If it ain’t broke …

Fixing a computer © Roger Costa Morera | Dreamstime.com
Must be the caffeine board ….

So you wake up, turn on your computer, and it won’t make coffee. Naturally, you open it up and try to fix it, right? The truth is you are never going to get coffee out of it, and you will almost certainly destroy the system in your attempts.

I offer this word picture because I see men and women do it to their spouses all the time. They want to fix something that isn’t broken; they want to make their spouse into something s/he was never designed to be. One big way we men do this is trying to get our wife to think, feel, reason and communicate the way we do those things. We want her to use the same words, with the same meanings, that we use. We want her to care about the same things, to the same degree, and not care about the things we don’t care about.

Your chances of changing her are the same as your chances of getting a latte out of your computer, and the odds that you will hurt her in the process are high. Your attempt to change her communicates to her that there is something wrong with her, that she is broken. In reality there is nothing wrong with her – she is simply different.

BTW – before someone links to it, this “PC that makes coffee” is fun, but it’s not a computer. Add a real compute to the case and it would be destroyed by heat, steam, and vibration. It’s a lot like what happens to wives when their husband won’t give up and “fixing” them.

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13 Comments on “If it ain’t broke …

  1. I used to pick gnat poop out of pepper with my wife. I thought she was willing and strong enough to handle sweating the small stuff, being more detail-retentive, more orderly, more intense about daily chores, more routine… I was wrong. I’m those things. I’m naturally a type-A stress-monkey where my bride lives in the moment, spontaneous, creative, visionary. I did not try to fix her, per se. I tried to make her comply with my compulsive “need” for more order and discipline in our home. We have a LOT of children, we homeschool, and she doesn’t sweat the small stuff (needfully and rightfully so). It was my frustration with unmet, unrealistic expectations, and my compulsive reactions, that caused the most damage to my brides heart. I simply wore her out with my lack of understanding and compassion, to the point where she eventually needed her own “escape” from the pressure she live in with me. My sin of unacceptance and impatience, peppered with frustration, anger and conflict, drove my bride into the arms of other men. Her acting-out eventually came to light, which caused an earth quake in my soul, manhood, consciousness, and paradigm. Two years later, we’re still not well. I’ve not adjusted to her attempts to heal our marriage (more unacceptance, impatience, anger, frustration, conflict…), and she now has become angry, unaccepting, impatient and frustrated with me. Our saga continues for the sake of the children and for Gods higher purpose, but this pain and brokenness didn’t need to be. Had I simply obeyed God in his command to love my bride as He loves us, and haf I not been as compulsive and angry about stupid stuff, she may have never needed time-out from her reality, an escape, free-spirited acceptance and love from other men.

    Men of God, Beware: If you DON’T take the spiritual head of your home by loving your bride as commanded, and take up your cross for her, and die to your personal compulsions and needs, you may very well find yourself in the same earth-shaken disaster that I’m digging out of. As God said to me recently, “Would you just DIE already?”

    • @Jeff – You get it, your really do. I wish you had gotten it earlier.

      Thank you for sharing, I pray that others will get it in time because of your words. I am also praying for your marriage.

    • Wow. Jeff, you’ve really struck a nerve in this husband. When you’re observant and detail-oriented, it’s SO difficult not to make a fuss about those specks in the pepper. It just builds and festers inside. “Can’t you SEE them? Aren’t they obvious to you? Doesn’t this cause you endless irritation?” I’ve tried so hard to bite my tongue over the years, but sometimes it still surfaces. I need to continue to pray that God helps me to dismiss the things that simply aren’t that important. I suppose He has already answered that prayer in a way, by taking away some of my eyesight so I can no longer see those tiny specks. *wink*

      Jeff, I’ll pray for you, your bride, and your marriage, brother. Thank you for opening the depths of your heart to us.

    • Jeff,

      I can totally relate to what you are saying here. I’ve been that same husband as you have been. I still am, but praise God, I am working hard to correct these sins in my life.

      Like you, I was the husband with the homeschooling wife of a bunch of kids. My house was always thrashed, the dishes always scattered everywhere, the clothes never clean… but in the end, my kids were being loved and nurtured and they were growing closer to God every day. I didn’t see it. I leaned hard on my wife to the point that she too needed an escape. Her escape came in the form of theater, which brought with it a bunch of new friendships, none of which were Christian. It didn’t take long before a man in theater told her the things that I should have been telling her, treating her the way I should have been treating her and generally appealing to her the way I should have been appealing to her. You can see where this has gone…

      While she hasn’t taken it as far as your wife has, about five weeks ago my wife told me she wanted a divorce. She wants nothing to do with my anger, high expectations, lack of patience or domineering ways at home. She has told me that she has in effect died to me and, though I haven’t wanted to admit, she said she divorced me emotionally years ago. All of her actions, as much as they pain me, are all responses to my own selfish behaviors and my inability to meet her at the place she was in. I’ve been mean, cold, demanding, unrelenting, harsh, demeaning, angry, condescending… all of the things that Paul B. has emailed us daily telling us NOT to be. I’ve been that husband. And now I am like a growing number of other husbands who are sitting alone without the companionship and compassion of their wives because we’ve sought to destroy the greatest blessing God has bestowed to us.

      Two days after my wife told me she wanted a divorce, which I had originally agreed to, I heard a voice inside of me asking me “When did you stop being a man of your word?”. I take my word seriously, so naturally I was miffed that my spirit was calling me out. What I was being called out on was a promise I had made to my wife 16 years ago. That promise was to love, honor and cherish her, in good times and in bad, in sickness and health, for better or for worse, till death do us part. Nowhere in that promise was there any kind of condition placed on her. Nowhere in that promise is there an escape clause. Nowhere in that promise was I given the latitude to be a jerk to her because of her actions, attitudes, beliefs or inability or unwillingness to meet my expectations. Plain and simple, I had decided to reneg on my word. So I told her as much.

      My new promise to my wife is that I will not quit. If she wants a divorce, that’s fine. She can go get one. But until she does, she is still my wife and I am going to love her with reckless, selfless love like I have never loved her before. This has been harder than hell to do, but in a short few weeks I have been able to see things in me that she has been telling me for years. I’ve read more, studied more and learned more about love, headship and laying yourself down than I have ever done before. And while my prayer is that this will help salvage my marriage, what I am discovering more and more every day is that I need to work on me, with the help of God and other men of God. I need to become the man God called me to be before I can be the husband that my wife needs me to be. I’ll get there at some point, God willing. I just hope that it isn’t too late. I pray that for you too bro. Keep loving her through all of it. Love her for no other reason than because you choose to love her. Even when its hard… ESPECIALLY when it’s hard because it is in those times that you will exemplify the love that Christ has toward us… that while we were yet sinners, He died for us.

      You got this bro.

  2. Wow… Thanks for sharing Jeff, I think this is a wake-up call for all of us, regardless of which side we fall on. I think we all need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask ourselves whether the changes we want to make in our brides are really that important in the bigger scheme of things. My feeling is that ifthere is a spirit of give and take, most likely our brides would be willing to make changes on their side too. It reminds me of one of Paul’s earlier posts about the more mature partner ‘going first’. Blessings and healing to both of you Jeff

  3. @Paul and Cobus: Thank you for your prayers. I sincerely appreciate them.

    After the earth-shattering few years my bride and I have lived, the next great issue has become (*brace yourself for an “f-bomb”*)… FORGIVENESS !

    The forgivness I reference is not the kind that buries the hatchet while leaving the handle sticking up from the dirt for future retreaval. The forgiveness I reference is the “I will NEVER speak of it again”, “YOU are NOT your SIN”, “God and I HAVE YOUR BACK” kind of forgiveness.

    I could share volumes on resentment and bitterness, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, if the root of bitterness is not hacked off and killed, it will nurish outward resentment toward your bride, which will kill your marriage with her.

    Resentment nurishes self-righteousness. Self-righteousness says “How COULD you?”, “How DARE you!”, “I didn’t DESERVE that…”, “I DESERVE to be treated…”, blah, blah, blah.

    Honest, soul-searched humility is the sharpest and most effective tool for laying waste to the root of bitterness and resentment in you marriage. Humility says “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”… “If the table was turned, that could’ve been me”. Think about it.

    Total forgiveness is straight from Gods Word. Gods Word is always tested. Your willingness to forgive will be tested as well, but lets save that for another day. Today? Let us love our Brides as Christ first loved us, and gave Himself FOR us. Amen?

  4. Amen, Jeff. Amen. Thanks for sharing your story. Brought tears to my eyes, for what you have gone through and the thinking you have made me do.

  5. Wow Jeff, I think what you have to say is awesome. My husband and I have been dealing with this for the last 4 years.
    I have really struggled with the kind of forgiveness that you speak of because he has struggled with continuing in his sin. I can’t help but think that if I wasn’t so much like the first post of yours that it would get better quicker. It has really convicted my heart and reaffirmed that I can only focus on being the best wife and mother God wants me to be and let Him work on my husband. However, I could use some specific suggestions on what to do when my preferences (i.e. type A personality)kick in and want me to speak up. I try to not say anything and am usually successful for about 10 times and then I inevitably tell him how I like things. It is better because I used to tell him first off and not very nicely. Any help would be appreciated.

  6. @Victoria… There’s a lot I can share, but I’d rather yeild to Paul since this is his blog. Pauls many posts on this and related subjects have been helpful to me.
    I will share what my pastor often says…

    “The WHO is more important than the WHAT” God Bless You

  7. @Robert G: You too, got this Bro. Try to remember something my pastor says…
    “The WHO is more important than the WHAT”

    Within each of us lives the ancient Native American proverbial struggle of 2 wolves; 1 is hostile, aggressive, and dominant. The other is calm, patient, assertive, and though also an Alpha, this wolf is kind. Each wolf is at war with the other for control over the pack.

    Q: Which wolf will survive the battle for headship?
    A: The wolf that we feed.

    Starve the angry wolf within, until it dies !
    God Bless You, Robert.

  8. Thanks for this. I have a big problem with this. I try to get my wife to think and act like I do, because in the back of my mind, I think thinking and acting like me is the only way to go! I’m trying to view our differences in thought and action as complementary rather than something that needs to be fixed.

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