NOTE: I’m reading through “Making Marriage Simple“, by Harville Hendrix and offering some overviews of the chapters. It’s a great go-to book for advice and practices to help nurture and restore marriage.
In ch 7, Hendrix says that negativity is a wish in disguise. This means behind the negative or hurtful thoughts, there’s an unmet desire. We long for something that is not being met. This is good news! It gives us insights as to what we CAN DO with our anger, hurt, or deep needs.
Hendrix offers simple ways to communicate these wishes in way that is responsible and clear enough for your partner to understand.
Here are a few steps (buy the book for the rest of them… 😉
1. Say it so your partner can hear (Use “I” statements such as “I feel lonely”, not “You are never home!”)
2. Be brief and clear (don’t ramble on and flood your partner with EVERYTHING)
3. Choose one frustration at a time (this will help your partner to respond)
4. Approach your partner when you’re feeling calm (it’s HOW and WHEN you say it that matters)
5. Never criticize, shame, blame, or analyze your partner. Making Marriage Simple, by Harvile Hendrix (ch. 7)
You’ll have to read the rest for some additional tips on sharing the actual wish and behavioral change you’re looking for. It’s easy to read and understand. Go for it! Get it! 🙂
I’ve been reading this book on marriage by Harville Hendrix on the recommendation of a good friend whose a psycho-analyst and therapist. It’s been helpful to work through my own patterns of thinking and emotions. (link here)
It is a lot harder to find our peaceful center when looking into the face of another—especially when that “other” may not be feeling at peace with us. And when our beloved is bugging us, forget it. Peace flies right out the window! For this reason, we say that one of the greatest spiritual paths is staying put in your relationship and learning how to really love your partner, warts and all. When you can validate your partner’s experience and express empathy—even when their experience makes absolutely no sense to you.Hendrix, Harville. Making Marriage Simple: Ten Relationship-Saving Truths
Sometimes it’s tough being the person of peace. At other (most) times, it’s tough to be the wart. What Hendrix offers is a way to slow down and show each other empathy of the deepest kind.
He says (bullets and emphasis mine):
Elevating your relationship to this status transforms the Imago Process into a spiritual practice. Like meditation and prayer, Dialogue slows you down, quiets your mind, and invites you to…
*put aside those same old thoughts you obsessively think about over and over again.
*Instead, you simply Mirror back your partner’s words, and imagine how they are feeling, truly bearing witness to their experience.
*Then when you offer them a Caring Behavior and speak to them from the Owl instead of the Crocodile, you are unleashing the neurochemistry of Love.
*This feels great to you, and is great for your partner. The Divine is waiting to show up in the Space Between.Hendrix, Harville. Making Marriage Simple: Ten Relationship-Saving Truths .
God is present and when we choose to be empathetic, listen, and hold each other’s pain, there is sacred space between both partners. God shows up!
Marriage is…”flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation”.
Our culture has created very unrealistic values and expectations on marriage and partners
From the Boone Center for the Family
I’ve NEVER done this!
Blame is one of four coping reactions to pain. It’s common for “blamers” to react in an aggressive fashion that accuses another. In reaction to feeling unloved or unsafe, a blamer tends to make demands or demean others. It’s ironic that a person reacts with blame because she feels unloved or unsafe, yet in her reactivity makes others feel the very same, unloved and/or unsafe.
The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse:
In countless counseling sessions, I’ve heard partners share their struggles with the “work conversations” when getting home after a long day. In the workplace setting, there are conflicts, crises, and criticism which takes an emotional toll.
Naturally, a spouse might want to share their work struggles with the partner because they have a safe marriage. But the problem is that the spouse hearing the lament is powerless to do anything about it. He or she can’t help with the issues and there can only be so much “listening” and “empathy” one can give. And usually, the listener doesn’t have an outlet to share the burden or pain.
All marriage partners need allies–friends, peers, support groups–to confide in so that the marriage doesn’t become the only place to share work struggles.
We’ve tried to have a 5-7 minute “talk about work” rule in our home in order to keep it minimal. Typically, the conversation might happen while we’re making dinner together and then there’s a transition of “Enough about my work…how was your day?”
We want to be a safe space for each other and not burden the other with work issues. Instead, focus on decompressing, having some confidants (preferably a therapist, coach, pastor, or trusted friend) to talk with, and using the evening to fill each other’s love tank.
Videos and talks about the crisis of family and marriage from the wide landscape of Christian faith as hosted by Pope Francis.
The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.
Witnesses will draw from
the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.
The Colloquium is sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and
the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
Okay…I agree with this article IF it means that a happy wife is responsible for her own happiness AND that the husband can ADD to this mutually satisfying enterprise. In other words, I don’t believe that a husband is SOLELY responsible for the happiness of his wife. That is her inner work to do, with her husband as a partner in the journey.
I have personally noticed that I am happier when my wife is indulging herself in “personal happiness responsibility”. It spills over into our marriage and my own life. If she’s happy and I’m not happy, life is still okay. I can work through with some support. I would rather see her happy and fulfilled. It’s easier for me to cope with life when she is in this state. I’m sure my happiness might affect/impact her as well….That’s been my personal experience and observation.
When the wife is happy with a long-term partnership, the husband is happier, no matter how he feels about the marriage.
For marital quality, it seems the wife’s happiness matters more than the husband’s.
I’m learning more and more that intimacy is about knowing my identity found only in God (who is Love). I must hear the words of belonging, belovedness, and blessedness from Love (God) so that I can have a self to offer in intimacy. Sometimes intimacy is not happening because the other is not dancing. They don’t have a healthy sense of identity as found in God. So it causes them not to have a self to offer in order to dance. Too often, we blame the other for our shortcomings or lack of self-worth. Yet, we must return to the voice of Love to claim our self-worth in God. The following is adapted from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations:
A relationship demands two. So the first step in the dance of intimacy is an appropriate sense of self. We all know stories about teenagers or even older people who give themselves away to another person in the hope of finding themselves. It never works, of course, but it’s not their fault. They must not have gotten those mirror neurons from the gaze of love to know who they were. So they think this handsome man or this beautiful woman is going to take care of me and is going to give me my identity.
In the story of Moses and the burning bush, there is first of all an allurement, a seduction and attraction, a fascinating experience (the bush that is burning but not consumed). Moses is attracted to it. Then Yahweh says, “Take off your shoes. Come no nearer.” God is not calling Moses to enmeshment or loss of his own self. Yahweh is telling Moses, “I know who I am, and you are about to enter into an experience of the sacred with me, but stand your ground. Come no nearer.” God honors the other as distinct. So love is not absorption, love is not a martyr complex where you let other people use you. When you know your inherent divine identity, you are truly ready to participate in the sacred dance of intimacy. And in the dance of love there must be at least two.
Adapted from Intimacy: The Divine Ambush , disc 2 and 4
(CD, MP3 download)
Gateway to Silence:
The gaze of God receives me exactly as I am.
“As a relationship becomes more constructive, the individuals who compose it become freer to change.”
– Howard Clinebell
Focus on the enrichment of your marriage (relationship), meeting each other’s mutual needs, as a means to become a whole person.