Tag Archives: Behavior

Forgiveness is Not a Suggestion (Part 2)

extending-forgiveness-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Emotions, Forgiveness, Restoration

Forgiveness is Not a Suggestion (Part I)

extending-forgiveness-1

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

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

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

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

Example:

Dear Jim,

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Emotions, Forgiveness, Restoration

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

God Keeps His Promises

dignity

For those who feel far from God or are simply praying for answers to their situations; I want to share a true story that may offer you some hope.

I had the honor of speaking at a parole board hearing in Sacramento recently on behalf of a very dear man. His story is that of true repentance evidenced by dramatic change in attitudes and behaviors over many years now. David has remained steadfast and consistent in the Lord.

After praying up, having the opportunity to speak before the parole board and heading back to the parking lot, I could feel God over the entire situation. I turned to my friend and said, “David, you know this is already done.” He nodded in agreement but I could see some nervousness and anxiety in his expression. This was incredibly important to David so he was a bit apprehensive about getting his hopes up. I completely understood. We all walked to the valet lot and approached the rental car which was nearby. Everyone was getting into the car while I crossed in front of the car to enter the other side. I glanced down and stopped in my tracks. Sometimes God’s answers are blatant and obvious, other times they are quiet and subtle. Mind you, we didn’t park the car, the valet attendant did. I asked David, “What was your greatest expectation from this hearing?” He looked at me with a slightly puzzled expression, “A lot of people might not understand this, the most important thing to me is to be officially forgiven for what I had done. I want my life back.”

I already knew the answer; I just wanted him to say it. I nodded, smiled and pointed down to the ground in front of the car. I felt myself getting a little emotional, “I think this is for you. Does this sum it up?” He came around the front of the car and when he saw it, he beamed with a huge grin. There on the ground, stenciled in paint, in large white block letters was the single word, “DIGNITY”! We looked knowingly at one another.

“Yeah,” he said in a low, introspective voice.

“You’d better take a picture of this, so you don’t forget what God is doing today! I don’t think you have to worry, my friend.”  (The actual photo leads this post.)

What was most odd to me was the fact that I saw no other parking slots with words printed on them. This was the only one. For myself (and David) the message was clear, forgiveness had been granted him long before the trip to Sacramento. When one seeks forgiveness, confesses their sins and repents, truly repents, God can bless you abundantly.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  -1 John 1:9

We received the outcome we had prayed for, but my friend knew that whether his change and growth were recognized by the state or not, he stood forgiven by his Father!

I encourage you to keep praying, hold your faith close, accept that God’s timing is ALWAYS right  (even when we don’t understand it) and that Gods will is NEVER WRONG (even when it doesn’t align with ours.

Incidentally, God confirmed his promise to David when he read this response on the government website a mere few hours later. “In referring to application for pardon to the Governor with a favorable recommendation for consideration by the Supreme Court. Motion approved by the majority of the commissioners present.

We have complete faith and confidence that the governor will consider the parole boards recommendations and reinstate him in short order.”

Glory be to God and thank you David for allowing me to share this story with the desire to offer God’s hope to others.

©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, Character, Commitment, Faith, Forgiveness, Prayer, Restoration, Trust

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part Two)

bible reading 3

In connecting feelings and behavior let’s see how these two dynamics interact. We will refer to the expert, Merriam-Webster. Behavior is defined as “the manner of conducting oneself; anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation; the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment.” This is where the problem often unfolds. Events happen to us throughout the course of our day that trigger an emotional response. Often that emotional response leads to a behavior tied to that response. In other words, we determine our behavior based on what we feel about that particular person, circumstance, or event.

A common example: you are driving along the freeway. Suddenly a car comes off the on-ramp merging onto the freeway. They merge right in front of you, forcing you to swerve into the next lane nearly causing an accident. You have experienced surprise, fear, and anger almost simultaneously. Taking the personal assault angrily, you pull up alongside them and offer the all too common single-finger gesture of dissatisfaction at the behavior of others. You know nothing about that other person. A variety of reasons may have caused that reaction from the other person, reasons that have nothing to do with you personally. Scripture is very clear:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.        – 2 Corinthians 10:5

We are called to live intentionally. If that were not the case, why would God have left us the Holy Bible as a love letter from Him and clear instruction on how we should live our lives? In reality the question should not be, “Are feeling god or bad?” The better question would be, “How do we behave when the feelings come?” For heer is where we get tripped up. We are called to behave in a scriptural manner in spite of how we may feel. In scripture you will note that in spite of how he may have felt about something, he never behaved in a way that was inappropriate. Yes, the bar is high, but make that your goal.

How often do you allow your feelings to dictate your behavior? How many times do you do what your feelings tell you to do? The curious thing about feelings is that it is sometimes difficult to determine what truly triggered a particular feeling that just swept over us. Since feelings tend to be inconsistent at best it would benefit you to focus on your behavior in spite of what you may be feeling. Making healthy decisions about your behavior can have a positive impact on your negative feelings.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Emotions

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part One)

fighting

Let’s pose a simple question, “Feelings, are they good or bad?” The most common response to this question is that overall they are a good thing. The feelings themselves may not always be good (anger, frustration, sadness), but in general they are a good thing. Certainly, when Jesus came to earth in human form, his emotions and feelings were on display. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger when the sellers were ripping off those who came to worship by charging exorbitant amounts of money to purchase the required animal sacrifices. Jesus went so far in his anger as to turn over the sacrifice tables, making them fully aware of his displeasure.

We see demonstrations of sadness and depression in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus agonizes over his fate. In Mark 14:34, Jesus clearly makes his feelings known: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he tells Peter, James, and John. He asks them to keep watch while he goes up a little farther to pray. Upon his return he finds them sleeping. “Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” Jesus shows obvious disappointment with the three disciples. There are also times of happiness recorded in the life of Jesus. If feelings are good enough for Jesus, they are good enough for me.

Whether feelings are good or bad is not really the issue. We obviously have feelings. Some of those feelings are good, while others are not so good. The core issue is not the feelings themselves. The important thing to consider is the consequences of those feelings. In other words, what do we do with our feelings? How are they demonstrated in our behavior?

Are your behaviors an extension of your emotional state? How does this dynamic affect your interactions with your spouse? What do you think might happen if you focused on your behavior rather than your feelings?

We will examine this in the next post so be sure to check back!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Emotions

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

“I Just Want to Be Heard!”

Listening

Just as important as what you say to your children is how you listen to them.  Give your children your undivided attention when they are sharing with you.  Turn off the television, put away the paperwork, get off the computer, just listen.  Acknowledge what they say and hear them out.  Your job is to be approachable when they need you. Understand that they are children and may not express as effectively as you do, but let them try.  This is not the time to correct them or critique their verbal skills.  Just like your spouse, they want to be heard.   Oftentimes whether they are heard or not has a greater impact on their esteem than whether they get their way.

A mother brought in her son, a young man about sixteen.  She wanted someone to talk to him because he wouldn’t open up at home, and he seemed to be carrying a great deal of anger. When he entered the office it was apparent things were going to get interesting.  The first thing he did was sit in the chair in front of the desk, raise his leg to the desk, and push his chair back about four feet from it.  Arms folded, body rigid in the chair, he was very direct in his communication: “I don’t have a f—in’ thing to say to you.”

It was obvious what he was expecting.  This coarse phrase would elicit a reaction and get him thrown out of the office. Ah, he would have to do better than that!  I calmly told the young man, “That’s entirely up to you.  But if you want to chat, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” He was very confused, and when he realized my response was sincere, no one could keep this guy from talking!  He was thrilled to have a venue to be heard. As he talked more and more, his entire demeanor changed and his body language loosened up.  He was able to be direct in areas where his behavior was not serving him productively, and he was eager to listen to what I said.

In the end, after speaking with his mother, it was apparent that his father didn’t really connect with him because they never talked.  The son never had a voice in the house, and when he was bold enough to speak, his father shut him down immediately.  His behavior issues were simply symptoms of a much greater problem: poor communication in the home.

Consider your own home.  In what ways do you frustrate your child by not providing them a venue to share with you?  How might the behaviors and communication we, as parents, demonstrate to our children play out in their lives as they become adults and parents?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Parenting, Respect

Lest We Forget… (A Message of Thanksgiving)

Being Thankful

As we kick-off the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  As we run back and forth to the grocery store collecting all the traditional items for the feasts ahead.  As we calculate the budgets that we have allocated for Christmas shopping and get lost in all the hub-bub that lay straight away.  How often we get side tracked by all the agendas that compete for our attention.  It is not hard to forget WHAT is truly important and WHO has provided our needs.

I want to encourage you to take a moment to meditate and contemplate, if just for a moment.  The following Psalm, a prayer of thanksgiving during our season of Thanksgiving, lays a foundation for us all to frequent from time to time.  I pray that you let this prayer envelop your heart and penetrate the business that we are all susceptible too.  For in this brief set of scripture we are blessed with encouragement, hope and protection.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.  For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.  How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!  Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.  But you, Lord, are forever exalted.  For surely your enemies, Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.  You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured on me.  My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.  The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”    -Psalm 92

Meditate on this “for a moment”?  No, Psalm 92 expresses the state that our heart and soul should reside in 365 days a year, not just at Thanksgiving.  Get out a sheet of paper and make a list of all the blessings that God has bestowed on you.  Take a deep breath, step out of the world and enter into His peace as you reflect on all of His graciousness.  Keep this list, share it with your family, ask them to contribute blessings that they may see that you may have overlooked.  Being aware of how God has worked in your lives will carry you through the trials that may lie ahead.  Let the time you spend with family and friends be grounded in an understanding that ALL we have is truly a gift.  A gift to be thankful for.

Be blessed this holiday season and every day!

©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, Giving, Meditation, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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