Tag Archives: Relationships

Hooking up less difficult than admitting love?

Listened this am to NPR’s Morning edition and a story on “hooking up.” Definitely worth your listening for the 8 minute story. Here’s a couple of amazing thoughts (not quotes) from female interviewees:

1. The hook-up is all about the tension, build-up, and the sex.

2. Dating actually costs too much money; hook-ups are much cheaper

3. Talking about being in love is more embarrassing than talking about one’s sex life (hooking up) on the radio.

4. Dating a guy means bringing him into your circle of close friends and the preference is to have the hook-up but do nothing that could harm real friendships

5. It is vulnerable to be needy of love. Not so of sex.

Scary stuff here. Think about it. Taking your clothes off and sharing genital sexual activity with an acquaintance puts you in a less vulnerable position than asking someone out for a formal date?  Can someone explain that one to me?


Filed under Cultural Anthropology, news, Psychology, Relationships, Sex, sexuality

Why texting is hazardous to your life

We already know that texting while driving endangers lives. No surprise there. But have you considered the danger of texting while angry? Texting while avoiding?

Consider the following situation. You have a set-to with a loved one while each are at work. Finding yourself hurt and angry, the thought crosses your mind to text that person to say something mature like,

“fine. u go rite ahed and do it. c if i care.”

Of course, you don’t really mean “fine.” Nor do you  want them to “go ahead”. You do care, otherwise you wouldn’t be texting while angry.

Notice the dangers here:

1. Texting give us the illusion of connection. We can send a message to communicate with another but don’t really call it a connection.
2. Texting provides an opportunity to jab each other when angry but avoid (for a few moments anyway) seeing the impact of that jab. Sure, we could say these silly and immature things to the other’s face, but with the advent of texting we don’t have to admit to ourselves that our words have impact.
3. Texting allows another to keep a record of our wrongs; to read it again and again and maintain the hurts. Yes, we can remember words spoken in anger, but keeping a copy would be tempting and very dangerous.

For those of you who text, maybe a few rules should apply.

  • If you are tempted to text someone so you can avoid them, don’t.
  • Don’t text or email when angry.
  • Ask yourself about impact: Does it truly meet the constructive requirement of Ephesians? And if it does, why not say it face to face?


Filed under anger, christian psychology, Christianity, conflicts, Relationships

Final thoughts on roots of evil

Well not really. Just that I posted on Tuesday that I would add a few more thoughts on this topic. On Sunday, Terry Traylor preached on the last verse of Judges and the first part of Matthew 21. You can hear it here. In his sermon he gave a nice summary of the book of Judges and the cycle we find in it:

1. The people stop dealing with sin, begin to flirt with it
2. God gives them over to their desires. He lets them have what they demand.
3. The people slowly recognize the problem, take a long time to do something about it, but finally call to the Lord for help.
4. God raises up a protector/deliverer.
5. God provides a period or rest and safety

Unfortunately, the cycle repeats itself. Except for one small problem: the cycle is broken when the people fail to cry out to God for help but keep going on their way. We could call it the “butterfly effect.” When the people fail to get rid of the idols but accept forms of syncretism, then it allows temple workers (Levites) to make it okay to have a concubine in the first place. He doesn’t protect her when some rapists come his way. He shows her no concern after her rape. She dies and he doesn’t give her the decency of a burial but sends her body parts to the 12 tribes and tells only the part that makes others look bad. And ultimately this butterfly effect ends with thousands dead in a civil war and innocent women stolen and subjected to forced marriages. All because everyone did right in their own eyes.

It would seem that this is part of the problem in Rwanda. You have a rather religious/Christian population that flirts with hatred and jealousy of the other, turns a blind eye to neighbors doing violence to others and ends up with civil strife and genocide.

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Filed under Abuse, Biblical Reflection, conflicts, deception, self-deception, sin

Further thoughts about conflict

Whether we are two fighting 10 year olds or 60 year olds, we have a propensity to fight unfairly. Yesterday I mentioned the habit of character assassination. Today, I want to go a little further with these techniques (tongue inserted in cheek).

1. Make sure to start out telling the story in such a way that will emphasize your righteousness (overlooking your own sins) and equally emphasizing the other person’s sins. Be sure to read any and all possible data about the other’s motives in the worst possible light. Never give the benefit of the doubt.

2. If you are defending someone else who has done something wrong, be sure to protect them facing justice.

Some of these thoughts came to me during this week’s sermon on Judges 20. Note how the Levite tells the story about the awful Gibeah men but fails to point out his complicity in allowing his woman to be abused to death. Notice, as my pastor pointed out, how he generalizes from some people’s behavior to a whole people group. Notice also how the tribe of Benjamin fails to hold their own people accountable but closes rank to protect their own. These things are habits we easily engage in if we are not careful.

Or, how about a better way. Follow the model of dealing with conflict by first seeking personal assessment and repentance before pursuing the sins of others.

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Filed under christian counseling, Christianity, conflicts, Relationships

The fine art of disagreeing

Ever noticed that some people can disagree with you to your face but do it in such a way that you are neither threatened nor feeling the need to go to the mat over the matter. What do these folk do differently?

First, they are willing to voice their disagreements. This is preferable to those who agree to your face but tell others they disagree with you.

Second, they do it in such a way as to not diminish you as a person. I’ve noticed that some people are expert in making others feel important–even as they may completely disagree with an idea. They validate you as a person. They assume you mean well and are authentic in your ideas and beliefs.

On the flip side, those who approach the fight looking to drag character into the matter, who assume you are duplicitous or have a hidden agenda, get our defenses up. It is a sure way to kill a relationship (marriage, work, family, etc.) to start a conversation challenging someone’s honesty and accusing them of not being upfront.

I think we are most likely to do this if we have been meditating on some real or perceived unfairness in the relationship.

But what if you really think the person isn’t being honest with you or themselves? Should you bring it up? It is my experience that the more attention to pay to their concerns (whether obvious or partially hidden), the more likely you can have a worthwhile conversation and either the dishonesty will reveal itself or it will become less of an issue. Of course this isn’t always true, but often, in most relationships.

So, if you can honor 1 Corinthians 13 in your disagreements, you will enrich your relationships with others and master the fine art of disagreeing with others in love.

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Filed under Biblical Reflection, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, Communication, Relationships

Frustrated goals? Here is one solution…

Let’s admit to ourselves that we carry a large number of goals for other people. We wish and desire for them to change their ways. Life would be so much easier if my son…my wife…my boss…my pastor would only… 

This is especially true in the counseling office. People come to counseling to find a way to fix a problem (person) in their life. They may well recognize their own need for change but commonly find their attention turning to the one person causing them great relational pain. Counselors are no less capable of being frustrated as well. We have goals for our clients–ways we want them to act. When they do not accept our goals or are not able to fulfill them to our egocentric demands, we too can be frustrated.

Here is one solution that may provide you with less frustration:

Make your goals things that you can meet on your own.Okay, maybe this sounds a little crazy, but hear me out. Let’s say your spouse frequently responds to your questions with irritable defensiveness. You know you are nothing but sweetness and light to him/her and that the problem lies solely with your spouse. You are frustrated that they do not get that they need to change. You’ve brought up nicely and you’ve brought it up repeatedly–even seeking help from a counselor. But to no avail.

Consider, then, a goal change. Goal: I want my response to my spouse to be filled with love, truth, and an invitation to warmly try again, even if they do not accept my invitation. You have the power, with God’s help, to meet this goal. You can use this to evaluate how well you are doing?

Does such a goal change make your suffering from your spouse’s crankiness any less? No. But when (a) you accept that you have NO power to make someone else change and (b) accept that you do have power in how you will respond to such things, you receive two benefits

  • You stop distressing over how to fix another person
  • You use different criteria to evaluate yourself and your life (and thus may find that your own irritation is adding to the vicious cycle and your negative evaluations of your life)

Now, I am not saying that if you are suffering at the hands of your spouse or child or boss that you should just smile and take it. It is okay to speak the truth to sin. Maltreatment does do damage and working to stop it is a good thing (if necessary, by removing oneself from the situation). But even then, you can offer an invitation to a new way of relating should the person be open to hearing you.

So, if you are frustrated with others not helping you meet your goals, consider whether or not you can rewrite your goals to be something within your power to do. Warning: it can be a challenge to give up a goal for another. It feels like giving up a dream. It will be easier to give up said goal for other if you recognize that there are a host of goals available for you right at your fingertips.


Filed under christian psychology, Christianity, conflicts, Psychology, Relationships

Persisting Conflict: Breaking the cycle

As you can imagine, most people I see in counseling settings have a conflict with someone in their life that doesn’t seem to resolve. The problem comes up again and again. Change the scenario, but the dialogue remains the same. Someone shuts down, someone presses hard, someone brings up the past, someone changes the subject, someone seems to agree at first but then later reverses their position. You get the picture.

There are many reasons why we fall into this kind of pattern. But, one comes to mind as a common reason: We want to be heard and we don’t feel like we are being heard so we keep doing things in order to be heard (silence, many words, loud words, etc.). The end result is both parties feel unheard and generally unwilling to really “hear” the other for fear their concerns will be ignored.

One way I try to break the cycle is to draw 2 intersecting roads. In most conflict, we are going different directions and we want the other to come with us. And when we consider going with the other down their road, it feels as if our road (concerns, desires) will be left far behind.

In order to break the cycle we have to stay in the intersection, without demanding that we go down either road. The intersection means that both of our concerns and interests are being considered. We stay there to hear without leaving. We fight the anxiety that staying there means giving up. It doesn’t. The intersection is to be a safe place (okay, in real life hanging out in an intersection probably isn’t the smartest thing).

When conflicting parties agree to hang out in the intersection, I find that most of the anxiety and fears of rejection or neglect subside. And frequently, parties agree that the concerns of both are legitimate. And just maybe they can find another road that they both can travel in safety.

What word pictures do you find helpful when confronting persisting conflict?


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, conflicts, counseling, Relationships

Faking politeness

We all do it now and again. We say, “that’s okay” when we are burning up inside. We leave a voice mail and say we were sorry to miss them but we really weren’t all that sorry and we are glad they didn’t pick up when we called them back. Sometimes we fake politeness because we know what it in our heart is not good and so we are act into politeness. Other times we merely want to avoid more problems and so wish to make them go away by faking peace.

Apparently there are some advances in technology now that can help you be better fakers. There are ways to call someone and get into their voice mail without the phone ringing–designed to make it seem like we were sorry we only got their voice mail but in actuality that is all was wanted. NPR ran a story on this topic. They also described some ways to either pre-arrange a computer to call your cell to get out of a meeting or using pre-recorded sounds (baby crying, dog barking, doorbell, etc.) to end phone conversations you want to get out of.

So, is it wrong to fake politeness? what is the difference between being nice to someone who is a pain or who causes you problems and being polite but not meaning it. I would suggest that when we make it seem we were caring but weren’t (either in our heart or to others) then that counts as faking and isn’t good for the soul.


Filed under Communication, conflicts, Relationships

Cherishing suffering?

Reading in the CS Lewis daily reader about the common feeling of shame that a bereaved person has for feeling better on a given day. My friend described that feeling as one of feeling disloyal to his deceased wife. Lewis describes this well.

We don’t really want grief, in its first agonies, to be prolonged: nobody could. But we want something else of which grief is a frequent symptom, and then we confuse the symptom with the thing itself. I wrote the other night that bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases–like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too. If it hurts (and it certainly will) we accept the pains as a necessary part of this phase. We don’t want to escape them at the price of desertion or divorce. Killing the dead a second time. We were one flesh. Now that it has been cut in two, we don’t want to pretend that it is whole and complete. We will be still married, still in love. Therefore we shall still ache.

From A Grief Observed

Good description of the pain of losing a mate based on my friends experience.


Filed under Great Quotes, love

Divorce & Remarriage 7: Am I still married even though I was divorced?

We come to chapter 7 of Instone-Brewer’s Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. In this chapter he tackles the question of what ends a marriage. After a couple of lame jokes to make his next point, he asks if a woman who is betrayed and cheated on and then involuntarily divorced by her husband is still married to him. Is she single? Divorced? Still married? I-B says many biblical scholars erroneously say, “married–because only death can end a marriage.” (p. 82) This chapter is designed to debunk the “forever married” doctrine.

People commit adultery or become cruel or abusive, and their marriages start to break down. What happens then? Most marriages can be healed with effort from both partners, but like cancer, if it is left untreated too long, broken vows are terminal because they kill a marriage. (p. 83)

  What to do? I-B suggests 3 options are available at the terminal stage: remain together and suffer (hoping it will get better), separate without divorce, get divorced.

But what does the Bible have to say about these options? Doesn’t the bible suggest lifelong marriage? He reminds the reader that “let no one separate” doesn’t mean it can’t but it is “undesirable”. Beyond this passage, he explores 3 more: Mt 19:9, 1 Cor. 6:15f, and Eph. 5:32. The Matt passage is against any cause divorce and not against all divorce. Paul in 1 Cor 6 says that one flesh relationships are very intimate but not necessarily permanent because if that were the case, those that had been fornicators would have to be warned to stay single. Finally, in Ephesians 5 marriage is referred to as a mystery. Some have treated this as a sacrament (something that can’t be broken) but he and most evangelicals reject this translation/meaning.

I-B then goes on to talk about silence in the NT about divorce in two passages: Rom 7:2 and 1 Cor 7:39. Is it surprising the silence about divorce in these passages? The Romans passage seems on the surface to be about not being able to remarry while a husband is still alive. But I-B says it is really about the relationship we have with the law and with Christ. Just as the parable of the sower isn’t about farming, this one isn’t really about divorce law in that it doesn’t state all the options one might be able to have about divorce–only the part that is appropriate for making Paul’s point about belonging to Christ through death. Divorce is used to illustrate a point, not to teach about divorce here.

This can be summarized thus: People are tied to the law of Moses till they die, just as a wife is tied to her husband till death. If she went with another man this would be adultery, unless her husband died. Therefore God lets you die with Christ, in order to set you free to marry Christ. (p. 89)

1 Cor 7:39 is about what happens to a spouse when the other spouse dies. It is not teaching about divorce here, but is silent on the matter.  What it is teaching on, says I-B is freeing widows from the levirate marriage which would require them to marry their brother-in-law.

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whome she wishes, only in the Lord.

SO I-B ends the chapter with these findings

1. Jesus commands those who have been joined through marriage vows that they should never separate, but a sinner who disregards Jesus’ commands can still break up the marriage [even if they don’t initiate the divorce]

2. “one flesh” is descriptive not prescriptive; “not necessarily permanent.”

3. Some passages may mention marriage and divorce but since the passages aren’t about that, we shouldn’t squeeze meanings unintended from them or try to make much of the silence on the issues. The next chapter will look at when divorce is possible.

So, what do you think of his re-reading of these texts? Do you agree that divorce isn’t really the topic and so therefore we can’t use these texts to try to make them speak to our questions about when it is possible or not possible to divorce or remarry?

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Filed under book reviews, divorce, Doctrine/Theology, marriage