Today we had our septic tank pumped. It wasn’t long before I was running to close all the windows and fast! The fact that “IT” happens doesn’t make it pleasant or inviting, but it’s necessary.
Our day yesterday was similar, but there wasn’t a pump truck involved. It was our thoughts and words. “IT” happens when we try to communicate through the yuckiness of conflict. “IT” happens when we fail to pause and listen to the burdens our spouse is carrying. Just because we don’t struggle in the same way they do, doesn’t mean their “IT” isn’t just as significant.
Whether your struggle is finances, career changes, relational conflict, or physical pain, having a spouse who draws close to hear your heart is the best remedy. If your spouse is one who instead requires space to process their thoughts—give them the time and space they need without a cold shoulder. Oftentimes it’s the husband who requires more time.
Gary Thomas in his book, Loving Him Well, quotes Michael Gurian, “Neurological studies show that men may take up to seven hours longer than women to process complex emotional data. Think of that: seven hours! Why this delay? Many physiological facts help to explain it: men have a smaller hippocampus in the limbic system (which processes emotional experiences); females have more neural pathways to and from the emotive centers of the brain; and the bundle of nerves that connects the left and right portions of the brain—allowing the processing of thoughts and talk with emotions—is about 25 percent smaller in men than in women.”
Only you know your spouse on this level. Cherishing your spouse requires you to help them process the IT that happens. It may be time to roll up your sleeves and do the necessary work. The health of your marriage depends on it.
(There are couples who don’t fit this generalization. The truths still apply whether it’s the husband or wife who requires more time to process.)