A beautiful young wife recently asked me how she could resolve her feelings of being neglected. Her husband is a delightful chap who is actively serving the Lord and who also works part-time to supplement the family income. The bride is caring for a baby and the husband enjoys his sport as a way to unwind.
The young wife struggled with feelings of being neglected, yet she knew that her husband is a wonderful man. He is serving God, helping others, working to meet their own family needs and enjoying life with his friends. He loves her and helps her out with the baby and her other needs when he can.
Still she felt neglected and at times became angry toward him and said things that expressed her frustration and hurt feelings.
Now she was feeling guilty about being such an unworthy wife. She felt that she was out of order to carry the feeling of being a neglected wife. She did not want to burden her husband but to bless him. However she just could not get past the feelings of being hurt.
She asked me what I would suggest she do.
The Husband’s Challenge
I appreciated the heart of this delightful young lady. What a sweet attitude, considering herself to be wrong and willing to do what she could to change. I commended her approach, but I then directed my comments toward her husband.
I pointed out that one of the common crimes men commit against their marriage is to ‘neglect’ their wife. The tendency to neglect the wife is so strong and natural for men that if they are not consciously avoiding it then they are almost certainly doing it. Men are compulsive neglecters. It comes naturally to them and they will dismiss or justify their actions, despite the way they are hurting their wife.
This young man was very willing to receive my instruction so I ventured to point out what he needs to do.
What is Neglect?
Husbands are commanded to love their wife, and when they do not do this they are neglecting her. Neglect is what happens when a man does not make the wife the centre of his attention.
If the husband is distracted, absent, uncaring, dismissive or otherwise failing to focus on his wife he is neglecting her.
Some men are busy. Others feel that their wife’s concerns are of no real substance and are unworthy of the attention they demand. Some don’t want to have their time with their wife dominated by the wife’s emotional issues, but would rather pursue physical intimacy and her joining in their interests.
All of these things constitute neglect.
The Opposite of Neglect
Neglect is possibly best seen by looking at its opposite.
When a husband stops what he is doing to give his total attention to his wife and then engages all his powers to meet her needs as the highest priority in his life at that moment, then he is loving her and not neglecting her.
When a husband is attentive to the real needs his wife is struggling with and does all that he can do to meet those real needs and bring her to a place of security, feeling his total love and commitment to her, then he is not neglecting her.
My Advice to the Neglecting Husband
I suggested to this young husband, in the hearing of his wife, that he needs to be attentive to her needs. Even though he is busy he must allocate special time that belongs to her, where she has 100% of his life. He will not always be able to give that to her at the time she feels the need for it. So he must find the first opportunity, such as in three hours’ time, when certain processes or meetings are completed. When he commits to give her his undivided attention at that time she will feel secure and be willing to wait. She will appreciate the elevated status in his life that his commitment gives to her.
When she comes to him he is to give total attention to her needs. He is to concentrate on listening to what she is saying and hearing her underlying emotional needs. He is then to offer her his understanding and care.
Sometimes all the wife needs is to have her emotional tank topped up. The husband is her best source of emotional recharge. A loving hug and assurances of his care and commitment will do much to lift her over her emotional hurdles and give her energy to press on.
A Quick Top Up
A wise husband will look for opportunities to give his wife a quick top-up, to keep her emotional reserve tank full and ready for life’s challenges. When a husband sees that his wife is a bit distracted or a little titchy he should be attentive to her inner needs.
When he asks her how she is going she may well say that all is fine. But if he thinks that is not the case he should persist to encourage her to tell him what she is thinking or struggling with.
He can then hug her and share in her concerns, offering whatever help he can. It may be that he can only join her in prayer for God’s wisdom. He may have nothing to offer from himself. But that very act of caring enough to join her in prayer over the unsolvable problem will be very precious to her.
Regular input from the husband, investing his 100% attention to meeting her inner needs, understanding her thoughts, feelings and concerns, and then doing what he can to help her resolve them, will give her the quick top-up that will keep her in a healthy emotional state.
Strong hugs, caring words, supportive attitudes, attentive listening and expressions of affection are very valuable to a wife and will help her overcome the feelings that she is being neglected in the competition for her husband’s time and energies.