The Dangers of Defensiveness… and how it can harm your marriage!

 

(Because of the busyness of today and of last minute Christmas bustle, I’m re-publishing a post from July 20th- but many of my new readers didn’t come along until after that point, so the post will be “new” :). This week has been a little rough for me and I needed this reminder; so here is a little marriage advice from a struggling newlywed.)

The Dangers of Defensiveness

It had been a roller coaster of a day.

I am sure you’ve had them; those days where you get the opportunity to taste every flavor of emotion wheel within a few hours’ time. I was excited and felt accomplished for solving a problem on my self-hosted blog, then felt disappointed that I wasn’t further ahead compared to many others I had seen. I was missing my family a lot but didn’t get to talk to them much because of schedules that day. I was elated with what’s been happening on this blog (!) then had a wave of negativity hit me hard because of a conversation… you get the idea.

I was still riding this roller coaster when my love took me to our nearest Walmart and Aldi for our weekly shopping trip (LOVE Aldi, by the way, so many inexpensive gluten free options!). Though my meal plan for the week was made and missing ingredients added to my list (which was organized according to store and then section; dairy, produce, canned, etc.), I had failed to plan for dinner that night.

Not the end of the world- we could scour up something at home, right? Or buy something while we were at the store. Well, my brain translated this information as I am a failure as a wife- inadequately able to plan and prepare meals for my husband. This is an awful crisis- why didn’t I think about dinner for tonight? How dumb was that? Even though that was a highly dramatic response reflecting a heart set on self and not on Christ, that wasn’t the worst part. My love smiled and lovingly offered to make dinner for me with some of the things we have at home (sweet of him, right?). For some reason his offer to make dinner cut through me. How dare he insinuate that I can’t make dinner. He thinks I’m so disorganized. He saw how frazzled I just became and must not think that planning and making dinner is a big deal- well, that is a big part of my role as a wife, so he must not think my role is very significant…. and so went my thoughts. As my inner tirade of self-pity and self-loath (but somehow with a haughty view of self) continued, I clammed up. My poor love. He didn’t know why I was brooding, moody, pouting, and pulling away. I raised my defenses, closed up, and closed him out. And I hurt my best friend in the process- who was only being sweet!

Truth be told, I was harboring a heart environment that was desirable for defensive thinking and attitudes to foster and grow. My defensive attitude was completely focused on self with no regard for others. And that is was makes defensiveness dangerous to any relationship: focus on self. Defensiveness protects self at any cost. I skewed my love’s kind offer to make dinner when he saw I was flustered as an offense to me and my role- when it was honestly a sweet offer to show me love. I didn’t tell him what I was thinking or feeling because I chose to foster my negative feelings and pity party. I did not take every thought captive to Christ, leading me to deceive myself about my lack of importance in our marriage, my failure to fill my role (which has a LOT more to do than just make meals!), and my wrong perception of my love’s thoughts. Instead of asking him what he was thinking, I assumed. And even though I didn’t really believe that he was making a point about my lack of planning (he is far too sweet and caring for that), thinking that way fueled my self-pity, so I chose to indulge.

Instead of striving to grow unity and oneness in our marriage, my defensiveness drove us apart, damaging the relationship.

Eventually I broke down. My love held me patiently and let me cry. He listened to my thoughts and took actions to rebuild our closeness and oneness. He knows I don’t do a good job of openly sharing my feelings, and he worked to draw me out. Though looking back on my actions is a humbling experience, I can see how God used it to teach remind me of an important lesson.

Defensiveness is Dangerous to a Marriage.

May I guard my heart, my mind, my thoughts; may I seek Christ so diligently that my heart environment makes it hard for bitterness and defensiveness to grow or foster. And may I remember that when my husband offers to make dinner, it’s out of the sweetness of his heart! {Love you babe!}

Do you have a story of when defensiveness was a danger to your relationship? What about tips to keep defensive thinking at bay? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “The Dangers of Defensiveness… and how it can harm your marriage!

  1. Getting the wrong idea can happen so quickly, it’s easy to run with that idea before checking to see if the message you got was interpreted correctly. As far as tips in this area, I think first being aware of how you are feeling can help. If you pay attention to yourself and realize that you’re irritable, you can warn your spouse that you’re grumpy today, and that it’s not their fault. It’s also good to know what helps your mood when you’re grumpy. For me, it’s working on a project or taking a walk. If you feel like your husband is offending you, ask him what he meant by that or say what you think he meant. That gives him a chance to clarify things.

    I hope that helps!
    Elle | Elleword.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great read, and one that I needed too. I am guilty of doing this–more than I care to admit. I get worked up about something that I did (something that to me, seems important, but in reality is no big deal), and because I am already grumpy, my poor husband can do nothing right, despite his caring and loving heart. I also am very bad about expressing myself, which is something I’ve been trying to work on since we got married. This is a good reminder that above all, I need to seek Christ and take every thought captive, and not let little things get to me. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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