Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Improve Communication in Marriage

Use this format to improve communication in your marriage. Decide on an agenda in advance or at the beginning of each meeting. Don't try to tackle more than one or two problems in one session. Decide how long you will spend on problem solving. An hour or less works better than longer amounts of time. Agree also that you can stop the discussion if either person wants to do so. The person who wants to stop the discussion will set a time within the week for resuming the discussion.

Guidelines When Speaking      
1. Be brief.  A two sentence rule is effective in minimizing hostility and in keeping the discussion focused.
2. Be specific. Instead of complaining, "You're so messy", say, "I would like you to hang up your coat when you come in and I'd like you to put your dirty clothes in the hamper.

3. Omit insults, and accusations. Assume a "no-fault" attitude. Think instead, "We have a problem, what can we do about it."
4. Don't use labels. Calling someone "sloppy" or "lazy" is a generalization and it will anger your partner.

5. Avoid absolutes. Using words such as "never" or "always" are usually inaccurate and they also increase the hostility.

6. State things positively.  Say, "I'd like you to take out the trash" rather than "You never help around here."

7. Say what you think and feel not what you think the other person thinks or feels. Mind reading doesn’t work.

Guidelines When Listening:     
1. Listen to your partner and give signals, such as nodding your head or saying un-huh, to let him or her know you are listening.
2. Try to understand the main point in what your partner is saying and his or her feelings behind this. 
3. Summarize aloud what you think your partner means and ask if you have understood him or her correctly. If your partner says you haven't understood, ask for further explanation. Repeat until you have understood your partner’s viewpoint.
4. Say you're sorry if you have clearly injured your mate. This doesn't mean you accept the blame. You can be sorry you have hurt him or her even though it was unintentional. If you realize you were at fault, admit it and ask for forgiveness. (A post on Forgiveness is coming in a few weeks.)

For Both Partners:
1. Find points of agreement and focus on these. Comment also on specific things you appreciate about your partner.

2. List all the possible solutions you can both think of whether they are practical or not.  Write down at least ten solutions without censoring them or discussing them. Then go back and cross out any that either person could not consider. Choose the best idea of the remaining ones to try out.

3. These guidelines will take practice. Don't expect yourself or your partner to be able to follow them all immediately. Your session together is successful if you understand a little more about each other even if you do not reach solutions the first time. See previous posts on Communication Rules and Repetitive Arguments in Marriage.

“Be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.” 1 Peter 3:8 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Red Words in Scripture

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4 You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. The Message
Luke 6:21 Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
John 16:20 You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve but your grief will turn to joy.
John 16:22 Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.

Dear Father,
Thank you, Lord for giving comfort to me in times of grief. It’s hard to believe we’re blessed when we weep! We are so forlorn and lost then. I know tears help us face inner pain – yet I resist the pain of crying. Weeping has helped me resolve hurts from the past - layers and layers of inner hurt. Shedding tears also helps me face my sins and deceit and come to you and repent. Your forgiveness comforts me.

You have been with me as I grieved over many losses especially lost loved ones. Knowing you has changed my grieving. Life makes sense with You. I know my grief will turn to joy! What a promise. I thank you that I have the present experience of living with joy in this world as well as the future promise of living joyfully with you eternally. I thank you for the promise of Your comfort.

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Divorce Misconceptions

Q. My wife and I have an unhappy marriage. I love my wife but I wonder if we should get divorced. I know it would hurt the kids but isn't our unhappiness and bickering also hurting them?
A.  There are many misconceptions about divorce and it’s effects on children as well as adults. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee describes a study of the effects of divorce. Dr. Wallerstein interviewed sixty families at the time of their divorce and re-interviewed them five, ten, fifteen and twenty-five years later. The results reveal a number of major misconceptions about divorce.
The study showed that children are not happier after parents divorce even though they are no longer exposed to bickering and even if their parents may be happier. The facts show that children of divorce suffer greatly from anger, fear, sadness, depression, worry, rejection, conflicting loyalties, lowered self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness and even suicidal thoughts. 
The study also showed that divorce is not just a temporary crisis at the time of the divorce. Dr. Wallerstein says she did not see the whole picture until she interviewed these children as adults. She found that the child’s life was “profoundly altered by the divorce experience.” The child of divorce experiences many new relationships and changes: stepparents, step-siblings, second marriages, second divorces, and often a series of live-in lovers. The child experiences “a series of losses as people come and go.” Adult children of divorce say, “The day my parents divorced is the day my childhood ended.” 
Another misconception this study exploded was the idea that the best time to divorce is when children are very young. The facts show that the youngest children suffer the most. Young children are at an age when they need almost constant attention, protection and nurture. The turmoil of divorce does not provide this.
A fourth misconception is that the major impact of divorce occurs in childhood or adolescence. Wallerstein’s study showed that children of divorce suffer the most in adulthood. Due to the pain of their childhood losses children of divorce bring baggage into their intimate relationships. They may make poor relationship choices, give up too easily when problems occur, or avoid relationships. 
In addition adults are not immune to the pain of divorce. Even the person who most strongly wants out of a marriage will experience a period of grieving. Chris Cox, columnist for the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen Times, wrote about his own experience of divorce, “Divorce is a bomb that blows to shreds your sense of who you are and what you have become. It is a series of land mines, going off in your face when you least expect, the shrapnel of memories searing your heart.” He goes on to say, “You cannot escape the reality of loss. Rather, you must...soak in it, swim in it, absorb it..- in addition to letting go, once and for all, of the life you thought you had and the future that life implied.” 
Divorce affects friends and extended family relationships and brings pain and loss to friends, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Divorce is never a pain free solution. 
What can you do to begin to solve things?  Watch five videos called Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce available free on www.beforeyoudivorce.  Each video shows film clips of experts talking interspersed with couples telling their experiences. Ideas for resolving differences are also presented. Some couples who have watched these videos have decided to stay together. Those who have decided to go ahead with a divorce have had a more peaceful divorce as a result of considering the effects of divorce before hand. 

Counseling with a Christian counselor or pastor along with The Third Option group for couples on the brink of divorce can help you work out the differences and conflicts in your marriage. Don’t give up. Divorce will compound your problems, not solve them.

Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.” 1 Cor. 13:11 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Best Books About Church - Part 3

Church Book Reviews 3
This is my third post in a series on best books about church. The links for the others are below.

The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur, well known pastor and author. MacArthur writes about the fact that Truth is under attack by our post modern culture and some of those attacking it are inside the church. False teaching, indifference and a lack of accountability infect many churches today. MacArthur says, “False teachers aren’t necessarily even that obvious. They don’t wear badges identifying themselves as apostates. They usually try hard not to stand out as enemies of truth. They pretend devotion to Christ and demand tolerance from Christ’s followers.” Christians concerned about the church may want to also read these other books by MacArthur: Anatomy of a Church, Ashamed of the Gospel and Reckless Faith.

They Like Jesus but not the Church: Insights From Emerging Generations, by Dan Kimball, Pastor of Vintage Faith Church. This is a must read for those who want to reach emerging generations while speaking the truth. The book is divided into three parts – Why Emerging Generations are Changing, What Emerging Generations Think About the Church, and How the Church Can Respond. I was especially helped by an illustration of syncretism (combining contradictory views) Kimball observed in a TV sitcom.

“A family was discussing which religion to dedicate a newborn baby in. The father wanted the baby baptized. But the mother wanted to have some sort of Hindu ceremony performed. And the grandparents wanted the baby to be circumcised by a Jewish rabbi. Before you knew it, the whole family was arguing. In the end, they compromised and said, “Each of us will bring our own religious leader and we will do all of them.”

Kimball emphasizes the need to form friendships first, listen to what others believe, understand what attracts them to their “faith,” and be respectful. We know this, but don’t always practice it. Only when we do these things should we attempt to explain the Christian faith. Kimball has interesting visuals in his book—a historical map of when each faith began, and pictures of three different mountains to God showing why all roads don’t lead to God. He says various faiths have similar teachings at the base of the mountain, but they each climb a different mountain leading to a different God. This is an excellent book!

 Religion Saves + Nine other Misconceptions is by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll answered questions from his congregation in an evening service (without children there). The top nine sermons are included in this book. In the introduction he states that “religion” never saved anyone, and religious answers to complex questions are simply misconceptions, hence the title. His answers are biblical and he notes that many of today’s issues are not addressed in the Bible. Questions covered deal with dating and sex, the long standing debates between Arminians and Calvinists, and between Catholics and Protestants, the emerging church and how Christians should relate to culture and the lost. The chapter on what worship is and isn’t describes differing views about this in a clear and balanced way. This is an excellent and well researched book written in an easy to read format.

On this Rock I will build my church.” Matt.16:18

Blessings, Dottie

Here’s the link to Best Books About Church 1

Here’s the link to Best Books About Church 2