How do hurts hinder communication with my spouse?
When the trust in a marriage relationship is damaged by unresolved conflicts, the couple usually becomes unwilling to share openly with each other. The husband or the wife, or both of them, may reason that the benefits of sharing openly do not outweigh the risk of incurring, or even inflicting, more hurt.
The following problems can rob your spouse of security and thereby rob you of the valuable counsel he or she could share with you:
- Indications that your spouse is not first in your life
If you are habitually preoccupied with other people, possessions, or activities, your spouse feels threatened and begins to doubt your love.
- Failure to recognize and appreciate your spouse’s kindness
If you are insensitive and do not admire or praise your spouse for the special things he or she does to please you, your spouse will look for recognition from other sources.
- Unfavorable comparison with other men or women
Your spouse can become jealous or develop an attitude of self-rejection if you evaluate him or her based on comparison with the appearance or abilities of other men or women. A wife feels threatened if she perceives that another woman evokes her husband’s admiration and affections more than she does.
- Lack of spiritual leadership and submission
Husbands and wives need to demonstrate a Biblical blend of spiritual leadership and submission. (See Ephesians 5:21–33.) Every Godly wife longs for her husband to show interest in the things of God. When a husband does not demonstrate spiritual leadership in the home, his wife feels insecure and feels compelled to seek spiritual leadership from other sources. She also may attempt to take spiritual authority into her own hands, thus usurping her husband’s authority.
- Rejection of your spouse’s opinions
You tend to evaluate your spouse’s opinion through your own frame of reference rather than through the immediate needs or big-picture concepts that he or she might perceive. If you fail to consider their perspective, your spouse feels that you don’t care about what is happening in his or her life.
- Lack of personal discipline
A failure to demonstrate self-control, failure to curb anger, or failure to practice moral freedom encourages your spouse to lose respect for you.
- Inadequate preparation for changes
When a man receives a job transfer and has to move his family, his wife needs to mentally and emotionally move before she actually relocates. Failure to allow adequate time for this adjustment can lead to frustration and resentment.
- Inconsistency in discipline
When a parent sides with the children against his or her spouse, the family becomes splintered. By example, the children are taught to adopt attitudes of disloyalty and favoritism.
- Attempts to correct in public
Your spouse’s self-image can be deeply damaged if you use jokes or cutting remarks to try to bring about some correction in his or her life. The injury caused by these statements is magnified if they are made in front of other people. Rather than heeding the advice and correcting his or her faults, most likely your spouse will become resentful toward you.
- Unwillingness to ask for forgiveness
Your spouse reacts to your pride if you refuse to admit failure or ask for forgiveness when you know that you are wrong.
If these barriers are present in your marriage, they have the potential to severely injure your relationship. Carefully evaluate your attitudes and actions in light of what messages they convey to your spouse. Ask him or her to share about hurts that have damaged your union. Listen to your spouse! Ask for forgiveness when you have done wrong, and accept God’s grace to reform your actions and attitudes.
This material was developed from page 241 of the Men’s Manual, Volume II.