Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to learn to receive and offer touch. Holding hands, kissing, hugging, enjoying sexual intimacy keep a marriage connected and provide those touches that can soothe our stresses. As God designed our bodies, when we experience touch or have sexual intercourse, oxytocin, the ‘loyal, bonding hormone’ is naturally emitted which causes us to feel more relaxed and emotionally close. Touch has reciprocal benefits; both the giver and the receiver benefit.
Ever notice how just one word can inflame and argument? Gary and I are wired to enjoy winning. We enjoy some fun competition, but we also like to have the last word. And sometimes that last word can ruin a perfectly good day. Conflict can get out of hand quickly. Depending on how much emotional reserves you have in your tank, small issues can escalate into major ruptures of relationship. When your tank is fairly empty, you can react to real or perceived offenses of your mate in a split second. When the tank is fairly full, you are likely to be able to overlook minor missteps and address major ones more thoughtfully.
Every marriage has an emotional tank. When there is little shared time with your mate that tank becomes depleted. No matter what life throws at you, leaning in can keep you feeling close and your tank satisfied. Leaning in can involve small, incremental gestures or larger planned events. As a matter of fact, small increments of daily behavior are more important to a couple’s marital satisfaction than bigger efforts like a vacation. Each couple determines what types of connection are meaningful for them.
When it comes to communication, we often think our mate thinks like we do. If your wife is upset, you reason that she might want explanations as to why she shouldn’t feel that way or some space to think it through. After all, that’s what you would need. Typically, if a man has something heavy on his mind, he prefers to isolate, consider the possibilities, and make a decision. He then can reengage with the matter settled. When he gives his wife the explanation or space he thinks she needs, she feels unloved. She concludes her husband is disinterested and uncaring.
Why is it that some apologies have a way of soothing a conflict and helping us reconnect, while others leave us feeling empty and distanced from our spouses? So often our apologies are couched in some kind of excuse or blame-shifting. We don’t want to take full responsibility or look like the bad guy, so we respond in a way that dismisses our spouse’s complaint and minimizes our accountability.