Category Archives: Misconceptions

Take Off the Blindfold: Is Your Selfishness Destroying Your Relationship?

selfishness 6

When you think about the word selfish, certain images (or people) probably come to mind.  I want to take a few moments and address selfishness in terms that you may not have considered before.  Where does it come from? How early does it begin to take root? Can something be done about it?  Let’s draw out the aspects of selfishness and develop a different perspective of its meaning through a brief scenario.

Imagine a child about two years old, with no discernible expression on his face. He sits quietly in a corner watching the hustle and bustle of the room around him. Father comes into the room, looks at his watch, then sits on the couch. The child rises and moves toward his father, arms outstretched. The father suddenly remembers the task that needed to be completed before he rushed off to work. Up he bounces, moving quickly past the child.

The child’s expression is distinctly noticeable now. His big brown eyes look sad as he lowers his arms and whimpers quietly. His eyes light up as he notices Mother, who has stepped out of the bedroom. His arms extend once more, craving a hug, some sort of affection from his mother. She stands by the couch and continues chatting on her cell phone. She proceeds down the hall into the darkness, as if not even noticing the child. The child’s arms and head both lower. He drops to the floor and sits quietly. Can you imagine what the child is feeling at this moment?

Dad is very involved in his work, keeping food on the table and a roof over the family’s head. Mother wants to do better, but Dad is so obsessed with his work that she has sole responsibility of the household, to say nothing of the fact that she too holds down a job. It’s tough to make ends meet these days. In fact, Dad is so caught up in his work, spending time with his guy friends, and keeping up with the latest sports scores that Mom feels neglected. His lack of attention makes her feel unattractive.

As time goes by, Mother becomes more irritable and less interested in making the marriage a go. She certainly can’t do it by herself. She can feel everything slowly slipping away. Some of  her downtime leads her to partake in a drink or two. This is a convenient way of numbing the pain. The frequency of her drinking increases as her disillusionment increases. Everyone is so caught up in themselves that there doesn’t seem to be much time for that poor child. All he wants is some love and affection, the security of someone who cares.

The family behaviors continue through the years. The little boy continues to reach out to his parents for that love in a variety of ways. Nothing seems to change for the long term so the child, now ten, comes to accept his fate. He begins to close off. He stops expecting. Many of you can feel for that child and understand his plight. Some of you may be able to relate on a very personal level.

How do you think this process develops over the years?  What do you think this dynamic looks like in adult relationships, in marriage? Do you think that it is important to adjust your perceptions of the adult world as you transcend your childhood upbringing?

A failure to update your script results in a child’s need for self-sufficiency in order to overcome the pain of not receiving what you were entitled to as you were growing up (love, affection, nurturing and affirmation, hugs, acceptance etc.) turning into adult selfishness. When I say adult selfishness, I  mean that you still view the world through your childlike perceptions.

In a marriage it is essential to develop an attitude of selflessness. Let’s take a few moments and think about the state of your current relationship. It’s easy to say that when we are steeped in turmoil and conflict that the entire problem is the other person’s fault. Perhaps your spouse has done some things that have hurt you very deeply. You are two different people and you are bound to do things that ruffle one another’s feathers. Fact is, it takes two people to make or break a marriage. It’s an issue of dynamics. I want you to meditate before the Lord and be honest. Ask Him to show you the areas in which you have helped to create or facilitate the current dynamics of your marriage. This will be a demonstration of taking responsibility for your part in moving the relationship in the direction it is currently. Taking responsibility is a major step toward change and healing, it is also a step toward growing beyond our own selfishness.

You’ll find more insights, exercises and techniques to work through selfishness in Marriage By Design which can be ordered through and B&, more information available on this site.

You will be blessed as you grow your marriage.

©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 Behavior, Beliefs, Family of Origin, Misconceptions, Selfishness, selflessness

Age and Wisdom

senior citizens 2

You know, a funny thing happened on my way to the bacon and eggbeaters sandwich on white buttered toast…

This particular morning had already been agendized.  Wake up early, go grab a nice, but quick, breakfast, spend some time in the Word and off to the office for what I had anticipated to be a challenging day of counseling.  Little did I know what God had in store for me on this particular day.  The entire restaurant was empty except for a group of about thirty older men who were chatting, eating and sipping their coffee.  I would have to estimate the average age of this group to be eighty.  The server seated me in a booth that was very close to the congregation of “seasoned” citizens.  There was a sign posted behind the men (which they obviously posted themselves, with pride) that read “United States Veterans Club”.  As I sat, many of them greeted me with a warm “Hello”, which I reciprocated.  I will admit that it was nice to be regarded as a “young whipper-snapper” amongst these crusty codgers.

Without a beat one of the men came over to me and asked if I was a veteran, to which I replied, “No, sir, I am not.  But I have a great deal of respect for those who have served our country in its defense.”  “What do you do?” he asked.  “I’m a pastor.  I counsel and offer guidance to those in need.”  He smiled, “Oh, my friend, the battles that you fight are every bit as real as the battles that we have been involved in.”

Pretty soon, another gentleman slide out of his seat and right into my both, directly across from me.  Another joined us.  I felt like I had become an honorary vet.  They began sharing some of their life experiences, their struggles and victories, and lessons learned on their journeys.  They shared their stories of faith while presenting their personal testimonies to me, a complete stranger.  I said very little, just listened intently.  I had a rare opportunity to glean from approximately 225 years of accumulated history.  They shared with honor, yet humility.  It was my time to learn.  My quiet, solo breakfast turned into a colorfully and richly detailed lesson in human endeavor and perseverance.  I cannot minimize, and they will never fully understand, the impact that these men left on me at that fateful breakfast.

As a Christian, I walked away from the encounter with several lessons that I need to practice always.  I pray that I am so welcoming and open to experiencing the lives of others and willing to be so bold, yet humble in sharing my faith.  I pray that I will take the time to listen to what those older than myself have to offer, because there is much to glean.  I also pray that I never develop a “I have arrived” attitude; that arrogance will never deflect what I have yet to learn (which is much!)

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,…    Proverbs 6:20-23

 Solomon’s wisdom speaks volumes to us all and transcends the confines of a familial relationship.  There is wisdom all around us in the minds of those often written off by our society.  I encourage you, don’t let the fear of a wrinkled, faded, well-worn stage curtain prevent you from peering into the wisdom and illumination that may lie just beyond it.  Those extra years may give you wisdom that you seek.

James, the gentleman who first slid into my booth concluded our interaction by stating, “I know I’m just rambling on and I don’t have much of a formal education, but thank you for letting me sit with you.”  Smiling, I replied, “My friend, there are far too many who have exchanged a fancy piece of paper for their faith.  Never underestimate the value of what you have learned and the importance that it is to the next generation.  I thank you.”  And so we all parted.  I can’t speak for them, but I can say that I am richer for the experience.  Again, God’s agenda is better than my own.

Love our senior’s, remember, you will be one before you know it!

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 Elderly, Fellowship, Love, Misconceptions, Respect, Role Modeling

Why Forgiveness? (Part III): Beyond the Pain


As I noted in my last post, forgiveness does not mean you will simply forget what has happened in the past. What it does mean is that you can decide how much control it will have on your future. Merriam-Webster defines the word forget as “to disregard intentionally.” Again we come back to intentionality. We must choose to leave the pain of the past at the foot of the cross or we will continue to be re-victimized over and over as we allow the bitterness back in.

We must also understand that our ability to forgive may have nothing to do with whether the situation is resolved or all wrongs are righted. If God tells us we should forgive, that means it is something we have the ability to do regardless of the actions of others. In some cases the other person may not believe (or choose not to accept responsibility) that they even committed the offense that hurt you so deeply. This is common in cases of molestation.

This brings up a good point. I have worked with people who were molested in their younger years and now as adults request help and healing so they can get on with their lives. In some instances the perpetrator is deceased. Forgiveness is a key element in our ability to move beyond our pain. But how on earth can we possibly forgive the perpetrator if we have no ability to get restitution?  The fact is God does not make restitution a condition of our ability to forgive. The choice to begin the forgiveness journey resides in the decision you make between God and yourself.

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us….” We are called to be imitators of God. We are called to extend ourselves beyond our own understanding, beyond our own emotional hurts, and behave in ways that will edify one another and grow our marriages.

Sometimes moving beyond the pain of the past is not directly related to your relationship with your spouse. The pain can come from much further back in your life experiences. The problem with unresolved forgiveness is that it creates a root of dysfunction that infiltrates the garden of your marital relationship. In such cases it would be beneficial to secure the services of a christian counselor in your area. A great resource is (The American Association of Christian Counselors) Remember, your obligation is to bring your BEST self to your relationship. Be blessed!

©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 Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restitution, Restoration

Why Forgiveness? (Part II): The Misconceptions of Forgiveness

letting go

You have probably asked yourself, “How many times am I supposed to forgive that knothead? It seems like they just keep repeating the same things that cause me so much pain.” Granted, that statement may well define exactly how you feel right now. Your emotions may be stretched tight, and you might not care for the answer. I present it to you with no regrets since the answer is not really mine. Look up Matthew 18:21-22. What does it tell you about forgiveness? The message is pretty clear. Peter had a set number of times in his head before he would be justified in cutting off someone he considered his enemy. Jesus tells Peter that, unlike what the spiritual leaders of the day taught, our forgiveness should be infinite. This is not to say there aren’t times when we should set boundaries to eliminate repeated intentional hurts by another.

You see, in those days the people were taught by the spiritual leaders that those who offend should be forgiven only three times. Jesus tells Peter to have a heart of perpetual forgiveness. Part of the problem people have with forgiveness lies in the messages we are often taught growing up such as, “You need to forgive and forget,” or “Forgiveness is complete when things are made right.”

Some of us believe it is necessary to forget the damage done to us once we have forgiven. We think that otherwise true forgiveness is not possible. Think of forgiveness as a journey that begins with the decision to take the trip. We must decide to move along the path of holiness toward emotional healing from the pain inflicted. Once we decide to forgive it does not mean the emotional damage will simply disappear. At times you may remember the incident that caused the pain, but that does not mean you haven’t forgiven. The remembrance just means the pain has not yet gone away. It may be necessary to give it back to God so that you do not dwell on that pain. It may take some time for your emotional healing to catch up to your spiritual decision, depending on the degree of the damage, but remind yourself that you have decided to forgive and that God will give you the strength to move forward.

In my last post I asked you to consider who you might need to forgive. What prevents you from laying it at the foot of the cross? God calls us to forgive, not because he condones or takes lightly the wrong that has been perpetrated against you, but because He knows the pain and the anguish unforgiveness creates in a person. It prevents you from being the person that God created you to be. I encourage you, take the first step; decide to forgive. Then let God walk alongside you in your journey of healing. You don’t have to do it alone.

I will conclude my posts in this series on forgiveness by focusing on moving beyond the pain…

©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 Beliefs, Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restoration

Why Forgiveness? (Part I): The Command to Forgive

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My next series, “Why Forgiveness?,  is a difficult topic for many, primarily because it’s a topic we don’t often understand.  I will spend my next three posts shedding some light on this subject that cuts deep to our soul and well-being.

In the Lord’s Prayer, a model for praying given to the disciples by Jesus, we read,

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…  Matthew 6:12

This is a command to forgive those who have wronged us as we have been forgiven by God for our own transgressions.  As we go further in that same chapter, we read,

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

Why does Jesus make such a definitive statement?  The primary reason lies in the fact that for us to deny forgiveness to another is arrogance on our part.  It’s as if we are denying that we too are sinners and in need of God’s forgiveness every bit as much as that other person.  How much more when you withhold forgiveness from your spouse.  God views forgiveness as a necessary element within our relationships.

We can all agree about the power anger can have over an individual.  If left unchecked it resides in us like a cancer, and some in the medical professions believe it could even be a cause of cancer, but many other issues are related to unresolved anger.

We spend much of our time despising what someone has done to us.  We spend much of the day looking for other things to add fuel to that fire in order to justify the pain caused by that anger.  Anger takes a firm root and grows. It seeps into other areas of our lives as well, affecting our general disposition.  We can become a bear to be around. You see, the problem is that anger envelops our heart and we become a bitter person. It is imperative to forgive because if not we become stuck and unable to move forward in our lives. Essentially we give control to the offending person for our behavior. Do you really want to give that much control to someone who has already hurt you so deeply? Certainly not!

 Forgiveness is a way for you to acknowledge what has happened, relinquish the power of the anger and hurt, and move forward.

As you read through this brief post who came to your mind?  Who do you need to forgive?  More in my next post as we examine some of the misconceptions about forgiveness…

©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 Emotions, Forgiveness, Misconceptions, Restoration, Self-Talk

How My Past Has Molded My Present

past-present sign

Understand that there is no benefit to condemning our parents and our upbringing for where we are today. In most cases parents do what they believe to be the right thing, based on their own knowledge. This knowledge often comes from how they were brought up, their own life experiences, and their own pain and insecurities. In fact, none of us is perfect, and none of us will parent perfectly. That is exactly why Jesus Christ had to come to this earth, to fill in the gap for our inadequacies. All the money, gifts, work ethic, keeping food on the table and a roof over our head will never substitute for the love, acceptance, and affection that a parent is supposed to demonstrate to their children. When these are the substitutes for godly love, damage is inevitable in our upbringing.

The scarring that often occurs throughout childhood and adolescence can contribute to many lies being created in our belief system. A common one is that God could never love us. If our parents are to be an earthly example of who God is to us, and they don’t fulfill their obligation, it’s easy to understand how this can occur. This certainly has a profound effect on our spiritual relationship.

The child learns early on that this inherent need for love will go unmet, based on what has been demonstrated to him. In short order, the child begins to withdraw and shut down, not expecting the return of love and affection. He learns not to need it. This behavior is a reasonable response if you think about it. How many times does a person expose their vulnerability and have it rejected before they begin to withhold it altogether? They will only be hurt a certain number of times before they stop putting themselves in that hurtful situation. Now we have a child who has learned not to need love from others, and he becomes self-sufficient, depending on himself for his needs to be met and never extending himself to others.

This same child grows up, twenty years old, loaded with self-sufficiency. Now a young man, he continues to believe that the world functions based on his views of it—views established by areas in which his upbringing was lacking. People cannot be trusted. It is dangerous and painful to share feelings. Vulnerability is a prescription for heartache. He refuses to practice transparency or let others into the innermost parts of his being. Essentially he is thinking very egocentrically and everything revolves around his own perception. In essence his youthful self-sufficiency has become adult selfishness.

How do you think this dynamic can affect a marital relationship? How might it be affecting yours? What lies do you believe as an adult that may stem from your childhood perceptions? Is it time to stop blaming your history and begin to assess and change the way you interact with your spouse…with the world?

©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, Misconceptions, Parenting, Selfishness

There Should Be Freedom In Love

freedom in love 2

Sometimes we have behaved a certain way for so long that we are not even aware we are doing it. Even if we can’t see it, God can. Some common impediments to a fulfilling relationship may have developed over time, a byproduct of years of pain. These assumptions may also be a result of beliefs and lies about yourself, or marriage in general, stemming from your family of origin when growing up. They may involve control issues, where our own insecurity forces us to hold on tight to our mate, often to the point of strangling the love out of our relationship.

Remember, there should be freedom in love. The misconception that love should just happen (“If they loved me the behaviors would be effortless”) is simply that: a misconception. Another is the old mindreading game of “If they really loved me they should know.” Or how about “My spouse and I should be doing everything together. Our love should be enough. Why do we need others?” What about friends? What about God? Another common belief that trips us up is “If my mate doesn’t tell me they love me on a continual basis, they must not.” The real question is why do you need so much affirmation? Just something to consider. These are some examples of the thinking that goes into undermining marital relationships.

Do any of these misconceptions strike a chord with you? Can you identify the root of these misconceptions in your own life? How have they affected your relationships past/present? What steps might you take to reshape these faulty beliefs?

©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 Love, Misconceptions, Self-Talk