What do you think about when you hear the word investment. Perhaps you conjure up an image of dressed up men raising their hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Perhaps you think of something as simple as putting money into a college savings account. However, these are not the things I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about emotional investment and how it can affect a relationship.
While talking to a friend recently she was discussing how she really needed her husband’s help on a project but was too proud to ask for it. It is obvious what I need she insisted, I shouldn’t have to go begging to get some help. Exasperated and frustrated my friend was taking the classic passive aggressive stance on dealing with conflict. Step 1) Assume your spouse can read you mind. Step 2) Internalize your anger and breed resentment for their lack of support, while never actually telling them what you need.
Many women take this approach to relationship management but it can be a problem with men as well. One spouse doesn’t want to come off at confrontational or demanding so the just sublimate their anger into a resentment and long for a fresh start with someone new, who isn’t so insensitive, or just to be alone again. I believe these traits pave the path to a self-justified divorce later. The spouse who isn’t getting what they need from the relationship can justify the divorce by saying “no one should allow themselves to be treated this way.”
I am definitely not a marriage expert but I am a wife who loves her husband and promised until death do us part. I am not sharing my advice to you but I will share my perspective on this type of behavior. I think if you are in an abusive relationship that is a different kettle of fish than what I am talking about today. If you are not safe where you are than please get out and get help! But if you are a wife/husband who is married to a person that can be a class A jerk at times, my perspective is for you!
Have you ever been embarrassed about the way YOU handled a situation and later wanted to go back and change it? Well yeah I thought so. Most of us have. We can all be jerks sometimes! It is just SO easy to see it in someone else. Have you talked to your spouse about your needs and given them a chance to be the man or woman that God meant them to be in your life? Pretending that life is great to make them happy while emotionally distancing yourself from your spouse is the first step to letting go of your marriage.
Elie Wiesel said “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” This is so true. Emotional resentment leads to emotional distance which leads to indifference. Try remembering why you fell in love with your spouse to begin with. What stunning attributes did they have that you just couldn’t pass up? What have they done right in the last few years? Love is a choice, it isn’t merely a feeling. Would you kick you teenager out because they were being challenging? No, of course not and why is that? Because they are family!
What is your spouse? Family! Don’t give up on someone without ever having taken the time to tell them what you need. Emotional transparency may be the hardest thing in your life you have to give. It may make you feel too vulnerable but without it you can never really have a true connection with another person in your life. It is because it is so hard to give that it is an investment. If you stood before God and promised “until death do us part” than at some time you valued that relationship enough to feel like investing your future.
After years of marriage, the sparkle has worn off and you may feel like the relationship isn’t quite what you signed up for. Try starting over with your spouse. No matter what bad habits you have picked up, decide to start over today. Pain and disappoint will still be there but start giving your spouse a chance to make things right with you. Isn’t that what you would want? If the shoe were on the other foot and your spouse was getting resentful of you, wouldn’t you want them to at least give you a chance to fix things? Extend them the same courtesy.
Some Christians think anger is a negative emotion and you should run from. Now if your anger is out of control that can be very dangerous to yourself and others. But a healthy controlled anger can be a positive thing. Did your spouse say something hateful and rude to you? Stopping them in their tracks and letting them know that you WILL NOT be talked to in that way is okay! In fact it is a healthy! Much better than letting them continue bad behavior and emotionally divorcing them!
I think that one way to stand up for your relationship is by standing up for yourself. Don’t just watch your life happen and feel despair because nothing ever changes. Realize that you are half of the equation and it will take an emotional investment in communication to start reconnecting again!
Loving your significant other is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage, you have to love yourself too! And remember you are both children of God and he loves you both!