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The Elephant In The Marriage

Every relationship will have its share of problems. It’s impossible to have a great relationship without them. It’s also impossible to have a great relationship if they are not handled correctly. Spend enough time with anyone and disagreements are bound to happen. This is a natural part of life. The only way to escape this would be to move to a planet where no one is there but you. With that being said, always remember that even those who are happy in their relationships have their share of troubles as well. It’s  the mismanagement of these problems that drives a wedge between the man and the woman. Let’s have a conversation about the elephant in the marriage.

CAN WE TALK?

No matter who you are, if you have been in any type of relationship for more than five minutes, you have had some sort of problem arise. As I said before, this is very normal. However, one of the unhealthiest things you can do in any relationship is to pretend that the problem is not staring you right in the face. I have spoken to many men and women alike who knew there was a gigantic problem that needed to be addressed but chose to avoid dealing with it. Again, problems and misunderstandings are going to occur but it’s the mishandling of them that shreds the relationship to pieces.

Some bad habits take time to break but a sincere apology should always be followed by a change in behavior, or at least a few steps in the right direction. Click To Tweet

The only thing worse than being in a room filled with tension is being in a relationship filled with tension. Tension is the little sister of the grudge and the cousin of the unresolved issue. I’m sure you’ve been there before. This usually places the man and woman on opposite sides of the sofa, bed, or table. It’s similar to the way they are on opposing sides of the issue. When they are in the same room there is an awkward silence and no one wants to break the ice. This is no way to live.

THE ELEPHANT AND THE MOUSE

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the phrase about the elephant in the room. This term refers to a major issue that is present but the discussion is avoided because it’s uncomfortable. The discussion may be uncomfortable for several reasons. It may be that one of the two has anger problems. It’s hard to discuss something with a person you know is going to lash out at you. Or maybe there is a pride and bitterness issue. No matter the reason, the major issue is still there. This is the elephant I was talking about earlier. The elephant in the marriage never goes away on its own and avoiding it does nothing but make it grow even larger. And the bigger the elephant gets, the more distance starts to accumulate between the man and woman.

The presence of the elephant over an extended period usually suggests there is a mouse also. Before you think I’ve lost my mind, I will elaborate. If the elephant has been in the marriage for a long time I can almost guarantee you that one party has been addressing it and feel as though they are not being heard. They keep pointing at the elephant but while the other keeps pointing at the mouse. The mouse is a small problem in the marriage that can be easily resolved. It is so minor that it can even be classified as petty. The person pointing to the mouse is usually doing so because they are trying to deflect from a problem that is uncomfortable for them to discuss and deal with. Let me give you an example. Let’s say a husband wants to have a conversation with his wife about how her anger is affecting the marriage because it makes him want to work late just to avoid her disrespectful behavior. Instead of dealing with the elephant, the wife points to a mouse. She says something like, “I asked you to bring milk home yesterday and you forgot again.” The fact that he forgets the milk is an issue but it’s going to land them in Divorce Court with Judge Lynn Toler.

If we want our relationships to work we have to stop pointing out the mouse to deflect from dealing with the elephant. Click To Tweet

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Many people think their relationships are doomed to fail because of turbulence. However, it’s not the presence of conflicts that’s hurting them. The relationship is suffering  because one or both parties is lacking conflict resolution skills. These are skills, so anyone can learn them. It does not matter if you were raised in a household full of tension, strife, and anger. You can still learn self-control and to be kind even when you’re upset. Because our backgrounds are different, so will our approaches to conflict. Any couple that wants to have a loving relationship needs to come together and discuss the agreed-upon rules of engagement. There needs to be boundary lines drawn in the sand to assure these difficult conversations do not cause anyone to place insulting words or behaviors into a slingshot.

I probably shouldn’t do this but I’m going to let you in on a personal conversation Kudzie and I had. As men, we often want to take the lead in everything else besides the maintenance of our marriages and relationships. It’s important to me that my wife feels loved, valued, and heard. I looked her in her eyes and told her that I never want her to feel as though she can’t voice her opinion to me. The worse she would ever get from me would be the fact that I didn’t agree. And I would let her know that respectfully. I never want to come at her in a manner that she feels uncomfortable or threatened. As her man, I need her to know these things. I also ask her periodically if she’s happy and if there is something she needs me to work on. My pride goes out the window when it comes to her feeling loved. I’m not sharing this with you from a place of pride. I just want you to understand that we (men) have to take the lead in this area.

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30 thoughts on “The Elephant In The Marriage”

  1. I love the way you love your wife! I feel that if the mouse (mice) were addressed, the elephant wouldn’t get so large and blind us with it’s enormous size. This book will be an eye opener for the newly married and those considering it. Some old timers may beg to differ; lol. It’s tight; but it’s right! Teach on my brother! Teach on!

    1. Derron,
      This was right on time! Thank you for pointing out the important issues of communication and resolve. The elephant HAS to be addressed with love. Amazing work and we wish you all the best!
      Valerie

  2. I wish my husband cared about my emotional well being as much as you do for your wife’s. The elephant in our marriage is unreal…and he sees no problem.

  3. I totally agree with what you said in your article. There’s nothing like the silence filled tension of an unresolved issue. When my wife, Kim and I got together, we laid everything on the table and laid down guidelines about what we wanted and needed from the relationship and each other. One very important one was being respectful even if we’re arguing. We don’t hit below the belt and we listen to each other and try to understand where each of us are coming from.

  4. Andrea Denise Dunbar

    So very true on alot of occasions.
    Feelings get put aside because you don’t want “hurt feelings and you don’t want to “HURT ”
    anyone’s feeling. Uncharted territory with no life jacket..But sometimes you have to just get out there..and put you’re feelings out there for the sake of you’re own peace of mind and fulfilment!
    And let the chips fall where the may..So mote it be!

  5. Awesome sounds like a great book
    to help all in a tension relationship!! Especially when one thinks they are always right and has no feelings for the one they stood before God and feel they don’t need help to fix their relationship with their spouse.

  6. I want to express how much I enjoyed reading Derron’s blog. For several reasons: First I enjoy the title, which is very catching visually and in theory. Second I can understand the blog and how it catches my attention, with the examples that it gives. Third I love ❤️ how it’s personable with the bloggers on personal example with his wife Kudzie, which was very sweet. Finally it teaches you lessons and how to handle situations, which is perfect 👌 Thank you!

  7. The truth is, elephants and mice grow from unresolved tiny issues. further too tiny than at mouse that grow overtime superceeding elephants until they bust forth into divorces.
    its also comes how free your relationship was right through the dating period. if you to didnt learn to say the mouse then, you wont say the elephant, you will start acting too funny and then ask for a divorce..

    beautiful article.. i agree

  8. I wish I could’ve read this type of article before I got married, 19yrs ago. We were both totally unprepared. Our honeymoon phase was done and dusted in about 4 months, and there were a herd of elephants in the room. I almost ran away on many occasions when tensions were high. ( Premarital counseling didn’t really tell/warn us about how intense the conflict can be ).
    I thank God my wife tolerated my stubbornness.
    What I’ve learned is what you say right at the end..” My pride goes out the window, when it comes to her feeling loved. ” That right there is the cog that keeps the relationship moving forward (peacefully).

  9. First as believers I think we should seek Godly counsel, for the younger couples talk to older couples they have a lot of wisdom and more than likely been thru what your dealing with. Just because we don’t discuss a issue doesn’t mean it will go away, it will actually get worst because with women we can take a lot and when our partner don’t hear us we act out, and that makes the issue so much worst than if we would’ve just addressed it when it was a small issue. Communication is the key, we need to be able to communicate with each other and respect each other’s views

  10. I love it! One, key element is to value one another and maintain respect. It’s true that the elephant and mice play victims. Communicate, one feeling and you can always table a conflict to revisit it later. This does help with avoiding hurtful words and insult. Possibly stop the anger build-up. Stoplight: don’t go to bed angry, show affection. Listen and don’t blame. #Goodtakeonthis D.

  11. Brilliant article ! Communication is the key to any successful marriage. I love the description of the “ “Elephant and nice “ unresolved issues do create tensions and huge problems in relationships. You have raised the bar of what true relationships should be , you are a true model for men . I am so looking forward to reading your book. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

  12. Absolutely Perfect description of conflict in a marriage! One spouse is usually loud and tempered, my husband, the other spouse is soft and kind, myself! It took my husband and I 25 yrs to figure this out, you know, actually talk to each other and listen to our words without putting a shield of anger and decisions already made in our heads! 25 yrs into marriage he was diagnosed with terminal cancer! After the diagnosis I can promise you the elephant, the mouse and every tension alive walked out the door! The last 18 months were the BEST conversations we ever had! Listen to derron and really DO the work for your spouse! I’ve lived it and I trust his words!

  13. Shannon Sloan Johnson

    This is an awesome concept. If we don’t acknowledge that there is a problem in the relationship then this will result in more issues arising. We always have to be honest with our spouses and ourselves about what is going on and wrong in the marriage.The key as you said is coming to a resolution on how to fix the issue without playing the blame game. The most important thing is honesty in the relationship. Your spouse should always feel that you are a safe place for them to speak the truth. Don’t speak it from a place of frustration, But when we’re speaking that truth always do it from a place of love. We must remember that marriage is honorable.

  14. I agree that major issues and challenges are difficult to discuss and resolve; its much easier to ignore or delay. Then pet peeves pop up! Perhaps this book will provide an unbiased approach.

  15. Awesomeness here! Acknowledging the truth; good, bad, or ugly is better than putting a band aid on the issue knowing the infection really needs antibiotics. Great read!

  16. This a great read! Very true! The part “It’s hard to discuss something with a person you know is going to lash out at you” is something I have to work on. Thank you, Derron!

  17. Nekitta Sutton ( Nekilynn Inspire )

    I enjoyed reading this post. It’s truly amazing how your writings reflect what women really want in a relationship. I also agree with your thoughts on how confronting the problem instead of ignoring it will keep many marriages out of divorce court. Keep letting God use you to help us
    learn how to build and maintain Kingdom Marriages ❤

  18. Thanks for addressing the issue of conflict resolution. It’s a huge reason for the death of a relationship. Can’t wait to read the new book!

  19. This is something every new couple should hear. It’s real easy to recognize that constant bickering and arguing over petty issues to deflect the real problems of the relationship is unhealthy. Transversley however, constant conflict avoidance because you’ve convinced yourselves that any argument at all is bad is totally unrealistic and actually just as unhealthy as the former. I’m happy to see how effectively you pointed out this parallel.

  20. I enjoyed reading your perspective on regarding addressing the elephant in the room. The failure to discuss important issues that can occur in our relationships can cause great damage if the issues aren’t dealt with. It can be difficult to address issues when your partner has a tendency to lash out or deflect.

  21. Derron, warmest wishes for your cause.
    You hit the nail on the head with pride.
    Pride brings division and not unity.
    Madness, envy, greed, the seed of resentfulness will asphixiate the heart, thus, no virtue will build.
    Marriage is the co-joining of two bodies into one unity with The Lord at The Head.
    We are to have patience with one another (clemency + forbearance), in trials we have a divine lesson.
    Christ Jesus did not conquer bad with a rod
    Jesus Christ, The Son of God, conquered death and corruption with The Cross.
    God bless you, Derron + your care for fellowman in sharing your loving recipe for relationships to flourish.
    (Resentfulness is a weed. So easy to see when man first divorces his/her “I”–without this understanding the vicious cycle has repeating)

  22. Mr. Short
    Well said! I simply love how you gave conflict a name in which I like it better. The cousins show up to deflect is absolutely truth. Even reading these comments I was able to hear the 🐘 in one of these comments maybe 2. I will read almost anything as long as it isn’t boring. Keep God first, and keep this going you’ll have best sellers across the charts.
    Best wishes to you and Kudzie🙏

  23. Great article about getting to the point (with love) before you lose sight of it behind the elephant in the room. I also agree that it starts with the man as head of the house and leader f the family. I don’t know if I’ve in all my years of ministry met a woman who wasn’t willing to follow and respect a man she really believed loved and cared for her. As a word of encouragement….if you’re staring at an elephant in your marriage it can feel overwhelming. You may wonder how you could ever possibly get that huge thing out of the way. I would point to the old saying: HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT? ANSWER: ONE BITE AT A TIME. Start. Just start healing and dealing with the issues one situation, offense, heartache at a time. If you remember your vows to love “till death do you part” then you have the rest of your life to do it!

  24. While reading this, I’ve noticed my own problems with how I handle issues that arise in the relationship and I must say this has been an eye opening article. It was well-written, thought provoking and an interesting read. Love how Mr. Short addresses what people can do work out the issues that comes up in our relationships.

  25. This is sooo important in marriage and relationship recognising and handling the elephant. I love your statement about conflict resolution: yes we can learn how to resolve conflicts no matter our background but most people need spiritual and counseling support to learn this.

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