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Going Deeper in Your Marriage
by Rodney & Selma Wilson

Going Deeper in Your Marriage

Written by Rodney & Selma Wilson

This article is courtesy of HomeLife.

“I told you I loved you when I married you. If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.” We smile when we read that, but unfortunately, some spouses maintain that attitude, an attitude that implies: “Sharing personal feelings, revealing the real me — all that was when we were dating. I don’t need to share my emotions with you now.”

 

Heads up! The partnership that developed early in your relationship with your mate was only the beginning of doing life together. You were just getting cranked up! To move past emotional infancy, a husband and wife need more. Sharing plans, dreams, goals, and, yes, feelings, is essential for a healthy marriage.

Drop the Reins
Remember the tale of a farmer trying to get his mule out of the field? He tugged and tugged on the reins. The harder he pulled, the more the mule resisted. Finally, in frustration, the farmer dropped the reins, turned, and slowly walked to the barn — with the mule following him all the way.

A major goal in marriage is to help your clammed-up mate feel confident enough to open up. However, if you try to pry, he can resist pretty hard. Remember, you can’t force or shame your spouse into sharing emotions, dreams, or insecurities.

Marriage counselor David Clarke wrote a book whose title says it all: Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars. In it, he encourages men to risk opening their clams (their hearts) to their wives. However, he tells women to lay down their crowbars. According to Clarke, men are much more likely to open up without the pressure of a crowbar-prying wife.

Revealing deep feelings requires trust. And trust takes time to build. When a mate feels secure, opening up becomes more likely. The key is to be patient. Don’t pull on the reins. Instead, continually cultivate a spirit of trustworthiness.

There is no more solid foundation for a marriage than the foundation of mutual trust. Here’s how to build that trust and raise the probability of emotional openness.

How to Get a Man to Trust
• Respect him. This is mandatory. It’s the seed from which trust blooms. Build your husband up — publicly and privately. Trust will grow when he knows you will not put him down in front of anyone, including the children. Will you have issues you disagree about? Of course. Will you get angry with him? For sure. Trust builds, however, when those issues are settled privately (or with a trained counselor), and you don’t talk about them with others. As your husband’s trust factor increases, the atmosphere is much more conducive for him to share personal heart matters with you.

• Be a godly woman. Not in a “holier than thou” sense, but simply walk with the Lord. Model an unconditional, Christ-like love for him that says, “I love you, no matter what.” That’s turning loose of the reins. A close relationship with God can also bless you with godly wisdom to know when to gently encourage your husband and when to back off. Emulate the Proverbs 31 woman: “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good” (v. 11).

How to Get a Woman to Trust
Love her. Deep within your wife is the need to know that you love her more than anyone or anything on this earth, that she is special to you above all others. How you express that love to her is as unique as your wife. Study her. Know her. And then spend a lifetime making her confident in your love for her. She’ll glow from it. She’ll be confident because of it. She’ll stretch, grow, and give because of it. She’ll rest in the security of it. Love her deeply.

Love God. Love God even more than you love your wife. She really wants that. Life is uncertain but God is certain. Your wife needs to know that you lead her and your family with a sold-out commitment to God. Jesus said it best, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5, HCSB). Passionate love. Sold-out love. All-consuming love.

Rodney and Selma Wilson are authors and speakers on marriage and family. Rodney is Marriage and Family Minister at First Baptist Church, in Smyrna, Tenn., where he and Selma live. They have two daughters and one son (in-law).