Have you ever wondered when to share your feelings and when to keep quiet? My husband, Tom, and I had to learn to lovingly and respectfully speak up when the other person did something that hurt our feelings. We’re both very non-confrontational people, so we’d tend to say nothing. The problem is, if the other person isn’t aware of the offense, they aren’t going to change, and nothing will be resolved. Also, if we harbor resentment in our hearts, that will drive a wedge in the relationship.
So, when someone offends us unintentionally, we should gently bring it to their attention. For example, whenever we were in crowded places, Tom would tend to charge ahead, leaving me behind. I felt ignored and unprotected. One day, after this occurred in an amusement park, I told Tom I knew he didn’t intend to hurt my feelings. I explained how I felt and suggested that we hold hands and not let go in order to walk around people and objects, but instead, just exercise patience and stay together. He agreed to my proposed solution.
When should we keep quiet? When we already know, from past discussions, that the other person isn’t willing to change a particular behavior. In those cases, it’s best just to pray for them and decide how we’re going to cope with that behavior.
Questions for meditation and discussion: (1) What do you do when someone offends you? (2) How do you handle behaviors that your spouse isn’t willing to change? (3) How do they respond to the way you respond to them? (4) Are you open to changing, if necessary? (5) Have you tried the approach discussed in this post? What were the results?
Application homework: When your husband offends you, calmly, lovingly and respectfully let him know, and suggest how you would prefer that he respond. How did it go?
(Note: Pray for the right timing for this conversation. Don’t attempt it when one or both of you are upset, stressed, overly tired, hungry, etc.)