Don’t Care, Not Listening, I’m Winning!

Wedding pic

 

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.

Showing 11 comments
  • Matt
    Reply

    Jake, thank you! While I’m not married officially I’ve been with my girl long enough that these are issues in our relationship and I never could figure out why I am who I am. And much like you I felt inferior to her, and it really makes alot of sense when you say you’ve never opened up to anyone before because there’s no prerequisite. That’s makes so much sense to me and I hope I can use that in my relationship and keep up with yours to. No one ever said it was easy but you’ll do anything for the person you love!
    God bless
    ML

    • Jacobluhrs
      Reply

      ML,
      So glad to hear this was helpful for you and yea i believe many of us guys to be in the same boat. I’m still figuring out how to be accepting that I’m not going to always have the answer for my family or how to receive even that can be difficult.
      God Bless,
      Jacob

  • Hobbs
    Reply

    Something to keep in mind is, “do i want to be right, or do i want to be happy?”

    • Benjamin Sledge
      Reply

      Funny enough, my premarital counselors asked me that question when my wife and I we’re about to get married. I came back the next week and said, “I thought about your questions, and what if being right MAKES me happy?” We all kind of chuckled but it revealed a lot of the broken parts in me that I felt I had to be right in order to be happy.

    • anna belle
      Reply

      THIS BLEW ME AWAY. My boyfriend and I have been arguing a lot the past few months and a week ago I said to him “what’s more important to you? being right or being happy in our relationship?” i didn’t know this was a common question!! and it’s something to really think about.

  • PJ
    Reply

    Amen to that!!

  • Jake Hulett
    Reply

    Jake, thank you for these wise words, I’m newly married and sometimes frustrated, thank you for making me take a step back and see a bigger picture, one beyond myself. I’ve noticed my wife and I sometimes bicker and seem to try to win in any debate, but marriage isn’t a debate or a power struggle, it’s a team effort and both persons must be on the same page for it to flourish and grow. Thank you again Jake.

  • a failure
    Reply

    I will share that post to my friends.
    Things i was inspired to write:

    This post cut into my heart (in a good way). Made me really think and consider
    what i say. I recently read one good book. And it reminded me of some things:
    That Jesus came to bring hope and love. Majority of the people who do not speak in the Holy Spirit are doing harm(inflecting pain,guilt thru condemnation).
    Sure honesty is needed but it can be done in the sensible and loving way.
    In a building up way.
    Something cracked up inside me after realizing that. I realized how much i have got hurt and why.
    And how messed up relationships i have had. How many so called “christians” i have known” who have been backstabbing, gossiping, evil spirited people.

    Recently i have prayed and realized that i want to be honest with them-so they could understand that treating people like…. is wrong(first acting like humble friends and then abusing by condemnation) and unbiblical.
    So they could treat others differently and grow in faith.

    We have a wars going on, slavery(human trade on 21 century) and we stay in the offended mental zone(solving our small problems) and live daily in pain instead of growing in faith and actually doing something to fight evil(prayer circles,fundraising etc).

    It is exciting that you admitting your flaws in a honest and open way!
    As i understand-you having a good marriage with your wife, results you being in better communication with God and that results you being honest here.
    So this community could grow.

    Blessings!
    And thank you for writing it!

  • Reason
    Reply

    The same question can be addressed to the ladies as well 🙂

  • David
    Reply

    A lot of this hit home for me because I am in a four year relationship with my girlfriend and we are at a point where we want to make sure God is at the center of our relationship. But in doing that, we really had to open up to each other and discuss things that we would be more comfortable leaving unsaid. Unlike you, Jake, my girlfriend tells me I don’t talk enough and I find it hard to express my feelings verbally. I used to take offence to it and become defensive about it but you showed me the reason for this. I need to realize that this is a flaw in me that my loved one wants to improve and make our relationship better. It shows that she loves me and wants to know me more and know what goes on inside my head. Thank you for shedding light on this.

  • Alec
    Reply

    Little late here, but I loved this post. I struggle with taking criticism like that, and it’s a fear of Mine (if I ever get married), that my dern stubborn pride will cause set backs for us. Thank you for sharing this.

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