Maybe you’re thinking about it.
Maybe the dreaded, “D-word” has popped out of your mouth in a sentence.
Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I can’t keep living like this. I need to get away from this pain.”
Or… “I hate him/her.”
Or even worse, “I feel nothing towards him/her anymore. Why am I even bothering?”
I find it interesting that of the many people blogging out there, a number of them take issue with speaking about gender issues. Enough already. The research is in – actually, it has been in for a while, and it proves what God’s been saying for decades.
Truth is – women participate in criticism more often than men. Men participate in something called, “stonewalling,” more often than women.
It’s the classic pursue-withdraw cycle some of us are all too familiar with.
ALL relationships have some elements of criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
If you have a LOT of those 3, however, you need to know you may be in some serious trouble.
And if you have one more thing… well, if you don’t DO something about it, someone’s going to tear your family in half, break your vow to God, and shred your kids’ hearts. And whether you escape the pain you are in by divorcing, or not, this one more thing absolutely has to GO.
It’s at the heart of our selfish nature.
It’s at the core of thinking we are better than someone else.
Someone that we have forgotten is also precious to God, and deeply loved by our kids.
And that ugly thing at the core?
And it’s really judgment.
Which is sin.
Catch this, however, and this is from the researcher (Gottman) who can predict with a 96% accuracy rating whether or not a couple will divorce after watching them interact for 3 minutes…if you have contempt in your relationship, it’s not a happy one. And it’s a pretty healthy predictor of divorce.
Literally NONE of the relationships they studied that rated themselves as “happy” had ANY evidence of contempt.
And what is contempt?
It is the opposite of RESPECT.
And it is universally known – meaning a very specific facial expression communicates clearly that is how you feel about the person you’re interacting with.
Bet you know what it looks like.
I know I do.
Here’s how the folks from Merriam-Webster.com define it:
: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval
: a lack of respect for or fear of something that is usually respected or feared
law : speech or behavior that does not show proper respect to a court or judge
Here’s a question for you today… Might be a tough one.
Do you view others with contempt?
Do you ever purse your lips, scowl, frown and shake your head at someone while thinking he or she is an idiot or hopeless?
Know this attitude is destroying you and your relationships.
Proverbs 14:1 reads, The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Check these verses about what God has to say about how we treat others. My personal favorite (1 John 4:20) essentially sums it up – if you don’t love others, you don’t love God.
And Jesus told us to love our enemies, even.
So there’s that.
How bad is it?
I need to confess to you that I was just excited about this information today… then I remembered that God wrote The Respect Dare… and then I remembered that there are a number of psychological things in the book that I couldn’t have possibly known myself – I’m a communication coach by profession, not a psychologist. And then I wept, because the math became clear to me…
If you subtract CONTEMPT and add RESPECT
– you can save your marriage.
He’s so good… all the time…
Dare you to TAKE ACTION on this today:
- Confess your unloving, sinful behavior to God and those who have been injured by it. This includes your kids.
- Beg God, on-your-face-style to change you.
- Remember what attracted you to your mate in the beginning. Know those qualities are still there – you just can’t see them any longer. God still does. Ask Him to help you SEE the way He does. Philippians 4:8 will help.
- CHANGE your environment – the opposite of contempt is RESPECT. This means, actively ask God to reveal opportunities to point out strengths and communicate admiration. DAILY.
- Create opportunities to communicate strengths and admiration. Daily.
Remember, you need to be creating 5 positive interactions for each negative one in a relationship for it to be considered “happy” or at least, “healthy.”
If you are on the receiving end of contempt, might I suggest creating opportunities (like doing something for him or her) where your spouse could easily see a strength of yours, and let him or her know you did it.
After several months of this, if you have done a good job diminishing the amount of criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling you’ve been contributing to (I know, easier said than done) you may be able to actually facilitate an environment where your spouse provides you with the positive feedback you need.
But that’s another blog post.
The point is, don’t give up. Don’t quit.
And allow God to use your current circumstances to teach you how to be more like His Son.
And it’s not just about these things, but there are financial reasons for avoiding divorce – convenient for God, but make the most of the opportunity – reconcile, get this stuff figured out! Yes, according to Bloomberg, the US divorce rate is worsening. A sign of economic improvement, apparently.
There are other options, especially given that 2nd and 3rd marriages fail at even higher rates progressively, so don’t be so quick to jump to divorce as the answer.
Because everywhere you go, there you are. If you don’t learn how to do marriage well now, what makes you think you’ll have the skills to do it well with someone else? The divorce statistics suggest that’s a foolish notion, with 2nd marriages failing at 60% and 3rd marriages failing at over 75%.
And know that if you are one of my many readers who is already divorced, please don’t take offense, and know my words are NOT directed at you today – unless you are bringing contempt into this marriage. It might have been present in your other one. YOU, above all know how painful divorce is for everyone. Know I’m so sorry – I know you are still dealing with the pain of this, and so are your kids if you have them, even if you are remarried.
Know I don’t judge you, either.
You may have noticed that I didn’t speak to only women today. I know I usually do, because I feel mostly called to be a Titus 2 woman, encouraging other women. But I also know that the bible tells both genders to RESPECT each other in marriage. And husbands, God’s not even interested in your prayers if you aren’t living with your wife in an understanding and respectful way (1 Peter 3:7). Ladies, we know we’re called in Ephesians 5:33 to respect our husbands.
So let’s ALL become more respectful.
Because contempt is corrosive to all relationships, while RESPECT is the salve that brings health and healing to relationships and glorifies God.
And let’s model this for our kids, so they can have better relationships, too.
So glad you are on the journey with us today! I’m interested in hearing what God is doing in your life on this topic.
Dare you to ask Him to teach you, and know I’m joining you daily in that!
And know you’re not alone…I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog in the sidebar. Know we don’t give out your email to anyone for any reason. But we’d love to have you in our community and join us on this journey.
And if you are parenting little people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. 2014 is nearly full, but 2015 might be an option. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussions!
Love to you,