Reggie and Stacy are married. They have been together since high school and are in their mid twenties. Recently Stacy's mood began changing. Instead of coming home a discussing her day with Reggie, she retreated to the bedroom and only came out to cook dinner and eat. Likewise Reggie stopped asking about Stacy's day and just watched ESPN every night or played video games. At night, each slept on their respective sides of the bed. Stacy continued to keep the house clean, provide hot meals every night, and keep up with the demands of her job and community service projects. Reggie worked hard too. He arose early every morning for work and often had to stay late to finish projects. Nevertheless, when each attempted to reach out to the other their efforts were rejected. This pattern of behavior continued for months.
Sound familiar yet? Maybe this will. Stacy stayed to herself because after a long day of dealing with other people's problems, she just wanted someone to listen and support her. When she felt like she wasn't being heard anymore she stopped talking. After all, what's the point? You are just wasting words when no one is listening. So she started writing out her feelings. Many nights she cried herself to sleep. She prayed and prayed for God to intervene and change her heart. It would not be an easy task. She wanted her marriage to work. Stacy loved her husband, but she didn't love all of his ways. Each time she felt unheard by her husband, it was like he was rejecting her over and over again. She had faced enough rejection and disappointment in her lifetime. You keep trying to repress those emotions, but the memories of failed relationships, being sexually abused by people who were supposed to protect you, being rejected by your father, or having your name smeared across campus as the "good time girl" taunt you everyday. Reggie was supposed to be the one person that would stop negative thoughts and make her feel like a true virtuous woman again.
Reggie on the other hand didn't grow up in a family like Stacy's. He grew up thinking that a woman was supposed to do all the house work and the man just had to sit back and watch. He didn't understand Stacy's cries for help. Reggie spent 12-14 hours a day in the hot sun and was drained by the time he got home. He conversed with his colleagues, but for the most part he worked in silence. He really wasn't interested in hearing about Stacy's day. Reggie just wanted to catch up on sports news and play video games or social media. How does this look to Stacy? Reggie would rather live in a make believe universe than spend time with her. What Stacy was failing to realize was that Reggie didn't know how to communicate his feelings. If he got mad, he ran. He was never taught to deal with his emotions and face a situation head on. There was always a way of escape, provided by his parents. When he had to face them, he retreated to other family members. This was the first time he was challenged to communicate his feelings and deal with them head on.
But what are you supposed to do with those emotions when the one teaching you to talk it out doesn't want to talk anymore. Stacy and Reggie are like many of us. They look happy and perfect on the outside, but are confused and hurting on the inside. So what now? It takes 1 person to start the conversation, but 2 people to open their hearts to listening. This goes back to my previous post w/ the 3 parts of a conversation. Reggie won't know how Stacy feels unless he asks. Stacy won't share her feelings if she feels that Reggie is ignoring her. You pray and pray for God to work in your marriage and change things around, but you have to work too. The first place to start is on your knees. What are you really praying for? God to change your heart or way of escape? Are you asking for your spouse to "get right" or for God to do what is in His will for your marriage. Secondly, ask your self if you truly want your marriage to work. Are you really ready to fight for your marriage? After which the conversation can begin. Either way you've got to open your mouth and share what's going on with you and your spouse.
The conversation will probably take a left turn, but stay on course. The goal is to identify the problem and then seek solutions from God. Name calling, mubbling, storming out of the house, and cursing are not effective communication skills. Active listening, paraphrasing, and using feeling words are effective communication skills. This conversation is not to bandage the wounds or pacify the crying baby, but to deal with the real issues. It's gonna be hard. It's gonna take more than 1 conversation. It's gonna take a lot of tears and pray and pain to get through it. How do I know? Because I've been there. I'm in it and I know that we have to work hard to keep our marriage afloat.
The quiet storm will only lead to unsuspecting attacks from the enemy and sinking ships. If you've got to get loud, get loud. But make your words count. Meaningless rambling only makes your partner shut down and you feel alone even more. Keep believing that God will change your situation and trusting that God will take care of your marriage. Releasing control and forgiveness are two of the hardest things to do, but the most necessary. I believe God can and will fix this problem.
Another Day's journey
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