It was a hard lesson to learn as a young man, but once my wife’s spirit was wounded, all the words and logic in the world would fail in making things better in the immediate. Only time, action, and a genuine change in my attitude would prove to help.
It seems that one of the most important lessons I teach men is that there is often a price to pay for losing their cool, being loose with their words, being overly sensitive, or acting in an uncaring way. However, few seem to be willing to accept this fact in a patient manner. Instead, they pout, accuse, point fingers, and whine as if they are expecting age-old principles and marital norms to take a back seat to their specific situation.
Though there is no cookie cutter typecast for every single human being, generally speaking, women feel deeper than men. Consequently, it is this part of my wife that I have had to learn to protect. That is, I have had to learn that if I offend her emotionally, my logic and words will fail at pulling her out of what I call an emotional bomb shelter, especially in the moment.
Of course, none of this means that a woman is not responsible for her behavior. I deal with this in my marriage book, especially in chapter 9. However, it does mean that there are natural repercussions to a man’s negativity that must be accepted in a patient manner. If a man fails to relate the effect with the cause, he will find himself continually frustrated in his marriage, and he will come across like a big baby.
The Exception to This Rule
There are a number of verbal women that are married to those quiet or more passive types. As stated in our marriage book in chapter 4, these men will find that their wives actually appreciate conversation in the moment. However, I find that most men will fail if they think their words are an end-all cure-all in the moment. Most wives want action mixed with genuine change over a long period of time.
How this Plays Out
Success is failure turned inside out. That is, those that succeed are not those that have never failed. They are those that learn from their mishaps.
Proverbs 1:5 teaches:
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”
Proverbs 9:9 says:
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
What I love about these verses is that they teach us that wise men are still learning. These verses do not say that a wise man knows everything as much as that he has a teachable spirit.
Early in marriage, I started to see that once I offended my wife, she was going to retreat into a place of safety for a few hours or even days. Once again, I am not prescribing this behavior, only describing it. However, the facts were the facts. Once I acted out like a little kid, I would struggle because I then felt an emotional distance between my wife and I. Simply put, I did not like the effect that my negative behavior had caused.
Embrace the Consequence
It took me a few years into marriage to start allowing these negative situations to be one of my teachers. That is, instead of continually becoming upset that I felt disconnected from my wife after an altercation, I started to take on a different approach and learn from my mistakes.
I cannot over-emphasize the value of this principle. Honestly, it greatly propelled me to success as before I would wallow in pity over feeling disconnected with Melody. However, once I learned to start embracing the opportunity to learn from my mistakes, I stopped groveling in self-pity and determined to avoid the negative behavior that was causing scenarios as such.
Proverbs 20:30 states:
“The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.”
Simply put, when you touch a hot stove, you should quickly learn not to ever do that again. In the same way, I found it better to embrace the negative consequences of my behavior by learning from them. I found this a much better approach than to whine, complain, or hurl accusations once I offended my wife.
These principles are covered in detail in chapter four of our marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting With One Another.
– Dr. Force