Friday, 16 December 2011

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Did you ever hear the expression, “You can’t pick your family but you can choose your friends”?

Recent studies have shown that there is a high correlation between couples who get divorced and couples who hang around with couples who get divorced. Something akin to misery loves company.

What to DoAs best you can, sit down with your wife/husband and try to come up with a list of what might be valid indicators that a married couple is truly happy. I emphasize truly because many couples, particularly those who attend church regularly, are projecting an air-brushed persona of someone who is happy. Longevity is not necessarily an indicator but it could be a place to start. Other considerations: Do they look one another in the eye when they talk; do they seem to smile when looking at each other; are they affectionate when they think no one is looking; do they treat each other with respect and speak well of one another in public; do they complement their partners when in the presence of others; do they tend to walk side by side or does the husband tend to walk ahead; etc., etc.?

Next try to find one or more couples who best fit your description and try to make their acquaintance. If you feel comfortable with them you might even ask them if they would be willing to be your mentors.

What Not to DoTry not to hang out with couples who: tend to complain about their spouse and act as if their marriage is a nuisance; criticize their spouse in public; rarely look at one another; who rarely smile at one another; will say or do things that embarrass their spouse; treat their partner disrespectfully; roll their eyes when their spouse speaks; constantly correct their spouse in public; make jokes about marriage.

Do not hang out with such couples.

Be CarefulIt’s important to notice what types of couples you tend to surround yourself with. If you tend to have mostly divorced or unhappily married couples in your social circle, it can have a negative impact on your view of marriage. If hearing complaints tends to become normalized, it can cause you to join in at times and it can actually start to impact your relationship.

Try to learn from happily married people. Ask them questions about what makes their relationship successful.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Are You Crazy?

It has been said that the definition of crazy is to do the same thing over and over again but to expect different results.

Unfortunately this describes the way that many couples communicate about specific subjects and/or react to one another’s behavior. For example every time the couple talks about finance it ends up in a heated argument or one or the other withdraws.

tug of war
Ring, ring – clue phone, the same approach will yield the same results every time.

First of all put aside the “I’m right – he/she is wrong” opinion as this becomes a tug of war that even if you win, you lose. As long as you hold on to such a position you eliminate the possibility of a compromise. When you move from a win-lose position to one of seeking to understand, a number of better outcomes are possible. Begin with the assumption that you both have a good reason for holding the view that you do.

Next try praying together before you start your discussion. Pray that the Lord will allow each of you to come to a better understanding of each other’s view and that He will help you to arrive at a solution that will glorify Him.

Now employ “active listening”. Each of you should describe what you believe to be true about a particular subject and why. The other person is responsible to repeat back what they heard, until they get it right.

Dave Ramsey
In many instances deeply held beliefs go back to childhood experiences. Or perhaps each person behaves the way their parents behaved or the opposite of how their parents behaved. Finally what is the outcome each person is seeking? In the area of finances are you following a Biblical model? If you are not sure, go to Dave Ramsey’s website (www.daveramsey.com) or that of Crown Financial (www.crown.org). Agree that God’s plan is probably better than either of your own plans and put it into practice for six months to see if things are better.

The point is to try something different, something that will glorify God and put an end to the crazy cycle of doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Monday, 12 December 2011

An Insight from the Book of Proverbs

The following post was written by Lindsey Webster. She was kind enough to share with us her personal experience in dealing with conflict.

I was recently reading Proverbs and came across a very funny verse that made me think about the early days of my marriage to my wonderful husband. Proverbs 21:19 says, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” Some may interpret this as, “a wife cannot debate with her husband or argue her point”, but that is not how I read it. This verse is simply an observation from the writer. He is saying that he would rather live in an uninhabitable desert than with a hot-tempered woman, and I must say I agree with him. I would also much rather live in the desert than with a hot-tempered man.

When I first married my husband, we had a few months of post-marriage conflict. We were just learning how to live together under one roof. I was just learning about all his not-so-attractive habits that he had kept hidden from me when we dated. I was obsessed with keeping things clean and orderly, and he was quite content throwing his laundry beside of the hamper and not putting down the toilet seat. Needless to say, we annoyed one another.

One day, my husband said to me, “If you don’t change your attitude, I don’t think we are going to work out. You are negative and argumentative, and I don’t enjoy it.” Of course, I was heartbroken. How could he say that my attitude was causing our problems? He was the one who was driving me crazy! Then I realized the truth, if I were him, would I like me? My answer was “no.”

Just like the Bible verse, I had let my husband’s poor habits make me angry and argumentative. Instead of approaching the situation in a Godly way, I had been rude and disrespectful to the person I was supposed to love and respect always. My husband was not throwing his clothes beside of the hamper instead of in the hamper, because he wanted to start an argument with me. He never thought it would anger me or drive me insane, so he did not deserve to be “punished” by me.

Once I realized that my reactions were causing our marriage to crumble, I quickly changed my attitude. This was noted by husband, and he started putting his clothes in the hamper and putting down the toilet seat. Essentially, we stopped being argumentative and started being respectful and loving.

Lindsey has been a rehabilitation counselor for 15 years and also owns the site 
http://www.mastersincounseling.org/