I had the opportunity to participate in my (second) first Leadership Team meeting tonight at Imago Dei, my church, which is like an official board meeting of sorts. There are three separate teams of people that get together once a month to talk about what’s up with things in ministry, finances, future, etc. for the church. I am representing one of the various Ministry Teams at our church on the Leadership Team, and this is the first month I’ve actually been available to attend since being “knighted” in June. Most of the people in the room have been on this team at least two years, and a good portion have been serving in leadership since Imago started five and a half years ago. Its a good group of people. They are friends, and I’m friends with most of them outside of this team in one way or another.
Charlie, the Lead Pastor, was sharing tonight some of the things he is planning on brainstorming and enacting at Imago in the upcoming months. He shared about a friend whose marriage has fallen apart due to adultery, and another friend whose long-term serious boyfriend told her, un-apologetically, that he is “emotionally lazy”. Then Charlie mentioned something another team member said almost two years ago that many husbands think that if the wife isn’t complaining then everything is fine, not investing emotionally in the relationship beyond that. Emotionally lazy.
This idea struck me much differently than it did my wife. I actually started thinking a lot about my marriage and how I relate with my wife. Here’s an example: Early on in our marriage, we had a discussion about what we could be doing to make the other person feel loved, because at the time we were both failing miserably. Jessey told me that she would like for me to stop what I’m doing when she comes home and listen to her without distractions. I told her that I would like her to keep the house clean. Lets say that, for 6 months, Jessey completely neglected all housework, either leaving it to me to do or just not noticing that things were out of place or dirty. I would feel neglected and unloved in my relationship. However, if she was happy with the way things are in her life and our relationship, I would seriously weigh whether or not to disturb her feelings of happiness with my desire for the house to be clean. My desire to feel loved and cared for could disturb her feeling of happiness, which could lead to conflict that might destroy her emotions. This wouldn’t be fair to our relationship, and isn’t fair every day that I make this choice even now, but is nonetheless something that I do. I would call this being emotionally disconnected, meaning that I stuff my emotions so as not to upset her emotions.
This is because I sincerely want my wife to be happy more than I want myself to be happy. That can be good sometimes, but is not healthy for the long-term. I know this, in my head, but I am not so sure I believe it. Its because I am emotionally disconnected.
Jessey heard the example this way: The husband is not investing his effort into making sure that he cares for the emotional well-being of his spouse. Straightforwardly emotionally lazy.
I wonder if being emotionally disconnected is being emotionally lazy. I wonder if my unwillingness to ruffle her feathers when all is good in Jessey-land is also not investing in her emotional well-being. I wonder if stuffing my emotions for the sake of her happiness is just masking a darkness under the surface that might come out later. And I wonder if I am willing to connect my emotional well-being to the well-being of our marriage or not.
Regardless, tonight I am sure that marital health takes effort beyond just hoping that my wife wakes up happy tomorrow. We might have to talk about some things. Here’s to hoping for strength to face my emotions.