Category: Patience

Q&A: My Wife is not a Talker

Q: “My wife is not a talker, but I really want to open up to her.  She just doesn’t seem there most of the time.  How can I change this?”

Gary Chapman: It is possible to grow significantly in learning how to talk, but she will need your help. Be aware when talking to her that you don’t just make statements—things like, “I wish you’d talk more,” or “It’s a beautiful day.”  One of best things you can do is to ask her specific questions. It is easier for a “dead sea” (non-talker) to talk if you ask specific questions. So once you’ve asked a question, leave some silence. Don’t answer for her. Give her a chance to enter into the conversation. Additionally, it’s a good idea to phrase questions in a way that require thoughtful response as opposed to one word answers (yes or no). Be satisfied with short answers at first because it will take a while for her to begin to talk more. Try to have different questions you can ask her everyday and before long you will notice a change.

The Healing Power of Apologies

In a perfect world, no one would need to apologize. But in an imperfect world apologizes are a necessity. The first step is admitting that you need to apologize. “I owe you an apology,” is a good beginning. Then, express your apology, and admit that your behavior was wrong. Ask them to forgive you. When you sincerely apologize, you will most likely receive forgiveness. When you fail to apologize you leave an emotional barrier between you and the other person. When is the last time you apologized to your spouse? Or, your child? If it has been more than a week, you probably need to say,  “I owe you an apology.” Time doesn’t heal hurts; apologies do.

Chose to Be Patient

When I become impatient, lose my temper and spout condemning words to my wife, I have become an enemy, not a friend. She will likely fight the enemy or flee from the enemy. So, we have a royal argument that no one wins, both of us walk away wounded, and try to avoid each other the next few days. All because I was impatient.

On the other hand, had I been patient, I would have asked questions in an effort to understand my wife’s behavior. Once I understand what motivated her behavior, I’m more likely to have a reasoned response. I am now her friend and she responds positively to a friend. The whole atmosphere remains positive because I chose to be patient.

Patience in Marriage

Patience does not mean that we do nothing when others are upset with us.

I’ve known people who will sit stone-faced and listen to the ranting and raving of their spouse and then get up and walk out of the room with no comment. This is not patience it is isolation. It is self-centeredness.

Patience is caring enough to listen empathetically with a view to understanding what is going on inside the other person. Such listening requires time and is itself an expression of love. Patience might mean remaining calm when what the other person is saying is hurtful. Patience says, “I care enough that no matter what you say or how you say it, I will listen and try to understand.

To Love is to Be Patient

In Western culture, we are not trained to be patient.

We get irritated just waiting for the computer to boot up. We are also impatient with people who don’t operate on our time table or waitresses who bring us the wrong order. And yet, patience is one of the traits of love. To be loving is to be patient. In a nutshell: patience is accepting the imperfections of others.

Patience begins by recognizing that people are not machines. They have thoughts, feelings, and they make decisions. Those decisions do not always please us, but we must give them the same freedom that God gives them. To condemn your son for not going to college will not have a positive effect on his life. Step back, and give him freedom to be human.

Renewed Determination

Marital separation sometimes brings a temporary sense of ‘peace’. One husband said, “This is the first week of peace I’ve had for years.” Of course he felt peace; he had left the battlefield. However, retreat is not the road to victory. You must come from that retreat with a renewed determination to defeat the enemy of your marriage.

If you are separated, use this time to examine the biblical principles for building a marriage. Discover where you went wrong and how to correct it. Reach out for God’s help. I wrote the book Hope for the Separated to help you do this. Separation is not necessarily the end. It may be the beginning of rediscovering the dream you shared when you were first married.

Meet in the Middle

There are three ways to make a decision when the two of you don’t agree. After hearing each others’ ideas and desires you may decide to ‘meet each other in the middle’. That is you each give up something, in order to reach a solution. Second, you might ‘agree to disagree.’ Since we can’t agree, we just give each other the freedom to ‘do it your way.’” This works well with the toothpaste battle. You get two tubes, and let one be a middle squeezer and the other a bottom squeezer.

The third possibility is for one of you to say, “I think that this time, I should do what you’re asking. I see how important it is to you and I’m willing to do it cheerfully.” Each of these requires understanding, loving attitudes, and a willingness to change.

Focus on the Solution

Being impatient does not change the situation. You can get all agitated because things have not gone the way you planned, but your agitation does not fix anything. Why not focus on the solution rather than the problem. So, your spouse forgot to bring the milk home from the store. Patience says, “I recognize that you are human and human’s forget. So, let’s decide who will get the milk and when.”

Now you’ve solved the problem and you are still friends. Patience is based on the reality that people are human. So I must not expect them to do things the way I would do them. They will not always operate on my agenda. Being patient with the imperfections of others is one of the traits of love.

Marshmallow Test

More than 40 years ago, Dr. Walter Mischel conducted an extensive long-term study at Stanford University that came to be known as the Marshmallow Test. The researcher put a marshmallow in front of a 4 year old child and said: “You can have one marshmallow right now, or you can wait 15 minutes while I do something else and then you can have two marshmallows.

About one third of the children waited and received the second marshmallow. Fourteen years later the same children were interviewed about their present lives. Those who waited had better self-esteem, higher SAT scores, and were considered more socially adept and trustworthy. Patience, is indeed a virtue.

Enemy or Friend?

When I become impatient, lose my temper, and spout condemning words to my wife, I have become an enemy, not a friend. So, she will likely fight the enemy or flee from the enemy. So, we have a royal argument that no one wins, and both of us walk away wounded, and try to avoid each other the next few days. All because I was impatient.

On the other hand, had I been patient, I would have asked questions in an effort to understand my wife’s behavior. Once I understand what motivated her behavior, I’m more likely to have a reasoned response. I am now her friend and she responds positively to a friend. The whole atmosphere remains positive because I chose to be patient.

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