Did I read that right? Can I really be too close to my spouse?
Maybe that’s what you were thinking when you read my title. You might’ve also wondered …
What kind of marriage blog is this, anyway? The author doesn’t even want us to get close to our spouses!
I’m outta here!
But please give me just one more minute to make my case …
Because I know of at least one way that you really can be too close to your spouse. Unfortunately, I’ve lived it at times, and found it makes things very messy, very quickly.
It’s when you assume that your spouse’s actions are about you.
After all, when you get too close to something it becomes blurry and out of focus. You see distorted things or don’t see things that are really there.
So you’ve got to keep in mind that there are many factors for why your spouse (or yourself, for that matter) does what he/she does. And when you try to take responsibility for how your spouse acts or feels, then you must realize that you’re probably getting too close and need to …
Or in more psychological terms – “detach.”
All that really means is that you must understand that you are “you” and your spouse is your “spouse.” You cannot and should not take responsibility for your spouse, but rather you should take responsibility “for” yourself and be responsible “to” your spouse.
For example –
- I am not responsible for how angry my husband feels when I tell him I can’t do something he wants me to do.
- But I am responsible to have healthy reasons for turning him down.
- And I’m responsible to have had a respectful attitude in how I came across to him when I turned him down.
- And I’m responsible to communicate well with him in our efforts to resolve any conflict that develops.
- And I’m also responsible to care about his feelings, but not to carry his feelings out of fear, guilt or my own personal baggage.
I know that this is a subtle line that we are talking about and can be quite confusing when we’re in the heat of the moment or simply caught up in an unhealthy, “codependent dance” with our spouses. But the one thing to remember is …
It’s not always about you.
Very often our spouses have hurts from their past that have colored the way they see a situation, and your actions on a particular occasion may only be triggering that hurtful memory. Sometimes our spouse has just had a bad day or (for all the females out there) a bad hormonal moment. We have to give our spouses the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves …
This is my spouse’s issue and I simply need to …
a) Give my spouse space
b) Pray for my spouse
c) Reach out to embrace my spouse with compassion and acceptance
d) Love my spouse as I’ve been loved by the Father
e) All of the above
Yeah, I think I’d go with “e” on this one.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)