In writing, we use a phrase called "inciting incidents." This describes an event that causes the hero or heroine to change direction. In What's He Really Thinking? by Paula Rinehart (Thomas Nelson 2009), the author speaks of the same thing, but in the nonfiction world of our real lives.
She gives an example of a couple who hasn't gone on a family vacation in years. Every year the wife asks if they can make plans, and each time her husband says they need to think about their future and retirement. Now the backstory of this is that the husband's reasoning is based in fear, and he will stay in that place until forced to change direction.
That finally happens when the wife says to his latest answer, calmly and with respect, "That won't work for me." She's clearly stated that she can no longer accept his position and is asking for a compromise or change. The result? Her husband can't remain in his fear-based position any longer, which is a good thing. He has to find an alternative.
The author also clarifies that this is not a tool to use randomly. The point is to recognize the detrimental place our husband is staying in and help him to grow and move out of it.
To change. Not an easy thing for a man.
Here are some pointers from the book of when to use your "no-words:"
1. When you believe that the relationship itself will suffer because you are putting up with something that's harmful to you both.
2. When you sense that your "no" could open a door in this man's growth that probably won't open if you just continue to go along.
The author stresses how important it is to let go of your anger before you use your no-words. The point is to give him something to "wrestle with that could, eventually, bring some deep changes in his life." (Pages 69-71 of What's He Really Thinking? by Paula Rinehart)
As with anything, we must first prayerfully consider and prepare ourselves for such situations. We need to make sure we know whether we as wives are blocking a potential place of growth for our husbands and can help them move out of this place, or are we only concerned with our own needs.
What an awesome thought and challenge to think that through God's guidance and help, we can be such a positive influence on our husbands and help them grow.
Praying and believing,