My greatest desire is to connect emotionally with my husband. Over the past few years as my relationship with God has strengthened, I have started opening up so much more with Jim. At night I lay on my husband’s chest and pour my soul out to him. I share my insecurities, struggles with God, my hopes and my dreams and it has been amazing. The problem is that I don’t want my husband just to listen to me. I want him to emotionally connect with me too. I want him to become an equal partner.
Our Greatest Struggle
Connecting emotionally has become our greatest marital struggle. It is the crazy cycle that we enter over and over. Usually it goes something like this…
First, I share and it feels so good connecting to let Jim know what is really going on with me. But then I start wondering about him. As I get naked emotionally, he stays safe. He’s like a spectator, like he’s going along for the ride without really participating, and I start to feel hurt.
So, I start asking him questions and soon he’s sharing surface details about his day. Sometimes I am fine with our conversations, but other times I just crave something deeper. And as I start pushing, my husband begins to get that deer in the headlights look of, “I have no idea what you are talking about it.” When I ask how he feels about something, it is as if I am asking him to speak a foreign language. And I feel like I am banging my head against the wall over and over because he never really gets how to emotionally connect.
In my deepest darkest times of frustration over my husband’s lack of skill at connecting emotionally, I have thought, “this must be what it feels like to a man when his wife does not understand the importance of sex!”
Disclosure: What follows uses generalizations about men and women to illustrate a point. If you don’t fit these generalizations then please don’t take offense. Even though your marriage may not fit this scenario, figure out your spouse’s individual desire, take it seriously, and do what you can to grow so that you can meet it.
Men and women seem to speak different languages. When our spouse asks us to speak their language, it feels foreign, terrifying and at times absolutely impossible.
If you crave connection through sex, then take all your feelings of frustration over your wife ignoring your sexual desires, and realize that she probably feels exactly the same way – just over different issues. And if you’re banging your head against the wall because your husband doesn’t know how to open up and talk from the heart, then understand how hurt he feels because you won’t take steps to embrace sexuality as a powerful way for the two of you to connect.
Learning a New Language
Use your frustration to create compassion towards your spouse and to motivate you to make changes. Just like learning a foreign language, learning something new will require intention. It will not just happen. You may need to take a class, see a counselor or read a book to get started. Learning a new language will take practice and time. If you only remember to apply yourself after a fight, you will make little progress. If you feel coerced or forced to learn something new, your Spirit will rebel with a, “You can’t make me do it attitude.” Do it because you love your spouse, because you want a better marriage, and because God wants you to learn something new.
You might even feel like what your spouse desires is impossible and want to give up. Change is hard and you can’t do it on your own. But with friends to encourage you along the way, and by depending on Christ, all things are possible.
Some people might think that I am crazy for expecting my husband to learn to connect emotionally. After all, men just don’t operate that way. The same could be said for expecting women to learn to crave and enjoy sex. We just aren’t wired that way, but we can learn new things. When we don’t, we miss out on an amazing part of life.
Little by little, my husband and I will continue our journeys of learning to speak a foreign language. Though I might have embraced connecting through sex first, he has begun to understand my deep desire to connect emotionally. Recently he has made huge strides and I give him a lot of credit. Often those first steps are the scariest. I hope that some day he enjoys my native language, connecting emotionally, as much as I have learned to enjoy sex.