Shed the Shame: 4 Ways Shame Adds A Burden to Our Marriage

There’s a gentleman in our church community who’s introduced me and my son to backpacking. Ethan and I have fallen in love with it. We talk about it frequently as, every time we go, we enjoy it immensely and learn something new to apply to our next experience.  That, by itself, would make a good marriage blog.

Find something (potentially new) to with your spouse.
Learn something new about each other.

Now back to my original thought…

One thing we’ve learned about improving our backpacking experience and thus, improving our enjoyment, is to do whatever it takes to shed unnecessary weight in what we carry. I’m not just talking about watching the pounds of equipment but identifying every ounce we put in our packs. Why? Anything we allow, ultimately, somebody has to shoulder it. So Ethan and I spend a good week laying out and identifying everything we intend to take on our journey.

It’s such a simple metaphor and yet, completely profound. If you don’t stop to identify what you’re taking in to your marriage, you may not notice the full weight of the burden in the first part of your marriage journey. But over time, you’ll experience the relational gravity of it and assume the marriage (or your spouse) caused it instead of recognizing that you may have potentially carried it in. Remember: Whatever you allow into the journey of your marriage, somebody has to shoulder it.

This past Sunday, we dealt with the issue of shame at KfirstAnd when I thought about how shame applies to marriage, this backpacking metaphor kicked in. Far too many couples are having their passion, hope, and peace crushed under the weight of shame. What is shame? I describe it this way: guilt is the regret I feel; shame is the guilt I wear. We begin to bear shame when we take our perception of what we don’t have, what we’ve done, or what’s been said and apply it to our identity.  Never forget, “the two become one.” So what you carry, dramatically affects your spouse. 

What causes shame? 

Difference in Upbringing
Good and bad, your history has developed your expectations, built filters for listening, and formed your responses. And at times, if your spouse had a different background, you can see, and even impose, shame upon them as if their upbringing was completely wrong. Just remember: “different” isn’t necessarily “wrong.”

Personal History
The both of you carry into the marriage a bit of baggage (personal history). You carry the experiences of success and failures; victories and devastation. Shame-based thinking take the past and inflicts the future with it. I’m always amazed at the little things in life (tones, scents, scenarios) that trigger something from my past that can cause guilt to resurface and shame to be worn.

Lack of forgiveness
From refusing to forgive your spouse, other people, to even forgiving yourself, unforgiveness doesn’t have to do have anything to do with your marriage to impact your marriage. Inflicting unforgiveness is a violent action against your heart (not to mention the shame you bring upon others). And the more you hold against others, you carry into your marriage. Why? What affects you will infect your marriage.

It’s astounding how much we underestimate the issue of comparison. We spend more time comparing and identifying what we lack instead of appreciating and investing into what we do have. Shame is the offspring of comparison; we either force shame upon ourselves for what we don’t have or see others in shame for how much better we have it.

In the words of one of my favorite preachers, Christine Caine, “The human creation was not made to feel the burden of shame.” That not only applies to individuals, it applies to your marriage. 

My challenge to you today is this: Like my son’s and my preparation for backpacking, take a block of time to really review if your “packing” unneeded shame-weight. Have a talk with your spouse and set up a time (say in a week) to talk about any shame-based thinking or actions that are happening in your marriage. Imagine how much lighter your marital load will feel when you eliminate the unnecessary shame from your marriage. It won’t stop you from working on your journey, but it’ll make the burden that much lighter.

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.


The Carryover: 4 Ways to Approach What You Carried Into Marriage

I had a realization about 9 years ago. At the time, my daughter was in fourth grade and I was staring at her homework and it hit me: Cammi’s math had exceeded my abilities. I could no longer help her.

I’d love to say this is some sort of exaggeration, but sadly, no. Once her math started getting into algebra, my separation from learning algebra, and my lack of using it, had weakened my skills in it.

SIDE NOTE: That thought, in and of itself, is a huge marriage lesson. You can’t expect your marriage to be strong in something you are separating from and/or not exercising. Don’t be surprised by weakened areas that have been ignored.

Sorry…back to the original post. #ADDBlogger

Quite often, when I’m dealing with couples young in their marriage (not necessarily young couples), what they see as relationship issues are really “math issues.” You’ve added two people together and there’s some “carry over.” Let me explain.

When I think back to the elementary math lessons of my youth, I learned to add numbers together by starting with the rightmost digits and working to the left. When the numbers on the right added to more than 10, I’d “carry over” or transfer to the next column of digits. That number is called the “carry.” (Enter a math scripture.)

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Genesis 2:24

This simple marital math equation is a largely ignored. Genesis is giving us an equation. 1 + 1 = *1. Even in the name “Genesis” we get the reasoning for this odd piece of mathematics. When two lives (husband and wife) come together in marriage there is a genesis (beginning, start, origin) happening. But the asterisk tells us something is attached. What is that? The carry over. You can’t add two people, with all of their history, personality, quirks, hurts, and abilities and not have anything carry over into the oneness of marriage. 

When I Anne and I got married in 1998. We married the person and everything that came with them. Family. Friends. Temperament. Idiosyncrasies. It doesn’t mean those can’t or won’t change, but having that on your radar does help you know the type of “hand you’ve been dealt.”

I can’t stress that enough to pre-married couples. One of the many great reasonings for premarital counseling is to create avenues to find out what you both are carrying into your marriage. Ignorance isn’t “bliss” and discovering what you both are “carrying over” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it will help you navigate through your future together.

Why do I stress good decisions as a single individual? Why do I encourage good preparation before marriage? Why do I tell people to get in a healthy mindset and/or get some healing before marriage? Because of the carry over. You don’t leave yourself behind when you get married, you bring “you” forward. Marriage doesn’t solve issues, it magnifies them. And it’s not all the “bad” that gets magnified. Personalities, habits, expectations, and the like all get amplified. It’s the natural result of two lives becoming and operating as one.

Today’s marriage blog isn’t about rescuing you from this. This article is written to help navigate through it.

Get real with where you are at. 
When I want to get somewhere on my map app, it doesn’t matter if I find where I want to go until I identify where I am currently located. First, you need to personally ask yourself about what carried over with you from your past.  It could be from your single life. It could be from your family. Perhaps, there could be something lingering from a past relationship. What you’ll find may or may not be inherently good or bad. For example, sometimes you carry over a style of living that is drastically different from your spouse. It’s not a matter of wrong or right, but the difference in styles have created a challenge. And ignoring it will do nothing. Recognizing it as a starting place to see the style you both brought and seeing how to shape what you have.

Second, have a talk as a couple about things that you’ve identified as “carry over items.” From habits to hurts, be willing to admit those challenging areas. For example, perhaps your family celebrated holidays or special events differently than your spouse’s family does. That may not seem like a huge deal to you, but it’s the little things that have the tendency to develop resentment and/or bitterness in hearts. And inner resentment over small items grow into relational infection. As I say so often, the only way to deal with unhealthy things that grow in darkness is to bring them into the light. And exercising humility and resolve can be the catalyst for you to propel into marital health.

Third, pick one area to work on. Couples HATE when I tell them to work on just one thing. There’s this idea that if we can create relational busyness and think it’s the same as relational effectiveness. Dealing with five items may make you “feel” like you are being productive, but in reality, nothing is getting better. I want you to work smarter and not harder. Pick one that you can work on together and build some marital momentum.

Lastly, keep up your radar. I find the older I get, the more like my father I am. It’s not a bad thing as I think the world of my dad. But it reminds me of this: It doesn’t matter my age, I still “carry over” from my past. As much as I’ve been with Anne longer (23 years together; 19 married), than I’ve known life without her, there is side of me that still lingers. And daily, I have to make a choice to not take my marriage for granted but do my best to walk in the oneness God has called me into.

Have you carried anything over from your past into your marriage? Congrats, you’re human. And because both you and your spouse are human, you can’t ignore the “carry over,” you need to navigate and grow through it.

Love you all. Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.




2 Minute Devo: “History Maker” Matthew 1:3

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Matthew 1:3:

Matthew 1:3

and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram