Category Archives: selflessness

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part IV)

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pray great blessings on you and your family.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Expectations, Grace, selflessness

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part I)

Boxers 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pray great blessings on you and your family.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Communication, Differences, Emotions, Expectations, Grace, selflessness

Date? I’m Married!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Communication, Dating, Priorities, selflessness

Time to Dust Off Your Marriage?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed as you continue your marital journey!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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

Different, Not Better

I'm Better than you

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

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

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

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

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

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

You will be blessed as you grow your marriage.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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