We both looked at each other with conviction, apology, and a touch of humor in our eyes, both silently asking the question, “Is that really me?” and “Do I actually do that?”
We both knew the answer – yes.
This was in the middle of Bible study a few months back. We were going through some habits that might need banishing, and some habits that might need building in our marriages.
And this one, the one that Auj and I met eyes over, was definitely one we needed to banish.
Private Displays Of Disinterest.
You know that feeling when you hear something, wether it’s something you should start, or something you should quit, and to your discomfort it’s immediately confirmed in your heart? Otherwise known as conviction, well this was one of those times.
We knew that if left uncorrected, this will be something that could potentially grow into a big problem. Over the years the seemingly small displays of disinterest would affect our attitudes towards each other without us even noticing.
Showing private displays of disinterest toward your spouse says and does more damage than one might think. It might not seem like a big deal at face value, but It will become a corrosive wedge if left ignored.
So, what does “displays of disinterest” even mean, Jer?
It’s those moments when we treat our spouse with less respect than they deserve. When we don’t look up from our phone to acknowledge their question. It’s when we act like whatever is on our computer is more important than communicating with them. It’s a lack of attentiveness.
Convicted? We were.
After some online research and article reading from psychology and communication professors such as Kipling Wiliams and Paul Schrodt, I found that continually ignoring your spouse dramatically reduces relationship intimacy and satisfaction from both partners.
Paul Schrodt says this, “The silent treatment is part of what communication researchers call the “demand-withdrawal” pattern. It occurs when one partner repeatedly approaches the other with criticism or a request (perhaps for attention or change) and is met with silence or total avoidance.”
Do we really want to meet the requests, concerns, or even silly comments of our beloved with “total avoidance.” No, I don’t think we do.
We want to show genuine and loving interest to one another, especially in private. What we do in private, or in the comfort of our own homes is where our character and what we truly love is proven. I wrote an article about integrity in marriage that talks all about how what we do in private proves our character and who we really are.
Private displays of disinterest tell your spouse that what you are doing is more important than them.
Private displays of disinterest unveil your priorities and who/what really holds your attention.
Private displays of disinterest portray a lack of appreciation toward your spouse.
Lets talk about decent behavior for a second. What is decent behavior when someone tries to talk with you?
Well… I imagine stopping what we’re doing to at least acknowledge their presence is a good start. Followed by eye contact and a response. According to Professor Kipling Williams, the basic act of stopping, and acknowledging them will keep the psychological health of your relationship healthier in the long run than if they were left ignored. Being ignored can be more damaging and more painful in the long run because it deprives us of basic human needs, being accepted, noticed, and self-esteem.
I believe that most of us would respond that way to a co-worker, teammate, or friend, so why does it seem less important to exercise this healthy manner of responding with our spouses?
Why do we show grace and kindness towards strangers, but neglect to show the same grace and kindness in our most intimate, close relationships? You’ve probably heard this said before, “We hurt the ones we love the most.” According to an article written on Psychology Today, “We have the least tolerance for the negative qualities of those with whom we spend the most time.”
That quote is something to take note, and reflect on.
I think it’s a psychological thing. Maybe the permanency of marriage can erode the feeling of a need to pursue, impress, or even practice good manners… Maybe we want to think, oh it’s no big deal, she’s my wife! She understands. She knows I don’t mean it…
But we give our attention to what’s important. So we might say that our spouse is the love of my life, but continually showing them signs of disinterest is not acting like it. Making sure we respectfully, kindly, and graciously, acknowledge our spouse when they seek to communicate with us, is one specific way that we can put action behind our words.
Husbands, it is required of us that we make our spouse feel honored and worthy of our time. Proverbs 3:15 says, “She is more precious than rubies, nothing you desire can compare with her.” Do you treat your wife like nothing you desire can compare with her?
Proverbs 12:4 says, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown..” another version says, “A virtuous and worthy wife – earnest and strong in character – is a crowning joy to her husband.” We need to treat our wives this way – we are commanded to treat them this way. As if they are our crowning joy. Crowns represent the power, respect, strength, and authority of those whose heads they reside. And don’t we want our wives to be able to testify the same about us, saying that we are worthy of a crown because we Love them like Christ loves the church.
I want my wife to be able to say that about me. What a crown that would be.
To wrap this up, I am not saying that we need to treat our spouse as if we just met them for the first time forever, that would be ridiculous. My intention is to make aware a bad habit that some of us may have. We were convicted with how we handle all the distractions of todays world within our home. Our use of phones, computers and social media needed to be checked as we communicated with each other in private.
I encourage you to have a conversation with your spouse about how your communication may be improved. How we respond and communicate in private will dramatically affect the longevity and health of our marriage.
Love you guys!
Photo used is by the talented @indiaearl