If There’s Something You Want Your Spouse To Know…

 

I’m going to let you in on one of my many failures in marriage. But, I warn you…it’s not pretty! In fact it’s quite embarrassing! (If my wife is reading this, she’s probably pretty nervous at this point.)

Here’s the story…

Read moreIf There’s Something You Want Your Spouse To Know…

The Quarantined Marriage

I typically talk about what it means to have a “normal marriage.” But in these days of social distancing, “normal“ has become a thing of the past. We are all operating under a new normal now. And that new normal is…quarantine!

Couples who have typically been franticly busy, running from one obligation too the next, are now forced to shelter in place, under the same roof, 24/7. A sort of forced companionship if you will.

But this forced companionship can be difficult. It can introduce irritations that we were able to avoid, as long as we stayed on the go. But now there’s nowhere to go!

Here are some things that can make the quarantined marriage a challenge:

  • BIG DIFFERENCES – It’s no news flash that couples are usually very different from one another. We have different personalities, different ways of working, different likes, different approaches to children, different stressors, and different triggers. Being together all day, every day, provides a lot of opportunity for those differences to bump into one another. If you can’t allow for your spouse’s differences without feeling disrespected or inconvenienced, then quarantine is going to be an experience that feels more like water boarding than togetherness.
  • POOR COMMUNICATION – Again, most couples are use to staying busy enough they have an excuse for not stopping and communicating with one another. Before the quarantine, we could get by on shallow conversations about our day. But during the quarantine, we can’t talk about our day…because we are both there in the middle of it! Quarantine forces us to talk about other things for longer periods of time. And this often reveals that the communication we used to do so phenomenally when we were dating, now needs a little work.
  • INCREASED ANXIETY – This one is a given. There is much for us to worry about these days. The big worry is whether we and our loved ones will avoid catching the virus. Another big source of anxiety is whether we will have a job and be able to pay our bills. Then, there’s the smaller worries. Before, we had to worry about whether our kids were good students. Now we have to worry about whether we’re good teachers. Before, we had to worry about who was going to the store to get milk. Now we have to worry about whether there will be any milk when we get to the store. These, and a host of other worries, can raise our anxiety, increase our stress, and make marriage more difficult.
  • LACK OF PURPOSE – This one is not so obvious. Before the quarantine, we were able to confuse taking care of business with having a purpose. It felt like our marriage was here to put a roof over our heads and food on the table, to raise and protect children, to build our careers, etc. But with our ability to do these things now on pause, we have to face the question…why are we married and what’s our real purpose for being married?

As you can see, this quarantine can certainly test your marriage. But you can also use the quarantine as a time to train your marriage. Let me encourage you to use this time to do the following:

  • Learn that your spouse’s differences are not about you. Their differences are about them. Your spouse is different from you, not because they’re trying to get your goat, but because that’s the way God and life has made them. They are not out to get you, so stop taking their differences so personally. Begin to think of their differences as more tools that can be added to the marriage tool box.
  • Learn how to talk again. It doesn’t have to be life-changing, gut-wrenching conversations on a Dr. Phil level. Just talk about anything and everything. You use to do this when you were dating. So if you’re having trouble with this, go back and remember those times. The more you talk about little things, the easier it will be to talk about bigger things.
  • Learn to to calm your anxieties. Anxieties are like the warning lights on the dashboard of your car. They tell you something might need attention, but they don’t tell you to drive your car off a bridge! Note your anxieties, but don’t live by them. Some anxiety is natural and even healthy in times like these. But if you find your anxiety is causing you more problems than solutions, you need to learn How to deal with your anxiety. Find a close friend who can talk you off the roof. Read Scriptures than can calm your heart. Pray. And if you can’t find anything to calm your anxiety, you may need to talk to your physician. But use this time of quarantine to train your anxiety.
  • Learn to live for something greater then just the immediate. Surely you got married for more than just raising kids and paying bills. What is it about your marriage that con’t be stopped by a quarantine? What is it you want to accomplish in your marriage and with your marriage? Spend some time together tossing that question around and dreaming about that.

When it comes to marriage, you can look at this time of quarantine as a time of testing or a time of training. What will you choose?

Night Owls, Morning Glories, and Minding the Gap

I’m a morning glory. Apart from the bed-head and stiff joints, mornings are the best part of my day. In the morning, I’m rested, my mind is clear, things are quiet, and I can get my most productive work and planning done.

My wife, on the other hand, is a night owl. The nighttime is the best part of her day. At night, things are settling down for her. The demands of the day are over and she can begin to focus on the things that are important to her.

It’s like we’re on two different teams. When I’m ready to greet the day, she’s ready to pull the covers over her head. And when I’m ready to end the day she’s just getting started.  She doesn’t like being woke up in the morning, and I don’t like staying up late at night.  We live life with this big gap between us.

Truth is, all marriages have gaps in them. One spouse may want to save for a rainy day, while the other wants to spend to make the day brighter. One spouse might want to hang out with people, while the other wants to hide out from people. One spouse may see the glass as half full while the other is not even sure there is a class. Gaps!

At first, we try to overlook the gaps in our marriage. We want to believe they’re just a fluke. A glitch in the program. But when these gaps become glaring and unavoidable, then we tend to default to one of three approaches:

  • Rescue our spouse by showing them the error of their ways.
  • Convince ourselves that we have chosen poorly, look for a different model.
  • Resign ourselves to a life of unhappiness as we gaze at each other from across the gap.

These options make marital gaps perilous. So, if we are going to navigate the perilous gaps in marriage, we need to have some different options. On the London underground, you often hear the warning, “Mind the gap.” Let me suggest four ways you can “mind the gaps” in your marriage:

G – Give up. I’m not talking about giving up your marriage. I’m talking about giving up your need/desire to change your spouse or control what they do. If you haven’t figured it out already, telling your spouse how they should be, what they should do, and why they should do it is not a way to win their heart. It’s more of a way to catch their heat. You’re not their parent, and you’re not God. You don’t like it when they try to change you, so give up trying to change them.

A – Accept. Accept that your spouse is different from you by design. They are a unique individual in their own right..just like you. The differences that are aggravating each of you are the differences that originally attracted you to one another. So accept them for who and how they are. Nothing is more attractive and life changing than that. (Note – I am not talking about accepting abusive or immoral behavior. That should never be tolerated, and must be dealt with before a relationship can proceed.)

P – Praise. Learn to praise your spouse for the strengths that are a part of their nature…even if they are on the other side of your gap. Because it’s their strengths that balance out yours. My wife is a very detailed person who dots all the I’s, crosses all the T’s, and likes to have a plan before doing something. I, on the other hand, am a big picture person who hates to be bothered with details, paperwork, and plans. Yes, we drive each other crazy with our natural bents, but we need each other’s strengths. So, instead of complaining about the differences, we should be celebrating them.

S – Step. As I said, there will always be some gaps in your marriage. But if you want to close the gaps some, then you have to take a step of faith in their direction…

  • If you’re a morning glory, take occasion to stay up a little later with your spouse.
  • If you’re a night owl, try getting up a little earlier to be with your spouse.
  • If you’re an introvert, take your extraverted spouse out with people.
  • If you’re an extrovert, spend a quiet evening at home…just you and your spouse.
  • If you’re a saver, buy your spouse something…just because.
  • If you’re a spender, make an effort to adhere to the budget.
  • If you’re an optimist, acknowledge all the things that could go wrong with a decision.
  • If you’re a pessimist, acknowledge all the things that could go right with a decision.

A good marriage is not about getting your spouse to be more like you. It’s about successfully minding the gaps between the two of you so they become positive rather than perilous. This week, take one step to celebrate a gap in your marriage. Then, take one step to bridge a gap in your marriage. Here’s to minding the gap!

How to Fight the Good Fight

Some of my favorite movies (much to my wife’s dismay) are “The Matrix” trilogy of movies. They never get old to me. I can watch them over and over and still find new thing in them that I didn’t see before.

This happened a while back when I was watching “The Matrix Reloaded (2003). In this movie, the hero (Neo) has been summoned by someone who is supposedly on Neo’s side…Seraph. But when Neo gets there, Seraph begins to fight with him. When the fight is over, Neo asks Seraph why, and Seraph replies, “You do not truly know someone until you fight them.”

Read moreHow to Fight the Good Fight

Expectations – What’s in the Box?

It all started when my wife went to the front door and came back with the latest delivery from FedEx. “What’s in the box?” I inquired. “I’m not sure,” she said with a hint of excitement in her voice. Since my wife doesn’t typically get excited about things, I began to get curious.

As she went to find something with which to open the box, I thought to my self, “Wouldn’t it be cool if she surprised me by ordered something from Victoria Secrets?” The voice in my head immediately said, “Yeah, right! Be reasonable!” My head knew it was improbable, but my heart was holding out for the long-shot.

Read moreExpectations – What’s in the Box?

Have You Overlooked Something?

 

In many areas of life, it’s not good to overlook things. If you overlook the traffic light turning red, you could have a serious accident. If you overlook a sponge when sowing up your patient, you could be looking at a serious lawsuit. And if you overlook the door signs when going to a public restroom, you could be facing some serious embarrassment. (Yes, I’ve done that, and I would rather not talk about it.)

But when it comes to marriage, it can actually be helpful to overlook some things.

Read moreHave You Overlooked Something?

How to Improve Your Marriage Pictures

We’ve all had our share of bad photos. Think back to your fashion-questionable high school days, or those family portraits that looked more like the Adams Family than a happy family. It’s safe to say we all have pictures we would like to delete from the archives.

The other day, I came across The 50 Weirdest Engagement Portraits Of All Time. It’s just what it says…50 very weird engagement photos. They are painful to look at and they leave you asking, “What were they thinking?”

All this got me wondering, “What would pictures of my marriage look like over the years?”

Read moreHow to Improve Your Marriage Pictures

Movie Disagreement Disorder

a bucket of popcorn with two cinema ticketsI’m a Star Wars husband married to a Lifetime movie wife.  This weekend, TNT ran a back-to-back Star Wars marathon. I was ecstatic. My wife…not so much.

When I got married, I didn’t realize our marriage would suffer from MDD…Movie Disagreement Disorder. It’s a very common disorder, found in most marriages.

Some of the symptoms of MDD are:

Read moreMovie Disagreement Disorder

Marriage Is Like A Dented Fender

A few weeks ago, I had a fender bender coming home from work. It was a very minor fender bender. No one was hurt. There was only a small amount of damage to my car and no damage to the other car. We didn’t even have to call the police.

I was glad that the damage was so minor, but my car had been in pristine condition up until this point. Now there was this dent in the front of my car for everyone to see.

I became a little OCD about it. Every time I walked to my car, I would stop and look at the dent. When I went into the garage to get something, I would look at it. I was beginning to fixate on the dent.

Read moreMarriage Is Like A Dented Fender

Did I Marry the Right One?

Did I marry “the right one?” There can be times in marriage when that question races across your mind like a streaker running across a football field. It can happen when you’re having that same old fight for the umpteenth time. It can happen when the two of you disagree on what’s fun and what’s boring. It can happen when your goals for the future don’t line up. It can happen when the differences between you and your spouse has you grinding your teeth.

It’s during these out-of-sync-times that spouses begin to wonder, “Did I marry the right one?” For some couples, the longer they’re married the more the question pops up. They try to beat the question back, as if they were playing a game of marital whack-a-mole, but no matter what they do, the question keeps coming up. 

Read moreDid I Marry the Right One?