Marriage: Help & Hope That Defies Nature by Christa Hardin

 

“I can’t help the way I feel. I just don’t love him anymore. We’re never going to change. I can’t do this anymore.”

I hear these dramatic words slip off tongues all the time in a first session. Once someone is in this mode, it takes some convincing for them to see any hope.

As you know, many of the movies we watch, pop culture books we read, and stories we’re told portray spousal love as a heart-throbbing, wild, thrilling, and even sadistic roller coaster type of experience (and all at the same time if you’re in the drama genre).

However, it’s not the kind of love that’s found in 1 Corinthians 13. The Bible spells it out so well:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a

Should there be any doubt after reading this all-inclusive verse on love’s definition, God mentions love in the Bible around 500 times. He probably does this so there will be little doubt as to what really defines it.

God also takes painstaking efforts to let us know just how much He loves us, having allowed His Son to die on the cross for us. He gives us the definition and is the definition of love, be there no mistake. But why did have to God go to these lengths to show us how to love?

Well, for starters, since the Fall in the Garden of Eden when our race first sinned, love doesn’t always come naturally to us. And of course, Christ was the perfect sacrifice for sin, once for all. As we know it now in our fallen bodies, Christian love defies nature. When the “fight” or “flight” feelings arise in a relationship to warn us of a problem compounded by our sin, we are naturally cued to leave one another, to fight it out, or to sin in some way, whatever our own guilty pleasure.

Some of us turn to gluttony, others to alcohol, and still others to yelling, gossip, slander, or many other awful coping mechanisms we have picked up along the way.

Unfortunately, as much as our desire to stay emotionally safe is a gift from God so we can act in true emergencies of abuse or neglect — a separate but important topic — often we allow it to be activated in situations where we could be turning to God for help. “He lied to me. I’ll spend money.” “She won’t give to me sexually. I’ll view pornography.”

Sometimes these reactions are so fast that we try not to see the connection, and we act so quickly in sin that we don’t even stop to process.

I’m asking you this week to so something important.

Defy nature.

Defy the natural idea to sin, to leave, to fight, to act harmfully toward someone made in God’s image.

Some of you may be thinking that the love mentioned in this week’s verse sounds imprisoning.

Contrarily, this true love allows you to be free from the agony of hate and the victim mentality altogether. It offers the choice to care, not only for another but for yourself. Get emotional, spiritual, and physical self care and I promise you, you will shine for Christ in amazing, thrilling, and heart-throbbing ways you never even dreamed of. Even though they may be a far cry from Hollywood’s definition.

But remember that true love isn’t always fun, even when you do love yourself well. Sometimes it looks like helping someone through their grief or pain when you’d rather be on the golf course or tasting martinis at the local happy hour.

Love sometimes means scrubbing toilets as a second job so you can afford to pay the rent as a single parent. And sometimes love means being lonely, since others at times take advantage of a kind soul.

If our treasures were all earthly, this wouldn’t make any sense, would it? But when you consider that our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and we don’t receive the full reward of them till then, you know that loving is always the answer, even when life’s circumstances would warn you to do other things.

The voice of culture tells you, “If you love her, she’ll take advantage of you.” “If you love him, he’ll take everything and leave you high and dry.” The voice of God is clear and strong, telling you to love others and yourself well, and that God Himself will fill you.

You see, those who don’t love carry a far greater burden than those who do.

They carry lust, deceit, revenge, hate, malice, selfishness, and far worse positions than those who choose to love despite the cost.

I for one, don’t want to carry this load around.

I want to trust God to meet my every need, and ask you to join me in loving your family and friends, your enemies and your neighbors with the love of God this week and always.

Love is enough.

To work with me more directly, contact us here!

Anger Outbursts in Marriage


Anger Outbursts in Marriage, excerpted from Release.

Although some couples can make up with movie star quality after a fiery ordeal, most couples who seek me out for help don’t actually enjoy the makeup process as much as they would actually like to avoid a fire-extinguisher-worthy battle in their marriage.

Typically, when one or both spouses have a bad temper that is easily riled up, someone in their life (often in childhood or early adulthood, or even the other person in this relationship) has allowed themselves to do this without setting a boundary.

This pattern may have gotten a start as early as infancy (picture a mother cooing over a tantrumming toddler).

You do, in fact have your work cut out for you if someone has been permitted to both engage others like this and receive affirmation or coddling for having done so.

If you are a spouse who often gets injured from your partner’s anger outbursts, you are probably aware that trying many different angles can be very frustrating when none of them work.

You may even now be involved in a pattern of apologizing when someone else loses their temper even when you aren’t sorry since you don’t want to have them get riled up too much, or especially in the case of feeling your own safely is at risk.

In the latter case, you need to run, not walk to your nearest counselor and get help since this endangers you and your family.

There is never a time when it is okay or acceptable for a spouse to push or hit another, or to violently call you names. T

his is the exception to the rule when it comes to telling others about the battles and getting help, even if you don’t start with a counselor but a caring friend or outside family member.

On the other hand, if you spouse is “just” getting engaged, blaming, cajoling or emotionally manipulating you in fights, try communication tactics and being a scientist of the relationship to see what works as a first step.

Do you push at someone and disrespect their boundaries when they are clearly agitated and need a cool down?

Someone who engages in anger outbursts may not have insight into what will help them but you can be a student of them, and try to talk it out with them when they are in calm mode.

Find out together what precipitated the outburst both generally and specifically? Were they exhausted? Did their boss make them feel badly? Are there any big red flags such as that they are not getting proper self care?

Some people, when they feel emotionally threatened, have anger outbursts and they don’t mean to hurt others, they are simply used to it, and need someone else to set a boundary with them so they are forced to act different.

They won’t like it, to be sure. But guess what?

Life is about to get a little uncomfortable for them momentarily, which will bring increasing lasting and truer comfort than they have ever known.

If you are the one with an anger outburst issue, imagine having a very bad toothache and then being told a dentist was going to give you a shot and drill a larger hole that will be filled into your tooth to fix the problem.

At first glance, the procedure sounds terrible but we know the lasting effect is pain-free bliss and before you know it, you are flossing and back to steak dinners and an occasional treat. In marriage, when you truly fix anger outbursts, it will have a similar joyous effect.

Offended spouse, here is one great way you can confront the person before an outburst has taken place and say (if necessary, in front of a counselor)…

“I realize you get your temper up when we fight, to the point of yelling and … (whatever else they do). I don’t mind if your voice raises a little since that’s very normal but when you go off the handle and.. (be specific), I have decided to walk away and try again later. I respect you and myself too much to be part of that any longer. I realize I may miss out on getting to the bottom of an important issues with you, so I will try other methods, such as resolving that when you are calm or speaking about it to a counselor or coach together, or if you are not willing, I will talk to a counselor or mentor about my issues with you myself so I can figure out what to do. What I do know is that I can’t be subject to fits of rage. We both know there are tips and tools to talk things out so we don’t get to that point of escalation. If you are becoming escalated, let me know that. (Discuss a way to say it) and then I will back off. I make that commitment to you now, that knowing that you tend toward outbursts, if I see the following nonverbal signals (turning green like the Hulk, smoke coming out of your nose, and basically other signals, etc), I will say, “I see you are getting agitated from our fight. We can talk later, and for now, I’m going for a walk, going upstairs, etc. I love you.”

In other words, set a boundary that also extends love and a chance to talk later.

Do this as many times as is necessary until they get the point. The old style of interacting won’t work any more, and the issues won’t go away either so they will eventually have to choose to fight things out on healthier terms.

Remember, the anger outbursts aren’t necessarily stemming from hate. Your spouse feels threatened and is looking for control through the outburst so they need to be reassured of love as well as told they cannot do this to you – just don’t let them stay there, don’t be part of the unhealth even if you don’t feel it bothers you because the truthis you wouldn’t even be reading this unless it did.

Contact us here if you would like more personally tailored advice or visit us here to become part of our premier marriage program, the R & R Relationship Repair Course!