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  • ivanildotrindade 10:48 pm on April 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: emotional withdrawal, marriage, marriage isolation, marriage withdrawal, , , selfishness in marriage,   

    24 Hours of Unselfishness 

    Selfishness. They told me that is one of the top reasons why marriages fail. Really? Well, I don’t have to go to a conference to learn that. Actually, selfishness is at the root of the failure of any type of relationship.

    If you didn’t know already, you and I are selfish. Really? How do I know? Well, for starters, one of the first words we learn to say as babies is… No, it’s not “daddy” or “mommy.” It’s “no!” normally while pounding the high chair… And why is that? First of all, those are easy sounds to learn. Secondly, it is our way of saying, “I am not happy,” or “Do it my way!”

    When we toddlerize, we have to learn to share our toys. This has to be reinforced again and again. When we enter the pre-human phase (teenagers), at least in the U.S., kids must have separate rooms.

    You would think we would have learned by the time we reach adulthood. But no, in some ways, we get “smarter” in perfecting our selfishness. Now we are selfish and we don’t care! We have a hard time admitting we were wrong. And telling our spouse s/he was right? Never in a million years! We focus on the other person’s mistakes and shortcomings and tend to forget our own. We cover up when we mess up and broadcast when our spouse makes even a little mistake. We may not broadcast it to the world, but we do it inside our houses, sometimes while pounding the kitchen table!

    There is more. Many marriages are ruined by the insistence of one spouse to pursue his or her career in spite of the other person’s objections or concerns. Selfishness leads to emotional or physical withdrawal and isolation. Eventually we only have to put up with ourselves because the other person is no longer home, whether physically or emotionally.

    But there is good news: your marriage doesn’t have to be ruined by selfishness. Here is what we all need to do.

    1. Be aware of your own selfishness. Don’t try to deny it, hide it, divert it or make light of it. Acknowledge it and work to remedy it.

    2. Every week, think about something you will do where you will purposefully put the other person ahead of your own needs. Whether it is forfeiting that NBA game and going to buy groceries because your wife is too tired, or skipping your Zumba exercise class that you cannot miss just to be there when your hubby comes home. Whatever it is, plan ahead and do it. Don’t expect anything in return either. Just do it.

    3. Work hard to treat your spouse the way you always tend to treat yourself. There is nothing wrong with a little love of self. In fact, a sober dose of self-love is a sign of a well-adjusted soul. That’s why Jesus said we should love our neighbor “as we love ourselves,” and Paul said that husbands should love their wives “as their own bodies.” Then he goes on to make the obvious point: “After all, no one (he is talking about a healthy person here) ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body…” Self-love is only bad when it becomes the focus of our existence.

    4. And here is the hardest challenge: pick a 24 hour period where you will resolutely seek to be free from any selfish acts. This could be not taking the only available parking space close to the store and letting the older lady behind you grab it or it could be buying coffee for your whole staff. If you do this, you will truly discover the things you do that could be considered selfish. Take notes of the times you are behind the wheel. Pay close attention to meetings where you can’t wait to make a point and cut other people mid-sentence. Some of the most unselfish acts you will do will be related to listening more, giving focused attention, and acting like the person across from you is the most person in the world.

    Ultimately, though, it is the unselfish acts you will do to your spouse that will count the most. If they go unreciprocrated and you say nothing, then you’ve really passed the selfishness test. Eventually, the other person will catch on.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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  • ivanildotrindade 9:18 pm on April 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: avoiding conflicts, couples who hoarder, dirty closets, emotional hoarders, fleeing reality, Hoarder, marriage,   

    Emotional Hoarders 

    Married couples have learned to hoard, sometimes literally, but more often metaphorically. They hoard emotions, they hoard hurts, they hoard disappointments, rejections, the list goes on and on.

    There are big hoarders and small hoarders. I once entered the home of a widow who lived next to us in California. I say “entered” somewhat euphemistically. It’s more like my groping hands led me into a little space in her kitchen  where a leaky pipe was located. There were walls of newspapers and magazines on either side, making it looking like a corn maze and the smell of cavernous hallways was intense. There were objects piled up all over the livable space and the air was so thick I could swear it was being hoarded as well. Now that’s what I call a big hoarder.

    Small hoarders, on the other hand, only keep things in one room in the house. Maybe it used to be the bedroom of one of their kids who went to college, an old closet, or maybe even an attic. If you visited their house, you would have no clue that there is a messy room somewhere because everything looks so clean and good. The chaos is a dark secret, they keep it only between them, and they only go there to dump more stuff, and when it is full, they may even put a lock there and avoid going there at all costs.

    Couples who are big time hoarders leave everything on the floor. Like the big hoarders in the reality show, there is little hope for them. I can’t even begin to think about helping big time hoarders. But I have something to say to small hoarders.

    You also may have a closet with locks when it comes to your emotional life. You only go there when it is absolutely necessary. You keep shoving things there and keep it secure with a lock. You don’t want to go in because it is too painful.

    So when the wife is tempted thinks about how the husband didn’t take her side when his mother attacked her ten Thanksgivings ago, she quickly shoves that into the closet. When the husband feels lonely and wants a little more loving, he immediately retreats, knowing full well that the subject might just aggravate his wife’s headache.

    The hoarding closet, then, becomes a form of escapism, a flight from reality, a detour from disruption, but what you don’t realize is that same closet is nothing more than a postponement of “judgement day.” Some day, the hurts and resentments will erupt like a volcano and by then it might be too late to stop it.

    That’s why couple who are emotional hoarders need to open the closet. Slowly at first, but surely. A good start is to eliminate from your vocabulary expressions such as “don’t even go there,” “I don’t want to talk about it,” “You know what will happen if we start talking about this,” “There you go again,” etc., etc.

    Here is a simple technique: instead of going to the “closet” go to the “cave.” A “cave” is a safe space you need to put between you and the painful issue you may be discussing. If the argument is heating up or is bringing the worse in you, just say, “I need to go into the cave.” At that moment a “truce” is declared, the weapons come down and there is a pause, which, by the way, men, does not mean “there will be sex.”)

    Men, especially, need to learn to give their spouses some space. However, you cannot go into the “cave” forever. The “cave” is a respite not a destination. It is not another closet. The “cave” gives you time to calm down and think about what you want to say. After a couple of days (you will have to determine how many), if the spouse is still in the “cave,” you need to call her/him out. Actually “draw her out” is probably a better expression.

    When the talk resumes, you will need to learn to re-state. Instead of “How can you say that?” what about, “Can you clarify what you really mean by that?” Or “do I understand that you are saying thus and so?” Listen, re-state, and state your point without attacking the other person. If you do that consistently, you will find yourself without a dirty closet sooner than what you think.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 7:49 pm on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 50/50 marriages, Divorce, divorce among christians, marriage, marriage expectations, ,   

    50/50 Marriages 

    I will write this week about marriages. Yes, I just returned from a weekend getaway called “A Weekend to Remember,” organized by Family Life, and I have a lot to share.

    Something that just dawned on me. Imagine you were being interviewed for a job and were asked how much effort you were willing to put into your new job. Suppose you said, “I am willing to put my 50% as long as whoever is working with me is willing to put their 50%.” What are the chances you would get that job? Pretty slim, aren’t they? In fact, you would probably get laughed at all the way to the exit door, which would be politely shown to you… or not!

    And yet, when it comes  to marriages, we expect this arrangement to work. We say, “As long as you keep your part of the bargain, I will keep mine. If you mess up, we’re history.”

    Rarely will a marriage survive under this kind of arrangement. And why is that?

    First, because couples bring a wide variety of expectations into a relationship and many of them are totally unrealistic. What did you expect from your marriage and did you get it? Did you expect your wife to be always in the mood for sex? Did you expect your husband to always give you his undivided attention? Did you expect your wife to stay trim and toned for the rest of her life? Did you expect your husband to keep opening the door for you like he used to do when you were dating?

    And why not? Aren’t those perfectly reasonable expectations? They may be to you but not necessarily to the other person. So giving only 50/50 will not work because the expectations are varied and unrealistic.

    But 50/50 doesn’t work for another reason: my tendency to focus on the other person’s faults and forget my own. Let’s face it: we all tend to be selfish, prideful, stubborn and resentful. If left unchecked, these bad traits will derail any relationship. Many marriages have been defeated already by nothing more than selfishness. Yours could be the next.

    Christian marriages fail too, and at the same rate as non-Christian ones. But the reason is that we simply refuse to follow the manual. In Christian marriages we are supposed to give 100%. Just about now I can hear some say, “Of course, I give 100%, he gives 100%. I am game for that.”

    But you are missing the point. In Christian marriages your are supposed to give 100% regardless of what percentage the other person gives. I know, it is a recipe for abuse. You say, “That’s insane!” And you would be right. You protest, “No one can possibly do that!” And you would be right.

    Only the supernatural enabling of God in your life can allow you to give 100% even when the other person is not. It is a mystery of godliness. I am not saying it is easy, but easy street is usually a dead-end street. Don’t allow yourself to go there. Like Paul said to the Philippians, Don’t do anything for selfish purposes but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” If everybody would live by this principle, we would drive the marriage counselors out of business.

    In the vast majority of cases you will find that your actions contrary to nature will rub the right way on the other person. Soon you will be lying next to a “one hundred percenter” as well. And 50/50 will be a thing of the past.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • Jan 3:11 am on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      My husband rocks bscauee he has given his all to be obedient to God Especially in our marriage and in reaching out to widows and orphans. We are very pro-life and he has wanted to take in children who were at risk (either through potential abortion or other risks). We have three natural children and so far we have adopted 5 at risk children and he has done a wonderful job of turning his normal retirement age into a time of still working (as we need the money) and caring for these children. There are still 3 of our children home and they have special needs. My hubby is great!

      • ivanildotrindade 10:36 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks 4 commenting, jane. sorry it took me a while to publish your comment; somehow it ended up in the spam folder. so glad 2 hear about you and your husband’s direct involvement with at-risk children. u might want to check out the work we are doing: http://www.grow-worldwide.com. blessings!

  • ivanildotrindade 10:04 pm on December 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anniversary ideas, date, date with your wife, lasting love, , marriage   

    I wake up in paradise every day 

    People have different ways of celebrating Birthdays and Anniversaries. I remember a time my wife and I had no money to do something special for our anniversary. We barely got enough money together to pay the mortgage which was due the same day. We had to drive to another town to pay it in the mortgage company main office since mailing it would guarantee a late fee and other negative marks in our already colorful credit history.

    I told my wife that since we had 45 minutes, I wanted her to just listen as I talked. I told her I was going to spend the time talking about all the things I liked about her. I had no idea whether I was going to make it, and I started a little slow, talking about the first time I met her and how she made me feel. I talked about how I consider myself the luckiest man in the world to wake up every morning, turn to my right and look at her beautiful face, which is never affected by the turns and twists of sleep, and ask myself, “Am I in heaven?”

    From there I went to her amazing dedication to our children, her love for them and uncanny ability to find out what made them happy and go do it. My wife is the mother par excellence. She would die for anyone of our children, if necessary. I reminded her about the strength she gives me that makes me believe I can conquer the world. I told her about her beautiful smile and her laugh which fills the whole room. I just kept going and soon we were at the parking lot of the mortgage company. And I was not done!

    Now that we’ve just entered our 31st year of marriage, I have a lot more to add to that list. But I will tell her all about that tomorrow, as I have a planned a special day, full of surprises, to celebrate my life with this woman who has made me realize many of my dreams. And she is not done yet!

    I hope this is just the beginning of the rest of our lives. It sure beats what a friend of mine and his wife do for their anniversary. They are a little tight with money, so they go to a store and “shop” for a card. When they find one they like, he reads it to her, then she reads it to him, they put it back on the shelf and head to Taco Bell!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
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