Selfishness vs. Listen with the Desire To Understand
This last communication killer is so common it’s actually part of our culture. We’re encouraged to look out for ourselves, to be self-focused. We’re also naturally inclined to respond to our own desires, feelings, and whims. We’ve been doing it since we could breathe. Maturity comes when you can keep your selfish tendencies in check, thinking and acting as if others are important too.
In a way your husband has sworn to the department that he will set selfishness aside, that he would lay down his life to save another. This is unselfishness at its best, real hero quality. You, as his wife, have agreed to share him for the greater good, another unselfish quality.
But in the day to day, we each have needs and wants that call to be met. We have dreams to pursue and goals to accomplish. So it’s a dichotomy, making sure that we take care of ourselves but also tending to the needs of our husbands, kids, work, etc.
If we really want an outstanding relationship, we will make a choice to listen with a desire to understand each other. But it requires character—humility, even—to set yourself aside for a time to listen.
Roger Williams, Director of the Mount Hermon Conference Center once said, “Selfish people will never live in unity.” In marriage, everything needs to be filtered through us. Not “me,” but “we.” And the “we” includes you both—sometimes him, sometimes you, and sometimes both. There’s a give and take here. And it takes practice.
This is a difficult chapter. Good communication requires responses that don’t always come naturally. It takes courage and inner strength to speak the truth in a way that doesn’t leave our partners wounded. But understand something, ladies: you have power. You have the power to crush your husband, to let your frustration fly in his face, or slowly, methodically undermine him. Either way, it could reduce him to shreds. The closer you grow, the more dangerous you become. You and I both know some women who are very good at this.
But you also have an opportunity to use your power to do something incredible. You have a choice to build him up into the man he deserves to be. Your love and respect can build strength and confidence in him. You can strengthen that thin blue line, indirectly, through careful, proactive words and actions—words that encourage, even heal; actions that respect who he is.