Everybody has an opinion on San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting by refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Kaepernick started his protest to shine a national spotlight on, and bring change to, America’s perceived wrongdoings against people of color.
Most people I know agree with his message. Even if they don’t agree with him, they respect his right to stand up for what he believes. But I couldn’t help but draw a parallel from Kaepernick’s protest to how some couples make similar ultimatums in their marriages.
What if married folk started protesting against their spouse’s behavior in the same way?
I know a woman who felt her husband was continually disregarding her feelings and completely ignoring her input in his decisions. To shine a light on his actions and make him see the gravity of those perceived wrongs, she decided to move out of the house and get an apartment until she felt he started showing her the consideration and respect she felt she deserved.
But there could be other forms of protest. For example: what if a husband wanted to shine a spotlight on, let’s say, his perception that his wife was intentionally withholding affection and constantly being disrespectful? What if, in protest, he decided to stop wearing his wedding ring until she started giving him the affection and respect he felt he deserved?
Which is Worse…The Protest or The Problem?
So what if your wife or husband protested you in that manner? Would it work?
If my wife did that to me (please Lord Jesus keep it “nigh not my dwelling“), I’d be blaming her for all the problems in our marriage. I’d be bringing up all the stuff she’d done wrong in her life. I’d dig in her past and try to find some history of deviance. I’d be talking about how good she really has it…and how thankful she should be to share the last name “Wiggins.” In short, I’d be responding just like some Americans are to Kaepernick’s protest.
I’d be pissed that she had the audacity to shine a spotlight on a problem she has with me. I’d think how dare she call me out like I’m not the great man/husband I think I am or at least the man I want people to think I am.
But most importantly, my outrage would prohibit me from recognizing the fact that my wife actually has a problem with how I treat her. And I would probably totally downplay my contribution to her problem as if it were all in her head’. Thus, I wouldn’t even be tryna hear about me needing to change.
To me, protests, like Kaepernick’s, reverberate the message, ‘if you don’t change your ways, I will revolt in opposition to you and your systemic mistreatment against me.’
Though probably not the best way, your partner staging a protest in your marriage is certainly a way to make you take notice of his/her grievances, no? But would you, in all honesty, be open to hearing that message and be able to act on it favorably?
The Clarion Call for Empathy Among Couples
In the perfect world, the party being accused of mistreatment would be so distraught that he or she would take every action to understand the perceived wrongs in order to address them. In the perfect world, defensive walls or counterattacks aren’t always the first instinct when accused of wrongdoing.
Listen, nobody likes to hear their spouse say that your behavior is oppressive. But in my opinion, what’s far worse than having your ego bruised by the accusation is ignoring the clarion call to change your oppressive behavior. Expecting your spouse to just shut up, take your treatment and be thankful is by far the worse way forward.
What’s missing in this situation is a lack of empathy—the capability to understand the feelings and concerns of another. Not having empathy exalts your worldview above another. And how can you live in the same land and maintain a happy peaceful relationship with someone when they fail to be considerate of your deep-felt concerns about how they are being treated?
Remember, I was telling you about the woman who moved out of the family house in protest of her husband. Well, she ended up getting divorced years later because she never felt her husband changed or made a better effort to consider her feelings. He was never able to find the empathy to address her concerns.
So, if you want to avoid a Colin Kaepernick-style protest within your marriage and the possibility of that protest tearing you apart further, then you had better start listening to your spouse and being more empathetic to their concerns about how you’re treating them.
Otherwise, your marriage might end up just as divided as America is over Kaepernick’s protest. We have all witnessed what it’s like when we fail to empathize with other. And nobody wants to live in the same land underneath those segregated conditions.
BMWK, are protests in marriage wrong? How would you handle your spouse protesting you in your marriage, especially if you disagree with the perceived wrongdoing?