“My marriage and my wife are not what I expected.” Though many wives can speak these same words regarding their husbands, this blog is addressed to husbands. As a husband and visitor to this website, you might be thinking, “The effects of my wife’s childhood sexual abuse have changed my expectations for our marriage.”
Unfulfilled expectations in marriage beg the question, “Who were you hoping to marry?” The question “Who were you hoping to marry?” exposes the expectations held at the time of marriage. Perhaps your expectations remain today.
The question “Who were you hoping to marry?”
exposes the expectations held at the time of marriage.
As I listen to the hopes and expectations of husbands, I observe that some husbands bring a fabricated profile into their marriage. I’ve identified three fabricated profiles held by some husbands. These profiles, or a combination thereof, describe the woman whom some husbands were hoping to marry.
The three fabricated profiles are: (1) the Caregiver, (2) the Roommate, and (3) the Sex Goddess. This blog will demonstrate how these profiles unveil a deficit in husbands rather than a deficiency in their marriage or wife.
These profiles describe the women whom some husbands were hoping to marry.
1. The Caregiver
The first female love all men experience is the love of their mother. Assuming one’s childhood occurred in an emotionally healthy home, the mother’s love included caring for the physical and emotional needs, soothing, and nurturing.
A man’s wife is the second major female love in his life. This can prompt expectations of caregiving by which he wants his wife to be like his mom. “Therefore, a husband can naturally relate to his wife not as the man he is but as the boy he was. It can even seem normal” (Help, My Wife is a Survivor of Sexual Abuse, p. 7).
Hoping to marry a caregiver even happens when a husband didn’t get what he needed from his mother. As one husband said to me, “We grow up with a deficit that we expect others to fill; mostly our wives.”
I am embarrassed to admit my expectations of caregiving. It was not beyond me to ask, “Hey Honey, would you bring me a glass of water?” My daughters asked that question when they were being put to bed, except they didn’t call me “Honey.” Whether it is a child or husband asking the question, it declares, “Please care for me in the ways I ask.” With the Caregiver profile, husbands communicate “Please comfort me, please soothe me.”
But why would any wife want to be like her husband’s mom? Whom of us husbands do well when we are expected to be like someone else? Our attempts to fashion our wives into caregivers is emotionally immature on our part as well as an affront to our wives.
2. The Roommate
A guy’s university roommate is available for conversation if so desired. But if a guy doesn’t want to talk, no worries; he doesn’t need to talk. It’s a relationship of convenience. Some husbands hope to marry a “roommate,” someone available for conversation but only when he feels like talking. Deep conversation seems too exhausting for him and it’s problematic for him when his wife wants to keep talking.
Roommates are often matched by their common interests and experiences. If you go to an event or engage in recreational activity, a roommate is a good choice for doing stuff together. You don’t have to engage emotionally. You just do stuff together.
Husbands who hope for the fabricated Roommate want a companion for doing stuff together. The guy just wants to have fun doing stuff and his Roommate wife is the person of choice for companionship.
Roommate wives are a relationship of activity rather than intimacy. It focuses on doing rather than knowing. In the mind of some husbands, it works because there is little conflict in these relationships. At the same time, there is a lot of avoidance and very little knowing.
One husband made the insightful observation that roommate marriages occur when “men don’t want to put anything into the relationship.”
3. The Sex Goddess
Men who view pornography and any form of explicit sexual expression develop the false notion that a woman is ready to be his sex goddess, to service and satisfy him.
A wife whose husband is hoping for a Sex Goddess soon realizes she is wanted as a performer, not as a person. She lives in emptiness because her husband, though glad to connect physically, does not know how to connect emotionally.
Men who live with the hope or expectation of a sex goddess, regardless of how they got there, lack the ability to be intimate. Their focus is on a sexual act instead of a personal relationship. They value intensity over intimacy.
These three profiles can be summarized in this way:
Hoping for a . . .
- Caregiver points to an emotional immaturity and failure to foster a mature and healthy relationship.
- Roommate is a pursuit of activity rather than intimacy and indicates a fear of being known.
- Sex Goddess envisions a sexual performer rather than a person to be known and cherished.
None of these fabricated profiles leads to a maturing relationship.
Here are three steps towards dispelling the fabricated profiles and egocentric expectations that come with them:
- Acknowledge the existence of any fabricated profile you’ve created.
- Identify the factor(s) that led you to create a fabricated profile. Possible factors include family-of-origin experiences, unrealistic expectations, emotional deficits, fear of being known, indulgences, and more.
- Discuss these matters with a counselor with the goal of burying your fabricated profile and opening the pathway towards greater personal wholeness.