Sunday, January 11, 2015

Marriage & Parenting: When Change Is Needed - 5 Tips

We know without a doubt it's incredibly important who we marry… hence to be the mother or father of our children is so important, as it will impact us (and our kids) for quite some time… at minimum eighteen years… but likely longer. We will be tied to this person in all the big and little ways pertaining to how we raise our children… whether the marriage lasts or not… we will be stuck working with them (or not, maybe more like colliding or rubbing like sandpaper) in our children's moral, health, religious, educational upbringing and more. And if we come to the conclusion our perspectives don't match up… we will not only have irritating friction but un-yielding issues that not only make us as parents want to pull our hair but also come to see the other parent as more opposition than ally. It's a reality that is essential to consider when we choose who we marry. Not everyone is shown the truth of who they are marrying… some wear masks so well it's not until much later down the road do they realize they've been duped, as it can happen to both men and women. But in hopes that that doesn't happen… it's of utmost importance to choose wisely and with open eyes focusing on actions rather than words.

My own ex and I are so far apart on the spectrum of parenting it's mind-boggling. Just this past weekend my daughter announced to me: "Daddy is listening to some song Tuesday… it has really bad words in it, Mommy." Googling the song I soon came across Chris Brown's Tuesday. I found the least bad portion of it to play and asked her if this was the song. Nodding, she affirmed that was it. More documentation ensued and a mental narrative regarding the disgusting lyrics and her father's poor parenting went through my head. It confirmed for what felt like the millionth time that he was looking out for himself, not her… certainly not her best interests. My daughter listens to Christian music give or take eighty percent of the time when she's with me…. the other twenty percent is a careful selection of songs from mainstream music. Her favorite Christian song thus far is Overcomer by Mandisa… and nothing makes me happier than hearing her belt out the lyrics from the backseat while were on errands out. It's our job as parents to make good choices that protect our children. Parenting is not a given. We can have that right taken away at any time. With having children comes responsibility. It's a privilege. Yes, we don't want them too sheltered… and in that there are always boundaries that should never be crossed… and Chris Brown's music falls into that category for children's ears.

When we've been married to someone who is either an unbeliever or someone who maybe believes in God but doesn't follow Him… it can bring catastrophic results to our children's lives. When a spouse and or parent continually chooses self over selfless, marriages suffer and children do as well. Marital relationships and parenting that is "self-oriented" is not in alignment with God's word. These paths of darkness is what produces destruction in families versus a fruitful life.

This isn't about superficial change… change that doesn't really matter like whether someone likes karaoke, or prefers wearing blue over green or even if they like sushi or not. This is about serious change needed that can make or break a marriage. 

The truth is… a person has to want to change. Husband or wife. They have to want it for themselves. Years ago as I sat having lunch with a girlfriend she told me about a friend of hers who she was trying to counsel… her friend had had a really tough time in her marriage for years and my heart went out to her… the husband was an alcoholic, quick to temper and had pushed her once (which is one time too many). He seemed to live for video games and himself… often isolating himself and doing his own thing while she took the kids off for fun and dinners out etc. They lived in a divided household shown by their actions. Her friend was nearly at her wits end yet her husbands behavior continued for years. My friend was sad because no matter how supportive she was her friend frustratedly kept thinking her husband would change. Yet, he didn't. My friend spoke: "He won't change till he's ready. He has to want to for himself. "

25 Husbands, love your wives, 

as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Ephesians 5:25   English Standard Version (ESV)

We can't make someone change for the better, unfortunately. It's kind of like a symptom of sinuses acting up… it may irk us and for one reason or another that sinus symptom may initiate one person to go to the doctor to find out the reason for the issue. But someone else? They may decide it's easier to stay where they are… ignore their sinuses… as it's easy to live with them… it's not a deal breaker, after all… they can still navigate about their day despite it. They aren't uncomfortable enough yet with their situation. It's not much different with marital issues… someone who doesn't want to change may decide they are comfortable with the status of their marriage… while the other spouse simmers, despairs and boils and feels huge angst about the relationship… in summary doing all the worrying for both of them in where the union is headed.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

It's admittedly difficult to teach a dog new tricks if they have zero desire to learn. Likewise, if a parent is continually dabbling in choices that suit themselves and not the best interests of their children eventually there will be consequences. Consequences that could hypothetically go either direction… children that take on similar poor decisions of their parent and unfortunately continue down a road of looking out for one's self… raising another generation of children who do the same… or the other direction… hopefully a child who sees their parents choices for what they are… selfish, unbiblical and toxic… ultimately one day growing into a leadership role and becoming better for what they endured and lived through, instilling change for the next generation.

So what can we do as spouses when our spouse won't change? When it's much needed change, big change, valid change in areas that are threatening the very core of the union… the very marital fiber?  We can let them know we are serious about making changes, that we are serious about the relationships needs not being met… inviting them to go to marital counseling either through a professional therapist or trusted Pastor. Let he or she know that the way things have been will not continue… hopefully the fact they have much to lose will help wake them up to the fact they need to stop remaining stagnant and become an active partner toward change…. change that will require following a different path than the one their on…

So what else can you do? While beginning the path of therapy?

Here are 5 Tips To Help: 

1. Make lists of what areas you believe to be issues of power and control by your spouse.
2. How are your children showing signs of disrespect?
3. When are times that all media can be turned off so you can focus on each other; just talking and listening?
4. Do you see your children showing negative behaviors similar to yours/your spouses? What are they?
5. Try to remember that your spouse is not your enemy, satan is though and he loves to create destruction in any way he can… his first attack is always the family unit. So how can you and your spouse come together as a team and not adversaries? Perhaps by making a list of what issues you do agree on… as well as what brought you together in the first place… finding the common ground you have will help to bring you closer rather than pushing you further away.

© ~ 2015

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When He Tries To Change You! And 5 Tips To Not Change Him

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3 Common Triggers In Marriage: Fighting Fair