Mark: When I walked away from our marriage seven years ago, I was absolutely convinced Jill was the problem. In fact, I had a well-rehearsed list in my head of all the things she did wrong and all the ways we were wrong together. I was tired of dealing with the same stuff year after year and I was determined that another relationship would be better. It wasn’t until the other relationship began to have challenges that I began to consider that maybe my perspective wasn’t accurate. And after I finally threw up my white flag of surrender to God, asking for His forgiveness, and telling Him I’d made a mess of things and I didn’t even know where to begin to clean it all up, that I began to stop pointing my finger at Jill and started looking at what was going on inside of me.
Jill: It’s easy to point the other finger. Matthew 7: 3-5 speaks of this when it says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” When we’re tempted to point the finger at our spouse, it’s a red flag to remind us to look at ourselves. This is a great time to ask, What am I bringing to the table?
Mark: In our coaching, interaction with No More Perfect Date Night members, and those who attend our seminars, we see some common issues folks are often unaware of. Are you bringing any of these to the table?
- Discontent: The space between unrealistic expectations and realistic expectations is where discontentment grows. If you’re discontent in your relationship, where are your expectations off the charts?
- Pride: When we think our way is the right way or the only way, pride exists. Pride hurts our relationships and needs to be replaced with humility asap.
- Criticism: A lack of gratefulness fuels criticism. This happens when we can see what our spouse doesn’t do, but we fail to see what he/she does do.
- Identity: When our identity is wrapped up in our work, our title, our accomplishments, or even how people treat us, we’re setting ourselves up for shame, blame, and a temptation to “look for love in all the wrong places.”
- Father Gap: If our earthly father was unavailable, unloving, or uncaring, it becomes easy for us to impose those experiences upon God and even upon our spouse. We feel we can’t trust God to have our best interest at heart. This causes us to try to “manage” relationships to get what we’re looking for. The problem is no human relationship will ever provide that.
- Condemnation: When we feel we’re not enough, not good enough, not anything enough, we deal with condemnation and shame. This keeps us from being able to accept the love we long for from God or anyone else.
- Avoiding Emotion: If we feel emotion is weak or not necessary, or we’re just simply uncomfortable with it, we need to sort through what keeps us at arms length emotionally. This puts distance between us and those we love and keeps our relationships from being all they can be.
- Dishonesty: If you’re not honest about your feelings or only express them through passive-aggressive, complaining, or sarcastic remarks, it’s time to learn how to have honest conversation about your needs and desires.
Jill: If you feel there’s a lack in your marriage, make sure and examine where there are unhealed places inside of you before you start pointing the finger at your spouse. How do you do that?
- Pray. Ask God to show you the places you need to examine.
- Seek counsel. Maybe it’s time for a few sessions with a counselor or a coach to dig deep and look at the unhealed places inside of you.
- Examine. Be willing to look at your home of origin, previous relationships, or painful circumstances in your life. These are often where we find places of pain that still need healing.
- Grow. Be prepared to look for places where you need to grow. Maybe it’s being comfortable with emotion, maybe it’s in not letting your emotions dictate your thoughts, maybe it’s in increasing gratefulness, maybe it’s in replacing pride with humility, maybe its in having honest conversation…whatever it is, get after it!
Mark: One of the things Jill and I often say is, “When I’m a better me, we’re a better we.” This is certainly what we have discovered on our journey!
What about you? Where do you need to examine unhealed places inside of you? Where can you become a “better me?”
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