Tag Archive for security

Taming the Dragon in Your Marriage…Together

There is a dragon in your house. He rests right between you and your spouse. Don’t worry. It’s not a bad thing. He’s perfectly safe and can even protect your marriage. This dragon has rested between spouses since the beginning of time. Couples used to honor their dragon. They believed love could not live unless their dragon protected it. It was a badge of honor for a married couple to tame the dragon and keep him healthy in the home they built together. Scripture even tells us God owns this pet dragon. It was not until the 19th century that this dragon fell out of vogue. People began to fear it. They began to believe this dragon represented danger to the subdued, secretive emotional life of the family. What if the dragon wasn’t so tame? What if it suddenly went wild, triggered by some threat? After all, there had been incidents in which the docile dragon suddenly went wild, dangerously thrashing about in an uncontrolled fit of anger. Still, these incidents only occurred when something or someone threatened the dragon’s owners or if the owners did not protect the dragon’s sense of safety and security. If the couple cares for the dragon’s home, assuring his sense of security, he remains perfectly safe to have in the house.

This dragon’s name is Jealousy. Jealousy exists when we have a special relationship with someone. He reveals the priority we place on commitment, honesty, and security within our most intimate relationship. In that sense, jealousy remains a sleeping dragon until we experience some threat to our relationship. Something that arouses doubt in our partner’s commitment or honesty or threatens our sense of security in the relationship can make the dragon go wild. At that point, jealousy can feel uncontrollable and inescapable. It can even be tyrannical. “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy” made insecure (Proverbs 27:4). Here’s the thing. Jealousy resides in all our homes. The question becomes: how do we tame jealousy in marriage?  Jealousy remains tame when living in an environment in which he feels safe and secure. So, create an environment of security by doing the following.

  • Learn about your own insecurities. Each of us has our own insecurities that we can cast onto the relationship from time to time. If we view ourselves as unlovable, too fat, not smart enough, not good enough or some other negative epitaph, we are setting the stage for jealousy to go wild. Begin to work on yourself. Unload your own baggage.  Learn to see yourself through the eyes of God. Learn to accept yourself as having many good, lovable traits. Accept that there are areas of growth for all of us and then begin to grow.
  • Build an environment of trust. Follow through on promises. Develop a mindset that seeks to honor your spouse. Focus on and admire those qualities that endear you to your spouse. Verbalize your admiration and gratitude often.
  • Celebrate your love. Create a daily ritual in which you sit down with your spouse to share your daily joys, successes, sorrows, and shortcomings.  Create a weekly ritual in which you share a date with your spouse. You can go out or can stay in for this date. Either way, dedicate the time of the date to your spouse—no cell-phone, no interruptions…just you and your spouse.

These three practices will help you tame the dragon together…and enjoy your love.

You Mean THINKING Can Ruin My Marriage?

Well, not all thinking can ruin your marriage but….

Middle age man doubtful and very serious.

You know poor communication or contemptuous communication can destroy your marriage. You’ve probably heard that a lack of connection with your spouse or turning away from your spouse’s attempts to connect can ruin your marriage as well. Perhaps you’ve read about the negative impact of contempt on marriage…or the destructive power of lying on your marriage. But, do you realize a thinking style based on the fear of rejection can destroy your marriage? (Read The Thinking Style that Damages Relationship for an overview of the study showing how fear of rejection impacts relationships.) It’s true! When a person enters a marriage fearing rejection, the marriage is at risk. Fear of rejection causes a person to think about their partner abandoning them. Fear of rejection also leads to the fearful person constantly seeking reassurance and asking about the security of their relationship. They may even try to force their partner to remain in the relationship through verbally eliciting guilt. Or, on the other hand, the person with a fear of rejection may comply with everything their partner says or does…which only serves to weaken the relationship (Shut Up & Put Up to Ruin Your Marriage explains more). Unfortunately, these behaviors, engaged in out of a fear of rejection, only serve to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. They push the partner away and may ultimately lead to destroying their marriage.

Don’t worry though. I have three ideas to help you overcome the fear of rejection and so change your behaviors, strengthen your marriage, and nurture a sense of security in your marriage!

  • Many times, fear of rejection flows from an insecure parent-child attachment. So, if you’re a parent, you can help your children avoid a fear of rejection by developing a secure, loving relationship with them. By doing so you help protect their future marriage from the fear of rejection. If, however, you are an adult with a fear of rejection, learn to nurture yourself. Think about the relationship you had with your parent. What was missing? What led you to feel insecure? What caused disconnection between you and your parent? Then, parent yourself. Provide yourself with those things you missed from your parent. Nurture yourself with encouragement and love. When you make a mistake, show yourself compassion and then consider how you can avoid that same mistake in the future. Trust yourself to grow and learn from mistakes. Give yourself a hug. Acknowledge your successes each day. Compliment your own effort. These actions will contribute to the next suggestion for overcoming the “fear of rejection.”
  • Develop your identity and a secure sense of self. You can do this by acknowledge and capitalizing on your strengths while acknowledging and working to improve in areas of weakness. Participate in your own growth. Develop hobbies that support your interests. Try new things. In this way you will develop a greater sense of independence and competence…and that will not only reduce your “fear of rejection” but strengthen your ability to grow in intimate relationship as well!
  • Befriend people who will honor you. Develop relationships with people who show compassion and understanding, kindness and encouragement. Make sure your partner is a person who will engage in mutual respect, a person who will value you for you and who enjoys seeing you grow as an individual as well as in relationship to them. That may sound like a tall order, but a partner like that is well worth the wait!

Fear of rejection can ruin a marriage, but you don’t have to let it. Nurture yourself. Develop a strong sense of identity. Befriend people who be mutually supportive in relationship with you. When you do, you may feel the “fear of rejection” slipping away…and good riddance!

How to Discipline Before You Even Need To

I don’t know about you but I hate to see my children upset, struggling, or in pain. Still, sometimes they misbehave and suffer as a result of that misbehavior. They make foolish choices and struggle with the consequences. As hard as it is to watch, it’s in their best interest to let them suffer. I have, however, discovered a way to limit those moments of suffering and thus our own struggle with watching them suffer. Limit them, I say, NOT eliminate them. It’s a way to teach them disciplined behavior and how to make wise daily actions before trouble begins. It’s not 100% successful, but it certainly made a huge difference in our home and in any home in which I’ve see it implemented. I’m talking about establishing daily routines.

Routines will help your children and your family discipline before you even need to. Many of the benefits of routines stem from the predictability they add to family life. When children know what to expect, positive things happen. One great benefit of routines is watching your children learn disciplined behavior before suffering the consequences of poor choices! Let me share a few other benefits your children will experience when you establish healthy routines.

  • Children become more cooperative and less oppositional with routines in place. Power struggles decrease as routines become the norm. Morning routines replace nagging. Bed time routines replace fighting. Children learn to follow the routine because “that’s what’s next” and what’s next is a healthy, wise lifestyle choice.
  • Children gain a sense of mastery and independence with routines in place. As children learn the routine, they require less prompting. They learn to do more on their own. For instance, a dinner routine which includes setting the table, clearing the dishes, and loading the dishwasher becomes a family activity in which everyone participates and learns how to complete each step independently if needed. A morning routine contributes to competent self-care and an independent ability to prepare for the day, which will be a great benefit to the whole family in middle school, high school, and college.
  • Children gain a sense of security from healthy routines. Routines add predictability to the day. When transitions and changes occur, those routines add stability. Predictability and stability equal safety and security for children. Children who feel safe and secure in the family listen better and misbehave less often. For instance, children who know their parent will read with them before they go to sleep experience a sense of safety in the relationship that allows them to open up and talk about the important events of their life and day.
  • Children gain a stronger identity through routines. Routines help define who we are as a family and as individuals. We are ‘readers’ who read together every night. We are ‘independent people’ who don’t need our mom to get us up for school every day. We are family, supporting one another as we talk during family meals. We are ‘campers’ who go camping one a month. We are ‘people of faith’ who practice our daily and weekly prayers and services. You get the idea: routines build identity.
  • Children bond with family through routines. Family dinners, bedtime routines, routines of taking leave, routines of reunion, and holiday routines all provide the opportunity to bond with family and express love and affection for one another. They provide the time to share experiences, talk about the day, and practice values together.

Overall, routines provide the structure and opportunity to teach appropriate behavior. They allow you to discipline even before it’s necessary! (For more ideas on the benefit of routines and what routines you can establish read Mundane Opportunities for Quality Time and Add Meaning to Life by Building Routine.)

How Your Family Can Change the World

As the year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the importance of family in the world today.  So many of the issues we struggle with as a nation could be lessened, if not eliminated, by healthy families, families based on the values of honor, grace, & celebration.  Families that practice and teach these values become the cornerstone of healthy communities. They improve their communities and the overall world by living out the values of honor, grace, and celebration learned in the microcosmic community of their family. Consider just a few lessons learned in a family of honor, grace, and celebration that will then be extended to the community and world around them.

  • Honor causes us to humbly see one another as diamonds rather than coal, someone to be cherished and admired rather than used for my comforts and my ends.
  • Honor teaches us to communicate love and respect to one another—young and old, male and female. It teaches us to respect one another in our uniqueness.
  • Honor compels us to esteem one another in spite of differences we might have. It teaches us to respect even when we disagree.
  • Grace enables us offer one another unconditional acceptance.
  • Grace teaches us to live sensible and righteous lives—lives that serve rather than abuse, lives that sacrifice for others rather than take from others.
  • Grace empowers us to practice extravagant generosity in our availability, attention, and meeting of one another’s needs.
  • Grace leads us to forgive those who offend us and to seek reconciliation when possible, releasing us from the burden of vengeance.
  • Grace frees us from the crushing weight of anger and bitterness as we seek It frees us from the shackles of guilt as we receive forgiveness.
  • Honor and grace combine to create a sense of security, a sanctuary of acceptance.
  • Honor and grace build a safe haven in which disagreements can be discussed, options explored, and solutions discovered.
  • Honor and grace drive us to connect with one another on a deep emotional level.
  • Honor and grace liberate us from the entanglements of narcissism and self-centeredness.
  • Honor and grace make celebration possible. In honor, we celebrate our diversity. In grace, we even celebrate with those who disagree with us.
  • Celebration allows us to play and laugh together, revealing ourselves more full and without pretense.
  • Celebration refreshes our perspective of others, allowing us to see one another with fresh eyes of understanding and joy.
  • Celebration enhances intimacy, allowing us to know one another more deeply.
  • Celebration restores our trust in humanity as we celebrate those successes and achievements that value all we honor.

Healthy families not only practice honor, grace, and celebration they teach these values to future generations. In so doing, they build people of honor, grace, and celebration who then build communities of honor, grace, and celebration. People who live in families of honor, grace, and celebration go into the world and create positive change (Read Hot Sauces Vs. the Power of Relationship for an example of this positive impact). In this coming year, recommit to making your family a celebrating community of honor and grace. You need it. Your family needs it. Our world needs it!

An Environmental Concern Hits Close to Home

We hear a lot about the environment these days. Just do a google search on “environmental concerns” and around 12,900,000 links come up in a mere .87 seconds. We worry about the polar bears’ habitat, the impact of wasting water and not recycling, and the consequences of global climate change on nature’s backdrop. These are all worthy causes and concerns that deserve our attention. But, in our zeal to address the natural environment, we often neglect an environment just as important and even closer to home, an environment very dear to my heart. If you are a parent or grandparent, it’s probably dear to your heart as well. I’m talking about the home environment in which our children live and grow. This environment will have a long reaching impact on our children and everything they do.  In other words, it will have a long-term impact on our social, political, and environmental world as our children grow up. As a result, the environment in which our children learn and grow needs our full attention.  Even better, we create this environment by our efforts and through our interactions. Let me share three things we can do to create the best environment for our children’s growth and maturity.

  1. Children need a safe environment in which to learn and grow. To keep an environment safe for our children means to keep it clear of anything which poses a significant threat to them at their particular developmental level. This may involve putting up safety gates and installing “baby-proofing” locks on cupboards to keep our toddlers safe. As our children become “middle schoolers,” establishing a safe environment may involve charging cell phones overnight in the kitchen rather than the bedroom. A safe environment also includes plenty of healthy food and sufficient rest. You get the idea. Think ahead and create a safe environment for your children. Creating a safe environment for children also relieves parents of stress. With less stress over their children’s safety, parents can relax and observe their children. They can learn more about their children and grow closer to them each day.
  2. Children need an environment that is cognitively challenging. This will include age appropriate toys and play objects with which children can interact and problem-solve. Things as simple as building blocks, dress up clothes, and balls provide appropriate stimulation. Even objects in nature like trees to climb, bugs to watch, hills to roll down, and water to play in provide opportunities to problem-solve, negotiate, and create. TV’s and video games, on the other hand, rob our children of the opportunities to problem-solve and create. So, the best environment for our children will limit screen-time and provide plenty of “passive toys” (Read Two Observations on Parenting for more.)
  3. Children need an emotionally nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. A key ingredient of an emotionally nurturing environment is an attentive parent. The attentive parent possesses keen observation skills. They use this skill to learn of their children’s strengths and weaknesses, to identify their children’s abilities and areas of growth. Their keen eye will identify ways to modify the environment to encourage positive behavior and stimulate growth, provide success and introduce challenges. The emotionally nurturing parent rejoices when their child rejoices and feels sorrow when their child feels sorrow. Yet, because the parents are not overwhelmed by their children’s emotions, they can help their child temper and manage those feelings in a positive way. Read The Wings on Which Your Children Soar to learn more about providing emotional nurturance for your children.

The environment our children encounter in the world can be harsh and cruel. Create a home environment filled with honor, grace, and celebration…an environment of love. Believe me—it will have a global impact. If you want proof of the potential global impact, check out this fascinating study involving hot sauce and attachment: Hot Sauce Vs. the Power of Relationship.

Add Meaning to Life by Building Routine?

Meaning and routine…those are two words we don’t often think of together. Instead, we think of routine as dull, the “same old thing,” and “stuck in a rut.”  Who finds meaning in that? Research, on the other hand, suggests that we gain a greater sense of meaning in our lives when we practice routines. Yes, routines…like starting the day with a simple prayer or daily exercise, walking the same route to work each day or reading a chapter before bed, Friday night pizza or a cup of coffee each morning…routines! Rather than making life dull and predictable, research tells us that such routines actually make life more meaningful! (Read Everyday Routines Make Life Feel More Meaningful and A New Psychological Insight Makes Me Feel Much Less Boring for more). “How can that be?” you ask.

  • Daily routines help us develop a sense of coherence, a sense of self that remains the same over time and place. Routines help us define “who I am” and “what I do.” We become a person who enjoys coffee or a person who enjoys taking a walk. We come to know ourselves as a person who enjoys quiet times of prayer. Whatever routine we develop becomes part of our identity, our sense of self that remains the same across time and place. Of course, this means we need to use caution in developing our routines. We will do best to develop routines that contribute to a positive sense of self. After all, who wants to be the person known as a grumbler because they start every day with complaint? A positive daily routine, on the other hand, can help us develop a stable and positive identity.
  • Daily routines also build a sense of predictability into life. Having a sense of predictability, having an idea of “what comes next,” provides a sense of safety, especially for children. This sense of safety provides an anchor that frees us to take healthy risks in other areas of our lives…which leads to the next point.
  • Daily routines free us to pursue significant goals in our lives. Over time, the routines become a natural part of our day. We don’t have to waste mental energy remembering to do them or even how to do them. Instead, we can focus our energies on goals we consider significant and important to living out our values.
  • Of course, having the energy and thought to pursue more significant goals also gives our life a greater sense of purpose. We can thank daily routines for making this possible.
  • Daily routines for families also provide regular times to develop family relationships, which translates into greater family identity and family intimacy.

In other words, routines have a ripple effect. Positive routines help build a positive identity and a sense of predictability which allows us to pursue significant goals and build a greater sense of purpose. Family routines help build family identity and family intimacy. So, if you really want to help your family and your children build a greater sense of meaning in life, build family routines! Here are a few your children and your family might enjoy.

  • A daily family meal.
  • Bedtime prayers.
  • Taking time each night to read with your children.
  • The “good-bye kiss.”
  • The “I’m home kiss.”
  • Fishing on the weekend.
  • Friday pizza night.
  • Worship weekly.

You get the idea. The kinds of healthy routines you can develop are limited only by your imagination. Whatever you choose, get on out there and establish some family routines. Your family will benefit from gaining a sense of identity and personal meaning. Your children will benefit from a greater sense of identity and personal meaning. You will benefit from enjoying it all!

Beatitudes for a Happy Marriage

  • Happy the couple who humbly serves one another; that couple shall inherit a joyous intimacy.

newly married couple chasing each other in field

  • Happy the couple who is attentive, observant, and studious of one another; they shall know their spouse deeply.
  • Happy the couple who is intentionally responsive to one another; they will know a secure connection and deep friendship with one another.
  • Happy the couple who resolves conflicts quickly for they shall nurture peace in their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who supports one another’s dreams; they shall inherit a lifetime of joy.
  • Happy the couple who cherishes one another; in nurturing their commitment they will reap a secure environment of trust.
  • Happy the couple in which both spouses remain present and available. This couple will experience security and peace within their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who shows kindness within the relationship; they shall know the pleasure of gratitude.
  • Happy the couple who honors one another; they shall live in the safe haven of their marriage.
  • Happy the couple who puts their love into action and words, they shall know the deep satisfaction of a life-long, intimate marriage.

Why Family Honor?

Honor is an important ingredient in a healthy family. Many of the blogs I’ve written deal with honor in one form or another…and rightfully so. Honor simplifies life. It establishes a family environment that benefits every member of the family.  Consider just these four ways that honor benefits a family.

  • Father and daughter in Christmas crownsHonor simplifies life by allowing us to relax in our trust of one another’s faithfulness. We honor our family members by living an honorable life. An honorable person keeps their word. They are faithful and trustworthy. Living within a family we can trust allows us to relax. We know promises will be kept and relationships maintained.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to rest in the security of our relationships. Families filled with honor value one another. They place each other’s needs above their own. They remain committed to family and invested in providing the best for other family members.  As a result, relationships grow stronger. Intimacy grows. Each person rests secure in relationship, even during times of disagreement.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to walk in the freedom and openness of the truth. We honor one another by living a truthful life. An honorable life is an honest life. When a family practices honesty, the whole family lives in the freedom of the truth. Conflict is recognized, addressed, and resolved more quickly and compassionately. There are no hidden agendas, resentments, or secrets to fear. Living in the truth allows family members to trust one another. Each person knows the freedom of being truly known (not hiding any part of themselves) and still fully accepted.
  • Honor simplifies life by allowing us to celebrate the joy of lifting one another up with our words. We honor one another with encouraging words. A family filled with honor uses words to encourage, build up, and strengthen one another.

The Family That Laughs Together…

My family loves to laugh. Just last Friday we were walking back to the car after eating dinner at a local fish fry when my daughter said something that struck her older sister’s happy brother and sister laughing isolated on the whitefunny bone. She started laughing. She laughed so hard we had to stop walking to allow her to wipe tears of laughter from her face. Several weeks ago we were enjoying a little jovial banter around the dinner table when something struck my wife as funny. She started to laugh. My oldest daughter caught the “bug” and joined the “laughter contagion.” My youngest daughter and I looked at each other before sitting back with a chuckle to watch them roll around and cry in laughter. (PS—this happens a lot at our house…my youngest daughter and I actually instigate it when we can). And, we love it. I love to see my family laugh. I love to laugh with them.

  • Laughing together creates wonderful memories filled with unconditional acceptance. Laughter within a family indicates a feeling of acceptance, a sense that one is safe enough to “let go” and laugh. Laughing together bonds us together, increasing “group cohesion.” Who doesn’t want to belong to a family filled with memories of warm acceptance experienced in laughter?
  • Laughing together replaces fear and shame with togetherness, hope and well-being. It reframes fear into moments of acceptance and events that we can manage and resolve, even laugh at. It releases shame and replaces it with the knowledge that we are accepted in spite of our shortcomings, mishaps, and failures. Laughter also increases hope, self-esteem, and well-being.
  • Laughing together builds a sense of safety for everyone present. If we can laugh together, we can approach one another with humor and resolve differences together as well. After all, laughter enhances problem-solving ability, creativity, and perspective. We can all feel safer knowing we approach differences with the creativity and perspective provided by a good sense of humor and laughter.
  • Laughing together is contagious. One person with a genuine laugh will bring at least a smile to the face of each person present. As that smile turns to laughter, our lives become entwined in the joy of the moment. We become more intimate as moments of laughter release the frustrations, tensions, and even anger that separate us.

 

A family that laughs together stays together. So look for those moments when you might share a good laugh with your family…and let it out. Laugh it up…together. (If you have trouble finding something to laugh about, watch this video with your family.)

The Gift Every Child Wants (& Only You Can Give)

All children desire this gift, but very few cannot articulate it. This gift will provide your children with an amazing sense of security. Although it demands some effort, it will provide African American Couple Laughing On The Floorimmeasurable benefits to you and your children throughout your lifetimes. In fact, your children will benefit from this gift even after you have passed away. Your grandchildren can even benefit from this gift! And, only you can give this gift to your children. Sounds like an expensive gift, doesn’t it? It does carry a price; but the price is mostly measured in the coinage of effort. What is this amazing gift your children desire? What is this gift that carries such great benefits with it? The gift of having parents with a healthy marriage! Let me “unwrap this gift” a little…just to give you a peek into its benefits.

 

When a marriage relationship is filled with strained and succumbing to the pull of distraction, the home is filled with tension. When the home is filled with tension, children experience stress. Stress creates insecurity. A healthy marriage, on the other hand, lays the foundation for peace and harmony in the home.  Children experience this peace and harmony as security. They feel safe. Moreover, children feel valued and worthy when outside distractions do not impinge on their family life. They desire to remain a part of this peaceful, harmonious home founded on a healthy marriage.

 

When a marriage is filled with constant conflict and on the verge of collapse, the future of the family, your children’s safe haven, becomes doubtful. Children who have doubts about the future stability of their safe haven feel insecure. As a result, they invest all their energy trying to secure the pillars of their safe haven, you. They invest their energy in your happiness and your marriage rather than investing in their own growth and development, their maturity, and their future. When a marriage is strong and disagreements openly resolved, the future of your children’s safe haven is certain. With confidence in their family’s future, children feel secure enough to explore their world and their selves. They feel safe enough to invest energy in growing their interests and their healthy future lives, which will ultimately bring happiness to the whole family.

 

When a marriage is in question and spouses at war with one another, children feel responsible to make peace.  They assume a parental role and strive to become the one who negotiates peace between their parents.  When they do not succeed (and they cannot succeed because it is beyond their ability to make peace between warring parents), children begin to feel guilty and anxious. They take the blame for their parents’ failure and unhappiness. They begin to feel inadequate since they cannot “fix” the family. They feel insecure both in relation to others (like their battling parents) and themselves (since they feel inadequate to fix even their home). In a strong marriage, on the other hand, children witness their parents resolving conflict and creating peace in the home. This peace produces a sense of security that allows “kids to be kids.”  It provides a strong foundation from which children can explore, achieve, learn, and grow confident in the trustworthiness of those around them as well as a trust in themselves.

 

You children desire the gift of living with parents who do the work necessary to build a strong, healthy marriage. Even more, they deserve this gift. When you invest in your marriage, you give your children the gift they desire more than they even know; and, you give them the added gifts of peace of mind, a sense of security, and a confidence in themselves and their future. Do your children a huge favor. Get your spouse and wrap up a beautiful, healthy marriage as a gift for them to witness and receive.

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