The idea of giving more and demanding less would help many marriages if both spouses were willing to put forth the concept into action. As humans no matter what or who we believe in… whether we call Jesus Christ our Savior or not we are at heart selfish individuals to our core. Like children we tend to be automatically ego-centric in nature, wondering when our next turn will be, when we will get our chance, when our time will come and what will benefit us. Ultimately we are comparable to the preschooler on the playground wanting our turn with the ball, the slide, our turn to speak over the others and ensuring we get our pocketful of praise… and throw in a gold sticker too, please.
We may look inward to ourselves at times but that doesn't bode well within our marriages. Looking outward instead will ensure we are looking to God for guidance and loving Him… which then affects how we love our spouse. Selfishness is the root of all marital discontentment and discord. It's putting ourselves on a pedestal instead of stepping down and looking upward to God and asking Him what we can do to give, to serve our loved one.
When we demand we begin to nag, harangue, expect and then follow with some form of consequence if those demands are not met by our spouse. This is when silence, yelling, stonewalling, distance, even tit for tat and walls built including resentment begin taking root between a couple.
How can we demand less of our spouse?
We can demand less by asking ourselves this question…
What can I do to make this issue better?
If one person (or both) is stubbornly determined to stay in their corner and not budge from their perspective or stance it may be time for the other spouse to step up, (someone needs to) to take the relationship reins and guide it to a better place. If you were in a boat with your spouse and you lost an oar you wouldn't just shrug your shoulders and declare "Oh, well!" and then pitch the other oar in the water and sit uselessly. That would be insane. You'd also realize it was childishly stupid to argue over who had to steer with the last oar. You'd instead perhaps come to realize that your spouse may not have the ability to pick up their oar and keep going… like in a frozen immobile state they are stuck… someone has to be the strong one, grab the other oar and get you both moving in a better direction. What can you do to make the issue better? Pick up your oar and get moving… take some initiative… it's either keep moving toward something beautiful like a setting sun in the distance together or move toward a dry desolate land where attorneys and judges lie in wait for you to throw up your arms in defeat and sign the divorce papers.
Obviously not all marriages can benefit from the idea of giving more, demanding less… especially in cases of abuse or even in some cases of infidelity where change is not desired by the one who cheated… the general concept of giving more and demanding less is most helpful in marriages where infidelity, abuse and addictions are absent. But for couples arguing over lesser issues like housework management, child rearing, balancing work and family… in the attempt to prevent these workable issues becoming larger than life looming battles… couples can be proactive in heading them off earlier rather than later.
The next time we begin to slide into a self-pity pile of "Me, Me, Me… What about me?" thinking we can take pause and realize this isn't a reflection of Christ… this is a reflection of self and ego. We can choose to stop holding demands of our spouse and instead ask ourselves: What can I give them?
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
names have been omitted in this post
The weather had turned cold… frigid cold… fall had literally been just a blip of like four or five days and then it was gone. Now the temps waffled between the thirties and fifties, the sun had disappeared somewhere behind the dark clouds and no matter how much we wanted it to reappear thus far it remained in hiding. I navigated the busy Saturday morning traffic… en-route to the bank to withdraw some money for groceries and weekend fun with my daughter. But as I turned on my blinker to make the right turn into the bank parking lot sudden dread filled within… something wasn't right… intuition told me that the bank was closed by the empty parking lot. I peered up at the signs over the bank drive thru and saw that where they typically were lit in green with the word "open" today they were lit in red with the word "closed".
Great…. I thought to myself… that is just great… I took a deep breath inward and determined they must be closed for some reason… I had always been able to access the bank on Saturdays. Okay… what to do now? My mind scrambled like a mouse in a cage. I slowly pulled out of the lot and eased back onto the street to head back the way I'd come.
"Why are we going this way, Mommy? I thought we were going to the bank." My daughter's voice asked from behind me. I glanced at her in the rearview mirror… sitting in the backseat she was looking out the window in puzzlement. Her sweatshirt said "love" across it and she wore soft turquoise gloves… her jacket had been tossed on the seat beside her.
"We are… "I told her. "It's okay…" I added, but as soon as I said those two words I realized they were as much for my own benefit as for her.
I sighed, "The bank for whatever reason is closed today. So we are going to have to go to another bank to get money… okay?" I explained to her "No big deal… " I trailed off trying to sound bright and upbeat, mentally noting that my credit card was nearly maxed out on essentials and needed a payment. As I sailed along the route past the high-end shops twinkling with Christmas decor and restaurants… a life that was no longer mine… I didn't miss the materialism by any means but I missed the fewer problems for sure… I didn't miss my ex… as many of my current problems could be fixed but our marriage was never one of them. And it was then I heard a ding! I glanced at my dash and saw the SUV needed gas. Ugh! Seriously? Did it ever stop? Huge sigh. I already knew I had a ten dollar bill in my purse and a one. I always knew what I had these days. I counted them obsessively. I quickly switched lanes making a left at the green light then pulled into the gas station. "We have to feed this high maintenance animal first." I told my daughter with a grimace as I slowly glided in next to an available pump. I was so ready to ditch this gas guzzler and trade it in for a car. The sky overhead was a bank of dark clouds… it looked like it was going to pour any minute and frankly, my mood was beginning to match it… at least on the inside. I had been sending out resumes as I needed more income, I had been searching for a new smaller home since the last one I had wanted to purchase slipped through my fingers… I wanted to move and I desperately needed more money coming in as my child support had been cut… I was beginning to get just a little irritated… and that was putting it nicely… as for whatever reason despite my efforts nothing seemed to be falling into place…
I was tired of waiting and beginning to question if God was even hearing my prayers. I was beginning to feel like an insolent child that hadn't gotten her way (and yet reality was I was in the hole) and was precariously close to stomping her foot and telling God off. If this was chiseling I'd had enough… I was ready to stand in the warm beautiful sun and have everything in order… because this ongoing time period… this "difficult time", this "growing", this "suffering", this "just plain old you-know-what" or whatever it was (?!) had gone on long enough in my opinion.
I could wait patiently for awhile… even quite some time… I could wait on God, on His timing… I mean, I don't mind waiting but there always comes a point where we begin to break, look above and ask "Hey?! Remember me?! Down here? I need some help! Are you there???"
I believe we all have problems with waiting
at some point no matter how patient we are.
Waiting can be undeniably long and painful. It can make us go stir crazy with the "what if's" wondering in moments of doubt if it will all turn out alright, even if we do cling to God's promises of good for us. Even if we know when in a cool and rational thinking that He is there for us… meeting up with us and going with us to the next place in our journey… even if we know this like the truth that birds fly we may come to a point where we waffle… where we have expectations that aren't filled on our time table, where we let worry come in and override faith, where we start to question if He is really hearing us and sees the direness of our situation at hand.
So do we let God encourage us?
Or do we push Him away out of fear/anger?
I believe we need to be honest with Him.
We don't have to put on a face of happy just for His benefit… He already knows exactly what were feeling and thinking… it's no shock to Him. The truth is… He already knows were beginning to question, He already knows our fears, He already knows we are becoming close to what one would define as exasperation, maybe even panic.
What we can do is be totally honest with Him. We can just put it out there… in our prayers and talk with Him we can just admit it… we can tell Him we are becoming frustrated, that we are troubled… that we are struggling… just like in the book of Psalms where there are plenty of folks who pour out their hearts we can do the same… we can open up about our trials to Him… we can even admit our anger… remember, anger is not a sinful feeling… anger can be totally justified… it only becomes sin if acted out.
In our talks with God we can admit that yes, we know He always has a reason in His timing and or delays… relay to Him that yes, you know He is working on your behalf and bringing together the various connections you need… and that you know sometimes that takes time… honestly vent any frustrations you have and yet tell Him how thankful you are… think of all the wonderful blessings you do have… the aspects that are sailing smoothly and the friends, family, and wonderful things you are so blessed to have in your life… find that sweet spot of contentment with the Lord… where no matter what your circumstances you are living… whether it be scarce or humble means, comfortable or excess… whether the skies are dark and cloudy or the sun is out… God wants you to enjoy your life no matter what you're going through… so that when your circumstances improve and your journey takes you to the next (better) destination your inner happiness will be rooted in Him and not the world.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~2014
names have been omitted and/or changed in this post
Checking my email I scrolled down for anything new that had come in… and amongst Snapfish promotional coupons for discounts off prints and photo books my eyes caught sight of an email from my soon to be ex. I had recently filed for divorce without any warning to him upon discovering his infidelities. But since then… him, the very person who had told me to "stop talking to him about God" just a couple weeks prior to my filing was now sending me relationship articles from various Christian websites to read. It was all very ironic to me.
I didn't bother reading them, merely chose to hit "delete" and yet they continued to pop up in my inbox. What his point was I had no idea… some told me it was a desperate attempt by him (others told me it was a genuinely earnest one) at trying to have some sort of communication, one last try in rebuilding our relationship… by coming together over these articles and having ah ha moments over them.
My attorney continued to adamantly tell me my ex still cared for me… he didn't agree with me just cutting the cord so to speak and ending the marriage without a word. He agreed my ex had royally screwed up but over and over again reiterated he didn't believe my ex truly wanted the marriage to end. I stared at him with icy silence. My second attorney told me essentially the same thing. I shrugged. My third attorney questioned if my ex was over the relationship… I was seeing a pattern here and it irritated the living daylights out of me.
THIS(!) … I supposed their opinions were based on the fact my ex was continually attempting to cause havoc like a rejected five year old on the school playground. I surmised that perhaps if more family law attorneys learned how to prove narcissistic injury in the court room versus pondering if a Narc still cares (which they don't) they wouldn't be so ineffective against them.
As women we shouldn't be expected to give second or multiple chances to husbands when it comes to our physical health. Are we really just supposed to turn the cheek to getting an STD from our spouse? No. Our spouse is who is supposed to protect us, not knowingly go out and inflict us with every heebie jeebie out there.
I kept going back to:
He can be "sorry" all he wants to be.
It doesn't change what he's done.
And it doesn't mean I have to take him back.
Some saw my ex as deeply wounded because of my unresolved feelings toward Jeremy all those years and stated that that must have been the cause of a great internal insecurity in him pushing him toward destruction… i.e.; infidelity. After rolling my eyes at that one I went to my seasoned therapist with that who shook her head…her thoughts were that perhaps if the marriage hadn't been so toxic, namely his behaviors, I wouldn't have been focusing on Jeremy as much and been so miserable. Regardless I could and did accept the blame for my contribution; for my sin. I knew I wasn't immune. I had been sorrowful over it and the hurt it had brought not just to my husband but to both of us.
Ultimately my view of it was: I believed I had made the right decision in divorcing my husband based on his infidelity because the marriage had been emotionally toxic and I couldn't change that or him. Most people including my therapist saw my ex's behaviors as being those of a narcissistically entitled individual who didn't care that he cheated but only that he got caught.
"My opinion is that I don't believe he thought you'd give up that lifestyle… he never in a million years thought you'd do what you did if you found out." My mother mused aloud.
I nodded "I guess he thought I'd cry and beg and plead and he'd happily have the authority to decide what he wanted to do… that he would be in the driver's seat and decide my fate… whether I stayed or he kicked me to the curb. He was so shocked to find out that's not what happened."
"I think it just shows he really didn't know you." My mother pointed out… "I always knew that's what you'd do yet he was married to you and I guess didn't realize." She mused aloud.
"I look back on it and his actions in the wake of my filing are what speak the loudest. " I surmised. "He didn't turn from his behavior… he continued seeing random women. I believe we have to look at actions not words. I don't regret filing. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
A spouse who has been unfaithful to their partner needs help and in that can turn to God. His Word can offer hope to the one who is struggling with sex addiction like that of adultery. The first thing he or she needs to do is confess the sinful behavior to God. This acknowledgment is so important but it's truly only the first step. This first step acknowledges to God that yes, you chose sin i.e.; death over life… and that no amount of justification, excuse or rationalizing will make it better. When we try to hide our sinful behavior like infidelity from others it remains cloaked in darkness… but when we tell others about our struggles it brings our sin to light… out of darkness, in our sharing it's revealed… and others can help hold us accountable for our actions.
If we are in the company of morally sound peers who are after God and living for Him we can go to them with our specks and they can soberly listen to our story… they can give us counsel and pray with us. This is why we all need a support system of friends and share company with those who are believers. Find someone who is supportive, who will listen… who will not shame you but also uses sober judgment….i.e.; in that that they know what you've done is wrong… don't go to the "friend" who says "Ohhhh, wellll… you just need to do what makes you happy!" This isn't about finding someone who pats your hand, nods and justifies your poor choices. That is not a true friend and not someone after Christ.
It's vital the friend is someone whom you can confide in, that will have the insight and strength to guide you. Find someone who is compassionate but firm; doesn't allow you to search for excuses. Also someone who wants to understand and can be trusted with the information you're sharing… that they won't run to the next person they see or any mutual friends and spill everything you've confessed to them. This is a crucial time when wise mature Godly counsel is required… not the immature joking of your old college buddies… if you don't have someone to turn to… find a seasoned pastor at a church and start there.
Confessing isn't enough…. there has to be a true repentance. Repentance is not being sorry for getting caught in causing pain and destruction. Repentance is not confessing then continuing down the same road were on just because that's what we've been doing and we figure, what the heck, why not? Repentance is the confessing then turning away from the sin we've committed. It's a choice to no longer do what we've done… wanting to please God and live by His way not ours. By spending time in His word and studying it we can begin seeing more and more progress in our life… that's what we are all striving for.
There is a root of where infidelity comes from for men… typically it is feeling inadequate. There is a familial root of inadequacy involved that goes back to feeling unworthy as a child that carries into their adulthood. Perhaps deep down they don't feel deserving yet it manifests outward as them behaving superiorly, in a narcissistic manner. A man who doesn't ever address his feelings of unworthiness becomes consumed by his own insecurities… he erroneously believes that his home, his vehicles, his job, his title, his education, his whatever, you name it overcompensates for his hollow feeling inside… that his designer sunglasses and expensive clothes are enough to push him forward into societies eyes as a worthy human being… someone to know, to admire and to be around. But at night, once his heavy tired head hits his pillow the truth threatens to overtake him… there in the quiet silence, there in the inky blackness of his bedroom he fights knowing that absolutely no amount of worldly belongings and status will fill that emptiness inside him. He turns to look over at his beautiful sleeping wife beside him, as she's oblivious to the battle he's fighting… and his unfulfillment can't be blamed on her.
No one can fulfill him in this life but God…
Until he realizes this he will continue
to seek the flesh
and works of the world
and each day
bit by bit risk losing her
until she's gone.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014