We’ve all heard the term ‘opposites attract’. While this can lead to an initial attraction, it can also lead to potential downsides in a marriage once the dust settles. Conflict and difficulties in communication can quickly lead to the suppression of emotions that sooner or later can detonate with devastating results.
Vision has partnered with Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family, and Alex Cook, founder of Wealth with Purpose to bring you a special Marriage and Money seminar live-streamed at Vision’s Brisbane studios and hosted by Neil Johnson from 20Twenty.
It’s not just couples who can benefit from the valuable insights and expertise shared by Brett, Kate and Alex; everyone will find gold nuggets of wisdom in this seminar series they can apply to their lives to help them make sound financial decisions and build strong relationships.
Suppressing Our Emotions
Connecting on an emotional level can be difficult for some people. They suppress their emotions because they think they need to be tough and appear to be in control of all situations. So they keep pushing things down until sooner or later, it usually surfaces in an unhealthy way that causes strain on their marriage. Brett stated that the key to emotional communication is adopting a posture of humility and vulnerability, although not everyone can connect on that level. In order to resolve marital issues, it is imperative that you communicate with your spouse or significant other when you’re struggling in the relationship rather than suppress your emotions and hope the problem will go away. We can’t expect our partner to read our mind.
Once your spouse is aware of how you’re feeling, you can work together as a team with God at the centre guiding you. God is able to bring out the best in us because He wants our lives to be full, healthy and vibrant. That doesn’t mean being affluent because money doesn’t always bring happiness, but being content with whatever our circumstances.
Longing for Affection and Emotional Intimacy
What happens when one person longs for affection and to be cherished, but the other is completely the opposite and unwilling to take steps to address the matter? Or when one person wants to talk, and the other doesn’t?
The best approach to this situation is to prepare for success by choosing a time to talk about it over a dinner date when you are both relaxed and in a good mood. The worst way to approach it is by exploding about how the marriage is in chaos and demanding the offending spouse fix it. Brett suggests asking your spouse how they feel about the relationship and then pausing to allow them to speak, even when you might already know the answer, and you’re tempted to answer for them.
Approach the conversation by being vulnerable rather than defensive and ask questions such as:
How do you think we’re going at the moment?
How could I be a better wife?
How could I be a better husband?
Offer to work on yourself by admitting there are areas where you can improve. When your spouse notices your efforts, they are more likely to get on board to resolve the issues. If they are oblivious to the issues and have not been role modelled by their parents in connecting emotionally, you may have to help them along. By making it a priority to work on your relationship and asking what steps you can take together that will make a difference, you’ll be on your way to resolving the issues. One small step can make all the difference.
Keeping Personal Information Private
‘One of the greatest desires of any person is to be seen, to be heard and to be understood,’ said Kate. ‘It’s a cry of our heart that someone will honestly love us regardless of our flaws. It’s a big ask, but it does create an environment where you have to be vulnerable. If you’re going to share your deepest, innermost thoughts, then you need to know that the other person is going to treat that with respect. Because to share something that might have been painful, that happened in the past, and is maybe affecting your intimacy; then you don’t want them to use that against you. So we need to create an environment where the other person is going to see us, respect us and honour what we’re sharing.’
To successfully set up sharing of deeply personal private thoughts, your spouse needs to feel they will be respected and listened to and that the conversation will remain private between the two of you. If you have a spouse who doesn’t share that often, reassure them that you can be trusted with the information shared.
‘One of the greatest fears of any man is that the women are getting together and discussing them. And they don’t want their private things shared elsewhere,’ said Kate. ‘Guys don’t tend to sit around discussing. But for women, that can be a real downfall when they have marriage issues, and they share them with a few friends.’
So, if you want your spouse to really open up, set them up for success by protecting anything they share.
You can find helpful resources on communicating with your spouse on the Focus on the Family website by clicking the link.
This article was inspired by the Marriage and Money seminar. To view the full Marriage and Money seminar, click on the link below. The topic of communicating with your spouse begins at the 54-minute mark.