Again, I’m very sorry for your situation. I have a few suggestions. As you know I don’t really know you and what I do know at all is from what you’ve told me. And from what I know about other men who are in similar situations to yours.
It sounds like you are a very cerebral fellow. It sounds like you think more than feel. You work with computers, play with machines, and do a lot of theological thinking and studying. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this– unless your wife is a woman. I don’t mean anything that follows to come across in a demeaning way. I’m simply telling you that women and men are different and you are going to need to relate to her differently than you do to men. Most women do a lot more feeling than we men do. This means that if you want to relate to them you need to do it in a much more touchy feely way. You can talk about thoughts, but often you’ll get along much further if you talk about feelings–and often these come out the same way, really. So instead of a fellow saying something like, “This is the way it is and that’s final!” Rather he should say something like, “Let’s talk about this topic for a few minutes (and then actually discuss it, being careful to listen to her point of view)” he’ll get much further along in life. Even if the results are the same in the end. Also, discussing what he’feels like doing with his wife really gets a lot from the relationship. Did I mention that it is a relationship? That means you need to find out about how she is feeling as well as sharing your thoughts on the various things. But knowing this, in your case, will only help in the future.
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you apologized to God for the state of your family? Further, when was the last time you apologized to your wife for the state of your family? The Bible tells us that since we men are the heads of our families, that when things go sideways, we are responsible before God for that sideways movement. If your wife sins, she will stand before God for her sin, but so will you because her sin is your sin as the leader of your family. You can read more about this in Pastor Wilson’s Federal Husband. When was the last time you confessed any sin to your wife? If you haven’t confessed your sin to her, that’s where you need to begin. Do not lay her sin in front of her, only yours. It may be something like, “Please forgive me for not being a better example of a godly Christian man, I’ve been sinful in this for a long long time and I’m begging you to forgive me.” You might continue by letting her know that from now on you are going to work very diligently, by the strength of God, to live in a way that is pleasing to God and this will begin by doing a better job of loving your wife.
Here’s the next step: What sorts of things did you do to get your wife to marry you in the first place? Did you wine her and dine her? Did you flirt with her, smiling coyly and sending her little notes? Did you ask her to dinner and to the museum? Did you pray for her to be filled with Joy? What kinds of things did you do back in the day?
I would suggest that after you confess your sin to your wife, as a second step, begin loving her again. Bring her a flower every day. Write her a note or letter explaining to her the things you love about her and value in her. Make it as mushy as you can. If you aren’t a mushy guy, become one. Get some poetry books and fill your mind with sloppy, lovey, emotional goo and then let it ooze out on your wife. If she rebuffs you, go more slowly, but let the love of God transform you into a romantic fool. Take her on dates (planned and spontaneous), hold her hand, lean on her in lines, go shopping with her, sit and watch TV with her, or sit and read your Bible while she watches TV.
In all of this let the joy of God pervade every fiber of your being. Become a joyful Christian man in every area of your life. Do a study on the demeanor a Christian ought to have and then adopt it. Don’t let the circumstances of life rob you of your joy in any way. Become like Christ with regard to joy.
Then, do all of the above with your daughter–even the dates. I take my daughter on a date every week and have since she was born. I want to make any young man who wants to marry her work really really hard to take her love and respect away from me. And I want the same for my wife. I work very hard to keep the love and the flame alive in both of them.
I’m not saying I have sexual relations with my daughter, but I do touch her a lot in affectionate ways. The three of us sit together on the couch to watch TV and it gets hot and sweaty and we love one another. Holding hands, giving foot rubs and back scratches and enjoying one another. We play games, go for walks, bike rides, go for ice cream, even wander the isles in the hardware store wondering what all these cool doo-dads are for.
If your wife and daughter don’t respond to anything you do, do it for the Lord. God says love your wife, nurture her, cherish her, husband her with every fiber of your being. It doesn’t say anything about doing it if she responds favorably (though that is much more fun), it just says obey God and do it joyfully. If your wife is acting this way because you have led her to be this way, your change will also affect her. If there is something else, your affection will reveal this too.
If I was right about the kind of man you are in the beginning of this letter, you need to do a lot of changing of your mind and behavior. You may need to watch some James Bond movies to learn how to be a romantic man. You might need to read some Louis L’Amour to learn how to be a manly man. You may need to read some Jane Austin to learn how women think and feel. If you do, do it. It won’t hurt you and it will make you a better husband and father. One other thing that might really help, go visit a Charismatic church and let the emotions get to you. Feel Jesus. Feel his embrace. Feel his love, his joy, his peace. Don’t pay attention to the goofy theology, just get the feeling–love Jesus. Get fired up for Christ. Do whatever it takes to love your wife and daughter.
I hope this helps,