Fight and Flight…my thoughts on marital conflict

My husband and I recently had a huge fight.  It was the biggest fight we have had since we married 5 years ago.  I’m not saying we don’t ever fight but we typically are over it very quickly and get on with the making up part. (blush blush)  The trouble had been brewing for a short while now but it came to a head and exploded over $30 water bottles. (crazy! right?)  This is the kind of argument that you can’t see your way past your anger and the kind that last a few days and when you’re done you feel exhausted and maybe even a little numb.  Teen in the midst of this came home and feeling the oppressive tension asked me if we were going to get a divorce.  I’m pretty sure that when parents fight that all kids ask that but I feel it is asked on a deeper level by a kid that has already gone through a divorce and remarriage with a parent.   It got me thinking.  There’s such a high percentage of subsequent marriages that don’t last.  Why is that?  My guess is that after going through divorce it is no longer this huge wall that you have never seen what’s on the other side.  It is no longer an unknown.  Most people when facing something big would rather face the known rather than the unknown, at least I would.  In those heated moments when you want to shake them and make them understand, when your inner self is wanting to be “one up” and the winner, you tend to think very irrationally.  (duh!)  Be very honest….how many times have you thought or said or had your partner say, “Well there’s the door if you want to leave!”  During times of stress and fear, scientists say we have a fight or flight response.  We decide to stay and fight or we rapidly run away.  I think in a remarriage/blended family relationship it’s more like fight AND flight.  You get to fighting and decide “I’m strong and independent.  I’ve taken myself out of a bad situation, started over, and I certainly can do it again!”  So you remove yourself from the situation or think about removing yourself from the situation.  In other words, you think about leaving.

I am trying to put my trust in God.  This is what I am trying to do during those times.   There is a marriage page on FB by DaveWillis.org. It’s an awesome site.  I found a picture on his page that sums it up.

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It may seem easy on paper but it is so very hard to do!   Be compassionate, have sympathy toward your spouse, love them without condition, and show humility if at all possible!  1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you be like-minded,  be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”  Wow! In researching and praying as I write this post I am so convicted!  How often have I not practiced this verse towards my friends, my family, and most importantly my husband! If you are reading this right now will you stop and pray for me and my husband.  Pray that I will remember this verse when our marriage faces difficulties.  Pray that I will be mindful to put my trust in God because He loves me, He loves my husband and my children, and because He wants us to succeed.  Pray that I will remember He has it all figured out.

My husband and I drove down to the dead end of our street where we could have privacy and worked it out that afternoon.  We started with arguing but ended with really listening to each other.  We then went back to the house and had a family meeting.  We explained to the kids that it was no secret we had been arguing that day but that no one is perfect.  We are all human, we get angry and emotional at times, we don’t always agree and our farts smell sometimes. (Rec’d giggles from them over that last part).  We explained that we love each other very much and that we are not divorcing or splitting up.  We re-assured them of how much we love them and asked if there was anything they wanted to say or any questions they may have. You could see the worry and tension leave their faces and a peace settled in our home.  (Thank you Father God for that amazing peace!)

All of this has made me sure of what I want and don’t want.  I don’t want the fight and flight response!  I just want the FIGHT!  I want to fight for my marriage.  I want to fight for my family.  I want to fight to ensure that our blended home is a happy home.  I want to fight satan and defeat him and not let him have yet another marriage that will destroy lives!  As I hit the publish button, I am praying for you reading this.  I am praying for you to show forgiveness and grace in your marriage and I am praying for that peace that passes all understanding that only comes from God.

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Small Words Big Meaning

Have you ever noticed how the smallest words seem to have the biggest meaning?  Words such as “love”, “care”, “hate”, “hurt”,  and “kind”.  God has shown me in the last 5 years just how much those words can impact your life! As a pastor’s kid, growing up, we would go from church to church helping rebuild them and a lot of the churches were filled with “hurt” and “hate” from the division they had already gone through. At one point, we had moved to Florida when I was in the 5th grade.  The church members were very loving but it was still difficult being away from our home state.  I don’t remember a lot about school during that time, but I would come to remember a girl named April very well.  April sat next to me and she was different from the rest of the students.  She dressed a little differently and wore her hair in braids which some thought was not really in style at the time.  She had very thick glasses that made her eyes look very large and later I learned that she was legally blind.  I didn’t talk to her very much but I would some times chat with her while waiting for class to start.  We would exchange paper or a pencil if needed and that was about the extent of it.  After living there for six months we left Florida and went back to my home state. In 2008 I received an email on a social website from April. “Hi we were together for a while in 5th grade.  I am the one with the deformed eyes but you were nice to me anyway.”  “Nice”. I was so humbled in that moment by that word! I had to wonder that in the small interactions I had with her for her to say that I was nice, just how very hard it must have been for her growing up!  Kids can be so cruel.  (In blended families teaching your children to be “nice” and “kind” is especially important.  When you are not all related by blood and with all the difficult issues that come with it, being kind to one another can make an enormous impact.)  April and I exchanged a few more emails.  I shared with her my desire to tell women about my past, the abuse, and what God had done for me.  She replied   : “Many women have been beaten down by society’s unrealistic expectations reguarding sexual beauty and the ability to do it all: work full time, raise kids, look sexy everynight for the hubby.  Also too many women have been in domestic violence situations and too many women have been sexually abused. It’s my hope that God opens up an opportunity to witness to those who have been abused. I just prayed for you.”  Now there is a small word with big meaning: “Pray”.  When we pray, things happen.  In any situation that you feel there is not a thing you can do, you can pray.  “Positive praying is much more powerful than positive thinking. People may resist our help, spurn our appeals, and reject our suggestions, but they are powerless against our prayers.” ~Rick Warren, Daily Hope.  When you have been told by someone you love that you’re a failure, pray!  When you are worried about how the bills are going to get paid, pray!  When your marriage is in trouble, pray!  When you are caught in the middle between stepchildren, children, your spouse and the other parent, pray!  When you don’t know what to do, always pray!  “I just prayed for you.”  It was as if right in the middle of everything she stopped to pray for me.  That was the last email I ever got from her.  I sent a few more with no response so I made some inquiries and received a msg from her best friend Betty telling me that April had been battling cancer and on Sept 23, 2009 she had gone to be with the Lord.  “Thank” is another word, isn’t it?  I never got to really thank her for what her prayers and encouragement meant to me. Don’t forget to thank those who mean so much to you and most importantly don’t forget to thank God for the work he is doing in your life.  And last, another small word is “do”.  Get up and “do”. You only get one chance in this one life to do all you can do! Don’t wait to thank someone, pray for them, or show kindness to others, especially your blended family.  God hand picked them from other families and situations, no matter the circumstances, and blended them into your family for a reason.  It is not by accident but Divine purpose that you are in that family so don’t underestimate that.  Thank you so much April for showing me that even the smallest things can have the biggest impact!

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Merry CHRISTmas

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Merry Christmas Eve!  Have you ever noticed how much more accepted it is to mention God in society today but you mention the name of Jesus and the mood quickly changes?  In a book I read written by a celebrity, she kept saying “I pray to the god of my understanding”.  That is what is so sad! It’s an accepted new age belief that “god is everything and everything is god”.  Society has become so focused on not offending others that, to me, they have nothing to believe in or stand for.  I feel that this has caused so many to try so hard to take Christ out of Christmas in so many ways. To me though, the joke is on them because the harder they try the more they are brought back to Jesus.  It’s like the old saying that the more you try not to think about something the more you think about it.  Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus.  The two have become ingrainded over centuries.   You can’t think Christmas without thinking about Christ, even if you are trying to leave Him out.  I encourage you this Christmas to seek Jesus.  If you are unsure or doubting who He is start with More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.  He was an atheist who set out to prove that Jesus was just a man. You will seek me and

find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.  Seek Him! He will give you something to believe in, something to stand for…

Also something interesting..Jesus was in a blended family…please read my previous blog post http://blendermom.me/jesus-was-from-a-blended-family a msg I copied from Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Merry Christmas blessings from my family to yours.

TRADITIONS

Christmas is so close it’s freakin scary!  If you are like most families (blended or not) finances are tight and this can be a stressful time.  If you throw in parenting times over the Holidays and money trouble you have a “Lord help me just make it til New Years” stressful time!  In thinking about Christmas in our blender I thought I would share how important I think traditions are and especially in a blended family.  The other parents of 2 of our children were on board with dividing time fairly between us and them every other Christmas.  We felt that both parents deserved the right to be able to have their child at Christmas.  One of them, however felt that they had a right to have their child every Christmas.  Unfortunately, we had to go to court and ask a judge for every other Christmas.  During the hearing, we were asked what traditions do we have in celebrating.  It was sad because we had not as of yet had the chance to really form any because of the “control monster” that had stepped in and limited our Holiday time. (click here for previous post about this monster: http://blendermom.me/the-control-monster )  It got me to thinking though how traditions really help to ground and solidify blended families.  It doesn’t have to be big expensive things.  It can be as simple as doing an advent candle wreath or read a specific story or watch a specific movie while stringing popcorn.  Doing these things give the kids something to look forward to and something they can count on which gives them stability.  Some examples for us is that we always decorate a gingerbread house and place it on our dining room table for display.  We always go pick out a tree together and we always decorate it as a family.  We have special ornaments that each child loves or made and they get to always hang those on the tree first. We have a white column in our dining area that I always wrap red ribbon around and we all call it the candy cane north pole.  The key word is “always”.  The kids can count on what you are going to do.  Even though it seems small that can make them feel more safe and secure, to always be able to count on those traditions.  You should also think about more traditions that you can do throughout the year.  We always have pizza or fastfood on Friday nights and eat it in front of the TV while watching a movie.  We do a devotional reading with the kids and talk about it as a family. ( http://www.amazon.com/dp/1475155050/?ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_9E2uqb177D1BM Proverbs For Kids is a great book and what we are currently reading.)  We always put the boys to bed at the same time and have them say goodnight prayers every time.  What I am saying is traditions do not have to be some complicated ritual!  Make Sunday night taco night every week.  By the way, the judge did rule in our favor and we now have all three children every other Christmas.  We miss them during the off years but that’s what we as parents do, we make sacrifices.  Remember, it’s not their fault their parents got divorced.  They have just as much right to love and form traditions with the other parent as they do with you.  I personally do not ever want my kids to look at me and say “I don’t have a relationship with my father/mother because of you!” If you are dealing with the other parent who really is being mean and spiteful you can look at it as giving them the rope and let them hang themselves if they want to. 

Traditions are important in families and what better time to start one is at Christmas!  Remember,  “Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.”  Try to reach your child’s heart this Christmas. 

Priorities, respect, and the marriage wheel of bliss- Priority 1

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I think priorities in life are very important. They help keep you in your lane in this race of life.  They help keep you focused and running in the right direction. I feel that priorities are that much more important in the blender because of the different dynamics already going on in the mix.   I think family priorities should be:

1. God

2. Spouse/marriage 

3. Kids

4. Work/friends/anything else you want to fill in the blank

Today, lets focus on priority #1.  I strongly feel that as a Christian, God should be your first priority.  It can be very hard to do this, I know.  You have the husband, the kids, the job that demand every thing from you, so how can we possibly put God first?  Well, actually, I think it is more simple than you think.  Psalm 119:15 “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.”  As a christian I believe you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  (1 Cor 3:16 NLT says the Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you.) That tells me to really listen to that voice inside of me that’s telling me whether this feels right or not.  You have heard the expression “go with your gut”.  Well I feel that God through the Holy Spirit is my gut.  Yep, sounds a little weird but think about it…it makes sense!  Another very easy way besides listening to the Spirit in your heart is to memorize scripture and repeat it to yourself during those difficult times.  I struggle with anxiety and have since I was in high school.  Some times I feel I have victory over it and some times it rears its very nasty horrible ugly head!  During these times I have found that if I repeat some verses that mean a lot to me, it helps me to get through that anxious moment.  (this for me is meditating on His word)  One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (If you really want to have a good time, read Joshua 1:7-9!)  Another thing that will help put God first is PRAYER!  When I first wake up in the morning before my feet hit the floor, I say a prayer.  It isn’t a long drawn out thing, just a quick prayer for me to get my day started, to pray for mine, my husband’s, and my children’s day.  If you read in Luke 18 about the Pharisees you will find that although they were very well respected in society, they were also very self righteous and viewed themselves better and more “spiritual” than every one else.  To put God first in your life does not mean for you to be a Pharisee (just practicing religion).  It is not about showing up every time the church doors are open, praying the loudest, or knowing the most scripture.  It is about meeting God right where you are in your little corner of the world.  Keeping Him in the forefront of your mind and letting him quietly lead you in your heart.  It’s living up to the potential he created you to be.  (for more of that refer to my previous post “Great Expectations”)  Everything else will follow according to His path if you just start where you are….  Next post is about Priority 2 (marriage) Yikes!

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Jesus was from a blended family.

Sermon from 1995 by Jeremiah Wright Jr on blended families:

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A Home Where God is Honored

I submit to you that not only does God have a lot to say on this subject of blended families, but that among the first things God says is, “Yes, I understand because my Son was part of such a family. I have a whole lot to say about such families. Look at the home where I placed my Son, and hear what to say to the church about blended families.” The home where God placed his Son was a blended family: Jesus had four brothers and several sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). God was Jesus’ Father; Joseph was the stepfather. “The home where I placed my Son,” says God, “is a home where I was honored.”  In a home where God is in control — I don’t care what the configuration of your blended family — I’ve got some good news for you. If you listen to the voice of God and not to what the people say, you’ll be all right. In a home where God is in control, if you worship at the house of God like the Lord’s parents did every time they had an opportunity, if you model and teach the will of God so your children and your stepchildren can talk with their teachers about important issues of  life, then you won’t have anything to worry about. Everything will be found and kept in divine order because God will take care of you.