This is one of the main reasons that couples divorce. (Alan Lambert – Getty Images)
I have been married 20 years but I still find that successful communication is the No. 1 challenge in my relationship. And I know I am not alone. Communication issues are the top reason most marriages fail. Thankfully, I have learned one thing over the years that has helped me overcome this: respect.
When I approach my husband Chad respectfully, my chances of him listening and responding are far greater than if I approach him harshly or aggressively.
For most of our marriage, my husband Chad has had no desire to take out the trash. It could be packed tight, overflowing, and causing a seriously foul smell throughout our home, and he still wouldn't think about taking it out. That drives me crazy! I know he isn't lazy; in fact, he is one of the hardest workers I know. What makes me crazy is that I feel he takes me for granted because he knows that I have all the home chores covered.
Here are two ways that I could deal with this:
A. I could communicate what I desire to have done by asking him respectfully "Honey, can you please take out the trash?"
B. I could express my frustration to him with my finger pointed by disrespectfully saying, "You never do anything, the trash smells like a dead pig! When do you plan on taking that out?"
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1).
"He who guards his mouth preserves his life" (Prov. 13:3).
As a woman of God, I know that I am called to respect my husband. Unique to each spouse is a set of things they need. One of Chad's top three needs is "respect." If I want him to meet my needs, I must first try to meet his needs, even if he is not doing something the way I think he should.
It is pretty obvious that Option A would be the best way to handle this situation, but showing Chad respect is not always easy for me. I really struggle with showing him respect when I am frustrated. Truthfully there are many times that I want to go "cuckoo" on him and use Option B (and sadly, I have). However, it never works out well! By using Option B, maybe the trash will get taken out, but the whole day would be ruined because of our anger and fighting. Division would come between us, and what could have been a good day would become filled with chaos.
Unfortunately, I have caused one too many "bad days" by not choosing to honor the Lord by respecting my husband. Taking the approach of choosing to honor the Lord is exactly how I started to make the appropriate changes in my attitude. Ephesians 5 teaches us to respect our husbands. That verse doesn't say to respect him only when he deserves it. Instead, God's Word teaches us to respect our husbands all of the time. It was with this new revelation in mind that I was able to begin making the choice to respect Chad in all areas of our marriage, but especially with my words.
I was convicted by these verses in the Bible:
"It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman" (Prov. 21:19).
"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house" (Prov. 21:9).
I never want to be that kind of wife again. How shameful it would be if I were still that type of wife?
"But let it be the hidden nature of the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:4).
I made the decision that this is the wife I wanted to be!
This is an example of true beauty. This is the depiction of the virtuous woman that God created me to be. This is the woman who will lay pride aside to willfully meet her husband's needs. Ultimately, this healthy attitude will lead to joy in a marriage that revolves around peace and unity.
After reading the above statement, I'm sure you're asking, "That all sounds wonderful, but if we are so focused on our spouse's needs, then what about our own needs?" Notice what I said above: "the woman who will lay pride aside to willfully meet her husband's needs finds joy in a marriage of peace and unity."
There is no question that I still desire to have my needs met, but constantly challenging my husband to meet those needs is selfish on my part, and my efforts always fail. Through true servanthood to one another, when I strive to meet his needs and he strives to meet mine, we find ourselves in the marriage we both desire. I have heard it said that you have to meet halfway … I no longer believe this to be true. I'm willing to go all the way!
Even if Chad only goes 30 percent, then we will be fine, because there will be other days when he will give 100 percent and I will fall short. You don't have to be a statistician, just understand that when you are both "all in" and can take your eyes off your own needs and focus on your spouse's needs, you will be most fulfilled.
From Marriage Advance by Chad and Kathy Robichaux, a book helping couples strengthen their marriages in times great adversity and advancing toward the ultimate success God had in mind when you said, "I do."
Kathy Robichaux is the director of women's programs for the Mighty Oaks Foundation. She has a strong connection with women and wives struggling with the pain and heartache in the wake of PTSD. With vast amount of personal experiences, she speaks publicly as a wife and mother who fought the war with the symptoms in her husband and came out the other side with a restored marriage and an even stronger faith. Kathy and Chad have been married for 20 years and have three teenage children: Hunter, Haili and Hayden.