You Go First

If you are unhappy, stop waiting for your husband to take the first step.

Are you happy in your marriage?

While I don’t believe that the purpose of marriage is to make us happy, I do believe that unhappiness in the marriage and about the marriage may be a sign that there is a problem.

Over the past few days, I’ve received some emails and comments that have reached into the depths of my heart. They come from wives (and a few husbands) who are unhappy in their marriages and don’t know how to move forward.

I was in this place once. I was unhappy and didn’t know how to move forward. As far as I was concerned, it was my husband’s fault. If he weren’t after me for sex all the time, I wouldn’t feel so tense and unhappy. Most of his complaints about me were about the lack of intimacy, which to me was a code word for sex. (See Intimacy Isn’t Just a Code Word for Sex at A Grown Up MarriagePart 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for thoughtful discussions of this idea.) Sex, sex, sex. Why was it always about sex?

As far as my husband was concerned, if I would just have sex with him more often, he wouldn’t feel so tense and unhappy all the time. Sex, sex, sex. Why did I have to be so stubborn when he just wanted to be close to me?

Neither of us was right. We were both looking at the other to make some changes. Neither of us was truly seeing the pain in the other’s heart. Neither of us was looking into the mirror. Both of us needed to make some changes. And now that we’re full swing into the process of change, we both still have work to do.


But someone needs to go first.

I would love to be able to lay claim to being the one to go first for noble and right purposes, for the sake of our marriage and not myself. Instead, I went first for entirely selfish reasons. I was unhappy, and I finally decided to give a try to changing how I did sex in our marriage—mostly so I would be able to say, “See? I tried sex, and it didn’t work. It must be you.” The beginning of my transformation isn’t at all noble—but going first with one thing eventually led to so much more, including happiness in my marriage.

It wasn’t like I started having more sex and, voilà, I was suddenly happy. Addressing the thing that made my husband most unhappy about our marriage, though, eventually made him less grouchy and more content, which in turn made me feel less tense. It demonstrated to him in a way nothing else could have that I loved him and valued our marriage. Interestingly, before I began making changes, I was no longer sure if I loved him or valued our marriage, but after a time of an improved climate in our marriage, I felt this way again. Over time, my actions created the feelings.

It’s easier to look at what someone else can do than to look into the mirror, but we can never change another person. We can change only ourselves. I changed my behavior and eventually began some pretty serious work on my maturity and spirituality. And my husband has responded to this by doing some growing and changing of his own.

Are you unhappy in your marriage? Do you have a husband who has expressed dissatisfaction with the frequency and intimacy of sex? What would it hurt for you to be the one to make the first step in addressing his complaints?

If you are unhappy, stop waiting for the other person to step up to the plate.

You go first.

Getting Started

If you think you might ready to take that first step, I encourage you to take a look at the following posts, in this order:

  1. New to this blog? Start here.
  2. Just One Step
  3. Simple, Not Easy
  4. One Night at a Time
  5. Today, pray.
  6. Today, do it.

Feel free to poke around the blog a bit, but you may want to stick to the posts in the Getting Started category for a while.

If you are unhappy, stop waiting for your husband to take the first step.

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7 Comments on “You Go First”

  1. I am tired of being the only one trying and changing in the marriage. For years I have been praying and changing and now I no longer stand up for myself or my children. It just isn’t worth the fight. I am just. So. Tired.

    1. I’m so very sorry. I don’t know how long I would have been able to persist if I hadn’t seen some improvement after a few months. If you haven’t seen any change in the marriage, have you at least seen some growth within yourself? What can you do to get some support and encouragement for yourself?

    2. Kay,
      Your comment has been on my heart and mind since last night. I do not know your situation, but I just felt compelled to offer a website for you to look at it: (I hope it is okay for me to reference another blog here)

      She is a Christian counselor and as I walked (struggled) through an abusive marriage, I started reading her blog and following her articles re: marriage and how to navigate through some difficult situations. She give good biblical advice and it made a great impact on how I looked at and responded to a destructive relationship in my life. (Not saying that is what you’re dealing with)

      Anyway, I just felt compelled to live this comment for you.

  2. forgiven wife you have blessed many with your openness about the details of your personal struggle, You are courageous, gifted and brave. God bless you.

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