by John Kpikpi
In our last ‘Happy Marriage Memo’ we offered some tried and tested ways for overcoming the deadly silence that can grip a home when a husband or wife feels badly hurt. We looked at the situation entirely from the perspective of the person who had been hurt. Today, let’s look at overcoming the silence from the side of the person who has caused the hurt.
So, your wife or husband has ‘closed down’ on you and says nothing back no matter how many times you try to speak to him or her…what should you do? First, understand what has happened. Like a snail which retreats into its shell when it senses danger, your spouse has just tasted danger from your words or actions and has retreated to safety – beyond your reach – as a protection against further hurt.
So the question we ought to ask is, “How can I encourage the soft part of the snail to come out again?” Well, in the case of the snail, we would have to remove the perceived danger. If the snail had been experiencing drought, we would make the area around it wet. If there was a pungent smell, we would delete the source of the odour. If a twig with thorns was posing a threat, we would throw it away. In the same way, if you want your spouse to dare to ‘come out again’, you need to make the environment safer – and YOU are the environment here!
Unfortunately this is easier said than done. One reason for this is that often, when we have caused hurt to someone, we become defensive, telling ourselves that the close down was unwarranted (especially since it was such a ‘little thing’ that we said or did). We then become angry and upset with the person who has retreated and accuse them of ‘overreacting’. But this reaction produces the very opposite of what is needed to make the snail come out again. The environment is still risky – if anything it has become even more dangerous and unsafe for our spouse to come out! We need to change tack if we are going to see life restored to our relationship. Here are some things you can do to make the environment safe again…
Acknowledge to yourself that you have wronged your spouse. Do not minimize your action. No matter how small you think your wrong is, if it has produced such a big impact, you need to stop regarding it as a small thing; it is a big thing! If you do not think you have done anything objectionable at all, ask the Lord to show you where you’ve gone wrong.
Replace your anger with a smile. This will begin to change the environment big time.
Think about the little things of life that your wife/husband enjoys and do them. For example, make your wife a cup of tea if that’s what she likes, or take your husband a nice cold drink or serve his favourite meal – or anything which brings reassurance that the environment is now becoming safe and normal.
Place your arm around your wife or husband and say that you are really sorry for saying what you said or for doing what you did. No excuses added, just say it as it is, from your heart: “I’m sorry I caused you so much hurt.”
Now that the environment has completely changed, your husband or wife will come out and meet you. Death has been conquered here and abundant life will begin to overflow!
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)


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