Never Good Enough
Note: This situation is not gender-specific. But I will describe what seems to be
the most common scenario.
From my reading, observation, and conversations with many divorced women, it seems
there are many women frustrated at the apparent apathy of their husbands in relation
to the marriage. And I understand that frustration and disappointment.
Typically, most or all of the blame goes on the husband. But much of what people
say and do is a reaction more than a conscious choice of action.
It is good for a spouse to vocalize their emotions and struggles. But, sometimes,
even with the best intentions, the message received is very different from what
we wish to communicate.
A person who repeatedly communicates about their frustration with a spouse may gain
a reputation as a complainer, criticizer, and someone who discourages more than
encourages. The person on the receiving end can easily get the message that they
are not "good enough".
If good faith efforts get the response "not good enough", the person questions
their own efforts. If they eventually come to the conclusion that whatever they
do is "never good enough", they will give up hope. If the effort won't
satisfy the complainer, why try at all? So they quit trying.
Then the wife gets frustrated with the apathy and may even initiate divorce because
of it. Seldom does a woman recognize that the apathy was at least partially a response
to their own words and actions. Each person is responsible for their own actions.
But our own actions can strongly influence other people to choose apathy or some
other negative attitudes and actions. A relationship is two people interacting.
We must take responsibility for our own role in a relationship and how we influence
the reactions of our spouse.
On the Receiving End
And what if you are on the receiving end of this scenario? It is obviously going
to hurt hearing the message that you are never good enough. And it hurts all the
more from someone you are supposed to trust, someone who is supposed to faithfully
honor and respect you and help you feel loved. How do I react to the pain?
One first step is to examine your own actions and see if perhaps you have communicated
the same message to your spouse. Sometimes messages with good intentions are received
negatively. Is it possible you have communicated that "never good enough"
message at times?
Secondly, if the comments are about one particular area, that is probably something
that is important for your spouse. To some extent that topic is probably related
to their love language or top
emotional needs. And maybe you actually could do better in that area with
the right help and motivation. So consider the possibility that you could bring
joy to your spouse by doing a little better in that area. Perhaps they can help
Third, communicate with your spouse. Try not to preface it with "You ...."
and try to phrase it as "I feel...". Many times the easiest thing is to
simply say "That hurts" when they say something negative. Then at least
they are aware of the pain. And perhaps you can discuss it some. If you discovered
some situations where you have done the same, then you can discuss it as "We
both slip in this area. But we can help each other do better."
Fourth, you may have to filter out some of those negative comments. And just let
go of the potential offense, the resentment and the bitterness. Don't let them steal
your joy. People who hold on to bitterness mostly hurt themselves. You have value
- even if nobody communicates that to you. God loves you just as you are today and
wants what is best for you in the long run. So you are loved. Show respect for yourself.
Do what is right and honorable. Live without regrets.
You may wish to read about the related topics of love
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