Category Archives: Communication

Going Through the Fire…Together

Overcoming

There are many ways to build our foundation of intimacy as a married couple.  One that some don’t consider is the refining process that occurs when couples go through trials, crisis and life changing events together.  Going through trials together certainly builds intimacy in a relationship. The interesting thing about trials is that they often force greater reliance on God, thereby offering an opportunity to grow in our faith.

We do not want to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Sometimes the challenges that couples go through are incredibly difficult.  When two people are on the same page and working toward the same ends, the pain is considerably reduced by having someone to share them with. It is essential that couples be willing to share difficult circumstances with one another.  Men are notorious for stuffing situations so as not to trouble their wives.  Let your wife see inside you and understand your troubles; let her encourage and support you. If something is bothering you, odds are that you will make it known whether you say anything or not.  When you become quiet or grumpy, your spouse will suspect that something is wrong.  This leaves the spouse to feel responsible for your behavior when it may have nothing at all to do with them.  If there are only two people in a room and one of them is obviously upset, it stands to reason that the remaining person must have done something to offend the other.  This is often how people think, whether it’s accurate or not.

It is often very helpful to receive input from a source that can give you a perspective that perhaps you can’t see, being so close to the problem.  Utilize the gifts that God has given your mate.  Minimally, there is a cleansing process that occurs when you lay out the difficulties that you are struggling with rather than trying helplessly to filter through the emotional frustrations of carrying destructive baggage on your own.  Whether the crisis is personal in nature or one that plaques you as a couple, remember, at some level you will both be affected in one form or another so work it together.

When couples have the opportunity to work problems through to resolution together, they feel a great sense of accomplishment and it strengthens the marriage and increases intimacy.  You guys signed on as a team, play like one!

I pray blessing on you and that God give you the strength to do what’s right.

©2017 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 Assertiveness, Behavior, Commitment, Communication, Emotions, Transparency, Trials, Unity

Control Yourself!

 

control-yourself

Have you come to place in your relationship where some assessment may be necessary?  Fact of the matter, you should be periodically assessing your marriage.  It’s much easier to work through the issues in a relationship while they are small and manageable.  For some reason, many people wait until the violations are so deep that coming back from the damage is a very difficult proposition.  Mind you, I did not say impossible!  Has the reality of your marriage left your marital expectations in the dust?

If this is the state in which you find yourself, you may be asking, “How do I not only achieve some relief but hopefully move this ailing union forward?”   I want to encourage you, it may be time to stop addressing the seemingly endless negatives about the other person.  Our tendency is to gather as much evidence as possible to support the reason you feel the way you do about your spouse.  This only feeds the negative attitude.  At this point it is important to find and focus on the positives.

You need to periodically identify what behaviors were occurring when things were better; in other words, what was I doing differently (or, doing right)? Notice that your spouse is not being addressed here.  There is good reason for that. One of the keys to a healthy relationship is that both parties involved take responsibility for their own attitudes and behavior.  I am more interested in you than your spouse for the simple reason that you do not have the ability to change them, only yourself.  If, however, you begin to take responsibility for your own behavior and focus on positive improvements, it certainly can affect the dynamics of the relationship.

Ponder the following scripture. As you do, listen to what God has to tell you. This may take more than a few minutes because sometimes our own hurts prevent us from wanting to hear what God has to say in a given situation.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.              -Jeremiah 33:3

What does this scripture speak to you?  Go someplace where you can be alone, someplace comfortable and with no intrusions.  Now make a list of six expectations you have for the future of your marriage.  Once your list is completed, go back and reread it.  Do you find more negatives in your expectations list than positives?  What current behavior(s) might you need to change to move the marriage back to a time when it was more fulfilling? Ask yourself what positive behaviors you did in the past that you are no longer doing.  Once you’ve identified theses behaviors you’ve complete half the job.  Yes, the other half is implementing them without expecting anything from your mate at this point.  “Well, why should I do it if they won’t even acknowledge it!”  Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.  Now that IS YOUR responsibility!

I pray blessing on you and that God give you the strength to do what’s right.

©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, Beliefs, Character, Communication, Emotions, Expectations, selflessness

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part IV)

boxers 3

To sum up what we have discovered about the key differences between men and women, it can be broken down into traits that seem to be “hard-wired” in the sexes. Men thrive on appreciation; women love the joy of anticipation.  The guys are competitive, women are cooperative by nature. Men lean toward a “fix-it” mentality, women like to express themselves.  Healthy men seek to take responsibility; women tend to respond to the dynamics of the relationship.  Guys do it once and do it big, ladies prefer smaller investments more often.  Guys sacrifice, women share.  It isn’t an issue of which way is better, it is part of our design. Although it is not one size fits all, these traits are pretty consistent.  Family of origin issues, life experiences and unhealthy beliefs can all skew the traits that we choose to exhibit for fear or lack of trust.  Even within the model we can pervert these characteristics based on our personal unhealthiness.  However, all things being considered, we can learn much about relationship behavior and areas in which we need to grow.

Hopefully you can see why it is so important not to provoke your spouse in these very sensitive and very important areas. Wives, do not belittle your husbands; it causes very deep damage. Rather, use this newfound awareness to reach in a positive way the man with whom you chose to share the rest of your life. Edify him. Show him that his presence does make a difference, and that he is important to both you and the family.

Husbands, establish trust in areas where you may have failed in the past. Show your wife that you will be the leader, and a leader worth following. Let your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no; be a man of your word. Show your family that you will do your best to earn their trust. You will make your family a priority. Both of you, practice the art of grace and mercy as you strive toward protecting one another’s hearts.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”     Matthew 12:25

When we understand and appreciate how our differences complement one another, God’s design becomes clear in his creation of men and women. God’s intent for marriage also becomes clear.  The differences between us are what contribute to the fullness of a marriage. We can each learn to grow in areas where we are weak and our spouse is strong. The requirement is accepting those differences and coming to embrace them.

Men and women, husband and wife were designed to be together from early creation.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”… So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.    Genesis 2:18, 21-22

This passage shows two things: Eve was taken from Adam therefore something in Adam was missing. Eve was that missing something, Eve complimented Adam’s life. Secondly, for those who think that women are inferior, note that woman was the final creation, the crowning achievement, if you will. Husband and wife are designed to complement one another as the two form one in marriage.

If there is pain in your past you have an obligation to get the help you need. God wants your marriage to thrive and this can only happen by cleaning up the filter with which we view life.  Take the pain to God, lay it at the foot of the cross and do not pick it up again, practice the art of forgiveness, grace and mercy so that those people who have hurt will no longer have claim on your life.  See a counselor if necessary, it is nothing to be ashamed of and there are times in our lives in which we can all benefit from a caring ear. Get the help you need, it’s good for you and it’s good for your spouse and family. There are some great counselors available through the American Association of Christian Counselors at the following website:

http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

Great blessings in your relationship!

©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, Beliefs, Character, Communication, Counseling, Differences, Emotions, Forgiveness, Grace, selflessness

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part III)

Differences

As we move into the third part of this ongoing post, we will continue to flesh out the common traits that can help us understand better how our spouse thinks and some of the motivational factors that lead to our behaviors.  These are not characteristics that need to be “fixed”, they are traits that should be embraced and considered elements that will grow us in greater ways than we might ever have experienced individually.  Granted, not every person will fit perfectly into this model, but I think you will find more things in common with these descriptors than differences.  Let’s continue our journey of understanding our mate.

Men tend to give of themselves completely. They are willing to sacrifice it all, much to their own frustration and regret. Men are prone to leave nothing behind and may resent those to whom they’ve given it all. If a friend asks us to help them move, we’ll say yes regardless of how we may actually feel, regardless of how tired we are or how much we already have on our own plate, and regardless of how many things we have already done for that person in the past. Men are less likely to say “no”. The reality is that if men do not learn to say “no” when they should, they may develop bitterness for those being helped. They may spend all day griping that they are now obligated to help instead of helping out of a loving heart. Fact is, they probably didn’t want to help in the first place!

Women typically do not deplete themselves to the point of resentment. More often than not, wives can master the concept of sharing without giving away the store. This is a simple issue of knowing how to develop boundaries. People have argued the issue of boundaries as being unscriptural. Looking at the Bible, God seems very clear about what he considers acceptable and unacceptable. Are these not boundaries? God calls us to set boundaries so as to maintain loving relationships.

These characteristics delineate a clear difference between men and women, husbands and wives. When all is peeled away, the heart of a man lies in his ability to feel competent. A man has an ingrained need to know that he makes a difference, whether it is in his job, in his relationship, or within himself. The dysfunctional behavior of workaholics defines this very well. For many men, it is much easier to feel effective and competent in the workplace than in a marriage. The job only has a minimum level of relational depth required, and a man can still be effective. It is much more difficult for a man to feel that same level of expertise at home with his wife and family because the investment is so much greater, yet men often feel like they have less control.

The level of depth necessary to maintain a relationship between a husband and wife should be considerably greater. Men can easily get intimidated by the mastery that many women tend to have in the art of communication. Women can talk about anything at any time. For men, it’s like the old television series Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Many women can paint a vivid canvas of emotions and responses without a second thought. As men, we prefer to deal with actions rather than show our investment in the relationship through emotions. That doesn’t mean men don’t have feelings and need to learn to deal with them in a healthy way.

For women, it’s a bit different. When you examine the deepest layer of a woman’s heart you will find the key issue of trust and security. A woman needs to know that she can trust her husband to keep her safe, do what’s right, and protect their family. This is why when a husband does not display the character qualities of a godly man (wisdom, truth, faithfulness, mercy, grace, love, and patience), it disrupts the flow of a marriage and undermines the very foundation of that marriage. Transparency is very important to a woman for it shows that her husband cares and prioritizes the relationship. Your wife wants to know how your day went, she wants to be involved in the household decisions, she wants to see her man take the initiative in resolving issues that need to be dealt with.

Here’s a challenge for you.  Examine yourself and make a commitment: what behaviors will you work on changing to better protect the heart of your mate? Ask your spouse if you are unsure of behaviors that may have hurt them in the past. The time for change is now!

Next time we will see how the differences between men and women fit together like a puzzle with intent.  This is all part of God’s design for marriage and very important to keep in mind as we grow throughout our relationship. Join me for the concluding part of the post, “The Differences Between Men and Women”.

Great blessings in your relationship!.

©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, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Grace, Respect, selflessness, Transparency, Unity

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part II)

Boxing 2

With the understanding that we can all work with what we know, we shall continue to shed some light on common traits amongst the sexes that are more often than not “hard-wired”. These traits can cause frustration if we do not take a graceful stance toward the one we love. These differences are designed to enrich our relationship, not produce a thorn in our side. By demonstrating a selfless attitude rather than one of arrogance and superiority these characteristics will grow you both and increase your capacity to love.

Let’s continue with the guys, men have a “fix-it” mentality. They like the challenge of addressing a problem and coming up with a quick and effective solution. When men can do that they feel good about themselves. This causes a great deal of irritation for most women. Women like to express themselves. They process information and emotions inside by discussing them. It’s not always an issue of needing a “fix”; they just want to be heard. So guys, a freebie: accept that you are married to a grown woman, and she doesn’t need you to fix her. Your wife is just as capable of making decisions and doing the right thing as you are. If she really needs your help with an issue, let her ask you! Husbands, you would benefit by being quiet more often and listening to what your wives have to say. Although it may be difficult, just try it and see what happens.

For husbands there is a great desire to take responsibility for the relationship. Men want to be the “take charge” kind of guy for their wife and family. Understand that the term responsible is in reference to a relatively healthy man. In dysfunctional relationship dynamics where the man has a great deal of baggage from the past, the husband may well be just the opposite and behave in a very irresponsible manner. Women, on the other hand, are quick to respond and more sensitive to the dynamics of the relationship. Wives like pouring back into the relationship.

Guys do it once and do it big. They invest wholeheartedly for an impacting result. Women prefer smaller investments more frequently. An example of this would be the husband who once a year spends money at the florist for the biggest, gaudiest bouquet of roses he can find, throwing in the box of chocolate and the overpriced teddy bear for good measure, thinking this makes up for anything he might have missed along the way. Quite possibly, if you asked your wife, she would much prefer to get one rose once a week on her pillow as a reminder of how much you love her, instead of the circus display described earlier.

Hopefully, now you are beginnings to see how the building blocks work together, how our differences can complement one another. Our differences are not the enemy. We will continue to elaborate on these differences in part three of the post, “The Differences Between Men and Women”.

Do you see yourself in some of the traits listed above? What are some of the ways that you can demonstrate more grace in maneuvering through the differences between you and your spouse? What might the result of your actions be?

In the third part of our post we will continue to flesh out the common traits that can help us understand better how our spouse thinks and some of the motivational factors that lead to our behaviors. See you next time!

I pray great blessings on you and your family.

©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, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Expectations, Grace, selflessness

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part I)

Boxers 1

As we age and mature, the hope is that we grow emotionally and spiritually. Unfortunately for many, myself included, we also grow physically. No matter how much we try to push, tuck, cram, and squeeze we will never get into the jeans of our youth. Face it, size 32  jeans were not designed to accommodate 40-inch waists, no matter what you want to believe! Some people try to do the same thing with their spouses.

It is a great mistake to try to force our wives or husbands into a mold of our own design. Develop the understanding that your differences are ideally the things that strengthen a marriage. What is required to make it work is a measure of patience, grace, and humility. We will venture together on a four-part journey designed to address the differences between the sexes. We will identify what makes a man and a woman tick. As we go deeper, we will uncover the heart of both men and women. Let’s begin by taking a look at some typical characteristics. These characteristics may not run completely across the board with every man or woman, but they are typical enough that we need to acknowledge these traits to better understand the person we married.

For men, the desire to be appreciated is a key factor in their make-up. Men like to know that their presence in a situation has an impact on that situation. We want to know that our input makes a difference. Men also tend to be competitive by nature. The challenge (and the fun) of winning is in the race. Even though maturing means we have to accept the occasional loss, no man likes it.

A couple made the decision to take off a few pounds. They signed up for Weight Watchers and began their point system for weight loss. It’s a well-known fact that men lose weight at a faster rate than women do—one of the things the husband greatly anticipated. Sure enough, the first week he lost 7.4 pounds and his wife lost considerably less than that, no big surprise. It was not because he was doing so much better than she but because of how men and women’s body chemistry and metabolism works. Frankly, he didn’t care about the reason as long as he continued to beat her. This simple example makes a point. Men love the thrill of the competition; it’s how they are wired. As a rule men care less about the details and more about the finish line.

Women love the joy of anticipation, so they typically like the idea of planning ahead. For some, the thought process, the discussions, and the planning are the most rewarding part of the execution of events. Women tend to have a more cooperative nature, so they enjoy the opportunity to work with others. You can see why that would be important to a woman in her relationship. This is why the husband that “shuts down” is a painful hurdle for the wife to get over.

In the areas addressed above, have you been respectful of these differences? What behaviors on your part may need to change to accommodate some of these changes? Remember, your marriage is not about you, we are called to selfishness in our relationships.

In the next post we will look at more traits common to the sexes, don’t miss it!

I pray great blessings on you and your family.

©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, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Expectations, Grace, selflessness

Date? I’m Married!

date-night-2

One of the elements of a healthy marital relationship that is all too often eliminated once the ring goes on the finger is date night.  It is amazing how many couples don’t remember the last time they and their spouse did something together by themselves.  Realizing that once the adorable little kiddies come things can be a bit difficult and schedules fill up fast does not make it less important.

Perhaps it would be good to view your relationship the same way you view your career and work life.  How do we get things done at work?  We prioritize the workload. This may seem very mechanical and even uncaring, but doesn’t the lack of prioritizing your marital life strike you as being considerably less caring?  For the guys, take the initiative and set up a babysitter, make a dinner reservation, make all the arrangements.  Trust me, she will appreciate it.  A man who takes the initiative in the relationship will be deemed very attractive to your wife.  A word of advice: don’t make the movies your destination unless it’s the rare exception.  That in itself does not classify as a date night.  Conversation and interaction is limited between a couple while the THX sound is blaring in their eardrums.

Ladies, you too have a great ability to orchestrate wonderful getaways and weekend excursions; use that gifting.  Not everything you do need be expensive.  For those on a budget, a walk in the

park, a long drive, or a field by the airport to watch the planes take off would all do nicely.  Both of you, be creative!  My wife and I have Disneyland passes and love to go there on a Sunday night, ride a few rides, and have a nice dinner, but mostly it affords us opportunity to chat as we stroll around the park.  If you don’t give your marriage priority, I can assure you that you will find the romance and intimacy diminishing rapidly.

Ask yourself this simple question, with regards to the topic of date nights, how do we measure up as a couple?  In what ways can I/we  pave the way for increased time together to grow and dream as a team?  What will be my first step toward improvement in this area of our lives?

If it has been so long since dating your spouse you might want to get a jump start by asking your mate some of their most favorite things to do.  What do they really enjoy?  This might begin to prompt your thinking, minimally you’ll have so suggestions to get you started.

There are few things that draw a couple closer than to know that they are important to their spouse.  Planning and executing date nights are a great way to demonstrate to your mate just how important they are to you!

Be Blessed and enjoy your date nights, I know your spouse will!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Communication, Dating, Priorities, selflessness

Stumbling in the Darkness

darkness

Why is it that so often couples come into my office, there marriage a wreck, without a clue about what to do about it?  They are totally lost, hopeless and helpless with regards to what direction to go.  “How did we get like this?” is a very common phrase that echoes off the walls of my office.  My question for them,“ Why did you wait so long to address this situation?”

Marriages do not dissolve overnight.  Generally it takes an extended period of frustration to erode the foundation of a marital commitment.  Why the procrastination?  Let me share a little allegory that might give insight into the consequences of poor decision-making…

Once upon a time there was a man.  This man was enjoying a 3D movie in the privacy of his home theater.  Needless to say, the room was darkened as the glare from the movie screen lite up the room.  Suddenly, there was the sound of the telephone coming from the other room.  Annoyed, the man rose to his feet, crossed to the end of the couch, around a small padded leather child’s theater seat then past another, making his way to the screen in order to cross to the door leading out of the theater.  He passed another child’s chair, maneuvered past the wooden, cinema poster decorated coffee table, finally opening the door and exiting the theater.  In a hurry to get to the phone, he didn’t even bother to stop the video or turn on the house lights.  In fact, in his rush it never occurred to him to remove the 3D glasses he was wearing.  After all he was coming right back, no need to bother with that!  As one would expect, by the time he reached the phone the ringing stopped.  The call was obviously not important enough for the caller to leave a message.  With a sigh of frustration, he turned back around a headed toward the theater…

Is anyone predicting a problem?

…rushing back into the theater our main character does not take into account the eye adjustment required when leaving a brightly-lite room into a darkened theater, to say nothing of the fact that, don’t forget, he is still wearing those 3D glasses he was too lazy to remove.  He crosses the screen, blinded by the intense light from the projector, eyes that are still trying to adjust, and unable to see through the darkness before him, the poor sap bumps the coffee table at the front of the theater.  This one action triggers a ballet of disaster!  He tumbles forward, curves to the left, hoping to regain balance.  He falls forward, bumping an end table next to a chair.  To compensate, he pulls back, tripping on the chair which causes him to completely loose his footing.  Mind you, he hasn’t hit the ground yet.  The situation resembles a giant pinball machine; he is the ball that is bouncing from one furniture item to the next.  Now it’s too late to stop the inevitable.  Down he comes, crashing on the side arms of the child’s padded leather theater seat.  THUD! As he quickly discovers, the padding does a rather poor job of covering the solid wood frame of the chair.  Rolling off the chair he feels the pain as the end table crashes upon him, pelting him with the heavy ceramic coasters that adorned the table.  CRASH!  Lying on his back, a painful groan is the only thing that cuts through the dialog being spoken on the screen.  Now he feels it appropriate to remove the glasses that in all the commotion, as if to mock him, refused to fall off on their own.  The consequence of these little decisions included two broken ribs, several bruises and many weeks of painful recovery.  I’m sure that most of you predicted nothing but bad possibilities in the previous scenario.  I wish I had the moment the phone rang.

This is often how we conduct our marriages.  Here are a few helpful tips to promote healing in your relationship:

Turn on the lights!  We need to be realistic about the issues that face the marriage and stop ignoring reoccurring problems.  They will NOT resolve themselves.  You also need to accept responsibility for the areas in which YOU have done damage to your spouse.

Don’t be lazy, take off the 3D glasses!  It is important to consider the negative consequences if the marriage continues down its current path.  Try to imagine a clear image of what your marriage could be.  It’s harder to regain your balance once bad behavior, negative marital attitudes and resentments have become a way of life.

Stop the movie for a minute and tend to the business at hand!  Look toward the future.  Don’t be so focused on the problems of the present that you forget to prioritize what your marriage CAN be if you put forth the effort.  You’ll need to rebuild the relationship a step at a time, don’t think you can do it all at once, there are wound that need to heal.

Too many obstacles in a dark room create a nightmarish maze that is bound to trip you up!  You need a clear path.  Sometimes that takes a third party to help you both sift through the hindrances in your relationship.  Clear out the junk!  In many cases, small adjustment made sooner than later can eliminate a catastrophe down the road.  A good counselor who shares your world view can help you through that process.  Here is a great resource of counselors in your area:

http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

You will also find many other resources that will help you to propel your marriage forward.  Feel free to have a look around.  Take the steps necessary to begin your journey to the marriage that you’ve always wanted, the marriage that you signed up for.

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, Commitment, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Counseling, Expectations, Priorities, Restoration, Unity

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part Two)

bible reading 3

In connecting feelings and behavior let’s see how these two dynamics interact. We will refer to the expert, Merriam-Webster. Behavior is defined as “the manner of conducting oneself; anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation; the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment.” This is where the problem often unfolds. Events happen to us throughout the course of our day that trigger an emotional response. Often that emotional response leads to a behavior tied to that response. In other words, we determine our behavior based on what we feel about that particular person, circumstance, or event.

A common example: you are driving along the freeway. Suddenly a car comes off the on-ramp merging onto the freeway. They merge right in front of you, forcing you to swerve into the next lane nearly causing an accident. You have experienced surprise, fear, and anger almost simultaneously. Taking the personal assault angrily, you pull up alongside them and offer the all too common single-finger gesture of dissatisfaction at the behavior of others. You know nothing about that other person. A variety of reasons may have caused that reaction from the other person, reasons that have nothing to do with you personally. Scripture is very clear:

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.        – 2 Corinthians 10:5

We are called to live intentionally. If that were not the case, why would God have left us the Holy Bible as a love letter from Him and clear instruction on how we should live our lives? In reality the question should not be, “Are feeling god or bad?” The better question would be, “How do we behave when the feelings come?” For heer is where we get tripped up. We are called to behave in a scriptural manner in spite of how we may feel. In scripture you will note that in spite of how he may have felt about something, he never behaved in a way that was inappropriate. Yes, the bar is high, but make that your goal.

How often do you allow your feelings to dictate your behavior? How many times do you do what your feelings tell you to do? The curious thing about feelings is that it is sometimes difficult to determine what truly triggered a particular feeling that just swept over us. Since feelings tend to be inconsistent at best it would benefit you to focus on your behavior in spite of what you may be feeling. Making healthy decisions about your behavior can have a positive impact on your negative feelings.

©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, Emotions

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part One)

fighting

Let’s pose a simple question, “Feelings, are they good or bad?” The most common response to this question is that overall they are a good thing. The feelings themselves may not always be good (anger, frustration, sadness), but in general they are a good thing. Certainly, when Jesus came to earth in human form, his emotions and feelings were on display. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger when the sellers were ripping off those who came to worship by charging exorbitant amounts of money to purchase the required animal sacrifices. Jesus went so far in his anger as to turn over the sacrifice tables, making them fully aware of his displeasure.

We see demonstrations of sadness and depression in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus agonizes over his fate. In Mark 14:34, Jesus clearly makes his feelings known: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he tells Peter, James, and John. He asks them to keep watch while he goes up a little farther to pray. Upon his return he finds them sleeping. “Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” Jesus shows obvious disappointment with the three disciples. There are also times of happiness recorded in the life of Jesus. If feelings are good enough for Jesus, they are good enough for me.

Whether feelings are good or bad is not really the issue. We obviously have feelings. Some of those feelings are good, while others are not so good. The core issue is not the feelings themselves. The important thing to consider is the consequences of those feelings. In other words, what do we do with our feelings? How are they demonstrated in our behavior?

Are your behaviors an extension of your emotional state? How does this dynamic affect your interactions with your spouse? What do you think might happen if you focused on your behavior rather than your feelings?

We will examine this in the next post so be sure to check back!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Emotions