“I can’t take another day – I feel so alone! My marriage is a servants delight, cook, clean, work, go to school, take care of the children, make sure the laundry is done, supper on the table when the husband gets in, and lay down and let him have his pleasure whenever he feels. Do not expect any thoughtful gestures or kindness to be involved in this relationship, except when we go to church or are near his family, then by all means, open the doors for me, be cordial, and act like the wife is something special.”
While I’m working on a post to address what a wife like the above can DO to FIX some of these issues, it occurred to me that we might want to start with AVOIDING some of the common mistakes we make in marriage. And if you’re a husband, you might find some quick help here. Not surprisingly, for wives, however, these issues are all covered in The Respect Dare.
- Wrapping our identity up in another PERSON’s opinion of us, instead of God’s. The culture (both Christian and secular) teach us that happiness and joy resides in other people’s responses to us, when in fact, other people’s responses are things that really belong to other people.
- Criticizing our spouse – instead of addressing problems in a healthy way, while failing to ask God if you are to “overlook an insult” or “confront a sin against you.” If you are constantly having issues with many things, people won’t want to spend time around you. Research shows that criticism is extremely damaging to relationships. Criticism also usually makes other people defensive – it is a verbal attack.
- Becoming defensive yourself. This is a response to #1 and #2, but understand that research shows defending yourself exacerbates the problem and escalates argument. It is absolutely the WRONG response and does not work. The bible tells us defensiveness can become such a habit that you undermine the positive effect your wife or husband can have with your kids, if you have them. It’s also not a biblical response, and is sin, rooted in pride.
- Walking away from disagreements or conflict, and shutting down emotionally. This is known as withdrawal – it’s a disengagement from the conversation, where you just stop participating. It increases negativity in the relationship. The “withdrawal” is a consistent and repetitive non-engagement. It’s not the same as saying, “I want to talk with you about this, but am going to take a break from this for a while so we can both calm down.” With that, there’s re-engagement later. Stonewalling/Withdrawal occurs when a spouse flat-out refuses to participate in the discussion.
- Harboring resentment and communicating with CONTEMPT. From yesterday’s post, you see the marital math and how RESPECT is the solution to this problem. How to get to that place will be something I talk about in upcoming posts. Contempt’s presence in a relationship is the highest predictor of dissolution, according to research. The thing you need to understand is that contempt is an end result for many because of #’s 1-4 above.
- Allowing yourself to be a doormat, blaming others for how they treat you. Yes, they may have sin, but there are MANY options available to you to respond in healthy ways to criticism, defensiveness, withdrawal, and contempt that is levied at you. NONE of them make you a doormat. NONE of them conflict with the bible, as a matter of fact, ALL of the responses are biblical. More to come in future posts, so subscribe to stay tuned.
All of these things are based on research by Gottman. And while you might be in a place where you don’t know what you don’t know, understand this for the time being: THERE IS HOPE.
I’ve been there, and done that.
And contrary to what the enemy would have you think, you are NOT alone, and you CAN do something about your marriage.
Dare you to start today by asking God to help you. To confess that you don’t know what to do. To confess that you need His help.
And join us in the journey by doing The Respect Dare with us. We start Dare 6 next week, doing just one at a time, dialoguing with you as you journey.
And if you are parenting little people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. 2014 is nearly full, but 2015 might be an option. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussions!
But today, I’m wondering what YOU think about something… I know I’ve made every single mistake on that list. NOT KIDDING. Not exaggerating. What mistakes do you think you’ve made in your marriage? What do you see God doing?
Love to you,