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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why Men Don't Share Feelings {Five Minute Friday/ Weekend Brew}

Something urgent first...the city of Dyersburg, TN, wants to kill Beau, a Lab/Shepherd mix, for allegedly killing a duck.

But there was no duck. And now they want to kill Beau to cover up their mistake.

Please read Michele Kearns' post on this, and please share it.

Please. Please show that our country is better than this.

And now, here we are fort Five-Minute Friday , hosted by Kate Motaung. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

We are also linking with The Weekend Brew.

Today's word is share..

GO.

Men do not like to share their feeling. No, really?

It's almost a cliche - "He won't tell me what he's thinking! I don't know how he feels!"

Well, there may be a simple reason. He doesn't know how he feels, either.

The male character is sometimes simplified to food, sex, and sport, and that is not entirely inaccurate. It's part nature, part nurture.

The nature part is in the designed role as provider and protector; Men are trained to act, and to react. Their feelings don't really play a role, and can indeed be detrimental in some situations ("Hey, I really shouldn't kill this lion...I mean, he has a family to feed, too, right?").

That really doesn;'t work, so the male mind has been designed with shutters that can effectively drop, shutting out feelings "for the duration".

And society reinforces this. I recently heard a Christian comedian - female - who said she was asked where all the handsome, sensitive men are.

Her reply? "They';re out there, and they all have boyfriends."

Kind of hard to overcome that. You're sensitive, you share your feelings, you're gay.

What's a wife to do?

Pick up on clues. Look at what you'r husband's reading; look at the movies he prefers. There are feelings there, whether he will admit it or not (dont worry, he won't).

And you know what? It doesn't matter, because once you can make that interprative jump, you can understand that beneath the caveman persona, there beats the heart of...

...well, a caveman.

But one with feelings.

STOP



If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

LOVE-U - V for Validate

Two weeks ago we started a new series - LOVE-U For A Better Marriage.

L- Linger
O - Observe
V - Validate
E - Empathize
U- Unbend

Today we'll talk about the third letter - V for Validate.

We all have feelings (guys, stop running...you have them too, so deal with it).

Our marriages should be the go-to place in which those feelings can be expressed, with no fear of repurcussions. We should be able to unburden ourselves emotionally in the safe haven of couplehood.

Gentlemen...no edging toward the door, and it's locked from the outside, anyway.

Marriage is where your feelings should be validated.

How can you make your marriage that safe haven? How can you hear feelings without the nagging worry about hearing something you don't want to hear.something with which you don't feel you can agree?

First, one thing should be clear -validate does not mean agree.

What you're doing when you validate your spouse's feelings is simply acknowledging that he or she has those feelings, and that they are important. You can recognize and respect without agreeing.

Second, recognize that you undoubtedly have feelings with which your mate won't agree, but does that make them trivial to you? I hope not.

Marriage is a partnership of equals, not a place for tyrants and syncophants.

The nuts and bolts of validation are fairly straightforward -

  • Set a time, or make time - Expressing a deeply-held feeling isn't a trivial exercise,and needs dedicated time. The best thing to do, if you're the one doing the sharing, is to ask for time with your spouse when you'll be undisturbed. If you're the recipient of the request, be open, and be accommodating, because the process is important...more important than Downton Abbey or the March Madness. If the sharing simply won't wait, then put things aside, turn off the TV, turn off the phones, and turn off the computer. This is where you get to fulfill the wedding vows...to have, and, especially, to hold.
  • Listen without interrupting - Even if you're used to finishing sentences for one another, this is the time to lay that skill aside. Listen to the end, and if you're not sure...ask. Not combatively, but simply "may I speak now?"
  • When you speak, repeat - Repeat what you've heard to preface anything you say.This ensures that there is no misunderstanding, and that you're on the same page. Give your spouse time to correct you, if needed, after the repeat.
  • Don't contradict - When you're validating, and listening, you're simply taking in information, and not trying to modify your spouse's stance. Ask for clarification, but don't tell your mate why he or she is wrong, or not understanding something.
  •  Be aware of body language - Don't cross your arms and close yourself off, and don't stand sideways to your spouse when he or she is speaking (it's evasive). Don't tap your fingers, signaling impatience. Do make and maintain eye contact, and do touch if touch, at that time, is welcome. Be aware; stand or sit in as relaxed a pose as you can. And never, ever roll your eyes.
  • If problem-solving is needed, set a future time - If your spouse is airing negative feelings that have something to do with you, this is not the time to defend yourself. Make it clear that you're listening, and that your mate's feelings are important to you...and that you value their sharing.  Keep that sharing positive, and work out any problems or disagreement at another time.
Validation is easy to describe, but hard to implement. A lot harder than it looks!

But you can practice. Work on listening without interrupting, for instance, in mundane conversation. Be aware of what you're doing, so you know how it feels.

Get comfortable with saying things like "I feel" and "this is important to me". If you can say these things about yourself, you'll develop empathy for your mate at the same time.

Finally, get into the habit (if you're not) of holding hands. Touch is one of the most important parts of creating that safe environment we all need, and which we want to create.



What do you do to create a safe environment in which feelings can be shared and validated?

Please visit me at my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace".

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!


The Right Focus - Tuesdays@Ten

This post is linked to Tuesdays at Ten - please visit KarenBeth's site!

Focus.

"We don't have enough sex!"

"He doesn't listen to me!"

"She always has to watch Downton Abbey, and I think it's stupid!"

He leaves his towels on the bathroom floor, and I have to pick them up!"

All very valid marriage issues. However...

Did you know that 18,000 kids will starve to death today?

If you do the math, that's six million a year, a number that should be familiar.

But maybe that number's too big. And it's only about 0.1% of the Earth's population.

So let's put it in perspective. I live near Albuquerque, a city of about 700,000.

So that would be, what, 700 kids starving to death in town, every year. That's do-able, since it's only two a day.

And on December 31, maybe we can pile their little bodies in a square in Old Town. Kids are small. It won't be a big pile.

But that might keep the tourists away. Better not.

So maybe, instead, we can focus on what's right in our marriages,and in our lives.

Like there's someone who has promised to stay with us, no matter what.

Like at the end of the day, we have someone to hug (and DO it!).

Like...but hey, that's a big enough list of blessings, because a lot of perfectly nice people will die today, and be deprived of even that.

Focus on the love that's in your life, and that is REAL.

If you have a chance, please visit my other blog, Starting The Day With Grace.



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Send It - I Won't Back Down {Five Minute Friday / Weekend Brew}

It's time for Five-Minute Friday , hosted by the wonderful Kate Motaung. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

We're also linking to Barbie Swihart's Weekend Brew; please visit for links to some really uplifting people.

And we are linking to "Wholehearted Home".

Today's word is send.

GO.

I'm past the moto sayings, and past the feel-good theology. Three of the last four nights have been, frankly, terrifying, and are ample proof that terminal illness sucks.

Where's God? Some would say that He's sent this as a test, or as a crucible that will increase my faith. If so, He's off His gourd, no disrespect intended.

This - unremitting and uncontrollable pain, projectile vomiting, and, I hate this, incontinence doesn't do a measure of good in any regard.

If God thinks this will bring me closer, He's like a horse trainer who's using a pellet gun as a teaching tool. I know something about horses. That ain't the way it's done.

I had a life, once.

And actually, in spite of everything, I still do, because I don;'t believe that God resorts to torture to get His point across.

This is a world in which free will is absolutely necessary; to become citizens of Heaven we need to choose it. And it follows that such a world also has to allow horrible things to happen to adequate people.

So God's here, bracing me against the wind. It's me who has to stand. It's me who has to puke. But God's lacing my boots tighter, and yelling GET UP when I fall.

I have to do the shooting, but God's passing me the mags.

And yes, I have a life. It's a life lived in opposition to fear and despair. It's a life that will be on the side of good, even when there no good left.

Send it. I'm here, and I won't back down.

STOP

God may be kinda pissed when He reads that. But I'll take the chance; getting whacked by lightning might numb the pain in my gut and back.

Worth a shot, eh?


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

LOVE-U - O for Observe

Last Wednesday we started a new series - LOVE-U For A Better Marriage.

L- Linger
O - Observe
V - Validate
E - Empathize
U- Unbend

Today we'll talk about the second letter - O for Observe.

When we're courting, watching our beloved is pretty much a favourite activity. We not the nuances of movement, of gesture, of expression...not only because we delight in them, but because they give us visual clues as to what makes this special person happy.

After marriage, things change (I can hear a huge OOOOOH yeah!). There's a joke going around Facebook about a man whose wife is missing, along with his truck. He can describe the truck to the last detail, but really has no idea what his wife even looks like.

And if you think this is limited to men - I have a friend who sported a large and dark moustache. His wife didn't much like it, so he shaved it off.

Two weeks later, she said, "Oh, you shaved off your moustache!"

We've got to do better. We chose to share a life with someone - why, after the contract's signed and the lives are meshed, do we tend to turn away?

The reasons are manifold...familiarity verging on boredom, an undercurrent of irritation, a feeling (especially among men) that "the chase is over", and the "caught" prize somehow loses appeal.

But the reasons don't matter. what matters is that we start observing again - not just looking, but looking with a purpose, looking with intention, and looking with memory.

We need to note the things that please our husbands and wives. We need to literally take notes, so that we can refer back...and do them.

Yes, take physical notes, as in...journaling.

And we need to ask. If you walk by your husband while he's doing the dishes, and run your hand across his shoulders...and he sighs, or relaxes, ask him "Did you like that?"

The go and write it down in your journal. Your journal's kind of like an accountability partner, here...you write it down, and you can't 'forget' to do it.

You wanted to learn your spouse so you could marry him or her

Who ever said there was a graduation, and you could stop going to class?


What do you do to make sure you remember what you see in your husband or wife?

Please visit me at my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace".

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Is Hollywood the Enemy?

Marriage has a lot of enemies these days, from the governemnt to some churches.

Is Hollywood one of them?

Yes and no.

On one hand, Hollywood can portray some really fine examples of marriage. Look at Godzilla; there are two strong and positive marriages shown in the first twenty minutes.

But there's another side, and that is that even the way a positive marriage is shown tends to be unrealistic.

Hollywood would have couples looking deeply into one another's eyes after the kids are asleep.

The last time my wife looked into my eyes was when I got a piece of sand in one of them.

Otherwise, it doesn't happen....but if I bought into the Hollywood image I'd feel deprived.

I could list a number of other Hollywood/reality disconnects, but I think you get the picture.

A marriage that's lasted more than a couple of years doen't fit the Hollywood mold. Romance, not to mention sex, have typically moved down the priority list.

Life is mundane, composed of necessities. Good necessities, like kids and friends and church.

Hardly the stuff of cinematic drama. Hardly the place for grand gestures.

Consider one of the archetypal Christian "marriage movies", Fireproof.

Good stuff, but it hinged on the errant husband buying his wife's sick mother a lot of medical equipment, using the money he'd been saving for a bass boat.

Would the story work without that big, bold act?

Sure. Stories like that happen every day, but in their "grace writ small" they're eclipsed by the fictional Big Idea.

And that can make us people, out here in the trenches, feel just a bit inadequate.

Yes, drama is needed to tell a compelling story, and the sharp contrasts between selfishness and Christian giving make for a satisfying tale.

Life is not Hollywood, and the small stuff, the undramatic minute-to-minute healing of hearts...that is what Christian life, and Christian marriage, are all about.

What do you think? Does Hollywood help marriages...or hurt them?

Please stop by my other blog "Starting The Day With Grace", if you have a few minutes.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Welcoming a Combat Veteran Home - Five Minute Friday / Weekend Brew

And here we are, for the first Five-Minute Friday  of 2015, hosted by Kate Motaung. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

We are also linking to "Wholehearted Home".

Today's word is welcome.

GO.

Welcome back. Welcome to peace.

Why aren't you smiling?

There are few things that can be as disappointing to a family as the homecoming of a combat veteran, especially after the first deployment.

Being on the killing ground changes people. The guy or gal whose departure you mourned can seem to have vanished, replaced by a quietly wary stranger whose eyes never seem to rest on you, with joy.

The ride home can be an ordeal of catching up (on your part) and single-syllable answers on theirs. or silence.

What is wrong?

What's wrong is that it takes a long time to come all the way back from the intensity of combat, and it's a wrench leaving behind the friendships forged in stress and danger.

Your veteran is homesick.

Homesick for the fight.

There's nothing in civilian life that can measure up to the purposefulness that comes with being on the sharp end. It engenders a sense of mission, and that is not matched by home repairs.

Combat demands that loyalty be given and accepted,and it's something your average couples' dinner can't touch.

It's a transcendent experience, even if you hate it.

So welcome your veteran quietly, with warmth and understanding, and few demands.

Give them a chance to enjoy, all over again, a life in which tomorrow is virtually guaranteed.

STOP

I have to admit that ran on a couple of minutes, but I do have an excuse; my left hand is a bit mangled, and I'm a bit short of usable fingers.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.


The essay also links with The Weekend Brew; click to find some great posts.