Monday, July 11, 2016

"That's what SHE said." (Or did she?)

Does this sound vaguely familiar?

Her: *sigh* "I'm fine."
Him: "Cool! We're good then?"

Her: "What do you think of this shirt? Is it too baggy/tight/low-cut/dressy/casual?"
Him: "Nope. Looks okay. Let's go--we're late!"

Her: "Work was awful today! I just want to quit!"
Him: "Ugh. You know you can't quit. We need the money! Do we have to talk about this again?"

Are you sure you're hearing her right?

As men, we hear the words that are spoken, but we don't always hear the subtext.  We focus on the literal words she is saying--one basic conversation. But there may be other unspoken conversations taking place beneath the surface. Ohhh boy.  We need to train our ears to listen for cues and watch out for environmental cues, as well. It may surprise you that it means something completely different than what you'd assumed. And to add to the confusion, it may have a different meaning in a different situation, depending on the emotions involved. Yikes. Guys--we need to pay attention.  

A perfect example: Whenever my wife, Pam, and I go on vacation or participate in anything fun or different (i.e. a Renaissance festival with our kids, piano bar karaoke, a cruise, a local Comic Con event, a motivational conference, etc), she says something like, "Wow, we should quit our jobs and do THIS!" She feels inspired, and in that moment, she is convinced that we should do this--whatever IT is--forever.  "Let's sell everything, buy an RV, and travel the country!"

Oh crap.

Early on in our relationship, it would cause a panic in me. I took her words very seriously.  Was she so unhappy that she wanted to scrap everything we'd worked for and become penniless vagabonds?

I had a tendency in those moments to try and talk sense into her, to show her that she was clearly being illogical. We couldn't just quit our careers. Didn't she know that?

What I've learned during our years in the marital trenches was to listen for the subtext. What was she actually saying? Did she really want us to leave our jobs? The answer was: NO.

Pam has an adventurous heart. She embraces the idea of making drastic life-changes.  When it comes down to brass tacks, however, she needs and appreciates security.  When she said, "Let's quit our jobs and do this for the rest of our lives!", what she meant most of the time was, "I'm having a great time! This is so much fun! Dream with me...and don't kill my vibe." She was playing out an adventure in her mind, and she just wanted me to come along for the ride. In a nostalgic mood, she may have meant, "This reminds me of home/high school/my dad, etc...It's familiar and I love it."

I had to listen carefully to figure this out.

The same can be said for all of our conversations as married couples.  Sometimes, our significant others just need us to listen, but not fix anything. Sometimes they need us to take up for them and validate their feelings or fears. Sometimes they need praise.  Sometimes they are requesting action, sometimes not.

I Corinthians says, "Love is patient." So, what does this look like in regards to communication?  We need to take the time to figure out what she's really saying and what she really needs. It's time to stop jumping to conclusions, to stop assuming we know.

So, what about those examples at the beginning of this post? They're everyday occurrences, daily exchanges, right?

Her: *sigh* "I'm fine".  This could mean:
a. I'm fine, I'm just tired.
b. I had a bad day and I need to decompress.
c. I'm SO not fine.
d. I'm irritated with you and your face offends me.
e. I'm barely surviving here.

How do we know which choice is correct? Are you ready? Communicate.
Ask questions. Prod delicately. Let her know that you genuinely care about her well-being.

How about the girl who asks about her shirt?
"What do you think of this shirt?"...

This could literally mean that she is wondering if the shirt is okay for the occasion or it may be more personal than that. She may need a confidence boost. She needs to know that you think she's beautiful and desirable, that she still gets your heart pumping. Even after she's been up all night with a crying baby, she has dark circles under her eyes and spit-up on her shoulder. Especially then.

And finally:
"Work was awful today! I just want to quit!"

She may, in fact, want to quit. Be aware of this. But she may just need to vent. To you. She may need to know that her concerns are legit, and nothing more. Maybe she needs to be built up, reminded that she is terrific at her job.  Even if you don't care a rip about what she does for a living, it's extremely important to her. So talk to her about it.

In any case, in every case, communicate. Listen to what she's saying, then ask yourself, "Is that what SHE said? Am I hearing her right?"  And then?

Ask questions.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

"As Christ Loved the Church..."-She Said

Pam-She Said

Love is hard. It really is. I came into my marriage with a lot of misconceptions about what love looks like. Until I met Lucas, I was under the impression that just saying the words, "I love you" always meant something. They made me feel important and accepted. And unfortunately, I would say them, too, pretty freely, to people who breezed in and out of my life, without realizing the weight of those words. They became empty without the guns to back them up. And as a divorced woman, toting her baggage around like cancerous growths, I needed someone with the guns.

Luckily, I found Jesus.

If anyone had the guns to show me love, pure and unconditional, it was Him.  And a healing began in me when I realized that His words meant "sacrifice". They meant, "I'm in it for the long haul".  They meant, "I love you no matter what, no matter when, no matter why or how. I love you."

Then I met Lucas.  I knew he loved me when he picked up my baggage and took it on himself. When he decided, against all odds and amidst church and personal controversy, that he was going to marry me, the older, broken, divorced, damsel-in-distress.  He listened to my stories, good, bad, and ugly, without judging me. He decided I was worth saving, that I had value, even when I didn't think that was true. He had the guns to back up his words.

What about me? When I said, "I love you" to others in my past, was it about sacrifice? Nah, not so much. I had to develop within my heart the ability to truly love.

Ephesians 5:22 tells us "Submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." That smells like sacrifice to me.  Because when I gave my heart to Jesus, I was in it to win it. I vowed to respect and honor him forever, to show my love and dedication, not just talk about it. To lay everything down for Him. My husband deserves that.  Your husband deserves that.

As Lucas wrote in his blog today, getting to know each other allows us to love on one another. So, what speaks to your husband's needs? Does he need encouragement? Affirmation? Some alone time?  His favorite homemade dinner without asking for it first?  Does he need a listening ear?  Maybe he needs to hear that you believe in him and you're proud of him. Maybe he needs to know that you trust him.

Getting to know each other grants us the capacity to make sacrifices for one another. It's not always easy to step outside of our comfort zone for someone else, to give up what we've planned or expected to support one another. It's just not easy. But Jesus's sacrifice wasn't easy. It was friggin' insanely hard.

Welcome to the gun show, ladies. ;)

"As Christ Loved the Church..."

Lucas-He Said:

One of the hardest parts of marriage is figuring out what "Love" is. People show love and feel love differently based on experience.  Obviously the Bible comes right out and tells us what love is, but in true American style we all have our own versions or definitions of love, such as: 
  • Love is that feeling you get when the person looks at you and you know it's all down hill from there. 
  • Love is blind. 
  • Love happens at first sight. 
  • Love will overcome all things. 
  • Love is tragic and dramatic. 
  • Love is irresistible. 
  • Love is irrational.  
  • Its not love unless you make illogical and uninformed decisions that defy all reason and sensibility. 
  • Love means always giving in. 
  • Love means getting your way.  
  • We believe in love like the tooth fairy. It comes in when you least expect it, steals something from you, and in exchange it leaves you dying inside or hoping for more. 

Does that sound about right? Some of our definitions of love are biblical but the application of love is flawed. Other definitions are romantic but ridiculously impractical. But the truth is, we all define love in different ways. Why? Look at the history each of us brings to the table: hurts, abuse, loss, broken marriages, broken homes.   With that being said, with all of these definitions and expectations floating around out there, how do we develop true love within our marriages?

Know each other. 

Think about this: When Christ gave himself for all of us, His bride, he took our sins upon Himself and laid down all that He was for us. It was a sacrifice like no other. In our marriages, then, we need to be mindful of what our wives need on a daily basis. How can I show her love today? What speaks to HER heart? There will be sacrifices: pride, time, frustration, money, becoming a fashion critic, just to name a few. How much are you willing to sacrifice? If  you ask yourself, "Is it worth it?", then you must also ask yourself the question, "Was I worth it to Christ?"  

Today's challenge: Get to know her. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Circus, My Monkeys

Talking about marriage is like giving others unsolicited parenting advice. It's like looking inside someone's messy laundry room. Like digging through someone's junk drawer. Private, personal, vulnerable, uncomfortable...the list goes on, but you get the point. It ain't pretty.

Knowing this, our motive is to inspire Gen-X and Milennials to take the leap, and also to inspire a renewed sense of hope in those who have been battling in the trenches for years.

"Redeeming Marriage" began 16 years ago, when two unlikely idealists met and fell in love. One was older, had gone through an ugly divorce, and was hauling around a whole lot of baggage. The other was a pastor's kid with a vision of marrying a pure, sweet, innocent "perfect woman".  See the controversy there? She knew what marriage was NOT supposed to be, what it shouldn't be. He knew that he wanted to build a marriage on a rock-solid foundation, with Jesus at the center.  At the core was redemption: redemption of trust, redemption of relationship, redemption of marriage, in and of itself. This redemption would ultimately heal her of her past hurts and allow both of them to build a foundation of trust and communication.

Let's stop talking about ourselves in the third-person now, shall we? A few years back, we noticed a trend of young couples approaching us with questions and concerns about dating, marriage, and second marriages. They saw something in our relationship that they wanted to duplicate. And we had a true desire, deep in our hearts, to help.

After several years of organizing our thoughts and looking back on the way we have developed our relationship, we've decided to reach out and talk candidly about marriage, to offer a "he said, she said" perspective and to show that we're in this together. We want to be purposeful about our marriages, our decisions.  Our circus, our monkeys.

Being that this is our first blog post, we'll leave you with the scripture where we have built our marriage and from where we plan to launch our platform: Ephesians 5:25 says,

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her."

What in the world could that mean? (Princess Bride? Anyone? Oh yeah, we like to quote movies, too.)

What does this scripture mean to YOU and your relationship? Give us some feedback!

Lucas and Pam