Although we know that Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus, we can’t deny that the busyness of the holiday season can zap us of our time, energy and patience. Furthermore, the anticipation of gathering with extended family and in-laws is not always pleasant. Soon our focus drifts from the very reason we are so busy and we find ourselves in the midst of Christmas chaos!
Here’s what one wife writes:
The holidays are coming up, which are going to lead to all sorts of interaction with my husband’s family and is therefore an especially hot time for us with our problems. In desperation I began a woman's study of the Motivating your Man books with some girlfriends. I've also been listening to the CD's again in my car.
Here's the miracle - two days ago, my husband called to say that another (dreaded for me) family event was coming up. This has been a classic opening to our past arguments. Instead of continuing down my usual path, I said, "More than anything, I want to respect you in this area. I've messed up in the past and I want to tell you again how sorry I am about that. This is just so hard for me. I am so confused about what you need me to do and what I should do, but I want to be respectful. I need you to tell me what looks respectful to you on this matter and help me do that."
Wow. What an amazing difference in the conversation that followed. My husband instantly melted and became very warm and compassionate. He accepted my apology very gracefully, and on his own made a number of apologies about his own past behavior. He began talking about past problems and I was really able to listen to him. He felt understood by me. I was able to talk about things I have tried to talk about or have wanted to say for years - and he listened. For the first time ever, I finally felt he heard me, tried to put himself in my place, and acknowledged that he saw how difficult some of the situations we struggle with have been for me. He then proceeded to tell me exactly what he wanted me to do, and how he wanted me to handle these family functions that have been so difficult.
What he asked for is reasonable and something I feel I can do. More than that, for the first time I feel like I have his love and support and understanding about these tough things and that alone is going to make it easier to be in hard situations. I'm not sure if this seems small or big to you, but for me it is an earth shattering, marriage changing turning point. (~Katie)
As you head into this Christmas season are you willing to make this small adjustment to work with, not against, your spouse? Recently we heard back from this wife – now 8 years later – and this “small change” indeed was a major turning point in their marriage! We will share that with you next time, but what will you do to follow this woman’s example? Wives, are you willing to soften your approach as this wife did? Husbands, can you lovingly seek to understand your wives?
Instead of continuing down your usual path of Christmas chaos, make the Love & Respect change. It really is the best gift you can give each other!
Ladies, be sure to also check out our new Women's DVD Study, Respectfully Yours: The Secret to Power and Influence in Your Marriage