Three conversations you have to have with your spouse podcast notes

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Wouldn’t you love it if these words were true of  you.  That your conversations would always be with grace. That your conversations would be seasoned with salt meaning they are interesting, enjoyable and thought provoking. Wouldn’t it be great if you would know how to answer everyone.  If you knew how to respond when the conversation got tense or angry.

Today I want to answer a question you’ve probably had about marriage. How is it that two people can stand at an altar and make these kinds of vows to each other and then end up hating each other more than any other person on the planet. If you think about it, it’s pretty weird isn’t it. We reserve our most negative emotions for the person we are closest to. It’s not just a spouse. It could be a parent or a grown child or a former friend, but this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s weird.

Think about it for a moment. There are some pretty horrible people in this world. We have terrorists, mass murderers, dictators, Raider fans. Really horrible, despicable people. But the negative feelings we have about a spouse or ex or parents or a friend who hurt us is a thousand times deeper and more painful. “That Bin Laden is a terrible, horrible person, but have you met my ex. Whoa!”

How do people get to that spot in their marriage?

Most people think that in marriage stuff comes out because they are getting bumped in ways they’ve never been bumped before. They think, “If he’s just stop bumping me” or “If she’d just stop bumping me” stuff would stop coming out and that’s true. But the bottom line reality is that stuff comes out because it’s in there. Most of us blame the other person for all this stuff coming out, but the truth is it comes out because it’s in us.

Romantic relationships bring out our stuff like nothing else.

Let me make two comments that I think will revolutionize the way you do relationships

1) The center of conflict is not what your partner did to you, it’s what the conflict brought out of you.

2) The key to a successful relationship is not searching until you find a partner that won’t bump into you but learning to deal with the stuff that’s inside of you.

So how do we do that?

1. The first conversation is always with yourself and it goes like this. What do I have to work on

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Colossians 3:18,19

There is a reading problem we all have. Husbands read those verses and say, wife, submit. Wives read those verses and say, Husband, you have to love me better. The reality is that verse on submission wasn’t written for husbands to hold over their wives head and say, “Honey, submit to me.” That verse was written as a challenge for wives. The verse that says “Husband’s love your wives” wasn’t written so that wives could say, “You aren’t loving me enough.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Folks, we are great at examining hearts. We do it all the time. I examine your heart. I examine my kids heart. I examine my wife’s heart. We’re fantastic at this one. We keep a log of everything they’ve done to us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23,24

How many times have you been lying in your bed at night thinking, “Man, she makes me so mad. I can’t believe he did that. She’s so cold. He’s such a jerk.” While you are in your bed search your heart. Be silent. Let God speak to you about how you can be a better wife or husband or parent or friend.

When we get married we all get assigned jobs that we never wanted. Anyone who’s ever been married knows what I’m talking about. Let me give you a few examples. Did anyone get assigned the job as bug killer.

Is anyone check the house when there is a scary sound. I used to be that guy. Now I have found that if I just lay their long enough she’ll get up and check.

Anyone the designated finder in your house? That’ my wife. She hates it but she’s good at it. I can be looking in the closet and can’t see it and she comes in and (eyes closed) here it is.

Is anyone the “smell this to see if it’s gone bad” person. Again, that’s my wife.

We all have jobs we didn’t sign up for. One of my least favorite of all my jobs is that I’m the designated computer IT guy. Does anyone have that job. I hate that job. I’m terrible at it. In the office everyone knows to not ask me because I’m clueless, but at home I’m that’s my job. I’ll just be sitting there after a long day and from the nether reaches of our home I’ll hear “Dad, our internet is down.” “Dad the screen froze” “Dad, the printer is out of ink.” For some reason I’m the only one in the whole house who can change a printer cartridge.

At those times I’ve had these feelings come out. I wish she’d try harder. I wish she knew more about computers. I hate being annoyed. She’s so annoying. I would never say those things. I could say “she’s annoying.” I wouldn’t because I’d wind up on the couch, but I could say that. But you know what would be a truer statement would be. “I have an impatience problem.” She bumps me and asks for help and all this stuff comes out of me. The questions that he asks are not dumb. They aren’t ignorant. I’m just, flat impatient.”

2) Second conversation. This is how I feel

Get could at naming your emotions. You ladies are good at that. You have lots of them you can name. Guys have two. We’re angry and we’re frustrated. And if you think about it, it’s really the same emotion. My 13 year old called me on this once. She said, “Dad, why are you so mad.” I said “I’m not mad, I’m frustrated.” She said, “Well they look the same to me.”

We need to work hard to understand exactly what we are feeling got bumped out of us. Let me give you a list

I felt angry I felt ugly I felt stupid
I felt left out I felt unlovable I felt lonely
I felt embarrassed I felt like a failure I felt abandoned
I felt unappreciated I felt old I felt scared
I felt out of control I felt belittled I felt picked on
I felt jealous I felt disrespected

Notice the subtle difference in the following statements.
“Whenever you say those things I feel ugly.”
“Whenever you say those things I feel unappreciated”
“When you go on those long business trips I feel lonely and scared.”

Do you know what the proper response is when someone you love says something like that. Let me start off with a couple that aren’t appropriate. Well, you shouldn’t feel that way. I’m sorry you feel that way. You should be more mature. Those don’t work. Here’s one that does. “I’m so glad you told me.”

3) Third conversation to have with your spouse. I believe in you!

(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8

Think about it for a moment. Would you ever give anyone this advice. Always trust. Always hope. Always persevere. That can be problematic. Especially that first one. Always trust. Let’s face it. There are people in our lives that have proven once and for all that they are untrustworthy.

In all our relationships, especially a marriage relationship there is a gap between what you expect and reality. There is a difference between what you want someone to do and what they actually do. And in those moment you have a choice. In that gap you can either

1) Believe the best
2) Assume the worst.

There was a study done on successful marriages in the book One Thing You Need to Know, by Marcus Buckingham. It’s a business leadership book, but in it they did a study on what makes marriage successful. They took couples that have been together for over 10 years and who were experiencing a joyful marriage. Coming into this study they had an idea about what they would find. They had done a study of unhappy couples and in unhappy couples they found that there that there were huge misunderstandings between the two parties about what each other was like. When they were dating they thought that there were this, when they really turned out to be that. They thought that when they interviewed happy couples that they would find that happy couples had a good grasp of who their spouse was. That these couples would really know each other and would do really well on the newlywed game. But what they found was the opposite.

It all comes down to what you put in that gap. Listen to me. When you chose the assume the worst position, it’s very hard for your spouse to drag themselves out because you are looking for them to fail.

When you chose to believe the best, it creates margin for your spouse. I creates acceptance.

People are drawn to environments of acceptance.