Thursday, October 25, 2012

Can a violent marriage change?

Violence is always destructive and signals major problems. Both partners may be out of control. Wild animals fight when attacked. Children fight with each other. Most adults do not use physical means to settle differences. We know how to control our anger. We know how to talk about problems. And we know how to walk away from conflict.
Seek Professional Help
Couples who are violent with each other have usually come from homes where they witnessed violence or where they were physically abused. The violence in their marriage is a re-creation of scenes from the past; an acting out of their frightened, hurt, confused and angry feelings from the past. When this happens in a marriage the couple are at risk of doing serious harm to each other. The violence must stop. They need treatment to learn how to do this and to resolve the underlying problems causing their violence. This will take time and will not be easy. Treatment can also help them discover the positives in their relationship, the love and caring that keeps them together.

Changes You Can Make
There are also several things couples can do on their own to stop the violence. These are not a substitute for treatment. They will only facilitate lasting change in connection with professional help.

Learn About Your Anger
Understanding your anger can help you control it. To learn about your anger write out your answers to these questions individually: 
             1. How do you define anger?
             2. What did you learn about anger as a child?
             3. How did you express anger as a child?
             4. What was your most recent anger experience?
             5. What was the angriest moment in your life?
             6. How do you react to anger?
             7. What positive ways do you use to get rid of anger?
             8. What do you enjoy or like about anger?
             9. How do you "pick a fight?"
            10. What do you do that triggers your partner's anger?

Read and study The Anger Workbook by Dr. Les Carter and Dr. Frank Minirth and honestly face the truth about your own violent anger.
Make Your Home Safe
Couples who are violent with each other must make their environment safe. To do this, get rid of all weapons. They might even place the kitchen knives in a locked drawer. They will need to make a pact to never become violent again. They will need to plan how they will handle anger when it arises.

One way to do this is to list the behaviors that are acceptable during a disagreement and those that are not acceptable. For example, acceptable behaviors might be: describing why you're angry, asking for different behavior, raising your voice, slamming doors, leaving briefly to calm oneself down.
Unacceptable behaviors would include any physical attack (hitting, biting, scratching), destroying possessions, threatening divorce, threatening violence.
If drinking accompanies the violence this issue will also need to be addressed. Couples with a violence problem need to find an experienced counselor and commit themselves to continue in treatment weekly for at least three months.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 NIV

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Leaving a Church - The Grieving Process

The Grieving Process and Leaving a Church
Leaving a church can be as painful as the death of a loved one or as difficult as a divorce. Grieving is a painful process, it takes time, and moves through stages or steps. The loss of a close friend or relative causes us to weep, mourn, struggle, and be acutely depressed. This is also true for leaving (losing) a church. Leaving a beloved church can be compared to losing your entire family. The leaver loses precious friends - brothers and sisters in Christ. The people we worship with, pray with, study with, and serve with, are not easily left or easily forgotten. The pain can be excruciating.

Active and devout Christians don't leave their home church on a whim. Leaving is not done lightly, though it may seem that way to others. Often the leaver suffers in silence for a long time before revealing he/she is struggling, upset and hurting - or even angry.

The process of leaving follows the five stages of grief, though not necessarily in the same order and each stage can be revisited. The process takes time. The stages are:

1.Denial - "This can't be happening." In this stage the leaver denies what is happening. He or she smiles and ignores troubling issues. The leaver disregards negative thoughts and events; avoids facing feelings of disappointment or even confusion.

2. Anger - "I'm angry about what's happened to cause this." In this stage feelings of anger and critical thoughts erupt. The leaver complains and expresses anger to close friends and family members and to God.

3. Bargaining - "I won't have to leave if....?" In this stage the leaver hopes for things to change, for the pastor to leave, or for things to change for the better; he/she yearns for any way to delay or prevent the inevitable loss.

4. Depression - Tearful laments define this stage. Leavers experience low energy, sadness, even hopelessness. Leaving, though scary, may be a relief at this point. But depression continues.

5. Acceptance - Eventually those who leave accept the loss. Leavers move on to another church and enter a new church family. Many realize later that their painful loss has led to personal growth.

For leavers who are reading this, my prayers go out to you. Read and reread the stages of grief above. It helps to recognize the steps and to expect chaotic feelings and thoughts in the midst of this. It also helps to journal about your thoughts and feelings. And most of all it helps to lean on God. Talk to him, read his Word, and continue to trust him no matter how bad you feel. And begin looking for another church. We are not supposed to give up meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25)

For potential leavers, my prayers are with you also. Hang on for the next newsletter before deciding. Hang on until God clearly directs you, also.

For pastors and elders, please recognize the painful road "church switchers" are traveling. Pray for them, listen to them, and love them-whether they are coming or going.

To read about my own journey and to learn more about changing churches, look on Amazon for Changing Churches: A View from the Pew.

 "On this rock I will build my church." Matt. 16:18

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Praying the Lord's Prayer

Matt. 6:9 “Pray like this:
 Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” NLT

Luke 11:2    “This is how you should pray:
 “Father, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us our food day by day. And forgive our sins – just as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation”. NLT

I want to consciously model my praying after the Lord’s prayer.  In thinking about how to do this I ran across a chart in Praying the Scriptures by Evan B. Howard, adapted below.  As you know I’ve already started using this and it has helped me remember to be specific and pray each type of prayer.

Verse                                     How to Pray                         Type of Prayer
Holy is your name                  Praising God for his              Worship, Thanksgiving
                                                holiness and thanking
                                                him for his grace
Your Kingdom come             Giving God total control         Submission, Surrender
Give our daily bread               Asking God to meet               Petition, Intercession 
                                                today’s needs
Forgive our sins                     Admitting sin to God              Confession
as we forgive all                     asking forgiveness.
                                                Telling God how you
                                                have been sinned against
                                                 and forgiving those who
                                                have hurt you.
Protect us from                      Asking for strength over         Protection, Deliverance             temptation and evil                 areas of evil which may
                                                tempt you and protection
                                                from Satan.   
Worship & Adoration
I thank you and praise you! You are an awesome God. You are the King of Kings, the Creator, my Lord and Savior. You are The Truth. You are Love. Your grace is amazing.

I give you total control over my life, as much as I consciously can. Help me not hold back any thing from you or take back control. I can only do this with the power of your Spirit. Keep showing me when or where I fail to do this.

Today I need your presence with me and your guidance. Help me be loving and caring. Guard my tongue and my temper. Let your Light will shine through me. Help me speak only what you would have me speak. Bless my family members. Bless, comfort, help and heal friends who are sick or struggling. Open the eyes of relatives and friends who don’t know you and draw them to you.

Forgive my sins this day and reveal them to me. Forgive me for irritation with a loved one yesterday. You helped me work it through so it did not infect our relationship. I thank you for this. I have forgiven him for his shortcomings and I have forgiven others who hurt me in the past

Protection and Deliverance
Father God,
Strengthen me in overcoming my own areas of weakness – pride, self focus, criticalness, and worry. And protect me and my loved ones from Satan’s attacks.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Marriages in Trouble

The Fairy Tale Marriage
Several types of marriages often have trouble. The first type is the fairy tale marriage. The couple believe they have found the perfect person to meet all their needs. They believe marriage will make them happy. When they discover their partner is not perfect they become disillusioned. When troubles or struggles come (and they will with every couple) they are devastated. Since they believed the other person would make them happy, they think the solution is to leave the marriage and find someone else.
The Dominant Submissive Marriage
The second type of marriage is a dominant/submissive one. One person is in charge and the other person accepts this. They both may be comfortable with this arrangement for a while. Sooner or later the submissive one becomes depressed, resentful or withdrawn. It's difficult to act like a non-person. This couple believes that living together is only possible when one person is dominating the other.

The Care Taker - Rescuer Marriage
Another version of the dominant submissive marriage occurs when one partner feels inadequate and seeks a partner who will rescue and take care of him or her. The caretaker is loaded with all the responsibility for the relationship and the one being rescued continues to feel inadequate. There is no room for growth; there is no equality.
The Power Struggle Marriage
Another type of common difficulty is the power struggle. This struggle can be subtle or it can be open warfare. Each person is determined to prove they are right. Both are engaged in a fight to convince their spouse that they know best. Differences are threatening and viewed as wrong. They are engaged in a battle of self-justification.
The Contented Marriage
Couples who remain together enjoy and respect each other. They are affectionate with each other. They accept their struggles and view them as challenges. They learn to accept their differences. They learn to cooperate. They learn to accept each other's immaturities and idiosyncrasies. They work at understanding and communicating with each other. They are committed to each other and encourage each other's growth and development. The main ingredients of a lasting enjoyable marriage are love, respect, effort, communication and commitment. Marriage is never easy!

A couple in a Fairy Tale Marriage will need to recognize their expectations were flawed. They must learn that no partner can meet all their needs and that all marriages have some conflict. The Dominant Submissive marriages must take the risk to allow each other to be real, to each make decisions, to differ. A couple in a Power Struggle Marriage will need to realize no one is always right and that often there are many right ways to do things. In order to change these problem marriages, counseling and marriage enrichment courses will help. I believe any couple with some maturity who truly want to work things out can do so.

“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NLT

Blessings, Dottie