In my last blog, I hinted that our communication as husband and wife has not always been as good as it is now. We have had over 30 years of practice and it has gotten better and better over the years. To illustrate, let me share a vignette from one of my journals.
It was December 2, 1990, a Fast Sunday. I was 33 years old. That morning, before we even got out of bed, I asked Cristi what was bothering her—for some time, we had had a pattern of misunderstanding, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it.
I quote from my journal entry: “I gave her time to explain without resistance… Later, I repeated her explanation to her to make sure I understood her point of view. Then I wrote the four main points down with ideas on ways to overcome these differences. I have rarely felt so successful in resolving conflicts. Cristi read and approved what I wrote, and she seemed in a much better mood for the rest of the day.”
Well, getting conflicts resolved seems so much easier to me now, but it wasn’t so easy 20 years ago. But I forgive myself. I was learning how to be a husband, and I still am.
I feel now that it is my masculine role to lead out in resolving problems. My wife wants me to lead the way, and I often do. Maybe its just me, but I reason with myself that if the Lord put me on the earth to provide, protect and preside, I can’t just wait around for it to happen. I don’t like conflict of any kind, and I am more eager than ever to put it down and resolve it.
I first seek to understand what is at the root of the dust-up as soon as it appears, then set out to make it right. I find when I set aside my need to be right (which is a form of pride, and “only by pride cometh contention” [Proverbs 13:10]), and seek first to calmly understand what went haywire, things just go much, much better.
The other thing is that I am trigger-happy with apologies. Not groveling, beat-yourself-up apologies (I am working hard on not giving those kind anymore), but sincere recognition that I was wrong, want to do better and that I know I can do better. When I am genuine in my sorrow and quick in my recognition, it is amazing how it elicits a soft answer out of others.
To me, I feel much stronger, much more in tune with the Holy Spirit, when I can admit readily that I was wrong. The world’s view is to never admit you’re wrong and to go to great lengths to prove to everyone, including your spouse, that you are right. We all have direct evidence of what that leads to.
In closing, I want to draw attention to the last line I quoted from my 1990 journal entry: “and she seemed in a much better mood for the rest of the day.” When my wife feels understood, and therefore, respected and honored by an intently listening husband, she is much happier. It is one of the elixirs of a happy marriage.
The most important point you can get across to your wife is not, for example, the reasons why you deserve a new four-wheeler. The point you really want to get across is that loving her and understanding her is more important to you than anything else. If she really knows that, by your consistent words and actions, your marriage will be a bit of heaven on earth as it was intended to.
And the new four-wheeler (or whatever) will miraculously show up in your life, once you let go of it, and put your heart where it really belongs.