Compromise, Part Two

In our last blog, we looked at several core beliefs in our lives that should never be compromised, such as our faith and commitment to marriage and family. These are central core beliefs that deserve our undying commitment. We also looked at day to day choices that need to be negotiated. We are both individuals with unique preferences and family history. Our traditions may be at odds with our spouse’s traditions. What to do at Christmas each year is an example. How do we meld our traditions?

A good quality relationship that is maturing and growing, requires you to navigate your differences, culminating in a peaceful and loving union.

Let’s look at it this way… We can either HOLD or YEILD.

Each of you should be willing to yield. If you truly love your spouse, you’ll be willing to sacrifice what you want, deferring to the desires of your spouse. By this I mean that each of you should be willing to move from your position in the direction of your spouse’s.

Photo by Kaan Tanriover

There are times when you need to yield. You need to humble yourself and just yield to your spouse. Simple example: It’s important for your spouse to clean the dishes and kitchen before going to bed. You’re ok with letting it go until the morning. Here’s a chance for you to stretch and yield, to be loving, kind, helping her get it done. No big deal. Just fifteen minutes of selfless service because it’s important to her.

By contrast, you might want to hold your own position, and demand that your spouse change and conform to what you want. This does not demonstrate a selfless love for your spouse. You have hardened your heart, unyielding and demanding. If both of you hold opposing positions, it will sow seeds of bitterness and resentment.

Photo by Mikas Vitkauskas

There may be times when you should hold on things that are important to you. For example, you thrive on affection and hugs and your spouse doesn’t hug you at all. Clearly and respectfully express this VERY important thing in your life and make every effort to be understood. If you always yield out of fear or just give up, this will sow seeds of discouragement and despair. Stand up and be firm; express the importance of this particular issue. Work lovingly to find a suitable and acceptable compromise.

No matter what the issue, you should work toward a selfless attitude and a willingness to move to a middle ground solution. Talk through possible solutions to the unresolved difference. This may take time and more than one conversation. Patiently work at it over time.

In our relationships, we need to find a way to balance the HOLD and the YIELD. It’s a give and take. But in all circumstances, we should be governed by an attitude of love and a willingness to serve.

Compromise – How important is it? Part One

Have you heard that “Compromise” is a dirty word? We are told we should be people of conviction. Never give in and hold fast to our position. We should be grounded in our own beliefs, not yielding to pressure to change or give in. After all, we don’t want to be someone’s doormat. We want to be respected for what we believe, be heard, and not be bullied. We have a right to that, don’t we?

Photo by
Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Let’s begin by distinguishing between core values and everyday choices. We should never compromise on our core values: our faith, our commitment to marriage, or commitment to love, nurture and protect our spouse and family. Some would add our core values should extend to our commitment to country and pledge to our nation. Our central core values should never be compromised. We should be a people of steadfast loyalty to our core beliefs.

But beyond that, how should we negotiate the day to day give and take needed to maintain a healthy, strong, and growing relationship.

Marriage is a union of two unique and at times dramatically different personalities. We come from unique backgrounds with a variety of circumstances that have molded us into the persons we are today. We have strengths and liabilities that we each bring to our marriage. Our very temperaments may be diametrically opposed.

We are different. And our differences in needs, preferences, and desires can bring about conflict that is difficult to solve.

There’s a new mattress now that solves the firm verses soft argument. The Sleep Comfort Mattress has a numbered system that changes the firmness of each side of your mattress. Amazing. Push the button to the desired number and her side is soft and your side is firm. Problem solved.

Photo by
albertomor

But the rest of the issues in our marriage don’t have a “Resolution Button” to help us find a middle ground. There’s no button for he likes camping and she likes condos for vacation. There’s no button for deciding how much you should spend on your vacation. There’s no simple easy button to decide how often you set aside time to be intimate together. He’s been lobbying for multiple times a week for years and she’s happy with the occasional “when the mood strikes me.” Oh, if only we had a magic button to fix this one!

Well, there’s bad news and there’s good news…

The bad news is there is NO magic button. The good news is there is a way to solve almost all our differences issues. We’ll look at that further in our next blog.

I Forgive You

Photo by Kinga

Photo by Kinga

When we first met our spouse, we dated for a season of time. For most of us, dating was an exhilarating time filled with fun and excitement, surprises, happy moments, and getting to know each other. We were each at our best. We were kind, thoughtful and considerate. Guys remembered to be on their best behavior and the ladies took that extra time to be were pleasant and accepting, even if he did do a stupid thing that made you cringe for the tenth time.

We made allowances for each other and maintained a positive demeanor. We smiled and maybe even laughed at the failings we endured because, well, we were dating. We overlooked those “slight flaws” and didn’t make a big deal about it.

Do you remember those days?

And then we got married. The joy we experienced in dating continued for a while until we began to settle in to life. The life long journey of togetherness. Things that we used to overlook got elevated to the major leagues. We no longer laugh at the “funny little way he does that” because now it’s not so funny. How many times do you have to ask that they just stop doing that? When will they realize what they are doing is really hurtful? It’s just not funny anymore.

In some relationships it’s much more than a few inconsiderate actions every now and then.

There’s been a major violation that has rocked the core of your relationship. Some thoughtless action hurt you so deeply that you’ve withdrawn from your spouse and you can no longer even talk about it. You have been truly hurt and it seems they’ll never understand how much pain you are in, how it cuts you so deeply that you are numb and even deeply depressed.

Adding further to your dilemma, your spouse admits he was wrong. He’s expressed to you how sorry he is for hurting you. Yet the pain and memory of what he did just won’t go away. It’s hard to move on when you have been hurt so deeply. In your mind you know that he feels badly about what he did or said, but you just can’t seem to get over the pain. It remains an open wound, still raw and bleeding.

To begin to heal, you need to make a choice. An admittedly difficult choice to begin a journey of forgiveness and to find the strength and courage to say those three words, “I forgive you.” And you’ll need to say it in your heart over and over until, by the grace of God, you begin to experience the freedom of letting go of the hurt. I believe that your relationship can begin the journey of restoration once you make the choice to truly forgive as you would want others to forgive you. Not an easy journey of personal growth, but one that God promises to walk with us.

In Our Lord’s Prayer that we know so well, it says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Ask God to open your heart to forgive and you can begin restoring your relationship so that you can return to the joy you once knew.

I Just Want to Quit, Part 2

Last time we looked at the frustration of dealing with a sensitive issue in your relationship, one that you have been working on for years, many many years.

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to proactively step through the process of working it out.

Photo by Ryan Forkel

Photo by Ryan Forkel

1. Pray. Understand that at the core, this is a spiritual battle. You need to pray for your spouse every day. Even if you are convinced that they are “the problem”, pray for him. Pray for her. And not a prayer like “God, would you open his eyes to see his problem” but rather a prayer lifting her up, thanking God for the spouse given to you. You can check out these two great books by Stormie Omartian,

2. Understand God’s desire is for you to have a GREAT relationship. That’s right! He wants your marriage to be an example to the world, your neighbors, fellow workers, of what His relationship is to His church. He doesn’t want you to have a mediocre or tolerable relationship. He wants you to be in love, full of joy and passion.

3. As you are praying, God may open YOUR eyes to see something in yourself that YOU must change. At the core of a close Godly relationship is a belief that we are to selflessly love one another. Love your spouse as Christ loves you. This is sacrificial love, forsaking yourself and following Christ’s example to love unconditionally.

4. Try again to lovingly discuss the issue with your spouse. Never get angry, threaten, or force yourself. Understand that it is OUR issue. In order for your relationship to be close, you both need to work toward a resolution.

5. If you are still at an impasse, seek Godly help. Get with another couple that you respect and see if you can work together to get to the bottom of the issue and resolution.

6. Never give up. Try to picture your relationship in the future when you are no longer dealing with this issue, when you have a loving and healthy relationship filled with joy. Keep that picture in mind and work at it. Work takes time, so never give up along the way.

I am reminded of a song by Jesus Culture, One Things Remains. Click to hear it…

 

That’s Christ’s love for us. He will never fail us, He will never give up on us, and He will never run out on us. Never. Love your spouse with that kind of love, and I believe you will be able to work through ANY issue by His grace. Pray and believe, and watch the miracles that God can do in your relationship.

 

I Just Want to Quit!

Have you had a time in your relationship when things got so frustrating with a particular issue that you start telling yourself “I’m so done with this. I’m just so tired of trying to make this work.”

You feel alone, you work on the issue by yourself and your spouse is either insensitive, oblivious, or maybe even communicates they just don’t care. They brush off or turn around your efforts and say you’re the problem. You feel like they are saying “If you would just change then the issue would go away.” It seems hopeless that it will ever get resolved.

Maybe you have tried to be loving and communicate your frustration. You’ve tried the “Can we talk about this?” and “I’m not getting through to you, am I?” And how about the “You’re just not listening to me!”

The issue starts to cloud other parts of your relationship. You were once pretty close, but now the unresolved issue hangs like a black cloud over other areas of your relationship. You’ve tried so hard to make it work, yet you are still drifting apart.

A pretty dark picture, isn’t it? Pretty dark indeed.

Photo by dafna avra

Photo by dafna avra

If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, you already know that Darleen and I experienced up close and personal the dark cloud described above. We refer to it as “The Desert Years”. Our relationship had drifted apart. I would go through long periods of apathy telling myself “I just don’t care anymore.” I tried to cope by emotionally turning off and becoming distant. But inside I was frustrated to the core. I DID care and I was so frustrated that we could not work out the issues that were keeping us apart.

  • So, what do you do when you are faced with trying to work through an issue and it just never gets resolved?
  • What do you do with the feelings of anger and frustration that dominate you?
  • How do you live in the dichotomy of wanting to love your spouse and at the same time feeling isolated and so hurt?
  • How can this be worked through?

Because if it isn’t worked through, it will weaken the very foundation of your relationship.

In part 2, we’ll look at some things that you can do, by God’s grace, to work to a positive resolution.

Hey, I Need Help!

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

How many have fights and arguments about who does what chore around the house?  Who’s responsible for each chore and do you divide up responsibilities equitably?  What if you feel that you’re doing more than your fair share?

You get up at 5:30 in the morning, work an eight-hour day with an hour commute each way, arrive home, start dinner, then you clean up the dishes, get the kids ready for bed, and put in a load of laundry, get a quick shower before collapsing in bed around eleven, set the alarm and get ready to do it again tomorrow.  If your spouse gets home from work around the same time you do, eats dinner, watches the news, plays a few video games before his favorite sport on TV, then manages to arrive in bed about the same time you do and asks if you got the laundry done today because he’s out of clean socks, you would probably feel that something is wrong with this picture.

Since every family situation is unique, there is no right answer to how to divide up the chores that we do every day.  Unless you have the luxury of 24/7 maid service, most families share the common chores around the house.  We have to shop, clean, vacuum, laundry, yard work, the trash, feed the dog, pay the bills, cooking, caring for the kids, and more day to day tasks.

If there’s an imbalance, one spouse will feel resentful that they are doing more of the work.  What do you do with those feelings?

Some may internalize these feelings, play the martyr, and not voice the frustration they feel.  It will seem unfair and unloving, and cause them to be overwhelmed, exhausted, and resentful.  When that request for clean socks comes at the end of the day, it is easy to act out the resentment that has been building. A simple discussion balloons to a big fight over fairness.

Others will express their feelings, but come across as nagging. When they constantly badger their spouse, it puts a guilt trip on them.  And if the spouse does the chore, they may feel resentful about being forced into it or not having a choice of timing or method. It is not a good feeling to be forced into doing something so some  may just refuse and that provokes a fight.

Either dynamic will be a major source of conflict and separation in a marriage.

So how do you divide these chores up so that no one is feeling that they are doing an unfairly large percentage of the work load?

Next time we’ll take a look at some solutions to this age old problem.

More From Dr. Gottman- Contempt

We’ve been looking at the Four Horsemen from The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D. Today we’ll take a look at the second of the four negative relational interactions, contempt.

Dr. Gottman calls this particular negative interaction the “worst of the four horsemen.” It is characterized by name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mocking, and hostile humor. It can be described as a style of communicating that is sarcastic, cynical, and often conveys disgust. It can have deadly consequences to relationships.

Photo by vladimirfloyd

Photo by vladimirfloyd

Contempt can usually be seen in comments dripping with sarcasm such as, “You’re so lazy. You’re just like your mother. You expect everyone to do things for you.” Or the wife who says “You don’t have enough to pay the bills because you don’t have a job that pays enough. You’re too stupid to get a good job”. Hateful sarcasm like this is intended to deliberately hurt and demean the listener. It’s a direct attack on the person.

In some cases, the attacker sees the argument as a battle to win. The better they attack their spouse, the better they feel about themselves because they are winning. They win by belittling their spouse.

Contempt is a product of long periods of having issues and negative thoughts that are left unresolved. The issues tend to build up like a pressure cooker. This neglect of solving the issues breaks out in harsh attacks directed at the spouse. There are cutting, critical, caustic, demeaning words intended to hurt the other person. They are by nature, a show of deep disrespect.

If you resort to contempt in arguments with your spouse, you need to step back and take a serious look at your relationship. A relationship that is marked by interactions that show contempt is on a course designed for failure.

  • Are you harboring anger towards your spouse?
  • Are there issues that are making you so mad that you have lost respect for your spouse?

You have probably tried to deal with these issues but have lost hope that they can ever be resolved, so you have given up. You may want a better relationship, but you feel that it’s useless because they’ll never change.

Please seek help if you find yourself in a relationship marked by contempt. Resolve in your heart that you want a restored relationship marked by love and understanding. Ask your spouse to go with you to seek counseling. Find someone to help you walk through your issues. Look for a godly couple or counselor who can guide you through the issues that are destroying your marriage.

Humble yourself and pray for God’s grace as you seek to heal your marriage.