Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 10

New Life Ministries

Honesty is perhaps one of the most basic needs in marriage. Without honesty, problems that may destroy the relationship can lie hidden for years, building momentum, creating blocks to intimacy, and then suddenly surfacing larger than life to wreak destruction in your marriage.

Honesty is the foundation upon which all other aspects of marriage are built. With honesty you know exactly how your actions will affect your mate, and you can make the necessary adjustments to accommodate his or her feelings.

With honesty, you and your spouse are aware of each other’s weaknesses, and can work with that knowledge.

Knowing and understanding the thoughtless things you might be inclined to do, allows you to take precautions to prevent that from happening. ‘But we are honest!’ you say?

How honest are you? Is there a line you can draw which marks where a little bit of secrecy turns into dishonesty? Is there such a thing as mostly honest?

Being honest is like being pregnant, or alive. You either are, or you’re not. There is no half way, no mostly, about any of those things. In marriage, partners must learn to become completely honest with each other if they are to achieve true intimacy.

Here’s a little quiz. Do you, or have you, shared the following information with your spouse? Do you know the same sorts of things about him or her in return?

Your past. Does your mate know all there is to know about: former lovers, friends, occupations, dreams, mistakes, achievements, failures?

Your feelings. How do you feel about the events of your life? Especially your reactions to the things that your mate does? How do you feel about the life you have created together?

Today. What are your plans for the day? Who will you see, what will you talk about, where will you go, when will you be home, how can you be reached?

Tomorrow. What are your hopes and dreams and plans? What are your goals?

Anything left unasked above. Does your spouse know as much as you do about yourself?

Well now, I can just see you shaking your heads in disbelief. She must be crazy to think that I would share my past failures, or the fact that my spouse’s job really annoys me. Talking about those things would just cause a fight to end all fights.

But is it the honesty that causes the argument, or is it the things you have been hiding? Is it speaking the truth, or is it the manner in which you deliver the message? Which brings us to a couple of points that need to be touched upon.

First, how well do you handle your spouse’s honesty? Do you become upset, yell, threaten, or criticize when your partner shares difficult information? If so, then you are fostering dishonesty in your marriage.

You would be well advised to make a practice of thanking your spouse for whatever information he or she shares. If it is too difficult at the time for you to handle the things your spouse is sharing with you, then express your thanks and ask for some time to process what you’ve heard.

When you share information with your partner, do you do it in a way that is calm, respectful and pleasant? Saying something like, ‘You lazy thing, all you ever do is sit around and look at trash on tv, you never do anything to keep the house up,’ is not being honest. It’s being rude and disrespectful. Saying instead, ‘I’m overwhelmed with things I’d like to get done, and I’m wondering if there’s a way you would be willing to help me out?’ is honest and respectful.

Honesty needs to be framed in a way that is respectful of how the other person feels. This is not to say that you should not convey information that might be upsetting. It simply means that you must do so in a way that is as considerate as possible.

One of the things that I emphasize strongly with couples that come to me for help, is the practice of sharing with their spouses, their own reactions to his or her behavior.

So often we are afraid to tell our mate that he or she has offended us in some way. Frequently it was something done in innocence, and we want to overlook it. Unfortunately, when we do that, our feelings for our partner are adversely affected. And we deprive them of the ability to make necessary adjustments in their behavior to take our feelings into account.

If you have very difficult information that you have been withholding from your spouse, then you might want to consider enlisting the help of a professional. Things such as past or current infidelity are incredibly hard to confess, and even harder to hear. Sharing with the help of a caring third party can ease the process.

Honesty is the bedrock of marriage. It is essential for trust, for building compatibility, for creating a way of life that you both enjoy, and for maintaining the feelings of love in marriage. If you are serious about saving your marriage, or about keeping alive the love you have now, you must begin with real and complete honesty.

After attending Every Man’s Battle, we strongly encourage you to attend our marriage program at our New Life Weekend
This weekend will help your marriage to heal from the wounds of
impurity and will especially help your wife with questions that she
still may have.


Super Charged Communication

Martin Fierro

So your back home from being motivated and super charged at the last EMB conference. Feeling super charged spiritually? Ready to talk? ‘Hey honey let me share what happened and what I just learned!’ Her response of ‘un-huh, but what about me?’ should not surprise you. How you respond with any information shared from your wife will be vitally important. It is in the healing of the relationship that the events of the past behavior may be in the past historically but not emotionally. In such, healing for the relationship will come through periods of communication super charged with a sensitivity fruit cocktail of caution, fear, hurt, grief, despair (shall I go on?).

The keys many men miss in the opportunity and recovery of the relationship are the components of truly listening to your wife. She too, has a story to tell and an experience to process.

The reality is that the relationship is changed and you cannot go back to the old manners in communication with your wife (and behavior for that matter). For it was in that old nature of communication that deception and manipulation was nourished. On this side of the coin, your communication model should be based in love and grace (in speaking and listening). In the construction of listening there are three strong skills to listening to your wife. Before they are detailed, let it be known that problem solving (Mr. Fix-it) is not the top of the list for listening skills. Research has shown that when the primary components of listening are worked through first, then problem solving and resolution has a higher probability for success.

Think of it this way, we have been given two ears and one mouth. A good probable reason is so we will listen twice as much as we speak.

Listening is not a matter of making the comment back, ‘so what I hear you say is” or ‘I understand.’ Or worse is the appearance of listening while preparing for a rebuttal, ‘I see honey, and I understand, BUT’.’ Do you want to continue super charging the communication level through defensiveness? Because this last example is one sure way of doing it. Or do you want to change the engagement of the communication patterns to a deeper level of intimacy? Your options; continue the old patterns of super charged communications or create the change in your response behavior. And that is typically a good spot to start. Any change in one of you will create a change in the relationship.

The three primary components of productive listening are attend, acknowledge and inviting. Attending has three sub factors: look at the person talking to you, listen to what they are saying (not what your mind is thinking and feeling), and track what they are saying. Acknowledging is about reflecting back through brief statements the thoughts and feelings being heard and understood. And this does not mean a lengthy sentence. Think of acknowledging your spouse with simple words as she shares, such as ‘wow, that is sad, how awful, mad, disappointed, how exciting’etc.’ Inviting is about when you see that your wife is holding back on sharing, and you know that look and feeling, you simple say something to the affect of: ‘keep going,’ ‘tell me more,’ ‘I am with you, please continue,’ or ‘Is anything else you want me to know?’

These skills (attend, acknowledge and invite) give the opportunity to listen to your spouse through love and grace. Notice there was nothing about giving feedback or fixing what was being shared by the other. But more importantly time to allow your spouse to experience the thoughts and feelings without correction, distraction or manipulation.

It is important to know that communication of thoughts and feelings should never be expressed through physical aggression. Appropriate boundaries may need to be set if either one of you have such difficulty. It is also just as important that listening to your spouse may appear to be verbally abusive when in reality she is inviting you into her world of thoughts and feelings of pain, depression, anger’.

In communication there are two words that are recommended to avoid or use cautiously: why & you. Both have at their base a probable result of discord and passive aggressive communication. These two words all too frequently create defensiveness even if such is not meant. Yes there are alternatives that create an opportunity for clarity. Instead of using ‘why,’ try using ‘honey can you help me understand what you meant by’.’ In regards to using ‘you’ statements, it is best to not start a sentence with it such as ‘you should,’ ‘you said” ‘you are not making sense because’.’ Instead, as silly as it may sound, focus on using a ‘you’ later in your statements while responding with the pronoun of ‘I.’ Such as, ‘There is no way I can truly understand the pain I have put you through and I want to support you through this the best that I can. It pains me to know I have caused you so much hurt in your heart.’

In all, these skills are to build empathy and intimacy with your wife. The thoughts and feelings of the relationship will ebb and flow as the issues are worked through. The communication problem solving steps will have to be another article. But for now, it is important to clarify that when your wife is not attended to, acknowledged, or invited to share more of what they have on their heart and mind, the common experience and sense of feeling ‘crazy’ overcomes your spouse. Let me stress again that in listening to the communication from any person is the pathway to inviting you into their world as they experience it. Listening is sitting there with them, feeling and experiencing the world that person lives in. If the information being shared is abused, made fun of, not attended, acknowledged or invited to expound upon, one will commonly shut down. Listening is truly about following not leading. If you want to super charge the intimacy of communication, practice the basic skills of listening.