Saturday, February 18, 2012

Life or Death...Your Choice

As Shaina and I have adapted over the last month to being at home, to caring for Chaia around the clock, to the hospital/pediatrician routine, to fixing our gaze toward Columbus, we've noticed something new come to the surface in our relationship.

I call it the jab.

It's when you know that saying this one thing might leave a stinger, it might instigate emotion, it might initiate some guilt, it might manipulate into action.

You know that saying this one thing isn't in your mate's best interest and it isn't in your own best interest.

And you jab anyway.

Shaina and I have been met with God's mercy in our 8 years of marriage. Even in our first years (married as 20 year olds), stress did not seem to attack or hinder our marriage.

So since we've been home, we've been sleep deprived, routine deprived, often exercise deprived, and we jab.

Look, guys, you know exactly what you're doing when you say that thing that coerces your girl to a certain end. Manipulating your wife's emotions and heart is not okay.

Ladies, you're not off the hook on this either. Speaking in ways that fail to respect your husband and honor him is not okay. Whether he is there or not, belittling him will damage your intimacy. Often, when we show honor to someone, they become more honorable (not the other way around).

Healthy communication is vital to the success of any relationship (including our relationship with God.)

So here's three thoughts on this.

1. Is it Life Giving or Life Stealing...Your words have the power of life and death. (James 3) Choosing to speak in life-giving ways will enrich your relationships. For the record, sarcasm is almost always life-stealing. This is a slap in the face for me, because I am a big fan of sarcasm. Ultimately though, sarcasm is rooted in building ones' self up at the expense of others.

2. Choose to never match or outdo intensity. I notice this in many relationships, person A starts to raise their voice and their tone becomes more sharp or pointed. Then person B matches the tirade of person A. Taking a step back and speaking truth in love is everything.

3. Speak to wounding. This is most often overlooked. Rather than share with Shaina if something stung, I calculate my retaliation measure and seek to strike back. But being willing to share hurt and wounding is the place where God often brings healing and wholeness.

Shaina and I are working on what it means to live in a high stress context and how planning for each other to have margin (time away from the grind), as well as time spent specifically on each other. In marriage, pursuit of each other never stops.

It really is a matter of life and death.

And the jabs stopping means life beginning.

So what relationship do you need to restore healthy and open communication?

Where do you need to choose life?


Steph said...

Thanks for being open and honest about your marriage! One of our favorite books that we've read multiple times on this topic is "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. We believe in this Biblical concept for couples and it was certainly life and heart changing in our first year of marriage and beyond. I think the "respect" factor is something often shadowed by "love".

Anonymous said...

I really needed to read this post this morning exactly when I did! So for that, I thank you :) Glad you all are healthy and together at home. I can only imagine the stress, fatigue, happiness, and sadness that you both must experience as parents everyday. The overwhelming feelings that every parent struggles with can be all consuming at times, however, baby smiles and baby squeals make it all worth it! I thank God everyday that He chose me to be the mother of these 3 girls here on earth, and that he gave me a best friend to help me and love me through the trying times. You were specifically chosen for this job of guiding Chaia, and God gave you an awesome wife to help you and love you through it. I think you both are doing a great job! Embrace the bad days, you have two beautiful girls walking beside you making it a brighter walk through life :) Praying in KY.

Anonymous said...

you are WAAAYYY older than your words!

Nurse Nicole said...

Ben, God has really given you a talent of teaching us about ourselves and God's word. Thank you. You all are amazing - be strong!