This is from Renee to a husband who could benefit from thoughts from a female point of view, since marriages involve BOTH men and women – :) A husband who finds himself (for whatever reason) in a pressure-cooker in his marriage shows bravery and vulnerability to reach out for advice. All marriages, bar none, benefit from talking with older married couples of believers, who are STILL married—which implies that they have figured SOME things out!!! What a hoot.
How to make a marriage work is an endless discussion with mystery and intrigue, difficulty and complexity galore, and it takes a lifetime to try to figure it out. We never arrive. It doesn't get any deeper than this journey of two people walking one lifetime together. As you know, it will take all you have. It pulls things forth from your very gizzard that you didn't even know was in there; the Savior’s gentle and continuous prodding brings it forward through His Holy Spirit. It's an ever-unfolding journey, not a destination. Nobody ever arrives, but we can travel better and better via some enlarged perspective and insights from lots of sources, via reading and conversing with couples who are making it in harmony.
In all that you shared with Todd yesterday, one of your last statements was the heart of the issue: “She thinks I don’t approve of things she does.” I think this revealed a root cause at the base of all the other surface tensions between the two of you. By that statement, it surfaces that your wife doesn't feel valued. Now this is a source of consternation for a man who has done his best to tell her that she does matter. The problem is it is not getting through to HER. There is a blockage there. She is interpreting a mixed message. Because of your behaviors, or the tone of your voice sometimes, or something else that she is interpreting as the opposite, she is not registering that you value her above anyone or anything else on earth.
How to work it out:
Here is that same dynamic between Todd and me, now pleasantly and wonderfully worked out over many years. Todd, too, for 30 years has been involved in over-working, both at his job and at home. In the beginning I felt abandoned and way down on his list. BUT, now he makes sure that I'm emotionally fulfilled FIRST and continuously throughout the day and then it doesn't matter how much he works or how much he is away! – sometimes only takes five minutes with me, or two minutes. I am emotionally content, full, and we are happy despite very little time in what we DO together during the day. We read scripture, pray and sing hymns only on Sabbaths – .the rest of the week we do our own devotions. And the rest of the week we do take short walks together and eat together.
The key issue is that the wife must FEEL valued and her man must bend over backwards and throw everything he has at it to get that communicated. If the woman is emotionally fulfilled, the entire household goes well. If she is bankrupt in her spirit and has to do the hard labor of little children that she pours herself out to all day, she is facing a crack-up. This is a life and death issue for the man to understand.
Here is how Todd works at getting it communicated. He hugs me many times throughout the day – in passing. He compliments me, endlessly – giving me worth. He thanks me for the littlest things. He more and more uses an upbeat happy tone of voice with me (and when he sometimes slips and the voice tone is too harsh – we have learned that I tell him on the spot and he apologizes and restates the thing or makes his next sentence far more uplifting), and as a result I immediately feel "put back together" again, in contrast to a harsh voice, which throws a blanket of oppression over the whole house.
Of course, the man shares in the raising of the children – whether that be infinitely with one child (has its own demands of having to be the siblings AND the parent) or many children, each in lesser detail. Discipling one's own children deeply and well is one of the highest callings one could have in life – outside of loving the LORD. It is the way TO love Him, by manifesting His gentle, forgiving, merciful and abiding love in your home. That is where the rubber meets the road. That is proof positive of the man's real spirit.
Go to work on making your wife feel valued (no matter about her scores of aggravating weak spots, which all women have – and the men, too, by the way). We all are works in progress, each of us with many difficult personality traits and idiosyncrasies to delicately navigate, tiptoeing through the tulips) and the husband's entire life will change. This will not be easy. It takes work, until it becomes habitual.