Change is especially difficult in our most important relationships You will find challenges in implementing a new way of interacting with each other over the issues that cause you and your spouse so much pain. It is normal for you to struggle with the change, and in fact it can be even more difficult to make the change stick.
Change is difficult!
You did not always know how to tie your shoelaces. In fact, there was a time when you did not know that you did not know how to tie your shoelaces. You were fine with not tying shoelaces. You were unconsciously incompetent at tying shoelaces.
One of the practices that we do every day to connect at the heart level is to check in with each other. Checking in with each other is a way to talk about all the things that are going on “out there” so that we can create “We-ness” together. It is also a way for us to be clear about our own emotions and not cloud them with issues with our spouse.
When a spouse returns from work and has a scowl on their face, what you do think their spouse thinks about what is going on? Usually they think that the scowling spouse is upset with them in some way. And they might be, but most of the time that assumption is wrong. One of the good things that happens when we check in with each other is that we learn what that emotion is about, and usually, that it is not about us.
You may have returned home one day after a very bad day at work and when your spouse asked about your day, you barked at them. That is something that happens with all couples. Anger or hurt about things at work get transferred and communicated, intentionally or intentionally, toward your spouse. You end up hurting the very person whom God put in your life to help you.
The Daily Check In is a way you can become aware of and communicate what is going on in your head and heart in a way that your spouse can support you and understand you.
Check In With Yourself First
Don and Libby were sitting in our office in a Marriage Intensive in the aftermath of an affair. Libby had contacted a divorce attorney and they agreed to go to counseling for the first time ever in their 22 years of marriage. Don was wrong to have the affair. But as you know from reading our articles, an affair or financial mistrust rarely happens in healthy marriages.
Somewhere in the midst of describing all the pain, Libby said, “I still can’t believe that he took that job. I told him that I didn’t want him to take the job and he took it any way.” The job he took was over 12 years ago.
As the day progressed, it became obvious that her resentment in those early years had created a negative pattern of interacting between them. Libby’s resentment and bitterness kept her from truly connecting with him emotionally. She began to talk bad about him to other people, eliminate kindness toward him, and use the threat of divorce when they were in an argument. And their emotional and physical connection began to deteriorate to the point that neither really liked the other any more.
Donna complained that her “so called” Christian husband was a “hypocrite”. Her heart was hard and critical because she did not experience him as the spiritual leader in the home that she had always expected. When asked about how her frustration was impacting her and how she interacted with him, she shared that she does not want to be around him, she has long periods where she does not like him, and she has little interest in being physically intimate with him.
God changes you, your marriage, and your relationship with Him when you pray for your spouse!
Have you ever gone on a date that ended up being a meeting about the kids, money problems, in-laws, work, chores, etc.?
Next time you go on a date, pull up this article on your smart phone and take the conversation in a totally different direction. Take turns answering the questions first. There are no wrong answers. Make it a night of discovery!
‘Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.’ I Peter 4:8
Rediscover your spouse and all the reasons you truly love them. Enjoy humor and discussion about things that have no emotional negativity. Take your date night to a whole other level!
Conversation Starters (adapted from Love Talk Starters by Les and Leslie Parrott)
Deanna called describing deep sadness and depression. “Peter treats everyone better than he treats me. “ Over thirteen years ago she was drawn to Peter’s incredible graceful spirit toward everyone that he came in contact with. “Peter has a huge heart and is very caring, except when it comes to me.”
Peter and Deanna came in for a Marriage Intensive. During the course of the day we discovered that Peter’s good nature and high empathy with others was a great quality that had began to get in the way of the marriage he really wanted with his wife.
Grace on Empty
Holidays are a stressful time for couples and families. Negative patterns of interaction grow exponentially as almost all communication becomes focused on the tasks of the holiday. Frequently feelings are hurt in the mix and there are long periods of negative emotions and energy.
But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 (Voice)
Make This Holiday Weekend Better
Turn your relationships around during the holidays by implementing these tips for making memories!
Taking a vacation can be hard. Taking a kid-less vacation can be even more difficult.
According to Leigh Weingus’ The Huffington Post article, Way Too Many Americans Took ZERO Vacation Days in 2014, “…almost 42% of Americans didn’t take any vacation days in 2014.” If you are one of the many who do not take vacation days you are missing out on some important effects of vacations:
Jenny inquired about a Marriage Intensive. Their marriage began to unwind nine years ago over a disagreement about their adult daughter moving back into the house. Dalton insisted that they would be there for her and Jenny felt like her move back into the house would keep her from growing up and stepping into adulthood.
“Ever since then, we can’t talk about anything without Dalton storming out of the room.” Jenny reported that she never feels heard and can never get any issue resolved. Dalton described being nagged about everything and leaving the conversation before he did something he’d later regret.
Move Against – Move Away Cycle
Dalton and Jenny were in what we call the Move Against – Move Away Cycle. Jenny moves against Dalton with a criticism and Dalton moves away from Jenny.
Cindy was sitting on the other side of the couch with tears running down her face. “When I told my best friend Lisa about my unhappy marriage, she told me I should look into what it would cost for a divorce and handed me a phone number of the attorney she used.”
“All I wanted was for Lisa to give me some support.” Cindy made that call to the attorney’s office who’s sales focused incoming calls receptionist talked her into a face to face, no obligation, free meeting with them to learn more about it. During the appointment, the divorce attorney’s staff focused on the problems in the marriage and encouraged her to proceed with signing them as her representation just in case things ever proceeded.