Tag Archives: Emotions

Oh, What’s the Difference?! (Part I)

Boxers 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pray great blessings on you and your family.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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

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

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part Two)

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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

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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

Bridging the Gap Between Lover’s and Friend’s

trust

Open and honest communication in the marriage is incredibly important. If things from your past continue to plague you and infiltrate the marriage, it is imperative that you bring them to the table. Be honest and transparent about your upbringing, about your family of origin. If these issues are not addressed your spouse will invariably be held responsible for events that he or she had nothing to do with. You may not blame them verbally, but you will punish them in your actions. Never forget that you are a team and you are to be as one flesh.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”    – Ephesians 5:31

This is where the importance of being safe for one another plays out. You each need to be willing to support and protect one another. Husbands, when your wives come to you to share something from their past, don’t hold it against them. Don’t say things like, “See, that’s why you are how you are!” Wives, that goes likewise for you. Cradle one another’s heart as God desires to cradle and protect you both. Husbands and wives are not just to be lovers, you are called to be friends.

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem     – Song of Songs 5:16

Unfortunately, many relationships started with sexual involvement and the friendship aspect of the relationship was never cultivated. Now is the time to begin to explore and develop your friendship if you have not done so.

Without transparency and forgiveness a relationship is doomed to stagnation at best, destruction at worst.  It is in sharing of difficult issues that the message sender should seek God in the timing of their presentation, asking the Lord to prepare the heart of the receiver and remain patient until you are prompted to share those delicate issues.

The receiver of such information should not be reactionary, but instead also lean into the Lord to give them strength and guidance as to how best to respond (Perhaps patience is the key to responding, better to process and respond rather than explode and cause greater damage.) I understand that this is not always easy. If you feel an immediate reaction rising, take a moment and remember your own story and all the sin that you have been forgiven. Let your thankfulness for what has been done for you balance your emotional response, regardless the issue.

I pray for your strength in resolving those issues that can make (if exposed to the light and worked through with grace and mercy) or break (if kept in the dark, festering like a cancer) a relationship.

Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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

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Filed under Communication, Emotions, Forgiveness, Prayer, Respect, Restoration, Transparency, Trust, Uncategorized

Through A Windshield Dirty

Dirty Windshield

Visualize this: you are driving down the freeway in your car. It has been months since you washed it. The windshield is filthy. It has rained a few times, just enough to muddy the filth on the window. There are bird droppings everywhere, making it very difficult to see. That doggone cat that your neighbor feeds is constantly climbing all over the hood and windshield, leaving its grimy paw prints everywhere.

You get the picture. Your ability to see clearly while you drive down the freeway will be considerably impaired. Our mind is sometimes like that. During the course of our lives a variety of things contribute to what we believe about life and ourselves. The way we were raised by our parents is a contributing factor, and our religious beliefs certainly impact how we think. The negative messages we receive on our journey through life affect us. The expectations others place on us can impact as well. If we don’t assess the validity of all these beliefs and release the negative ones, our windshield (or filter) can get very dirty, affecting how we receive information. All the gunk from the past impacts how we perceive what is going on in the present. Some of what we believe about ourselves can be simply inaccurate. Can you see how our acceptance of these internal lies can affect our feelings, having a direct impact on our behavior if we simply choose to stay in autopilot? This concept directly impacts our ability to communicate with our spouse and with others.

Thoughts and feelings are directly related, and it is important to monitor our thoughts, filtering them through what Scripture teaches. So what about behavior? Let’s look again at Mark 14 when Jesus is describing how he feels about the upcoming events and the sacrifice he will make on the cross. He describes his emotional state as “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v. 34). When he separates himself from his three disciples, he falls to his knees and prays, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36).

What we see here is a demonstration of a man with feeling. The feelings are real, honest, and easy to validate. The resulting action is the important thing to consider here. In his crying out, in no way was Jesus trying to wiggle free of his obligation. He didn’t choose to avoid the cross even though his feelings might have told him that would be best, certainly easier. No, Jesus’ behavior was consistent to what he knew was God’s will.

©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, Emotions, Self-Talk

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