How to Change Your Response to Your Spouse
The view from you
Years ago, I rode with an excellent surgeon and his spouse to an event. The entire ride was filled with tension because the wife was chafing at her spouse’s schedule. She also criticized his driving and his outfit for the day. ALL in front of me. I had nothing to do with the problem but I was included, nonetheless.
While she probably had a point about his busy schedule, the place she aired the problem was inappropriate. So was her tone. It was condescending and no matter what he said, she had a retort. I questioned that he would ever want to come home after work if he had to be with her. That day, I vowed I would never, ever speak to my spouse like she did in front of others. None of us should. That day, I wished this woman would have changed her response to her spouse.
The way we view our spouse affects the way we view our role. If your spouse is your equal, you treat him differently than if he is your subordinate. As women, we are prone to nurture and admonish in a mothering -and sometimes instructing – way. We sometimes forget – or choose to ignore the truth – that our spouse is not our child.
One would think otherwise sometimes from the way women respond to their spouses. They tell them what to wear, how to package a gift, when to change the oil, and how to change a tire. If it weren’t for us, our men would never make it in this world (at least that’s how we act).
It is not our job or our role to correct, instruct, or corral them into being or doing something we want them to be or do, nor is it our role to manipulate them so we get what we want. One would think otherwise, from the way some women treat their husbands.
When I view my spouse as a reflection of me, then I’m more concerned about my image than I am about his heart. When I view my spouse as an equal soul, then I care more about his heart than the things he does. Plus, when I view my spouse as my leader I trust, I become a willing follower.
An age old dilemma
It doesn’t matter how old or how young we are, there is always the temptation to be an instructor of our spouse. Some of us do better at avoiding this ditch than others. Some of us have had good role models, while others grew up thinking this is a way to treat a spouse because it’s the way we saw it modeled.
No matter what our upbringing, the way we choose to relate to our spouse is our responsibility. We can’t blame it on that’s just the way it was modeled to me.
We have clear biblical directives to follow. When we are sincere, we can learn to be an encourager to our spouse rather than his “teacher”.
Check your heart and change your response
Remember that your role is to encourage and affirm your spouse. When there are situations where there really is no right or wrong way to do something, he needs to be able to do it his way. Your father might have filled his gas tank a certain way and at a certain level, but your spouse does not need to do it that way. Whether it’s packing his clothes, stuffing an envelope, or folding his laundry, you are not his teacher or his mother. You are his spouse. Remember that. Act like a spouse and not an instructor. Think before you speak – and if necessary, change your response.
Why does it matter to you? Is it because you think it makes you look bad? Does it make him look inconsiderate or dumb? Or, do you think there’s only one way to do something (and that’s your way, of course)? If that is the case, then it’s time to change your response.
When he is wrong
When he is walking away from biblical principles, you are not a true help mete if you turn a blind eye. Nor are you a help mete if you cover up for him or defend his actions. As a true help mete, you should speak to him in private and share your concerns. Not doing this makes you an accomplice to his actions.
Even though you are not his teacher or his mother, you are not absolved of responsibility when your spouse’s actions are inappropriate or wrong. As women, we are naturally more in tune to the thermostat in our homes, especially regarding our children. When there has been miscommunication or failure to keep promises, it’s not okay to turn a blind eye, nor is it okay to reprimand him as a parent would a child. You’re on the same team. Therefore, the way you speak and respond should mirror that reality.
You don’t like to be corrected in public. Neither does he. There is a time and a place to discuss things, and in front of other people is not the place. There is also a way to discuss things, and coming to him as his mother or his teacher is not the way.
When you are teammates, you do your part to help the team win. Pulling against each other does not facilitate teamwork. When you are guilty of that, it’s time to change your response. If you ask God for wisdom, He will show you what you need to do, and how to do it.