We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapour (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. ~James 4:14
But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. ~2 Cor 12:9
Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. ~Rom 8:37
In our busy world that so often calls us to be self-focused on what we are getting from others, take some time to focus on giving back. Encouragement through the Season of Giving amounts to nothing in the end if its life is non-existent throughout the rest of the year. Here are some proactive DOs that will convey love to your man.
TOUCH: Make skin to skin contact frequently, not just with sex. Psychology Today states that touch is, “[…] the secret weapon in many a successful relationship.” Touch lingeringly and often. When you talk and when you walk. Touch demonstrates your genuine interest in the well-being of another.
SMILE: Truvy from Steel Magnolias says, “Smile, it increases your face value.” When he looks at you, stare back and smile, show you are happy with him and that he has your full attention. A deliberate look paired with a kittenish grin says more than I love you, it says, I liiiike YOU. Besides, smiles are free to give, so give them often.
TIME: Time stops for no one? Well, no it actually doesn’t but sharing your time especially when it is … untimely is a great way to increase the value of time for someone else. Being present with your time is a remarkable gesture because you cannot replace it once it has been lived. Giving time generously takes the intangible and makes it tangible.
PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP: There’s a reason we don’t uplift ourselves, it’s not humble. But when it comes to others we can spill it. So, uplift everything he does and if he’s within earshot of your conversation, all the better. Brag about how great he is! Brag about how much of a man he is. Brag about how well he takes care of you. Look for his successes, be proud and say it!
Don’t let Christmas be only a season of giving. Instead, let this Christmas be the start of a giving life.
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:
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 stranded. By 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, …”
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.
But here’s the problem:
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.
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 – Reciprocity: What 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.
Confession: In my blogging sometimes I’m more concerned about the messenger (me) than the message (God) … yuk, I know. Yesterday I had prepared a short post in honour of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. I chickened out. I was worried that people would think I was trying to capitalize on the assassination of a great man, instead of the fact that his teachings can have a profound effect on your life, and moreover in your marriage, if you’ll take to heart what he says.
Foolish, I know. First, not trusting God – big NoNo there. But also you readers – I didn’t assume the best in your hearts and for that I’m sorry.
Jan 20/14 score:
Satan ONE / Robyn ZERO
God, “Got my number.” You know when you are reading your Bible and you can feel that conviction, deep down inside of you? Well today, I knew. I knew that God knew – and He knew that I knew, He knew.
Now am I trying to win the favour of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah). -Gal 1:10
SO for today, Jan 21/14, “Thank You Lord for Your mercy being new EVERY day and the opportunities to come back around and do it right!” This is the post I prepared yesterday, may it bless your life and marriage!
January 20th marks the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. I know his main message is that of a civil rights activist but for me, his words became very personal in my marriage.
He talked his message. He walked his message. He died for his message. This is what Christ did.
… and it’s what you and I are called to do. When we look beyond ourselves and the wants and needs of our flesh, that love and forgiveness that Martin Luther King, Jr. lived , taught and died for will start to trickle into our marriages. The more we focus on Christ’s life and actions the more we’ll be able to really grasp what it means to die for a cause greater than yourself, just like Martin Luther King, Jr. did. Before long God will turn that trickle of love into a tidal wave.
Part 1 – Our First Truce
Part 2 – Emotions
This post is the final installment of my series on Dysfunctional Communication.
Perhaps this last part would have been better titled, Rules of Engagement, as that is what we were really attempting to do: To actually engage each other in our own grievances. But I had already chosen The Truce Box Talk sooooo, I went with that one.
First things first. It’s presupposed that if you are reading this far in the series that you and your spouse have made the decision that you are going to fight for your marriage, regardless of where that journey may take you. That was the place where Darrell and I had ended up, between the proverbial rock and hard place. It was not good, but once you’ve removed the idea of divorce from the table you are left with only 1 logical option, fight for your marriage no matter how bad it is.
Our marriage is living proof that necessity really is the mother of invention. That invention was our Truce Box.
The truce had served its purpose – there was peace. But now we were going to move onto the next step: Engage in conflict. This was scary. When you get to this level of dysfunction in your marriage, things have gone unsaid for so long and there are so many problems, that it’s almost unbearable to broach them. The emotional weight attached to each one makes it seem impossible to lift onto the table of discussion.
Accept that it’s going to be messy and hard …
but not undoable.
Some things are going to be very difficult to say and some things will be even harder to hear. The Truce Box Talk is not about being right or wrong; but being safe. Think of it as being in a meeting at a boardroom table with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the CEOs.
Its purpose is to allow naked communication by stripping away the feelings and emotions that come from conflict. Clearing away all of the confusion, assumptions, miscommunications and misunderstandings. The first few times it will feel awkward and disjointed, kind of like learning a new dance to a song you’ve never heard. But with practice you become a more skilled partner.
And now, our Rules of Engagement:
Public was safe, for both of us. I was safe from Darrell’s angry aggression and he was kept safe from my verbal tirades that lead to emotional unravelling.
There is a certain standard of polite behaviours that society expects from its adults, we could sum them up in the word civilized. Being out in public forced us to be on our best behaviour with each other. We were able to speak freely but it had to be done with care and dignity, which is the way we should have been speaking all along.
Honesty with each other and self. Sounds pretty straight forward and simple, but it’s not so easy. Honesty takes courage. It meant we each had to be brave enough to reveal our real thoughts. Courage to believe that it didn’t matter what the other thought, only what God thought. There is no faster way to kill communication than by the fear that’s rooted in self-consciousness.
This rule was based on the premise that everything goes. This meant that whatever Darrell said, I accepted as true and real – to him. And vice versa for me. It’s drilling down on the idea that each other’s hearts are more important than who is right. It’s rooted in others before self rather than self-seeking.
Not all things were settled when they were first broached and most things relational are just not cut & dried. Old habits of relating die hard and new ones take time to develop. If When either of us fell back into old ways of responding reacting, we gave each other the freedom to say, “You are still doing it.” Or, “You did it again.”
In the beginning there was a temptation to disregard the rules of engagement that we had established. This generally meant that one of us would delve into conflict on the spur of the moment. We gave each other the freedom to invoke a truce, even if it was the one who started the conflict in the first place.
The truth box talk is not about
… but is about
It has been humbling to put pen to paper (so to speak) and relive this pivotal time in our marriage. As I walked down the halls of my memory I was reminded again just how fragile people can be. How easy it is to become self-centered, or to misread a heart and assume the worse in our spouses. How we need to be on guard against the wiles of the enemy as he seeks to trespass between husbands and wives in an effort to destroy our marriages. I was reminded that if either of us had given up on God and walked away because of conflict, trials and tribulations in our marriage, neither of us would be experiencing the abundance of the blessings of faith, strength and unity that we now have. Thank you for reading and giving me the opportunity to relive it.
The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. –George Bernard Shaw
If you missed the first installment, Part 1 – Our First Truce, you can find it here.
We didn’t decide who was right or wrong that night. Instead, we agreed not to be offended at anything the other person said. We agreed to just talk about our emotions instead of actually feeling them. We were both guilty in our own areas of dysfunctional relating, and were both contributing to the destruction of our marriage and the disruption of the regular living of life in our home.
We determined that it was our emotions that were stopping us from reaching any conclusions or resolutions. So what we did was put them away! Not neuter or bury them: put them away. Your emotions belong to you and you alone – they have no business in the arena of conflict resolution. Yes, you can say how you feel (or felt), but you cannot feel it.
In Bob Burg’s new book, Adversaries into Allies, I like how he says, Control Your Own Emotions. This fact is applicable to all relationships not just in business, and especially in a marriage. If there’s any hope to finding the synergy that evolves from healthy conflict resolution, you must take ownership of your own feelings. Skip Prichard did a stellar review of Bob’s book, you can find it here.
Darrell’s main problem was anger, and mine was fear. He would react by blowing up, while I would react with crying followed by emotional distancing (shutting down). I would then brood over it and come back around to attack* on a different day with a different angle – he would blow up, I would react by crying then shutting down. I would brood over it and come back around to attack on a different day with yet a different angle… Rinse and repeat — again.
I felt he never heard me and he felt I never listened to him. We were both right! Neither of us were listening or hearing because both of us were taking the emotional cues to defend and protect the turf of our own opinions. I blamed him for making me shut down emotionally, and he blamed me for making him angry. Where there is no ownership of emotions, there will be no responsibility for behaviours.
Here’s a random example of how it worked. There would be some kind of disagreement between us. He would say something ‘wrong’ – in anger, or too harsh, or whatever else – I was offended somehow, in some way, I was hurt or disagreed with him. <dysfunctional communication would normally be well on its way> Rather than shut down or say something emotionally charged, I would write down the situation and put it in the Truce Box – and visually close the lid (file, I kept mine on my computer).
The Truce Box sat there quietly on my computer, holding all of the emotion… so that I didn’t need to. I could carry on with my day or activity, knowing that a Truce Box Talk was coming. My feelings weren’t suppressed or forgotten emotions that were deemed inconsequential – they were just sitting safely in the truce.
As juvenile as all this sounds these steps were necessary, both of us were emotionally immature. Like I said in Part 1, we had ZERO conflict resolution skills. Normally you begin to learn these as children and they are built on as you grow up. We’d missed out on that, and we had to start somewhere. The good news is that it didn’t take long once we had a plan. And the most beautiful part was that we got to grow up emotionally, together.
When you separate the emotion from the conflict, you can look at the conflict with different eyes and a different heart.
Your marriage is a huge puzzle and you have to build it with your spouse. You each bring different pieces to complete the picture, and you have to learn to work together so that you can finish it. Let’s say you are both working on the bottom part of the puzzle and there develops a conflict about which puzzle piece should be placed in a particular place. The Truce Box enabled us to still work on other areas of our puzzle, then come back to the difficult spot at a later date.
*I say the word attack because it was my intention to continue the ‘discussion’ in order to change his mind, or get him to see my way.
In Part 3 – The Truce Box Talk, Freedom, strength and acceptance are found in the truce.