• Anger isn’t all that you’re feeling

    photo credit: edenpictures Mad Look via photopin (license)

    Have you ever found that your marital arguments go nowhere…well, nowhere that’s useful or constructive? Do you ever find that your anger intensifies to the point of character attacks toward you partner or “hitting them where it hurts?” Well, welcome to a common malady wherein your anger amps up because you feel unheard and largely misunderstood by your spouse.

    Let me tell you a story. One beautiful summer evening, Bob and I were at home getting ready to meet some friends for dinner. He pulled out a shirt to wear and decided that its wrinkled condition wasn’t bad enough to warrant not wearing it, so we finished getting ready, he in his wrinkled shirt and me in a perfectly summery outfit, and left the house to meet our friends. When we arrived at the restaurant, one of our friends met us by playfully poking fun at Bob for having a wrinkled shirt. Bob’s sarcastic response was, “Yea, Lori’s great at ironing.” In my case, for whatever reason, my response was steeped in anger because that was the emotion right in front of me; that’s the emotion that was “easy” to access.

    Thankfully, this is NOT a true story (I’m so grateful that Bob would NEVER do such a thing!), but the point that follows remains. I think a great many women (at least) would be able to understand that I would feel as though Bob threw me under a very large bus, causing my anger to be salient, BUT, if I want Bob to truly understand me, understand what I really feel, I would have to become vulnerable and tap into the emotion that’s fueling my anger. If this were a true story, perhaps I’d feel woundedness. Perhaps I’d feel guilt because I feel I SHOULD have ironed his shirt. Embarrassment is also a possibility. I may have felt all of the above. In ANY true scenario, once I discover the feeling that’s deeper than my anger, I can then GENTLY expose my raw heart to Bob allowing him to understand the underlying feeling. If I remain on the level of guarded anger, he’ll never know what I feel deep down and we’ll never grow beyond that surface level of intimacy.

    Anger is valid and cannot be minimized, but by becoming vulnerable and mining for what’s beneath the anger, we allow ourselves to be heard and understood by our spouse, which grows our intimacy. We are hopefully better understood (and understand ourselves better) after such an encounter and perhaps in the future, we won’t allow our anger to become our first response.

    Is there a great deal of anger in your relationship? Do you find that it seems to be the only way you and your spouse communicate? Consider what’s fueling your anger and become vulnerable enough to share it with your spouse.

     

  • Perception trumps intention
    photo credit: Neil Coulter via photopin (license)

    photo credit: Neil Coulter via photopin (license)

    I have advised countless couples that come into my office for counseling that their INTENTION in word or deed toward their spouse is far less important than their spouse’s PERCEPTION of what was said or done. I say this not to minimize a possibly positive intention, but to assist the couple in realizing that their actions have to be considered through the lens of the other couple member.

    This notion is especially true when we’ve spoken or acted in ways toward our spouse for years without an ill intent, but then realize that they don’t see it as such a benign word or deed. Once this is realized (sometimes through the help of a marital counselor), we then MUST attempt to step into their shoes to feel what they might feel.

    Here’s a practical example and application. If my husband perceives that I’m parenting him, even if I had zero intention of doing so, his perception remains. If he can then articulate that perception, then it’s now my responsibility to understand his perception in order to apologize and attempt to improve our future interactions. If this doesn’t happen and negative perceptions continue and become entrenched, the problematic interactions are much more difficult to repair.

    We DO need to have the best of intentions toward others, most of all our spouses; however, we also need to understand that his or her perception of any interaction will be the thing we’ll need to examine, discuss and attempt to heal, if necessary.

    How well and how often do you attempt to see things through your spouse’s lens?

     

  • I’m a lady with sex in mind

    Wives can be a lady AND an exciting sexual partner. It’s true! What goes on in your bedroom can be wild, fun and downright HOT, but the minute you step into the world, you can be classy, courteous, agreeable and all the things that make you, YOU! (…and you can even think SEXY thoughts about your marriage bed while out in the world!)

    Women tend to wear MANY hats. We are wives, mothers, sisters, friends AND lovers. We can play all of these roles and still have sexy thoughts and wild bedroom behavior. We’re sexual beings that were created to enjoy sex. It’s not dirty or obligatory and thinking of your spouse in a sexual way in and outside the bedroom is one way to keep your sex life vibrant.

    So be all that you are in this world. Be the lady you strive to be AND go ahead and wear those undergarments that make you feel desirable! Go ahead and think about the next sexual encounter with your spouse! Your marriage bed will be all the better for it!

    Have you had a sexy thought about your spouse today? 

  • Mutual Marriage: Final thoughts
    Photo by Roger Price from Flickr

    Photo by Roger Price from Flickr

    I’ve spent the last few months briefly outlining a biblical case for mutual marriage. The series has primarily addressed marriage from a theological rather than a practical perspective, but there is one practical topic that needs to be addressed briefly as I conclude the series. That is the topic of decision-making in a mutual marriage.

    A common argument against a mutual marriage model is that every organization or relationship needs a leader. The “buck” must stop somewhere or decisions cannot be made. Many hierarchalists make this argument because they assume the alternative to hierarchy is democracy. Obviously, a democracy with only two votes is a recipe for disaster. But a mutual marriage is not a democracy, it is a theocracy. Decision-making in a mutual marriage is a matter of prayerful consensus. There is no need for a leader to have the “last word” because that belongs to God. This is the kind of decision-making we see modeled in the New Testament in places like Acts 6, Acts 13 and Acts 15*.

    So what happens when a husband and wife pray, yet do not reach consensus? They keep praying until they reach consensus. The idea that a leader is needed to “break ties” betrays either a lack of patience or a lack of faith that God will bring the spouses to a consensus. I believe that God is faithful and able to bring a husband and wife to consensus on any decision if they are patiently seeking God’s direction and willing to yield to it. The key is for each spouse to submit to each other’s best interest and to God rather than seeking their own way as Paul teaches in Philippians 2.

    * Acts 15 is a debatable case, to be sure. While some English translations of verse 19 imply James had the final say, there is some debate over the proper translation of the verb. In light of verse 6 and verse 22, I believe James is expressing his opinion, to which the group agreed and decided.

    Mutual Marriage: A brief bibliography

    Popular
    A Model for Marriage by Jack and Judith Balswick
    The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
    Just How Married Do You Want To Be? by Sarah and Jim Sumner
    Partners in Marriage and Ministry by Ronald W. Pierce
    Together: Reclaiming Co-Leadership in Marriage by Tim and Anne Evans

    Scholarly
    As Christ Submits to the Church by Alan Padgett
    Beyond Sex Roles by Gilbert Bilezikian
    Discovering Biblical Equality edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
    Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner
    Not Only A Father by Tim Bulkeley
    Paul, Women and Wives by Craig Keener
    Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William Webb
    Women and the Genesis of Christianity by Ben Witherington III

    Note: These aren’t affiliate links. We don’t get any kickbacks from Amazon. They’re provided simply for your benefit.

    Other resources
    Christians for Biblical Equality
    The Junia Project