Q&A: Wife feels responsible for husband’s happiness


Dear Debbie,

Recently our family went on a trip.  It was my husband’s birthday and since he likes to be outdoors, I wanted to organize a trip for him.  He decided to make the arrangements tailored to what he wanted to do.  The night before, we both talked about our expectations.  He said he wasn’t expecting much.  He didn’t want to get his hopes up and then be disappointed.  I told him I wanted to have a good time no matter what happened.  I wanted it to be a fun day for us and the kids.  Well, the trip did not go as expected and my husband was not happy.  Nothing he had wanted to do had happened.   Despite these circumstances, I wanted to make the most of the day.  I wanted to have fun no matter what we did.  My husband, however, was very upset.   What he thought he had booked was not what he got and he had paid a lot of money up front.  I understand how he could feel this way.  But I don’t understand why he had to complain the entire time, argue with the tour guide, and have our kids also see this attitude because, of course, this influenced their attitude and behavior.  Now, he feels I don’t care about how disappointed he was.  He feels like I don’t understand his feelings or try to “validate” them.

How could I have been a better wife to my husband?  I tried to let him handle everything.  I tried to stay out of the arguments with the tour guide.  How could I have been a better example to the kids?  I tried to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of negative circumstances.  However, the kids were still influenced by their father’s disappointment.  Have I failed at being a sensitive wife and a role model for the kids?  I am embarrassed with my husband’s behavior today and have no desire to take another trip with him.

Any thoughts?
Bewildered wife


Dear Bewildered,

I suggest you both read the Boundaries book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  You need to understand what you have power over and what you don’t.  You don’t have the power to make your husband choose the right attitude, behavior, words.  You are responsible FOR your words, choices, dreams, feelings and TO him.

When he’s disappointed, you might say, “I am sorry your day isn’t turning out as you liked.  I know how disappointed you must be.”  If he continues to seem downcast, you may add, “I wonder what God has in store for us today or how He will work this out for our good?”  If he stays angry, Proverbs says to stay away from an angry man, lest you become like him.

I am sorry it was a hard day for you and a disappointment for you both.  Your husband’s response to disappointment has less to do with what kind of wife you are and more to do with what kind of God he believes in.  That goes back to his relationship with God.  “Do I believe God loves me.  Is with me.  Is for me?”  That changes things.

As a man thinks in his heart so is he.  Look at Joseph in Genesis, as a slave and in prison, he knew God was with him.  That’s what makes the difference in how we handle disappointment.  Maturity also plays a role.  As we practice walking with God in faith we become more like Him, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

That is true for you too.  God saw your efforts to please your husband.  He doesn’t hold you responsible for his actions.  Keep a clean heart before God. You don’t have to get sucked into your husband’s bad moods.



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