The title of the second chapter is, The Deal Is Never Closed. It's really not a new concept. When I do a wedding ceremony I encourage the husband to always court his wife. For men I think a lot of us hear that as take her out to a restaurant, have a date night etc. Jeff and Shaunti do an excellent job of explaining how much deeper this truth goes into a woman's heart.
They tell guys,
Even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured that you love her.
I checked this with Ann and she agreed. She said that when we are at odds with one another somewhere inside she wonders if I love her anymore. She says when it is really bad she's just certain I'm done and am going to leave.
Back to that 'confuse or dismay' phrase from above. If a woman isn't aware of that insecurity and able to put words to it directly she'll begin to scramble, maybe get angry, and attempt to close the gap between her and her husband. Sometimes a guy perceives this anger as well...anger.
Ann and I have a phrase about his time. It's a little crass. Here it is, "When your wife is most bitchy is when she needs your love the most."
If you are like me when your wife is in that state of mind and mood the last thing you want to do is get closer to her. This is where real love shows up. Will you go against your instincts and move towards your wife with strength and tenderness instead of heading to clean out the garage? Or if you want to look good you can head out to play with the kids but you are really avoiding her. Can you see how that avoiding her just fuels her insecurity that you really don't love her?
Jeff and Shaunti go on to show that for most women these feelings of insecurity occur often, are intensely painful, and are resistant to male logical explanations. They say, "Even women in good relationships feel that they could be just a few bad blowups away from losing their man's love."
So guys what sets this off and what can we do about it?
Sets off the insecurity--
Conflict handled poorly--being unhappy with her or at odds with her
Withdrawal--this is conflict not handled at all. She fears we may never 'return' to her.
Silence--She'll assume the worst about your silence like that you hate her and don't want to be married to her.
Her "emotional bank account" is depleted--May not have anything to do with you, she's just exhausted from all that is on her plate.
You're absent a lot--even if you don't want to be away from her the absence still is a challenge for her.
Unresolved relationship issues--If she feels like there is still an open issue that hasn't been talked through she's feel insecure and want to talk. I hear guys respond poorly to this by saying, "Just get over it." "Put it behind you." and other non-involved gems.
Dudes, did you catch that handling conflict poorly, not at all or partially fuels her insecurity. Learn to do conflict well not matter how uncomfortable it is for you.
Dissolves the insecurity--
During conflict, reassure her of your love--J and S say this is the magic bullet that almost every woman told them would make all the difference. This is moving towards her with strength and tenderness when you may not feel like it.
When you need space, reassure her that it's not about her--I'm an introvert that talks to people all day. Sometimes I just want to go somewhere and not talk to anyone. During these times I need to let her know I'm out of sorts and just taking some time to myself so her insecurities are put at ease.
If she's upset, realize she doesn't need space--she needs a hug--I call this hugging the Tasmanian Devil :-) Don't patronize her, just let her know you will stay by her side no matter what mood she is in.
If she needs to talk about the relationship, do your best to listen without becoming defensive--One woman told J and S, "When I tell him how I feel about something concerning our relationship, I am just trying to share my feelings so we can discuss it." For us guys it can feel like we are failures in marriage. That's our stuff and we need to learn she's trying to get closer not to tear us down.
If she is being difficult, don't stop--keep reassuring her of your love--This is more, hugging Tas, and when she's bitchy is when she needs your love the most stuff.
They close the chapter in this general category, persistent pursuit. In my weddings I encourage guys to always pursue your wife. Again, this means pursuing her heart and not just going out to eat and talking about the kids. Learn what makes your wife feel loved and do it. Ann loves it when I vacuum, wash the dishes, clear my clutter etc. For her acts of service are her love language. She likes flowers, going out, hearing I love you, a back rub, getting a gift etc., but on a daily basis seeing me take out the trash says I love you as much as anything. If she sees stuff that needs to be done around the house it is difficult for her to relax and just be. Sometimes this means heading to a hotel for the weekend instead of cleaning the house. I can do that.