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Christian Counseling - "That's Life!": Marital Bunkum

Jake asks his wife, "Where do you want to go for dinner?"

Joanie replies, "I don't care, you decide."

"OK! Let's go Mexican."

"We had that last week," Joanie says disapprovingly.

"Well then, where do you want to go?" Jake retorts.

"Really, I don't care...just not Mexican again. And don't be a grouch!"

"I am not a grouch, and you really do care about where we go. No, you choose or I'll end up suggesting some other place you don't think is right," he said with sarcasm.

"Why do you have to start trouble? It's a stupid, little decision about dinner."

"You told me to decide and I did. I wanted Mexican. Maybe you meant to say, 'You can decide as long as I want to go there.' In that case, that's not ME deciding, that's US deciding. Whatever I do isn't good enough for you!"

"Forget it! I'm not hungry!" Joanie says as she walks away mumbling.

Perhaps you find this sadly funny. If so, it's likely because you know the story. It's any couple's story. It can be shocking how quickly a conflict can arise and how deep the hurt and anger can get over the most trivial of issues. Why does it happen?

It happens because this argument is not the first one. There is a history. Failing to understand and resolve past conflicts is like allowing a bear to live in your house. You think he's tame, but, suddenly and unexpectedly, he growls and cuts you with sharp claws. Joanie sees Jake as having a problem with frustration and anger control. Jake feels her disapproval, and doesn't hear enough supportive and caring words from her.

Typically, the couple cycles through taking some time to calm down. One offers an apology, maybe both. They remain a little cool for a while, as they find some neutral things to talk about. The relationship begins to feel normal again, even though the conflict still nags at them. Trust remains broken below the surface, as there is some loss of safety and they believe it will happen again. Couples tolerate this cycle for years, but without attention, it will get worse.

The Song of Solomon tells the tale of two young lovers whose passion is strong, their love powerful. In the middle of the Bride's adoration of her "beloved," she utters a strange imperative, that seems ill-timed. "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom" (2:15). In Chapter 3 the Bride dreams a troubling scene where insecurity has taken root because they have avoided their problems. If love were not blind and hearts had courage, couples would be capturing the foxes that slowly eat away and destroy their vineyard of love.

What are the foxes in your relationship? How long have they around, and how much have they destroyed the love and goodness of your vineyard? Are you avoiding facing the reality and impact of what has happened, is happening, and what you believe will happen? What are the underlying sources of conflicts? Take decisive action now to protect what remains, and then see if you can build on a good foundation.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. R wrote:
these analogies are very helpful, and the call to decisive action

03/01/2010 @ 2:26 AM

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