conflict

Tack and Tune

upwithmarriage_tack-and-tune

If I can just stick to tacking and tuning myself, often God brings His peace and harmony, in His time.

Part of my tack and tune kit is to keep a copy of our Marriage Certificate on the bulletin board at my desk.  I also have a copy of the promises I’ve made in my vows to Darrell on my computer.  When we’re in the middle of a heated fight (and in some of our less shining moments, those fights were downright vicious), I know, at some point I’m going to see that Marriage Certificate – I’ve learned to use that document as a reset for my heart and head. Instead of emotionally running away, I tack into those vows.

It’s not natural or easy, but it is simple – a simple choice of spirit instead of flesh.  God will give a simple clear way for you too — just ask Him.

Tacking and Tuning always take me to the next level in my role as a wife.  We can go from bad to good and then from good to great.

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Adversity in Marriage

upwithmarriage_adversity-in-marriage4

You know those memes you see on Facebook, the ones that make you feel kind of old, “If you know what this is click like and share.”  This one was a wringer washing machine, in the catalogue, it was advertised to make laundry easier.  I showed it to my oldest daughter, saying, “I remember helping my Grandmother do laundry with this!  It took about two hours to do one load.”

washers

Two hours doesn’t sound very fast, but compared to the washboard – the wringer washer was a gigantic leap forward for domestic work.  Wash day was just that, a whole day.  It took a whole day’s worth of work and cut it to less than half, by removing the hardest part.

Now we complain about so much laundry.  We (me) have the audacity to actually complain about a task that is 95% automated – are you kidding me?!  Just the other day I let out a tsssk as I walked passed the load(S) waiting to be washed.  And I know for a fact other women feel the same about ‘never-ending’ laundry.

ADVERSITY reveals the true me (and you)

No wonder we can’t handle any real problems in life and relationships with grace for others and dignity for ourselves.

  • “It’s too hard, God would never want me to go through THAT.”
  • “I don’t like this, it doesn’t make me happy.”
  • “Why should I have to do that?”
  • “God is a God of justice.  It’s not fair if I have to experience THIS.”

As we resist with each statement (which sound suspiciously like complaining), we get weaker and less able to actually conquer whatever situation we are in.  The more we focus on just ourselves and the difficulty of the task, the more impossible the circumstance becomes.  We lose sight of the big picture and our place in it.  Forgetting that it was God Who chose us, and what role He placed us in.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:28-29)

The word adversity captures a wide range of circumstances – from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophe. Whatever the size or discomfort of the difficulty, it does the same thing – it pushes us against the barrier of our comfort zones, thins our skin and forces out a response.

ADVERSITY had revealed the complainer in me

Had I really complained about the laundry as I was climbing the stairs?  Yes.  Something so small and benign.  I hadn’t seen that in myself and it caught me off guard.  I don’t think God views any complaining as small or inconsequential.  Complaining used to be a big problem for me – not so much anymore.  But apparently, there was still a sliver there that needed to be exposed and removed before it spread further.  The virus of sin is like that.

How could I conquer evil with good and be strengthened with gratitude, if I couldn’t even see past a few puny piles of laundry to the blessing of fully automated equipment?  Don’t get me wrong, I know dirty clothes aren’t evil – but the complaining part is.

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Cor 10:9-10)

Complaining is a fruit of wrong focus – it proves to myself that I’m making it all about me when there is so much to be grateful for:

  • the fact that I do have a fully automated washing machine (and dryer), instead of having to use a wringer washer or a washboard, or go to the laundromat.
  • that my husband has bought the best set.
  • speaking of him, he’s healthy and has a fantastic job.
  • the blessing of all my kids and that they are healthy.
  • that we all have an abundance of clothes!

I could go on and on, but you get what I mean.  When I set my focus on the benefits, gratitude will naturally grow instead of self-pity.

ADVERSITY will help or hinder

I think we can all agree:  People have no control over others and no power to change them.  It’s a good thing, for a couple of reasons.

(1) When you accept how little control you have over circumstances, and the people involved in them, your faith grows—you become a different person.  The more you trust God, the more you mature.  Yes, there’s characteristics we don’t care for in people, behaviours and habits that create adversity in our relationships – conflict with our husbands, but, you’ve got to ask yourself:

Do I really want someone else to have the power to change me?

(2) Because that’s the deal.  If I get the power to change my husband – then he gets just as much power to change me.  My answer would be, no – I only want God to have that power, He’s the only one that can see my heart (and Darrell’s) from a complete perspective. (Psalm 139:16)

SOUL-utions:

KNOW:  I say this lots and I’ll say it again:  We’re going to have trials, turmoil and hurt in our marriages, we’ve got to accept it – we’re told, plainly.  We all have our fair share, God hasn’t picked out some for more hardship or troubles than anyone else.  Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. (1 Peter 4:12)

ACCEPT:  Be open to what God shows you about own heart when you’re in trials; not what you see in your husband’s heart. God already knows the both of you, He wants you to see your own.  But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.   (1 Sam 16:7)

LET GO:  We hinder ourselves by focusing on the things in our husbands that we want to change.  The most helpful thing we can do is to let go of this perceived power.  A wife affects real change in marriage through influence, not control.  In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1)

 

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A Marriage Illusion: 50/50

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When I first started to study the life of Sarah I thought she was mindless and weak.  And even though Paul said I could be her daughter if I saw her as a mentor, it was many years before I believed what he was saying; I didn’t want to be her daughter.  I was already a daughter of the feminist movement and preferred the mantra, “I am woman hear me roar.”  But like many other women who’d been raised in that same culture, I found out, albeit the hard way, that I was already powerful and strong.  I was created that way and didn’t need to draw my strength from a movement but from the source:  God.

So began the illumination about the 50/50 split* in marriage and why it’s not God’s view of marriage, but the world’s view.

When I think back I can remember my insides squirming in conflict whenever I came across Sarah, especially this little gem from 1 Peter 3.

It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).

This just didn’t translate into fair and equal for me, which is what I believed marriage was about.  He can run his fifty percent and I’ll run my fifty percent.  Now that’s equality.

I believed the equality moniker licensed me to argue whenever “I” believed “I” was in the right.  In hindsight, God is funny … and patient.  It was like He slipped a little burr called marriage, just under my skin and whenever I pushed up against what I thought was IN-equality between us, I felt the sting of that burr.

I struggled with that burr, all the while blaming Darrell because the only time I felt the sting was when my conflict was with him.  My “prayers” for help seemed to fall on deaf ears.  I would point out (to God) all the things that my husband was doing wrong and how he wouldn’t listen to me.  I wanted to do things my way.  I had ideas and solutions on how to run our family, but there was always so much conflict between us whenever we tried to talk about options or solve problems.  And it just kept getting worse.

Weeks turned into months then into years.  I became more contentious about having the right answers.  More determined to fight for my rights; my way.

… and the burr just kept slicing away.

I had created a war zone in our home and a hardened heart within myself.

WHAT IS THE REAL BURR?

While mentally replaying a recent quarrel in frustration, I complained to God, “Fine, I just won’t have an opinion about anything, is that what YOU want?”

SILENCE.  A deafening silence.

(We all have eye-opening, pride-crushing moments in which God in His infinite grace allows us to wrestle with Him so we see the truth of ourselves.  This was one of mine.)

I had been in our kitchen doing dishes and slamming cupboards and the silence stopped me dead when I realized what I had said through gritted teeth and to Whom I had said it.  I fell onto my knees, not so much in repentance and adoration of God, but in a slump of emotional fatigue and confusion.  “Why did You give me a brain if You didn’t want me to use it?  There will be nothing left of me.”

This was the first time I ever heard God’s voice, I remember it like it was yesterday.  “Yes.  There will be nothing left of you; that is the point.  My Spirit cannot work in Darrell or you, with you in the way.”

With that first glimmer of understanding and the freedom that comes with the death of self, the burr started to loosen.

Focusing on getting our own way and own rights, 50/50, clouds our insight to the change God wants to do in us.  The issue had never been about obeying Darrell because he was right, or me “not using my brain.”  But rather God remaking us into whom He created each of us to be; using the tension now present in every marriage:  Desire.

 BEHOLD the real burr        ->       Desire … TO BE IN CHARGE; TO RULE

Yet your DESIRE and longing will be for your husband, and he will rule [with authority] over you and be responsible for you.

It’s my position that Genesis 3 is not a prescriptive text.  God was not delineating what He was going to do to each of us [Satan, Adam, Eve].  He didn’t put desire in wives, but rather He was describing and explaining what we had each done to our own selves.  He was letting us know how the relationships had changed and how they would play-out, on the outside of Eden.

Remember that He’s the Alpha Omega.  He doesn’t just know the future, He IS the future.  He wasn’t making plans for us, He already knew.  In His grace and love for us, He was giving us a “heads-up.”

Eve’s creation is from power and strength, but not with teshuwqah:  the desire to over power, conquer and rule.  Teshuwqah in wives is a consequence of sin and therefore not our natural or most beneficial state.

The challenge for me was (and still is from time to time) to resist the temptation of teshuwqah that lives in my flesh; that rears it’s head to contend when something seems not fair for me, or ‘right’ in my eyes.

Teshuwqah or submit

The nature of 50/50 calls for someone to be that dividing line between the two 50s making sure it’s all equal.  Whether you call it mutual submission or egalitarian style someone will end up being the scorekeeper to make sure that the submission actually IS mutual or to make sure that no one IS actually leading (or that both are leading … equally).  To ensure the dividing line is equal someone is either given the authority to say, or someone takes the authority and says so.

If Satan can keep you fighting for your rights and contending for your 50% of the 50/50, if he can keep your focus on the mutuality of “taking turns submitting” to the earthy fleshly circumstances of life, you will lean more and more on your own steam and less on God’s.  Satan’s goal is to keep you in the mindset he led you into in the first place:  Teshuwqah

In reality, 50/50 is the gender issue, the “he/she” of it.  I had pitted myself against my husband by choosing my own side of the dividing line.  As much as I said I was for our marriage, the evidence of score keeping proves that my heart was not all in.  Make no mistake, a home divided against itself will not stand. (Mk 3:25)  Here are the two blinding illusions:  First:  You cannot give 50% without withholding 50%, one cancels the other.  You are either 100% for your husband or you are withholding 50% in the name of mutuality or fairness.  It is the nature of equality:  someone tracks the transactions.  Second:  No one knows but you and God.

Well, I was a scorekeeper.  And that’s what I hadn’t liked about Sarah; she wasn’t.

Sarah was 100% for Abraham.  Looking at her through my 50/50 lense she appeared wimpy and unacceptable to me.  Sarah was willing to submit herself.  I was teshuwqah; making sure everything was “equal and fair.” I was the one keeping score … calling the shots from on top of my dividing line.

Then, that day on my kitchen floor …. BOOM, I wasn’t.

Isn’t it always like that with God.  He does the revealing, the healing.  All He asks is that we be willing to honestly look.  Even if it is through squinted eyes at first.  And as I began to view Sarah through His lenses, the low value I placed on her changed to overwhelming pride in being able to say, I am a true daughter of Sarah’s!

Her life exemplified a complete and undivided heart of trust in her LORD.  She demonstrated with her own marriage how opposite mine was.  And finally, a new level of dependence on God emerged that I had never experienced.

I will probably never submit as perfectly as Sarah and that’s ok.  At our house we aim for progress, not perfection.

Robyn

The focus shouldn’t be on a quid-pro-quo relationship, but on the marriage vows.  When we keep score, we automatically see the other person as the problem and absolve ourselves from guilt. –Eileen Silva Kindig

 

* other 50/50 references meaning the same thing, include:  egalitarian, mutual submission

 

A Worthy Purpose

Limitless-Love

“True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” –Helen Keller

Have you defined your worthy purpose?

For me, being a wife is the most important role I fill while here on earth.  Submission to Darrell’s authority won’t be a dynamic in our relationship when we’re in heaven; but learning the humility to submit while on earth renews my mind and strengthens my faith.  This humility goes a long way towards shaping my inner person to be fit for eternity. (1 Cor 6:2-3)

God moves through my marriage in His limitless love and power to shape me into the unselfish daughter that He created me to be.  Being a part of marriage allows me to work towards something bigger than me.  Striving to make a positive difference in those closest to me diminishes my human selfishness by shrinking the desires of my flesh and moving me closer to the likeness of Christ.

Limitless love

There is no one else other than a husband who qualifies to fit in every category of relationship:

  • …have unfailing love for one another1 Peter 4:8
  • … shall love his brother also  – 1 John 4:20
  • …love your neighbour as yourself  – Mark 12:31
  • …no one has greater love […] than to give up his own life for his friends  – John 15:13

Pulling strings or manipulating to gain the advantage in our marriage (more commonly known as getting your own way) will only bring temporary satisfaction; not true happiness.  And does nothing to teach the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated for me to learn.

Marriage isn’t supposed to teach me how to have my own way – do my own thing, or impose my own rights.  But to daily learn how to lay those things down for a better and permanent way.

  • Marriage is God’s plan to grow me.
  • Marriage belongs to God; it’s His way and in His control.
  • Marriage is the best opportunity I have to grow up.  It gives me real life practice of disciplines that will renew my mind to think like Jesus.

worthy purpose

 

Marriage Triangle (Part 3)

Part 3 – Imitation

 

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Ok.  So far I’ve shared that the traditional view of the marriage triangle didn’t really help us in our marriage.  In Part 1, I explored that each spouse is different in their growth and approach to God.  Because we are all wounded in different ways and depths, this makes our maturity in Christ not equal.  And in Part 2, it was the realization that the dynamics of my relationship with God changed considerably when I chose to get married.

When you are both getting along, there’s no need for counselling or instruction on how marriage should be – You are living it.  This makes complete sense: who needs directions when they aren’t lost?

But then, someone is offended.  Happily ever after is replaced with the strain from the offence creating stress and threatening the unity of the relationship.

Conflict will reveal how much of Christ has been factored in

A marriage that is truly alive with Christ will have God’s love flowing through it.  Otherwise it’s no different than any other marriage.  God’s love is a giving, a no holds barred, regardless of actions, full-out – love.  Remember in Part 2 how I discovered that logically, I can’t reciprocate directly to God, because I have nothing to offer Him.  And yet He still gives all of His love.

When God showed me to focus only on my own relationship with Him and that He would take care of me through Darrell, the same way He would take care of Darrell through me; it not only changed me forever, but also my view of marriage.

Whenever God talks about love, it’s never in a relational vacuum with Himself; but with an active relational voice that is giving.

Matthew 22:37-40 …love your neighbour

Romans 12:10 love one another

1 Peter 2:17 love the brotherhood

1 Peter 4:8love for one another

1 John 4:7-8love one another

1 John 4:11 love one another

1 John 4:19-21 loves God shall love his brother [believer] also

I don’t get to turn my back on my husband and love God at the same time.  When you choose to stop loving your husband, what you’ve actually done is stop your own love from being reciprocated to God.  You have become a taker only of God’s love- nothing is getting through you.

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You love God by copying Him

God is a giver.  So to look like Him we must become givers who only focus on what we give into the marriage … not what we get from it.  Truly imitating God means you give without limits or strings attached.  As your husband’s wife you don’t concentrate on what kind of husband he is, but instead on the tremendous son of God that he will become as God loves him through you.

RMP 1

Therefore be imitators of God

[copy Him and follow His example],

as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

Ephesians 5:1


Marriage Triangle (Part 2)

Part 1 – The Myth We Discovered

Part 2 – Reciprocity

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Myth

Because I am in relationship with God, I actually have something, on my own, to give back to Him.

When you look at the surface of Paradigm A, you only view the shell.  But if you look under the surface, scrutinizing the real message (Paradigm B), you can see that there is no representation of “oneness” that includes God.  Instead, what it illustrates is actually THREE reciprocal relationships, each of the three being separated in its own vacuum:

utopian marriage

Three Relationships Each In Its Own Vacuum

1 – God & wife

God does all the giving in this relationship, any love I have originated with Him, I love Him, because He first loved me (1 John 4:19).  There is nothing I can reciprocate to God:

He does all the giving … a wife can only TAKE.

 2 – God & husband

Again, God does all the giving in this relationship.  There is nothing a husband can reciprocate to God:

God does all the giving … a husband can only TAKE.

3- husband & wife

There is no line for the relationship that shows the oneness of marriage that comes from God, the One who does the giving.  Instead, the arrow representing marriage involves two takers.

Reciprocate, To God?

Paradigm A disguises reality by presenting the way marriage should be (see Part 1) – the utopian view.  It also enforces the idea that: I can reciprocate directly to God.  Even though I know, logically, there is no way that a natural human being has anything to offer a supernatural being.  Because of the fact that the only reason I am able to love God is, because He first loved me, this begs the question:  How am I going to love God back?

Conceptualizing the interaction (Paradigm B) that is actually taking place between God and each spouse gives a clearer idea:  God loves me.  That’s a $100 bill that He’s given to me … do I give Him back the $100 bill?  Is this how I love God back?  Keeping the $100 in a vacuum, isolated between the two of us – passing it back and forth?

utopian marriage 2

How easy is it to be in relationship with God?  I’ve discovered, as you probably have, He’s pretty easy to love.  With God there’s no relational dysfunction, is there?  Never any ugly trials and tribulations.  God is supreme perfection.  Always giving.  Never taking.

God always does the right thing and never sins against you.

Paradigms A & B don’t actually show how each spouse is growing closer to God.  As long as the arrow is pointed at God (Paradigm A) and remains between just the two of them (Paradigm B), it is not a relationship with any maturity.  Maturity responds to God’s love by imitating it.

When I identify with the utopian Paradigm A, it seems ok for me to see my relationship with God as separate from my relationship with my husband.  And this is where the deception comes in:

  1. It is not humanly possible for a spouse (a taker) to love the other spouse (a taker) the way God loves each of them.
  2. There really isn’t two separate relationships in marriage … the two have become one.

The question again:  How do you reciprocate with a being that is so supreme He completes His Self within Himself?

You imitate Him

When Darrell and I got married, we became ONE flesh.  There aren’t two of us anymore, there is one.  Therefore, that great mystery of becoming one flesh would be more accurately illustrated by a single line:

 ORIGINAL 1

The utopian triangle (Paradigm A) is applicable when a marriage is as it should be:  In its “good place.”  There is no conflict and both spouses are getting along.  However, with the pressures of life, the reality of trials and the ugliness of human sin, conflict in marriage is inevitable; the utopian paradigm crashes and burns … it’s useless to us.  The high divorce rates are the best indicator of the misapplication of the ‘marriage triangle.’  Perhaps it’s time for a paradigm shift.

Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning. –George Bernard Shaw

 ~~~

Part 3 – Imitation:  A paradigm shift to an active perspective.

robyn

Marriage Triangle (Part 1)

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Part 1 – The Myth We Discovered

There is a triangle paradigm used to depict the Christian marriage, aptly called a marriage triangle.  There’s many variations of it, but generally it looks like one of these:

marriage triangle 2

The premise is obvious:  The closer you get to God the closer your marriage will align to the perfection of God thereby bringing the two of you closer.

In theory this paradigm makes complete sense, but for real life practical application in marriage, it’s a miss and leaves us strandedBy glossing over our human brokenness – the truth of what we really are, with the illusion of perfection, it leads us more into a myth mindset than a paradigm that can help a marriage grow into the force it was meant to be.

This triangle image bolsters the idea of black and white in the marriage relationship and leaves us with a flavour of simplicity.  It doesn’t factor in the reality of any hurt, strife, offences, or conflicts that are inevitable, as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “… Yet those who marry will have physical and earthly troubles, …

Perfection is a myth

MYTH:  Darrell and I are equal in our maturity and our backgrounds won’t make any difference.  It doesn’t matter what each of us has been through in childhood and life, we’ll ascend the triangle towards God at an equal rate of maturity.

Both spouses growing equally in their respective relationship to God, and naturally getting closer to each other.  Yes, if all things were equal.  If I grew up on Bliss Boulevard and if Darrell came from Paradise Place and if we were making our home on Utopia Avenue, this triangle is a statement of truth.  Correctly depicting 2 Christians in a marriage; as the marriage should be.upwithmarriageJAN

But here’s the problem:

  • Earth is not utopia and balanced maturity is hardly the reality of two sinners that are …
  • Bound together in such a close relational space that they may as well be called one person …
  • Living in the fallen world.

Sorry for the bummer of all those grim verses but if we are going to live in reality and not fairyland, we need to be honest with ourselves about who we really are.  Let’s face it, there’s a reason Jesus had to die for us.  Also, if when we get a little high on ourselves, there is nothing more effective than a good dose of reality to level the playing field of marriage.

Without exception all of us are different.  Nobody grows and matures at an equal level, in the same way or during the same time frame.  Each of us have come from different backgrounds, lived different lives and have experienced hurt in ways that differ from each other, so our wounds are unalike.  Our healing and maturity will be anything but identical, equal or symmetrical as we grow closer independently to God.

Conflict is not a myth

You can’t live in this world and not be wounded.  Somehow, some way … all people are hurting (Mk 2:17).  Hurting people hurt others.  But as we heal and grow … we do less damage to each other.

Wounds are the root of offence, discord and strife.

They reveal where we need to be healed in order to grow-up.

Ferreting out the wounds from beneath our self-made coping mechanisms so that we can heal and grow, takes time.  And on top of the wounds, there’s also variations in our genders, our basic personality differences, which are not so basic if you’ve spent any time reading some of the Meyers Briggs information.  Not to mention birth order factors that probably come into play.

We humans are fearfully and wonderfully created with all our amazing complexities.  The good we live in and do belongs to us and our spouses; and so does the darkness.  It’s not as simple as:  sliding up our respective sides of the triangle into happily ever after.  So, what’s the solution?  Reciprocity.

Part 2 – ReciprocityWhat can you give to The God that has everything?  Same triangle – alternate and active perspective.  Helping each other to heal so that we each can grow closer to God.