They are men. We are women.
That right there speaks volumes.
They say men are from mars and women are from venus. I’m not sure who “they” are and I’m not sure what mars and venus have to do with anything, but it’s the concept . . . we’re worlds apart in how we view circumstances and field the emotions that come with them.
Marriage is hard work to begin with. Throw in infertility, miscarriages, the loss of a baby, and the death of a child, and it can grow even more complicated, if not downright tumultuous and devastating. We often grow apart, each of us lost in our own world of dealing with the issue at hand. However, if we allow it, trials can create a binding that makes our union stronger. How do we navigate in such a way that instead of driving us apart, our pain and grief pushes us to each other?
For starters, we have to understand what causes it to fall apart in the first place.
1. You are “Isha”, he is “Ish”.
It goes back to the garden. God created us in His image. What does that mean exactly? God is a relational being, an emotional being, a rational being, and a volitional being. Created in His image, we bear those traits.
Pre-sin, we all had equal weight in those areas, but one look at Genesis chapter three and we see sin parted us. When the man is instructed to go out and work, we see him beginning a life path more bent toward a volitional and rational way of life.
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. Genesis 3:17-18
When Eve is told that her desire will be to her husband and she is given a curse of pain in childbirth, we see a woman’s bent directed toward the relational and emotional aspects of life. While men still do bear the emotional and relational part of God’s image, and while women still bear the volitional and rational part, because of sin, these areas have become unbalanced.
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
This is further seen in the New Testament when the instruction to men is to love their wives. This would not have to be commanded if this was their natural tendency, but it is not. Because they have the volitional and rational bent, it is a task for them to tap into their emotions and to operate out of those emotions.
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33
Women, on the other hand are commanded to respect their husbands. Being relational and emotional, we tend to operate on our feelings and in so doing, become rude and snippy with our men. This is especially true, when we are hurting. In fact, we often begin to resent and even hate our husbands for not feeling the way that we feel, which brings us to the command to respect. This must often be a rational choice, rather than one that arises out of our emotions.
2. We forget that we are first married to our husband and one with him.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
The drive for motherhood is strong. In the pursuit to have this desire fulfilled, motherhood can become our everything. If we are not careful, motherhood can become our identity. In the process of the grief and loss, we forget that we were a wife before we were to become a mom.
Motherhood can become an idol that not only takes the place God should have in our life, but it can also take the place of our husband. While this desire for motherhood is a God given desire, we need to consciously keep it in check. Our identity must remain founded in Christ alone, with the role that we have been given, within our marriage, always at the forefront of our mind.
3. We part ways in the issues at hand.
Because motherhood is such a driving force in our lives, we are often much more willing to go great lengths to pursue that dream than our husband feels the need to go. If dealing with infertility, we have a willingness to experience the humiliating exams and procedures to have a child. Our husband…not so much.
In a loss, we’re ready to try again despite the risk. Some of our spouses wonder why we would do such a thing. Why put us through the potential process of loss all over again?
In some cases, because you know your body better than your husband does, you may feel that trying again would be too difficult for you, your wounded emotional state may be too fragile to chance another loss, or you may find another solution (such as adoption) is more appealing. Your husband may feel that “You’ll be fine!” or “You’ll get through it, just like you did this time.” Or “I don’t want to adopt. I only want to raise my own children.”
He is thinking with the logic needed for his role as husband. We are thinking with the emotion given to us for our roles. And the two can be worlds apart.
4. We separate emotionally from him, because he doesn’t feel what we feel, or even because he lacks empathy for our feelings. This choice is a downward spiral that never gets better, if not dealt with.
When our man sees it differently, grieves it differently, approaches it differently, we are hurt. Hurting hearts are tender. That tenderness can make us softer and more compassionate, or it can drive us to resentment, anger, and even hate. When we allow those emotions to take control –it is a choice we make —they multiply into epic proportions. With the passage of time, these negative emotions have created such a great divide between us and our spouse that he is locked out of our heart, and the work to allow him back in will be so great and so extensive, that we may never recover, and a marriage is destroyed.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:15
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. James 3:14-15
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2012. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp018p12-20-12