This evening, since leading the Cornerstone Marriage Retreat is still fresh in my mind, I want to share another pitfall with you that many couples fall into very easily and it is called “Silent Divorce”.
At the highest level, you know you have reached this pitfall in your marriage when your spouse feels more like just a roommate to you than they do your spouse. Let me say to you that this is so incredibly easy to fall into, especially the longer you are married. Once we start avoid talking about our feelings, it is incredibly hard to start that habit back up. In fact, we will talk to everyone else BUT our spouses about our feelings once we start this horrible habit.
The longer this goes on in your marriage, true intimacy becomes virtually impossible because we learn to replace the intimacy with just about anything else that we have ‘fallen in love with’. During counseling with many couples, I have heard just about every reason I can as to why one spouse no longer spends intimate time with the other. Here are just a few examples:
- I’d rather read romance novels (because this is the world I prefer to live in)
- I prefer to work in the garage on my cars (they never ask me how I feel)
- I’d rather spend time on Facebook or Twitter (and see what happy people look like)
- I’d rather volunteer at church (then be here talking to you)
- I’d rather go out with my friends (they never bother me about my feelings)
- I’d rather spend time with my parents (they understand me better than you)
- I’m so worn out all the time I just want to veg out (I have no clue how to talk about my emotions)
Trust me, I could go on and on. I believe I have taken note of over 300 different reasons husbands and wives have given me for why they would rather do just about anything than spend intimate time with their spouses talking about their feelings.
Why do married men and women spend so much time and energy avoiding intimacy and true communication with each other? Two reasons:
- We are naturally horrible horrible at it and it takes hard work to get good at it
- It forces us to deal with our true feelings, which in turn, makes us deal with our ’emotional baggage’ we have been carrying around forever
Normally this behavior starts when either the wife or husband gets somehow let down by their spouse. This could be one of a million different reasons, but it boils down to there was some expectation that one person had that the other person did not meet, and then no communication was had about the feelings this caused. The longer we experience this let down without addressing it, the longer and harder it works on us psychologically, to the point where we “check out” on our spouse because it is the easier thing to do.
Bottom line – a marriage where there is no strong, emotional feeling sharing and true heartfelt conversation happening is a marriage that is headed directly for the ice berg that sank the Titanic.
God made us emotional people. We were made to feel, both good and bad feelings. We would have absolutely no appreciation for the good feelings if we never experienced the bad. God also granted us the ability to communicate with each other very clearly. Animals do not have this ability. They were not made in God’s image, we were. As such, we owe it to God, and to each other, to speak to each other and tell each other how we are feeling and more importantly WHY we are feeling the way we feel.
There is ALWAYS a reason that we feel and act the way we do. If your spouse asks you, “You seem upset. Is there something wrong?”, you do both of you a disservice if you answer “Nothing” when truly there is something going on that is upsetting to you. I realize it may be hard to talk about things that have the potential to makes others feel uncomfortable, but trust me when I say, you and your spouse CANNOT grow in your relationship if you are not in constant and strong communication with each other about your feelings.
We have to learn to tune out the world (the internet, the TV, the clubs, the noise) and tune in to those whom we love and who love us.
If you are in a place where your spouse feels more like someone who just comes and goes and you feel as if you hardly know them, then you are experiencing ‘silent divorce’ and you need to get a hold of that right away before it turns into the real thing.
There are great communication tools I would love to share with you that will help you and your spouse to get back in touch with each other. These are real tools that should be taught in school to all people from day one. They are tried and true and they work! Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to learn more.
Your marriage is more than worth it!
Pastor Brad Komgenick