Friday, October 17, 2014

Dont raise your voice with me!

Last Friday we began a series of Friday blogs that addressed the importance of modeling gospel driven marriages. We parents and grandparents, see eye to eye that God is the Architect of the brilliant plan to capture the hearts of the generations through His families (Malachi 4:6).
God has designed the family to be the channel to pass on His plan for redemption to the next generation (Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 78:3-8). NBFamilies are working to discover providential opportunities where - traditional parents, single parents, grand parents, step parents, foster parents - can experience God’s life changing presence in their homes.

Let this sink in:
  • Our kid’s hearts are being shaped by observing our marriages.
  • Our kid’s faith is being influenced by observing how we treat each other as husband and wife.
  • Our kid’s faith, their ability to trust, their sense of safety and security, is either being bolstered or being destroyed every day, as they watch us.
  • Since marriage is a metaphor for God’s love for His church, (Ephesians 5:25-32) what are our kids learning as they study how we relate to one another?

Marriages weaken and eventually fail if a couple neglects or refuses to communicate with one another. The Bible is very clear about this. Communication can bring healing (Proverbs 12:18). Refusing, neglecting to communicate, or communicating harmfully can bring destruction (Galatians 5:13-15).
This week and next week we will investigate two destructive ways to communicate and effectively STOP communication. Understand that both spouses will stop efforts to communicate if they are worried that the conversation is becoming harmful. It will always seem right to stop a harmful conversation. The intent behind declining a harmful conversation is a noble intent, however, if effective communication brings healing, then we must learn how to communicate effectively. There are aggressive ways to stop communication and passive aggressive ways to effectively stop a conversation: Your job is to identify which method you use to stop the conversation! Research has proven that couples who exhibit the following habits severely risks their happiness in marriage and duration of marriage:
2 Aggressive Conversation Stopping Methods:
  1. Escalation:Escalation occurs when each spouse increases the level of hostility during the conversation. The conversation stops when the hostility becomes too uncomfortable. The escalated conversation increases in emotional intensity and audible, decibel level simultaneously. Eventually, one or both spouses are raising their voices during the exchange, shouting or screaming until there intensity or hostility becomes obvious. When the shouting, screaming, and hostile exchange stops, there is a mutual relief and a reluctance to communicate further about the issue that caused the escalation. Do you and you spouse’s conversation end after a period of escalation?
  2. Character Assignation : Character Assignation occurs when one or the other spouse calls the other spouse’s character into question during the conversation. There are a variety of creative and vicious ways to call your spouse’s character into question:
    • Name calling,” is an effective way to assassinate character and stop the conversation. (you’re lazy, you’re a slob, you’re so mean, you’re awful, you don’t care, etc.).
    • Profanity,” is effective, yet not as creative, method of character assignation and stopping a conversation. (There are several culturally acceptable words that can be used to assassinate character – like the mildly profane words that are used on reality television or cartoon sitcoms. Or there are those profane words that are still culturally unacceptable – still bleeped out on reality television, yet understood by the viewing audience)
    • Comparison,” assassinates your spouses character and stops the conversation when you compare your spouse to someone or something that has an insinuated negative character (you’re acting like your (smothering, doting) mother; you’re acting like your (domineering, controlling) father; you’re acting like your (incarcerated, abusive, addicted, etc.) brother/sister; you’re acting like (holy icon) Mother Theresa/Pope Benedict.)
  3. Do you and you spouse’s conversation end after someone's character has been assassinated?

While these two Aggressive Conversation Stopping Methods may effectively stop a harmful conversation, they are NOT the way of the gospel. The gospel is the good news that God has won victory over sin and death through Jesus' perfect sacrifice. Gospel driven parents admit their mistakes, believe that God’s has extended His grace, ask for forgiveness, and repent of our sinful and selfish behaviors.
Jesus doesn't say, "There won't be arguments." Jesus doesn't promise you will always feel happy and agreeable, but He promises you can have an eternal anchor for your soul: THE GOSPEL (John 16:33).
Our kids need to see what it looks like to follow Christ more than they need to hear what we say it is like to follow Christ. Parents are the models of following Christ. This is no easy task. Yet there is no better way to teach them than to show them. Our kids need to see us struggle, mess up, yet reply with gospel centered reaction.
Our responses to one another, especially in the arguements, must be graceful and gospel centered:
  1. Mistakes are made,
  2. Grace is offered,
  3. Forgiveness is experienced,
  4. Repentance causes change and
  5. Mercy is enjoyed!
The gospel response is always the best response and this is how our kid’s faith will be influenced. Is it time to have a conversation with you spouse and begin living a gospel centered marriage? That is my prayer for you.
God bless our marriages!
Dr. Phil Sallee, Pastor

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