I’m wondering if you can help me with a problem I’m having with my wife. I like a neat home and to feel like the king of his castle. I rarely feel that way. I might as well complain to the walls when it comes to getting anything I want around the house. Help!
Your problem – wanting a neat home, and to be heard – is a common one in marriage. We all want to be able to approach our mate, make a request, and receive a loving response. We want to know we can share our feelings and be understood. In fact, being able to safely and effectively approach our mate and be heard are hallmarks of a healthy marriage.
The fact that you don’t feel heard and cannot effectively navigate a solution to your concerns is a serious warning sign. It suggests one of a number of deeper problems. Consider these possible issues:
Your complaints aren’t being taken seriously. The more a person complains, the less the other often truly listens. While this may not make sense at first glance, think about it. When someone complains and complains and complains – without clear boundaries or consequences – his mate learns not to take him seriously.
Consider this saying: “We teach people how to treat us.” In other words, if your mate – or anyone else, for that matter – isn’t taking you seriously, look in the mirror and ask yourself some difficult questions. Are you taking yourself seriously? Do you speak with conviction? Are you willing to enforce your words with consequences? Have you done your part to resolve the particular problem?
Your communication isn’t as clear as you think. Repeated complaints often become vague. And vague or global complaints are easier to ignore than specific, encouraging requests. How clear and positive are you? Have you garnered your mate’s attention and shared specifically what you’d like to see changed? Have you asked her how you can help to achieve these goals?
Perhaps your wife resents your expectations. Does she feel supported in her role, whatever that is? Does she believe she’s been approached respectfully? Does she believe she’s part of a collaborative relationship, as opposed to being dictated to on how you’d like things to be?
You’re trying to change others, not yourself. We often desperately try to convince, manipulate, and even coerce others into doing what we want them to do, failing to recognize the only person we truly can change is us. However, when we change, others often do as well. You must be clear with your wife that if she continues to do such and such, you will respond accordingly. Share with her that you know she is in charge of her life, but you are in charge of how you will allow yourself to be treated.
Your complaints lack accountability and boundaries. According to Galatians 6:8, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Every choice we make, whether originating from the flesh or from the Spirit, leads to different outcomes. We must live with the consequences of our choices and hold others accountable for their choices.
Complaints are easy to disregard – but a complaint followed by a specific request isn’t as easy to ignore. You need to set clear expectations with clear parameters on how you’ll behave if your expectations aren’t met. Being heard in your marriage is as much your responsibility as that of your wife. Be clear, concise, compassionate, and yet speak with conviction. If you speak in this manner consistently, you’re are likely to be heard and respected.