TALKING POINTS



Communication in marriage - difficult? Challenging at best?

Let us help you connect the dots on communicating in your marriage. Ed and Donna will share skills, Biblical principles, and negative patterns during this one-hour class.

Class starts this Sunday, October 18 at 11:15, are will last four Sundays.

Location: PCBC, 11401 N Rockwell Ave, Oklahoma City

For more info, email us.

Marriage: A Vow or Plan B

“In college, I had a course in Latin, and one day the word "divorce" came up. I always figured it came from some root that meant "divide." In truth, it comes from "divertere," which means "to divert.” I believe that. All divorce does is divert you, taking you away from everything you thought you knew and everything you thought you wanted and steering you into all kinds of other stuff.  Mitch Albom, For One More Day

In the business world, companies come up with “Plan B” - “Here’s what we will do if Plan A doesn’t work.” Plan B is the fall-back plan. 

In marriage, if divorce is Plan B, Plan A (a lifetime marriage) will never work. Divorce is the fall-back plan if I am not happy. 

When divorce is an option, the willingness to work at marriage lessens

If my marriage gets too hard, I will get a divorce.  That thinking ignores the Vow of Marriage. [see our next blog post]


More than one person has said to us, “To save my marriage it will take a lot of work and I am not willing to do that much work.” 

Then, they leave their spouse.


Some people think that if the other person knows that divorce is not an option that the other person will take advantage of the situation.

 - He won’t try.
- She will take me and our marriage for granted.
- I will be stuck

That attitude can happen, regardless of the commitment. 

If things are not going well in a marriage, many think that divorce is the only option. 

If divorce is not an option and I want to be happy, what are my options? 
[See other options below.]

Your happiness is not the goal of marriage!!! Surprise!

But happiness will be the by-product of a marriage that honors and glorifies God.

We divert from the reason God put us together. We lose sight of the goal to show the world what a real picture of Christ and the Church looks like. 

Give up Plan B!

[Note: We do not advocate that a person stay in a dangerous situation. Also, we believe that every person, husband or wife, needs to have skills to earn a living and know how to run a household alone - in the case of death or disability of a spouse.]

OPTIONS

People in a marriage crisis often see only two options:
  1. Divorce 
  2. Keep going on the same way 
As we come alongside couples, we show them that there are other options. 

The big one is CHANGE!

It’s all his fault; he is the one that has to change! 
It’s her problem; she needs to change! 

We believe that when a couple gets to an impasse and are stuck in their marriage, they need an objective third party who can give them guidance. 

Each person needs to look at their own issues rather than continually focusing on what the other one is doing wrong. 

What if one of the couple is not open to going to a third party and/or not open to change? 

Then, the person who recognizes the marriage is in a bad place, seeks guidance for his/her own life. Start with: 
  • Seeking the Lord and being open with what He says to you. 
  • Forgiving the other person for the hurts that have occurred. 
  • Take responsibility for your part (your responses) 
  • Quit trying to change the other person.
    You can’t/shouldn’t do it. 
  • Find a godly person of the same gender to give you guidance.
See our next blog post about the Vow of Marriage.

Isolation in Marriage

Many Christians are committed to marriage and will not get a divorce. Commitment can save a marriage. But if they don't pursue oneness, the end result is isolation. Isolation is not God's desire for marriage either. His design is oneness. 

We must be vigilant in our relationship when we have serious conflicts or breaches of trust. If we do not actively seek help, isolation is a highly probable result. 

Sometimes there is a deep hurt. Because the couple stays together and goes on, one may think it is resolved and they are reconciled. But bitterness and resentment could be growing in the heart of the other if the couple is not seriously pursuing oneness.

We highly encourage couples who have had a deep wound in their marriage to put everything they have into healing their marriage - together!

It could mean that the party who has caused the offense, not only apologizes and seeks forgiveness, but also seeks to initiate whatever is needed to bring healing. Do not assume that everything is okay just because you apologized! Do not assume that everything is okay because your spouse isn't complaining any more. Do not ignore the warning signs!

Instead of those differences becoming gaps that fit together, they become points of resistance and irritation. 

*Isolation is a disease that afflicts every marriage at some point. A husband and wife slowly drift apart in ways they don't even recognize at first. Signs of isolation include the following:
  • A feeling that your spouse isn't hearing you and doesn't want to understand
  • An attitude of "Who cares?" "Why try?"
  • A feeling of being unable to please or meet the expectations of your spouse
  • A sense that your spouse is detached from you
  • A refusal to cope with what's really wrong: "That's your problem, not mine."
  • A feeling that keeping the peace by avoiding the conflict is better than the pain of dealing with reality
*Isolation is like a terminal virus that invades your marriage, silently, slowly, and painlessly at first. Marriage can eventually be crippled by boredom and apathy, and could even die from emotional malnutrition and neglect. Some steps to overcome isolation in marriage:
  • Learn God’s plan for marriage.
  • Reaffirm your commitment.
  • Deal with your selfishness.
  • Begin to pray with your spouse.
  • Develop your relational skills.
  • Spend focused time together.
  • Attend a marriage conference.
  • Start/attend a couples’ Bible study
*[From FamilyLife www.familylife.com]

See our last two posts about this topic:

Our Story of Faith and Family

We were like a lot of people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. We both grew up in church in a middle class family. It was an era when “all good families go to church.” We had very similar spiritual/church experiences.

With that culture came a lot of complacency - life was not as polarized as it is now. In that church attendance, we did not really see how the Bible made a difference in our every day life - in our homes, in our relationships. We saw the Bible more as a book of rules and history.

When we married, we did not see church or our spiritual growth as a priority. We would go to church occasionally. We also did not understand the concepts of “oneness” or of marriage being a picture of Christ and the church. Our premarital counseling consisted of an hour with a pastor, the day before we got married.

In our late 20’s,  life was not turning out as we had planned.
We came to the end of ourselves.

We were broken. 

In God's providence, we found a small church in our rural, mountain community near us. The church was the same denomination that we had both grown up in. The pastor and his wife were about our age and from the same part of the country - we were all displaced Southerners. The pastor was well-educated and taught in-depth lessons, three or four times a week. This couple ministered to us and we became close friends.

We were fortunate because we took this journey of faith together. 

Our faith became the foundation on which we built the rest of our lives - together. We changed the direction of our lives together. We began to grow spiritually together. We served together.

Shortly after that growth began, our family expanded, we had our first child. We knew that our skills and knowledge for parenting and marriage were far from what God wanted for us.

Then, our quest and our passion was to know how to live the Christ-life as a married couple and as parents. That was 35 years ago.

In this journey, we have not always done it right. 

We have struggled with parenting and marriage - but we have grown together and we did not give up! We still have disagreements but we do not let them divide us. We came to learn what true oneness means. 

We didn't always grow at the same rate. We have different spiritual gifts and different talents and different personalities. But we both continued to grow in our relationship to the Lord and with each other. We did it together!

If Christ can work in us and through us,
He can do it in you too ….. if you let HIM!

Oneness in Marriage

We are too different. 
We are living separate lives.
We don’t have anything in common. 

We have heard these words many times in our office. Sometimes, they are reasons that people divorce. Often, couples in a crisis speak them.
  • Is it a problem when a husband and wife are very different in their personalities? 
  • Do couples have to have a lot in common to stay married? 
  • Do couples need to do everything together?

Very good questions. 
The answers are no, no, and no. 

We had not been married very long when we realized how different we are. To name a few:
  • Ed likes to stay home and is content with just the company of Donna. Donna likes to be around people and is one of the last ones out the door of the church on a Sunday morning. 
  • Ed is very neat. Donna is a pilot - she piles is here and there. 
  • Donna is an optimist. Ed is a “realist” (his name for a pessimist). 

Have these differences caused problems in our marriage? YES!

We came to realize that God puts people who are different. Our differences can fit together; they do not have to isolate us from each other. 

Our differences become the gaps between our fingers that fit together. 

One strength fits into another’s weaknesses. We value our differences rather than vilifying them.

The quality that brings us together is a spiritual oneness. 

Our spirits bind us together. Oneness is not based on a feeling.

From the moment we exchanged vows, God made us one. This is what marriage is; the very word means a joining or uniting. And therein lies a way in which marriage reflects our relationship with God. 

The unity of love cannot be forged anew, for it was never forged in the first place. It was given. Suddenly it was there, and it hasn't gone anywhere.

What keeps a marriage healthy is that everything comes down to a recognition of this truth: 
   A husband and wife are one, as Christ and the Spirit are one.

Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage

THE QUALITIES of ONENESS


It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.
(C.S. Lewis’ description of love in marriage)

These words also describe a oneness in marriage - the grace of marriage that we receive from God and give to each other. “One flesh” in marriage is “two lives lived together.”

Oneness is not sameness. 
We are different, but we share our lives together. 
We have the same values and goals. 
We are headed in the same direction together.

READ more about our story and isolation in the next posts.

Defiance, Pride, and Humility

The current rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail is a prime illustration of pride and defiance.
  • I can say whatever I want. 
  • I don’t care who it offends. 
  • I am not apologizing.
What keeps a person from apologizing?

Stubborn defiance fueled by pride is the barrier for most people. In most situations, one of these scenarios is playing out:
  • I wasn’t wrong. I am not apologizing. 
  • Apologies are made by weak people.
  • I messed up but he has hurt me many times; he deserves it.
  • An apology will come back to hurt me. If I admit I was wrong, she will use it against me.
PRIDE was one of the first sins.

PRIDE has a strong hold in many of our lives.

PRIDE manifests itself in so many subtle, but lethal ways:
  • In a hidden desire for the praise and admiration of others
  • an insistence on being “right"
  • the desire to be noticed and appreciated
  • fear of rejection
  • pre-occupation with myself my feelings, my needs, my circumstances, my burdens, my desires, my successes, my failures. 
When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Why should I apologize...
if I didn’t do anything wrong?


I apologize for the hurt that I caused. I apologize to reconcile the relationship. Reconciliation is important.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud. 
Romans 12:16

Sometimes I say things that are true but the words are still hurtful. 

A good guideline to follow: Is it true? Is it loving? Is it necessary?

As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. C.S. Lewis

HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

HUMILITY develops through maturing in faith. Humility shows that I recognize my own desperate condition apart from God.

I can acknowledge that everything good in my life comes from Him and not from anything that I have done or can do.

In humility, I see that my value and worth in life is from and through the life of Christ in me.

At that point, admitting that I am wrong or don’t measure up to my own or other’s standards does not threaten my sense of personal worth. I do not have to prove my “right-ness,” competence, or strength.

Humility also makes forgiveness easier - whether an apology has been offered or not.

I don’t have to make the other person feel worse so that I can feel better.

See our previous post:
Apologize or not?

Related topics on problems/solutions in marriage:
Animosity and Antidotes
Friendship vs. Coexistence
Marriage Solutions
Marriage Problems

Apologize or Not?

Fonzie -"Ralph, look, I was wrrrr."

The Fonz found it impossible to say, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.”
Politicians insult each other and are unwilling to apologize for their attacks. 

Parents scream at their children and are unwilling to apologize for their outbursts. 

Husbands and wives say hurtful words and are not apologizing for the hurt they caused. 

Some people find it very difficult to offer an apology - in any area of their lives, including marriage.

Pride stands between apologies and healing.

Why not apologize?

For most people, the unwillingness to apologize is defiance fueled by pride. See our next post for more on that topic!

Why apologize?


Apologizing means that I value our relationship more than my ego. 

Offering an apology is a giant step towards reconciliation in a relationship. Hurts can build a wall between two people. An apology takes a brick off the wall.

Most people think that saying, “I’m sorry” is enough of an apology.

For an effective apology, the person has to communicate a sincere heart.

Apology Helps
Credits to Cuppacocoa blog for these four simple points.
  1. I’m sorry for ……
    Be specific. Show that you really understand what they are upset about.
    • Wrong: I’m sorry for being mean.
    • Right: I’m sorry for saying that you are lazy.
  2. This is wrong because….  This is one of the most important parts. Until you understand why it was wrong or how it hurt someone’s feelings, it’s unlikely you will change. This is also important to show the person you hurt that you really understand how they feel.
    • Wrong: This is wrong because I got in trouble.
    • Right: This is wrong because it hurt your feelings and made you feel bad about yourself.
  3. In the future, I will…
    Use positive language, and tell me what you WILL do, not what you won’t do.
    • Wrong: In the future, I won’t get mad.
    • Right: In the future, I will be more patient and try to listen.
  4. Will you forgive me?
    You can’t make another person forgive you. Forgiveness is their part.
Apology Harms

Ways to ruin the effect of an apology:
  • Being insincere or angry when offering the apology. 
  • Blaming the other person for your actions. 
  • Making an excuse for what you did. 
  • Following your apology with “But…” 
  • Not looking at the person while you are apologizing. 
  • Not changing your behavior or attitude. 
Ways to insure that you probably won't get another apology:
  • Demanding an apology from the person who hurt you. (This is different from making your child apologize to another person.) 
  • Berating a person when he offers an apology. 
  • Being unwilling to accept the apology and forgive.

See our next post on Defiance, Pride, and Humility.

Animosity and Antidotes

Animosity or .....  
        Contempt, disgust, hostility, resentment, and disrespect

A thriving friendship and animosity (contempt) cannot exist at the same time. Lack of attention to the friendship factor of marriage often grows into animosity. [see our last post of friendship in marriage]

After years of marriage research, John Gottman has found that contempt is the #1 predictor of divorce.

When we communicate contempt, we exhibit disrespect and disgust. We may use hostile humor, sarcasm, mockery, name-calling, eye-rolling, or sneering to convey our disgust for the other person.

Contempt leads to more conflict, not towards reconciliation. It’s impossible to resolve anything when one person is sending the message that the other person is disgusting to them.

How does that happen?

One of two factors loom largely in the mind of a person where animosity and contempt breed.

1. If I struggle with my own sense of self-worth, then I will receive remarks made by my spouse as criticism. Since I already doubt my own value, questions or comments are heard as attacks. I see any communication that is not overtly positive as being negative.

2. The other factor can be an intolerance of differences in another person. I view my abilities and strengths as exceeding those of my spouse. Or I can’t fathom how that trait can exist in another person.

As a married couple, we are certain to have many differences in our personalities. Those differences can become wedges between us or magnets drawing us closer.

As I focus on the distasteful habits of the other person, I build more disgust and contempt for that person.

BUT we don’t have to live in that way. 

Antidotes ….

The antidotes to animosity are available to all!

Being willing to take a small step in the direction of my spouse can douse the flame of contempt and nurture friendship in our marriage.

1. If the resentment has grown from hearing critical words, I can step back and evaluate what I hear. 
  • Are they the words that are actually spoken or is my perception of the motive behind the words? 
  • Am I wanting something from my spouse that I am not saying but am expecting?
  • Am I expecting my spouse to give me a sense of self-worth and value that only God can instill in me? 

I can assume good will when I hear something that sounds hurtful. Instead of assuming a negative connotation, I can ask for clarification. Friends believe the best in each other. In lieu of affirmation, I can forgive my spouse for the hurt. 

Friendship flourishes at the fountain of forgiveness. 
William Arthur Ward 

2. In our differences, I can choose to focus on the habits of my spouse that I don’t like or I can accept them and focus on the positive aspects. The choice is up to me. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

Animosity does not have to be the norm in marriage. A better way....

  • Building a culture of fondness and appreciation is an antidote to animosity. 
  • Looking at my spouse with caring, compassion, and admiration leads to fondness. 
  • Offering thanks and gratitude demonstrates appreciation.

Fourth in a series of Marriage Problems and Solutions
Friendship vs. Coexistence

Friendship vs. Coexistence

It is when we do things together that friendship springs up…. 
Friends look in the same direction. C.S. Lewis

When we married over 40 years ago, we could both say without hesitation that we were close friends. Yes, there was a romantic interest that sparked between us, but first came several common interests.

During the early child-rearing years, we neglected our friendship at times, while trying to juggle kids, home, and career. It soon became apparent that our marriage needed our friendship to thrive.

Based on thousands of assessments, Prepare-Enrich research reveals that the #1 strength of happy couples is that they feel very close to each other.

In any other relationship, how would we define friendship?

A friend is someone with whom I can be myself - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and the person will still love and accept me. We share common interests and speak honestly from the heart without fear of criticism or retribution.

To be friends, you have to spend time together and get to know each other more personally. You care about the well-being of the other person. You see the best in him and want the best for him.

To develop friendship in marriage, the same principles apply. You and your spouse won’t be alike but you should be like-minded. You share common interests and values.

Being friends with your spouse doesn’t mean that your spouse is your only friend. Healthy friendships are not exclusive or based on neediness.

Developing friendship with your spouse must be intentional and takes time.

Neglecting the friendship factor in your marriage relationship grows animosity (see our next post) and isolation. Friendship can be renewed and strengthened!

Nurturing Friendship ….

Marriage is work but marriage should be fun too!

Nurturing friendship in marriage starts with the heart. Having a caring and compassionate heart for another person (most of all your spouse) is Biblical and is a choice we make.

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

These ideas can strengthen a marriage even if only one person is implementing them.

Suggestions:
  • Take time every day to connect, even it’s only 15 minutes. Share your day.
  • Respond to each other gently and kindly. 
  • Find at least one activity that you can enjoy doing together - without your children - and engage in it.
  • Take time to learn about an interest of your spouse, whether you share that interest or not. (For example - if your husband is a hunter, learn enough about it to talk to him. If your wife likes crafting, learn about her crafts.)
  • Accept your spouse’s differences and affirm their strengths. 
  • Be open with each other.

Second in a series of Marriage Problems and Solutions

Healing in a Damaged Marriage

At LIVING WELL, we see many marriages in a crisis. Some couples are eager to reconcile and to save their marriage; others give up or look for the other one to change without examining their own heart. We believe that marriages can be healed and be better than ever.

Rejoice with us in a marriage that is in ongoing process of healing. 
Their words:

Wife: We were in a very broken place when we first started at Living Well. My husband wasn’t sure if he still wanted to be in this marriage, he had recently had an affair, and I was desperately trying to hold it all together, save our marriage, and learn how to forgive and move past the pain and hurt that was controlling my life. Our marriage hadn’t been *terrible* leading up to this point, but communication was severely lacking.

The biggest thing that changed was my husband giving his life over to God. Once that happened, our family started to heal. Relationships were mended. Our family dynamic slowly improved. For me, God helped me move past my anger, hurt and bitterness. He helped me to see my husband's heart and not solely focus on his offense. It is a continual process of growth and forgiveness, but we are having so many more good days than bad days.

Through Living Well, we learned some MUCH needed communication skills. Issues and grievances are no longer being swept under the rug and left to linger until they build up and explode. Disagreements are being resolved before our heads hit the pillow. That alone is HUGE for us. It is so refreshing to wake up that next morning with no ill-feelings towards your spouse. Speaking for my husband, I think a huge thing he has learned is that all women are complex. And emotional. And need to feel loved. I have learned that men are simple. And yearn for respect more than feeling loved. And that they will never, ever, understand fully, how a woman’s mind works.

Aside from the pain that I still feel at times, the guilt that he still feels, I truly, honestly feel that our marriage is better than it’s ever been. And I feel that once the pain and guilt have completely subsided, that our marriage WILL be the best it’s ever been. I cannot WAIT for that! Marriage is easier with communication skills in place. We appreciate each other more. Intimately, we are like newlyweds again! Spiritually, we are walking hand-in-hand, praying together daily, and growing together in Him.

Husband: First starting counseling, I was really lost and dealing with a lot of stress and grief. I had just put my wife through something I will spend the rest of my life making up to her. Which is fine. Most importantly, I hit rock bottom. And I have been pretty low before, but this was worse. I knew God, but never fully gave my life to Him. Living Well’s literature and itinerary really helped me to recognize what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. The tools being based on God’s principals were everything I needed to reestablish my role as a husband and establish my role as a Godly husband my wife has always wanted.

Marriage Solutions, part 1

Seeking Solutions


Success in marriage is much more than finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person.   Anonymous

One of my favorite questions to ask people is “Where do you go when you need help with your marriage problems?”

When we were young marrieds, hmmm …… 40 years ago, we didn’t have that many options. Most people probably talked to their friends or family. We knew that our friends and family didn’t know any more than we did. 

My tendency is to find a book - books are my answer to every situation - good or bad. But at that time, good books on marriage were not apparent to me.

Unfortunately, as a newly married couple, we were not in church. We were both Christians, but didn’t see the Church or the Bible as an answer to the puzzle of compatibility in marriage.

But we were both very committed to making our marriage the best that we could. We were like many young couples; we thought love and common interests were enough.

“We should know how to be married.” 

Divorce was never an option, neither was being isolated from each other.

As much as we enjoyed the same lifestyle and had the same goals, we didn’t really understand each other. We wanted to make each other happy, but we didn’t really understand what that meant.

Today, couples have too many places to go when they are seeking solutions. So many competing voices claim authority on the subject. 
  • Is the advice of Oprah (who is not married) valid? 
  • Or is Dr. Phil the expert?
  • What about an internet search?
  • Maybe, I should ask my buddy at work. 
  • Or my sister, she seems happier than I do. 
  • My friends think I could find someone to treat me better.

Where do I find real answers?

Real Answers


Marriage is not a human invention, it is the creation of God; it did not originate in the mind of man, but in the mind of God. 

We have spent the last 35 years seeking God and searching His Word for solutions. We have found real answers to every marital issue! 

God’s answers transcend time, culture, gender, race, IQ, and income. Most of all, He cares about us and our marriages, even more than we do! 

Cast all your anxiety on Him He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) 

Over the next few months, we are going to share real answers to the most common marriage problems. 

For those answers to make a difference in my marriage: 
  1. First, I will recognize that I need help and want a change. I will be honest with myself about my part. 
  2. Second, that change has to start in my own heart, because I can’t change another person. 
  3. Third, I seek God through His Word and through prayer for His perspective and His solutions. 
  4. Fourth, I will be patient with the process. I didn’t get to this place overnight, I won’t form new beliefs and new habits overnight. 
  5. Fifth, I won’t give up or lose hope! 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:7)

Also, see our previous post: Marriage Problems, part 1

Marriage Problems, part 1

Problems

Marriage is when a man and woman become one;
the trouble is when they try to decide which one. Anonymous 

We have worked in the marriage field for over 20 years. We have been married for over 40 years. We have learned that all of us have problems!

Problems in marriage started with the first couple and continue to this day. Many younger people believe that marriage isn’t even relevant any more

Why get married?

Common Problems

Pew research found that 39% of Americans think that marriage has become obsolete. 
  • Has the concept of marriage passed its usefulness? 
  • Is marriage counseling appropriate in our disposable culture? 
  • Are people willing or capable to do the work to make marriage last?

We could survey any married couple who is reading this page and ask them if they have had problems. We would get a 100% positive response

We have had our share of conflicts and differences in the last 40+ years. We still have disagreements. We still get frustrated with each other sometimes. And we are marriage counselors!

How are we still together?

We tell couples everyday that we don’t let our differences come between us. We are not going to give up and we are going to move forward.

We could ask every couple how they overcame the problems and we would get lots of different answers - with the common phrase, "we worked through it."

I am not sure if it’s selfishness, laziness, immaturity, or a lack of hope - but for many couples today, they chose to get out of a marriage rather than do the work to stay together.

I often wonder why we let our emotions rule our thoughts about marriage and what we do; we don’t do that in other parts of our lives. We go to work whether we feel like it or not. We are respectful and polite to friends, more than to our spouse. We do what we need to do, even if we don’t feel like it.

I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one.
The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant
when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.
    G.K. Chesterton

Look for our next post on Solutions and future posts on dealing with specific problems.


Path to Intimacy

Many years of marriage counseling shows the intense desire of couples to connect with each other. They long for an intimate relationship in marriage.

On our LIVING WELL blog, we recently talked about being made for intimate connection and the barriers to connection. Our deepest needs are for intimacy with God and with other people. [click here for Intimate Connection, for Barriers to Connection - Shame]

Most people don’t realize that our intimacy with each other in marriage is a reflection of our intimacy with God.

That intimate connection comes from knowing God and knowing that He knows, loves, and accepts me as I am. He is the ONLY person that knows me completely and accepts me just as I am, no changes required.

To have intimacy with another person - I let myself be known by another person; the deepest parts of my heart are revealed.

To let myself be known means that I let go of the shame that I may feel and the fear of being judged.

I am confident that the One who knows me best, loves me the most - my Lord and My God. When I am confident in that assurance, what weight do other peoples’ opinions carry?

To move to this level of intimacy with another person means that I trust you with what I share about my life; I feel safe with you. I don’t share everything with everybody.

Through years of a relationship and sharing bits of information, I know that you won’t use the details of my life to attack me or put me down.

I know that you care about the little and big things in my life. I know that you will show empathy towards me at a vulnerable moment.

Will you always come through for me? NO. All of us mess up, even with those we love the most. My trust in you is built on my love for you and my trust in God.

Sharing these personal moments are part of what it means to be vulnerable, an essential for intimacy.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they are never weakness. Brene Brown

BE A SAFE PLACE

The path to intimacy is a two-way street.

Half of the formula for intimacy is vulnerability, but part two is how I receive what others share with me.

I become a safe place for you to share with me when I value what you say, when I empathize with your feelings, and when I do not ridicule, condemn, or judge you. You can trust me not to share your vulnerable moments with others.

To build intimacy, I accept you, just as Christ has accepted me - just as I am. I do not try to change you. Change is God’s work in you, not my job!
Accept one another, then,
just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.
(Rom. 15:7)

As a spouse or as a parent, I will not use shame to motivate you. My desire is to separate your behavior from the person that you are. You are a worthy, valuable, child of God, even when you make mistakes or fail.

To be a safe place for you, I will always love, accept, and forgive you, regardless of what you do or where you are. I will always care about you and your well-being.