Friday, June 01, 2007

Surviving the Pitfalls

A couple of months ago I was speaking with my pastor and during the conversation I wrote down some notes. They’re all ideas on helping a marriage survive difficult times. (I’ll bet you don’t have to guess who needed the advice more, my pastor or me.) Most the ideas came from him, a few from me. Here they are:

1. Come to the place of loving and accepting yourself. When you’re consumed with guilt rather than acceptance (of yourself and your spouse) you’re caught in a downward spiral that doesn’t serve either of you well.
2. Don’t forget that she is a real person, full of needs and desires and longings and frustrations just like you. It’s easy to forget when you live with someone long enough.
3. Sometimes you need to be a hypocrite to your feelings. If you’re not feeling loving and you say, “I love you,” then you might consider it hypocritical, but you’re also affirming your commitment toward love. If you say, “I don’t love you,” then you might be telling how you really feel right now, but you’re breaking the promise you made to love until death. So, you need to choose—either be hypocritical to your commitment, or to your feelings. And only one serves your spouse.
4. Enter her world, give her what you want out of a relationship. (I suppose this works the other way as well, from wife to husband.)
5. It’s more of a blessing to give than to receive, so look for ways to give rather than defaulting back to finding ways to take.
6. Help her flower. She’ll naturally reflect your moods, so let her reflect light instead of darkness.
7. Guilt can be either a road that leads closer to Jesus or it can become a pit of selfishness, focusing only on your mistakes rather than on God’s grace. Let guilt serve you by leading you further from yourself and closer to him.

I think it’s good stuff, good advice. I’m still working at living it out. Any additional advice anyone wants to offer?


Flea said...

It's all excellent advice. Thank you! Speaking from the "she" side of a very similar relationship (or so it appears),I'd add something for the wife: Don't try to carry the responsibility for the family when the husband is of a disposition that's less than sunny. Don't bottle up how difficult it is to remain steady. In love, be open. Only carry your own load, unless asked to help carry his burden.

Just my experience.

Steven James said...

I like that line you wrote, "In love, be open."

Flea said...

Sometimes it's really tempting to do it in anger, or speak from the deep pit of fear. Sometimes I tell myself that it's love that keeps me quiet - love for my husband and kids, so we don't all fall apart. If I'm not strong when my husband's depressed, who'll take care of the kids? But saying it in love sometimes means love for me. Love for my husband because he needs me to be honest. Sometimes that's being strong, instead of hiding behind my fear. Letting all the pieces fall is the opposite, I guess, of what my husband goes thru when he lets the pieces fall often. Like you said, give her light to reflect. If I'm not honest he doesn't know I need light.

Napoleon Dynamite - that's a recent view that I really liked. It moved me, Bob.

Mark Wald said...

I like what you said in point #3. "Only one serves your spouse". There's not much sense in sharing a negative feeling that may be true but is not helpful.

Steven James said...

Mark, it's great to hear from you! It's been too long--drop me a note sometime. (Leave any other good advice that you may have for me, too!)

Dina Sleiman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.