“If You Loved Me/Accept Me”

(In this post, I use abbreviations for common terms; see sidebar.)


In Bad Teaching: “As Christ Loved The Church”, I wrote about how the Church has screwed up Paul’s teaching on LYWLCLTC™, and I think I demonstrated that what passes for marital advice today based Eph. 5:25-31 is just so much codswallop.

Yes, husbands are enjoined to love their wives “as Christ loved the Church,” but this biblical statement has been heated in the fervid minds of teachers and shaped into a cudgel with which to browbeat husbands into a meek submission to wife and children in the name of Christ. Husbands are enjoined to be more Christian than Christ ever was.

And recently, I have come across a couple of statements by husbands who tell of this same teaching appearing in yet another guise in their lives.

“If You Loved Me”

Last year, when a commenter told how his wife said this to him during a conversation, I had flashbacks to high school. Breathes there a teen-aged boy in this land who hasn’t tried the line, “If you loved me, you would ……”?  (I’ll leave you to fill in the blank.)

I’m truly surprised that the spouse who pleads “If you loved me…..” actually believes what they are saying. It’s such a juvenile statement, a manifestly blatant attempt at emotional manipulation, and would be laughable if it weren’t said in earnest. Wife and I raised four kids, and there isn’t one of them who didn’t try the “If you love me, you’ll give me a cookie” ploy.

Do they think that attaining one’s majority somehow turns childish attempts at manipulation into mature reasoning? And why, if by some miracle of growth “If you love me…” becomes a valid line of appeal, why doesn’t this cut two ways? After all, there are two people in the marriage, both with needs, both of whom can appeal to Love. As in:

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t keep asking me for sex.”
“If you loved me, you would have sex with me.”

Maybe I missed the meeting where it was determined that the first “If…” was valid but the second “If…” was a bridge too far. All I know is I didn’t get the memo on that one.

“Accept Me As I Am”

Then there is the classic, “Why can’t you accept me for who I am?” Usually, this is accompanied with a pleading that runs along of lines of “This is just who I am, I can’t change. Why can’t you accept this?” There are different ways of saying this, such as:

“That’s just who I am.”
“That’s not me”
“I can’t change”

No matter the manner in which the thought is expressed, the message is still the same. “Tough. You’re stuck with me.”

My reaction? “Really? Are you saying that you are who you were when you got married, that you’ve never changed?” Forget that old saw that says when a man marries, he hopes his wife never changes, but when a woman marries, she hopes her busband will change. We know that it’s just a joke, and we know the truth that marriage changes a person as s/he learns to integrate into a shared life. So, yes, she CAN change; she did it before and she can do it again.

The ugly truth isn’t that she can’t change; instead, it’s just that she doesn’t want to change. Interestingly enough, though, you are expected to change.

“Love On My Terms”

While not articulated, this statement encapsulates just what the “accept me as I am” statements intend. Saying “Accept me” is short-hand for “Love me with Unconditional Love like God tells you to.” And you know who gets to say when the meter pegs out at “Unconditional Love,” don’t you? Yup, you guessed it; the one who is demanding that unconditional love.

Recently, a commenter on TMB (see links, sidebar) observed that when GCHs™ are told that they need to LYWACLTC™, the wife is the one who gets to be the arbiter and decide if the Hubs has loved enough. And guess what? In many marriages the counter is reset every day at the crack of dawn and you have to begin it all over again.

And here we come to the crux of the matter, don’t we? One person in the marriage assumes the right to define the relationship: what is love, what love looks like and what acceptance looks like. Based on one spouse’s definition/expectation, the other is informed that their actions are not “loving.” that s/he is not doing marriage right. It’s a one-sided judgment, from which there is usually no appeal.

Last year, a commenter on one of my posts addressed the problem of the “You don’t love me/accept me as I am” statements. Sharing that his wife used these accusations on him, he noted,

“…the problem with both of those weapons is that ther are based on an if/then premise: if one thing is true it MUST imply another truth. And here we have the problem. The spouse using this statement has a clear idea of what the resulting TRUTH looks like….if you loved me you would respect my sexuality as it is, you don’t accept me because you do X. The problem is that truth can be distorted by the spouse’s experiences.”

Squeak Up,… er Speak Up!

There it is, in a nutshell. Yes, the accusatory spouse may truly believe that s/he isn’t being loved or accepted, but as I am wont to say, their say-so doesn’t make it so. Past experiences, bad teaching, etc., distort love and acceptance, and even reality, so that their beliefs don’t conform to any semblance of the truth. Hubs/Wife may be told that their actions aren’t loving or accepting, when by any measure or observation, they actually are loving, they actually are accepting.

I am an old coot, and as you know, I’m not one for tea and sympathy. If your marriage is sputtering along like Jack Benny’s Maxwell because your spouse is operating from a lie and not the truth, then I’m all in favor of  throwing some truth into the mix and countering the balderdash fueling your misery.

“You don’t accept me as I am” – “Neither do you.”
“If you loved me, you wouldn’t….” – “If you loved me, you would….”

One of my mantras is “It’s not his marriage, it’s not her marriage; it’s y’all’s marriage.” That means you have to learn to live in peace as a husband with her and she has to learn to live in peace as a wife with you. Both of you need to learn to love each other, and learn to do the things that communicate love. And one way to communicate love is to speak the truth.



Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

10 responses to ““If You Loved Me/Accept Me”

  1. Ted

    Yeah I’ve heard all the different variations of this one over the years, particularly with regard to sex. Then there’s the spin of ” That’s not me anymore”. Of course this points out that they not only can change, but have, and have decided unilaterally that the change should be left alone.
    Really at the heart of all this is a desire to control the relationship, by whatever means possible. In my generation and prior generationssex was the easiest way to accomplish this. In the generation coming up now, however, more and more the young men are choosing to not enter into marriage, or even relationships, choosing fantasy over reality. I fear we may soon see the realization of the prophecy in Revelations, that speaks of seven women taking hold of one man. My oldest son has already decided to never marry, because of the generally accepted status of marriage and relationships in our culture. More and more young husbands seem to be becoming the refusers, to avoid being manipulated through sex. I don’t condone this, however I do understand it. There is much to say on this subject, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shoot, I forgot the “That’s not me any more!” Oh, that’s good. Might even be worthy of another post. 🙂

    Couple of things – 1) control is always at the center, isn’t it? But that then engenders further thought, such as, did the marriage start this way? was there good-will/generosity in the beginning? how much did bad teaching and unrealistic expectations play in the change?

    2) About your son: do you think your marriage has informed his decision in any way, or is it all on society?



    • I don’t know about Ted. In my opinion, that question about the way the marriage started is a huge one. I spoke to a pastor for help. Told him it started on the wedding night, but he was convinced that I was the root cause out of hand.

      If a wife loves and respects her husband, she doesn’t try to control him. She also doesn’t make a habit of defrauding him of honor, let alone sex. The respect, honor, and good-will only return by way of repentance as I see it. I’m not even addressing salvation and escaping hell. I’m just talking about deciding to change how to perceive, think and act because what was done before was wrong. This is basic to reconciliation, but apparently it offends a lot of church people to say it.

      The bad teaching really just came along afterwards with us. She started with her desire to control, then grabbed onto bad teaching as opportunity allowed. That pastor, along with elders, pulverized the last chance of our marriage being well. The people who self-righteously assaulted our marriage (specifically me) were the real problem. There was no wisdom or perception.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Question – do you and your wife go to the same church? I’d find a different church and go by myself.


      • That was at the new church. Several of the elders teach at a conservative christian college. I spoke to the head elder alone three times and he seemed solid to begin with.

        The emotional reasoning that they resorted to in the end reminded me of the junk … nevermind. The point is that the trouble goes well beyond a bad teaching. I have found it in most places I’ve checked out.

        Right now, I lead studies at home with the family. Damage control…. too little, too late.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ted

      It’s more the relationships he’s been in. The last one he had he was talking marriage, but then it all fell apart because of her trying to control him. Another of my sons has the same issue with another girl. He’s talked about marrying her a couple of times, but she’s not interested. they’ve been on again off again for something like seven years. And every time he breaks it off, she changes her tune to reel him back in. It would help if they were in Christ, but sadly, while the older on is, the other one isn’t. and still thinks he can get control of unsaved women. Like grasping oil is how I think Proverbs puts it….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d like to point out that this blog post really does a good job of taking a path right through the kinds of messes I’ve seen in my marriage. Because I assumed it was a matter of teaching rather than her will (plus some other reasons), I didn’t catch on to the emotional abuse.

    Because I through some truth on it, and stood on my moral convictions regarding a relative, I was subjected to a smear campaign and attacked verbally by elders and others.

    Be careful with eyes wide open when you take your next step.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Phil

      Hi OofC, I’ve been reading your comments to a number of posts recently and it strikes me that you are deeply saddened by the state of your marriage to the point where I wonder why you haven’t walked away!?

      Whilst I fully appreciate the desire to stay in a marriage even when its clearly in a poor way and very one-sided I read your comments and visualise a much better place for you away from your current situation…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Phil,
        Overall, I agree. It took quite a while to even allow myself to consider divorce as an option in any sense. The answer to your question is not easy or short. The very broad overview starts with not knowing how to discern the average relationship problems from disingenuous contemptuous abuse. This began with my parents when I was a boy. I developed a lot of wrong assumptions.

        Current situation involves five children that I love and would certainly lose in more ways than one. I’ve been smeared to the degree that I am entirely isolated from any true help or friend. On-line is all I’ve got at the moment. My depression/PTSD became so bad I was suicidal and unable to find work. I am now broke and can’t afford a divorce if everything else lined up. My bro-in-law is a lawyer of the worst sort, so the divorce process will be hell.

        There is important info on multiple levels as to why I or any other man hasn’t left an abuser. I’ll avoid the temptation to go on about it. I finally decided to write about it on a blog of my own. Partially I’m doing a little bit of journalling-“processing”. I also try to share the stuff that I learned in researching. It is *hard* to find resources as an abused man, and *especially* if the abuse is emotional and covert.

        I’m really concerned for other men who think that they are just having a problem with a relationship, and don’t know how to distinguish a misunderstanding from emotional abuse. When they *do* figure it out, they may very well find the church and everyone in it has become their real enemy… all in love, of course. I know that sounds exaggerative. I have experience.

        Some of the people that follow me are not even close to being believers. I accept their kindness of their validating words, but please don’t assume I agree 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Ignore The Hypotheticals | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

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