A few days ago, I was in local grocery store where I live, and overheard a conversation between an employee of the store and a customer. The employee had made a very polite attempt to ask the customer to please have her child sit down in the cart, because she was worried the child might fall out (crazy idea I know). Instead of replying “oh, no problem!” and asking her child to sit down, the customer retorted “Don’t try and tell me how to parent my child!”, and left the store.
As I went about the rest of my day that day, I couldn’t help but think about what I saw, and how that kind of attitude – the one that says “You can’t tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want!” – no matter how wrong or idiotic it may be – seems to be getting more prevalent these days. Instead of accepting correction or advice, people now tend to reply “well, that works for you, but don’t try to push your opinion on me”, even when it comes to the safety of their own children, as in the example above. That mother’s pride prevented her from accepting what was obviously a well intended, and much needed, correction. What does this have to do with marriage? Hear me out.
How often do we have the same “you can’t tell me what to do, I’m doing it my way” attitude with our wives when they come to us and present us with an issue they see in us that needs worked on? Now we may not say it out loud, but in our heads we’re thinking “Yeah right, you want me to work on that? Don’t get me started on things that you need to work on!”, instead of really hearing what she’s saying, and taking it to heart. Why do we do this? Most of it comes from our good friend PRIDE. We don’t want to admit we have anything to work on. It takes a good bit of humility to say “wow, you’re right hon, I haven’t been doing very well in that area.” It takes even more humility to sincerely ask our wives periodically “Hey hon, how am I doing lately? Is there anything you’ve seen in me that I need to work on?”
Or how about when you’re both struggling with an issue in your marriage. Doesn’t matter what it is. Both of you know you need to get advise from a counselor, your pastor, or even another trusted couple. But for the sake of pride, you don’t. You live with it. For years. Really?! Why do we put ourselves through this? Because we convince ourselves that no other couple is struggling with any issues. We must be some kind of “failure couple” that doesn’t have the great marriages that “all of our friends seem to have”. Wanting to salvage our pride, we hide it. We act like we have it all together when we’re around other couples, and then when we get home we go to our separate rooms, and continue to live out our lives in a dead marriage. Sad isn’t it? Maybe pathetic would be a better word (sorry, I didn’t say this would be an easy post to read).
If there’s something in your marriage that needs addressed, no matter who’s at fault, address it! Don’t let the elephant in the room set up camp and live there!
And let me let you in on a little secret: There is no such thing as a marriage that doesn’t encounter issues!
Just because you might be struggling with one of those “topics no one brings up” like miscarriage, porn addiction, emotional or physical affairs, etc – you have to ask yourself the question: Does my marriage mean more to me than “saving face” and not admitting I have a problem? When you step back for a moment and really look at it, it’s pretty sad that we allow our pride to hold us in a unfulfilling marriage, when all it takes is a “Hey man, I’m really struggling with (insert problem here)” to a trusted Christian brother or couple, to start you on the road to getting better. To at least start to work on it, instead of just bury your head in the sand for another week, month or year. It’s not worth it! especially when you realize after you finally tell someone, that they have struggled with that in their marriage too. And to think you waited this long, all to find out you weren’t “strange” or a “failure”, you were just a normal marriage, going through struggles like every one else.
The sooner we as married couples come to the conclusion that WE ALL STRUGGLE with mostly the same issues (yes, even marriage bloggers), the sooner we can move to support each other, instead of just “existing” next to each other, and never getting past “how the kids are doing” when we in our conversation. Putting your pride aside and admitting you struggle isn’t easy, but the sooner we “get over ourselves” and start, the stronger our marriages will be.