Let Your Husband Love You: And Be Yourself

Express yourself, or quietly suppress and let your man love you:  a Victorian false dichotomy.  It’s human to feel like crap, because parenthood is tough, tough stuff.   In my clinical opinion, the last thing a woman needs who is battling feelings of self-worth and exhaustion, authentically displaying it to her husband is to “suck up your pride, your anger, your frustration, and your crazy.”  

I recommend authenticity and processing.  And depending on the situation, therapy.   Irritability and feelings of worthlessness, along with not enjoying the things you used to enjoy (like, sex or spending time with your partner) are hallmark symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.  A counselor can help appropriately diagnose and get you the help you need to feel better end enjoy your relationships more.    Perhaps, if the original post brought up a ton of guilt or shame, considering scheduling an appointment with a counselor.  At the very least, I recommend processing your feelings about the post with an empathic friend or your partner.   You’re not alone. It’s normal to want to be real in your own home and the thought of sucking it up and pretending everything’s coming up roses feels either:  a) exhausting, b) anxiety provoking, c) guilt-inducing.

A counselor can also help process how current relational dynamics are working/not working for you.

To be specific, this post seems to highlight how very black and white division of labor between home and career just doesn’t work for so many.  It will work for some, I acknowledge that, but far too often after a few years of this set-up something’s gotta give:  and all too often its the wife who “sucks it up.”  Usually men work toward their careers, women work at home.  This is not the kind of post to argue which is better for men and women:  only the individual can decide that (P.S.  End Mommy Wars!).   I’m only here to gently suggest that reassessment at some point between the couple on how to help each other (whether it’s doing more housework or meal preparation together, husbands taking the *entire* evening/night shift–rather than a 1-2 hour “break” for mom, supporting mom if she really wants to go back to school or work outside the home) is beneficial.

So I talked a little about processing above (with your partner and perhaps a counselor).  Let me just end a little on a note of authenticity.  First, my own:  I completely resonated with her exhaustion with my 2 babies 18 months apart.  Some won’t though, and that deserves mention.  Men and women who have carved out work and home in different ways won’t relate much at all, and that should be acknowledged.   Given that caveat,  I personally can very much relate to how smelling like vomit, being climbed all over all day can be soul-crushing.  Of course I haven’t believed my husband when he compliments me.  And yes, I could say “thank you” more often.  But there’s nothing wrong with speaking your mind, with processing how you’re REALLY feeling. Lots of women have been trained since they were children to keep words and actions in pretty-mode.  I imagine the author of this article did, too, as highlighted in her comments:  “Dude, I so get it. It was such an eye opener for ME when I stepped outside of myself and saw what my man comes home to sometimes. Not pretty.”   I totally did it when I was younger.  In college, I remember dating some guy who even said after a few months, “you know, I wish you’d express more how you were really feeling–I want you to vent, express, be REAL with me.”  And I did, and I married him, dear reader.  Best decision I’ve ever made.

I emphatically and unequivocally support being yourself, expressing yourself.   Let your partner love you AND be real.  It’s not an either/or, folks.   Personally, I don’t want to be adored/pedestaled.   I prefer to be loved, as myself–exactly the way I am, feelings and all.

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24 thoughts on “Let Your Husband Love You: And Be Yourself

  1. chrsgreennl says:

    Let me first say two things. I believe you are doing your part to help people with the issues they confront and for that I’d like to say thank you. Second, the author if that post is my kid sister so you have to understand my bias 😉

    I would just like to point one thing out. You have approached the issue from one perspective and she has from another. As I read your perspective, the problem here is repressing true feelings in order to achieve some idealistic notion of happiness. As I read her perspective, the problem is not repression of emotion, the problem is the over-expression of them – the feeling that at any moment “my feelings” are most important.

    I think the difference here isn’t a matter of mental or emotional health. The point that she’s driving home is that sometimes the best way to love someone, to truly care for someone else more than you do yourself, is to just let them express their love toward you – to let them love you. In fact, a love that looks past itself and sees the object if it’s love as precious and desireable, in my opinion is one of the healthiest expressions of humanity that anyone could hope for. And if that love is returned in the same way, then both parties will know that the one is always looking out for the the other.

    This is the type of love that we have learned from our lives as followers of Jesus – a love that acknowledges its own needs but looks past them for the sake of others.

    Of course, I’m honing in on one particular point here but I thought it was worth mentioning. Thank you again for what you do to help others.

    • Thank you for your respectful response! I think it’s wonderful to have an open dialogue about issues women face daily. From a woman’s perspective, I happen to think worrying about over-expression of feelings is not a healthy place for women (or men!) to be in relationships, especially when she’s told her whole life doing so isn’t “pretty” or “attractive.” I think a more helpful thought exercise would be communicating in the relationship about love languages and discovering exactly what they need from the other person that makes them feel loved, rather than just solely foregoing self-expression to accept what your partner wants to give. Again, I think looking out for the self/other can both happen, it doesn’t have to be either-or. I really appreciate your sister’s efforts and am delighted to read your thoughts as well.

  2. Bad Wolf says:

    Thank you so much for this. Having post partum depression and anxiety and reading a suggestion to just “suck up… your crazy” was incredibly triggering to me. Because really, why would my husband want to come home to me and my problems right now? Most nights he comes home to my crazy. I just had my 6th baby, so this isn’t my first rodeo. I know that the depression and anxiety will start to taper off in a few months, and by the time my baby is about a year I will be feeling pretty much like my normal self. But no matter how hard I try, the anxiety and depression (the “crazy”) isn’t going to go away right now. And it is so exhausting and induces even more anxiety to try and hide it from my husband. When I am authentic with my husband, I don’t have thoughts of self harm. When I am authentic with my husband, we find ways to care for me so I can cope with my illness. When I am authentic with my husband I don’t push him away and damage our relationship. Thank you for validating something that has been very difficult for me.

    • Thank you so much for being so real right now. I’m so glad I could validate. What you said here is so beautiful and true: “When I am authentic with my husband, we find ways to care for me so I can cope with my illness. When I am authentic with my husband I don’t push him away and damage our relationship.” Love it. Hang in there, hun.

  3. Erin N. says:

    I think her blog post was right on point and practical for a stay at home mom and a working dad. If the tables were turned, would you even begin to look deeper into it? I am not trying to start a debate, but I think you were looking too deep and not taking it for what it is. It definitely points out that in a healthy, strong marriage with two people who equally put in as much effort should treat eachother with respect and not push your emotions on the other just because you had a stressful day. I open up more to my husband when I let him love on me than when I shut him out with being cold towards him. I will then tell him that I need some space and he respectfully gives it to me. I know all marriages aren’t like that, but mine is. Your response was definitely a good way to look at the bloggers post, however, I think you may have missed her point.

    • You may be right, Erin. I’m glad that the division of labor works for you and your husband right now. Let me just clarify one thing: I’m a stay-at-home mom now, so the tables are already turned in the same direction for she and I. I just tend to–as you correctly noticed–dig deep. For some it’s a feature, not a bug, but I understand looking deeper is not for everyone. Thanks for your thoughts!

      • Erin N. says:

        I totally get the reason for digging deeper because some people have deeper issues. Since I have formed a friendship with her, I think I was able to truly hear her and her message. Someone who is just reading it without knowing her may get something different out of it. Your side of it isnt wrong, it is just another perspective. Thank you for your response.

  4. kenner82 says:

    I think everything you say is true and right, except that I didn’t feel like any of those things applied to the original post (the way that I had related to and interpreted it, that is). And my guess is that the original post was interpreted by people in a variety of ways according to their own experiences. For myself, I know that my husband and I sometimes get into a cycle of being irritated with each other, and that feeds on itself until it spirals and we’re both feeling miserable for no particular reason. I finally noticed after a number of years that if one of us can set aside the irritation and accept the other one’s overtures, that can feed off of itself in a positive way instead of a negative one. So, that was how I (personally) related to that post – that sometimes you do need to set aside your frustrations with your day in order to welcome the love your partner is trying to hold out just to break that cycle. It reminded me very much of this post from Momastery: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/09/766/ And I have a feeling that is the part that resonated so strongly with so many people.

    • Thanks Carolyn! I love how you noted that blogs can be a “blank canvas” of sorts that we all project and interpret our experiences onto and take away certain parts. I’m so glad that you took away the helpful parts (because her original post was very relatable, to be sure, and kindness is definitely a valuable topic). I would just refer you to one of the comments below on depression/anxiety for further empathy. And also, I think if the author tempered her language about noting letting “frustrations” or “your crazy” out for your husband when he comes home could be valuable. Temporarily setting aside irritation can be productive, depending on the context, but the theory her post rests on involves self-sacrifice after a hard day at home to cater to your husband’s hard day at work is better, and I think that can be problematic. We’re all human, we all struggle. I feel we should have a safe place to process that, whenever/wherever we need to.

  5. hey there! I’m knee deep in kids and chaos right now, but I just to stop in and say that I appreciate your kind disagreement. I’ll be back to kind of clarify some things and defend myself a little bit, but I do respect your post and am thankful for healthy discussion. Cheers.

    • I imagine, Kristen! I have two adorable creators of chaos to corral here at home too–I feel you. 🙂 I really appreciate your original post and the opportunity to respectfully dialogue. P.S. I love your writing style. Very down to earth. Best wishes on your blogventures.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Honestly, you sound like you’re attacking the other author. You don’t even sound like you’re trying to be beneficial towards your readers. You only sound like you’re attacking the other author. What’s the point of that? Her blog post was incredible. What she posted is what works for her in her marriage. How can you oppose someone on what works for them in their marriage? She hasn’t been fake in front of her husband. She’s being considerate of her husband. There is nothing wrong with that. She saw that she didn’t like how she was handling her marriage so she took steps to change it. Can’t you just have respect for that? Why the need to publicly opposed her? Why would you suggest depression and counselling? Nothing in her post suggested depression.

    • I’m sorry this was upsetting to you Jennifer. I would just like to clarify that I am not speaking directly to the author (who sounds like a wonderful woman and I’m glad she’s found a system that works for her in her marriage). I wrote what I did to help others: please read the comments if you would like to be more empathic to others’ perspective to whom “sucking it up” and “swallowing your pride” when you’re feeling frustrated, upset, or overwhelmed in house-wifery. I’m not attacking her: I’m respectfully challenging the very public idea that she put forward, due to the public nature of blogs this is for thousands of women to read. I am reaching *them.* As a psychologist, it’s what I’m trained to do: challenge assumptions to help those who come in contact with those ideas and find it distressing/problematic.

  7. mary says:

    Hello! As a clinician and Masters Level Therapist myself I found it very interesting to read your response to Kristen’s post. I read Kristen’s post a few days ago and really felt she hit the nail on the head. I work outside the home and yet can totally relate to the exhaustion and “craziness” at the end of the day. I agree with you that at times, it is crucial to share and process those emotions for both the sake of personal health and relationship health. However, as I remind my clients day in and day out, feelings are always valid however not always logical! Maybe I come home from work and “feel disgusting” “feel overworked” “feel unloved” it is important to look at those emotions and untwist what may be illogical in them. I am loved very much by my husband and I know that more often that not I am not “feeling loved” because I am pushing him away when he desires to show his love. I’m not talking only about physical intimacy here either. What I believe Kristen was pointing out was the importance of accepting the gift of others love even when we want to run from it, or wall ourselves off in a false sense or safety. And sometimes that requires me to “suck up my feelings” and move past them because they sometimes are just irrational. Intimacy requires trust in the other. And in a healthy marriage, a spouse’s love NEEDS to be trusted!

    I am more than just a feeling person, I am also a thinking person. One side of the coin is never better than the other. I need both in my life to be healthy. So while I appreciate your suggestion that we all express and process our feelings (especially since that’s what I do for a living too) I think we must also mention the importance of adding logic into the equation as well. And in Kristen’s case and my own, logic leads me to say “just let your husband love you!”

    • I completely agree that the idea that one is “unloveable” is an illogical belief that needs to be challenged (and therapy is a great place for that!). But I still believe that “sucking it up” is not in one’s best interest. We women are trained to do that so that other’s aren’t put-off by our “unattractive” feelings, and Kristen did hit that proverbial nail on the head: an underlying assumption that women are expected to do, though don’t always voice it. Kristen did. Loud and strong. I commend her for getting it out there in the open: as I’m sure you studied in your masters, you can’t challenge a belief if it’s left unsaid/unacknowledged. So I’m actually really grateful to her post–it’s definitely getting the discussion going! And to respond to what you said about thoughts vs. feelings, I wish we could see those two more less as competing forces and more working together: in this case, that both can be present, tolerated, and processed through in a relationship, no sucking up necessary.

    • Dear Mary, I love you. That is all.

    • kenner82 says:

      That was the vibe I was getting, you just summarized it better than I did. Thanks 😉

  8. I can see both perspectives. Sometimes the crazy just does need to be reeled in for a sec……other times, the man needs to be emotionally present for the woman to BE authentic. If he’s not, no amount of sucking it up is ever going to work. It will make you angry, resentful, and bitter. So, so Bitter. I think both articles make great points, but this article as a rebuttal I think is important for some who would take the original article a bit too literally, and never be authentic. Seriously. Let’s face it, not all people are balanced individuals, and they need rebuttals like this one to understand the medium, that is, The Happy Medium that can become their marriage. Sometimes people take things quite literally. The original poster to me read as meaning a “just for today” instance, in order to stop the anxiety train, and really see what she has. I don’t think this rebuttal was rude, attacking, or disrespectful. Trust me, I’ve seen much worse, with no respect for the rebuttled author what so ever.
    *This rebuttal is not one of those.* It is simply the other side of the spectrum. I liked the other one, and really, I could have used it back in the day while I was raising a baby. To just stop-and breathe-and remember-just for that moment. Then I like this one too. It’s simply a reminder to not lose You while navigating life with children, it’s scarily an easy thing to do. I speak from experience. I was one of those unbalanced, that read quite a bit into an opinion, like it was fact, without once considering that was what I was doing at the time. Ah, good ole hindsight….always 20/20. Just look at it and read it again. Reading the first one was like revisiting the past in what my head was like, and back then I could have used that advice…but again, I would’ve taken it too far, and that’s why I sit where I do now. In a chair in my living room, unhappy, feeling unwanted, and that only being reaffirmed in so many ways he will never understand, he’s just not emotionally there. It’s not anyone’s fault, just how sh*t turned out. Anyway, I digress. Just look at both, reread. There’s nothing heinous or rude here. Both are merely a challenge to the individual reading each article to look inward, and see-really see-what is happening inside, and outside, without missing those things that are important. Self, and the person who loves that self. Simple.

  9. mary says:

    Too much?? Hello! As a clinician and Masters Level Therapist myself I found it very interesting to read your response to Kristen’s post. I read Kristen’s post a few days ago and really felt she hit the nail on the head. I work outside the home and yet can totally relate to the exhaustion and “craziness” at the end of the day. I agree with you that at times, it is crucial to share and process those emotions for both the sake of personal health and relationship health. However, as I remind my clients day in and day out, feelings are always valid however not always logical! Maybe I come home from work and “feel disgusting” “feel overworked” “feel unloved” it is important to look at those emotions and untwist what may be illogical in them. I am loved very much by my husband and I know that more often that not I am not “feeling loved” because I am pushing him away when he desires to show his love. I’m not talking only about physical intimacy here either. What I believe Kristen was pointing out was the importance of accepting the gift of love from others in our life. Not to run from it, or push it away simply because we are afraid, or feel unworthy. These are just feelings, not facts! Sometimes that requires I “suck up my feelings” and move past them because they are just irrational.

    And I am more than just a feeling person, I am also a thinking person. One side of the coin is never better than the other. I need both in my life. So while I appreciate your suggestion that we all express and process our feelings (especially since that’s what I do for a living too) I think we must also mention the importance of adding logic into the equation as well. And in Kristen’s case and my own, logic leads me to say “just let your husband love you!”

  10. mary says:

    Excuse the too much 🙂 that’s what I get for starting on my phone and moving to my iPad half way through my response. Other words get added in 😉

  11. When I wrote the post, it was directed towards my When at Home community, who know me, know my writing style, know where I’m coming from and are largely in the same life situation as me. I never intended or expected it to reach so many people. I still don’t understand it. CRAZY. That being said, if I had known so many people would’ve have read it, I would have worded a few things differently, but overall, I stand by my words.

    This isn’t about repressing emotion, it’s about respecting your spouse and finding better ways to express your emotions. As a counselor, I would think that’s something you teach your clients.

    Depression is a totally separate issue. I didn’t address it in my blog post and I would never tell someone struggling with an emotional issue to just “suck it up” nor would I call them crazy. My post was clearly directed towards stressed out moms who are at their wits end at the end of the day.

    I’m not anti-woman or anti-being yourself. I’ve never been taught to hide who I am because it’s not pretty or attractive. That assumption is entirely unfair and incorrect. My husband knows the ugliest side of me and he loves me in spite of all of my flaws. I respect him and love him enough to set aside my immediate need to complain and snap and yell because of that reason. I am 100% in support of loving my husband as selflessly and sacrificially as he loves me.Do I succeed all the time? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I try every day to give him the love he deserves.

    In all honesty, I think you dug a wee bit too deep into what I said. I’m completely dumbfounded that you implied my post could’ve caused someone to spin into a depression that they would need to see a counselor about. I am an honest writer and I blog about real and raw emotions. I won’t filter what I say because a few people might read too far into it. Seeing as the majority of the response has been overwhelmingly positive, I’m hoping that your comment was assumptive and not something that is actually happened. I would never be ok with that.

    • That’s what made your article so real, because it was raw, and right there. It wasn’t retrospect, it was in that moment. It made sense to me, but also, as I stated in a comment before, some would take it as a literal life decision, and that has little to do with you, how you write, or how honest you are in your writing. I found it quite refreshing myself. I think everyone inevitably hits a manic moment, it’s like a tidal wave of all the days inane and important thoughts hitting the surf simultaneously; and it is overwhelming, and you’re trying not to drown in them while doing ten things at once.

      Honestly, if she hadn’t written the rebuttal, I wouldn’t have found your article, so I’m quite glad she did. I tend to isolate when I feel that way, and that’s the exact moment that I shouldn’t withdraw, I should breath, take a look around, and try again. I’d forgotten honestly. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  12. Alisha says:

    The truth of the matter is that no one person or one relationship is exactly like another. What works for one marriage isn’t going to work for another. Things aren’t always by a textbook! Kristen was explaining what helped her in her relationship in hopes that someone else might relate to her experiences. If she were able to help and relate to just one couple I feel she did exactly what she was striving to do. She is a wonderful person and a great mom and wife. She would never tell someone to suppress their feelings she’s too caring to be that way. I feel like her words were taken way out of context. If my husband comes home and I’m irritated about “life” I can do 1 of 3 things: not speak at all, yell at him and show him my “crazy”, or just quietly walk up to him and hug him and say “I’ve had a hard day”. If I do either of the first 2 he shuts down but if I do the third thing he shows me the love that I need that let’s me know it’s going to be ok and we will make it.

    • I’m sure Kristen is an awesome woman with the greatest intentions, and I’m glad she and you have found a system that works for your relationship. You are right: every relationship is different. I was disagreeing with the theory/assumption underlying her post, rather than the person. The underlying theory is that a wife’s authenticity should be checked so that her partner can be more comfortable when he comes home. Can you imagine if someone wrote a blog post talking about how important it is for husbands not to talk to their wives about work stress because she would rather not hear him vent about his boss and show his “crazy”? It would be weird, right? Traditional gender roles make that so. I do love your example about hugging and saying “I’ve had a hard day.” That’s beautiful, and it sounds authentic to you–so more power to you!!! The main message I’m trying to get across is, for us to be ourselves. Sounds like you are. 🙂

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