Four Ingredients for Improving your Marriage Connection

Marriage

Recently while learning about Attachment Theory I came across something referred to as PACE. It is basically a parenting technique for effectively nurturing your child’s secure attachment bond. PACE stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy. The funny thing is, while I found this really helpful in raising my daughter, I also found it to be a helpful method in improving my connection with my spouse. I have found that implementing these four things in my marriage has really improved our connection.

Below i’ll go into more detail as to how and why these four ingredients have proven useful in deepening my connection with my hubby.

Playfulness: To me this one is huge! I absolutely love it when my husband is goofy and works hard to make me laugh, doing silly things he would never in a million years allow anybody but me and our two year old daughter to see. We can honestly have so much fun! Its nice to be serious at times, but I’ve found that being playful and having fun really improves our connection and friendship. We have recently purchased a super nintendo and are currently working on beating Donkey Kong (in extreme moderation, of course). This has brought us back to our childhood years and has been a blast! It might seem childish, but enjoying this activity together and laughing our heads off at my weird faces and body movements while playing (as if me moving around will help diddy make his impossible jump..) has been so much fun. Enjoying playful, not so grown up, activities can do wonders for your marriage! Stop being such an adult all the time and have some fun!

Activity: Think of a playful and fun activity you can do with your spouse and try it out this week. I don’t know, maybe its going to the park and swinging as high as you possibly can, seeing who can jump off the furthest in mid air! Get creative!

Acceptance: There are no two people who are exactly alike. This is true for me and my husband and its true for you and your spouse too. Accepting each other for who we are and not always trying to change each other has been, i’ll admit a challenge, but has ultimately strengthened our relationship and has helped us to see each other with a new appreciation. I am not talking about being accepting of unhealthy and harmful habits or behaviors, as these types of things need to be changed. I am talking about differences in personality that were placed there by God himself for a beautiful purpose. I am much more sensitive and understanding than my husband and much less organized. Sometimes my sensitivity can be a bit much for him to handle. God has used my sensitivity and understanding to enable me to counsel and support hurting people. My husband is so organized! He notices every single little thing, while I am oblivious to just about every small detail. I never put things back in the same place I got them and I never even notice. His organization makes him an incredible leader of our home and enables him to accomplish so much. Early on we struggled to accept these differences, and others like them. After time this has become much easier and has been a huge relief. Allow your spouse to be who God created him or her to be, rather than trying to make him or her become just like you. This lifts the heavy burden trying to change each other creates.

Activity: Make a list of all the traits in your spouse that have irritated you. Beside each trait  write down something positive about it and how it makes your spouse a better person.

Curiosity: I love it when my husband is interested in what I have going on, especially when I know its not really his thing. This shows me that he is curious about me and my interests, not just concerned with what he has going on. Even though I don’t really understand business, I love hearing my husband explain it to me and tell me about his ventures. While business may not be my thing, my husband is, so what he loves I love! I know how much it means to him when I ask him how his day went and genuinely listen! Curiosity is defined as a strong desire to know or learn something. Ask your spouse to teach you something new that he or she loves to do. I love it when my husband seems curious about the new theory I’m studying or book on emotional bonding I’m reading. Believe me! I know for a fact that this isn’t his thing, so having him intently listen to me  go on and on about it really means a lot to me!

Activity: Think of something your spouse loves to do and get curious about it. Ask him or her to teach you something new and truly engage.

Empathy: Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The difference between empathy and sympathy is that sympathy involves your own feelings and empathy involves the feelings of another. Early on in my marriage I was so insecure! Whenever I noticed my husband was bothered I immediately assumed it was something I did and I sought out to fix it, all so I could feel better about it. I wasn’t really concerned with how he was feeling, but rather with how it made me feel. This was definitely hurtful and caused more issues. When you are less focused on yourself you are better able to focus on the other person and what he or she is going through, feeling what he or she is feeling. Pay attention to your spouses facial expressions and body language. It can be easier than you think to notice something is off. When you notice something is bothering him ask what is going on and really focus on paying attention to what he  is feeling, trying to imagine how it must feel yourself. Learn how to listen and not just offer solutions. Say something like, “wow this must be so difficult for you, I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” Instead of, “well maybe if you tried (solution) it would get better.” Its not all about the negatives either. When your spouse is excited or encouraged experience this with him or her as well! Rejoicing and sorrowing together is a huge connection builder in a marriage.

Activity: Practice this week looking for cues that signal your spouses feelings. Try to experience and understand these feelings and let him or her know about it. Express how much you care and understand what he or she is experiencing.

 

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Building an Emotional Bond With your Spouse

IMG_9801I’m sure a lot of men and women would read this title and run for the hills. In fact I used to be the woman who was shut down emotionally and closed off to others. It wasn’t until my husband came around and attempted to engage my emotional side (over and over again I might add) that something changed. His persistence, patience, and secure love is what finally helped me to open up and break down the walls that were blocking me from emotionality. I have so much thanks to offer my husband for the emotionally secure and in touch woman that I am today. Building this emotional bond with my husband was critical for our marriage to thrive and is critical for yours too.

Think about the scripture on love below, could any person accomplish this without a secure emotional bond with his or her spouse? I would argue that he or she could not. Read it with me. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭(NKJV)‬‬

Doing all of these things becomes possible when coupled with a secure emotional bond with your spouse. Think about the way you love God, you have a close emotional bond with Him because He is consistently faithful to you, He loves you unconditionally, He doesn’t give up on you when you fail, and He is always there to listen to and attend to your hurting or joyful heart. This is what building an emotional bond looks like, and is how my husband helped me go from avoidant and closed off to emotion to secure and open to sharing my deepest needs, fears, and dreams with him, knowing full well that he would be there to listen and care with a genuine heart. I’m telling you this to offer encouragement. If your spouse won’t open up to you emotionally and tends to shut down, through offering continuous support, patience, and understanding you can help to break down the walls of fear they’ve built and become emotionally open to you, as my husband did with me. Just don’t give up. Do you offer this to your spouse? If not, it’s likely that you are lacking an emotional bond.

So how exactly can you form or reform this bond with your spouse to strengthen your marriage and connection?

Be present with your spouse: something I see causing so much damage to marriages today is technology. How many shows are you watching? How many games are you playing? Are your hands attached to your smart phone? When your husband or wife needs you are you half-focused on a game, show, or app rather than giving him or her all of your attention? Not only that, how much time do you spend really talking to and getting to know each other? Ask yourself this question,given the choice, would you rather spend time alone, time with your friends or other family members, or time with your spouse? if the answer isn’t time with your spouse then this is a huge problem. This indicates that you likely don’t have the strong emotional bond necessary for enduring love.

Be there when your spouse needs you: not just physically but emotionally too. I Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” As a husband or a wife we are called to comfort and edify our spouse. This means being available to him or her when he or she needs comfort or edification. If you aren’t there for your spouse he or she won’t feel safe to go to you during these times of need. Does your spouse know you are there for him or her? If you aren’t sure then ask. This will open the door to honest communication that will start you on the path to developing a secure emotional bond. Knowing with confidence that your spouse will be there when you need him or her offers a true sense of security. I am not saying that your spouse won’t ever let you down, but when you have this secure emotional bond it is much easier to face when it does happen. The only person we can truly depend on no matter what is God, but don’t think that this means we should not be able to trust and depend on our spouse to be there when we need him or her, because we absolutely should!

Be willing to share your fears, hurts, and joys with your spouse: Building a strong emotional bond with your spouse not only requires that you are there when he or she needs you, but that you are willing to share your fears, hurts, and joys with him or her too. No marriage is one-sided. As our relationship with God requires effort on both sides, the same is true for our marriages. We feel close to God when we get to know Him through reading His word, prayer, and worship. But this isn’t enough to build a close relationship with Him. This comes when we let down our guard and share ourselves with Him. In a marriage the only way to form a true emotional bond is by being fully known by your spouse and fully knowing your spouse. Do you know your spouses deepest fears and hurts? How about their dreams and longings? Or what brings him or her the most joy? Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” How can your spouse weep with you and rejoice with you if you aren’t sharing whats on your heart? Being dependent on your spouse is not a negative thing. God created us to depend on, not only Him, but on others for encouragement, support, and strength. If this were not the case He would not have looked at Adam and said “it is not good for man to be alone.” He has given each of us a beautiful gift in our spouse. when we start building an emotional bond the beauty begins to shine through the mire of let downs and disappointments, enabling us to build a secure emotional bond and lasting love.

Maybe you finished reading this and think, “I just don’t see how this will ever be possible with my spouse, he or she will never change.” If you are struggling to build an emotional bond, and its not for lack of trying, I would suggest seeing a competent counselor who can guide you through the process. After all, God’s Word has a lot to say about receiving godly wisdom and counsel from others. Just don’t give up. God can heal any hurt and reform or form a bond between a husband and wife, no matter how dark or ugly the circumstances.

4 Signs that Indicate I’m not Actively Believing God

bibleAm I living as though I believe God? This is a question I recently asked myself after talking to some friends about why we often fail to pray about things and instead try to figure them out on our own. Does this ever happen to you? I came to the conclusion that sometimes the reason I don’t pray or seek God on things is because I’m not really believing Him. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m certainly not saying i’m not believing IN God or that He is with me, what I’m saying is I’m not actively believing what He tells me in His Word. I hate that I do this and would love more than anything to stop forever!

So how can I know when I’m not believing God? First of all I have to take a critical look at myself to figure this out. Self-awareness is the key to being capable of noticing these kinds of things in yourself and making changes. For more on that check out my blog 7 Tips for Increasing Self-awareness here.

Here is a list of things that might indicate that I’m not believing God:

When I’m worrying about tomorrow: I despise when I do this. It does nothing but bring me down and discourage me. The Bible tells me not to worry about tomorrow, but rather to focus on today, trusting that God knows what I need and will faithfully provide it (Matthew 6:31-34). This honestly applies to worrying about all sorts of things. Thankfully this is something I have improved on substantially over the years thanks to God proving himself over and over again.. I wish I would have caught on a little bit sooner though. Whenever I start getting anxious about things like internship hours, care for my daughter, a conflict with a friend, unforeseen financial burdens, etc., and am wondering how I’m going to manage, I remind myself of what God’s Word says and that I need to actively believe it. Not worrying about this kind of stuff proves that I really do believe that God knows about it and will faithfully work it out for my good as He says He will for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). True freedom from anxiety comes from believing this truth and living it out. God will take care of it. Not always in the way we want, but even then we can know that it will all work out. All I have to worry about is doing my part today, while trusting Him for tomorrow.

When I pray without faith: Recognizing this one requires that I honestly think about my attitude and mindset while praying. Am I praying just to pray? Because I should? Or am I praying because I believe that I can enter into God’s presence, worship Him, and experience His power, knowing that He hears me and will answer my prayers in whatever way seems best to Him. This can be so hard for me. Sometimes I feel like God isn’t really listening to me and even if He is I’m not believing He will actually answer my prayers. Maybe I’m thinking that what I’m praying for is just too difficult for God. You know, like redeeming someone I love from a dark and empty life, changing their heart, or maybe giving me His wisdom and guidance to make the best decisions in life. What it all comes down to is whether or not I believe God’s Word.

Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.

Mark 11:24: Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Jamies 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Do I really believe what these verses tell me? When I’m praying without faith I’m indicating to God that I don’t. Don’t think I’m saying that this means that God will give me whatever I want and will do whatever I say. It doesn’t work this way. Praying with faith means believing that He hears and that He can answer, staying faithful to Him even if he chooses not to in the way that I hope.

When I’m hoping for, “revenge”: I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been deeply wounded by another individual. I have caught myself in the past thinking negatively and hoping for something to happen that might make me feel better, hoping they will have to “pay” for what they’ve done. When this happens I know that I’m not believing God’s word. Romans 12:19 tells me “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” I need to remember that God has my back and will take care of me. Additionally, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” This can be really hard to do, especially when you have been mistreated, but if we believe God’s Word then we can know that He will give us strength to let it go and feel love and forgiveness towards that person who hurt us.

When I’m not sharing the gospel: This is a tough one for me to admit. There have been many times where I feel so ashamed of how frequently, or infrequently for that matter, I’ve shared the truth of Jesus Christ with people. I have to ask myself why this is the case and be honest with myself in my response. First of all, do I really believe that people around me are broken and lost, in need of a savior, and secondly do I believe that through sharing the truth of Christ a person’s life can be truly changed? There have been times when I’ve struggled, convincing myself that nobody wants to hear it, or nobody will care. I’m so ashamed to admit this. If I really believe in God’s power then all I have to worry about is planting the seed of the gospel of Christ, God will do the work in the heart of the hearer.

When I’m living as though I truly believe God I’m free of worry and anxiety, praying with a bold and courageous faith, loving and forgiving those who have hurt me, and sharing Jesus Christ with the people around me. These are some signs that indicate that I’m on the right track.

 

As Lecrae Says it, are we Outsiders or Insiders?

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Before you read this post check out Lecrae’s song outsiders here

Also, if you aren’t a follower of Jesus Christ this post wont exactly pertain to you, but you can continue reading if you would like.

Something that really breaks my heart is seeing a fellow believer of Christ not living in a way that pleases God but rather in a way that dishonors Him. I’m not talking about not sinning. I’m talking about making a conscious choice to disobey God’s Word and showing little or no remorse and sadness when sin does take place. Lecrae has it down in this song “Outsiders”. I just love his bold passion for Jesus Christ and speaking truth. He doesn’t care what people think about him, believers and nonbelievers alike.

What we as Christians and followers of Jesus need to realize is that we will never impact this world if we are insiders rather than outsiders. If we want to experience abundant living like Christ offers us we have got to start living as outsiders, set apart from the ways of this world. The definition of an outsider is a person who does not belong to a particular group. If it appears as though we belong in this world based on the way we live then we simply don’t get it. Sadly, our Christian culture can be so watered down and distant from the truth of Gods Word. Because of this so many Christians are living lives absent of joy, faith, and peace and are having little, if any, impact on others for Christ.

Do you think God is any less sad over believers who fail to obey his commandments than lost people who choose not to accept him as savior? 1 Peter 1: 14-16 (NKJV) says “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” What has happened to Christ’s call for us to be holy? We are so desensitized to this world that we are willing to lower our standards. Instead of judging ourselves based on God’s Word we try to find someone who is just a “little worse” than we are so we can justify our actions. We have one person to be comparing ourselves to and that is Jesus Christ. We will never achieve true holiness as Christ did, but we sure as heck better spend our lives striving to. Anything less than this is a direct act of dishonor to our savior who rescued us from darkness and death.

The moral standards of Christians today is downright confusing. If we want to make a difference we have to be different. Its as simple as that. And I’m not talking about going to church and reading the bible. That’s all great of course, but if aside from that you are no different than the world then honestly what’s the point? Being different means not getting wasted every weekend, not entertaining ourselves with pornographic shows and movies, not laughing at perverted jokes with friends, not being hateful to people who are different, not making our goal in life to achieve more wealth and possession. Do the people around you have any idea that you live a totally different lifestyle than they do? Because they should. If not, its probably because you don’t.

This isn’t some self-righteous post; I’m talking to myself the same way that I’m talking to you. This is about speaking the truth of God’s Word. A truth that I believe really needs to be spoken in the midst of this watered down generation. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to stop just reading the Bible and start living it. James 4:4 says “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We have a choice to make. Do we want to be God’s friend and servant, or his enemy?

Think about those people you know who are continuously showing the love of Jesus everywhere they go and impacting this world for eternity. How do they live their lives? Like the world? I highly doubt that. These people know what it means to live abundantly and we will too if we make the decision to give up our love affair with the ways of this world and live in obedience to God’s Word. What you will find when you make this choice is that it really isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. The real sacrifice is living for the world rather than God. A sacrifice of joy, peace, abundant living, and being close with the God who created you and loves you, who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving His son for you. Don’t shame His sacrifice any longer by claiming to be His follower while being an insider rather than an outsider.

It’s Time For us Christians to Move

c9b64b2cdff7d7a4523fc63665869015I think as Christians we have this idea that we cant move forward unless God comes down and writes a script for us to follow. We are so afraid of getting it wrong that we do nothing. We make statements like, “well I would love to get involved in that ministry but I have to pray about it first.” We end up feeling like we didn’t hear God say yes and we do nothing. I’m not saying don’t pray! What I am saying is that we need to read God’s Word and move forward based on the truth from God that we already know. Divine revelation will come. But what we have to remember is that we have already been given instruction on how we are to live and serve others. The following verses offer us pretty clear instructions on ways we are called to serve.

James 1:27 (NKJV)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Ephesians 4:28

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Hebrews 13:16

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

I think we make it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. I’ve been guilty of this myself countless times. We think we need to find a “ministry” to sign up for in order to do anything. What if we simply invite all of our neighbors over for dinner and share the love of Christ with them? Or we see a homeless man sitting on a bench and we take time to go sit with him and show interest in his life? Doesn’t that sound a lot like what was going on in the bible?

We also need to remember that its okay to get it wrong sometimes. We are sinful and broken human beings. Of course we will get it wrong! Allowing this fear to hold us back from doing anything is foolish. If you’re not quite sure if something is right for you, be in prayer and try it out. God will show you. Sometimes God speaks to us after we move, rather than before. Abraham did not know where he was going when God told him to pick up his whole family and move (Genesis 12). God told him after he had already stepped out in faith. What if God is waiting for us to step out in obedience to His command to share the truth of Christ with others before He gives us specifics like He did with Abraham?

This has always been a struggle of mine and something that God is continually working on with me. I will say that the times when I have stepped out in obedience to God’s Word the fulfillment and joy I’ve experienced has been unlike anything I ever have before.

Do People Know I’ve Been With Jesus?

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Acts 4:13 (NKJV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

This verse provokes me to ask myself a simple question. When people see me do they realize that I have been with Jesus? Obviously I haven’t physically been with Jesus as John and Peter were, but I have the privilege every day to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. When people see me do they know this? If I can’t answer yes then I need to ask myself why and come up with a solution to this huge problem. You see, the problem is, I truly want people to see Christ in me but oftentimes, for one reason or another, they don’t. As I’ve pondered this I’ve come up with a few reasons why the people around me may not know that I’ve been with Jesus. Maybe you can relate.

Simply put, because I haven’t been: This honestly happens to me all the time. Maybe this sounds familiar to you too. I get so fired up about Jesus. I’m spending so much time in the Bible and in prayer and loving every minute of it. I mean I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere I go! And then all of a sudden I just stop. I truly cannot figure out why but I just go on a hiatus. And guess what happens? The joy and excitement that I was experiencing diminishes. Even my husband can tell. He will often say, “hey, have you been reading your Bible lately? Because I can tell.” Well okay! Hah. Who I am when I’m focused on Jesus, when my goal is to be close to Him, is totally different than who I am when I’m not. If I’m not spending time with Christ the people I’m around will not be impacted, it’s as simple as that.

Because I’m not doing things that require Christ’s strength: Maybe I have been with Jesus but I’m just not being obedient and stepping out in faith. This was common during Jesus’ ministry on earth and its still common now. Think about it, Judas was with Jesus. did anybody know based on the way he was living his life? Absolutely not! Spending time with Jesus isn’t enough. We have to be willing to step out in faith and live boldly for Christ if we want to reflect His light to those around us. If we want people to know that Christ is living in us we have to be willing to live in bold obedience to His Word. The verse paints a clear picture. Peter and John were not formally trained to be doing what they were doing. They were acting based on Jesus Christ’s strength rather than their own and people could see it. Do you ever feel Jesus calling you to do something bold but you ignore it because “it just isn’t your strength?” Its time we get over that! True freedom comes when we embrace Christ’s strength and trust that He will do a great work through us. This is when people know that we have been with Jesus and when lives change.

Because I’m a hearer and not a doer. James 1:22 tells us “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” This might seem like the same thing as the last one but it’s somewhat different. To me, being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer is about living in daily obedience to Gods Word. For example, if I read that I should edify people with the words I say and instead I tear people down I’m being a hearer and not a doer. Or if I know that the Bible teaches me to love my enemies but I’m bitter and hateful towards them I’m being a hearer and not a doer. What I have found is that when I live out God’s Word, especially in ways that seem to go against the norm, like the previous examples, people notice. To be honest this has always been a big fear of mine. Hearing and studying God’s Word but not doing what it says. Do I have all the knowledge but fail to apply it in my life? I want to stand before God someday knowing that I’ve not only heard his Word, but I’ve done it. Do you?

Because I’m distracted by things that straight up DON’T matter: We have got to stop allowing the things of this world to seduce us and keep us from the things of Christ. Honestly this issue right here is probably the culprit behind the other three reasons why people don’t know I’ve been with Jesus. In Mark 4 we read about the parable of the sower and what often happens when people hear God’s Word but don’t go on to produce fruit. Verses 18-19 says “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” More money, success, possessions, and attention will NOT increase our joy. Producing fruit for the kingdom of God will. This is what happens when people look at you and know that you’ve been with Jesus. They don’t know this by seeing how rich you are, how intelligent you are, how successful you are, how big your house is, or how great your kids are. We have got to refocus our attention on Jesus if we want to be remembered in the same way that Peter and John were, as men and women of God who boldly proclaim Christ and produce everlasting fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Thank you for reading my blog!