Keys to a High Voltage Marriage - Expect Frayed Wiring

Expect frayed wiring!

Conflict isn’t bad. It only means that you are part of the human race!

Working through a conflict can actually bring you to a much closer place in your relationship. Avoiding conflict is deadly.

Not that we have to talk through every single thing. There are some things that we just agree to disagree. But on vital issues, avoiding the conflict means that we push it under and it erupts later and worse. It is like holding a beach ball under water. I can do it for a while, but it takes a lot of energy and eventually it will pop up, higher than before.

An important point to remember - Your spouse is not your enemy; Satan is!

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) Satan wants to divide us; Jesus wants to give us the abundant life!

In marriage, we have two people with different genders, different genetic makeup, different backgrounds, life experiences, and personalities. These two people come together and live in a very intimate relationship - up close and personal. Because we are in love, we think we are compatible. Actually, the former has nothing to do with the later!

Compatibility usually takes years to develop. In the mean time, we have conflict! Conflict is normal and happens to everyone. Those energy lines sometimes get frayed!

Recently, we came home one day to find part of the power in our house was out - not all of it, just part of it. Ed checked the breakers, nothing unusual there. These home maintenance problems at our house always happen on a Friday evening or on a holiday! Not one to like being without power in the winter, I called an electrician. Shortly after I called, Ed went out to the back yard and saw a guy from the power company up on a pole behind our house. As it turned out, there was some frayed wiring which caused some of the power to go out.

Frayed wiring in a marriage means that we are not getting all of the energy or power to our marriage. We may have some energy but we may also see sparks flying at times. Everyone has conflicts. The conflict isn't the problem, the problem is how we handle it.

Rather than run from conflict, expect it! Be prepared for it.

So, do not avoid it, just because it makes you uncomfortable. Conflict doesn’t mean you have a bad marriage or that you need to leave your job or friendship. It means you are human like the rest of us.
The Seven Conflicts: Resolving the Most Common Disagreements in Marriage 
"Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict." William Ellery Channing

 
For other Keys to a High Voltage Marriage, see:
Resolving Conflict in Your Marriage (Homebuilders)

Keys to a High Voltage Marriage - Dare to Stare

Take the dare – stare at your own life.

We went to Chicago a few years ago. We loved the giant mirrored bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park. No matter which side you look at, you see a distortion of the city or people or yourself.

Remember the "fun house" experience from childhood? Looking at different full-length mirrors. Some make us look fatter, some skinner, some do both. None give an accurate depiction of how we look.

Today, we have high definition TV which gives a more detailed picture of what we are viewing - sometimes more details than we want to see.

Many of us look at our own life through a distorted mirror. We do not see an accurate view of how we act in marriage or other relationships. We really need to take an HD view instead. We need to look at the details accurately - the way they are seen by others.

I often blame my spouse for what is wrong in our marriage or in my life, instead of looking in the mirror at me. A key to taking marriage from good to great is for me to look in the mirror at my life and how my actions are seen by others.

Blame started right after the Fall. When God asked Adam about eating the forbidden fruit, Adam replied, "The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Adam first blamed God for giving him Eve, then blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. He never took responsibility for what happened. Blame started at the beginning of the human race.

What happens when you ask your children, "who did this?" The answer is always to blame someone else, usually a sibling. We don't have to be taught to blame; we do it on our own.

When a couple has a conflict, the most common response is to blame the other one. Then defensiveness sets in. A broken relationship often results.

Blame is an energy-drain. If I am blaming someone else, then I am always right and am not teachable. When I look at my part, God can speak to me and show me my part of the difficulty.

Being willing to look at my stuff takes humility rather than pride. I am willing to say I am wrong or I didn’t adequately communicate my intent. I take responsibility for my part of a conflict or hurt. I see God about how He can change me from the inside - no matter what my spouse does or doesn't do.

As long as I am waiting for the other person to change before I am willing to change produces a stalemate in most marriages. I can be the one to take a step in the right direction - following the Lord. I can listen and hear what He wants to say to me.

I can put energy back into the marriage by taking the dare - stare at your own actions and attitudes.

"The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others." Don Shula (American football coach)

Keys to a High Voltage Marriage - Cut up the List

Cut up the List!

To have a high voltage marriage we must cut up those lists we keep in our heads of past offenses and of future expectations.

To get rid of the list of past offenses, I must forgive.

The Gift of ForgivenessBe kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.

Part of forgiveness means that I don’t keep that list of offenses anymore, just as God doesn’t keep a list of our offenses. He says to forgive in the same way that He does.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

"You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19

What does forgiveness of another person mean? It means that I don’t dwell on the offense and I don’t try to punish (payback) the other person for the hurt. It means that I don't keep the list of hurts in my head.

Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. You aren't hurting the other person as much as you are hurting yourself by not forgiving. Forgiveness brings life and energy to each of us individually and to our marriage.

It [love] keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

From Anger to Intimacy: How Forgiveness Can Transform Your MarriageTo cut up the list of future expectations, I have to trust God with those expectations. I follow His will for me; I do my part. Then, I leave the results up to Him—that is real trust. We cannot control or determine the outcome or the results of our actions in another person’s life anyway. The sooner that we realize that fact, the less stressful and angry our life will be.

Unmet expectations drain a marriage. Giving up expectations bring energy to the marriage.

For a high voltage marriage, cut up those lists of past offenses and of future expectations!

Also, see:
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Keys to a High Voltage Marriage - Be in the Know

Be in the Know.
Be a student of your mate!



Each of us tends to demonstrate love to his/her spouse in a way that is meaningful to us.

When we were first married, physical affection was very important to me. I came from a home where we hugged and kissed a lot. My dad had always been very affectionate to my mom, my sister, and I. My mother came from a large family. We all hugged a lot when we saw each other. I thought everyone was that way.

Ed's family is affectionate too, but not to the same degree as my family. He is a more reserved person and was always more private about any display of affection. I came to realize that his affection was not a measure of his love for me but more a reflection of his personality.

He didn't really respond to affection but companionship was more important to him. My presence means more to him than holding hands or hugging. He doesn't need me to talk - just be there. He loves it when I will work in the yard with him; I don't usually accomplish much, but I am there with him. He loves for me to go fishing with him. We don't have to talk, just enjoy the time together. I had to learn how to show my love to him in a way he could receive it. But I also had to learn to interpret his expressions of love so that I could receive them.

Gary Chapman wrote a book several years ago, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lastswhich continues to be a best-seller. His premise is that there are five primary ways that people want to be loved -
  1. Gifts
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Quality Time
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch
Like most women, after having children, as we get older, acts of service become even more important. However, some acts of service are more important than others.

Ed has always been very helpful around the house - he cleans, cooks, fixes things. But I have always made the bed. I would prefer to make the bed. I usually make the bed right before I get dressed. One day I came in to get dressed, the bed was already made. Hmmmm...... The next day, bed made again. Hmmmm...... I asked Ed, "Why are you making the bed now?" He said that he just wanted to serve me.

I appreciated his heart of service, but I don't mind making the bed. I like it made with the pillows arranged a certain way, the throw folded and put across the corner. You get the idea.

I told him that I really appreciated the thought, but if he wanted to serve me, he could wash my car.

I have seen situations where the husband gave his wife an expensive gift but the wife would rather have his time. The gift represented time he worked away from her to earn the money to buy the gift. He spent a lot of time working, she really wanted his time and attention.

Not every act of service is meaningful to the recepient. That is why we advocate being "a student of your mate." It's not just knowing their love language but what particular way do they receive it as love. Just because gifts are a person's love language doesn't mean every gift is meaningful.

Being a student of your mate is a study that we never finish. You never graduate from that school.

The principle applies to other areas besides just love. How do we show respect in a way the other can recognize and receuve it? How do we apologize or show forgiveness in a way our spouse can receive it?
Don’t give in the way you want to receive, give in the way your spouse wants to receive.

For a high voltage marriage - Be in the Know, Be a Student of Your Mate.

Also see, Key A - Assume Nothing.

Keys to a High Voltage Marriage - Assume Nothing

Remember Johnny Carson on the tonight show? Remember his Carnac routine? (if you are too young to remember him, look him up on youtube!)
He would have a sealed envelope that he would hold up. He would give an answer, then open the envelope and read the question. He knew what was there by mind reading.

How often do we mind read or expect our spouse to mind read?

Assume Nothing - No mind reading!

Mind reading is when you decide on your own what the other person is thinking or what their motivation is.

How many arguments or offenses come from someone deciding what the other one is thinking or why they did what they did? We just know that they were being inconsiderate or trying to make life harder for us. How often do we become angry or defensive when someone just asks a question? We assume they are questioning our judgement. MIND READING!

Ladies, have you ever said "he should just know that?"! Guys, have you ever been frustrated because your wife doesn't know your sexual desires? Do you ever think that she should know without you telling her? MIND READING!

Have you ever gone to the kitchen to get that last piece of pie? It was gone and you think that he ate it just so you couldn't have it. Or you have gone in to take a shower and the shower floor was slick. Your wife just shaved her legs using some moisturizing lotion and you think she is trying to make you fall down? MIND READING!

I can't begin to count the number of times that I have been meeting with a woman in a one-on-one session and she prefaced what she told me with "I know you are going to think that I shouldn't have done ....." MIND READING!

I always encourage them to let me decide what I am going to think, "don't project your thoughts into mine." The same holds true for husbands and wives - don't decide what your spouse is going to say or what they are thinking.

Dave Barry, American humorist and columnist, explains why it is wrong to assume anything about your husband, "Guys are simple... women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious. The whole point is guys are not thinking much. They are just what they appear to be. Tragically."

Assumptions are dangerous. They drain a marriage and can be very distructive to a relationship of any kind. If there is a misunderstanding or if you have been offended, ask the other person to explain what they mean. Rather than getting defensive or attacking, assume good will by the other. Then ask for clarification, in a genuine, sincere tone of voice. For example, "I was wondering if you could clarify what you are saying. I am not questioning you, just asking a question."

To energize your marriage - Assume Nothing!

[more tips for a high voltage marriage to follow in days ahead]

Rate Your Energy Level

Energy is a huge topic in America today. We need a lot of energy to keep our houses warm, the lights on, and our cars moving. We talk about renewable energy versus fossil fuels. In Oklahoma, we have a lot of oil and natural gas, but we also have a lot of wind and sun.

All of these can bring us power. But most of these were not the source of their own energy; ultimately, the source of energy on earth is the sun. Without the sun, there would be no fossil fuels or even wind. Without the sun, we would not have plants, which can also supply energy. They supply us energy, the calories we need to stay alive.

One of the greatest inventions for modern society is the battery. Batteries make our energy portable - car batteries, flashlight batteries, laptop batteries ..... We wouldn't have ipods or cell phones without batteries. When I was a kid, we had to throw away our batteries after they went dead. Now, we have re-chargeable batteries - expanding the use of batteries. Cell phones and laptops would be soooo different if their batteries didn't recharge. Can you imagine trying to keep enough AAA or D batteries to run these electronic gadgets?

But watch your charge! Have you ever been working on a project on your laptop and it shuts down? Ouch! Or needing to make a call and your phone is dead? That little icon on my phone is an important gauge.

What does the gauge on your marriage say?

Rate your marriage energy level:
  1. Danger , May Shut Down! - Our marriage has no energy in it. I wonder how we can make it another year. 
  2. Critical Condition - We are committed to stay together but there is very little energy in our marriage. I know we need to do something soon.
  3. Needs Charge - We have a good marriage, but we really need to take some intentional steps to put more energy and vitality in our marriage. 
  4. Energized - We have a great marriage, but there is room for a boost. 
  5. Power Packed - Our marriage couldn’t get any better!
What if you rated your marriage in any of the middle three categories? Take the steps to recharge that we started on the last two posts. More marriage-charging suggestions will follow on our next posts.

What if you are in the danger zone? DO NOT GIVE UP! Your battery can always be recharged if you plug it in. God is big enough to give new life to your marriage.

What if you are in the fully charged stage? Do you want to stay there? Keep up the energy charging tips. Don't think the charge will last forever.

See:
New Year, New Marriage
Energize
Tips to Recharge Your Marriage

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." Henry Ward Beecher

Tips to Recharge Your Marriage

Have you ever had a battery that could not be recharged? I had to replace the battery on my previous computer because it got to a place of not being able to recharge. It started out great but gradually got harder and harder to charge.

In marriage, we must RECHARGE. Just as a rechargeable battery takes time to recharge, recharging our marriage takes time—nothing takes the place of time together! Unlike a man-made battery, marriage can ALWAYS be recharged. In the previous post, I talked about the role of the Holy Spirit in recharging marriage. While the Holy Spirit is working, we also can take practical steps.

• Intimacy in a relationship takes time! Establish regular times for connecting:
  1. At least 15 minutes per day - even though 15 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, some couples find it challenging to find that much time alone, especially in the preschool years. Find the time and STAY FOCUSED on each other.
  2. A date once a week - by yourselves to have fun, isn't that where you started? No kids, no friends, no family - just the two of you, for at least 2 or 3 hours. The date doesn't have to be expensive, take a walk, go for a drive. Can't afford a sitter? Find a friend to trade with - one Friday night you go out and they keep the kids. The next Friday night, you keep the kids and your firends go out for the evening.
  3. A yearly get-away by yourself - even if you can only go for 2 or 3 days, it is important to get away to have fun together, to remember what it was like before you had kids.
REMEMBER you want to keep a strong marital bond and friendship while the kids are growing up, so that you will still have a marriage when they leave home. Parents often feel guilty about working all day and not being with their kids in the evening. It is often said that the best way to love your kids is to love your spouse. Having a strong marital relationship gives children a sense of security.

• A key to intimacy is spending time sharing your desires, dreams, deepest thoughts. and emotions. Nothing can take the place of time spent together connecting on a very personal level.

In his book Fighting for Your Marriage, marriage researcher Dr. Howard Markman reports that the amount of fun couples had together emerged as the single strongest factor in their overall marital happiness. Other positives were occurring in these relationships—but good relationships became great when they were preserving both the quantity and quality of fun times together.

Marriage takes work but should also be fun!

 Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but the good side of it is that it gives energy. Vincent van Gogh

Droves of people are analyzing energy sources, how to save energy, and new ways to create energy. As the cost of energy continues to escalate, we seek to conserve energy as we plug anything that drains energy.

We caulk around windows, put insulation in the attic, and turn off lights. Then we look for ways to make the energy usage more efficient.

Marriage has it’s own energy—both the drains and the sources. Many marriages fail because the couples have no energy to resolve the difficulties between them; the energy goes out faster than it comes in.

Whole cities sometimes have black-outs or brown-outs when the demand for energy supersedes the supply.

Married couples who ignore the signs of the “brown-out” often move on to a “black-out” …. and nothing is left to recharge the relationship.

To energize your marriage, first we look at what is draining the energy out and seek to plug the drains.

Common energy drains are often a lack of time together, demands of raising kids, hurtful words, work, differences, physical fatigue, expectations of others (some people suck the life out of you), screen time (computer, video games), financial stress, hobbies, fear, anxiety, and worry.

Instead of attacking or blaming the other person, we need to examine what is sapping away our strength.

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses. William Arthur Ward

To preserve the strength of the marriage, we must not let the difficulties and challenges of life come between us as a husband and wife. As quoted above, we need to focus on reducing the stress of the problem, not being angry at the people who are involved.

We must RECHARGE. Just as a rechargeable battery takes time to recharge, recharging our marriage takes time—nothing takes the place of time together!

We cannot create energy, all energy has a source. Our part is to plug into that source.

ENERGY SOURCE ....

If you have 120 volts of electricity coming into your house but you have broken wiring, you may turn on the switch, but nothing works - no lights come on, the stove doesn't warm, the radio doesn't turn on. Why? Because you have broken wiring. The power is ready to do its work..., but where there is broken wiring, there is no power. Unity is necessary among the children of God if we are going to know the flow of power...to see God do His wonders. A. W. Tozer

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, has the power that we need to bring the energy to our marriage. If we overlook or bypass the true source of our renewable energy, we will burn out—“dead battery syndrome.”

He has given us that power but He doesn’t force us to plug into it. We can have all the power we need but can still have a dead battery if we aren’t plugged in.

God’s desire is not that we exhaust our lives with the many activities or even with ministry, but that we spend time with Him. Jesus did it. The disciples did. Why would we be different?