Dealing with Decisions? Mid-marriage is defined by too many options.
You could do this… or that. Or another. And another thing.
Analysis paralysis sets in and nothing happens. Nothing. You’re stuck in limbo as a couple because you can’t decide.
Are you and your spouse…
Proactive or Reactive? Or some combination of the two?
With two reactive people you hear a lot of “I don’t know… what do you want to do?” They meander through their days and very few decisions get made until they’re in a corner. Sometimes it’s even hard to choose which movie they want to watch that evening! They may even wonder, “Is this all there is in our life – our marriage?”
In a proactive & reactive combination, they’re usually on the path of the more proactive person – where the reactive person doesn’t feel heard because they’re slower to react/make up their mind, and the proactive person is wondering why as a couple they’re always doing what she/he wants!
The relationship between two proactive people might have a lot of “head-butting” – both husband and wife are taking action and they’re wondering why they’re never on the same page… and they’re saying to others, “we’ve grown apart” because they’re busy doing their own thing.
How can all these types of couples make a decision?
What’s it like in our marriage when we’re dealing with decisions? Well, Robert is the more proactive person and I’m the reactive person. One way we’ve found useful to make an immediate decision is knowing our 3 differentiating Values – those Values we’ve chosen that define who we are as a couple. We look at every decision through the lens of our Values of Loyalty, Optimism and Discovery (they’re rank-ordered). But that’s us as “Rob and Lori”…
The Values you and your spouse choose will be very differentthan ours! If you’re interested in determining your own differentiating Values as a couple, we’ve developed a workbook/guide. And we’re in the process of creating videos to accompany you through the workbook.
But there’s something every couple needs when dealing with decisions. Specifically the serious decisions. What is it?
The ability to pray together.
Prayer is necessary when dealing with decisions.
Even with knowing your own differenting Values as a couple, diligently praying and asking for direction from your Heavenly Father must be a part of the equation.
As humans we don’t know all the details – only God has the big pictureview. He’ll lead and guide us if we ask. And if we seek. When we knock and keep knocking to understand and know what He wants in our lives, then the decisions become clear.
What if you’ve never prayed together? Or it’s been a while? We have some suggestions for you HERE.
Just a note: Prayer isn’t a magic solution to get what you want, and neither is God a genie in a bottle. The act of prayer renews your faith. The answers you recieve will shape your perspective. It’s a process that’s simple but not necessarily easy. However, it is necessary.
Pray. Together. Make a decision. Together. Then go for it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re naturally proactive or reactive. Embrace the opportunity to make a decision together and then go all in.
Being a thankful spouse or an annoyed spouse – it’s your choice.
Are there things that annoy you about your spouse?
Maybe you feel they spend too much time on the computer.
(What could they be possibly doing all that time?)
Maybe they leave their dirty clothes on the floor.
(Why is it so hard to just hang them up, or at least put them in the laundry basket?)
Maybe they put things away before you’re finished using them.
(Why can’t they just leave things alone until you’re finished, or at least ask first?)
Maybe they drive too slowly for your taste.
(Why can’t they drive more like you, at least when we’re together?)
Maybe they have an irritating habit, like how they blow their nose, scratch their backside, burp, or hiccup.
(Didn’t their mother teach them anything?)
This is the person you fell in love with…
The truth is – your spouse possessed many of these habits before you first met. Much of the behavior you experience each day is built into their DNA. In other words, for the most part, God made your spouse this way.
And this is the person you fell in love with.
The same person who spends too much time on the computer is the one to whom you’re grateful for how they quickly find the perfect solution to your everyday problems.
The same person who just drops their clothes on the floor is the one you admire for their ability to be spontaneous, for their creativity, or the way they always put people first before possessions.
The same person who keeps putting things away is the one you appreciate for keeping your world organized and neat.
The same person who drives too slowly for your taste is the one you trust to drive your children around because you know they will be safe.
The same person who has that irritating habit is the one you appreciate for allowing you to feel relaxed and at home without any need to worry about your own strange habits.
The secret to removing the feeling of annoyance is the Value of thankfulness.
Lemon Cake – Good Stuff! In our 6th mid-marriage video we talk about the good stuff in marriage. Even when everything is going wrong (which happens to all of us) you still can take time to celebrate the good stuff.
Your spouse loves you. You love your spouse… that’s good, right?
What about making a cake that your spouse will love? (Robert loves lemon cake…)
And isn’t there a concept of making lemonade out of the lemons you’re given in life? Well, I say make CAKE – Lemon Cake!
March 29th is Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
An insurance salesman, Henry Baker, sold his famous recipe for Lemon Chiffon Cake to Betty Crocker in 1927. Here’s the original recipe:
But if you’re not a natural baker, then why not whip up the lemon cake mix, which still exists today! I’ve made this lemon cake many times for our family and then drizzled a mixture of lemon juice and icing sugar on the top. The icing drips down the sides of the cake and makes a sweet/sour combination that’s delicious. It’s a combination of sweet and sour – just like life.
So, even if not everything is good in your life right now – there are still things that can be celebrated. Hey! It’s Lemon Cake Day. Why not celebrate that!
Whatever is true, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – focus on those things. Lemon cake has to be in there somewhere, right? 😉
Here’s our encouragement on focusing on the good – and what do about the bad stuff.
Not everything in your life together will be good. Sometimes you need to wait a bit to weed out the bad stuff, and in the meantime, focus on the good. Robert re-tells a story of how wheat was sown, and an enemy snuck in to sow weeds between the wheat. Do you know what the Master recommended?
An online legacy is tricky. Even if we don’t have a specific online website “home”, what we post on Facebook, Twitter, photos in Instagram and recipes or crafts on our boards in Pinterest, become our legacy.
These online social forums detail who we are by showing
our emotions and reactions
what we treasure
what we dislike
our view of the future and the past
our opinions about people and events
This thought isn’t new to you, I’m sure. I’m not trying to put fear, uncertainty or doubt into your minds. I’m just trying to prompt some awareness.
Why am I writing this post now? Well, a few days ago I had a shock. A heart-breaking awakening. And a special awareness is growing…
How will our children view our online legacy?
Amanda Kelly was a Christ follower, a mother and a wife who believed worship was a way of life. She wanted to inspire women to realize that worshipping God is more than corporate worship in church, but can be an everyday practice where God is in control, and gets the glory for every aspect of life.
How did she do that? She wrote. Online. She left an online legacy on her blog, and all the other places we all post items online: pinterest, instagram, facebook etc. Here’s an example of her view and tribute to her oldest daughter.
A post shared by Mandy Kelly (@worshipfulliving) on
Her life wasn’t easy. It included both infertility and waiting quite a while to be a wife. I’m sure there were days where she didn’t want to get out of bed and other days where the commitments she’d made in ministry, in family, in the local church and elsewhere felt very heavy.
Where was she focusing?
In all her posts online, and on social media, Mandy honored her God, Jesus, her husband, family and her role as a mom – both as a step-parent, and adoptive mother.
Why am I highlighting Amanda Kelly and online legacy?
On Tuesday morning, March 21, 2017, Mandy, her husband Scott and two of their four children died in a house fire.
I’m sure she was a normal human like you and me – she had her good days and not-so-great days. Those days are documented on her Instagram feed and in facebook posts, just like mine and yours. However, her online legacy for her remaining children has great value.
Yes. This event is a tragedy. Those who know me realize I usually refer to bad life happenings as “not a tragedy“. This one is a devastating life happening for the children and extended family still on this earth. But Amanda Kelly leaves behind a beautiful online legacy for those children and family.
Her words and desires for her children’s future remain for all of us. It is a beautiful online legacy we can all appreciate.
Now, what about you? What about me? Consider all you’ve posted online in the last week…
3 Ways to Be Sure Your Online Legacy Will Be Appreciated
I’ve been pondering this online life we all are subject to – in greater or lesser ways. One of our church leaders recently wrote a note about our activity online as Christians and it has also impacted my thoughts. Only God knows how long our online world will exist and in what form. But for now… it does.
Here are the three points I’ve considered:
1 – We need to focus on what will please God – loving Him first.
To be sure our online legacy will be valued and appreciated, honor God. Give Him the glory. First. Please God, before we please humans. Matthew 22:37 Whatever is true, noble,right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— we need to think about such things — and express those things. Philippians 4:8
Do your online posts reflect your desire to please God?
2 – Followers of Christ need to live and lead like Jesus.
We are striving to live and lead like Jesus, so we need to apply our energies – offline and online – to being Christ-like. What does this mean? When we’re online, we must realize we are one in Christ – Galations 3:28 – Enough of this divisiveness – it’s not from God! And communicating with our heavenly Father, the Creator, must happen regularily. Jesus is our model. John 17 Leading life like Jesus will make sure our online legacy will be appreciated and valued.
How do you demonstrate online that you live and lead like Jesus?
3 – Our view must be greater than ourselves.
How are you serving? How are you loving your fellow-human? Matthew 22:39 Self care is important, but so is loving others. It must go hand-in-hand. Your online legacy will be valued and appreciated if you love others as you love yourself.
Is your love for those around you evident in what you post online?
Of course, we’re all fallible humans, with uncountable flaws… we aren’t perfect. That’s a given.
BUT — we are forgiven. 🙂
What else would you add to these 3 things?
I’m sure there’s more to add.
How would you suggest our online presence leave a legacy which our children and grandchildren will value?
They’re both professors at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. But more importantly to us is the fact that they’re both in a long-term marriage. Geoff has been married to Maureen for more than 35 years. Kathy has been married to Dave for more than 40 years. They both know what it’s like to be in the middle of marriage, how to be a friend to their spouse, and how build friendships as couples.
They’re not just talking theory on how to make the most from your couple friendships – they’re living it!
Research Concepts from Two Plus Two
What struck me first about their research is how easy it was to understand.
Deal and Geif have interviewed 123 couples together, 122 individuals who are part of a couple, 58 divorced individuals, two couples who have been friends for more than 40 years, and a group of seven couples who have been meeting for years together.
…mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company. They tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out.
And then go on to cite many other researchers’ points on why friendships are a healthy part of life.
I found it interesting and helpful how they dealt with some of the factors that make friendships with other couples both a challenge and a joy:
differences beween women and men
age as a factor in friendships
race as a factor in friendships
socioeconomic class in friendships
how parents modeled friendships (positive & negative)
partnered vs married
extended family connections that (may) impede making outside friendships
how to fit in couple friendships into your life as husband and wife
“love him – hate her” issue in couple friendships
how television/social media has impacted our view of couple friendships
After researching they’ve come to the conclusion that there are two ways of thinking about couple friendships: Style and Interaction. These two concepts are going to help you navigate how make the most from your couple friendships.
“The most outgoing couples we call Seekers. These couples seek other couples for social, intellectual, and emotional stimulation. Both partners enjoy the company of others.
A second, and the largest group of couples, are ones we call Keepers. They tend to see couple friends as an important but not vital part of their lives. They have a significant number of friends, are close with those friends, and are not too interested in making new couple friends.
Nesters. A third group of couples that we see from our research are those that are not particularly interested in couple friendships. Either or both partners do not place a high value on them,and they are content to just spend time with the other partner, with their individual friends, or with one or two close couples. They are not oriented by personality style to a great deal of socializing with other couples. We call them Nesters because, without putting any value on their behavior, they are content to be in their nest with just each other or with a small group of friends. Some Nesters found each other late in life or in a second marriage and are fiercely protective of the time they have.”
Moving forward in the book, from Greif and Deal’s research they show how these three styles of interactors “live out their friendhips and how a couple’s interaction style affects what they do when they get together.”
What we need to know is that each couple might have different friendship styles. For example, I’m a Nester and Robert is a Keeper in couple friendship styles. Or, (to add complexity) an individual in a couple relationship could have an affinity for two of the three styles…
Bottom line? Knowing each other’s friendship style is important when you’re negotiating who you’ll be spending time with, and how often, and how to make the most from your couple friendships.
Interaction in Couple Friendships
Imagine a sliding continuum : Fun Seekers to Emotion Seekers.
In their research, Greif and Deal suggest that more than two-thirds of those they interviewed identified with the fun seeking description in couple friendships. They hung out together, and the emphasis was on “doing something”. Most often the Fun Seekers had children under 18 in their home, in comparison to couples who leaned toward emotion sharing friendships who didn’t have dependents living with them.
Others referred to the best kinds of couple friendships as being able to do both – share emotions, and thoughts along with enjoyment when doing things together.
“We did discover characteristics of emotion sharing couples, however, that distinguish them from fun sharing couples. Emotion sharing couples tend to identify couple friendships as more important to them than do fun sharing couples. They tend to describe a strong emotional investment in the couple friendships that they have. Further, they tend to be more affected by the breakup or divorce of their couple friends than are fun sharing couples. They have invested more in their couple friends and thus lose more when the friendships dissolve. Emotion sharing couples frequently mentioned how important couple friendships were to their lives, at times referring to another couple as “like family.””
Well – there probably won’t be final thoughts on this book.. 😉 There’s so much to ponder and review.
It’s a book heavy on theory, research, notations and citations, etc. What makes it readable for a non-academic is how the authors have woven in the personal stories of the couples they’ve interviewed. Those stories make the theory real and relatable to make the most from your couple friendships. From all the chapters, these are the most practical:
I especially enjoyed Chapter 10 – Building Couple Friendships for the Future because this section answered the questions on how to make the most from your couple friendships.Deal and Greif provide insights from the couples who they interviewed, and their own recommendations.
Appendix B has questions for marriage enrichment groups that I’m looking forward to asking our own couple friends!
Appendix C has a couple’s quiz to explore whether you’re a seeker, keeper or nester.
The whole book is fascinating if you’re someone who likes to gather insights and data. It felt like candy to me… 🙂
But I need to be clear with you — this is NOT a self-help book.
There aren’t “x” number of steps to make better friendships… It’s about research on the topic. And from the authors’ view, this might be the only book on this topic.
Why are we talking about this book?
Our discussion started with our first mid-marriage encouragement topic: making new connections in the middle of marriage… and how hard it is!
Take a look at our video— We’re reaching out – kicking it up a notch in 2017- to encourage YOU!
We’ve created resources – 2 PDFs – for you to download on our Patreon page for this video topic. We’ll be sharing a new Mid-Marriage Encouragement Video with you each week, along with resources as a challenge for you and your spouse to lead a meaningful life.
We challenge you to reach out and make new friends!
Don’t let the age or stage or your marriage deprive you of the depth that good friends can provide for your life.
Who could you call today – and make a time for a double-date?