Today’s guest post is by a believing wife, InHisGrip:
I have always believed that a lot of people don’t deal with issues in relationships mostly because the hard conversations that need to be had are, well…..hard. Probably since I became a Christian, I have noticed and been aware of relationships that stay stuck or worse yet disintegrate into relationships full of bitterness, regret, unforgiveness, walls of pride, etc. I believe most of these have been because both parties (or even just one) have refused to be vulnerable with how they are feeling or refused to speak the truth in love to someone. I’m sure there are many factors that cause people to fear the process – probably the biggest one being rejection.
For myself and my particular situation, we were in a place where I had been hurt by some ongoing things that my husband was doing. Then one big event kind of magnified it all and really was the catalyst that God used to get me on the “respect” road. I started off thinking that I just needed to learn how to respect my husband, but I learned so many more things in the process – as you know and have gone through yourself. Interestingly, during the time of major conflict that we were in, I tried to confront my husband about the things he was doing that were causing me pain, but it never, ever went well (that would be an understatement!).
As God showed me how to respect my husband and as I dealt with working on myself, I went through an internal struggle about whether I should ever say anything to my husband about issues in our marriage or if God was trying to teach me to just be completely quiet and trust Him, waiting on Him to show my husband in His own timing.
What would happen was that my husband would respond negatively to me during those times of me bringing things to him (even after I was learning respect), so I would decide I was going to be quiet from then on. The problem was that as I shut that part of me down, everything else would shut down, too – my emotions, my vulnerability, everything that made me *me* and that drew my husband to me.
One of April’s recommendations for reading is some material by Bob Grant and his writings really helped me to understand that emotions aren’t (necessarily) wrong and also that our husbands need to see our emotions and emotional side (from Peacefulwife – unless they are motivated by sin). It is one of the things that attracts them to us.
I think God was also refining me more and more (and still is, of course!) as we would have these hard conversations so that I was learning a better way each time to approach these kinds of subjects with my husband that wouldn’t trigger a huge defensive reaction from him so that he would be able to hear my heart. But, there were times, too, when I really felt like I was doing the best I could at the moment and it would still shut my husband down. And, that was a whole other area of learning where I had to figure out how to react when I wasn’t being heard, when he didn’t seem to care or understand or even want to. I would be so tempted to shut down completely.
Many times, I have needed days or longer to just be quiet and process. During those times, God gave me grace to be respectful,
but respectful does not have to mean that we act like everything is perfectly fine and we are not hurt. (That is not real love, either).
It is very possible to be respectful, to bless our husbands in our pain, but to not be living a lie and being fake and acting like everything is completely ok. I don’t believe God is honored by that kind of behavior, and I believe Satan has tried to manipulate and lie to wives on this respect journey that that is what a good wife should do/be.
You know, even with the spiritual warfare possibility, we know that the darkness hates truth. Satan will do everything he can to suppress the truth – and some of that could mean manipulating you into a place where you believe you cannot speak the truth in love. Or telling you that you can’t tell your husband how much you miss him and need him because he might respond negatively or reject you. Anything that gets on a heart level.
Being vulnerable and dealing with our issues sometimes means me having to take a stand on certain things in our marriage that my husband was not wanting to see.
CHANGES IN OUR MARRIAGE
We are still living out that process, but in the last couple of months, I have seen a humility in my husband – he is not as determined to defend himself at all costs or to push the blame back on me, but is more willing to hear what I’m saying and to understand my pain and hurt and even to take a little ownership. This is not a result of him feeling pushed into a corner and just giving up for the sake of peace because my husband would never go for that – he’s not that kind of guy. 🙂 It is a result of me following the Spirit and being willing to fearfully bring my hurt again to my husband – even when he had shut my heart down so many times in the past.
I can’t tell you how many times I would say to him things like, “I want to shut down, but I know that you don’t want that out of me. I know that you don’t want a wife who is shut down and is only going through the motions in our relationship. I know that we both want a good marriage.” And I knew that. I really knew that he loved me and wouldn’t want a shut-down wife — because as soon as I did start putting a wall up to protect myself, you could see his hurt.
- I think it’s also important to say here that being vulnerable with our feelings shouldn’t mean that every single time we get our feelings hurt, we have to discuss it and be heard and understood.
There is definitely a beauty to “covering over sins” and “bearing with each other” – and so many of the things that women get hurt about aren’t even sin, it’s just a different way of operating. Wise to take our hurts immediately to the One who will never get tired of hearing our hearts, our hurts, etc. and ask Him what to do with them. Many, many times, just knowing He knows and understands is enough to help me move past it and not even have to bring it up to my husband at all.
A NEW WAY TO THINK ABOUT CONFRONTATION
Confrontation in my mind – before God teaching me all He has taught me in the last few years – was me trying desperately to hang on to and grasp control of our relationship and of my husband and being angry when I didn’t get the response I wanted and needed. Now, God is teaching me how to let go of the expectations of those conversations and so when I come to my husband with something, there is a peace and a security in me that even if my respectfully spoken words hurt him and even if he decides to be silent to me for days or whatever at a time, I will be okay. My security isn’t wrapped up in him any longer and my desire for love from him is balanced now that he’s not my idol. If he rejects me – even if he rejects me in an ultimate way….I will be okay. God had to take me to that place.
I wanted to say also that I couldn’t count the number of times that we’ve had conversations about the same issue in our marriage. It took numerous, painful conversations to get to where we are now. And, I know that we are still working through this. There will be more to come, I’m sure. For some reason, I knew that we weren’t meant to go get counseling together. We had a couple of sessions early on in the process and I just knew that God was blocking anything good from happening there. I don’t really know of another way to explain it than that. I could tell my husband was resentful of going and I felt like respecting him was letting go of that expectation of needing counseling in our marriage. I feel like every time I think we have to go to counseling, God reminds me that He is my Counselor and that if I trust His leading, He is enough. So, we have had the hard conversations on our own — without a human someone there overseeing and guiding us – but with the best Counselor overseeing and guiding us.
(Some couples will need a godly, trusted, experienced counselor to help them with issues – and that is fine, too!)
When I talk about sharing our emotions, feelings, and thoughts on this blog – I am talking about sharing them after we examine our hearts for any sinful motives. We don’t want to just blast our husbands with thoughts that we should have taken captive for Christ. And if our emotions are not reliable at the time, we want to consider that prayerfully before we address anything or share anything. We can share our new self in Christ. But we do not want to share our old sinful nature freely. I hope that makes sense!
Also, if a husband is severely wounded spiritually/emotionally (or is in the middle of a state of rage or something really severe, or is not in his right mind) – we may not be able to share as much detail as we would with a husband who is more healthy emotionally and spiritually. He may need healing first before he is able to hear and absorb information about our pain or concerns. This all requires the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit for us to know exactly what to share and what not to and when and how, etc…
The Pendulum Effect – being too dominating and controlling or too passive and shut down are both sinful distortions of godly femininity or godly masculinity