Archive | November, 2013

The Silent Treatment

26 Nov

silence-2

I know, you don’t even want to talk about this one. Seems like every marriage endures it share of these at times and they’re not always bad things. That said, what you fail to say can be just as destructive to your marriage as what you do say. Stoic silence is a emotional tool men and women both use in marriage all too often for the wrong reasons, but there are good reasons to use it.

I’ll explain. To start, I think we can all agree that when we say things in anger we tend to say exactly what me mean at that moment in the most destructive possible way. What’s worse is that a simple “I’m Sorry”, even a heartfelt one does not undo the damage. Angry words are like spikes nailed into a wooden plank. “I’m Sorry” can remove the spike, but the hole in the wood remains. Think about this for a moment, the logical conclusion is that when you’re angry it is better to say nothing at all until you have had a bit to process your anger and can address the issue in a more controlled manner and choose your words carefully.

This does not mean that you should wait forever – many issues just get worse as time passes and the silent treatment itself can wound deeply. Long term the silent treatment induces a feeling of doubt about you and your commitment to the relationship. Your wife cannot read your mind, but she can read you moods and body language. She will know there is something wrong, and without her understanding what it is you are placing a tremendous emotional burden on her. Her job is to help you either resolve or deal with whatever is bothering you and by keeping it from her you are preventing her from doing so. It helps to stop and remember this key thing – through the Catholic sacrament of marriage you become one flesh and what wounds one of you wounds both, and what helps one of you helps both of you.

The most dangerous use is when you are angry at your spouse. Husbands can be a moody lot – particularly when they’re not getting the attention, affection, sex, respect, or acknowledgment they think they deserve. I speak from personal experience here. Being silent about it does not give your wife a chance to fix it, and silence is only appropriate until you’ve figured out how to tell her what is bothering you without blaming her or making her the focus. 99% of the time these are caused by not communicating your wants and needs rather than an attempt by your wife to harm you emotionally – much less damage your relationship. I’ve discovered that if both spouses would do a better job of both listening, and observing the cues, most of these issues can be avoided. Where that is not enough, or your when spouse is missing an important cue you need to fill them in and explain why you’re feeling that way. Instead, we often let insecurity and doubt cloud our judgement and we start thinking selfishly and defensively. Your spouse is not an adversary, any more than you arm or leg is, do not treat them like one.

I’ll use sex as a nice inflammatory example. Husbands can get sullen quickly over a lack thereof, without giving a thought to the fact that their wife could be suffering from an embarrassing female problem like a yeast infection, be exhausted physically and mentally from a particularly hard couple of days, be sick and hiding it while trying to muddle through, stricken with depression, or feeling neglected and/or unattractive herself. You keep silent, but as the days pass you get more and more sullen and distant until by the time the original (usually) temporary condition is gone – you’re both in a “silent treatment” death spiral and miles apart emotionally. It’s not really the lack of sex you’re angry about, it’s a sense of rejection you’re taking personally. The funny thing is that it’s often not about you at all. If you don’t know what is broken you can’t do anything to fix it – even if the fix is just to be there and hold her and for moral support.

It all comes down to honest communication. Don’t keep things from your spouse, that way you can address issues when they’re molehills and before they become mountains. Encourage her not to keep things from you by being a good listener and never being judgmental – if she fears your reaction then she will hide things (just as you will if you fear hers). This is a pernicious evil you have to address head-on and the trust required on both sides will take time to build, but it’s worth it.

I’d like to leave you with a parting thought – Remember that you have vowed yourself to serving her. When you get mad about things like¬†attention, affection, sex, respect, or acknowledgment then you are not serving her. You are serving yourself, and breaking your vows at the same time. This applies to both spouses equally. If you serve her above yourself and she does the same for you then by making yourself last you will unintentionally be first, she will experience the same from you and the marriage will begin to bloom. Funny how Christ’s words from the beatitudes ring true – especially in marriage.

Colin

Indifference in Sacramental Marriage

24 Nov

silenceIndifference is a type of rot that sets into a sacramental marriage through apathy to act, ignorance of the nature of the marital bond, and a lack of empathy with your spouse. The signs are often clear to outsiders to the marriage, but the ones suffering are usually the last to realize they are infected. By the time the gravity of the damage sinks in, it is often far beyond any kind of simple repair and a little effort preemptively can pay huge dividends over the long haul for both spouses.

Well then, how could you possibly know if indifference has set into your marriage? You might examine your own conscience. When was the last time you were affectionate with your spouse in a playful or flirtatious way? Has your spouse attempted to be playful and flirtatious and had you simply brush them off (the reason is irrelevant)? Do you crave their touch, seek the emotional bond through physical contact? Have you watched carefully to see if they feel the same way? Have you brushed your spouse off or pushed them away? Rebuffed them, possibly even enough times that they lost interest and stopped trying? Is your marriage filled with uncomfortable silences?

You see, in truth it is the smallest tenders of affection which lead us to the larger ones. They sustain us and bond us in special ways. Yes the marital embrace is a dramatic bonding experience, but it quickly loses a great deal when our hearts are no longer in it. Both men and women look for those signs between couplings that there is something deeper and more there than just exhilaration, pleasure, and lust. When those signs and tenders of affection disappear – the bond weakens. As human beings we crave physical contact innately. Even people who eschew close contact in general like myself find themselves enamored with a spouse who sounds, smells, and feels right – and their touch is highly desired, even craved for the effect it has on them emotionally. Without that contact other forms of communication break down quickly – especially verbal communication.

Emotional interest and empathy in marriage are interdependent on these manifestations of our affection.¬†Don’t ever lose that level of contact. Keep kissing, holding hands, hugging, patting each other on the back, and even playful foreplay always. For when that physical connection is broken, the emotional connection looses the glue that holds it together – and it too begins to unravel. The same is true of the emotional connections. Love is a choice, see the best in your spouse always and make that choice to love them because if you do not – nothing else you do will matter long term and you will see the bond between you disintegrate into apathy, ignorance, and a lack of empathy between you.

Think about it…

Colin

Marriage Isn’t For You

3 Nov

This is an excellent post about Marriage which highlights the most important thing everyone should understand going into it – It’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

Marriage Isn’t For You.

Great Job Seth!

Colin

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