Friday, 21 September 2012

Conflict and the Great Commandment

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 Most often by the time a couple seeks a counselor there is a fair amount of unresolved conflict.  Often there is hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment and a lack of forgiveness.  They tend to point to one another and say “if you’ll just fix him/her we’ll be fine.”  Of course they won’t be fine and no counselor in the country has the ability to help change anyone who doesn’t have the desire to change.

Oh and by the way is this the couple’s first fight or their first year of marriage?  Try their fifth or tenth year of marriage if the counselor is fortunate.  More often than not this couple has struggled for more than ten years.

Here’s a secret.  The following is from Susan Johnson’s book entitled Hold Me Tight.

      When marriages fail, it is not increasing conflict that is the cause. It is decreasing affection and emotional responsiveness, according to a landmark study by Ted Huston of the University of Texas. Indeed, the lack of emotional responsiveness rather than the level of conflict is the best predictor of how solid a marriage will be five years into it. The demise of marriages begins with a growing absence of responsive intimate interactions. The conflict comes later.

Susan Johnson
 Not nearly as learned as Susan or Ted, I have observed that problems usually show up in the bedroom before they show up anywhere else.  The husband may be feeling rejected, inadequate and as though he is a failure.  The wife may feel abandoned and/or unconnected.

How emotionally unresponsive would we be if we applied the Great Commandment to our marriage?  Is it conceivable that I would be unaware that my wife is feeling disconnected if I was attempting to love God with all my mind, heart, soul and strength AND attempting to love her as much as I love myself?  If living a Christ centered life was my wife’s desire would she not realize that I was feeling inadequate, or like a failure?

James 4:1-2 tells us that we quarrel because we don’t get out own way.  Wanting my own way doesn’t seem consistent with loving my wife as I love myself. 



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ordinary Moments

In his book Marriage Matters Winston Smith, author, counselor and lecturer, says “God is in the ordinary moments.”  Furthermore he states that “there is a connection between the details of (our) marriage relationship and the reality of our relationship with God.  Thus we are to see a bigger purpose and new possibilities in the ordinary moments of our marriage.”

In chapter one he sets for the following three premises:

1.    Marriages change when we recognize God’s agenda for so-called ordinary moments.

A lack of love should prompt us to not just look more closely at our marriage but at our relationship with God.  Having more love in your marriage means having more of God in your marriage.  If you are having trouble loving it is because you either don’t know God or that something is interfering in your relationship with God.  If God is love he must be part of the solution.

2.    Marriages change when we’re willing to love in practical Christlike ways, especially in the difficult moments.

Love is not an experience it is a person – Jesus.  There are two ingredients to loving in a Christlike way.  First we must connect with and depend on Christ, the Son of the living God who is able to help you in the most difficult of moments.  Second is to know what love looks like in the details of the moment.  Jesus teaches us what that looks like.  While this requires that we have faith that Christ will help us, we must take concrete steps.  Some of the biggest giants in our marriages are the sins that reside in our hearts.  For love to make a difference in our marriages it must be more than an emotion, it can only be found in Jesus and must show up in the details of our marriage.

    3.    Marriages change when we’re willing to love consistently, over time, not because our spouses change but because we’re in a growing relationship with God.

Winston Smith
We must come to the realization that we can’t change our spouse.  We are doomed if our happiness hinges on our ability to control our spouse.  God offers something better, He offers to change us.  It doesn’t mean that your spouse won’t change.  It does mean that we get to have God living in us such that his love becomes visible.  Most likely our spouse will change when we make different choices and keep making those choices in light of our relationship with God.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Attachment Theory

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

Book on Attachment
 This particularly posting may be a bit heavy on the psychology side but it does provide us with some relevant information concerning the way we relate.  When we combine Attachment Theory with God’s Word found in Genesis 2:18 we get some insights as to why some of our relationships break down.

First of all attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally.  However this need carries over into adulthood for many if not all of us.  The person identified as “secure” under the attachment theory model has at least one person in his or her life with whom they have a very healthy relationship.

People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don't value me as much as I value them." People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their partners. 

People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships.", "It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient", and "I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me." People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence.

People with losses or sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence often develop this type of attachment and tend to agree with the following statements: "I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others." People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships.

These differences are critical for husbands and wives to understand. The wife who wants to draw near to her husband because she is preoccupied with attachment may in fact be married to a husband who has an avoidant attachment style.  She pursues her husband to get emotionally and relationally closer and he withdraws to get away.

Bible  the Book of life 
Genesis tells us that it is not good for man to be alone.  We are meant to be in relationship with one another.  God is a relational God, as seen in the Trinity and as seen in His Word.