For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

It’s no secret to those who know me well that my marriage isn’t perfect. Whose is, really? :)

So maybe you’ve spent time there lately, struggling in marriage, battling  through in that part of the vows that we all like to ignore – the “for worse?”

And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, your pain is magnified because while everyone else is celebrating love, you’re left wondering where the love has gone.

Perhaps you don’t even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all?

You’re not alone.

I’ve been in that place, too.

Early on in our marriage, my husband revealed a secret about past trauma that he had kept hidden for years. He had survived things as a child that nearly made me vomit when I heard them, yet he never spoke a word!

That revelation (and other difficult circumstances) led to a really dark time in our marriage.

After talking with some trusted friends, we finally sought professional help, but it was years later before we learned that my husband really struggled with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, the kind that soldiers get when they’ve been to war, only his was induced by childhood trauma.

At some point, I began to wonder – who is this man that I married? Followed by the thought - this isn’t what I signed up for.

 

We continued to struggle in marriage, partially because of his own personal fight with demons from the past and partially because I was believing lies from the Enemy about myself, about him, and about us.

I worried a lot about whether we would make it.

Sometimes I even longed for the release and relief of a separation. Wouldn’t it be so much easier on my own?

But I knew that divorce was a sin. I also knew I didn’t want that life for my children, and I knew that part of me still loved my husband in spite of not feeling the love at the moment, so ultimately we decided to stick it out.

Yet it wasn’t easy.

And then came Valentine’s Day, a day for celebrating love and marriage.

The problem was that I didn’t feel “in love” anymore. In fact, at times I didn’t even like my husband, and I don’t think he liked me very much either.  I didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.

Nothing brings out the pain of struggling in marriage like the holidays! How can you even choose a card for someone you don't really like at the moment? For the wife who just doesn't feel like celebrating, take heart; you are not alone!

So, how can you buy a Valentine’s Day card for your husband when it feels like a lie to even say a simple, “I love you” or “You’re wonderful?”

There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about staying committed even though marriage really stinks right now.

There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about how you weep at night, yet you hold onto hope for better days.

No, those cards don’t exist.

What could I do?  To buy a sentimental card felt like a lie; it would be dishonest.  Finally, I settled on a more general card, then added my own note to it.

I wrote about how hard life had been lately for both of us.

I wrote how sorry I was for my own failures as a wife. I wrote about what I saw in him when we first fell in love. Most importantly, I wrote how I planned to stick by him, for better or for worse, even though marriage seemed so much more than “worse” at the moment.

In so many words, I told him I believed in us and I believed in our God.

Hope for the Hurting Wife: 30 Days of Practical Encouragement for Your Marriage. Coming Soon! marriage book|difficult marriage|husband|wife|hard times in marriage|marriage encouragement

My husband still keeps those cards, even the ones from the rough years (yes, years). They mean something to him. They mean something to me, too.

We survived that rough Valentine’s Day and some painful anniversaries, too. Although I’d love to tell you we never visited the dark times again in these last 15 years, it would be a lie.  We have.

I’ve since learned that every marriage has its ups and downs. That’s just normal. :)

So, this Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to you, the wife who doesn’t feel like celebrating love, the wife who feels so unloved and maybe even trapped. I know that Valentine’s Day shines a great big spotlight on your source of pain. I know you are tired of struggling in marriage and you long for just a small slice of peace in your life.

I know you often feel alone in this. And I know the loving feelings just aren’t there at the moment, as much as you wish them to be.

Take heart, lonely, wounded wife.

You are not alone! The Father has not forgotten you!

Psalm 34:17-18

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
     The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

This is just part of my story of surviving Valentine’s Day when you feel unloved… and unloving.  I hope you’ll join us for Part 2 in which I share six practical tips for stirring up love when marriage just plain stinks.

Until then,

Jen :)

Related articles:

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

How to Love When You Feel Unloved

Through My Grace-colored Glasses

It Was Ugly

The Day I Saw Red

Because We’ve Been Falsely Accused

Sharing this post with: Tell His Story, Wedded Wednesay, Wifey Wednesdays, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth, Unite, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Making Your Home Sing Monday, The Homemaking Party

Comments

  1. says

    WOW Jen! Powerful, heartbreaking and yet hopeful in God. Such encouragement and sharing from the heart what you’ve been through. Such similar struggles in our own marriage of now 35 years, dark dark places. But, God is a redeemer. I tell other couples, it may have seemed like a mistake who you are with now, but God sees it always as an opportunity for greatness when hearts are turned towards Him.

    Thank you!

    • says

      Amen to that, Tammy! He certainly is a Redeemer of all things, even the most difficult marriages. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving these encouraging words today.
      Jen :)

  2. says

    I needed this, today, now. I don’t want to say more out of respect for my marriage but I cannot even begin to thank you enough for this post and the ones you’ve linked to.

    • says

      I completely understand! I had a hard time knowing what to share even in this post and had to ask my husband to look over it first. Praying for you and your marriage today!
      Jen :)

  3. confessions1rst says

    My husband revealed details of his adoption and how his birth father sexually abused his sister and best him bloody, only after our son was born. I know that feeling of “I’m going to puke” and “I didn’t marry a broken man! Not fair! I didn’t sign up for this!” It’s led us through some dark years in our marriage as well. I can totally relate. During really hard times though, we tried to be friends even if we didn’t feel romantic or in love. Sometimes we played video games or caught a fun movie with no romantic pressure attached. We learned to be friends no matter what and let the romance come later with a lot of prayer and some counseling.

  4. says

    This is absolutely beautiful, Jen! I love how what we shared is so in tune with each other and yet the messages have their unique audiences.

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us and for your family’s service to our country. Praying your marriage will continue to grow in the Lord.

  5. says

    Being honest about rough times is hard. Marriage is two people struggling through life together. It is at best something that has to be cautiously worked at ALL THE TIME by both people giving whatever their 100% is for that day. It is good to remember that God isn’t absent just because our emotions are empty. Thank you for sharing. God is good all the time, we just can’t always see it in the moment.

    • says

      Yes, all the time – so true! And you are so right in saying that feelings are deceptive – even when we feel alone, we who are in Christ are never alone. He is always with us! Thanks for sharing those truths here.
      Jen :)

  6. says

    In my marriage, it was me who disclosed abuse afterwards and him who surely felt like he married a crazy woman. They were very dark years – not sure if we were going to make it. Times when I wasn’t sure if I was able to even live anymore. The trauma is unbearable. The horror leaves a person so broken and desolate. BUT, we have a Saviour. And almost 17 years later, I can say that HE is the restorer of the lost, HE is the healer of the broken, HE is the redeemer of things that are not redeemable. My marriage is totally restored, I am fully restored. Hang in there ladies. And pray, pray, pray. Don’t give up hope, hold fast to Him.

    • says

      Aimee, I’m so sorry to hear how you have suffered. The older I get, the more I realize it’s much more common than most people think! But I LOVE your message of hope here! What an ecouragement to those still struggling or with spouses who are still struggling. Yes, pray without ceasing – that’s one of the tips I’ll be sharing in the second half of this post (on Saturday). It’s so key to survival in those dark times. Thanks for stopping by here!
      Jen :)

  7. Becky says

    Jen, I think you have such a gift of putting feelings into words and making them come alive and be easily understood. You know our marriage was much like this and thankfully you also know how God can heal. Thank you so much for choosing to stay committed to God and His word! LYLC!

    • says

      Thanks, Mom. Even though we still have ups and downs, the downs don’t seem to reach as low. I’m more confident that God will keep our marriage together than I ever used to be. So, I’m very thankful for that! LYLC, too! :)

  8. says

    wow – I’m so glad to see so many other comments here…there are so many of us who NEED to hear this. Thank you for being brave to share your story and to offer us hope. I’m praying God continues to bless your marriage and your ministry. It’s a hurting world in need of the hope of Jesus. Thank you for holding out hope – and Hope – to us!

  9. says

    Wow! What a great piece. My husband and I have been through some rough patches, but thankfully nothing too serious, or long lasting. But, some days, weeks, months, or years, are just harder, and something, yeah, you don’t really feel “in love” or like you like them very much at the moment.

    • says

      I think everyone has those times, whether short or long, if they’re honest. :) I’m thankful that our marriage has seen much better times since this Valentine’s Day from the past. But it certainly is hard when you are in the midst of a rough spell! Thanks for stopping by here this evening.
      Jen :)

  10. says

    Aww–what a tough post to write, yet I am so thankful you did. So many wives will need it this Valentine’s Day. I’m glad you stuck it out! Praying that this Valentine’s Day will be a great one!

    • says

      I have no doubt this Valentine’s Day will be much more enjoyable than the one I described here! :) I’m thankful for parents who stuck it out before me (even in tough times!) – that example has been so helpful to us. Thanks for stopping by this evening!
      Jen :)

  11. Sara Borgstede says

    This is beautiful encouragement. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and honesty. It’s so important for others to know they aren’t alone in their struggles. You are brave in sharing and I know it will be a blessing to many other people. Our marriage has been through many ups and downs too. Satan tries hard to destroy Christian marriages! It’s worth staying together for! http://www.saraborgstede.com

  12. says

    Jen, once again your heartfelt and honest words bless me so much. Thank you for sharing your heart and for encouraging wives out there who are struggling. You are such a blessing to so many! God bless :)

  13. says

    This is so good Jen! I especially like #6. Pursue Your Man! Even when he doesn’t act pursuable. I’ve learned that it isn’t about how much loving I want to give him. I’s about loving him the way he needs to be loved. True agape love that loves according to his needs, not my feelings. Loved it, friend!

    • says

      Yes, agape love – it’s so difficult at times and impossible to muster up on our own because we just don’t have that kind of love in us! It only comes by way of the Father. I admit, I’m often a selfish being, but He is teaching me to love my husband more. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  14. says

    Thankfully I haven’t had a Valentine’s Day like this yet, but we’ve only been married 5 years so far.
    Sharing so others can be encouraged.

  15. Cris says

    Jen, Jen, Jen.
    I can’t tell you how happy I am right now. I just discovered your blog and I can barely see through my tears. I’ve been with my husband for 12 years, married 4, and we had our first child 11 long months ago. This last year or so has been rough, to say the least. I’m not proud of some of the things I’ve said during our worst fights and sometimes I felt like giving up. I’ve never been very religious but have recently started reading a daily devotional and talking to God on a regular basis. I’ve also started seeing a counselor for support. We still struggle, but I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see PROGRESS and that is what counts, like you said. We’re not perfect but we are getting better all the time. Your writing spoke to me and I think I was meant to find your words today. Instead of the harsh words I had ready for my husband when he left work, I forgave him and spoke only kind, sensitive words when he called. The appreciation in his voice was music to my heart. Thank you for today. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi, Cris! It makes me so happy to hear that you found these words helpful in your marriage. :) I often say that if my husband and I were not Christ-followers, we would probably have been divorced by now. It’s only the Lord’s grace and His work in us that keeps us on that path of progress! Even after 16 plus years of marriage, we still struggle from time to time – life makes marriage hard, especially with young children in the home. They bring a unique stress to that relationship. I’d like to encourage you to keep seeking God! That’s the very best thing you can do for your marriage.

      John 10:9-11 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

      Through Him we can have abundant life!

      Jen :)

  16. says

    Great post, Jen! Valentine’s is a hard day for many! We don’t celebrate it in a big way, but rather show our love throughout the year. I think when we don’t expect a huge production at Valentines, we aren’t as likely to be hurt.
    I have your book on my Kindle…I need to start reading it :)

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