Thursday, May 26, 2011

Healthy Relationship Sign #5

Our last Healthy Relationship Sign is, "The Personal Boundaries of ALL are Respected."

Honoring and protecting others "boundaries' is essential to the health both of the relationship and the individual. Think of your loved ones boundaries or personal property line as a fragile bird egg. If you care for it and nurture it you will see a beautiful healthy bird. But if you are careless and crack it the growing bird inside may die. Respecting the boundaries of your spouse means you honor that person.

We have talked about this in previous posts but I think it bears repeating. It is the one aspect of relationships that can make a huge difference in how healthy and enjoyable our lives together can be.

Another word for respecting boundaries and property lines of another is "honor" If we honor someone, that person carries weight with us. That person is valuable to us. When we honor someone we give that persona highly respected position in our lives. Honor equals love and provides the ability to stay in love.

What is the relationship between honor and love? When we honor someone we increase their value and then we feel the desire to love and do worthwhile things for that person. The bible say's, "Whatever you treasure, that is where your heart is." When we highly value something or someone we enjoy taking care so we don't lose it or harm it. We enjoy "being with it or them." The "feeling" of love is a reflection of our level of honor we have for them.

So how do you retrieve lost feelings of love? By choosing to increase the value that person has in your mind. Honor and love for your spouse grow best out of a healthy respect for yourself. When we have healthy respect for ourselves we are more apt to honor and respect others.

So healthy relationships are relationships that give others the freedom to think, to talk, to feel and connect with us. They show honor by respecting each person's uniqueness.

We all fail in these areas and the key is to develop healthy habits. No matter what your family background is or how unhealthy it was you can learn to be healthy - we can check our marriage vital signs regularly and move from unhealthy to healthy.

Next Post: An inventory that will show you if your were taught unhealthy relational skills. As parents we for the most part do that best we know how to do but when unhealthy behavior comes to light it is up to us as an individual to make the choice to change.

Question to Ponder: What do you honor and treasure most about your spouse?

"Making Love Last Forever" by Gary Smalley was used as a guide for these posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Healthy Relationship Sign #4

Sign #4  Everyone in the relationship feels meaningfully connected.

Your connected when you regularly share your deepest feelings with one another, when you are happy to see each other at the end of the day, enjoy doing things together and being together.

The opposite of this is in a situation where a spouse is either neglectful  (a workaholic or controlling) Neglect or control creates distance not connection.

We must have connection in our lives - it is a basic human need.  If we don't get the connection we need with the people closest to us in life we will most likely find a way to get that need met.  Many times this can be through destructive behavior, such as an unhealthy addictions, this can include over eating, over working, and anger.  This is a way to medicate the hollow feeling we have inside. 

Unresolved anger disconnects people.  It makes a person withdraw, not draw close.  If your spouse has anger toward their parents they will have a harder time connecting with you. Hidden anger sabotages a lot of relationships, and that's one of the reasons it's so important that we deal with our anger the right way, through forgiveness. 

A few ways to create connectedness in your relationships
  • Look within yourself - do you have an unresolved anger (toward anyone) that needs to be dealt with - if so go here and work through the process 
  • Look at how you treat your spouse - are you neglectful or controlling?  
  • Does your marriage have these four destructive behaviors in it - if so work on the part that you create.
  • Show honor and respect for your spouse, even when you don't agree with them.  Create a safe environment in your marriage.
  • Create shared experiences - take time to do fun, adventurous or helpful things together
Connection is healthy, lack of connection or distance is unhealthy.

How connected do you feel to your spouse, your children and other members of your family?  Or how much distance are you putting between yourself and those you love?
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 (The Message)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Healthy Relationship - Sign #3

In a healthy relationship you not only know your thinking and words will be valued and respected, but you also have the freedom to share your feelings.

An example of this is if someone shares their feelings and the other person states, " I can't believe your saying that! You are always so sensitive!" or one person says, "I'm worried about how this is going to work out" and the other person says, "Come on lighten up! You're making such a big deal about this!"

This is belittling the persons true feelings. As I'm sure I have stated in this post before we have to realize that feelings are real - they may be wrong but they still are real to the person experiencing the feelings. It doesn't mean we don't deal with our feelings but if a spouse is going to create a safe place in the relationship they have to validate that those feelings are real.

So how do we do this? We listen to the feelings of the person without making them feel like their feelings are not valid. We listen to the feelings of another without criticizing or belittling.

Most of the time we do these thing with out thinking. In a marriage it many times becomes a habit.
So today be aware of what you are saying to those closest to you. If they express they are feeling a certain way do you affirm those feelings or do you discredit those feelings?

This freedom to share feelings is one the clearest indicators of the health of a relationship.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Healthy Relationship - Sign #2

The second sign of a healthy relationship is "Everyone is encouraged to talk and know their words will be valued."

In a good and healthy relationship, you have not only the freedom to think, but you also are encouraged to talk and to express yourself.

When you talk the other person listens with the attitude that what you are trying to say is greatly valued, even if the two of you disagree.

Note: this does not mean it's OK to speak disrespectfully. With freedom comes responsibility and everything we say should be honoring to those we are talking to . Even strong opinions can be stated in a respectful manner.

Whatever type of communication was used in your family of origin that's usually the pattern of communication you will tend to use as an adult. Did you have a distant or controlling parent? Were you never allowed to speak candidly? Were the words, "I love you" seldom heard in your home? If you as an adult are now repeating some of these unhealthy patterns here is an idea of how to begin a new way of communicating:

Go to your spouse, children or close friends and say, " I wish I were talking to you more and listening to what you have to say but I wasn't raised that way, so it doesn't come naturally to me. In fact, it's hard for me. But I want to break these habits and do things differently in this area of my life. WILL YOU HELP ME?"

This does two things
1. Conveys that you are working on this issue and aware that it is a problem
2. Gives permission for the other person to let you know when they feel they are not being listened to respectfully
3. It makes us accountable for our actions.

It will take time and effort but the end result will be worth it. The pull of our past can be broken.

This is an area I struggled in for years. I had wonderful parents but they came from very dysfunctional alcoholic homes and passed many of those unhealthy communication skills to me - I picked them up and tended to be a controlling parent that would not always allow my family to express opinions that were different than mine. I wish I would have learned this earlier but I did learn it and I can tell you from experience you can reverse these habits and patterns we bring from our childhood home. Admit what they are and begin today!

*Take a few moments to think about the patterns of communication you had at home when you were growing up........

*Now ask yourself how are your current patterns of communication at your home different or the same to when you grew up......

What is one thing in communicating with your spouse that you need to ask their help in doing?

Next post: Sign #3 - Everyone has a sense of safety and value in sharing their feelings

James 1:19 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."