Were your spouses your children, whenever they refused to do what you wanted or flagrantly disobeyed you, you would have given them six strokes of the cane to instill some sense. They aren’t your children. How else then do you get them to do what you want or show your displeasure on a matter?
Almost every couple is naturally configured to resort to malice as a means of punishment and or correction. That’s what leads to what is called shortwave communication between couples.
Shortwave communication is when you’re really not communicating freely and happily; but if your partner asks any question, you provide the minimum possible response to wade off their disturbance. The responses then will be short in length and devoid of emotions.
“Baby, how was work today?”
“What do you mean by fine? What about the other issue?”
“All went well.”
“This one you’re moody, are you really fine.”
“Sorry, did I complain to you that I’m not?”
I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about.
Malice is not limited to speech. There is sexual malice. When couples are not talking, they are likely not having sex. So there is all that deliberate refusal of sex in order to settle scores. Or deliberate refusal to ask for sex. I’ve counseled with couples who sometimes have this go on for months. And it’s not always the women starving their partners, it happens the other way round also.
Unfortunately for us, no reconciliation can happen without talking. When we stop talking to each other because of a conflict, we in essence alienate the only means by which we could possibly reconcile.
And so the first law of effective conflict resolution is: NO MATTER WHAT, KEEP TALKING! No matter what, keep having sex. No matter what, keep your communion going. The reconciliation you seek is embedded inside the talking, the sex and other communions you share and not outside them.
It takes humility to have sex with someone. It takes humility to remove your clothes. Sex is a high level of vulnerability. It’s why whenever pride takes over a relationship, one of the first casualties is coitus. If you can be humble enough to remove your clothes in front of someone, you can be humble enough to apologise to them.
But the problem is we always want to reconcile before we talk whereas we need to talk to reconcile. We always want the apology before we can have sex whereas the most humble and sincere apology that anyone can get comes during the sex itself. That is a period when even the toughest of men are as broken as a little child.
I know some of you are always waiting for your partners to call to apologise and if he doesn’t call, that’s it. Those times when you’ve justified yourself in your self righteousness and passed sentence on the other person. “She is wrong. She ought to be the one to apologise.”
But let’s assume you were right; and sometimes you could be right. Don’t you think you could as well call just to tell her you’re waiting for her apology call? Oh yes! What will you gain from malice and pride? When your relationship breaks down, I’m sure you will get an award for “unparalleled capacity to stick to your gun which has now led to the collapse of your 15 year old marriage.”
I sometimes call Iyebiye to tell her, “I know you are finding it difficult to apologise, why you are not calling to speak to me. I’ve helped you place the call so you can apologise.” Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. If I still don’t get the apology and I still believe she was wrong, I simply say, “I’m helping you to apologise to myself. So Penny, sorry for what she did.” Then, we get our communion back.
The important thing is to keep talking.
There were times when I was angry and wouldn’t pick up the phone. She would keep calling until I will have to pick to say, “but do you want to run down my battery?” Now she has achieved her goal. The goal is to keep talking. By the time I say that, she will then say, “what really do you think you’re doing?” I will say, “whatever you think it is.” Then she will say the next sentence that will really make me talk. Before you know it, we are talking. And since no one uses abusive languages that can inflame the already delicate atmosphere (another law we agreed to from the onset), before you know it, we are reconciling and then suddenly we are back to shape.
How many of you will keep talking to your partners (or keep calling) until they respond? Won’t you at some point pack them aside and say, “who does he even think he is?” Or “who does she even think she is- out of all the fine fine women that are dying to have me?” Mr. Pride just spoke out of you and he will soon send your relationship to the cemetery.
My Mum told me that was what Dad always did. Anytime she was angry and didn’t want to talk to him. He will deliberately be talking to her. Asking her questions every minute deliberately. If she didn’t answer, he will ask again and again until the malice doesn’t make any more sense.
Brothers and Sisters, how many of you want a successful marriage? Bind this law around your neck. If your partners are not here, send them this article. It’s easier if you are both trying to outdo yourselves in forgiveness and this “keep talking” thing. If you’re the only one who is having to broker peace at all times, you will soon be exhausted.
My finding from all the Bible study I have done shows that malice of every form is not part of God’s program for marriage. Just to show how seriously He doesn’t want malice, God made it unattractive by attaching serious consequences. He said your prayers will be hindered whenever you’re in malice with your partner (1 Peter 3:7). He says he won’t accept your offerings too (Mathew 5:23).
Considering you’re supposed to have a prayer life early every morning at least; and you won’t like to be wasting your time there, it means in less than 24 hours you’re supposed to resolve all conflicts. That’s God’s program. In short, I doubt if you have up to 24 hours. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Ephesians 4:26 KJV. There are 12 hours between sunrise and sunset here in Nigeria. That’s the maximum permissible anger gestation period.
If you nurse it beyond here, you would have sinned. You would then have entered the realm of malice which gives birth to bitterness and then hatred and then….. please drop it.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: …
Forgive one another readily and freely, just as God in Christ also forgave you. Eph 4:31-32.
Let’s continue next week.
©Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye| firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: @jesseonlens