When married couples argue, it's often a failed attempt at reaching for one another. A primary reason lies in the use of criticism. Husbands and wives may unknowingly assume that pointing out where and how their spouse has failed will somehow lead to a resolution of the core issues they're trying to address, or even bring them closer together somehow. Unfortunately, this approach tends to have the opposite effect.
John Hammer isn't someone you ever forget. He radiates sincerity, joy, and a refreshing humility. I met John a couple of years ago after he accepted an invitation to speak at men's gathering I was helping facilitate at the time, which on that particular day centered on his newly published book, EXXXIT. We later connected again as part of a podcast I was putting together on The Intersection of Masculinity, Fatherhood and Pornography. It was during this meeting I had the opportunity to hear in greater depth on how he overcome his struggle with pornography.
Contrary to the popular notion, time doesn't heal all wounds. Rose Kennedy put it this way: "It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." Her statement precisely illustrates what I see married couples experience when the trust between them is lost.
Pride is one of the greatest hinderances to us recognizing the value of other people. It creates an inner myopia constricting our vision to what we need, desire and believe is important while leading us to believe we have the right to exploit, harm and ignore others to achieve those aims. Moreover, it serves as the basis for justifying our actions, however destructive they may be, as being moral, legal, healthy and right.
Envision waking up one morning, checking the news shortly thereafter, and learning the United States passed legislation officially banning all forms of pornography. I imagine that across the nation people of all backgrounds, motivations and opinions would have varied emotions at such a pivotal moment in American history. Some individuals may be shocked, angry, and bewildered while others may be glad and with an immense sense of relief.
If I could list one element that makes or breaks marital communication, it's our tone. I say this based on countless sessions with couples who have tried to work through important marital issues, only to see their efforts fail due to their use of a harsh or disrespectful tone. Additional communications are destined for failure, unless there is a deliberate shift in how they engage one another.
How easy it would be today for a Christian man to lose sight of God and His Word, in a world consumed by notions of success and having more of the materialistic or natural pleasures found therein. From a secular standpoint, this is to be expected. However, these ideologies have infiltrated the Church, whereby what is often taught from the pulpit more readily aligns with these worldly notions, and strays from sound doctrine regarding the Gospel.
As spouses, we have desires and expectations around what it means to be loved by our partner. Though we will surely have various differences in this regard, we all have a common need as human beings: TO BE LOVED, CHERISHED, VALUED, AND UNDERSTOOD. Experiencing these dynamics with our spouse enables us to build a close bond and a feeling of security as a couple. They literally breathe life into our marriage, giving it the sustenance it needs to thrive and remain healthy in the long term.
Curiosity is one of the most powerful forms of communication. It is a unique mode of human engagement we can utilize to bring a needed level of comfort to our partner. Though some may view it as a simple strategy, I see it as a means of addressing the question, "How can I connect with my partner in a manner that helps them to feel loved, heart and understood?"
Today, in the field of psychology, we know that what we believe, shapes how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. In other words, our perceptions matter. This applies to the pervasive nature of common symptoms common in our society including depression, anxiety and stress. But it also applies to larger cultural issues that I want to focus on with you. The first of these relates to sexism, women and pornography in America.
Marriage is often considered inherently complex. In many ways it is, however there are certain basic components that must be present for a marital partnership to thrive. One of these elements is the need to be loved, which ranks as one of the greatest of all human needs. When we experience a loving closeness with our spouse, we are free to be ourselves, thereby drawing them into the depths of who we are as a person. On the other hand, when our marriage is filled with tension and distance, we endure an unspeakable amount of emotional pain.