“I hate my husband.” That’s what a woman, cloaked in anonymity, wrote on an online confessional site. And then she described how she retaliates against him. Because he is allergic to chlorine, she cleans her house from top to bottom with bleach to make him sick. Amused commenters on the site applauded her ingenuity.
Now, I’m no lawyer, but that seems a tad criminal. And I wonder how she and her admirers would feel if he was discovered putting arsenic in her protein shakes to make her ill. Probably wouldn’t be too many “lol”s about that.
I’ve been thinking about this woman and others who have similar sentiments regarding their husbands. Maybe you’re reading this because that’s your tribe. There has to be a better way to live than committing jail-risking, passive-aggressive crimes against your man. So when you decide “I hate my husband,” what should you do next?
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT
There are only two directions to move from where you are. Either your hate your husband and want to leave, or you hate your husband but want to stay.
If you want to leave, leave. Don’t start making excuses for why you can’t. The dissolution of a marriage is painful emotionally and financially. It just is, so accept it. And to be perfectly blunt, complaining of discontent without movement to alleviate it is called whining. No one is really a fan and wants to hear it. It won’t help you to sugarcoat that.To be perfectly blunt, complaining of discontent without movement to alleviate it is called whining. Click To Tweet
But there’s another option. Despite your strong negative feelings, you might want to stay in your marriage. And I’ll be the first to say you don’t have to make excuses for that either.
There is a myriad of valid reasons for this choice, including:
- The recognition of pure cost/benefit. You may be a pragmatist who believes the financial benefit of staying outweighs the discomfort of your present emotions.
- Consideration of children. Unless you or your children are subjected to harm, your kiddos are likely to benefit from an intact nuclear family. The parental instincts of those who stay in an unhappy marriage “for the sake of the children” are not wrong. Selflessness is only a dirty word to those who are selfish.Selflessness is only a dirty word to those who are selfish. Click To Tweet
- Admission of your own guilt. Although you may really hate your husband, you might be bothered by the nagging suspicion he’s not 100% at fault for your unhappiness. You might have some unrealistic expectations or feed his perceived shortcomings.
- Understanding the transitory nature of feelings. You loved your husband when you married him and those feelings changed. Who’s to say they could not change again?
- A desire to live out a biblical understanding of marriage as a picture of the church’s relationship to Christ. You have enough theological wits to know sanctification comes from suffering. Sometimes suffering is relational.
MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER
Those who’ve decided to leave the husband they hate should be off packing. Therefore, what follows is practical counsel for those who’ve decided to stay.
If you can say “I hate my husband,” it’s a safe bet your marriage is miserable. And I wouldn’t wish a miserable marriage on anyone. But you don’t have to stay miserable. And for the sake of your own mental health, your children, and a clean rap sheet, you shouldn’t.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your life better. The first thing we’re going to acknowledge is our limitations. We can’t make anyone else change. And for that reason, it only makes sense to focus on ourselves and what we can do.
Produce an honest evaluation of your own culpability for hating your husband. If you’re not capable of being objective – not everyone is and the ability to admit it is a sign of maturity – bring in a friend who knows you well and won’t tell you what they think you want to hear. (Friends like that are gold!) Ask what areas you’re a jerk in. What are your faults? Do you hold others to unreasonable expectations? Are you able to bear faults in others? Could you be described as “gracious”? Are you a nag?
You won’t love this exercise, but there’s nothing like a clean mirror to see our own reflection accurately. And and there’s nothing like an accurate assessment of ourselves to produce humility and staunch the flow of hateful feelings toward another.
Resist the temptation to dwell on your husband’s faults. I’m not saying deny them. I’m saying you’ve probably already examined them under your mental microscope ad nauseam and further contemplation won’t help. What will help is a shift in focus to his strengths. Try deliberate and consistent appreciation of those areas. This will help you take the next step.
Practice kindness. You are not a victim of your feelings. So take charge of your emotions and make them do your bidding instead of doing theirs. Treat the man you made vows to with gentleness and respect. You’ll never regret taking the high road, especially if the eyes of children watch you. That’s not acting inauthentically. It’s acting purposefully. Your husband is sure to notice the change in you. And you may find your feelings toward him changing.
Find someone to cheer you on in the fight for your marriage. You don’t need someone to pat your back and say “Poor baby.” You need someone who respects the hard road you’ve chosen and will encourage you when you tire, challenge you when you’re selfish, and make you laugh when you want to cry. Your cheerleader might be your mother, sister, or a friend. Any woman can man-bash. Find a grown woman who knows not everything is disposable.
Finally, if you choose to stay married to a man you currently hate, you choose to do something that takes more strength than most people have – likely including you. So seek God and His help. He already knows all the details of your situation. Besides, it just may be that in looking for contentment in your marriage, you’ll find peace with Him too.