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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Thirteen

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If your mate is mot ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to "fight" by.  Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

Love fights fair-- If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  Like it or not conflict in marriage is inevitable.  The forced closeness of a marriage begins to strip away your public facades, exposing your private problems and secret habits.  Welcome to fallen humanity.  At the same time the storms of life are testing and revealing what you are both really made of. Word demands, health, families, financial situations all add pressure and heat to a relationship.  Every couple goes through it but not every couple survives it. Living this Dare is not going to drive out conflict it is meant to help you deal with conflict in such a way you both come out healthier... together. The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you may ever do will be during conflict.  That is when our pride is the thickest. Our anger is the hottest.  We are more selfish and judgmental.  Our words contain venom.  You can make the worst decisions during this time. Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate and enjoy each other on a deeper level.  This happens by establishing boundaries. You need to have "We" boundaries.  Rules you both agree on beforehand that apply during a fight such as never mention divorce, not bringing up old unrelated issues, or fighting in front of the kids.  You also need "Me" boundaries such as I will listen before I speak, I will deal with my own issues up front or I will speak gently and keep my voice down. Fighting fair means changing your weapons.  Disagree with dignity and your results will be to build a bridge instead of burning one down.  Love is not a fight, but it is worth fighting for.

Fighting is something that my hubby and I do and do not do a lot of.  We do not have the typical fights most married couples have.  We do not yell and scream at each other, we do not fight in front of the kids.  We can both be totally at our limit with each other and you will still see us hugging and kissing or posting on each other’s walls on Facebook. 

However, when we do fight it is very emotional... for me.  My hubby being the strong and determined kind of man that he is, well he is not a real fighter.  He just wants the issue to go away.  He will say what he has to, sometimes true or not, just to make it go away.  I on the other hand want him to understand how I "feel" and how the issue is "affecting" me.  Can you see where I am going with this.... ?  It is about feelings for me, which I know is wrong.  I get so emotionally charged, embarrassed, my pride is hurt, my feelings are hurt, I have found out a lie, or whatever the case may be this sends ME into an emotional rabbit hole that I try and drag him down as well.  Well he will have no part of it and will shut me down instantly.  He does not want to hear how I feel or be dragged down the pit of darkness I am trying to pull him into.  This of course frustrates me even more because I feel like I am not being heard.

My mother was a screamer.  She would yell at the top of her lungs at us kids and throw things and just carry on.  I would then rush around trying to fix everything and make peace in the house for everyone regardless if I was in the center of the distress or not.  I learned my behavior from her, and as much as I tried all my life not to be her I did and am her.

I do not scream.  I have learned over the years if I lower my voice when I am talking to my hubby I get further than normal.  He still will tell me "Don't yell at me or don't talk to me like that" but that is his reaction to being pushed up against a wall and I know he is trying to deflect.  It took me a few years to learn to control the volume of my voice when trying to discuss a problem with him.

My hubby and I discussed a few rules last night about how we would learn to "fight" with each other and here are the boundaries.  I took it one step further and made "Me" boundaries to add for myself.

"We" boundaries:
  • We will never mention divorce.  
    • We are in this together.  We have been legally separated, we were all but divorced in the State's mind and we choose to come back together because this is where we both want to be.  We will not use this fear tactic to gain our way or make our point even louder.  This is not an option.
  • We will not speak ill willed about each other to others outside of our marriage.
    • It is hard enough to be in a fight but when you drag in a 3rd party to hear your side of the problem all you do is create more drama and more ill willed feelings toward your spouse.  Our issues will remain in our household with each other under God.
  • We will not bring up the past hurts and the past challenges that do not pertain to the situation at hand.
    • Too many times you want to have a score card or you want to bring up the past hurts.  If it has nothing to do with what the issue at hand is then there is no need to bring it up.
  • We will only be honest with each other no matter what.
    • There is no reason to try and get ourselves out of a situation that we are facing by telling a lie or making the other person believe something that is not.  This is just building a house of cards that will fall on us one day.
"Me" boundaries:

  • I will not challenge or confront my hubby while he is at work.
    • This has been a terrible habit I have seen develop over the years.  I find something out that I am not happy with and I either pick up the phone and call him or I send him a text.  At the time I am trying to deal with the issue but in reality I am hiding behind technology and being a coward.
  • I will learn to continue to control my words and my tone when speaking to my hubby in a disagreement.
    • The level of my voice and the tone of it can make or break any argument; I must learn to control this if I am to have any kind of opportunity to get to the heat of the disagreement.
  • I will learn to "stay within myself" when I first get upset.  Rather than lashing out I will try and get myself calm and even pray asking for God to help me.  My hopes will be to maintain control, no matter how hurt I am feeling, and not drag myself or my hubby down that hole.
  • I will remind myself that my hubby is not against me.  He is not out to make me look like a fool, he is not out to hurt me, he is not out to embarrass me and he is not out to deceive me.  His actions are his actions but I KNOW he is not trying to hurt me.  I need to remember this because if I do not feel like I am on the attack I think I can handle my emotions better.
  • I will remind myself that it is him and I in this world.... together.... we have to remain partners in every area of our lives.  
  • I will remind myself that I cannot fix everything and some things I need to leave with God.
I think this is a great start and I am going to add these rules to my I phone so when the next argument comes up... I can recall what my rules are and go by them.  God give me your grace and your peace and help me be the wife I so want to be for my hubby.  One that shows him he too can be the man he wants to be and build our bridge together and stronger.



It's hard being right all the time. It really is. Being right all the time means that when someone disagrees with you, well, by definition...they are wrong. Then, you have to go through the energy draining experience of persuading the other person of the errors of their ways, and to understand that you are in fact right....all the time.

Good thing I don't have this problem, because I am far from always being right.

My wife and I did discuss some boundaries last night. However, I recall the list being shorter and much more manageable. However, as usually, my wife fill in the details while I try to manage the broad strokes:

* There is not right or wrong, her against me...there is only US. We only win if we are both heard and reach and understanding.

* Bringing up things from the past is usually both futile and an attempt to hurt one another. A poor expression of our frustrations.

My wife is right. We hardly fight. She is my best friend. I love being around her. She is with me virtually everywhere, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Two nights ago, I had a craving that required me to head to Albertson's in the cold and rain, dressed in my boxers basically. Guess who was with  me. Guess who wanted to go with me.

When I do something without my wife, that I usually do with her,  I feel lost. I feel confused. I feel out of place. I don't think that's sad. It doesn't mean I can't function as a person and as a man without her. What it means is, we are so interwoven that I am not my full self...my best self, without her. It's just a fact.

I have lived without my wife for a period of time. I know how it feels. As my wife stated, we were separated and all but divorced. The ink WAS literally on the paper, and all either one of us had to do was submit it with a $50 check payable to Clackamas County.

I came home because it is where I wanted to be, and it was the best decision of my life.

Unlike movies, things were not rosy from that point forward. In fact, they became perhaps more difficult as there was real pain and hurt that both of us had to work through.

Today, all I know is that I love and respect my wife through my thoughts, words, and actions. As I type this, I am a few moments away from calling it a day for today, and all I can think of is giving my wife a hug and kiss hello and spending the next several hours with her.

This is what I live for. This is what I work so hard for. To be able to be by her side as much as possible.

I try to remember this every moment, even those rare times when I want to bury her in the backyard, as I often say (I'm very sweet). Because at the end of the day, I know, I would be digging her back up so why not skip that step--and all the emotional damage and hurt it causes--and remained focus on who and what she is to me: the mother of my children and the most loving and caring wife a man could ever hope for.

- Joseph

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