Personal Faithfulness

What does a marriage look like where trust is intact in many areas of everyday life? Such a marriage is not free of problems or stain but it does have a sense of partnership and cooperation in dealing with life’s issues which makes marriage very satisfying and successful.

To more completely answer the question posed above I want to deal with some specific situations in marriage where trust is a core issue. Some would say that not having trust in these areas is a “deal breaker” or grounds for ending the marriage. All the areas I mention are important but do not, in my opinion, carry the same weight in the marriage. There is only one that is, by its very nature, destructive to the bond between a man and a woman. And, this issue I will deal with first.

Personal faithfulness. The bottom line is: you must be able to trust your spouse to be faithful to your marriage vows. Marriage is between you and your spouse, an exclusive relationship where there is no room for another person.

We are all human and can be tempted to betray our vows. Therefore, great care must be taken to protect our marriage and not become involved in an emotional affair or in activities that can lead to physical acts that betray our spouse. Trust is destroyed, and oftentimes the marriage with it, if there is a betrayal in this area. A decision to be unfaithful is tragic and leads to lifelong consequences which hurt many people.

Marriages can be restored where unfaithfulness has taken place if there is true repentance and great effort to rebuild the trust that has been broken. However, the offended spouse will also have some difficult work to do. They will need time to work through the process of forgiving and learning to trust again; a process which may take years to accomplish. It can be done and a strong marriage can be built from the pain.

Guard your heart. Keep it only for your spouse. You owe nothing to another man or woman that should cause you to dishonor yourself, your spouse or God.

Are You Too Trusting?

Are you too trusting? In the previous blog I dealt with the issue of transference and how our difficult experiences in the past can cause trust problems in our present relationships. There is a “flip side” to transference which we also need to be aware of because that can cause tremendous heartache also.

Let’s say you grew up in a family where you could absolutely trust the word and character of your parents. And, for argument’s sake, let’s say that you would admit to being a bit gullible or naive about relationships. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Here’s the problem. When you grow up with trusting relationships you may assume you can trust almost anyone. You trust easily and have a hard time thinking that people aren’t using you or not telling you the truth. You want friendships and a special relationship with someone of the opposite sex. However, what you my experience if you are too trusting is heartbreak and disappointment and that simply cannot trust everyone. This is a hard and cruel lesson but it can be very helpful.

How can it be helpful to have your heart broken or be betrayed by a “friend?” Hopefully, you will learn that, while you are a trusting and trustworthy person, not everyone is worthy of your trust. And by the time you are ready for marriage you will not make the foolish decision of giving your trust and love to someone who can’t reciprocate in kind.

Our trust needs to be given to someone who will treat it as a sacred gift. But, for this to happen, we must first value our trust and ensure we don’t just throw it at someone out of a “romantic” infatuation and desire to be loved. Guard your trust wisely.

Trust Your Spouse?

There is no way to overstate the importance of trust in marriage. Trust is to your marriage what your heart is to your body. Trust is absolutely indispensable to a healthy marriage. Therefore, our character and the things we do to earn trust are vital if we are to have a good marriage.

What I have just said implies at least two important things about trust. First, trust is a basic need in your marriage. Being able to depend on each other to respect your deepest feelings and needs builds security and gives comfort. When this is not true good communication is absent and there is a sense of anxiety and loneliness in the marriage. When your word cannot be relied on in ordinary, everyday transactions the foundation of trust is eroded and a deeper problem is often lurking just under the surface: If I can’t trust you in the small things, how can I trust you with my heart? Trust is basic to your marriage.

Another idea I want you to consider is that trust is learned. There is a real sense in which most of us didn’t really know our mate when we first married. Perhaps we had developed a certain level of trust strong enough to take a big chance on marriage. But, if our marriage has grown the way it should, we have had to continue developing trust in our spouse .The biggest issue for couples in this area, I think, is whether you believe your spouse is really trying to be unselfish and to look out for your best interest. If that trust is there you can continue to grow through mistakes by forgiving each other and address the areas where you need to grow. As you mature together in your love you will find that you have learned more and more how to trust each other.

Not all people enter into the venture of marriage with the same ability to trust and this can be a problem in making the marriage work. Why is this and what do you need to do if you are in this situation? We’ll look at this in the next blog.

The Trust Factor

The Trust Factor is critically important in life. There’s a lot in the news nowadays about trust, or the lack of it, when it comes to our government leaders. Folks all over America are doubtful of the motives and capability of many of those we have elected to serve us. We have a real ”crisis of confidence” in our country and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of it getting better. How did we come to this place and how can it be fixed?

TRUST is a very important ingredient in life. It is present in all healthy relationships; marriage, friendship, business, parent/child, government and between leaders in the international community. Trust is foundational to the orderly and productive functioning of life. Without it we live in uncertainty, doubtful of the word or actions of the other person or country. President Reagan said, concerning agreements with other countries, that we should “trust but verify.” There is much wisdom in that idea; trust that the other person (country) will keep their word but understand that trustworthiness is proven by action consistent with one’s promise or agreement.

While I have strong opinions about the politics and direction of my country, my primary purpose for blogging is to address issues of family life. So, for the next several posts I want to address the TRUST FACTOR as it relates to you and your most intimate relationships; your family.

I believe the family is the basic unit of our society. As the family goes, so goes the world. Families produce children and children grow up to serve many different functions in our world. Some become congress people, some senators, some become Supreme Court judges and a few have the honor of becoming President of the United States.

Everyone comes from a family of some type. But every family has the responsibility to attempt to instill the character values which make a person trustworthy. Character matters and there is no place where it matters more than in your family.

 

What is Parenting About?

What is Parenting About?

Perhaps the most central question we need to ask ourselves as parents is: “What is parenting really about?” In other words, what is the main role or central purpose I, the parent, need to fulfill in relation to this child that has been entrusted to me?

Unfortunately, for some reason, this may be an area of concern which some parents never consciously consider. Many are so caught up with their personal agendas and the busyness of life that they don’t take time to talk about, much less put into action plans related to their primary role as a parent.

I would venture to say that many parents don’t have much of a clue as to what their main purpose as a parent really is. With our society’s rapid advance toward materialism and secularism it is no wonder that we are losing our sense of what life is really about.

This secular mindset defines what many think life is really about. Consequently, they rear their children in this godless approach to life where all values are relative and human life itself is becoming less and less valuable.

What do you think is the bottom line in parenting? What is parenting about to you?

 

North Star Parenting

Have you ever tried to work a box puzzle without the box top to guide you? Have you tried to go somewhere you haven’t been before without a GPS,  map or good directions to help you? Frustrating isn’t it?

Many things we do in life require some amount of direction to ensure a chance at success. Parenting your child is no different. Assuming we will be good parents simply because we have brought a child into the world is foolishness. That assumption alone indicates we don’t have much of a clue about where we are going and what we need to do.

For centuries the North Star served as a constant nighttime guide to give direction to mariners at sea. They navigated the dangerous waters and steered their vessels according to the dependable heavenly bodies. To do otherwise would be the height of arrogance and foolishness, putting their whole mission in jeopardy.

Is there a North Star for parents to follow in rearing our children? Yes, there is. This concept is the focal point of the meaning of life. To understand it and live by it brings blessings to you and your child. To ignore it dooms you to a journey without a trustworthy guide to do one of the most important things a human being is ever called on to do, parenting a child.

Do you want to know where to find the true North Star for parenting? Begin by reading the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40.

Own Your Stuff

One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.

Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff”  may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.

Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.”  This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.

How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive.  Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing her feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.

What do you think could happen an angry parent had becomes able to own their stuff? It would meant they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life. 

What stuff do you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.

Is Your Child Special ?

 Does your child know he is special ?

When our son, Nathan, was small his mom would often ask him this question,”If all the little boys in the world lined up and I got to pick out anyone I wanted,do you know who I would choose?” I can still hear his giggling, happy “me” in response to her question. This was just one of many ways my wife and I sought to communicate a highly important message to our children. That message was: You are very important to us.

Is there anything you could give your child that is more valuable or potentially life-changing than a sense of being special? There is no substitute or rival to his sense of being really important to you. This is an unparalleled gift, one he cannot buy or earn or should feel compelled to do so. This is a gift from a parent’s heart, a gift of grace. This gift of acceptance is the cornerstone of emotional and spiritual health. Only when this piece of life’s puzzle is in place do the other pieces begin to fall into place also.

When parents fail to give their child a sense of acceptance; of being loved for who they are, the child is left to search for that important, missing piece in other places. As you can imagine, people attempt to try to find meaning to their life in many different ways. The bottom line is that we all need to feel loved, to be accepted for who we are.

This sense of being special we seek to instill in our child is not something we can do by doing any certain thing. Feeling loved is a by-product, a result of paying attention to three aspects of your child’s life. In other words, there are three areas which are very important to your child’s sense of himself. Your child’s view of his physical self, his sense of accomplishment or defeat and the views of significant others toward him combine to help him feel good about himself or not so good. Go to my book, Parenting With a Purposehttp://www.smashwords.com/books/view/138381  for more detail on these areas..

What Messages are You Sending Your Kid?

What messages does your child get about himself from you? The most important factor in your child’s personal sense of value is how significant others, especially you, view him. 

As his parent you have a uniquely influential role in how your child values or devalues himself. No one’s opinions and attitudes (messages) are as important as yours in the life of your young child. The early impression he gains about himself from you tend to be very powerful for most of his life. Why do you play such an important role in the way your child sees himself? 

Try to imagine yourself as a large mirror into which your child is constantly gazing. In that mirror (you) he is picking up attitudes or feelings about himself. To a large degree, this is what is happening on an emotional level between you and your child. Your child has an uncanny ability to interpret the meaning of what you say or do at an emotional level.

Don’t be alarmed by this and think you can never make a mistake with your child lest you ruin him for life. You can, and will, say and do things you regret but it is the repeated and uncorrected errors that do the most damage. If you have a negative way of talking with your child he will eventually believe what you keep saying about him. He will believe himself to be what you say he is.

Good parents understand their need to discipline themselves in the way they treat their children. They know their words and actions have the power to bless or curse their children. Good parents also know they are human and make mistakes with their children. And good parents apologize and change their behavior when they mess up.

The Healthy Love Choice

Loving your child in a healthy way is not such an easy thing to do. It is not that your child doesn’t need or deserve such love but healthy love requires a high degree of personal discipline and maturity. Good parenting can’t be done by lazy people. Undisciplined parents cannot raise disciplined children.

Unfortunately, some adults are incapable of healthy love because they are stuck in their own childhood needs. They have not grown up and cannot give a mature, grown-up kind of love. This is why I believe the first order of business for the parent after our commitment to God  is to grow up. Parents who act like children cannot rear children in a healthy environment.

So, how do you know if your love for your child is a healthy love? I think of healthy love in this way: healthy love seeks to do what is in the ultimate best interest of the other person. I think you will find this definition consistent with the New Testament concept of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and  in other passages and with the teachings of Jesus.

One of the major implications of this definition is that you, the parent, must make judgments based on your understanding of what is best for your child. For example, over the course of his life, what values, skills and attitudes will best equip him for life? This is no small deal. Your choices may be contrary to the wishes or ideas of your parents, contemporary society, religious teachings or other influences. You decide.

This judgment is unavoidable. You may decide to be very proactive in helping guide your child’s life. Or, you may choose, by default, to pay little or no attention to this matter. That, too, is a choice; one which will leave your child in a “fog” about what is of ultimate value in life.

For the sake and well-being of your child, I hope you will make the healthy love choice.