What’s your problem? That was a common refrain early in my marriage.
Sometimes my husband’s reaction to something seemed way over the top. What appeared to be a minor thing evoked a response that was waaaaaay out of proportion. He’d turn a 50 cent issue into a $500 problem.
That seemed to be a pattern of communication early in our marriage. I’d get angry, withdraw and think, “Get over it” or “What’s the big deal?” or “He’s acting like such a baby.”
I began to understand what his problem was (or communication in marriage) better when I learned to look back at childhood behaviors and patterns. I began to understand what drives my husband’s behavior. And mine, too.
He’s all grown up so what’s childhood got to do with now? A lot. His patterns of relating to others were established long before he met me. And mine were established long before I met him.
Our childhood behaviors and the way we related to our parents establish how we’ll relate to others.
We come into marriage with a big old sack of emotional baggage whether we want to or not.
We form patterns of behavior early in life. Our greatest sense of identity– confidence and fears–is developed in our family of origin or the family we grew up in.
Why Childhood Affects Marriage
Learning about your husband’s family life can improve your marriage. Educate yourself not only on his childhood but also on yours.
If you learn your husband was often forgotten or left out as a child, that might explain why he seems possessive or “needy.” Learning he was taught to keep a stiff upper lip, never show his emotions or “big boys don’t cry” might explain why he appears to be unfeeling, prideful or overly self-reliant.
You may accuse him of being distant, emotionally detached or unapproachable.
When you begin to understand the way he was raised, you can make an effort to extend unconditional love, which may encourage him to let down his defenses.
God created us with emotional intimacy needs. He also provides ways to get them met.
Even if your family didn’t discourage you from expressing needs, you may still find it hard to admit you them. No one wants to appear needy.
Having emotional needs doesn’t make you “needy.” It makes you human.
Think about your childhood and the messages you received growing up in your family. Examine your behaviors in relation to the messages you received. You may begin to understand why you react to certain situations the way you do.
Ask your husband about the messages he received growing up in his family.
Learning to meet each other’s emotional needs is critical to a healthy marriage.
So the next time your husband seems or overreact or seems distant or detached, instead of asking, “What’s your problem?” take a minute to consider what he may be feeling or why he’s reacting that way.
He might be experiencing a need that’s been left unmet. Learning to meet that need may be a turning point in your marriage.