When Your Husband Has Given Up

The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.

Every week I get at least one letter or comment on my blog about a marriage in trouble. My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. I’ve been there. Many of us have.

But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation, and help you fix this relationship.

Obviously a situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers on a simple blog can provide. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand on, stop the panic and balance yourself today?

Decide today that you are worthy.

That’s the first step.

Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the roller coaster of fickle feelings.

You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues, and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.

Broken down relationships can really break down a woman.

And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer on regret, shame, and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside you that used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.

Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember you are worthy.

Then you can act worthy.

And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some level headed decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you and will walk this tough journey with you.

Draw some boundaries with an uncooperative husband. Pray like crazy for clear discernment.

Remember you can’t control how he acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.

Reclaim who you are.

In a strange kind of way I had to do this yesterday during a scuba diving trip with my family. Everything was going fine until we saw what we all thought was a baby shark. And then that “baby shark” bumped into my daughter’s head. She did what most 18-year-old’s would do when her head gets bumped by a “shark.”

She remained completely calm.

Oh I kid.

She did nothing of the sorts. She screamed so loud I could hear her despite the fact we were 30 feet under water. Now that is a loud scream.

Then the creature bumped her head a second time.

And y’all, you would have thought the thing ripped her arm off. Which it did not.

(We later found out it wasn’t a shark and didn’t even have teeth.)

She completely panicked and attacked me ripping my mask and regulator off. Since she jumped on me from behind and I didn’t see her coming, I totally thought the baby shark’s mama had grabbed me.

For what was just a few seconds but felt like hours, I was convinced I would drown. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t remember how to be calm.

Though I’m normally a calm person, I was anything but until the dive master came to me. He wasn’t panicked. And he saw the same “shark” as us. He was calm and reassuring and reminded me to put my regulator in and breathe. He then helped us all ascend to the surface.

Masters are good like that.

Later on the boat, I realized how panic completely changes people — makes them act in ways they normally never would.

And it’s the same whether you’re under water in the ocean or under water in a relationship.

So, today breathe. Steady yourself. Keep your eyes on the Master.

I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.


  1. Brandy says

    I received this blog today through Proverbs 31 “Encouragement for Today Devotions” and immediately began crying as soon as read the title because I knew it was God speaking right to me. It literally was His words and note to my heart today and I want to thank you for being His vessel to all of us. Marriage has to be one of the hardest relationships I’ve ever experienced but through this our precious Lord has made Himself known to me in ways I’d never encounter any other way. Thank you for your wisdom, encouragement, and love today!

  2. Robin Olson says

    You hit home on that story today. Our marriage is struggling with all those things that you mentioned and definitely needs prayers from everyone. I know I am not supposed to step away from this marriage that I need to hold on and hold on tight to God and not let go. For me the lack of physical contact is hard, he doesn’t hug me at all and when I hug him it feels like I am forcing him to hug me back. He will not kiss me but lets me kiss him on the cheek. I know its not all his fault and that I am also guilty of not listening or spending quality with but when I became a Christian in 2007 my interest changed and his didn’t (non-believer). PLEASE PRAY!!!!

  3. Kerri says

    I would like to request prayers for my marriage. We have been going through rough times for many years now and I keep holding on hoping that my husband will change. He does not communicate and holds everything in. He speaks to me like I am a naughty child and he has no feelings, he is short tempered and we cannot seem to have a conversation about anything. So we don’t talk and now the feelings of resentment, I feel are getting so deep that we may not recover. I am not sure what to do or if I want to fix it at this point. We have 2 children and I don’t want them to have to go through a divorce. Please pray for us.

  4. Marisa says

    I came across this email just today….even though it was dated awhile back, I so needed to read this right now! My husband & I are going through a lot right now & he has a way of manipulating everything to be my fault. He shows no emotion & I feel like his heart is as hard as a rock, & things are getting bad between us. It is just hard & depressing sometimes. The message at church yesterday was about trusting God & that noone is so far under they can’t be saved…..& then I read this! Gods timing is wonderful! Please pray for clarity in our marriage.

  5. Jen says

    My husband has given up on our marriage and everything else really. I love him so much, but he has been so cold. He won’t even touch me. He refuses to talk to me or try. I have no idea what to do. The thought of leaving hurts so much, but staying like this hurts so much too