In the study of human relationships, Psychology and Christianity both explore what it is to be loved. But they’re often at odds about how we should love. One focuses on reciprocity (conditional love), whereas the other focuses on giving (unconditional love). Which of these describes your SOP? And how’s that working out for you?
We’re born vulnerable. And we stay that way … if we’re healthy, that is.
Because vulnerability is a requirement for emotional connection with others.
But Life Experience has told us all to “watch out!”
We’ve all been disappointed and hurt by someone we counted on. And the fact is that the people we love – those who matter most to us – have the power to hurt us most.
Some of us have been abused. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Sexually. Spiritually. Indeed, every aspect of our vulnerability can be a target for abuse. If that’s you, you need to set boundaries. That’s biblical. And it makes total (psychological + spiritual) sense to seek help in establishing those boundaries. In fact, sticking around for more abuse actually enables someone else’s sin by interfering with the biblical principle of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). That is, when you abuse someone, you lose them.
NOTE: Do not blame the victim! Take care of her (or him)!
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again … (Romans 8:15a)
… God has called us to live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15b)
But as a Psychologist, I know we can take “boundaries” too far.
Especially in marriage counseling!
What was designed to keep people safe has been perverted into a self-justification for our tendency to be self-serving. Most believe – with the help of psychology – that if you aren’t getting what you want from a relationship, demand it. Or manipulate. And if the other person doesn’t respond the way you want him to? Replace him?
GOOD NEWS! His “insensitivity” is often not even about you.
No woman wants to be referred to as “The Princess” or “The Diva” or “The Old Lady.” All those titles described a self-centered woman who has no clue that men are people, too.
Honestly, most women are just dealing poorly with hurt feelings. But you can avoid name-calling (and deal with your own hurt) with a simple-but-not-always-easy strategy.
The Fact-of-the-Matter is, even if you’re married to an emotionally healthy (yes, most men are emotionally healthy despite the pain of their upbringing), usually kind, godly man, he won’t be perfect at meeting your emotional needs.
He is a human being, right? So perhaps it’s his emotion needs that aren’t being met! And, unfortunately, men are not the best at asking for what they need.
So if he’s inattentive or unkind in a way that’s out of character for him, ask The Lord these three questions:
- What is happening in his life now that might cause him to be this way?
- What is it that You want him to have or to be right now?
- How can I partner with You the process?
Follow God’s Example
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
And it’s perfectly all right to ask The Lord
to help your man love you again.
Love Doesn’t Punish
But that’s what happens to most men … on a regular basis. As one man told researcher Dr. Brené Brown,
… you say to reach out, tell our story, be vulnerable. But you see … my wife and my three daughters? … They’d rather me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall down. When we reach out and be vulnerable, we get the shit beat out of us. And don’t tell me it’s from the guys and the coaches and the dads. Because the women in my life are harder on me than anyone else. (transcript)
Determine not to punish him – to shame him for his vulnerability. Because …
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:38)
And soak up all the Jesus you can – all day, every day!
Because you need unconditional love, too!
NOTE: If this post on unconditional love raises questions for you, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will respond personally as time permits.