“Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?”
That is exactly what one woman said at our last Finer Femininity meeting. Our meeting was on the subject of “Who IS right?” when it comes to marital conflict.
It was very enlightening and I wish to pass some of it along to you.
Mr. Eggerichs (from Love and Respect Ministries) explains that when faced with conflict with our spouse, one person is not right and the other person wrong. No, we are just different.
We have different tastes, different preferences, different backgrounds…..we see things from different perspectives. Makes sense, right?
So why do we try so hard to prove we are right when in conflict? We are not talking moral issues here, we are talking about the day in, day out conflicts we have with living so closely, so intimately with someone…..our spouse.
He gives the example of a husband and wife discussing the decorating of the interior of the home. The man wants a big overstuffed leather couch and a display of all his hunting trophys hung in the living room. The woman wants the floral, Victorian couch and loveseat and would prefer not having the trophys in the living room, wanting to decorate with silk flower wreaths and candles. Who is right? Well…neither one is wrong. They just see things through different eyes.
Many of the conflicts we run into each day are just a matter of perspective. Knowing this, we can try to stand back and see his point of view. That doesn’t mean we have to always squelch our own desires, but we need to ask ourselves how important it is for us to push our viewpoint. Sometimes it may be important enough, often it is not.
Mr. Eggerichs also said that when a man and woman are in conflict, the man tends to stonewall (shut down) and the woman tends to move toward the man, wanting to communicate and work it out (oftentimes sounding disrespectful).
We tend to see his reaction of shutting down (I don’t want to talk about it, just drop it) as very unloving. But, and this is the part that was very interesting to learn, research has shown that when a man is in conflict and his heart rate gets to 99 beats per minute or above, he goes into “fight or flight” mode. Instinctively he knows he needs to back off or he’ll attack.
So, ladies, when your husband shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it, he is actually doing the chivalrous thing. He does not want to fight, so he walks away from it.
“Further research at the University of Washington also revealed that of those who stonewall or pull back during marital conflict, 85% are men, whereas only 15% are women. In other words, women generally move forward to talk so they can resolve the problem. And while you don’t mean to be critical, you can come across that way at times. This criticism is interpreted by your husbands as disrespect, which escalates the conflict for him. Most men will then pull back because they believe it is the honorable thing to do. They know that if they don’t withdraw, they will likely escalate the conflict and may possibly get out of control. This withdrawal feels unloving to his wife who is more verbal and is moving towards him to connect and resolve the conflict. So although he pulls back to protect her, she labels him as unloving. No wonder things get crazy!” – Emmerson Eggerichs
This is important to remember next time a conflict comes up. A husband’s deepest felt need is for respect. During conflict, he needs to feel his wife’s respect. We need to watch our tone, looks, words and actions, that they do not come off as disrespectful, even if we are feeling it.
Does this take work? Is it hard? Is it worth it? Yes, yes and yes!
Remember this: Our Lord never said it was going to be easy. But He did say He is with us every step of the way. Our marriage is the most valuable thing we have on this earth, besides our Faith. So it is worth the struggle to overcome ourselves on a daily basis.
We don’t have to be a doormat….no. We need to be strong and dignified, but we must also give until it hurts. Wives and mothers know this, we experience it regularly.
The men have their own work to do in the relationship but we pray and leave that part up to God. We can only change ourselves.
We will turn to Our Lady and ask her, next time we get upset about something, to first decide if it is important enough to bring up to our husbands. If it is, let us ask for the grace to talk about it at the right time (not when we are tired and cranky), and then, not to come across disrespectful.
Let us ask her to help us to see his side, too, and to realize, if he does stonewall, it is not because he wants to be unloving.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. pray for us!
“Like a knife, the tongue has a sharp, powerful edge that can either be used to heal or destroy. A knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon brings healing and life, but a knife in the hands of a felon brings death and destruction. Like the surgeon, we can study how to use our mouths to bring life to those around us. But it’s not easy, and the tongue is difficult to control.” – Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words
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