Friday, December 12, 2014

Something is wrong in my marriage.

On Fridays I have started a series that is addressing the importance of modeling gospel driven marriages. 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?

Our kids observe how we speak to each other. They also evaluate how invested their parents are in one another, based upon how they perceive they communicate. Communication, especially in marriage, is so important that it is frequently addressed in Scripture. Read these passages to be reminded that the Bible extols the value of communication.

  • Proverbs 18:13;
  • Proverbs 29:11;
  • Proverbs 12:18;
  • Ephesians 4:24-27;
  • James 1:19
Communication isn’t easy. When communication is successful it involves self-revelation on the part of one individual and active listening on the part of another. Not only does communication take a lot of time and effort, it is the one factor that can make or break a marriage. Research tells us that most men are less likely to labor at communicating. Also, most wives have more words to express themselves than do their husbands. Further, wives are regularly frustrated when their husbands are reluctant to converse with them. Although the process can be difficult, it is worth the effort.

  • Week #7 – I’m Sorry. I’m not listening!
  • Week #8 - "I can't get him to open up." "She won't hush!"
  • The bible expresses the highest value of exchanging truth and ideas. Successful communication between couples provides a solid foundation for long-term satisfaction and mutual nurture in marriage. Yet, as simple as it sounds, communicating so often misses its intended mark. When there are cracks in the communication foundation there will always be “settling,” and in most marriage scenarios, complete collapse. Spouses can attempt to communicate and then be completely misunderstood. One spouse expresses a message, they believe that they have communicated successfully, but the hearer will hear something else. Today we will uncover the final 2 of 7 reasons why communication can be unsuccessful. Read each one of these reasons for unsuccessful communication and give yourself a simple score (1 = I struggle with this habit & 5 = This is not a problem for me). If you score each bad communication habit, then you will know what you need to do to improve your communication. I would be a good idea for you to tell your spouse what you are learning about your personal bad communication habits and apologize if necessary. However, BE WARNED. It is dangerous, if you have bad communication habits, to blame your spouse. Accusing your spouse of being guilty and responsibility for unsuccessful communication, even though there will be some truth to the accusation, is a bad idea. You will be met with defensiveness, excuses, and withdrawal or stone-walling. Perhaps you could encourage your spouse to read this for themselves and do their own personal evaluation.

    1. Message Confusion: Message Confusion occurs when there is confusion between the verbal content and the nonverbal cue. (sighing, eye rolling, arm crossing, lips pursed, forehead wrinkled, etc.).
    2. Physical Distractions: Physical Distractions are those tangible, material issues that prohibit communication from being successfully transmitted.
      • Health Issues:
      • Speech Problems: .
      • Fatigue:
    3. Noise in the Environment: Noise in the environment has become an aggressively significant factor in destroying effective communication. Digital technology can cause spouses to be distracted by hundreds of channels - CNN, FOX, MSNBC - 24 hour news, ESPN 24 hour sports, movies on demand, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV. No one would have imagined that people would be carrying around an electronic instrument in their purses and pockets that can:
      • Stream video content (YouTube).
      • Send private text messages.
      • Receive private social media requests (Facebook, ).
      • Search for and troll former romantic interests
      • View pornography.
      • Read news information.
      • Play fantasy sports games with friends.
      • Play hundreds of video games.
      • Write and read email.
      • View and send photographs
      • Modify photographs so that they will look their best.
      • Enroll privately in dating websites and flirt with and entertain conversations with other “singles.”
      • Etc. etc. etc,
    4. Beliefs and expectations:Research has demonstrated that human beings have an inconceivable propensity to see in others what they believe and expect to see. We are not aware that we are influencing others’ behaviors, either positive or negative, by our own beliefs and expectations. Married people can significantly enhance satisfaction or dissatisfaction depending upon their beliefs and expectations of the one to whom they are married.
    5. Communication Styles: There are several types of communication styles (talkative/quiet; wordy/silent; expressive/unemotional; loud/soft; direct/indirect, etc.) In most cultures, communication styles follow gender patterns. Here are two important rules about Communication Styles:
      1. Different styles which are left misunderstood can lead to irritation or to miscommunication.
      2. Tolerance and patience for your spouse’s unique communication style is absolutely essential.


    6. Self protection: Over time, both spouses begin to collect memories of negative responses from their spouse (leaving the toilet seat up, squeezing the toothpaste in the middle of the tube, leaving out dirty dishes, missing important dates, being late to appointments, etc.). The natural response to experiencing a negative response from your spouse is to protect yourself from experiencing more negative responses. Both spouses begin to veil their comments with less direct or descriptive comments. However, when remarks are made that are hidden behind the mask of self protection, real concerns and feelings are covered up. Out of a fear of rejection, both spouses will not directly address genuine concerns and thoughts. Messages are sent in such a way to protect ourselves from hurt and rejection.
      A husband will ask: “Are you hungry?” When he is really desires to say, “I don’t feel like I am spending enough time with you and I wish we could enjoy a meal together."
      A wife will ask: “When are you getting home?” When she is really desires to say, “I want to have enough time to have myself and our home ready to enjoy some time together tonight."
      A husband will snarl: “Are you still on Facebook?” When he is really desires to say, “I am jealous of the time enjoy on social media. I wish we enjoyed time together like we once did.”
      A wife will ask: “Do you want the remote control?” When she really desires to say, “I want us to enjoy a nice conversation and feel close to you, but if you would rather watch TV, I will find something else to do.”

      Incomplete and inadequate questions that spouses often ask like: “Busy?” “Tired?” “Still working?” “Going to be late?” may be veiled inquiries because the questioner may be protecting him or her self from rejection. Transparency is the pathway to authenticity and genuine intimacy. Yet, when either spouse hides themselves out of fear of rejection, transparency, authenticity, and intimacy are sacrificed due to fear and past refusals.
    7. Hidden Issues: Hidden issues are often the real issue in many discussions though they are never discussed. Hidden issues become obstacles to communication making it very difficult for spouses to understand each other.
      • Hidden issues may be triggered by an innocent action of the spouse or kids.
      • Hidden issues may be hidden out of shame and fear.
      • Hidden issues may stem from an intense desire for acceptance and love.
      • Hidden issues may be issues of which individuals are unaware – hidden, even from themselves.
      Hidden issues remain hidden because the shame and pain that is associated with the hidden issue is too devastating to disclose (sexual molestation, child abuse, family fiascoes, secret addictions, etc.). Hidden issues may be too threatening to bring up directly. A professional therapist in a safe counseling setting may be the best scenario for addressing hidden issues. Hidden issues can be unexpressed expectations and needs (safety, security, acceptance, appreciation, loyalty, forgiveness, etc.) that can cause great damage in a marriage if they are not safely addressed and understood.
    Jesus doesn't promise you will always have perfect communication in your marriage, 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 hidden issues, 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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