Marriage becomes difficult when unresolved conflicts linger for days. A good marriage will have conflicts but what becomes unhealthy is when those conflicts never get resolved and then those same issues keep becoming the same point of contention.
It's important for both a husband and a wife to learn how to make the issue the issue and not the spouse the issue. When a spouse becomes the issue rather than the issue anger, contention and criticism become other operative modes rather than grace, kindness, acceptance and love as seen recently in the case of Jon and Kate.
Sometimes, all that's necessary to resolve a conflict is to learn to listen. Most of the conflicts that Michael and I have had were because neither of us listened. We were quick to make a judgement, take on a hurt and then attack back or shut down and retreat and sulk.
Men speak a different language than women. They are typically linear in thought processes while we as women are integrated which means that we generally integrate feelings and facts at the same time. Everything is connected to everything else.
Men generally have to process facts before facing feelings and women generally – have to process feelings before they can face facts.
Listening is not only a marital bomb de-fuser – but it is a tool for intimacy. A good friend is one who listens and I read once that the basic ingredients for a good marriage – which has sweet intimacy – is friendship plus sex.
Components of intimacy include closeness, bonding, warmth and affection, openness and honesty. If good listening skills aren’t learned and practiced then intimacy has a weak platform on which to develop and thrive.
When listening – avoid mind-reading – don’t assume you know what your husband is thinking or feeling. He’s the author of what he’s saying.
So, go - look your man in the eyes and listen to his heart - not necessarily his words.