It is wonderful to know that, in God’s grand design for marriage, a wife is given (via the Holy Spirit) coping strategies and intuition that are totally unique to her relationship with her specific husband.
There may be times when she is at a loss to know what to do. But in prayer God will lead. A husband may have a response to something, now, that comes from hard-wiring that happened long before she ever met him (the same is true of her wiring, too!)—wiring that began to be formed in childhood and in adolescent responses to other conditions and circumstances, far outside of the marriage relationship and the couple’s life today.
Through prayer God may simply give a wife only an enlargement of understanding of what IS—even if there are never any changes whatsoever in her husband’s behavior.
At times, however, a good wife can lovingly and delicately help her man introspect (that is part of being a gentle help-meet for him)—but it has to be when things are calm, at a time when other things are going well. As most all wives know, one can wait a long time for those more ideal moments to transpire. When they do arrive, she may be able to escort him into a little bit of introspection for his own emotional deliverances.
Her aid in helping her hubby understand the value of introspection (what do you suppose triggered that? to what END do you withdraw? what are you hoping to accomplish?), may be the first help he has ever had in being able to do that to good benefit for both of them. Whatever the area that is needful of introspection, it must be packaged for HIS advantage—how it will do HIM good. You can show him how the increased objectivity upon himself can bring more rest to his soul, increase his bonding potential with a child or two, a neighbor, you.
God tenderly wants to coax each of us in the art of falling forward into the marital relationship via conflict rather than shutting down or escaping it. To learn to “fall forward” in one’s only intimate relationship is one of the deepest things the Lord is accomplishing in the marriage relationship. It is the art of love at its zenith.
We all have miles to go in understanding love’s longevity, and love’s spaciousness for the other to just be. In this sense, marriage may be far more of a spectator sport than we realized at first. As my dad said on my wedding day, “Marriage is an adventure in adjustment!”
Here are three more tidbits to add to these thoughts:
Love doubles-down and loves anyway, loves in spite of…finds a way through the maze to be even more loving towards the spouse in and through the difficult challenge. Mature, seasoned love continually finds new ways to express itself. We can learn to rummage around inside the Trinity’s long love and discover MORE of how it acts. We can learn to experience love by expressing it at greater and more insightful degrees—to surprise the beloved that it YET comes forth and to enlarge our own souls.
Because a woman is first, last and in-between a responder (as Elisabeth Elliot pointed out), her husband’s cold-shoulder, shut-outs, or shut-downs can be very painful because she can’t help responding—she was build that way even anatomically. Therefore, the woman must pull herself out of the trenches and re-define herself as a responder to the Lord Himself, and find something there to respond to. If she can change the source of what/who she is responding to?—built up vertically—this will free her up to continue to love afresh horizontally.
....and let us not forget to be deeply grateful for what a man is. Let us be grateful for our men. Heaven help us without them. As women, we may tend to be overly confident that we have far more relational savvy (or at least elasticity), but that is not the only yardstick by which even God measures human strength (otherwise He would have made man a duplicate of woman—something women’s libbers desperately and shortsightedly think they want).
Let us be deeply grateful that our men can often pierce through to the heart of a political, church, technical, functional or even relational issue (many of our best counselors and theologians have come up with stunning leaps of insights) out of the blue, or to muster incredible single-focus to protect our nation, as our Navy SEAL teams do. Try living through just one of their days. A man is able to shut off the infinite latitude of relational sensitivity and move the domestic ship forward in quantum ways, or harness unbelievable testosterone or endurance when a crisis requires it, where perhaps the woman might be blind-sided, weakened and/or encumbered by a preoccupation with less overall significant matters at that moment.
Many ordinary godly men are marvels. Men may actually “see” life differently. Adam knew he was sinning; Eve was deceived. This is not always the case, and may seldom be the case, but if it happened once, we need to be humbled by it, and realize that it happens again and again in large ways and small in the wide, wide world; we need to respect this possibility. There may be profound levels of this. The Virgin Mary pondered all of these things in her heart, but her husband Joseph got up and took them to Egypt! Our womanly evaluation of things may not be the last word—though the dominant culture today will never tell you otherwise.
Listen to even a young man in the Lord. Down in his gizzard, he may know something you/we don’t. Sometimes we do well to sit in the bleachers and realize that life is far larger than our knowing. We do well to walk softly amidst the mysteries of the husband/wife relationship.
Haven't yet read Renee's book on Wise Womanly Ways to Grow Your Marriage? Read about it here.