by Charles R. Swindoll
Those words aren't original with me. They came from a shrink living in Marin County, California—Pierre Mornell, who wrote a book that bears that title. The issue that concerned Dr. Mornell is found in Christian marriages just as often as in non-Christian ones.
It's the problem of the husband who is "inactive, inarticulate, lethargic, and withdrawn at home. In his relationship to his wife he is passive. And his passivity drives her crazy." He's not necessarily incompetent and dull. At work he may be extremely successful and articulate. And she's not necessarily rebellious and overactive. She may be a good mother, talented, and well-respected by her peers.
At home, however, the husband says, in a dozen different ways, "I'm tired . . . just leave me alone." She makes requests; he ignores them. She gets louder; he retreats further. She adds pressure; he lapses into sullen silence. Ultimately he withdraws; she goes "wild."
Numerous, often complex, reasons lie behind such standoffs, but a couple of extremely important factors stand out.
First, men and women are different, and these differences don't decrease or disappear once people get married. (I've discovered that they gain momentum!) It helps immensely to try to put oneself in the partner's shoes (albeit an extremely tough thing to do) and to realize the other's needs and viewpoint. If you fail to do that, you wind up on the sofa.
Second, harmonious partnerships are the result of hard work; they never "just happen." I don't know of anything that helps this process more than deep, honest, regular communication. Read those last four words again, please. That's not just talking; it's also listening. And not just listening, but also hearing. Not just hearing, but also responding, calmly and kindly.
The "hard work" also includes giving just as much as taking, modeling whatever you're expecting, forgiving as quickly as confronting, putting into the marriage more than you ever expect out of it. Yes, more. In one word it means beingunselfish.
Few things are better for breaking the passive-wild syndrome than taking off for a couple of days together. Without the kids. Without the briefcase. Without an agenda.
This will go a long way toward keeping you off a counselor's couch . . . or, for that matter, off your own sofa.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how well are you and your spouse communicating?
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.