“It’s hard to kiss a cactus!”
That’s exactly what he said to me. I was counseling a man who had been married more years than I had been alive at that time. How was I to counsel him? I needed to learn what a long marriage was and he had it. But he was a humble man. He was struggling in his marriage. His wife had a long term illness and he wanted to know what he could do to improve a marriage that had stood the test of time.
No, there was no danger of him leaving her. But her attitude toward him was deeply hurtful. He knew that the things she said were the result of her own physical pain and suffering and likely the powerful medications she had to take. But the words and attitudes were still very painful to him.
No, there was no question about his love for her. Decades had proven his and her love. Still, he felt wounded by the one he loved the most.
We talked for awhile, I gave what little advice I could and we prayed. Sometime later, though, he came to me again. Through some personal changes in his attitude there had been a dramatic change in their relationship. It was again easy to kiss the one he loved...no longer a cactus!
Marriage relationships can be very volatile no matter how many years we are married. It is amazing how little it takes to be hurt by the one that we have committed our lives to love and cherish. If the truth were known, there might be many spouses who are thinking the very words, “It’s hard to kiss a cactus.”
Sadly, not everyone goes for marital counseling.
You should know that there is no shame in going for help whether it is your marriage, your personal life, your struggle with God or any other need. We might call it counseling today but perhaps a more Biblical terminology would be “bearing one another’s burdens.”
I think that men in particular have to be careful in how they try to help their wives. That is especially true if you are a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible, a man who likes to just “fix things” — pretty much if you are a man you have to be careful. A man’s tendency can be to give a quick answer and assume that meets her every need. And christian men know the Bible is to be their source for true answers. If you combine too many of those things together, it can be a recipe for disaster in your relationship.
I can speak from experience on this one. All of those things I just mentioned are true of me. I’m a pastor, a Bible teacher, a student of the Bible and I like to fix things - especially quick solution. So you can see that I am a candidate for failure in this. And I have failed many times.
I did learn (and am still learning) one powerful lesson many years ago. My wife was struggling, she was in tears. And, of course, I “knew” how to fix her need. So I immediately counseled her accurately and Biblically from the Scriptures. I just knew it would help her! Instead, God helped me learn an invaluable lesson.
For one thing, my wife knew every Scripture I could tell her. She knew all the counseling information. But there was something else she needed from me at that moment.
She looked at me through tears and said, “Sometimes, I just need a hug.”
The Word of God did not fail but I did. I failed to know her as I should. I failed to meet her need. At that moment she needed me, she needed silence, she needed a hug.
I was rebuked and even to this day I am reminded of how easy it is to have an answer that is not the answer for that moment.
I have no doubt that had I not learned that lesson (and still learning), it would have been of me, early in my marriage, who my wife would say “it’s hard to kiss a cactus”.
Don’t forget to be like Jesus: have compassion and weep and love and care. That is all the counseling that is needed for our spouse and children in many cases. It also allows you to share the powerful truths of Scripture with greater impact at a later time.
My advice: hug your spouse (and children) a lot. You will never regret it.
And if you need help, ask for it. Most people would be glad to be involved in your life and would not look down on you at all. We have trained people here at Grace that would love to connect & talk with you.
Besides, it’s painful to kiss a cactus.
- Pastor Wynne
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.