Category Archives: Expectations

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 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

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

Keep Your Focus Upward!

Focus on God

I sit in my hospital room, contemplating the events that brought me here. What started as a freak accident, stepping on a screw head that was in the threshold between the master bedroom and the bathroom, has turned into a serious infection and hospitalization. The podiatrist entered my room with a choice of alternatives. “The infection is very serious and growing. The antibiotic IV’s will only hold it at bay. Our choice is one of two, send you home for six weeks with an antibiotic IV with no guarantee that we will kill the infection and very possibly be in a worse place than we are now, or remove the toe in a place past the infection site and eliminate the spread.”

I couldn’t believe it! Things were going so well. I had returned just two weeks before with a first-place gold medal honor for the first book I had ever authored. My wife and I were honored with a radio interview regarding our books, our ministry and our marriage. The Interview went so well that they slated us for a follow-up. Other interviews are on the horizon. Our ministry was growing and people were being healed. I was revved up and ready to teach my next marriage class in early January. To say nothing of the Christmas excitement flowing through the home. All seemed right with the world.

Why God? Why? This was where I chose to emotionally park myself.

As human beings this is our tendency. Forget all of the blessings that God has bestowed and focus ONLY on the one thing that we can’t make sense of. I don’t underestimate the importance of the grieving process and growing past those circumstances in which we can’t understand the loss. The problem is, too many times we don’t bother to put our car in reverse, back out of the parking space and move forward, working through the hurt and loss that only comes with God’s help.

Prayer before making my decision led me to Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” I was not alone in my circumstances. I was never alone.

When Jesus walked the earth, knowing the pain and the agony he would have to endure at the crucifixion, he asked God to take this cup if it was His will. This was very human, Jesus experienced all of our emotions. Jesus also knew his father and trusted in His strength to do what was necessary. This is an example to us all. In spite of the trials we may face, lean into the one who will get us through, regardless whether we understand the outcome or not.

How did my trial end? I processed my situation (I concede, with a bit of pouting) then decided to back out of the parking slot that I had settled into. Three days later I left the hospital (well, all except one less toe on my right foot.) Confident in the decision that I made. I will be spending the Christmas holiday recuperating with family and friends, fully aware and most thankful for all He has done (and is doing) for me. I will be most eager to get up and running for 2016!

I encourage you who are struggling or dealing with trials this holiday season, you are not alone. Trust God to carry you through the darkness.

I wish you all a MERRRY CHRISTMAS and focus on the blessings that God has given you.

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Filed under Christmas, Emotions, Expectations, Grief, Thankfulness, Trials, Trust

When Expectations Are Set In Stone

set in stone

Expectations can be a slippery slope.  The bottom line regarding expectations is to be wary.  In many cases if we rely on our expectations and they are unrealistic, or based on past events with no consideration toward the possibility for change, they can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, if you choose to believe that an outcome is likely, you can create the scenario for that very belief to come true.

Let’s assume that Harry has a dreaded fear of authority figures because his father was very critical of him. He comes into work that morning and sees a note from his boss on his desk: “My office—11:30 am.”  Immediately the anxiety begins to build. What could he possibly want? I don’t think he really likes me.  He never talks to me; why does he want to see me now? And so the internal conversation goes.

By 11:30 Harry has built up such a scenario of assumptions in his head that he is ready to defend everything from what he had for breakfast to why he voted the way he did in the last election!  Most likely he will walk into that office with a huge chip on his shoulder, ready to be defensive at the slightest provocation.  Just before Harry opens his mouth, his boss acknowledges his efforts and apologizes that he hasn’t mentioned it before and would like to show his appreciation by increasing Harry’s salary for a job well done.  If Harry had expressed what he had been feeling, his foot would have gone directly down his throat—and potentially a nice raise out the window.

The bigger problem with expectations is that it does not allow for growth.  In relationships where there is damage, we often set the script (or it’s been set) and refuse to change it.  Not so surprising, who wants to be hurt again when we’ve been hurt before.  However, when the mates make a decision to change and really work on the relationship we need to adapt our expectations and be flexible in order to make way for the possibility of change.  Otherwise we will continue to doubt the sincerity and potential in our spouse.  We will always assume the worst!  I’m not telling you to be naïve.  The decision to change should show behavioral results.  But, if the change is becoming evident, everyone will need to adjust their expectations to assure further growth.   The reality-we serve a God who specializes in transformation.

Do you need to learn to adjust your expectations in order to allow others to grow?  Have you inhibited growth in others by your concrete assumptions that “they will NEVER change?  Can you see where this philosophy may be damaging your spouse, children or friendships?  Remember, it’s never too late 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, Expectations, Restoration

What’s Real About Romance?

masks

The idea of romantic love has been expressed in an infinite number of venues. When speaking of romantic love I am not talking about being romantic in your relationship; these are two different things. Let’s differentiate. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a great literary example of two star-crossed lovers whose family feuding prevents them from being together, leading to their ultimate ends. This is wonderfully romantic stuff. The movies are obsessed with the idea of romantic love and that our love for one another will conquer any adversity.

During dating and courtship, it is hard to find any flaws in the “most beautiful person on the face of this planet.” Well, we tend to ignore the flaws. It’s the whole “rose-colored glasses” syndrome. Romantic love certainly has a place in the development of relationships. One of the problems with romantic love is that it tends not to be very realistic. Romantic love typically does not allow for imperfections. This is not to say that people in romantic love are perfect, it’s just that many times neither party is willing to assess or address imperfections in the other person. We allow the relationship to run the course, believing (unrealistically) that things will get better in time. They don’t get better, and they often get much worse as your mate becomes more comfortable with you. However, since you never addressed the issue to begin with, they are baffled by your frustration with the behavior now. After all, they have been consistent.

In your opinion, what do you think is a key element in reducing surprises based on denying flaws? What reasons might you give for not opening the door to communication in dealing with some of the “red flags” in your relationship? What fears do you think drive the response to the previous question?

©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, Emotions, Expectations, Love

It’s YOUR Job to Make Me Happy…isn’t it?

angry

When a spouse takes the responsibility for their mate’s happiness problems are bound to arise. The flipside of that coin, and just as unreasonable, is the spouse who expects their mate to make them happy. This is an interesting but absolutely implausible belief founded in faulty thinking. First off, do you really have that much power, the power to make others happy? Some people believe so. Happiness as an attitude; it is a matter of personal choice. This is not to say that things won’t happen to you that will make you unhappy, but that is situational and involves temporary setbacks. These tend to be short-term, and you don’t live your life there.

Unfortunately, some people live their lives unhappily as a matter of choice. Your obligation is to honestly assess how much your behavior contributes to their unhappiness—things you are responsible for.

Secondly, a problem arises when we view our marriage through a filter of faulty beliefs that put our spouse in a “no win” situation. When we do not consider the validity of our beliefs, when we simply accept them as they are—without understanding they may come from dysfunctional roots—we leave ourselves open to taking things personally. When we operate in our default mode we tend to view all of life’s events from only our own perspective (healthy or not), rather than challenge our beliefs or consider the perspective of others.

We stack the deck against our spouse when we take everything personally and expect our spouse to make us happy. It’s not your spouse’s job to make you happy! Consider that maybe there is a greater call that ultimately results in happiness. Remember that your perception of the outward appearance can be skewed (just food for thought).

When you expect others to make you happy, what does that say about you? Nobody is perfect. Do you ever feel validated when someone lets you down? In other words, do get some sort of satisfaction when someone fails you (example: “I knew it would happen eventually!”)? Are you always looking for the “other shoe to drop” in your relationships? Could you ever live up to your own expectations of yourself? Although it sounds noble, “I never expect anything out of anyone else that I don’t expect out of myself,” are excessively hard on yourself…on others? Where does that attitude come from?

©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, Expectations, Self-Talk

Do You Have Evidence to Support That Belief?

evidence1

Think about your favorite Agatha Christie mystery movie. The apparent villain has been apprehended by the steadfast constable. The astute old lady, who has spent years reading detective magazines, has done a little research of her own. Turns out the chief inspector was a bit hasty in pointing the finger of guilt. Our elderly armchair detective has been less hasty. When all is said and done, and after our dear lady has presented the pieces of the puzzle to the reluctant and often frustrated chief inspector, he has no choice but to reconsider his stand. The real culprit is apprehended after, no doubt, an exciting confrontation with our amateur sleuth, guns a-blazing.

What is the point of my dramatic buildup? Ask yourself: what is going to be necessary to convict the criminal, the actual perpetrator of the crime? Evidence! Your objective is to challenge those beliefs that you have about your relationship and your spouse. Are they beneficial or destructive? If you believe them to be accurate, upon what evidence do you base them? If you have no evidence in support of a belief, why are you holding onto it? What might happen if you choose not to accept that belief?

Remember, it is okay to examine what you believe; in fact it is highly recommended. This is one way to address the lies that lead to faulty thinking. The continual gathering of evidence to support what you believe will only expose the lies or reinforce healthy beliefs, neither of which is a bad thing.

We cycle through hundreds, even thousands of thoughts every day.  Think about some of the disagreements/arguments that keep surfacing in your relationships/marriage.  Can you identify what belief you are holding onto that perpetuates these conflicts?  Plug them into the questions asked in paragraph two; are you being reasonable?

©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 Expectations, Self-Talk

Your Child Is Not An Adult…Yet.

Parentification

Too often parents approach their children as if they were at the same maturity level that they are. Your child is a child, so adjust your expectations of their behavior, reasoning ability, and emotional state. Remember, they should not be acting just like you. If your expectations of your children are unrealistically high you run the risk of doing considerable damage to their sense of self. They will feel defeated by the fact that they can’t attain the goals you set for them. Feelings of failure are sure to ensue. Be clear about your expectations for your children. If expectations are vague and unspecified you place the child in a lose-lose situation. As with adults, it is vital that children can benchmark success in their lives. If they don’t know what is expected it is unfair to punish them when they fail to reach the goal.

Where do your expectations of your children come from? Did your parent(s) have unrealistically high or unspoken expectations of you growing up? How does this affect you today? Need to make some adjustments?

©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 Expectations, Parenting