People who hold back in expressing their true thoughts and feelings generally do not struggle with speaking before thinking. They struggle, though, with not being heard and not knowing what to do with the thoughts they would like to express.
For example, when Rick and I were first married, I only expressed what I thought he would want to hear. (Warning, warning! Do NOT follow this example!) Something as simple as going out to eat became an issue for me. Rick would say, “Honey, where would you like to go eat?” I would say, “I don’t care.”
At first, I really didn’t care. After numerous times of going to the same place, (Rick would eat the same thing night after night if given the choice), I began to resent Rick’s decisions. I honestly did not know how to speak out and voice my thoughts about something as simple as where to eat dinner. I didn’t think my opinion would matter. (Of course, it mattered to Rick. He didn’t know about my insecurities at the time and would never have allowed this to happen.) I wanted Rick to be happy; I wanted to please him.
This unhealthy habit of not voicing my opinion evolved from numerous issues in my life. First, I came from a family where I was not allowed to voice my opinion; second, I always put the desires of others ahead of my own; and third, I thought it was my duty as a wife to “submit” to my husband. (No one had ever taught me the truth about submission; I only saw the model of my parents, which was not functional.)
After almost destroying my marriage, I learned the importance of voicing my concerns and desires. I no longer allow them to fester in my soul.
Those of us who find it difficult to voice our thoughts are the ones in a relationship who need to think about an issue before discussing it. We don’t have to worry about “holding our tongue”. We do that naturally. This can drive a spouse crazy if they want to discuss things immediately.
If you’d like to become more assertive at voicing your thoughts, I suggest you first analyze where the difficulties come from. What was the communication like in your house growing up? What negative results from voicing your opinion at one time still haunt you and hold you back? Pray about it and ask God to help. Remember though, there is a fine line between assertive and aggressive. We tend to go overboard when learning a new behavior.
God made us different from our spouses for a reason. I find that the qualities I lack are usually the ones where Rick excels. I’ve learned how to be a better person because of that. I’ve learned (still learning) to be more assertive while Rick has learned to be more sensitive and more sympathetic. God joins two different halves together to become a perfect whole. Neither is right nor wrong. We need to appreciate our differences and understand how they affect our communication.
While I used to think my concern for the feelings of others was a fault, God revealed something different to me. He showed me that He made me this way. He desires for us to put others ahead of ourselves and to be sensitive to their needs and feelings. I don’t feel so bad about not speaking out anymore. When a difficult situation deems it necessary for me to express myself, God always gives me the words and the courage.
Next blog: The person who wants to talk immediately about everything.