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FAMILY FUSION: Under your skin (3)


FAMILY FUSION: Under your skin (3)

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“Peace is not absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan

MY SKIN IS ONE of my special friends. It does everything it can to keep me alive. When I am too hot it turns on its internal “sprinklers” to cool me down. When the temperature drops in my body, it causes me to tremble.

It is then that my skin switches on its “heaters” so that my body heat can rise to a normal level. Both body regulators are underneath my skin and are designed to bring a unique balance to my body so that all the internal organs can function at their optimum. Thinking about the way the human skin functions causes me to also think about how the family should function in general. 

Because of individual differences, it is natural for each family member to get under each other’s skin from time to time. Making every effort to correct the imbalance however can work wonders for a healthy and productive unit with all the internal and external benefits that can result. In this final look at “under your skin”, I am bringing the family under the microscope.

There are several family structures that have been formed over the years, the majority of which I have scrutinised in previous articles. Today, however, I am giving a few examples of how husbands and wives have been getting under each other’s skin.

I want to make it clear that it is normal for husbands and wives to agitate each other because of their individual differences. After almost 38 years of marriage my wife and I still get under each other’s skin. 

Two reasons wives have expressed to me over the years about their husbands getting “under their skin” have to do with leadership and love. Many female partners have said that their husbands are very good at providing financial and material things for them for which they are very grateful. However, they remark that too often they have to push their husbands to give leadership to the family and that lack of initiative by their spouses often gets under their skin. When it comes to love, some women complain that on the emotional, romantic and sexual side of things, their husbands fall far short of the expected grade and that deficit also results in their partners getting under their skin.

On the other hand, some husbands with whom I have interfaced said they have no doubt that their wives care for them and show it in several ways, but repeatedly say that for them, their number one complaint with their wives falls in the area of “disrespect”. Here are a few examples of disrespect of which some men speak. They tell of their wives unilaterally make major family decisions without consulting with them and then expect their support. That action gets under their skin. Also, the men express that when their partners ignore their suggestions but accept the same suggestions from others, it affects them emotionally. Another discomfort that gets under their skin comes when their spouses embarrass them in public.

Both wife and husband may feel justified in their actions and may not even believe that their behaviour is getting under the skin of each other. Anger, resentment, lack of intimacy and ineffective communication can naturally occur, and has the potential of affecting the harmony of the marriage relationship. Here are a few considerations that may greatly assist in minimising if not eliminating what may get under your skin.

First understand that you are partners. On your wedding day you looked into each other’s eyes and made a commitment to work together until death separates you. Never see yourselves as in competition with each other but as partners seeking to complement each other and working toward the common objective of getting the best mileage out of your life-long relationship.

Secondly, be reminded that your individual differences will at times create the kind of friction that may rub each other the wrong way. Never see friction as an occasion to devalue your partner, but an opportunity to develop harmony and build a stronger and a sound, sustained relationship. Carefully listening to each other and always keeping in mind that respect for your spouse’s viewpoint is crucial if the resolution of issues is going to be realised. Expressions like “I am sorry”, “thank you” and “forgive me” when genuinely voiced, still work wonders in destroying threats to the health of your union.

Thirdly, make a commitment to resolve the issue that gets under your spouse’s skin. Never run from, downplay, ignore or dismiss the concerns of your spouse. Taking time to give continual attention to his/ her concerns has the potential of giving rise to a sturdier relationship, the kind that can set up over time a tougher firewall that can safeguard your precious family treasure.

Fourthly, place the all-wise, all-knowledgeable God at the very centre of your marriage and family relationship. At the very beginning of time God created the institution of marriage and family as the means of bringing harmony and stability to society. Fractured homes can result in a fractured society and a fractured society can result in a frustrated people. 

The family therefore is the fountainhead from which the entire society depends for its continual flow of productivity in every area of its operation. As a family unit, see yourself as a significant contributor to the health and wealth of society. When your spouse’s actions or expressions get under your skin to create an occasion for discord, draw on God’s inexhaustible wisdom and knowledge to help both of you work through the concern.

I agree with Joel Osteen who said: “You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” 

It is difficult for a husband and wife not to rub each other the wrong way, but with loving caring consideration for each other, many issues can be resolved and a stronger bond within the marriage can be realised.

Rev. Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]