What would you like to be different in your marriage? Do you wish your husband were more sensitive or romantic? Or that he would help out with house work more often? Every woman has something big or small that frustrates her in marriage. The million dollar question is, “What should you do with your disappointment?”
Some women forge ahead with a husband-improvement project, while others try to cope by lowering their expectations. To be honest, I’ve tried both strategies and they didn’t make any real difference in my marriage. In fact, these approaches killed our intimacy.
Several years ago, I discovered a secret that has helped me move toward intimacy rather than away from it. While I’m not promising a panacea for every marriage, I will say that what I’m about to share with you has made a tremendous difference for many wives, including me: You must understand your power.
One of the greatest gauges of health in a relationship is power: Who has the power? How is it being used? In thriving relationships, power is balanced equally and is used wisely to create an atmosphere of emotional safety. On the other hand, unhealthy relationships are unbalanced in power, or power is used to control or threaten. This isn’t just true in marriage, but in every human relationship and institution, including friendship, work, and government.
The first week of Authentic Intimacy’s Bible study, Passion Pursuit, is all about becoming aware of your power as a wife. Every woman is using her power to either build up or tear down intimacy. However, because most women aren’t conscious of their power, they use it in ways that interfere with intimacy rather than working toward it. Some do this by dominating or manipulating, while others tear down by being silent and passive despite inner conflict.
In my 20 years of marriage, I’ve learned to ask myself a question when my husband and I hit a rough spot: “Am I using my power to build or tear down?”
Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” I’ve never met a woman who purposely set out to tear down her marriage, but I’ve met hundreds who have done so unintentionally.
Juli Slattery is a TCW regular contributor and blogger. A widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional, she co-founded Authentic Intimacy and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?