It’s common to confuse an itch with a scratch. But there is a huge difference between an itch and a scratch.
An itch is a sensation that causes a desire to scratch. It is not action, but rather merely there. It is the desire to do or get something.
A scratch, on the other hand, is action in response to an itch. The focus of the action of scratching is to eliminate the itch.
When you scratch an itch does it usually go away, or get stronger?
The problem with scratching is that it usually makes the itch bigger, louder, stronger and more present. According to Washington University’s Center for the Study of Itch, scratching causes the brain to release your “happy hormone” serotonin, which actually makes the itch worse.
When we scratch an itch, we engage it and the scratch actually makes the itch worse.
Here are seven itches (desires) that all marriages have.
- Fight to win the argument. Scratching this itch leaders to arguing beyond all reason including calling our spouses names and insulting them and people important to them.
- Withdraw, hide and ignore. When this itch is scratched, we move away from our spouse and any ability to resolve a conflict or become more emotionally connected. It becomes easier to do next time.
- Talk bad about our spouse to other people. Scratching this itch leads to “support” from others that separates us further from our spouse. Instead of doing the hard thing and having a conversation with our spouse about the issue, the “good” feeling we get from talking to a friend is the path we begin choosing over and over again.
- Keep a secret from our spouse. When this itch is scratched, we find that we need to increasingly lie to prevent our spouse from finding out. A secret in one area of our relationship makes it easier to keep secrets in other areas of our relationship. This “one little secret” affects how we relate to our spouse, even if we do not realize it.
- Put other people and things above our marriage. Scratching this itch puts a wedge between you and your spouse. Your recreational needs, family, new best friend, hobby, children, volunteer activities, etc. should play second fiddle to your marriage needs. Only your relationship with God should come before your marriage relationship.
- Blame someone else and do not accept responsibility. When you scratch this itch, it becomes the go to response to any issue brought up by your spouse. You didn’t do it. Someone else did. You wouldn’t have done it if your spouse hadn’t _________. You had no choice. Or you simply counter accuse your spouse with a laundry list of items or issues you would like them to change.
- Focus our sexual attention outside the relationship. Scratching the itch to look, gaze, click, etc. grows into an unfulfilling obsession leading to lack of sexual satisfaction in our marriage and infidelity at different levels.
“We must be able to say no to ourselves in the name of a higher yes.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel in Between God and Man.
Not scratching an itch takes self-control. It takes being able to say “no” to our desires in an effort to reach a higher “yes” to building the marriage relationship we desire. Not scratching requires putting up with discomfort and denying a temporary desire in order to achieve a long-term lifetime love. It means giving up a positive temporary feeling now in order to gain a longer lasting joy over time.
As the Hebrew writer told us “At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely…” (Prov. 12:11 MSG).
We love to hear from our tribe. What other itches do most marriages have that we left off the list? What have you found helpful to keep from scratching the itch?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.