When women get together, they typically feel free to talk about their burdens and relationships. Many wives have a natural tendency to do the same with their husbands. Their idea of how to keep the Energizing Cycle going is to talk about things – lots of things. You see, even if a couple is on the Energizing Cycle or at least trying to be, many women are not satisfied. She may assume, “If we talk about things, I can point out how I feel to help him understand me and change so he can better love me.”
But as she tries to increase talking with him, she can wind up talking at him. The too-talkative approach closes off most husbands, especially the less talkative ones. When pressed to talk more, this kind of husband loses energy. He pulls back and may even revert to stonewalling, to not talking at all. Now the Energizing Cycle has stopped, and the Crazy Cycle is starting up. The typical man is not as ready to talk about things the way a woman can.
Interestingly, Scripture speaks to this problem! In 1 Peter 3:1-6, Peter instructs wives to respect their husbands not by being talkative but by reflecting a quiet spirit. In fact, he says that the wife with a husband who is “disobedient to the word” (which could mean a carnal Christian or an unbeliever) can win him “without a word” by living a pure and respectful life before him (vv. 1-2).
I realize that some wives may read this and protest, “But we have to talk. How can we resolve anything if we don’t talk?” Their feelings tell them they must talk to their husbands and even point out (in a loving way, of course) things that can make their marriage healthier. They just know, if they can have a good talk and if their husbands will respond to their requests to work on the marriage, they will feel wonderful. Furthermore, they fear that if they remain quiet and don’t share their feelings as much as they think is necessary, they will lose their power and sense of self, and nothing will ever be resolved in their marriage.
Am I saying you should never, ever say anything and just sweep it all under the rug? Of course not. But God’s instructions always have a profound purpose. 1 Peter protects you from your natural tendency to end up talking in ways that guarantee to shut your husband down. When you see your husband’s spirit deflate, try to apply Peter’s command: win him “without a word.” As you show a gentle and quiet spirit and as you learn to address issues respectfully, you will be able to see your husband open up again, and communication will happen.
What I have said to urge wives not to talk so much is not to be taken by the silent husband as confirmation that you are off the hook and don’t need to improve. Next week I’ll share what Peter has to say to the husbands, so stay tuned!
Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.