathe: how selfish I am, how easily offended, how weak and needy.  But unless I see the truth of where I stand, what chance do I have to move on from that spot?

By far the most difficult times in our marriage occur when we are both bearing unusual burdens that slowly wear us down, burdens like extended illness, or financial stress, or parenting issues, or major decisions, or unpredictable catastrophes.  We’re both weak.  We’re both worn and frayed.  We’re both longing for rest.   You’ve been there before, I’m sure – those times in life when you both feel like you need a good long vacation from reality.  🙂

As much as I’d like to blame our marital strife on my husband’s inadequacies, I know the issues at hand aren’t his alone.  We’re called to be sacrificial in our love for one another, but when I’m already at the end of my rope, I often feel there is nothing left to give.   I become selfish; I withhold kindness.  I justify.  How can I lift my husband up when I can barely lift myself up, Father?

Sacrificial Love, marriage, how to love, feeling unloved, hope

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this, this desire we wives have to be rescued by our husbands when the going gets tough.  This desire to have men of strength come charging in to save the day. This desire to let ourselves be the weak ones for once.  This desire to feel protected and cherished and cared for.  Because for all of our outward strength (and we mamas are masters of disguise), we often harbor needs that remain hidden.

The problem is that in wishing my husband would take on that role of Rescuer, I’m asking him to fill a space only our Father God can truly fill.   When I ask him to fill up that empty space, I’m asking to be disappointed.  My husband is imperfect.  Sometimes he lets me down, as I do him.  Sometimes he needs a Rescuer just as I do.  Sometimes he is weak.  He is only human after all.  My desire for him to be what even I cannot is quite unfair, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.  I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me?  How do I overcome the seeming injustice so that I can be the wife after God that my heart desires to be?  How can I be so filled with the Spirit, with the Father’s love for my husband, that I have a constant and abundant supply to give?

Honestly, I have no clear answers. I have only ideas, inklings of what it takes.  Prayer would be a good start.  Telling God where I’m really at, even if it’s ugly.  Letting Him know how unfair it feels, how hurt I am, how afraid.  Asking Him to bring light to the Enemy’s lies, lies about how it will never change, about how it never has changed, about how you’re stuck.  They are Satan’s favorite lies. You’re trapped in this loveless marriage forever! He’s unfair!  He doesn’t appreciate you!  You shouldn’t have to put up with this! (I think Satan might be the biggest drama queen of all.)

Fear versus Trust

Praying for supernatural intervention helps.  God can change my husband’s heart, as well as my own, quicker than an hours-long “discussion.”  He can give me a supernatural love for my man, something that is not naturally “in me.”  He can help me see the truth in the situation and  who my husband is in the Father’s eyes, a dearly beloved son.

The Father can melt my stubbornness, soothe my anger, hold my hurt, and forgive my sin, too.

He can remind me of how big my husband’s shoes are, how broad his shoulders.  He can help me see clearly the load that often sits there and understand why my man sometimes stumbles beneath it.

When I see that truth, who my husband really, truly is at heart, I’m overwhelmed by compassion and ashamed by my traitorous thoughts.  I may not feel any stronger.  I still desperately need rescuing.  I may even carry wounds from the wrestling.  But at last I see that we two are the same: lonely, weary hearts in search of love and acceptance and a Rescuer.

You’re tired?  Me, too.  You want to escape from life right now?  Me, too.  You feel inadequate?  Me, too. You hurt?  Me, too.

Instead of being angry with my hubby for failing to rescue me, we can turn hand in hand to the Father, the One who rescues us both.

This is how we love, sisters, by gazing into the face of Love Himself.

Greater Love has no man than this…

And so we stand, my husband and I, in the face of Perfect Love.

Side by side.

Fear washed away.

Compassion in our eyes.

Forgiveness on our faces.

Wearing our Grace-colored glasses.

Because we serve the God of all Hope!

We’re merely works in progress here on Earth.

But we are not alone.

And this is not our home.

Jen 🙂

When do you feel strain in your marriage the most?  How do you take it to the Lord?

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places. 🙂

You can find more great posts on marriage here:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

Life in Grace


21 responses to “How to Love When You Feel Unloved

  1. Andrea says:

    Thank you, Jen! Thank you for opening up and sharing the real, not so pretty, truth. God’s timing is perfect (as always). I’ve been frustrated this week with my husband working 14 hours one day and 18 hours another day! Crazy, I know! Plus, he’s leaving for a biz trip soon. And I’ve been having a bit of a pity party for this homeschooling mom of 4. Your post brought me some much needed perspective. Thank you!

    • Oh, I so get the self-pity, Andrea! My husband is away for a few days, too. It’s given me time to think through some of what’s going on for us lately. Loving when we feel alone and overwhelmed is never easy, but it is possible if we let the Lord do it through us. It’s still such a work in progress for me that I don’t even feel qualified to give such advice, but sometimes it’s easier for me to hear a word from someone who doesn’t “have it all together” but who is struggling right alongside me. So, you’re not alone! You will be in my prayers this week!
      Jen 🙂

  2. NIta says:

    Great insight. After 20 yrs of marriage I figured out something. Happiness is my choice. I have to decide to work at the relationship, remind myself that my husband is ‘family’ and that I have to just except him the way he is. But that God will make the changes in me that will inspire the change in him. Also, communication is the key, we had to learn how to do that respectfully by going to marriage retreats and talking to mentoring couples. Then we had to learn not to hold grudges – they bring you down. Lastly, we had to take ownership of our own desires to be happy, because happiness is a slippery emotion that comes and goes whether the people around us tries to keep the emotion present or not.

    • Yes, Nita, I believe God is trying to teach me the same thing. I must choose joy and obedience whether or not my husband is. Thanks for sharing these words with us!
      Jen 🙂

  3. Helene says:

    It’s so easy when things are stressful for it to reveal the problem areas. It’s a blessing that you see that and are ready to tackle the problems.

    • Honestly, I’m not always ready and willing to tackle the problems.;) But I do truly desire a marriage that reflects the Lord! I know He’s helping us to grow closer to Him and by that means, to grow closer to each other. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jen 🙂

  4. […] How to Love When You Feel Unloved Oct […]

  5. Thanks so much for sharing so honestly and openly here. You have described things that so many of us can relate to, Jen.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

    • Whew! It’s always good to know I’m not the only one, Mel. 🙂 I truly desire to love well, but so often the flesh gets in the way. Thankfully we have that promise in Christ that the good work He began will someday be complete!
      Jen 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    I, too, have no answers, but so much of what you said resonates with me. I yearn to be rescued and to be cherished. I know God is the ultimate source of all I want, but I do say to him, “God, you aren’t fixing dinner for me when I’m sick or weary, so can’t I want a human being to help me?” I, too, hear the satanic whispers about being trapped in a loveless marriage. I daily dump my wounded heart at the Father’s feet. That’s all I can do right now, but I believe it is the best thing I could possibly do. Thanks for sharing your heart so openly. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    • Dear Anonymous,
      First of all, I apologize for taking so long to reply to your comment. I’ve been on an extended break of sorts. 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling right now. For me, emotional pain is so much more difficult to bear than physical pain. I want you to know I am praying for you and your marriage. You are right in saying the best you can do is come to the Father. One thing I am learning this year is to find refuge in Him. Another things I’m learning is to ask Him to remind me of what is true because Satan is so persistent at trying to convince us of lies. While at times I feel very unloved, I know that the truth is there are also times I feel very loved. It’s just in those moments of conflict (or sometimes seasons of conflict) that I am easily convinced of untruths like, “He doesn’t love you” and so forth. I encourage you to ask the Father to give you a supernatural love for your husband, to show you the little ways in which you might be encouraged. It’s hard to ask such things when you feel wronged, but for me, doing so was very helpful. Hang in there, sister! Marriage is hard work, and yes, you are not alone!
      Much love in Christ,
      Jen 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you so much! One way God has been using this to teach me in the past several days is to point out that I am engaging in a bit of idolatry. It’s fine for me to feel hurt, and it’s fine for me to want good things for my marriage, but I put too much emphasis on this and sometimes when I’m praying or thinking about my pain, I act as if, if my husband cherished me, my life would be good. It is not a bad thing to want a good marriage, but it is wrong to put that much importance on it. At any rate, thank you for your prayers and your reply.

  7. Dayle says:

    I so enjoyed your heartfelt post. I love the honesty here. After 33 years of marriage, I certainly know how much work it takes to maintain a marriage. I’ve discovered a great source for marriage advice at this website: She is real and honest and tells it like it is.

    I’m joining you from Edie’s link-up. Great to visit with you.

  8. Pam says:

    Very eye opening and exactly what I needed. I often want to give up as I feel unloved often. As a Christ follower giving up is not an option. My husband is not as strong in his faith and often makes snarly remarks about the my faith which has lead me to not be as strong. Thank-you!

    • I’m so happy you found some encouragement here, Pam! Marriage is hard work, and even more so when you are not on the same page together. Thank goodness for the love of Christ! I know He has kept my marriage together in times when I might have chosen otherwise.
      Jen 🙂

  9. Bek says:

    Thank you for this post (I know it was from a long time ago…). I also am a mother of four, ages 7, 5, 4, & 3. I recently quit my job to stay at home, and now I have been feeling so worthless an unloved. My husband and I both love the Lord with all our hurts, but our marriage is definitely not anywhere near perfect. We spend so much time trying to keep up with the kids and life…that we rarely spend true time together. And now that I stay home, I feel unnoticed. This post was exactly what I needed to “hear” and I’m so thankful that I stumbled upon it and your blog.

    • Bek, first of all, I’m sorry to be so late in responding to your comment. Life has been, well, chaotic. 🙂 I completely understand the lack of time. It’s easy to become more like “business partners” than lovers when the kids are young and life is just plain crazy. One thing that has helped us over the years is visiting a Christian counselor. For me, especially, hearing someone else validate that such feelings are normal is a huge burden lifted. I’m praying for you and your marriage! The Enemy loves nothing more than to attack us in those vulnerable places, but our God is Greater!
      Jen 🙂

  10. […] have to confess to you, my sisters in Christ, that this right here is why I’ve blogged very little about marriage thus far. I know the way I relate to my husband is so, so far from where it should be, from where I long for […]

  11. […] Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to you, the wife who doesn’t feel like celebrating, the wife who feels so unloved and maybe even trapped. I know that Valentine’s Day shines a […]

  12. […] her own experiences and reminds us that our eyes need to fixed solely on Jesus in her post, “How to Love When You Feel Unloved“. I love this post, particularly because it reminds me that I’m not alone in the […]

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