Married With Benefits™

11: When Conflict with Your Wife Leaves You Defeated

with Brian and Jen Goins, Shaunti Feldhahn | June 29, 2020
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In this episode, Brian, Jen, and Shaunti address the common insecurities husbands experience in conflict with their wives. At work they feel they can tackle anything, but everything changes at home when emotions enter the scene. Are you curious why late-night arguments leave you feeling outmatched? Or why you'd rather withdraw to think before processing together? Listen for the reasons behind your feelings and for some healthy conflict management tips.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Brian Goins

    Brian and his wife Jen love building into families and eating great food together. They have three children who all want to move to Montana. Brian serves as Sr. Director Special Projects at FamilyLife. He is also the executive producer on an adolescent-focused documentary series called Brain, Heart, World ( aimed at helping change the conversation about pornography in our country and has written Playing Hurt: A Guy’s Strategy for a Winning Marriage.

  • Shaunti Feldhahn

    Shaunti received her graduate degree from Harvard University and was an analyst on Wall Street before unexpectedly becoming a social researcher, best-selling author and popular speaker. Today, she applies her analytical skills to investigating eye-opening, life-changing truths about relationships, both at home and in the workplace. Her groundbreaking research-based books, such as For Women Only, have sold more than 3 million copies in 25 languages and are widely read in homes, counseling centers and corporations worldwide. In 2020, Shaunti, together with her husband Jeff Feldhahn, released Thriving in Love & Money. Little did they know just how timely this book would be as the world suddenly changed and couples needed to be able to talk about money more than ever. While most money books deal with surface issues of budgeting and debt, many couples struggle to even talk about money and it creates tension and a barrier to true oneness in their relationship. This is the money book that’s not about the money. It uncovers the issues that cause money conflicts and provide couples with truths that are relationship game-changers. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget. Find out more at Her book, The Kindness Challenge, continues to catalyze a much-needed movement of kindness across the country and beyond. Dozens of prominent organizations and leaders are coming together to do The 30-Day Kindness Challenge, and encourage their followers to do the same. Shaunti’s findings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show and Focus on the Family, The New York Times and Cosmo. She (often with her husband, Jeff) speak at both live and on-line events in the U.S. and around the world. Shaunti and her husband Jeff live in Atlanta with their daughter and son, and two cats who think they are dogs.

Ever wonder if you’re any good as a husband? Does conflict with your wife leave you feeling outwitted or inferior? Listen to Brian, Jen, and Shaunti dive into the validating differences between men and women.

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11: When Conflict with Your Wife Leaves You Defeated

With Brian and Jen Goins, Shaunti...more
June 29, 2020
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Brian: Welcome to the podcast network at FamilyLife®. I’m Brian Goins, host of Married With Benefits, where we’re on a relentless pursuit to help you love the one you’re with and discover all the benefits that came with saying, “I do.”

This season on Married With Benefits we’ve been joined by Shaunti Feldhahn again, Harvard-trained researcher, that is helping us with what we call our key verse: “Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way” from 1 Peter 3:7.

Shaunti: I love helping these men understand their wives. They all want to.

Brian: They do!

Shaunti: All you guys want to. You want to make your wife happy.

Brian: We heard from so many wives in our last season that were saying you have got to put this together for my husband. A lot of wives were listening to season one, which is “Questions Every Wife Is Asking”, and were like, “When are you going to come out with the next one?”

So we’re doing it. Not only do I have Shaunti in the room with me, but I’ve got somebody sitting beside me that’s making me nervous. [Laughter] It’s my wife, Jen, my sweetheart, who has been in studio today and has been great! She was great on that last one.

Shaunti: She’s been awesome. I know.

Brian: You can see that I definitely married up.

Shaunti: And can I tell you how excited I am to have another woman in the room because all you guys, the producers, engineers. Jen, I’m super excited that you’re here.

Jen: It’s great to be here. Thanks for letting me join in.

Brian: I felt more positive when I had more testosterone around me. Now all of a sudden I feel like it’s two on one.

Shaunti: Yes! [Laughter]

Brian: You’re evening out the scales.

Shaunti: There you go.

Brian: I think both of you are going to be intrigued by the question that we got from Ryan today, so listen to this.

Ryan: Hey, my name’s Ryan. I’ve been married for five years, and I’ve got to tell you this question’s been really bugging me. I feel like when I’m in conflict at work, I can think quick on my feet, all my words come to me confidently. But then I get home and when I’m arguing with my wife, she’s just beating me to the punch at every point. What’s that all about?

Brian: He just sounds exasperated, doesn’t he? [Laughter]

Jen: “What’s that all about?”

Brian: “What’s that all about?” Because it’s true. I was thinking about this question a lot. It reminded me of when I played basketball. There were times where I’d do pickup games. I’d get on the court. It didn’t take me long, even though I was incredibly positive and thought, “Okay, I’ve got these guys.” I was watching them but I’d be guarding somebody and realize, “This guy’s better than me.”

Shaunti: Ooh, it’s a bad feeling.

Brian: It’s a bad feeling. You suddenly go, “I’m outgunned and I’m going to get shown up in this game.” For a guy, when he knows that he’s outmatched, you can get insecure real quick.

I think that’s what happens, for a lot of us guys, we feel a bit outgunned by our wives. I feel outgunned by Jen, at times. Because at work, I feel confident that, “Okay, I know where I’m going. I know where I’m headed.” Logic is the thing that we play—that’s the arena that we’re playing in.

Shaunti: That’s the currency of the workplace.

Brian: Yes, and I know what the goal is. I know how to get there. I can move through it rationally. But when I get home, I think, “I’m not really sure what the goal is here in this argument. Are we supposed to—am I supposed to win? Am I supposed to—are we supposed to be together?” Then she brings emotion into it.

Emotion and logic are like two different skill sets that she can play with very easily. [Laughter] It’s like, all of a sudden, “No, she can jump higher than I can.” That’s what I feel like, like she can do more with her words than I can in that moment.

Shaunti: Jeff always said—when we first starting realizing some of what was going on underneath the surface in those situations—because Jeff has always said the same thing, and he, when he finally saw what some of the brain science was—which I’ll explain in a second, but there’s a lot of this that’s literally just brain-wiring differences—he said, “This is such a relief for me as a guy realizing that I’m not just dumb.”  

He always said he felt like he was not as smart as me, not as capable of thinking on his feet. He said it’s a very insecure, very unpleasant feeling. I would, in the middle of an argument, I’d be like, “What are you thinking about what I just said?”

He’s like, “I don’t know!”

And of course, for me as a woman, because my brain is wired differently, I’m thinking, “How can you not know what you’re thinking?” right.

Jen: Did you ever say that out loud?

Shaunti: Oh yes, [Laughter] unfortunately.

Brian: Which made it worse for Jeff.

Shaunti: Ten times worse.

Brian: Because that’s like, “I don’t know how I’m not thinking of something right now.”

Shaunti: Exactly, have I made you just feel that much worse?

Brian: And Jeff’s a lawyer.

Shaunti: He is a lawyer.

Brian: I mean this guy’s an Ivy-trained lawyer, Ivy League-trained lawyer so it’s not like he’s—doesn’t have large grey matter.

Shaunti: He is an incredibly smart person. It actually was one of the things that sent us on a bit of a quest to try to figure out what was underneath the surface of this.

Brian: I think a lot of guys that are hearing this right now—husbands are hearing this—they’re sitting there thinking, “Yes, because at work there’s probably not as much at stake.” In one sense it’s just business. At home it’s like there’s a lot more risk involved because this is my life long partner. This is the one I want to be with the rest of my life. When all of a sudden there’s this blockage between us, I start weighing that. There’s a lot to lose here and that might make some guys insecure.

What’s going on in the heart of a guy and the mind of a guy in that moment of an argument where he’s thinking about all of these things all at once and he’s not really sure what to do or how to process?

Shaunti: I know that there’s at least two things and there’s probably more. We can probably dive into a couple more than this. But we know that there’s sort of a brain wiring difference. I think there’s also a bit of an emotional difference in the heart of a guy, like you said, when it’s his wife at stake.

Because the first piece of this is—we talked about this in episode 4, episode 5—we talked about a couple of these, where a man is just wired to process differently, in most cases; where literally, to some degree, women process verbally. We’re arguing, quote unquote, by processing out loud. Where you as a man, you just want to get away and go escape and, “Stop talking so I can think,” because your wired more, more likely, to process internally.

There’s another piece of that that we didn’t mention, I don’t think, in the previous episode, which is there’s also a time factor involved where you’re designed to go deep into thinking through, “What is it that’s bugging me about this or about her argument or this thing that she’s brought up?” and to go really deep and process through the entire chess match. That will take some time.

What they’ve found—the researchers have found—is that the same signal that can pass in a very surfacy level in a woman’s brain—this is not deep thinking; this is the starting point verbally—the same signal that can process in her brain instantaneously— can take a man’s brain seven to twelve hours to pass because he’s trying to do that deep thinking it through, the deep chess match.  

This we tell women, for any women spies listening in to this, this is what’s behind the fact that sometimes you’re in that argument at night and I’m asking my husband, “What are you thinking?” He’s like, “I don’t know what I’m thinking.” Then the next morning at breakfast he can talk about it.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It’s—to me the encouraging piece there is that both of those types of wiring are totally legitimate. God wired us this way on purpose so we have to come together in a way of processing an argument that isn’t just fair to the wife.

Brian: Would you say that’s true with me? Do you feel like it takes me a little bit longer to process or do you see me kind of stumbling over my words more arguing?

Jen: Yes, I don’t feel like you’re as outspoken. I think you’re pretty sensitive towards me, which I appreciate. But I think that you’re really a lot more careful with your words, and I’m kind of like, “Come on. Let’s just fight it out.” I want to hear what you’re thinking. I feel like you’re holding back.

Probably some guys need to hold back a little bit more. I’m sure there’s some women who would love to have a husband who maybe might hold back. I’m not saying that that’s—it’s a good thing that you do that. But there are times where I’m thinking, “I don’t think he’s laying it all out on the line.” I don’t know if you’re protecting me or you’re just angry or what it is. Do you think it’s because you’re thinking?

Brian: I feel like, when we’re in the midst of that, I can definitely start feeling like your emotions are coming into play and I feel like my mind starts moving through molasses; like everything slows down.

Shaunti: Like we were talking about in the last episode.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Now there’s some guys though, and I would say there’s some husbands out there that are going, “Man, I can argue my wife under the table. I can talk circles around her.”

Jen: Yes, I have a couple of friends who have that issue in their home where they feel like their husband always wins the argument. Maybe they have more of a legal-type brain or something or one of them is a doctor so he wins a lot of arguments. It’s frustrating. There are guys out there that have no problem winning arguments at home.

Brian: You’ve got to wonder, that might be even more of a defense mechanism, too, because they know that, and the goal isn’t to maybe resolve the situation as much as it is to win the argument.

Tim Downs in Fight Fair, a book that we recommend at Weekend to Remember® and on our website as well, it says, “Many marital conflicts are about nothing more than who will get the last word or who will get his way. But in marital conflict, victory is the prize that no one can afford to win….Marriage is the only institution in the world where you can win every battle but lose the war.”

Shaunti: Wow!

Brian: So if you’re a guy who is constantly winning, then you’re married to a loser, and nobody wants to be married to a loser.

Shaunti: Wow.4

Brian: There’s a sense of hierarchy. There’s just all kind of things that come into play there. The question from Ryan wasn’t about that, but I bet there are a certain percentage of guys that feel like, “Oh, this isn’t a problem for me.” Well, you might have a different problem, which is you’re beating your wife down with your words and there’s not that unity and oneness.

But for those of us that do feel like our mind is in molasses in that moment and how does that go about—you know the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” [Ephesians 4:26] and if you’re saying it might take me seven to twelve hours to process, when am I going to do that?

Shaunti: This is actually the fun part of one of the research projects we did about the happiest couples; like one of the processes that they go through.

Brian: And that’s by the way, that’s one of your favorite books.

Jen: That’s probably one of my favorite Shaunti books.

Shaunti: That is so sweet, Jen. Thank you.

Jen: It really is. It’s so helpful, I think, just because the tips and the patterns are something that people can do so easily.

Shaunti: I promise I didn’t bribe her to say that.

Jen: She didn’t. I’m not trying to get bonus points. It really is a great book.

Brian: We’ll put the title of the book in the show notes but what is the title again, Shaunti?

Shaunti: It’s called The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.

Brian: And one of the ones is about this whole sun going down on your anger.

Shaunti: Yes, because it is very much misunderstood. A lot of guys feel very incompetent at arguing at night because they’re like, “I can’t even think. I’m going to bed,” right?

For me, as a wife early on in our marriage, I would be like, “No! God says, ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.’ If we want God’s blessing on our marriage, we have to do what the Bible says. You can’t go to sleep.”

What it would end up meaning is, poor Jeff, is that he would sometimes agree to things that he would resent the next day just to get some rest or he would say things that he didn’t mean that would hurt my feelings.

It was interesting in the study with the happiest marriages, we actually found that in practice, a lot of the happiest couples would actually sometimes go, “We are not getting anywhere. Nothing good is going to come from this conversation from midnight on, so let’s go to sleep and pick it up in the morning.”

When you look biblically at it, the actual verse isn’t even talking about marriage, let’s just acknowledge. It’s about living in community. It doesn’t actually say don’t go to bed mad. It’s just what we’ve taken it as. It’s the principle. The principle of the whole verse is “In your anger, do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Actually, Paul was referencing Psalm 4:4, when he said that. If you look up Psalm 4:4, it says, “In your anger do not sin. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” [Paraphrase]

Brian: Wow!

Shaunti: The key is, and it’s the key for all of this, is in your anger do not sin. That’s the common denominator. The key for so much of this, I think, for you as husbands is helping your wives understand—and any women listening in to this—that you both have legitimate needs here.

You have the need to sort of work it out and, “Please! Come on, don’t vanish on me. Don’t withdraw. I need to know what you’re feeling.” That’s legitimate.

And it’s legitimate to say, “But I’m wired differently. Let’s start the conversation now.” Then say, “Look, I love you. I can’t even think. Let’s go to sleep and pick it up in the morning when I’ve had a chance to process it.” That is just as legitimate.

I don’t want any husband listening to this to think that you’re somehow defective. That’s what Jeff always said he felt. “I felt defective.” No! You are wired in a specific way by God on purpose and that is just as legitimate.

Brian: Yes, guys are feeling defective. They’re feeling dumb. They’re not feeling confident. What I found is when I—or they’re not even feeling competent. A lot of guys haven’t ever been given opportunities to know how to have a conflict. It wasn’t a habit that was passed on. It wasn’t like if their dad was great at carpentry they passed on these skills as a carpenter. There’s not a lot of dads that were great at conflict resolution and so they don’t know how to pass that on.

When they’re not feeling competent in an area, they’re not confident. I’m not a great carpenter. Jen knows that. I don’t feel confident in an area so guess what I don’t do. I don’t do a lot of woodworking and so I avoid that.

Even if you don’t have the skills, even if you don’t have the abilities and you’ve never been trained, then you need to listen to podcasts like this. You need to pick up a great book. You need to get Fight Fair. You need to get some of Shaunti’s books and, “Okay, how do I grow in this area?” because it’s so crucial.

Shaunti: I think there’s another piece of the puzzle, as well, which is not just kind of the tactical but also—you know because the tactical is how your wired, how you fight, all of that—that’s good, but I think there’s also recognizing there’s something else that may be triggered in you emotionally.

One of the things we talked about in the last season, Brian, “Questions Every Wife Is Asking”, in episode two, we were telling the women that all you strong confident-looking men out there, that there’s actually a lot of vulnerability inside. We don’t necessarily believe that as your wife, but it’s there. One of the main vulnerabilities that a lot of men have is this question of “Am I any good as a husband? I want to be.” But there’s some doubt that some of you have, some self-doubt.

To some degree, I think that when you’re in the middle of an argument with your wife and you’re seeing her maybe crying, you’re seeing her upset, there’s this instinctive feeling that I’ve failed.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: When I think what I see in men in all the research, and you can confirm sort of how this feels or what to tell the guys, Brian, but there seems to be a natural inclination when you feel like you’ve failed, “I’m out of here.”

It’s like what you said, “Woodworking—I’m not good at that so I don’t do it very much.” Well, guess what? You’re married for life to this woman and one of the things to realize is just because she’s upset and wanting to talk through something and her voice is raised or she’s crying, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: It doesn’t mean that this is something you need to withdraw from.

Jen: What do you think, Brian, with us, do you resonate with this question?

Brian: I do resonate with this question.

Jen: You feel like you kind of get—like you’ve said a couple of things like your mind kind of goes through molasses. You start slowing down. Why do you think that is?

Brian: I think, and I think what Shaunti just said about failure, I think is a big thing. No guy wants to fail, and he definitely doesn’t want to fail the one he’s always trying to win over. At our core, I think we guys are romantics at heart. Even the strongest guy out there, the stud guy out there, he still wants to know he’s a champion in his wife’s heart. When we’re in the midst of an argument and when I can tell I’ve let you down, it shuts me down.

Jen: Because you don’t feel strong in my eyes.

Brian: Right. I don’t feel strong and I feel like, “Boy, I’ve really blown it here.” I don’t know—I may not know why I did it or what happened, or even if I did know what happened, I don’t know how to recover from that.

Shaunti: There’s almost a sense that you’re putting words in her mouth. Like she’s not actually saying, “You’ve failed, Brian.”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: But that’s what you’re feeling.

Brian: You’re filling the space in your head with that.

Shaunti: I wonder if that’s one of the solutions for the guys is not just recognize your way of processing is legitimate and work that out with your wife at some non-emotional time to help her recognize, “I’m going to need a little more time than you are.”

But also—I mean if that’s true of you—but also to recognize, I’m telling myself a story here that’s probably not true. She’s probably not looking at me and going, “I’m disappointed in you. You failed me. You’re a horrible husband. You don’t make me happy.” But that’s what you’re feeling and hearing and so you want to withdraw.

Brian: Right, yes. I wonder, for the guys that are feeling that, that’s the narrative, that’s where the gospel is so powerful. What story about yourself are you really listening to? Is it the story of your own self or is it the story that God has said? That at any moment God has always said you can come to me and ask forgiveness and I will forgive you.

I think most wives—I’m asking you two—it’s like in that moment where you feel like you’ve failed, to be even able to voice that like, “Hey, I’m sorry about this,” does that open your heart to move more towards—

Shaunti: Oh yes.

Jen: A heartfelt apology for me, I mean it just, it fixes so many things.

Shaunti: It does.

Jen: It really does, and you do have a hard time apologizing.

Brian: Thanks for bringing that up. [Laughter]

Jen: Yes, so when you give me an apology, it has to be heartfelt—

Brian: Right.

Jen: —and it has to be in a soft voice. I feel like I’m pretty open to that and pretty like, “Okay, thank you so much,” and appreciative of that.

Brian: Yes, so listen to that husbands. A heartfelt apology goes a long way.

Shaunti: It really does. I think for a lot of guys, getting out of that space in their heads that’s feeling like a failure and being able to stick in long enough to be able to say, “I’m really sorry,” even if maybe she’s the one who needs to apologize—but listen there’s never 100% one way. If there are things that you can own, try that and see what happens.

Brian: You know you mentioned, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” The whole idea, the whole point of that passage was, “In your anger don’t sin.” I think a lot of guys hear that and go, “What does that mean, ‘In my anger…’? Like what are some examples of, I’m sinning with my anger?”

Jen: Sharp words, a demeaning, yelling, things like that.

Shaunti: Oh, I’ve got a big one. [Laughter]

Brian: We’ve got to wrap up and move on to the next episode here. Yes, what is it?

Shaunti: Guys, one of the big ones is turning over and going to sleep when you know your wife is upset and is going to be staring at the ceiling all night because she is worried and feeling insecure and feeling unresolved. You can soften that by saying “Look, I’m tired. I need to be able to go to sleep. I can’t even think. But listen, I want you to know we’re okay. We’ll pick this up in the morning. I love you.”

Brian: Can’t we just have a sign on our head that says, “I’m processing,” like right at the back of the head that says, “I’m processing”?

Shaunti: I like that.

Brian: Or have the processing pillow that I put right here. It could be a throw pillow. You love throw pillows.

Shaunti: There you go. You could sell a Married With Benefits throw pillow that says, “I’m processing.” Absolutely.

Brian: We got to get that.

Jen: Yes, sometimes the processing—don’t use it as an excuse—like, “Come on, talk to me. Let’s not try to put it under the rug either.”

Brian: Yes, that’s good. That’s good. So anger with apathy; anger with passive-aggressiveness.

Jen: Yes.

Shaunti: Oh, gosh. [Laughter]

Brian: We do a little bit of that. We’re expert passive-aggressive people.

Shaunti: So does Jeff. [Laughter] Jeff says that’s the thing he needs to work on.

Brian: I knew I liked Jeff.

Shaunti: I have permission to say that by the way.

Brian: Good. Anger with sarcasm. Sarcasm means “cut to the flesh” so anytime you’re— you said to throw that out because you’re not really sure what to do in that moment so you’re like, “I’ll make a little funny quip here.” It’s not going to help you anymore. That’s again one of those things you look back and go, “That play did not work well.”

Shaunti: Yes.

Jen: Yes, and anger—I think you’ve always used the example of anger is the sign that there’s something maybe unfair that’s happened, something that’s hurt me.

Anger is a valid thing. You can be angry about a lot of different things that are real if your wife has hurt you, if your wife has snubbed you, or whatever it is. It’s a good thing, but then how you handle that makes all the difference.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Yes, anger isn’t a sin. I mean that’s just one thing I think guys need to hear, right? Anger isn’t the sin; it’s how you handle it.

Brian: Let’s just sum up because I think guys do need a playbook and I think husbands are going, “Okay, of all that you just said, what am I walking away with here in this?”

I do want to quote Dave Harvey here because I think what we are calling you into is something that’s a little different than maybe what you’ve been used to. Whatever your current pattern is, you’re reproducing it to your kids, you’re reproducing it to your wife.

Dave Harvey who wrote the book, When Sinners Say I Do, he said,

It might seem like life will be easier if we take the timid path of avoiding certain uncomfortable truths…but we always reap what we sow. [Galatians 6:7-9] If we sow loving honesty and courageous care, we will reap growth in godliness. If we avoid confrontation, we will just get confrontation anyway because sin unaddressed is sin unconfined.

Shaunti: Uh, so good.

Brian: I think that’s what we’re calling you into is, okay, let’s not do anymore conflict avoidance because that’s typically what we do. We abandon, move to withdraw or we get angry and we fight.

Let’s just recap. Let’s just remind guys, okay, what are we calling you into if you feel that sense of insecurity?

Shaunti: I think one of the most important things is to recognize why you’re feeling it; to recognize that maybe I’m feeling something and telling myself she’s saying I’m a failure. That’s not probably true. She probably loves and appreciates and respects you as her husband, but she needs something from you.

The second thing is, to me, is recognizing that one of those needs is to be reassured, to be able to talk things through to whatever degree that you can, to not withdraw at least at the beginning. Then when you do have to withdraw, because you have a legitimately different processing time, that’s okay. When you do have to, to say, “Look, I need some space. I need to process. I need to think it. But we’re okay. I love you.”

To be able to do that as a pattern, I think you’re going to end up seeing a happy wife and you’ll be able to handle it better yourself.

Brian: Yes.

Any encouragement you want to give to husbands that have been listening to this?

Jen: Yes, I was just thinking about what I would say to you, as my husband. To say that when we are in an argument or having a discussion that might be more heated, that I do want you to speak up. I want you to say your feelings, your thoughts. I don’t want you to withdraw. Of course, I want you to do that lovingly and without sarcasm and especially without passive-aggressiveness. That as we move through those times that I would love to give you freedom to have time to think about it and process it.

But I think what happens a lot with us, and I think with a lot of people, is that you end up not getting the time to really talk about it. For you as a husband to say, “Talk about it in the morning,” and then breakfast comes—well, there’s three kids there and it’s a busy day—we might have gotten up a little bit late—to really make it a point to go back that if we give you that time to process, that you really make it a point to come back and actually talk about it.

Brian: That’s good.

Shaunti: It is good.

Brian: Because that’s—that is the image—she’s reading my mail there because that happens often where it’s like “Oh, we’ll talk about it later,” and later doesn’t happen. Because here’s what happens with guys is that we as husbands, “Oh, we’ve kind of gotten back to a happy equilibrium again.”

Jen: Yes.

Shaunti: “I don’t want to rock the boat.”

Brian: “Let’s not rock that boat.”

Shaunti: But underneath the surface it’s already rocked. Like it’s already listing. You need to actually address it.

Jen: I’m guilty of that too. It’s like, “Oh, we’re in a good place. If I bring it up, we might be in a bad place and I don’t want to be in a bad place.”

Shaunti: Well one of the secrets—I hate—I’m sorry, I hate to bring up the research again, but it’s like this is one of the things we studied statistically, so I’ll bring it up—which is that one of the things that the happiest marriages did differently was the next morning, if the issue was still there—because sometimes a night’s sleep will solve it, right?—let’s just sort of say sometimes the next morning it is like, what was that about, right?

Brian: There’s a great proverb about it’s the glory of one to overlook an offense. [Proverbs 19:11 Paraphrase] There are some offenses where you go, “Okay, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was.”

Shaunti: But if the issue is still there and is still a big deal for one or both people, the happiest couples didn’t let it go. They dealt with it. Everybody else was sort of surprisingly much more likely to just sort of let it float away and hope it went away. The happiest couples didn’t do that. I think that we can learn something from that.

Brian: Absolutely.

Well, husbands I hope this has been helpful and I hope that you feel encouraged. You can do this. You can start a new pattern. If not just for your marriage, I would say think about your kids.

So many of us did not get that kind of great pattern or that great training in how to resolve conflict. If anything that you’ve heard is going to help you start working on that pattern and the more that you do it, like anything else, it becomes more natural over time, so find out one or two things.

Maybe it’s just one, believing in yourself that, hey, you are not dumb. You’re just wired a little differently. You don’t have to be insecure. You don’t have to tell yourself that narrative that you’re a failure or that you messed up. More than anything, your wife wants you to engage.

Then think of two or three things that you go, “Okay, next time we’re in that moment where my mind feels like it’s in molasses, I think what I’m saying to myself is I need to open up and start talking. I need to say to Jen, ‘Hey, this is what I’m feeling. This is what I’m thinking,’ or ‘I need an hour to think about this and then let’s talk about it,’” and pick a specific time to come back and resolve the issue.

If you want more great little tips like this and real stories from our writers here at FamilyLife that do a great job of being real and talking about issues that I think will continue to encourage you, you’re going to want to sign up for our daily devotional series called, I Do Every Day. We’ve been talking about it this whole season. They are quick reads sent right to your inbox to help you say “I do” every single day. Sign up today at

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I’d like to send a shout out to our audio producer, CJ3, James Youngblood, back there in the back; the entire Married With Benefits team—

Shaunti: They are amazing.

Brian: Are you guys feeling more secure now? You’re able to have that—so-so, okay. [Laughter]

Shaunti: There’s that insecurity in play. They’re amazing and yet they’re insecure.

Brian: That’s right. They don’t want to overestimate their ability all of a sudden. They’re like “Aw, I’ve got to try this out.”

I want to give a special thanks to my wife, Jen. Thanks for being here.

Jen: Thanks. You’re welcome. I had a great time.

Brian: Did you have a good time? Will you come back?

Jen: Sure.

Brian: Okay. Any guesses as to what we’re going to be discussing next time, Jen?

Jen: No, no clue.

Brian: Can you read my mind?

Jen: Sex? [Laughter]

Shaunti: That’s always a good starting point, absolutely.

Brian: I would say it’s like an 80% that’s probably what’s always on the brain, right? Is that where we’re headed, Shaunti?

Shaunti: We’re going to be talking about reading each other’s minds. Because, guys, you can do that, right?

Brian: Yes, oh yeah.

Shaunti: Absolutely can read our minds.

Brian: Absolutely.

Shaunti: Absolutely.

Brian: We are going to be talking about that next time about, “Why does my wife expect me to read her mind?” That’s a great question.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Until then, I’m Brian Goins. Thanks for listening.


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