The Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The heart is the wellspring of our feelings and because of our sin nature and corruption it can deceive us. Many marriages have been destroyed because people did what the world tells us to do “trust your heart”. God tells us not to trust our feelings – but to trust in him.
(This post is not for women whose husbands are abusive, are involved in unrepentant infidelity or criminal activity, are initiating divorce with their wives, have uncontrolled mental health problems, or have active addictions to drugs/alcohol right now.)
Thankfully, most husbands are relatively decent men who truly love their wives and long for their wives to be happy, even if their wives can’t always decode that message (Shaunti Feldhahn “For Women Only”).
A minister at our church taught a class the 7 basic needs of husbands and wives a few years ago. The greatest need of a wife, according to him, was – security. I would have to agree!
How easy it is to let our emotions begin to convince us that we are NOT secure in our husbands’ love, or in a thousand other ways.
Doesn’t the enemy know exactly how to strike at us in our thoughts and how to…
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18 thoughts on ““He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not.” – Finding Victory over Feelings of Insecurity”
It’s a good post, isn’t it? She really does a nice job over there.
“God tells us not to trust our feelings – but to trust in him.”
I’ve actually posted about this issue several times and had some good discussions about it. Men often bring up “The heart is deceitful above all things” and speak of feelings in a negative way, but I think we need to be careful there. Men and women are very different, so when men speak of “feelings,” they tend to think of our own will and desires. For women however, feelings are often where our morality and empathy lives. For women to act contrary to their feelings is usually not a good thing. We don’t “feel” like rebelling, we tend to rebel in defiance of our feelings, against our own heart. I suspect it is nearly the reverse for men, their morality, their empathy tends to reside more in their ability to reason.
It’s a bit comical actually, but Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,” tends to be more helpful for many women. Not that we aren’t capable of reason, but often when we try to lean into our own understanding and ignore our hearts, we get ourselves into a great deal of trouble.
I see where you are coming from. I have said it a bit differently here though. I think a woman’s feelings can be her greatest asset or her greatest enemy. A woman’s feelings can help her to be a great wife and mother. A woman’s feelings is what often times makes women far better caregivers than men. Women can read a person’s emotional state far better than men can and these are all great assets to her.
But what about this situation.
A married woman who has been married for more than 10 years and has 3 children. Her husband has been working a lot more for the last couple of years and pays far less attention to her. He does not take her on dates the way he used to and they don’t talk as much as they once did. She feels lonely. She runs into an old boyfriend while shopping at the grocery store and they talk about their lives and he asks her to friend him on Facebook. They start talking on Facebook and what starts off innocently begins to rekindle old feelings they once had for each other.
Her feelings tell her that her old boyfriend loves her and her husband does not. Her feelings tell her to go with a man who will treat her the way she deserves to be treated. Should she trust her feelings?
Thank you for your kind response.
I understand what you are saying, it is just that is unlikely a woman’s “feelings” will lead her to run off with an old boyfriend, it is far more likely that she must shut down her feelings towards her husband and children in order to even consider such a thing. If she were truly listening to her “feelings,” they would be speaking to her about not being selfish, about how much she loves her children, about what she is doing to her husband.
My own husband totally agrees with you, he believes feelings are something that lead us astray, such as the feelings one might get dealing with road rage. However it is the precise opposite for many women, it is our feelings that will prevent us from making rude gestures to other drivers. There is a kind of fascinating gender quirk there that I don’t fully understand, but I do bump into it frequently.
Recently you posted about an unhappy marriage, the wife having a miserable sex life, resenting her husband. She said she reads a book or puts a pillow over her face. That is an example of how a woman shuts down her feelings, with devastating consequences. If she were to allow herself to feel some empathy towards her husband, to soften her heart, it would change the entire dynamic.
First of all – please don’t think I am trying to say you are wrong, I am just trying to under you perspective better as a Christian woman and I think this discussion of feelings is an interesting one.
I believe God has made woman a creature of “feeling” – it is her driving force. She feels for others (empathy) and she also feels for herself. And there is nothing wrong with a person experiencing feelings for themselves, like when we feel hurt when someone mistreats us(as in the story you alluded to that I posted recently). It is what we do with our feelings(both men and women) that becomes right or wrong.
So in the story I presented with the theoretical Christian wife who was married and had 3 kids, her husband is not connecting with her and is working too much – she has several feelings:
1. She feels love for husband.
2. She feels hurt and anger toward her husband because of how he is ignoring her.
3. She feels love for her children and does not want to hurt them.
4. She feels love for her ex boyfriend because how kindly he treats her, and he gives her the time her husband does not.
So this woman we are speaking of has a lot of feelings going on. Now as Christians we know what feelings she should act on and which ones she should not based on God’s Word.
What she should do is, is act on her feelings of love for her husband and children, and also her feelings of hurt toward her husband and talk to her husband about his neglectful ways toward him(in a respectful manner of course).
But what she do with her feelings of love for her ex boyfriend? Are those feelings sinful?
What if her husband rejects her coming to him and says she just needs to accept that he is busy with work, but that he still loves her.
So to me a woman can have many many feelings going on, some for her husband, some for her children and some for her ex boyfriend and certainly many for herself. The feelings of hurt she has when her husband ignores her. The feelings of warmth she has when her boyfriend spends hours talking to her on the phone or online.
So from a Christian woman’s perspective – how would advice a woman to navigate all these feelings?
It is an interesting issue, isn’t it? I think from a Christian perspective, if women read the bible and spend time in prayer, our feelings will come into line with what God wants from us perfectly.
So many women know nothing about submitting to husbands, do not hear it taught in church, did not even marry men who stressed the importance, and yet here we all are, having listened to our feelings and followed where God led us. It’s really rather miraculous when you think about it.
Sorting out conflicting feelings can sometimes be confusing, but a bit like it says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” When women actually feel their feelings, “be ye angry” and drag them out into the sunlight, they do not fester in dark places and become repressed.
It is usually in that state of repression, in that lack of awareness of her own feelings, that she will go down the wrong path. For example, long ago, I knew I wanted my husband to lead, that’s what my feelings said, and yet I resisted because the culture, the world, tries to teach women to ignore what our feelings are telling us, what is actually somewhat innate and natural to women, even what will genuinely make us happy.
My wife said a few nights ago that she did not love me with romantic love when we first got married and she has never loved me with this kind of love. She married me because she was pressured to do so (by me, her pastor, her daughter, etc.), she said. Is romantic love really necessary in order to be married and to have a happy marriage? I have it for her, but she does not have it for me.
I am sorry that your wife said those things to you.
“Is romantic love really necessary in order to be married and to have a happy marriage?”
I’m going to say no, not necessary to have a happy marriage, but it certainly is a more desirable state of being. I think many women have a bit of a distorted perception of what “romantic love” actually is, however. Sometimes it is something we have to grow into, it is all those little things that men do for us, it is that bond and devotion that builds. Romance is something that happens on the inside of us and although husbands certainly play an important role there, romance is something that women cultivate and nurture within our own selves.
Missionary to Mexico,
It is only in the last century or so that we have come to think that romantic love is necessary for marriage. But when you consider that the vast majority of marriages over the history of mankind were arranged(either by parents of their children or a man coming to a woman’s father to arrange for marriage) we understand that romantic love is NOT a requirement for marriage.
Some couples formed an attraction and romantic love toward one another AFTER marriage over a long period, while others never did.
But Biblical love is not based on feelings of attraction, but rather on a commitment to the covenant of marriage that a man and a woman make before God.
Agape love – which is the love in which marriage is spoken of 99% of the time in the Bible, is a love which is based in commitment and duty, and a love of the will rather than of the emotion.
Romantic love definitely makes marriage more enjoyable, and makes our duties to one another far easier to perform. I think romantic love though requires us to drop a lot of expectations of what we think we deserve from our spouses. When we are thankful for what the little extra things they do and we can form feelings of romance.
That is excellent point you raise about women cultivating romance in their own minds towards their husbands. Many women believe that it is 100% their husband’s responsibility to make them “feel romanced” but that is simply not true. I think if more women really thought of all the little things their husbands do for them, as well as the hard days they put in at work they might actually start feeling romantic feelings toward their husbands. But when you sit around waiting for “grand gestures” all the time – and that is the only way you feel romanced – then you as a woman may never feel romanced.
My wife and I had a good talk this morning. It looks like the advice you gave me via email concerning romantic love may have saved my marriage! When my wife told me she didn’t love me with romantic love, I was very hurt and was ready for her to move out! She said that she didn’t want sex mainly because of her low estrogen and partically because she said, in effect, that she wasn’t romanced enough. I told her that I could never do enough to earn her love for me enough to want to have sex with me. However, that I would do all that I could to make it easier for her to make a decision to love me. She agreed with that. She also agreed with me to see a Christian doctor who could tell us if her health would endangered by having sex with me. She still finds it hard to have sex with me when she doesn’t have that desire, even though I told her that the Bible says that the couple is to have sexual relations even when only the husband or wife wants it. However, she is now more open to having sex with me and she really does not want to move out. She has also been more affectionate lately and agrees that we need to show affection for one another often.
An example she gave me about a husband being considerate was when her first husband, who was a doctor, bought her lots of expensive jewelry and furniture. I told her that I was not in a position to do that. But, I told her that we could improve the appearance of our house according to what funds we have. My wife has listened a lot to the prosperity doctrine which teaches that if you have enough faith God will give you a lot of material blessings. According to this doctrine, all you have to do is claim them (if you send a big enough offering to the preacher preaching this, of course. One of them teaches, “There’s something about a $1,000 seed that God loves!).
The morning before last, she snuggled up to me on her own for the first time since our honeymoon. So, it looks like we are making progress! However, I first had to take a stand that I could not and would not live in a celibate marriage. Thanks for all your help and encouragement and for answering so many of my emails!. I covet the prayers for all of you who are reading this that our marriage will continue of the road to healing!
Missionary to Mexico,
I am glad to God was able to work in your marriage. I am glad that God showed you the principle that as husband’s sometimes we have to confront sinful behavior in the lives of our wives, but at the same time always be willing to continually be looking at ourselves as Christian husbands.
I believe that when a husband and wife willingly do what God has commanded them to do it sets the stage for what God has not commanded. God commands husband to love his wife with an agape love(a love of the will based in commitment and duty), to love his wife sacrificially as his loves the Church.
But far too many believers believe that part of a man loving his wife sacrificially is for him to overlook his wife’s chronic and willful sexual denial – and that could not be further from the truth. Sometimes a man loves his wife sacrificially when he confronts his wife’s sin – as you have done. He sacrifices the peace, he knows the confrontation will make his wife uncomfortable, in fact it may bring the marriage to the brink – but sometimes this is necessary for a wife to be brought to repentance. In fact if God has really changed your wife’s heart in this matter – she will come to respect that you took this stand as a man of God and confronted the sexlessness of your marriage.
On the issue of buying her things. I think you have done right by making it clear to her that you are a missionary with a much smaller income that her former husband who was a doctor. I know that in the book “The five love languages” he teaches that some people’s love language is gifts. But I think this concept can be abused where a woman expects her affection and love for her husband to be bought in the form of him buying her gifts. Yes buy things for her, but if you can’t afford something don’t feel pressured to buy it just to “make her happy”. Also make sure she understands you will not have a relationship where if you say “no” to buying something, that she withholds affection or sex. That has to be nipped in the bud anytime you see that occur.
Based on what you have told me privately – I see no reason why a doctor would tell her that it would be unhealthy for her to have sex. But it would probably be a good thing just for her.
Again I am happy to see God is working in your marriage. May God bless both of you.
Thanks again for your godly advice! I see a lot more hope for our marriage than I did last week.
A non-Christian marriage counselor said that deep down on the inside women really want men who will protect them. That they will challenge the men to see if they really can protect them, because if the men give in to them, it shows that they cannot protect them. What is your opinion on this?
Also, Christians who believe that those who are planning on marrying each other must have romantic love towards each other use the Song of Solomon to justify their position. I am studying the Bible about this subject. What scriptures do you have to justify your position that romantic love is not necessary between a couple before they get married (which is what I have just come to believe)?
Again, one of the big problems I have had both in this marriage and the last one is how my wife has been influenced by the false prosperity gospel, which measures someone’s faith by the material goods that they have. When I tell my wife I don’t have enough money to buy her the things that she wants, that is considered a “negative confession”.
I believe that God wants to prosper us, but only according to His will, not ours. In the Book of Revelations Jesus Christ considered the poor church at Smyrna rich and the rich church at Laodecia poor, naked, and blind. As far as material goods are concerned, there is an old saying that says, “You can’t take it with you”. I believe that we as Christians should be concentrating on the things that we can take with us when we go home with the Lord! Please pray that my wife will also take this position. As yet, I have not been able to convince her, partly because of the multi-millionare preachers she listens to on TV.
I really see this a problem with materialism. I fully believe that husband has a Biblical duty provide food, clothing and shelter for his wife. But that does not mean we have to provide mansions, and expensive clothing and jewelry. A woman should be content if her husband can provide her with the basic necessities of life, and she should see anything beyond this as a bonus. Any other attitude is materialism – pure and simple and this is not from God. You must continue to combat the false teachers who are leading your wife astray.
Missionary to Mexico,
I agree with this counselor that if a woman truly listens to her God given feelings(as opposed to her fleshly rebellious feelings) – she wants a man to protect her, she wants boundaries and she wants him to stand up for himself and for her. She wants him to confront her(lovingly of course) when believes she is wrong, and when she speaks disrespectfully to him she wants him to confront her challenge. She will respect this – when she is listening to the nature God gave her, not the one that sin gave her.
I love the book of Song Solomon and I quote from in the blog and other places all the time. But we must understand that there is a difference between Biblical example, and Biblical command.
There are some Biblical examples of behavior – that the Bible presents in negative light and these are examples of things we should NOT do.
Then there are Biblical examples of things that are presented in a positive light – and these examples allow us to do certain things – but they do not command us to do these things.
In the Song of Solomon we see in full display – the beauty of physical and sexual love that God has given to man and woman within marriage. We see how they both are admiring each others bodies and how they long for each other in very erotic and sexual way. This example tells that it is OK to crave physical intimacy with our spouse in marriage, it is OK to think on their beauty of their body and to long for their touch. I would argue it has allusions to oral sex and lets us know that is OK within marriage.
But again – you won’t see any commands in Song of Solomon for believer to do this or that specifically. Instead it is wonderful example of erotic love between a man and woman. I think it is a great example for how a couple COULD cultivate in themselves a more romantic and passionate relationship.
We always need to be careful of turning something God allows, and even something God blesses and turning it into a command.
For instance we see God allowing and blessing polygamous relationships in the Bible. The Old Testament regulates it. Yet we are not commanded to practice polygamy, but rather it is allowed(one exception might be in the case of leverite marriage but that is a whole other topic).
Celibacy is allowed by God in the service of God and is highly honored. Yet it is not commanded, only allowed.
Attraction, which is at the heart of romantic love – is never commanded in the Scriptures. We see examples of it, but never a command. What that tells us is – if we have it – be thankful for it. If we don’t have it, but can cultivate it – then great.
But when we see it as a make or break of marriage – as if our marriage is somehow a failure because we don’t ooze with romance, I believe we are going outside God’s commands for marriage.
Thank you for your replies.
As I have been studying Scriptures and investigating the meanings of the Greek words for love, I see the word “eros” as referring to the kind of romantic love we see in the movies, and expect for ourselves, more than I do “phileo”, which as I see is used more for friendship than for the passionate romantic love all of us want to have. Interestingly, the word “eros” is not found in the New Testament. As you have pointed out, the vast majority of the time it was translated from the word “agape”! Therefore, the word love in the New Testament is something that we are commanded to do from our own will rather than a feeling that we receive from another person.
I believe the vast majority of women would have called off the wedding if they decided ahead of time that they had no romantic love for the man they were communicating with on the internet. I did not rush my fiancé to the altar immediately after I met her in person. More than nine months passed from the time that I first met her to the time we got married. I even had her visit me here in Aguascalientes for a few weeks more than three months before the wedding to see if she would be content living here or not, even in the colder winter months. She was with me on the coldest day that I have ever experienced in more than 13 years of living here! So, she had a perfect opportunity to change her mind about marrying me then, because she could have said that she could not take the colder climate here. (Aguascalientes, Mexico is about 6,000 feet above sea level. Barranquilla, Colombia, on the other hand, is on the Carribean coast and is always hot.)
As I mentioned before, her pastor approved of our marriage and even performed the wedding ceremony. I am sure that he talked to her about our relationship as he did with me. All of her children approved of the marriage. My pastor’s wife felt she was the one for me. However what is most important is that I prayed about it and really sensed that marrying her was of the Lord, and she said she felt the same way. If she would have told me then that she did not love me in a romantic way, I would have ended our relationship and would have never married her, as I’m sure most Christian men in the west would have done. However, thanks to your excellent advice on whether romantic love for another is necessary in order to get married or not, I am now starting to believe that our marriage was, and is of the Lord, regardless of the fact that my wife says that she has never had any romantic feelings for me.
I gave my wife a chance last week to leave me and go back to Colombia last week, telling her that I would even pay her air fare if she did not have the money. She told me that she had to stay here until December because of the upcoming women’s conference in November that she is helping to organize. If she really wanted to leave me and go back to Colombia, I believe that she could have found some excuse to do so to give the other women she is working with in the ministerial alliance to organize this conference. She could have said, “I have to go to Colombia for family matters” and she would have not been lying! I even told her that she could do this and that they could find someone else to take her place, but she said no.
In short, I am now beginning to believe that the Holy Spirit stopped her from telling me that she didn’t have any romantic love for me before we got married, just as He apparently has stopped her from leaving me last week to go back to Colombia. This tells me, as you have said, that romantic love is not, and cannot, be the basis for getting married. For the Christian the basis is whether the Lord wants you to marry that person or not, regardless of whether you have any romantic feelings for that person or not! Am I right?
Absolutely Romance is NOT the foundation for Christian marriage. Marriage is based on a mutual covenant that a man and a woman make with God and to one another. Again it is nice to have, and it definitely makes marriage more enjoyable. It can form after marriage, but it is not the foundation – we must always remember the foundation of our marriage is our commitment to God. This will allow our marriage to whether the storms of life, and short of just a very few serious things(like sexual immorality, abandonment or physical abuse) that break the marriage covenant, marriage is for life.
I agree, brother!
In my Young’s analytical concordance, it appears that the word love translated from the noun and verb forms of “agape” appears 197 times and the word love translated from the noun and verb forms of “phileo” 33 times (two of these times it refers to love of self). (The Greek word “storge”, which is used for love between parents and children and other close relatives appears about a half a dozen times and could also be translated as love but is not translated as such in the King James.) The word “eros”, which is physical romantic attraction, is no where to be found in the Greek New Testament. Interesting!