Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘marriage’


Personality is a wonderful thing! It provides us with variety, and keeps the spark in our relationships.  How boring life would be if every tree in the orchard were an apple tree!  How tedious our days would be, if everyone were the same.  Our lives would be like those “built overnight” neighborhoods, where all the houses look the same; like they were designed with a cookie-cutter!  It is the differences that keep us discovering — and I for one, need the differening personalities to keep me on a growth pattern!  

Now, if you aren’t familiar with personality profiles, let me help here by explaining a little.  I have to set the story up for you — because this week, I made a discovery of my own.   

Personality profiling is used all over the workplace these days, to help corporations learn about team dynamics.  Profiling tools are used to help workers discover what needs adjustment in their working relationships. Some Human Resource departments use profiling tools, to learn whether an applicant desiring a job would really be a “fit” for that particular job. Police departments create profiles in order to catch criminals…. it’s fascinating stuff. And uncannyingly accurate!

Simply put: there are four basic personality types.  Everyone on the planet carries all four, in varying degrees. And, while some people are similar, each combination is unique; mixing with our individual learning styles, our level of emotional development, etc., to define our personality; our Personhood.  Additionally, most of us utilize different forms of ourselves depending upon the pressures of the environment we find ourselves in…. Short version; one of the main keys to healthy living is choosing to do whatever it takes to heal and grow– The end goal is to become consistently stable, in holding to the same personality in every environment. This is called “congruency”…  although no one comes to it quickly … or perfectly.  

Understand here,  I am talking about Emotional Quotient (which involves inner life; feelings, principles, values and morals) — as opposed to Intelligence Quotient (which involves outer life; facts, cliches, status and task).  Relationships are part of the EQ of life — When relationships are run in IQ, they fail every time…. 

But EQ is hard to grasp; it’s like learning a new language, especially if inner life wasn’t addressed in bonding years. EQ is intangible and relationship based — most of us need help to “get it.”  On the other hand, IQ is easier to get hold of, because it is task oriented and has to to with the tangibles — “just the facts, please.”  As a result, the majority of us live our lives in the IQ levels, avoiding the pain of digging into the EQ, for as long as we can possibly get away with it….

Personality types vary in degrees.  To put it simply — here are the four styles – 1. The Driver; the lion, or choleric…    2. The Inspirer; the otter, or sanguine…. 3. The Steady; the golden retriever, or phlegmatic…..  4. The Conscientous; the beaver, or melancholic….. 

After years of behavioral analysis, mediating conflicts, helping couples decipher “missed moments,” I made a discovery of my own this week.  You know, the “aha” moment, the “synapses” – when the left and right brain connect, and you wonder why you didn’t “see it’ before….

My husband is a “lion” — by that I mean his personality type. He is one of those energetic, determined leader-guys, who enjoys being out in front forging a path. He could cut a path through the jungle with a machete, and not mind the challenges of being the first to get there. His secondary personality type is the “otter.” You know the type; always telling jokes; drawing people in with his stories. When it comes to his learning style, he has this mind that never forgets a name. It has to be a gift. I say that because I have a hard time with names. I remember faces, and then my mind runs through the alphabet — “Was it an A name? B?” 

At one point, I thought I could improve my mind-remembering skill-level; I didn’t realize the problem was part of my genetics. Because my relationships with people are important to me, I tried a course in memory-association. This particular course was excellent — the problem was the student…. Here was the proposed process: Think of a picture that reminds you of the item (or person) you want to remember.  Give the picture a name that relates to their name, or a feature of their person.  Well, the course promises that the next time you see the person, you will remember the association, etc. Hence, success.

I must have been missing that day — that part of my IQ level wasn’t developed yet…..  A lady came to visit us.  In the midst of a sea of faces, I learned her name; “Mrs. Stack.”  She was a a rather large woman, with short, blonde, straight hair.  So, in my mind, for some reason, I pictured a haystack. Go figure. Did it work, you ask?  Well, the next time I saw her, the part of recalling the image worked. The yellow haystack showed up in my mind; but so did self-doubt.  I called her “Mrs. Needle.” 

You’re smiling. I can’t help it. My mind just goes blank.

My husband is a lion. Like Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia, he isn’t a tame lion, but he’s kind…. 

Me? I’m a “golden retriever,” with a little “beaver” thrown in for good measure. I’m the team player who doesn’t like to be alone; who dislikes sudden changes; is mercy-motivated and is happy to help administrate the details. My kids give me a hard time when I’m writing on the laptop too long.   “Come out and play,” they say. Between the two of us, Bill and I have a combination of all four styles in our marriage – which, theoretically, works really great when all inner conflicts have been resolved.  It gives us a complete offering of all the styles… Great for child-rearing, and problem solving.

The “aha,” you ask?  It was this week. I had a picture go through my head… had to be God-breathed.  It made me laugh, actually. Picture this: A golden retriever with a lion’s mane tied around its head. Silly? Perhaps. Think about this… Golden retrievers and lions are the same color, but they are not the same.  They will never be the same. Lions roar and establish territory. Retrievers bark and couldn’t care less about territory. Lions can walk ahead, and work alone. Retrievers need a pack, or companionship. 

I realized this week that for one reason or another, I had placed undue expectations on my God-given personality.  As a result, I had been struggling with guilt when I found myself unable to follow through with those unspoken expectations.  No one put it on me — I just absorbed it over time. When or how I picked it up, I’ll never know.  I think it must have happened gradually — an incremental “weighing down” if you will. Somehow, I thought I had to be more “lion-ly” in my day-to-day life….  I felt guilty for my emotional genetics, something God never intended. Finally, when it surfaced, my hubby and I worked through it.  “I’m so tired,” I told him. “Something has to give.”  Then, came the vulnerable question. “What do you think?”

“I didn’t know you were carrying all that. I don’t want that for you,”  he said. “Let’s fix it.”  Did I tell you he was a kind lion — and my best friend?

Sometimes, without realizing it, we try to change ourselves, denying who we were created to become. Sometimes, we decide to dislike the personality God gave us because we want to gain greater acceptance (we think) or wider approval (we hope).  Sometimes, we allow circumstances and relationships to weigh us down, changing us for survival.  Sometimes, we just slam the door and refuse to think about it.

But it’s part of our purpose on the planet — this discovering of design and purpose. God’s intention is to strengthen our inner selves, so that we live our lives in truth, adhering to His created purpose.  How long has it been since you asked Him who He wants you to be?

He’s got a plan, you know. And it’s a good one — with a future and a hope.  But it might involve a little change….

(C) 2010 DG — Awakened to Grow.  Duplication without permission prohibited.

  

 

 

Read Full Post »


There is a story my husband loves to tell, about this man who was walking on a beach one day.   Looking down, he sees a brass lamp, which he excitedly pulls out of the sand.  As he begins to rub the sand away, (you guessed it), a genie appears.  The genie asks him, “I am allowed to grant you one wish. What would you like more than anything else?” 

 The man, being from California, says, “I would like you to build a bridge from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with restrooms, and no tolls.”

The genie frowns, replying, “Are you nuts? Don’t you know that will disrupt the shipping lanes? Besides, in order to engineer a secure bridge in the middle of the ocean like that, I will have to make all kinds of changes to the weather patterns.” He stops and thinks. “No, I don’t think your bridge is such a good idea. What else would you like?”

The man looks at the genie, pondering. Then, he answers, “I think I would like to understand the female mind.” 

The genie smiles, and then responds.  “Would you like that bridge to be a four lane or two lane?”

Ha ha, very funny, I say… 

But then, I’m female.  My husband, and every man he has ever told the story to, just howl together in laughter.  Interesting, I thought. So, during a speaking engagement, I decided to reverse the genders in the story, and see what happened.  Guess what?  The women laughed, and the men didn’t.  Let me say here, that Bill and I spend lots of time in communication each day; and I am finding myself more and more in love with him each day — even after 30 years of marriage.

Communication in marriage is like bridge-building. It is  a process requiring time, thoughtfulness, and above all, safety. Over the years, I have been amazed at the number of times I have had to remind married couples that they need to  learn to listen, as well as learn to share. Not long ago, I worked with a couple who had been married for more than twenty years, and had never shared their childhood stories with each other.  When I asked the husband “why,” he said, “My childhood bothered me, so I didn’t want to upset her.”  The wife, for her part, had been waiting for him to initiate a deeper conversation; one delving into the “why’s” of his principles and values.  But he had never opened the door.  So the silence remained.  When the door finally did open, this particular couple discovered a greater appreciation for each other, and a mutual emotional magnetism between them.  They fell in love again.

They had come to my office thinking they were heading to divorce court. The Silence between them had become deafening.  Sadly, they had waited until their children were grown, using their same patterns of relationship, to ask how the problem could be repaired.  Over the  years, the Silence had become Unresolved Conflict.

When a man and woman marry, hopefully they do so, because they love each other, and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Hopefully, it is because they have found a safe person who accepts and reciprocates their desire to know and be known.  In the Bible, this process is called, “the two becoming one.”  Notice that the word ‘becoming’ denotes a process.

Becoming one involves learning to speak a new language — the one your spouse speaks, many times not worrying about whether they are speaking yours… It means both partners giving 150%, rather than an even trade of 50%.  Servant-minded living is the economy of the Kingdom.  At the end of the day, each partner gains the ability to live in relationship “bi-lingually.”  If you need an illustration of how well it works to only speak your own language, imagine yourself needing to find a restroom in a foreign country, and not knowing how to ask.  What do you have to do in order to communicate?  Of course, you have to find someone who knows your language and ask them how to ask for directions.

It is too easy to consider only one’s own mindset in relationship.  And sadly, the “easy way” always costs us.  We lose relationship; we lose experience; we miss out on the richness of humor and discovery.   Mistakenly believing the only language we will ever need is our own, we isolate, we retreat.  We become self-centered, expecting everyone else to come to our point of view. 

And far too many times, if we have fortressed ourselves in, Anger shows up when we are asked to speak another language. 

Relationship is a God-idea —–  Isolated Independence is not.

Honesty and Vulnerability are Creator-concepts —-  Defensiveness and Secretive Silence are not.

God created us for Community.  Marriage is that Community’s first picture.  Family is its second picture. Community is where healing is supposed to take place. It is where relationships grow and develop; where we are allowed to grow; we discover even when we make mistakes.   Sadly, even church environments have at times become places where safe community has strayed from His original plan — so how to we learn to trust each other again?

It starts with Hope — Hope opens a door — it’s like finding the brass lamp.  Then, we have to let someone else in, to help us to learn a new language.  Because understanding the mindset of the opposite gender is always like building a bridge…..

Where do you want to start?

(c) 2010 DG – Awakened to Grow — Duplication without permission prohibited.

Read Full Post »


Don’t you just love the AT&T commercials about the mother who wants her family to realize the value of their rollover minutes?  I think my favorite part of the whole thing is watching the facial expressions of those around her; her sons, her husband…. Body language says it all, friends.

(If you haven’t seen the series, I include a youtube link here.)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFepU_hcZ0s&feature=PlayList&p=23F1FDE8BDDDEBA1&index=3 

Which brings me to yesterday’s funny moment. Believe it or not, a lot of them happen in counseling…. Anyway, one of the couples I see in Inner Life Development, was sitting in my office. The three of us are in the midst of discovering how they can best communciate with each other.  Even though they have been married awhile, this man and his wife can go days without indepth touch or connection.  Some days they don’t even speak to each other. 

They never learned how…. How can you do something you never were taught to do, or even saw occur? 

You can’t. It’s impossible to give away what we haven’t received…..

Sadly, each of us have areas in our lives where that question could be applied… Each of us must discover our own need for conflict and change.  And by change, I mean growth. 

The element to lift us from our melee? A healthy response. Our response when we become personally aware of our ignorance;  that response is telling in our development of character.  It is the key to the Holy-Spirit-provided door to unlock our Personhood. Most especially, our response shows our capacity for relationship; not only with others, but with God as well.  How do we respond?  Do we become angry? Withdraw? Defend ourselves?  Or, do we open our lives to others, ask a question, apply the answer, and continue towards emotional health; then spiritual maturity?

One cannot happen without the other.

Currently, I see four couples; each of whom has developed discontenment with the normal “non-talk” in their day-to-day.  Rather, they have chosen to live on a learning curve; bravely stepping into the unknown; learning to speak a new language; to invest themselves; to leap with their eyes open.  As such, they are in the 8% of those in our culture who are willing to actively seek healthy change and pursue it. 

These couples are learning to bond in their marriages where they have not been vulnerable to anyone else before; ever.  And, as they make discoveries, I am gaining  fresh understanding as well.  As we go, we are creating Learning Steps for the process of bonding.  The steps eventually will come in the form of worksheets; then a workbook I hope to make available on a larger scale; “Bonding: How To Do Relationships.”   As we go, each of the couples has agreed to let me share parts of their stories as part of the learning process we will make available for others.

Which brings me back to yesterday, (with permission, of course.)

At the end of our session, this precious couple was discussing with me, the week’s realizations.  I was explaining the worksheet packet they were taking away as part of their homework for the next week.  I said, “I would like you to set aside time to speak with each other for ten minutes each day.  This needs to be purposeful time. You are going to share your hopes, your experiences and your fears. You can even talk about what you are learning as you work through the worksheets I have given you. The time you share together has to go deeper than just the facts of the day. Please sit at a table together to talk. Don’t be distracted when you share. Set a timer, if you have to.  Here is the rule: You don’t stop communicating until the timer goes off, but if you go past the ten minutes; that’s a good thing.”

The husband looked at me.  For a moment, he was quiet. Bear in mind, he is learning the value of communicating and vulnerability.  He asked, “If we go over our ten minutes on one day, can we count those minutes on the assignment for the next day?”

After a few seconds of silence, I laughed out loud.  I couldn’t help it.  “No,” I answered. “That doesn’t work! We don’t rollover minutes on communication!”

It opened an entirely new door of learning.  Right then.

Which makes me think once again of the AT&T mom — and I wonder … How many couples out there are holding bowls of unused minutes, saving them for later? 

After all, leftovers never are quite as good……

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.