I am constantly brainstorming content ideas for you guys, my wonderful readers. About a year ago I thought of the title of this post, “How To Love When You Feel Neglected.” I entered it into my phone and every time I looked at it for the next few months I realized over and over that I wasn’t sure of the answer.
A year ago my husband & I were in a very different place than we are now. Very different. I eventually gave up on the blog title idea but never deleted it. Going through my phone a couple months ago I came across the title again and this time I realized that it was never meant to be a blog post idea but a question from my heavy soul to my loving Father.
I was a wife who felt very neglected but wanted to learn how to love in spite of how I felt. I wanted to learn to take charge of my feelings and emotions and love my husband even when I felt abandoned or believed he didn’t deserve it.
Mike and I have had so much breakthrough and healing over the course of the last year. So now I sit once again to write out this post. This time I come to share all that the last year has taught me. If you are feeling neglected, abandoned or forgotten then this, my sweet friend, is for you.
Avoid Being Critical
It’s just a natural reaction to criticize people when they are not meeting our expectations. I encourage you to avoid this response. It. never. works. Think back to all of the times you have criticized your spouse(or anyone for that matter). Name one time, just one time, that it has ever yielded any kind of long lasting positive results?
People do not respond well to criticism. People ALWAYS feel attacked and then will usually become defensive. A critical person with their feelings hurt and a defensive person who feels attacked is not a recipe for productive communication.
If you are struggling with this I encourage you to seek a biblical counselor.
If You Must Fight, Fight To Remember Who You Are
This is really huge. Neglect feels like rejection and rejection is a launch pad for all kinds of lies and attacks on our identity. When we are neglected, the temptation is to believe that the reason we are being left out or behind is because there is something inherently wrong with us. The threat is to buy into the lie that we are somehow undeserving of connection.
Believing that you are unloved or underserving of love is a dangerous and destructive place to live. It will likely cause you to perform and work to become what you think others want because you believe that they can’t possibly want you for who you really are. It will cause you to become bitter and resentful because you were created for connection. You crave it. You have a need to be known.
Focus on who God says you are. Don’t pull away from Him. Don't filter His love through others. I did this with my own husband. In my head, God began to sound a lot like Mike. In that season we were in a pretty bad place. Mike had become quite critical & I was too busy drowning in my on mess to consider what was going on with him.
Because I was in such a dark place I became convinced that our problems were because of flaws within me and I allowed Mike’s voice to be the loudest and most important.
That was so destructive for our marriage because he had his own junk he needed to work through and allowing his voice to shape my identity was a disaster. People make TERRIBLE gods!
I will tell you that our break through came when I allowed God’s voice, love and opinion of me to blare through and drown out all of the lies. Not only did I feel free but I was able to open my eyes to Mike and the struggles he was going through that were manifesting themselves in his critical worldview. I was able to have patience and compassion for his process and be an encouragement and help to him, which he totally turned and reciprocated!
If you are struggling with this I highly suggest that you find yourself a biblical counselor.
When my break through came and I was able to see myself and my marriage the way that God saw it. I was able to break my partnership with all those lies and really see my husband. For the first time in around a year, I didn’t see his critical opinions or his negative attitude but I saw him. My beautiful and loving man.
I was able to see that the challenging and painful year we had experienced prior was weighing on him too. I was able to identify that the reason he was so critical with me was because he was being incredibly critical of himself. I saw the reason he was working so much and so hard was because he was never satisfied with what he was accomplishing.
My guy was struggling. I was able to shift my focus from all the ways I was convinced I was failing him and our marriage and instead focus on how I could love him and encourage him. My prayer for him became “How can I encourage my guy and remind him that he is more than enough and totally loved by You, Father?” Together we stopped trying to fix each other and our lives and instead chose to focus on our Father and accepting His healing and hope.
You have to keep seeing yourself right so that you can see your spouse right. Stay compassionate and again if this is a struggle, don't go at it alone. Find a biblical counselor and get some help.
Get Help and Find Counseling
I can’t stress this one enough. It is one of my biggest regrets. There have been so many seasons in my life where I have chosen to isolate myself, wallow in the pain and face all of my challenges and obstacles alone.
You are made for connection. You need people to be the best you. You need godly people to walk through life with you. Reach out. Surround yourself with good people who love the Lord and who love you.
That was the whole point of the church at the beginning. The ancient church would meet to help each other. They would encourage one another, bandage each other up and then go back out into a broken world to proclaim the gospel.
Also get counseling! You go to the doctor when your physical body isn’t feeling well, why wouldn't you go to a doctor that can help you through your mental and emotional stuff. Find a BIBLICAL counselor and get some counsel. If your spouse doesn’t want to go with you right away that’s fine. You go work on you. There is no shame in that.
If you are feeling neglected, I know that is very painful. I know how it feels to think that you may not be enough for your husband or even worse that you may not be what he wants. Whether you are just in a hectic season where your husband is stretched and distracted or if you are married to a workaholic and neglect is beginning to feel like the norm, I encourage you to stand.
I want to remind you that you are enough. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are mighty and powerful. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) God is pleased with you. (Psalm 147:11) You are enough for Him. You are loved more than you can even begin to comprehend. (Ephesians 3:18) God is singing and dancing over you. (Zephaniah 3:17) He rejoices every time you turn or look to Him. (Luke 15:24)
Because you are so fiercely loved you are more than capable of fiercely loving the people around you, especially your husband, regardless of how they are currently expressing their love to you.
Be brave. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be compassionate. Don't be afraid of reaching out. Finding some professional and biblical help. That is the point of the church. Reach out. Keep loving.
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Thank you guys for reading! If you have any additional advice for our hurting sisters, feel free to share in the comments below.
Be kind to you this week.