How to Love When You Feel Unloved

In the spirit of truth-sharing, I’ll tell you that being the wife I am called to be is my weak area, my Achilles heel. I never feel so much like Paul in Romans 7, battling with the flesh, as when marital issues arise. How can I love my husband when I myself feel unloved?

Often Satan and sin have me so ensnared that I even become confused as to what “right” really is.

Like many married couples, we tend to get caught up in the cycle of an argument that’s been played out time and time again.  And that can be so frustrating!

Revisiting those same issues makes us feel like failures, trapped by the past, stalled in our progress.

But I’m not satisfied with a marriage that’s merely okay, and I mean that in the best of ways, I really do.  I desperately want to grow ever closer to the type of intimacy God intended for us  to experience as man and wife.

I don’t want to be fatalistic or resigned in my outlook, even though I may feel that way at times.  Because if I settle for “this is as good as it gets,” then where is my hope in the God who transforms souls, including my own?

Marriage is hard work, just like parenting is hard work.  If it were easy, we would not be challenged to grow!

Marriage teaches me things about myself that I loathe: how selfish I am, how easily offended, how weak and needy.  But unless I see the truth of where I stand, what chance do I have to move on from that spot?

By far the most difficult times in our marriage occur when we are both bearing unusual burdens that slowly wear us down, burdens like extended illness, or financial stress, or parenting issues, or major decisions, or unpredictable catastrophes.

We’re both weak.

We’re both worn and frayed.

We’re both longing for rest.

Love between a husband and wife needs to be sacrificial in nature, but the world tells us to put "me" first. How can we love when we feel so unloved ourselves? How can we keep going when it seems easier to give up? A little advice from a wife who understands such struggles yet believes in Hope.

Hope for marriages in hard times

You’ve been there before, I’m sure – those times in life when you both feel like you need a good long vacation from reality.

As much as I’d like to blame our marital strife on my husband’s inadequacies, I know the issues at hand aren’t his alone.  We’re called to be sacrificial in our love for one another, but when I’m already at the end of my rope, I often feel there is nothing left to give.

I become selfish;

I withhold kindness.

I justify: how can I love when I feel unloved?

How can I lift my husband up when I can barely lift myself up, Father?

How can I?

I’m certain I’m not alone in this desire we wives have to be rescued by our husbands when the going gets tough.

Love between a husband and wife needs to be sacrificial in nature, but the world tells us to put "me" first. How can we love when we feel so unloved ourselves? How can we keep going when it seems easier to give up? A little advice from a wife who understands such struggles yet believes in Hope.

 

This desire to have men of strength come charging in to save the day. This desire to let ourselves be the weak ones for once.  This desire to feel protected and cherished and cared for.

Because for all of our outward strength, we women often harbor needs that remain hidden.

The problem is that in wishing my husband would take on that role of Rescuer, I’m asking him to fill a space only our Father God can truly fill.

When I ask my husband to fill up that empty space, I’m asking to be disappointed.

My husband is imperfect.  Sometimes he lets me down, as I do him. Sometimes he needs a Rescuer just as I do.  Sometimes he is weak.  He is only human after all.  My desire for him to be what even I cannot is quite unfair, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.

I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I love my husband                                                           when I feel unloved?

How can I be so filled with the Spirit, so filled with the Father’s love for my husband, that I have a constant and abundant supply to give?

Love between a husband and wife needs to be sacrificial in nature, but the world tells us to put "me" first. How can we love when we feel so unloved ourselves? How can we keep going when it seems easier to give up? A little advice from a wife who understands such struggles yet believes in Hope.

Honestly, I have no clear answers.

I have only ideas, inklings of what it takes.

Prayer would be a good start - telling God where I’m really at, even if it’s ugly.  Letting Him know how unfair it feels, how I feel unloved, how hurt I am, how afraid.  Asking Him to bring light to the Enemy’s lies, lies about how it will never change, about how it never has changed, about how you’re stuck.

They are Satan’s favorite lies. You’re trapped in this loveless marriage forever! He’s unfair!  He doesn’t appreciate you!  You shouldn’t have to put up with this!

Praying for supernatural intervention certainly helps!  God can change my husband’s heart, as well as my own, quicker than an hours-long “discussion.”  He can give me a supernatural love for my man, something that is not naturally “in me,” especially when I feel unloved.

The Father can melt my stubbornness, soothe my anger, hold my hurt, and forgive my sin, too.

He can also help me see the truth in the situation and  who my husband is in the Father’s eyes, a dearly beloved son. He can remind me of how big my husband’s shoes are, how broad his shoulders.  He can help me see clearly the load that often sits there and understand why my man sometimes stumbles beneath it.

When I see that truth, who my husband really, truly is at heart, I’m overwhelmed by compassion and ashamed by my traitorous thoughts.

I may not feel any stronger. I may still desperately need rescuing.  I may even carry wounds from the wrestling.

But at last I see that we two are the same: lonely, weary hearts in search of love and acceptance and a Rescuer.

You’re tired?  Me, too.  

You want to escape from life right now?  Me, too.  

You feel inadequate?  Me, too.

You hurt?  Me, too.

Instead of being angry with my hubby for failing to rescue me, we can turn hand in hand to the Father, the One who rescues us both.

 

Love between a husband and wife needs to be sacrificial in nature, but the world tells us to put "me" first. How can we love when we feel so unloved ourselves? How can we keep going when it seems easier to give up? A little advice from a wife who understands such struggles yet believes in Hope.

This is how we love, friends,

                                           by gazing into the face of Love Himself.

I’m not trying to make it sound simple or easy because I know how difficult it is to choose love when the world tells us it’s easier to give up and call it quits.

We can choose to love even when we feel unloved because Jesus did.

Greater Love has no man than this…

And so we stand, my husband and I, in the face of Perfect Love.

Side by side.

Fear washed away.

Compassion in our eyes.

Forgiveness on our faces.

Wearing our Grace-colored glasses because we serve the God of all Hope!

We’re merely works in progress here on Earth.

But we are not alone.

And this is not our home.

Jen :)

 

When do you feel strain in your marriage the most?

How do you take it to the Lord?

You can find more great posts on marriage here:

 

for-the-wife-who-doesnt-feel-like-celebrating-love, feeling-unloved-on-Valentines-Day, not celebrating Valentine's Day, painful Valentine's Day, troubled marriage, difficult marriage, a wife who feels unloved   6-ways-to-stir-up-love-in-a-difficult-marriage, helping a hurting marriage, struggling wife, difficult marriage, how to feel love, how to fall in love again, how to love a difficult spouse     Failing to trust your husband is really failing to trust God. It's a hard pill to swallow sometimes, I know! Read here to learn how to trust God with your marriage!

Also – Life in Grace

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit the Being Confident of This homepage. Thank you for helping to support this blog!

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you, Jen! Thank you for opening up and sharing the real, not so pretty, truth. God’s timing is perfect (as always). I’ve been frustrated this week with my husband working 14 hours one day and 18 hours another day! Crazy, I know! Plus, he’s leaving for a biz trip soon. And I’ve been having a bit of a pity party for this homeschooling mom of 4. Your post brought me some much needed perspective. Thank you!

    • says

      Oh, I so get the self-pity, Andrea! My husband is away for a few days, too. It’s given me time to think through some of what’s going on for us lately. Loving when we feel alone and overwhelmed is never easy, but it is possible if we let the Lord do it through us. It’s still such a work in progress for me that I don’t even feel qualified to give such advice, but sometimes it’s easier for me to hear a word from someone who doesn’t “have it all together” but who is struggling right alongside me. So, you’re not alone! You will be in my prayers this week!
      Jen :)

  2. says

    Great insight. After 20 yrs of marriage I figured out something. Happiness is my choice. I have to decide to work at the relationship, remind myself that my husband is ‘family’ and that I have to just except him the way he is. But that God will make the changes in me that will inspire the change in him. Also, communication is the key, we had to learn how to do that respectfully by going to marriage retreats and talking to mentoring couples. Then we had to learn not to hold grudges – they bring you down. Lastly, we had to take ownership of our own desires to be happy, because happiness is a slippery emotion that comes and goes whether the people around us tries to keep the emotion present or not.

    • says

      Yes, Nita, I believe God is trying to teach me the same thing. I must choose joy and obedience whether or not my husband is. Thanks for sharing these words with us!
      Jen :)

  3. says

    It’s so easy when things are stressful for it to reveal the problem areas. It’s a blessing that you see that and are ready to tackle the problems.

    • says

      Honestly, I’m not always ready and willing to tackle the problems.;) But I do truly desire a marriage that reflects the Lord! I know He’s helping us to grow closer to Him and by that means, to grow closer to each other. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jen :)

  4. says

    Thanks so much for sharing so honestly and openly here. You have described things that so many of us can relate to, Jen.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

    • says

      Whew! It’s always good to know I’m not the only one, Mel. :) I truly desire to love well, but so often the flesh gets in the way. Thankfully we have that promise in Christ that the good work He began will someday be complete!
      Jen :)

  5. Anonymous says

    I, too, have no answers, but so much of what you said resonates with me. I yearn to be rescued and to be cherished. I know God is the ultimate source of all I want, but I do say to him, “God, you aren’t fixing dinner for me when I’m sick or weary, so can’t I want a human being to help me?” I, too, hear the satanic whispers about being trapped in a loveless marriage. I daily dump my wounded heart at the Father’s feet. That’s all I can do right now, but I believe it is the best thing I could possibly do. Thanks for sharing your heart so openly. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    • says

      Dear Anonymous,
      First of all, I apologize for taking so long to reply to your comment. I’ve been on an extended break of sorts. :) I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling right now. For me, emotional pain is so much more difficult to bear than physical pain. I want you to know I am praying for you and your marriage. You are right in saying the best you can do is come to the Father. One thing I am learning this year is to find refuge in Him. Another things I’m learning is to ask Him to remind me of what is true because Satan is so persistent at trying to convince us of lies. While at times I feel very unloved, I know that the truth is there are also times I feel very loved. It’s just in those moments of conflict (or sometimes seasons of conflict) that I am easily convinced of untruths like, “He doesn’t love you” and so forth. I encourage you to ask the Father to give you a supernatural love for your husband, to show you the little ways in which you might be encouraged. It’s hard to ask such things when you feel wronged, but for me, doing so was very helpful. Hang in there, sister! Marriage is hard work, and yes, you are not alone!
      Much love in Christ,
      Jen :)

      • Anonymous says

        Thank you so much! One way God has been using this to teach me in the past several days is to point out that I am engaging in a bit of idolatry. It’s fine for me to feel hurt, and it’s fine for me to want good things for my marriage, but I put too much emphasis on this and sometimes when I’m praying or thinking about my pain, I act as if, if my husband cherished me, my life would be good. It is not a bad thing to want a good marriage, but it is wrong to put that much importance on it. At any rate, thank you for your prayers and your reply.

  6. says

    I so enjoyed your heartfelt post. I love the honesty here. After 33 years of marriage, I certainly know how much work it takes to maintain a marriage. I’ve discovered a great source for marriage advice at this website: http://joleneengle.com/. She is real and honest and tells it like it is.

    I’m joining you from Edie’s link-up. Great to visit with you.

  7. Pam says

    Very eye opening and exactly what I needed. I often want to give up as I feel unloved often. As a Christ follower giving up is not an option. My husband is not as strong in his faith and often makes snarly remarks about the my faith which has lead me to not be as strong. Thank-you!

    • says

      I’m so happy you found some encouragement here, Pam! Marriage is hard work, and even more so when you are not on the same page together. Thank goodness for the love of Christ! I know He has kept my marriage together in times when I might have chosen otherwise.
      Jen :)

  8. Bek says

    Thank you for this post (I know it was from a long time ago…). I also am a mother of four, ages 7, 5, 4, & 3. I recently quit my job to stay at home, and now I have been feeling so worthless an unloved. My husband and I both love the Lord with all our hurts, but our marriage is definitely not anywhere near perfect. We spend so much time trying to keep up with the kids and life…that we rarely spend true time together. And now that I stay home, I feel unnoticed. This post was exactly what I needed to “hear” and I’m so thankful that I stumbled upon it and your blog.

    • says

      Bek, first of all, I’m sorry to be so late in responding to your comment. Life has been, well, chaotic. :) I completely understand the lack of time. It’s easy to become more like “business partners” than lovers when the kids are young and life is just plain crazy. One thing that has helped us over the years is visiting a Christian counselor. For me, especially, hearing someone else validate that such feelings are normal is a huge burden lifted. I’m praying for you and your marriage! The Enemy loves nothing more than to attack us in those vulnerable places, but our God is Greater!
      Jen :)

  9. says

    I know you posted this so very long ago, but its just now coming across my pinterest! Lol. Im so glad i happened upon it, im not married yet but I am engaged to be and have found myself worried and upset and arguing for no reason every since the recent passing of my Grandmother. My fiance has been here to talk to but just handles these things differently than what im used to, its not his fault and i need to be more understanding. So glad I happened upon your blog :)

    • says

      Hi, Heather! :) I’m so glad you found this helpful. Even after being married for nearly 16 years, I often need the reminder myself. Best wishes for your upcoming wedding!
      Jen :)

  10. val says

    Dear Ladies,

    Sometimes I just feel like completely giving up my husband is so mean angry and unloving with me. Makes me so sad cause I know this is not love what’s more shocking is he’s a licensed minister.Weve only been married for six year’s it only got worse and verbally abusive when I was diagnosed with severe thyroid cancer and my thyroid had to completely be removed. My body changed and I started to gain weight and got more ill. Since he avoids me and gets angry about everything. I try to avoid conflict and angering him more. He has something against fat people but he’s heavy himself. Any advice would be helpful it’s so painful to stay or walk away.

    • says

      Val, first of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. Marriage really is a lot of hard work, isn’t it?! My husband is also a minister, so I understand what you mean by “shocking.” I have to say, though, that even ministers are human. They are mere men, subject to the same temptations and sin that we all are. Nevertheless, that doesn’t excuse wrong behavior. I strongly urge you to seek some solid Christian counselling on this issue. My husband and I have found that to be extremely helpful over the years, and without counselling and the Lord at work in us, I can honestly say I don’t know if we would still be married. Yet here we are 16 years later! :) We still have our bumpy patches, but I rarely fear anymore that we won’t be able to “make it.” I can also tell you that when my husband is acting in an unloving manner towards me, it’s not always about me. Sometimes it’s about his own internal stress and I’m just the safest person around. I hope that makes sense. I’m willing to bet that your husband’s behavior has less to do with your weight and more to do with other issues going on. Perhaps he is unhappy with himself? Either way, a godly counselor would be able to help you dig into the root issues underlying the behavior. Be sure to find one who isn’t afraid to apply the Word, either! If you wish to talk further, feel free to contact me via e-mail (found on the side of this page). I will be praying for you, Val! Our God is able!
      Jen :)

  11. Holly says

    i stumbled across this post while on Pinterest. I think God led me to it. I needed this tonight. My marriage has been really struggling this last month. My husband and I are under a lot of stress with finances and home life…along with my husband working and going to school full time. He has run himself so thin that he is angry and tired every single day. He makes me feel so unloved but I am trying to be understanding even when I don’t have much left to give when I feel so down. Thank you for this post. It feels good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    • says

      Praying for your marriage right now, Holly! Stress surely adds a new dynamic to married life. Please don’t hesitate to get help from a third party – it doesn’t have to be a counselor, it could just be a pastor or other leader you both trust (both is a key word here). You don’t have to wait until there is a “serious” issue to get some godly counsel. Looking back, I wish I would have overcome my own pride a lot sooner and asked for help. :) You are definitely not alone in this, so don’t let our enemy convince you otherwise!
      Jen :)

  12. says

    I love the ideas you put forth in this post!!! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a great night!

    • says

      Hi, Danielle,
      I apologize for not responding to you sooner. WordPress hasn’t been notifying me of all of my comments, so if I forget to actually go in and check the comments, they just sit there unseen. :) I truly appreciate the feature and hope others find these words helpful! Thank you!
      Jen :)

  13. Bianca says

    Wow! That really helped open my mind even more. Thank you for sharing that with us.
    Love wins in all time! God’s love is the best solution to everything.

    It is a bit difficult in my situation, as I want God’s help and the other doesn’t see it at all. How do I help him to turn to Jesus when things are going in the wrong way? When we fail in some situations? When we don’t honor each other?

    Thanks for reading this too.
    God bless!

    • says

      That’s tough, Bianca! I think the first thing is to get your personal relationship with Christ on track. Often when my husband and I are having trouble getting along it’s because one or both of us aren’t walking as closely with the Lord as we should. Second, ask the Lord to help you see your husband as He sees him, and to love him as the Lord loves him. That’s really something we cannot do on our own – it must come from the Lord. When he sees the changes in you and how you approach him, he may be more willing to look to the Lord himself. I often pray and ask that the Holy Spirit would convict my husband’s heart of wrong-doing, but usually I have to start with my own heart first. I hope that helps!
      Jen :)
      P.S. Check out another post of mine 6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage for even more ideas.

  14. lynn says

    I’ve learned that there is a BIG difference in ‘hoping in God’ and ‘hoping that God will do something.’

  15. Kelli says

    God has truly spoken through you to touch my heart and pain. I have searched for so long for someone else who feels keenly the disappointment and ache of our Father and Lord NOT being a physical presence here yet, and is strong enough to admit it! I also thought I was alone in the understanding of God’s sacrificial love. When God said “Do not weary in well doing,” He let us know that well doing would wear us out. Those who do understand this, and try to live His love out, are very often taken advantage of, which makes loving His way that much harder to do and takes that much more of a toll. In the midst of being taken advantage of, however, the hunger and desperation for such love is revealed. So, we don’t quit, we don’t give up, and we pray constantly to Him and for Him. I am grateful to God for you because your honesty and for being real. Through you, I feel my burdened is shared and suddenly, it’s not so heavy anymore.

    • says

      I hear you, Kelli. Sometimes we just need someone that can say, “Me, too!” and then we don’t feel so crazy and alone, right? I’m so thankful that you found this here today, and I pray that it continues to bring you comfort in the months to come. Lean hard on the Lord, my sister in Christ, and keep pressing on!
      Jen :)

  16. Natalie says

    Jen, I realize you posted this years ago but I am so thankful for the Internet and Pinterest as I sit here on a Saturday night desperate to find answers and encouragement for my troubled marriage. The only thing I know to do right now is pray and believe God will restore my marriage. It’s so hard though because my flesh wants to retaliate against my husband. I’m weak, weary, worn and yes… I feel unloved. I know the enemy would like nothing more than to have my husband leave and divorce me as he threatens all the time. My husband is a fairly new believer and I can’t help but feel this is a massive spiritual attack. I am interceding on behalf of my husband because I know he is not thinking clearly. I know the war we wage is not against each other but against Satan. Thank you for being so honest in your post. I am feeling so much anger and resentment towards my husband. I know this is wrong and I pray that Christ strengthen me with his supernatural power and enable me to love, and forgive over and over.

    • says

      My dear Natalie, yes, I know those feelings and I know those tactics of the enemy. It’s so tempting to give in, isn’t it? But I’m so thankful the Lord brought you here, and thankful that He used these words to bring you some encouragement. I have little sage advice to offer as it seems you are already doing the very best thing you can do for your marriage, which is to seek the Lord’s intervention by praying. All I can say is, please don’t give up, my sister in Christ! It is worth the struggle, worth the pain, worth the self-sacrifice. And yes, our Father God is Healer and Redeemer and He specializes in restoring things the world considers dead. He is already at work in you and your husband – you cling to that truth! And as you are both believers, you can also cling to the promise of Phil. 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you is faithful to carry it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.” You are a work in progress, and so is your husband. Our Father promises to carry that work in progress to completion someday. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, sister! Feel free to contact me via email if you’d like to talk further (find my email add. in the sidebar or go to my facebook page – same as the blog title – to message me). Also, I can recommend a few more recent posts that might encourage you in this tough time: How Recognizing Progress Can Save Your Marriage and The Secret to Being a Warrior Wife. Praying for you and your husband this evening that the Lord will guard you both!
      Jen

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>