Saturday, 10 December 2011

Nagging is Not a Spiritual Gift - Part II

This is a follow up to Part I by the same title. This posting is starting with the assumption that as a couple you accept the fact that God is using each of you in the life of the other. You are part of God’s sanctification plan for your spouse. However don’t assume that every time you have this great insight as to how your spouse can improve it is of God. Check your heart. Ask yourself, “Self, what is the outcome I am hoping for by sharing my observation with my spouse?” Be honest with yourself. Unless your spouse is not too bright they will quickly see that you have an agenda. If however you are dealing with a sin issue then approach your spouse in a loving, gentle and compassionate way. Mort Fertel suggests the following:

Timing is important
When conversations start out calmly and non-accusatory, they often end in the same manner. Discussions that start out with yelling and screaming will most likely end with yelling and screaming. Approach your partner in a respectful manner and you’ll be more likely to receive a respectful response.

Take a look at the timing. Don’t bring up an important issue when you won’t have time to discuss it. Try to find a time when your partner is going to be able to have time. Bringing up major problems just as your partner walks in the door or when he’s trying to sleep isn’t likely going to get good results.

Examine how you respond when your partner brings up tough issues. Do you accept feedback? Are you open to suggestions? Or do you immediately get angry and defensive? It is important to be able to hear what your partner has to say.”
Throwing a “Bible dart” is usually less than affective. “Ephesians 5:25 says you are to love me as Christ loves His Church and I’m not feeling loved.” zing! It might be more effective to say “Honey, I know you love me but for some reason when you talk to me in that tone I don’t feel loved.”

Mort finished his blog with this advice:

Check in with your partner periodically to see how things are going. Even if you think the marriage is going well, ask your partner. Inquire about what you could do to be a better partner. Ask what would make the marriage even better.

Give your partner feedback about what you think is going well also. Share your appreciation and provide positive feedback even more frequently than you share negative feedback. Providing positive feedback can increase the likelihood that your partner will be more willing to hear negative feedback as well”

The only thing I would add is to ask your partner what would make your marriage more God glorifying, after all that is the purpose of marriage. If you glorify God the rest will take care of itself.

Improve Your Marriage

Matthew 22:37-39 tells us that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” First Corinthians 10:31 tells us that whatever we do we are to do for the glory of God.

So what do these verses have to do with marriage? The verses in Matthew tell you to put God first and love your husband/wife as much as you love yourself. The Corinthians verse tells us that our marriage should glorify God. We must become OC! No, not obsessive compulsive – other centered. The following posting by Mort Fertel describes how that could look.

What if everyone woke up everyday and asked themselves, “What’s one thing I can do today to improve my marriage?” The divorce rate would likely be lower and people would probably report higher rates of satisfaction in their relationships. Unfortunately, most people don’t focus on finding one thing they can do to improve their relationship. Instead, many people focus on what isn’t working in the relationship or on what they aren’t getting from the marriage.

What is something a person could do today that might improve their marriage? Maybe it is as simple as acknowledging your partner’s hard work. How often do you tell your spouse, “Thank you for going to work each day to provide for our family,” or “Thank you for doing such a great job taking care of the kids.” Showing appreciation for everyday tasks such as doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, cooking dinner, or tucking the kids in can go a long way.

Share your love with your partner. Write a special note and put it in his pocket. Take a minute to give her a hug or give him a back rub while he watches television. Showing some extra affection and attention can reinforce your feelings for one another.

Do an act of kindness for your partner. Cook her favorite meal. Buy him a gift. Do her chores for her. Whatever you can think of that will make your spouse’s day a little better can be helpful to your relationship.
Living in a fast-paced world can require a conscious effort to slow down and focus on one thing you can do to improve the relationship each day. Taking small steps to focus on the marriage can make a big difference in the long run. It can also help you focus on giving to the marriage and take the focus away from taking from it.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Red Flag

Did you ever here the expression, “that’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull”? I take this to mean that there is something about the color red or perhaps a fluttering flag that incenses a bull and causes him to flare his nostrils and come after the flag waving fool.
Well I think there is a little bull in all of us and at least at one time or another someone, most likely your spouse has waved the proverbial red flag in front of you.

To put it in humanistic terms the bull is getting in touch with his feelings. He knows that red ticks him off and most likely so does the person waving the flag. As a rule, you too know what angers, frustrates, hurts, saddens or embarrasses you. Maybe you haven’t labeled your feelings but your response to certain words, specific situations and/or some people elicits a negative feeling.

The question then becomes what kinds of behaviors do you exhibit when one of these emotional triggers is waved in front of you? Do you lash out, sulk, yell, withdraw, etc.?
From a Christian perspective it is believed that all emotions emanate from the heart. The heart in biblical terms is synonymous with the mind, the will and the emotions. Thus whatever comes out of you when the flag is waved in front of you is what is actually inside you. (Mark 7:20-23)

So when I behave irrationally when my computer has been taken over by space invaders, it is not the computers fault, nor that of the men from Mars, but the way that I choose to respond that signals that my heart may need laser surgery. As my loving wife so aptly pointed out after I had one of my hissy fits “Do you think you might be angry with God?” (I can’t believe I put that in print) You see I expect some aspects of life to run according to my play book. I expect people to be considerate of others and to follow through with what they say they will do. I expect computers to do exactly what they are supposed to do 100% of the time. I expect my car to start when I turn on the key. Well you get the picture. Since there is only one all sovereign God under whose loving watch all things happen, who else am I blaming when things don’t go according to me?

The point is that there is always an underlying cause whenever we get upset. At such a time we need to ask ourselves “what is it that I want?” Do I want my way, do I want peace and quiet, do I want to be respected, etc. While what you desire may not be a bad thing, such as respect, it becomes a bad thing when it rules your behavior.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Can We Talk - Part II

Part I covered the lack of sexual desire that is brought about by physical health problems, mental health problems, etc. These problems have been around for many years. The sad thing is that often there is a solution but the couple is too embarrassed to acknowledge the problem, and confront it openly, it becomes like the elephant in the room.

In more recent times pornography and social media have become serious threats to marital intimacy. Men are wired visually thus pornography has a huge attraction. The book Every Man’s Battle is aptly named as it chronicles what today has become a plague of gigantic proportions. Women tend to be wired relationally and social media such as Face Book fill an emotional void. Instead of putting energy into revitalizing one’s marriage it has become too easy to begin to fantasize or flirt with the help of the internet.

There are other problems of a less serious nature that must be acknowledged none the less.

According to 1Peter 3:7 husbands are to treat their wives in an understanding way. Ed Young, Sr. offers some insights that many men fail to understand. There are a number of reasons that a wife can’t always respond sexually.
1) The dark area:
a. Promiscuity – past hurts & abuse by men.
b. Sexual abuse as they were growing up. A shocking percentage of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse.
c. Poor self-image. Most women need constant reassurance that they are attractive to their husband. Just one more reason why pornography is so destructive to a marriage.
d. The message that sex is to be endured.
e. Twisted Biblical logic that sex is part of the curse.
f. Side effects of necessary medication.
g. The woman’s past can determine the rest of her life if you both will allow it to, but it doesn’t have to be so.
2) The practical side:
a. Children add a difficult dimension when it comes to intimacy.(exhausted, physical touch satisfied, a lack of privacy, etc).
b. She can’t compartmentalize. Sex is relational from the female’s perspective. An argument or emotional neglect impacts her willingness to be intimate. Men can compartmentalize. From the male’s perspective they could be arguing one minute and having sex the next.
c. The atmosphere is important. Three forms of intimacy appetizer intimacy- quick and not all that special. main course intimacy – you have more time and don’t feel rushed. gourmet intimacy - go off for two nights.
d. Can’t be rushed. Women are crock pots, men are microwaves.
e. Physically too tired after an exhausting day

With maturity (and if that is measured by age I'm extremely mature) comes the understanding that the pleasure of your mate is more important than any pleasure that will ever come your way both emotionally and physically. Ephesians 5:33 tells husbands to love their wives as much as they love themselves.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Can We Talk - Part I

Lack of sexual desire can be caused by several different factors. Physical health problems, mental health problems, and substance abuse are some of the most common reasons people lack sexual desire. Lack of sexual desire can be very damaging to a marriage so it is important to explore what the causes may be.

As a Christian it is important to remember that sex is a gift that God has given to married couples, and it is intended for pleasure in the context of marriage. It is unfortunate that many couples become resigned to having a less than fulfilling sex life rather than have an open and frank discussion.

Some physical health issues that decrease a person’s sexual desire include hormonal problems and many chronic illnesses. Sometimes the side effects of medications can decrease a person’s libido. Many anti-depressants have this side effect. Sleep problems can also impact a person’s overall functioning, including sexual desire. Fatigue is another barrier to a healthy sex life.

Mental health problems can include factors such as depression. Depression causes people to lose interest in many things, including sexual activity. Anxiety can also interfere with sexual desire. Chronic stress and feeling overwhelmed with life can be another factor. When people are feeling like they have too much to do, too little time, or not enough money, sex can move to a lower spot on the priority list.

Substance abuse issues also impact sexual desire. Chronic and excessive use of alcohol can make it impossible for people to maintain sexual desire. Some substances impact sexual desire in the short-term while others impact it in the long term.

Lack of sexual desire can be related to relationship problems as well. If you are angry and feel resentful toward your partner, sex may be one of the last things you want to do. However, lack of sexual contact is likely to cause more damage to the relationship.

If you are experiencing a lack of sexual desire it is important to see your doctor for a complete physical. It can be a warning sign that your body’s chemistry or major systems is having some problems. It may be an easy fix. If you receive a clean bill of health, consider therapy.

Therapy can help determine if there are any underlying mental or emotional issues impacting your sexual desire. Couples therapy can also be helpful to assist both partners in dealing with sexual issues. However, it is critical to select a therapist who specializes in dealing with this issue – shop around. It is important not to wait, as lack of sexual contact can negatively impact your relationship in the long-term.