The testimony of two

This Sunday was Mother’s Day. So Saturday was a great day to spend undermining S’s ability as a mother with my words and actions…

You can imagine that when I sat down to write a card on Sunday morning, even though words normally flow from my pen quite freely, this time I couldn’t do it. Not because the words weren’t there, but because my words weren’t backed up with my actions.

What’s the point of me writing “You do such a great job at x,y,z…”, when just the day before, everything I did screamed “You’re doing it wrong, my way is better…”

John 8:17 says “In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.” Why the testimony of two? Well, I can write or say whatever I want, but unless S. bears witness to my words through my actions, that testimony is worthless. Until it is worked out and seen, it is purely words.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

– James 2:18

James is writing here about faith – but I believe this applies to love as well – our written or spoken expressions of love must be backed up by our actions. In fact, if our actions speak loud enough, we sometimes don’t even have to use words!

So here is the question I’m beginning to ask myself: How does she know? and the answer can’t be ‘because I say so’

  • How does she know that she’s valued?
  • How does she know that she is more important than my work?
  • How does she know that I respect her words?
  • How does she know that she is appreciated?
  • How does she know that I trust her words/actions/judgement?
  • How does she know that we’re on the same side?
  • How does she know that she is loved?

And the list could go on… Food for thought? I certainly have plenty of chewing to do…

 

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God is love… But I am human

God is love. Every action, every story in the Bible shouts that love, even through to his discipline.

The pages of the Bible shout His love. Creation sings of His love. He chose us to show that love with our lives.

How loudly does my life shout about his love?

So what does this mean for me?

God is love and I am human. My frustration generally does not show my love (let alone God’s!), neither does my hurt or my upset…

But yet the same facts are true for me… There is never a moment when I don’t love S., there is never a moment when I don’t love my kids. (Even though that love may be pushed to the limits…)

So, logically – if the above is true, there must be a way I can learn to respond – even my most extreme emotions – in a way that pours out my love (or God’s love)?!

How do I learn from God to show my love at all times despite my humanity?

Can I be angry/ hurt/ frustrated/ disappointed/ [insert negative emotion here] and yet still show love?

Can I be human but learn from my creator? Can I explain my biggest frustrations with S. and have her feeling more loved and affirmed than when we started?

Can I call my kids up on something and have them know that my love is unconditional of their behaviour?

Ephesians 3:17-19 

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Speak Life.

So words have power.

That’s awesome, isn’t it?!
Well, not when you’re not really aware of what you’re saying (or how you’re saying it!)

Have you sat back and listened to the things you’ve said in a day and thought of your positive:negative ratio?

Let’s put this into some maths terms…


If ((-ve words x10) > +ve)
- Wife = under valued


But if (+ve > (-ve words x10))

Wife = valued

Now clearly this is not the whole picture, but a good place to start!

And I’m being serious – negative words carry a weight far more than the positive ones, because they stick!

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

I’m still learning this one. My ratio still isn’t great… But it is worth fighting for!

How we respond to good news…

This is one that I struggle with, but I’ve never heard it so well put as I read here:

http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-traits-2015-11?IR=T

I definitely need to work on the whole ‘active constructive’ approach – I think I often fall between the passive-constructive/active-destructive schools of response… In any instance – work to be done!!

In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive.

Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”

If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”

If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.

In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”

Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”

Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.

Active constructive responding is critical for healthy relationships. In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.

Building a lasting relationship

Quick scan of facebook and my brother posted this one… Great article – purely scientific, looking at the “masters & disasters” of relationships.

There’s a whole load of good stuff in there, but this observation is great (highlighting mine), the first is about respect & appreciation of the partner’s ‘bids’ for connection:

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have … which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment … It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

How often have I fallen into that trap? Not necessarily intentionally, normally out of neglect – not choosing to respond to those points of connection ‘can I have a quick word with you about…’ – “Not now. Busy.” Or something along those lines…

And that’s not just with S. – I have 3 connection-hungry children too!

What about this one – the other important trait is kindness:

Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved.

Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger … but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”

Loads of food for thought from these ones!

http://www.businessinsider.com/lasting-relationships-rely-on-traits-2015-11?IR=T

(Photo credit: Reuters / Michelle McLoughlin)

It doesn’t take that long…

So I’ve been going for a little while, and to be honest I’ve been dragging my heels about making effort over the past week. I leave notes on my phone to bless S, and for the most part have become immune…

To me, the thought of thinking of something profoundly loving to say makes me put it off – not that I have nothing to say, but just because I like to give it thought and time and effort.

Which 99 times out of means… You guessed it… Nothing happens.

So here’s a crazy idea – how about I just write something, the shortest blessing… As opposed to nothing?!

Tried it this morning, and this is what I got in reply…

  
So that clearly worked – it’s so great to get an encouragement back… Maybe I’m actually on the right track!

So in short, rather than write/say/do nothing – it’s ok to do a little! 

The Love Book

This one is a tried and tested tip that I just wish I remembered myself most of the time… The Love Book. Yes, it does involve getting in touch with (and communicating) your more sentimental side, but also yes – it does make a difference!

It is really what it says on the tin – a book. It can be any kind of book, big, little, lots of pages, no pages – anything you can write in. And it’s purpose? To write things in! Encouragements, verses, kind words, praise, prayers, thank yous, pictures, art work, love poetry, songs, whatever takes your fancy… We’ve even used ours to deliver the odd surprise present, or start a good old fashioned treasure hunt…

My saddest admission right now is that the book that we started writing in when we got married almost 10 years ago… Has only just been finished. In 10 years. One measly book. Not proud of that.

So – in my new found desire to be a better husband, I went out and bought not one, but two today!

(That’s a double whammy – gifts and words in one. Jackpot)

I even wrote my first entry… My aim is to write in it at least once a week – it shouldn’t be too hard to say something nice that often, should it?!

Couple of nice words, tactically placed book on the pillow, and hopefully Bob’s your uncle and you have one blessed, loved & valued wife.

Simples.

Oh, and word of warning. Don’t. Ever. Use the book to try and give some ‘constructive criticism’. It is NOT the right place for it.

So you really think you finished the job?

Look at the picture above. What’s wrong with that?

I just “helped clean the kitchen”. Did a great job, didn’t I?

Well, I guess it was a help, but what is a real help is when someone doesn’t have to come down and finish it off!

I guess those last two minutes is what show I care enough to deal with the details that matter to her and not just me.

Lord, help me serve with an unselfish heart!!

Practicing Empathy Before Feedback

Empathy is certainly something I know God wants to teach me in this season – empathy with S, empathy with my kids, empathy with my colleagues – seeing things their way before (I mean rather than, ahem…) I impose my opinion.

This is emphasized even further if you know that your significant other’s love language is ‘words of affirmation’ – your (or in my case), my desire to impose my opinion doesn’t just cut across what they were feeling, but actually significantly harms their value of themself, and serves to damage rather than build up in love.

I wrote about empathy just a minute ago, regarding trying to see things the way they see things – even when doing something you think is an act of service – but this covers a whole different area, when in conversation, when in daily life.

So, this may become a mantra for me too…

“Empathize, empathize, empathize!”

This little video was really helpful to me – as I know this is an area I constantly stuff up in!

Source: Practicing Empathy Before Feedback

Going the extra mile

So today I have a morning at home, and I’ve been tasked with helping out with a few cleaning tasks…

Great opportunity to rest on my laurels and let her know how helpful I was, right?

Until I remember that this is stuff she does week in, week out, normally without praise and often without gratitude…

So today’s step is ‘going the extra mile’ – instead of doing a half-a****d job – I’m going to try and tackle a couple of extra bits


 Namely, the patch of wall and paint tins that have been sitting In our bedroom the last month.
Just trying to remember… The little things go a long way!