How emotionally mature are you? What if someone treated you the way you treat others? Would you feel happy, angry, disappointed, important or encouraged? Have you had someone hurt you by their careless remark or act? Have you considered that your words and actions have a powerful effect on others? This is especially true with your child. To a large degree your child’s sense of himself comes from his interpretation of your words and actions toward him.
No one can be perfect, we all make mistakes. However, being mindful of the power of our influence should cause us to use great care about our words and actions.You may have great difficulty controlling your emotions and say and do careless and hurtful things, things not easily forgotten by your child.
The problem I have encountered is that some of us are hardly more emotionally mature than children. They are physically grown but emotionally stuck in a childish or adolescent emotional pattern. They pout and sulk when they don’t get their way. They explode or withdraw when they get angry. The children of this immature, childish kind of parent are often damaged by this emotionally toxic environment. Solution: grow up. Get help.
An important part of being emotionally mature is to acknowledge your mistakes and hold yourself responsible for your actions. It is important to understand a few basic principles about being responsible: First, your child (or anyone else) doesn’t make you angry. Anger is your choice. You own it and it is yours. Second, what you do with your emotions is your responsibility. You are accountable for how you act and what you say. Third, to change irresponsible behavior you must acknowledge your wrong and fix it with the other person. After a sincere apology or two you may begin to discover how distasteful your behavior is and discipline yourself in order to change it.
Emotionally mature love seeks to do what is in the best interest of the other person. The way you handle your frustrations with him will go a long way in building positive relationships.
What dream or expectations do you have for your kid? Caution. You are probably well-meaning and only want the best for your child but be sure you know if you are imposing your dream on your child. When you put you child in a position to repeat your accomplishments or to accomplish something you did not you may be using him for your own end. This is unhealthy love. Please allow me to share with you a very common way in which this can happen.
Healthy love does not attempt to fulfill your dream through your child. It is easy to understand how a parent might unconsciously try to live his life through his child. Most parents want the best for their child. Many want their children to have life as good as or better than they did growing up. They want them to have opportunities for education and success that they may have struggled for. The bottom line is they often want life to be easy for their child.
There is nothing wrong with wanting good things and success for your child. But, you may need to think hard about your definition of success and what is involved in accomplishing it. Parents tend to define success according to our own struggles and experiences. This can be a real trap as we think about dreams for our child. This can set us up to try to live out our dreams, accomplish things we didn’t do, and build a name for our self through our child.
Here are some reminders which may help you avoid trying to fulfill your dreams through your child.
First, true and lasting success is found only in our relationships with God, our self and others ( Matthew 22:34-40).Does this biblical concept guide your understanding of real success?
Second, your child is a gift to you. He is not your property or an instrument you can use to fulfill your dreams or make up for your disappointments in life. He belongs to God and to himself.
Third, God has a plan for your child and has chosen you as his parent to help him become all God intended him to be.
Many children grow old striving to fix that deficit in their parent’s life but never receive the sense of approval and acceptance they so desperately seek. A child needs acceptance and the right to be himself and pursue his own dreams rather than to feel obligated to fix the disappointments or fulfill dreams of his parent. To attempt to live for a parent is an emotional dead-end street.
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 related to trusting people 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 too trusting of some people, 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 that special relationship with someone of the opposite sex. However, what you may experience if you are too trusting is heartbreak and disappointment and that you 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 by a sweetheart 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. You will learn that true friendships are very rare and are something to be treasured and honored. And being hurt can make you a bit cautious about who you marry; not to give 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.
What is your trust quotient? Very trusting of others? Too trusting of some people? Distrusting of almost everyone?
How did we come to be who we are when it comes to the matter of trust? Since a good marriage and other important relationships depend on trust, it’s important for us to think some about these questions.
You may not have to search any further than your family of origin to understand why you trust the way you do. If you grew up in an environment that was emotionally stable it is likely you don’t have lots of trouble trusting others. However, if you grew up uncertain of the love of your parents, feeling you might be abandoned or that you had to earn their affection, you have probably struggled with trust issues. If you were a child of divorced parents this could also cause serious problems in trusting others. Abuse and neglect are also fertile soil for distrust.
“Well,” you may ask, “How does my trust quotient possibly affect my marriage?” Let me explain what could be happening. Transference is a term which means that we are acting in or reacting to a current situation based on past experience. For example, John says to his wife, Melanie, “I’m not your father. I’ve told you the truth and you refuse to believe me because your dad always lied to you.”John is saying that Melanie is accusing him of treating her the way her father did. She is transferring feelings of distrust and anger from her experience with her dad to her husband. There may be absolutely no rational basis for her behavior.
Obviously, John will feel like he is under scrutiny a good deal of the time and any slip up will bring the accusation, “You don’t love me.” Hopefully, he will see that, although he is trustworthy, he will need to be especially patient with Melanie in order to help her build the trust which will make the marriage work. Melanie will need to get some insight into how she has developed this deficit of trust and work through the emotional damage done to her so she can live with some sense of assurance and comfort in her relationship with John.
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.
How do you build trust in your marriage?
It’s a wonderful thing to be in a marriage where you trust your partner. Such trust builds security and hope, diminishes anxiety and fear and makes the challenges of family life much easier to deal with.
In my previous blogs I have dealt with the importance of trust and many situations which present us with the opportunity to build trust with each other. In this blog I want to be very direct in my approach and give you some advice which will be pointed and explicit on how to build trust in your marriage.
Make it easy for your spouse to tell the truth. If you think I’m saying that we can do something to help our spouse be truthful with us you are correct. Influence is the key issue here. You cannot make your husband/wife be honest with you but you can create an environment which can make it easier to be honest.
Think about this for a moment. Has there been someone in your life with whom you have felt safe to be yourself? What is it about that person that allowed you to be truthful about what you felt or where you had goofed up?
If you have been fortunate enough to have that person in your life I would say they offered you these things: a non-judgmental attitude, unconditional acceptance, understanding and a listening ear. These qualities create an environment which makes it easier for us to be truthful.
Pay attention to the things you need to do and things you need to avoid to make honesty an integral part of your marriage. Obviously, there are actions, attitudes or habits you will want to eradicate if you want to build a positive environment for truthfulness.
First, drop the critical attitude. Allow for human error and recognize that you are mistake oriented, too. Quit seeking perfection in your spouse until you have achieved that lofty goal for yourself.
Second, be generous with grace and mercy. Make allowances for personality differences and areas of weakness in your spouse.
Third, be quick to encourage and praise. Look for strengths and encourage your spouse’s efforts to improve. Few things help the marriage more than an attitude that is positive and looks for opportunity to encourage your spouse.
Fourth, listen with your heart as well as your ears. Listening is hard work. If you work hard and intelligently at it you will be rewarded with a deepened relationship which will grow in understanding and trust.
Do you realize your parenting affects the trust factor in your marriage?
One of the most important areas in which trust is built or destroyed in marriage is how you deal with your children. Having children, for most couples, is the easy part. Rearing those children to become healthy, responsible people is not so easy. Let’s face it; children are expensive and can be a lot of work if you do child rearing as you should.
There was a time in our country when the basic idea was that the husband earned the money and the wife did most, if not all, of the child raising.This attitude, I believe, is a very limited view of how parenting ought to be done. Thankfully, I see many young fathers taking a very active role in the care and discipline of their children. This is as it should be and builds strong ties with the child and trust with the wife.
However, there are moms and dads who, because of laziness, selfishness, or some other reason, put the work of parenting on their spouse. This is hurtful to the child and undermines the trust that is so basic to the marriage. What is there that a couple has that should be more important than the child they have brought into the world? To neglect the rearing of your child is a sin against the very marriage that gave the child its life. Such neglect can do nothing but destroy trust in your marriage.
As you realize, there is a lot more to rearing your child than the physical care and nurture they require. They are moral, spiritual beings which need guidance and spiritual foundations. Your time is limited,there is only a relatively small amount of time you have to lay the foundations of character and faith upon which the remainder of your child’s life will be built.
So, commit to work together to rear your child to have a positive influence on the world. By doing this you will build a trusting relationship in your marriage and give your child the character and balance he/she needs to face the challenges of life.
Trust is vital in marriage. I recently heard of a situation where a young wife had discovered her husband was having an affair. When she confronted him about his unfaithfulness and the marriage vows he took he replied, “That’s just a piece of paper.” The “piece of paper” he was referencing was, of course, the marriage license. There are several things wrong with a scenario like this.
First, adultery is wrong. It is a breach of trust between a man and a woman who have agreed to be faithful to each other. There may be lots of excuses as to why a person succumbs to this temptation but there is no real justification for it. If a person isn’t mature enough to keep their libido in check they shouldn’t take on the responsibility of marriage. Adultery is the breaking of the trust which is vital to a healthy marriage. Trust can be repaired but only through a truly repentant attitude and hard work.
Second, there was probably a lot of misplaced trust in this situation. Sometimes, people allow passion to over rule wisdom. All of us need to be loved but we may fail to use caution when giving our love to someone else. Why? Because our desire and need for the security of being loved is so strong that we may naively accept the other person’s “I love you” as the real deal. The truth is that lots of folks talk about love without the foggiest notion of what real love is. But, we want to be “loved’ and are liable to fall for any counterfeit.In the instance cited above, trust was blind and naive.
Third, situations such as this cause me to question the character of those involved. I tend to see adultery in this instance as a symptom of a dysfunctional marriage. Something at the core of the marriage wasn’t right. There was no solid basis for trust because there wasn’t character to build on.
When a man and woman have committed to each other to be honest and meet each other’s needs a solid trust develops. The glue that holds relationships together in tough times involves the trust that has been built by the way they have cared for each other before the tough times come. We learn to trust our spouse, or vice versa, because we know them.
Trustworthiness is a part of good character and it is wise to have a good idea about the “character” you are thinking about marrying before you say “I do.”
More on this in The Trust Factor: Marriage (part two)