Last fall, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine sat down with me and LeRoy to talk about the kinds of things that can lead to marital misery. But before our discussion turned to the darkest season of our lives, Bob and Dennis asked a lot about our courtship. They had me laughing so hard that you can hardly hear the discussion! Those interviews can be found at Family Life Today.
If you want an inside peek into our dating and marriage proposal (which LeRoy kind of forgot how it actually happened), you can click here to find the broadcast on their website and listen online.
In this program, not only do we share some of our silly stories, but we talk about a common relationship dynamic that causes problems early in marriage. It’s not unusual to get your feelings hurt when you’re first starting out in marriage—but what do you do with that?
If you’re a stuffer, you cram it down inside and brood over it, but you don’t talk about it. You stuff it. You may feel you’re taking the “noble” route because you’re not arguing, you’re not lashing out, you’re taking the emotional pain and staying silent about it. Stuffing is not a healthy or God-honoring response to injury.
Stuffing leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to a poisonous resentment that can spread:
[box]“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).[/box]
I’ve never been a stuffer, but I’ve been just as guilty with my reactions as a “venter.” A person who freely vents everything she’s thinking or feeling can easily injure others. It’s good to be transparent—appropriately. It’s not good to express everything that comes into your head.
Proverbs calls that person a fool:
[box]“The fool vents all his feelings, but the wise person keeps them to himself” (Proverbs 29:11).[/box]
Back in the day, I didn’t understand LeRoy, and as a young bride, I wasn’t secure in his love for me. I was also pretty selfish and spoiled. I definitely hadn’t learned any guidelines for healthy communication. My way of conversing could be categorized as bad, really bad. Back in the day, it looked more like this . . .
Bad Girl Communication Skills:
- Blurt out what you’re thinking (always need to let others know what’s on your heart, ya know?) no matter how it might make someone else feel.
- Use a tone of voice that conveys that you’re hurt, but keep him guessing what you’re hurt about (that touch adds to the drama).
- Lay on a thick layer of guilt if he’s hurt you, left you in the dark, not included you, or somehow “caused” you to feel insecure.
- Punish him verbally if he’s hurt you (that’s what destructive “Fierce Women” do, right?)
Yes, hurting people do tend to hurt others. And they can destroy a relationship with this kind of communication.
LeRoy and I were deeply injured individuals, sticking it out in marriage, but acting more like enemies or disgruntled roommates than friends. When I would vent my pain, he would retreat in pain. When he would shut down in silence, I would increase the pressure and lash out to try to get a response from him. We weren’t getting anywhere that way, but digging a pit of misery for ourselves!
Our communication patterns have drastically changed since then—and that started with some much needed heart change. God broke my heart and opened my eyes to the ugliness of how I reacted when I was hurt. The way I was lashing out was destroying my husband. He admits that he was just as guilty by running off to a cave and not communicating with me. I hope you’re in a much better place than we were, but our destructive pattern is more common than you might think.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some guidelines for good communication, but until then, I hope you’ll check out today’s program on Family Life Today by clicking this link! We’ll be on their program through Friday.