Friday, 23 May 2014

It’s Not Always Intuitive – a message to men

 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33 NIV

Let’s assume that you, like me, are an avoider, i.e. you dislike conflict. If you are a male, like me, you are probably clueless and oblivious most of the time.  So if your wife seems to be particularly overwhelmed, frenzied and/or frustrated you will not always know why, and if you are like me, you will attempt to flee.

Here’s where the intuitive part comes in.  Perhaps the best thing you can do at a time like this is to give your wife a big hug. “Are you nuts!? “ That is what you said isn’t it, though you may have used more colorful language.

I would never suggest that I have any great insight regarding the emotional makeup of most women – make that of any women.  What I think is true of some women, because they tend to be more relational than men, is that when they are upset they want to connect relationally.  They want to be comforted, loved and hopefully understood.

And your next question is “Are you telling me a hug accomplishes all of that?”  No!  But it is a start.  As a true, committed avoider, you just want the tension to subside and a hug might accomplish that.  Your next words are very important. They should be something like, “I just want you to know I love you, can I help?”

Remember husbands are told that we are to love our wives as much as we love ourselves.  That does not mean that you treat your wife the way you want to be treated.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, frenzied or frustrated you might want people to leave you alone. 

You might spare yourself some discomfort by asking your wife, at a time when things are reasonably serene, if in fact that would be her preference.  If she says, “no” you will have avoided embarrassment.  If she says “yes” and you follow through the next time the chance presents itself you will have avoided an uncomfortable situation and made your wife feel loved.

For the brave among you, you might even try the same approach if your wife is angry, agitated and/or irritated.  This takes a bit more nerve and could backfire if it should be blatantly obvious that you are the cause of her distress.  A hug from you might be the last thing she wants.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Secondhand Anger

26 “When you are angry, don’t let it carry you into sin.[a] Don’t let the sun set with anger in your heart or 27 give the devil room to work.” Ephesians 4: 26-27 the Voice

We have all heard the term, “secondhand smoke” (SHS) which is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Have you ever heard anyone talk about secondhand anger which in my opinion may be almost as lethal?

Secondhand anger often occurs in marriage when one’s partner displays anger with some regularity even though it might not seem warranted.  It is secondhand because if the truth were known (or recognized) the anger being expressed is not, in all honesty, rooted in current circumstances but is a response to hurts suffered when the individual was much younger.

Often this condition is referred to as the “baggage” we tend to bring with us into our marriage.  The woundedness and previous hurts can come from any number of sources.  What we, who bring such baggage into our marriage, fail to realize is that in some ways we are looking to our partner to make us “feel all better”, much like a child who has just fallen down and skinned his knee.

We want the affirmation that we didn’t receive growing up, or maybe it is the affection that was missing, or the unconditional love, perhaps there was little encouragement, and no support.  The list of our unfulfilled emotional needs is endless.  Then one day we meet Mr. or Ms. Right, get married and assume that this person will fill the void that was left from our childhood.  First of all that person is incapable of filling that void and secondly there is a chance they bring their own version of emptiness to the relationship that wasn’t revealed when you were dating.

Why is secondhand anger so dangerous?  Because it reflects a lack of forgiveness.  The hurts become a root of bitterness, a root that will grow up inside and ultimately manifest itself in some emotional disorder and/or physical disease, and will likely wreak havoc in your marriage.

Anger is often caused by fear, a need to control and/or an irrational perception of reality.  For example take a woman whose father walked out on her and her mother.  She remembers feeling abandoned.  She now finds herself in a marriage that is not going well and fears that she will be abandoned again.  Perhaps a man was made to feel inferior by his father and only received affirmation when he performed academically or in sports.  He is now experiencing criticism from his wife and it brings back all the feelings of inadequacy that he experienced growing up. 

Only the love of Christ can fill such voids.  Leave your anger at the foot of the cross.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Do You Need a “Plasectomy?

But those who chase riches are constantly falling into temptation and snares. They are regularly caught by their own stupid and harmful desires, dragged down and pulled under into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money—and what it can buy—is the root of all sorts of evil. Some already have wandered away from the true faith because they craved what it had to offer; but when reaching for the prize, they found their hands and hearts pierced with many sorrows.

11 Timothy, don’t let this happen to you—run away from these things! You are a man of God. Your quest is for justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1Timothy 6: 9-11

Financial troubles are usually one of the top five reasons cited for seeking a divorce.  Most often one of the contributing factors is that the couple did not come into marriage with the same outlook toward spending and saving in general and acquiring debt in particular.  Some statistics suggest that the average American couple has in excess of $14,000 in credit card debt alone. 

Dave Ramsey, well known Christian financial consultant, has a cure for this problem.  Have a “plasectomy party”.  Invited to the party are the husband and wife (and children if you have them), a pair of scissors and all but one of your credit cards.  You then gleefully cut all your remaining cards into pieces.  The only reason for holding out even one is purely in the case of a dire emergency and no that doesn’t mean a new dress or the latest golf equipment.

The sooner you realize that you are in a war the sooner you might start fighting back.  The love of money and possessions are talked about in Scripture as much as any other topic.  The enemy is the one who has convinced you to buy the flat screen TV that you can’t afford.  He has told you that you are entitled to drive that new BMW because you have worked so hard.  Satan has prompted you to buy that home with the reverse mortgage so that you can raise your children in a better school district.

The spenders among us can rationalize almost any purchase they make, while some savers among us are so worried about the uncertainty of the future that they obsess needlessly about every dime they spend.

God promises to supply all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)  In most cases we don’t “need” anything that causes us to incur debt we can’t pay off in thirty days.  If we have been faithful stewards of what God has provided we also don’t need to worry about the future.  Hold a plasectomy party, you’ll be glad you did and your children will remember it forever.