How to Reach a Hard-Hearted Spouse
When dealing with difficult marital situations, I often say that it is good to remember that we are not able to do more than God. However, I hope to give a little advice in this article to those trying ever so hard to reach that hard-hearted spouse.
Stop Appearing Desperate
Though I have a number of articles on this matter, it never helps to appear desperate before someone that you are trying to influence. In fact, the more desperate you appear, the less respect they will have for you.
Any good salesmen knows that if he acts more like he needs the deal than the person needs the product, he will sabotage his own success. The same is true when trying to affect that distant spouse.
Chapter 6 of our marriage book deals with this entire subject. I would highly recommend that you read this chapter if you are in the position of trying to win a wayward spouse. In fact, it is an absolute must.
Stop Playing God
Sometimes, we tend to act as if we are the god of our universe and the God of Heaven is sitting powerless in the heavenlies.
Though you may feel this way at times, it may be helpful for you to know that you are not the first to feel in such a way.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 13:1-2:
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?”
This is why I often encourage my parishioners as well as those I personally coach to read the book of Psalms when dealing with difficult issues. The psalmists had a way of verbalizing our deepest concerns, and many a discouraged individual has found a friend in the book of Psalms.
On a further note, there are definitely times when your circumstances seem to be contradicting the promises of God. However, it is during these times that we display whether or not we truly believe that God is God. Remember, if you could already see it, then it would not be faith.
Adjust Your Timeline
God is seldom early, and I have rarely found that He works on our timetable.
Here is a Psalm that I have referred to often during those ever-so-long waiting periods:
Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Problems are rarely solved without the problem-solver being turned inside out and backwards during the process. Therefore, be willing to learn great lessons about yourself and God while waiting on Him. (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4)
Look for Gateways to Your Spouse’s Heart
What is the gateway to your spouse’s heart? That is, what is it that you could do or say to them that has almost always been a win-win for all involved?
Even the hardest of individuals have a difficult time resisting true love. Though it’s possible, it is hard. And, I have found that most people have some sort of gateway or entry point into their hearts. You just have to find it. The trick however, is to realize that before you see it, you have to get your mind off of your hurt, pride, principles, or soapbox and look for it! (I Corinthians 10:24)
Here are a few characteristics about gateways that make them hard to walk through:
1. It will go against your natural bent.
What your spouse needs and loves the most will typically come the least natural for you.
I discuss this point in chapter 10 of our marriage book in that what my wife enjoys the most goes against my natural bent. However, love is not about the lover as much as it is about the one being loved. This is why I often say that it is good to remember that, at the end of the day, you are not married to yourself.
There is such a thing as being a selfish lover. That is, there are those that love others according to what pleases them, and they often stand confused as to why their love is not taking affect.
I was formerly in this class of people. If this possibly describes you, then you may want to take a look at our excerpt out of our marriage book called How Manure Save My Marriage.
2. It may have been a point of derision in the past.
People are angry over what they care about the most. In other words, the spouse that has exhibited anger about the other’s care for the children is probably not upset about the missed activity as much as they are communicating another message: please take more of a viable interest in my children.
The spouse that was upset over the car not being washed probably could care less about having a clean car. They are usually communicating another message: you show interest in me when you show interest in even the smallest of matters that pertain to me.
The woman that was upset about her husband’s fishing trip could care less whether or not he goes fishing. She is typically communicating another message: Please stop making me feel like I am just one of your many priorities. I do not want to be first among many things in your life. I want to be your only true love.
The problem, however, is that if a spouse’s gateway has been a point of derision in the past, then couples tend to have a wall of pride of sorts that has built up around that issue. And, some tend to have a difficult time scaling that wall if it is present.
Ascertaining your spouse’s gateway can sometimes be difficult. However, I like to go by this rule: What makes their eyes light up? When you have found that, you are probably on the right track.
Stop Acting Like a Push-Over
When trying to win back a hard-hearted spouse you have two types of people: those serving that need to show more strength and those taking a stand that need to do more serving.
If you have been one of those that are serving your situation to death, you may need to start flexing a few emotional and spiritual muscles.
The answers that we need are always found in the balance. Therefore, if you are one of those that are serving your situation to the point where you have no more respect than when you began, you may need to back off a little, stand up for your rights, or start speaking up for yourself.
Though Paul exercised meekness, he also stood up for himself on a few occasions as he did in Acts 16, thus garnering a little more respect. Some spouses need to do the same as their service must be mixed with a little strength.
Standing up for yourself may involve one or more of the following:
1. Backing out of conversation when the other person resorts to belittling
This does not have to be done in anger, but there is a way to say in a confident manner, “If you are going to continue talking that way, I am going to do something else until you calm down.”
2. Verbalizing your wants and wishes
It is okay for you to have wants and wishes also. Sometimes, you may need to speak up and verbalize what you would like to see happen.
3. Hold your ground in a healthy discussion
Of course, I would recommend staying in what I call a safety fence as taught in chapter 11 of our marriage book. But, it is okay to disagree with your spouse without being to disagreeable.