The whistle blows and the day is finally over. Many men shut down their work computer and with it log off the part of their brains. Men are experts at compartmentalizing. We have a “mental box” in our brain for work, for home, for church, for God, for the kids, and for our wife. As we drive home we file away all the stuff of the day. This seemingly normal activity is the first step towards withholding from your wife.
In Kate’s post, “You’re Not Getting Any”, she gave an important warning to wives about not withholding sexual intimacy in order to get what they wanted. I’m sure that many men cheered when reading it. A decade of sitcoms have made it almost normal for wives to withhold sex from their lazy husbands. Guess what guys; our wives are not the only ones who can withhold.
Most men are guilty of withholding from their wife. We might not withhold physical affection (although some do) yet many are quick to withhold their words, their thoughts, ideas, and yes even feelings.
“It Was Fine”
When you answer the question, “How was your day?” with the static “It was fine” answer, you are withholding. When you decide not to tell your wife about the conflict you had with your boss because, “it’s too complicated and she would only worry”, you are withholding. When you are worried that you might not have enough money at the end of the month but don’t tell your wife, you are withholding. Anytime something is occupying a lot of space in any one of your “mental boxes” and your wife doesn’t know about it you are withholding.
Just like the withholding of sex, this withholding creates a separation and distance between you. You might not feel this emotional distance, but I promise you that your wife does. This distance only grows and adds to any other issue the two of you might have.
What You’re Withholding Might Not Be Negative
Sometimes positives can be just as difficult, or more difficult to share then the negatives. If you got a compliment from your boss or even a special “word from God” in a prayer time, it can be tempting to withhold that from your wife too.
The other week I had the opportunity to take a day long personal retreat just me and God. It was an amazing time and a real gift. When I got home I was excited to share with Kate the things I had learned, but I still felt that risk of vulnerability when I shared. My irrational fear was that she would say something negative, and my positive experience would be destroyed. In the past I probably would have just been vague so as not to risk it. Now, I’ve learned that the loss of intimacy, the loss of that shared connection is a much bigger risk then my silly fear that she would say something to make me feel bad.
Just Do It
So you’ve been convicted that you are withholding. Now what? Well you need to find a time to share. There is no middle ground. You just need to do it. Find a time when you and your wife have quiet time. Turn off the TV (that will get her attention) then just start talking.
So have you been withholding? How are you going to make a change?
Wives, what can you do to help inspire your husband to feel ok to share? Ideas?