Monday, June 29, 2015

Silly Little Words


My fluffy little alarm clocks (Teddy and Stewie, my Yorkies) went off at 7:00 am, their usual time to start their demands for the day.  Usually, I say "No!" to them, "Go to sleep!", and they'll curl back into position with one eye carefully watching for the slightest movement from me.
Today was different, though. I had to get up.  I love to lie in bed for an extra 30 minutes before I face the day.  I had an appointment at 9:00 that was 45 minutes away, so I had to get moving.
I woke up agitated from a comment my husband made to me the night before.  (I had tried to ignore it and not respond.)  As I prepared breakfast for the boys (how I refer to the dogs), Stewie stayed on the couch and refused to eat.  Great.  He always eats.  Now I would worry about him while I was gone.  He had been very whiny the day before, so I wondered what was wrong.  No time to deal with it right now.  I had an appointment to keep.
I got in my car and the "low tire pressure" light was on - again.  My left front tire continuously pleaded for more and more air the past few months.  Should I stop and get air before my 45 minute drive?  I knew I had to deal with the tire and risk being late for my appointment.
On my way back from my appointment, my brother called to ask if I would pick up his prescription for him.  My brother, Craig, recently moved to Florida.  When I was 16, my father left my mother and took my brother with him.  I never lived close to Craig since, so I really enjoy having him nearby.  He is handicapped and unable to drive, and I try to help him as much as I can.  Even so, I became frustrated at one more item to add to my list of "to dos".  
When I got home, Stewie didn't run to see me.  He always greets me with dancing and singing.  Not today, though.  He still whined and wouldn't eat his breakfast, and so I decided to take him to the vet.  Just what I needed today - a trip to the vet that would cost me another two hours (not to mention the financial expense.) My concern for Stewie's health, though, would take precedence.  Little dogs can deteriorate very quickly once they stop eating or have any kind of illness.
There was a message from Rick on the home phone.  He was bright and cheerful, as usual, asking me to do a favor for him.  Not a word about his comment to me.  I looked at the list of other things Rick had asked me to do, and my frustrations with the day began to mount.
As much as I hate to admit it, I am not as spontaneous as I'd like to think I am.  I like to know my schedule. First, though, I prefer my quiet morning with plenty of time to talk to God.  I knew that part of my anxiety this day was that I had not gotten up early enough to do that.
I began to focus on all the things I do for my husband and other people and became overwhelmed with my lack of time for myself.  All I wanted to do was sit and write and talk to God.  There would be none of that today.  In fact, I hadn't had many of those days in a while.  I don't even work full-time!  How do working wives and mothers ever get it all done?
Suddenly, I wanted to run off, by myself.  I wanted to live alone and only worry about me.  then I realized that this was about the aggravation I felt towards my husband over a few words that hurt my feelings.  (There may have been a few extra hormones also stirring up the pot.)  Plus, I hadn't had a chance to discuss it with God.  (He's always quick to point out the good in Rick and take my focus off the bad.  He would have kept me from my selfish pity-party, too.)
I am constantly amazed at how a simple word can set my mood for the day when I'm unprepared to fight it off (by missing my time with God).  I believe most problems in marriage start with silly little words that we try to brush off and never deal with.  They accumulate into a dirty pile that quickly turns into a mountain of frustration.  When that mountain seems unsurpassable, it can become a fleshly reason for many to contemplate divorce.  And it all started with a simple word.
It still astounds me that I can have an incredible marriage, yet through the course of one rough day, one misspoken word, even think about tossing it aside for a different life.  I may allow some silly little words to sit in a pile for a few hours or even a day, but I've finally learned how important it is to promptly sweep up the pile before it grows.  That means I would need to discuss this with my husband.  I should have done that in the first place.  I may have avoided feeling miserable about a day that wasn't so bad.

Monday, June 22, 2015

More Emotions

Hot…cold…hot…cold...hot…cold.   I’m not just referring to the nasty menopausal temperature swings I experience at night, but also to the extreme changes that can unexpectedly occur in my emotional psyche at the drop of a wrong word or wrong look from someone else.


I have tried to explain our emotional essence as women, but it’s often too deep to comprehend and even more difficult to control.  So what do we do??  We pray - and pray.  God certainly has the capability to free us from this “curse”, but then we wouldn’t have to depend on Him in our marriage, would we?  He will help, but I believe He allows a certain amount of our emotional handicap in order to keep us humbled and seeking Him.

Besides, He has quite the sense of humor to put men and women in the same household, together, to become one as man and wife. He knew we would need His help.  That’s also why He tells us, “It is good not to marry.”  Marriage is probably the most difficult task we will ever undertake.  And it’s meant to be a lifetime sentence…err, commitment.

Below is my emotional chart: (Based on how many times in a day my emotions can fluctuate from happy to upset – happy being the top point, upset being the bottom.)  Fortunately, the older I get, the straighter my lines are becoming.
                        
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My husband’s emotional chart: (No variation)

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Rick has one emotion – “Let’s find the solution, and if I do it just right, I can win in the process.”

How in the world do two people with such different minds ever learn to communicate?  Very carefully and often times, very slowly.  It takes practice.

Of course we communicate very well in the beginning stages.  We’re both on the same
“emotional page.”  We want to spend time together, get to know each other, and develop intimacy with each other.  That’s all we think about.

Once we’re married for a few years, though, it changes.  We’ve had lots of time together, we know everything about one another, and our ideas about intimacy deviate from those original “can’t stand to be apart” feelings. 

Women, especially, find the greatest changes in their intimacy needs once they marry.  They mostly want to be loved, want someone who’ll share in taking care of the home and children, and want time and attention from their spouse.  These needs may have been superficially met before marriage, but after marriage, intimacy goes to a much deeper level that now includes actions.  Words, gifts, and a night out on the town no longer fully satisfy a woman’s intimacy needs.

These actions may vary from woman to woman in what satisfies her needs.  What does your husband do for you that makes you feel the closest to him?  For me, it’s sometimes as simple as Rick washing the dishes or doing the laundry. (He must really love me if he’ll do that for me.)  The little things a husband might do for his wife can speak volumes of intimacy to a woman.

If a woman’s intimacy needs are not met, she will shut down her communication or go to the other extreme and become a screaming, nagging wife.

Intimacy needs for men, though, don’t generally change.  Sex was probably the main need prior to marriage (except for those who chose to wait for marriage) and remains that way for many years as a married man.

If a husband’s intimacy needs are not met (sex), he will have no desire to communicate with you and won’t care about the emotional day you had.  Men do experience other areas of intimacy needs, but they quickly get overrun by the need for sex.

Men have the difficult task here.  They have a lot of ground to cover to make a woman happy in a marriage and in learning how to communicate with her.  The complications that women bring into their marriages with their emotions and ideas about intimacy and love could make any man think he is losing his mind in trying to understand her needs.  Sex is the only way he knows to deal with all this.

Women, you have the easy part.  As long as a man is sexually satisfied, he will listen to whatever you have to say.  (Again, there are always exceptions.)

When we learn to put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own, we will discover the beginnings of healthy communication in a marriage.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Emotions

Women are usually led by their emotions while men run on logic.  (Again, there are always exceptions to this rule.)  That’s why we frequently hear a husband say his wife is crazy, and a woman say that her husband is an idiot. We emote from different ends of the spectrum.  


The emotional dialogue of women (which is part of our normal communication) often sounds like complete absurdity to men because the male brain doesn’t journey as deep into the complexity of emotions as a female brain does. Therefore, our words can sound like senseless babble (craziness) to men because of their limited capability to digest them with their logical minds. Who wants to listen to babble?   And so, we often find a great communication gap between men and women in marriage relationships.

The good news is that we can each learn to adjust our communication differences.  We need to, as women, first understand the importance of controlling our emotions.

As humans, we are made up of our physical body, our spirit, and our soul.  Our bodies are the temporary, fleshly home to our spirit and soul. Our spirit is the part of us that allows the Holy Spirit in to lead us through life – or not.  Our soul is made up of our mind, our emotions, and our will (or self).
 
We can experience great conflict in our soul if we don’t allow our spirit to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Our emotions, in particular, can easily overpower our decisions, our thoughts, and most importantly, our spiritual well-being.  If not controlled, our emotions can interfere with the plan that God has for our life.

I’m always amazed how my untethered emotions can quickly take over and ruin my day for me.  Satan knows the thorn in my flesh and will take every opportunity to jab it in a little deeper whenever he can.  It’s usually the same issues that can emotionally cripple me for a day or two if I’m not spiritually on top of my life.  The devil gets me when I’m not prepared - when I don’t have my spiritual armor on.

Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7. “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

There are many different ideas among theologians about the origin of Paul’s thorn.  I believe we all have a thorn in our side – something we continue to struggle with that God has not taken from us.  We may never be free of it so we remain humble, according to Paul’s words. 

I clearly know my thorns but occasionally get overwhelmed with them on emotional days.  It can be a major struggle to keep our emotions from distracting us from God’s plan.  Satan knows this and will continue to torment us at every opportunity we allow him to.

Granted, there are days where hormones make it even more difficult to overrule the emotions, but our spirit is stronger than our soul.  We have to consciously strive to defeat the enemy, especially on those days we want to wallow in our own self- pity.  If we don’t, we can easily fall into depression, which will quickly paralyze our ability to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

That’s why it is important to stay in touch with God and to know His word - the greatest weapon we have in defeating the plans of the devil.

Here are a few verses to look at when your emotions have taken over.

“Why are you downcast O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” – Ps 42:5

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:5-8

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” – Psalm 94:19

Whenever your soul is downcast, be sure to turn your eyes upwards to God.