For many years, there were lies I believed about Roxann. They caused me to put up protective walls around myself. They promoted distance rather than harmony. I believed that these were unique to us as a couple rather than concerns that were common to many couples.
The truth came to light in a marriage class we teach. We noticed that a husband would share and all the husbands would nod in agreement that their wives did similar things. The same was true when a wife shared. All the wives nodded in unison that their husbands did or said things like that too. Were there exceptions? Sure. But there was also a lot of agreement. We realized that many of our frustrations were not with weird quirks and abnormalities our spouse had, but with differences in how God made us.
So, here’s the first lie I believed:
It seems I’m in trouble with my wife a lot.
“Your clothes don’t match!” “Why would anyone buy a suit on the internet???” “Take your cell phone off your hip when you’re speaking.” At least, that’s what I hear. “What do you mean you didn’t ask our friends what they named their new baby!” I wondered if I did everything Roxann told me to do—or if I even remember what she told me to do.
I started understanding this lie as I listened to male comedians who speak about their wives. They all joke about being in trouble. One night, Roxann dreamed I’d driven home from church without her and she had to walk 10 miles home. When she arrived, I was unconcerned that she was missing. She told me she was somewhat unhappy about my actions in her dream. I felt the need to apologize. This photo is posed, but the story is real!
Roxann told me I should write a book that I’ve been thinking about for 40 years. The second year, she bragged that she knew it would take longer than I thought it would. Then came the third year. I feel like I’m in trouble when she says, “Hurry up and finish the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo.”
To be honest, I don’t always hear everything. We went to a marriage retreat last year. They had us do a communication exercise. Roxann told me something and I was supposed to listen and repeat back what she said. Part of what she said was complimentary. Then she added a suggestion for improvement. When it came time to repeat back what she’d said, I only repeated the weakness and completely missed the compliment.
- It’s not just me. It is common for men to feel they are in trouble with their wives.
- Listen for the positive comments as well as the negative.
- Regularly, tell your wife (in a loving tone) that you want to make her the happiest woman in town. You may get a better tone and facial expression out of her—and then you won’t believe you’re always in trouble.