Daniel and Sheri had drifted apart over the course of their seventeen year marriage. She felt deeply disconnected from him. Anytime she attempted to bring up an issue or resolve a problem with him, he distanced himself from her. He was hardly home longer than necessary as he dove into his career. Although he was a great provider and a good father to their three children, she felt alone.
Daniel was frustrated with his marriage. Almost every interaction with Sheri led to her belittling him. He felt like he was holding up his part in the relationship by providing so well for his family, but she had changed. Their early years were sexually enjoyable but he felt like she had turned the marriage bed into a monthly chore she endured.
When Hurricane Harvey dumped over forty inches of rain in their neighborhood, their home took on three feet of water. They had moved as much as they could upstairs but so much of their furniture and home was lost. Sitting in a distant relatives living room, turned bedroom, he told her that their marriage was a sham and he intended to file for divorce the coming week.
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
Early in our marriage we used to dream about what life would be like when we were our age now. Our dream included writing and speaking. When we were not traveling, our dream included living on a huge ranch with a number of homes with relatives in them. And a small train and train track where grandchildren and elderly parents could easily visit with each other.
Dreaming about what your future will be like with your spouse has incredible power to help keep love alive, strengthen intimacy and deepen commitment. Knowing that you are in your spouse’s dream of their future is just as powerful. Knowing that you have someone in your life that loves you, wants you to achieve your dreams and helps you reach for your dreams is a great gift in life.
The Rubber Band and Busted Dreams
Jillian and Randall called for a Marriage Intensive. He explained that early in their marriage he began to believe that he was unattractive, repulsive and unwanted as Jillian bristled at his requests for sexual activity. Jillian could not understand why her husband never approached her for sex anymore and suspected that he had another lover or a porn addiction.
Jillian and Randall are like so many other couples who are experiencing the pain of a sexless marriage. Over the course of a very hard day of work in the Marriage Intensive, they both found some healing personally and then in their relationship, and built a new future together.
We rarely speak to political issues on this blog, but there is no doubt the political tension is high and we have witnessed an uptick in political issues affecting marriages in many of our recent Marriage Intensives. Every newscast, social media feed and magazine has a reference to an issue or a politician.
For some, political discourse is a spectator sport. We watch it as if watching our favorite sport contests. Others enjoy the voyeurism of it all. We watch to see the implosions and scandals. Some of us do not care one bit and we hardly ever watch news anymore.
Then there is the political junkie. We listen to talk radio all day and binge watch news supporting our political views and vilifying our foes. We buy the merchandise, go to meetings, give and raise money, and champion the cause of our issues.
‘Listen, don’t get trapped in brainless debates; avoid competition over family trees or pedigrees; stay away from fights and disagreements over the law. They are a waste of your time.’ Titus 3:9 (VOICE)
How Political Issues Can Hurt Your Marriage
Darla was angry. She told us that her husband did not understand her and she did not feel like he ever would. She wondered if he loved her as she told us countless examples of his inattention to her needs. And when he finally asked her out on a date, it was to something that he knew she hated. She was done.
On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted. Ecclesiastes 7:14 MSG
James and Sara came to a Marriage Intensive after thirteen years of marriage. She felt like she did not have a voice anymore in the marriage and that he would not listen to her. He felt like she did not put any effort into the relationship and would rather spend time with her friends than with him.
Near the end of the first hour, it was obvious what had happened. As soon as they married, they stopped doing the things that made them fall in love in the first place. No more dates. No more long conversations discovering each other. No more checking in with each other about what is going on in their worlds.
Over time, in the absence of emotional connection, they began to shut down. Not doing the things that connects your hearts leads to a barrenness and absence of warmth. Lack of heart connection is the foundation for negative interaction. The longer the lack of connection, the more frequent and intense the pattern of negative interaction.
We believe that almost every broken trust in a marriage can be traced back to a pattern of negative interaction that started with disconnection of the heart.
Five Questions That Will Connect Your Hearts