A few weeks ago while visiting with my parents in Kelowna, British Columbia, my mom and I started talking about marriage. She looked me straight in the eyes and asked: “Sweetie, what do you think is one of the most important ingredients in a marriage to make it successful?” My instant and candid response was, “Communication”. My husband Tim and I have been married for over twenty years and, and in my experience, the happiest times in our marriage are the times when we are communicating well with each other.
This is not something that happens overnight. When Tim and I started dating, we would sit side by side on a bench in the park for long periods of time and not say anything to each other. I remember thinking; “Is this really the right person for me? We hardly know what to say to each other?” Over the years we’ve learned how to open up to each other. But we have worked through a lot of these struggles and continue the complicated and ongoing process of learning how to communicate. However, here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Don’t be vague with your feelings. Men don’t like to play the guessing game. If you’re angry, don’t slam the cupboards and drawers in an attempt to have him ask you what is wrong. The longer it takes him to ask you if you’re mad, the madder you will get. Does it sound like I’m talking from experience? Believe me, I’ve tried this, and it doesn’t work. Tell your husband you’re upset and why. Try not to say, “you always” or “you never”, because this will make him feel defensive. Use phrases like, “I feel upset because I asked you 3 times to take out the garbage, and you didn’t do it”. This leads up to the next point.
2. Don’t let your feelings build up to the point of exploding. This is something I struggle with a lot. I want to be the nice one, and not dump my feelings all over people. What we often don’t realize is that negative feelings do not go away. Instead, they continue to build up inside of us. One day you can’t even look at your spouse and you feel incredibly angry and you don’t even know why. It’s difficult to get back to a good relationship when you’ve let your anger and resentment build up.
3. When feelings are overwhelming, try to take some time to cool off. It sounds like the opposite of what I just said. But what I’m talking about is to take an hour or two, or maybe a day to try to figure out why you’re upset. Then you need to stop and pray about it. Sometimes we need a new perspective on our situation. I find that when I pray about a very emotional situation the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to see situations in a new light, or through the eyes of another person. Talking things out is important, but when we’re extremely emotional we spurt things we don’t mean and that can severely damage our relationships.
4. Communication is verbal and non-verbal. Am I scowling when my husband comes home from work or do I greet him with a smile? What we don’t say can be just as powerful as what we do. Touch is a huge form of communication and a hug and a kiss either given or rejected can speak volumes.
These days, it can be difficult to find that time that you need to really communicate, the distractions are overwhelming. Take some time to turn off the TV, ignore the phones, put down the IPad and really talk to your spouse. When we don’t take the time to communicate we won’t feel close to our spouse and that can become very lonely. Taking the time to communicate with our spouse is a very important investment that we can make in our marriage; it creates a connection that will build the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship.
Archive for the Control Category
No wonder there is conflict in marriages. After conducting these surveys I am convinced that men and women come from two different planets. But we are all magnificently and wonderfully made and it is up to us to unleash the mystery of our polarities. I believe with all my heart that God puts two people together to “sandpaper them into the glorious creations He designed them to become.” Let’s not sabotage that process due to our ignorance. OK men, are you ready to hear what women dislike what you do or don’t do?
PLEASE READ TO THE END OF THE BLOG FOR A POWERFUL AND PRACTICAL CHALLENGE.
1. Clam-up Charlie-This one spoke so loud I almost had to cover my ears. Women dislike it that men dismiss the value of honest and forthright communication.
• When they clam up and not say anything because they feel that what they say “won’t matter anyway.”
• When they want you to dismiss the details and get to the bottom line summary.
• When they keep things to themselves and then blow up when it gets to be too much.
• When they hear only what they want to hear.
• Lack of admission when something is bothering them.
2. Eddie the Egomaniac-Many women understand that men find fulfillment in their occupations and providing for their families. But women dislike it when men make their occupation their identity; always talking about how important they are in their line of work. We dislike it when men draw attention to themselves by loudly proving their bravado through exaggerated stories of their conquests.
3. Put-Down Paul-It is extremely hurtful and disrespectful when men put down their spouses in the presence of other people. When men are sarcastic, or make a joke about something their spouses did, it is embarrassing for everyone.
4. Sexist Sam-We dislike the feeling that we have to earn credibility to speak intelligently with men. Sexist and disrespectful comments are not acceptable anymore. We no longer want you to behave superior toward us. We no longer want to feel as though are you are saying: “Oh brother, what could she have to say that could possibly be worthwhile.”
5. Crude Dude Dan-Women do not appreciate men with poor hygiene, who swear, use foul language, make dirty jokes, and display poor manners publicly and privately. Women don’t like it when men “ogle” other women and make suggestive sexist comments.
6. Big Boy Bobbie-This is a man all grown up and still living in a little boy body. He is the one who does not help out in the kitchen but is first in line when the food shows up. He assumes his wife will treat him like his mother did, and allow him to continue to play with big boy toys and focus his leisure time toward fulfilling his own selfish desires.
7. Lack Luster Larry-Lack of initiating romance. His idea of romance is to take his wife to Tool Time Depot and then stop off for a beer on the way home. That romance is all for him, and does not even come close to meeting the needs of a woman.
8. Insecure Ivan-Women know when men are insecure-they can’t hide it behind their bravado. Confidence is one of the most attractive traits in men and women have. Women love a confident man who will treat her as an equal and show her the respect she deserves. Don’t assume women need money or wealth to satisfy them, women need a confident man to make a woman feel loved, safe and cared for.
• Dressed to “kill” and then become sloppy once they “have their girl.”
• Not finishing projects around the house. (Guys this was a huge pet peeve for many women).
• Answering the phone in the middle of a conversation.
• Leaving “stuff” laying around all over the house and not picking up after yourself.
• Generalizing. “You women always….”
• Leaving dirty dishes BESIDE the dishwasher.
• Not changing the toilet paper roll.
• Leaving cupboard doors open.
We’ve gleaned some valuable information over the last few weeks. Let’s use these comments to strengthen our understanding. What became glaringly obvious is that we need to learn to communicate better. To strengthen our communication, I invite you to enter into a powerful challenge with your husband or significant other. This will sum up all that we’ve learned and will revolutionize your relationship. Ask each other this question and then act on it.
“What are your top 3 needs?” Once you take the time to unleash this question, you will arrive at your greatest understanding of each other. Once we all make that this focal point of our relationships, we will all be amazed at what God can do to make our marriages “very good.”
Then act on this verse: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
May God enrich your marriages beyond what you can comprehend.
To unravel the mystery of a man’s mind, we women need practical and useful information. That’s what I set out to discover. I conducted a survey amongst some of my favorite men, and asked them to provide me with a list of things they “dislike what women do.” Here are their top responses.
I give credit to my friend Darrell who provided some names for women’s actions:
1. Diva-This was by far the strongest “dislike” amongst the men. This is when women use drama to get their way. This drama can include guilt, exaggeration, tears and acting cute and coy. Women we have to remember that we like to use our emotions; but men are fixers. When we use this drama to get our way, it will either push men away because they don’t know how to handle our emotions, OR they will try to “fix us” as quickly as possible.
2. The Zealot-This woman is a “keeper of the list and rules”, she knows every policy, procedure, collective agreement and statue by heart. She will use her lists and rules to throw the book at you if you have not done your job or broken a rule.
3. Grenade Thrower-This lady will collect the details of all her unmet expectations, each time you looked at her the wrong way or gave a wrong answer, and store them in a box. This box is called “The Resentment Box”. One day you may ask as simple question like: “Honey did you take your car into the dealership for that oil change?” She did not like the question so she opened her box, took out the grenade and watched the shrapnel destroy your manhood.
4. Jail Keeper-Using sex to hold men hostage. You know what I’m talking about.
5. Gossiping Gertie-Sharing private marriage matters with girlfriends. Difficulties in a marriage relationship should be dealt within the context of the marriage, with counselors or mutual close and trusted friends. Men feel disrespected when private matters are hung out like dirty laundry.
6. Assuming Angie-No, men cannot read the assumptions in your head, nor do they understand your facial expressions or body language. If you want a man to do something, ASK HIM…use your words succinctly and kindly.
7. Late Night Fixer-Wanting to “talk about the relationship” at 11:00 p.m. Women we have to find the right time and place to discuss things that will have emotional implications. It’s hard enough for men to deal with emotional, relational issues…let alone when they are being ambushed late at night.
8. 50/50-These ladies expect their spouses (or significant others) to shoulder half of the household chores, child rearing despite having a cleaning lady. However, they do not help with any of the chores around the outside of house. Most husbands to not have a gardener, pool company, handyman or mechanic on site.
Other little pet peeves included:
a. Being asked to pick up their socks.
b. Starting to talk the minute the door is opened at home. Give your husband a few minutes to get settled and anchored.
c. Women who lounge in front of the T.V. in Lulu lemon pants.
d. Comparing your husband to your father.
I am personally grateful for this valuable information because I am on a constant learning curve to have a great marriage. When God designed marriage, He said “marriage was planned for us and that it was meant to be VERY GOOD!” We can all have that great marriage if we take the time to communicate our differences and seek to understand each other. Love is not just a nice fuzzy feeling. It is about learning to accept each other’s quirks and differences. Once we grasp that concept, we can use our differences to make us stronger and better.
Next week I will uncover 8 more great concepts for you to chew on.
“Whenever you were in a crowded room, your eyes would lock into an almost shameful, blushing, intimate exchange. You laughed at everything. The hours couldn’t move fast enough before you could see each other again. He listened to every word you said and you felt beautiful, treasured and safe. Then he asked you to marry him and you couldn’t believe you would spend the rest of your life with this tender, loving, brilliant and caring man.”
For many marriages those feelings and memories seem like sepia prints of an old, long forgotten movie. Your marriage has become more of a business arrangement scheduling the next meeting, family gathering or appointment. “Who will pick up the children at day care?” “Can you stop and pick up some milk and eggs after work?” “When are you going golfing this week?” “Don’t forget we need to be at the Browns on Friday night at 6:00…try to be on time.” Now it’s all about requests, schedule and demands. The lingering, intimate conversations have turned into impersonal staccato sentences.
We don’t just “fall out of love.” We have to understand that Love is not a feeling…it is an action. I don’t believe you fell out of love, I believe you fell out of “like.” God is love, when we love, it is the essence of God in our life. It doesn’t come and go…it just IS. Through our deliberate actions we can determinedly learn to love each other again. I know this for an absolute fact.
I’m not going to give you 10 – 12 steps on how to fall in love again, but I will ask you some thought provoking and probing questions about both of you. But you have to remember that: you can’t change him, but you can change yourself so that he will again see you as the person he fell in love with. Bring the fun and excitement back into your relationship.
1. What were your motives for marrying this man? Was it because you were afraid to grow old alone, or because you wanted to prove to your family and the world that you were worthy to be married? Or: did you choose to love him for the rest of your life?
2. Now that you have him, are you still the fun, interesting and attractive person you were when you were dating? Is he? What happened?
3. Have you become more like comfortable room-mates; letting the routine of life make you boring?
4. Do you still have the kind of home that both of you enjoy coming “home” to? Or, is it filled with tension, anger and endless “to do lists?”
5. Are you “not in the mood” too often?
6. Now that you “have him”…are you still interested in his sports teams and the sports equipment lying all over the garage floor?
7. Do you pursue YOUR passions?
8. Does he not give you the attention you need and make you feel beautiful anymore? Don’t wait for him to unleash your beauty; YOU take the time to exercise and make yourself attractive so that you will feel beautiful again? When you exude beauty, you will feel better about yourself and he will start to pay attention to you again.
9. When was the last time you asked him, “Are we happy? What can we do to make our marriage more meaningful, fulfilling and fun?”
10. What are the things that used to make you both laugh?
11. Do you pay more attention to the children than you do to him?
12. Have you become the “macho wife” that controls everything because things “just weren’t going your way?
13. Have you shut your husband out of your activities and conversations?
14. When you first met, what were the values and goals that you both shared? What has happened to them?
You see, we don’t just “fall out of love”. We get disappointed in the way things have turned out, we feel rejected or abandoned and start to nurture resentment. Then we build walls, start to carve out our own existence and perhaps become lonely. It’s time to break down the walls, pick up the broken pieces and begin to rebuild and restore something that at one time was obviously quite beautiful. God is love, and when we ask HIM to help us love again, I know He will give you the wisdom and desire to help you “fall in love all over again.”
When life is complicated we get irritated and frustrated. When I drive down our highway I am saturated with billboards that tell me how unsatisfying my life is. But I am told that it will be better when I move into the new million dollar subdivision, listen to THIS radio station, have laser surgery, and find freedom by going to THIS restaurant and never again having to do dishes. For the life of me I cannot figure out our 5 remote controls at home and I almost panic when I get a new piece of technology or kitchen appliance because that means I will have to read 77 pages of instructions. The last thing we need is a complicated marriage. Our marriage is supposed to be a haven of peace and joy…a reprieve from the onslaught of our crazy whirlwind, complicated life.
One of the greatest ways to un-complicate your marriage is by letting go a lot of unnecessary stuff. Like:
- Quit arguing over unnecessary, non life threatening, energy wasting stuff.
- Think about this: What will it benefit you to be right? Give up the power struggles in your marriage; at the end of the day most wins or loses probably won’t matter a hill of beans.
- How about re-wording and ending a disagreement by saying: “You’re probably right.”
- Re-think and re- frame your expectations. I said expectations not standards. Everything does not have to be done perfectly or right now. Breathe…let it go….
- Ask yourself this question: “Will it matter 10 years from now?” That question eliminates a lot of clutter.
- Instead of getting mad, say something nice. Kindness defuses offenses.
- Change the wording in your conversations and re-think your responses when someone asks you to do something, be somewhere or get involved in something. When someone suggests “You should do something”, rephrase it in your mind to, “Yes I COULD do this…I am quite capable, but how will this affect my marriage and family?”
- Eliminate the small stuff. Yes you’ve heard this before but now go and do it.
- Spend more time finding things to laugh about and do projects that give you pleasure.
10. Stop taking yourself so seriously; nobody else does.
11. Leave past garbage out of your conversations.
12. Make intentional choices to regain the freedom you were created to enjoy. Find the clutter that is hiding your freedom and reclaim it.
Most of us had a longing in our hearts to be married because we believed that “it is good to be married.” God also designed the concept of marriages to “be good.” One way to make them “good again” is to start with some of the basics in life by getting rid of all the unnecessary clutter and noise, and get back to that place of joy and freedom that we were created to enjoy.
The bible tells us in John 8:36 Amp. Version: ”So if the Son liberates you (makes you free men), then you are really and unquestionably free.”
I crave freedom; I believe we all do, but it’s not going to come looking for us, we have to pursue it.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Did we really sing and believe those words when we were young? Now that we’re all grown up we know the truth: that the bruises from the physical pain will go away, but the sting from hurtful words sear our hearts indefinitely. To this day there are words that still reverberate in my mind: “You’re not so hot!” “OOOWW…you’re so skinny.” ( I wish someone would say that to me today), or “You’re not smart enough.” For many years those words shaped my life.
I had a crushing conversation with someone this week that precipitated me writing this blog. This conversation was with a man, in his mid forties who had just ended his 3rd marriage. As aghast as I was, I found my voice long enough to ask him why all these marriages ended, and had he not…seen any red flags along the way? He proceeded to tell me the heartbreaking sagas of being so emotionally abused through negative, hurtful and crushing words, that at times he even considered suicide. He told me, yes, he had seen red flags of verbal abuse but, each time he thought it would get better once he was married.
This seared my heart and reminded me of the power of my words. The bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “The tongue can bring death or life”, and in Psalm 52:2 it says: “Your tongue devises destruction: it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.” With our words, you and I have the power to deplete someone’s soul, or to bring new life, hope and joy. We have to realize that through the words that we speak, we have the power to literally destroy someone’s soul.
This is especially true in the people that are closest to us. Often times we can contain our emotions when we are around people that we are trying to impress, but then when we get home, we might feel this is the place to unleash all the pent up anger and frustrations of the day. Our home, which includes our spouses and children, should be the place where our words are filled with tenderness, love, compassion and most of all…kindness. All of us have frustrating days, but we must be to careful not to let these irritations end up on the end of our tongues where they literally have the power to diminish other people’s spirits and make them feel valueless.
You might say, “Well, I was so frustrated and angry I just couldn’t help myself.” Actually that is not true because we all have available to us the spirit of self-control, which is a fruit of the spirit. This spirit of self control gives us a 6 second window to hold our tongue, rethink our thoughts and reframe our words. We must stop and change our destructive, razor like words into words of kindness and tenderness. The bible tells us to be “kind and tenderhearted” toward each other. In our marriages, we must be obedient to this command if we want to enjoy many good years together.
The bible goes on to this: “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything” Proverbs 13:13 NLT). Please; the next time you open your mouth to put someone down, or unleash your frustrations- STOP, Rethink and Reword your words so that they will bring forth life-not destruction. If you want a long, loving and healthy marriage, remember that powerof your words is all yours.
“My husband will not take spiritual leadership in our home, and our family seems to be falling apart.” It hurts me to tell you how often I hear similar statements from numerous women who are angry, fed up and feel helpless because of their husband’s apathetic attitude and lack of spiritual authority in the home. “If only he would…life would be so much better.” I agree, but let me help you defuse your frustration by giving you insights why “Some men are bored and disinterested in church and spiritual matters.”
God designed lines of authority in this world so that government, people in authority and families can live peaceful, fruitful and harmonious lives. Men were designed to be the “god-head” of the home, because there always needs to be that one person who has final word of authority and is then accountable before God. Somehow, over the past century, these lines of authority have become blurred. Here’s how:
a. After the industrial revolution and during and after World War 1 and 2, women started to earn incomes and become dominate figures in the workplace, society and the homes.
b. At the turn of the century, pastors devised ministry programs including Sunday Schools and the teachers were-you guessed it; mostly women.
c. Over the decades, churches feed more into the “emotional” aspect of spirituality. “Give your neighbor a hug; let’s hold hands and pray; sing worship music that feeds our emotions.”
d. Many men see spirituality as a weakness. Men like to “fix things, build things, make money and drive big machinery.” Many men cannot deal with all the emotion of tears, books, sermons, Bible Studies, hugging and feminism of church.
e. Over the past 40 years, most books, Christian TV shows, Christian radio programs, bible studies, Conferences and spiritual events are geared toward women. Women are growing in their spiritual lives and many men are being left behind in the dust.
Over time, men have lost interest and let the women take over the spiritual aspects in the home. In this generation, many men have NOT HAD SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP MODELED FOR THEM AND THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT! For many homes, this leadership was lost somewhere in the last 100 years and today men don’t know how or where to start. So what is a woman to do? You know you can’t change you husband, so don’t even try through nagging, guilt, tears or threats.
1. Relationships scare a man to death, but in fact they are his greatest need. Get connected with spiritual friends who are walking closely with God, and who your husband admires. There is no greater teaching tool than having “real life” modeled for us.
2. Let your husband take the lead in prayers for meals and other prayer times. Don’t overshadow him. Even if he prays only 8 words, don’t jump in afterwards and “fix” the prayer with all our spiritual knowledge.
3. “Un-feminize” your spiritual home. What I mean by this is don’t overpower your husband with all the bible studies you are involved in, prayer meetings you are attending, or leaving bibles sitting around on every coffee table. You husband is aware of his lack of leadership and all this “spiritual stuff” will threaten him even more.
4. Create an environment in his home that makes him want to “be the man”. Encourage him and praise him in any small progress he is trying to make. He needs YOUR assurance.
5. Don’t condemn him for his lack of spiritual authority. Condemnation will kill his spirit and shut him down.
6. Pray, pray, pray for him.
My dear reader, I know you all wish you had that perfect spiritual leaders in your home, but if you don’t, then understanding him will help you to love him more. Many churches are working hard to embrace and create a more masculine environment. Do the same.
There is no greater, delicious, exciting emotion than anticipating some future pleasure. I love to go out to a favorite restaurant with a group of friends and scour the menu with the anticipation of a tantalizing, scrumptious meal. Often times the anticipation is better than the actual result, but that is the crux of sweet anticipation.
For the past six months Jack and I have been anticipating our “spring get-away”. Remembering the enjoyment of our past experiences gets us geared up to book flights, buy new golfing clothes, look for books to read as we lay by the pool, and check out new and fun activities. The six months of preparation is the actual daily sweet anticipation of something so delightful.
We all need to anticipate something enjoyable. Without the hope of something pleasurable in the future, we get tired, grumpy, irritated and we lose the zest for everyday life. This is especially true in our marriages. Sometimes the simple “dailyness” of life can cause couples to get bored with each other and turn to something else that will bring them pleasure. This is difficult at any stage in your marriages, but especially for young couples during the years of raising little children. The dailyness of diapers, suffering from lack of sleep and juggling more bills than money in the bank can at times feel like you have stopped loving each other. This is also true of retired couples who feel they have talked about everything, done everything and there is nothing left to discover in each other. Then there are the “in between couples” buried in their careers, raising teenagers and moving so fast in their daily activities that they no longer eat together or enjoy the simple pleasures of talking and laughing about silly and pleasurable activities.
The anticipation does not have to be an expensive cruise or vacation to a tropical island that will bury you in more stressful money management. It can, and should be, something that can be added into your daily life. For example:
1. I know one young mom with three little children who anticipates spending one-half hour by herself after supper and browsing on Pinterest, while her husband takes over the responsibility of the children.
2. It is absolutely crucial that young couples plan and anticipate a date night when they can talk about something other than children’s schedules and unpaid bills.
3. Sometimes knowing my husband will give me a foot rub at the end of the day, helps the day to go faster and easier.
4. Do you have a good book waiting for you to curl up on the couch and continue the saga?
5. Do you have a favorite sitcom or portion of CNN that you and your husband enjoy?
6. Do you have a project such as scrapbooking, sewing, painting, writing, jewelry making that begs to be finished and your anticipation to work on it is absolutely delicious?
7. Anticipate a movie and coffee night with your husband.
9. Anticipate re-painting a room or refurbishing an old piece of furniture.
10 If you are a golfer, like my husband and I are, this is a good time to look around for special golf prices and anticipate playing those amazing courses together.
11. Plan and anticipate sharing an evening in your home with friends, a great meal and playing a board game.
12. Anticipate buying a new pair of shoes.
13. Now is a good time for you and your husband to visualize something new for your garden or deck. Plan and anticipate what that will look like.
14. Plan and anticipate to do something “greater than yourself.” That means, doing something for your neighbor, your church, your community or someone else that is struggling. Doing something for someone other than you can bring new energy, purpose and it kills the doldrums of daily life.
Without the anticipation of something greater than our daily struggles, we become despondent and it can cause our souls and marriages to perish. It is absolutely crucial to plan some sweet anticipation. The operative word here is plan. Do it.
The most beautiful love can be expressed right in the middle of our biggest messes. I found that out again last night as I was on my knees unleashing a violent stomach flu. Each time I got out of bed to “unleash” more supper; my husband was at my side holding my forehead and rubbing my back. Every trip out of bed he walked with me, steadied and comforted me. Today I am still in bed (with my computer) but he is out conducting a funeral on one hour’s sleep. That’s love.
It’s easy to be in love when the lights are turned down low, candles burning, roses sitting in the middle of the table and Josh Groban or Leonard Cohen crooning love songs in the background. Love comes easy when everything is going our way, everyone is in a good mood and there is enough money in the bank account. I wish life was that way every day but it’s not. Let’s face it; life is messy. It’s hard to gaze into each other’s eyes when children are screaming and fighting. When the renovations around the house are just about driving you crazy, one of you looses your job or you actually heard the Doctor say the word “Cancer.” But if you determine to persevere through these messes; you are actually on your way to building the strongest, most beautiful foundation of love.
Through the turbulent, testing times ahead we need to do what the bible says: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2 NIV italics mine). “Bearing” means to: To carry something. Like picking up rocks and carrying them for another person. How can we do that in our marriage when life gets messy?
1. Be there. Just show up! This may seem like a radical statement for a marriage where you are together every day. But some people pull away emotionally and physically when times get tough.
2. Be humble and gentle. When things don’t go our way, people have a tendency to get testy, irritated, frustrated and even angry. There is nothing sweeter than receiving a gentle touch or a kind and humble word when we feel weak and helpless.
3. Be patient. This is not the time to accuse or blame. One way or another this messy season shall end some day.
4. Bear with one another in love. Pick up the other’s person’s burden any way you can. Sometimes the best way we can do this is just to listen actively. This means to try to understand the message that is being sent. It means suspending our own judgment, beliefs and assumptions, and avoiding other mental activities to completely focus on the words and body language of the person speaking.
5. Pray for one another. Don’t make this your last option; make it your first response. When we pray; we transcend our messes and tap into the resources God has available to us.
Then when Valentine’s Day come around, your love will look and feel different. You won’t feel compelled to spend those exorbitant prices on roses or sit in an overcrowded restaurant. Whatever you do for your spouse or give him/her on Valentine’s Day, will be out of an overflow of our love, and not through guilt of trying to win her/her love. Love is built in the messes of life. Really. I know.
There are at least 10 ways to kill a marriage without realizing you are doing it. I am a big believer of looking at all the positive, grateful aspects in every relationships; especially marriages. But today I am going to give you a list of DON’TS that will be your guideline to surviving sabotage. The 10 items I am going to list are aspects of behavior that were modeled for you and you have learned to follow. These were the people who had influence in your life such as our parents, teachers, magazines, TV sitcoms, movies, neighbors, siblings or even misguided bible teaching. But we all have to let go of old belief systems that are simply not working for us.
1. DON’T: Hide your resentment. Every time you feel hurt, overlooked, rejected or unloved, don’t smile and tuck it away. Each resentment that is not dealt with is like poison in your soul and will destroy your marriage. Resentment is the number ONE marriage killer.
2. DON’T: Belittle your spouse in front of your friends. Men are the most sensitive creatures on planet earth (Research shows this: (Shauntie Feldhahn, For Women Only, What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men, (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Publishers, 2004) 40, 41. When you belittle your spouse, you diminish him and kill his spirit.
3. DON’T: Nag him to death. I know there are endless things that need to be done, but you are not his mother. The more you nag the more you will push him away.
4. DON’T: Leave him endless lists. Remember, men don’t have the ability to multi task the way women do. Leaving him endless lists will only confuse and frustrate him. He probably will end up doing nothing.
5. DON’T: Correct his driving abilities. Even if you are going around the block 10 times, bite your tongue, look out the window and pray that you will soon find your destination.
6. DON’T: Complain about him to your mother. He will find out and he will feel diminished.
7. DON’T: Spend so much time with your own activities and girlfriends that he will begin to feel like he’s playing second fiddle.
8. DON’T: Second guess his authority in front of the children. If you want your husband to be the head of the home, let him follow through on his decisions even it means he will fail and you may have to pick him up.
9. DON’T: Take his love for granted. He needs to know every day that you love him and respect him.
10. DON’T: Push him away and tell him you’re too busy when he needs you. Remember the sensitivity part in point #2.
There are more; but this is a good start. INSTEAD, do what I have done for most of my married years. “Pray that you will learn how to love your husband the way he needs to be loved.” This may sound one-sided and you may be asking, “What about my needs?”
Here is the strange but beautiful supernatural change that happens. The bible tells us: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV).
When we choose to sow love, respect, honor and kindness…over time it WILL come back to us. That is God’s word to us. I believe it because I have lived it. I pray this will happen in your marriage as well. This is the way to survive sabotage.