Spousal criticism…

Everybody has their own ideas about love and how to show it in their relationships. These are things people have naturally grown up with and thus, a man who perhaps gets home late everyday bearing flowers or gifts has grown wired to the idea as the way love must be shown. So is another man who chooses to get home early so he can spend time with his wife, yet never going home with any gift. What should be more important however is not how you think love should be shown to your partner/spouse but rather learning and focusing on how the other person needs and wants to be loved. Most often it gets communicated but we often are not alert or really listening so unable to see or hear it.

Criticism in marriage has often carried an overly bad image but not all spousal criticisms are aimed at undermining or belittling a spouse or targeted at destroying their self-esteem. Many times, some are simply small pleads for love…in the way the other person wants or desires to be loved. They are like guidelines trying to show a spouse how to do things in a way the other person likes. Not all of them are unnecessary complaints but rather genuine expressions of concern over how things should play out. At least that’s how it often starts, until when the plea goes unheeded too many times, and then it begins to graduate into something unpleasant.

I like the way T.D. Jakes puts it in the lyrics of one of his songs:

“If you want to love me the way I need to be loved, you need to learn to love me from MY side”

See? Not from YOUR side but MY side…what means and communicates love to ME. I’m sure as both partners develop a mentality of focusing rather on the other person, both will have their love needs met better than trying to show love just how you understand it and risk being criticized for it. Then also, there won’t be room for too many “unnecessary” criticisms or if you like, too many pleas or outcries for love that become unpleasant in the ears because of it being heard too many times.

Most people express love to another based on their understanding of what means love to them and as long as God has created us different, male and female, we are sure to hold different views of love and the exercising thereof. And we are sure to have misunderstandings even over our partner’s acts of love just because that’s not how we would love to be loved. We just can’t relate to their way of love; we want what we can relate to.

The way we want to be loved is usually the way we express love to others. It takes time to learn how to love someone exactly the way they want and not just how we feel love is to be shown. That requires a lot of patience and attention to detail and a great deal of communication on what works and what doesn’t work for each other. Otherwise, we will always battle with the issue of many unpleasant criticisms because we would not yet know what works and what doesn’t, and we will keep not being able to satisfy their needs.

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“So you brought home your sheets and God knows you meant well. [But] You just can’t figure out, how did things still fail? Well, in the art of relationships, communication is the key. You both have different needs so understanding is a ministry. This time, start talking before you start giving so that you can see how much better a marriage is supposed to be”
–T.D. Jakes

T.D. Jakes again rightly captures it so well. And that’s a good foundation we must lay if we want to eliminate the unnecessary criticisms and experience ultimate joy and peace in our relationships and marriages.

Imagine the man who thinks bringing home gifts or flowers each day to the wife is what communicates love yet the wife receives it each day with smiles on her face but unfulfilled in her heart because deep down she wishes her husband knew what would have meant more to her than the flowers is he coming home early to share a lot more quality time with her. Over time, one wouldn’t need a magician to tell this could degenerate into something bigger and unmanageable when her constant pleas (imagine communicated) go unnoticed, misunderstood or taken for granted.

“We are trying hard, but we simply don’t know some of the things that matter most to our mate. We don’t “get” some of their deepest needs. We honestly don’t recognize their hidden vulnerabilities, fears and insecurities. So we are trying hard in the wrong areas. Or worse, we hurt them without intending to. So we get upset and demoralized that she doesn’t appreciate everything I do for her. Or he doesn’t care about me. We respond defensively, or out of our hurt – and the whole thing spirals down”
– Shaunti Feldhahn

So here’s the key. What works for you may not work for your spouse/partner, so begin to watch your partner closely to understand even what they are not verbally communicating but could mean so much to them. Those many complaints or grumbling expressions that worry you so much could merely be communicating a plea for love in a way you have closed your eyes on.

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

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Affection before perfection!

Though there are no perfect people and relationships/marriages, it is possible that you can get to a point where you can say confidently of your partner that he/she is the “perfect” partner for you and you can’t think of anything that you would wish changes. And we can get there when we strive to offer affection before seeking perfection out of our spouses.

Affection constitutes tender expressions that result in feelings of closeness, passion, and security and results in marital satisfaction, intimacy, approval, hope, and pleasure…which can bring about perfection. For marriage to thrive, it needs frequent doses of affection which is a vital necessity for connecting with one’s spouse.

In the words of Hallifield Cosgayne O’Donnoghue:

Our husbands and wives however good, virtuous, or amiable, are yet mortal, and have the imperfections of their earthly origin: but still there are ten thousand graces and virtues, as strong to retain affection, as they were at first to conciliate it.  Let it be the endeavour of both parties to cultivate a kind and affectionate feeling; let not all the little acts of attention and kindness which first won esteem and marked the progress of attachment, be permitted to terminate when it is of most importance to preserve its endearment. The cares of life will sufficiently operate to cool and freeze the current of affection; but a prompt and ready attention to every wish, an anticipation of every want, a well-timed offering, in memory of a wedding or birthday, will revive affection, and warm the coolness which would otherwise steal insensibly over the heart and affections.

Affection is vital for all healthy human relationships and when spouses cultivate the habit of being affectionate towards each other, they become emotionally bonded in a near-perfect way. Conjugal affection especially is like a delicate plant; be careful you don’t trample it. 🙂

God help us to increase the affection in our marriages!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Image source:
http://weheartit.com

 

Temptations…

A holy character does not stop one from being tempted. Neither does seclusion nor the utmost consecration of spirit.

Remember our Lord Jesus Christ, most Holy and full of the Holy Spirit was tempted even while in the wilderness?

Temptation does not respect many things; it will always knock on your door. And you can’t only choose to pray it away…you must resist also. That means work on your part; not the tempter’s part. Marriage does not ward off temptation either; marriages face their own dose of temptations. Your actions will determine whether or not the temptation will lurk in the darkness to continually afflict you. With every form of temptation, you’ve got to make a choice. According to the wisdom of Martin Luther:

“You can’t prevent the birds of the air from flying over your head, but you don’t need to let them build a nest in your hair”.

That means you may not be able to prevent temptations from coming your way, but you have a choice to make.

For married people, one Dr. Beverly Yahnke, a Christian psychologist admonishes that we:

“make the tough decision to honour your spouse even if it means you won’t ever know what a relationship with someone else would have been like”.

Perhaps the grass on the other side that looks so green, tempting and relishing to you is just artificial grass. Better still, if you would focus on your own grass and put in the work, and create favourable conditions for growth, sooner or later your own grass would be greener…and rather more tempting to others (but there too you will have a problem o. Haha).

Many times we make the mistake of thinking that what we can bear, our partner can also. We are all different and the very thing you take for granted because for you it can never lead you into temptation is what will lead your partner into it. Someone said he’s been away from his wife for 3 years and all the while didn’t cheat on her and doesn’t understand why the wife did. Well, maybe you could handle that length of distance; maybe she couldn’t (not justifying her action). But the posture of taking it for granted that absence easily predisposes her to temptation than you should not be encouraged. Maybe you don’t crave attention so don’t see the need to offer it…but maybe for your partner, that’s what feeds his/her love and without it can predispose him/her to temptations. Maybe you can do without sex for days; maybe your partner can’t and will fall without it. Maybe outings don’t mean anything to you; maybe it’s the prime need of your partner. Maybe public display of affection (PDA) means nothing to you; maybe that’s what makes your spouse feel super and as little or frivolous as you may think that need is, don’t do it and you put him/her at risk of nursing feelings for someone who does. Maybe you think building heart-to-heart friendship with your spouse is a waste of time and that women are just too annoyingly emotional; maybe they will soon fall for someone who tries to bond with them at that emotional heart-t0-heart level. Don’t take things for granted.

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May God grant grace that we do not create unfavourable conditions in our marriages/relationships that easily predisposes our partners to give in to all manner of temptations. May we find grace to create suitable environments in our marriages that our partners will not be drawn to nursing thoughts of looking elsewhere to have their needs met…but can look to us and have their every need met.

So get to work and watch those prime needs now…don’t leave them unmet! It could be a need for attention, friendship, companionship, a lot more affection, cutting down the times apart, a lot more talking, a lot more kind words, a lot more playfulness or fun time together, a lot more sex, a lot more respect, a lot more empathy, a lot more creativity or spice, a lot more surprises,….a lot more of everything! If you have to, readjust your plans or life goals to create the much needed balance all marriages need.

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God help us!

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Image sources:
http://revivenations.org/blog/
unveiledwife.com

 

Marital Emotional Wars

“Men by nature are less emotional than women”

The above is true and most women admit it; at least conceptually.

In practice however, many a man craves his woman really really knows, understands and appreciates how hard he tries to meet her very diverse and unpredictable emotional needs. A woman’s display of emotions sometimes confuses many a man; many times he is lost at sea about what exactly she is trying to communicate. Women are such an emotional tank and I’m sure they don’t sometimes understand themselves and the many different emotions she experiences on a daily basis.

But is it only men who try hardest to meet their partner’s emotional needs or get confused trying to understand a partner’s emotional expressions and relate accordingly? Not so much. On a daily basis, every partner wants the other to get more in touch with his/her emotions…kind of like how their emotions synchronize during sex? The problem is that in many cases, emotions just don’t seem to synchronize that much outside the bedroom. Maybe because couples are just more focused on each other in the bedroom than they do outside the bedroom? Haha!

Emotional differences are such a huge thing though, and on an almost daily basis, men and women fight so many emotional wars in marriage. What happens at the emotional level is very important in every relationship/marriage and that is why the most important thing about any quality time a couple will spend together and that is worth remembering is not the length of time spent itself but whether or not there was an emotional connectivity.

Emotional battles never end in marriage and I do not know yet if couples ever achieve a permanent  “emotional compatibility” status but I think “emotionally intelligent” marriages stay stronger, healthier, happier and maybe longer.

Emotional intelligence? Hmmm, not an easy skill to master…but every relationship/marriage sure needs it! And I can bet, when all is said and done, that one of the joys of relationship/marriage is the privilege of a man and woman, different as they are working through their different emotions and still bonding as a unit.

We can never pray our emotions away. They are a beautiful part of our nature. So like Barbara Rainey said, “we are made in the emotional image of God, so we shouldn’t be afraid of those feelings when they crop up”. Marriage is beautiful…so relax and enjoy the emotional wars! At least it’s not so bloody!

And I think you will need this… just in case:

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Cheers!

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)