Friday, 17 June 2011

Zero Sum Game

John von Neumann
John von Neumann, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century is credited with the two-person, zero sum game theory. This theory basically states that one player wins what the other player loses. Oddly enough this useless factoid can be applied to marriage.

In a recent posting entitled “How to Stop the Fighting and the pain”, Amy Barnhart had this to say. “The point of fighting is for someone to “win” and for someone to “lose” and that this only damages the relationship. We can discuss, argue, even vehemently make our point, but fighting is destructive and a complete waste of time.”

Here is where the great mathematician and I part company. Unfortunately when a married couple fights there is no winner and if children are in ear shot the collateral damages are even greater.

Amy goes on to say, “Having said this, it is often difficult for people to let go of fighting because anger often feels good! It’s a rush and feels invigorating. We feel in control. We feel righteous and safe, (safe from acknowledging our true feelings, that is). And we know that anger is always a result of feeling fear or pain, which are often far more complicated and uncomfortable to deal with. So if we’re coming at each other with anger, it’s most often because we’re actually not dealing with our real emotions.”

News flash – most guys aren’t good about identifying and sharing their real emotions. Furthermore Scripture would suggest that a man needs to feel respected. The mere fact that he is fighting with his wife would indicate that he may not be feeling respected.

Amy’s advice, “So you want to know how to stop fighting? Well, that’s simple – Don’t Fight…You can discuss, disagree, cajole, argue, persuade, differ, convince, entice, inveigle and (occasionally), bicker, but fighting is out.”

Wow, that was helpful (I say with tongue embedded in my cheek). But Amy does make some good points. Fighting will rarely, if ever, resolve a dispute to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. In fact as Christians we are called to glorify God in whatever we do (1Corinthians 10:31).

As a married couple you are “one”. So unless you have a split personality you can’t be on two sides of the same issue. This is critical; you must both be on the same side facing the issue. Next go to the Lord in prayer. Ask him to give each of you clarity of thought, wisdom and discernment to make a decision that would honor Him. Then each of you express your perceptions of the issue, paraphrase back what you heard the other say until you both understand the other’s position and then brainstorm, looking for a creative solution that will glorify God and bring satisfactory resolution.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Online Infidelity

Who would have ever thought that the computer would become the biggest threat to the stability of marriage? Currently the Internet and other forms of social networking (i.e. FaceBook, etc.) are the fastest growing threat to marriages.

In her blog www.strongmarriagesnow.com Dr. Dana Fillmore cited a few more troubling thoughts. Intimate relationships on line have now replaced the workplace as the leading venue for starting an affair. It has been reported that 30% of divorces can be linked to relationships that began online. The secrecy and excitement surrounding a cyber relationship can become an addiction.

It has been said that Billy Graham would not even get on an elevator if it was solely occupied by a woman. It has always been prudent for married people to avoid being particularly friendly with someone of the opposite sex. At least up until now the threat of
being caught by one’s spouse or acquaintance in what appeared to be an inappropriate situation prevented some people from following their instincts. Cyber hook ups can be done more clandestinely and they eliminate many of the inhibitions, allowing people to say things that develop a false sense of intimacy very quickly.

Internet dalliances are absolutely a form of infidelity. If your spouse is spending an inordinate amount of time on his/her computer at least be a little suspicious. Couples should always try to go to bed at the same time. Filters such as “SafeEyes” and “Covenant Eyes” are two Christian internet filters that families should put on their machines, particularly if they have children.

As if computers aren’t bad enough, smart phones add to the proliferation of pornographic material and inappropriate liaisons. Again filters should be applied if available and husbands and wives should make their phone records available to one another.

Since online actions are lasting and traceable the trail is there to be found.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:22-24

Monday, 13 June 2011

God Has Insider Information

What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
Mark 10:9 NASB

A recent blog from FamilyLife revealed “that research has shown that about two-thirds of all divorces today are occurring in low-conflict marriages. That is, they're ending without a death blow like infidelity or physical abuse. Instead, a couple simply accumulates enough disagreement and disharmony that they begin believing that the best option for doing away with the headaches is just to do away with the marriage.”

The blog went on to say that one researcher said, “that if a couple can find as little as 20 percent of their marriage that they would call satisfactory, they have a better than 90 percent chance of making their marriage better in two years--if they stick with it, if they keep fighting, if they don't give up and throw in the towel too soon.”

Other studies would lead couples to the same conclusion. One study included couples who divorced and couples who had seriously considered divorce but decided to stick it out. Their findings were that five years later those who had divorced were much less happy than those who decided to stick it out. Additional studies show that second marriages are 60% likely to end in divorce.

I know this is farfetched but is it possible that God might know best? Is it conceivable that He has a reason for telling us that we should not divorce? Is there any chance He has a purpose in bringing together people who are dissimilar in their perspectives on life?

How about this for a litmus test? If you can identify one couple who has
1. put Christ at the center of their marriage,
2. become other centered,
3. consistently prayed together and for one another,
4. accepted that the purpose of their marriage is to glorify God
5. demonstrated the love and respect for one another as God has spelled it out in Ephesians 5:21-33

and is considering a divorce then obviously God does not know best, there is no good reason not to divorce and God had nothing in mind when he allowed two dissimilar people to marry.

Please let me know if you are aware of such a couple, I’d love to talk to them.