Isn’t it brilliant that I got behind on devotionals during a series on communication? The irony of it all…. just didn’t want you to miss that!
So now that we have talked about taking responsibility for your half of the communicating, even when you are the needy one, I’d like to address this whole topic of being the needy one.
Sometimes we really have a reason to be down. Sometimes we are struggling through some hard providences, or some difficult people, or we haven’t talked to an adult in 12 days (or just since 7 a.m. which can feel the same). Sometimes we are pregnant and exhausted, or stretched thin and feeling like quitting. Sometimes you have needs. No wait. Always you have needs. Everyone. All of us. All the time. Your husband too.
As women we like to talk about our feelings – sometimes maybe we feel them more, but often times just because talking about the way we feel is vulnerable, and being vulnerable is intimate. So talking through the problems that you are having is a way to get your husband’s attention. If he engages in the conversation with you about your feelings, you will feel valued. You will feel loved, and that is all as it should be. Talking about how you are feeling and the many nuances thereof can be very encouraging, and it can also be a trap.
Sometimes, possibly when the discussion of how you are feeling has just gone on too long, (or possibly when your husband is himself tired and had a day and the co-workers may have been adults but they acted like children), your husband might move to action. He might say something like, “OK then, if that is how you feel, let’s get a housecleaner.” And you feel tempted to say, “You don’t love me anymore! You would never imply that I don’t keep the house clean if you knew how hard I was working!” or something equally stupid and unjustified.
Let’s break this down a little. Vulnerability is an important part of marriage. It is a good thing. But it is not the whole thing. Intimacy is not the whole of marriage. Whether that intimacy is physical (like many men default to), or emotional like many women default to, it is not the whole picture. God made us to be companions. There are two parts of marriage – the parts where you face each other, and the parts where you together turn, shoulder to shoulder, and face the world. There are tasks. There are problems. There are things to do – and doing them alongside each other is the whole point. Being his helper is what you were made for. Those phases of looking into each other’s eyes are wonderful – but they are incomplete without moving on from them.
This is important. It may not seem so terribly important, but it is. When your husband is done talking to you about how you feel, and is instead turning to action, follow him. Be done. Move on. We know how to throw an emotional temper tantrum that can make you both believe that he is not being a good husband. But what about you? What happened to his companion? Did she get so caught up in herself that she was unable to help him? Did she turn into an accuser? Was she trying to oppress him back into yet another fireside heart to heart?
As women we need to see that when our husbands turn away from diagramming emotional sentences, asking you to come write a story with him, that it is a different kind of intimacy. It is the intimacy of moving on together. The intimacy of being done talking about it, and on to doing it.
I’m certainly not saying that men never sin or fall short in talking with their wives. But the truth is that we do just as often. We fail to follow through on the other half of what we are doing together. We fail to grow in learning how to speak his language – how to befriend him in what he needs.