It takes a lot to face yourself in a relationship. I’ve come to understand that being in an intimate relationship with my significant other has often times shown me the worst in myself. The selfishness, the lack of respect, the lack of wanting to devote time in understanding her. It’s a hard truth, but it’s still the truth. I’m a pretty selfish person when it comes down to it. I mean sure I’ll help, or I’ll give during the times that are convenient for me, but do I give or sacrifice when it’s inconvenient?
Communication is key, but what about when your significant other identifies certain issues in you and speaks up about it? We can easily get offended or feel attacked by the person closest to us, and then we start to resent them for bringing these issues to attention. So we come up with ways to excuse our flaws and then attack our partners instead, and the best ammunition is always their own struggles. It then becomes a tit-for-tat discussion. When the conversation progresses into that, nothing productive can come of it and it usually ends in a stalemate or worse.
What I’ve noticed is that I like to talk. A lot! I’ve found myself trying to interrupt these fragile conversations. And what was I doing? I wasn’t listening. I was waiting for her to stop talking, only so I could say my piece and then look for a quick exit. People never want to lose. Think about it. Look at society. We want to win! For example: football. We all love football. We want our team to win the championship. We will paint our faces, scream till we lose our voices, and maybe even be willing to get into a fight with a complete stranger based on a “bad call.” We are always competing in life, and we absolutely hate losing.
So naturally, when we are presented with something we do that needs fixing, we tend to feel like the other person is pointing out how we aren’t good enough. And we see this as a challenge, and before you know it, it becomes a competition. Then we combat them with their own shortcomings…but that isn’t winning. There is nothing good that comes from a serious conversation rooted in a “challenge” mentality. Nothing gets fixed. No ground is covered. There’s no solution, only prolonging a problem, because it’ll probably be a few hours before you apologize for being a jerk.
If your partner pulls you aside and mentions an issue and you instantly blow up, it’s a telltale sign that it’s most likely true, and you know it in your heart. Why else would it be so sensitive and strike such a chord? I used to do this a lot. I’ve been married for two years and I still struggle with completely opening up to my wife. It’s difficult for me because for years I’ve never had to open up to anyone. It wasn’t a prerequisite in any of my relationships. I also thought I had it all figured out, so if my wife mentioned something even remotely sensitive to me, I immediately felt insufficient to lead her and an inadequate husband for her. I always want to be the one who is strong, the one she looks up to, someone she can trust to be her knight in shining armor. Thus, my wife having more wisdom or experience in certain areas, or seeing things before I do was discouraging, when really I should’ve been thankful she has those qualities. That’s where I needed to re-adjust my perspective. The truth is, I’m still new at this husband thing. I’m not perfect. I sin and struggle in life, and I realized that one of my biggest sins is not listening to my wife, or not treating her with the equal amount of respect that I was demanding of her. In 1 Peter 3:7 it says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (And NO, this verse isn’t saying women are second-class citizens or that men are superior. In the ancient text, this translates to “porcelain.” It means women are delicate, beautiful, a work of art. It’s reminding us to treat them with the gentleness they deserve. This isn’t degrading women, it’s upholding them.) And because the Bible is my moral code, I am being told by God here that I must respect and honor my wife, or my communication with Him will be set back. Yikes! So it must be a crucial thing for us husbands to do as we build our relationships with our wives. Am I right, ladies?
But back to the “winning” mentality. The truth is when our significant other brings something to our attention, and we listen and work on finding a solution together…THAT is winning. Not only does it show they love us (if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t bring it up), but it humbles those of us who are struggling, pushes us in the direction of overcoming the issue, and the “we can do this together” mentality strengthens the bond in any relationship. We need to be able to learn and to listen to one another, despite how much it hurts our pride at the moment. We need to work together as a team. Marriage is unification. And the only way to be and remain unified is by working together. I strive to be better at accepting constructive criticism. And I hope you all do too. Sometimes, true love is tough love. But it’s true.