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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Men Hate! Overlapping!

Do you know what men hate? Overlapping. You may ask, "What is overlapping?"

It's how women talk! Think of a group of women talking. What do we do? Women can interrupt another woman's conversation but we think of it as acceptable "overlapping." Men think of it as rude. 

What do men hate? Overlapping! Tweet that!

This is difficult for us to understand. When we women talk among ourselves, we will offer something to the conversation and no one minds. Women consider "overlapping" a way to show their involvement in the conversation in order to develop closeness. Men view it as disrespectful because they wait their turn--most of the time. Of course, all these comments are generalizations. 

In her book, You Just Don't Understand, linguistics professor Deborah Tannen explains, "In many of the comments I heard from people I interviewed, men felt interrupted by women who overlapped with words of agreement and support and anticipation of how their sentences and thoughts would end. If a woman supported a man's story by elaborating on a point different from the one he had intended, he felt his right to tell his own story was being violated. He interpreted the intrusion as a struggle for control of the conversation."

I decided to test this idea. I decided that when I next was in a group of friends with a particular male friend, I would purposely "overlap" him. I considered him a very spiritual and secure person. I choose him in particular so that I couldn't wonder, "Well, his reaction was only because he's insecure." 

I put my plan into action. As my "secure" male friend was talking, I deliberately interrupted him. Another woman would have thought I was contributing to the conversation and she would have responded with another aspect of the topic. What did my male friend do? Shut his mouth and not utter another word.

Think about this "overlapping" concept within the context of your marriage or in a business situation. Have you ever sensed another man emotionally withdraw after you "overlapped." At least you thought it was overlapping and contributing to the topic. But he most likely felt disrespected and interrupted.

I've found this information very important in giving my husband the blessing of respecting him. Let me know if you find this important. I'd love to hear.

(graphic by Stuart Miles found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Help Your Husband "Process" With You

In my last post, I noted some of the differences between men and women (generally speaking) is that women love the process. One of the ways she may "process" is through "dreaming of possibilities."

Here's an example of a conversation that shows how differently men and women think:

Here's a men/women conversation doomed for misunderstanding. Tweet that!

She (as they drive by the furniture store): "I sure would like to get new living-room furniture."

He: "But we just moved into our new house. We can't afford it."

She: "Yeah, but wouldn't it be great to have it?"

He: "Even if we bought it on our credit card, the current high interest rates would really cut into my income. We'll talk about it after I get my raise in July."

She (suddenly turning to him in frustration): "You always squelch my good ideas!"

What was this woman really looking for? Someone to dream along with her about the details, because women tend to love to think out loud--"process." She wasn't necessarily saying she had to have the new furniture right now, just that it sounded like a good idea. She wanted her husband to say, "Yeah, new furniture sure would be wonderful, wouldn't it? I can understand how great that would make our living room look."

The male mind, however, is terrified that if he gives her such a reply, she'll grab the steering wheel, drive the car into the furniture store parking lot, and immediately spend thousands of dollars on furniture. He can fight that impulse of terror by still telling her they can't afford it--but, along with the cold facts, warm her heart by giving her the chance to share the emotional details.

So, here's what might be a good idea for both of them.

She: "Honey, look at that furniture store. I sure would love to get some new furniture. I know we can't afford it right now, but it sure would be fun to think about what might look good. Can you dream with me?"

He: "Sure. I think that would be a great idea when we can afford it. Would you want to change colors or just get something newer with the same colors?"

Such a healthy conversation takes self-control and honesty. Self-control because we must really listen to what the other person is saying and not jump to conclusions trying to prevent what we fear (like spending lots of money). Instead of giving into fear that one person will go off the deep end or the other will dig their heels into the ground forever, we must trust God! 

And we must be honest with our real inner desires and motivations. If we want new furniture because we're embarrassed when people come to visit, then we're not being honest. And it's more likely we'll be upset when our spouse doesn't cooperate with our "desires" because we fear being judged. Look for your motivations.

We must trust that God is even interested in furniture (or whatever) and will prompt and provide motivation and finances to give us our heart's desires in His timing and for His purposes. If God can change the heart of a king, He can change our spouse's heart. Proverbs 21:1 assures us, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." (ESV).

What have you found helpful in inviting your spouse to dream or "process"? Tweet that!

(photos by John Kasawa and stock images found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I Didn't Realize How Much I Didn't Know About A Man

In my last posts, I've talked about our early marriage and our first vacation. I didn't realize how much I didn't know about a man. One of my faulty assumptions was that Larry thought like me and I could interpret his behavior based upon how I would act. In other words, if Larry acted a certain way, I could know his motives because if I reacted that way, those would be my motives. 

I didn't realize how much I didn't know about a man. Tweet that!

But guess what? Men are different than women! Hello! Why didn't I know that? Who knows why, but it sure was an obstacle to a happy marriage. So here is what I began to recognize about our gender differences. But remember these are generalities. They are not one size fits all.

Women value relationships; men value objects and concepts. On our vacation, I wanted emotional connection. Larry wanted connection with his car! I wanted love through connection; he wanted to conquer the road. And heavens, if we stopped to eat or use the restroom! That would mean he would have to catch up with those he had already previously passed. 

Women like the process; men like the goal. I looked forward to the the trip itself for connection; Larry loved achieving his goal of the designated location. And once we arrived, he wanted to continue on quickly to the next goal.

Women want to discuss, plan, and get all the details before making a decision. Men usually make quick decisions. In our case specifically, I didn't like the risk of making a bad decision so I had analysis paralysis. Larry had complete confidence in his decision-making. 

Those are just some of the many differences between men and women--generally speaking. So what can we do about it?

  • Acknowledge the differences. It doesn't make anyone bad or good. 
  • Choose to thank God for them, even if you don't feel grateful.
  • See the advantages of looking at life differently. Where you might be weak in an area, your husband might be strong. Where he is weak, you might be strong. You need each other.
  • Use the differences to complete and make whole your perspective. 

Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. We need each other and that's especially true in marriage. One of the many ways God sharpens us is through having a spouse who thinks differently than us.

(photo by stock images found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Had High Expectations of Attention

In my last post, I described Larry and my first vacation. I had high expectations of lots of attention. Larry had high expectations of driving in complete silence. I was crushed and he had no clue of my thoughts.

Looking back, I wish I wouldn't have assumed Larry's silence meant he didn't love me anymore (within a year of our wedding). 
It took me almost a decade to recognize how much I assumed! I was always trying to analyze what Larry's reactions meant and now I know my conclusions were most often wrong. 

For instance, when Larry didn't respond to my attempts in conversation on our vacation, I assumed he didn't love me and didn't value my presence. Now I know we both were trying to get our own needs met and we were both being selfish. I reacted with anger when he didn't do what I wanted. And Larry dug in his heels ignoring me when I didn't do what he wanted. 

Larry wasn't trying to communicate I wasn't valued; he just loved driving in silence. It met his need to be in control--to control the car on the road and not have to pass someone again if he stopped! His goal was to arrive! And to do that, he wanted to concentrate. (Plus, did I mention we had a sports car at the time!?

So what could have been the solution? Ask! The solution to assuming (and usually coming up with the wrong assumption) is to ask. But I was afraid to hear rejection. I assumed he would reply something that would indicate I really wasn't that important. So I didn't ask. 

I really believe now if I had gently asked him without anger about his silence, he would have replied, "Oh, honey, it's not that I don't value you. I love having you beside me while I enjoy driving and reaching my destination. I love driving! It's nothing about you!"

How much are you an "assumer"? Can you identify what you fear hearing if you were to speak up? How would trusting God look like if you risked hearing something about you? Can you look to God to assure you of His love and the value He places on you?

I'll continue our discussion in my next post.

(graphics from Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why Isn't Larry Talking to Me?

Why isn't Larry talking to me? It's 1970 and we'd only been married a few months. We were finally going on our first vacation since our honeymoon and I was thrilled! I couldn't wait to be with my beloved for three whole days. I was especially looking forward to the five hour drive on our first day. Without interruptions, we could talk and talk! 

My young husband who loved to drive!

But as we drove along, Larry seemed strangely silent or else gave me one-word answers to my questions. I guess Larry must be intent on driving, so I'll enjoy the scenery, I thought.

Several hours later, hunger nagged at me. "Aren't we going to stop to eat?" I asked.

Larry replied, "I thought we'd just eat the snacks you brought. That way we can get there sooner."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Larry, vacations are times to relax and enjoy your way as you go along."

"Honey, I want to get there before dark," he replied. "Just pull out the chips, okay?" He turned his attention back to the road and seemed to be so happy. But I was fuming! How could he be so happy while not saying a single word to me!!!! And how am I going to get him to stop so that I can use the bathroom?

Something inside me died as my dreams and expectations of a leisurely drive with lots of conversation evaporated. And him paying attention to only me! I concluded that Larry didn't like being with me, and I swallowed back tears. Why does this happen so much? I agonized. Why am I constantly being disappointed and finding my opinions ignored?

Hours later we arrived at our destination--the Sequoia trees of Northern California but stayed only two hours. As Larry explained to me, "If you've seen one tree, you've seen them all."

Then it was off to Larry's next scheduled driving goal. When we finally did stop at midnight to sleep, he insisted we get up at 5 A.M. to continue our trek. I had no idea our vacation would be one driving marathon.

I had no idea our vacation would be one driving marathon. Tweet that!

That was many years ago, 45 to be exact, and Larry and I laugh now at those early misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations we both had! But they were very real at the time and began to plant seeds of discontent and anger in us that bred many weeds that almost resulted in our divorce.

Looking back, I wish I wouldn't have assumed Larry's silence meant he didn't love me anymore (within a year of our wedding). I also know now I was clueless about what was important to him. And I didn't understand his masculinity. 

In my next post, I'll explain more of those details. 

(photo by feelart found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I Prayed My Husband’s Plane Would Crash

When Larry and I had been married for seven years, we were completely disillusioned with each other. I couldn’t understand why Larry didn’t love me anymore. He certainly was far from being the Prince Charming I’d married. 

Oh Lord, what’s wrong with him? I moaned. I thought we were going to have a perfect marriage because You brought us together. But now we’re such strangers, we might as well be divorced. If only he wouldn’t work two jobs and fly planes as a hobby, we could be happy.
One morning Larry announced he was flying to San Jose for the day. I quickly suggested, "I'll get the kids ready and we'll go with you..."
Larry interrupted me. "Kathy, you can't go. I rented a two-seater plane and I've already asked Joe to go with me."

"But Larry, we never see you. Can't you stay home just this once?"

"Kathy, I've explained I'm working all those hours to secure our financial future. You just don't appreciate all I'm doing for this family."

My face grew hot with fury. "Money isn't helping me cope with these kids!” I snapped. “Darcy makes me so angry sometimes." 

"Kathy, that's just typical motherhood blues. You'll be fine. See you later."

Larry walked away down the hall as I felt like screaming, "Why don't you love me anymore?"

He walked through the laundry room into the garage, closing the laundry room door behind him. I was eating an apple and before I realized it, I hurled the half eaten apple toward the closing door. 
The apple shattered on impact and red and white apple pieces flew throughout the laundry room adhering to the ceiling and the walls. I whirled around and marched into my bedroom, dropping to kneel beside my bed. "Lord, make that plane crash! I don't care if he ever comes home again."

Larry’s plane didn’t crash, but I felt as if my life had crashed...crashed into a pit of uncontrollable anger and depression. 
My manipulation and nagging totally failed. During the following many months, the pieces of apple remained adhered to the walls and ceiling of my laundry room and then began rotting. I saw them as a memorial to the rotten marriage I believed God could not or would not change.

One day months later, I sensed God say to me in my heart, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked to hear God’s prodding. I didn’t love Larry and I believed he hated me—so I wasn’t about to give Larry ammunition against me. After all, if he heard those three little words, “I love you,” that I hadn’t said or thought for over two years, he might think I was approving of his negligence. I flatly refused. 

God persistently repeated the message and I adamantly refused again! Then I sensed the Holy Spirit giving a different message: “Then think it the next time you see Larry.”

OK. If he doesn’t hear me then he can’t use it against me. Then I’ll do it, even if it’s not true.

That evening, Larry returned from a flying trip and as he walked down the hall toward me, I stared at him, gulped, and thought, “I love you…” and then after a pause, I added, “but I don’t really.” 
Although I was obeying God, I still couldn’t believe it was true.

But the most amazing thing happened. By making that choice to love Larry and as I continued to make loving choices, more loving feelings took over. I also recognized I’d been holding Larry responsible for my happiness. Larry couldn’t meet all my needs—only God could. My perspective was corrected when I realized I couldn’t change Larry, I could only change myself as I surrendered to God. 

Then I went into the laundry room and washed off those rotting apple pieces. I no longer needed a memorial to my rotten marriage. Symbolically, I washed the rotten attitudes off my heart and mind and began to trust God with my marriage and my life. 

In time, Larry noticed that I wasn’t as angry and demanding of him and agreed to go on a couples retreat with me, which God used as a turning point in our marriage. That was in 1978 and this June we’ll celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary. We are best friends and tell each other several times a day how much we love each other. 
We are committed to choosing the best for each other. 

I’ll never forget those rotting apple pieces because now I enjoy a laundry room free from them, just like my heart is free from bitterness and anger.   

(airplane photo by khunaspix found at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Do You Have An Arguing Child?

Do you desire more godly responses toward your children? Feeling a need to control can foster ungodliness. It's often the result of having a child who is good at arguing. 

When my friend Gayle was growing up, she had a strong will and gave her mother a lot of trouble. Several times her mother told her in anger, "Just wait until you have children. They'll pay you back for the way you're treating me."

Gayle grew up, married, and had children. Now her daughter, Micki, had reached her teenage years--the age Gayle had given her mom such trouble. Her mother's words of revenge echoed in her mind. "Oh no, Micki is going to give me lots of trouble because I deserve it," she reasoned. As a result, she felt compelled to offset the potential danger by controlling her daughter. Her rules were overbearing and any indication of resistance in Micki created panic within Gayle. 

As a result, teenaged Micki became a good debater. She questioned and argued to try to loosen her mom's extreme fear and unrealistic rules. 

Gayle's response was based in fear--fear and distrust about God's ability to influence the children we love. And also fear that her ability to communicate wouldn't be effective, therefore, she tried to use anger to convince Micki about the rules. She believed the lies that her mother had told her--that she deserved a troubled teen.

On the one hand, Gayle needed to loosen her harsh rules. And she also need to learn a technique I learned for an arguing child.
Become a broken record. What do I mean? It involves repeating what we want our child to do over and over again regardless of his or her persistent excuses or reasons. Of course, we shouldn't use this until we know our child is no longer interested in truth--only arguing.

When my children were young, I used the "broken record" technique. Each time my daughter gave me another reason or excuse to not obey, I would repeat my command saying for instance, "Regardless, go clean your room." Every time I told her what to do, I said, "Regardless, go clean your room." I replied calmly but I didn't try to give a reason for every excuse she gave. I just kept saying "Regardless..."

After a while my two children noticed what I was doing--because it was working! They couldn't get me into a debating contest. Then they replied, "Don't say regardless!" 

So what did I do? "Nevertheless,..." and gave them the command again. 

Remember, we should use this technique after we've heard what they've said. But at some point, you'll see that they are just arguing for arguments sake, not because they want to find out the true reason.

(photo courtesy of imagerymajestic found at www.freedigitalphotos.net).