The intense influence you have on each other creates a vulnerable atmosphere in your home. It changes from happy to hectic to irritating back to happy in moments. One look, one comment, one action can alter the environment of your relationship for either good or bad.
A number of steps will help you harness the dynamic influence you have on each other and get it to work for you.
Step 1: Accept your differences. When you make it your goal to understand each other, you will most likely find yourself frustrated and confused. Men will never understand women because they will never experience the constant change and persistent urgency that dominates a woman’s life. Women, likewise, will never understand the aggressive, risky journey that men take every day. On the other hand, when couples seek to accept each other, they gain fresh insight into each other’s lives every week they spend together. They never fully reach the point of understanding, but they experience a deeper, richer relationship over time.
Step 2: Deal with you. Your reactions to your spouse create at least half of the environment in your relationship. We say “at least half” because every intimate relationship is a combination of actions and reactions. When you are negative, your spouse has to decide how to respond.
If he or she responds negatively, the tension multiplies. If he or she responds positively, peace may maintain itself for a while. In most cases, a negative response produces a negative response, so the irritation in the home tends to escalate. You can minimize the negative by keeping yourself moving in a healthy direction.
The Influence of You
Consider the influence of your life:
- You are the only one who can determine your attitude.
- You are the only one who knows the thoughts that go on in your head.
- You are the only one who fully experiences the range of emotions that go on in your heart.
- You are the only one who can be the husband to your wife or wife to your husband.
- You are the only one who can be the father or mother of your children.
- You are the only one who can be you on earth! The problem is that you are complicated.
- You are hardest on the one you love the most.
- You guard your heart from the one you want to be closest to.
- You criticize the one who once captivated your imagination.
- You pull away when you ought to be pulling together.
- You are afraid and courageous all at the same time.
Too often, instead of building into each other’s natural gender inclinations and preferences, we complain and fight against God’s creative agenda. Like these students, we can get a downright negative attitude about the opposite gender:
Step 3: Raise each other’s energy level: Gaining insight into how genders work will enable you to operate more freely and motivate each other more readily. A man’s energy level will rise when he is confident he can succeed, feels he has been heroic, is reasonably certain sexual activity will be part of the near future, and his life is relatively simple. Conversely, his energy level will fall when he concludes he cannot succeed no matter how hard he tries, sexual activity is threatened, and life gets more complicated than his capacity to process.
Raise His Energy Level
As a result, a wife can help raise her husband’s energy level if she:
- Sincerely and regularly compliments her husband.
- Flirts with her husband.
- Puts sexual activity on her calendar so she is deliberately in the mood
- Helps her husband know when the conversation is just a journey and when they are working toward a decision or the solution to a problem.
- Does anything that makes his life simpler.
Raise Her Energy Level
A husband can raise his wife’s energy level by:
- Listening to her with fascination
- Noticing her as she walks by, when she changes her clothes, when she gets her hair done, when she wakes up
- Thanking her for the things she has done today
- Complimenting her for anything—the way she looks, the way she works, the way she takes care of you and the family
- Listening to her with fascination
- Discovering her love language and paying special attention to speaking that language.
- Spending time with her—walk and talk, share a cup of coffee, do errands together without complaining
- Providing the basic necessities (food, shelter, love, friend- ship) so she feels secure and safe
The Heart of the Matter
Step 4: Develop a relationship of grace. Remember, the goal is to create a relationship where you can feel secure and successful so you can live above the line of turmoil. The problem is that we are all imperfect. As men, we will never get everything right, so our sense of success is easily challenged. As women, we regularly fall short of our intentions, so our sense of being secure with those we love most is hard to hold on to.
You need a way to direct the best of who you are so that it builds into your marriage, and you need a way to contain the parts of you that tend to get in the way of your relationships.
Relationships thrive best under grace. You are guaranteed to make mistakes. Your spouse is guaranteed to make mistakes. It doesn’t take long until you realize that you can’t behave good enough for long enough to earn the love of your spouse. You have probably done some great things for your partner, but at the same time you have said and done things that should not be part of a loving relationship. These mistakes have the potential to destroy the emotional connection between you. At the same time, each of your shortcomings creates an opportunity to establish grace. The result of grace is a belief that this relationship is safe.
Adapted from The Secret Language of Successful Couples: The Keys for Unlocking Love, by Bill and Pam Farrel.
Copyright © 2014 Bill and Pam Farrel, published by Harvest House Publishers, used with permission, all rights reserved.