Marriage Series: Fight Club Part 2…Break it down

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We began a series last week about fighting in marriage. If you missed last week, check out Fight Club Part 1: The first rule of Fight Club.

As stated last week, I believe in marriage and I believe conflict happens in marriage.  But my philosophy about fighting in marriage is:

Healthy conflict is healthy for marriage.

It’s a certainty when two imperfect people get together with their desires and wants.  As much as we don’t like to admit it, we can be very selfish individuals.  Mix that with normal growing pains of a normal marriage and boom, you have conflict.

Fight Club

Welcome to  “Fight Club.”

RULE #1: Talk about it

RULE #2: Break it down.

Whether it was as a player or a coach, film time was of the utmost importance.  The day after our game, we’d sit down and go over the film of the previous game.  It wasn’t because we just wanted to watch the game over because we were bored.  We had a mission in mind: we needed to break the film down.

What that meant was we (entire team) would sit and watch play-by-play to study what we did right and what we did wrong.  It was exhilarating to watch a play in which you had great success.  Why? The whole team was there to see and recognize the great moment you had.  On the other hand, when you screwed up, the whole team watched and groaned over the mistake.  Breaking down film really wasn’t a bad process unless you lost the game.  Those were quieter film sessions.

As painstaking as it was, it was necessary. Why? We didn’t want to make the same mistakes against the next team.  It was a time to learn and grow. The awkward film time was a great teacher.  If you felt like an idiot, you needed to go with the feeling. I was able to stand back and see myself and couldn’t argue with what the results are.

More often than not, a player or two, out of embarrassment, would try to cover up for their mistakes shown on film.  How you may ask? By playing the blame game.  “I look dumb on film so I’ll deflect the attention on someone else and they can share the shame of the moment.” What I loved about having a great coach, he sees the entire field at once.  He knows what the mistakes are.  He’s willing to call them out…especially when he is at fault as well.

This next step to settling marital conflict it all about “breaking it down.” Like going through the painstaking process of watching your team lose again, you’ve got to have the guts to breakdown what is and has been happening in the conflict in your marriage.

TO MANY COUPLES DO NOT DO THIS! They don’t have a “break down the film session” and they end up on an unending carousel of conflict.  You know who you are.  You continue to fight over the same things over and over and over and over…

You get the picture.

Today, we’re going to help end the spinning by giving you two tips to help stop this carousel of chaos as we dissect Rule #2.

1 – Break it down: How do you contribute to the issue at hand? Conflict is increasingly difficult when people refuse to exercise humility. In most martial scuffles, there is “blood on everyone’s hands.” That simply means there is something that both parties could have done better. If you are going for the marital win, it’s easy to recognize where you may have fallen short. If you are going for the personal win, you’ll attack more and purpose to not relent until you feel vindicated for what was said/done.  Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  By exercising humility, you churn the soil of your marriages helping it to become moldable and teachable.  I’ll say it this way: Humility digs a deep well from which wisdom can be drawn.

Could you have reacted better?  Could you have used a different tone? Are you doing something that offends your spouse? Could you have communicated differently? Did you communicate enough? Are you thinking like an individual or like a spouse? There’s a lot of questions to ask yourself and, if you’re humble, you may recognize that you may be at fault just as much as you thought your spouse was.

2 – Break it down: How have you previously tried to resolve it? What are the past attempts that haven’t worked out? Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Some of us are driving our marriages insane because we never take a chance to break down how we are approaching the conflict.  I hear it all the time in marital counseling, “We can’t get past __________.” My question: how do you/have you tried to resolve it.  More often than not, they’ve tried a similar approach over and over to deal with the issue.  Because nothing has changed, they’re ready to call it quits.

List it out…literally get out a piece of paper and pen. Write down the attempts that failed and, perhaps, why they failed.  Some attempts didn’t work because the both of you did do it together.  Some didn’t work because, well, it wasn’t the right approach. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” Not breaking it down and listing is “covering the offense.” Repeating a failing resolution is going to “separate” you two more and drive you both insane.

This is your “film session” for your marriage. Breaking down how your conflict has worked and how it hasn’t worked will guide you to healthy conflict resolution for the present as well as for the future.  I never said this was easy.  But it is simple to do.

Fight hard. Fight fair.

Then enjoy making up.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Marriage Blog Series: Date Night Part 3 “Let’s get it on”

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We started a new series with our weekly marriage blogs a few weeks ago. If you missed the last two posts, Date Night Part 1 “Elevator Talk” or Date Night Part 2 “In the Air Tonight” click on the links to get caught up.

The essence of this series of blogs is to get couples to re-engage in the necessity act of dating.  I understand that using the word “act” may even offend some of my readers.  I can read the comments/email/facebook message, “I want him/her to want to go on a date with me!  I don’t want it to be an act.”  This is my reply:

Feelings follow actions. 

If you wait for “feelings” to determine how you act in your marriage, nothing will ever get done.  Our feelings are so easily seduced that a commercial will make us drive to the store to fill the craving for the snack we saw advertised. The right actions need to be taken.  Feelings follow appropriate actions.

Part 3: “Let’s get it on” 

Romance is more confusing than we realize. The second we assume what romance is, something changes.  It could be the season of life, it could be her/his tastes have changed, or it could be your approach has NEVER changed and, therefore, predictable and unromantic.

The title of today’s blog comes from a classic clip from, in my opinion, one of the greatest shows of all time. 

Obviously, Cliff and Claire are having a moment where they both are approaching an evening together and have different views of what is a romantic expression and what isn’t.  For Cliff, simply announcing “Let’s get it on” is what fits his idea of romance.  For Claire…not so much. Maybe it worked earlier in their marriage (yes I know it’s a TV show).  If it did, Cliff doesn’t get the memo that times have change and so has his wife.

We were very romantic during dating/courtship.  It’s there that romantic expressions are usually at their highest.  For many reasons, our desire for those expressions diminish greatly after the honeymoon phase of marriage. Some of you reading this believe romance isn’t as necessary as it once was. You believe it isn’t or shouldn’t be as important as it once was. I think romance expressions is what adds the fun and adventure to what can be an otherwise predictable routine of life.

Please understand: Marriage can’t stand alone on it.  Marriage cannot survive purely on romance.  But it is a very important part of a healthy marriage. And this is often the first thing lacking when a marriage becomes boring.

Romantic expressions are so diverse. Romance depends upon the person receiving the action and not necessarily the person giving it (that’s an important thing to realize). To one couple may be as simple as a thoughtful note left on the dresser, unexpectedly helping with chores, or an evening out so no one has to cook or clean the mess. But it should also include a regular date and a weekend getaway (when the budget allows for it).

To help with your understanding of romance…

Romance cannot:
Make areas of conflict disappear.  Romance doesn’t turn you into the Houdini of conflict.
Change your spouse. You can’t use it as manipulation to form your spouse into the person you want.
Subsidize growth areas.  Romance can’t take the place or cover up areas you need to how in.
Solve your marital problems. Flowers doesn’t take away what you said about her mother.
Doesn’t guarantee more or better sex.  It’s not a magic spell that’s been cast over your spouse to ignite an insatiable libido.

I know what you’re thinking after that last one…”Crap…what in the world is romance there for?”

Romance has a deeper purposes to it.

Romance can:
Assist you in connecting in a completely different plane than what everyday life provides.  It breaks you from the norm and allows you to get out of the rut of the ordinary.
Rekindle and reminds. Romance gives you the reminder you need.  It’s remembering your life and love before the responsibilities of marriage set in.
Usher in the fun and laughter that’s necessary. Couples that laugh together FREQUENTLY don’t get divorced. Romance let’s you have fun and laugher together.
Build your friendship with your spouse.  Romance creates a depth to your relationship/friendship because it is other-centered.
Increase intimacy.  Disclaimer: Intimacy does not equate to intercourse. But as the same time, I highly encourage couples to increase intimacy both in and outside of the bedroom.
Creates memories. What you don’t want to hear is, “Remember when you used to…”  Romance helps create new memories and moments.
– Sets the stage for open and honest communication.  Which can obviously lead to the resolution of conflicts, deeper conversions, greater date nights, and better sex.

Marriages without romance are empty and, in my opinion, kinda boring.  Understand: they are not boring me…they become boring to the people involved. Being bored in marriages is cancerous. The marriages that I have witnessed make a priority of dating are marriages that have a greater capacity to facilitate health.  In those marriages, there is a high expectation of romancing their spouse. It doesn’t mean they’re a specialist at romance.  You don’t have to be skilled at it.  It’s all about the heart and the effort.

I scripture that have kept going back to (it’s a scripture I shared with our pastoral staff recently) is Revelation 2. Here, the words speak out to the church in Ephesus, “repent, and do the works you did at first.” Ephesus was a church that was doing good works but they were falling out of their passion for God.  The words given, “do the works you did at first.”  In other words, do the things you did when you first discovered your passion for God and rekindle that relationship. Just as it works in our relationship with God, it works in our relationship with our spouses (marriages reflect God…but that’s for another blog). Take your marriage and “do the works you did at first.”

I want to encourage you: never let the romance die. It is an important aspect of cultivating your relationship/friendship, and shouldn’t be tossed aside as unnecessary. When was the last time you enjoyed a really romantic time together? A romantic surprise? A romantic anything? Plan to do something special this month and see if your marriage doesn’t benefit. You will most likely feel a bit awkward if you haven’t done this in a while. BUT DON’T LET THIS STOP YOU! Find out what speaks to your spouse.  Find out what he/she wants to do.  Get spontaneous.  Get creative. Don’t worry about failing at being romantic.  Your effort and heart will show through.

Your marriage is worth it! Get it on!!!!

Thanks for letting me ramble…