Are You Too Close to Your Spouse?

What?

Did I read that right? Can I really be too close to my spouse?

Maybe that’s what you were thinking when you read my title. You might’ve also wondered …

What kind of marriage blog is this, anyway? The author doesn’t even want us to get close to our spouses!

I’m outta here!

But please give me just one more minute to make my case …

Because I know of at least one way that you really can be too close to your spouse. Unfortunately, I’ve lived it at times, and found it makes things very messy, very quickly.

It’s when you assume that your spouse’s actions are about you

After all, when you get too close to something it becomes blurry and out of focus. You see distorted things or don’t see things that are really there.

So you’ve got to keep in mind that there are many factors for why your spouse (or yourself, for that matter) does what he/she does. And when you try to take responsibility for how your spouse acts or feels, then you must realize that you’re probably getting too close and need to …

Back off!

Or in more psychological terms – “detach.”

All that really means is that you must understand that you are “you” and your spouse is your “spouse.” You cannot and should not take responsibility for your spouse, but rather you should take responsibility “for” yourself and be responsible to” your spouse.

For example –

  • 
I am not responsible for how angry my husband feels when I tell him I can’t do something he wants me to do.
  • But I am responsible to have healthy reasons for turning him down.
  • And I’m responsible to have had a respectful attitude in how I came across to him when I turned him down.
  • And I’m responsible to communicate well with him in our efforts to resolve any conflict that develops.
  • And I’m also responsible to care about his feelings, but not to carry his feelings out of fear, guilt or my own personal baggage.

I know that this is a subtle line that we are talking about and can be quite confusing when we’re in the heat of the moment or simply caught up in an unhealthy, “codependent dance” with our spouses. But the one thing to remember is …

It’s not always about you.

Very often our spouses have hurts from their past that have colored the way they see a situation, and your actions on a particular occasion may only be triggering that hurtful memory. Sometimes our spouse has just had a bad day or (for all the females out there) a bad hormonal moment. We have to give our spouses the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves …

This is my spouse’s issue and I simply need to …
a)    Give my spouse space
b)    Pray for my spouse
c)    Reach out to embrace my spouse with compassion and acceptance
d)    Love my spouse as I’ve been loved by the Father
e)    All of the above

Yeah, I think I’d go with “e” on this one.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

Today’s Post is Linked to – 
 NOBH
and
  • mmm … we are both on the same page today … I wrote about how we’re each responsible for our own stuff, our own feelings, our own choices and we’ve got to say farewell to rescuing, fixing, enabling!

  • Ro elliott

    great words here…I am walking with a young lady…she is learning this…it is such a load to carry….your own stuff along with someone else’s stuff…and yes E brings freedom. blessings~

  • Jennifer Barker

    It’s so easy to feel guilt where guilt is not valid. You’re right in that when we feel this way, it’s all about “me.” Love the thoughts!

  • Lynda Schultz

    I’m not married, so I’m either collecting this information for when God sends my spouse this way or trying to reflect on how to apply this to my relationship with my son.

    It is possible to be too close to your children, and I’m thankful for your thoughts on this. Something to ponder today…

    Thank you for linking up at NOBH. It’s always nice to see your posts linked, Beth.

  • Meghan Carver

    Excellent, Beth. I needed this today, especially the reminder to pray more for my spouse. Thanks.

  • Great perspective here. I like that image of when we are too close to something, the image becomes blurry. I makes sense to back off, give space and gain a little perspective. I’d say prayer ought to fill that gap. Thank you for these words!

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I read your post and I think you bring something totally different to the table regarding this issue, Linda. Isn’t it great how God works both of our posts out to speak about the same subject in different ways!? Thanks so much for coming by and weighing in! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Yes, I’m still learning this along the way. I think I’ve got it all figured out sometimes and then something happens and I realize I’m “in it” again–up too close. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by, Ro, and encouraging me!

  • messymarriage

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think women struggle with this issue more than men. We always want to nurture and sometimes that gets us in trouble when it comes to healthy boundaries. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me, Jennifer!

  • messymarriage

    Oh my, Lynda! This information applies to all kinds of relationships. I only put it in marriage terms because this is a “marriage” blog. 🙂 But yes, it’s something to be aware of in every relationship. In fact, this problem is often more prominent in our relationships with our children. We want to protect them from pain, so we’ll do the emotional work for them. Big mistake! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    Yeah, I think I needed to be reminded of this today as well. Funny how that works! 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me as well, Meghan!

  • messymarriage

    Prayer definitely helps fill the gap–bring perspective. Thanks so much for coming by, Theresa, and encouraging me. 🙂

  • Sam

    Thank you for how you articulated these ideas, Beth. I also really love the visual image you give of how out of focused it can get when we’re too close up; we can’t even recognize what we’re looking at!
    What you said reminds me of something I have been taught in my young marriage: I am not responsible for my husband’s happiness, nor is he responsible for mine. We have taken upon the responsibility of contributing to each others’ happiness and do so in enormous ways but he doesn’t determine if I’m happy or unhappy.
    Thanks for further fleshing out this idea for me in ways that can help us in our marriage. I appreciate your reflections!

  • Beth, great message. When we see our spouses as separate, imperfect people yet utterly loved by God, I think we’re in a much better place – emotionally, spiritually – to handle conflict. Your choices a-e are right on point!
    Ann

  • Colleen Allison

    This was great. Thanks. Very true.

  • What a great post! I truly needed the reminder to continue to pray for my husband. Thanks so much! Thank you, also, for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. Many blessings, Lisa