Deepstrength has been running an excellent series on how to choose a wife. I applaud this (young?) man and wish him the best. But some of the conversation has gone where it often seems to go, and it always drives me bonkers… so I’d like to do a little dissection, here on my own turf.
- Don’t marry a malicious person. This is a deal-breaking character trait. If you find out that your beloved is the sort of person who withholds affection or common decency because you haven’t done what they wanted first – next them. This is *not* okay.
- Assuming you’ve eliminated the deliberately malicious, when someone does something (or doesn’t do something) that causes you grief, assume that there is some reason, and start the communication process. Possibilities include:
- They’re ignorant of the depth of your need/desire.
- They don’t see things the way you do.
- They’re exhausted, or in some other way dealing with their own stuff.
- Men and women are different. One of the beauties and frustrations of being married to someone who is, by biology, psychology, and culture, utterly different from yourself is that you have to break out of your own assumptions about priorities and ways of doing things. Please don’t make the mistake of saying the other sex’s perspective is “wrong”. It’s not wrong. It’s different. And you need to understand where they’re coming from to act rightly.
It always seems to come down to the sex thing, so let’s examine a common scenario. Mother to small children – younger than school-age – has drop in libido, seems uninterested in the advances of her husband. His libido is doing just fine… and he’s hurt. Wife would like someone to have a conversation with her that doesn’t revolve around “get this for me now or my world is over”. Everyone *could* blame everyone else and throw the selfish label around. OR:
- Wife could understand that husband desires *her*, and requires sexual release. She could extend grace.
- Wife could understand that husband needs touch, just as any other human does – and that he doesn’t get touch at work or socially. She could extend grace.
- Husband could understand that wife is being touched (including in the bikini zone) by small, demanding hands all day long – and not take offense when sudden touch no longer arouses her, but startles/upsets her. He could extend grace.
- Husband could understand that wife needs some transition time from being mom to being lover, and give her grace … and possibly a glass of wine. (Men: Did you know that it can take up to a year after childbirth to no longer experience any pain with coitus? Yes, that’s normal).
- So. Everyone could say, “hey – we miss our intimacy, and we’re going to work for that” and work to make that happen and be reasonably pleasant for all involved… or everyone could take offense that the other person doesn’t seem to have the same needs as they do… and foster a spirit of divisiveness.
- And everyone could take a deep breath, and remember that this is a stage in life, not forever.
Let’s talk conversation and turn this around… I’m a SAHM and that means I spend all day talking to children. Also, I don’t get that many atta-girls (no one gives me a paycheck, no one says ‘nice job’, etc) unless I fish for them. I develop a *need* for face-to-face communication with an adult. But my husband, who goes to work every day, spends all day communicating with other adults, and sometimes he gets talked out.
What *we* do, is that he calls me on the phone on the way home and chats for a bit, we chat for a bit while he’s in the shower, and for most of the rest of the evening I leave him to unwind. Kiss and a word or two when I bring him something, and otherwise he gets to chill. Once a week or so, we go out and I get my big pile ‘o talk. I don’t take it personally when he wants to spend time shooting things online and making loud bang-bang noises that send me out of the room post haste. He extends grace and chats to me when he’s tired.
We do a lot of things like that – he and I are very different people. Sure, it would be nice to be around someone who had the same needs, who viscerally understood that you need to talk yourself out when you’re wound up, or “play” your stress away after a long day at work. But mostly marriage is complementary, not mirrored. (Aka you marry someone who fills in your missing bits … well, that means they’re not like you).
And it never stops. You never stop changing, you never stop learning about things that can make you a better spouse. Your choice – will you choose to love, choose agape, love in action? Will you choose to communicate and be honest about your own needs and where you are, and what’s okay and what isn’t? I figure most people with good brains can figure out how to get their needs met and extend need-meeting if they sit down and think about it. But it all starts with knowing what you need and what you have to work with.
None of that stuff tends to be easy in the moment. In the long-term, it can make a huge difference in your marriage – and in your life.
Just my 2c – I want to remind folks not to assume malice when a whole host of other things are the more likely culprits. You can’t fix malice, only God can do that.