The past couple of days I have been writing about communication within the marriage. Today, I want to continue with the thoughts on communication. I started with the need to just talk then I moved to the fact that men and women talk differently from each other. The next issue that I believe is very important for a couple to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage is the ability to be assertive. So many people have a difficult time expressing their own needs and wants that it truly becomes a problem in the marriage.
I want to clarify something here at the very beginning. I am not talking about nagging or controlling. The Bible says in Proverbs that a nagging wife is like a dripping faucet and that it would be better to live in the corner of the roof than in the house with her. (Prov. 19:13; 21:9, 19; 27:15) The Bible tells the husbands to lead by loving and understanding. (I Pet. 3:7; Eph. 5:25) When a person is assertive, he/she is stating what he/she needs or wants. Within the marriage relationship this is very important while at the same time understanding and considering the needs and wants of the other person. (Phil. 2:3-4)
How can someone be assertive without being demanding or nagging? The easy answer of this question is to state what one wants or needs in a way that is easy to listen to and understand. Simply put, “I like it when…” “I need you to…more often.” “I feel…about what you said.” Statements such as these are called “I” statements and they help the listener to be able to hear what is being said without becoming defensive.
There are a couple of areas that being assertive truly helps. One of those areas is in conflict resolution. I will deal with that on another day, but for conflicts to be resolved both individuals have to be willing state their needs, feelings, and wants within the realm of the conflict.
Another area that being able to assert yourself that is very helpful is in the bedroom. Now this blog is about communication and not about sex, yet so much of sex is about communication. If you are not able to tell your spouse what you like, what you would like for him/her to do, what works for you and what doesn’t work for you, etc. then your love life will leave you frustrated or unfulfilled. If your spouse is doing something like nibbling your ear for instance and you do not like it. You start squirming to get away and he thinks you are encouraging him to do it more. There is bad communication going on.
I had a couple in my office one day that has been married for about 10 years. He rubbed her feet pretty much daily. She allowed him to do so all the while not liking it at all. She finally realized that she could tell him that she did not share his like and appreciation for the foot rubs. He was devastated because he thought for the past 10 years that he was doing something that she liked. For 10 years she was miserable allowing him to touch her feet when she despised every moment. This is just one example of poor communication and not being able to express oneself assertively.
Let me encourage you to practice asserting yourself by stating what you need or what you want. It will be a liberating experience for you.