Marriage Blog: “It’s just not me.”

UW4A7335-14

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.

FreeJail

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.”

thats not me

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…

Date Night Part 1: “Elevator Talk”

At the recommendation of Anne, we are starting a new series with our weekly marriage blogs. “Date nights” were of such an extreme importance for most of us before we were married. It’s where we learned everything we needed to know about our spouse before we married them.  The problem: we got married only to find out we didn’t know as much as we thought we did.  He snores, she makes a weird sound when she chews, he hums while he pees, she squeezes the toothpaste from the middle instead of the end…there’s so much of life we didn’t grasp in our pre-marriage date nights.  For some reason, couples stop frequent dating once the honeymoon is over.  I’ve heard all of the excuses, “We been married ____ many years, we already know everything about each other” or “he/she knows how I feel.” Oh if only, as we age, we stayed the same and our likes/dislikes remained unchanged.

Date Night

Pre-marriage dating was meant to bring us together.  Why do we stop dating once when we are married? Did we reach a point of knowledge saturation where we no longer have a need to be closer to our spouse? With the divorce rates, I believe circumstances demand post-marriage date nights.

I asked Anne, “Since this is your idea, what do I write…she said:

“Dates are good to have” (crickets chirping)

There…that saved me a couple of hours on my day off.

With that in mind…

Anne and I are going to commission you to date your spouse again. I’m not talking about a date here and there, I’m talking about a consistent dating repertoire.  These series are designed to give you the tools needed to make “Date Night” the most enjoyable and productive night of the week.

Part 1 – Elevator Talk

01_intro

You step into an elevator intending to go to the 5th floor.  After a couple of floors, someone steps onto the elevator with you.  What do you talk about? Most likely, the weather is the most common thought of topic of conversation and it lasts just 20-30 seconds…just long enough to fill the awkward silence till the 5th floor is reached. You walk out breathing a sigh of relief that the moment is done and you can get going about your day.

Sad to say…that just described the approach some people have with their spouses and one of the reasons they don’t want to go out on a date.  “What will we talk about?” “We like different things?” “What if he/she talks about something I’m not interested in?”

What’s crazy: We didn’t worry about that before the ring. I want to restore your faith in your conversational skills.  For couples who stopped talking, it’s not that you stink at communication, it’s just that communication skill has not been exercised and used.  Just because I took German for 3 years in school 20 years ago doesn’t mean I’m fluent in it.  I stopped using it and it’s grown weaker.  You have to exercise your communication.

Of all the things that go on in a date, why start with “communication”? Because communication is the oil in the engine of the date.  You can have any restaurant or atmosphere, but without any type of conversational connection, it’s nothing more than a “hang out”…and two strangers can do that. Let us help with a few things we’ve learned.

Dating Conversation Do’s and Don’ts:

Do keep eye contact.  If you (like me) can’t handle ESPN being on the TVs and keep eye contact, don’t go to that restaurant. Your eyes reveal that your are engaged in the conversation. Your spouse wants to know that your attention is fixed upon them and your date. Proverbs 20:12 says “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” (from Anne) Lock eyes and show your interest.  Learn to be a listener with your eyes.

Don’t unload.  If you’re on a date, it’s time for you two to engage and interact. A date isn’t the time to unload anger and frustration.  That should be taken care of in your home communication.  If your dating is always filled with heavy “unloading”, either one or both of you will NOT want the date in the first place.

Do find ways to engage. (from Anne) That means you are other-centered.  Find ways to interact in the stuff your spouse is into.  They know you may not fully care about what they care about, but you asking and engaging speaks volumes.  A verse I refer to a lot is Philippians 2:3Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” For example, Anne doesn’t give a care about sports, she cares about me.  So, periodically, we’ll be on a date and she’ll see something sports-ish and ask me about how my teams are doing.  Deep down, I know she doesn’t really want a breakdown of the NFC North, but I means the world that she’d ask.

Don’t “one up” your spouse. “I had a rough day” get’s followed up with, “Your day couldn’t have been as bad as mine.” We, for some reason, have an issue with someone being happier, more talented, or even more miserable than ourselves. “I broke my nail today” is followed by “Oh yeah, I broke my finger.”  It’s ridiculous.  (from Anne) But so often we demean our spouse and what they are trying to convey by dwarfing their experiences with our prideful approaches.

Do practice “good” conversation. Make sure that every time you two go out, your conversation should be uplifting, edifying, and enjoyable. You don’t want it weighed down with gossip, slander, and bitterness. Again, dates are meant to deepen your understanding of each other not of someone else’s business.  Proverbs 15:23Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful!” Ditch the heaviness of destructive conversation and walk away from your date healthy because you chose to practice healthy conversations.

Don’t let dating conversation be your only marital communication.  Your dating conversations will be disastrous if this is the only time you talk to each other. It’s like saying, “We’re married, living together, but we ignore each other throughout the week till date night.” There should be constant, healthy marital communication being fostered throughout a normal average week.  Good everyday marital communication will produce GREAT date communication.

Do truly listen.  (from Anne) Don’t try to hurry your spouse up so you can talk about what you are wanting to talk about and tell “your thing.” Listen to what he/she is saying.  What emotion are they invoking? What does their body language say? Does their tones tell you something different from the words being spoken.  I love what James says in James 1:9 let every person be quick to hear.” Be quick to step up your listening skills by being an active listener. Be in tuned to everything being communicated by your spouse.

Don’t stop trying.  Everyone struggles with conversations.  The more changes that you and your spouse go through, and we all change, it can get easy to take the other for granted and just, well, not date AND communicate.  Keep talking.  Keep trying.

Dating is huge in marriage.  But it’s hard to date with ZERO to little conversation going on.  Set the date. Get the baby sitter. Go out and enjoy an evening of ZERO elevator talk and engage with your spouse.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo: “Shun the conversation” Romans 16:17

Error
This video doesn’t exist

August is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Watch Your Mouth”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Romand 16:17:

Romans 16:17

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstaclescontrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.