Because life is a series of edits

Wuv, Mawiage

In Marriage, Seminary on September 13, 2006 at 2:00 am

One class I'm definitely going to enjoy this semester is Marriage and Family Counseling with Dr. Dan Zink. While there's a fair amount of reading, it's manageable (not to mention highly applicable…ahem), and I thought I might let you in a little bit of the processing I'm doing in the midst of my prep for the class.

Here are some quotes (along with a few of my thoughts to tie them together) as to what men might need to overcome if they want to get (and stay) happily married:

From Holding Hands, Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Phillips:

"When a woman enters a dating relationship, she mainly needs to be protected from the sins of the very man to whom she is offering her heart. The enemy that men need to stand up to is the one who lives within themselves: the one who is selfish, insensitive, and uncommitted. It is when that man is put to death the woman will be safe and will be blessed in the relationship." (72)

This quote brings to mind Proverbs 4:23: "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." While I was well aware of the danger within me in the form of the lust of the flesh when Megan and I were dating/courting, I'm not sure I was that convinced I could be selfish, insensitive, and (the hardest one to imagine at the time) uncommitted toward her. Ten years of marriage, however, has made me a believer as to my potential in these areas, but thankfully they have also been a wake-up call to deal with it.

In Peter Scazzero's book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, I took the informal "Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory" (as found on pages 60-66, or take it online here). Apparently, I'm an official "emotional adolescent" (as opposed to an emotional infant, child, or adult), the definition of which means that,

"Like a physical adolescent, I know the right ways I should behave in order to 'fit in' mature, adult society. I can feel threatened and alarmed inside when I am offered constructive criticism, quickly becoming defensive. I subconsciously keep records on the love I give out, so I can ask for something in return at a later time. When I am in conflict, I might admit some fault in the matter, but I will insist on demonstrating the guilt of the other party, proving why they are more to blame. Because of my commitment to self-survival, I have trouble really listening to another person's pain, disappointments, or needs without becoming preoccupied with myself."

Granted, while much of this is true of me to a degree, the results aren't quite as accurate as I might on a bad day believe; in fact, in a few categories (digging below the surface, overcoming the power of the past, living in brokenness), I actually scored on the low end of adulthood, which, when you really think about it, isn't too bad for a 35-year-old.

From William J. Doherty's Take Back Your Marriage (a book that, despite its cheeseball title and cover, is not written from a Christian perspective, but oozes much truth in its analysis):

"I am in consumer mode when I fail to look at my own limitations, when I continually compare my spouse or marriage to my fantasies of other relationships, when I confuse my desires with my needs, when I lose the distinction between behavior that is is completely unacceptable (such as physical abuse, infidelity, alcoholism, emotional cruelty, and chronic lying) and behavior that bothers me or saddens me (such as a spouse not giving me enough affection or emotional support, working excessive hours, showing lack of sexual interest, or having certain unlikable personality characteristics). The consumer attitude turns marital disappointments into marital tragedies and constructive efforts for improvement into entitled demands for change." (38-39)

It's interesting how God has dealt with me concerning some of these specifics in the past few years. However, it wasn't until reading Doherty that I see them as symptoms of an overshadowing condition of consumerism rather than just a random assortment of sins and selfishness. I've never thought of myself as much of a consumer in areas of finances, goods, or other such benefits, but I certainly am one when it comes to ideals and desires, especially when they're of my own creating.

  1. Mark and I are taking Marriage and Family too. We’ve done so much great processing together. It’s been great.

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