Jump directly to the Content

He Said, She Said

I needed more conversation."

Betsy's side:

Within the first few months of our marriage, I realized things weren't turning out as I expected. Rick worked two jobs—days on a road construction crew and nights on the farm. We lived out in the country, far from friends in town, and Rick was never around.

While I was growing up, mealtime was a social event. So I figured I'd at least have Rick's attention during dinner. Instead, he made small talk, checked the weather forecast and climbed on his tractor for the remaining hours of daylight. And he was too busy to have friends over.

I wanted my husband to be my best friend, especially in our isolation. But Rick continued to be content with his grueling work schedule, and he seemed oblivious to my hunger for companionship. Over the years, my teaching job and our three children kept me occupied, but still I longed for a talkative husband and scores of amiable visitors.

Believing a move would provide more contact with friends, I begged Rick to buy a house in town. But he'd lived in the country for 40 years and wouldn't budge. Then, 13 years into our marriage, a work-related injury curtailed Rick's farming. We moved into town when my income became our family's only support.

Now friends could drop by anytime. I thought Rick would be happy about this for my sake. Instead, he began to resent the constant stream of guests.

Rick's side:

Solitude has never bothered me. But I could see that Betsy needed friends around all the time, and when that wasn't possible, she expected to get the attention from me. She's a people person, while I'm happier tinkering with machinery or home repairs.

During our years on the farm, my typical day began at 4 or 5 a.m. and didn't end until nearly bedtime. I didn't have time or energy for socializing. Betsy wanted more fun in her life, but nagging me to move into town didn't help. Feeling threatened by her needs and my inability to meet them, I clammed up even more.

When I couldn't keep working after my injury, we bought a house in town. That's when Betsy's friends began stopping by unexpectedly with their kids in tow.

Betsy blossomed with people around, and because of that I realized something about myself. I found that I really did want to meet her social needs—but I believed I couldn't because of my personality. For the first time, I felt jealous of her friends.

One day Betsy, the kids and I worked to get the basement in shape. Then friends dropped in. After they left we surveyed the mess, and I blew up at Betsy. At this point we both realized we needed the intervention of a counselor, but Betsy's the one who took the initiative.

What Betsy and Rick Did:

The day Betsy announced, "I'm going to counseling. Would you like to come?" Rick agreed.

"Counseling helped us realize that I'm an extrovert and Rick's an introvert. It's not that he doesn't care about me," says Betsy.

The Dillons agreed to some compromises. They ended the open door policy and asked friends to call before visiting. That accommodated Betsy's need for company and Rick's need for peace.

Because part of their problem was a lack of intimacy, they put more effort into sharing their spiritual lives—one area where they were in agreement. Their shared commitment to spiritual growth has enhanced their marriage in several ways.

"I stopped nagging and started praying a lot more," Betsy says. "When times are tough, I remind myself 'I can do all things through Christ.' I pray more for Rick, and I realize loving Rick is a choice I make."

The Dillons enjoy having devotions together and faithfully attend church with their children. To make sure Rick makes the time to talk to Betsy and meet her need for companionship, they plan dates once a week—the more unconventional, the better.

"Rick is more relaxed when he's fishing or pushing a grocery cart. I love to go along in the boat when he's fishing. And he gets downright funny in the produce aisle!"

Rick is learning to take the initiative on dates. One day he took Betsy out for ice cream and stargazing in their old convertible. "That was my favorite date," Betsy says.

She also looks for ways to have fun in other areas of life, deriving satisfaction from her students at school and from jobs at church. She walks daily with a friend, and Rick chats with Betsy and her friend afterward.

One day Rick gave Betsy a card showing two penguins on a roller coaster. The boy penguin's wings covered his eyes and the girl penguin's wings were lifted high.

"It was perfect," Betsy says. "I love scary rides, but Rick doesn't. The message read, 'It's OK to be different.' By being able to laugh at our differences, we've taken a big step forward."

by Sandy Sheppard

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter to help you make sense of how faith and family intersect with the world.

Communication; Differences; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Summer, 1999
Posted September 30, 2008

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters