Category Archives: Emotions

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

Forgiveness is Not a Suggestion (Part 2)

extending-forgiveness-2

In our last post we discussed a letter-writing technique that will be helpful in allowing us to forgive one who has wronged us.  This technique is most useful in situations involving our spouses, but just as useful in addressing anger and resent that is being stored up in circumstances with friends, family and even co-workers.

A quick summary of the technique will refresh your memory.  First, find a nice secluded place to write a forgiveness letter.  It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you can have a place to concentrate.  Try your best to eliminate the distractions of the outside world.

Second, address the letter to your spouse (or whoever wounded you) and then follow it with your statement of forgiveness: “I choose to forgive you for (whatever that issue might be)”   Then, write down how you feel about the idea of forgiving them for this issue.   Write down the second emotional response, then the third.  Continue writing until all that you feel is written on the paper before you.  Once you have addressed all the feelings that surfaced from your first statement of forgiveness, take a breath and write “I forgive you.” for a final time regarding that hurt.  Go back to part one of this post if you need more elaboration or an example.

We follow this letter with a technique that allows you to receive closure in those areas that you need to forgive in your spouse (or others).  It is known as “the empty chair technique.” Take a seat next to another chair and imagine that your spouse is sitting there, willing to receive what you wrote in your letter.  Read the letter aloud to them, and each time you make your statement of forgiveness, imagine your spouse accepting your forgiveness. Take as long as necessary to complete this process.

Once you have shared your letter of forgiveness, destroy it thoroughly. There is no need to actually share it with your spouse or to keep it on hand to revisit. It is done; now let it go. This is an issue between God and yourself. If the enemy tries to throw it back in your face, remind yourself that you are done harboring resentment about that and have given it to God.

Now that you have concluded this assignment, do not take back what you have extended. It’s time to leave the hurt at the foot of the cross and go forward on your journey of forgiveness which includes allowing God to heal you of the residue from the hurt left behind.  Is there anyone else in your life that has hurt you?  Is there anyone else you need to forgive?  It would benefit you to go through this process again, addressing those other people toward whom you have developed bitterness.  God wants your yoke to be light.  It’s time to let go of the anger so that you focus your energy toward what God has planned for you instead.

Remember, the decision to forgive is immediate but the journey of healing for what you are forgiving of may be an ongoing journey.  As you come to accept the fact that you have forgiven, the pain from past hurts will begin to diminish.  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, Emotions, Forgiveness, Restoration

Forgiveness is Not a Suggestion (Part I)

extending-forgiveness-1

I see countless people in my office that struggle with moving beyond the hurt in their lives.  A key component of moving forward involves ones ability to forgive those who have wronged us.  We confused and think that if we forgive we condone the other persons bad behavior.  When the religious folks of the time asked Jesus, “How are we required to forgive?”  His concise response, “Seven times seventy.”  Jesus was not referring to a specific number, he was telling the people that we are ALWAYS called to forgive.  Forgiveness is less about the other person than a way for us to move forward and develop a heart of hatred.  Once the bitterness is established it’s like giving the offending party permission to continue to victimize us.  I would like to share a technique that will help to put you on the road to forgiveness.  The healing process may take some time, but this will allow you to solidify the decision to forgive.

Find yourself a nice secluded place. It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you can have a place to concentrate.  Have plenty of paper on hand.  It may take more than one sitting to complete task and you don’t want anyone to read this letter.  Begin this process by praying that God would give you the strength and courage to address the pain and hurt that will likely surface as you start to write your list of hurts.

Address the letter to your spouse and then follow it with your statement of forgiveness: “I choose to forgive you for…”   No doubt several feelings will surface. Identify the pain that would interfere with your ability to forgive.  Write down the first emotional responses to your statement of forgiveness.  In other words, how do you feel about the idea of forgiving your spouse for this issue.   Write down the second emotional response, then the third. Write them all out, beginning each time with “I choose to forgive you for…”   Let them flow.

Continue writing until all that you feel is written on the paper before you. This process will help to move some of these destructive, hurtful feelings out of you and into the open, much as a surgeon tries to cut away anything that would interfere with the normal functioning of your body. Feel free to write as much as you need to write.  Once you have addressed all the feelings that surfaced from your first statement of forgiveness, take a breath and write “I forgive you” for a final time regarding that issue.

Example:

Dear Jim,

I forgive you for not making me a priority in our relationship.

  • Why am I bothering to forgive you? You couldn’t care less!
  • I’ll never have priority over your friends.
  • I hate it when you work all the time and have no time for me!
  • It embarrasses and hurts me when I hear how my friends’ husbands enjoy time with their wives.

I forgive you for not making me a priority in our relationship.

Now we move on to your next statement of forgiveness.  Write “I forgive you for…” and go through the same process as just described.  You will continue to move through all the issues you have been harboring resentment about, letting them go one by one by extending forgiveness for them.

When you feel that you have addressed everything you want to cover in your letter, take a moment to reflect on what you have just completed.  Congratulations, this was a monumental task!  Do not feel that you must complete this in one sitting, as the emotions generated by this assignment may require that you revisit it a couple of times to complete it.

What now?  In the next post, we will complete the p[rocess of extending forgiveness to others by addressing the letter that you have completed.

©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, Emotions, Forgiveness, Restoration

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

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

I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part I)

gift-box

It’s that time of year again when the incurably curious sift among the beautifully ornate boxes and bags littered under Christmas tree.  The gifts come in all shapes and sizes and we always envy the one with the biggest gift.  They say “Don’t be selfish, it’s the thought, not the size of the present!”  I suppose that’s human nature to want the best and the biggest, this is what society teaches us.  As a pastor, I probably shouldn’t say this, but, I concede.  Sometimes the biggest gift is the best!

Let’s step back a few months, weeks before we even ventured into this holiday season…

I came through the front door of my mother’s home. I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil.  My oldest of ten years sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa.  This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy.  My youngest, age seven, was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears.  Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere.  The image was in stark contrast to the joyous way the day began…

I was about to participate in an event that would fill my heart with joy!  I had the pleasure of experiencing the same excitement a scant year ago with my eldest son.  I helped him up the steps as I walked around to the side.  He found his position and sat down on the step, he looked out at all the people, there to celebrate this event with us, then he turned to me with that ever familiar smile.  In spite of occasional displays, shy he is not.  The senior pastor held the microphone out as I asked, “Is there anything that you would like to share?”  “I would like to thank everyone who came out today to see me get baptized.  I love all of you and most importantly, I love God.”  He smiled, my heart nearly burst from my chest with happiness.  The congregation was clapping, my boy was obviously pleased with their response.  “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”  “Yes, I have.”  “Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”  I leaned him back, completely submerging him for a moment, then back to his upright position.  I bent down to his ear and whispered, “I love you.” He returned my words with a big kiss. “I love you too!”

Once he had decided that he was ready to be baptized, I had shared with him more specifically the purpose and symbolism of the event.  Baptism is an outward expression of your decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the lord of your life.  Although baptism does not save you, it is a testimony to others that you will strive to live your life for God and die to sin.  Your decision to accept Jesus is the key to eternity following our life here on earth.  The submersion in water represents our burial or death to self.  Coming up from the water is symbolic of resurrection into our new life with Christ.  The entire ceremony is symbolic of what Jesus did for us on the cross that most important day several hundred years ago.  Yes, even at the young age of seven, my boy understood the importance of baptism and the gift that was given to us, in spite of what we may have done.  As a believer and follower of Christ we are assured a glorious eternity with Him.  But, I digress.

After a wonderful celebratory lunch with family and friends, all were in high spirits.  At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that God would use the events of the day to make a practical, hard-hitting point to all.  We needed to make one additional stop.  One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit.  Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!

His wife welcomed the visit and was thrilled to see the boys, hugging us all as she took us to his room.  It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face…

This life lesson will conclude in my NEXT POST, “I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)

May you all be blessed as you ENJOY this Christmas Season!

©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.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

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Filed under Baptism, Beliefs, Christmas, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Restoration, Salvation, Thankfulness

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

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