Bob and I have been watching Love Talk with Les and Leslie Parrott. They discuss some people’s need for approval. When they feel their spouse or anyone is criticizing them or not appreciating that they’ve been trying hard–if they don’t feel “approved,” they shut down. I am one of those people.
Bob and I were planning a trip. It came time to make an important call and plunk down a sizeable payment. Bob wanted me to make the phone call. I’m willing to do many other parts of the planning, but I hate doing this part.
“Why – do – I – feel – like – you’re – digging – in – your – heels?” Bob asked in a staccato tone.
Well, one reason is that I don’t feel like I’m very good at it. I’m afraid of making a costly mistake. The second reason is pertinent here: When my loving husband talks to me in what I perceive as a not-so-loving tone, I feel “unapproved” and everything in me closes down. The conversation stops. I dig my heels in.
How about you? Are there times when you feel the dialogue with your spouse has stopped and you don’t know why? What should you do to get the discussion back on track?
The Parrott’s Love Talk is worth a read or a listen. They share four things that might be shutting your spouse down. Approval is just one of them. Try to understand why your spouse is sensitive in a particular area. Make sure you are not inadvertently trampling on them in that area. If approval is the issue, let them know you are not attacking them—you’d just like to attack the problem from a different angle. Bob and I would add that a loving spouse can even help their mate heal in an area of “woundedness.”
Since we pinpointed my area of sensitivity, Bob’s been saying things like, “Do you know I approve of you?” and “I know you try hard to please me!” He’s not subtle. I know exactly what he’s doing. But it feels good anyway. I feel he likes me and wants a good relationship. It enables us to keep the discussion going in a productive way.
You can learn to spot your wounds and how they are affecting communication in your marriage. You can also get healing from them. We walk you through this topic step by step in our book The Marriage Dance: Moving Together as One and the companion workbook The Marriage Dance: Practice the Steps. Both books are available on Amazon. You may want the benefit of discussing the topic with others. The Marriage Dance: Practice the Steps works well for small groups.