A couple I know very well are getting a divorce after almost 3 decades of marriage. The husband discovered she was having an affair.
I am heart-broken. They are heart-broken. Everyone who knows them is heart-broken. They were professing believers.
Every time I hear another story like this one, my first thoughts are, “How?” “Why?”
And every story is different. But in this story, and many like it, the wife admits her husband was good to her, but just “didn’t meet all of her emotional needs.” I don’t know the statistics, but I’m guessing this is the most likely reason (excuse) given by women for having affairs.
I know there are struggles and nightmares only the women in those situations can imagine. This post isn’t meant to discourage that woman. I’m specifically talking here about a normal marriage where a husband is loving the best way he knows how.
We are missing one, big, blaring thing:
Our husbands are not meant to, able to, or equipped to meet all our emotional needs and we need to stop expecting them to.
If we were honest, what we really want in our husbands is another woman. You know, a person who instinctively knows when something is wrong, or senses when we’re “off” and probes at our hearts to try to find the reason. Someone sensitive and intuitive and responsive. Yes, that’s a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t come naturally to our men (not most anyway) and that doesn’t mean they are failures at being a husband, thus giving us justification to go have our needs met somewhere else.
And here’s a news flash: whatever need your husband isn’t meeting will likely not be met by the new guy either after the thrill of a taboo rendezvous wears off.
Yes, husbands are commanded to be gentle and kind, even laying down their lives for us. (I’m not trying to gloss over his responsibility or justify his abdication. But my audience isn’t men, so that leaves me with addressing the other side.) Sometimes though, that’s not enough. And in that case, we are not looking to Christ to fulfill what only He can.
I want to challenge myself and you: we cannot let familiarity with our husbands become a catalyst for discontentment. To say “He [the new guy] gives me attention my husband doesn’t” is to state an obvious fact of life. We are all probably more courteous to the guy/girl next to us in the checkout line if a conversation develops. We smile at strangers and put on our best for others. We’re generally nicer and more attentive to people with whom we do not share a life. That’s a given.
The comfort of being one flesh with your spouse cannot be displaced by the heightened enjoyment of another’s attention.
And another thing…
I think that if we spent more time BEING what our spouse needs instead of pining away for what we think we need, we may just find him becoming more attentive and loving.
My earnest prayer for you is to cherish your marriage and if you find yourself dissatisfied and struggling, seek help and counsel, making restoration a top priority. Divorce is tragic and it cannot take place without ripping people apart. God is able to heal and restore and renew the love and commitment made before Him. I pray that we will fight for our marriages with a tenacity that holds on when everything else says to let go.