Building A Healthy Marriage: Reactor vs. Respond (Part 4 of 4)

If you want to build a healthy marriage, learning the importance of responding to your spouse vs. reacting to your spouse will be an important key. Recognizing how to respond and not react will sow healthy patterns.

The first thing a spouse must do when responding is to recognize what your spouse needs is also what you need. If you react and try to correct your spouse in your accusing voice, your spouse will also recognize that this is how we are going to communicate. If you react, your spouse will react. So my question is this: do you like for your spouse to react to you? Do you like to be corrected and criticized and be accused by your spouse? Many times spouses will say, you react to me, I will react to you.

But if you respond, then you are valuing yourself and how you want to be treated as well. If you value and prefer being talked to with care and respect, than you also must also model this by caring and responding to your spouse. The hope and goal is that both of you want and value this.

Second, how do you view time? Reactors tend to be impatient people who feel the need to quickly react and say something to their spouse. But when you respond, you will view time as your friend. When time is your friend, you then can take the time you need to listen, reflect, pause, and take the time you need to think and feel how you want to respond.

When both spouses want to give time to solving problems in the marriage, whatever the topic or problem is, then both spouses are properly taking the time to consider how you want to respond. To respond is to view time as your friend. Successful leaders pause and use time to gather all the facts and information before they make a decision. They view time as their friend for how they want to approach a topic. Healthy successful marriages also pause and use time to respond to one another.

Finally, care how their words affect others. The saying is NOT true: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me. Words, emotions and intensity of how you react does hurt. You can never take back words. Your reacting words do hurt and go much deeper in affecting your spouse than your actions.

So carefully consider how your words affect your spouse but also affect your marriage. Resist the temptation to say, “Well, I am just being honest with you.” No, in your honesty with me you are saying words that really do sting and hurt. Pausing and carefully considering how you say something is so vital to communication. What you say in an E Mail, Face Book, Twitter or in your messaging can come back to hurt and haunt you later.

Resist the temptation to falsely conclude, “I was just giving my opinion.” You may have a right to your opinion, but don’t use this as license to blast your spouse with harsh words, and justifying it with your right to free speech. Take the time to listen and then carefully use your words so as to recognize how your words affect your spouse. If your words do result in your spouse giving you a hug, then you are on the right track.