Monday, 5 March 2012

Jumping to Collisions

My wife had a childhood friend who accused her of “jumping to collisions” though she meant conclusions. Ironically this phrase seems quite appropriate when applied to marriage. How often do we as husbands or wives formulate an opinion about our spouse and then look for evidence to support our opinion?

“She’s always late.” “He never helps around the house.” “He doesn’t love me; if he did he would _________.” “She doesn’t respect me; if she did she would ___________”

First of all notice that these conclusions usually have a negative bent to them. Secondly we tend to generalize and our conclusions become black and white, which are categorized as always or never. We tend to reject evidence to the contrary and register only that which supports our contention.

Often the focus is on what our spouse does or doesn’t do. It is not unusual that to some extent our conclusions may be based on our expectations. “I thought husbands who loved their wives brought them flowers every week.” You might be inclined to tell this wife to get a grip but she apparently feels unloved because her husband isn’t meeting her expectation. Or the husband who feels disrespected because after a busy day at work he just wants to watch sports and his wife has the nerve to suggest that they talk. Surely watching competitive Frisbee should take place over idle chatter. (tongue in cheek)

Some thoughts:
• Seriously question where your accusation is coming from and why. Is it an expectation, if so why do I feel so strongly about it. In the situation cited above the wife might have a romantic notion that she got from a film.
• Secondly look harder for evidence that you are wrong than evidence to support your preconceived notion. “Always” and “never” are literally fighting words. Maybe it has been months since your husband has done something around the house but it is unlikely that he has never done anything.
• As the wife, be honest with your husband. Tell him what you appreciate about him but that in spite of those amazing qualities you are feeling unloved. Then share with him a few specific things he could do to make you feel more cherished.
• As the husband, be honest. For some reason guys can feel disrespect but they have a hard time verbalizing it. It may result from your wife’s tone of voice, a look she gives you, or an outright question, i.e. “Are you out of your mind for spending money we don’t have on a new putter?” In any event consider that God may be using your wife as part of His sanctifying process. Objectively ask yourself, “is it possible that she is right?” In this case it is fine for you to tell your wife that her tone of voice and question made you feel disrespected. Then thank her for being part of your sanctifying process and take the putter back.

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