Dare 29: The Way to a Man’s Heart

The Unbroken Woman blog is hosting The Respect Dare. Starting July 10, participants will be using Nina Roesner’s The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband as a guide, posting about their journey. And I will be doing it with you!

This is not a pleasant post to read. I am whiny. I am complaining about my husband, which I try very hard not to do. I’ve considered not posting it. I am trying to be transparent, so this is a bit raw. It is my journal, mostly uncensored (other than some of the complaining about Big Guy). It captures my thoughts and feelings throughout the day as I try to tackle this Dare. Welcome to the inner workings of my mind, folks. It isn’t pretty.

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As usual, a Dare I totally own (yay, sex!) is followed up by one that bites me in the butt—and not in a fun way. For this Dare, I’m supposed to prayerfully consider my husband as the man he has become and then write for him the characteristics that I’ve seen develop in him over the past few years.

Not Feeling the Dare Today

Here’s my out-loud response to reading this chapter: “Yeah, right.”

I have a few issues with this today. First, at the moment it’s hard to see the changes that have developed in him over the past few years. Honestly, it’s hard for me to see past his frequent irritability. I know it’s medical-related, but it’s what’s right in front of me with him. Does it mean he hasn’t made changes? That the changes he’s made are not positive ones? That I’m letting my temporary frustration cloud my vision? Am I not praying enough to be open to what God is showing me?

Second, I’m letting a couple things from yesterday’s interactions with my husband bug me. It was so nice to see him after being separated for several days—but he approached our sexual reunion in a way that upset me. I still don’t know how to talk with him about it. Our marriage hasn’t yet developed the ability to have conversations about sexual concerns without one of us feeling criticized. So, out of my efforts to be respectful of him and his feelings, I’m saying nothing. I know this isn’t healthy—but I don’t know what the right and healthy approach would be.

Seriously, how is this even possible? I can write a bunch of posts about how to give your husband oral sex, but I can’t tell my husband that he missed an important part of what I needed yesterday? We talk about sex all the time—but I don’t know how to say, “I really need you to do x before y. When you did y and then z without even a half-hearted attempt at x, I wasn’t able to be fully there.” I felt used and resentful, just like I did during the years I was refusing and gate-keeping. Sexual intimacy is so important to a marriage—and the fact that I did not have a good experience is making me feel disconnected from my husband. I will probably say something later today, and it will come out horribly wrong and I will cry. I’m upset with myself that I still can’t have a conversation with my husband and my sexual needs. What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with him that he doesn’t pay enough attention to my responses to be able to recognize when there’s a problem? So yeah, I’m sitting here feeling resentful and frustrated. (Can you tell?)

After we went to bed (to sleep), my husband began to talk about wanting to change churches. I know this is a hard thing for him to think about, so I mostly held his hand and listened. When I did ask some questions, I made an extra effort to be gentle and thoughtful in my wording, asking questions for clarification only. He got defensive anyway. I reminded him that I’m on his team and I’m not the enemy; he felt that I was attacking him. I’m still a bit bruised from that, wondering how much I’m supposed to put up with out of respect.

So now I’m feeling like a doormat. I felt used during sex, and I have no idea what my husband wanted or needed from me during our church conversation. Am I supposed to just let him be grouchy and sexually insensitive because he’s the man? How is this okay? If this is what submission is, I don’t want any part of it. I can’t bear to go through the rest of my life feeling like this.

Image courtesy of sritangphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And now he gets to have his ego stroked by my writing down for him what positive changes he’s made over the past few years, when I can’t even see any at the moment?

Yeah, I’m resentful right now. So I’m going to go see if I can work through this today.

Could It Be Satan?

I’m reading a blog post for husbands about how to talk with a wife about changes she needs to make. The advice is good, but I’m in tears reading it because I’m not even sure that my husband is aware of how I respond to different conversational approaches, and even if he did, he would say that if I don’t like it, it’s on me to change and not on him.

Why am I feeling like this? I’m feeling resentful and neglected and sad. What is wrong with me? If I weren’t past hormone-related cycle issues, I would wonder what time of the month this is. But I am past that, so I don’t even have that as an explanation. But then I started hearing Dana Carvey in my mind.

Okay, just posting that video makes me laugh and feel better—but is it possible there is some spiritual warfare going on here? Am I even worth Satan’s time? And isn’t it kind of a cop-out to just blame Satan?

Maybe there’s something to this. I’ve noticed some interesting things with this blog in general and the Respect Dare process in particular. Every time I experience personal growth or write a post that seems to reach people, the next day poses multiple challenges—not huge stuff, just enough to make me feel snarky or irritate my husband. God makes good things happen, and the next day, Satan is trying to butt in. Isn’t that special?

God Seeps In

I spent some time with God this morning. I was specifically in prayer about an upcoming collaborative project (that I’m really, really excited about!)—and God managed to seep into my heart about my marriage at the same time. I’m still not feeling capable of tackling this Dare. But I am slightly less resentful of my husband at the moment.

Our conversation about changing churches has shifted some in my mind. The fact that he was thinking about this at all is a sign of inner turmoil for him. My husband isn’t a guy who spends much time reflecting or trying to understand his feelings—so this was way outside his comfort zone. It is not something he would talk about lightly. What I am able to see now is that he was sharing his heart with me. I know how hard it was for him to get to the point of wanting to leave a church. For him to pour out his frustrations to me—while letting me hold on to his hand—was a sign of his comfort and trust in me.

I’m still bothered by our sexual encounter and his frequent irritability—but it is amazing how a new perspective on just one thing can help me feel more settled generally.

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It is late in the afternoon as I write this. At this point, I’m not able to do the Dare yet. I still feel somewhat used and neglected by him, but not as strongly as I did this morning. I know that he needs the positive strokes, just as I do sometimes. But when I’m feeling like this, I just don’t know that I have it in me to be the better person and be the one to do the right thing despite feelings. It feels too much like doormat land, and I just can’t go there right now.

However, I have decided to make one of his favorite comfort food dishes for dinner. He usually does the cooking for us, but I am home today. He just called to say he got handed a project at work that needs to be done by tomorrow morning. So although I’m not in the frame of mind to be able to write to him about his positive changes, I can still thank him for being him in a way that will matter to him. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, after all.

Later in the evening . . . Having dinner ready was good. He had a long day at work, and he was happy to walk in to the smell of  food he loved. He spent some time having man-to-man talk with our son about his job, some training he did recently, electronics, and trucks. After a bit, I got out my knitting and said I’d like to ask him a question. “Honey, what would be the best time and way to communicate with you about something sexual that happened between us that I didn’t particularly like?” (I really know how to start a conversation, don’t I?) I acknowledged what he had done and why–and thanked him for having known that his approach was one that I often enjoyed. Then I explained what I’d really needed and asked him to think about whether there was a way I could communicate that during our sexual encounter that would be loving and respectful. He’ll think about it. There was no crying from my end or irritability from his.

After our conversation, I continued with my knitting, and he watched  a video online (Sesame Street variation of Sons of Anarchy, I recall). At one point, I realized he was just looking at me. I looked back at him and asked if everything is okay. “Yes, everything’s okay. I’m just looking at you. I love you.” I still can’t bring myself to do this Dare, but I no longer feel used or neglected. God is so good.

Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:

Unbroken Woman

My Beloved Is Mine!

Broken But Not Forgotten


The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)

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21 Comments on “Dare 29: The Way to a Man’s Heart”

  1. The following was learned at a Love & Respect marriage conference some time ago (and, for what it’s worth EVERY man in the room nodded in agreement):

    Men are inspired by issues of honor – it’s why they like the movies “Gladiator” and “Saving Private Ryan”. Men serve and die for honor. Respect is a really, really, really BIG DEAL for them. If a 3-star General honors them, they will literally give their life.

    It was at that Love & Respect conference that I clearly understood what “respect” looked like for the first time. Respect is speaking to the man your husband desires to be, not to his performance.

    Chances are there’s a good-willed man of honor in most husbands! And he needs to hear words of encouragement from his wife – to build him up and to inspire him to become the man he desires to be. When a wife complains, her husband hears “I’m using this to tell you that I despise you.” Same thing with sour looks, a dark face, finger pointing, or a hand on the hip. When you send messages of “I despise you.” (whether that’s what you’re thinking or not), he doesn’t know what to do, other than get angry. If a man is acting in unloving ways, he is most likely *feeling* disrespected.

    I wish I could remember all the exact words, but Emerson Eggrich gave an example of how a 3-star General would speak to his men who had failed a mission. He wouldn’t focus on their failure, but rather build them up to “get back in there”. He would speak to their desire to be conquerers, to be victorious. He would tell them that they are men of honor. That they are capable.

    So, I challenge you to try the Dare again. Write to the man your husband desires to be.

    (p.s. I can’t recommend attending that conference highly enough! As an alternative, the conference in DVD format can be purchased online.)

    1. I think God is trying to tell me this same thing. On the way to work this morning, I thought about how encouragement is about helping someone find the courage that is necessary . . . And that maybe my husband needed my writing more than I needed . . . And I couldn’t even remember what it was that I needed.

      1. Oh, he does need you! More than you know. He wants to be your hero, your knight in shining armor. He’s wanting to be “that man of honor”. (I even think his desire to change churches points in that direction – maybe he feels like he’s not getting the support he needs to be “that man” where you’re at??)

        I believe you have mentioned that your husband served in the military. When I learned how important “respect” is to my husband, I researched the Navy Seal Code of Honor – I wanted to try to understand better what it looked like (all that manly stuff!) Which military branch did your husband serve in? It may be fun to investigate the “Code of Honor” for that branch. Or better yet, ask your husband to share what his experiences were like in the military, to share stories of how men related to each other, etc.

        Bless your heart, Chris, for keeping at this! God is working amazing things in you.

  2. Wow, thanks so much for your transparency. It really gives us so single girls an accurate picture of the realities of marriage!

    1. This is just a picture of part of the reality of one marriage.I have learned that as I become more aware of my own thinking processes, I can begin to intentionally alter them.

  3. Some things I know I will never understand. I will never understand why it’s so difficult for a wife to tell her husband how she wants to be loved. For me, it would be a thrill to have my wife tell me how to please her. I’m pretty sure that when you are describing that you wanted x before y, that it wasn’t 50 shades of every color. It’s my guess that you wanted your emotional needs to be met somehow, rather than just your physical needs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that wives struggle with telling their husbands what they want. You realize that when you leave it up to us to guess what you want, we are not thinking the same thing you are thinking.

    I have given up trying to understand why some wives have trouble expressing their desires. It’s a given. You have used the word “transition”, and I have heard that word before. So tell me, how does a husband create the space where his wife is comfortable telling him what she desires, even if what she desires is a foot rub?

    1. No, it wasn’t about 50 shades of anything. It was a combination of an emotional need and a sexual need. At other times, I’ve been able to say, “Hey, back up a bit. I need x.” But his desire for y and z was so strong, and I knew that inserting a request for x would interrupt the flow for him. So I felt kind of stuck.

      I think it is true that many wives aren’t comfortable asking for what they want sexually, and I think there are varied reasons for this. That doesn’t mean a husband needs to guess. Maybe he just needs to ask: Do you like this? Would you prefer that I do x, y, or z? What would you like to do next? How would you like me to touch you? And know that every time may be different.

      1. But shouldn’t he have gone back and given you x after his desire was met?? Surely he knows how important that is to since you have told him before. I’ve never understood how one spouse can just get their sexual needs met knowing the other didn’t quite get there yet not try to do anything about it.
        I mean, if the shoe were on the other foot where the wife got her desire for x met, then just didn’t want to reciprocate so her husband could get his desire for y and z met, men would be complaining. Yet men don’t seem to realize how important it is for women too to get their sexual needs met.

        My dh always, always makes sure I am pleased unless I simply don’t have the energy or desire to continue pursuing x and I make that clear. But I’ve also explained to him how important it is for me to reach x each time mainly because our lovemaking is limited to only one or two days a week due to his long work hours.
        So, knowing how I feel he never just goes for y and z, without making sure I reach x. And if on occasion I don’t reach x, he often will stop and say we’ll pick up later so that we can both get there together. 😉

        1. Well, x wasn’t a thing as much as it was a matter of pacing and timing–and it didn’t interfere with me getting a happy ending. It just meant that the experience of getting to that ending didn’t fulfill me in other ways I needed. Once we got to y, the opportunity for x had passed.

    2. I have always been a little shy, so sharing my desires at first felt very “embarrassing”. Do you think your wife feels embarrassed or self-conscious? If so, and if you’d like me to, I can share a few ways to perhaps make her feel more comfortable…

  4. Forgiven Wife wrote: .”.. is it possible there is some spiritual warfare going on here? Am I even worth Satan’s time? And isn’t it kind of a cop-out to just blame Satan?”
    Along those lines is this insight I had given my daughter a few years back:
    She has a very powerful imagination since birth and quite the thinker although quiet and reserved.
    While still young we often found her coming into bed with us at night or wanting to fall asleep on the couch; she needed to be near people (afraid of the dark).
    One day I stated the obvious to her, I said, “I see you hanging out in your room throughout the day yet you haven’t any fear. Why do you think that is so? You will spend hours here and nothing fearful occurs. Here’s my thinking: Ask yourself this, do you believe Satan is causing you fear on a daily basis? Do you believe he is so bent on stalking and giving YOU fear while there is so many other places to be? If he plants a fear of seed in your mind yet is never present to water that seed then WHO is feeding that fear? I believe it is YOU that keeps that fear alive and well. Satan has succeeded yet all he did was plant a suggestion and YOU ran with it. Now mind you, it may not have been Satan directly that introduced that fear; it could have been obtained through any means: a scary movie, maybe you witnessed a violent event, or even mom and dad could have indirectly introduced that fear. Think of it as your own brain keeping that fear alive and well and Satan didn’t even have to EVER visit you!”
    So I would say to you that it is more likely that past hurts, events, and insecurities have more life to negativity than satan has ever directly pushed on you.
    Regarding you husbands “diving-in”: You mentioned he recently returned from a few days trip. I happen to travel every week Monday through Thursday with an occassional Friday thrown in there. It’s VERY tough for me to re-acclimate myself to my own home when I return especially after having traveled just to arrive home not to mention if there were flight delays or hours and hours of driving. I try to accept that it is where I am in life right now and paint a positive upon it all. Unfortunately, it is difficult to simply pretend as though I’ve never missed a beat with the home-life and often my wife desires to go out to dinner which is good and bad: 1- I eat out most of the time due to my job. 2- I’m usually exhausted by the end of the week.
    However, I always, always commit to this. I desire to be near my wife and family and this a positive experience. Following all of that, I HOPE, HOPE, and HOPE to become physically intimate with my wife at some point during the evening but unfortunately, she rarely has displays that interest and I’m just too exhausted to fight about it much less emotionally strong enough to pursue. Furthermore, because I’m feeling emotionally tired I find myself becoming angry because SHE will not engage in anything toward me. MY POINT: If he was feeling anything at all like I do (every week) then I can sympathize with him. It is very difficult to convince the mind to do the right thing. And if you are able to jump start the mind it is still hard to be very good at it IE: Do “X” before “Y” so that “Z” is comfortable for both involved. Believe me, most dudes GREATLY ENJOY seeing their wife getting excited about them and, especially, with what the guy is doing!
    While on the subject, talking to your husband during sex is an absolutely turn-on.
    It’s like a light bulb switch:
    Most days may be like A regular light switch you can see everything so clear.
    Some days a person is tired and it’s like a dimmer switch and takes awhile to get turned on and if it’s not 100% no one can see clearly and people stumble through.
    My thinking is, life is VERY short, most of us are just elated to EVER be with our spouse at all. Most days are not going to be perfect but do I curse God or thank Him?
    Sorry to be so long winded.
    Any how, that’s my two cents.

    1. In this case, I was the one who’d been gone for a few days. He was happy to have me home with him, but no matter who is gone, there is always an adjustment.

      As for the bit about spiritual warfare, I’ll say this: If my feelings were constant, or if I were always pulling the “could it be Satan?” bit, I’d say it might be me keeping a fear alive. That isn’t the case here.

      1. “Every time I experience personal growth or write a post that seems to reach people, the next day poses multiple challenges—not huge stuff, just enough to make me feel snarky or irritate my husband. God makes good things happen, and the next day, Satan is trying to butt in.”

        I believe it’s God who allows those “multiple challenges” to keep us aware of our need for Him, (especially after victories!) so that we don’t become prideful in thinking that somehow in our own strength we have accomplished something.

        It’s been countless times that I’ve felt like I was really doing good, only to have challenges put before me to show that I wasn’t doing as good as I thought. It is so easy to slip into thinking we’ve got it figured out.

        A very wise and merciful Father chastens those He loves, His children. It’s all part of the process of sanctification – keeping us aware of how truly in need of Him we are. When we are weak, THEN He is strong. Rejoice, He is at work in your life in a big way. 🙂

        1. He is definitely at work in my life! When the challenges come at me, I am learning more and more to simply go to God and say “help.” And He always, always, does.

        2. Don’t you just love that about Him?! He’s always there just waiting for us to ask. And, He does a much better job at handling everything than I do… why do I ever try!

          p.s. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of watching God at work in your life. Go God go!

          All glory to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us!

        3. p.s. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of watching God at work in your life.

          This blog is the result of some of the most powerful prayer experiences of my life. I am called to share it all in transparency, especially the mess. If there is any privilege that comes from seeing my mess, all thanks go to God.

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