Have you been offended by your spouse? I know; you need me to qualify that question a bit. Okay. Have you been offended by your spouse this week? Offenses in marriage can be a harsh reality. This article will describe 5 techniques to overcome offenses in marriage.
It is often the case that those we love the most hurt us the most. The pain we feel when offended by a spouse in usually magnified as a byproduct of the love and devotion we have for them. A harsh word that offends us will hurt very differently if it comes from a coworker, for instance. Our spouse can use the exact same word and it hurts so much more.
I pride myself on having thick skin and being difficult to offend. When introduced to new people, they will often ask me if I prefer to be called Michael or Mike. My response is always the same. “Either is fine with me, I’ve been called much worse than both.” You just don’t navigate the basketball court, football field, baseball diamond, and US Marine Corps without receiving a little disparaging name calling.
From a 6’6” center that outweighed me by fifty pounds to drill instructors that enjoy emphasizing the impact of their words by pounding the brim of the campaign cover against your forehead, I’ve received many offensive comments. But none hurt like offensive comments that come from my wife. Those quickly penetrate the thick skin and erode my inner manhood.
When offended by our spouse, we experience heightened levels of reaction to the offense. Anger boils to the point of eruption. Emotions swirl to the point of hysterics. Pain lingers to the point of isolation or depression.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s look at five techniques to overcome those times we are offended by our spouse.
Recognize offenses are inevitable
Maybe the reality that offenses are inevitable takes a few of us by surprise. But if you’ve been married more than a week, you now understand it to be true. We may start with these romantic dreams that our spouse will never do anything to hurt us. Those dreams are dashed with the first argument.
While we quickly come to accept the reality of offenses in our marriage, we often go years before realizing we aren’t alone. Offenses aren’t just inevitable in our marriage; they’re inevitable in every marriage. Just recognizing that your marriage isn’t unique in this struggle equips you to overcome offenses.
Recognize your spouse isn’t malicious
Occasionally we need to remind ourselves that our spouse doesn’t wake up every day with a mission to offend us. Offenses may occur on a regular basis, maybe even daily, but they occur because of some underlying issue in the relationship. Your spouse didn’t start their day with a to-do list of ways to offend you.
Offenses often occur intentionally, but accidentally. Confusing, I know. Let me explain with a situation from my own marriage. Just yesterday, my wife was asking for my help with a science project for one of our children. I was feeling very overwhelmed with her requests, so I responded with a statement that I knew would trigger offensive feelings and likely shut down the conversation. There was intentionality because I knew the impact my statement would have, but it was accidental because it came out before I could proper process how to respond. I didn’t wake up yesterday morning looking to the right opportunity to jab my wife with that comment. The underlying issue was my inability to properly communicate how I was feeling overwhelmed by her requests.
Recognize offenses can be good
And that leads us to how offenses in the marriage can be a good thing. I offended my wife in our conversation yesterday. I apologized quickly, which is the right thing to do. However, that isn’t enough.
We now have to learn from this offense and make improvements to our communication to avoid such offenses in the future. At the right time, I’ll try to properly communicate the reason I was feeling overwhelmed by her requests. She will explain how my reaction hurt and surprised her. In the end, it should improve our communication. Offenses can be turned into good learning experiences.
Recognize unaddressed offenses fester
Conversely, offenses that are not addressed with apologies and sincere explanations will fester into even deeper rooted pain. With each passing day, your mind will convince you that your spouse is malicious. Your mind will convince you that your marriage is unique in this struggle. Your mind will convince you that your spouse likes nothing more than hurting your feelings.
This will lead to each spouse punishing the other with completely silence. Which then begins the vicious cycle of the mind being even more persuaded our spouse is a worthless derelict. Once our minds are set on the dereliction of our spouse, the marriage begins the downward spiral leading to the big D.
Recognize you control your response
Lastly, we must recognize that we control our own response and that is all we control. Even when our spouse doesn’t apologize, we own and can control our response. We can choose to forgive without receiving an apology. Even if our spouse doesn’t want to address or discuss the offense, we own and can control our own retrospective and self-improvement.
We also own and can allow our response to further erode the marriage relationship. We own and can allow the offense to perpetuate by lashing out with our own offensive response. Either way, responding in a positive or negative manner, we control our responses. Therefore, if you are still offended, that’s your problem.
1. Seek forgiveness quickly – listen to podcast episode 73
2. Address offenses with sincere discussion – listen to podcast episode 75
3. Decide to response to offense in a positive manner
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