One of the things I appreciate so much about marriage is the complementarity of men’s and women’s brains. Our mental habits, influences, and motivations are so beautifully designed to support and unite.
Marriage has deepened my understanding of the male brain, and I’ve come to realize my husband often views the world from a single-track, logical perspective. In turn, I have also learned to understand my own mental habits. Though there so many beautiful strengths in the female brain, I have come to recognize the dangers that can arise with how I perceive my husband.
Early in our marriage, I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure our relationship grew. I wanted to understand him and give my husband everything (I thought) he needed as a man. But this became difficult when it came to discovering all the things about my new husband that I didn’t care for.
Before long, frustration crept in as we spent the next year learning more about each other. At times I wondered what was wrong with his brain as he shared some solutions, desires, and perspectives that were, frankly, foreign to me. Because I was a terrible communicator, I attempted to analyze him instead of talking to him. I came to my own conclusions fueled by strong emotions. Then something happened that I thought never would: I came, at times, to despise my new husband.
Whenever he did something his way, I thought he was being ignorant. If he was honest with me during one of our arguments, I immediately labeled him uncaring and selfish. If he didn’t make efforts to make me comfortable or happy, I would tell myself he didn’t really love me. I always made every attempt to determine what he needed from me, so why didn’t I get the same treatment? I went deeper down this rabbit hole, until gradually we weren’t on the same side anymore.
You see, this is an easy entrance for Satan to attack your marriage. We, as companions to our spouses, are gifted with the ability to consider our surroundings and relationships and come up with ways to make it better. Even if that is influenced by our need for control. But our husbands are not the same as we are.
My husband is driven by his desire to provide for me, even if that means using the most efficient and logical solution. He provided honesty in order to get to the point and come to a clear understanding. And he had no idea how to make me happy or comfortable because I had never told him! He thought he had taken care of me already by paying the rent every month and helping me with the grocery budget. But I was too deep into my own concocted contempt for him to see that he was trying to learn to love me the best he could.
So as Scripture says,
The best way to ensure a sense of mental purity is to seek encouraging outside sources that draw you outside yourself. Whenever we bump heads or are both are going through a stressful times, I look for solid reminders of our path in marriage. I read books on marriage, I listen to good podcasts, or I journal how I’m feeling and look at it with a prayerful perspective. I reserve time, without distractions or stress, to have a conversation with my husband, making sure I put aside my assumptions and opinions. Above all, I take it to Jesus in prayer.
Consider, as well, that many women find it radically helpful to be able to speak about their struggles with a friend or family member, but there is a major trap that lies in this. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen one man torn apart by a large group of women who joined and supported the wife in her emotional misunderstanding. I’ve seen marriages torn apart by a mob of supposed friends who convinced a woman her husband was a monster.
When considering a confidant, it’s important to choose someone who supports you and your husband as a couple. They should wish to see your marriage flourish the way God intended it to. This adviser should be able to take an objective, prayerful approach by considering the influences, strengths and weaknesses of each person. In my own life, I have carefully chosen a mentor who has been married much longer than I have. Each time we speak, I can recognize her deep love for Christ and her husband. I’ve come to trust her deeply because her advice leads me to regard my husband with holy empathy and self-sacrifice.
We are called to look upon our spouses with the same eyes God does; to recognize his goodness and talents. To forgive when mistakes have been made and allow for the situation to sanctify you both. You know well the reasons you chose your beloved. Remind him of your admiration as often as you can. Consider a devotion to the Divine Mercy or Mary, undoer of Knots, and trust the graces of the sacrament of marriage will support these challenging seasons of growth.