WHAT IS LEFT? THE BENEFITS OF A LIFE WITHOUT BUFFERING.

Yesterday I introduced you to the concept of buffering.  Buffering is indulging in false pleasure as a way of avoiding real life and real feelings.

Thoughts about our marriage can be a reason we buffer.  Buffering can also contribute to avoiding our marriage.

What is left of your life if you quit buffering? What if you didn’t  overeat, overdrink, over-netflix, overspend, overwork, over people-please, over-smart phone?

This is a really legitimate and good question to seriously ask yourself.

What if you went for an honest and authentic life and felt all the feelings?  What would be left?

What would your marriage be like if you didn’t create false pleasure by tricking your brain into thinking you just experienced something wonderful as you sought out the next dopamine hit on the end of  a fork or a smartphone?

False pleasure has a poor rate of return and leaves you worse off than you started.  It may be contributing to debt, health concerns,  superficial connections (with yourself and others) and general emptiness.

Maybe in the past you have tried removing some of these pleasures and have gone through withdrawal and feelings of deprivation.  Not only did you find yourself  sitting with all the emotions you previously resisted, but they came back harder and stronger.

This discomfort created the perfect justification to go back to the buffer because we are suppose to be happy 100% of  the time, right?? (Uhh, no. More on that in a future blog).

So this is how the cycle goes.  

The cycle of despair and pleasure continues until  you ask, “What if?”  What if you really gave up buffering?

If you can answer this question, you create a compelling reason to change.

I certainly do not claim making any change in your lifestyle is easy.  It’s an intentional process.  Its not popular.  It’s a journey. And like any journey, you have to be patient with yourself and not fall into beating yourself up as you learn a new way.

But it is rewarding.

When you do the work of eliminating buffering behavior, you come out so much better on the other side. 

Here are some of the benefits:

1.  When you quit buffering and allow yourself to really feel your emotions,  you get to know yourself in a much deeper way.  When you do this, you find the cause of your unhappiness and can start to do the work to create change.  

2.  You start to deal with the things you have been stuffing. They are still there whether you acknowledge them or not. I am sure you see evidence of their presence as hard as you have tried to power them away.

3.  I had a pastor who referred to all the modern day idols in our life as “little g.o.d.’s”.    They are things we allow to rule over us and “save us” from our pain, yet they always disappoint. When you quit turning to little g.o.d.’s (false pleasure) you turn to the Real God in a deeper and richer way.  Pain and circumstance become bridges to truth.  You  live a life of faith which always encompasses action.

4.  When you eliminate buffering, you become a person who is not afraid of life or discomfort.  You enter a process of growth and discovery. You are no longer letting pleasure and comfort dictate your life.

5. You are willing to take uncomfortable actions  as though it does not all depend on you. You look up rather than numb out. 

6.  Your relationships are better for it.  Yes, you may experience feelings of  loneliness as you take a path less traveled, but you also own your thoughts, feelings and actions.  You relate person to person.  (Not like the person encased in bubble wrap.)

7.  Not only are you more authentic, you become a more intentional person.  Intentional people create relationships they want.  (Remember our relationships are a product of our own thinking. )

I encourage you to consider the ways you buffer and what your life might look like if you set out to allow feelings  rather than create false pleasure.  

Does this sort of ownership and growth make you feel afraid?  As though you are setting yourself up for failure?  That is totally normal.  Let’s chat about it more tomorrow! 

WHY IT’S SCARY TO FEEL AND WHY THAT IS OKAY

It’s hard to talk about  marriage and not get into emotions. 

Your emotion creates your interactions with another person. 

Your emotions are created by your thoughts.

At times we become emotionally flooded and lose access to our smart brains, reacting to our man  in a fight, flight or freeze fashion.

Other times we feel vulnerable when we turn toward  and he rejects our bid to connect.

We might feel sad when we look at what we really think about our marriage. 

The opposite of feeling is buffering.

Buffering is actions we take to avoid our feelings.  We think buffering helps, but because it relies on external and false pleasure to make us happy, it really only seduces us.

After buffering we are left tostill deal with our feelings.  These emotions are more compounded since we stuffed them down.

Yesterday we talked about the benefits of giving up buffering.  There are so many!

And yet a big reason most of us want to hold onto the habit of buffering is because we are not only afraid of FEELING, we are terrified of FAILING.  

I bet some of you are asking, “What if I try to quit buffering and fail?” ” What if I don’t know how to feel my feelings and I am overcome by them?”

Failure might look like this:

I decide to turn off the TV but my husband does not interact with me, so I buffer with facebook.

I feel restricted  by saying I will feel my feelings and not eat, and so I eat the whole pan of brownies.

I get off my phone but the loneliness is so uncomfortable, I go on a netflix binge.

I limit my working hours to 40 but the overwhelm at home is so much I polish off a bottle of wine.

We justify buffering so as not to experience failing.

Okay. Wait.

Failure is only painful because of what we make it mean.

Think about it.  Is failure that big of a deal?

Failure is missing the mark.  It is falling short of the expectations we had in our head.

That is it. 

So why does that have to mean something awful?

What if it just meant we were growing? We were expanding into uncharted territory? We were trying to be better?

What if failure was normal? Expected.  Part of it.

When we are afraid of failing, we fail in advance.  We don’t try.  We stay in apathy.  That is a whole different type of failure that does not come from a place of growth. I am not recommending that type of failure.

Failing because you are trying is not a big deal.

I remember when my daughter was learning to ride her bike (and tie her shoes).  Both cases of learning were dramatic. 

She thought she would never get it.  (Insert The Count from Sesame Street head banging because of his failure.)

I knew she would.

She fell.

She didn’t want to get back up.

I knew it wasn’t a big deal.  The falling was part of it.

The big deal was if she would keep trying. The big deal was if  she would be willing to fail again.

It took awhile for her to learn. She expected to know how to ride quickly. 

She didn’t think learning took practice.

I knew it did.

I didn’t expect her to ride like her 9 year old brother.  

She expected that. 

It seems easy to me, yet, I do the same thing when I set out to learn something new.  I make it hard.

Learning takes practice. Failing and falling is normal. Its required.

Are you willing to learn to live life, feeling all the feels, eliminating the buffering and creating an authentic way of living that does not depend on false pleasure?

I hope you are! It is a life well worth it.  I hope you are willing to fail to get there.

DO YOU BUFFER WITH PLEASURE?

I have been on an emotional ROLL this week (not to be confused with an emotional rollercoaster 😁😲😌).

I have been teaching you so much about emotions because emotions fuel all your interactions and outcomes.

I shared with you that the opposite of allowing emotion is buffering emotion.  It is what we do to avoid pain.  So, it makes sense when you stop buffering you will feel pain. 

Yesterday we talked about how when we feel this pain, we want to think “not buffering” is a bad idea.  We don’t like feeling like we have failed when we feel pain.

Just because you open the junk drawer ( or junk closet, or junk room) and see the pile-up that was lurking in the dark, does not mean life will improve if you just maneuver the drawer shut again.

Who wants to live a life where you keep filling your overfull drawers with junk?  Many of us live that way, but we feel burdened by what was meant to unburden us.

Idolatry is not dead.  Anything we put in a position of power and authority in our life is an idol. Anything that consumes us can become an idol. Anything that we turn to for relief and comfort instead of God is an idol.  We may not cast statues of gold to save us, but we create idols in our life when we turn toward false pleasure (buffering) to save us.  

  • Those who turn to idols turn away from God’s love for them (Jonah 2:8)
  • Those who turn to idols will suffer more and more (Psalms 16:4)
  • Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (I Corinthians 10: 7) .

There are so many benefits when we stop buffering and discovering what our life really is. When we remove the idols, we discover who God really is.   

So how do you know if you are buffering or just enjoying a gift of pleasure?

If buffering is relying on external means to shift our feelings, the buffers aren’t always bad. It is the reason we use them that determines what they mean to us.   It is the control they have over our life that determines if they are an idol or a blessing to simply enjoy.

Here are some questions to determine if something (or someone/some activity/substance) has become a buffer (idol) in your life:

1.  Is this causing  a net negative consequence in my life?  Is it interfering with my health, relationships or some other area of functioning?

2.  Do I spend a great amount of time obsessing and thinking about this pleasure? Does it take away from other positive things I could be creating in my life? What would I be doing if this was not part of my life? How might  life look different?

3.  Why do I ____________ everyday?  What are my reasons for the pleasure?

4. If I remove the buffer, what is left for me to deal with?  What am I avoiding?

The best way to know if a pleasure has become a coping mechanism (or little g.o.d), is to eliminate it  for a few weeks and see what is left. Then you will know.

It may be uncomfortable at first, but remember that is totally okay.  The discomfort is not caused by removing the idol, the idol just masked the real pain.  When you find the real pain, you can look it in the eyeballs and discover the life that you are meant to live.

The pain is part of living in a fallen world.  The pain you have been buffering is the bridge to a more intimate relationship with your creator and the lover of your soul. Remove the buffer and what you actually discover is greater love.

If you want a better marriage, you have to clean out your internal clutter.   Worrying about all your husband needs to clean up is the equivalent of worrying about the neighbors yard when yours is overgrown. Focus on taking responsibility for yourself rather than what responsibility your man should be taking  (Matt. 7:3 Remember the speck and plank?)

There is so much you can do to feel better and think clearer.  Let’s start with us!  When we do, our marriage gets better (because remember your marriage exists in your head).

WHY CHANGING WHAT YOU DO DOESN’T WORK

I can tell you what to DO to have a better relationship. Maybe suggest some actions to take.

Everyone thinks they want that.

But it doesn’t work. 

Our actions are fueled by our emotions, which are created by our thoughts. 

You can change your actions, but without addressing the fuel situation, changing actions alone won’t get you results.

Turning toward your husband is a good idea.  But you have to know what thoughts and feelings you are bringing to the table.

If I am feeling hurt and thinking, Rich doesn’t care about my thoughts and feelings and I turn toward Rich fueled by my hurt, the result I will leave with is:  I don’t care about Rich’s thoughts and feelings.  Also I  will have  collected evidence that he does NOT care about mine.  (I know this is true because it happened.)

But if I take some breaths, I realize my hurt is not because of what Rich said or didn’t say, rather because of my THOUGHTS (Rich does not care about my thoughts or feelings).

I can allow myself to feel the hurt, without resisting or indulging.  I can breathe it in a gentle compassionate way until it dissipates.  But I first have to be willing to feel the hurt.

I can then ask myself  if the thought creating the hurt is serving me.

I can see evidence that many times I believe Rich DOES care about my thoughts and feelings.  The thought  He does NOT care certainly isn’t helpful or inspiring.  Nor is it necessary.  And I know when I feel hurt by Rich I don’t love him well, so it is not a kind thought at all.

What thought do I want to think? What do I want to feel?

I am committed to always turn toward Rich.  I know the alternative is to deal with things on my own which  begins the cascade of distance, loneliness and isolation.   I certainly don’t want that.  Yet, if I only bring undertones of hurt to the conversation, I collect hurt and I hurt him.

In this situation I might choose the thought Rich DOES care about my thoughts and feelings.  Most of the time,  I really do believe that thought.  Or I could choose the thought, Rich and  are on the same team. Or We both want to feel connected.

I decided to pick the thought We are on the same team.  It makes me feel connected.  Now when I take the action of turning toward him, I am not sweeping my hurt under the rug nor indulging my feelings of hurt.   I allowed myself to feel that, remember?

I allowed my feelings, found compassion for myself, and I created a helpful thought and feeling to bring into my turning toward Rich.

When we allow our unintentional feelings without indulging or resisting, and manage the thoughts we bring into the action of Turning Toward our husband, we get different results.  We can’t determine how he will respond to us, but when we come from a place of positive emotion we show up in a way that makes us at peace with ourselves. 

PICKING NEW THOUGHTS IS LIKE TRYING ON CLOTHES

You get to think about your husband however you want.  And no one can stop you.

Some of your thoughts serve you, and others don’t feel so great.

I like to think of trying on a thought as putting on a new outfit.

Have you ever had some pants that don’t fit quite right?  Maybe they are too tight or maybe they sag. 

But you keep wearing them.

Until you realize YOU DON”T HAVE TO. 

You can get new jeans. 

There are some jeans out there for sure that would fit you better.

And when you get that pair of jeans that fit just right, the benefits have a ripple effect.

Not only is the waistline more comfortable, but you enjoy other things in your day more because your jeans feel more congruent to you.  You are thinking about other things, not constantly hiking up your saggy jeans.

It’s the same way with thoughts. 

Why are you choosing your current thought? Is it serving you?  What are some other thoughts you could try on? How does the new thought feel?

You may hate clothes shopping or you may love it.  Thought shopping may be similar for you. 

Whether you love or allow the process, when you create a new thought that serves you, you will be glad you took the time to find it.

MAKE REPAIR ATTEMPTS. OFTEN.

For every couple, things go south from time to time.

According to Gottman Institute,  the difference between  the Masters and the Disasters of Marriage is Repair Attempts.

Super couples have fights.  They say regretful things.  They have bad days.

But what makes their marriage different is their ability to make repair attempts.

The attempts aren’t necessarily more skillful or better thought out, but they get through to their spouse.

They tap the breaks when they need. 

They hit pause.

They say I am sorry.

They offer grace and do-overs.

They know they don’t have to be perfect.  They just have to break the cycle of negativity, finding a way to de-escalate the tension.  Even if your disagreements with your man are very negative, you can discover the secret of bucking the system by offering the right kind of damage control.

UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM? (DON’T WORRY THEY ARE NORMAL)

Every marriage has them. 

Your marriage will have them until your dying day.

They are unsolvable problems.

Unlike your solvable issues, the  unsolvable ones rear their head throughout your relationship.

Isn’t it good to know that?

I think it is.

You don’t keep having NEW problems.

You get some version of the old one.

Maybe its sex. Or television. Housework.  Parenting. Religion.

As Psychologist Dan Wile says in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner…you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.”

Can’t you pinpoint some recurring issues in your own relationship?

It’s totally not a big deal.

In fact, its normal. 

This “problem” is the avenue that teaches us to turn toward (as opposed to turn away) in a NEW fashion.  When we commit to turning toward in a way that honors ourselves and the other person, we then are removing judgment and feelings of superiority.  We give up the need to be right.

You may have the same problem, but you can find a way to still be satisfied with your man and your  marriage.   You can learn to deal with a perpetual problem so it does not overwhelm the relationship.

Unfortunately, in some relationships, thoughts about perpetual problems eventually kill love.  The husband and/or the wife make the problem mean something catastrophic. 

They spin their wheels.  The Four Horsemen become ever more present.  Positive Sentiment diminishes. 

The couple becomes emotionally disengaged, moving toward parallel lives and inevitable loneliness.

But it doesn’t HAVE to be this way!

Tomorrow I will share with you the signs of Gridlock and what to do if you have locked horns regarding your perpetual problem.  

ARE YOU LOCKING HORNS?

Yesterday we talked about marital conflict and how perpetual problems are  totally NORMAL. 

Think about it. 

Two human beings called to turn toward as one + each has no control over the other = struggle and conflict (yep, the results of a fallen world).

It is how we navigate this that determines our outcomes.  The thoughts that we have, create our feelings about the situation, which pour into the actions we take thus the results we get. 

When we allow the conflict and differences without freaking out or villainizing our spouse, it is all just fine.

But what about couples that don’t?

These husbands and/or wives become gridlock and even more entrenched in their positions, killing the connection.

So how do you know if you are in Gridlock? Here are some questions gleaned from my study at The Gottman Institute that  you can ask yourself:

  • Do I feel rejected by my husband?
  • Do I keep talking about it but make no headway?
  • Am I entrenched in my position and unwilling to budge?
  • When we talk about the subject do I end up feeling more frustrated and hurt?
  • Are my conversations about the problem devoid of humor or affection?
  • Over time have I become more unbudgeable which leads me to vilify my husband?
  • Has this vilification made me all the more rooted in my position and polarized, all the less willing to compromise?
  • Am I disengaging from my man emotionally?

If you answered yes to one or more of these, you are in gridlock.  But be of good cheer knowing that there is a way out even if you answered yes to all 8!  You just need a willingness to explore the real reason you are locking horns. 

I will tell you more tomorrow!

MOVE PAST GRIDLOCK

Yesterday we took a quiz to see who was in a state of gridlock in their relationship.  I promised you even if you were very gridlock you could move past stuck and heavy, to place that was light and loving.

The real reason you are locking horns with your man is because of what you are thinking.  

I gave you a pointer: 

Quit thinking the unsolvable problem is fatal.  Nothing is wrong.  There are ticks in the woods. Allergies in spring.  Thorns on roses. Unsolvable problems in marriage.  This is reflective of the fallen world we live in. 

Next, recognize that underneath gridlock are two hidden dreams that you and he are likely not talking about.  Moving from gridlock to dialogue about these dreams is key.  

For example, Sarah is constantly fighting with her husband Todd about where to eat lunch after church on Sunday. Eat out or at home?   When it comes up, Sarah feels entrenched.

In this situation, eating out has symbolic value.  She feels loved and cared for when she does not have to plan, cook, and wash dishes.  Sunday is a day of rest in her mind. Her family always ate out on Sundays growing up. It’s the way it should be.  When Todd does not want to eat out she is thinking Todd is being unloving.

For Todd, a meal out costs money. He resists it because he values money in the bank and it seems more economical to eat at home.  He is fighting for security, thinking she is being lazy wanting to go out.  Sarah and Todd bicker and resist one another on this subject. They are gridlock. 

Another couple may have similar competing priorities but do not become entrenched in it.  They can still be affectionate and have a loving sense of humor around it.  The difference is, they understand the other has equally valid and legitimate reasons for wanting what they want. They do not wish for their partner to appease them only to resent them for it later.

When we dialogue about an unsolvable problem without becoming gridlock, we are turning toward our partner which is gold.  Notice though, talking about the unsolvable problem and hidden dreams is not a covert attempt to resolve the problem or win the other person to your way of thinking. (If it were, the result would be gridlock.)

The work you get to do  in marital conflict is cleaning out the closet of your mind. You become aware of what thoughts are driving your interactions  and if those thoughts are serving you.

Maybe he wants to be in much closer contact with his family than you prefer.  Maybe he wants 7 kids and you only want 1.  Maybe he likes to stay home on Friday nights and you love going out. 

You and he both have dreams in this life you share.  There is a story worth hearing behind each of your platforms.  If you are gridlock, you are thinking that he is not honoring you and he thinks you are not honoring him.

When we move past gridlock and commit to turn toward our husband in an honest and loving way,  we do not insist on our way or attempt to manipulate him into giving up his desires.  We no longer believe that one of us has to sacrifice their dreams.

Committing to the process of turning toward, making decisions with mutual respect for your husband and acknowledging both of your aspirations is how you alter your reaction to Unsolvable Problems. 

Be patient, have faith and stay committed.  The issue does not have to be a death sentence.  You can still love each other and have a sense of humor about your differences. 

WITHIN EVERY CONFLICT IS A HIDDEN DREAM

Your spouse gets to have dreams and desires that you may not share.

The very nature of marital gridlock is that your dream and your spouses appear to be in opposition.  You want different things.  And because those things are symbolic of the dream (security, freedom, influence, ect), they matter a lot to you.

Dreams are simply your hopes and desires.  They reflect what you value.

Sometimes you may be entrenched in gridlock and not even recognize the dream you are batting for.   You think you are fighting about television, when really maybe you are fighting for an intentional life and quietness.  (He may be fighting for a place and time to “just be”).

When you see your husband as the source of your marital problem (he is a slob, he is irresponsible, he is demanding) that is a sign of a hidden dream.  Because it is hidden from view, you don’t see your part in creating the conflict.

Some common dreams that my client’s discover are:  adventure, peace, building something important, travel, a sense of order…. The list is endless.

Women who are happily married often incorporate their husband’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about.  They don’t do this from a place of obligation or sacrifice which breeds resentment, but rather from a place of appreciation and love. They understand that they each get to keep their dreams and the goal is to honor them both.

Wives who are happy in their relationship don’t force expectations on their husband (we call these Relationship Manuals).  Relationship Manuals dictate how HE should behave so that she can feel loved. 

Manuals imply that someone else is responsible for our happiness.  They also imply a right way to desire, think and act.  When we imply our way is right and his way is wrong, we set ourselves up for gridlock. 

Remember Martha from the book of Luke?   Hard working, dedicated, intentional Martha. She was great at taking care of everyone and getting things done.  It was when she criticized her sister Mary that the Lord reprimanded her.  I don’t think Jesus was saying Martha was wrong for cooking and planning a meal.  He was correcting her for judging and managing Mary as Mary pursued her heart.

Marriage is not about forcing your expectations on another person, rather supporting the dreams of your partner by  allowing him to have desires that are different than your own. ​

4 FIXES TO ALL YOUR RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

If you have a relationship problem, I have a fix!  It is 4 very simple and power packed commitments.  The key is in being intentional and doing the brain and emotional work you will encounter when you truly commit to these 4 actions.

1.  Commit to Love.  Your only job is to LOVE your man.  He was given to you to love.  How do you love?  Simple. Love just loves.

2. Give Up the Need to Be Right.  You don’t have to be wrong, but when you quit having to be RIGHT, you create a space that is open and loving.  Offenders like the 4 Horsemen cannot exist in this space and you will be less likely to gridlock

3.  Stop Trying to Control Your Husband.  Adults get to do what adults want to do. We know this is true, because that is what is happening!  Whether you “allow” your man to behave in a certain way or not, he will do what he wants to do.  If I could tell you how to change him to make you happy, I would.  But it’s not possible.

4.  Take 100% Responsibility for Your Relationship. It may not be fair, but if you want to be happily married, it’s the way to go!

When you master these 4 Fixes you will be blissfully married. Yes, you will still have unsolvable problems, because you are two humans with your own dreams and preferences, but they won’t be a big deal.

Get busy working on you. Settle into your journey of becoming a happy wife and you won’t have time to worry about where your man is falling short! 

COMMIT TO LOVE

Yesterday I gave you 4 Quick Tips on how to fix any problem in your relationship. Today, let’s talk about the first tip, Commit to Love.

Committing to love is  pretty straight forward. Not a lot of complicated pieces. 

If you wonder how you do it, it’s simple.

You just LOVE.

God said it is not good for man to be alone and He gave Adam a woman he named Eve.  She was given to him as a partner. You are given to your man.  He is yours to love. 

That’s it. 

I Corinthian 13 tells us what love is (you should definitely read it!) I will tell you what it is NOT.

Love is not people pleasing.  As Christians, we do not live to please others or gain their approval.  Rather, we live to please God.  In all we do, we do it unto Jesus.  We do not please our husband to gain his favor.    We don’t even love our husband for his sake or because he does or does not deserve it.  We love and reap the benefits of loving regardless of how our husband responds to our love.

Love is not burdensome.  It does not come from a place of insecurity, lack or fear.   Think about it: God is Love. When we know that and that His Love fills us and that our job is not to earn God’s love or acceptance, it changes how we show up.  We have been given love in abundance. We have not earned it. We simply receive it and allow it to overflow from us.

Love is not manipulative.  We don’t do loving things to evoke a certain response out of someone so we can feel a certain way based on their response.  Love does not give to get something from another person.

Love feels amazing.  It definitely feels better than disappointment or frustration, and yet we so often choose the later starting in our thought life.

Love because you can. Love because it is freeing. Love because Jesus has loved you.  Love others unto Your Creator/Lover of Your Soul, not to earn God’s love but because you already have it.   

GIVE UP THE RIGHT TO BE RIGHT

Sometimes we fight like our survival is at stake.  Maybe that’s because our fights are embedded with hidden dreams.  Other times we just like to be right.  

Even if it feels like a dream is at stake, we can change the way we think about it.  When we accept a different perspective of reality and  turn toward in an honest and loving way, we move from gridlock to dialogue.

When we fight to win, what is the benefit?  Fighting to win implies that the other person loses.   But in marriage, aren’t you on the same team?

Before you assert your right to be right or have the last word, ask what you really are fighting for.  In situations where a compromise is in order, ask yourself: what is the small area that is  non-negotiable for me and what is the larger area I am willing to compromise?

I am not asking you to  be a silent martyr always catering to the other person’s wins. That only creates bitterness, distance and resentment.  You don’t have to be wrong, but by knowing what is at stake, honoring your differences and softening how you talk about disputable issues, you can resolve a lot of pain in your relationship. 

TAKE 100% RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR MARRIAGE

If you want to fix your relationship, you need to take 100% responsibility for it.  

Often we make excuses or assign blame in our marriage.  We might feel like we are at the mercy or our husbands, what he is or isn’t doing.   But what if you owned your marital happiness like a boss?

Taking responsibility is managing the thoughts and feelings you bring to the table.  It is deciding how you show up.

A relationship is simply a string of sentences in your head about the other person.   Yesterday, I talked about not controlling your husband, but recognizing adults get to do what they want.  You getdecide what you think about your husband.  What do you choose to believe about how he shows up?  What meaning do you attach to his actions?

You don’t have to take  responsibility FOR your man. You are responsible TO him, not FOR him.  There is a difference.

You do, however,  get to love him as he is .

Take responsibility for yourself.  It may not seem fair, but it is the way to do it if you want to love your marriage. 

WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS CREATING?

God spoke.

When He did, his WORDS created the world (Genesis 1).

Nothing exists that He did not speak into existence.

God created us in his image.  We get to rule over the world, the plants and animals.  We too get to create (Hebrews 2:5-9)

What are you creating in your life by the words you speak?  What are the words you think?

Our words have power. 

The Spirit of God dwells in us beginning with His Word.  His spirit gives us eyes and ears to understand Scripture.

Through the Word and His Spirit, our bodies are quickened and our spirits our encouraged.  His Word written and spoken is living and active and sharper than a double edged sword.   The Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Not only did it call life into existence, it continues to bear life and truth in us. 

Wives, if you are not feasting on His Word you are depriving your spirit of power and peace. 

What words  of truth will you speak to  breath life into you marriage?

Pick up your Bible.  Read it everyday.

If you want some consolidated truths, a great resource by Joyce Meyer is a little purple book called The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word.  It takes Scripture as affirmations you can speak into all areas of your life.  You can look under topics (marriage, depression, fear, worry, finances) and there are Scriptures lined up ready for you.

I encourage you to create peace in your mind and life by speaking God’s Word.  Put on those Words, like garments each morning. 

Words have power, starting with the strings of sentences in your mind. Choose them wisely as they create your feelings which fuel your actions which ultimately create your results.  How you are experiencing life now, always goes back to words.

A HAPPY MARRIAGE IS YOURS

I have never met a person who did not need to do some brain and emotional work in their relationship.  We all do in order to create a marriage that is thriving. Especially when we have no control over the other person and how they decide to show up.

When I coach my clients, nothing matters if they don’t do the work. If they don’t manage their minds, they struggle to sustain actions.  They lose commitment.

Like anything worth anything, marriage is built on a heap of disappointments and wins.  For this reason, many people aren’t good at building relationships. Their tolerance for discomfort and failure is low. 

To succeed, we must be willing to fall and get back up.  We have to change what we are making failure and disappointment mean.

As you step outside of your comfort zone and try a new approach, expect that it might not go as you planned.  When you try some of the things I am teaching you, you may feel frustrated and even angry.  Plan on that discomfort.

Your ability to get past your disappointments will determine your growth.  Wins come at the same speed  you keep taking action despite failure.

When I see someone who struggles over and over again in their relationship, without exception it is because they quit taking the new and next action.  They made disappointment mean defeat and they quit trying.

A Happy Marriage is yours.  Own it.  Just keep believing.  Stay committed.  Take action. 

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

What if you got to be the example of Love in your home? 

What if you saw your job as leading by example?

When your kids make bad choices, rather than lamenting at what a bad mom you are or blaming your husband for not stepping up, what if you said to yourself, “It’s the kids’ job to push and it’s my job to teach. “

When you were disappointed in your man, what if you thought, “He is given to me to love.”

You would stop complaining.  You would quit spinning your wheels thinking how things should be different. You would pray about the problem, release it and then take the next best step.   

If you quit thinking about how your husband should parent differently and just accepted how he does, you would no longer be wasting your time.  You would use all the energy to do your best.

You would be the one to teach your kids the things you wanted to teach them (I bet when you are thinking he should step up you start sitting down).   Rather than seeing your husband as working against you because of his lack or parenting, you would just see his parenting as different. You would see your differences brought contrast to the table, which doesn’t have to be a negative thing. 

If you look at energy as a limited resource that you wanted to spend wisely, you would quit spending it on negativity.  You would invest it in something that you wanted to grow.

Instead of talking about how much you are unhappy, you would intentionally think about what makes you happy. You would focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.  You would celebrate what you have rather than lament over what you lack.  You would invest in your future and quit living in your past. 

I am not suggesting you push down negative thoughts or disappointments.  That can actually create a tug-o-war increasing the energy that goes toward resisting negativity.

You just simply notice the negative thought, allow it to be there, and ask if the thought is serving you.  If it is not, you gently shift  your energy elsewhere.  Metaphorically speaking, if you are on a walk, you might notice a cloud, but then focus on the sun peaking through, the fresh air you are breathing in or how  capable your body is as it moves.

When you complain and indulge in negative thoughts or speech, you are advertising your own fears, not actually pointing something out about the other person.

When you lead by example, you are future and forward focused.  You are looking to the desired destination, not where you don’t want to be.  You spend your energy in a positive way.  You look for evidence of what is right.  You quit worrying about what everyone else should be doing and do what you should be doing. 

When we truly feel the release of just loving and leading by example (without haughtiness or judgment), we simply love and love always feels amazing.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO DEFEND YOURSELF?

When your husband came to you with a complaint, what if you responded (very genuinely),  “Tell me more.”

Then after he shared, you asked, “Is there anything else?”

And then, you said (again with sincerity), “Thank you.”

What if you didn’t take it personally, but thought, “Hmm. This is what he is really experiencing and thinking.”

And then you actively listened.

I remember a hard time in our marriage when I had to be very intentional to bite my tongue, breath deeply and just listen.  That was hard!  My pride wanted to lash out.  But I had done that before and it got us nowhere. 

So I shut my mouth.  Took my breaths.  And I channeled curiosity. 

I did not agree with everything said, but I did not argue.  I listened as though it were not about me.  And when I did that,  I finally understood his point of view.  I didn’t make myself wrong, but I did not have to be right.

The funny thing is, this place where I felt vulnerable and resistant, it was a vortex in our relationship where I would learn to love more deeply.  Following this encounter where I was very intentional to swallow my pride is the place we started coming out of the valley we had been in for quite a while. 

What if I had stayed stuck in my pride?

When I quit taking the bait, I  could see my husband was hurting. 

By listening to him and not taking it personally, Rich was able to hear himself and all his pent up emotion.  Underneath his complaints about me, was an abyss of grief and sadness. 

Over the years he had lost his dad, his mom, and 42-year-old sister.  But he always kept going, never indulging in his grief.  And yet, working full time as a psychologist serving chronic and traumatic cases, his own pain was left unattended, spilling over into aggression that was very uncharacteristic of him. 

In everyday life, all his loss was not on the forefront.  Yet it was sitting there like rocks in his shoe.

I am so grateful that day I stopped defending myself and getting caught up in stupid arguments. 

We don’t have to be right.

When we remove negative emotions from feedback and simply listen,  we can ask, “How can this help me?” or “What is he feeling or needing?”

In my own marriage and working with couples for nearly 20 years, I have always found that it is in unwanted and broken places that there exists the potential for the greatest emotional intimacy. When we quit defending our-self and start loving,  we can see what is right before us.

Need help with your relationship?  Schedule your free consult.

3 STEPS TO CREATE A MARRIAGE YOU LOVE

You are always creating things in your life, either with intention or by default.

This includes the flavor of your relationships.

To create a marriage you love on purpose, here are 3 steps:

1. Ask yourself what you want to FEEL about your man and your relationship (pick ONE feeling word).

2. Now try on thoughts (similar to trying on jeans) until you identify a thought that creates that feeling. You don’t have to believe that thought yet, but you must believe that it is possible to think that thought. (like don’t think pigs can fly because you know you won’t EVER believe that thought because it could never be true).

3. Take action in your marriage from that feeling.

For me, because I like order, it’s easy to get caught up in the pile of pants on the closet floor or the trunk full of junk in Rich’s car.

I think, that stuff should NOT be there!!! (notice 3 exclamation marks). That makes me feel annoyed (That junk should totally should be there by the way).

It’s not fun to feel annoyed. You don’t show up very loving from that place.

So, because I don’t like where annoyed takes me, I have been working on feeling more THANKFUL in my relationship. I have tried on several thoughts that might create this feeling and the one that fit like a glove is “So many people would love to be married to my strong sweet man, but he is mine.”

This totally makes me feel THANKFUL so I know it is the right thought. I am sold!

From this feeling of THANKFUL I take action in my relationship.

My actions fueled by THANKFUL get such better results than the actions that came from my previous feeling of ANNOYED.

So what is a feeling that has not been working for you in your relationship? What would you like to feel instead?

When you practice thoughts that create that feeling, you are on the road to creating the Happy Marriage you dream of.

Having a hard time creating? I can help you create for yourself. Set up your free consult where we can see if coaching is a good fit for you.

HOW TO CALM DOWN

Today I met with a couple. 

They told me about a fight they had. 

It started with her feeling overwhelmed and frustrated (with LIFE, not him).

However, in frustration she then reacted with aggressive and short words aimed at HIM.  Feeling defensive to the sharpness of her tongue, he combats it by telling her how she needs to not be so frustrated.  She feels corrected and gets angry.  Things escalate and they end the day feeling alone and hurt.

“How do I stop always feeling so frustrated?” she asks. 

I realize her frustration is coming from her thoughts. The feeling comes on so fast that she lashes out re-actively.  At that point, it is hard to access the rational part of her brain.

In my mind I  rewind 14 years ago when I first introduced time out to my son.  This worked for my kids. Why not for her?

“What if instead of acting out of frustration as though that were your only option, you believed you could hit pause by saying,  I am feeling frustrated. Maybe then you could give yourself what you needed.  It’s like we tell our little kids, “Use your big girl words.”  You could even put yourself in time out if it helps. “

I laugh. And then I tell her that really is pretty good advice no matter what your age. 

I also realize she is feeling shame about getting so frustrated. She was making it mean that something was wrong with her and her husband’s words only reinforced that.   I asked her about it and she said,  “If I am always getting frustrated it must mean I am broken.”

I disagreed.

“The thought  “I am broken”  is  keeping you stuck.  As soon as you start getting frustrated you think you have failed and go all in and give up.  What if the frustration meant nothing more than you were human AND you could learn to understand and  manage your frustration differently?”

I explained that once she could name the feeling she could experience it as a product of something she was thinking.  Only after she allowed the frustration without indulging it or judging it, she could change the thought creating the frustration to one that served her better. 

Though the husband was telling his wife she needed to not get frustrated, HE was getting frustrated which led to him  correcting her.  I pointed out the mirror in their emotions and interactions. 

As they both uncovered the thoughts causing their feelings of frustration, they were actually quite similar.  She was thinking a situation should have been different than it was, and he was thinking she should be different than she is. Once again a mirror. 

At the end of the session, I asked the couple to tell me what they learned by processing this last fight so that they could hit the breaks sooner next time either of them felt frustrated.

They both agreed that calling a time out and at least saying how they felt was a way they could pause the situation and diffuse the conflict.

You will always have emotions.

You will still get frustrated and angry for the same reason you will still get happy and relaxed. 

Congratulations! You are human and get the full spectrum of feelings.

When we learn to make repair attempts (hit the breaks), self sooth, support our partner in self soothing, just breath in our feeling for a minute, we can disarm an emotional situation. 

Allowing the feeling in this way, we are more likely to overall reduce the duration and intensity of the emotion.  By allowing it, we disarm it.

And it all starts by hitting pause and using words to name the feeling.

If a strategy is excellent for toddler, it probably is great for us too.