Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you back to the Monday Marriage Message. Today we will move forward into the second session in our series…Parenting 101.
Last week I made mention that I believe parenting roles to be among the differences purposefully distributed by God to men and women at creation. There is no question we are created with gender differences far beyond the physical alone, and I believe that some of those additional differences are designed specifically to predisposition us as men and women to be uniquely suited to be moms and dads. In other words, the differences God created us with, all work congruently to maximize our strengths and skillsets. I hope to clearly illustrate in today’s episode just how this is so, specifically when it comes to parenting.
In past episodes, I expressed that men and women are created with differing processes of thought and different relational needs. I would like to take a few moments and illustrate how these differences manifest themselves because I think it important to our conversation on parenting.
As I have said numerous times , all men think in a compartmental manner. This means they all keep their thoughts on any subject separated from their thoughts on other subjects. They only think about one thing at a time, and when they change objectives of thought, they cease thinking of the previous subject and focus solely on the current one. In past episodes I have shared my analogy for this concept as a row of lockers in a school hallway. Each locker holds a separate subject and a man will never mix different subjects in the same locker. He must go to a particular locker to consider what is in that locker. If he decides he needs to, or is asked to consider a different subject, he must close the current locker, find the appropriate one and open it. Now he is free to look at anything in that locker, but can no longer view the contents of the one he was previously looking into. Some men are highly compartmental in their thinking, meaning they have difficulty even remembering what is in the different lockers without opening them. These men may at times seemingly forget certain lockers even exist until they are re-discovered. Other men seem to have wonderful recall of locker contents and can jump back and forth fluidly between them. Still others find themselves at times wandering past a row of lockers stopping shortly to look at the contents of each one and move on. None of these is better or more correct than another they are just different. The only unchanging fact is that they are all forms of compartmentalized thinking.
All women are relational in their thinking. This is a process of thought arguably opposite that of man’s compartmentalized thinking. A woman considers all things at all times. Every thought she has creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which causes her to have another…and so on. The analogy I use for this process of thought is a spider web. A spider web is a great illustration of one thing being affected by everything. When a web is impacted in one place the entirety of it vibrates and no matter where the occupant of the web may be, a plethora of information is obtained. Again, there seems to be a range, some women are incredibly relational and find connections seemingly out of nowhere. Others understand associations undoubtedly exist and respond accordingly, but are less acutely aware of the specifics. No place on the spectrum is of more value than another, all women are relational some are simply more so than others. Neither is right or wrong…just different.
God exhibits duality of these processes of thought. Some scripture seems compartmentalized in nature while others seem to be relational. His abilities far supersede ours. He notes in Isaiah 55:9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. It is clear however, that His intention in joining a man and a woman as one is to complete the process of creating us to reflect His image and likeness. His capacity for total and complete thought is the reason for creating us with both of the differing processes of thought He enjoys. When joined as one we have availability to consider our spouse’s thought, ascribe equal value to it as we do our own, resulting in the capability to consider any subject from both a compartmental and a relational standpoint. Proverbs 31:10&11 points out this has always been God’s plan for Husbands and wives to be enabled to make wise decisions.
Please allow me a few more moments of review because I believe the congruency of how these differences all work together is important to the conversation of parenting. As I shared last week men and women also have differing relational needs. He needs her respect, she needs his love as scripture points out in Eph. 5:33. These are not the only needs they each have, but they are the ones of highest importance to them. A man is always assessing if he is respected for what he says, does and believes. A woman is always considering if she is loved for what she says, does, and believes. The results of their respective considerations will determine if any relationship they have will remain in good standing. These specific primary relational needs they each possess aren’t always easy to see but become especially evident during times of conflict.
In regards to our relationship with God, both are of primary importance. If our relationship with Him is to be in good standing we must both love and respect Him. The interesting thing to me is that the scripture indicating the requirement to respect Him is a compartmentalized statement. Deuteronomy 5:7 says; You shall have no other gods before Me. The scripture that says we must love Him is a relational statement. Deuteronomy 6:5 says; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. The first is simply a requirement without variance. The second states the requirement and additionally draws our attention to the related ways we are to accomplish it…with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. God used a compartmentalized statement about His need for respect, and a relational statement concerning His need for love. Interesting.
Last week I mentioned six parenting roles illustrated for us in scripture. God uses each of these in the process of raising us. Three are suited especially for a relational thinker who is most concerned with love. Furthermore, three are more geared toward a compartmentalized thinker who is primarily is concerned with being shown respect. God, having duality of both of these sets of characteristics is more than capable of perfectly accomplishing all six roles. It is then all the more important for us to see that He quite purposefully created us to be joined with another to reflect Him in this way too. Together, a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, are endowed with everything needed to fill all six roles. Three of these tasks are perfect for moms with their godly characteristics while the others are perfect for dads and the different godly qualities they possess.
Tending to the needs of, mending the brokenness of, and defending children are tasks perfectly aligned with one who thinks relationally and is in tune with the overarching value of being treated with and treating others with love. Directing, correcting and preparing children for launching are three jobs best accomplished by one who thinks compartmentally and is most concerned with being respected by, and showing respect to others.
A major problem arises when either parent notices the other is doing something contrary to what their own gifting would dictate, and decides their spouse must be acting incorrectly. When what is deemed an inconsistency is recognized, parents often mistakenly think a problem has developed. We are correct in understanding our unique gifting to be crucial. Where we go wrong is thinking our personal gifting’s are the only ones necessary to the process of successfully raising a child. We are incorrect to think our spouse should only reinforce parenting actions we would take.
As with most things I have an analogy that I think illustrates the correct treatment of this issue. A football team contains two teams within the overall team. There is an offense and a defense. On game day they both wear the same colored jerseys indicating they are on the same team. The interesting thing is that they both treat the ball completely differently than one another while seeking the same objective…to win the game. The offense tries as best it can to move the ball forward from where it was when they took possession of it. They run, pass or even kick the ball in an attempt to move it further along the field of play. The defense on the other had wants to keep the ball right where it is. They will do anything they can to protect the placement of the ball and not let it move. When the defense comes back to the sideline after successfully defending the ball, the offense does not complain, berate or belittle the defense for what they have done. What has just been accomplished by the defense is completely contrary to what the offense running onto the field is about to attempt to do. However, the defense will not become upset when the offense tries once again to move the ball. Instead, they will applaud and cheer the offense on. Why is this? This happens because both teams expectthey will treat the ball differently, but both also understand they need each other to be a complete team and win the game.
Fathers are like the offense, but they need a good defense to win the game. Mothers are like the defense, but without a good offense the game cannot be won. My role in raising our five children was crucial…as was my wife’s though we did little as parents exactly the same way. We can choose to get upset because our spouse doesn’t treat the ball (or the child) the same way we would, or we can cheer them on knowing they are gifted by God to do things we are not created to do. Both are necessary to win the game and end up with the prize of upstanding, well-adjusted, God fearing children who grow up to be awesome adults.
Questions to answer:
Do you and your spouse always see eye-to-eye when it comes to parenting?
Do you see the differences in parenting roles as a positive or a negative?
How could the two of you encourage each other better when you are “on the field ”?
Actions to take:
Discuss times the two of you have done well keeping the overall game plan in mind and what you can do to improve your parental performance “on the field”.
Talk about ways you can each help encourage each other in your differing parental roles.
Take a few minutes to praise your spouse for their parenting skills and recognize those things that you are grateful your spouse is able to teach your children better than your parenting skills would be able to do.
So now, taking a fresh look at what God is doing for your marriage and your family as you work together to be the parents He wants you to be…Go Be Awesome!
Hi this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message… Parenting 101
Last week I completed a series I called Marital Communication 101. One of the topics I find husbands and wives have a great deal of trouble communicating successfully about…is the kids. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will look at the subject of parenting and hopefully offer some help on how to operate successfully within that all-important realm. In traditional families parents may believe they simply have difficulty communicating and reaching agreement concerning important subjects such as discipline, privileges vs. responsibilities and the like. In stepfamilies, which make up 40% of family units in the U.S. today, communication between spouses surrounding the children can often be even more complicated. The natural bloodlines, and the lack of them create some interesting nuances to step-parents and natural parents arriving at mutual understanding. In light of the fact that we can begin either of these forms of family with little or no relevant education to guide us, I thought I might offer my two-cents on the subject. Welcome to Parenting 101.
In fact, there are two lifelong commitments that people are free to enter with little or no preparation…marriage and parenting. We do not have to attend or achieve a passing grade in any special classes to become either a spouse or a parent. We used to learn how to fill these roles at home from our own parents. With the current statistics on marriage and family however, it is no surprise that example is not producing the results it once did. While the divorce rate is lower by about 10% over the past 40 years, according to the Census Bureau, today only half of Americans live with a spouse. The decline in the divorce rate isn’t as positive as one might think. Less and less people are choosing marriage over co-habitation and as a result the lower divorce rate isn’t a positive for familial households. In 2020, nearly 19 million, amounting to 25% of all children in the U.S., were living in single-parent families. That percentage is nearly three times the level it was in 1960 when it was 9%. America’s proportion of children living with a single parent is more than three times the worldwide level of 7%. These facts clearly indicate too few American children are afforded the opportunity to grow up in a two-parent household with a good marriage to watch and learn from. The longer this trend continues, the greater the problem will become. Suffice to say there is good reason to believe we need help knowing how to be good spouses and good parents…for our children’s sake.
One thing I find most traditional or stepparents agree with each other about, is the desired outcome for their children. In my experience, they all want their children to grow up to be healthy, happy, successful, good people. Though undoubtedly they exist, few are the parents who interact with their children with a desire to cause them harm, and set them up for a failed life. For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that none of those listening are those evil parents. Proverbs 22:6 in the New Living Translation says; Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Though nearly all of us desire the stated outcome, many of us as husbands and wives do not know how to “Direct our children in the way they should go”, in a congruent and complimentary manner. We seem to have very different ideas how to accomplish the directive at the beginning of this scripture.
I have spoken with you in previous episodes of this podcast as to some of the differences God created men and women to possess. I believe parenting to be one of those differences. I have spoken about the fact that men are created to think compartmentally while women have been created to think relationally. In the episodes entitled ‘Differences That Divide’ parts 1, 2 & 3, I define those terms in much greater detail. In the edition entitled ‘His Needs vs. Her Needs’ I spoke of the differing primary needs both men and women have in order for their respective relationships to be in good standing. The husband is always looking to see if he is honored and respected for what he says, does, and thinks, while his wife is more interested in knowing that she is cared for and loved for these very same things. These previously discussed differences in thinking and relationship requirements logically necessitate that the way a man and a woman parent will be different.
As a part of the teaching I did on ‘Differences That Divide’ and ‘His Needs vs. Her Needs’ I made the important connection that God has duality of these differences. I mentioned that He gave some of His attributes to men and differing ones to women as a part of his overall plan to join us in marital oneness and complete the task of creating us in His image and likeness. So what does all this have to do with parenting? In creating us with these various differences, I believe God was creating dads and moms each to be uniquely suited to reflect the parental characteristics of God as He raises us up to be all that we can be. God is able to meet all of our needs as His children. By creating us with unique skillsets, He allowed for each of us to excel at the differing parenting roles He exhibits. In doing this, He created an equal need for both Dad and Mom in the family structure.
I believe that God’s word illustrates that there are at least six tasks of parenting that children must be supported with. God does each of these perfectly. These six parental functions are as follows:
God tends to the needs we have.
God mends our physical, emotional and spiritual brokenness.
God protects and defends us and keeps us safe.
God directs us when we do not know what to do.
God corrects us when we are headed in the wrong direction.
God propels us forward to be all we can be.
Beginning next week, we will look at each of these parental functions God displays toward us. We will discover where in His word each of them are illustrated for us, and how He accomplishes them all. We will also see how some of these tasks are uniquely suited to mothers while others are uniquely suited to fathers.
Psalm 127:3 says Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. We know our children are important to us, and we all want to be the kind of parents that illustrate the value we place on them. They are also incredibly valuable to the Lord, the One who gifted them to us. Getting parenting as right as we can is imperative. We may be able to start a family with little to no preparation, but we cannot raise our children without His instruction or we are sure to mis-step.
The bible tells us that If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)
Questions to answer:
Do you think that you and your spouse find it easy or difficult to agree when it comes to parenting?
What things are easiest, which are more difficult to come to a mutual understanding about when raising your children?
Do you feel as though you are each free to interact in parenting roles or does one of you leave the majority of parenting tasks to the other?
If there is a marked inequality of parental interaction in your family, why is that?
Actions to take:
If you have not heard my podcasts, differences that divide parts 1, 2 and 3 and or His Needs vs. Her Needs or if it has been a while since you have, perhaps review those before next week when we continue with Parenting 101.
Pray together for God’s direction in your parenting and be open to the new things He desires to reveal to you.
So now, parenting with everything you have, and looking to God’s Word for what you lack…Go Be Awesome!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you once again to the Monday Marriage Message.
Although I mentioned in last week’s podcast that it would be the last in the series on Marital Communication 101, I think it important to take the opportunity to look at the other side of the subject…literally. Although nearly everyone knows that communication is far more than the use of words, most consider speaking to be the primary role of communication. Quite naturally, when we think of being a good communicator, we think of someone who speaks clearly, concisely, and is effective at having his or her thoughts and ideas understood. Most often, the other side of communication is seen as the less important, secondary, and in fact passive role of communication. In marital communication especially, the flip side…listening is crucial to arriving at mutual understanding. One might think this true simply because if someone does not listen well they cannot understand what is being said. While this is true, in Marital Communication how we listen “says” more sometimes than even the speaker is trying to convey. As I have mentioned in previous editions on this topic, there are undercurrents to communication that must be navigated correctly if mutual understanding is to take place. When that communication is taking place between a husband and a wife, those undercurrents can become riptides that push us way off course if we are not careful.
James 1:19 admonishes all of us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. We often look at the art of communication to be all of the overt activities designed to convey a message. When taught to communicate effectively almost all of the guidance is to that end. In the podcasts of the past six weeks, I myself encouraged each of you to speak clearly, speak lovingly and respectfully. I mentioned the importance of body language, tone and choice of words attempting to be as certain as humanly possible you are being correctly understood. While there is little doubt we all need to exercise incredible care while speaking, we also all need to practice the other equally important habit of active listening.
Listening is not a passive activity. There is as much that goes into being a good listener as being a good speaker. There is an age-old question in philosophy, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it…does it make a sound?” I would submit the following corresponding question about Marital Communication. If one spouse speaks and the other does not listen, has communication taken place? If the speaker is clear, loving and respectful, and uses careful body language, but still no one correctly considered what was said, has communication taken place? I would argue that it has not. Marital Communication requires a messenger and a hearer who understands both the messenger and the message.
James wrote we should all be quick to listen but slow to speak. What does this mean? How can we be quick to listen? The original Greek text implies that we should listen swiftly or without delay. The idea here is that listening has such high value that it should never be postponed. Interestingly, in contrast, the inference of being slow to speak is that we must put off speaking until all possible consideration has been carefully made. Essentially this scripture is telling us that listening is the far more important role in communicating. I believe that one of the things that gets in our way and causes us to want to be quick to speak and slow to listen is the aforementioned misunderstanding that speaking is the more important part of communication. We errantly think that speaking, especially if we believe it to be done well, highlights our wisdom or mastery of a particular subject. Scripture however, takes issue with this mindset. Proverbs 17:28 tells us; Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. A slightly more humorous version of this adage is; Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt, and has been attributed to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln. Regardless of who said it, the biblical basis for it is clear…speaking certainly offers far more opportunity to look unwise than does listening.
How can we become quickened listeners? The first and maybe most important step I mentioned a moment ago…listening is not a passive activity. There is much to do when being a good listener. How we listen ‘speaks’ volumes about how much or how little we value the one we are listening to. As I was considering this truth, I asked my wife Lynn some questions. I first wanted to know how it made her feel when she notices that I am listening intently to her. She responded that when I ask her a question as I was doing right then, and she can see that I am paying close attention to her responses, it tells her several things. First, that I value her opinion. Second, though not less important, she said it shows that I care about her thoughts, especially when she can see that I am considering her words carefully and not developing my response to them that might prove to be an attempt to show hers less valuable than my own. She also said that there is a slightly different message received if I actively listen to her when she approaches me unsolicited. She said in that case, there are two important pieces of information I am giving her based on how I am listening. First as mentioned, she is able to see based on my listening skills if I value her thoughts. Additionally, and equally important to her if not more so, she is able to tell if I am willing to meet her need for my attention in that moment. This is altogether true when you consider that communication is not only used to give and receive report, but also to build rapport. She added to her thoughts on the subject a further idea that I concur with completely. When we sense we are not being actively listened to, it causes some visceral responses on our part that represent our differing primary need for relationship to be in good standing. If she senses that I am not actively listening to her, she feels unloved and uncared for, and she also noted that she has learned that when I feel she is not actively listening to me, I feel she is being disrespectful.
So what makes a good active listener? Of course, the primary skill is attentiveness. Learning to listen carefully to everything spoken is vital. It is easy to see the difference between someone hanging on your every word and someone who is barely hanging on. Be careful, trying to look interested and being interested are two distinctly different things and they present accordingly. Genuineness is unmistakable, so an active listener learns the art of actually being interested in what is important to the one to whom they are listening. In marital communication, even if the subject matter does not especially fascinate to you, the speaker should. Additional to this process, it is vital to learn not to begin developing a response while listening. When we do, we exchange active listing for passive listening which is one of the riptides I mentioned above that will get you off course in a hurry. Additionally, as James 1:19 insinuates, being slow to speak, requires not speaking until ALL of the pertinent information has been heard, AND considered CAREFULLY.
Second, active listeners ask as many open-ended questions as necessary for clarification. If our responses are based on our own understanding considering all of the biases imposed by core limiting beliefs, our families of origin, and any other number of factors, we will likely respond errantly and be adversely drawn off course by the riptide of misinterpretation. Many open-ended questions for clarity dramatically reduce the threat. Additionally, to mitigate misinterpretation, it is always wise to ask if a restatement of what you have heard is accurate according to the speaker. I often do it this way, “Would it be fair for me to say that you are saying…” and then say in my own words what I believe to be the intended communication. This practice helps me be a better active listener and often helps me understand much better the message I’m hearing.
Finally, I am a much better active listener when I choose the one I am listening to. What I mean by this is that if I choose for the duration of the conversation with someone that they are most important person to me, I will make better active listening choices. There is power in decision. If I decide, I am going to choose to give someone my undivided attention I will not make active listener mistakes like checking my watch. If I were to do this, I would risk telling them my time is more important to me than they are. If I were to be caught looking at my phone while ‘listening’, it may convey I wish someone more important to me would take his or her spot with a call or text message. If I am looking at the television, newspaper, or any other distraction when I should be actively listening to someone, they might believe anything else see will usurp their importance in my eyes. Being a good active listener always means choosing to make everything else secondary to the one you are choosing to converse with.
Questions to Answer:
Do you think listening to be more or less important a role in the art of marital communication?
How does it make you feel when your spouse does a great job at listening to you?
How does it make you feel when you are not being listened to well?
Actions to Take:
Talk about the undercurrents and riptides that cause your marital communication to be drawn off course.
Tell your spouse what things they do that help you know they are actively listening to you. Include such things like their body language, countenance, and verbal responses.
Ask God to help you become a better active listener to your spouse, others and especially to Him.
So now, understanding that listening is likely the more important of skills when communicating with your spouse, and “says” far more than we are sometimes aware, learn to be slow to speak…but quickened to be an amazing listener…especially for your spouse…and go be awesome!
Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. This is going to be the last edition in the series…Marital Communication 101.
In the past five weeks I have spoken about many of the variables that complicate marital communication. As I have mentioned, some of those difficulties come from God given differences we are created with as men and women. God did not design us with those differences to frustrate us but rather to bless us by giving us access to more than we possess alone. It is us who choose to become frustrated because of the differences. Some of the challenges come simply because though we have arrived at a condition of oneness we came from differing places and those experiences and families of origin cause us to have difficulty seeing the same things the same ways. A very real part of the difficulty derives from the fact that we are profoundly fallen people living in a profoundly fallen world. Thankfully Christ provides the answer for that dilemma. Though knowing Him does not make us perfect it does begin the process of perfecting us. (more…)
Hi, this is pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. This is another installment in the Marital Communication 101 series.
When driving a car there is a warning light most of us have seen at one time or another. Depending on the make and model of the car, this light will either be a yellow depiction of an engine or will illuminate the words “Check Engine Soon”. This warning light means that there is something amiss that needs to be remedied soon or more serious problems will likely develop. The light does not know what the particular problem is, only that one exists. When you take the car to a mechanic or hook it up to a diagnostic tool, the stored codes which indicate the specific problem are displayed. With this information in hand the operator of the car can address the problem and continue to drive the car as intended. (more…)
Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. The Right Questions…
Matthew 19:3-6 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”(more…)
Hi, this is pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message, this will be the third installment in a series I am calling Marital Communication 101
For the past two weeks we have looked at the often difficult topic of marital communication. In the first session I spoke of the important difference between communication and mutual understanding. There I encouraged you to recognize that even when we don’t arrive at mutual understanding, we still communicate with each other through things like body language, tone, volume, etc. I spoke to the fact that if we are not careful we may communicate some things to each other that we don’t mean and that aren’t even true. Frustration brought on by a lack of arriving at mutual understanding can cause us to communicate things we do not wish our spouse to think. (more…)
Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for another Monday Marriage Message. This is the second in a short series I am calling Marital Communication 101.Welcome!
Last week I said that many people assume they will be good communicators in their marriages based on several things. First the obvious, they have been communicating with other people with some degree of success since before they even knew how to speak. Second, while dating most people find communication with their future spouse to be easy…almost effortless. So why does it have to be so difficult now?
The fact that husbands and wives have completely different thought processes as I shared in three previous editions entitled Differences That Divide 1, 2 & 3 is one major reason mutual understanding in our marriages can be so difficult to attain. If you have not listened to those podcasts or do not remember what I shared there, I would encourage you to review those. The differences between compartmentalized and relational thinking are notable and cause men and women to naturally arrive at differing conclusions even when they are considering the same information. This difference in thought process often causes us to attach different meanings to the same words strung together in sentences. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs gives a humorous example of this in his book Love and Respect. He says there, that when a woman says “I have nothing to wear.”, she means that she has nothing new to wear. When a man says “I have nothing to wear.”, he means he has nothing clean to wear. Same words in the sentence, different meaning. However, as I stated in those previously mentioned podcasts (the third one specifically), this difference is not a flaw or a problem just because we find it problematic. God is a good, good Father and has nothing but the best of intention toward us. Our misunderstanding of His purposes concerning our creation does not constitute a mistake on His part. In reality we should be just as grateful and enamored by any differences we find between us and our spouse as we are for the differences in our physical bodies that we appreciate with regularity. Differing thought processes while many times providing a difficulty to arrive at mutual understanding is but one in a long line of reasons we fail to communicate as we want to.
Sometimes our momentary mental or emotional position leaves us vulnerable to misunderstanding. There are times when we respond to our spouse while still considering difficulties caused by others outside of the marriage such as co-workers, the kids, or the person who cut us off on the road two minutes before we got home. Our spouse may have had nothing to do with the adversity, but we allow our residual frustration to fall on them nonetheless. If they are yet unaware of the previously experienced difficulties, they may (and likely will) interpret that the frustration they sense in our response is directed toward them. Scenarios just like this one and others resulting in misunderstandings between spouses occur countless times every day around the world. Again misinterpreted intent is but one of the many things that can quickly and easily derail mutual understanding, and cause people to think they have failed to communicate.
Add to the list things like families of origin and you will have the beginnings (actually you will have only scratched the surface) of a long list of things that cause us to misconstrue what our spouse is trying to communicate. It was in your family of origin (the setting you grew up in) where you developed the majority of your core beliefs. Those core beliefs are the things you decided were inarguable truths, and they were mostly developed through the eyes of a child with little life experience, I might add. They are the basis by which you decipher everything in the world around you. Studies show that the vast majority of core beliefs are determined and decided upon by the age of seven. Core beliefs are sometimes known as limiting beliefs for two reasons. First we address our responses to others and actions based on the ”truths” of our core or limiting beliefs. Second we find it difficult to, or limit accepting as true only those things that line up with our unique set of core beliefs. I am not trying to bore or bamboozle you with psychological mumbo-jumbo but our core beliefs are very much a part of how we interpret everything we encounter. So how does this affect mutual understanding in your marriage? Newsflash – your spouse grew up in a different family of origin than you did, and developed their own set of core beliefs which do not perfectly match yours!
To give example of this from my own life I offer the following. In my family of origin, the only time I ever heard the phrase “Does that suit you?” was when my mom was being sarcastic or condescending toward someone. My mother being the gracious woman that she is with the influence of the Holy Spirit in her life only uttered that phrase then on rare occasions of undue frustration. Fast forward to my marriage with my lovely wife at 34 years of age. We live in southern Delaware where she was born and raised. I was raised in various towns and cities along the east coast but did not come to live in southern Delaware until we married. In this region, and in her family the phrase “Does that suit you?” means nothing more than “Will that work for your schedule?”, and is actually asked as a courtesy. However, because of the limiting beliefs I accepted as truth growing up, I only heard it as sarcasm and a lack of graciousness caused by sheer frustration. For the first several years of our marriage I could not understand for the life of me, why perfectly normal conversations with my wife about the things we had to fit into our schedules had to end with her being totally frustrated and sarcastic with me. They didn’t and she wasn’t. Those misconceptions and misinterpretations of her lack of patience with me existed only in my misunderstanding, and caused me to think she was coming against me when that was not at all the case.
As I mentioned in the first of those three podcast episodes I eluded to earlier, you will find a list of ten things there that can cause us to fail to arrive at mutual understanding. That is as I mentioned moments ago, just the beginnings of a complete list. So what to do? Proverbs 18:2 says: A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in expressing his own heart. This means that when we choose to decipher what is meant by what our spouse says or does only by our limiting core beliefs, and we do not give them an honest chance to explain their words or actions, we are being foolish. The reverse truth contained in this scripture is that a wise person will give their spouse the opportunity to explain that their words and actions came from a position of good will…and then choose to believe them. Yes, this is going to mean an argument with that child inside of us who is trying to tell us how to interpret our spouse’s intentions, but that kid couldn’t have gotten everything right…could they? Besides, much better to argue with the remnants of the child you once were than the spouse actually present with you now.
Questions to Answer:
Which of the things above do you believe contribute to a lack of mutual understanding in your marriage?
How much of what I have shared with you today do you recognize as being true for you?
How willing are you to adjust the ‘Go to’ conclusions you draw quite naturally to develop new strategies to gain mutual understanding with your spouse on a more regular basis?
Actions to Take:
Discuss some recent times when misunderstanding ensued, and ask your spouse to express their heart toward you on that subject prior to the misunderstanding…then be willing to accept what they tell you as truth.
As a strategy to minimize misunderstanding going forward, whenever you feel your spouse is likely to misinterpret your words or actions, begin the conversation by expressing your good will. Take time up-front to explain that the things you are going to talk about are on your mind because you love and respect them. This will do two valuable things. First, it will allow them to know where your heart is and interpret your words with your good will toward them in mind. Second, it will cause you to be more cautious, choosing only words that you would want to hear from someone with your best in mind.
So now, being wise and seeking to understand your spouse’s best intentions toward you, argue with the child inside you who is trying to tell you different, and…Go Be Awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken thanks for taking the time to join me again for my Monday Marriage Message. I’ll call this and the next few episodes…Marital Communication 101
I chose that title for various reasons. Many couples who come to see me for counseling never really learned how to communicate with one another. It was simply assumed that since they each had been communicating with some level of success since before they even knew how to talk that they would be able to do so with their spouse. For many, regardless of past and present experience with others, they find they are not as successful at communicating within their marriages as they imagined they would be. As anyone who has been to college knows the beginning classes in any subject are numbered 101. If this has been your experience trying somewhat unsuccessfully to communicate with your spouse…Welcome to Marital Communication 101, come on in and have a seat.
I also chose the title of these episodes because many would say they have tried at least 101 ways to communicate with their spouse, and none of it has worked. If that’s you, don’t think you are alone. Often times when I ask a couple on their first visit to see me, “How can I help?” They answer that they have trouble communicating. Usually, both of them are frustrated by the fact that they are seemingly misunderstood more often than not. They wonder how it can be that the person that was so easy to talk to when they were dating, they can’t seem to converse with now about anything without finding they are both frustrated.
One further reason I entitled them Marital communication 101 is that for some, it seems that they must argue about at least 101 things before they find common ground. Even those breakthrough events can’t be fully enjoyed because they are innately aware that once that successful conversation passes…there are probably 101 more difficult ones to wade through and endure before the next good one occurs.
There certainly are many reasons spouses who come to see me tell me their problem is that they have trouble communicating. First of all, and I don’t want to be seen as trying to split hairs or have a semantical argument but, very few people have trouble communicating. They have trouble arriving at mutual understanding. There is a marked and important distinction. That difference is crucial to understand because communication is in fact occurring and much of it is unintentional. For example, when a husband and wife are having difficulty understanding each other, they become frustrated. This frustration can lead to things like raised voices as yet another attempt to convey the intended meaning is made. It can lead to speaking faster, changing inflection of tone, and interrupting or talking over one another. Body language unmistakably changes as arms cross over the chests and fingers get pointed. Faces can redden or lips begin to quiver. As the tempo of the conversation rises to match the nearly palpable tension in the space, mouths becomes dry, hands become sweaty, and a fight or flight instinct settles on one or both of the contestants…(sorry, I meant to say) participants. Sometimes when all else fails one or both people leave the room where the attempted conversation has taken place in a rapid or stormy manner muttering under their breath or shouting their frustration over their shoulder as they exit. The couple I have just described are communicating very effectively, and they are espousing some things they had no intention to just moments before. Communication has ensued. Mutual understanding about the original topic…under those circumstances never had a chance.
If what I have just depicted sounds like you, I promise I haven’t been eavesdropping…this unintended result happens to more good, well intentioned, Christian couples than you could imagine. The problem is that unfortunately, the couple I just described has indeed communicated very effectively to one another. They have in no uncertain terms informed their spouse of some things they never meant to, and that likely aren’t even true. They have clearly communicated a lack of love and respect for each other and each other’s thoughts. They have left little doubt that they often find each other intolerable. Furthermore, they have made whatever the issue was, the most important thing in the world, instead of something they needed to have the most important person in the world understand their feelings about.
Scripture tells us in proverbs 3:13-18 that Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. I am sure that you know how well things go when there is understanding. The things described in the scripture above are true for those who have and seek understanding. No one likes to misunderstand nor be misunderstood, and there are steps we can take and strategies we can employ to help achieve mutual understanding without all of the friction and sparks.
In the coming weeks we will look into some of the problems that often leave married couples struggling to communicate well, and we will search the scriptures to find out how God would have us achieve mutual understanding. God’s word tells us in James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Asking God for wisdom is exactly what we should do when we don’t know what to do. For that reason, we will find specific places in His word to see what He says our responses should be when we are having difficulty understanding one another. Verse six above is important though. If we don’t know what to do, and we ask, and we learn in His word what He says we should do…we can’t argue with the answer…otherwise we will end up more unsettled than we were to begin with. So if you are ready to see how God wants to help you adjust your responses to your spouse and avoid misunderstanding…Welcome to Marital Communication 101
Questions to answer:
What does the distinction between failure to communicate and failure to attain mutual understanding mean to you?
What things or subjects derail your ability to successfully communicate your thoughts and ideas with your spouse?
Are there subject areas you have less trouble communicating about?
How long has it been since communication seemed easy for the two of you?
Actions to take:
Ask God together to accept the things His word instructs you to do to increase the level of positive communication in your marriage.
Decide right now that learning to communicate effectively is more important than being right.
Choose today to be willing for judgement free discussions that will enlighten and help you both do that successfully.
Commit to being willing for the discovery process with your spouse as to what makes it difficult for each of you to remain engaged when the communication begins to break down.
So now, learning the importance of mutual understanding and inviting new ideas from God’s own word to communicate in positive ways with your spouse…Go Be Awesome!
Hi this is pastor Ken, Thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. I have entitled this episode…Renewed Oneness.
At the beginning of next week, we will celebrate Easter. One might ask what Easter has to do with marriage. At first glance it may not seem like an easy correlation to draw. However, there are several aspects of the scriptural account surrounding Easter that are directly connected to marriage.
First is the prayer spoken by Jesus the night before He was crucified. There he prayed for Himself that He would have the strength to follow through with the plan He and the Father had been committed to since before the world was even created. 1 Peter 1:19-21 tells us, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Jesus knew this was going to be a very painful event in every way a person can experience pain. It was going to hurt Him physically, emotionally and spiritually, but He was willing for it because it was necessary to express his love for His bride…more on that in a moment.
In the second part of the prayer, Jesus prayed for the strengthening of His disciples knowing also the difficulty that lay ahead for them. The third part of His prayer that awful Thursday night is the portion I want to focus on today. That section is found in John 17:20-26. There it is recorded that Jesus prayed; “I do not pray for these alone [the disciples], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” So what does this have to do with marriage? As I have mentioned before, in the Greek language there are often many words that translate into one word in English because where a singular word in our language may mean several different things, in the Greek there is a different word for each of those meanings. So in Greek the word that we translate into “one” in the verses above where Jesus is asking that we be “one” with one another, just like He is “one” with the Father, and that we be “one” with them is the same word that He used in Matthew 19:6 where He said “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” The significance of this is that the Greek word used means the same thing as our word homogenize. It means to mix or blend two separate things so completely that they can no longer be successfully separated again. The obvious illustration of this is homogenized milk, where the milk and cream have been blended to the point that the cream no longer separates itself from the milk and rises to the top of the container. In both instances Jesus is saying the same thing. In the one, He is saying God homogenizes a man and a woman into an entity called marriage. In the other He is praying that He will have what it takes to follow through with the plan so that we can be homogenized with Him and be provided a way to be inseparably joined with Him forever in Heaven. His desire for oneness with us is illustrated in the oneness God endows us with as husband and wife in marriage.
The second correlation between Easter and marriage is found in Christ’s willingness to go to the cross for our blessing. Before Jesus came to earth He had reigned in the heavens with the Holy Spirit and the Father forever. They had existed, unseparated, homogenized, One for all of eternity past. Aside from the plan referenced above in 1 Peter, Jesus had no need to come to earth and die a horrible death, we had need of him to come. He left the perfection of heaven and lived as one of His own creation in a completely and totally imperfect world solely for our good. He calls us His bride and references the fact that it was the love of a Husband that led Him to the cross.
Ephesians 5:25-29 says; Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Romans 12:10 tells us that as a result of our love, we are to prefer one another. Jesus choosing to come to Earth and die in our place to pay the penalty for our sins for us is the ultimate example of preferring another over self. Jesus lowered Himself from His rightful position expressly for the purpose of elevating us, the church, His bride to an undeserved position. The events of Good Friday and Easter are the perfect gifts given to us, the bride, as a result of the perfect Love of our Bridegroom. It has always been the plan because with foreknowledge that Adam would fall to sin and interrupt the oneness he enjoyed with God in the Garden God made a way for Renewed Oneness.
Questions to answer:
Have you ever made the connection between Easter and marriage?
As you recognize the correlations I have mentioned today, what new meaning do these events mentioned have for you?
Are there any other connections you can think of between Easter and marriage?
Actions to take:
Take time today together to thank God for the plan He put in place to make a way for your renewed oneness with Him.
If you never have realized that Jesus came to make a way for you to stand together with Him free of your sin, thank Him now for coming and dying in your place. Tell Him you want to be connected with Him forever as one and that you now desire Him to be your personal Lord and Savior for the rest of eternity. Do that now in your own words and you will begin an incredible and amazing journey of love with Him the likes of which you have never known!
So now living out the oneness of your marriage in a way that responds to what Jesus did for you to provide renewed oneness with Him …Go Be Awesome!