Okay. I think I’ve established the fact that communication efforts between men and women are complicated. Unfortunately, we aren’t told that we need to learn a foreign language when we enter into matrimony.
Yes, we women speak very different English from our spouses. Half the battle, like most anything, is the realization of the problem. Once you grasp the differences and no longer allow them to drive you crazy, you can easily learn to communicate with your spouse.
Your focus should be on your spouse’s needs, not your own. Allowing yourself to become annoyed at their words that conflict with your desires (unless they criticize you personally) is a selfish act.
Putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own is just a polite way of saying, “Stop being so selfish.” Selfishness will always cause severe friction in a marriage and usually leads a couple to divorce. I’ve seen some people tolerate a selfish spouse for many years, but it takes a toll on a relationship. The selfless person will usually reach a point of giving up and end the marriage.
This is one of the most challenging aspects of marriage that I see couples struggle with -- putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. When Rick and I bring up this notion in counseling, we usually get that blank, deer-in-the-headlight look. It is so contradictory to what the world tells us, and even good Christians struggle with it.
The Bible tells us that we fight and quarrel because we don’t get what we want. Step one in giving up your needs to fulfill your spouses - stop dwelling on what you want and look at what your spouse wants. They won’t argue with you about that.
When you find yourself in the middle of a verbal battle with your spouse, try to back off. Stop yelling. Think about what they need. If you are no longer fueling the fire of your spouse with argumentative words, their flames will flicker out. It’s no fun to argue when no one is arguing with you. It’s embarrassing to do on your own. Besides, where did arguing EVER get you? Has it enhanced your marriage?
“A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” – Proverbs 15:1
Those are very powerful and truthful words that we need to take into deep consideration when it comes to our spouses. We need to break the cycle of hurtful words we sling at the ones we love.
Rick and I broke our own vicious cycle of endless angry words many years ago, soon after God saved our marriage. Now, we don’t react (most of the time) when we see the other is a little emotionally raw or upset about something. We don’t take their behavior personally and assume the anger is about us.
It is important not to take everything negative your spouse does or says personally. Realize that they are also human and make mistakes and are influenced by hormones and chemicals and circumstances that cause us all to act a little irrational at times.
Once you learn to back off and not react, that gives your spouse the freedom to vent without adding the complications of an argument. Learn to hold your tongue and listen to find out what the problem is and deal with it rationally. You will discover a new intimacy with your spouse that comes from peacefully dealing with your problems together.