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Why Rejection is Good

Copyright: malyugin / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: malyugin / 123RF Stock Photo

Rejection is not always bad. It could greatly benefit your marriage.

Rejection is mandatory for a great marriage.

Rejection is even included in some traditional wedding vows. “Do you take [Your Spouse’s Name] to be your wedded wife/husband to have and to hold from this day forward, rejecting all others remaining true to him/her as long as you both shall live?”

Rejecting all others highlights the importance of exclusivity in marriage. Your marriage is an exclusive private party for two. Exclusivity is the foundation of marital intimacy.

In basketball, a blocked shot is called a rejection and it’s one of my favorite parts of the game. It’s a violent action; politeness is not required.

When protecting your marriage, please don’t act like you are in a Grey Poupon commercial “pardon me, but I’ll have to respectfully decline your offer to ruin my marriage.”

Exclusivity and intimacy are worth fighting for. Don’t stand by while others threaten your connection and erode your intimacy. Violently reject everything that derails emotional connection with your spouse.

Protecting the union with your spouse is critical for successful marriage. No one should be allowed to interfere with your connection. I have met couples who become disconnected due to interference they allowed from parents, kids, pastors, real-estate agents, and Facebook friends.

Protecting your marriage could be accomplished by simply putting down your phone.

Important tip: Don’t get rejection happy and block your own teammate.
1. Remember you and your spouse are on the same team with the same goal of true intimacy.
2. Work together to identify threats to your connection.
3. Get busy rejecting together. It will Make some Wonderful in your marriage.

What have you rejected to protect your marriage?

Minor Loss Matters in Marriage

minor loss in mariage

 

Our boys, ages five and three, love riding with the windows down in the back seats. A couple weeks ago on the way home from church we saw a toy launch out of the back seat and onto a busy street. With our kids it’s certainly within the realm of possibilities that he threw the toy just because it would be cool to watch. In this case, it was purely accidental, his expression clearly showed he was horrified at the loss of his toy. His eyes filled with tears and his voice expressed pure panic.

My wife quickly decided to turn this into a lesson about unintended consequences of carelessness. She calmly prepared our son for the possibility it could be lost forever or destroyed. We turned around on a side road and miraculously recovered the toy from the road unbroken.

If the toy was unrecoverable or destroyed that day, he would have been fine. It was a rather insignificant toy, he hasn’t even played with it since. If we had ignored his loss and continued home it would have greatly influenced his behavior in the hours following. When children feel loss it comes out in a variety of behaviors like increased aggressiveness, moodiness, shouting, and refusal to follow directions.

Adults are not much different. We face minor losses too. However, we ignore many of our minor losses. We know it doesn’t matter and we pretend it doesn’t bother us.
Adults, like kids, can’t help but react to the aggravations of life. We get grumpy, moody, and overly aggressive when loss happens to us.

Ever need to write something and can’t find a working pen? After scribbling in circles with a couple of dead pens, I’m disproportionately upset.

Minor losses happen all the time in life.
When you lose out on fun activities because finances are tight, it’s a loss.
When you lose an evening to a fight, it’s a loss.
When you miss your son’s ballgame, it’s a loss.
When something turns out differently than expected, it’s a loss.
It doesn’t have to surpass the epic loss in the biblical story of Job for it to mess with your day.

Minor losses are not life altering but they can wreck your connection if you don’t pay attention.

For example, when the printer jams and you spend two frustrating hours getting it fixed, it’s a loss. If you react to the loss by saying “uugghh I hate our piece of junk printer!” your spouse could respond defensively “It’s not my fault, tightwad, what do you expect from a garage sale printer?” then conflict ensues.
Quickly acknowledging the loss and resulting emotion can reduce the escalation. The interaction with your spouse could sound more like “uugghh I hate our piece of junk printer, I’m disappointed I just lost two hours working on it.” then your spouse could respond “I’m sorry, that was a major project, thanks for fixing it.”

To prevent a minor loss from triggering a major conflict and disconnection, acknowledge your loss and resulting emotion. The important part for marriage is to respond to your spouse in a way that builds connection.

Can you identify a time when you experienced a minor loss that went unrecognized?
What do you need to say to your spouse to restore connection?

Hint: You may need to do one or all of these.
1. Clarify what the loss was. Take time for quick introspection, then share the situation with your spouse.
2. Clarify your reaction, or emotion, to the loss.
3. Apologize to your spouse if your reaction was hurtful.
4. Ask for a do-over and tell your spouse you love them. A hug or kiss would be nice too.

4 Steps to Overcome Loaded Loss.

Copyright: nailiaschwarz / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: nailiaschwarz / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Grieving death is a heartbreaking and difficult journey. It’s important to know how to maintain a great relationship even in times of grief. You may want to check out my recent post “what your spouse really needs in times of loss” Click here.

I believe in the power of healthy grieving. Understanding loss is a critical first step in grieving well; death is not the only loss people suffer. Loss is also felt when people experience traumatic events like abuse, illness, or disability. Unfortunately, these losses are often misunderstood in society and come loaded with shame and stigma. Many people find it difficult to express their grief related to their trauma and some have even been instructed not to talk about their trauma. You may not know the trauma experienced by those close to you. Tragically, for every well publicized traumatic event or sexual assault like that of Elizabeth Smart, many others go unreported.

Your experiences and the experiences of your spouse matter deeply to your marriage. Often the deepest hurts remain unspoken in an attempt to protect from the pain. In close relationships the emotionally raw and wounded areas are inevitably touched which can lead to relationship difficulties.

Sometimes traumatic losses are experienced by individuals long before getting married. For example: experiencing sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment, and substance abusing parents can be difficult to talk about. Working to address traumatic losses is a critical part of premarital counseling. The earlier in the relationship you can address traumatic loss in your life and that of your spouse, the better you can respond to each other in marriage. If a traumatic experience was not discussed prior to marriage but has come up now, you can still make some wonderful in your marriage. Find a counselor to help as you support each other through difficult emotions.

Other times traumatic losses are experienced by both marriage partners during the course of the marriage. For example: Miscarriage, overseas deployment, mental illness, or having a child with a disability deeply affect both partners and the marriage relationship.

When couples are facing a difficult loss, it’s important to work through the following steps to find a way forward.

1. Acknowledge the trauma. Go there, uncover the loss. Simply describing your pain can reduce its suffocating power. Refuse to stay silent about the pain. It won’t work to stuff your feelings, they will come out eventually especially with your spouse. Don’t keep your losses and related feelings from your spouse; it affects them too. When you become one with your spouse, your stories combine.

It’s often helpful to talk to someone safe who listens well who won’t dismiss your loss or feel threatened. It can be scary and unpredictable. Finding a counselor could make all the difference.

2. Allow grief. It may not look like others expect, but it’s important to express your current emotions. It doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s okay and healthy to have emotions.

3. Begin to heal. The emotional scars may never go away but the rawness of the wounds can heal. The loss you have experienced will always matter and influence you to some degree. No matter the pain, real healing can be yours.

4. Share your story. When appropriate, tell others about your loss and grief process. You are not alone, others have experienced similar loss. When you share your journey it will encourage others to address their trauma and work toward healing. I’ve been inspired by people who have shared their experiences, braving the shame of past abuse. The people I know have named their spouse as a major source of support through their grief and healing.

Warning: When talking about trauma and major losses that impact your life, its easy to get caught in the comparison trap. No matter what you have experienced it always seems like someone else has had it worse in some way. Stop comparing. Don’t dismiss your pain as inadequate or insignificant.

I’ve got awesome news. Traumatic losses are scary but facing them together with your spouse will fill your marriage with wonderful emotional intimacy. The richness of true connection is worth going into the depths of loss and is made possible by doing it well. Not only does it help the relationship to discuss difficult experiences, it helps to process and heal from the loss and trauma. Join with your spouse and journey grief together, your marriage will greatly benefit. The joy of intimate connection overcomes hurt.

What has helped you grieve losses in your life? What does healing feel like?

What Your Spouse Really Needs in Times of Loss

Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

 


Experiencing heavy emotions like sadness is no fun. Dealing with the death of a loved one is no day at the amusement park. It’s difficult to see people in pain. It’s especially difficult to watch your spouse, the person you love the most, grieve.

When the times of loss come you may struggle with how to relate well to your spouse. Dealing with loss is a major hurdle in marriage relationships. Death and loss touches emotions otherwise untouched and can cause immense tension and conflict. The good new is a time of grief doesn’t have to be a time of disconnect in your marriage.

You can connect well and make some wonderful in your marriage, even in times of loss. The secret is to mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15. It sounds counter-intuitive; like doing nothing and denying help. It’s natural to want to make people feel better, to fix their pain, to provide a remedy, but fixing grief doesn’t work. What everyone, especially your spouse, needs in times of loss is someone to join them. Grieving with a grieving spouse is hard stuff but so rich.

How to give your spouse what they really need in times of loss: The 4 ways to mourn with those who mourn.

1. Provide space for grief. Provide space for your spouse by listening for them to share how they are feeling. It may be necessary to adjust your schedule to allow for the variety of complex emotions. Slow down and intentionally listen. Grief often comes in waves. Expect changing emotions and times with no emotions at all.

It may feel like listening is doing nothing and provides no relief for the grieving person. Listening and joining them in their grief is not nothing, it’s everything. Listening is the most profound thing you can do. You can’t fix the loss anyway. Restoration comes best when we have space to express emotions and others are near.

2. Validate emotion. Don’t dismiss or attempt to fix how people feel. Pay attention to how they feel rather than how expect them to feel. Please, don’t dismiss the pain and heartache of those around you. Well meaning Christians like to say dismissive things like “rejoice! it’s good when people die because they go to heaven and the funeral can get people to love Jesus.” The brutal message is that grieving and feeling sad is bad, a lack of faith, and unchristian.

For acquaintances, sympathy is fine, “sorry for your loss” is adequate. In close relationships, especially marriage, it’s critical to provide empathy rather than sympathy. Empathy is joining people where they are. When you spouse is grieving it may sound like “I’m not sure what to say, but I’m here to listen, I’m here with you.”

3. Keep at it. Repeat steps one and two, over and over with each new wave of grief. Loss is complicated and grief is never linear. It’s exhausting facing the pain and sadness of loss in each wave of grief. Expressing emotion and validating emotion by listening remains the most effective way to comfort even as time passes. Remember to participate in ceremony; funerals and memorials are deeply meaningful and helpful in the process of grief. If grief continues to significantly impair functioning for months, please seek additional help, contact a doctor or counselor if you suspect grief has expanded to major depression.

4. Tell them they are doing it ok. Many people worry they are doing grief all wrong. They don’t feel what they thought they would feel or are fearful of feeling anything. Everyone is different, every journey of grief and loss is different. There is enough shaming in the world, please, don’t shame people for how they grieve.

For Marital Fireworks Declare Your Interdependence

Copyright: adrenalinapura / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: adrenalinapura / 123RF Stock Photo

 

This week I’m looking forward to watching fireworks on the fourth of July. There’s nothing like experiencing the amazing colors, loud booms, and the aahs of the crowd. Fireworks are the ultimate celebration. That got me thinking. Celebrating the independence of our country is awesome, but interdependence creates the best marital fireworks.

Serious marital fireworks come from awesome connection. Healthy relationships consist of mutual benefit and support, Interdependence. Relying on your spouse is healthy. Mutually depending on each other emotionally, sexually, and financially will strengthen your connection. Excessive independence in marriage is relational neglect. The more you assert independence from your spouse, the weaker your connection becomes.

In healthy relationships each partner gladly puts aside their own capabilities in order to allow vulnerability in connection. No one really likes feeling vulnerable but it creates deep emotional connection when you trust each other. When when you choose to rely on each other, the result is powerful and worth celebrating.

How to increase interdependence for a stronger connection.

1. Change your tone. You may need to change the words you use from mine to ours, I to we. Marriage is a team sport, more beach volleyball than golf. The words we use are important but the tone is often loudest. To move from independence toward healthy interdependence, change your tone to we. For example, your attitude and tone can reveal the message “we have to care for the kids” or “we need to figure out what to do.” Changing your words and tone to communicate a team approach is a simple and sly way to increase connection.

2. Invite each other in. Rely on each other for problem solving and emotional support. Invite your spouse into your world and include them in your decision making. You don’t have to do everything alone. In fact, the more you share the burden of responsibility and the joy of success the better you will connect emotionally.

3. Gain self awareness. Stop for a minute and think about what drives you toward excessive independence. It could simply be a lack of time that promotes the “got to get it done myself” attitude. It could be something deeper, related to how you grew up or the messages you received about personal responsibility. The more you understand yourself, the better you can connect with your spouse.

4. Talk with your spouse. Consistently share your thoughts and emotions. It may be helpful to apologize for your reckless independence. Talk about what it has felt like in the past when you were well connected (when you experienced marital fireworks) and your desire for a deeper connection. Careful not to bite off too much at once, making abrupt changes when you haven’t talked about it first is confusing and counterproductive.

Unfortunately, some people have perverted the idea of relying on each other to justify abuse. Stifling, controlling, and abusive relationships are dangerous. A healthy degree of independence is critical for all adults and is certainly important for a good marriage. However, most marriages are more at risk of disconnection through relational neglect than any kind of abuse.

Independence is great for a country but with relationships, interdependence is way better. As you celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July, remember to embrace interdependence in your marriage. Together you can make some amazing marital fireworks.

 

Declaration of Interdependence for your marriage:

  • I will change my thinking from sole responsibility to shared responsibility.
  • I will invite my spouse into my problem solving and include them in my decision making.
  • I will develop a better understanding of myself in order to better connect with my spouse.
  • I will commit to a healthy balance of independence and interdependence to avoid both abusive interactions and relational neglect.
  • I will share my feelings and thoughts with my spouse including my desire to connect better today.