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For God So Loved the World…..

“For God so loved the world….”

Love: It seems we use it so casually – superficially – sometimes even flippantly. We often demean it or reduce it to levels of lustful desire.

God: we exploit Him for our own purposes –throw Him in the trash can when we are no longer interested – group Him together with all the superficial little gods we create to make us feel good.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to die for us.”

In this simple statement God and love come together in a comprehensive understanding. We are told exactly what kind of love God is offering us: one that is solemn and significant enough that it will die for us. People are being killed today in the name of some god. But would a god of hate die for us? I don’t think so.

Love – we have diminished it – tarnished its value, while desperately needing it. We need to receive it – we need to give it. We cannot live without it.

Leftovers

I love leftovers. I love Thanksgiving dinners: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the other special foods and recipes brought out for our traditional dinners.

But I enjoy the leftovers almost as much: warmed in the microwave, I continue to savor that turkey, stuffing and warm gravy.

However, there is more than just the food leftovers that I want to take home with me. I want to take the camaraderie, the moments of laughter when the past wasn’t remembered and the moment was simply enjoyed.

As we stopped and listened to each other for a moment longer than usual, took time to thank and appreciate all the work and effort of our host and hostess it left a glow of togetherness, friendship and closeness.

Things For Which I am Grateful

Thanksgiving – A time to get together as families and celebrate – giving thanks for what we have been given throughout the year.

While the tradition is deep-rooted in our culture, with long distances between family members and time constraints, it is becoming more difficult to find the time to get together.

Add to that fractured families, where unkind and hurtful things in the past keep us defensive; even when we do get together it is difficult to let go, relax and be thankful for one another.

We want peace in the world but we don’t necessarily want to seek it in our own homes.

Are my struggles worth it?

We all want to be happy. And we want our marriages to not only last, but grow better over time. While some relationships will fail for a variety of reasons, being willing to identify and work on the problems we face is the first major step to a meaningful relationship.

The first years of a marriage tend to be the most vulnerable and statistics reveal that reality. When we are passionately in love, we believe it will last forever.

However, work schedules, babies, chores and home maintenance soon become the focus and we can quickly get mired in daily problems. Add in personal careers and the stresses increase and the relationship begins to suffer.

It is easier than ever to get a divorce and people often hold the mistaken belief that if they get out of their current relationship, the next one would be the one that will make them happy. However, again, the statistics reveal a different picture.

Consider the following divorce stats in America:

A Hidden Agenda

I’ve tried the communication model, but it seems no matter what I do, we still end up arguing. Our conversations keep breaking down.

When I bring up a point of disagreement or conflict, it is interpreted as a criticism and is countered with a negative jab at me. I am reminded of when I did this and that and pretty soon we don’t even remember what the current problem is because we are too busy trying to resolve past issues that are not relevant today.

Why isn’t all this communication stuff working?

Like any skill we develop, communication is an aptitude that needs to be practiced over time to gain competence.

But like any habit we put in place, it is easy to get discouraged and we go back to old ways of doing things.

How do we stay on topic?

That’s Not What I Meant!

“But you said. . . .”

“No, I didn’t. . . .”

“Yes, I heard you say. . . . .”

“Well, that’s not what I meant!”

Have you ever had such a conversation with your children or your spouse? You were sure you said what you believed would be easily understood. And yet, that is not what the other person heard.

When we talk to one another, communication is traveling both ways. Messages we send and the messages we hear are colored and often distorted by the filters we have. What sounded clear to us was not heard the same way by another..

Because messages are being loaded on each side of the interaction, by both the speaker and the listener, communication can become unclear and misleading.

No One Understands

Communication is about sharing our thoughts and feelings. It involves some kind of interchange or conversation. We send and receive messages as we talk about our wants and needs.

Many times, however, our conversations with loved ones end up in misunderstandings and ongoing fights or disagreements.

Why can’t she or he listen? Why do we end up struggling to be heard and understood? It’s as though the words we speak aren’t registering or are constantly being misinterpreted.

In today’s world there are so many ways to communicate. Yet, it seems, our every day discussions with loved ones often break down and our exchanges create misunderstanding and division.

Ineffective communication creates on-going irritation and stress. We begin to see the other in less than loving ways. When communication breaks down between those we love, our relationships begin to unravel.

We need people. We need to share ideas and perspectives – our joys and laughter – our pain and sorrows. We need effective communication to solve problems, share different points of view, meet today’s challenges, hear a different narrative and seek understanding.

The Joy of Relaxed Conversation

I just returned from a seven day cruise. Besides the relaxation, new scenery, exciting day trips to never before visited places, I think what I enjoyed as much was meeting and talking to the people who were on this cruise.

We met people from all over the United States and Canada. As we sat for dinner or a glass of wine, we talked and shared about where we lived, places we have traveled, our interests and backgrounds.

Over the course of a week, we would bump into each other at various places on board, laugh and joke and at times shared phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Most cell phones were turned off since we had entered another country. But we found we didn’t need them except to take pictures.

How fun to talk face to face, see expressions and hear inflections and the tone of messages. Has life become so hectic that we have to go on a cruise to find time to sit, relax and talk with one another for a few minutes? How sad that today’s conversations are often fast sound bites texted to one another.

Climate Change and Your Relationship

We hear a lot these days about climate change. Climates have been cyclic for years. Do we influence the weather patterns? I don’t know – and neither do many scientists.

But I do know that we have a huge influence on the climate of our relationships. This is especially important for our marriages.

Years ago Aaron Beck, founder of CBT, helped us understand cognitive distortions, the distorted thinking that gets us into so much trouble. They include All or Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filtering, and Mind Reading among others.

When we identify and alter these thinking and communication errors, we can change the climate of our relationships.

Let’s take a closer look at these 4 distorted thinking patterns

All or Nothing Thinking

Everything is either black or white. No shades of grey. It is either/or thinking. You are either a saint or a sinner – good guy or bad guy.

This kind of thinking dehumanizes individuals because no one is either all good or all bad. When we have programmed ourselves to see things in such a rigid way, we miss all the wonderful parts of who we are.

Book Review: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

There are a lot of books out there to help any marriage that might be in trouble, excellent books that describe how we form attachments, how we love and different love languages we use with our mates.

However, I am particularly biased toward Gottman’s books because of his extensive work with clients and research study on the habits of marriage couples through The Gottman Institute.

While he has written a number of books, two of my favorites are “Couples Communication” and “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”

Each chapter describes one of the principles and includes many user friendly exercises for better understanding and application to your own marriage. Here is his blueprint to make your marriage long-lasting.

The seven important principles according to Gottman