Stan was fed up. When he called for a marriage intensive, he stated, “She treats me like I’m her child – Always telling me what to do.” Only married three years, she was just as frustrated as he was. “He’s always telling me what I ought to do. Its like he thinks I’m an idiot.”
Stan and Jackie are like so many couples we have worked with over the years in marriage intensives. Each spouse has difficulty fully hearing each other. Both struggle with understanding their spouse’s intentions.
Helping Your Husband
When your husband tells you a story about what is going on at work, or about some conflict with others in his life, you probably want to help. When he thinks out loud through a challenge or problem, you want to do your best to try to help him solve it. Your intentions are good.
More often than not- when a wife begins to help her husband by offering solutions or taking action to solve the issue for him, he does not receive it as help. Most husbands instead feel it as if their wives are bossing them around or being critical. Your “helping” is actually creating problems in the relationship.
Fixing Your Wife’s Problem
Loyce was angry when she called for a marriage intensive. She and Chris had a rocky six year marriage. She said, “I feel stuck with Chris and he treats me so bad. I can’t do anything right.” As the parent of an eighteen month old and three year old, she did not believe she had any financial options.
When we met with Chris and Loyce for the marriage intensive, we learned that they were in a messy pattern of interacting that we have noticed in many couples over the years.
Becoming A Victim
When we experience something uninvited, unexpected, traumatic or conflict in our marriage, sometimes we drop into a victim role. We react to our world and our spouse by moving to a place or situation with few options.
Lisa was so angry when she called. “He always has to be right. He’d rather be right than have a relationship with me. He will do anything to win the argument.”
Lisa and Vann, married for seven years, were at a breaking point in their marriage when they called us for a Marriage Intensive. There were few words spoken between them that did not end up in an argument. Their sex life was absent. Their hearts were distant. And their commitment to their marriage was all but done.
Arguments Predict Divorce
According to the last few decades of research by The Gottman Institute, The strongest predictors of divorce are the frequency and intensity of arguments. All couples argue, but couples who do not make a life together forever marriage have frequent and intense arguments.
‘…pursue a life that creates peace and builds up…’ Romans 14:19 (VOICE)
Why We Argue
It is amazing to consider how it is that God made us to be so attracted to people who are different from us. In fact, most of our early attraction includes a decision to find people who are not like the parts of ourselves we least like. Back in the beginning of your relationship, the ways in which your spouse was different from you were interesting. You were curious and somewhat excited to discover why they are like that and to see how they are in other areas. You liked what was different than you in your future spouse.
Any two people living under the same roof will disagree!
We change over time and so does our marriage relationship. Our relationships go through cycles of moving closer to each other and seemingly growing more distant.
The relationship cycle is normal. It is how God built us. Neuroscientists tell us that our brain experiences a dump of neurochemicals when we begin to fall in love. The next 18 to 24 months as our relationship continues, we experience that loving feeling that is due to the “chemical cocktail of love”. But at some point in the first two years of our relationship, our brains chemical system automatically resets.
“You have made my heart beat faster… with a single glance of your eyes…How beautiful is your love… How much better is your love than wine…’ Song of Solomon 4:9-10 edited (NASV)
Douglas and Georgia’s marriage of eleven years was on the rocks. Douglas had been concerned about her inattention at home due to her lengthy texting conversations with someone at work. When she left it unattended, he glanced through her cell phone. What he found shook his understanding of their relationship. Lengthy racy messages with a coworker left him feeling hurt, angry and betrayed.
In the following weeks, Georgia admitted an emotional affair and begged for forgiveness. Douglas stated that he had forgiven her, but occasionally withdrew into anger and hurt. Anytime she picked up her phone to text her sister or mother, Douglas asked to see it.
Georgia called for a marriage intensive, stating, “He hasn’t really forgiven me or he’d let this go.” She felt frustrated that even thought she ended the relationship and asked for forgiveness, he kept bringing it up.
Throughout the day long marriage intensive, we helped them discover the differences between forgiveness, trust and reconciliation and began the process of creating a new future together.
When Trust Is Betrayed
We are so thankful for those who’ve served our country, and freedom loving people all over the world, in freedom’s cause. While military personnel are away from home, spouses and children sacrifice in their absence. We are thankful this Veteran’s Day for the services of Military Personnel and Veterans and the sacrifices that their spouses and families have made. We also pause in remembrance of those who lost a loved one or those who were injured in their service. Thank you!
‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ John 15:13 (NIV)
Sacrifices Continue for Post-911 Veterans
Barry packed a suitcase and announced at the garage door that he was moving out. “Go *&!@#$% yourself”, Stacie yelled back. He pulled out of the garage headed for the couch at the office with tears in his eyes as she sat balling on the living room couch.
It had all started over an argument about toothpaste. She wanted him to stop leaving toothpaste residue in the sink and to stop leaving his toothpaste tube on the counter. He shut down and stopped talking. With no response, she came at him louder and stronger to try to get confirmation from him. Less than minutes later, they were separated.
Stacie called to set up a Marriage Intensive. They had been to a marriage counselor before and had also been to their minister several times over their thirty years of marriage. Barry refused to try counseling again as it always ended up in them yelling at each other in the counselor’s office. Their minister helped them have more grace and forgiveness but the issues would just pop again in the next week. She wanted to try something different because she was scared this was finally the end.
It’s Not About The Toothpaste
Within the first couple of hours of the Marriage Intensive, we helped each person discover the real issue behind the toothpaste argument.
‘Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. ‘ Romans 12:16a (VOICE)
Marriage is an institution set up by God for how to live life.
God built us to do life best when we do it in a committed lifelong relationship.
According to author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: The Story of Success), whatever you practice for 10,000 hours will cause you to become an expert in it.
Most of us who are older understand this. When we first began our careers, we learned how to do a task. Over the years, as we performed the task over and over, we became one of the best.
In the break room, we sometimes hear someone say, “I could never do what you do.” We can do it quicker and better than anyone at our company. We get so good at it, we can do it when we are tired or sleepy. It is as if it happens naturally, by default. We know it is not true, because we have spent thousands and thousands of hours doing it.
How To Become An Expert
“The emerging picture from studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert- in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levetin.
The more we do something, the better we get at it. Take your hobby, for example. The more you do it, the better you become. If you enjoy golf, tennis, scrapbooking, pinteresting, photography, or anything else, the more of it you do, the better you become. And the theory says that if you do it long enough, you will get to expert status.
Becoming An Expert In Our Relationship