How not to play “hide and seek” with your spouse?
Marriage relationship is meant to be one that brings joy and fulfillment when two persons in love are open and honest with each other. However, in real life you may find it otherwise. You may have friends (or you are also one of them) who are furious when the spouse does not seem to care about the deepest desires within. Alternatively, it may be that you are in great distress because your spouse is blaming you for not understanding his or her needs.
Why are these things happening in two adults who are in love with each other? Have we not learned how to relate and understand each other? One of the problems is that married couples are playing, with or without them actually knowing it, the “hide and seek” game. This game is played when a party does not speak directly what is in the heart and expect the other person to guess it correctly. My goodness! How hard can that be? Even couples married for decades may not be able to guess it 100% correctly, how much less you expect young married couples to manage that?
Why do couples play this “hide and seek” game?
- Testing water – you are not sure how your spouse will react to your needs, so you decide to say it in very casual manner to test the water level.
- Afraid of being laugh at – you are afraid that your spouse will laugh at what you say that eventually leads to a bruised ego.
- Wanting to be known more intimately – you long for your spouse to understand the deepest desires in your heart without having to say them out directly. You use the accuracy of your spouse’s guesses as the barometer of how much he or she loves you.
- Culture – it may be in your culture that you do not make known your needs openly. People who do are being despised and being labeled as “unrefined”.
While these may be reasons, they do not justify you playing the game. It is simply because your marriage is spiral down the drain if you do.
When we are into this “hide and seek” game, some serious problems occur in our marriage relationship:
- Misunderstanding – we have wrong expectation on our partner. We expect he or she can read our minds. In actual fact that expectation is extremely unfair to our spouse. We intentionally not speaking our minds out clearly because we want our spouse to be sensitive and loving enough to know it. The result can be great disappointment.
- Develop deep hurts for a prolonged period – By not speaking forth our minds clearly, it does not only lead to misunderstanding. If this issue is not dealt with properly, it will create bitterness within. You start forming a stereo-typed impression of your spouse: “I have married an insensitive and unloving creature” Once this impression is cast in stone, no matter how much your spouse changes later would not change your impression on him. You will naturally choose to live in the many disappointments of the yester-years instead of looking at your spouse’s positive changes today. It will certainly take a long time to get healed from these past memories.
Knowing the problems of playing “hide and seek” and some of its possible reasons, it is now that we want to explore ways of overcoming our participation in such a game.
- To set a good example to be an open and honest person to your spouse – this is the very first decision and action that you are to take. You may not change the ways that your spouse are relating to you immediately, but you can certainly make a conscious decision not playing the “hide and seek” game yourself. Once you begin the relationship with openness and sincerity, your spouse will learn the same art and reciprocate. Be patient not to expect immediate results. It normally takes much longer time for a person to change his or her behaviors, especially when these behaviors have been there for many years.
- To create a safe environment that encourages open and direct conversations. Most of the time when your spouse plays the “hide and seek” game, there is a inherit issue of insecurity deep within. Your spouse is afraid of being rejected by you through words or actions. Once you create a safe environment for your spouse to share the feelings deep inside, he or she will response positively. You can expect a ever growing intimacy in your sharing and marriage lives together.
- To learn the art of listening and observing that pick up clues from your spouse words and actions. It may be frustrating that you have to keep on guessing your partner’s true feeling and desires through his or her indirect comments and body languages. You may want to quickly develop the relationship into a mature and meaningful one where you both become intimate soul mates. However, growing a relationship takes time. A right way of communication is a necessary foundation. Besides speaking your minds truthfully and openly, you will do well when you also learn the art of intensive listening and careful observation.
Intensive listening helps you to understand what your spouse’s true intention or motivation in saying those words. For example, when your husband says he is very tired and need a rest. His true intention may be to tell you to leave him alone, he needs some quietness to think through some issues and this is not the right time to talk.
Careful observation helps you to discern the actual meaning behind certain actions. For instance, when your wife goes shopping and spends lots of money on clothes and accessories. She may be telling you that you have been ignoring her for quite a while and she really needs your complements on her look or dressings.
A marriage characterized by openness and truthfulness is the way to intimacy and fruitful relationship. Do not let you and your spouse continue playing the “hide and seek” game that can only cause your relationship to deteriorate over time. Refuse to participate in this game by setting up a good example of being a truthful communicator, creating a safe environment that encourages openness and finally, learning the art of intensive listening and careful observation that will promote better understanding of each other. You can look forward to a more blessed and happier marriage life together.