Why Isn’t My Husband the Person I Thought He Was?

By Glenn Lutjens
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When you were dating, he was attractive and neat. Now he doesn't even pick up after himself. What should you do?

When she entered counseling with her husband, Erica had one purpose: getting Jim “fixed.”

Jim had fallen into patterns that might work for a single guy, but certainly wouldn’t do for a married man. He sometimes worked four extra hours without calling to inform Erica, for instance.

He’d changed so much, she thought. When they’d been dating, she’d figured Jim knew how to handle his finances; at least his car was never repossessed. Now they received monthly surprises from MasterCard, detailing Jim’s “toy” purchases. Likewise, his apartment had always seemed neat when Erica visited during their courtship. But now his underwear rarely made it the two yards from the foot of their bed to the hamper.

It’s easy to understand why Erica hoped the counselor would take on the challenge of setting her husband straight. She wanted the “old” Jim back.

You might be asking yourself these days, “What happened to the guy I used to know? Did he change, or was I just seeing him differently then?”

The answer is probably, “Yes.” That’s because both reflect the truth.

Maybe he does act differently now. Your husband probably wanted to seal the deal; he wanted to win your heart. Do you think he would jeopardize losing you by sharing all of his idiosyncrasies with you? Would you do that with him?

Was it deception? It’s more like “selective expression.” He behaved in a way that he figured would increase your likelihood of saying, “I do.” He put his best foot and shiniest shoe forward.

Some of his behavior during those days probably wasn’t so deliberate. Thinking of you thrilled his heart during courtship. That type of romantic fire shapes one’s actions; loving deeds come easily to one so smitten by romance. You probably felt the same excitement, with your reactions being affected as well.

In Luke 6:32, Jesus conveys this principle with the question, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Reciprocating romantic love comes naturally to most people. Over time, it’s common for the romance — and therefore some of the motivation for “good behavior” — to fade somewhat.

From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

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About the Author

Glenn Lutjens

Glenn is a licensed family therapist who’s been on the Focus counseling team for 23 years. Prior to joining Focus, he spent time in church counseling and pastoral ministry. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three young adult children. Glenn loves Jesus, has an affinity for lasagna and cheers for the Oakland Raiders.

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