Once upon a time, I thought when I said, "Honey, why don't you (fill in the blank)?" I was gently sharing with my husband what I wanted. It's the power of suggestion, right? Imagine my surprise when years into our marriage, he told me that when I said that to him, he felt inadequate and angry. In reality, he heard it as one of three things...a command, a demand or as something he should have done already. Who knew?
In chapter five of The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle, she shares the power of expressing to your husband what you want.
"When you tell your husband what you want without telling him when, why and how you want him to get it- without controlling him- you are giving him a new opportunity to feel accomplished and proud about how happy he makes you. Letting him please you will make you feel adored and intimate." - The Surrendered Wife, page 78
She also nailed me with all the ways I'd expressed myself to get my husband to do the things I'd wanted him to...and instead, frustrated him (and me!) beyond words. If you haven't picked up the book, stop putting it off, get it, and jump into the journey now, so you can read the many examples the author shares. These are some of the things I realized about the way I spent the early years of my marriage missing the mark of sharing my desires with my husband:
Still not a mind reader. After 20+ years of marriage, my husband still cannot read my mind. This one shouldn't be a surprise to ANYONE. NO ONE can read minds. If you expect ANYONE in your life to "just know what I mean" or "just know what I need," you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. It's okay to say what you want...it's the best way to actually get what you want.
Lost in the details. Check yourself...when you express what you want to your husband, does that desire or want get lost in the details and description of how you want your husband to meet your desire? Consider expressing what you desire. Period. "I want to to go on a cruise" or "I want to take ballroom dancing lessons." Pray about expressing these things and letting your husband ask questions...or surprise you with your heart's desire!
Why-ing him deaf. Do you find yourself sharing not just what you want, but why you want it? When you share (unsolicited) the multitude of reasons why you want what you want, you run the risk of your husband suffering from Spousal Selective Listening (SSL) disorder. (No, that's not a real disorder, but watch the video. You might see yourself...) Your many valid reasons why you want something likely sound much like complaints, putting your husband on the defensive if he doesn't succumb to SSL.
It's not about agreement. Because YOU want something doesn't mean your husband has to want it, too. It's okay to want something your husband doesn't think much about. What wife hasn't said something like "Aren't you warm?" as a controlling way to say "I'm sweating to death here, but if you agree with me, I'll feel better about turning the air conditioning on for you." It's okay to turn on the AC because you're warm...or to tell him "Honey, I'm warm. I'm turning on the AC."
Your desires may not be his desires...and that's okay.Just because you want a pool, to rearrange the living room or to run a marathon doesn't mean he has to want those things, too. And that's okay. Express to your husband that you want to run a marathon, start training, and let him support you through it.
Your husband was created by God in His image. As such, it is innate in your husband to want to take care of you and see you content...for you to have your heart's desires. Why do you think you see husbands in the mall, holding their wives' bags or buying tampons? Not because the action makes them remotely happy, but because they know that by doing those things, they are taking care of their wives. Husbands are created and called to take care of their wives as their very own selves!
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~Psalm 37:4
THIS is where you start. Spend the time with God, share with Him your heart's desires. Let His desires become yours. Then...delight in your husband.
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. ~Ephesians 5:33 Amplified
Make your desires known to your husband.Having recently changed jobs, which included a reduction in pay in exchange for being where I really wanted to be, I've been budget conscious, and hadn't shared with my husband some of the things I'd like to have. He asked me the other day if there was anything I needed...and so I thought for a moment, then told him that I really wanted a new laptop bag. I didn't explain to him that the one I was using was from 2002, and although I LOVED it, it was too big, a little tattered, a clasp was broken, and so on. Having just read this chapter, I told him I'd really like a new laptop bag. Period. A week later, the prettiest bag I'd ever seen showed up on our doorstep. He'd been saving eBay Bucks, was going to buy new shoes for himself, but instead bought a bag for me. Why? Because I told him what I wanted, with no expectations...just the hope that he would hear me.
Keep in mind, this is after eight years of walking out the surrendered wife life. It doesn't happen overnight. I hope if you haven't picked up The Surrendered Wife yet, that you will, so you can be on this journey with me. Let God and your husband surprise you as you succinctly share what you want with no instruction, complaining, direction, condemnation or expectations. Delight in the Lord and in your husband!
In case you've missed it, this post is part of a series following along with The Surrendered Wife. I'd strongly encourage you to pick up the book and read along! Catch up on the blog series now by reading:
Great getaways to get to change your life, marriage and family, whether your marriage is thriving or barely surviving:
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