What couples mean when they say “I don’t understand my spouse” is, “My spouse doesn’t make sense to me.”
By implication they are saying, “That doesn’t make sense to me, so why should I do what they want me to do?”
Then, in therapy they look to me and ask, “Why are they (my spouse) like that?”
When I first started working as a therapist, this question would paralyze me with fear and intimidation, feeling I had to have insight into every human behavior and come up with explanations that sound like I’m intelligent. So I would rattle some inane psycho-babble and nod my head with gravity. And people would say, “Oh.” But in their minds I’m sure they were saying, “What kind of inane psycho-babbling idiot is this?”
Now that I’m in my third decade as a counselor, I’m finding it much easier to just be honest with people and return their perplexed gaze and say, “I don’t have the foggiest idea why they are like they are.”
What I find myself saying more and more to couples is, it doesn’t have to make sense to you.
The important thing for all married couples to remember is that when you married, you made a commitment to your spouse to respond to them in a loving, gracious, and kind manner. That commitment is more than just idle words spoken. It should mean something to you! It should motivate you to please your spouse, period. And, as long as what your spouse wants from you is not unhealthy for you or immoral, you ought to do it – whether it makes sense or not.
The Bible tells us that a man should dwell with his wife according to knowledge (I Peter 3:7). It says nothing about it making sense. One of the main tasks of marriage is to study and learn about your spouse and the things that will make them feel valued.
All you have to do is gain the knowledge of what pleases and what doesn’t please your spouse and then make a decision as to whether or not you are going to respond to that knowledge.
If you’ll practice this, you’ll be amazed how much simpler and satisfying married life can be.