How Relationships Work Part Three

Interpersonal relationships are among our most precious life experiences. And they DO work. However, it is also common for people to mess up their relationships. There are two main causes for damage to relationships. One cause is simple ignorance. Some people are selfish, inconsiderate, foolish, naïve or irresponsible, and they blunder on, damaging the things God has given them.

Another cause is more sinister, when a person acts selfishly on purpose. They may know better, but are simply determined to be the centre of their universe. Among this category are the argumentative, the users and abusers and the self-centred fools.

This series on how relationships work is starting out as an educative source for those who are sensible enough to learn and lift their game. Before the series is out I will add some straight talk, as I have done elsewhere, about the matters of sheer determined selfishness.

Interpersonal Ignorance

The problem in many relationships is often simple interpersonal ignorance. When people do not understand relationship, or understand themselves and others, they may enter into tensions in complete ignorance of how they are part of the problem. Selfishness is one of the worst diseases to bring into any relationship. And ignorance of its existence and impact will cost dearly.

A few simple ‘home truths’ about people and how they relate, combined with a few simple ‘common sense’ strategies will go a long way to helping people reduce their interpersonal tensions. Add to that some personal healing, humility, wisdom and submission to godly claims on their life and pain filled relationships can become joyful and fulfilling again.

Reactions are a big problem. Making demands is a serious issue. Disengaging authority is really dangerous. So let me take you through some of these issues.

Buttons on Your Dashboard

Don’t be a ‘reaction’. Each of us has a set of buttons on the dashboard of our life. There are certain ways in which people can rub us up the wrong way, offend us, awaken our areas of pain and weakness, touch our raw nerve and press our buttons.

The issue is that of our reactions. In an ideal situation each of us should be so whole and complete on the inside that we never need to react to anything. By ‘react’ I mean to be trapped in an involuntary and predictable response impulse which interrupts other things we could or should be focused on.

My son, Christopher, was in a high speed motorcycle filming sequence recently when a large insect flew at his face mask. He did not need to react to that, since the mask would deflect the insect. But he instinctively reacted, pulling his head to the side. The head movement threw his motorbike off course as he entered a corner at high speed. Consequently he and his bike ran off the road, became airborne and crashed into a ditch, leaving him unconscious and the bike and camera written off.

The buttons on the dash have a similar effect. They cause us to fly into response mode. The consequences can be very serious. So it is important to be so resolved in our own inner life that we simply do not need to react to accusation, offence, hurts, words, shame, or any such thing.

Removing Buttons

For people who react it is as if there is a set of buttons on the dashboard of their life. When someone presses one of those buttons the response can be instant, significant and relied upon to happen.

If a man’s ego is challenged or if a woman is insulted we often see the person react. This is typical of the “button on the dash” problem.

Those buttons on our dashboard need to be deactivated and the whole panel removed from our life. This takes the ministry of the Holy Spirit, instruction from the Word of God and application of the Grace of God to deactivate the programmed responses and sinful, selfish commitments we have set up in our lives.

We need to be open to the Lord’s rebuke. We need to open our hearts to the Lord’s instruction. We need to expand our understanding of truths and principles which may be missing in our lives. We need to learn godly disciplines and gain control over our own spirit. We need to put our pride to death, along with the lusts which drive us. We need to forgive those who offended us and trust God to be our shield and exceeding great reward. We need to look to Him, and not to our own energies, to establish our security for the future.

Yielding Rights

Part of dealing with the buttons in our life is yielding our rights. This is the process of dying to self and making ourselves of no reputation, as Jesus did. It is the process of putting other people first.

Most westerners have been raised to think that their existence is all about themselves. Their hopes, wants, feelings, demands, needs, urges and impulses rule them. Yielding rights is part of the process of dying to self and putting God and others ahead of ourselves. If your life motto proves to be “It’s all about ME!” then you will have serious relationship issues through the years.

Yielding rights involves you making the commitment that “It’s not all about me, but it’s about me serving and glorifying God and blessing others”. When you get yourself out of the way you will be much more able to sustain successful interpersonal relationships.

Zone and Mouth Disease

In part one of this series I introduced you to the Zombie Zone. In part two I discussed how many people need to be affirmed by input from or interaction with others. A mismatch between these two inclinations leads to tensions and upsets.

Let’s consider the couple who have ‘zone and mouth disease’. One of them is in their private relaxation zone – maybe watching TV, reading a book or driving the car. The other feels the need to speak and be noticed in some way.

When the person in their private zone is disrupted they can selfishly be offended, or they can happily pull their self out of their private musings and attend to the matter raised. They can decide to bless the other with their attentive listening and helpful contribution to the discussion.

When the person who feels the need to speak sees the other person zoned out, or does not get the response they want from the person who is otherwise turned off to some degree, they can selfishly be offended, or they can happily leave that person to some peace and quiet. They can decide to bless the other person by taming their urge to speak or be acknowledged.

Intolerance

One problem that develops in relationships is that the parties become intolerant of the other person’s habitual actions. It can be that one spouse will turn off to the other and that other will be given to pressing their claim on the spouse who is not listening. Both spouses become intolerant of the other’s treatment of them. This intolerance factor becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of frustration.

“He (or she) switches off!” “Yes, but she (or he) won’t leave me alone!”

To make that worse, some people press themselves on their spouse for bad reasons. They may be insecure, controlling, resentful, agitated, anxious or the like. They find it impossible to let their spouse have peace and quiet. If they feel unresolved they feel compelled to inflict their feelings onto their spouse. They become intolerant of the spouse’s freedom from their own frustrations.

At the same time, some spouses disengage and will not accept responsibility for their actions, words or duties. They may be lazy, careless, fed-up, selfish, irresponsible, incompetent, or the like, and resent all pressure to change, even if it is valid. They quickly become intolerant of the demands being made upon them.

Aim for Relationship

Remember that relationship is built on two people ‘relating’. How can they walk together unless they are agreed?

When disagreement has sprung up the two will not be able to ‘relate’, so the relationship will be damaged. What you need to do is aim for relationship, not your selfish wishes.

When you put yourself ahead of the relationship, even if you think the other person has been wrong, you are doing damage to that relationship. Self is an alternative to the relationship, not a means of helping the relationship.

Relationships work when people put the relationship first and their selfish demands second. So, no matter what has been happening in your marriage or family, aim for Relationship!

The Relationships Series of Articles ….
Part One: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-1
Part Two:
http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-2
Part Three: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-3
Part Four: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-4

How Relationships Work Part Two

Since relationships are often our happiest and most painful experiences it is important to understand how relationships work. Most people are brainwashed by pop-culture into thinking that relationships succeed by luck and that pain is to be expected and taken for granted.

The Bible reveals that relationships can work wonderfully, for the whole of our lives. They were built to last; as long as people live the way God wants them to, and not in the destructive, selfish way they are taught to live by western culture.

This series opens up observations about how relationships work best and what things you need to be aware of and even avoid in order to succeed in your relationships.

Zombies and Comfort

The first article introduced the idea of our comfort zone, or zombie zone, where people tend to switch off to those around them. This can be because they are relaxing or unwinding, or it could be because they are focused on some task, process or outcome.

People who retreat into their comfort zone may inadvertently project rejection or neglect to those they relate to, since it is easy to react negatively to disturbances or interruptions when we are in our comfortable zone.

However, that is only part of the picture. While most of us enjoy our comfortable places, we also desire to have others give us attention. One person’s desire to be in their comfort zone and another’s desire to be noticed can create an immediate clash.

Invade and Pillage

People like to be valued, noticed, appreciated, listened to, and to be valuable to others. This simple desire can prompt some people to become commandos, attacking, invading and pillaging the time, attention, emotions and energies of others.

Most people don’t set out to be a marauding invader and many people whose input is resented would be offended at the suggestion that they have anything but noble and worthy intentions. However, this is a reality, by whatever name it is given, and so I am bringing it up early in this study of how relationships work.

Need to Speak

The process of invading other people’s space and pillaging their time, attention and emotions starts as a fairly innocent process. It is felt by most people simply as the need to speak.

Many people find a spontaneous urge to know something or to get a specific response from others. In reality this can actually be a need to be heard, a need to be reassured, a need to control, or similar urge, rather than a real need for information. It causes us to impose ourselves on others in some way or other. The fact that we have a question or otherwise have a justifiable excuse for speaking covers the fact that we might have a deeper motivation.

When travelling in a car, some children feel a keen need to ask, “How much longer now?” This question may come from their boredom, from their need to be noticed by their parents, from a need to hear their own voice, or some similar motivation. Some people are bothered by silence and need to chatter away.

Imposing and Dominating

Speech is a means of imposing ourselves on others and dominating them. Some people have a need to feel in control and so they impose themselves by their chatter, questions, explanations, micro-management, interference and so on.

We have all met people who variously insist on dominating conversations, or controlling the topics discussed, having the last word, persistently pushing their point of view, interrogating others, nagging on a issue, or even whining, complaining or similarly making their voice heard as an imposition onto others. Some impose themselves from a position of strength and assertiveness, while others do it by a more wheedling, pity-poor-me approach. Whichever way it is done, the urge and impact are much the same. It is a need to impose ourselves upon others and impact them in some way.

Commandeering and Abducting

At its worst, the need to impose and dominate becomes a full-on onslaught against others. Some people invade the lives of those around them and commandeer their time, demand their attention, abduct them from their activities, family and commitments, and make them slaves to the will and emotional needs of the invader.

Wives can do this to husbands, making the man into the wife’s “hormone hostage”, as it is jokingly identified. People who feel desperate, lonely, neglected and hurting can make these onslaughts into other people’s lives in an attempt to quell their inner feelings.

Assertive people can similarly invade and commandeer other people’s lives. Rather than doing it for emotional needs they may abduct other people for their own selfish ends. They may do it to gratify their personal need to feel powerful and important. They may recruit people to serve their goals. They may simply be addicted to control and domination and resent other people having freedom of choice, or even happiness independently of them.

Mismatch

People like to be valued, noticed, appreciated, and listened to by others. This causes people to seek contact and communication with others.

In situations where one person has entered their zombie/comfort zone and the other person needs to be affirmed or to speak, there can be a sorry mismatch. The zombie may ignore the speaker, or the speaker may insist on invading the zombie’s zone. Either way one has imposed on the other and both will probably be unhappy.

“He switches off and she won’t let him go!”

Such a mismatch often leads to reactions which are less than helpful. Reactions then take over and tensions escalate. A major relationship problem can spring from such small beginnings.

Accusations may be made, such as, “You never listen to me!” or “Why are you always doing this to me?” Feelings become hurt, past hurts resurface, unkind words are spoken, exasperation, rejection and other unhappy feelings come to the surface and there is little room to manoeuvre successfully.

Relationships Work

Despite these challenges of mismatch and upset which do easily occur in relationships I need to stress that relationships work. These challenges are not the end of the world. They are issues which need to be dealt with and they can most effectively be dealt with when people understand them and know what they are dealing with.

Don’t think that mismatch or personal needs and hurts that lead to upsets in any way signals an irreparable relationship. In the future parts of this series I’ll point out to you how to resolve many of the issues which are being put on the table now.

The Relationships Series of Articles ….
Part One: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-1
Part Two:
http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-2
Part Three: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-3
Part Four: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-4

How Relationships Work Part One

Relationship challenges are one of the most common sources of personal frustration and challenge in today’s generation. The pop culture of song, television, books and movies is immersed in the theme of broken hearts, broken relationships, insecurity, temporary joys, frustrations, betrayal and similar relationship issues.

Interpersonal relationships, where two people must live and work together, require wisdom, grace and selflessness. In employment situations or task and process contexts, the assigned roles and overall objectives tend to anchor the relationships. In friendship, family and marriage, however, the people must make the relationships work without external routines and processes to act as guard rails to the relationship.

In this series of articles I will discuss several key insights into how relationships work. I draw the content from my counselling experience and what I have seen go wrong and right with those I have been privileged to assist.

Biblical Foundations

The best foundation to establish for relationships is faith in God, the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and diligent attention to Biblical wisdom. Jesus Christ has given us much wisdom for making relationships work, such as the need to forgive and even to love our enemies.

King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, also gives us insights into relationships. So too do the prophets of old. One of the foundational truths given to us by the prophet Amos is that of agreement.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3

My understanding of what is best for people comes from my reading of the Bible. I encourage you to be a student of the Bible and to not just read it, but live by what it teaches.

Working Together

Couples bring together two personal styles which will often have areas of misalignment.

As Christ and truth works in the relationship there will be need to each person to seek and embrace ministry that sets them free. They will also need to learn graces such as forgiveness and the yielding of rights, to overcome their otherwise inappropriate behaviour. They also need management strategies, to employ during the time period before they have successfully dealt with issues.

Zombie Zone

Each of us has places where we switch into different mindsets. Most people have their favourite resting formula. It may be a comfortable chair in the sunroom, with their knitting, or their favourite chair in front of the TV set. It may be their desk or workbench, the kitchen, or behind the steering wheel. It may be with a magazine in hand, or a drink, or the television remote control.

Those favourite places are where we least like to be interrupted and we don’t like being called away from that repose.

Those places become a Zombie Zone of sorts for us. We switch off, or try to switch off from other claims on our time, energy or thinking, when we are in our favourite resting places. We can even become something like a zombie to our spouse or family members, as we sink into repose and switch off to other demands.

Twilight Zones

The Zombie Zone, described above, is not the only zone that people retreat to. Another popular zone is the Productivity Zone. When people are engaged in certain routine activities they can tend to shut themselves into that routine and exclude, or certainly seek to avoid, interruptions. They get caught up in their routine, desired outcome or automatic process. They don’t want to be interrupted from their operational zone.

Some people can do a task and remain alert to distractions, interruptions, interjections and so on. Others need to lock themselves into the routine and either concentrate on what they are doing, or just switch off during the process. I have seen people switch off into automaton mode when mowing the lawn, cooking, repairing something, talking on the telephone or working on their car. It’s not an uncommon experience.

These various productivity zones become a twilight zone in the person’s life. They tend to slip out of broader circulation and become absorbed in the task, routine or locale, as if somehow mesmerised by it.

When someone interrupts a person who is engaged (or disengaged) by their task the interruption can be resented. It is not uncommon to hear someone angrily say, “Can’t you see I’m busy?” Angry tones can carry such responses as, “What do you want?” “Go and ask your mother!” “Did you interrupt me just to ask me that?”

Place and Pace

The zombie zone and twilight zone are just expressions of our comfort zone. We each have various settled places, processes, speeds of operation, modes of functioning and the like, which we are completely comfortable in. When we are pushed out of that zone, or forced to work to a different paradigm or pace, we become uncomfortable.

When we have our comfort zone disturbed we can become irritable, intolerant of the interruption, and insecure in the new context.

The process of pushing someone outside their comfort zone is sometimes described as “rattling their cage”. The sense of agitation is readily identified. And we have all felt the uneasy, uncomfortable experiences of being pushed outside our preferred place and pace.

While we each have a different shape and different size comfort zone, we all prefer to work within the status quo of what we know and know we can handle. Even our sources of excitement and daring, such as venturing into new things, we prefer to be done in controllable and predictable ways, with safeguards and limitations.

Turning Off

While being in our favourite comfort zone suits us fine it can be a problem for others. Our private retreat, be it the zombie “switch-off” zone, the productivity zone, or our favourite place and pace zone, turns us off to things around us. It locks us away from time and attentiveness toward others.

While we may enjoy turning off to distractions, our retreat can be a real “turn off” to those who wish to engage with us. They may even need us.

Check your zombie mode. You may be rejecting others. You may be turning off to life, just to indulge yourself with your personal preferences. Your life needs to be shared. This is especially true when it comes to relationships. If you retreat or subconsciously turn off, you will freeze out those other people in your life who are meant to be a source of joy, meaning and blessing in your life.

Reconnect

Train yourself to open up your zone to allow others in. If you tend to switch off while you are driving then at least hold your spouse’s hand while you drive. Or if you need to kick people out of the kitchen while you prepare a meal, be sure to go to them as soon as you have finished and reconnect with them.

If you need the kids to be quiet while you make a phone call and you turn off to their needs as you chat with a friend, be sure to hug your kids when you get off the call.

Better still hug your kids while you are on the call. Invite others into your kitchen and get them to help you. Let the kids help you in your yard jobs, even if they mess things up.

Interpersonal relationships need you to connect with others, so beware of your retreat into your zombie zone.

Invasion

In the next instalment I will open up discussion of a different relationship challenge that is particularly problematic for people who enjoy their zombie zone. While most of us enjoy some degree of Zombie Zone, most of us also fall prey to some degree of “Invade and Pillage”. So that will be our theme next time.

The Relationships Series of Articles ….
Part Two: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-2
Part Three: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-3
Part Four: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-4

Find the Right Husband

I have met several men over the years who I think may make bad husbands. I would be reluctant to promote them to anyone I cared about.

So, what makes a man a bad husband? What are the qualities which women should
pay attention to when trying to find the right husband?

Putting on a Front

I recently heard a man advising young men to “look confident” when trying to impress a young lady. Girls don’t want men to be wishy-washy and so looking confident will enhance a man’s chances of making a good impression.

But can you see a problem there as well?

We all know that men who wish to impress will try harder than normal. They will dress neater, be cleaner, smell better, talk nicer, show their best qualities and restrain their less likable qualities. Once the man has won his woman he is likely to look scruffy, stay dirty, smell more, talk bad and let his worse qualities shine forth.

So women are in danger of being fooled by a man putting on a front to impress them. Looking confident is not a good thing to do if you are actually deceiving a woman into giving you trust you don’t deserve.

So, guys, the best thing you can do to impress someone is to actually become a wonderful person! Don’t put on a front, but actually become the person you would like to look like!!
That way you win and so does she!

Unresolved Issues

What comes out of a person, in their words, attitudes and actions, originates in their heart.When there are unresolved issues men will come out with actions and words that
betray their insecurity, need for control, fears, pride, selfishness and so on.

The key here is to deal with the inner garbage that is likely to bring ugly things out of you.
The garbage often comes out when the relationship is under strain. A young man might fear that his girl is losing interest in him, so he will tend to impose himself on her more and more, trying to control her. This will almost certainly drive the girl away from him, but it comes from the inner garbage, such as insecurity and personal need within the man.

So girls, be aware and beware of those unresolved issues in any man who comes along to impress you. When the friendship goes through its less happy moments be careful to see that unresolved stuff. If it is not dealt with it will be a curse in your relationship forever.

Openness and Wisdom

Another problem that spoils relationships is inability to deal with issues. When unresolved issues begin to spoil a relationship we then see how wise the man is in creating openness and effective processes for dealing with problems.

If a man has little wisdom he will rely on forcefulness in his personality, or
manipulation, emotionalism, fear, and so on. When these things are the man’s strategies for dealing with problems he can’t solve anything, but only make things worse.

That’s why some men go through various failed relationships. They do not have the wisdom to deal with their own weaknesses and failings.

For example, a man who is feeling insecure could tell his fiancé that he is struggling with personal feelings which are undermining him. He can then get help to become released from his
insecurity.
He can empower her with ways to tell him when he is reacting badly and damaging the relationship. If he did those things he would be displaying openness and wisdom.

Alternatively he can believe the lie that her affection will heal him and then put all kinds of pressure on her to be his salvation. That will be the end of the relationship.

Spiritual Landscape

A further compounding factor is what I call the Spiritual Landscape. By that I mean the factors that are in the picture, but which you cannot see. For example, you have probably never seen your guardian angel, yet the Bible suggests you have one. You cannot see curses on people, but the Bible says people carry them. You can feel blessed, but you cannot see who is carrying a blessing and who is not.

That fine young man who turns up at your door with a bunch of flowers is part of a
spiritual landscape
. There are good and evil influences at work in his life. If you are unaware of those things you will step into the problems and not know what has hit you.

Be a Wise Woman

A wise woman will prayerfully and carefully consider the Lord’s insights, so she can know in advance what are the unresolved issues, wisdom limitations and the spiritual landscape

A wise woman also listens to godly counsellors, especially her father, minister and mature, godly friends.

Find the Right Husband

If you want to find the right husband then beware of the man who is crazy about you but cold toward God.
Beware the man who can’t give you honour and grace when he is upset. If he
treats you with disrespect now, he will do it even worse when you are married.

Trust yourself to God. God can give you better than you can give yourself. And He can give you what you don’t deserve. Don’t rely on your figure, fashion and make-up to get the right man. Rely on God and those he has placed around you to watch out for you.

What if it’s Too Late?

If you have already married a bad husband, then your most powerful solution is to have God come into your marriage and make it better. You need to humble yourself before Him and call on Him to assist you, forgive you, heal you and build you into the person you should have been.

It’s never ‘too late’ with God. But the recovery doesn’t start with your husband, it starts with You!

Marriage Poems

Poetry has the power to capture and express things that might otherwise be hard to say or even define. That’s why I love writing poetry and sharing with you.

I have written several poems and jottings which speak of marriage, including: I Do; A Fresh “I Love You”; Ode to a Wife; Pride Versus Humility; Moral Miracle of Marriage; The Garden Song; The Wedding; Two Streams Converge; and When We Were Wed.

These verses include Wedding Poems, poetry about marriage, poems that speak of the pain of relationships and verses that celebrate the uniqueness of the marriage relationship.

Each of these poems can be found at the Family Horizons website, by clicking the link:

http://familyhorizons.net/html/marriage_poems.html

http://familyhorizons.net/html/marriage_poems.html