Tag Archives: Behavior

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

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

LOVE and Our Emotional State

Key

Let’s take a journey down memory lane. In all likelihood, the following scripture was recited at your own wedding. Let’s revisit as I share a well kept secret,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.        1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Do you notice anything unusual about this passage of scripture? Note that it is all action driven, contrary to what our society would have you believe. Lasting love is not emotionally fueled, although feelings are certainly produced. What this tells me is that a healthy, long-lasting and loving relationship is based on my desire to put forth the necessary efforts to keep it healthy. I do not determine my effort by what I feel like doing.  Oh, yes I know, that’s NOT really a secret.  But you’d think it was!

Bill comes home after a grueling day at the office; nothing came off as planned. His head wouldn’t stop pounding. His computer was being its normal stubborn self. The traffic on the way home was horrendous. In general, Bill feels lousy. He pulls into the driveway and walks up to the front door. Now Bill has a decision to make. He has a choice. He can walk through the front door and meet his family behaving exactly how he feels—cranky, agitated, and aggressive, dumping that anger on his wife.

How do you think that delightful presentation will be received? She will shoot back with both barrels, taking all of Bill’s behaviors in a personal way. After all, she is the new target of his aggression. What alternative does she have? He attacked her. That just makes Bill angrier, so he escalates the confrontation. His voice increases in volume, and maybe he throws down his briefcase for dramatic effect. Offended, she comes right back at him. So the conflict escalates right up the scale! Bill’s feelings dictated his behavior, to his disadvantage, and the unfortunate recipients were his family.

Here’s an alternative scenario. Bill stands at the door, feeling lousy but aware of it. He decides that regardless of how he feels, he is going to demonstrate love and affection toward his wife and family. Bill enters his home and gives his wife a kiss and tells her how much he loves her. How do you think that reception will be met? If she is monitoring her behavior (maybe she had a rough day with the kids, etc.) the odds are great that she will respond to her husband’s loving display and reciprocate. That will affect Bill’s emotional state in a positive fashion, actually reducing some of the aggression. Then he reciprocates and back and forth it goes. Bill begins to feel those negative emotions dissipate.

You might say to yourself, that’s just being fake! No, it is you doing what is right by your spouse, which in the end has the potential for great benefit for you. Do you enjoy conflict in your relationship? Keeping your feelings in check is a very practical way of facilitating that goal.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.       – James 3:17-18

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship.

©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, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Love

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

Pastor, NOT Perfect

shut up

Yes, God can speak in a whisper or a roar.  In this instance He wasn’t waiting long for me to pick up on the subtlety.  I want to share a conviction lesson that I received recently with hopes that you can all learn from my lesson.

So, I decide that on my way into the office that I am going to make a stop at my favorite restaurant and grab a bite to eat and sort out the agenda for the upcoming day.  Upon being seated and placing my order, I pull out my phone to begin work.  Suddenly, I am disturbed by one of two gentlemen sitting in a booth on the other side of the restaurant.  Apparently his voice modulator was on the fritz.  In a bold and boisterous tone, completely filter-less, he proceeds to unload a barrage of obscenities that begins to fill the restaurant like a dark and ominous cloud.  He appears to be angry, not at the man that he is seated with, but just angry.  Out it flows, “…and then that  %#@*&?!  tells me that he’s…what the  %#&?%@  am I supposed to do with…does he think I’m some kind of  %*#$@%!”

I can feel the hair rise on the nape of my neck.  Deep inside me begins to stir that old reliable (but sometimes misplaced) sense of justice.  “What is wrong with this guy?”  I glance up at the counter where sits two other gentleman, one older Caucasian man with white hair, the other a younger Hispanic man, who, moments prior were engaged in a quiet conversation.  Looking around the restaurant I notice another couple, having what they intended to be a nice relaxing breakfast.  The peace of their communication is shattered by the bellowing of this cyclone of profanity.  And so the barrage continues.

One of my first emotional responses was to walk straight up to this guy and tell him to either shut his mouth or at least lower his voice so that the rest of us don’t have to listen to him.  The sarcastic part of my nature (I prefer to refer to it as “my gifting” – that too is sarcasm!) wanted to yell across the room, “It’s too bad that you used up all of your intelligent words when you were younger and now you are scrapping the bottom of the barrel!”  Then, as if to justify the anger that was growing in me, I thought, “You are so lucky I don’t have my kids with me…!”  I was fully aware that my expression and mannerisms were communicating just as loudly as if I had actually said the words.

Then he utters this diatribe as if to judge the one that he is referring to, “I don’t know what the @%$*# is the matter with her!  It’s like she’s some kind of an idiot!  That stupid #$@&*! just says the first thing that crosses her mind, she just says it and doesn’t think twice!”  In utter amazement I took in the content of what this oblivious man just said.  As if unable to control my response, I laughed…out loud.  I caught myself, albeit too late, and looked up at the counter.  The white-haired gent was looking at me, shaking his head and rolling his eyes as if hearing what this guy had just said and acknowledging in agreement with my response.

Moments later, they got up, paid their bill and left the restaurant.  The angry fellow, seemingly unaware of how he had affected the ambiance of the restaurant and, more importantly to me, how he had affected my breakfast.

Then it happened!  I felt it!  A sudden tugging of a different kind, starting deep and subtle,  growing to awareness as it came over me.  Mind you, my responses described earlier were in my head (things in the moment that I wish I had done or said), they had not escaped the thought level and ventured into the verbalization phase.  It’s true…I had been caught!  The conviction cut me like a newly sharpened dagger.

First off, I’m laughing at how judgmental this guy was toward the lady of which he spoke, all the while being totally ignorant of his own bad behavior.

Second, in my head I’m holding this guy to my Christian moral code of ethics.  Was he even a Christian?  I would doubt it by his behavior (I’m sure you see the personal irony there).  If he were not a believer he is not held to that standard…but I am!

Third, in my nonverbal communication and my laughter at this guy, did I encourage the others in the restaurant to partake in my questionable attitude and behavior?

Fourth, although I didn’t verbalize (per se) my emotional responses, was I not guilty of having a critical spirit?

I allowed arrogance to control my thoughts, that’s the long and short of it.  Scripture is clear on that topic.  I also forgot a very important scripture as I got caught up in the situation.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.     -James 4:17

Ouch!  I am not condoning the man’s bad behavior, this lesson was not for him, it was about me!  Would I have affected in a positive way the situation had I confronted him?  Not likely, he was already angry and that would probably have antagonized him further and no doubt fueled my frustration.  There were only a handful of adults in the restaurant, did they require my protection, probably not.  I had already assessed the situation regarding the presence of children and there were none.  You see, this became about me, my righteousness!  I forgot, for the moment, that Jesus Christ went to the cross for BOTH of us.  You see, without Him we are not so different.

After some assessment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I chose the response I should have chosen at the outset, I prayed for the man.  We are ALL a work-in-progress, so don’t give up when you give in to bad decisions.  Lay it before the Lord and ask Him for the strength and courage (and reminders) to keep it all “in check”.  Sometimes it’s tough to take the high road.  But remember, choosing to take the Holy road rather than the common one is never about taking the path of least resistance.

P.S. Never be too old to learn and it doesn’t matter who you are.  After all, I’m a pastor, NOT perfect.  Lesson learned!

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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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, Emotions, Obedience, Role Modeling

Being Bullied: It’s Not Just For Children

Bullying

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

My current post is a bit off the beaten path. I received an email from an adult female expressing a very real (and all too common concern) that she has been experiencing. After obtaining her permission, she has allowed me to share the email and my response in hopes that it may help someone else who is dealing with a similar situation. To her I say, “Thank You,” as she does her part to fulfill Proverbs 27:17

“Hi Pastor Eric I need some advice. I seem to be getting bullied and as funny as that sounds, I don’t know how to handle it “God’s way”. I noticed it with my husband’s sister and co-workers. They would do stuff to me on purpose and because I don’t know how to respond in a way that would be pleasing to God, I don’t say anything. I can honestly say I understand why people commit suicide because of being bullied. I used to bully a girl in my B.C. (before Christ) days, so is this my weakness now. I feel I can’t respond to them because it’s not going to come out nice and I don’t want to later apologize for any rude behavior. I need some advice on what to do because I feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits.”     – Anonymous

Throwing in the towel IS NOT an option for those who have their strength from God but, I do understand the feelings. This simply requires some assertiveness on your part. Remember, they are probably being consistent in their behavior. Being rude should not be an option for you, you’ll just look (and feel) like a jerk and nothing will be accomplished. These situations call for us to do what is right. Be civil, but firm.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  – Proverbs 29:11

There is certain behavior that you should not tolerate because it is disrespectful to you. Before approaching the issue, I would recommend you take it under prayerful consideration. Ask the Lord to show you how you may be provoking this type of behavior in others (bad attitude, sarcasm, teasing others, etc.). Assess yourself first and make sure your motives are pure. The Lord will guide you in the direction to go.

In the practice of assertiveness, I would let them know that you do not appreciate such behavior (Assuming you don’t treat them with equal disregard) and you do not treat them in such a manner. Do not be preachy or condescending; simply express how you feel about it (without demonstrating those feelings). If the behavior continues, it is time to set some boundaries. You might need to share the situation with your supervisor or minimize your interactions with the offending party. If the offender is family, make sure you share the situation with your husband, it’s important that he is aware (he can only support you in what he knows) so that you do not appear irrational in your behavior.

I am not of the opinion that you are “reaping what you’ve sewn”. You have grown since your pre-Christian days (or you wouldn’t even be bothering to ask the question in the first place! The Holy Spirit is speaking to you, wanting you to do the right thing (more evidence of growth). Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you are called to be intentional in your actions. In other words, don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior; choose to behave in a Godly manner in spite of what you may be feeling about the person or the circumstance.

I would also encourage you to keep these folks in your prayers; obviously they have damage that drives such behaviors and need healing as well. This is a good place to start. Keep your feelings under control and do not simply react. Think about your presentation before you approach these people. Ask yourself, “How would I respond if someone spoke to me the way that I am about to speak to them?” Adjust your presentation accordingly. Do not even broach the subject if you are feeling intense feelings of anger or frustration, it will not go well!

I pray that God is with you as you address these circumstances. Remember, you are not in this alone. Be blessed!
– Pastor Eric

A few days later came a follow-up message:

“Good morning Pastor Eric! I just had to share this with you! I got prayed for by a pastor visiting my church. He told me, “Not to fear, it’s not part of my personality…” I love that he threw that in there. It was so encouraging to hear this reminder that He is with me.

 Well, last night I get a text message at 12:00am from the coworker that I have been having all my problems with, the one that has been treating me so rudely.  She sent me a link to an encouraging video and added. “Sorry, I know you are sleeping, but I’m trying so hard to seek God. This is what I do (referring to the link), listen to the Word at night.” She said that her mom and brother attend church and are praying for her as well. This was so powerful to me that it caused walls to be broken down! I can’t express how excited I am that she reached out to me! I am so grateful that I didn’t respond to her in a negative way prior to this. Glory be to God! Thank you for your encouragement and simply being there pastor.”     -Anonymous

Important take-away, one never knows what others are struggling with or how God is trying to work in them. It is in the best interest of God to be obedient and submissive to his authority. There is great danger in taking on the role of accuser, jury, judge and executioner. Seek Him first and asses our own behavior and motivations before we act. Let your emotional drive take a back seat to your display of godly behavior. It’s better to be used by God to lift someone up rather than used by the enemy to tear someone down.  There is much to be learned by all, thank you Lord for teaching us.

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 Assertiveness, Behavior, Bullying, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Obedience, Respect

Give Yourself to God, He’ll Clean Up the Mess!

clean up

For me, certainly one of my major battles involved harnessing what came out of my mouth.  In all honesty I have not yet arrived.  I am still a work in progress…but I’m in good company.  On more than one occasion I had attempted to stop on my own to no avail.  It was clearly evident that I need help greater than myself.  You see, people thought my insults, rudeness and sarcasm were funny.  If God healed me from this would people still like me?

Needless to say, since having asked God to temper my tongue, I no longer care about the acceptance of the world. What God thinks of us is far more important. In displaying God to our families, we should do our best to emulate Him. Men, as the spiritual leaders of our households, that is our obligation.

From the minute we wake up in the morning to the moment we close our eyes at the end of the day, plenty of people and circumstances have the potential to tear us down if given the opportunity.  Ask yourself: do I want to contribute to the “tearing down” process, or would I rather be a part of the edification process? Our marriages need to be the place where we build up and strengthen each other against the arrows of the world.

Are you assessing your behaviors as you interact with the world?  Are you learning to tame your tongue and gather yourself before you respond out of emotion?  Are you examining your motivations and responses aimed at your spouse, or are you simply taking everything personally? It is not just an issue of what words come out of our mouth; we also need to consider what we allow into our minds. External influences can have a great impact on what goes on in our minds, which in turn impacts the words that come pouring out of our mouths.

…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.-Philippians 4:8

Have you asked God to show you how to better tame the critical spirit and breed a heart of understanding and edification?  What is the potential of such a transformation in your marriage, in your life?

God allowed me to retained my sense of humor through the process yet has filtered my communication in such a way as to be more edifying to others.  But again, I am still a work in progress and try to be more intentional about my behaviors, He continues to clean up the mess.  Thank you, Lord!

©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, Character, Communication, Leadership, Male Leadership, Respect, Restoration, Submission

When Expectations Are Set In Stone

set in stone

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

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

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

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

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

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Expectations, Restoration

How My Past Has Molded My Present

past-present sign

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

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

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

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

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

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Misconceptions, Parenting, Selfishness