Marital Communication – The Agony & the Extasy
My friend’s acquaintance laid bare a ruthless, brutal story about marital communication.
The male acquaintance was beyond deeply hurt and badly betrayed. He was finished. Done. Clarence Darrow, the legendary lawyer, said “All men are boilers. They all will blow at some point, but at different pressure points.” My friend’s acquaintance had reached the “Popeye Syndrome’s”: “I can stands no more” level.
He told his wife,
“You win. I could tolerate your lack of affection. No hugs. No kisses. For over a decade. Sex wasn’t a consideration for twice as long. I acclimated myself to the lack of physical affection. But it’s your demeaning rebuttal of everything that I say, whether factual or not, that is intolerable. Your obvious disgust of everything I do, whether petty or significant, is suffocating.
But I understand why you justify your cold indifference toward me. You blame me for every bad thing that ever happened to you, real or imaginary. You blame me for all the unforeseeable, 3rd party events that harmed you. I was your solitary lightening rod of discontent. My very presence disgusts you. You built defensive walls so high, wide, and deep to insure that I could never get inside. Your hatred for me is palpable.
To your delight, I will never bother you again. I know that you detest divorce. So, I will simply leave before you wake, and return after your asleep. I will sleep in the guest room, and use the guest bathroom. Except for occasional family gatherings, you may never see me again. You win.”
Normally, that type of vile, vitriolic, personal attack would be responded to with more devastating, defensive, rebuttal salvos of historic husband blunders and examples of marital failures and deficiencies. Except this time, his wife said,
“Your right. I held you responsible for a lot of things that hurt me, that you were not responsible for. But I was frightened. The financial problems scared me. I didn’t know how to deal with them. When you reacted angrily because you were not responsible, I reacted defensively, and withdrew, which only made you more angry. And soon, the death spiral to our marriage was out of control, and irreversible. But at no time, did I intentionally intend to hurt you.” I learned a valuable lesson: “I must first recognize the darkness within me, before I can respond to the darkness in others, towards me.”
The husband paused, reflected for a moment, and said, “While not intentional, your responses were consequential. All the things that I said earlier, I said because I believed that you hated me, detested me.”
His wife replied, “No. Never. I never hated you. I still love you. Where do we go from Here?”
He said, “I still love the woman I married. I don’t love the woman who hated me. Now I know that woman doesn’t exist. I think that I can protect the woman who is frightened. I can show her a bright, safe, happy future. It will take honest, transparency on my part, so she knows everything that’s going on. And trust on her part.”
The above YouTube music video expresses the essence of the relationship between a man & a woman: The Man, Strong & Supportive. The Woman, Trusting & Loving. Skating harmoniously apart. Coming together in Seamless Union.
And then, the couple began communicating with each other, by listening, by understanding opposite perceptions, and by responding with compassion for each other. That’s not easy to do:
- It takes courage to be vulnerable.
- It takes strength to surrender the need to be Right.
- It takes trust to share all that you have, expecting nothing in return.
In the aggregate, all of those things are the functional definition of Love.
The Above YouTube Music Video Expresses the Essence of this Blog Post Message
My friend told his acquaintance, “It’s like the Joy of Easter can’t be fully appreciated, without understanding the gory details of the suffering & death, of the sacrifice of Good Friday. Your wife’s wisdom “About the Darkness” reminds me of the sage Biblical advice, “You must first remove the Plank from your own eye, before you can remove the splinter from another’s eye.”
Their experience also reminded my friend that it takes God’s Grace to open minds, soften hearts, and touch souls. Clearly, the 3rd person in the room with the husband & wife, during their “Communication Epiphany”, was the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, there only would have been the exchange of pent-up bitterness & hate.
Unfortunately, these lessons are learned later in life’s journey.
Hopefully, someone can learn from this story, today.