Gold and White: 6 things the “Tumblr Dress” taught me about marriage.

I’m sitting watching a show with my daughter and during a commercial, I happened to look down at my twitter feed. 

Big mistake.  The world was crazy with over the color of a dress.  This phenom started Thursday with a Tumblr post. A lady posted a picture of a two-toned dress with the caption, “Guys please help me-is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking…out.” (edited out the f-bomb)

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Within hours, the image went viral and consumed social network.  I was lost.  Everybody was posting, tweeting, and retweeting and would stop to clear up my confusion: 

Before, long, I heard Anne call me from the other room asking me about it. It didn’t take long, but after spending a few moments (that I will NEVER get back) I found out what the world was obsessed with.  

And I don’t really get the big deal. But I did learn something about marriage, 

6 things the “Tumblr Dress” taught me about marriage. 

1. Some people just love to argue. You see them on facebook and twitter.  Some of you see them when you wake up in the morning.  People think it’s fun to get a rise out of others.  I’ve counseled couples in which the one who loves to argue has not clue that their method of “fun” is what’s driving their spouse away. If you are one of those people who love to intentionally engage in unnecessary conflict and you are married to someone who is NOT like you…I’ve got some advice for you: Stop trying to stir up arguments all the time.  It’s not cute and you’re annoying the crap out of your spouse. 

2. You’re not going to agree on everything. Stop thinking you do.  If you disagree on stuff, there’s nothing wrong with your marriage.  If you two agree on everything, then one of you is not necessary.  You may just need to agree to disagree. Which leads me to #3…

3. Arguments mean you are not compatible…AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. Compatibility is a farce. So many people (and dating websites) are bent on this being the “end-all” of relationships.  Compatibility attracts…and that’s all it’s limited to. But it doesn’t make a marriage. In fact, the word “compatible” means, “Able to exist or occur together without conflict.” The incompatibility of your lives gives room for the two of you to work, love, and grow together.  Your marriage is WAY RICHER because you’ve married to somebody who is much DIFFERENT than YOU are. 

4. Perception is more reality than you think. Sometimes we are so bent on changing our spouse’s perception.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but there’s a small process to it.  First, validate their perception.  He/she sees something you do not.  Instead of making them feel wrong/stupid/ignorant, let him/or her feel valued by understanding what they see. Second, clearly and calmly explain your understanding to the situation.  Third, if needed, apologize.  Even if your actions are misunderstood, your actions did lead to the misunderstanding (a little extra humility never hurt anyone). Lastly, let the response of your actions change the perception.  

5. Don’t tell me you two have nothing to talk about. There’s always something to talk about. The world stopped to talk about a dress (which I think is gold and white). What’s really happened is one or both of you have quit trying to talk.  You’ll push yourself at work, church, the story, etc. to engage with people.  You’re spouses deserves that effort and more. 

6. You don’t have to be right all the time. You like it.  I know I enjoy being right.  For a portion of my marriage, even if I was wrong, I could manipulate the conversation to make Anne feel responsible for the situation so that I could be right.  It was wrong.  It’s still wrong. If you are bent on ALWAYS being right makes you less attractive and more of a jerk.  So stop it. 

In the midst of all of this, I find myself in Proverbs 18:15.  It says, 

Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

I’m a guy who’s always trying to learn.  I am looking for ways to grow. As silly as this whole dress thing is, there’s so much we can learn from our human responses.  And if we don’t pursue opportunities to learn, we will pay for it personally as well as martially.  To learn is to live. And in the words from one of my favorite movies, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” 

Now that the “Tumblr Dress” has had its 15 minutes of fame…this blog is officially outdated.  

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Passive Aggression…and it’s killing your marriage.

Passive aggressive behavior is all about one simple word: disconnect. It’s the “disconnect” between what is being said and what is being done.  Unfortunately, all around us, marriages are suffering from it.  There are many different ways in which passive aggressive behavior can be expressed in our marriage. What I’ve got written down here is a simple list, though not exhaustive, covers some of the most common examples.  I wonder if you can add anything? 

  1. Having a hostile attitude. Passive aggressive spouses tend to assume that something done that they didn’t approve of was an intended to be a shot at them. For example, you might assume your spouse know/understands how hard you’ve been working.  When your spouse asks something of you, you assume that he/she has something against you and is trying to use this as a dig against you.  It never occurs to you that your spouse simply may not understand the load/pressure that you’ve been under lately.  
  2. The silent treatment. Nothing highlights disconnect more than the famous silent treatment…and I’m quite skilled at it. There are three common forms: 
    • The Payback: Silence that make you look agreeable but you far from it. You may have lost an argument but this is a pathetic way to get a victory by leaving your spouse in wonderment by making them feel, even though the discussion is over, it’s far from over. 
    • The Cliffhanger: Silence that comes after the word “nothing.”  “What’s wrong?…Nothing” It’s just leaves something hanging out there in which you know that there is “something” wrong.
    • The Warning Shot: To answer any question with just one word followed by silence. This is intended to signal that there is a problem, without you having to say it.
  3. Building resentment. Passive aggressive peeps will view requests/demands/issues of others as unfair.  Instead of pouring out (expressing their feelings, they’ll bottle them up and resent the other person.  
  4. Withholding. In a marriage, it will manifest itself in three ways: 
    • Withholding intimacy.  Instead of the sexual act being a sacred and beautiful moment in a marriage, it’s used as a weapon. “Why give my spouse something I know he/she wants? This will teach them to do _______ to me.” 
    • Withholding praise.  Some people have a hard time with others, besides themselves, receiving praise.  In your mind, it’ll keep your spouse humble and/or in the place YOU want them. 
    • Withholding appreciation.  “Nobody thanks me so why do I need to thank him/her.” I also like this one, “Why thank her/him for something she/he should already be doing?”
  5. Acts of sabotage. These are deliberate acts designed to punish your spouse. 
    • Strategic Procrastination.  Consciously putting off what needs to be done. It’s usually used as a punishment toward your spouse. 
    • Intentional mistakes. Rather than saying “no” to your spouse’s request, you’ll perform the task poorly as to not be asked again.  
  6. Manipulative communication.  These will be manifested in: 
    • Criticism.  A passive aggressive spouse will use a manipulative tongue to criticize but make it appear as a joke or a complement.  You may not even catch it till you’ve left the room or the house. 
    • Complaining.  Everything in life is a personal attack on them.  Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that doesn’t go his/her way is seen as unfair and it an injustice.  Every decision is made about him/her because life is all about how it impacts him/her.
    • Sarcasm. It seems that you can’t get a straight answer. Sarcastic words are simply indirect put downs to your spouse.
  7. The social media vent. Instead of facing your spouse, you’ll vent over the social media venue of your choice and use it to cut into your spouse. There are usually two reasons for doing this: 
    • First, there’s something therapeutic about writing something out.  I wouldn’t discourage journaling or writing your spouse a letter, but social media is public (thus the name).
    • Second, you’re most likely using the “venting” to rally your friends/followers to your aid.  You’re taking it public to get the “public” behind you.  You make think it’s a good think, but it really makes you AND your spouse look bad. 
  8. The final blow.  Passive aggressive spouses thrive on getting the last word in.  Even if the conflict is over, he/she will slip something in to leave his/her mark on the situation. It may be subtle, but it gives him/her a sense of victory. 

You’ve got to see passive aggression for what it is: Hostility.  Like any form of hostility, if you give into it, It will want to rule your life.  You and your spouse need to fix the disconnect by doing a few simple things: 

  1. Confront the issue by being specific. Don’t dance around it…that’s feeding it with more passive aggression.)
  2. Set expectations.  Don’t let them be wishy-washy expectations.  Use them as boundaries.  
  3. Rebuild your communication.  Practice assertiveness and active listening. 
  4. Repentance.  Nothing makes a marriage grow more than Christ-like humility. 
  5. Pray.  Pray for each other.  Pray with each other.  

I leave you with Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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: Shut off the soap opera.

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I love friendships.  As much of an introvert as I like to think I am, I’ve grown to love people and the relationships that come from that. The greatest relationship, outside of my relationship with Christ, is what I have with my wife.  And if I’m not careful, I can allow other relationships to steal energy, attention, passion, and from my wife.

Bear with me…

I’m a stubborn movie-goer.  I will endure a terrible movie because, “I paid money and I’m gonna find some scene/part that is gonna convince me it was worth it.” I can be the same way with TV shows and even my sports teams (darn you Detroit Lions and my years of watching you lose).  For some reason, the little investment I made seems to be the reason I feel obligated to continue to feed that “thing” with my attention hoping the I’ll have some return on my investment.

In the end, whether with my movies or teams, I find myself feeling cheated. I feel used. There seems to be blocks of time I know I will NEVER get back.  But what do I still do? I keep running back hoping for better times and experiences.  But over and over I go back to these “things” that I know full well that will siphon me of time, money, and/or emotions while leaving me less of what I should.  The cycle of drama seems unending my life

You may make better movie/TV/sports choices than me.  But there are a number of you that chose to suckle upon certain relationships hoping they’ll feed you something worth the attention you’ve already invested.  In the end, they have drawn you into soap opera-like drama only to leave you in a place where you are less than what you should be.  You get drawn into drama that siphons emotion, mental, physical, and spiritual strength from you…

And when your mate comes to you, you’ve got NOTHING left for them.

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You marital communication dies down since you’ve exhausted your words on someone else.  Quality time is no longer desired because you want to be alone.  The marriage bed has far less activity because you don’t feel like you don’t want anything and/or you don’t have anything left to give.

You’ve been cheated. You’re spouse is being cheated.  You’re marriage get’s the leftovers of an individual disoriented from the motion sickness of the unending drama in other people’s lives.

If you are bringing their drama to the house…
If you find yourself obsessing over their facebook drama…
If you find yourself constantly fielding calls, texts, facebook messages, etc during dates and/or family time…
If your spouse is showing signs of jealousy over the attention you are giving others that he/she should be getting…
if you are engaging with them to the sacrifice of your marriage…

…then it’s time to shut off the soap opera.  It’s time to limit (or possibly cut off) their time.  They’ll survive just fine.

First, find your completeness in Christ. 

The main characters of your life cannot be them.  The main character of their life cannot be you.  I like what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:11-12, the main character must be Christ. 

(The Message)“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.

Our fullness comes from choosing Christ as the main character of the narrative that is our lives.  It’s from His fulness that He pours into our incompleteness AND it’s out of that place where we are able to help others. I believe we are meant to be contributors instead of consumers.  But contributing to people doesn’t mean that our marriage gets sacrificed because someone doesn’t know how to shut their mouth and control their emotions.

Second, draw boundaries. 

Again, I love people.  I enjoy friends. I love helping individuals. BUT…being a friend and a helper doesn’t mean we get allow people to abuse us with their drama.  Being a Christ-follower and friend doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries.  There are times that Jesus was with the crowd.  Other times he went off with the twelve or even the three (Peter, James, and John).  Jesus even found moments where he’d get away from them to spend time with himself. Why?  Boundaries are places of safety and rest from the crowd.

Some of you need THAT rest; a rest from the drama of others.

Lastly, don’t stop being a helping hand to people.

Don’t stop being a contributor in life.  Don’t stop helping those who are hurting. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, don’t stop pouring compassion upon others.

BUT….the only way you can be of help, while keeping a healthy marriage, is to keep the top priorities the top priorities.

The top priorities:

  1. Jesus
  2. Spouse
  3. Kids
  4. Everything else

Thanks for letting me ramble…

The lingerie of life.

Lingerie is meant for one thing: attraction…

…and the attraction it was designed for is meant to lead to intimacy.

Anne will say, it doesn’t take much to attract me to her.  It could be the “typical man” type of mindset, but I began to ask myself the other side of that: what repels me?  What turns me off? What spoils the beauty of an individual?

What I feel the Lord dropped in my heart was so simple.

Your words.

I looked at Anne this morning said, “I’ve got it.  Words are ‘the lingerie of life.'” She looked a bit confused and slightly concerned over my mental state. I went on to explain, when our words are poured out to our spouses, it can make us to most appealing, attractive individual.  It becomes a “turn on” to our spouse.  I’m not saying there’s immediate sexual desire that stirs. But there is an emotional intimacy that connects to our spouse’s heart that draws them to you.

Since the blog, “Seducing your spouse with the five senses,” I have pondered breaking each of the senses down periodically over the next year.  (I’ve also ponder writing a book with the same name.) I have been thinking about attacking the issue of our words.  While mulling this blog over, it was just a few days ago when a friend, that is passionate about marriage, sent out the tweet:

“Make love with your words outside the bedroom. That really helps during love-making in the bedroom.”

It was confirmation of what I wanted to deal with today.  We need to have marriages that will foster love and intimacy with their words. They need to see their communication (verbal and nonverbal) are more intertwined with the bedroom than they thought.

Have you ever met someone who became the most unattractive and unappealing person by their words.  I recall my single life  when I would see a young lady that, outwardly, was attractive to me only to be turned off by what came out of her mouth.   To put the shoe on the other foot, I wonder how many times I repelled a young lady away by some of the words/phrases I used.  Our words are more powerful than what we give them credit for.

It becomes a confusing state.  In our minds, the other person is  surface attractive…BUT something about their words (tones, mannerisms, phrases, character issues) is transforming them before our eyes into something that repels us away.   It is truly unfolding what the scripture says in Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our words bring to fruition what lie beneath our surface.

I heard, years ago, that sex begins in the kitchen (actually, it’s a best-selling book). I’m not talking about locations for you and your spouse to make love.  I’m talking about how intimacy begins from the moment you wake up.  Why the kitchen? That’s where people are, on the most part, fully awake having breakfast. I’ll admit,  Anne and I don’t talk much in the morning till we are fully awake.  It’s like a scene from “The Walking Dead” where two zombies are wandering till showers and caffeine kick in.  But when we do begin to talk…that’s where our intimacy begins.   Again, couples, especially men, have to get out of their minds that intimacy is when the lights turn off and you are under the covers.

There is so much dysfunction in marriages when it comes to attraction. On one hand, you’ve got on spouse who can be turned on at a moment’s notice regardless of the day or time.  On the other hand, the other is in no mood because the “abundance of the heart” of their spouse has been on display all day and has made that him the most unappealing individual.  Once we close the door, we assume it’s time for intimacy. Most don’t realize, if that’s when you’re ready to foster intimacy, you are a number of hours too late.

I believe that you and I can foster and atmosphere of intimacy and attractiveness in our marriage by having naked conversations. Before you freak out and I now become your husband’s favorite pastor by encouraging nudity, I’ll explain what I mean. Genesis 2:25 says Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.” There, consistently, was nothing hidden in their marriage. Everything about them was open to see. Put your defenses down and have  consistent, open, and honest communication.  By raising up conversational walls/barriers between you and your spouse, you will cover the openness/nakedness that your marriage was meant to have. I’ll give you a TRUTH: Without talking, your marriage will not survive.  The more you openly communicate, the closer you will be. Here’s some helpful tips:

1.    Timing is everything.   When you reconnect with your spouse at the end of a workday, don’t launch into your frustrating day immediately.  Intimacy is just like good comedy…it’s all about timing.  Let the moments create conversational opportunities and flow.

2. Do some spouse reconnoissance?. Reconnaissance is a mission to obtain information by visual observation or other detection methods. Find out what humor’s your spouse and look for ways to insert humor into your conversations.   What do they like to talk about?  What do they see as fun?  Don’t have your conversations be “all business” (kids, finances, mother-in-law, etc). When Anne knows there’s a significant game on tv, she’ll ask about it even though she doesn’t  care about sports. She cares because I care.  It means the world to me.

2. Provide emotional support, validation, and compliments. If you don’t feel that you spouse likes and respects you, there will not be a strong connection. You have to lift each other up and let each other know the depth of your caring.  He/she needs to know you care.  How do emotional affairs start?  When someone at home ceases to care and opens up the job to someone else to care.  Don’t be that husband/wife who does that!!!  No one will should out-compliment me when it comes to Anne.  No one should beat me as her biggest supporter.

3. Don’t be afraid to get “dirty”…but be careful. Being great roommates just won’t cut it. There has to be the desire to be together as a couple. Sensuality is a great part of a healthy marriage.  I use the word “dirty” but there’s nothing wrong/dirty about it. The desire you have for sensuality is God-given.  He designed you that way. But remember: there’s a time and place.  At the dinner table in front of the kids? Unless you want them to go into counseling…please save it for a more appropriate time.  You may think the spark has gone, but there are too many ways conversationally to rekindle it. Send messages (please be careful) to your spouse.  It’ll make them come home earlier than expected.  Make your spouse feel like the most attractive person alive.  Let him/her know you still desire them.  All you have to do is try.

4. Be humble…always. Express Compassion, repentance, acceptance, and forgiveness. Humility will show you the way through difficult seasons. Humility is sexy.  As your marriage grows, there will be losses, challenges, and some things that you just can’t fix in your own power. Dealing with the storms together is a big part of what relationships are all about. We all mess up. Learning to understand and let go of mistakes that you or your spouse make will turn your life around and foster more time for joy.

5. Pray together.  It doesn’t have to be a prayer that recaps the entire Pentateuch.  Keep it simple. Create moments when there is conversational intimacy that involves you, your spouse, and the Lord. He established the institution of marriage.  It’s only right to keep him in our conversational intimacy.   Spiritual intimacy becomes the fuel for deeper emotional and physical intimacy.  It reconnects you to the One you were designed to be in fellowship with and opens up depths to the rest of our oneness with our spouse.

Keep growing your intimacy.  Keep up the pursuit of your spouse.  Don’t forget the lingerie (referring to this article).

Thanks for letting me ramble…