Posts tagged strong marriage

Avoid being a social media casualty



social media casualtyDid you know that a third of all divorce filings contain the word “Facebook”?

That’s according to a recently-released report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But before you go telling all your friends that “a third of all marriages end because of Facebook,” recognize what the report really says.

The truth is that Facebook is mentioned in one-third of divorce filings. A lot of those filing papers only make reference to an online relationship. Some husbands or wives have even declared their intention to break up through Facebook, email, or Instagram. But a great number of the divorce papers simply use Facebook messages or wall posts to make a case for divorce by pointing out a spouse’s uncivil behavior or poor parenting skills.

The widespread use of electronic media today makes it almost certain that Facebook and Instagram could be used by lawyers to build a legal web to snare an uncommitted spouse. And that’s on the rise. Consider that three years ago, 20 percent of divorce filings contained the word “Facebook.” Whatever the case, social media is definitely playing an increasing role in families and family breakup.

More important than that, I believe the level of social media engagement in our culture today is evidence that we’re putting a lot of time into passing interactions with others and not enough time in deep relationship-building with a spouse.

Recently I saw a comment on one of FamilyLife’s Facebook pages by a husband who took a little passing snipe at his wife for everyone to see. In all fairness, he was probably reaching out for help in an area of frustration in his marriage. But those kinds of comments, when read by a wife, often make the problem worse by feeding a sense of embitterment or hurt.

Here are some principles that may help keep social media interactions from becoming words in a divorce filing.

1. Keep everything in the open.  If you don’t have a joint husband/wife account (on Facebook for example) make sure what you say online is nothing you couldn’t say with your wife standing there beside you. Before messaging, ask yourself, “Is this something I wouldn’t mind my wife seeing?” You may even consider letting your wife read it first. It’s good for accountability, and it’s a good way to double-check that what you’ve written isn’t miscommunicating what you meant.

2. Say what you need to say … and say it to the right person.  Rather than gripe about a marital problem on social media, talk directly with your wife. If you think it might hurt her feelings or get you in hot water, think of a way you can soften the blow when you raise the issue.  In most cases, the following approach is helpful: “I know you care about me, and I know you probably didn’t think about it, but I feel (insert your emotion) when you (insert the offense). I don’t want problems to build that will isolate us. Can we work through this together?” This works for wives, too.

3. Use social media to build each other up.  It’s never been easier than it is right now to send notes to each other for no reason at all, or to brag about your wife in front of others.  Social media makes it easy to connect with each other while you’re apart during the day, and that will keep a relationship from drifting.  Just make sure that what you say online is reinforced by what you say and do when you see each other that night. Remember, your wife is always looking for proof that she’s important to you. That gives her a lot of security.

4. When you’re together, come together.  It’s very easy, even when you’re home, to drift to your own individual social media corners. By the end of the evening, you realize that you’ve hardly spoken a word. This happens with father-child relationships, too. Set your personal devices aside, and plan some face time (the real thing, not the Apple feature.)

Above all else, remember these two driving principles of building and maintaining a relationship:

  • The quality of your relationship depends on the amount each of you invest in it.
  • If you aren’t intentionally growing toward oneness, you’re automatically drifting toward isolation.

Don’t let your marriage become a social media casualty. Be intentional about strengthening your marriage and avoiding the things that could potentially destroy it.

© 2014 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “Avoid Being a Social Media Casualty” by Scott Williams on the Stepping Up blog for men.

STEPThink - 10-point checklist“The Unmasking of an Online Affair” tells the story of one couple who came back from emotional infidelity.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistRead Dave Boehi’s 3-part series “Are We Replacing Conversation with Connectivity” on FamilyLife.com.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this post and these articles with your wife and work together to keep social media under control.

Becoming the man of her dreams



Getting you ready for Valentines day with some posts about love, romance, and a better understanding of what makes your wife tick.

Your wife needs you to pursue a relationship with her — not just when you want romance, but as a way of life.

What do Sean Connery and Harrison Ford have in common? Whether playing James Bond or Indiana Jones, these actors have been Hollywood’s idea of a manly man for decades. They’re rough and tough, and can fight, shoot, punch, or drop-kick their way through a crowded alley of bad guys … while barely cracking a sweat. They’re unstoppable. Unflappable.

And they usually get at least one girl in the end.

After all, jumping in the sack with any available warm body just goes with the action-hero territory. They reach for the thrill of sex without paying the price of intimacy. Take James Bond. Give him an adventure, and he’ll be in and out of more beds than a mattress salesman.

In the absence of role models who know how to love, cherish, and relate to one woman over a lifetime, is it any wonder that for the last few decades, boys have grown up to be men who are equally clueless about how to give themselves to a lifelong love? Taking their cues from Hollywood, they enter into marriage with guns blazing, thinking that their tough guy routine will save the day. But the show barely gets started when they find out how woefully ill-equipped they are to give a woman what she craves most.  A relationship.

I’m convinced we have a generation of married men who are confused and lonely; they’re stuck in a lifeless marriage because they never learned how to cultivate a relationship with a woman that speaks to her romantic need for intimacy. Sandy, who attended one of our conferences, described her relationship with her husband this way:

Dennis, I’m afraid that I am losing respect for him as a man. He is not really contributing to our marriage or even to his own life, so it’s like having a dependent rather than a husband, a partner.

If Sandy’s husband is ever going to become the man of her dreams, the best place to start is by meeting her relational needs. Unfortunately the media reinforces the notion of experiencing sex, devoid of a relationship. Men have been led to believe that great sex, like fresh fruit, is hanging off every tree, ripe, and waiting to be picked. All they have to do is reach out and grab some. They’ve been duped into thinking the same should be true in a marriage.

However, great romance is the by-product of a relationship.

Simple gardening tips

Becoming the man of her dreams - stepping up

The secret is learning how and what to sow in the garden of a woman’s heart. When you sow the seeds of respect, kind words, acts of tenderness, and thoughtfulness, you reap a reward from your wife in abundance. As God said through Hosea, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love” (Hosea 10:12).

On the other hand, if you fail to cultivate this relationship, or if you sow seeds of criticism, neglect, or rage, sex becomes little more than a cold, physical act in which your wife feels used and unloved. That’s because God hard-wired a woman to desire relationship. Just as your wife has the power to affirm you sexually, you have tremendous power to provide her with the relationship she longs for, namely, a connectedness to your heart and soul.

When you withhold a meaningful relationship (I’m speaking about her need for conversation with you, her desire to see you plugged in to family life, her thirst to hear words of affirmation), she finds it difficult to give herself totally to you. Think with me for a moment: Do you sometimes feel your wife is not excited about your sexual advances? Step back and consider how much of an investment you’ve been making into her relational bank account. Her heart can be like a bank account where you make deposits and withdrawals. Far too often as men we can make withdrawals and disregard making deposits or investments. Every wife needs you to invest security, acceptance, and an emotional connection in her life.

Let me give you an example of what happens when a man squanders his power to validate and romance his bride with a relationship. Pam, a listener to our radio program writes:

My husband, Keith, has called me almost every low-life name that he could think of. He’s called me “fat” and said that I’m “bad in bed.” Although it has been almost eight years ago that Keith said these things, I can’t forget them. We’ve been married seventeen years and the TV is still more important to him than me. Recently, while staying in a hotel, I purchased a new nightie. When I changed clothes in front of him, his look was one of disgust. Keith didn’t have to say a word. The look on his face told me exactly how he felt about me.

I feel so rejected physically I can count on one hand in the last two years the times Keith has told me that I look nice. He’s never at home in the evenings to help me with the children. On weekends, Keith usually finds something other than his family to keep him busy. When I’ve tried to talk about this, I get yelled at or spoken down to. I hate living like this. I don’t know where to turn for help.

Now, I don’t know Keith’s side of the story but from what Pam has said, Keith has all but abandoned his role as the provider of a safe relationship — at great cost to his marriage. By calling Pam names, Keith failed to accept her. By ignoring her in favor of the television, he failed to make an emotional connection. And by refusing to involve himself with his family, he undermined her sense of security. His marriage is a divorce waiting to happen unless he recognizes that “love is patient, love is kind … It is not rude, it is not self-seeking … It always protects” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, 7).

A woman’s need for relationship carries into the bedroom too. While a man is usually able to engage in sex almost instantaneously (almost anytime, anywhere), a woman needs the context of a relationship if she is to freely and playfully respond to physical intimacy. Sometimes a man will meet the relational needs of his wife during the day, but doesn’t nurture their relationship in the bedroom. And men wonder why women resent their sex drive.

When a man pressures his wife to perform sexually without regard to the relational aspects of such intimacy, sex becomes shallow. Physical intimacy becomes a battle of the wills or a manipulative game that ultimately dies a slow death.

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Just as your wife might wonder why sex is so important to you, you might be wondering why relationship is so crucial to her. You might even be scratching your head about why God wired men and women so differently. Look at it this way. As you know, God created Adam first. But did you know that Adam never asked for a wife?

It was God who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, emphasis added). God, in His wisdom, created Eve to be the companion that Adam didn’t even recognize he needed. She was created to remove Adam’s aloneness. No wonder God placed in Eve an intense drive toward relationship.

God knew that man’s tendency was to be alone. He gave us a gravitational pull in marriage—our sex drive—so that we would pursue our wives who, in turn, would call us to know and be known in the context of a relationship.

For a man, achieving relational intimacy is both a mystery and a challenge. I believe God wants to knock the edges off me, as a man, so that I learn to love my wife in a way that communicates love to her. During more than thirty years of marriage, I have repeatedly learned (emphasis on repeatedly) that Barbara needs me to pursue a relationship with her — not just when I want romance, but as a way of life. When a man pursues a relationship and gives his wife compliments only when he’s interested in sex, his wife will feel used.

For example, Barbara and I have a family of eight. As you can imagine, there are quite a few responsibilities that I’ve got to tackle on a typical weekend. As a man, I tend to count up the “points” that I’ve racked up over the weekend. You know what I’m talking about: I think if I just knock off about a half dozen items on her “honey do” list — cooking breakfast, weeding the garden, and so on — then Barbara will feel romantic when we go to bed at night.

But points are irrelevant to Barbara if she feels disconnected from me. In my way of thinking, a little sexual intimacy will connect us. But that may not even be on her radar screen as a woman. Romance for her begins heart to heart and is consummated body to body. In her way of thinking, she wants me to be her friend first, then her lover. Giving her a relationship first is how I become the man of her dreams. In other words, to her there’s a big difference between doing things for her and being involved with her. Sure, she appreciates what I do for her and for the family. But connecting on a friendship level with her is what she dreams of.

 

Adapted by permission of Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN., from the book entitled Rekindling the Romance, copyright 2004 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of the copyright law.

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