It’s All About Thanksgiving!

It always amazes me how thankfulness impacts my attitude. It helps me shift my head space when I am overwhelmed with negative things that could be distracting me from remembering my blessings and the provision of God in my life.

So I wanted to take some time to join together and celebrate in thankfulness the gift that our husbands are to us. My husband is a hardworking man who can fix pretty much everything around our house and if he doesn’t already know how to fix it, he has the ability to learn how to. He is firm in his pursuit of godly character and seeks to release the presence of God wherever he goes. Despite his faults, he allows God to use the circumstances in his life to teach him how to be a better man. He is far from perfect, but he is perfect for me. I am thankful that he is in my life.

If you are in a truly difficult marriage and seeing your husband as something to be thankful for is too hard at this time, then reframe this and seek to find thankfulness in how the Lord has worked his love and care for you into your situation.

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Oops! Did I say that??

Okay, I am going to start this off by saying I love you, honey, and you’re the best!!  :)  That’s something we should say all the time!

Today’s article is in relation to an article that I read called 8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Husband by Denise Schipani.  As I read through it, I realized that sometimes I have said things to my hubby that I meant differently but they came out the wrong way and it hurt him.   What is it that the Bible says, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4).   I know there are times when I need to stop crushing my husband’s spirit with my tongue.  The times I do are not intentional.  Anyhow, I thought we could discuss these 8 things that the article  says you should never say, then see if we can come up with some more….

1.  “You’re just like your father.” :  Raising my hand that I have said this one and other variations of this one.   From the looks I get from my DH, you would think I just insulted him.    There are times when he does PHYSICALLY look like his Dad, which is not a bad thing, but when I say “You just looked like your Dad there.”  well, that was probably not the thing to say.  My DH is very different from his Dad, so when I feel that one on the tip of my tongue, I try to rephrase it.

2.  “When are you going to find a new job?” :  that one is not in my que.  I grew up with a Dad that worked because he had to bring in a paycheck.  I want my DH to do what he loves.   He is much happier when he is doing what he loves in his work.  Having a happy Daddy come home to our kiddos and not being in the camp where you need to stay outta Dad’s way when he gets home is so much better in my book.  My hubby has a good reputation in his work.  He may not be a lawyer, doctor or mechanic making big bucks, but who cares!  As long as he is happy with what he does, I support him.

3. “My mother warned me you would do this!” : again, this isn’t relative to me at all.   As you can see from my former article Cutting the Apron Strings Pt. 1 and Cutting the Apron Strings Pt. 2, I don’t share things about my life with my husband to my folks at all.  Why would I?  It makes me look like a whiney little kid and it puts a bad taste in their mouths about him, so I just never do it.

4. “Just leave it!  I’ll do it myself!” : I don’t think I say this one out loud, but I know I do it with my actions.   Or say it in my head.  It’s just the Type A person I am.  I do it at work.  I do it at home.  When our kids were little, I used to get so frustrated when he didn’t do things the way I did it, but I did learn that they did still work out just fine.   I am still learning that sometimes I just need to let it be.  He is a very capable man that can tear a Camaro apart and put it back together again, so surely he can handle other tasks around the house with ease as well.

5. You always _________ ” or ” You never __________”:  Those words…always and never.  Those are absolutes.   I catch myself using them, but they aren’t true.  He doesn’t ALWAYS do something or NEVER do things…. maybe he doesn’t do them as frequently as I would like, but saying, “You NEVER put your clothes in the vicinity of the laundry basket.”  … well that’s not really true.  I am sure he does sometimes.  Maybe not as often as I like, but it is all in how I ask him.

6. Do you really think those pants are flattering?  I know BOTH of us have had our issues with our weight and HE is the better one at working on controlling his weight through diet and exercise.  I am the one who sees a Reeses Peanut Butter cup package in the vending machine at work and I swear I see my name on it.   I won’t say I have never said anything, but I know myself that all I have to do is take a look in the mirror and see that I am no Bo Derek.  I can see the plank in my eye, so I don’t complain about his.   I DO try to tell him when he looks nice.   We need to build up our men and not tear them down.  Ephesians 4:29

7. “Ugh, we’re hanging out with him again?”:  I happen to like all my hubby’s friends.  Now I have been guilty of when a friend texts him at 11pm asking him to ignore it…  Some of his friends actions do bother me, and I have been known to let my DH know it or encourage him to talk to his friends, but I hope that he doesn’t consider me rude or pushy when I do that.

8. “Please watch the kids.  Don’t do this, take them here or forget that….”: When our kids were little, I might have been more inclined to say, or at least think something like this.  I know our kids have fun with their Dad.  My daughter adores him and looks forward to her “Daddy/Daughter Donut Days” My son loves shooting the breeze with him about baseball and learning how to drive 50 mph in a parking lot and learning how to come to an emergency stop in the car.  He’s a cool parent and I let him parent the way he feels natural to do.  I know he would never intentionally put the kids in harms way and I trust his judgment.  Would I do some of the things that he does?  Probably not, but that’s because I am the uncool parent.   LOL!

Okay, reading #6 reminded me of one more that I think I really need to add, so here’s my #9….

9.  “Honey, do these pants make my butt look big?”: All I have to say is if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask.

So….what do you think about these?  Are there others that we tend to say, not meaning to hurt our DH’s, but they end up doing any way?  Advice ?  Suggestions?


Loving By Serving

I received this Love Language Minute in my email inbox, and thought it would be a good article to share if you or your spouse have the “acts of service” love language.

———————————————————————————————————————

Get the Facts
Before marriage we are carried along by the emotions of the “in love” obsession. After marriage we revert to being the person we were before we “fell in love.” This reality has implications for the single who is contemplating marriage.

Before you marry, you best find out what your potential spouse was like before the two of you “fell in love.” Ask  parents, siblings,  work associates and friends, but by all means ask questions. Did they have an anger problem? Where they depressed? Were they friendly of selfish? Dependable or irresponsible? Did they have a problem with alcohol or drugs? Get the facts. Don’t let the “in love” experience blind you to the truth.

Request vs. Demand
One of the five love languages is “acts of service”. For some people, this is their primary love language. However, sometimes people make the mistake of demanding “acts of service.” “If you loved me you would help me around the house.” But, true love is a choice and cannot be coerced. Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges.

With enough criticism your spouse may do what you want, but it will not be an expression of love. You can give guidance to love by making requests: “Would you please mow the grass?” But you cannot create the ‘will’ to love. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love. If ‘acts of service’ is the primary love language of your spouse then ‘mowing the grass’ will be loves loudest voice.

Listen Closely
If your spouse often criticizes you for not “helping them”, they are telling you that ‘acts of service’ is their love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If you understand this, you might respond more positively to their criticism.

You might say, “It sounds like that is really important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand. When you hear a criticism, it’s time to listen. Your spouse is giving you valuable information about what would make them feel loved.

Servant or Slave?
Are you a doormat or a lover? A doormat is an inanimate object. You can wipe your feet on it, step on it, kick it around, or whatever you like. It has no will of its own. It can be your slave, but not your lover. When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love. No person should ever be a doormat. We are called to be servants.

Jesus said about himself, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” That should be our attitude. “What can I do to help you?” reveals a loving attitude. “You do this or you will regret it.” Is the language of slavery. There is a vast difference between being a servant and being a slave. The servant acts out of love. The slave lives in response to fear.

Learn to Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language
Recently a wife said to me, “I’m sending all of my friends to your marriage seminar.” “Really, why?” I asked. “Before the seminar, Bob never helped me with anything. We both had our careers, but it was always my job to do all the house work. After the seminar he started asking me, “What can I do to help you this evening?”

“I’ll have to admit that at first there were trying and humorous times. The first time he did the laundry he used bleach instead of detergent. Our blue towels came out with white polka dots. But eventually he learned. It’s wonderful. And, it’s been going on for three years now.” Why was this wife so happy? Because her husband learned to speak her love language.

Adapted from The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Q&A: Why talk during sex?

“My husband likes to talk and whisper ALL THE TIME when we make love.  Why does he have to do that?  He knows what I like, but he continues to ask me questions (like if I want him to suck my nipples or does he want me to have him pinch and pull on them?)  Also when he gives me oral sex, he tells me how good I taste and how good I smell and how much he wants to taste me.  I am very quiet when we make love.  Do you think he wants me to talk too?  Or do you think he might want me to talk “dirty” to him?”

Some people are definite talkers.  Sounds like your husband is one of them!  Whispering and talking during sex is a complete turn on for many people (myself included).  Hearing things spoken audibly can heighten awareness and arousal.

Just think about it for a minute… when you are making love to your husband, many times you may think “I would love it if he _______ right now.” But you don’t actually say it.  You may hint to him or give him some bodily language that tells him what you want instead.  What do you think would happen if you spoke those thoughts aloud?

For me it was two fold.  When I started talking out loud to my husband during sex, I noticed his arousal increased, his erection became even harder, and he became more passionate with me.  What I didn’t plan on was the second factor.  I became more aroused and I self-lubricated more.  Hearing myself saying things to my husband out loud that I had once hidden in my mind was so invigorating and empowering for me!  I loved the fact that my words had power over my husband.  I loved seeing the physical evidence of his arousal and desire heightening as I spoke.  I loved hearing myself claim words that were once too risqué for me to use.  It felt so freeing to be able to speak in clear terms what I wanted to do to him and what I wanted from him during our love making, and my husband reveled in this new found freedom!

It may be the same for your husband.  You say that he likes to tell you how good you taste or how badly he wants to taste you.  It sounds like he is trying to use words as a part of foreplay.  He is wanting to get you all hot and bothered and at the same time he is probably affecting his own arousal by hearing himself speaking to you in that way.

So, a couple of things come to mind here.  First, does it bother you that he talks like he does?  If this is something that is truly bothersome for you, then you need to talk to him about this.  If his talking during sex is working the opposite way he intends for it to, then he needs to know that it’s a ‘turn off’ for you.  If it’s not a bother, then my second question revolves around you talking.  Is this something that you’d like to be able to do more with him?  Taking that first step is often difficult, but once you break the ice you may find that giving your thoughts a voice enhances your love making experience with your husband.  For some suggestions on how to get started talking, check out:  Oh Yes Baby!  Don’t Stop! or Dirty Words in the  Bedroom.

Q&A: How do I ask for oral sex?

“My husband has never given me oral sex and is uncomfortable talking about sex in general.  I love to go down on him and he really enjoys it too.  Any suggestions on asking him to go down and give it a try?  I kind of feel like if he hasn’t taken the initiative maybe he doesn’t want to do it.  I feel embarrassed to ask but I’d really like to have the experience.”

What a very sensitive subject!  I can certainly understand your desire to want to experience it, but how to go about asking for it can be somewhat intimidating.  Well, let’s talk about a few things that may help to pave the way for your husband giving you oral sex.

Hygiene. If you want your husband sticking his face between your legs, then make sure you are CLEAN!  When you shower, make sure that you are cleaning around your vulva lips, hair (if you have hair), and perineum and anus area.  The simple truth is that we women self lubricate, and when you combine that with sweat and using the bathroom during the day… it can make for some unappealing odors.  If you have hair, be aware that it can trap odors, making them worse.  If you don’t have hair, be aware that the smooth skin can actually sometimes sweat worse because it doesn’t have the hair as a ‘buffer.’  I like to keep myself shaved bare, but I also like to go commando most of the time.  I have learned that in skirts and dresses I may actually need the panties to help absorb sweat and cut down on odors on warm days.  So I compromise with thongs.  :smile:

Opportunity. If it’s cunnilingus you want, then make sure you are giving him opportunities to try it out.  Instead of always kneeling to give him oral sex, which always puts your genitals out of reach, change things up a bit.  While you are lying on the sofa or bed making out, turn your upper body downward toward his feet and lean over and start giving him oral sex with your vulva still up near his face.  Open your legs slightly and let him see.  If you’re daring enough then finger yourself while you are giving him oral pleasure.  These things will be open invitations for him to touch you.

69. You could always bring up the subject of doing “69” together and see what he thinks/feels about it.  You could even bring him to our website and show him our position #46 and ask him if he’s willing to try it out.  This is basically the same thing as asking him to perform oral sex on you, except you are not having to use those specific words, and you will be giving to each other mutually.  I normally prefer the more direct approach, but because you say he is uncomfortable talking about sex in general, I thought that this would be a way to ask for it without having to ask for it.  This would be basically the same thing as giving him a BIG hint that you want to try it.

Be Direct. If you have been working overtime on the cleanliness and have given him opportunities and hints and nothing still seems to be working, then maybe you should just be direct with him.  I know that you said he isn’t comfortable talking about sexual things, but sometimes we need a little encouragement to come out of our ‘comfort zone’ in order to grow.  I would suggest that you pick a time to talk to him outside of your marriage bed.  In other words, don’t wait until you are in the middle of sex to mention it.  Tell him you’d like to sit down and talk to him about something and ask when would be a good time.  Make sure you two are alone and have each other’s undivided attention.  Start off by telling him some of the things that you love about your sex life.  Mention things that he does or says that make you melt.  Then say that you’d like to have a conversation about anything new you two might like to try together, and ask him if anything is on his mind that he’d like to try… maybe a new position etc.  Listen to what he has to say. Then at some point mention that you’ve been wondering what it would be like to receive oral sex.  “Honey, do you think that is something we could try?” Hopefully the conversation will go further and you two can discuss it.

If you absolutely do not think you will be able to get him to talk to you about sexual things, then you could always write it out for him to find.  Two ways are using email or a notebook.  You can write out your thoughts and feelings into the first page of a notebook and leave it on his side of the bed.  Tell him one evening that you wrote him a note and that you’d very much like for him to write you a note back in reply if he can.  That way maybe he will be able to write out his thoughts to you easier than saying them out loud face to face.  (This method has worked for other couples that have the same issues with talking.)  You can keep the journal in a nightstand and write back and forth to each other whenever you need to.

You may find that your husband feels inadequate at giving oral sex.  He may be too scared to try because he doesn’t have any experience with it and doesn’t know how to start.  If that’s the case then feel free to print out any of our articles pertaining to oral sex!  Here are some that you may be interested in:

Husband Brags

Ladies, you’ve got to admit, that it is SO easy to tear our men down.   Really easy.   You get in a disagreement or an argument with him.   Maybe a real doosey of a fight.   Maybe he came home late from work and didn’t call you.  Did he forget your birthday?  Anniversary?  Talk bad about your mother?

I know it is SO easy to go to work and start ranting and raving about your husband.  Do you get on the phone and vent to your best friend or on a message board?

Satan makes it really easy for us to do this.  Gossip on our lips.   Tearing our marriages down brick by brick.  Why do we do this?  Why would  we tear down the hearts of the men we promised to honor and cherish all the days of our lives no matter what?  No one promised us that marriage would be a bed of roses….yeah, those roses might have been on our bed on our honeymoon, but years later, when times get tough, it’s probably been a long time since we’ve gotten any flowers period.   Are we honoring God when we dishonor our husbands?

Ladies, we are definitely dishonoring God’s design for our marriage.  Listen to God’s words in Ephesians  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)  What benefit is it to anyone that we speak so poorly of our husbands and tear them down?

This is my challenge to you.  Even when the times are tough…even when you don’t feel like it, find one good thing daily to say about your husband.   Post it on his Facebook page…say it to one of his coworkers…let him overhear you telling it to your friends…tell his Mom….tell him how much you love and appreciate him.   Ladies, I challenge you to be a Proverbs 31 wife.   ” A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.   She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12, emphasis mine)  Do you have a spouse that is not a Christian?  Then make your love and devotion to him be a message by example of your love and devotion to God.

What do I do?  Anything I can to help my husband know that he is loved, respected and appreciated.   I am not the best at it all the time, but I do leave messages on his Facebook page.  I make sure that I do whatever it takes to try to make life as stress free for my DH as possible.  We are going through a very stressful time right now where DH isn’t home as often as he used to be due to family matters he is taking care of.  Me…I am at home, trying to keep his house and care for his children, so that when he does come home, he can feel loved and respected.  I try to model Christ for him.   What do you do to lift up your husband?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Q&A: Intercultural Marriages

Any advice for intercultural marriages?

My fiance and I grew up in different countries or cultures.

Someone emailed in this question and I wanted to take the time to respond to it. I would really appreciate ladies who have first hand experience offering their perspective in the comment section. I do not personally relate to this question, but having said that I have still learned a few things that I would offer as a jumping off point for this discussion.

Of my friends who are in intercultural marriages, from what I observe in their relationships, they do not have a whole lot more struggle than any of the rest of us. The need for effective communication is incredibly important no matter what a couple’s backgrounds are. In addition to that, success in marriage requires respect and maturity, and that applies whether or not a couple has been raised in the same culture.

Having said that, if a couple’s backgrounds are highly diverse, the adjustment towards intimacy may be a little more complicated. What is primarily important is that there is unity on important life issues such as faith and child rearing. If the couple is mutually committed to a healthy marriage, they can work through whatever differences they have. I don’t believe that cultural differences are any more insurmountable than other things. My husband was raised in a very different family than I was and we have had to learn to communicate well with each other, but my friend who married a man from Kenya man has had to learn the same thing. It’s not impossible when the couple is mature and approaches the relationship with a high commitment to loving each other well.

So basically I believe that if you are marrying a man who shares your faith and you approach your marriage focused on respecting each other and employ good communication skills, you are going to have a very successful marriage.

Communication 101

Learning how to communicate well with your spouse is so important. If you know how to express your thoughts and emotions in a way that your husband will understand, and if he can do the same with you, you really are set up to be able to walk together through anything that comes your way. Most of the problems we hear about from people who write us are a result of a poor ability to communicate effectively. It takes a commitment from both the husband and the wife to be certain that they are clearly expressing what they want to communicate.

Have you ever considered all that may be happening under the surface of a conversation between a husband and wife? Let’s think about this together. There is what I want to say, what I am saying, what I am feeling, what I am thinking, what he is hearing, his internal response to my words, his external response to my words, my perception of the topic or issue, his perception of the topic or issue, my body language, his body language, my understanding of what the non-verbal cues mean, his understanding of what the non-verbal cues mean. I could go on and on. There are so many variables influencing effective communication that if a couple isn’t committed to learning to understand one another, they are walking through life together without a really important tool in their toolbox. When trouble comes, as it usually will at points, they are not armed very well to come through it stronger.

I have noticed a few things that help a lot in communicating well as I have lived out my own relationships and by observing others. One of the biggest things I have learned is not to hold on to offenses. Whether a person is purposely trying to be offensive or it’s unintentional, if I choose to react to that I end up more focused on defending myself than on dealing with the issue at hand. This can be really easy in some situations and really hard in others, and some people know exactly which buttons to press in order to cause a reaction. I love the story of Jesus in the Bible where he has just communicated something that really offended many of the people when He talked about how people would need to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Most of the people who heard this message left and when he turned to his friends he said “Are you going to leave too?” meaning are you going to hold onto an offense or push past it to hear what I am really trying to communicate to you? Peter’s response was genius “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” He humbles himself and affirms that he wants to hear from the Lord. The full story can be read here. It’s a perfect example of continuing to push through the need to communicate even when it would be easier to say forget it and go on misunderstanding the context because we don’t want to let go of our perceived right to be justified.

Another thing I have witnessed in my own life and by watching the communication efforts of others is that a spoon full of sugar goes a long way. Mother Teresa was quoted as saying “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” If I want to bring something to the attention of my husband, whether it’s small or big, the best first course of action is to be sure that my words are filled with grace and kindness. Affirm that you care for him and in cases where it is a significant issue, let him know that you want to use the situation to strengthen your relationship.

Also, establish between you and your husband that honest emotions and thoughts, with appropriate filters, are acceptable and safe. Talk about what “constructive criticism” looks like for each of you. How do you want to be approached when he has been hurt by you? What if you see something in his life that needs addressing? How does he want you to bring it up? If there is a problem the last thing you want is to feel that you can’t bring it up for fear of hurting each other. You have to be willing to work through the tough stuff and be willing to have one another highlight the areas where you both need to grow. Establishing that it is safe for both of you to be forthright in your communication, with grace and love, makes a big difference in allowing communication to flow effectively.

If you haven’t taken the time to read The Five Love Languages, I would strongly encourage you to do so. The basic message of the book is that everyone has a primary “language” or two that they communicate love by. Physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. Understanding how you and your husband show love and feel loved is a significant part of establishing good communication. We are always getting letters from people who are in situations where their spouse is not speaking their love language. A woman who says, “I work really hard at being attractive for him and he never notices” may need to hear her husband say “You look hot” in order to believe that he notices. If she doesn’t hear the words, love has not been expressed. She speaks in words of affirmation. A woman who says, “I feel like such a freak. I have a higher drive for sex than my husband and he doesn’t even think about my needs” needs to connect sexually with her husband in order to feel loved. If he rejects her or doesn’t meet her advances enthusiastically, she doesn’t feel loved. A recent email we got about this actually said the words, “It’s one way that i feel loved and desired.” She speaks in physical touch. Also realize that things you do in direct contrast to a primary love language will speak to your spouse that you do not care for them, even though it is not true. You may unintentionally be communicating something very contrary to your real feelings. So if you and your husband haven’t read this book and discussed it for yourselves, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It will make a huge difference.

A final thought is that sometimes we have traveled for so long in differing ways of communicating that a legitimate and helpful resource is to find a good biblical counselor who will help the two of you get back on the same page again. This is the Christian Counselors Directory and it will allow you to search for counselors in the US and in other countries as well. If this is a real need for you and your spouse please be willing to pursue it. Some people feel bad about seeking out counseling, but humbling ourselves and asking for help is very important when the need is legitimate.

Q&A: Help! Shy Spouse!

“How can I help my wife relax and enjoy sex?  We’re not new to sex, having been married over half a decade, but we’re still not that successful at it. I mean, we enjoy it, but not as much as we could.

I feel like if she would just drop the prudeness and let me know what parts of her body she’d like me touch, with what parts of mine, how firmly and how fast, I could learn how things work for her, and we could have a much better time. But even if we try talking about it outside the bedroom, she blushes and clams up.  Any tips for breaking down the communication embarrassment in the bedroom? I’ve read lots of tips online about what a girl might enjoy, but when I put those things into practice, I don’t really know if they’re working or not!”

Talking openly about sex can be difficult for some people.  The thing that comes to my mind is that many times it’s easier to write about something than it is to actually talk out loud about something.  Have you tried communicating to your wife through email?  My husband and I have actually used email to communicate to each other when it was a subject that neither one of us really wanted to broach in person.  It worked pretty well.  It’s actually much easier for some people to sit and type out what they want the other person to know.  You don’t have to worry about blushing and making eye contact.  Your wife may feel more at ease this way.

Or you could just hand write her a note, expressing how you feel and what you want to get from her (ex: instructions on what she likes).  You could put a notebook on your nightstand.  Explain to your wife that this notebook is to be used to help you two communicate better.  Tell her that you want her to check the notebook every evening before bed to see if she has any notes from you and that you will do the same.  You could also say that you will not force her to talk out loud about what is written in the notebook.  Then you write her a note on the first page, explaining to her how you earnestly want to learn to be a better lover for her.  Ask her for specific instructions on how you can better help her to reach orgasm.  If you think that she may not come up with something specific, then go ahead and help her out a little by getting her started.  Write something like:  “Do you like it when I take my fingers and _______?  Does it help more when I use my mouth on you?  If so, then which do you like me to do more with my tongue, ______ or ______?” Maybe if you state some specific things, then she will respond to that.  And then if you have promised her that you will not talk about what is written in the notebook, then by all means do not break that promise. As time goes on, and she realizes that you are being true to your word, then she may start to open up more in her writing to you.

Another idea would be for you to print out the sex survey found here (in the comments section).  You can fill one out and have your wife fill one out and then you can exchange your surveys and see if there is anything new that you can learn about each other.  This could also be used with the notebook, if you fear that your wife will not be willing to talk face to face about the survey.

Continue to be patient with her so that she does not feel pressured or overwhelmed.  If there is any progress, then please write back and let us know what worked for you, because it may help another couple out there.

Dealing with Disagreements

Disagreements:  Recently we received an email from a reader telling us about their spousal confilicts and I know that they are not alone.  It happens between even the most perfect of couples.  Arguments can often be frustrating since most of the time each party believes that he/she is correct and then there is the task of resolving feelings and coming to a feasible compromise or understanding.  Too many times during heated discussions feelings are hurt, words are said that can’t be taken back and nothing ever gets solved resulting in even more exasperation and anger to either be dealt with or swept under the rug which is liable to rear its ugly head in the near future.  But, there is a much better alternative.  Over the years, I have had the privilege of taking some courses on communication and I’d like to share with you some things that I have gleaned.

Rules:

1. Attitude- A song lyric that comes to mind is “They say attitudes are contagious like  the measles or the flu.  What kind of attitude can someone catch from you?”  One indispensable mind-set is commitment.  Be committed to your spouse.  Be committed to speak the truth in love.  Be committed to compromise.  And mostly, be committed to Jesus Christ.

2. Time- Do your best not to engage in spontaneous arguments.  Instead schedule a convenient time for both parties to openly discuss an issue.  Be sure to do this as soon as possible because the longer a situation isn’t dealt with the easier it is for bitterness to build up.

3. Place- Pick a safe environment devoid of distractions including the TV, kids and phones.   Put everything else on hold until your discussion is completely finished.

4. Prayer- Before bringing up a topic, be sure you first discuss it with the Lord.  Ask Him to shed light on the situation and to prepare your heart and the heart of your spouse for the upcoming exchange.  Then before your dialogue, pray together.  Each of you should take a turn to either pray for yourself or one another.

5. Use “I” statements- During your argument, be sure to keep it about what you are feeling.  Remember that no one can make you feel a certain way; rather we choose what we feel.

6. Things to Avoid- Don’t be sarcastic.  Assuming you know what your partner is going to say isn’t helpful; maintain an open mind.  Don’t counter-attack or bring up a “laundry- list” of past wrongs; remain focused on the topic at hand.  Remember, it’s not about winning; it’s about understanding and compromise.

7. The Stance- Just like it’s important for an athlete to be at the proper starting position, the same is true for the two of you during a discussion.  Always face each other and make eye contact.  Don’t close off your body by crossing your legs or arms.  Lean in towards each other or even hold hands while you talk.

Alright, now that the ground is prepared by the rules from above, the rest is going to be all about the process of seeking to understand before being understood by way of reflection.  Reflection is simply a repetition technique, where the words and feelings are expressed back to the person from whom they originated.  This makes sure that the true sentiments are being understood by the listener.

Step 1: Simply state the complaint.  State what is wrong and how you feel about it. Your partner will then relay back the information (and only the information).   This step may be repeated as necessary. When the originator feels as if they are understood, then segue to the next step by saying something like “I believe that you have heard me.  Now what would you like to share?”

Step 2: Your partner will share his/her feelings in regards to the previously shared information.  As in step one, the originator will reflect the sentiments of their partner without interjecting personal feelings.  This step may also be repeated as needed, but make sure to only talk about the original subject matter.

Step 3: Resolve the issue.

  • First, each of you should ask and grant forgiveness out loud.  This doesn’t mean that you were wrong or your intent was malicious, it just acknowledges that your actions or words did hurt your loved one.
  • Secondly, the partner that originated the dialogue should propose a solution using the same techniques as described in previous steps.  Once the reflection and understanding has taken place then the partner may agree, disagree or propose an alternative compromise.  Repeat the process as necessary.
  • A “time-out” may then be essential to gather thoughts before a solution is chosen.  Spend a few minutes alone thinking about your options.
  • Thirdly, choose a solution.  Make sure the plan is understood by each partner and that it will improve the relationship. Give yourselves a time line to see the solution in action after which you will then reevaluate how it’s working.

Step 4:  Affirm one another.  Let each other know how much you appreciate their willingness to work through issues.  (This could also be a great time for some “make-up sex!)

Step 5:  Review the conflict.  Spend some time in personal reflection and evaluate if the rules and steps were followed.  Ask yourself if you learned anything during the process.  Did God teach you anything about yourself or your spouse?  Then, at the appointed time, review the solution with your partner to make sure it’s effective.

Now, I understand if you are thinking “This seems kind of lengthy… and cheesy.”  And believe me, I didn’t think much better of this technique when it was first introduced to us.  But, we tried it… over and over… and once you get the “process” down, it actually flows quite nicely.  This technique allows you to convey your feelings without being overly emotional.  It takes the heat out of the moment because we must slow down and really focus on the other person instead of selfishly wanting to get our point across by any means necessary.

I’ll leave you with 1Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

Love does not demand its own way.

Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.

It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

  • Click here
  • April 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Dec    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    27282930  
  • Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 863 other followers