Every day, a new online quiz offers to determine what ice cream flavor you are, or sandwich, or superhero, or character from your favorite movie. But have you ever considered what types of spouses we are? The truth is, we’re never just one type of spouse.
We bounce around depending on circumstances, health, and the other spouse. Self-aware spouses recognize their negative type tendencies (which we all have) and correct course to be better for each other. Here are 5 types of spouses we should learn to spot in ourselves on any given day.
1. The Passive Spouse
Passivity can show up in several different ways in a marriage. Passive spouses might have an intense timidity that allows others to dominate them, including their spouses. Passivity might show up in missed opportunities to confront wrongs or defend what’s right. Sometimes I show passivity by withdrawing from Susan, being detached, disengaged, only willing to do the bare minimum in my relationship. Anger, fear, and resignation all can lead to moments or seasons of passivity. But long-term passivity erodes the team partnership that a marriage is supposed to be.
2. The Manipulative Spouse
This type of spouse is focused on control: the thermostat, the remote, the menu, the way the house is cleaned, the emotions, the finances, even the love life. Constant control, like using sex as a reward (or withholding sex for punishment), is not an ingredient for a healthy marriage. That’s in part because control itself is an illusion and an addictive one at that. A marriage needs trust and freedom in order to flourish.
3. The Selfish SpouseSelfishness is the greatest enemy of every marriage.
Selfishness is the greatest enemy of every marriage. It’s really important that we recognize when our self-centeredness is getting in the way of a healthy relationship with our spouses. The selfish spouse is about getting, not giving. And a marriage in which spouses are constantly self-focused is one that is bound to buckle. We have to be willing to let go of our expectations of instant gratification, winning every argument, or experiencing every day to our complete satisfaction. We have to find ways to make it about “we” instead of about “me.”
4. The Aggressive Spouse
For some, aggression comes naturally, yet sometimes aggression is more of a reaction to people or circumstances that provoke a response of anger or fear. Whatever the cause, the aggressive spouse that comes out in us at times makes everything more stressful and everyone more stressed. We often think of physical aggression, which is a huge problem. But we can do plenty of damage with emotionally aggressive words (and without lifting a finger). Cooling down and finding healthy ways to manage conflict are critical steps when we sense an aggressive stance rising in us.
5. The Secure Spouse
Every spouse is likely to experience moments or seasons of passivity, manipulative control, selfishness, or aggression. The goal we should have is to be more often in the “secure spouse” zone. The secure spouse honestly faces the uncertainties, heartaches, shortcomings, and disappointments that have wounded the marriage in the past. This spouse works toward healing the marriage when hurts happen, instead of being resigned to a defeatist “that’s just how we are” attitude. With some maturity cultivated by experience, the secure spouse is not just willing but is able to give to the marriage instead of always trying to take from it in order to fill holes that only God can fill.
Whatever kind of spouse you were when you woke up today, or whatever type you woke up next to, know that there is hope for healing and growth. It starts with the willingness to ask an important question: “What can I do today to help my spouse feel more secure in our marriage relationship?”
Sound off: Of these five types of spouses, which type most reminds you of yourself lately and why?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to be secure in who you are?”