Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Keeping Your Heart Open

Yesterday, I was talking about the importance to letting your wife talk, specifically talking about her problems. We discussed how that was therapeutic for her and helped her to get things off her chest and out of her heart. Today, I want to touch on something that I mentioned yesterday, but didn’t talk about to any great depth; the problem of men keeping their hearts closed off to their wives.

During the dating years, guys are basically open with their girl friends. They talk about their dreams and aspirations, sharing things which are hidden from everyone else. We even go as far as to share our weaknesses, something that we don’t do with anyone else.

Why are men so reluctant to share weaknesses? There’s actually a valid reason for it. God has created men with a violent, aggressive nature, so that we can use that character trait to protect our families. Regardless of whether we’re talking about protecting them from Internet predators, saber-toothed tigers, or attacks from the Devil, it’s the same characteristic. We need the capacity for violence, so that we can react as needed to protect those who are closest to us.

One thing that anyone who has ever fought knows instinctively is that you don’t let your enemy know about your weakness. If they know, they can use it against you. There’s no reason to give them that advantage.

Well, in marriage, she starts out as your closest friend and lover. Then one day, you have your first fight. During that fight, she dredges up everything wrong you’ve ever done and throws it in your face. While this may or may not help her win the fight, it does have one very important, but unwanted result. That is that it teaches you that it’s dangerous to let her know your weaknesses. Where before she had been allowed into your heart, now she has to be kept out. Door closed and locked.

This door closing action happens automatically, without our even realizing it. But, that doesn’t make it any less real. From then on, every time she tries to knock on the door of your heart, you pretend you didn’t hear it. That makes her feel as if you don’t’ love her.

Like I said, this is automatic. It’s not that you want to keep her out, it’s that you do so out of self-defense, without even realizing it. Okay, so what do you do about it?

It’s actually possible to reopen the door to your heart and let her back in; but only you can do that. She can’t open your heart, nor can a $100 per hour head shrinker. So, how do you do it?

First of all, you need to forgive her. That may not open the door, but it will sure get rid of the barricade you put in front of it. Without forgiveness, you may never be able to find the door, let alone open it. (see my post on “Be quick to forgive”)

The second thing you need to do is explain to her what happened; or at least share this post with her, so that she can understand. That will help her to know how to avoid a repeat performance.

The third and final step is to reform the habit of openness. What I mean by that is to start talking about your dreams and aspirations once again. This might be best performed as a team effort. Get your wife to ask you questions that are associated with that area, and answer them honestly. Don’t hold back.

One thing we need to understand, which plays into this, is that our conversation style changes by marriage. Before the wedding, we talk a lot about those dreams. But, once the honeymoon is over, we start talking about reality. Reality is never as interesting as dreams, especially when that reality is a constant series of problems and struggles.

That just increases the need for openness of heart. If all your conversation with your wife is about problems with the kids, the idiot at work and how you’re going to pay the bills, you’re not going to enjoy talking to one another. You both need some positive conversation; the type you were practicing before you got married. That will do wonders to being you closer together. 

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