Wednesday, September 28, 2016
As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg, PA as community life coaches; particularly as marriage coaches. God has been using this aspect of our coaching to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them recognize the lies that played a big part of throwing them off track.
According to Dr. Chris Thurman, who wrote a book, The Lies We Believe, there are at least five categories of lies that are affecting our lives. Those categories are: self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies, and they have been received and believed by millions of people.
As we continue in our effort to expose the marital lies, I want to discuss the lie that says,
“My spouse can and should meet all of my emotional needs.”
In our many years of marriage coaching, we have found this to be one of the toughest lies to overcome. Although we make promises in our wedding vows and have sincere intentions in our hearts, eventually we come to realize that no human being can always be there to meet all of our emotional needs. Dr. Thurman lists emotional needs such as attention, acceptance, appreciation, approval, affection, affirmation, comfort, encouragement, respect, security, support and understanding. How unrealistic it is to expect a human being to be able to always meet all of those needs.
This week I’m going to quote Dr. Thurman a lot because he helps us deal with the false hope that a spouse will perfectly meet all of our emotional needs. Many believe this lie because they feel that the person they married should somehow automatically know their every need and meet those needs without them even communicating it. This expectation presupposes that our spouse is perfectly, emotionally healthy themselves. It presupposes that they can read our minds, thoughts and feelings on some hyper-spiritual level. When our spouse does not meet our expectations, we often assume that they are the one who is somehow lacking. We conclude that our unmet emotional need is their fault, alone.
Dr. Thurman explains: The reality of any relationship is that NO one person can be the perfect “need meter” for another person. Our needs are too many and can be met only through a variety of people and activities. People who depend solely on one person or one thing usually haven’t developed other resources such as a best friend, hobbies, satisfying work, and a close relationship with God. So rather than recognizing and accepting the fact their expectation is unrealistic, a husband or wife will turn to their spouse and say, “Here’s my life. You take care of all my needs.”
In healthy marriages, there is a mutual commitment to meet each other’s emotional needs as much as possible, and there is a mutual commitment to recognize when we can’t. In healthy marriages, neither spouse depends solely on the other for all of their emotional needs to be met. In healthy marriages, both spouses make every effort to be honest about when they are not meeting each other’s emotional needs and try diligently to do better.
My husband and I have done a lot of pre-marital and marital coaching over the years. It not only helped the couples we coached, but it helped our marriage as well. It helped us to stay in communication with one another about meeting emotional needs and has helped us to develop a habit of staying in communication with one another regarding those needs. The coaching taught us to not accept the lie that our spouse should always be there to meet all of our emotional needs.
Dr. Thurman adds:
When you have emotional needs that are not being met in your marriage, you can basically do the following:
(1) remind yourself that having emotional needs is healthy and it is okay to feel hurt when they are not met;
(2) identify what emotional needs are not being met
(3) ask your spouse if he or she would be willing to meet them (be specific as to which ones and how you would like them met);
(4) affirm and appreciate your spouse for meeting your emotional needs when he or she does;
(5) keep meeting your spouse’s emotional needs as best you can, even if he or she is not willing to do the same for you; and
(6) look for other morally appropriate ways for your emotional needs to be met (a close friend, an interesting hobby, volunteer activities, ongoing education, church involvement).
It is normal to have emotional needs. We all have them. It is unrealistic to expect one person to be able to meet all of our emotional needs. Expecting your spouse to meet all those needs is one of the reasons why there are marital problems. This lie puts too much pressure on our spouse and causes damage to our marriage.
The truth is, we are healthier when we have several sources to meet our emotional needs; especially our ultimate source, which is God.
Philippians 4:19 says “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
There is nothing that we need (even emotional needs in marriage) that God cannot supply.
For the least of these,
Dr. Carol L. Green
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
A couple of years ago my husband and I met a Nigerian Bishop by the name of Dorothy Tee. God sent her and her husband to this region just like us. Many times we heard her say that God had showed her that the way to reach people in Harrisburg was going to require that we go out into the community and rake the people in; similar to the way one has to use a rake to get to the leaves that are hidden under bushes and dark places under porches.
God stirred our hearts with her admonition even as he changed our circumstances in such a way that we were literally forced to leave the comfortable church setting and go out into the community in the manner God had shown Bishop Tee. Then the Lord gave us a powerful way to go into the community and begin to rake in the souls. It was through life coaching.
God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that rebuilding process involves helping them see past the self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies that they have received and believed.
I have been sharing with you, from a book titled “The Lies We Believe” that was written by Dr. Chris Thurman. His book has revealed some of the ways we are helping people to identify these lies that have held them back. This week, we continue in our discussion about the marital lies, as we address the lie that says: “If our marriage takes hard work, we must not be right for each other.”
Dr. Chris Thurman makes this statement on this topic: “Marriage is hard work. Make that, marriage is very hard work; tremendously hard work. Underline it. Boldface it. Tattoo it on your forehead.”
Dr. Thurman helps us to see that every marriage that is intent upon success has to be worked on. It’s a truth few couples seem to realize when they first get started in life together.
There are times the marriage will hit such rough spots and hard situations that the resulting fear and insecurity can be so strong that a couple can start to believe they may have made the wrong choice in their partner. Hollywood movies and romance novels have caused many to believe that their marriage shouldn’t be so hard. They can begin to think that they wouldn’t have to work at it if they were right for each other.
I want you to hear the truth that emotions and magical feelings don’t make you right for each other. Couples must learn to work on their relationship to make things right. When you see a marriage that is successful over many years, it’s not just because they are right for each other. They have learned to work for each other.
During the time my husband and I worked as Associate Pastors at our church in St. Louis a young couple called us one evening to say they were splitting up and wanted to talk with us. They arrived at our home and when they came in the house they sat on the couch next to each other. They had come to an impasse in their relationship and they didn’t know how to navigate.
The first thing we told them was that they did not really want to split up. We pointed out the obvious, showing them how they had ridden together to our home. They had just demonstrated that they were willing to come and ask for help together. They had even unconsciously sat next to each other on the couch. We told them that the fact that they even took the time to argue, said that they cared enough about each other to try to come to a mutual understanding. We helped them realize that they didn’t really want to split up. Their actions had shown that what they really meant was that they didn’t know how to go beyond the point of disagreement.
We explained that if they didn’t care about each other they wouldn’t have even taken the time to argue or try to make the other person understand their viewpoint. We were able to give the couple the tools they needed in order to bring resolve to their disagreements. We helped them to understand that they were going to have to work on their relationship. We helped them to understand that this is what it takes to make a marriage successful.
Like that young couple, many believe that an impasse means the end of a relationship. They get tired of the real work. They wish their relationship could stay in the stage when they were living on an emotional high.
But the truth is that there will be times when we will come to a place of impasse and won’t know how to navigate past it. When that first happened between me and my husband, we learned how to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom. We had to learn to agree with God’s word about the situation and to humble ourselves and obey God’s word.
As I said in previous letters, we all come into marriage from two different household cultures with specific viewpoints and lifestyles. I learned that marriage is often a clash of cultures, viewpoints and lifestyles. Marriage is a blending that takes place in the midst of these collisions and conflicts. As we learn to live with our partner, we will have to work out the difference between what is a personal preference and what would actually bring harm to the other person and the relationship.
This was a major point of discovery for us. Most people take their stance in their impasse based upon a personal preference. Their stand is not based upon seeing what is actually harmful to their spouse.
We can feel as though our spouse brings out the worst in us, but what is being exposed are preconceived ideas, personal preferences, hidden fears, selfishness, self-centeredness, and just plain untruths. These are things that need to be brought to the surface and dealt with for the health of our partner and the marriage.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
The hard times expose the unhealthy attitudes in our own hearts and give us the opportunity to change them through the Truth of God’s word. It also gives us the opportunity of going through our process of maturing and healing in the company of someone who loves us.
Marriage isn’t for cowards, escape artists, people who are bored, the selfish or the self-centered. It is not for the one who is unwilling to deal with their flaws. Marriage is not for the person who is locked into the negative survivalist mentality. I repeat, marriage is hard work and it brings out the areas of our lives that need to be changed.
This Truth also applies to the person who divorced based upon this lie that Dr. Thurman has exposed. If they don’t deal with their flaws, they will repeat the same negative patterns in any future marriage. If they are unwilling to work in the next marriage, they will come to the same conclusion as before, and terminate the relationship.
Your marriage can be happy, healthy and whole as long as you are both willing to do the work necessary to make it successful.
Dr. Chris Thurman says:
The Apostle Paul was right when he said, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” The wisest couples use marital problems as an impetus to work even harder, not as an excuse to bail out. If your marriage is hard work, you have a golden opportunity to use that reality to make needed changes in who you are. You do not want to pass up that opportunity.
For the least of these,
Dr. Carol L. Green
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
As community life coaches, we help people walk through the process of discovering truth so that they can recapture their lives. To help in that process, we expose our clients to the wisdom and revelations from Dr. Chris Thurman’s book, The Lies We Believe. He categorizes the lies we believe as Self-Lies, Worldly Lies, Marital Lies, Distortion Lies and Religious Lies.
I have been sharing with you, some of the ways we are helping people identify these lies that have held them back. Last week I started a new discussion on marital lies. Marriage is a major topic for me and my husband. This week, I want to get into the specific lies that have wrecked countless marriages. This week I want to take a closer look at the lie that Dr. Thurman reveals as, “All my marital problems are my spouse’s fault.”
There are many who believe that their spouse is the sole reason for the failure in their relationship. The truth is that it takes both partners to make a relationship successful. Although one person can inflict more damage than the other at any given time, it still basically takes two to make and break a marriage. It’s not demolished by one single act by one person.
One place to begin, in the laying of a good foundation for the relationship, is by understanding the blind spots, strengths and weaknesses of each other. The blind spot or past hurt of one partner may be causing problems or offense in the relationship, but the offended spouse must push past their hurt feelings and try to help bring God’s perspective to the issue. The conflict is often compounded when the offended partner does not receive or respond according to God’s viewpoint on the situation.
We are all imperfect human beings and we go into relationships needing to make adjustments in our own hearts and minds. We must learn how to let go of the past and not to be selfish or self-centered. Two people go into a relationship with blind spots, preferences, prejudices, weaknesses and strengths.
Internal vows might have been made that affect and negatively impact the relationship.
Internal vows are promises that one has made to oneself, that they will never allow anyone to hurt them again. One partner will inevitably say or do something that will cause the offended partner to flash back to an incident or conflict from the past that did not end well. This often causes them to respond to their present partner out of the pain from the past.
A lot of the conflict that came up in my marriage was due to the affect that the separation and divorce of my parents, had on me. I was not raised in a Christian home. My mother and I received Christ when I was twelve years old. I was raised by a mother who was sexually abused as a child by a relative. She often kept us away from extended family. Then my parents separated and I later carried all of that hurt and pain into my marriage.
We fail to realize that our backgrounds, societal pressures, past decisions, and the emotional reasoning we have formed and lived by, will affect our relationships. Our marriage was affected by the way I grew up in Pennsylvania. My husband brought all of his negative experiences and reasoning from his life growing up in St. Louis, Missouri.
When Chris and I began our relationship, I was afraid to argue with him because while growing up in my household, I saw that arguments led to separation and divorce. So I wouldn’t say anything. That was childish reasoning that developed into a fear of doing something that would cause my husband to want to leave me.
The “It’s all your fault” lie is basically the message that if it weren’t for you, everything would be fine. We must be aware that we all have baggage that we bring into our relationships.
Dr. Chris Thurman relates this scenario from his book:
In the case of an affair, the offended spouse feels crushed by the revelation, as anyone would, but it can be taken to a deadly conclusion. The offended spouse sometimes concludes that the offender is the reason their marriage is on the rocks and that their spouse is to blame for all the misery they are now going through.
The offended spouse is understandably in a lot of pain, but at the risk of sounding insensitive, the offended spouse must also face the part they played in the marriage not being a good one. Yes, the act of the offender was very selfish and destructive, but was the offended spouse loving, caring, supportive, attentive, affectionate, understanding, etc? Was the offended spouse consistent in showing these attributes toward their spouse?
It is essential that the offended spouse comes clean about what they contributed to the marriage being so troubled. Intense emotional pain triggered by something such as a spouse having an affair has a way of interfering with our willingness to do any honest self-examination, but it has to be done if the marriage is to be saved.
Notice how Dr. Thurman does not place all of the blame on the offender. He provides the balanced perspective in which both the offender and the offended must do self-examinations.
For a marriage to be successful, both partners must look at their own flaws and work on them according to biblical principles.
Matthew 7:5 says, "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
This doesn’t mean you don’t express how you feel. This scripture is talking about the manner and the viewpoint from which you approach your partner.
Ephesians 4:2 says, “….with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”
That’s how we walk together in unity and how we respond to our spouse when they make a mistake.
It’s wonderful when a couple chooses to follow these biblical principles and makes them a lifestyle. When they do, they are fulfilling what it means to walk in love, to sanctify and cleanse one another with the water of the word, submitting to one another and respecting one another.
So the next time your spouse makes a mistake, resist the temptation to blame and lay all the problems you’re both experiencing at their doorstep. Try to recall what they have experienced and what those experiences have caused them to believe and live.
Think about how your actions or decisions impact your spouse. Remember what the Bible says concerning the issue you’re dealing with and pray before you speak. Wash them with the water of the Word in love, gentleness, longsuffering and humility because you have made mistakes as well. Remember to always take the plank out of your own eye first.
For the least of these,
Dr. Carol L. Green
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg as community life coaches. God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them discover the lies that they have received and believed.
We have been presenting several quotes from Dr. Chris Thurman, author of the book, The Lies We Believe. He categorizes the lies we believe as Self-Lies, Worldly Lies, Marital Lies, Distortion Lies and Religious Lies.
I have been sharing with you, some of the ways we are helping people to identify these lies that have held them back. This week, we begin our discussion by addressing marital lies.
In the book we have been discussing, The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman, there is a quote from William Lederer (American Author) and Don Jackson (Psychiatrist):
“To understand the realities of the marital relationship it is essential first to recognize the unrealities.”
There are many nice people who were very much in love that have gotten married, but they came to the place of wondering if they had made the biggest mistake in their lives.
Chris and I have done quite a bit of premarital and marital consultation over the years. One of the things we have consistently seen is the unrealistic expectations of what married life is and what it takes to have a successful marriage. The trouble always begins when one person does not meet the expectations of their partner.
Hollywood and romance novels have blurred reality and skipped over the messy aspects of relationships, especially marriage. Nowadays marriage is viewed by some as being unnecessary and unrealistic. What God intended marriage to be has been redefined.
It can be disappointing to find that marriage is hard work, but if you invest in your relationship, what you reap is far more than you could have imagined. Over the next few weeks, we will again walk through Dr. Thurman’s observations to expose the faulty, destructive beliefs. We will explore six lies that many couples have embraced, causing much heartache.
Dr. Thurman quotes an old joke and says: “(There is) the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. The lies we are about to examine are the primary cause of the suffering that many couples experience. They are also the reason why so many people divorce. If we want to save our marriages, we have to overcome these lies.”
Marriage is a topic that is near and dear to me and my husband. For more than 20 years, we have been working with people before, during and even after marriage. We have written a book that shares our experiences, as well as the principles that saved our relationship. We also produced several online courses and continue to provide marriage coaching. Most of our marriage-advisory time is spent dismantling lies and misconceptions, so I look forward to sharing from Dr. Thurman's book and from our personal experiences.
Just as the crumbling institution of the family is at the core of most of our challenges in society, we believe the breakdown of marriage is a huge part of why we have seen the collapse of our urban communities. We seek to do our part in rebuilding hearts and homes.
For the least of these,
Dr. Carol L. Green