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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Can this be true?

It has taken a while but we did it this evening – we watched the movie Sex and the City.

Sex and the City

This is thanks to Lisa who spoke about the film in her blogmy life by faith – and debated whether or not christian women would or should watch the movie.

The story is about 4 women looking for Labels and Love in New York. It dramatizes the challenges facing single women who are trying to balance personal ideals with professional careers.

Having listened to women talking about their lives for many years, this film is very relevant.

In a blaze of colour and wonderful outfits the movie  tells stories of friendship, faithfulness, communication, sex, marriage, disappointment, and forgiveness.

Marriage ruins everything, says Miranda as the lives of the four friends unfold.

Thank you, Lisa – I agree with you. The more christian women (and men) talk about this together the better.

How about it?

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Home early from my 8th treatment. The machine is working well – but this morning there was a malfunction in the team. I don’t know what had happened, but I sensed tension in the air.

I have been thinking a lot about conflict since I shared with you about one of the biggest disagreements between BC and me.

We used to have some deep and prolonged disputes that took days to work through. These usually came when there were other big changes happening in our lives, like adjusting to being parents. The strength of the emotions we felt made it difficult to think straight. And finding the words to express what we were thinking and feeling was even harder. Careless words could heap more misunderstanding into the cauldron. We needed time to understand ourselves before we could begin to unravel what was happening between us.

I remember recognising a pattern in these episodes. In the midst of the upset I began to see flashes of the aspects of BC that I love and value – his integrity, sense of humour, patience, generosity, faithfulness: his love for me and for our children. My heart ached but my discomfort would not settle – this was too important to ignore. We had to find a way through that worked for us both.

And we did.

And because we did, we have a depth of friendship and respect for each other that makes living together such a delight . . and disagreements much less common and much easier to sort out.

The trouble is that we are very alike and yet very different. But a strength we share is that we value each other and are committed to make our marriage work.

We have a friend who boasts she and her husband have never had an argument in their lives. When they disagree he goes into the garden and she stays in the house.  After a variable cooling down period they resume normal routine and nothing more is ever said.

Pretending it does not matter is a whitewash, not a solution. They tolerate rather than get to know one another.

J.M. Gottman is a psychologist who developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. He claims that his model has 90% accuracy. Part of his theory states that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage

defensiveness stonewalling criticism and contempt

Among the four, contempt is the most damaging of all.

Contempt is about reckoning a person is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. No wonder it is fatal to a relationship.

I reckon BC’s mother was ahead of her time in recognising the importance of cherishing one another. And I owe her a lot for nurturing such positive attributes in her son, my husband. 🙂

Have a look at this short video of Lucy and Charlie Brown and see if you recognise any damaging emotional reactions!

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How can a marriage endure?

When you have been married for over 30 years like BC and me, it comes as a shock to hear that Al and Tipper Gore have reached a “mutual and mutually supportive decision” to separate just after ‘celebrating’ their 40th anniversary.

Don’t get complacent – growing apart can take a long time!

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

My mother in law often spoke about the cherish part of the marriage vow – to love and to cherish. She interpreted this as being about treasuring one another, recognising each other’s inherent value.

This week I have been reading about Agape love:  . . . “to will the good of another”: it is not primarily an emotion. Love is a desire for the well-being of another, so much so that personal sacrifice would not stand in its way. (The Good and Beautiful God p 119)

This picture shows a Mayan Calendar. What makes it different from other calendars in existence in the world is that its various symbols represent the evolution of consciousness, rather than simply the passage of time. There is a spiritual dimension towards ‘enlightenment’.

I like the symbolism that small patterns contribute to the development of a bigger picture.

The small patterns of routine and behaviour that you repeat become part of the bigger picture of your marriage. As Aristotle said

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.

I used to think it was a strange idea to renew your marriage vows – but now I am not so sure.

The biggest row BC and I had spanned our silver wedding anniversary. Negotiating a positive outcome from that time of change gave us a strong foundation for the years ahead.

Maybe, before we celebrate each anniversary, we could revisit the vows we made and check the pattern of our habits. Are we growing apart or growing together? Then we really would have something to celebrate.

A simple enough pleasure, surely, to have breakfast alone with one’s husband, but how seldom married people achieve it.    Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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. . . and it meant so much to me. Yesterday was not the time for words.

What is it that makes a marriage survive and thrive for over 30 years, and still savour moments of such tender intimacy?

We met at high school. At age 16 he sat behind me in the physics class giving me every opportunity to lean back on my stool and find an excuse to speak to him.  I loved his shining dark hair and sharp sense of humour. And there was something very deeply attractive about his character that spoke of integrity.  I felt valued and safe in his presence.

As a doctor, wife and mother I have been closely involved with many couples through the highs and lows of their relationships. I am always curious to understand what the relationship means to them and what makes it work or not. For those whose relationship is breaking they can usually tell me of the problems they knew existed at the start and which grew worse rather than better.  For those whose relationship has endured they often look bemused and cannot find words other than to say they are lucky, or have a good friendship.

It is not about luck. A relationship is a dynamic balance of rights and responsibilities. BC and I continue to work hard at our relationship because it is the most precious thing we have together. I lean very heavily on him at the moment, and he opens his arms ever wider to meet my needs. My breast cancer has touched every part of our life. Our prayers together are deep and meaningful.

This week I find myself reading or hearing from others about the biblical book Song of Songs. And I have time to explore some of Mark Driscoll’s teaching series on the book. The obstacle of steroid induced insomnia can be turned into a really valuable opportunity!

The series is called  The Peasant Princess. It is beautifully presented and available for us to watch on video or download as podcast.  Here is part of the introduction:

As we study the Song of Songs, our primary focus will be how the Peasant Princess became an exemplary wife; our secondary focus will be the intimate marital relationship she shares with her husband. Through her example, God has much to teach us regarding his plan for sex and marriage. While the Song of Songs is not entirely about sex, the book does contain some very important lessons on the subject. In fact, this 3,000-year-old collection of love letters is extraordinary in its timeliness. In our day, people devote an extraordinary amount of time, money, and energy in pursuit of sex, making it the most popular religion in the world.

If you are single, you will find guidance on how to choose a partner. If you are in a relationship you will find a framework to assess how you are getting on, and suggestions on what you can do to make things better.

Part 3, The Little Foxes gives useful information about the structure of a healthy relationship and the things that threaten its survival. You might find that an easy entry into the series.

There is something in this for us all.

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