Did you like it… When your relationship was at its absolute peak? This week we discuss a simple, but powerful thing that you can do to help get that back. Hope you enjoy!
When my wife and I aren’t getting along, life stinks. I’m not happy. She’s not happy. And I’ve often felt that the easiest fix to whatever we were facing would be for her to just change whatever is bothering me.
Though I’m not proud of it, I’ve probably dreamt of that solution to our struggles a thousand times. But despite my mental vigilance, I’ve yet to experience that (selfish) wish coming true.
While in the midst of conflict, another dream that I’m guilty of having is for the situation to just disappear. And, on occasion, this wish has actually been (temporarily) granted. My wife and I had a fight, we had no significant resolution, and then… life just seemed to move on.
And I’ll be transparent… I liked it when this happened. Peace in our relationship has always been something that I have greatly, greatly enjoyed. And if relational peace somehow found it’s way back into our home, regardless of how it got there, I thought I was pretty happy.
But whenever we have experienced this period of perceived peace, it was as if our ship had hit the eye of a hurricane. Things around us looked calm. Things around us felt calm. I thought we had moved to a pretty good place. But then, the waters shifted slightly, our ship was pushed from it’s position, and we quickly hit waves that felt as high or higher than any we had previously faced.
It took me a long time to understand why this would happen. My every natural instinct would tell me to go around whatever relational conflict we were facing. So why did following that instinct continually lead us to places in our relationship that were anything but enjoyable?
Because God knew the relationship that my wife and I were desiring couldn’t be found in the direction we were headed. The storm kept getting worse because He was trying to tell me to change course. He knew that relational greatness could only be found through the conflict, rather than on a path that circumvented it. He knew that the only path that led to what we wanted (and He wanted) was straight… through… the middle. And the reason is this —
God uses conflict to reveal what He wants me to change.
This feels absolutely crazy to my natural self. When we’re in the midst of struggle, looking more closely at it is the last thing in the world that I want to do. But conflict is often God’s tool of choice for illuminating the path to relational success.
So — despite my natural tendencies, despite my deep resistance, despite my strong dislike — through has now become my path of choice.
The next time my wife and I experience conflict, rather than hoping she will change, rather than wishing it will somehow go away, I’m going to walk my stubborn feet straight to the mirror and ask God what, in me, needs to change.
This choice is not easy. This choice is not fun. But…
God’s best always lies… on the other side of through.
All my best,
Listen to the podcast here
When you and your wife fight, is it frustrating? The answer for all of us, of course is yes. But if you really want to break free, there is a way… Hope you enjoy!
Have you ever known a couple where one spouse was ALWAYS on time, and the other was often running late?
Have you ever known a couple where one spouse wanted things neat and orderly, and the other had a high tolerance for clutter?
Most of us, when discussing matters of personality, fall into one of three categories:
- We find it somewhat interesting
- We find it mostly boring
- We find it not even sensible
And bothersome though it may be, it’s actually predictable which category one will fall into… based on… you guessed it… your personality. 🙂
But whether this topic seems intriguing, sleep inducing, or not even legitimate, will you, for the sake of your bride and your relationship, consider the following:
If the couple I painted in the picture above is you (or a couple you know well), I need not persuade that these very different approaches to life can trigger massive frustration. And as a man inside of one of these “opposites attract” relationships, I would like to share 3 different approaches I have taken, as my wife and I have navigated these challenging waters:
The prosecutor — Frequently, the spouse that is always on time and prefers for things to be neat and orderly (me) will push aggressively for their partner (my wife) to adopt the “right” way of doing things. When doing so, they are often critical of their spouses’ more laid back approach to time, to their surroundings, and to life. I am guilty of being a prosecutor.
The skeptic — When told that personality differences can be the reason you are experiencing relational consternation, it’s easy to dismiss the validity of, or just completely ignore the presented information. We all, very much, like our own way of doing things. Our way seems logical to us. It seems practical. It seems easiest. It seems right. And we don’t want someone telling us that there is another way (usually the opposite of ours) that is also logical, also practical, also easiest, and also right (for a person with a different personality). Therefore, our mind (either consciously or subconsciously) deems the highly disruptive information not valuable. I am guilty of being a skeptic.
The student — When a husband is in quest of becoming his wife’s hero, he takes neither the prosecutor’s nor the skeptic’s approach to personality differences, but rather chooses to posture himself as a student. He looks for the broader perspective. He digs for deeper understanding. He searches for a window into the inner wiring of the woman that he loves (and knows God masterfully created).
I know the path of the student is against your natural wiring, and often against what we want to do. But if you’re willing to join me in the quest to become more than what we are, and to lead our relationship to more than what it is, let me share an excerpt from Dr. David Keirsey’s book, Please Understand Me II. He is speaking in reference to a portion of the Myers-Briggs temperament analysis (an assessment that receives the highest of accolades from counseling, academic, and spiritual leaders alike).
The Judgment/Perception (J-P) scale measures how people process information and arrange their lives. Those who score high on Judgment tend to make up their mind quickly and commit to schedules, while those scoring high on Perception prefer to keep their options open and their timetables flexible.
People strong in Judgment (J) waste no time forming opinions or drawing conclusions. They often report feeling a sense of urgency until a decision is made and can rest only after everything is settled. Closure and finality are important to these individuals, as is orderly procedure. As a result, they can be quick to make schedules, agendas, or timetables for themselves and others to follow. People strong in Judgment will establish deadlines and take them seriously, expecting others will do the same. They’re usually comfortable with routines and can be willing to do all sorts of maintenance and cleaning up after a task, feeling that these are necessary steps for a job’s completion. For this type, neatness counts. They usually feel unhappy or unset- tled when their personal space is a mess. Straightening things up is often near the top of their to-do list.
For their part, people given to Perception (P) keep their eyes open to what’s around them, gathering information and looking for opportunities and alternatives that might be available. They usually feel no hurry to nail things down or settle on a finished product. Instead, they tend to prefer exploring possibilities. These individuals are often playful and spontaneous in action. Schedules can make them feel hurried and over-controlled; they tend to look upon deadlines as mere reminders to get on with the job. Also, people high in Perception prefer their work to be enjoyable and meaningful. If a task of routine maintenance or clean up falls to them, they may balk at doing it or leave it to someone else. Easy-going, even somewhat impulsive, these people are usually quite tolerant of mess. Their personal spaces are often cluttered with an assortment of things they’ve picked up, used, then dropped and forgotten about.
Friend, as a former prosecutor and skeptic, I want to share transparently that the student approach to personality differences is by far the most difficult. But I also have discovered that it is the path with, by far, the greatest reward… for her, for you, and for your relationship. Will you join me?
All my best,
Listen to the podcast here
Have you ever known a couple where one spouse is ALWAYS on time, and the other is often running late? That, and more… this week.
When it comes to relationships… I sometimes find it helpful to turn something that I can’t see… into something that I can see. For example:
“Phil, our relationship could use some work” can mean different things to me on different days. But…
“Phil, I would give our relationship a 2 or 3, on a 1-10 scale”… Now that will turn my head in a heartbeat. (and years ago, it did)
When it comes to conflict, the old saying, “There are two sides to every story” is always applicable. But when we’re in the middle of our own relational conflict, our focus is almost always on her side of the bed. We tend to develop what I like to call, “If she would only” syndrome.
“If she would only stop _____”
“If she would only start _____”
But the problem is, the “If she would only” approach never leads to positive change. Have you noticed?
When you’re in the middle of conflict and thinking these thoughts (and we all do, you’re not alone), your relationship always stays in the same place of struggle (or gets worse), whether a month, a year, or a decade passes.
So today — I want to ask you to set “If she would only” aside for just a moment. In doing this, I’m not suggesting that your thoughts have no value (They most certainly do). And I’m not suggesting that she doesn’t have room for improvement (She most certainly does). But for the purpose of helping you not wake up in a decade with the exact same frustrations, will you consider trying something new?
I want you to turn something you can’t see into something you can see, by answering this question:
What percentage of the conflict in your relationship is your fault?
Put a real number on it. Give it your best estimate. Is it 50%? Is it 25%? Is it 10%? Remember that none of us are perfect, so go ahead and be honest with yourself.
And then… if you truly want to wake up in the absence of these current frustrations, go to work on your (even if it’s small) part. Though it feels completely counterintuitive, simply leave her side of the bed alone. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t touch it.
And I’ll go ahead and give you fair warning — This approach is going to feel all kinds of wrong… I can guarantee it. But it is also what will give you the best chance of breaking free from the rut of conflict where you have been stuck. It is what will set you on a path toward something that both you and your wife will truly love. It is how normal (struggling) men like you and I can experience a relationship that is completely (and may I add wonderfully) abnormal.
All my best,
Listen to the podcast here