Are You Too Good at Keeping Quiet? Why Your Marriage Needs You to Speak Up

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Resolving Conflict | 15 comments

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Sometimes our marriages need us to speak up!

Kestia Gustave is a long time reader and wonderful blogger from Pure Couples, and she shared this blog post with me recently. I thought it was great, and so I asked if I could run it today. The point? If you want real intimacy, you need to SHARE, not just shove things under the rug.

Here’s Ketsia:

When you need to speak up in marriage

Jono and I stood in the parking lot of the shopping plaza across from the beach with our 4 and 2-year old kids, cooler in hand, looking forward to getting home and putting the kids to sleep after washing the sand out of their hair. I squinted my eyes against the sun, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Our car wasn’t where we had parked it that morning.

Jono and my cousin who had come with us stood behind me.

“They towed the car,” Jono said in disbelief.

“They towed the car?” I repeated dumbly, still not believing what my eyes were seeing.

“Dang!” Jono exclaimed. I turned around, trying to fight the irritation that suddenly flooded me. “This is my fault,” Jono said, shaking his head regretfully.

“Yes it is,” I quickly responded. My frustration bubbled out before I could stop it. “But everyone makes mistakes.”

See, that morning when my husband first pulled into this particular parking lot for our family beach outing, I had warned him that it might not be a good place to park. He dismissed it as me being overly cautious, while reminding me that we had parked there before when we’d come to the beach. “That was years ago,” I’d told him. “They may have gotten stricter since then.”

But then I convinced myself that maybe my husband was right, maybe I was being overly cautious. Now we were paying for it. Literally. An hour later as we were driving home after paying for our towed car, my husband apologized for being presumptuous and causing our finances to be affected by his decision. I got over my feelings of irritation, but it reminded me of something that I often have to keep telling myself.

Don’t keep quiet.

There have been times in our relationship where I didn’t agree with what Jono was doing, but instead of speaking out and sticking to my guns, I quieted my voice and convinced myself that it was better to just stay quiet. Each of those times, I later realized that I should’ve stuck to my guns instead of thinking that being quiet equalled being submissive.

There are definitely times to be quiet and let the other person learn from their mistakes, but when the decision affects more than just that person, when it affects the family, that is not a time to stay silent. Decisions that affect the family are definitely battles worth fighting, even if in the end, you end up at a standstill.

Making your voice heard in your relationship is about more than just equality. It’s about the fact spouses are supposed to complement one another’s characters.

There’s stuff you’re great at that your spouse needs your help with and vice versa. By keeping quiet, you’re robbing your relationship of the richness that comes when two people learn from each other and make each other better people. Getting your car towed may not be a hill to die on for you, but there are other things that people keep quiet about that have more serious consequences.

In our relationship Jono tends to be the homebody who likes to save money by-you guessed it-staying home. I like making memories, and sometimes that does involve spending money. Now, I’m not a crazy spender, but my husband grew up poor and the idea of us experiencing that gives him anxiety. But I can’t let that make me keep quiet. He knows how to go without and be content with what he has; I know how to have fun for cheap, and I’m not into having lots of stuff.

Together we balance each other.

He helps me not to go out of control when I go to the store, and I help him loosen up and enjoy life instead of just working all the time.

If I keep quiet and let him make us homebodies, I would be very unhappy, and that unhappiness would ripple into the rest of our family’s well-being. If he let me buy everything I want, he’d live in a constant state of worry and stress, trying to clean up after my (potentially) irresponsible spending decisions.

Building intimacy doesn’t mean keeping quiet. It means doing the work to get on the same page with one another.

By coming together and constantly having conversations about the things that matter to us both, we figure out ways to compromise and make each other happy. That’s what God had in mind when He made Eve from Adam’s rib. We’re supposed to stand side-by-side, tackling life together through communication and love.

So don’t keep quiet. Keeping quiet means that your marriage is missing out on major growth and fulfillment. Keeping quiet means that you’re not being true to yourself and that you’re being stifled. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You bring something of value to the table.

So speak up.

 Ketsia Gustave, blogger at Pure Couples.Ketsia inspires middle school kids via science class during the day, and turns into a blogger and author at night. She lives in Miami, Florida with her incredibly tall husband and their two kids, Vivi and JoJo and dreams of becoming the next Francine Rivers.
Inside Out: A 7-Day JourneyIn this book I get up close and personal about the struggles that keep a lot of us from having thriving relationships not just with other people, but with God. We’ll talk about stuff like lust, addictions, insecurity, and toxic shame. I’ll give you action steps each day to start working on these roadblocks. Get your copy here!
Love Me This Way.A lot of people get excited about the romance of being in a relationship and starting a life with someone they love, but few people talk openly about their struggles once they are married. If you’re single and want to be ready for what it takes to be married, or already married and need some extra help, this book is for you!Download your free copy today!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. SW

    I have spoken up in our marriage about business decisions my husband was making that I believed were hurting us. It has gone so badly. I have felt increasingly alienated from him because his usual response is to dismiss or diminish my concerns. We have been in counselling off and on. Going again this morning. I don’t feel like I can go on.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, SW. Just remember that your main goal is to do what Jesus did and point people to Him. I know that’s hard, but remember Micah 6:8–“act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” It’s okay to act justly and stand up for what’s right. And sometimes when things are really messy, they’re actually closer to being fixed than when things look okay on the surface. It means you’re finally dealing with things. Also, if counselling with him isn’t working well, maybe you could go by yourself as well? That may help.

  2. Sleepy

    I wish I was better at this. I have such a hard time voicing my thoughts. My wife is very strong willed. I am not. Have always struggled with that. Plus I used to think that being a good husband was to say yes to everything that would make her happy and that would lead to more Intimacy. Sadly it has cost us a lot. My wife has put us in a debt by only buying clothes and other unnecessary stuff. She has finally realized what she has done but still buys things every now and then. I need to get better at saying no. I can’t say much now. What’s the point of getting angry or stress her out by blaming her every month because we are short on money. It does stress me but I don’t think there is any idea to voice my concerns at this pojn.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s hard, Sleepy! I’m actually working on a product right now that can help couples get on the same page with finances, because this is such a huge issue. But, yes, you really do need to speak up if she’s putting you in debt! And I think the key to something like that is to not just talk but do something about it. Take away the credit cards, make a budget, decide how much “play money” you each get a month (that you’re allowed to spend on whatever you want), and then take that out at the beginning of the month. Everything else has to be paid for with a debit card (or you can go to a strictly cash system for those things, too, with envelopes). If she’s really bad at using credit cards or debit cards, then a strictly cash system may be the best way to go. But I find that often we talk and talk when just setting up a better system could resolve a lot of arguments. Would she agree to something like that? If not, and she’s seriously taking you into debt, you may need to see a counsellor together or set up a separate bank account that she doesn’t have access to (which should really only be a last resort).

  3. Jessica

    I rarely speak up. No matter how carefully I form my words I’m told I’m wrong or just completely ignored, or it causes an argument and the silent treatment. Even when he says he wants my input he just does whatever he decides. I avoid speaking most of the time so I don’t provoke an argument and to protect myself emotionally. It’s getting tiresome. He refuses all counseling options and even told me he doesn’t want me speak to anyone either. I’m completely stuck with no options for anything else.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Jessica, I’m so sorry, but that does not sound healthy. If he reacts badly every time you try to share what’s on your mind, that’s emotional abuse. Have you read my post on 10 things to know about emotionally destructive relationships? It may help you and point you to some good resources.

  4. Cara

    I am so proud that I have been working on this area. It’s very hard for me-compounded by a couple of experiences with female friends over the years, wanting the truth but when I gave it (nicely!!) the friendships imploded.
    Thankfully, it’s the opposite in my marriage so far! The times I’ve spoken up recently have been a good experience. (I still have to stay quiet long enough to process it before I say it). We are in a very stressful time with a lay-off. Again. But because we made the decision to come to this job TOGETHER (after I spoke up about being left out of a previous and ultimately costly job decision) we are weathering it fairly well!!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Cara!

      And I’m sorry about those friendships. That’s a hard thing to go through.

  5. Anonymous A

    I think it is important that as we speak up, male or female it is so important to be aware of our tone and attitude. If we get that adjusted correctly it can go a long way towards having a positive impact on our spouse.

    And it seems like different people respond differently to tone. Some people really appreciate it when another person raises a concern with them very firmly and directly- and other people are more likely to respond well to a soft approach.

    For instance on Sexy Marriage Radio a couple of years ago- cohosts Corey Alan and Shannon Ethridge talked about their different styles in receiving feedback. Shannon really likes the oreo method where a person says a positive statement, then a concern and then another postive statement. Corey prefers just being told straight up what the issue is.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point! Absolutely.

      I think it’s important to remember, though, that speaking up isn’t always about expressing criticism or displeasure. Sometimes it’s just expressing a preference. Sharing your heart. Saying, “I’d love to go here tonight. What do you think?” Often we don’t do that because it seems selfish, but unless our spouse knows what we like, we can’t build intimacy.

  6. Melissa W

    This is such an important message. It is completely unfair to a spouse to not speak up and build a long term relationship with that dynamic because at some point it will all come crashing down and then it is so hard to re-build. I saw this with my in-laws. My mother-in -law (she and her twin sister were the youngest of 9) hated conflict. She was so afraid of a disagreement, conflict or argument that she never spoke up about anything with my father-in-law and let him make all of the decisions (big and little) without her ever having an opinion. He truly thought she just didn’t want to make decisions and was fine with him doing it. Well, she wasn’t and after 25 years of marriage it all came crashing down. All the years of her biting her tongue and the resentment she had built up got dumped on him and he had no idea he was doing anything wrong. Mind you, he is a very opinionated man and likes doing things his way but he really didn’t know. In an attempt to make amends for all the years of him being “selfish” she in turn became the selfish one. He wasn’t allowed to have an opinion on anything or he was being “selfish” again. This led to them going to a very unhealthy church with very questionable teaching but he couldn’t voice his opinion because he was being punished for 25 years of her not having an opinion. About 5 years after all of that my mother in law passed away from cancer in a very short amount of time and my father in law has since re-married. He has a very different sort of relationship with his second wife. She isn’t afraid to speak up at all and he appreciates that. And when his “do it my way” tendencies start to come up he just looks to the sky and whispers “I’m sorry” to his late wife and then shuts his mouth. I say all of that to say don’t create unhealthy habits in your marriage. The longer they go on the harder it is to correct them. Even though my late mother-in-law, by choice, was a doormat in her marriage she raised her sons very differently than her own marriage was. My husband has from day one valued, encouraged and asked for my opinion in every aspect of our marriage. He wouldn’t dream of making any decision without it being a joint decision and it would kill him if ever thought I was afraid to voice my opinion to him about anything at all.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for sharing that story, Melissa. What a sad marriage they had! I’m glad that your father-in-law has found a better relationship now, but I think you’re right–often we don’t realize what we’re doing to the relationship when we don’t speak up!

  7. Phil

    Speaking of Woman being made from man’s rib: I heard this great joke this week: After God made the Garden of Eden there was a woman in the garden with 3 breasts (bear with me here this is safe) and God went to her and said how do you like the Garden? The woman said I really love the garden but these 3 breasts just get in the way and I could really use some help here. So God removed 1 of her breasts and put it behind a rock. The next day God went back to the woman and said how do you like the Garden now and how is it going now that I removed one of your breasts? The woman answered: I love the Graden and my new body but I am lonely and could really use a partner. God told the woman. From you I will make a man: Then God said: Now where did I stick that boob?

  8. Melissa

    My husband and I had a very wise person say to us once, looking at my husband and pointing at me, “You two are one flesh. Operating without her is like operating without half your brain.” That changed how we ran our household and made decisions.

  9. Kate

    If God demands we bring our requests before Him and ask Him for anything then why can’t we humans do that to each other? If God can interact with us asking us for our opinions and inputs (not in everything of course) then we sinners can do the same to one another. I’m not afraid to speak up! Unfortunately most humans on this planet are followers instead of leaders, that’s why it easy for dictators to rise up. And when they do they always kill those who don’t follow first. Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. EVERYBODY bowed except for those 4 men.

    For some people they are natural born leaders for others they need to be taught. I’m naturally created that way. I hate injustice, evil, wrong and have no problem letting you know my views on it. Obviously in a kind and gentle manner. Great topic!


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