Today, I’m excited to continue in the “Spring Clean Your Marriage” series with my next guest blogger, Karen Friday. I feel a special kinship with her because she’s a pastor’s wife like me! I hope you’ll check out her bio below and make her feel welcome by commenting and sharing her wise words all around the web!
“You’re going over there again? If you really loved me, then you would spend more time with me instead of with your friends.”
The familiar words rolled off my tongue for the umpteen time. Guilt-ridden words that not only drove a dagger into my husband’s heart, but also injured our marriage.
My husband enjoyed hanging out at his friend’s house, going on motorcycle and camping trips with him, and doing things with both this man and his wife.
But I felt left out and unimportant—like being passed over for better choices. So, I told him exactly that. “You must enjoy their company more than mine. Why don’t you want to be with your own wife?”
Because my husband knows one of a woman’s greatest needs is to feel loved. And since he knows my love language is quality time, I used these truths to my advantage…to manipulate him with guilt.
If he came home and decided to head over to the friend’s home, I sulked and pouted and made him feel guilty from the minute he left till he came home, and for days afterward.
I even went so far as to start scheduling more outings with my girlfriends. Two can play this game, I convinced myself.
Sometimes my husband would text my phone from his friend’s home and asked if I wanted to watch a movie together when he came home. I think it was his way of trying to please me and to perhaps appease me.
Still, my text replies to him carried the undertone of guilt. “Don’t bother. I called a friend and I’m going to her house to watch a movie. I don’t want to keep you from your favorite people.”
On occasion, me and my husband joined this other couple on double dates. But it often felt strained and hard for me because of my bitterness. I carried a grudge, and it continued to fuel manipulating my husband into feeling guilty and influencing his choices.
While it’s not healthy when either spouse spends huge amounts of time with other friends, using guilt to manipulate the other person to get what we want is also unhealthy.
This approach only muddies our marriage, making our tactics dirty, instead of from a clean heart with pure motives.
[bctt tweet=”Using guilt to manipulate our spouse muddies our marriage, making our tactics dirty instead of from a clean heart with pure motives. @FridayKaren #SpringCleanYourMarriage” username=””]
I began to reflect about why I tend to send my husband on guilt trips over something that bothers me. Besides our human and sinful nature that seems to gravitate toward these measures, I soon realized my own issues extended much deeper.
The answer lied in my dysfunctional childhood which included multiple divorces and remarriages by both my parents. And how using guilt to manipulate a spouse to say or do something was modeled for me.
You see, I held front-row-seat tickets to this kind of unhealthy and dirty behavior in marriage. It played on the big-screen of my life over and over until the idea became ingrained in my mind and soul …
If you want to control a spouse’s words and actions, then manipulate him with guilt.
However, in my own marriage, I realized how the results of getting what I wanted this way were short-lived and not rooted in long-lasting change—neither behavior nor mindset. My husband may change his mind or his plans out of a false sense of guilt. Yet, the wrong thoughts, the wrong emotions, and the wrong reasons never bring about the right outcome. Never.
[bctt tweet=”The results of getting what we want through manipulation by guilt are short-lived and not rooted in long-lasting change—neither in behavior nor mindset. Find out how to change for the better! @FridayKaren” username=””]
Since I was creating the opposite reaction from my husband, I needed to decide what I really wanted and the best route to take to gain those results. In this particular instance, I wanted my husband to want to spend time with me. My attempts at manipulating the situation, produced distance between us, not connection or quality time.
So, how could I be the wife who is a pleasure to spend time with, and who communicated my wishes and desires in a healthy and attractive manner?
I’d like to offer these 5 ways to C-L-E-A-N up guilt and manipulation toward our spouse …
C – Change the way we communicate our desires to our husband.
Stop using “if-then” statements. “If you loved me or if you meant what you said or if you were a better husband, then you would _____________. If-then begins and ends on the premise, “I hope I make you feel guilty enough to do whatever I want.”
Instead, we evaluate our desires and communicate them to our husband in an honest and loving way. We ask his opinion and feelings on the matter, and decide a plan to work together to reach them. Also, allow him to express his desires and discuss.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, ESV).
L – Leave room for God to work in our spouse’s heart and life.
People make lousy gods. When we strive to alter a spouse’s behavior to suit us or what we believe is needed adjustments in his life, we may be keeping our spouse from hearing from God. And the Lord is the best change-agent.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22, NIV).
E – Entrust our hurts and injustices to the one just Judge.
Jesus modeled this for us. Although He innocently suffered hurt and injustice, He didn’t retaliate “but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23b, ESV).
We run to God with our hurts in marriage and ask the Lord to heal us and help us respond as Jesus responded. We trust the Lord to uphold our cause and we entrust our injustices to Him.
A – Anchor our marriage in freedom from guilt through Christ’s work on the cross.
Every time we start to bring our spouse under guilt, ask the Lord to remind us that our own guilt was wiped away and made clean through Jesus’ sacrifice. Christ came to save us not condemn us.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17, NIV).
N – Nurture our relationship in the same grace Jesus has given to us.
Jesus never used guilt to manipulate others to believe in Him or follow Him. Giving grace to our spouse shows we understand the great grace extended to us.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24, ESV).
Which of the 5 ways to clean up guilt and manipulation are you hoping to put into practice?
How can you relate to Karen’s feelings or earlier reasons for using guilt to manipulate?
Be sure to join me next week in the “Spring Clean Your Marriage” series! Carmen Brown of marriedbyhisgrace.com will be sharing how the common trap of wiping up imperfections in the lives of our spouses makes our marriages messier. She will offer insight on how to clean this bad habit up and form a healthier focus. I hope you’ll join us then! Check out the image below to see the other fine bloggers joining me in this series …
Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Kingdom Bloggers, Literary Musing Mondays, Tea and Word Tuesday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, Recharge Wednesday, Porch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Destination Inspiration, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith and Friends, Faith on Fire Friday, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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