A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Tag: intimacy (page 1 of 2)

Shame–and Your Marriage: On the Fear that Keeps Us Hiding (and Clawing Your Way Out)

shame in your marriage The power of shame continues to make my mind fizz. (Yours might, too: This post on shame in parenting has drawn more readers than any other post on this site, bar none.)

But now all those thoughts are bubbling over what shame might look like in a marriage; in our most intimate concentric circle of community. See, I know shame—this idea that I’m not worthy of connecting with someone—immediately leads me to cover up.

Take the typical fight with a spouse. First reaction is not typically, You’re so right. I’m snippy, and I have a profound case of PMS. It’s more along the lines of blame-shifting (Well, if you’d stop overreacting like some kind of hypersensitive Pomeranian). Denying (I didn’t say you were arrogant! I said you were cocky). Hiding (If I don’t say anything, it will look a lot like peace and taking the higher road).

The Masquerade

Joking aside—this predilection to hiding means the manifestations of shame are endless. For me, it led to a profound insecurity (you can read how that affected our relationship); to people-pleasing ad nauseam, to the extent of a near eating disorder.

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11 Ideas toward More Emotionally-whole and -healthy Parenting

The other day, both a bad thing and a good thing happened. My son—the one with ADHD—had a meltdown after lunch over his math homework. Maybe you’re thinking, I missed the “good” part. Good part: I realized he hadn’t melted down in a long time. So we were actually able to tease apart some of the factors for the meltdown (math after lunch, when his brain is tired; worrying that he wouldn’t get enough time to mess around at the pool after swim practice). We had time to deal not just with the meltdown, but to recognize it as the dashboard light it was—and hopefully circumvent it in the future.

One of the things I’m loving about some friends who’ve done the hard work of going—and responding to!—counseling is their remarkable capacity to love even better. As they’re combing out some of the tangles in their brains, everyone around them is cashing in on more enjoyable, meaningful interactions. My point? The time we spend investing in our homes’ emotional health pays untold dividends both to people around us now, and the countless ones in the future—including generations to come. Here, I’ve compiled some new and best-of ideas to take us to the next level (including yours truly).

Never underestimate the impact of a healthy home.

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Know Thy [Stressed] Self, Part II: The Stressed Version of Your Marriage

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

One of the unexpected delights of our final couple of months in Africa was the arrival of a college friend who’s known my husband and I since the beginning. She watched us meet, cautiously date, giddily become engaged. She played the piano when the two of us spring chickens said “I do” forever. Later, I stood with her as she spoke her own vows beneath a spreading tree. And when she visited us in Africa and we stayed up entirely too late, she gave us this gift: I told my husband, “I love that she reminds us how good we are together. That you and I together are a really good thing.”

I wrote before that this time of leaving Africa, of setting a foot on two highly divergent continents, has delivered unavoidable stress to our relationship. Both of us are strained, so it makes sense that our most intimate relationships would bear that weight. So it was kind of God to remind us that despite the ways we occasionally feel like the losers in a three-legged-race right now—“us” is still a really good thing.

Part I of this post outlined some essential reasons we need to identify when we’re stressed. If you’re convinced, let’s get down to it. What are the signs your marriage is under stress?

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How would Jesus tweet? Social media as love, Part III–FREE GIVEAWAY

Missed the first two posts? Get Part I here and Part II here.

6.  Love = Telling the truth.In love. Is a status update artfully alighting upon all my strengths the same as telling the truth? Like a camera, we all choose what we zoom in on. But is it possible we’re airbrushing our lives, and creating a climate of unnatural expectations? (Check out this post on perfectionism vs. pursuing excellence.) Though we may look for sympathy when our kid smears poop on the wall or throws a fit in Target’s housewares aisle, our lives on social media generally lean toward the photoshopped side of things.

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The Thing between Us

What if some good friend asked you, What’s that thing that most comes often between you guys in your marriage? You know, from your side of things.

What would it be?

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Every relationship, I think, has one: that Thing that occasionally threatens to overcome what you were sure was stronger than death. Sometimes I think it’s like hugging someone with an arm stuck between, the elbow digging into both of your ribs; awkwardly, painfully.

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Ten Discussion Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper in 2016—Set #6

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New to these questions? See these notes first, along with Set #1 .

 

  1. Talk about a realization (or more than one) that changed your perspective and understanding of a past event. (i.e. I found out the parents of that bully in school were getting a divorce. I discovered I’d totally misunderstood my sister’s perspective, and she hadn’t been malicious at all.)
  2. When you get to heaven, what are some questions you hope to ask God?
  3. When is one time in life when you felt most alone?
  4. What’s one regret you have of your past? (Have you sought forgiveness from God and the people you affected?)
  5. What are some of your greatest strengths as a spouse?
  6. What is one of your greatest weaknesses as a spouse?
  7. What are some of your greatest strengths as a parent?
  8. What is one of your greatest weaknesses as a parent?
  9. What are your dreams for your kids?
  10. For what do you pray most often?

Like these? Consider subscribing to A Generous Grace and receive a FREE E-BOOK of Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture. They’re great to process with a friend, spouse, or small group.

 

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Ten Discussion Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper in 2016—Set #5

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New to these questions? See these notes first, along with Set #1 .

 

  1. When you are looking back at your parenting, what is one thing do you suspect you’ll wish you did differently?
  2. What specific action makes you feel most loved? (i.e. If someone listens to me. If someone touches me. If someone asks me good questions and draws me out. For more ideas on this, see these posts on 20 practical ideas for each love language.)
  3. A previous question asked about one of the highest compliments you’ve ever received. Talk about meaningful things people have said to you (not necessarily compliments). (i.e. I felt validated when someone with whom I’d had a conflict for a long time came and apologized. Or, My dad said he was proud of the man I’d become.)
  4. If you could take a class or learn a skill, what would that class or skill be?
  5. What do you daydream about?
  6. A previous question mentioned what made you feel immediately connected or disconnected to a person. What qualities do you immediately find magnetic about a person—and what qualities are immediately off-putting?
  7. At what times in your life have you felt closest to God, or when do you feel closest to God now?
  8. When Jesus was tempted in the Bible (Matthew 4), he was tempted by three key lies. What lies about yourself or reality or God are you most likely to believe—in the “tapes” that play over and over in your head? (Talk together about God’s truth that would counter those lies, like Jesus did.)
  9. Talk about a realization (or more than one) that changed your perspective and understanding of your parents. (i.e. I had no idea my dad had experienced that. I was clueless to the pressures my mom was facing. I see now that my expectations were largely unrealistic.
  10. What are symptoms that tell you that you’re weary and/or not doing well? (i.e. I snap at my kids. When I wake up in the morning, my jaw is sore. I daydream about being alone and doing whatever I want.)

 

Like these? Consider subscribing to A Generous Grace and receive a FREE E-BOOK of Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture. They’re great to process with a friend, spouse, or small group.

 

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Ten Discussion Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper in 2016—Set #4

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New to these questions? See these notes first, along with Set #1 .

1.       What times/circumstances can you remember that made you feel particularly loved by God, as an individual?

2.       As you look back over the timeline of your faith, what have been the darkest times? What did God show you in those times, and how did they resolve—if they have?

3.       How’s your marriage?

4.       How’s parenting going?

5.       How’s your relationship with your folks?

6.       What immediately makes you feel connected with a person? What about disconnected?

7.       What are your spiritual gifts?

8.       Where, when, and with whom do you feel most at home? What represents “home” to you, and why?

9.       What’s a dark time you experienced that most people don’t know about?

10.   What kind of friend do you need? What could I do, practically-speaking to be a true friend to you?

 

Like these? Consider subscribing to A Generous Grace and receive a FREE E-BOOK of Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture. They’re great to process with a friend.

 

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Ten Discussion Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper in 2016—Set #3

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New to these questions? See these notes first, along with Set #1 .

1.       What was one of the hardest experiences you endured or overcame growing up?

2.       What is something that consistently frustrates you?

3.       When do you feel most alive?

4.       What five qualities do you consider most important in a spouse?

5.       What are the top five values you believe parents should pass on to their children?

6.       What’s on your bucket list (your list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket)?

7.     By what act of love in your life have you been most humbled?

8.       Name three to five of the most influential people in your life—and explain why.

9.    How are you most like your dad, and most like your mom–or whoever was your guardian? How are you different from him or here?

10.   Name one person who probably doesn’t know how much they’ve influenced you, and explain why.

 

Like these? Consider subscribing to A Generous Grace and receive a FREE E-BOOK of Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture. They’re great to process with a friend.

 

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Ten Discussion Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper in 2016—Set #2

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New to these questions? See these notes first, along with Set #1.

  1. With a friend, I’ll be going through these excellent questions to help steward all of your life for God’s glory. Check ‘em out!
  2. If you could have a cup of coffee with yourself ___ weeks/months/years ago, what advice would you have given yourself?
  3. What are the “tapes” that play in your head—and who put them there? Which ones do you find truly motivating, and which do you have a sneaking suspicion have some lies mixed in?
  4. What job(s) could you do that wouldn’t feel like work?
  5. Eric Liddel is known for his acknowledgment that “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” In doing what do you feel God’s pleasure in you?
  6. How and when did you know what you wanted to do with your life—or are you there yet?
  7. As a child, what did you think that you would become? Why did that appeal to you, do you think?
  8. What weaknesses most frustrate you about yourself?
  9. For what are you most grateful about the way God made you?
  10. At the times when you are most worshipful, what are you usually doing?

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