Ok… I’m about to tell you something about me that most people don’t like to share. I used to be afraid to share it as well, but not any more because the thing I’m going to share with you, you probably (unless you are in denial do it too. The thing is… I fight with my husband. (gasp!) I know… it’s awful but everyone does it (if you have a husband). And guess what I’ve learned… it’s completely normal. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting screaming, hitting, throwing things, or even yelling. But you know at some point, we have all been there. It’s just not possible for two people to live together and never have an argument. Especially when we live with someone almost completely opposite of us. Men think different, act different, eat different, smell different. That’s what we love in the beginning, right? But if you have been married longer than a year or 2, you know that the love for those things doesn’t last forever and it quickly can turn into annoyances. Some quicker than others.
My wonderful hubby and I have been there! Oh, have we been there. But I am here to say, that if you learn to love after the “puppy love” phase passes, you WILL make it! Don’t give up! One thing I have learned, is to take a very hard look in the mirror. I mean, I have had to pray, read and study God’s word, asking Him to show me what I need to change. The Lord led us to an absolutely WONDERFUL counselor and mentor, who loves the Lord, and she shared a book with us called, “How to improve your marriage without talking about it” by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny. In this book there is a chapter called, “The worst thing a woman does to a man, shaming.” It was a MAJOR eye opener for me and I want to share a portion of it with you today.
Words hurt. Words destroy. Words can kill a relationship.
When Pat did the research for her book with Jo Robinson, Hot Monogamy, she interviewed 1500 couples regarding relationships. Several surprising pieces of information came out of that research, and three of them are very relevant to this book.
1. Most women do not understand how much it pleases a man to please a woman, specifically how important it is to the man in her life to please her. Furthermore, a man does not simply want to please her – he lives to please her.
2. Women can easily see how frightening men are to them because of threat of physical abuse, but they do not see their own power to evoke shame.
3. What women often interpret as withdrawn, uncaring men, for the most part, are overwhelmed by the criticism and unhappiness coming from their partners.
Many woman have no clue how critical and demeaning they are to men. When confronted with their critical behavior, the most common reaction is disbelief. “I’m just trying to make him a better person!” – that is, more thoughtful, considerate, responsible, reliable, and so on. Reflecting on this fact, Pat thought it might be interesting to list 101 ways to shame a man without trying. Off the top of her head, she came up with well over 50 ways she had done so, inadvertently or otherwise, in her own relationships. Here are a few:
- Excluding him from important decisions: “I told my sister we would vacation with them this year.”
- Robbing him of the opportunity to help (by overfunctioning and overdoing): “Don’t bother – I’ll do it.”
- Correcting what he said: “It was last Wednesday, not Thursday.”
- Questioning his judgement: “Are you going to cook those eggs one at a time?”
- Giving unsolicited advice: “If you would just make the call you’ll feel better.”
- Ignoring his advice: “This is woman’s stuff – you really don’t know anything about it.”
- Implying inadequacy: “I wish you had been at that workshop with me” (not because he would have enjoyed it but because it would have “corrected some of his flaws”).
- Making unrealistic demands of his time and energy: “After you rotate the tires and paint the shed, I want you to listen to how my day was.”
- Overreacting (which is a form of criticizing his choices or behavior): “I can’t believe you voted for him!”
- Ignoring his needs (basically sending the message that they’re not important): “You’re not that tired; anyway, having company will give you energy.”
- Focusing on what I didn’t get, not what I did: “It would have been better if you’d said ‘I’m sorry’ to begin with.”
- Withholding praise: “Well, it’s your job to mow the lawn.”
- Using a harsh tone: “I am so tired of this!”
- Valuing others’ needs over his: “Saying to a friend, “Oh, he’s not too tired to come pick you up and then take you back home after we have a nice visit.”
- Undermining his wishes: Saying to a relative, “I agreed to have a quiet Thanksgiving, but if you invite us, he couldn’t say no.”
- Condescending: “You did an okay job picking out your shirt.”
- Name-calling: “You’re such a negative person.”
- Belittling his work: “Just what is it you do all day?”
- Showing little or no interest in his interests: “I can’t imagine what you see in that.”
- Criticizing his family: “Your sister didn’t even offer to help clean up the kitchen!”
- Ignoring him: Choosing friends over his company.
- Interpreting him: “What you really meant when you said you were tired is that you don’t want to listen to me.”
- Comparing: “The neighbor’s yard sure looks nice.”
- Dismissing: “I have to work” (implying he doesn’t)
- Focusing on my own unhappiness: “I can’t live this way.”
- Expecting him to make me happy: “If we just did more fun things together…”
- Making “you” statements: “You make me so mad I can’t think straight!”
- Globalizing: “Men are not capable of understanding!”
- Generalizing: “You’re always criticizing me.”
- Therapizing: “You are trying to make up for your father.”
- Projecting my unhappiness on him: “I feel bad when I don’t talk, so you can’t possibly feel okay if you’re this quiet.”
Other shaming favorites of women include:
- Believing they always know what’s best for the relationship
- Rolling eyes
- Giving “the look”
- Being sarcastic
- Suggesting a “better way”
- Having unrealistic expecting
- Criticizing him in front of other people
- Making him feel unnecessary
If you are a woman reading this and thinking “I don’t shame,” you may be right. But just to make sure, check it out with the man in your life. It’s best not to ask directly. Don’t say, “Do I criticize?” or “Do I shame you?” that’s like asking “Does my butt look big in this dress?” No guy in his right mind is going to give you a straight answer. Instead, ask: “What are some of the different ways I criticize or shame you?”
Wow, ladies! This blew my mind. I say these things. I never realized the effect it had on my husband. Although, I don’t say or use all of them, I still realize that I use some and even some is too much. I want to do whatever I can to help make my marriage everything God intended it to be and I definitely don’t want silly words and attitudes to get in the way. We know our men aren’t perfect, but we can do our part too.
If you want to get your hands on this little piece of gold aka book, you can grab it at amazon by clicking below. It’s been such an asset to our marriage.
Have a SUPER Friday and a great weekend keeping the peace with your honey!