Friday, 12 October 2012

The Slippery Slope

There are a number of reoccurring themes when writing exclusively about marriage.  One such theme is how important it is to stay connected and spend time together having fun.  The arrival of children makes this doubly important.  So here are some questions you need to ask and answer.

How Did You Spend Your Time When You Dated and How Do You Spend Your Time Now?

For many couples there is a huge difference in how they spend their time together.  You may have spent hours talking on the phone.  You may have gone to movies, cooked dinner together or eaten out, and perhaps you went for a run together.  Today most conversations last less than five minutes and the topic is household administration.  The last movie was from Netflix, the last meal out was pizza in, and the thought of jogging makes you break into a sweat.

What Did You Talk About and What Do You Talk About Now?

Perhaps you talked for hours about your hopes and dreams, goals, your favorite songs, or movies, and what you liked best about each other.  Today you text each other about who can pick up the dry cleaning.  Your goal is to make it through the day without a meltdown.  You can’t remember the name of your favorite song, and you haven’t affirmed one another in so long that you can’t recall who the President of the US was at the time.

How Did You Care for Yourself then and How Do You Care For Yourself Now?

Most likely your clothes were cleaned and pressed were somewhat color coordinated.  There is a good chance that your hair was cut, combed/brushed and in place.  You probably tried to cover up any blemishes and you took a bath or shower just before leaving the house, doused in either cologne or perfume.  Today’s wardrobe features a college sweatshirt and jeans with holes in them, your hair hasn’t seen a comb in days, the heck with the blemishes and you took a shower yesterday and that’s good enough.The aroma you are giving off is Deep Heat Rub which you applied to your sore back.

How Did You Treat One Another Then and How Do You Treat One Another Now?

When you dated all you could think about was how to please the other person.  You were incredibly helpful and polite.  You sincerely cared about what the other person was experiencing, how they were feeling, and how you could make their life easier.  Today it is every man for himself. The kindest thing you do is to try to stay out of each other’s way and you are primarily concerned about what you are experiencing.

IF this even comes close to describing your life then and now make a commitment to do something about it!



Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Breaking Down the Communication Barrier

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers is a comedienne known for her phrase “Can we talk?”  Unfortunately there are a lot of husbands and wives asking the same question.  Studies indicate that the average husband and wife talk less than one hour a week on topics that are unrelated to managing the household.

There are any number of somewhat legitimate reasons why meaningful conversations are so rare.  Busyness is often blamed for the lack of one-on-one time.  For those with children it is difficult to find a time when you can have an adult conversation without distractions, not to mention you are too exhausted to do anything but “veg out.”  Lastly, as a stereotypical reason, men aren’t known for wanting to have deep, meaningful discussions during which they share their emotions.  Most men would rather spend time at the dentist.

This is particularly important because many women tend to be relational in nature and a meaningful conversation is one of the ways they best connect.  Attachment Theory might even suggest that when a wife is critical and nagging it is her way of trying to get her husband’s attention, that she is feeling emotionally starved and wants him to acknowledge her existence.  This obviously doesn’t work well since most husbands tend to withdraw when they are pursued by a wife who is expressing her apparent displeasure.

One way to strengthen your marriage is to commit to having at least 90 minutes of meaningful discussions per week, thus making you 50% better than the average.  Husbands you should take the lead.  Mutually agree upon a time or times that you will both deem as sacred.  Initially it might be easiest if you have pre-determined topics – preferably nothing controversial such as who you plan to vote for, etc.  You might share long term goals and dreams.  Talk about your favorite music or books you’ve read.  Talk about your hobbies or last week’s sermon.

Eventually guys you will have to talk about your feelings.  YIKES!!  Get over it.  If you had a bad day explain to your spouse what made it bad.  If you are excited about something tell your spouse why.  If you are frustrated with your job or your boss or a co-worker tell him/her why.  If you are reading God’s Word talk about a passage or verse that you found particularly meaningful, etc.

In addition, practice “active listening”, i.e. feeding back to your partner what you heard him or her say.  Remember body language and tone of voice add a nuance to the spoken word.  Be direct, don’t use a lot of “weasel words” that are so ambiguous that the other person doesn’t understand what you said, i.e. “It is possible that if everything comes together I might be able to go to the flea market with you, but on the other hand…”  Just say, “I prefer to not go to the flea market.”


Monday, 8 October 2012

Best Gift for Your Child

The best gift you can give your children is not the latest smart phone or most exciting video game.  In fact the financial cost of the gift is zero.  The best gift is to model a marriage that glorifies God.

 First of all such an environment allows a child to feel secure and safe.  In addition they will learn some very important values and life lessons by observing you.

They will see their mom and dad pray together, not just at meal times.  They will get the impression that God is part of the family, not some impersonal being that only resides at church.

They will see affection displayed and hear much laughter – important marital values.

They will see how a husband treats a wife and vice versa.

They will see how adults can disagree about a subject, come together in prayer, talk calmly about their point of view, develop a list of alternatives solutions that would be workable and agree on what approach to take initially.  They may agree to re-visit the decision, if possible, in a specific time frame.  This will demonstrate a very healthy way of resolving conflict.

Your children will feel comfortable asking friends over because they won’t be concerned about being embarrassed by parents who argue in front of their friends.

Your children will observe what it means for two adults to be other-centered; being willing to put their partner’s wants, desires and needs ahead of their own.

Because you go out together with some regularity, even if it is only to go for a walk, your children will perceive that you enjoy each other’s company and treasure some alone time.

The children know they are loved unconditionally by such a mother and father and it is therefore easier for them to grasp the concept of a loving God.

The children are also the recipients of Godly administered discipline. The discipline is consistent and the children are not able to play one parent against the other. And while the child complains they are given very specific parameters about what is aloud and what is not they again feel more secure.  Dad and mom knows who their friends are and they know where they are and what they are doing most of the time.

And you don’t even have to wrap it!