Category Archives: Behavior

Time to Dust Off Your Marriage?

couples 6

Reminders are a way of providing a tune-up in order to keep our marriage in the appropriate priority with all the things that compete for our attention in this crazy world.

Let’s consider some key elements about marriage that we may have forgotten.  Here are a few that help us to demonstrate the practice of love in our relationship:

A key component in revitalizing your marriage is the understanding that your marriage is not about you. Realize that God has created uniqueness in both of you. The more you come to accept and love the differences between the two of you, the sooner you can learn to let go of the little stuff that the enemy loves to use to distract you from the goal.  The goal of every couple should be to live for the other, to live for God. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice your individuality; it simply means that consideration for what is most beneficial to your relationship will outweigh what is solely beneficial to you individually. From that you will begin to reap increasing dividends.

Creating a richer, fuller marriage begins with a decision: the decision to die to oneself.  This is not only in relationship to God, but also in our relationship to one another.  Whether our dysfunction stems from attitudes, behaviors, past experiences, or simply choosing to believe the lies of the enemy, it is essential that we step out of ourselves and move into alignment with our creator.  As you continue on your journey of marriage, begin to step out of the shame and guilt of the past. No matter what you may have done, no matter what you may have partaken in, you are not out of redemption’s grasp.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.     – Colossians 1:13-14

Be comforted; your past doesn’t have to be a blueprint for your future. The time to start living intentionally is right now. Let your marriage be an example that glorifies God. The benefits of such a decision are countless, not just to you, but to your children, future generations, and everyone you come into contact with.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.      – 1 Peter 4:8-11

Perhaps it’s time to assess yourself?  That’s not a bad thing; we should ALL do it from time to time.  Maybe it’s time to dust off some of these elements and place them front and center in your life so that your marriage will to an extent that you never thought possible.  Marriage is work, hard work, but some of the most rewarding work you will ever do.  Just a thought…

Be blessed as you continue your marital journey!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Love, Obedience, Priorities, selflessness, Shame, Unity

“I Just Want to Be Heard!”

Listening

Just as important as what you say to your children is how you listen to them.  Give your children your undivided attention when they are sharing with you.  Turn off the television, put away the paperwork, get off the computer, just listen.  Acknowledge what they say and hear them out.  Your job is to be approachable when they need you. Understand that they are children and may not express as effectively as you do, but let them try.  This is not the time to correct them or critique their verbal skills.  Just like your spouse, they want to be heard.   Oftentimes whether they are heard or not has a greater impact on their esteem than whether they get their way.

A mother brought in her son, a young man about sixteen.  She wanted someone to talk to him because he wouldn’t open up at home, and he seemed to be carrying a great deal of anger. When he entered the office it was apparent things were going to get interesting.  The first thing he did was sit in the chair in front of the desk, raise his leg to the desk, and push his chair back about four feet from it.  Arms folded, body rigid in the chair, he was very direct in his communication: “I don’t have a f—in’ thing to say to you.”

It was obvious what he was expecting.  This coarse phrase would elicit a reaction and get him thrown out of the office. Ah, he would have to do better than that!  I calmly told the young man, “That’s entirely up to you.  But if you want to chat, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” He was very confused, and when he realized my response was sincere, no one could keep this guy from talking!  He was thrilled to have a venue to be heard. As he talked more and more, his entire demeanor changed and his body language loosened up.  He was able to be direct in areas where his behavior was not serving him productively, and he was eager to listen to what I said.

In the end, after speaking with his mother, it was apparent that his father didn’t really connect with him because they never talked.  The son never had a voice in the house, and when he was bold enough to speak, his father shut him down immediately.  His behavior issues were simply symptoms of a much greater problem: poor communication in the home.

Consider your own home.  In what ways do you frustrate your child by not providing them a venue to share with you?  How might the behaviors and communication we, as parents, demonstrate to our children play out in their lives as they become adults and parents?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Parenting, Respect

Lest We Forget… (A Message of Thanksgiving)

Being Thankful

As we kick-off the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  As we run back and forth to the grocery store collecting all the traditional items for the feasts ahead.  As we calculate the budgets that we have allocated for Christmas shopping and get lost in all the hub-bub that lay straight away.  How often we get side tracked by all the agendas that compete for our attention.  It is not hard to forget WHAT is truly important and WHO has provided our needs.

I want to encourage you to take a moment to meditate and contemplate, if just for a moment.  The following Psalm, a prayer of thanksgiving during our season of Thanksgiving, lays a foundation for us all to frequent from time to time.  I pray that you let this prayer envelop your heart and penetrate the business that we are all susceptible too.  For in this brief set of scripture we are blessed with encouragement, hope and protection.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.  For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.  How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!  Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.  But you, Lord, are forever exalted.  For surely your enemies, Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.  You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured on me.  My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.  The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”    -Psalm 92

Meditate on this “for a moment”?  No, Psalm 92 expresses the state that our heart and soul should reside in 365 days a year, not just at Thanksgiving.  Get out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the blessings that God has bestowed on you.  Take a deep breath, step out of the world and enter into His peace as you reflect on all of His graciousness.  Keep this list, share it with your family, ask them to contribute blessings that they may see that you may have overlooked.  Being aware of how God has worked in your lives will carry you through the trials that may lie ahead.  Let the time you spend with family and friends be grounded in an understanding that ALL we have is truly a gift.  A gift to be thankful for.

Be blessed this holiday season and every day!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Giving, Meditation, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

The following is a question I received from a man who has been struggling in his marriage and working at trying to do what he needs to do to make it work. Granted, he was a contributor to the breakdown of their relationship, but has been putting forth the effort to right his wrongs. This question is so common that I decided to share my thoughts on the topic, knowing there are others who struggle with this issue:

When one party in a relationship decides to make positive changes, it can create a conflict in the other spouse, they may ask questions like; “Can I trust them? What do I do with my pain? Would things be better if I left?”  Just to name a few.  Often inner turmoil pushes the focus of blame on the other person.  The question arises, “Is this ALL my fault?”

Just a quick question, my wife and I spoke yesterday and she basically told me she can’t promise me that things will work out between us, but she’ll give it some time.  In your opinion, from experience, is it all my fault that we’re in this position (and having all of these marital problems)?  That’s the image she’s describing, and I’m just wondering if that’s possible.  Could it really be ALL my fault?  

I will TRY to answer as directly as possible (for me).  Is the blame in the breakdown of a marriage ever the fault of just one member of the party?  Honestly, if that were the case, it would be the first time I have ever experienced it in my 20 plus years of counseling.  A particular choice of bad behavior in a relationship might be perpetrated by one party or the other, but those individual choices tend to be symptomatic of a greater problem and that choice of “acting out” was their way of dealing with that problem.  In other words, a person doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to, let’s say, have an affair.  Usually you can trace backward the breakdowns (poor communication, no edification, lack of attention, lack of conflict resolution skills, etc.) that were occurring for quite some time in the marriage that led to the one party justifying a behavior like adultery, as in my example.  Once justified, the decision to act is only a matter of time unless the parties in the relationship make a joint effort to address the problem issues together, put forth the effort to change, lay THEIR (yes, plural) sinful behaviors at the foot of the cross (and do not pick it up again) and forgive the past; understanding that it took two people to create the original dynamic that lead to the offense(s).  As long as blame has priority over the desire to seek resolution there will never be the investment necessary to bring a marriage into alignment.

I apologize for out “winding” you, but you ask an explosive question, my friend.  Bottom line, I believe it takes two to make OR break a marriage.  The key to making the changes necessary to salvage the marriage requires a willingness on both parties to take responsibility for their own participation that has led to the erosion of the relationship.  God loves to work with honest and transparent people and I’ve witnessed him do nothing short of a miracle, but we ALL need to choose to participate in the healing and restoration process.

My recommendation would be to be intentional about your behavior and choose actions that show your interest in making the marriage work (emotions will lead you to destructive choices!) regardless of her making you sole blame or not.  If you are determined and prepared, do not let the decision to separate be yours, let her take responsibility and risk the consequences of such an action.  This will allow you the peace of knowing you did all you could to save your marriage and keep the family together.  Lastly, and CERTAINLY not least, keep this situation bathed in prayer (including praying for your spouse).  Just because you see no forward movement on the part of your mate does not mean that God is not trying to stir her heart.  Sometimes the way things look on the outside are not representative of what is going on inside.  At this moment she is protecting herself so as not to be hurt.  Remember, she is in pain and is not yet willing to take a chance on you.  It takes time to gather the evidence that your change is real and you will not do further damage to her.  The fact that she, “…can’t make any promises,” and that “…she’ll give it some time”, indicates that she may not be entirely ready to throw in the towel.  There may be some hope.  As you know, I can make no promises either way, but stay close to the Lord and he will give you the peace, comfort and courage you need to come out the other side of this trial.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.       Proverbs 3:5-6

Love your family, love those children.  Be blessed my brother, I love you and I’ll be praying for you both today.     – Pastor Eric

God takes marriage, a commitment not only to our spouse but to God, very seriously.  If the husband has been neglectful of his responsibilities, yet decides to put forth the effort to change and allow God to work in his heart he will only benefit.  Whether his wife has become hardhearted by her pain and chooses the path of least resistance; it doesn’t negate the husband’s responsibility to be submissive and allow God to grow him.  Remember, it’s not just about your spouse if there are children involved.  Even when divorce is likely, you still have the opportunity to be the best parent that you can.  It is not just an opportunity, it’s your obligation.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Commitment, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Leadership, Obedience, Prayer, Restoration, selflessness, Submission, Transparency, Trust

Addressing the “Self” in Selfishness

selfishness 2-children

Filling the cracks of an eroding marital foundation begin with addressing areas in which YOU bear responsibility.  Blaming your mate will produce nothing but further distance between you.  Besides, you don’t have the ability to change your spouse, but you can change the dynamics by focusing on areas in which you need to grow.  After identifying areas in which we may be exhibiting selfish behaviors, what can we do about it? How can we change our selfishness?

  1. Present yourself to God; ask him to make you aware of your own selfishness. BE PREPARED: if you ask God to show you, he will be faithful. Your job is to be ready to receive it and do something about it.
  1. Meditate and internalize the following scriptures:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  -1 Corinthians 10:24

These particular scriptures remind me that my relationships are not about me but about loving others.

  1. Try doing the opposite of what you feel. It sounds unusual but consider that your autopilot may currently be guided by your hurt (not the best compass), so your natural tendency is to self-protect that hurt. Take a chance and see what happens. We can only update our script by taking chances and gathering new evidence to see if our childhood beliefs are still accurate. Have these childhood beliefs skewed our adult perception of relationships, of life? Challenge your adult perceptions. Are they accurate?

Remember, in spite of what happened in your childhood, regardless of the pain that may have been inflicted, intentionally or unintentionally, you are no longer that child. You are an adult and bear the consequences of your adult actions. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” It’s time to take responsibility for your own behavior. Seek God’s strength and help as you begin to take responsibility for the one thing that you can control: your own behavior.

In spite of the hurt and frustration you may be feeling, depending on the current state of your marriage, it is be important to begin taking responsibility for your own behavior and the decisions that you make. After all, who pays the consequences of your actions? Ultimately you do and perhaps your children.

Bless you in your desire to change.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Love, Self-Talk, Selfishness

Through A Windshield Dirty

Dirty Windshield

Visualize this: you are driving down the freeway in your car. It has been months since you washed it. The windshield is filthy. It has rained a few times, just enough to muddy the filth on the window. There are bird droppings everywhere, making it very difficult to see. That doggone cat that your neighbor feeds is constantly climbing all over the hood and windshield, leaving its grimy paw prints everywhere.

You get the picture. Your ability to see clearly while you drive down the freeway will be considerably impaired. Our mind is sometimes like that. During the course of our lives a variety of things contribute to what we believe about life and ourselves. The way we were raised by our parents is a contributing factor, and our religious beliefs certainly impact how we think. The negative messages we receive on our journey through life affect us. The expectations others place on us can impact as well. If we don’t assess the validity of all these beliefs and release the negative ones, our windshield (or filter) can get very dirty, affecting how we receive information. All the gunk from the past impacts how we perceive what is going on in the present. Some of what we believe about ourselves can be simply inaccurate. Can you see how our acceptance of these internal lies can affect our feelings, having a direct impact on our behavior if we simply choose to stay in autopilot? This concept directly impacts our ability to communicate with our spouse and with others.

Thoughts and feelings are directly related, and it is important to monitor our thoughts, filtering them through what Scripture teaches. So what about behavior? Let’s look again at Mark 14 when Jesus is describing how he feels about the upcoming events and the sacrifice he will make on the cross. He describes his emotional state as “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v. 34). When he separates himself from his three disciples, he falls to his knees and prays, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36).

What we see here is a demonstration of a man with feeling. The feelings are real, honest, and easy to validate. The resulting action is the important thing to consider here. In his crying out, in no way was Jesus trying to wiggle free of his obligation. He didn’t choose to avoid the cross even though his feelings might have told him that would be best, certainly easier. No, Jesus’ behavior was consistent to what he knew was God’s will.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Emotions, Self-Talk

Different, Not Better

I'm Better than you

When a married couple adheres to their responsibility, the outcome is rewarding. Showing the appropriate regard for our God-given roles produces in our relationship the same attitude as exhibited toward God. What is produced is selflessness, respect, and love for one another in marriage. Is there a better example to set for your children?

First Peter 3:7 calls you husbands to treat your wives in a respectful manner so that nothing will hinder your relationship with God. God has given your wives a unique temperament, the ability to think and reason, and the same grace and mercy that he extends to you. Do not treat them as second-class citizens. Their role of support and contribution is equally important, albeit different from yours.

Men, respect and listen to your wives. They are allowed to present suggestions and opinions in a loving way. God didn’t say that man is the smarter one. Your differences complement each other. Where one is strong often the other shows weakness and vice versa. The marital relationship should not be deemed a competition but rather a cooperative.

Imagine taking two sheets of plywood and gluing them together, the strength of the two sheets now glued together is considerably greater than either one was individually, and so it is with marriage. Marriage is one of the few times in life that one plus one can equal three. There is far greater benefit in working together than would be evident in each of you working individually.

When I’m counseling a couple and the wife appears to be the more aggressive partner, it usually means the husband is taking the passive role and not leading the home spiritually. In too many cases, the wife is the one who takes the kids to church and grows the family spiritually. This is not the role of the wife, but praise God someone is willing to step up. If this is the case in your relationship, I encourage the man to stand up and take his rightful role. It won’t be easy, because your wife has to develop the trust necessary to relinquish that role. This will only become a comfortable situation for the wife over time as the husband shows his consistency. As you both step into your appropriate roles, your marriage will take on a new light. What was once a burden will become easier because you are now working as you were designed to.

In what ways can you, as a husband, “step it up” to better fulfil your role as the leader of your household.  What attitudes have you been carrying that hinder you from moving forward in being the man that you were called to be for your wife and children?

You will be blessed as you grow your marriage.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Male Leadership, Role Modeling, Roles, selflessness

Do You Want to Draw Closer to Each Other, Draw Closer to God

 

hands

As with anything else, identifying areas that need to improve and actually putting forth the efforts to improve are two different things. Now you need to make the decision to change and act on it! Ask God to give you the strength, courage, and healing to put these new improvements into practice.

 Worship has to be on the top of the list. It is a broad category that includes attending church together, praying together, and reading the Bible together. There are other ways of worshiping together, but we will narrow our focus to these facets. Church attendance is very important as an outward expression of what you believe. The teachings serve to offer new input into your mind and soul. New input can challenge those unhealthy thoughts and at least give opportunity for change. Second Corinthians 10:5 states, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

How would this be possible if we don’t know the knowledge of God? This is my personal life verse, and I highly recommend that you commit it to memory as a reminder. Get yourself plugged into a congregation that will challenge you. If you are sick, you go to the doctor, because he is the expert and authority. God is the expert and authority on marriage, and since he designed it, it would behoove you to find out what he has to say.

Praying together is a surefire way to increase intimacy in your relationship. You sit before God together, searching his heart and what he wants for the two of you. You don’t have to feel obligated to fill the air with words. You can keep your prayers simple and heartfelt. Sit together and listen—listen to what God would stir in your heart. Ask God to show you the things you need to change. But be careful; if you ask God to show you yourself, he will, so be ready to receive what he has to say. Remember he only wants you to be the best you can be, the way he created you.

The best and simplest way to visualize how God fits into the marriage commitment is as follows: envision a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is God, the designer of marriage. He is at the pinnacle of the triangle. At the bottom left angle of the triangle we find the husband. At the bottom right angle we find his lovely wife. Now, place one finger on each bottom angle, representing the husband and the wife. Slowly slide your fingers up the sides of the triangle, moving toward the name God. What do you notice? As you move closer to God, you move closer to each other. Point taken?

 Reading the Word together has great marital benefits as well. It sparks great conversations as you contemplate what God would speak to you through the Scriptures. It provides a time for growing together in Him, which in turn increases intimacy. You will also get to know your spouse better as you share thoughts on God’s insights.

Do you demonstrate your love to your spouse by demonstrating your love to God? If you are reluctant to give God your love, It would only go without saying, how much less your mate? What are you willing to do to improve your relationship with God?

©Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Commitment, Love, Meditation, Obedience, Prayer, Unity, Worship

Stay Focused On Friends That Focus On God

Cheaters

 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.     – Proverbs 17:17

Why is it that some people seem to flounder and lose their way, making one bad decision after another?  I am convinced that it all starts with the first bad decision that gets the ball rolling…underestimating the importance of being connected to a body of believers.

 Fellowship with like believers is a key component to a successful relationship, within the context of  marriage and outside of it. One of the many benefits is accountability. It is important to have other people in our lives who will help keep us on track. We all need people who we have given permission to speak truth to us, people we trust and who want what is best for us and our marriage. In pairing with another couple for accountability, both couples should share the same beliefs and moral foundations. Without a similar moral base, the counsel offered will likely be in conflict or at best inconsistent to what is in the best interest of the marriage.

Each of you needs to have friends of the same sex that you can bounce things off of before you open your mouth about some irrational feelings that are more likely to harm rather than help your relationship. The phrase “friends of the same sex” was used with deliberate consideration. The last thing a troubled relationship needs is one spouse seeking consolation in the arms of the opposite sex. This is common with men who don’t understand there is nothing more confirming (and attractive) to a woman than a man who is willing to be open and honest about their feelings and share them.

Unfortunately, if the woman is having troubles in her own marriage she will most likely view the attention as an open invitation. The man may innocently view it as a way to release some of his frustrations and be consoled by a woman who “cares about him”. The wife who shares with a male friend, co-worker, or boss may be thrilled at the idea of having a man who actually hears her and affirms her feelings.

The reality, men and women do not think alike. No matter your intentions (or lack of them) you can never truly understand how they are being interpreted by the person that you are confiding in. It does not show wisdom to seek solace in the arms of members of the opposite sex, you simply throw open the door to other temptations that will not take your marriage down a godly road. I would highly recommend that you focus you friendships on friends that focus on God. But remember, healthy friendships help to buffer the waves of adversity and keep the marital ship on course.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Accountability, Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Fellowship, Trust, Unity

LOVE and Our Emotional State

Key

Let’s take a journey down memory lane. In all likelihood, the following scripture was recited at your own wedding. Let’s revisit as I share a well kept secret,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.        1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Do you notice anything unusual about this passage of scripture? Note that it is all action driven, contrary to what our society would have you believe. Lasting love is not emotionally fueled, although feelings are certainly produced. What this tells me is that a healthy, long-lasting and loving relationship is based on my desire to put forth the necessary efforts to keep it healthy. I do not determine my effort by what I feel like doing.  Oh, yes I know, that’s NOT really a secret.  But you’d think it was!

Bill comes home after a grueling day at the office; nothing came off as planned. His head wouldn’t stop pounding. His computer was being its normal stubborn self. The traffic on the way home was horrendous. In general, Bill feels lousy. He pulls into the driveway and walks up to the front door. Now Bill has a decision to make. He has a choice. He can walk through the front door and meet his family behaving exactly how he feels—cranky, agitated, and aggressive, dumping that anger on his wife.

How do you think that delightful presentation will be received? She will shoot back with both barrels, taking all of Bill’s behaviors in a personal way. After all, she is the new target of his aggression. What alternative does she have? He attacked her. That just makes Bill angrier, so he escalates the confrontation. His voice increases in volume, and maybe he throws down his briefcase for dramatic effect. Offended, she comes right back at him. So the conflict escalates right up the scale! Bill’s feelings dictated his behavior, to his disadvantage, and the unfortunate recipients were his family.

Here’s an alternative scenario. Bill stands at the door, feeling lousy but aware of it. He decides that regardless of how he feels, he is going to demonstrate love and affection toward his wife and family. Bill enters his home and gives his wife a kiss and tells her how much he loves her. How do you think that reception will be met? If she is monitoring her behavior (maybe she had a rough day with the kids, etc.) the odds are great that she will respond to her husband’s loving display and reciprocate. That will affect Bill’s emotional state in a positive fashion, actually reducing some of the aggression. Then he reciprocates and back and forth it goes. Bill begins to feel those negative emotions dissipate.

You might say to yourself, that’s just being fake! No, it is you doing what is right by your spouse, which in the end has the potential for great benefit for you. Do you enjoy conflict in your relationship? Keeping your feelings in check is a very practical way of facilitating that goal.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.       – James 3:17-18

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Love