Dirty Laundry Can Ruin Your Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

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You’ve seen it and I’ve seen it.  

If you are involved in ANY type of social network, you’re going to have it flashed in front of you.  Some of you deal with it in work.  Others deal with it in the neighborhood.  I see it in church a lot. 

Dirty laundry. 

I’ve been familiar with the idiom for years. I’ve heard my parents use it as well as friends and co-workers. 

Someone is “airing their dirty laundry.”

The phrase simply means you are talking about things (usually a problem or dispute) that should be kept private. It stems from the idea from the fact that your dirty laundry (an analogy for dirty secrets) should be kept out of sight when people are visiting, otherwise it could be embarrassing for you or them. It can also be phrased “Don’t air you dirty laundry in public”.  But these days, there seems to be little to no boundaries when it comes to what SHOULD be private and not public.  

I believe social networking is a tremendous gift.  It’s given us the power of connecting with the people around us as well as reconnecting with friends and family once separated by geography.  You feel a part of your friend’s life even though he/she lives across the country.  It’s also empowered so many introverts with a voice of expression (both good and bad).  For those of us who grew up struggling with shyness and insecurity, social network has helped us break out of our shell.  My own personal social network posting philosophy is fun, inspiration, and connection (friends, sports, hobbies, etc). 

People post anything…and I mean anything. 

Selfies. Pictures of their food. Ridiculous moments of their day (I’m guilty). What their child said/did that was so cute. Random thoughts.  Inspirational quotes.  Memes of kittens with a random scripture overlaid.

It seem like there’s no end to what we can come up with to post. 

Then it comes up.  

Dirty Laundry.

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“My husband/wife said something that hurt me…”
“My husband/wife is a…”
“My husband/wife expects…”
“I don’t care what anyone thinks, but my spouse…”
“What is my spouse thinking…”
“I can believe he/she is acting like…”
“People, you know who you are, need to…”
“My in-laws are…” 

As much as people can complain about what to post (quotes, kittens, food, etc.), this is one post that has to go away. There is no place for this.  You may have the right to do it…but it doesn’t make it right. Please take your dirty laundry off the line and take it back into the house. 

Why? Because it’s telling the all of us one of several things (in reality, it could be more than one): 

  1. Your hurting. 
    That’s a given.  I will not be sarcastic about your hurt.  I will not mock it.  You’re living in fracture and you need the same healing that I received through Christ.  One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
  2. You don’t have a clue about how to handle conflict with your spouse.
    Again, I’m not mocking you, but you need help. It’s okay to admit you need help.   But seek it without dropping your laundry on the social network world.  Unless all of your “friends/followers” are solid Christian counselors, keep it out of your feed. Proverbs 12:15 “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Go to prayer.  Get help as a couple. Become a student of marriage and work on your conflict resolution.  I promise. It will bless you and your spouse.
  3. You enjoy drama and you, apparently, don’t want the soap opera that you are living in to end.
    Admit it.  There are drama kings/queens all around us.  If you are one of them…STOP IT!  (I’ll admit, sometimes I think I’m one of them.  That’s where Anne calls me out.)  Misery loves company (another idiom I should blog on) and if you are miserable, you want people to be sucked into it.  Why? It’s giving you attention.  You are the focus and the longer the facebook thread is, the more fulfilled you feel.  Proverbs 27:2 “Don’t call attention to yourself; let others do that for you.”
  4. You’re selfish enough to rally everyone to your side and away from your spouse.
    You know there are people on social network that are foolish enough to take your side having only heard your side of the story and not your spouses’. Hurt people do hurtful things like manipulate situations to help themselves.  Galatians 5:16 “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.”
  5. You’re vicious. 
    Your rants are a warning to people of their future if they cross you.  It’s burning bridges that you, in your hurting state, can’t afford to lose. Listen to the words of the Psalmist, “God, get me out of here, away from this evil; protect me from these vicious people. All they do is think up new ways to be bad; they spend their days plotting war games. They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt, speak venomous words that maim and kill.” Psalms 140:1-2.

If your on the reading end of social network, the “dirty laundry” being aired out is nothing more than a black widow’s web designed to ensnare you and poison you. Reach out to the hurting individual privately. 

Let me say that again: Reach out to the hurting individual privately.  Don’t engage in business that isn’t yours.  But there are ways to reach out to speak healing without becoming a part of the problem. 

If you’re the one hanging the “dirty laundry”, it’s time to step back and get some help.  It’s time to engage with your spouse in a way that fosters healthy communication skills.  Proverbs 10:19 says “The wise measure their words.” Your words need to be used in the right timing, in the right atmosphere, with the right tones.  It won’t turn around overnight. But intentional acts/words of health breed marriages, that themselves, move toward health. 

Your dirty laundry wasn’t meant for others.  It’s for you and your spouse. 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Marriage Blog: “It’s just not me.”

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We’ve all used it to get out of things we don’t want to do.

“Do you want to ride the roller coaster?” “No. It’s just not me.”
“Do you want to try escargot?” “No.  It’s just not me.”
“Do you like country music? “No. It’s just not me.

It’s kind of our nice way of telling people that we have absolutely no interest in what they are offering.  As long as you say it in a nice tone, it’s amazing the stuff it can get you out of.  It’s like a “get out of jail free card” for moments in public places.

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Sadly, it’s a line used to often in marriage.  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.  I have heard the line used all over the place and in numbers of situations.  Casual conversations with couples, in small groups, dining, counseling…well, you get the picture.  I’ve heard it too much

“All he/she wants to do is talk…it’s just not me.”
“He/she wants to get all romantic…it’s just not me.”
“He/she wants to be involved in volunteering together…it’s just not me.”
“He/she wants is sex…it’s just not me.”
“He/she is more the disciplinarian for the kids…it’s just not me.”
“Well that’s just his/her thing…it’s just not me.”

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cop out  n. An excuse designed to shirk responsibility.

That’s all this line really is…a cop out.  It’s the marital line we use to shirk responsibility of being an “other-centered” husband/wife that serves our spouse.  (as I type this, I’ve noticed there has been a common thread being woven through my latest blogs…And that thread is simply being a spouse ready to take up not just the JOY but the responsibility of serving our husband/wife.)

We live in such a self-centered ego-driven manipulative culture that is fascinated in pleasuring self.  As blunt as it sounds it’s completely true.

“I have to receive something for me to be happy.”
“What do I get in return if I do what you want?”
“If I get what I want, then you can get what you want.”
“I don’t feel like it. He/she just has to deal with it.”

We feel entitled to have our own needs met with little thought what our spouses needs are.  We justify our actions by calling their “needs”  as “wants” as to calm our conscience.  It is no wonder why people start emotional and physical affairs.  We send out our spouses empty and thirsty and we get upset when someone has stepped up to the plate to fill them up.  Note: I’m not giving ANYONE the excuse for having an affair.  Affairs are wrong no matter how you package them (Matthew 5:27-30).  But as a spouse, we cannot empower what the enemy is wanting to do in our marriage by neglecting our spouse as well as give our significant other an excuse to go looking for attention elsewhere.

Proverbs 5:18-19 Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!  Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose – don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted!

This last part is what this blog is all about. The longer we are with someone (we’ve been married for 16 years + dated for 3 years) the more apt we are to taking them (their wants and needs) for granted.  We assume too much and neglect them.  I would love to assume I’ve never given the excuse “it’s just not me”, but honestly, I think I used it last weekend when she wanted to go for a “romantic walk” on a beach and I was comfortable in the shade.  I’ll say it this way: the more we put off our spouse, the more we push away our spouse.  It could be a walk, a conversation, a date, sex, or a simple cup of coffee, but to ignore them is to take them for granted. And to take them for granted is to stifle the love and passion in your marriage.

Be a listener to your spouse.  Then take that next step from being a listener to serving your spouse.  Get past the “it’s not me” phase and realize, if you are married, whether you like it or not, IT IS YOU! Never take your spouse for granted.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

From the Sermon Cutting Room Floor: The Devil Made Me Do part 2

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It’s what pastors do.  We reflect on what we preached.  The tough side is to not be your biggest critic and yet, you still are. You ponder what you said and what you didn’t say.  Monday is a chance to go over twitter and facebook to see some of the posts.  Here’s a few from yesterday’s message “The Devil Made Me Do It”:

Part of the sermon-building process is being a steward of the time given.  The old-school believer would say, “Don’t worry about time.”  I think that’s the lazy pastors way of not being disciplined enough to carefully and prayerfully weight out what needs to be said in the appropriate time. Not only do we (pastors) need to be better with our studying, but we need to remember people’s attention span and retention ability is limited far less than we give our sermon-giving-abilities credit for.  My goal is to give a “meal” to be able to enjoy and digest and not a smorgasbord that so fills an individual that he/she doesn’t know what they received.

I tend to over prepare leading into the weekend of a message.  In saying that, there’s a lot left on the “cutting room floor” of my study.  There are parts of the message that never get said or stated in our effort to be a good steward of my opportunity on Sunday.  One part in particular continues to sit with me that I cannot let go of.

The devil doesn’t make us do anything.  We make the choices. We choose to go the opposite direction and we love to shift the blame on others, including the devil, to escape having to take responsibility for our own actions.   We hit hard the idea of flirting with our sin (Genesis 13).  And as we continue to flirt with sin we rationalize what are doing (Genesis 14).  That flows into us getting transformed by our decisions (Genesis 19) that ultimately leads to destruction (Genesis 19).

What has stuck with me is the effect of us as parents and how our flirting, rationalizing, and transforming can completely devastate our children.  Further reading into the story of Lot reveals Lot living homeless in a cave with his daughters.  He’s lost his wife.   They’ve lost their husbands-to-be.  Their plot: Get dad drunk and sleep with him to conceive children to preserve the bloodline.

Where would they get the idea that this is at all permissible? My only thought was that they learned it in the place where they resided for 10+ years: Sodom. I can’t imagine what they heard and/or saw in that city. But a father’s decision over a decade before became the foundation for the growth and maturity (or lack thereof) of his children.

Someone told me something years ago: What you do in moderation, your kids will do in excess.

Why did I stress getting closer to Jesus?  More than just the personal effects that come,  there is a parental reaction that happens to our children that produces a model for them to follow and pattern their lives after.  Do all of our children make the best decisions when they hit graduation?  Not at all.  I wish it were the case. Our job as parents isn’t to make the decisions for them.  Our job is to set them up to take the right paths.  Our job is to point the way to Jesus.  From the way we talk to our children and are affectionate with them to the atmosphere we have in our homes, we are providing opportunity to encourage or discourage our children to be followers of Christ.

Lot forgot that.  Maybe he was seduced by the beauty of the land (Genesis 13:10-11).  Maybe he was excited about getting out from underneath Abram’s authority and influence. But his move toward Sodom cost him everything. And this incestuous relationship ended up haunting Israel for years to come (Ammonites and Moabites).

This story hit me hard as a parent. It rocked my world and has drawn me to want to be closer to Christ than I have ever been.  I need more of Him in my life because, well, I need him.  I need his fullness to, daily, pour into my life. But beyond me, I have a marriage and a family to lead.  And if I chose to go after Christ, I set my marriage and my family up to do the same.  If I choose to flirt with “Sodom”, I am setting up my marriage and family for consequences that I cannot possibly fathom.

I don’t type this out to hang guilt on anyone’s shoulders.  I do it to challenge every parent.

If you find yourself having moved toward “Sodom”, turn toward Jesus.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As you do that, share the grace and mercy you’ve received with your family.  Let your kids hear what Christ has done in your life and let them see you live it out in your home.  It will mark their lives and set them up for success.

Remember: What you do in moderation, your kids will do in excess.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Marriage Blog: Leave the Money on the Nightstand

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Having a few weeks off of blogging, my heart has been burning to blog on a subject that has crumbled and continues to eat away at so many marriage. Paul addresses it in the famous “love chapter”:

Love “does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

This cancerous element has no place in your life.  It has no place in your marriage. It will weaken you and your spouse to the point where you will be unable to stand together.

It’s called selfishness.

Yet every time we act out of it…
…every time we think with it…
…we use and abuse our spouse in order to get our own way.

We, by doing it, empower our spouse to say, “Leave the money on the nightstand.”

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I understand that it’s an intense metaphor.  But I cannot think of anything more graphic, and yet aptly descriptive, of what selfishness does to your spouse.  The phrase “Leave the Money on the Nightstand” is known as a reply of a prostitute to a “client”.  It is the tired, broken reply of someone who has been so used for selfish gain.  It is the rehearsed line spoken to people who have “demanded their own way” with very little care and minimal emotional investment.  My fear is that selfish people are positioning their spouses to feel no different from a harlot: simply there for you to get what you want and leave them void.

I’m tired of it.  I’m so stinking weary of grown adults playing the childhood game of “mine” with the person they should be serving most.  I’m so sick of marriages falling apart because grown men and women don’t know how to think of anyone else but themselves.  Every day, people act out a scenario of selfish ambition trying to grab all they can thinking “if I don’t, someone else is going to be better than me.”  We take and take until we’ve depleted the resource (marriage) without the thought of pouring in (unless it’s to our benefit).  It’s like the zombie apocalypse is about to hit and they’re taking all that they can because they don’t know if they are going to get anything later.  To deepen the issue, we seed that mentality in our children by displaying the selfishness in front of them as well as refusing to raise them with the mentality of serving first.  Instead, we raise them to “take first” as to make sure that no one else’s child gets ahead of our kids.

Love “does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

The original language literally means “does not seek the things of itself.” Self-focus, which is the antithesis of love, marked the Corinthian church and, sadly, it marks too many marriages.  The way to correct “self-seeking” is, quite simply Christ-seeking.  To see Him and discover Him is to discover the totality that is love. And THAT is the remedy for selfishness: Love.

Jesus said,

“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31).

As we find our completeness in Him, it gives us the ability to love and serve those around us.  Jesus, in Mark 12, was teaching that concern for others must equal the natural concern we have for ourselves…

…and the word “others” should not just include our spouse but place them first above all human relationships.

Does our spouse see that?  Can they tell that they are the priority in our lives? We have to be willing to step off the pedestal we’ve built to be seen and raise up the importance of serving our spouse.

Our spouses should never feel used.  Our spouses should never feel void.  We have to guard our wives/husbands from be “marital harlots” for us to take what we want and go about our day.

Lay aside your pride.  Lay aside what YOU want.

It’s time for you to be a spouse who will raise up the concern to serve HIGHER than the level to receive.

Thanks for letting me ramble…