Friday, 16 September 2011

Stay Connected Conversationally / Emotionally

During our dating years many of us could talk on the phone for hours. Today maybe it’s texting, or tweeting. It seems like we never ran out of things to say. Fast forward ten years after marriage. You have the average of two and a quarter children, a home, work and friends. And you have nothing to talk about that doesn’t have to do with the kids or managing the household.

Since it is purported that women tend to use twice as many words in a given day than men it would indicate to me that many women connect verbally. By connecting I am talking about more than just passing factual information – that would be a guy. For many women connecting is both relational and emotional. Often she shares something at a deeper level than some superficial comment.

If much of what has been said so far is true, this does not bode well for the average marriage. Consider some of the ramifications of this communication glut. Guys wonder why their wives are not overly amorous. Could it be that their one syllable word answer to almost any question is not a big turn on to someone who relates verbally? For a guy “Fine” and “Okay” are complete sentences.

Thus far I have been generalizing so the first thing to do is to determine does this profile tend to describe your marriage? Does the wife want to connect more verbally and has this been difficult for the husband to do?

If this is the case here is where the Biblical roles kick in. As the servant leader the husband has the responsibility to address this facet of his marriage. As the helpmate the wife has the responsibility to assist in developing a list of topics that the two of you can talk about. Obviously the more interested you both are in the topic the better the discussions will be.

Do you have a mutual interest in something outside the home? What are each of your hopes and dreams for the future? Is there something in the news that is worthy of conversation? What about on the political scene? How about something that you have read? Could you read a book or take a sushi making class together? Is there a hobby you would both enjoy taking up such as photography?

Okay you get the idea. The first discussion will be easy, begin selecting a list of topics.




Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Say What You Want

In a recently published blog by Mort Fertel (themarriagecounselingblog.com) I came to realize that I am a self-centered, people pleasing, prideful martyr. Remind me to stop reading his blogs. However he raised some very good points having to do with asserting ones-self that are worth sharing with you. He wrote:
Mort Fertel
Are you able to ask for what you want from your partner? Do you think you shouldn’t have to ask? Do you think if your partner really knew you or loved you, he would just know without you having to say it? Think about how realistic it is that your partner can know what you want all the time. Your spouse can’t read your mind and has no idea what you are looking for unless you make it known by asking.

When your partner notices that something is wrong and asks you what’s going on, are you ever guilty of saying, “if you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you?” Yikes. If your partner is asking, it is important for you to be able to share. And you don’t have to wait until your partner asks to share your needs.

Do you ever feel like it would be weak of you to ask for something? Or that you shouldn’t ask for help because you should be able to do it on your own? Pride prevents a lot of people from trying to get their needs met. It is important to be able to overcome your pride for the sake of the marriage. Allow your partner to help you.

Are you guilty of not asking for help because you want to be a martyr? Perhaps you want to be able to hold it against your partner later that you do “everything.” Or you think that your partner will hold it against you if he has to help you with something. Teamwork is very important in a marriage and if you are keeping score, you aren’t being a team player.
It is important to learn how to ask for what you want and need from your partner. Otherwise, it isn’t fair to be upset that you aren’t satisfied with the relationship. Allowing your partner to meet your needs is the sign of a healthy marriage

It is at Mort’s last point that we drift apart. Too often we use the word “need” interchangeably with want or desire. We need food and water; we don’t need a new outfit or a sports car. The progression usually goes from a want to an expectation to a need to a demand. If I fail to meet your expectation you are disappointed. If I fulfill your expectation it is no big deal because that’s what you expected. This is more than semantics. By all means make your desires known and be appreciative if they are fulfilled.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Can You Juggle

For some reason I have always wanted to be able to juggle. I even purchased “Juggling for Dummies” in hopes of gaining this elusive skill. I have come to appreciate that juggling three balls is much simpler that juggling the demands on today’s parents, particularly those families with two wage earners (or a single parent).

A family with two or more children could spend twenty percent of their day on the road, driving from one sporting event or cultural activity to another. Heaven forbid that your child shows any talent because now they have traveling teams in addition to the regular season. Housework, grocery shopping and the countless errands necessary to keep a house running are sandwiched in between work and chauffeuring.

Now back to juggling. I have been told that one secret to successful juggling is to keep your eye on the object at the top of the arc (not that I could prove this to be correct). The top object in juggling the demands of life must be the Lord. Here’s where the ball analogy falls apart because unlike the balls that rotate, it is imperative that God remains at the top of the arc. We must keep our focus on Him.

To do better than just survive we must set priorities. Pardon my bias but after God our marriages must be the next thing we focus on. No activity will have the positive long-term effect on your children than to experience firsthand a God glorifying marriage. Couples should carve out specific times during the week, month and year and put them on the calendar.

Now you can expect that the Evil One will attack you because the last thing he wants to see is a strong marriage. He will make you feel guilty that you aren’t doing more. He will get you to compare yourself to others, i.e. their houses are cleaner, their kids are in more activities, they make more money, etc. He will provide every excuse imaginable as to why you can’t have a date night or a long weekend away. Be intentional about your marriage.

Set aside specific times every week to talk. Make it a rule that you can’t talk about the house or the kids, those conversations will come naturally. Schedule two date nights a month. It doesn’t have to be expensive, i.e. pack a picnic, go for a walk or get an ice cream cone. Get away, just the two of you, at least once a year. A long weekend would be great. Recruit a neighbor, friend, relative or church member to stay with your children and perhaps you can return the favor.