A wife’s daddy issues can wreck a marriage…with 10 tips for overcoming

Before giving her away her daddy may have given her an ache that only Father can heal.

She carries the ache into marriage along with her bouquet but it’s not as easy to toss. And marriage — which is a stretching experience under the best of circumstances — gets harder than hard when it’s hindered by the hurts in a woman’s heart. Hurts that shattered her from abuse, betrayal and lack of love.

Perhaps she had an absentee dad, or one very strict. Maybe her dad ignored her in favor of her brothers. Or maybe her father favored alcohol as a shield against his own pain. Or worse, a dad that touched her in ways forbidden, scarring her heart and soul for a lifetime. Or maybe Daddy just up and left one day and her heart still grieves from that original abandonment.

There are a thousand ways a little girl gets broken.

And she learns early to be strong in order to survive. Growing up limping and longing for a daddy who is not there, lacking his protection and guidance, she learns to do life on her own, achieving success in many areas. Except relationally.

She is fractured and there’s only One fix for that, but she’ll keep trying to fix it herself before she realizes how much she needs God.

And the hurt and the pain and the missing twists and turns inside her heart until it bubbles over. As anger, control and manipulation. Or sexual aggressiveness or flirting with men other than her husband. Or being overly protective and clinging to her man, needing constant reassurance that her husband loves her. Or using words as bullets with a nasty mouth and hot temper. She is woman and sometimes she roars.

And her issues like fangs sink deep and go way back casting dark shadows. Unresolved daddy issues can wreck a marriage.

Yet inside she is a quivering mess fearing that her man will walk out the way her daddy did. Afraid to trust her husband completely because her dad was so untrustworthy. Unable or unwilling to respect her husband when her father acted so disrespectfully, treating her with no respect.

And it’s too difficult to fully relax into the arms of her husband’s love when her fear of letting go runs as deep as her pain. Hurt, fear and anger blind-siding her with a blazing will to survive at all cost. And she shields her heart hard against further hurt or disappointment.

Making plans and working her butt off, racing and stressing and some days her body cries in physical pain for unresolved childhood issues, like unforgiveness, eats away from the inside out. Stomping and fuming when her husband doesn’t meet her often unrealistic expectations. Perfectly.

Using sex as a handy tool of manipulation, both in the withholding and the sultry giving. And she can’t and won’t follow her husband because that means giving up control. Way too scary for a frightened little girl-woman.

So her world keeps spinning and her heart keeps twisting and she cries on the inside and sometimes she doesn’t even know why wondering if peace, joy and hope truly exist. She is so very tired. And this bright, competent woman just wants to be held so she can finally exhale, letting God make everything right.

But unless and until she understands this and accepts that her Father in Heaven loves her like crazy and will never let her go — Him her Abba or Daddy-God who will pull her close and heal the hurts — her marriage will suffer.

And maybe end like my first marriage did, and how the babies will cry.

Yet it can take years and many hard lessons to cultivate tender the soil of the heart, and her willing to receive. Through it all her husband can feel emasculated when she acts like she doesn’t need him, thank you very much. He may hand over the reigns to her, resigning himself to the fact that there is no reasoning with her. And her Russian roulette continues until she humbles her heart to God, asking for help.

Or God in his mercifully fierce love helps her to humble by sending a trial so high and so wide that she cannot figure  it out on her own.

Her world imploding before her eyes will open seeing Christ who has been there all along. And in brokenness she bends her knee and gives her heart to follow obediently the One that has loved her all her days. The One who has a plan for her good future.

The very same One who allowed the pain and horror of the past because He knew that would shape her into a vessel fit for service to a King. Her past providing a way for her to help others. If her heart is willing.

And here are tips that can help you:

**Humble your hurting heart and let the Lord make it all better, before it’s too late and you’re raising your babies as a single mom and longing for a man to love you.

**Ask God to simply hold you for as long as it takes for the pain to fade.

**Forgive your dad and ask your husband to forgive you.

**Start living new and God’s grace will abundantly supply you with all you need to walk free from fear, bitterness, and control.

**Trust God, one day at a time as you get to know God for real — NOT what you learned from your parents or church or doctrine that was forced upon you — but knowing God through Jesus Christ.

**Read the Gospel of John, and then the other gospels, as if you have never heard one word about the One who created you. Keep reading it until the words of truth take hold of your heart. See Father’s heart in the words and actions of Jesus who came to take away our sins and show us the true heart of God.

**Listen closely for the Holy Spirit who whispers your name, calling you to come. Talk to Him in prayer.

**Ask God to lead your life so that you can become his true daughter and grow into the loveliest of wives.

** Consider journaling as a healing tool.

**Find a mentor who understands what you are going through and can help you process your pain and then progress in your life and marriage.

Then exhale! And be willing to relax your death grip on the shadow of life you cling to and God will give you new life and over time your marriage will be made new too.

You will finally see beyond the garden gate of your carefully enclosed, highly protected, walled-up self.

And you will breathe free as He breathes into you…

If you are struggling with daddy issues, there is HOPE! You can choose and learn to let go, allowing God to fill the hurting emptiness within your soul. And I can help you move beyond your pain and into the truly good and blessed life and marriage that you dream of. Click on my image below and sign up today for your FREE 20 minute mentoring session.

My book Heart Cry is a series of 40 reflections for a woman’s soul. It’s like a healing balm for your heart. Order your copy now by clicking the image.

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32 thoughts on “A wife’s daddy issues can wreck a marriage…with 10 tips for overcoming

  1. “There are a thousand ways a little girl gets broken. And she learns early to be strong in order to survive.”

    This is so good, Sheila. We all have our daddy issues. I had a wonderful father, but he was very independent, so I learned that I needed to be independent too, often to my own detriment. Thanks for sharing your heart and for also giving the list of suggestions for what we can do for change.

    • You are welcome, Lisa. And it’s true, we all have our daddy issues and men can have daddy or mommy issues because at the end of the day we are all broken little kids wanting a big Daddy God to kiss our hurts and make it all better. I pray for hurting hearts everywhere to turn to God through a relationship with our precious Jesus. Blessings…

  2. This post, Sheila, gives me food for thought. I imagine the same brokenness or need to control life happens when a young girl’s father dies. I’ve always had a strong, independent streak that can be a problem at times. Makes me wonder if that moment in time influenced a strong personality already.

    • I believe Janis that many traumatic incidents in childhood — death of parent, divorce, abuse, or sometimes just a mom or dad who works ALL the time — can significantly impact us for life. Often in a negative way. But God also uses these hurtful things to draw us to Him if our hearts are open and willing. He transforms the pain into strength by His grace and then sends us out to help others who may struggle with the same things. All the time with the objective of making us more Christlike. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Blessings to you…

  3. Sheila, Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving encouragement behind. It reminded me to come here to your place today. So glad I did! There is so much truth in your words. May God send the healing to every hurting heart! Love, Cheryl Smith

    • May God send the healing to every hurting heart. AMEN! And I think true healing only comes when a person truly understands how very much they are loved by God in a very real and personal way. Blessings to you, Cheryl, and thanks for stopping by…

  4. This is very good! Very Deep. Very Real and Transparent. SO many wives are hurting and have wrong views of God, their Abba Father, because of a distorted relationship with their earthly fathers. As you said, this carries over into their marriages and their parenting, as well. Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I hope many women will learn who their God is and trust Him to help them forgive hurts from their earthly fathers and receive healing!

    Thanks for liking up for Marriage Monday!!


  5. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” God is able to mend the broken hearts regardless of the issue between a girl and her dad. Even a good Dad could be too harsh at times, but as we walk in forgiveness and realize he was not perfect either.

  6. My father was an alcoholic and unable to give me the love I so craved. So I went looking for it in all the wrong places. Gave my heart to Jesus at the age of 18 and married at 22. I took a lot of things into my marriage that I needed to be healed of. I pray my daughters will have a right relationship with their father, who loves and adores them, and know their Heavenly Father loves and adores them even more. So glad you linked up to The Weekend Brew. Have a blessed weekend!

    • My dad, too, Barbie. And it left a huge whole in my heart for many years. I also married at 22, had three baby boys and then we divorced. But God is faithful and my healing has continued through some very dark and sad circumstances. And the more I understood how much my heavenly Father loves me, the more my heart has healed. God is good. Thanks for visiting and looking forward to getting to know you better. 🙂 Blessings…

  7. This was a very passionate and extremely accurate portrait of the brokenness in a little girl due to father issues. We deal with this so much in ministry! It is heartbreaking but because I know the Lord has healed my own brokenness I can share that hope with others. Great post! Love, Rachael

    • Thanks, Rachael. God is a faithful Father and our ultimate healer. And healing, like forgiveness, comes like layers of an onion, peeling back one, going ever deeper, and often with tears. It is my belief that healing, like sanctification, is a life long process helping us become more mature and more like Christ and then passing on the comfort we have received to others who may be a little bit behind us on the path. Blessings and love to you…

  8. I have a close friend that I envision being my girlfriend and maybe even my wife one day yet it is clear to me that she is dealing with these issues. I am not sure that she recognizes them. How can I help her. I try to always act in love and stay encouraging while hinting at getting some help in the form of mentors. I won’t make a move in her direction unless she makes a move in healing or at least in recognition. There is also a possibility that it wont change but I remain hopeful. Any insight?

    • You are wise to proceed with caution, Dre. What we see that we don’t like in potential marriage partners before making our vows usually becomes magnified for the worse after saying I do. And we can never change another person. The desire to change must come from within themselves through the power of God. And once a person steps out of denial about their woundedness, pain and how it negatively impacts current relationships, it will take some time and great concerted effort to change. With God, however, ALL things are possible. So if you have a personal relationship with Him keep growing it. And continue to shower your friend with love, for love is the most powerful healing force! Use the power of prayer to impact your friend’s heart, speak the truth in love to her when you are lead to do so, but keep in mind that you can do “all the right things” and another’s heart may still not change. There may come a day where you very lovingly but very directly tell her you cannot see yourself living with her disruptive behaviors and you may need to take a stand and walk away, trusting God to bring you and your someday wife together. Sometimes a stand of “tough love” opens the eyes and heart of the other person. Sometimes not. So, keep hoping in God who works all things eventually for good. I ask Him to bless you with wisdom, courage and the ability to always see yourself clearly. Sometimes we can be attracted to “needy” people because there is something lacking in our own hearts. And the only person we can change is ourself. Hope these words help a little. Thanks for stopping by Longings End and for sharing your heart.

  9. Wow, this just helped me a ton. My wife’s father passed away a little over ten years ago and things changed from that point on. It started slowly at first but has built to a point where we are on the verge of divorce. We have done several rounds of couples therapy and she has seen several therapists on her own but it hasn’t helped much. The results are short lived at best. I will save you all of the gory details as it has been bad. At times I feel like I am trying to communicate with a person who has completely given up the need to think rationally. That is very painful and invalidating. Nothing is worse than watching a very intelligent loved one harm themselves out of fear and self loathing.

    I read this and nearly fell over. This is the woman I have lived with for the past ten years and the thirteen years before that when her dad was still alive. Her father was distant but it was caused as much by the manipulation of her mother as his desire to not be involved. HE was a quiet but loving man who was pushed away and vilified by and angry wife. Regardless, there are scars there with my wife and some complicated issues. The low point came when when I found myself considering that I might have to leave and take the children to save them from her irrational thinking and (cognitive dissonance).

    I know she is hurt but she can’t listen to me because of the very reasons you mentioned. The dynamic is horrible at times.

    She is a terrific person who is hurt. I just want her to be happy and healthy. When I say that to her she tells me it sounds like I am threatening her. Insane.

    I am willing to stick it out and this will help. I have shared this with her and with God’s help, maybe she will be amble to hear and understand that I am behind her and that she doesn’t need to fight me to be safe.

    Thank you!

    • Thank you, Juan, for taking the time to share your heart and yours hurts here at Longings End. We are sorry for all the pain. My Michael and I will pray for you and your wife and your marriage. For the healing that God desires. The hurts in a woman’s heart — or a man’s heart — very often have far reaching roots all the way back to when they were little kids.But we all have a Good Father — God. And He loves you, Juan, and your wife with a love that went to the Cross and bled out so that you can have new life. And a new marriage! Together!! So keep looking up and seeking Him and seeking to be the husband He calls you to be and never stop praying for your beloved wife while setting whatever boundaries God may lead you to set. But always in love, love and more love. Sometimes one partner changing their own heart helps the other to soften and surrender to God’s way. Our hearts and prayers are with you both in this great struggle where you do not battle each other flesh and blood, but where powers of darkness wage war to destroy marriages and families. God bless you both and keep you…For other posts that might be of help click on the HEALING category on the right of the page. At the top of the page is a drop down for a free copy of my eBook, Wounded Wife, in case you want download. And you and your wife may want to consider our C2 services — Comfort and Conversation for Women Only. http://longingsend.com/c2/
      michael and sheila

  10. While I had a loving father, I have learned over time how my expectations of how he should love where carried over in to how I thought my husband should love. That expectation to meet all my needs when now I know only He can meet all our needs. These words really stood out for me Sheila, “The very same One who allowed the pain and horror of the past because He knew that would shape her into a vessel fit for service to a King. Her past providing a way for her to help others.” Such beautiful truth. Thank you for resharing this post.

    • Expectations can be a killer regardless of the type of dad a wife has or had. So I like to think of Jesus as my First Husband who meets me in the secret places where my husband never can. And when my heart is fully resting on Him it is much easier to accept his human frailties. This is an end I constantly seek in my marriage. Living like I truly believe Jesus is number 1 from whom ALL my blessings, care, help, love flow. And my wonderful husband, he adds to that immeasurable gift. When my expectations are rightly set on the The Righteous One there is much less disappointment in marriage 🙂

  11. Sheilia,

    I LOVED THIS! This writing is so anointed by God, this pentecostal girl from Michigan is shouting about a thousand amens! Oh friend I so related to every.bit.of.this! This was my story as well. Oh us girls with our daddy issues and how we bring them into our marriage. I had a very broken marriage Sheilia and had so much to learn as a wife, and it was only learning my Abba Daddy’s love that I was able to become the wife He wanted me to be and let go of control. I have a passion for hurting marriages, because mine has been restored. Keep moving forward girlfriend, the Lord is so using you!

    • Thank you, dear Holly. YES only HIM. He is the One that unites the broken pieces of our hearts to respect and love Him so that we can understand how much He is crazy about us. And that makes our hearts happy possibly for the first time in life. And out of our abundance of resting in His love, we can begin to learn how to love our husbands. Blessings and more blessings to you, my friend. So glad we have the same Daddy 🙂 xxoo

  12. Thank you so much for this. My daddy issues are wreaking havoc on my marriage and this is an encouragement to me to get help and start seeking Jesus again.

    • My heart goes out to you, Stacey. Daddy issues are sure fire destroyers of marriages if we are not careful. I know! 🙁 I ask God to help you in an amazing way to heal your heart and improve your marriage, and if I can be of any help — I work mentoring women with daddy and other issues that wreck their marriages — please let me know. More info is on my Mentoring page. Blessings and hugs to you and your husband.

  13. Oh, my! This brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been married to a very loyal and loving man for 6 years. BUT.. I have brought my daddy issues into our marriage. My dad was an alcoholic and an addict–in and out of rehab until he died when I was about 7.

    I have recently been born again, and I’m beginning to realize the root of my darkest sins are a result of low self-esteem/daddy issues! I’m even struggling to understand how Christ could love me. I just feel broken.

    • Oh, Meredith. I am sorry. And I know how that feels. PAINFUL. BUT GOD. He is your good daddy and as you get to know him and learn to live like him you will find your heart healing and your marriage improving. Blessings and hugs, my friend…

  14. Hi Sheila,
    So happy to come across your website and especially this posting. I am the husband in this situation and my wife’s childhood was shattered when she was 7 years old. Her father resorted to alcohol and abandoned the family and all 8 children. A few years later he died from alcoholism. The only other added (huge) difficulty is that we are a blended family. I brought 2 kids into our marriage 3.5 years ago to add to our obstacle filled relationship. Man, has it been crazy!! Not in a good way. …….Everything you wrote about is a characterization of her. I am in no way stating I have no faults. I shut down too often and too quickly when she is having these breakdowns. Do you have any advice for the added complications that we have?

    • Thank you, David, for taking the time to read and comment on this blog post. And first let me say that I am very sorry you and your wife are dealing with such difficult problems in your marriage and life. My prayers go out to both of you and all the precious children involved. Marriage under the best of circumstances can be challenging at times. With painful baggage from the past, two divorced partners and the blending of a family, you are facing overwhelming odds against the success of your union. BUT GOD! He is the author of marriage and the healer of hearts. Be assured that God loves you, your wife and all the children with love that will never leave. And IF you and your wife are both willing to seek Him and follow Him as never before, get counseling or mentoring, set your minds on creating a marriage and family that brings honor to God and work VERY hard over time, you may beat those odds. I’ll be following up next to your email…