Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being in the middle of a perfectly calm conversation with your spouse when all of a sudden you noticed them becoming irritated or beginning to resist your recommendations. Such was the case last Saturday. Roxann and I had planned to hike the Camino in Spain until a worldwide pandemic closed the borders. We began researching alternate hikes in countries that were still open to tourists and found six possibilities. I made what seemed like a brilliant recommendation to me: What if we did three short hikes this year and three short hikes next year! That was when the whole conversation started shutting down. The discussion had been going well and then—boom! Roxann had a reason it wouldn’t work—and there was considerable emotion behind it.
Last week, I talked about how it is easy to get stuck in your head—how we often analyze situations with only our logical minds instead of also accessing the emotions God gave us and using them to connect with the emotions of our spouse.
I slowed down and asked my wife what was going on in her heart. Why was she putting up a barricade to resist me? She returned the favor by dropping from her head (which had been generating objections) and connected with what was happening in her own heart. She had had people make commitments to her in the past and then pull out. It hurt her. She didn’t want to do that to someone else, so she resisted promising anything too far in the future or when she felt she didn’t have enough information. Oh! She wasn’t being ornery. She wasn’t rejecting my ideas (or me). She was merely protecting herself from having to renege on a commitment.
This is why it’s so important to listen to your spouse’s heart. When you feel that wall separating you, take time to really listen. Use both your head and your heart to understand what your spouse is saying and why they are saying it. Even if they blame you for something, this is not the time to defend yourself. When you understand why the wall is there and the pain that may have caused it, you will have taken a big step toward loving your spouse well.
Love is about patience, kindness, compassion, understanding, and caring for your spouse’s heart. When your spouse is able to feel that, the opposition will diminish.