One of the traits of a happy and fulfilling marriage is open and honest communication. Husband and wife should be able to speak to each other about sensitive issues, knowing it is safe to do so. However, life, as we know, is not that straightforward. Sometimes, being open and honest can cause more problems than what you are being honest about.
Husbands, for example, may find that discussing sensitive issues about their marriage may cause an emotional response from their wives that harms the relationship, and the issue raised is not addressed. A wife may find it difficult to discuss specific topics with her husband for fear of an angry outburst. Sometimes, keeping silent about an issue and dealing with it the best they can is less stressful.
In this article, I will present insights into challenges couples may have regarding open and honest communications and how it is vital to overcome those as much as possible.
Sometimes, we must resolve that something about our marriage will not change. For example, a man may realize he will never have an emotional connection with his wife through sex. He resolves that he will continue his days with his roommate, though some men and women may divorce instead of remaining in unhappy relationships.
We may try to improve things, but a significant part of a successful marriage is the vested interest of husband and wife. Unfortunately, one may not be on that page. The wife may have little to no interest in resolving the sexual issues her husband has with her. The husband may not care about his wife’s happiness, who works hard to keep the house neat and clean and prepares meals for the family daily.
The reality is a happy marriage requires both husband and wife to work towards it. Unless both want it and are willing to do what it takes to obtain it, it probably won’t happen. A happy and fulfilling marriage does not happen by accident.
Sex Life Catch-22
Men typically complain about the lack of intimacy and sex with their wives. Women tend to complain about the lack of help from their husbands, e.g., help with the children, cleaning, etc. Sometimes, perhaps many times, those are catch-22 situations. Let me explain.
Men typically establish an emotional connection with their wives through sex. Studies have shown that women usually desire sex with those whom they have an emotional connection with. The man needs sex to connect emotionally, and the woman needs an emotional connection to have romantic sex.
The husband begins to pull away from his wife when she consistently refuses sex with him. Of course! She tells him she does not want a connection, so he backs off. She notices him pulling away and responds to it. Perhaps she asks him if something is wrong or assumes something is wrong with her.
The remedy for the catch-22 situation described above is for the husband and wife to educate themselves about men’s and women’s needs in marriage. They need to understand what sex means to each other and how they can work together to make it work. They need to be on the same page about sex and their emotional and intimate connection.
The Emotional Response
Have you ever told someone something, and their response was off the wall, i.e., unreasonable? For example, a man may tell his wife he no longer feels close to her. She may become defensive instead of trying to understand what he is saying so they can resolve the issue.
How can a person continue to be open and honest when their spouse usually responds emotionally? The husband, for example, may think it is better to keep his mouth closed and deal with the issue another way.
It is best not to allow your emotions to dictate how you respond to anything. Listen to your spouse and take what they say seriously. Don’t dismiss what they say. Swallow your pride and discuss it honestly and objectively. Don’t attack your spouse whether you’re expressing an issue or are being told about one. Try to keep your emotions out of it so that you can build a solid and lasting emotional connection with each other.
Sometimes, expressing yourself honestly with your spouse may be complicated by their personality traits. Perhaps your spouse is timid and reluctant to express concerns that may cause conflict. Perhaps, as I stated above, your spouse is prone to emotional responses instead of reasonable ones. Personality traits could hinder open and honest communication because we tend to factor in the expected response.
A wife may want to tell her husband that she doesn’t like something he does sexually, but she fears he may take it as criticism instead of mere information to adjust. Therefore, if you know your spouse is timid, angry, easily offended, etc., you may not communicate as openly and honestly as you would like.
Be sure that your behavior is conducive to open and honest communications with your spouse. You can’t change them, but you can make sure that you show your spouse that it is safe for them to talk openly to you about things, and hopefully, they will do the same for you. If not, then do what you feel is best. Jesus said not to cast your pearls before swine or holy things before dogs. Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be straight with people. Sometimes, it is wise to keep your mouth closed and deal with it as best you can.
I have personally leaned towards honesty in my marriage. I decided to set a precedence in my marriage where I tell the truth. If I didn’t like a dish my wife prepared and asked me about it, I would tell her truthfully what I thought. I think that does at least two things. First, it conditions her to know she will get the truth from me. Second, it informs her that she should not ask if she doesn’t want to know my honest opinion. I think practicing honesty from the beginning of the relationship is imperative for helping to keep the channel open for honest communication.
Another challenge with open and honest communication in marriage is the consequences of doing so. For example, say a husband wants to tell his wife about the effect of their sexless marriage on him. He contemplates how he will tell her, and he weighs her expected response. He concludes that telling her about his unhappiness about their sex life will probably cause him to have even less sex. He keeps his mouth shut.
The perceived consequence of offering open and honest communication is a significant factor. Sometimes, we choose the least of two evils. Ideally, there should be no consequence but a pursuit for resolution. That environment will make open and honest communication easy between the two.
It is What it is
A significant challenge to open and honest communication in marriage is the idea that nothing will change. It is what it is, and it will continue to be so. You reason that your efforts in the past did not produce favorable change. Instead, things remained the same or became worse.
How can someone be open and honest when they think it will be meaningless? The value of communicating is not significant enough to warrant another attempt at making things better. Therefore, they probably will keep their mouth closed.
The thought that things won’t get better is a recipe for disaster because one or both may give up on trying to make their relationship better. One or both become miserable, which may lead to seeking pleasures outside of the relationship.
There are several challenges to open and honest communication in marriage. Couples consider the expected response to bringing up issues, emotional responses, and consequences of their honesty and openness.
Couples should work together to better their relationship by talking to each other respectfully, openly, and honestly. Having a marriage where the environment is conducive to that is priceless and worth the pursuit.
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