On the Defensive

I like watching sports, but I’m certainly no sports fanatic and can’t quote you many statistics related to sports. I have just enough basic understanding for most sports, but last year had to ask a few questions during the World Cup as soccer was a little confusing. I live in the Houston area and we are on a bit of a sports roll lately, as our teams are doing well this year, which have been fun to watch. As a teacher, I also watch lots of High School sports games and regularly cheers on friend’s children at their games. From youngest players to the professionals, one thing remains, the cheers for the defense are intended to distract the opposing team, but when offense is at work, the home team crowd goes quiet.

Just like the shouting from the stands impacting the game, words have significant impact on relationships, ultimately affecting the security each person feels in the relationship and trust developed to be vulnerable and openly communicate. If conversations about needs, feelings or significant issues are met with resistance walls begin to form, trust is broken and vulnerability is lost to resentment and self-protection. It is easy to self-protect, or go on the defensive, but when someone bares their heart to their significant other in dating, engagement or marriage, there must be sensitivity to the expressed needs or feelings.

I can remember the first time I took the 5 Love Languages quiz and understood my needs from others, and also what I was good at giving to others. Quality time is my number one need in relationships, from friendships with my girlfriends to dating relationships. I have learned to express this need in dating relationships and it is often received with defensive response. However, if I never communicate that need, someone is at a disadvantage to know how I operate and what I most appreciate, and need, from them. I am very careful expressing needs/opinions/hurts in relationships so as not to be accusatory, but to express my point of view with opportunity to better a relationship.

Recently in a dating relationship I mentioned communication, how important it was to me and what I felt was missing in our communication. The response I received included “I don’t want to do anything that would cause ill-feelings between us” which told me the other party was immediately on the defensive in response to me. Our words are powerful, and the “words may never hurt me” rhyme of our childhood has proven false over and over again. Over time defensive conversations cause a breakdown in a relationship and often require a lot of work and healing to repair.

I attended a wedding of two friends several years ago, both were collegiate basketball players and familiar with sports analogies to life. The aisle of the church they married in happened to be about the same length of a basketball court and the Pastor talked about them coming to the wedding as two separate people but leaving down the aisle together as one team. They would have to work together for their team every day of their lives.

Relationships are not easy, and feelings are bound to be hurt. Couples are often counseled to not let the sun go down on your anger, meaning to resolve conflict before it sits too long, as that is when it starts to take root and walls begin to rise up. One of my favorite Bible teachers, Christine Caine says, “Your wound will never heal if you keep opening it up.” Our relationships cannot be healthy if we are holding onto and keeping score of wrongs, or penalties. We must each choose to forgive and move forward without keeping records on a scorecard.   

“Your wound will never heal if you keep opening it.” @christinecaine
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Just like in sports, when a relationship goes on the defensive it often becomes loud and rowdy, resulting in messy and hurt feelings. Both people must work together to hear the other express their needs/feelings, which requires quiet to understand what the other is saying and why it matters. There are certainly times a couple must express defense in fighting for their relationship, but that should be done together against the world, not between each other. The boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancés, husband/wife are on the same team and matters of the heart between each other are worth fighting for, but with quiet listening hearts, not loud defensive words that distract from the home team goal.



Angie Gillikin is a Texas girl currently working as a High School Business Teacher. She’s a single thirty-something and hopes for marriage, but is living the single life to the fullest, learning lessons along the way from her own relationships and those of married friends! Angie is involved in numerous community and charitable activities as well as her church where she’s been a youth, college and singles Bible Study teacher. She loves Dr Pepper, big jewelry, cowboy boots, reading, jogging, crafting and small towns. In her spare time she writes on her personal blog, creates custom canvas word art and spends as much time as possible with her besties and family including The Littles—her nephew and twin nieces.


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