Friday, 26 July 2013

Marriage – A Learning Laboratory for Your Children

Whether you are willing to admit it or not you had some preconceived notions about what marriage would be like.  Most likely you had some expectations, some you were aware of and others that surfaced once you got married.  Where did they come from?  In many cases your vision of what marriage would be like came from your childhood.  Whether your parents were loving and affectionate toward one another or argued continually your paradigm was beginning to form.  Whether or not your father was handy, whether or not your mother was a good cook, and whether or not your parents struggled financially all started to shape what you thought marriage would be like.

How your parents resolved conflict, how consistent they were in how they disciplined you, and whether or not your father led family devotions all impacted what you thought you would experience.  Whether or not you were made to feel like the most special child in the world or your approval rating was based primarily on your performance, i.e. grades in school, what you did around the house, etc. helped to form your self image and the way you presumed your spouse would treat you.

Children are on loan to us.  God has given them to us and he can take them away physically or emotionally.  While they are in our care we should use every moment as a possible teachable moment from how a husband and wife treat each other, to how you resolve conflict, to the role of God in your marriage.  Children need to know they are loved and that there are boundaries.  How often does a parent say to a child “you’re bad” instead of saying “your behavior was wrong but I still love you”?  This is the time when you can help instill certain values in your child that will serve them well in their adulthood.

 God is the ultimate Potter, we are but the clay.  God gives each of us and our children specific attributes, gifts, talents, skills, abilities and personalities.  While in our charge we can add the glaze that will enable our child to shine.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Is God Speaking Through Your Spouse?

No one likes to be told that they are wrong or that their behavior is unacceptable.  Most of us tend to get defensive if someone is providing us with constructive criticism.  That almost sounds like an oxymoron, i.e. how is it building me up if it is tearing me down?  Over the years we learn defensive strategies to ward off those who would chose to “speak the truth in love” as we Christians have been directed.

One thing we tend to do is to deflect – “well I’m not as bad as…”  “You’re no saint either you know.”   Sometimes the best defense is a good offense “I remember a time when you….”  Now if this technique doesn’t work we can always attempt to minimize the behavior that is being confronted.  “Whaddya mean I drink too much – what’s an occasional beer?”  “I don’t have a short fuse, I only get angry and raise my voice when I’m tired.”

Nice try Buckwheat, but you aren’t fooling anyone, particularly the one who has been kind enough to point out your shortcomings.  What do you mean kind enough?  As a Christian you can safely assume that God can and will use anyone and anything to get your attention.  The mere fact that you have been given input should suggest that you consider it objectively.  Some of us find it difficult to offer feedback, for a variety of albeit unhealthy rationale, so we are really putting ourselves out there when we confront.

Ask yourself, “Self, could God be using this person or this situation to get my attention. IF this person / situation is accurate am I dealing with a heart issue?  Is what I am doing an offense to God?”

This is where you want to be real careful.  If you ponder the possibility that your behavior in any way would be offensive to God, you best pay attention and do what you need to do to overcome the habit, addiction, action, etc.  Because ignoring God is not one of the smarter things to do.  And if He really wants to get your attention the next time He may not be so gentle.

Your spouse is in the best position to know whether or not you need to make a change.  Ask him/her and thank them for being honest with you.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Thinking and Feeling

Just in case you were unaware, mind reading is not a spiritual gift nor is it a Fruit of the Spirit.  So why do we act as though our partners “ought to know” what we are thinking or how we are feeling?  It has been said that we tend to judge others by their actions but we want to be judged based on our intentions.

A simple question such as “how are you feeling?” can lead to World War III if we choose to play games with our spouse in particular.

Assume for a moment the husband who because he is a guy is clueless and unobservant comes home from a busy day at work and asks his wife “How was your day?”  Now he’s feeling good about himself because he knows the average guy doesn’t do that.  The wife says “Fine”.  Her tone of voice, the look on her face and the fact that she gave a one word, one syllable answer should have sent alarm bells off.  The husband says, “that’s great” and goes off to change his clothes.  His wife is left standing in the kitchen ready to scream. “How could he be so insensitive?  All he cares about is himself.  Why does he bother to ask, he really doesn’t care?...”  This monologue would have gone on longer except her three year old announced for the third time that day that he just wet himself.  We can imagine what is going to happen when the husband comes back into the kitchen.

I love the age old question “where would you like to go for dinner” with the associated age old answer “anywhere is fine with me.”   How disingenuous can you be?  Anywhere is not fine and we both no it.  This could only be worse if it was the husband who asked the question and the wife says, “You oughta know where I’d like to go.”

Could we agree to make life a little simpler?

·       Tell your spouse what you are thinking.  If you need something ask for it.  If there is a possible misunderstanding ask for a clarification.  If you are bothered by your spouse’s behavior just ask them what is going on.  Don’t jump to conclusions and don’t remain silent.

·       Tell your spouse how you are feeling.  If you are tired, hurt, angry, frustrated, overjoyed, giddy or sad – tell your spouse.  Don’t make them guess and don’t get more upset because they miss what to you are obvious clues.