10 Things I always seem to see while counseling couples

I always seem to end up sharing these ideas with couples I am counseling whether they have been married a long time and have gotten into a difficult spot or they are an engaged couple preparing for marriage. These are simple propositions without qualification. Though they are not laws, they do seem to be reasonable generalizations.

  1. Every woman I have counseled longs to rest in the arms of a strong man. This is a longing for security. In this longing are deep issues of identity and meaning.
  2. No man I have counseled wants to rest in the arms of a strong woman. Rather he wants to have the sort of arms in which a woman might rest. This is a longing for significance. In this longing are deep issues of identity and meaning.
  3. The wife does not feel secure because her husband has a good job and provides lots of stuff. She feels most secure when her husband is present, direct, and engaged.
  4. The husband feels most significant by what he sacrifices for his family and provides for his family.
  5. When relational intimacy (emotional and physical) breaks down because of conflict, the conflict is confounded by the fact that the wife does not feel secure (You don’t seem to cherish me; I don’t think you love me) and the husband does not feel significant (What do you mean I don’t love you? I work a job I hate everyday for you). The conflict escalates because each partner’s longing for either security or significance is threatened. Oftentimes each is asking questions about their own issues rather than addressing the other’s longing. The husband is distant and aloof. The wife feels disconnected and unsafe. The husband senses her distance and caution, and his longing for significance is threatened. The argument escalates when the husband grows angry that the wife doesn’t see his sacrifice or doesn’t feel safe. As anger escalates, the wife increasingly does not feel safe and pulls away. The husband gets angrier. On and on this cycle escalates until someone pushes the “thermonuclear self-destruct button”. Couples should work to see the other’s longing and address the question each is asking. The wife is asking, “Do you love me? Do you cherish me?” The husband is asking, “Do you see my sacrifice for you? Do you feel safe?”
  6. The husband’s fear that he is insignificant is oftentimes lurking behind arguments about money and sex.
  7. The wife’s fear that she is unsafe is oftentimes lurking behind arguments about sex and money.
  8. The wife should recognize and acknowledge the sacrifice the husband makes without expecting less from him.
  9. The husband should recognize that his ability to provide is not what his wife wants most, but rather this is what he wants to be for her. He should continue to sacrifice but not at the expense of being present with his wife.
  10. Husbands, it is not enough for you to have told your wife you loved her when you married her. When you vowed to love, honor, and cherish, you promised to continually be telling her you love her. USE. YOUR. WORDS. She needs to hear you tell her love her and why you love her. Set your heart on her by telling her and talking with her.

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