When your spouse has built up a wall, it’s tempting to try to knock it down. Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife Erin say that’s the worst thing you can try because it’s an attempt to bring your own heart relief instead of respecting his or her feelings.
Giving them space to sort out their feelings is a way to say,
“I want safety for you more than I want what I want for me. So you’ve built a wall. I’m going to honor this wall.”
This is not the same thing as passivity. Giving your spouse room is not the same as shrugging your shoulders and giving up.
“You can’t control what they’re doing on the other side of the wall… the more you try, the worse it’s going to get because they’re going to feel threatened. That you’re trying to continue to reach behind the wall and grab them, and manipulate them, and lead them down roads that maybe they don’t want to go down. The wall is there because they want to sever something, whatever has been going on in that relationship.” – Erin
What can you do in those seasons?
• Wholeheartedly pursue God.
• Wholeheartedly pursue communities to support you.
The most important thing you can do in that seasons is learn. Learn from the conflicts, learn from the failures. Greg shares his own experience with Erin when she would step back emotionally.
“I would try to break through those [walls] and [say] ‘Hey, I love you, we’re not going to get divorced… we’ve got to work through this, put the wall down, let’s go forward.’
God brought me to my knees, because I was focusing now on me. I remember there was a day that… I could feel it. I could see it I could smell it… I finally understood how unsafe I had been inside my marriage.”
Greg’s revelation led him to go back to Erin with a soft heart. What he told her demonstrated intense love and care for her.
“I’m actually not very safe. As a matter of fact, I don’t want you to open back up to me right now. I’m not at a place that I really know how to handle your heart. I’m not in the spot [where] I really can be the kind of man that you deserve, the kind of husband that I want to be.”
When a spouse creates distance, the best thing you can do is wait, pray, and seek God more closely. God will open their heart back up to you – and if He doesn’t, you’ve become more like Christ, and that’s the ultimate goal.