We are thrilled to introduce you to our first
and to Brad and Kate Aldrich. They write and speak on all things marriage. In 2009 they followed God’s prompting and founded One Flesh Marriage Ministries, a blog based on their marriage journey and God’s word in Ephesians 5. Brad is a Pennsylvania Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the director of the Family Resource and Counseling Centers. Kate is a homeschooling mom and a family photographer in her free time. God has given Brad and Kate three amazing blessings, two biological and one adopted who have enriched their life and marriage.
By Brad from One Flesh Marriage
Feeling alone, distant, withdrawn isn’t only something that happens when we are actually alone. It is very easy to feel alone in marriage. Sometime, especially under stress, I find myself pulling back from those around me, including my wife.
It is easy to say that we should remember God is with us, even when we feel alone, but that is often difficult to practice. I wanted to give husbands and wives some tangible ideas and techniques to bridge the gap between feeling united and feeling your spouse has emotionally retreated.
I'm not sure exactly why I feel the need to retreat when life gets a little out of control, but in talking to other guys I have recognized that this is a very common response to stress. Many men, under stress retreat into themselves. In my post on stress, "Stress the Man Way or One Way" I encourage guys to fight this tendency and allow their wife to share the burdens, to communicate the stresses, and open up.
So what do you do when you see the stress in your husband or wife and they are not opening up? How can you say, "Hey, share what's on your mind" without simply adding to the problem?
5 Ways to Change Retreat Alone, into Advance Together
Stop and ask God specifically for peace, for guidance in how you can help, and for wisdom in addressing the situation with your spouse. Keep connecting with God and he will show you a way!
Yes I know that was number 1, but this time do more than say a prayer just between you and God. Write your prayer and send it to your spouse in an email or letter. It is a great way to let them know that you recognize the stress they are under, that you want to help, and that you are there for them! Kate did this for me a while ago, and I’m man enough to admit it brought tears to my eyes knowing that she was walking this journey with me!
3. Open the Communication Door
If your husband or wife has not spoken about something stressful, then you need to create an opportunity for them to communicate. We often wait around for them to take the initiative. They are the ones that retreated, so it should be their responsibility to change right? Wrong!
You are in this marriage journey together, and your goal is to Advance Together. You do not simply want to be available when they emerge again. You need to create a time and space to communicate together. Work to eliminate distractions for a specific time. Find a time for just the two of you, and open up the door.
4. Start Small
When there is an elephant in your marriage it can tend to stamp out all of the rest of the conversations. Both of you know that you should be talking about the stress that has caused the retreat, yet that isn’t always the easy thing to do. Start by talking about little things; talk about the day, the kids, anything. Listen for ways to show your support, encouragement, and love; then you can address the elephant in the room.
5. Be Quiet
When one of you is under stress it is easy for the other to want to swoop in and try to fix it. Unfortunately, this almost never works. In fact, it might be what is keeping your spouse from actually sharing what is going on. If you see they have retreated, then open the door and just listen. As they begin to share, listen with the goal of understanding them, their thoughts, their emotions, their ideas. It is in the understanding not the solution that you will start to feel together.