I’m away this week, taking a break from blogging to spend time with family. It’s an honor and a privilege to invite bestselling author David Murrow, of Why Men Hate Going to Church, to share his thoughts on What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You, today.
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Do you manage your husband’s relationships?
Is your husband isolated and friendless? A lot of men are.
What you may not realize is that you could be contributing to his isolation. That’s what happened in my marriage a few years ago. My wife Gina is a preacher’s daughter. She learned at an early age to be very diplomatic with her speech and to manage the truth so no one’s feelings would be hurt. On the other hand, I’m a very bold, plainspoken sort of guy. As such, I sometimes put people off.
My wife noticed this tendency early in our marriage, so she began managing my relationships and conversations for me.
For example, any time I spoke to her parents she would serve as a translator, smoothing out and clarifying my words. Before I spoke to relatives on the phone she would coach me with what to say and how to say it. She would manage my conversations at church, quickly re-interpreting my words if she thought they had the potential to offend. Whenever we chatted with friends she would quickly jump in and do most of the talking.
She even set herself up as an intermediary between the kids and me. They came to her to find out what I was thinking, and I would go to her to find out what they were thinking.
After a few years of having my relationships professionally managed, they began to atrophy. I enjoyed a strong bond with my wife (since everything went through her) but I was becoming estranged from my children. Her parents lived with us but I could hardly carry on a conversation with them. I began to go silent in social situations and let my wife do all the talking, since she was just going to rephrase everything I said anyway.
You would think that I’d be angry. But here’s the strange thing: I didn’t even notice it was happening. Deep down I too believed she was more competent in the area of relationships, so I thought it was noble of me to hand them over to her expert care.
But Gina noticed something was wrong and began to express her concerns:
“David, you don’t say anything in social gatherings.”
“You seem withdrawn from the family, absorbed in your computer screen.”
“You don’t ever spend time with friends any more.”
“You have a scowl on your face most of the time. People are afraid to approach you, even at church.”
We eventually landed in joint counseling, and for the first time, we both saw what was really happening. Subconsciously, I resented her for managing my relationships. She had no idea she was doing it.
To her credit, Gina immediately asked forgiveness. And I asked her to forgive me for becoming passive and isolated. Most importantly, she began trusting me to tend my own relationships. I’m finding my voice again.
Now when we are with friends she allows me to do at least half the talking. When my adult children come to her and ask, “What is Dad thinking?” she refuses to say. “Go ask him,” she replies.
With Gina out of the middle of our family, all our relationships have improved. The smile is back on my face—and our marriage has never been stronger. And as a bonus, I’m learning to become more gentle and compassionate in my speech.
I didn’t write the column to dump on my wife – I am madly in love with her. She’s fifty kinds of wonderful. But even wonderful people can mess things up when they give in to fear.
So how about you? Do you manage your husband’s relationships? Do you tense up when he speaks, fearing he’ll say something offensive? Are you afraid your teenagers will rebel if you allow your husband to deal directly with them? Do you jump in and dominate conversations so nothing can go wrong?
One of the best ways to respect your husband is to trust him – even in those arenas in which you are the expert.
David Murrow is the author of four books, including the bestseller, Why Men Hate Going to Church. This blog post is an excerpt from his latest book, What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You.
I’m delighted to be giving away a copy of What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You; to enter to win, leave us a comment telling us why you would like to read this book.