Friday, August 9, 2013

Marriage V

The Battle of Wills

The Battle of Wills: Somehow is marriage we get to the place where there is a battle of wills. Each party, each spouse is trying to establish territory and rights. The strong willed strive to have the upper hand, be in control, rule the roost. The problem with this kind of exercise, which can go on for years, is that it is non-productive and harmful to the marriage and relationship.
The man has his challenge. He has been told he is the man of the house which usually is interpreted as the dictator of the house. His fellow cronies warn him of being run by a woman, where is his manhood, they wouldn’t take it and on it goes. The woman on the other hand is challenged by her female cadre with they would not put up with that and you cannot allow him to do that and who does he think he is?
With male and female machismo running hot and heavy, there is no place of peace and reconciliation. Marriage was not intended to be a battle of wills, but a place where two became one and worked together. The woman was meant to be a helper mate, part and parcel of the deal.
However, male and female gender differences and preferences will conflict with one another. Not maybe, but always. The process is to come to a place of respect and understanding of the differences and make them work together.
The problem is that once we get to the battle of wills, the emotional charge on both sides is so intense that no one is listening to the other. I remember being a counseling session and as we talked the woman was not listening; she was forming her next argument and rebuttal. The emotion was running so high that no one was looking for answers, but simply vindication of their position. At that point, there is no need to continue. Everyone needs a “timeout.” Go somewhere and calm down. 
In these times, women tend to lose sight of the current issue and use it as an opportunity to bring up everything from the past as part of the argument. They cloud the current issue with the failures and foibles of the past. There is then a sense of hopelessness in the debate and discussion because there is a realization that the past has never become the past. The man on the other hand wants to assert some kind of Tarzan approach where he-man, you-woman. The attempt is to make the woman a sub-creation that needs clubbed over the head and dragged to the cave. Neither of these approaches make anyone feel good or begins to answer the conflict.
Conflict resolution comes primarily out of meeting the needs of the other. It is imperative to understand what is driving the conflict and the position that is held by the man or the woman. Each gender has specific, innate, needs that have to be addressed by the spouse. To ignore the differences or ignore the innate needs is to live in a fantasy land and live in constant turmoil while blaming the other person for all the turmoil.
Woman who think that men think like them are grossly misinformed. And men who think woman are men who are just physically different are totally out of bounds. God has made us significantly different, but we need each other. The happily ever-after fairy tale world does not exist. It is definitely happy at times and hellish at other times. But the covenant is meant to be insoluble. This means God expects us to work through difficulty to a place where WE are working together and not against each other. So, the battle of wills is always a losing proposition. You can win the battle and lose the war in this situation. And, just because you think you won the argument does not mean it is over and done. Marriage is not a debate contest; it is real life and you have to live in it.
Each spouse should be looking for answers, not vindication. Men need to learn understand the wife’s concerns and the wife needs to learn to respect her husband and his views. Somewhere in there is the position of togetherness, love, and answers.
God intends for us to find these places of resolution; for in the resolution there is a building of trust and respect for each other. Caving to the other is not the answer, but working together is.

Necessary Endings

 Necessary Endings

Dr. Henry Cloud, along with Dr. Townsend, wrote a book called “Boundaries.” It is a great lesson on setting boundaries in life that allow us to be what God has called us to be. Often in life we are dictated to, manipulated, and controlled. Learning to live a healthy life is a challenge. We grow up with certain environmental situations that can mold us unknowingly into dysfunctional people. We may never know what God intended for us. I will be leading a LifeGroup soon on Boundaries. We will explore the boundaries necessary in life and how to get there.

I am currently reading another book by Dr. Cloud called “Necessary Endings.” It is geared primarily to the corporate world, but the backdrop for the book is the Book of Ecclesiastes. There is a time and season for all things.

We all hate to end things. We often hang on way too long. We don’t change a job that we are bored with and dream of what we want, but never go after it. We keep trying to hang on to relationships and friends, all the while, we are growing away from them. People hang on to businesses that are failing too long. The same principle holds true in human relationships. Everyone of us has struggled with making changes. We hate to let go of the past and the present. Sometimes we just have to come to the “moment.” The moment that we quit trying to salvage it, quit trying to fix it, quit trying to dig around the bush again and fertilize it.

In church, I have had to learn that the gospel remains, but our programs are expendable. We should not and cannot be married to a program, a ministry, a way of doing church. Every so often, we have to take a serious look at everything we are doing and ask some hard questions. Is it working? Is it healthy? Is it contributing to the vision?  Is it really Christian? Are we adding to the kingdom of God or just entertaining people? 

People, we, do not like change. 60% of people do not like change. Some can take it if it is slow. Only 5% of people like rapid change. That is how traditions get started and no one knows why after 20 years.

A good indicator of change coming is the constant discomfort and ill ease you experience when facing the same situation. God often uses the discomfort to force us to deal with a problem and get it fixed, or He uses it to make us end something that is damaging and hindering us from moving forward with Him.

Now, I am not writing to end marriages etc. But marriage has its seasons. There is the ending of certain seasons and life together has to be redefined. I know, just being a young couple is one season, but when baby comes along, it changes the season dramatically. The way the husband and wife relate changes. Empty nest changes the seasons. Sickness can change the season. Extra people in the house can change the season. Elderly parents in the home changes the season. There has to be a necessary end to one season and the beginning of a new season with fresh direction and companionship. Death of a spouse changes the season drastically.

I have found that adaptability is a necessary commodity for human health. Life is messy. It changes constantly. I look back and the world that I grew up in does not exist. To hold on nostalgically to the past is a ticket to irrelevance. There is a day of necessary endings to behold and enjoy the future.
-Pastor Bill