Marriage and Relationships
In this final week of our series, we focused on navigating marriage and relationships during lockdown.
In a recent article, News 24 asked the question: Will lockdown spell the end in an ailing marriage, or a new beginning? They wrote, “Periods of extended time together and disruption of normal routine can bring into sharp focus small cracks and imperfections in a marriage that the spouses were able to ignore the rest of the year.”
Many of us are experiencing pressure on our relationships in this season. That’s not necessarily because the situation is creating the problems—it’s just revealing the things we could once bury in our busyness.
James 4:1-4 (NIRV) asks: “Why do you fight and argue among yourselves? Isn’t it because of your sinful longings? They fight inside you.”
Dr Gary Smalley says that the external problem is rarely the real problem. In other words, what appears to be the problem is often not the problem.
Our negative external reactions to each other in this season are probably connected to an internal fight that we haven’t acknowledged. This is why it’s so important to intentionally reset our focus on ourselves, instead of defaulting to focusing on others.
This default pattern of behaviour in relationships started all the way back at the beginning of creation, when after the fall Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Stephen Chandler said that what we call marriage issues are often single issues in a marriage.
The National Institute of Marriage concluded in a study that the single most destructive internal emotion husbands and wives fought was fear.
Which fear on their list resonates most with your own internal struggles?
My core fear is that I feel . . .
- Helpless, powerless, impotent, or controlled.
- Rejected, as if people are closing me out of their lives.
- Abandoned or left behind, as in divorce.
- Disconnected form others or alone.
- Like a failure.
- Unloved, as if no one could love me.
- Defective, as if something is wrong with me—as if I’m the problem.
- Inadequate, as if I just don’t measure up to others like I should.
- Pained, both emotionally and physically.
- Hypocritical or like a phony.
- Inferior, as if I’m being placed below everyone else in value.
- Cheated, or ripped off, or taken advantage of.
- Invalidated, as if my words and actions are being ignored or devalued.
- Unfulfilled, as if what is happening to me will lead to a dissatisfied life.
- Humiliated, as if I have no dignity or self-respect.
- Manipulated, as if others are deceiving me.
- Isolated, as if others are planning to ignore me.
Once you answer this question you gain perspective on how to better handle yourself in your relationships with others.
- What kind of interactions with my spouse/friend push my fear button?
- How do I react toward my spouse/friend when my fear button is pushed?
- How could I choose to reset my reaction to enhance rather than hinder my relationship with my spouse/friend?
Discuss your answers with your spouse. Pray a commitment back to God, resetting your focus on your own conduct, to enhance your relationship together.
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