Wednesday, March 16, 2016

6 Ways to Be Safe for Your Spouse ~ and the $40 Giveaway!


Life's not easy, is it.

There's plenty of push and shove in the workplace and you can't help but wonder when that pink slip's going to appear on your desk.  You're scared at what your kids are being exposed to and you're concerned for your aging parents.  There's political wrangling at the church and it looks like the country's going right down the tubes.

Meanwhile your family's health issues alarm with their unexpectedly relentless onslaught.  And the cupboards are looking mighty bare while that mounting pile of bills threatens to completely do you in.

Yet, by some measure of grace, most of us seem to be able to muster up the ability to be polite and gracious to those we rub shoulders with during this daily grind.

So how come our spouses too often get the short end of the stick?

When we finally meet up at the end of the day, exhaustion's the hallmark.  We are preoccupied and often impatient and rude toward the one we've committed our 'for better or worse' life to.  Worse yet, we can't seem to tear ourselves away from our screens to connect at levels greater than distracted grunts of acknowledgement or the occasional 'uh, huh.'

This is hardly a compelling invitation to deeper relationship.

Bottom line?  We all need a safe place to fall, a secure arena where we're fully accepted and appreciated for who we truly are.  Our heart's desire, male or female, is to be held, to be cherished, to be heard, to be safe.  And marriage is the optimum place to have trust flourish by having these needs tenderly nurtured and faithfully tended to.

And chances are if you extend this lovely grace, it will, in some measure, return to you.

But if you are unwilling or unable to offer this life-giving gift, be sure that there's a very good chance that your spouse will sooner or later do one of two things.  

Either check out emotionally, perhaps physically.

OR

Find someone else who'll supply what he's yearning for, whether it's an emotional, sexual, intellectual ... or even a spiritual connection.


So ... what's it look like to be safe for your spouse?
{I am using the word *him* below to avoid the awkward *him/her* thing}

1.  You are fully present.
When you discern that he'd really like to connect, you step away from your screens or your endless to-do list.  You build trust by being still as he speaks, looking straight at him, gently tracking and listening closely not only to his words but the underlying cry of his heart.

2.  You do not butt in.
You refuse to throw your two cents in every time he takes a breath, instead giving him the quiet gift of listening well, giving him full permission to be a verbal processor as he sorts through what's on his heaping plate.

3.  You are non-judgmental.
You are grace-filled and don't minimize or brush off his concerns.  You don't morph into judge and jury at the first opportunity.

4.  You don't lecture.
You don't preach, lob Scripture at him, or toss pat answers his way.  You discern when to offer words of encouragement or direction, and ask permission before going there.

5.  You are respectful.
You don't put him down ... to his face or behind his back.  You refuse to make jokes at his expense, use your kids as weapons against him, or use your marriage problems as fodder for conversation with friends ... or as detailed prayer requests.

6.  You refrain from sharing deep intimacies with social media bystanders.
You show respect for the sacredness of your marriage by keeping your most intimate marital experiences {emotional, conversational, sexual, spiritual} as your own private treasure.

*

I may be a pastoral counselor, but when it comes to doing marriage well, I'm still a lifelong student.  For example - I just scrapped a ready-to-publish post on spiritual issues because after getting my husband's take on it, we decided that it was just too tender and private to hit the internet.


In what ways are you safe for your spouse?


Every comment you leave on these Marriage Mini-Series posts
puts you in the running for the giveaway of a $40 Amazon gift card!
More details to come ...


*


*

visiting with
 Anita  .  Beth  .   Lyli

60 comments:

  1. Linda, I love this-- speaks right to some of my prayers as of late ♥ Sadly I think I only do #3 and #4 well... all others are running at half-power but I am slowly learning and your post certainly gives me a good direction to head in as well as a confirming witness! God is good ♥

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    1. We're all learning together, my friend! Anyone who says they've arrived is so not being honest with themselves.

      Thanks for kicking off this post's dialogue. I just KNOW it's gonna be a good one!

      ;-}

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  2. Linda,
    As promised I have nothing to offer in the marriage discussion BUT I love it that you share your posts with your husband and you both decided something was not quite right to hit publish on -- what a lovely example of a partnership! And in place of a husband to confer with on my posts, I send them all to my sister for her take on them and she ALWAYS offers valuable insight and edits! :)

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    1. I love that your sister partners with you, Valerie! And as I write these posts, it hits me repeatedly that much of this relationship stuff is true for how we do life with other family and dear friends.

      Thanks for staying with me through the series ... it means alot!

      ;-}

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  3. It is so easy to give our spouses the short end of the stick at the end of the day!

    Being fully present is the tough one for me ... I get too involved in all I'm doing.

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    1. Oh I hear ya', girl. I surely do ...

      ;-}

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  4. I try to be a safe place for her in the ways you mention (except #6 since I am not on social media). i don't always succeed but I do hope Jo feels secure with me.

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    1. I can imagine she certainly does, Bill ...

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  5. This is very good advice, Linda. Thank you.

    I may also add "Do not interrupt him when football is on TV". I tried pointing the remote control at my wife but it does not stop her interruptions, or lower the volume.

    God bless.

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    1. My husband thinks you're the funniest guy around, Victor. Good thing you're over in Great Britain somewhere and not around the corner!! You'd both make me crazy!

      ;-}

      In the best of ways ...

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  6. Hi Linda! Ok Victor, it's hockey here. My husband is a rabid hockey fan (he's watching it now), but I have to say that if there's something I want to watch, he's pretty good at letting me.
    I think being 'fully attentive' is a sticking point for me. I am often scattered in thought and often zone out when my husband talks about something that doesn't interest me. I know that's a place for me that needs work.
    Thank you for your very solid advice!
    Ceil

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    1. Who better than you to follow our ever-humorous friend, Victor! And I'm with you, my husband lets me have the remote ... but we usually enjoy the same things. He even joined me for the last season of Downton Abbey! Must be all that football I zoned out on.

      If that isn't love ...

      ;-}

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    2. Ah Downton Abbey ... another problem in marriage. But I have solved it. I bought an identical remote control which I hand to my wife, (without the batteries). When she tries to change the channel and fails, I get to see the sports channel.

      God bless.

      P.S. I'm not that bad, really!

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    3. Tim loves ya', Victor!!!

      hahaha

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  7. I have been married for 23 years and this is my second go-around. But this precious man I am now married to has taught me more about marriage under Christ's umbrella and I am his first (and only we hope) wife. We are 68. I came to Christ 23 years ago as well so grew in Christ as I learned how to be married under my husband and under Christ. I am still learning but it is beautiful. I praise God for gifting me with His Son and this man.
    Thanks for sharing these truths.
    ~ linda @ Being Woven

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    1. Dear Linda, your story has touched my heart. Thank you, thank you for being here and for sharing your beautiful walk of faith and marriage.

      The conversation has been enriched by your willingness to share. I am so appreciative.

      Bless you ...

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  8. You are just a blessing, friend. I appreciate you and the tenderness in which you share wisdom so very much. xoxo

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    1. Tender. Yes. That's who I want to be.

      You encourage me, Beth. Truly.

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  9. These are good points. Thank you.

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  10. Dear Linda,I hear you so loudly on this. I am safely tucking away your wise words in my heart.
    Blessings to you

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  11. Such great 6 tips, Linda. Thanks for sharing and may we all learn to do better with them!

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    1. Yep, we all link hearts over the miles and forge ahead ...

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  12. This really hits home for me, my friend. I have felt for a long time that my poor, sweet hubby is getting the worst of me. I give so much in other areas that when I get to him, I'm out. He has been wonderful by trying to be patient with me but it's definitely time to make some changes. Thanks for this, Linda. Your tips are exactly what I needed to hear :).

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    1. I'm so glad this was helpful, Candace. Thanks for letting me know that this is working for ya' ...

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  13. These are great, Linda...and the last one, not over-sharing, is vital.

    There is, perhaps, a special-case that should be mentioned, and that is that the desire to be cherished and held can go away, to be replaced by a hardness that does not lack virtue, but does lack the capacity for intimacy.

    It may be most prevalent in the combat veteran whose identity was truly found and formed in the killing fields, and for whom civilian life is something of a pale shadow of reality (and it's the return to civilian life, and the recognition of the loss of something vital, that banishes softness). These individuals are not 'war lovers', and I certainly don't agree with the Christopher Hitchens quote that "war is a drug".

    What they are is 'different'; wired to something of an ascetic rhythm. They can, I think, make good husbands (and wives)...but be grateful that their love languages are Acts of Service and loyalty that is literally unto death.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-life-in-year-story-of-viet-nam.html

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    1. Yes, you have sacrificed much over time, Andrew. I grieve that for you, with you.

      And yet you have found strong new ways to show love in those acts of service and a faithful loyalty. Few truly experience the grace that's involved in that kind of relationship.

      Through it all, I pray that God's tender intimate love surrounds the warrior's heart as you continue to do battle with life and death.

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  14. I just finished reading Barbara Rainey's book for young women about marriage and was bowled over by all the advice that hit this wife past the quarter-century anniversary mark! Same thing today . . . I love my marriage and it's strong, but there's so much more I could be doing to better image Christ and His bride.

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    1. You're so right, Michele ... to be like Christ is our goal and we continue to grow and be stretched as we head in that direction. Marriage is a real training ground, isn't it.

      With you, I'm eternally grateful that His Spirit equips and enables us to love well ... as we let Him have the full control that makes that happen.

      Grateful that you're in on this conversation, friend ...

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  15. Life comes at us fast and it is easy to be overwhelmed. When this happens I am the first one to admit that checking out for awhile seems to be the easiest alternative. However, our relationships as well as we suffer when we do this. Being present is very important to me and it is something I practice often. I am also still learning what this looks like. Thank you for sharing your six ways of being safe with your spouse or with others.

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    1. I'm with you, Mary. Checking out for awhile works! Especially if / when we tell those we care for that we need this bit of solitude so we can once again engage in ways that are loving and kind.

      Let's hear it for noticing our 'overwhelmingness' {is that a word?!} and giving ourselves grace so we can tend to our weary souls, minds, bodies.

      Love what you've put on the table today, friend ...

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  16. These are great, Linda. And I love the way you present them, with grace, but no apologies for the truth! I believe marriage is under attack, and we do well to recognize it as our most important relationship, next to God, of course. I'm trying to read your words and be really honest with myself about where I'm failing, or need work. I think my biggest areas are #2 and #4. By nature I want to fix things. My husband is often not looking for an answer, or for me to fix the problem. He just wants to be heard :) Great series. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, friend!

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    1. I think I beat you ... I'm working on #1, #2, #3, and #4!

      ;-{

      But all kidding aside, I absolutely agree that marriages are under attack ... the enemy of our souls hates any kind of love, compassion, or grace. Especially in long term commitments ... the home, the church.

      Thanks for sharing where you are and what you're struggling with. You're in very good company, friend ...

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  17. Linda BAM again. Thanks for sharing the six ways to be present with your spouse. Some years back I watched our dog waiting for my husband to come home. I ended up blogging about it. Now, I meet him at the door with a kiss. He loves it. And, when he is wrapped up in a tv show I lay down in his lap and he loves that.

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    1. BAM.

      That's cute!

      And isn't that amazing that animals can teach us humans lessons that we so needed to learn ...

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  18. This is such great advice, Linda. Thank you. When my husband tells me something, I sometimes butt in with a question. Then he loses his train of thought. So I'm working hard on #3, even though by the time he's done, I forgot what I wanted to know. :) But that's ok. I'm learning. He is the controller of the remote. I don't know what it is, but it must be a security to have it in his hand. :) And that's ok with me. He does always want me to speak up if there is a program or movie I want to watch. I'm glad we both love Hallmark's romance movies and certain other older programs like Perry Mason, Columbo, Andy Griffith, Matlock, etc. :)

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    1. Yeah, I can be a buttinsky, too.

      And you are very gracious to let him control the remote. That's a bit of grace right there.

      And let's hear it for Perry Mason, Columbo, and Matlock! Those were the days!

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  19. These are some great points about using safety concerning our husbands. I knew my husband would be wore out when he came home from any kind of work and tried to give him some space for himself. Been married 52 years and I still need reminders to use this daily. When I want to talk or I think he has something on his mind, just give him some time and I will get mine.

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    1. 52!!

      Yay-Hey! You go, girl!

      And here's to giving each other plenty of space ... and being discerning to know when it's needed so they don't have to ask ...

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  20. A great post Linda, a gentle reminder to all of us "Marthas" that there are times we need to stop and be a "Mary" with our husbands, and family too, and just give them our undivided loving attention. You are so right in that if we don't, someone else will step up and meet that need. I loved all of your rule of thumbs... but #5 especially true... today so many feel the need to share intimate details of their lives with no shred of concern for privacy at all. It is so damaging. Thank you for writing this powerful post!

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    1. I love your Martha & Mary insight as it pertains to marriage, friend. Very thought-provoking!

      Sounds like our hearts resonate on the importance of #5 ... a too-intimate post makes me cringe inside. Some things are best left private and sacred ...

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  21. Boy, I am a lifelong student as well, Linda. Numbers 5 & 6 have been strength-builders for my husband's and my marriage. Enjoyed the read, the encouragement as well.

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    1. And I enjoyed winning that copy of Lisa Murray's 'Peace for a Lifetime' over at your place today! Woo-Hoo!

      What fun!

      Thanks ...

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  22. Excellent, Linda! You are so right! One of my husband's main themes for the nearly 30 years he was a marriage and family therapist was looking at how the couple made their marriage a safe place. I want to share this post with him. He grew up in a family where that was not the case and he was determined our marriage would be different. It is something we still try to practice after 51 years of marriage, but I don't think a lot of couples even recognize they don't and how it begins to sow seeds of disaffection in their relationship which tears at the fabric of their marriage. Thanks for the great list and the reality check we all need a reminder of!

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    1. Wow. One therapist married to another! That would make for some interesting dynamics at your house. I'd love to hear about how that works!

      And I'd love to get your husband's input on our little list. A male therapist's perspective would be invaluable.

      Thanks, Pam!

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  23. Linda, I'm so glad I came here today. What wisdom for marriages! I especially like 1, 2, and 3. Being present and being a good listener. I think acceptance is so crucial also to a happy marriage, but you definitely cover that in your points.

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    1. Well, I'm glad, too! Thanks for celebrating a bit of Friday night with us here!

      Weekend joys to you, friend ...

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  24. I think about this so often. We want to come home to our haven after a long day, but sometimes that disappears as soon we walk in the door to the distinct dissatisfaction in a voice. How sad that our greatest gift, and what we crave the most, can be so elusive.
    I am going to try to be more kind and nurturing!

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    1. I believe that {usually} the woman sets the tone in the home. Not always, but usually. We can make our husband's day ... or squash it in an instant.

      Kind and nurturing ... yes, yes. That's where I want to be, that's what I want our home to be. For that's hospitality in action, isn't it ...

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  25. Hi Linda! Yes, it is a life-long process... Marriage is hard work... Sadly so many give up too quickly... Yes, we all need our spouses to be our soft places. Have a beautiful weekend!

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    1. I hope your weekend is filled with comfort and joy, Jandi. Enjoy your little ones along the way ...

      ;-}

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  26. Linda, I read this when you first posted it and I'm still mulling it over. Good words that I needed to hear, internalize and yes, act upon. Thank you, and please keep these wonderful posts coming!

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    1. Well thanks for coming back to sit and ponder once again, Lois. Can I tell you how much that means to me?

      ;-}

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  27. I especially need to work on #3 with my hubster, Linda. I want to develop the habit of looking for many more positives than negatives about him whenever I'm tempted to judge or criticize him. And I'm so glad that you considered Tim's feelings about sharing your private issue here, Linda. I agree that it should always be a mutual decision and that's why I'm grateful that Gary has been as open and self-disclosing as I want to be. Sometimes he is more, if you can imagine! God put us together, I believe for us to share some of those intimate glimpses that others might not feel are helpful for their marriage or their audience. We find it empowering instead. Great words of wisdom and gentle care spoken in this post, my friend! Love your marriage series so far!

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    1. You and Gary are showing us how to do this well, Beth. Not only is he on board, but you both have a wellspring of life experience and training and ministry background that makes you so well suited to share well.

      The lessons you teach us might spring from your own 'messy marriage,' but it's for the sake of teaching, coaching, showing us all the way forward.

      I love the direction God is leading you as you continue to combine your gifts and calling. The sky's the limit. I'm so grateful for what He's going to do through you as a couple, online and in person!

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  28. great post linda:) it has been a definite + for our marriage that social media didn't exist for most of it! i can't imagine the stress it must put on marriages these days...ugh! by the time we started being online, we had probably been married in the high 30 years at least! by then, you have learned a little about what to share and not to share about your life together! your points are basic and true!

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    1. Oh yes, Martha ... I've thought the same thing about social media except in the area of parenting. I don't think I would have combined those two calls well at ALL!

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda