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Lonely-Hearted

 Facing our challenges head-on!
Challenges Women Face

January 17, 2017

Dear Julie:

My husband and I just passed our 10th wedding anniversary in February. We’ve been together going on 12 years. We have a 9 year old daughter and, our newest addition, 1 year old son. We are total opposites in every conceivable way. He’s Asian and I’m Caucasian. He’s a Buddhist and I’m a Christian. While we were just dating my little voice YELLED at me to stop seeing him because the red flags were there, but I ignored them.

The red flags for me were: He just didn’t put the same amount of effort into the relationship as I did. We lived in different states, luckily only about an hour and a half away, but I would do all the traveling to go down and see him. He doesn’t reciprocate the same way. He’s just not as thoughtful as I am and the list of pros and cons I’ve created, the cons are quite lengthy while the pros are quite short. However, in that short list of pros they are meaningful and that’s what gives me hope that we have a sustainable marriage together.

I just feel like we are roommates vs. married. We are on separate paths. He seems to still want to continue some of his single life activities, like going out drinking at the VFW and fishing with his brothers. I never complain about him having outlets like this because he is an Iraq war veteran and I have empathy for him. We as a married couple have not been out on a date in YEARS. He doesn’t buy me heartfelt gifts or give words of encouragement or ask me how my day is/was or if I’m feeling all right.

He tells me if I need something to go and buy it myself since I’m in charge of the money. I feel neglected and unloved. He tells me he loves me, daily. But for me words can become menial, for me its the action behind those words that have true value. We’ve gone to marriage counseling of sorts, but all he does is cry into a tissue the hour we are there and not contribute to the topic at hand.

I’m trying to find my own happiness within the marriage, but I really need him to be a part of this relationship. I just feel as though I do 99% in the relationship and he does his 1%. Our relationship isn’t what it should be according to the Bible. I’m trying to avoid getting a divorce, but how much longer should I have to deal with not feeling truly loved, respected or valued? I’ve compromised my principles and beliefs to be with him and I just want to find out what God really wants for us. Thank you. –Lonely-Hearted

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Dear Lonely-Hearted:

Over the years, it has seemed to me that cross-cultural relationships are fraught with misunderstandings–not because there’s anything wrong with either person. It’s just that they often have different worldviews/points of view, based on the traditions of their cultures. In your case, you not only have cross-cultural differences but you also embrace two different religions.
The Bible warns against being “unequally yoked” because, as Amos 3:3 puts it, “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”

One thing you said stands out to me. “He tells me if I need something to go and buy it myself since I’m in charge of the money.” In your husband’s culture, is the wife usually in charge of the money? If not, could he find this demeaning and you controlling?  From what you’ve said, it seems that you have always been the initiator in this relationship, even back to doing all the driving to your get-togethers. Does he resent this? Does it emasculate him? Is he responding by withdrawing from the relationship in a sort of passive-aggressive way?

You have twelve years invested in each other. For the sake of your marriage and those two precious children, could you sit down together and calmly talk these things over? Try to get to the bottom of this. Let him talk first. Don’t say a word. Just listen for clues and underlying emotions. Perhaps a trusted friend(s) who knows you both well and understands your cultural traditions could be a useful mediator.

There’s a book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages (How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate)” that explores the idea that we all have different ideas of how love is expressed. You express love through your actions whereas your husband expresses his love in words. Continuing to express love in a way that doesn’t resonate with each other is pointless.  If you truly want to express love for one another (and have that love received), you must learn which love language pleases your mate and then speak in that language.

One last word, and perhaps it’s the most difficult for strong independent women. Consider I Peter 3:1. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Wishing you all God’s best, Julie

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Remember, friends, as challenges come our way, we can face them head-on
through Christ who strengthens us!

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