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 Finding Truth 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.
I have had some very interesting conversations with men in the last couple of weeks. My dear reader, if we truly pursue to understand what is going on in a man’s mind, we can build bridges to greater understanding and in turn we will receive the love we so desperately need. I believe most women are eager to please our husbands, children, family, boss and friends. If we have a clearer picture of what is expected of us, and in turn make the men in our lives aware of our needs, this knowledge builds a great foundation for loving and joyful relationships. So let’s take another glimpse into the mystery of a man’s mind. Today these points are in not in any order of priority.
9. The Beauty Queen-These women think their looks will get them whatever they want. They can’t walk in front of a mirror without constantly primping. Unfortunately this behavior is due to their insecurities and they often have no personality of depth of character due to their superficial nature. (Their exact words).
10. Sanctimonious Susie-She proudly wears her purity like a coat and looks down her nose at anyone who is not as righteous or proper as she is.
11. Come Lately-Women who are constantly late. It’s aggravating. Period.
12. The Bulldozer-Women who have mistaken aggressiveness for assertiveness. They run over others rarely recognizing they are also bullies…in their own way. Some women feel, that to be accepted into a man’s world, they need to act tough and loud.
13. Selfish Sally-When a woman won’t support her spouse during a rough financial period. She insists on maintaining a certain level of lifestyle even when it becomes a hardship on the whole family.
14. Martha the Martyr-This woman takes on all sorts of duties, responsibilities and chores beyond her normal load. This satisfies her need for attention and accolades but neglects to make her husband and her family the No. 1 priority in her life. It makes the spouse feel that he is playing “second fiddle”.
15. Disrespectful Dorothy-There is probably nothing more damaging and hurtful than when a spouse does not show her husband respect. Each woman needs to know that her spouse needs respect more than anything in his life.
16. The Guild Monger-This woman knows how to ask a question or make a statement so that it evokes guilt. She uses this deadly tool to motivate her husband to do something she needs or wants.
17. Lazy Lottie-When a wife’s main stimulus is TV, romance novels, gossip and social media. And the next words are directly from a man’s mouth….”When they let themselves go to pieces after the wedding.”
My dear friends, if any of these words “fit” I think we need to own them. Even though this is my second marriage, and I have been married for many, many years, I continue to be amazed at how much I can learn about the mysterious opposite sex.
There is truly nothing more fulfilling and joyful than when we are in a harmonious relationship with our spouses and families. We can all have this! When you and I said “I do” on our wedding day, we dreamed of having a blissful life. Yes, life throws us curve balls and our days are full of surprises, but with some hard work, we can have the kind of marriage that God intended when He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Let’s allow the rough spots in our marriages to “sandpaper” us into the beautiful people God designed us to be.
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.
Five years ago my husband Jack and I “skipped Christmas”. Quite simply, we wanted to know what it felt like to let go of all the Christmas expectations and self imposed tension. What would a Christmas season be like without waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, finding the perfect gift and feeling exhausted from fulfilling all the traditions and obligations that are supposedly inflicted on us?
Just last week I was in a Christmas decoration aisle in a huge department store, buying ribbon for our office party. A young couple was pushing a shopping cart down the aisle and in the middle of an argument. I could see the tension and frustration on her face and the anger in her voice: “This is not just for me you know; this is for OUR Christmas. I am just trying to make it a nice Christmas for OUR family.” Sadly I saw the vacant look in the man’s eyes and I could see he just didn’t get this “Christmas thing.”
I wish I could l have grabbed them by the shoulders and told them what my I, as a woman, learned about simplifying and enjoying the Christmas season. Here is what I learned the year we “skipped Christmas”:
1. We have to realize we cram a year’s worth of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and entertaining into about 30 days. Realize how impossible this is to do is without tension.
2. Many women, including myself, feel guilt ridden and responsible for creating the perfect story book Christmas. The kind we see on magazine covers, TV commercials and then pulling it together like it happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do whatever it takes to get rid of that guilt and those expectations.
3. We don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards. Our family now sends out a “Happy New Year” letter toward the end of January when life has settled into a more relaxed and manageable routine.
4. We don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money on the perfect gift. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t need another new thing that might end up in a cupboard or drawer. We decided as a family to give to organizations that really need our support. The greatest gift we can give each other in this crazy busy life is the “gift of time.” The grandchildren still get presents but make it simple and not exorbitantly priced. Send the extra money to children who really need it.
5. Sit down and ask your husband what type of things he would like to do to make Christmas meaningful for him. If he’s not interested in doing all “that stuff”, don’t load yourself with all the self-imposed expectations of creating the story book Christmas. The tension is not worth it.
6. Simplify the baking. Instead of 10-12 different items, chose 1 or 2 items your family really likes and get the children involved in the baking. Make it fun not stressful.
7. Pack your Christmas decorations away each year so that the following year it is easy to set them up. For example, I label my containers “kitchen-foyer-dining room table” etc. When I bring the container up from the basement, I open it and plunk these items exactly where they belong. If you need to buy new decorations; buy them AFTER Christmas when they are 70% off the last sale price and there are no long line ups.
8. It is more important to have harmony and love in our marriage and homes, than to buy into this new marketing scheme called “The Holidays.”
It has been a harsh reality for me to see that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet we don’t invite Jesus to His own birthday party. When I see the Christmas season through this perspective, it hurts my heart to see what I am doing to commercialize this Holy Christmas Season. I need to do whatever I can to stop this insanity.
We don’t “fall in and out of love.” Love is not just a feeling, because our feelings are very fickle and play tricks on our minds. We have a tendency to think that when we lose that glow of pleasure and excitement in our marriage, that we have “fallen out of love.” Not so. We may, temporarily, have fallen out of “like” for each other, but the love is still there. God places that love within us and it needs to nurtured. In the same way that we fertilize our flowers, water them and prune them, in the same way we need to nurture the love in our marriage relationship.
When we fight FOR the values, intimacy and love in our marriages, and do no fight WITH each other, we will begin to experience a deeper level of that strange word called “love”.
Here are 6 more things that my two husbands have taught me about nurturing a deeper love in my marriages.
1. RESPECT: Our husbands need our respect, respect, respect. They need this more than sex, words or gifts. The biggest issue here is that many women feel their husbands don’t deserve their respect. Obviously it must have been there when you met and dated, or you might not have gotten married. Go back to that original place in your relationship where you had that respect and deliberately find ways to nurture it. This may mean some gut level honesty with your spouse about why you have lost respect for them and something needs to change. For further information about respect, please read my other blogs in the archives, one of them being: UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Cutting down the Male Species”
2. ASK… for help. Most men cannot read our expressions, body language or minds. Perhaps we assume that “if they really loved us they would know when we feel overwhelmed, tired or unhappy”. But most men don’t have that gut level, inner intuition that you and I have. We need to clearly identify our needs and desires with words that they can grasp.
3. KINDNESS…is the greatest gift we can give each other. Small acts of kindness cover a multitude of mistakes and oversights. I have learned that “stopping and showing kindness” literally changes the course of conversations, obstacles…life.
4. LAUGH. Laughter is like medicine that can cover awkwardness, mistakes and even mends a broken heart. Seek out opportunities to stop and laugh. Sometimes that means going to a funny movie or talking about a hilarious situation that happened in the past. Just last night I sent my husband a funny U-tube and we watched it together and laughed hilariously.
5. EAT MY WORDS. That means, to chew on my thoughts, play them backwards and forward then eat the bad ones before they escape my mouth.
6. FORGIVE. Forgive very quickly. Building up resentment not only poisons my soul, but builds barriers. The number one reason for marriage break-ups is “resentment.” Forgiveness is never a last resort, but must always be a first response. We must remember that forgiveness is very hard because it is not a natural transaction. Forgiveness is a supernatural transaction between you, your spouse and God’s Holy Spirit.
The bible tells us very clearly that when we obey His commands, “our joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV). In order to have a thriving, intimate loving marriage relationship we must obey God’s command. The bible puts it this way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13, 14 NIV).
I know from personal experience that if we are willing, with God’s help, to “fight for our marriage”, beyond our present struggles we will experience our greatest power, freedom and joy. What is one area you will work on today?
Intimacy unleashes unexpected and strange gifts. At this juncture in life I consider myself mature enough to be able to look back in my marriages and realize how these sacred unions have made me a better person. But, this learning curve was not without some excruciating, self inflicted pain. Fact is, when we take the time for some self examination of our weaknesses and ugliness, it is never pretty. Marriage can be like the sandpaper that rubs off all our pretenses to reveal our true self.
After 28 years of marriage with my first husband, before he tragically died on the basketball floor 2 weeks before Christmas, and now 16 years into my new marriage, I believe I have gained some crucial insight into who I am and what will make me a better, nicer and more loving person. Here is what I have learned:
- Cut the drama. Men can’t handle a lot of tears, blabbering, emotions and too many dramatic words. They will try to stop the drama by coming up with a quick fix. On the other hand, I just need to talk, vent and explain everything in great detail. I have learned that I need to find the right time and place to discuss a problem with simple, logical words and sentences that are clear and make sense.
- Tolerance of other people’s irritating habits. It’s hard to believe that I do things to annoy other people…but I do. Being fully aware of this has taught me tolerance for other people’s quirks.
- Carefully pick the mountain I’m willing to die on. After experiencing tragedies and painful obstacles in my life, I realize most of our difficulties are “small stuff” that will someday fade away and become meaningless. I need to know my values, purpose, situations, and people I am willing to lay down my life for. Everything else is wasted energy and time.
- Be authentic at all times in all places. Marriage has knocked the pretense right out of me. Who better to keep me accountable than the person who knows all the good and bad in me? Men, being the born “fixers”, will quickly remind us when we start to exaggerate, twist the truth and make situations look better than they really are. Being “me” at all times and in all places has in fact, given me the gift of incredible freedom.
- Stay interesting . Stay current in sports, politics and world affairs so that I can carry on an intelligent conversation.
I believe with all my heart that God puts two unusual people together so they will allow themselves to be “sandpapered” into more beautiful creations. I continue to be on a learning curve…I hope you are too.
Past hurts make us say crazy things. Hurtful words can be like an ugly misguided scud missile that has the power to rip apart our tender and easily wounded hearts. I have been the receiver and giver of those “miss”-guided words.
Our wounds MAY cause us to misinterpret the intent of someone’s words to us. This is so true in a marriage where we carry on conversations every day of the year. Imagine the “miscommunications” that can occur on a daily basis.
I am very familiar with the story of a wife who wanted new blinds for the bedroom. She asked if it would be OK if we spent XX dollars on new blinds. The husband immediately responded No.
MISCONCEPTION and MISCOMMUNICATION:
Wife: She is a home-maker who loves to create a beautiful home. The sun shines into the bedroom at uncomfortable hours of the day. She wanted to solve the problem.
Husband: He works hard to earn a good income for the family so that the wife does not have to work. He has given in to similar requests in the past and it seems quite frivolous, and a waste of money. Things are tight at work, he is working hard to make a good living for the family but right now the budget cannot afford something as unnecessary as blinds.
Wife: Receives the NO as a hurtful response. Something in her past triggers a wound of not having her needs met and her father sharply saying NO for no reason.
Husband: Feels he works hard and no one seems to notice that he gets no respect or gratefulness for all his hard work. He feels the NO is perfectly justified.
So we are dumbfounded when another missile hits our hearts. We feel unheard, angry, overlooked, rejected and unloved. What actually happened is that there has been another “MISGUIDED REPRESENTATION” of what was really happening. The wife’s heart becomes more wounded, and the husband feels even more attacked and less respected. The misguided missiles have hit a vulnerable target and it is another step to a full out war.
Our words have the power to bring hope, healing, understanding and LOVE. But…they also have the power to destroy, crush, wound and…DEATH to our soul. We need to be aware of the past hurts in our life that cause us to perceive and formulate our own perceptions of the words that we hear. We are all guilty of that. It is especially true in our marriages where we have opened up our hearts and made ourselves vulnerable to unguided missiles.
I have to remember that we live in a sinful and harsh world. All of us have past hurts, and wounded people wound other people. Now I know there is only one antidote for all our wounds. That is the healing power of grace. Grace in the human form of Jesus Christ who went to the cross to die for all our ugliness and to shed the blood of forgiveness over all our sin and wounds. The bible puts it this way: “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).
When I stop and remember Jesus’ grace to me in the form of forgiveness, a gift I do not deserve,I have to take inventory of my wounded soul. I need to ask myself: “Heidi, how many times did you send a misguided missile into someone else’s heart? How many times have you hurt your husband, mother and children with harsh words that left them feeling condemned instead of loved? What emptiness and unresolved pain in your soul leaves room for feeling “mis”-understood and “mis”-taken? And now…how will you exercise grace?”Then I have no other option but to fall on my knees and ask for God to help me understand the real intent of the words that were spoken. Then I need to offer forgiveness for any misguided missiles that I have allowed lodging in my heart and infusing anger and resentment. I must do go through these heart checks and make a deliberate choice to forgive, because if these missiles are not detonated with the power of grace, they will eventually explode with resentment and destroy my soul.
Let’s be on a soul mission to apply grace and forgiveness in every area of our lives, especially where there is “miss”-understanding or when we “miss”-treat our husbands and children. I know that I want God’s grace to permeate every area of my soul…but especially my mouth. I don’t want any of my crazy words to “miss”-fire and accidently cause misery to my husband’s soul. Once words are spoken they cannot be taken back.
“Do you feel married?” How do you feel when you are in a season where everything seems to be changing? When the last child is off to University, a change in careers and the marriage seems too predictable and comfortable. I saw a movie a couple of weeks ago where the couple in the movie were considering divorce because “their marriage felt like a comfortable roommate”. Before I go any further let me just say that there are probably a million people out there who would love that “comfortable roommate.”
But for those of you who have been married a long time, we have to realize that we go through different stages in our marriages.
1. The “drug induced” stage. This is where your heart is overflowing with love and you in a pleasure filled state because your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals. We think this is what love should always feel like and we wish this stage would last forever. But struggles come along, tension arises and hopefully we go to the next stage.
2. The “distress stage”. This is where you are bu
ilding your life through having children, careers, mortgage payments, car payments and trying to find love and balance. This is the stage where you will be disappointed, feel resentment, perhaps rejected, angry and at times desperately wondering if you should stay in this tension filled marriage. At times you feel like you are being rubbed like sandpaper and you feel raw, vulnerable and unlovable. All of this tension, if you can work through it, will make you and your marriage partner better, stronger and wiser people.
3. The “stage of understanding”. During this stage of your marriage you may have read self help books, gone to counseling and been able to begin to understand how your partner thinks, reacts, listens and you have developed tools on how to function together.
4. The “stage of sweet connection”. This is a stage of coming to terms with each other’s idiosyncrasies, faults and shortcomings and you have developed a deep respect and connection with each other. This stage arrives after you have overcome many disappointments, struggles and you have learned to accept each other the way God created you. With this stage there sometimes comes a sweet contentment that may seem boring and predictable because you have outgrown the clashing, tension and different stages of both good and bad stimulation. You have not fallen out of love-you have learned to take life and yourselves, at the worst and best that each of you has to offer.
Perhaps there are health issues, extended family struggles, aging parents and financial difficulties that consume your energy and time and at times your marriage feels lifeless and boring. But you have learned through the different stages that “you have each other” and for this season in your life that may be just what you need. But don’t make that the status quo. Work towards bringing new activities, fresh ideas, renewed learning, and creative thinking to build the kind of marriage you always dreamed of. You know it’s possible. You have come this far, don’t throw it away.
I stood beside a woman in a line-up at grocery store last week, smiled and made a casual comment about groceries. She swirled around and with a frown on her face shot a mean response. Why? If we treat strangers this way, it makes me wonder if we bring some of that meanness into our homes and marriages. In the last while I have also felt like shooting back some of those angry responses and it has actually startled me. I would never, ever want to be mean to my husband, family or anyone. And yet it creeps in.
If we feel mean and mad, there is a root to those feelings. I took a deep soul inventory of my own heart, and here is what I came up with.
- For women, one of the greatest challenges is these days is that we are tired. Fatigue leaves us depleted and makes us very vulnerable. When we are tired we want to scream at the world, “Don’t you see how tired I am, please don’t add another thing to my day’s activities.”
- We feel mad and mean when there is no margin in our life. When our feet hit the floor in the morning and all we can think about is the endless list of things to accomplish that day…watch out when someone or something gets in our way to disrupt that agenda.
- When our present reality does not match the picture in our head.
- When we feel that we have not been heard.
- We feel hurt when we feel unloved, pressured, taken for granted or overlooked.
- We have had a poor upbringing or suffer from low self esteem.
- We may have grown up in an environment where this is how people treated each other.
- You may not be feeling well, you may be in constant pain or you find that life is just simply hard.
Whatever makes any of us feel mean, we have to be careful not to punish other people with our meanness. In our marriages we have to be aware that “mean does not cancel out mean.” We can’t be mean back and forth and expect the hurt to disappear.
Our homes and marriages should be those safe havens where we can share our frustrations, hurts and fatigue. Instead of being mean we need to communicate our hurts so that it defuses the “meanness.” The bible says: “Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in our lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT).
The next time you feel mean words ready to slip off the end of your tongue, STOP and listen to your heart to discover why you feel this way. Maybe it’s time to look at some of that stress in your life, the tension in your marriage or the days that leave no margin for laughter and fun. It’s time to tell your spouse that some things need to change. Meanness does not just go evaporate. Ask God to help you heal those things in your heart so that you can have the kind of marriages that are kind, tenderhearted..and flourishing.