Part 3 of the Testimony Tuesday series we’ve been doing on the Fear of Intimacy picks up where we left off last week: there’s nothing inherently wrong with things such as tasks, hobbies, television programs, etc. The problems arise when those things take the place of and become more important than the people in our lives ~ our spouse and children ~ who need us and our hearts.
C: I really need to look at that. A lot of the times I get stuck in the mode of thinking that whatever task I’m doing is going to benefit my family. I try to press on and get it done but leave my family in the dust when I’m doing it. Even when we first heard of Joel and Kathy’s ministry ~ God Save My Marriage ~ and about mutual submission and husbands serving their wives I would go crazy cleaning the house thinking that was all that was needed. When I’m at work, I’m about my work to get it done and maybe that’s the wrong attitude but I recognize that I’m going about it to get it finished, not to be emotional about it. My family takes that as being distant, mean, violent with my actions, quick. They see me as a mad man rushing around the house trying to get everything done and they think they’re not good enough. I can see where trying to be a blessing can serve my own emotional detachment.
Michael: I can also shift and become the task master in the home and there’s a couple things that Joel suggested I do. He suggested that I allow myself to enjoy doing things with Annalea rather than apart from her. For example, if she’s in the kitchen making dinner I can start doing dishes to help her or just be with her and talk and share a glass of wine and every now and then lean over and kiss or touch her. So, instead of going some other place in the house to get a task done, you can enjoy your wife and still pick up the house. Even with the kids, just sit down and spend time with them while picking up at the same time. So rather than it being a dividing moment, it becomes one of relation.
B (another wife involved in the ministry): I tend to be the same way. I like to do things with my hands and be busy and I add to that perfectionism. A long time ago I heard something and incorporated into my heart a little phrase that I say over and over which is, “People are always more important than things." So if the choice is between someone I love and things, I try to choose people. It’s harder because I can make things perfect, but not people.
Annalea: That’s so right Barbara; people are more important than things and for me the struggle is that things don’t require any emotion of me and so that’s where I’ve had to shift. If nothing emotional is required then it’s all right if I leave it alone for a while. My yarn and needles are going to stand up and say, “Hey! I want you to finish this project now, not it two months!”
And even if you say to yourself, “Well…I’m doing this for my family. I’m working on my car for my family isn’t that important?” While it’s a perk, it’s not as important as your heart and time with them. It’s not such a bad thing that your wife needs you, you know C. And as passionate as you can be about things, you need to become that passionate about your wife.
I once saw a movie in which the husband was complaining about the worst thing in his marriage: that his wife wanted to spend time with him! His friend was telling him how stupid he was for thinking this: reminding him how great the guy’s wife was ~ she’s beautiful, funny, she smells good….and she loves you man! She LOVES you!
Now, in this changing process, it’s totally normal for a wife to feel doubts that her husband even wants to feel passionate about her especially when for most of the marriage he’s been more passionate about things than he’s been about her. I’d encourage her that when she notices it to bring it to his attention. C, you must give L a safe place to do this; it’s not as if what she’s telling you is going to bring you physical harm. Now, we know that dying to self can be painful and at our core we’re all self-centered to some degree and don’t want to do it but it’s for growth and maturity and our betterment. And how wonderful that we have spouses in our life who love us enough to steer us in the right direction. When she does it, don’t take it as criticism or that your failing at something or develop a ‘poor me’ attitude. Just receive it and put a positive spin on it, “I’m so glad you pointed that out to me, Honey. I was really stuck on this one thing with the car and I just need to walk away from it. I’m glad you pulled me away, besides, I’d much rather be spending time with you!” And then, brother, give her a big hug and a kiss so that she knows you mean it!
Michael and I sure hope you've enjoyed this series on the Fear of Intimacy. Of course, we recognize that there's a lot more to it and have just given our experience insofaras it relates to us personally and our marriage.
Just a reminder to join us both this evening for our weekly marriage ministry call starting at 7pm (pst). Just dial 512.716.6531 and enter access code 981128#. As always it's completely fine to just mute out your phone and listen in though we encourage everyone to speak up and ask questions to get help for their marriage. Please note that Michael and I (nor any of the other people who help out on the calls) aren't licensed councelors or coaches or anything of the like. We've just been where you and your spouse may currently be in your marriage and we want to share with you the knowledge that helped us to get on the other side.
Our November 19-22 Marriage Intensive is filling up! Yay!!! We have two openings still available and would be thrilled if you're one of the couples who signs up for one of these spots. Our Intensive isn't just an 'out patient' procedure for marriages...it's more like open heart surgery because we found that that's what it took to get to the real issues that were at the heart of our crisis days. You can register by clicking the Marriage Intensive tab at the top of our blog, by emailing us at email@example.com or by contacting us directly at 562.438.7248
Remember: if we can do it....You Both Can Do It Too!