Developing Thicker Skin as a Newlywed

Developing Thicker Skin as a Newlywed

This is an email I received from a young woman named Sarah recently: “I am a young newlywed. I don’t have any older women in my life that can give me biblical advice. That’s why I’m writing to you and I hope that’s alright. Being married is all new to me and it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I really did put hope in God  helping me but I keep failing. And having to live with my mother-in-law is not easy.

“My husband and I have recently been having fights every time he gets off work. He is very critical of me and I’m very sensitive. I have no thick skin. I start to act hurt and that’s how the fights starts. How can I get a thicker skin?

“I feel the sadness fill my whole body and I can’t help crying. My husband doesn’t like my crying and many times I feel like I’ve done nothing wrong. He seems to try to put me down. I do clean our home everyday and I cook for him.”

I can relate to this woman. I thought I was a submissive, godly wife to my husband since I cleaned our home, cooked for him, and was even available for him sexually, but I was extremely sensitive and easily offended. If my husband said or did something I didn’t like, I would get angry and cry. I would stomp upstairs and wait for him to apologize no matter who was at fault. It was definitely a manipulation tool that I didn’t completely realize at the time. It certainly didn’t draw my husband to myself. Men get tired of seeing their wives in tears over every wrong that they perceive. We married imperfect men. We’re imperfect. It’s learning to accept him as he is and not trying to change him. That’s God’s job!

Our husbands aren’t going to treat us exactly as we want them to treat us. Women struggle with their emotional nature and this is something that we must learn to control if we want a better marriage. Being led by our emotions gets us nowhere. When a husband doesn’t treat his wife the way she wants to be treated or says something that offends her, the quicker she learns not to react but to give it up to the Lord, the better. This makes for a much more peaceful marriage.

We must also remember that it takes two to fight, Sarah. It takes only one to not fight. Be the one not to fight. State your opinion in a kind way and then let it go. You don’t have to be right and you don’t even have to try to make your husband understand you completely. He is a male and you are a female. This alone keeps you from understanding each other perfectly. But it’s God’s design and it’s good.

Whenever he tries to put you down, ping those comments off of your shield of faith straight up to God. Don’t allow them to steal your joy. You will never develop a “tough skin” if you allow your emotions to control you. You’ll continually be like a ping pong ball – up if he’s treating you right and down if he’s not. Living with a person who gets easily offended isn’t easy. It’s like having to walk on eggshells with them. You don’t want him to walk on eggshells around you, right?

Lastly, Sarah, don’t try to find your value and worth from your husband. Find these things in knowing who you are in Christ. Grow up in Him! Spend daily time in His Word, memorize verses, and pray daily for your husband. You can’t change him but you can change you by allowing the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to transform you into the godly woman that He wants you to be. Then you can stand strong against anything your husband says to you and not allow it to affect you because you will remind yourself that God is good and His plan for you is good. He loves you and has saved you.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

22 thoughts on “Developing Thicker Skin as a Newlywed

  1. Yes, amazing advice even for those of us married for years. I have found that when my husband is especially stressed out from working superlong hours and dealing with critical customers/bosses that he will occasionally take it out on me and pick it something about the meal etc. even though it is a fine meal.
    As Proverbs says, a soft answer turneth away wrath. He has come back and thanked me many times for not letting a tense situation become a full-blown argument.

    I have been blessed to be home with my kids/homeschooling for 13 years now and I do not take it for granted. I feel like he gives more physically to the relationship and I give more emotionally – if that makes sense.

    1. A soft answer….wise advice indeed. It can happen that a husband will take out his work frustration on his wife when she get’s home. The key to diffusing this is to not react and make it a fight. Be understanding and give him a smile and a kiss; you’d be surprising how fast that can diffuse the tension in his heart.

  2. It’s hard for me to understand this at all. My husband has never been critical of me a day in our marriage. No, I’m not kidding. And I’m a MESS! He’s pure encourager. If things get messy or out of hand? He asks what he can do to help. If I say that I gained weight? He’ll say he’s really been wanting salad (if it’s summer) and vegetable soup (if it’s winter). He’s the kindest person I’ve ever known. His 2 brothers are exactly like he is.

  3. This is an interesting topic to me. I do agree that women tend to be more emotional. However, in my relationship with my husband, he has actually told me from time to time that he doesn’t like it when I DONT show emotion, and just state my desires/feelings factually. It sometimes softens him to see my feminine emotion. I don’t believe that every time I have cried about something he has said or done was manipulative. Sometimes it has been, as I am an imperfect sinner. But not every time I cry is an attempt at manipulation. God made women to be the weaker sex, but that doesn’t mean that all “female” emotion is bad. In fact I think often a man can be attracted to it. That is part of the beauty of our differences. When I act too stoic my husband says it turns him off.

    1. This man is clearly not attracted to the sight of his wife crying and neither was my husband. The key is to not allow our emotions to control us because they will if they can. The key is to control our emotions and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

  4. Whenever anyone gets upset or offended easily, no matter who or for what reason, our old pastor always says, “it’s really hard for a dead person to be offended,” and reminds us that we are supposed to die to self everyday. If we are truly doing that, we and others around us will start to notice that we get less upset, frustrated, angry, etc.. That is something I remind myself of often, and I think it is very helpful and wise.

    Usually, when I keep calm and pleasant when my husband does something that upsets me, he will come to me sometime after and apologize to me on his own. Its not my job to convict my husband when he does something in a mean spirit, it’s the Holy Spirit! It has made our marriage much sweeter.

  5. “We married imperfect men. We’re imperfect. It’s learning to accept him as he is and not trying to change him.”

    Wise words. My wife and I have grown tremendously in Christ over the nearly 29 years of our marriage. However, we are still two imperfect people. We do not excuse our failures, but seek to give each other grace, knowing that God has given us the ultimate grace through Jesus Christ.

  6. My husband is not very emotional and he’s helped me develop my critical thinking skills. He says he appreciates that, even though I can be emotional, I’m (usually) not illogical because of it. (Apparently his only girlfriend before me was more prone to her emotions)

    One thing that’s been so nice about being married to him is that I don’t have to worry about saying what’s on my mind. Growing up, I was always made to feel that I couldn’t say things directly and so would beat around the bush. But my husband doesn’t get easily offended so I can say what’s on my mind without him freaking out. 😁

  7. If your husband says something that offends you…

    Just be honest and tell him. Not in an accusatory manner. Just tell him point blank. But then end it there.

    I think so many times we just need to be more honest…but not in a manipulative way…just a plain straightforward way.

    1. Wives shouldn’t lie to their husbands–not even by omission. However, I also don’t think we should express every ill-tempered thought that passes through our heads; James is wise to warn believers to be slow to speak or to get angry, and this is especially good advice for wives. There are so many times when just letting it go is the better option–but then you truly must let it go, not nurse a grudge.

  8. Letting go also allows God to take up your cause and deal directly with the husband. In my experience, there have been a number of times (not every time) that God punished me because of how I (mis)treated my wife (e.g. impatient, short, curt, etc.). Realizing this led me to apologize to my wife without her requesting it, only to find out from her that my action did hurt her but she didn’t want to nag about it. Again, its not every time and I don’t believe my wife prays harm on me, but there are times when God helps me realize the hurt I caused my wife.

    1. This is so true. Some of the best advice I received before getting married was to trust that God is Lord over not only me but my husband as well. When my husband hurts me, I can absolutely trust that God sees and knows and He is my ultimate protector and provider. I can’t say how many times this advice has helped my marriage, encouraging me to cry out to the Lord for help instead of nagging my husband. God truly does see.

      In fact, I even endured some verbal abuse by husband for several years. During this time I prayed and pleaded with God to make my husband stop. Finally I confronted (respectfully) my husband about it and told him that I believed he was verbally abusing me. He disagreed with me on the spot and I did not bring it up again.

      About a week later my husband called me after seeing his counselor (who he sees about once a month for his own reasons), and he called me to apologize for verbally abusing me. He had shared what I said with his counselor and the counselor (a male) told him that in fact he was verbally abusing me. My husband repented and has never done it again. I know that God heard my prayers.

  9. I think it can be very difficult for a new married couple if they have not been brought up in a traditional Christian home with parents who’s own relationship act as an example.

  10. Some time ago I remember a discussion on this blog about command men, steady men and visionary men. We were encouraged to observe our husbands and see which of these categories they fit into, and keep it in mind when responding to things like criticism. If it fits in your planning, Lori, I wonder if a little review on that, or perhaps the young lady whose question inspired this post might do a search of this blog to read about it. It sounds like she might have married a “command man”. At any rate, I would sure like to encourage this young wife that she is not encountering anything that most all of us have not encountered! Hollywood tries to make us think that marriage is all about staring into one another’s eyes and falling into one another’s arms. So unrealistic! Here is a tip from an older lady. Sit down with your mother-in-law. Ask all about what her son was like as a little boy. Ask to see photo albums or old home movies. Every mom wants to talk about her child! Learn everything you can. Ask about his favorite meals and ask her if she will show you how to prepare them. Yes, the last thing you want to do (receive unsolicited advice) can be dealt with by….asking for advice. I received this suggestion when I was a young wife and I implemented it with much success. I’m the only daughter-in-law who gets along well with our MIL. I am sure this is why. I will pray for you, dear young wife, and I wish you all the very best.

  11. I think some of this advice is spot on. No one should expect their husband to bring them happiness especially. I also see where you have veered off into projecting your life experience and motivation onto another person. In my experience I have seen two reasons younger women cry often: some women are manipulative (as you said), and some women are more sensitive. This woman seems to be speaking from a place of sensitivity. Things genuinely hurt her more than they should and that results in crying even though she wishes it didn’t. That’s a pretty difficult problem to face though finding contentment in Christ (rather than appeasing others) is a great first step. Yet you only see this as manipulative because as a young woman, you cried to manipulate. Part of being a wise older woman is using your life experience to inform your advice, but many situations will fall outside of your life experience. If you do not carefully read the email and meditate in Christ over your responses, they will come out mismatched like this and those you seek to advise may discount your wisdom.

    1. Being “sensitive” is a way of manipulation, too. It’s only thinking about oneself and how someone hurt them. I encourage any and all who are sensitive and get offended easily to read “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen. It’s life changing! It’s a much better and more peaceful life to not be sensitive and easily offended. It’s also makes others enjoy living with you too.

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