We have been looking at Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and specifically at how husbands can show love to their wife. Dr. Eggerichs uses 6 basic areas to express how a husband can do this and they follow the letters C-O-U-P-L-E. Today, we continue looking at the second letter in C-O-U-P-L-E and that is Openness.
So, I would like to look at why men stop being open with their wife. For some reason, a guy will go through a courtship with a young lady and be fully open, sharing his thoughts, dreams, fears, hopes, and failures. It is a great adventure for him. It is his ultimate hunt for his ultimate prey. So, he has found the woman of his dreams and he has landed his prize. But something crazy happens, the new husband begins to become content. He landed his dream girl as a wife but he starts to stop being as open as he was and stops pursuing his bride the way he did when they were dating. In his mind, his love hasn’t changed for his wife but he has finished the hunt and now looks at the relationship more as a shoulder to shoulder relationship.
Remember, that a husband usually doesn’t look at love changing very quickly. He doesn’t look at love like a bucket with a hole in it that slowly drips love out and needs to be refilled continually. His view of love is more like a YETI cup. It is solidly built with an insulated metal container where when the love is hot it stays hot and when it is cold it stays cold, but will still be there for days even if it has gotten lukewarm. He doesn’t understand that all of the things that he did when they were dating were overfilling his wife’s bucket by helping her feel loved and energized by his transparency.
So, why does this happen. Guys are fixers generally, so most likely this marriage is one of the first things that he can’t just fix and be done with. Most wives like to talk about marital problems on a daily basis. This is not to beat her husband over the head with, but to keep the marriage tidy and keep major problems from happening. Dr. Eggerichs describes his experience with this as, “I really didn’t understand what she meant by keeping things up-to-date to prevent problems. In fact, I often thought that talking about potential problems on a daily basis had to mean we really did have some kind of major marital problem!” Dr. Eggerichs went on to explain that he took his wife’s daily problem list as a condemnation of his inability to be loving and that caused him to feel disrespected. So, his response was to withdraw and then withdraw some more.
I know that I often felt like I didn’t really have a voice in our relationship. My wife would always have things very thought out and her views were so black and white. I felt like maybe I wasn’t smart enough or good enough because my views would never be as strikingly black or unstained white as her views would be. I have to understand that my wife is not attacking me with her views nor is she prying into my life. She is dying to connect with me and wants to be connected to me.
Another issue Dr. Eggerichs brings out when talking about this is the potential that a husband becomes bitter in the relationship. Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” This is a bitter taste in the mouth that a husband may develop for his wife. Dr. Eggerich says, “the embittered husband can be harsh, cynical, or resentful. Instead of being open to his wife, he closes off his deepest heart, giving the impression there is very little he finds tasteful about her.” Bitterness is extremely dangerous and something that really needs to be dealt with. It is one thing to be silent and withdrawn but bitterness leads to personal attacks, hyper motive questioning, and just a general being eaten alive experience. A bitter husband has no chance of being open with his wife and therefore has no ability to show his wife that he loves her.