In 8 Warning Signs Your Marriage Might Be In Trouble in Relevant Magazine, Gary Thomas discusses indicators that give an important warning signal that a marriage is in danger of dying:

  1. You pray for God to change your spouse instead of asking God to help you bless your spouse.
  2. You define your spouse by what they’re not rather than by what they are.
  3. You increasingly look forward to seeing someone of the opposite gender
  4. You live in a sexless marriage.
  5. You spend more time thinking about how your spouse could love you better than you do about how well you’re loving your spouse.
  6. You can’t remember the last time you laughed together.
  7. You’ve stopped being totally honest with each other.
  8. You stop resolving conflict and become friends with resentment.

For a fairly short article, reading it made me pretty uncomfortable.

I was guilty of every single one of these warning signs when our marriage was at its worst. Some of these lasted longer than others (#3 was the shortest at about a week), but #1, #2, and #5 lasted for nearly two decades.

I wanted Big Guy to change into the husband I wanted him to be instead of the husband God called him to be.

Sometimes, I was comparing him to other husbands I knew or the fictional men depicted in romance novels. Other times, I wanted him to do things that would meet my emotional needs or stop doing things that I didn’t like.

The warning sign that hit me the hardest was #6. Laughter was one of the things that most attracted me to my husband. I remember that for a time, I would find myself keenly aware that Big Guy and I no longer laughed together.

Our marriage was dying along with the laughter.


I didn’t think there was a thing that I could do. All I could see was the need for Big Guy to be different.

He, on the other hand, saw only what I needed to change—and he told me that time and time again.

For so long, every time I began to catch a glimpse of the need for me to make some changes, I kept hearkening back to the same questions: “Why am I the one who has to change? Why doesn’t he have to change anything?”

It wasn’t fair for my husband to expect that of me—yet that’s exactly what he did.

One of our fights about sex included a conversation about counseling. Big Guy told me I needed to change my attitude about sex and that I needed to go to counseling to get it fixed. I pointed out that since he was the one who thought there was a problem with our sex life, he was the one who should go get worked on. I asked him if he would consider going to counseling with me, thinking that maybe we needed marriage counseling. His response was not one of his finer moments: “I’ll go along to counseling but only if that’s what it takes for you to make some changes.”

He is completely unfair. He’s the one who’s miserable, yet I’m the one expected to do some work. Meanwhile, everything I need to actually want to have sex (emotional connection with him, not having to shoulder the entire load of household work when I work a full-time job just like him) is ignored. Why am I the one who has to do all the sacrificing when he doesn’t suffer at all?

I refused to go to counseling.

Now, of course, I realize that he was suffering a great deal—but at the time, all I could see was that he would do nothing but sit back and wait while I had to change because he didn’t love and accept me as I was.

I’ve grown a lot since then, and I can see all these things from my husband’s point of view as well as my own now. I understand his hurt and the fact that doing the things I needed would have been as hard for Big Guy as it was for me to do the things he needed.

At the time, though, it just felt unfair.

Other wives know exactly what I mean. Sometimes I receive emails or comments on posts that ask, “Why am I the one who has to change? Why shouldn’t my husband be doing anything to meet my needs?”

My heart aches when I read these messages. I can see two hurting people, in a marriage that is in danger.

Whose Job Is It?

A husband should work to meet his wife’s needs. He should work on his own growth. He should work on being the husband God has called him to be regardless of how good a wife his wife is.

If your marriage matters to him, he should do his share of work on it.

Likewise, you need to be doing your share—even if he is not doing his.

It is so easy to focus on what the other person is doing—or not doing—that we forget that our job is to look at ourselves. How do I know this? I know because it is still a struggle for me.

I am accountable to God for being the wife He has called me to be. I am responsible for working on my own growth.

The same goes for you.

If you have problems with sex due to past trauma or sex-negative teachings, you need to work on healing or learning about God’s design for sex.

If you have developed negative habits in response to your husband’s sexual initiation, you need to unlearn them and learn positive habits.

If you think more about what you want than about being loving and respectful to your husband, work on these areas.

It isn’t easy at all—but if your marriage is in danger, you need to do your share of work regardless of whether your husband is doing what he should be doing.

Sometimes, that even means that you need to go first.

No, it isn’t fair. You shouldn’t have to be the one to do all the work while your husband gets to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So don’t do all the work—but do be sure to do your share.

Own your own stuff, and know that you are doing what God calls you to do as a wife.

That doesn’t mean you should become a doormat. Maintain healthy boundaries. (Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend is a great place to start to understand this).

Just don’t avoid doing your own work because you’re waiting for your husband to get started.

What About You?

Take a look again at that list of warning signs at the top of this article. How many of them have you seen crop up in your marriage?

Just one item on this list should be enough of a warning that the marriage needs some attention if it is to stay alive.

If you have several of them (or all of them, as I did), the time to start is now.

Yes, it would be nice if your husband would step up to the plate.

In a healthy marriage, both spouses work on their own growth and contribute to the marriage.

If your marriage has any of those warning signs, though, “healthy” isn’t likely to be an apt description, is it?

The way I see it, you have two choices:

  1. Sit back and wait for your husband to do what he should be doing.
  2. Work on your own growth and contributions to the marriage.

Which one of these is more likely to result in the death of your marriage, and which one has a better chance of saving your marriage?

As tempting as it is to ask, “What about him?” perhaps the question you should be asking is, “What about me?”

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 Thoughts on “What About Him?

  1. Husbands can and should apply the principles, too. I didn’t, and neither did she, and now ~ SURPRISE! ~ we’re divorced. So any of you out there who might be waiting for the other to make the first move, stop waiting. BTW, if, in your arguments, EACH of you is saying that the OTHER one needs to go to counseling . . . that means you BOTH need to go, together.

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