Category Archives: Marriage & Family

Be Encouraging Rather Than Pushy

My husband, Tom, and I both desire to be helpful to each other, but there have been times when it felt like our spouse was being pushy instead of helpful.

For example, one night, Tom and I were discussing what our passion or calling in life was. What excited us, and how could God use that? It began with me asking Tom a lot of questions like: What excites you? What do you enjoy doing that God could use as a way to reach out to people or meet a need? My intention was to be helpful to help him explore new ways God might use him. But it soon became apparent that all I was doing was making him feel inadequate and confused. Then he turned the conversation toward pointing out how controlling I can be. I listened and said it would be helpful if he could give me a specific example. So, he brought up a situation that had happened that day at lunch. We were with our 31 year- old son, Shon, and his aide. Shon ordered a three -course meal, but then said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to eat it all. I then shifted into problem solving mode (also known as my Mom mode) and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Instead of the ice-cream sundae, you could get a muffin and take it home.

Shon: But I haven’t had a sundae in a long time.

Me: Then maybe you could just eat part of your meal, take the rest home, and have your sundae here.

There may have been one or two more exchanges, and then Tom spoke up good -naturedly and said, Just let him eat his lunch. He can decide later.

I laughed and said, Sorry Shon. Do whatever you want.

He ended up eating the meal and taking a muffin home.

Tom said it didn’t bother Shon because hes used to it, but it sent up a red flag for Tom.

My intention was to help Shon come up with a solution. I was not trying to manipulate or control him. I saw my husbands point, however. Its best just to ask questions that help the person discover their own solution.

A little later in our evening conversation, Tom brought up my writing and started suggesting various ways I could go about publishing it. I knew he was intending to be helpful, but for some reason it felt very pushy to me.

Our conversation drifted onto other topics, then we headed off for other activities. I pondered what we discussed, wondering why we both felt the other person was pushy or controlling, instead of helpful, and wondering what the solution was.

It came to me that what we were each feeling was disrespected. We subconsciously felt that the other person was thinking we weren’t trying hard enough to develop our potential, when in fact, we were feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed relative to how to go about it. We wanted to develop our potential, but we hadn’t yet discovered a solution that felt right to us. Once I had identified how we were feeling, the obvious question was: Whats the solution? How do we encourage each other without coming across as pushy or controlling?

My answer is this: Follow the other person’s lead. Wait until they express an interest in an idea, and then explore it with them.

Pray with, and for them on their idea, and brain storm with them. But keep them in the drivers seat!

I am trying to come alongside Toms ideas about certain church projects. I told him he can give me in-put on things I write, and then wait for me to ask his opinion on how to share it. In fact, it is generally good for all of us to refrain from giving unsolicited advice unless it is truly necessary! That’s a difficult but worthy pursuit!

In summary:

  • When we are feeling pushed or pressured, let the other person know. Recognize that their intentions may be honorable, even if their actions annoy or offend us. Its also good to ask for clarification to make sure we didn’t misunderstand them.
  • Keep our ears open. Be aware of the ideas and feelings our spouse mentions.
  • Let them lead in discussing those ideas. Get a feel for what they are, or are not, comfortable with. We shouldn’t push them out of their comfort zones. Let them decide what steps to take and when. Be their cheerleader and prayer warrior, not their coach.

Change is a life-long process. But with the Lords help, all things are possible!

Be encouraged! There’s hope for all of us!

Discussion Questions for Couples

No matter how long we’ve been married, it’s good to intentionally keep learning about our spouse. Since people keep changing, good communication is always important.

I created the following discussion questions for my husband and myself, but perhaps you will find them helpful as well.

I recommend that you discuss them in order, taking one question a month (or at whatever pace works best for the two of you). You and your spouse independently write out your answers, then share them with each other. The next step is to discuss how you will apply what you’ve learned. (Discussion questions won’t accomplish much if you ignore what you’ve learned. How will you change? What will you do differently? What things will remain the same?)

The first question is mainly to help you appreciate each other! May God bless and guide you on your journey!

1a) What things do you feel your spouse does better than you?

b) How do their strengths help you?

2) What things would you enjoy doing with just your spouse?

3) What things would you enjoy doing with your spouse and others?

4) What would you like to achieve in the next 10 years?

5) What do you enjoy spending money on?

6) What are your fears, concerns, and struggles?

7) What types of things overwhelm you or cause you to feel anxious or stressed?

8) What things about the relationship would you like to keep the same? Why?

9a) What things would you like to change?

b) What ideas do you have for accomplishing those changes?

Add whatever additional questions you think would be beneficial to discuss.

God’s Incredible Mercy to Woman (Mt. 26:28 & 1 Peter 3:1)

After the resurrection, Jesus first appeared to a woman, and He gave her the privilege of taking the good news to the disciples. God also gave the woman the faith to believe the truth immediately, whereas the men were skeptical. Why would Jesus give woman such faith and honor?

I believe He was showing His incredible mercy. In Genesis, we see that woman (Eve) was the first to disobey God, but in the resurrection, God appears first to woman and gives her the faith to believe immediately. In essence, He was revealing that He had forgiven Eve and was allowing her to be the first to return to Him.

Eve, through her lack of submission to her husband, caused Adam to stumble. In 1 Peter 3:1, we’re told that women should submit to their husbands “so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives.”

I believe Christ was showing woman that He has forgiven her and that He has given her incredible spiritual influence over man. Woman’s lack of submission caused man to stumble. Her submission could restore him.

So, we women need to be patient with our men, since it was woman who caused man to stumble in the first place. It was Adam’s failure to take his responsibility as head of the family that caused him to fall, but he might never have fallen had Eve not stumbled him. We women must beware that we don’t trip our men! We must see to it that we do honor to Christ’s incredible mercy to us by serving man with the same “gentle and quiet spirit” that Christ did!

Reflections of a Grandma, 3/17/13

At the time of this writing, I have one grandchild, Micah, Born August 12, 2012. He is 7 months old and he’s adorable!!! In response to my saying that I almost feel ready to babysit, my son-in-law laughed, making the comment that I raised 3 kids, one being a special needs child, so what’s the cause of my hesitancy? At the time, all I said was, “You forget a lot over time,” but I decided to comment further, just in case there are other grandparents who may feel inadequate at times.

Some women are “naturals” with babies and all the contraptions that go with them. (My daughter is one of those.) I’m not. (I’m better with teenagers!) But I fell in love with little Micah immediately, and now that he’s full of smiles and giggles, he’s even more fun! They live an hour away (or more, depending on traffic), so I visit once every 2 weeks. Only recently has he accepted a bottle, and now he’s starting to eat foods. (Yippee! I can now feed him!) I was not willing to babysit until he would take a bottle because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck with a hungry kid that I couldn’t feed! (O ye of little faith!)

Something young parents don’t realize is that they are carrying, and caring for, their child on a regular basis. They are building strong muscles, great skills, and learning how to work all the baby contraptions–so well, that it’s second nature to them. (I confess that I didn’t fully understand my own mother’s apprehensions when my kids were preschoolers.)

Now, I’m in my 60’s, I get tired faster than I did in my 20’s & 30’s, and I need lots of patient instruction on how to work the modern strollers, car seats, etc. Micah also has braces & special shoes to learn to put on and off.

But I told my daughter I’m now ready for her to instruct me. I can already change diapers (some skills are never lost!)–now I’m ready to start learning to bathe and feed him, work his braces, & attempt to tackle all the “mechanical” aspects of babyhood.

Something I learned from my relationship with my mother is that good communication is essential! I’m afraid ours wasn’t the best. We often made incorrect assumptions about each other. For example, I assumed that if she didn’t volunteer to babysit, she wasn’t interested. She assumed that if I didn’t ask, I didn’t want her to.

So, with my children, I’m working hard at developing good, loving, honest communication. They’re free to ask, as long as I know their feelings won’t be hurt if I can’t, and I’m free to volunteer as long as they know my feelings won’t be hurt if they don’t need me at that time. It will also be important to have good communication skills when the grandchildren get older–to make sure my husband and I only spoil them within the realm of what’s acceptable to the children’s parents. Having raised kids myself, I don’t want to be guilty of un-doing all the hard work the parents have done. But I do want to know how I am allowed to “spoil” the kids a little. (After all, that’s part of what makes grand-parenting fun–doing things differently than the primary caregivers. I want to be a grandparent, not another parent!)

So, patience will be required from my children as I re-learn how to care for babies, & perseverance will be required on my part (and maybe a little body building!). But as it was with my children, so it will be with my grandkids: it will all pay off in rich blessings all around!