I have the pleasure of introducing or re-introducing my friend and colleague, author Cindi McMenamin. I always learn so much from her. Her deep faith and love for people permeates all she does. You will love her too. Be blessed and read Cindi’s article. At the end of the blog there is an opportunity for you to win a free book.
with faith, hope, and love,
Four Ways to Narrow the Gap in Your Marriage By Cindi McMenamin
Is there a widening gap in your marriage? One that you aren’t sure how to bridge?
That gap, which can leave you and your spouse feeling isolated from one another can be more serious than you realize.
The No. 1 cause for divorce today is lack of communication. Just a decade ago it was adultery, but today failing to communicate, communicating poorly, or just letting the emotional gap widen between a husband and wife can be most fatal to marriages.
For years, my husband (Hugh) and I struggled with this communication gap because of our many differences. To this day, Hugh will readily admit he is not the communicator in our marriage. I am. But just because I’m a writer, speaker, and therefore a communicator by profession, does not necessarily mean I communicate well with him. In fact, because I know how to communicate in general I figured I had it made when I got married. I was so wrong.
Through the years (three decades of marriage, in fact), my husband and I have both had to figure out how to communicate well with each other.
We did that by developing an awareness of what was causing us to close off from one another. And get this. We weren’t even aware that we were reacting to one another out of unresolved hurt in each of us.
A counselor friend of mine shared with me that it is human nature for people to react to one another out of their pain. Certain words or situations will trigger pain in us and we end up reacting defensively. “When your heart gets poked, it starts to close,” she said. After a while, it hardens. That creates an emotional gap. It’s natural for people to filter their life’s experiences through that grid of pain and sometimes end up seeing their spouse – rather than an unhealed issue in their lives – as the problem.
Here are some ways to identify and heal the issues so you can better communicate and close the gap with your husband:
- Realize the deeper core wound that is driving the problem or argument. When you and I first understand our own pain and insecurities and then develop a greater understanding of what causes our husbands’ pain, we can work to better communicate and reconnect. Instead of thinking my spouse is just an angry man, say “I had no idea that my husband struggled so much with feeling he was not succeeding in the relationship.” What we focus on grows. If we focus on what our husbands are doing wrong, that will grow. If we focus on the fact that he’s a good guy that will heighten our awareness to see that.
- Resist the urge to be defensive, accusative, or angry at your husband’s words, actions, or responses. People who hurt, hurt people. When your husband lashes out or says something unkind, it’s possible he is feeling lashed out against. Be open and curious. Tell yourself, “My husband is a good man, he is loving and is maybe acting like a jerk right now, but what is going on inside of him?”
- Reject the lies that get you off course and create division between you and your spouse. Your husband’s wounds aren’t the only ones in the picture. Us wives get triggered by a situation or by certain words and then we believe our lie: I am alone. I am devalued. I’m not appreciated. I’m not respected. We end up responding to our husbands because we believe a lie that doesn’t have anything to do with them.
- Receive the truth of who you are in Christ. Once you receive the truth that you are not alone, you are valuable in Christ’s eyes, and you are deeply loved by God, you can be more emotionally regulated and attuned to your husband. John 8:32 tells us “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
From now on, instead of getting anxious, withdrawing from, or lecturing your husband when you feel hurt, you can get connected to your heart and say “I realize when you said this I felt devalued and started to shut down, but now I realize I am valued and I can choose to be connected and get close to you.”
Each of us has to feel safe in order to start moving toward the other person to close the gap. Our only safety is in our relationship with Jesus. When we understand who we are in His eyes and we feel safe in Him, we can feel safe with others, too. And then we can start actively closing that gap.
Would you like to win a free, signed copy of Cindi’s newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband? Leave a comment below – and tell us which U.S. state you live in – and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free the book. The winner will be announced here next week. (U.S. mailing addresses only please.)
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. For more on how you can experience more trust, more passion and more communication in your marriage, see her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, now available at her website www.StrengthForTheSoul.com or anywhere you buy books.