“What do you think, Auntie G? Do you think Bill’s marital advice to me will be very different from yours?”
I was on the phone with my cousin’s 31-year-old daughter, “Paige.” She had called and asked my advice about a common marital dilemma–your partner unwittingly hurt your feelings. What do you do?
Knowing that I’ve been married for 22 years, and she for 4 years, Paige wanted to hear my perspective as she’s deciding how best to deal with the situation. I’d just finished giving her several things I thought she might use to help resolve this particular issue.
(Read our conversation in the previous blog post, Hurtful Words, Healing Choices (part 1 of 2)
I called Bill into the room so he could give Paige a husband’s perspective.
“Here’s Bill, Paige honey.” I handed Bill the phone. “I’ll let you two talk.”
“Hi there, Paige! Why don’t you tell me what advice my loving wife gave you?” Bill laughed. “Now give me the brief version. I’m sure I’ve heard it before!”
Paige filled him in; Bill listened, nodding his head.
“Interesting advice, Paige. I agree with Gail. Coming from a male perspective and a long-term husband perspective, I guess I do have something to add:
“Paige, as men, we can sometimes say some really bone-head things to our spouses. I can volunteer myself as an example. When Gail and I were in the first few years of marriage, I remember some of the bone-headed things I said to her. I had no intention of deliberately trying to hurt her. I was in my early 30s, had never been married. Looking back, I realize I had spent my 20s in a state of selfishness. Life had been all about me, my, mine. While that’s normal for a single person; for a single man, it has poor consequences. We don’t shift to sharing quite as easily as women. I think it’s biology. Still, men can and need to learn to share. It’s healthier for us.
Sometimes as men we don’t understand the powerful effect our words can have on loved ones. I don’t believe men will ever stop saying these things. Even those of us who have nothing but the best intentions. I have no problem admitting that we need help from others to increase our awareness of this tendency we have.
These three things work with me in raising my awareness when:
- Gail brings something to my attention in a loving manner
- She tells me while she’s holding my hand or some other small, simple, loving physical gesture
- She doesn’t compare me to any other man, whether it’s her father, brother, past boyfriend. Nothing will make me shut down quicker.
When a man, who is deeply in love with his spouse, is made aware of a tendency that causes her pain, he should automatically want to start working on it. But he needs to know that you will have patience and forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you let him slide. On the contrary, you do need to let us know that there are boundaries. A true, adult man, will have no problem with that.
I have learned to become self-aware of the words that I use everyday with Gail. Paige, please be patient with Art and yourself. As Gail said, you have your whole marriage to practice and learn “getting it right.” Gail and I will always be available to help in anyway we can.
Love always and take care.