Friday, 20 May 2011

Why Can Marriage Hurt So Much?

Dr. Dana Fillmore poses the question, “So we stood up in front of God and man and promised to love and cherish each other, right? Then why does the person we’re married to sometimes have the ability to hurt us more than anybody else on the planet?”

Have you ever had the misfortune of being sunburned and having someone come up behind you and give you a pat on the back? Metaphorically speaking, our spouses “pat us on the back” with their words and behaviors. By failing to see that our spouse is hurting we might say or do something that exacerbates the pain or neglect to say or do something that might bring some relief.

To carry the metaphor a little further, the husband or wife’s words or behavior might be the equivalent of the sun, the direct cause of the pain.

Ephesians 4:26 tells us “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Just as you can avoid sunburn by spending less time in the sun so too the pain that may arise from hurtful words or deeds will be lessened greatly if we deal with them quickly.

Better yet wear a hat and put on sun screen so the affects of the sun’s rays won’t cause pain. Here Ephesians 4:31-2 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” Bitterness, rage and anger represent the sun. By applying God’s Word you can protect yourself from exposing yourself to the harmful rays of hurtful words and actions of others. Forgiveness has to be one of the best salves one can put on hurts inflicted by others.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Differing Parenting Philosophies

Children are a blessing from God, although you might not always put them in that category especially if they are two year olds or teen agers. One the things that I failed to grasp as a parent was that essentially my children were on “loan” to me for a season. My responsibility was to prepare them to be ambassadors for God, to use the experiences of life as a learning laboratory in which I could impart Christian values. The following comes from Mort Fertel’s blog “The Marriage Counseling Blog”. Although the emphasis on the spiritual is lacking I think he provides some good counsel.

When a couple disagrees on parenting issues, it can create a variety of problems. Perhaps your spouse wants to make sure the kids are happy all the time. And your goal is to make sure they are responsible, not happy. This can wreak havoc on a marriage. Ideally, it would have been great to have ironed all this out prior to having kids. However, many people think they will parent in one fashion, but then when the time comes everything they thought they knew went out the window. They then parent much differently than they would have predicted.

It is normal to disagree about parenting issues, and the important thing is to talk about it. Discuss your feelings and concerns with your partner and try to work out a solution that allows you both to feel comfortable. However, some parenting problems are much bigger. Perhaps your spouse feels bad about giving consequences to the kids. And then you are left with dealing with misbehaviors. Or maybe you don’t believe in giving kids chores and your spouse spends half their time picking up after the children. These sorts of issues can cause resentment and frustration, and ultimately, damage to the marriage.
Mort Fertel
Try to focus on the big picture when it comes to your children. Discuss your hopes and dreams for them and also discuss your definition of success. When they graduate high school, do you want your child to be able to say “I had a lot of fun in my childhood,” or do you want them to be well prepared for college? Some people want a self-sufficient child who has been able to work part time during high school and who can save their money and move out. Other parents want a child who has been able to spend a lot of time with friends and playing sports without the stress of work.
Whatever your values and goals are, discuss them with your partner. How much do you value family, friendship, spirituality, leisure time, education, and work? How do you want to pass these values down to your children? Discuss what you hope your child gains from growing up in your house. Focusing on the big picture can help people decide how to best handle the smaller day-to-day disciplinary issues.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Did You Hear What I Just Said?

It has been reported that the average American couple spends less than one hour a week communicating about something other than household operational issues. And on those occasions when they do attempt to communicate often one or both of the parties isn’t good about listening to the other.

Stumbling Blocks to Listening
• We’re busy preparing our rebuttal and rehearsing our response
• We jump to conclusions and make assumptions about what is being said
• We love to debate
• We want to be right and don’t welcome feedback
• We are more interested in the distractions around us (TV, kids, smart phone, etc.)

Skills to Acquire
• Maintain eye contact
• Avoid distractions (turn off the TV, smart phone, etc.)
• Avoid emotional reactions. Remain objective and open minded.
• Treat listening as a challenging mental task.
• Ask mental and verbal questions
• Empathize with the speaker
• Don’t interrupt
• Don’t argue mentally
• Don’t assume, ask clarifying questions
• Paraphrase what you heard the person say before you respond

Proper Response
• Don’t be quick to offer a solution, particularly if you are the husband listening to his wife. Often women want to process something out load, they are not looking for a solution. Most men on the other hand want the abridged version, they want the bottom line, and they want to offer a quick solution. This is not communicating, helpful or loving. In these situations the husband should ask the wife if she is looking for a solution or just needing to talk about the issue.
• If the topic is highly emotional, serious and/or important the best response may be to say, “Could we just pray about this before we continue?” Then offer a sincere prayer seeking the Lord’s wisdom.
• Always seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Ask clarifying questions if necessary. What is the other person’s main concern? What outcome is the other person seeking?
• How can your response best glorify and honor God?

If you have any other tips they would be greatly appreciated. Learning to listen well is a skill that can always be sharpened.