This summer, my husband and I have been loving a song that includes lyrics about a “pink cloud summer.” I was driving home from work the other evening, and what did I see in the sky? Pink clouds. So I ran into the house, saw my husband doing the dishes, and said, “Babe! Come out here for a second!” and led him by the hand to take in the glorious beauty that, to me, was magical, emblematic, and the potential for a special moment between my husband and I. I was so excited to see his reaction.
And he did react…sort of. He thought they were pretty. He stood out there for a few minutes with me. He was nice about it. But then, he needed to keep doing the dishes. My expectation of him sweeping me off my feet, twirling me around in the air, and telling me what a beautiful summer it’s been with me definitely did not happen.
And I was tempted to be crushed. Here I was, putting myself out there, and all I got was a missed connection. It triggered so many of my childhood wounds of being rejected and not seen by people I wanted desperately to see me.
But the thing was, it’s not really fair for me to expect my husband to have the capacity to be Prince Charming 100% of the time. And as much as 6-year-old me hates that fact, it’s a fact that I am learning to swallow with grace.
You may have grown up like me and expected marriage to mean finding someone who truly sees you and makes every day magical. Although there are certainly moments of that being the case, that’s not what God designed marriage for. And I am learning to see God as the true source of this intimacy instead–learning to see him as Hagar did: as “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
So if you find yourself in these kinds of moments with your husband, where you feel let down by his human-ness, here are three ways to move forward:
1. Remind Yourself That Your Husband Loves You Completely–And Is a Human Being
These two things can be true: Your husband loves you with everything he has, AND he is limited in what he can give you. He is doing his best to see, cherish, and pursue you–AND he is a human with very real limitations.
Accepting this can be painful. It requires a) Facing that you are also a human being with limitations, as much as you hate to admit it, and b) Facing the pain that others have caused you because of their limitations–and letting it go.
I really believe that my husband loves me as much as he possibly can, and surely you do too! And he has his own way of showing it.
But sometimes he’s also had a long day at work, slept badly that night, forgotten something I’ve said, or has 100 other things he’s focusing on. And I do too! I’m not Mrs. Charming 100% of the time, either.
Sure, there is lots to be said for love languages and putting in sacrificial effort. And there’s room for all of us to grow in that. But I’m positing that he can love you, AND that love not be “enough,” AND that you can still be okay.
Because you have God.
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2. Go to God as Your Ultimate Romancer
Our God loves to show himself to us by earthly things–and by how these earthly things fall short. He shows us his heart through a sunset or a good meal at the same time as pointing us to heaven by these earthly things being temporary.
I think he does the same thing through marriage. He shows us Himself by the times that our husbands reach our hearts in exactly the way we need him to. And then he shows us who he is again when our husbands fall short. Both scenarios are good when they bring us to God.
So when your husband fails to speak to your heart the way you need, let that be a signal and sweet reminder to let God speak to your heart instead.
Because God is your ultimate romancer. The most thoughtful lover. The best friend anyone could imagine. He loves us in a way our husbands never could–or were ever meant to!
Take these Scriptures, for example:
Psalm 56:8 (NLT): You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
Sometimes our husbands don’t know what to say when we’re crying. (Sometimes, they don’t even notice!) But God cares so deeply about the things that move us that he collects our tears and records each one in his scroll. Now that is someone who cares about you as deeply as you need.
Psalm 139:1-4 (NLT): O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
Your God sees you. He knows you. He knows every little quirk you have, every preference, and every fear. Your husband does his best to know you and to read your mind, but God knows every thought before it even forms! Your husband might forget your favorite to-go order or to take off work for your birthday, but God has these details memorized. He sees every part of you and declares it very good.
Isaiah 54:5 (NLT): For your Creator will be your husband; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.
Our husbands love us dearly. They may be very sacrificial. They may create many things for you. But the bigger picture is that The God of all the earth is your husband! He created the earth (and every pink sky). He commands angels to protect you. He sent his son to redeem you from death.
Therefore, God is infinitely worth leaning on in those moments where our husband innocently misses us. Or even when it’s not innocent. God is there.
Pray, journal, and worship your true husband–whatever your heart needs to feel comforted and seen by your lover who will never disappoint you.
It might be helpful to have a few “emergency Scriptures” on hand for the next time you feel rejected by your husband. Not only will these calm you down in the moment, but they’ll help you to see your husband more clearly. And encourage you to love him in the way that he needs, too!
3. Love Yourself the Way You Need to Be Loved
The other source you can always turn to in times when you need some extra love and tenderness is yourself! When I feel rejected by my husband (for no legitimate reason), I find it extremely helpful to imagine myself as a child and ask her what she needs.
Maybe I imagine her in the scenario I’m actually in, like outside with older me, looking at the pink clouds. Perhaps I imagine her in my childhood bedroom, and I sit down with her on our bed. And I invite her to tell me what she’s feeling, thinking, and wants.
If this exercise feels uncomfortable, I understand! But I’m telling you right now that it’s a powerful one. So give it a try and see what younger you could be feeling about your situation. Usually, for me, it’s something along the lines of “I don’t feel seen.” “I’m scared that I don’t matter.” “I’m afraid of being left behind.”
And then I have the beautiful opportunity to give that younger version of me the love that I’m looking for. I can read Scripture to her, hold her, sing to her, or tell her the words of affirmation I know she needs to hear.
I like to imagine that God and I are co-parenting my younger self. And not only is the peace of that immeasurable, but it’s a resource that builds up over time and can be drawn upon in moments I really need it.
I don’t have to wait for my husband to validate me before I can believe in the beauty God has created in me. And you don’t either! You can create the kind of relationship you’ve always dreamed of with yourself. You can show up and love yourself with the words, actions, and affection you’ve always craved.
Of course, this doesn’t replace God. And it doesn’t replace your husband. But it’s a place you can go to when your inner child needs some healing. And eventually, your husband being human won’t hurt so bad.
I know that if you were expecting marriage to feel like a fairytale, the reality of it can feel like a letdown. But nothing that brings us closer to God is ever wasted. So lean on his love with your whole heart, show up for yourself, and let your husband be the amazing but human man God created him to be.
Originally published Thursday, 24 August 2023.