Category Archives: Unity

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

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

Time to Dust Off Your Marriage?

couples 6

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

A Unified Front!

Unity

Parenting is a growing process that is in continual motion, the demand for unity is ever increasing as your children grow. The importance of unity is amplified in Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12:25 when he states, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” The selfishness of children will run rampant if the mother and father are not on the same page in raising them. Children are far more observant and intuitive than we give them credit for. They have an amazing gift for manipulation. Parents already know that. This gift for manipulation is fostered in a household where there is no unity between the parents.

When the boys were younger and my wife and I would be out shopping with them it was not unusual for them to ask me if they could buy a toy. Often, I would respond, “No, not on this trip, we are here to buy diapers or some such item.” That is not the answer they wanted to hear. They would wait for a few minutes, thinking that I am absorbed in my shopping and not paying attention, then go to their mother and ever so sweetly, blinking those big, beautiful eyes, say, “Mommy, we love you. Do you think it would be okay if we got a toy?” My sons’ daddy didn’t raise no fool. Needless to say, without a united front we would end up with a shopping cart full of toys every trip if that were the case!

Would you say that you and your spouse are “on the same page”? What has been preventing the two of you from becoming a united front? In what ways do you see your children taking advantage of your “house divided”? Come up with some practical ways to come together and present the team that you want your children to see.

©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 Parenting, Unity

Do You Want to Draw Closer to Each Other, Draw Closer to God

 

hands

As with anything else, identifying areas that need to improve and actually putting forth the efforts to improve are two different things. Now you need to make the decision to change and act on it! Ask God to give you the strength, courage, and healing to put these new improvements into practice.

 Worship has to be on the top of the list. It is a broad category that includes attending church together, praying together, and reading the Bible together. There are other ways of worshiping together, but we will narrow our focus to these facets. Church attendance is very important as an outward expression of what you believe. The teachings serve to offer new input into your mind and soul. New input can challenge those unhealthy thoughts and at least give opportunity for change. Second Corinthians 10:5 states, “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.”

How would this be possible if we don’t know the knowledge of God? This is my personal life verse, and I highly recommend that you commit it to memory as a reminder. Get yourself plugged into a congregation that will challenge you. If you are sick, you go to the doctor, because he is the expert and authority. God is the expert and authority on marriage, and since he designed it, it would behoove you to find out what he has to say.

Praying together is a surefire way to increase intimacy in your relationship. You sit before God together, searching his heart and what he wants for the two of you. You don’t have to feel obligated to fill the air with words. You can keep your prayers simple and heartfelt. Sit together and listen—listen to what God would stir in your heart. Ask God to show you the things you need to change. But be careful; if you ask God to show you yourself, he will, so be ready to receive what he has to say. Remember he only wants you to be the best you can be, the way he created you.

The best and simplest way to visualize how God fits into the marriage commitment is as follows: envision a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is God, the designer of marriage. He is at the pinnacle of the triangle. At the bottom left angle of the triangle we find the husband. At the bottom right angle we find his lovely wife. Now, place one finger on each bottom angle, representing the husband and the wife. Slowly slide your fingers up the sides of the triangle, moving toward the name God. What do you notice? As you move closer to God, you move closer to each other. Point taken?

 Reading the Word together has great marital benefits as well. It sparks great conversations as you contemplate what God would speak to you through the Scriptures. It provides a time for growing together in Him, which in turn increases intimacy. You will also get to know your spouse better as you share thoughts on God’s insights.

Do you demonstrate your love to your spouse by demonstrating your love to God? If you are reluctant to give God your love, It would only go without saying, how much less your mate? What are you willing to do to improve your relationship with God?

©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, Commitment, Love, Meditation, Obedience, Prayer, Unity, Worship

Stay Focused On Friends That Focus On God

Cheaters

 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.     – Proverbs 17:17

Why is it that some people seem to flounder and lose their way, making one bad decision after another?  I am convinced that it all starts with the first bad decision that gets the ball rolling…underestimating the importance of being connected to a body of believers.

 Fellowship with like believers is a key component to a successful relationship, within the context of  marriage and outside of it. One of the many benefits is accountability. It is important to have other people in our lives who will help keep us on track. We all need people who we have given permission to speak truth to us, people we trust and who want what is best for us and our marriage. In pairing with another couple for accountability, both couples should share the same beliefs and moral foundations. Without a similar moral base, the counsel offered will likely be in conflict or at best inconsistent to what is in the best interest of the marriage.

Each of you needs to have friends of the same sex that you can bounce things off of before you open your mouth about some irrational feelings that are more likely to harm rather than help your relationship. The phrase “friends of the same sex” was used with deliberate consideration. The last thing a troubled relationship needs is one spouse seeking consolation in the arms of the opposite sex. This is common with men who don’t understand there is nothing more confirming (and attractive) to a woman than a man who is willing to be open and honest about their feelings and share them.

Unfortunately, if the woman is having troubles in her own marriage she will most likely view the attention as an open invitation. The man may innocently view it as a way to release some of his frustrations and be consoled by a woman who “cares about him”. The wife who shares with a male friend, co-worker, or boss may be thrilled at the idea of having a man who actually hears her and affirms her feelings.

The reality, men and women do not think alike. No matter your intentions (or lack of them) you can never truly understand how they are being interpreted by the person that you are confiding in. It does not show wisdom to seek solace in the arms of members of the opposite sex, you simply throw open the door to other temptations that will not take your marriage down a godly road. I would highly recommend that you focus you friendships on friends that focus on God. But remember, healthy friendships help to buffer the waves of adversity and keep the marital ship on course.

©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 Accountability, Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Fellowship, Trust, Unity

Say What You May, Marriage Still Sets the Best Example to Children

Children imitating parents

Modeling a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give your children, who in all likelihood will take the same journey as their parents.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.     – Malachi 2:15

I’ve heard the story countless times.  The marriage is struggling with countless issues, none of which ever seem to get addressed.  They continue down the same road, “Today was a pretty good day, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and not make waves.”  Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose as the verbal assaults fly with zero regard to the little ears that are taking in all of the turmoil.  The little ears that are internalizing the events and coming to only one conclusion, “I must be responsible (or at least partially) for the constant fighting that takes place between my mommy and daddy.”  Young children are very egocentric, everything revolves around their perception of the events in life.  Afterall, they only have a few years of experience to draw from.

What example are you setting in your marriage? Sons look to their fathers to learn how a man is to behave. Daughters watch their mothers very closely to determine the best ways to interact with the opposite sex. If petty bickering, infidelity, verbal abuse, and constant talk of divorce is your model, you will see the same patterns on display in their own relationships. Children learn well and will follow your example if they don’t choose to do something about it. Consider: how often do you respond based on the example that you were shown growing up? As parents, we are always being observed. Remember that!

I encourage you mom and dad, get the help you need.  Put aside the past and focus on the future.  Get a mediator who is interested less in your individual “happiness” and more on the success of your marriage, which will produce far more than a situational emotional response.  Doing the work, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the issues that resist resolution are essential and will go far in protecting your legacy to the future.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Get a counselor who shares your values and has the best interest of you, as a couple, at heart.  Here is a great place to start!  Find a counselor in your area:

The American Association of Christian Counselors website @ http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

©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, Conflict Resolution, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Parenting, Role Modeling, Unity