What do you do with the situation where a spouse comes home from work exhausted and the other spouse wants to “talk” instead of allowing them to wind down for a while? Let’s say that’s happening to you. When you tell them you’re tired, they complain that either you don’t love them, or that something’s “wrong” if you don’t want to talk right then. They tell you that they’re tired too. But they need to feel connected to you by talking together. This is a common problem for many marriages. Steve and I (Cindy) have been there many times.
What we’ve learned is that both of us have different expectations when one or both of us comes home. We’ve also learned that we have different needs after being gone. Many (but not all) women feel a need to connect by talking when we haven’t been with our spouse for a while. After talking we THEN feel we can relax or do other things. Actually, talking is a form of relaxation and unwinding for us.
Wind Down Differently
But most men feel a need to have time to “space out.” They feel a need to do mindless things for a while before they feel restored enough to connect in a social way. Talking is the last thing they desire. They don’t see it as a form of relaxing. It takes energy they may not think they have at that time.
Some spouses don’t want to make the effort to connect at any point. They either don’t see or understand the need (because their own perspective clouds their understanding). It may be that they’re narcissistic and they just don’t care. We hope your spouse isn’t this type of person. If he or she is, then you truly need to keep taking it to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to give you insight as to how to make this situation work for you and then doing as God shows you.
A good marriage doesn’t just “happen” without stretching our comfort zones. We need to learn how to serve each other in both small and large ways. After all, why get married in the first place if you just want to live a single-minded life, not making the effort to partner together? It takes extra effort on both spouse’s parts to grow together so you don’t grow apart.
Steve and I are continually learning how to minister to each other, as life throws curve balls at us. We’ve made it our mission to make the effort to work together, to grow together, and to be supportive, as each of us needs it. I learn from Steve and he learns from me and we both stretch and grow as a result —as marital partners, as individuals, and as Servants of Christ.
We’ve experienced lots of ups and downs, but it’s worth it all. As we serve each other we sense the pleasure of our Heavenly Father’s heart. And that’s the most rewarding part of all!
With that said, we’d like to share something that came to us through the ministry of Gary Smalley (which inspired this subject). His ministry sends out periodic e-magazine messages. The following is one of them, sent to us a while ago. Please prayerfully read this question and answer message and see if the Lord has something in it for your marriage:
“My wife and I are constantly arguing about my ‘wind down’ time. When I get home from work I’m exhausted. I work at a highly stressful job. All I ask for is a little ‘wind down’ time in the evening. She thinks I have a problem with my feelings because I won’t open up and share. I’m TIRED, not depressed or going through a mental breakdown. Not to mention all of the chores I need to get done before the sun goes down. Where’s the balance? What can I do to get my wife to back off?
“What if I told you that 20 minutes each night might ease this recurring conflict? My friend, she needs to talk. It’s necessary to her happiness, her security, and even her health.
“Whether you want to talk doesn’t matter. If you love her you will want to meet her deepest needs. Increasing verbal communication is not as painful as men may think. Marriage expert John Gottman says a minimum of twenty minutes a day in true communication with each other decreases a couple’s chances of divorce and greatly increases marital satisfaction. Just twenty minutes a day listening and talking with your mate, and valuing each other’s words. Who doesn’t have at least that much time?
“I know how we men are. When you come home in the evening, you’ve provided, so you think you’ve done your share. Your wife, however, still needs to spend her word allotment for the day —especially if she’ stayed home all day —so she talks all through dinner. To you the conversation may seem disjointed and unrelated to anything really important. It doesn’t make more money. It doesn’t provide anything, as you understand it.
“Dinner is over and she’s still talking. You wonder why you’re still sitting here. Now she wants to take coffee out to the front porch and continue the conversation. You want to head for the garage and fix the sputtering lawn mower (or watch a little TV to decompress).
“Now stop and think, men. What’s more important to you, the lawn mower, the hobby, cleaning the fishing pole for tomorrow’s trip… or your wife? Remember, you’d die for her, right? ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her‘ Ephesians 5:25. Please give 20 minutes to help strengthen your relationship!”
Timing Is Important
We’d like to add something else to consider. Talk together as a married team (when it isn’t a H.A.L.T. time —when one or both of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired). Decide what time works best for all concerned to have some uninterrupted decompression time. Is it right after work and then you make a point to connect afterward? Or do you have connection time together right away and then have a little alone time later? Just try to include both, when it’s needed and it’s possible, in a way that best works for the dynamics of your marriage relationship.
At some point, if there are children, it would be great to give each other some time with the kids and without (if it’s possible). The spouse (who has been away) takes the kids alone at some point to connect with them. You can then join together as a family. This gives the other spouse some uninterrupted time also. This way both spouses have time to themselves, time with the kids, as well as time together. It’s called working together as a team. A good marriage is one where both learn the art of negotiating and compromising —finding ways to meet everyone’s needs. (We hope you have a spouse who will partner with you, to make this possible.) It may be a struggle to get through issues like this, but it’s worth it in the end as you make the effort.
Remember, you’re both supposed to work together for the betterment of your marriage, yourselves as individuals, and also for the kingdom of God. As your marriage grows healthy, and reflects the love of God, others will more naturally want to know your “secret.” They may then want to know your God better. If your marriage is a loving one, it’s a living testimony of the possibilities of what God can do for them also, as they too unite with Him!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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