When you’re saying something and you feel a little twinge of “I shouldn’t be saying this” and then you look at your wife and the temperature has dropped 20 degrees and the wind’s now coming from the north . . . you’ve hit a raw spot. For years, I ignored it. I just kept talking. No backing up here. I didn’t realize I had hit a raw spot . . . that I was rubbing salt into a wound. I’m learning that hitting raw spots requires an immediate apology, not snow-plowing forward. “Can’t you take a joke?” or “Just get over it!” doesn’t cut it.
Here are 3 huge raw spots I’ve observed about the female gender (and have been confirmed by my wife and friends) . . .
- Criticism – No one likes to be criticized. But women, because they’re relational and intuitive, have a keen sense for criticism. They can feel it, even when it’s not spoken or mean-spirited. They can ‘read between the lines’ better than we can write the lines. Stuff never intended as criticism, when it hits a raw spot, feels like criticism and breaks (or at least hinders) our emotional connection.
- Appearance – So many dads and granddads create raw spots in little girls with comments about their weight or body shape. Words like chubby, skinny and heavy can haunt women. Couple this with the obsession our culture has with physical appearance and any comment about weight or appearance will almost certainly brush against a raw spot. That’s why I included the following two sentences in the Happy Wife Pledge: “I will look for the good in my wife’s appearance. If I can’t say something nice, I will keep my mouth shut.” And “I will never again comment on my wife’s weight. That is off-limits to me forever. I will love and accept her regardless. It is none of my business.”
- Value – Our capitalistic culture assigns value to people who become rich, famous or both. Female CEO’s are held in high esteem while women who work in the home raising kids and building families are invisible. The most important voice a wife hears is the voice of her husband. It’s critical he value her and what she does for him and the family.
We all have raw spots. And yes, guys have them too. Show me a guy who doesn’t want to have his decisions questioned or who’s always trying to rule over his wife, and I’ll show you a guy with raw spots.
Here’s what I’m learning about raw spots and relationships: when you really think about it, you already know what you do or say that bothers your wife. Write those things down. Talk to her about them. Let her confirm, deny or correct what you do or say that hits a raw spot. Then ask God to give you the wisdom and self-control to avoid them at all costs. Do it and before long, your wife might just feel safe with you and start to love and trust you more.
Scripture: Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Mentor Tip: While Radical Mentoring groups talk about identity, theology, prayer, character and the like, the area that needs (and gets) the most ‘air time’ is marriage. Help your guys to become more intentional as they seek to “live with [their] wives in an understanding way.”