Your husband learned from an early age to deny his true feelings — and to be silent about his deepest needs. Most men long for greater intimacy with their wives – but they have no idea how to find it.
There are many secrets men keep from their wives. For instance, if your husband is typical:
- He wants to be more honest with you, but you often become angry when he tells you how he’s really feeling. Many wives train their husbands to conceal the truth from them.
- He’s happiest when he’s competent and in control of a situation.
- He is at his core a protector and provider. These are the two roles Adam assumed at the fall of man and your husband wants desperately to succeed in these two roles
- He and his friends compare wives. And the man with the best looking wife wins.
- He’s afraid to admit weaknesses or fears, especially to you.
- He keeps a sexual scrapbook filled with images and memories. Most men would love to be rid of this scrapbook.
- At work he’s a genius. At home he’s a dunce.
- If he shares his true feelings with his guy friends he’ll be ridiculed.
- He’s tired of being seen as 100% of the problem in your marriage.
- He experiences God more fully outdoors than he does in a church building.
- The key to his sexual enjoyment is your enjoyment. If you’re having a good time, he’s having a good time.
- He hates having to read your mind. Tell him clearly what you want, and then be happy when you get it.
- He feels unappreciated at home.
- He’s less excited about church than you are. He feels that you are the expert in religious matters, and he’d rather defer to you.
Let’s go back to that first one: many wives train their husbands to conceal the truth from them. When I share this with women they are shocked. Yet it’s true. Here’s how it happens.
Men learn as children to hide their true emotions. Five-year-old Patrick falls off his bicycle and skins his knee. The pain is so intense he starts to cry. His friends gather around him and start taunting. “Crybaby!” they yell. Patrick learns to keep his true feelings inside.
At age 15, Patrick is sitting with friends in the school cafeteria. He says, “Hey guys, I’m struggling with some fears. Can I share my heart with you?” Patrick is quickly laughed out of the room. He learns to keep is true feelings inside.
At age 25, Patrick is married. He says to his wife, “There’s a woman at work who is flirting with me. I want to stay faithful to you honey, but I’ve got to admit I’m struggling.”
How does she respond? Silence. Pouting. Depression. Even threat of divorce. The minimum sentence is a night on the sofa. Patrick learns to keep his true feelings inside.
Does this really happen? Just ask your husband, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Observe the terror in his eyes as he calculates the damage to his marriage if he tells you the truth.
Imagine you’re housebreaking a puppy. Every time he soils the rug he gets a swat. But if he does his business outside you lavish rewards on him. Eventually the puppy does what he’s trained to do—not because he wants to, but because it’s the only way to avoid punishment.
Now, imagine you’re training a husband. Every time he tells you the absolute truth he gets a swat. But when he conceals his true feelings, you lavish rewards on him. Eventually he begins carefully managing what he tells you—not because he wants to, but because it’s the only way to avoid punishment.
When you penalize your man each time he reveals his true feelings, here’s the message you are sending: “If you want your life to be hell, tell me the truth. But if you want things to go smoothly, lie to me. Tell me only those things that won’t upset me.”
Don’t misunderstand: I am not blaming women for every communication glitch in marriage. Husbands do the same things to wives. I know women who can’t tell their husbands the truth because they’re afraid their men will explode. Women suffer too. I get it.
I’m simply asking you to open your eyes to the possibility that you are contributing to your husband’s silence. You may have unwittingly trained him to hide his true heart from you.
So how can you unlock your husband’s true heart? Make him this promise: “I will never punish you for telling me the truth. Even if you say, “I’m having an affair,” I will not retaliate in anger.”
What? How can a woman NOT get mad if her husband says he’s having an affair?
Of course, you have every right to be furious if he admits to infidelity. You even have a right to divorce him (Matt. 5:32).
You’re not giving him a pass to do whatever he wants – you’re promising to hear what he has to say—without shutting him down.
Weeks or months may pass. Then one day he’ll take a chance.
“Sweetheart, can we talk about your weight? It’s bothering me.”
“I’ve been thinking about quitting my job to pursue my dream.”
“Let’s talk about how we discipline the kids.”
“I’d like to spice up our sex life by trying some new things.”
“I’m feeling unsupported at home.”
These are not fighting words – they’re your husband’s true feelings.
At that moment you’ll have a decision to make. You can erupt in anger and shut him out. You can descend into a depression for having failed yet again. You can go into the bedroom and pout.
Or you can calmly listen to what he has to say. Thank him. Hear his concerns and take them to God in prayer. Do what you can to meet his needs.
So there’s your precious key – if you really want to know what your husband is thinking, learn to receive the truth with grace. Hear what he has to say without punishing him.
Order David Murrow's book: What Your Husband Isn't Telling You.