Monthly Archives: June 2011

Courteous Contesting (aka Fair Fighting)

 Here at Affaircare we love the number seven.  We have seven steps to ending the affair…and seven steps to rebuilding after an affair…so we thought it would be fun to discuss the SEVEN steps to courteous contesting (aka “Fair Fighting”).

1. Choose to listen–validate and repeat back what you heard, even if you disagree.  They are opening up and telling you what they think and feel, and even if that isn’t your experience, tell them what you think they said.

2. Pick your moment–don’t escalate in the heat of anger but don’t put it off or it will become resentment.  If needed take a short break (10-15 minutes) so it doesn’t escalate.  Agree to a time when you both come back and resume.  If it gets past your normal bedtime agree to end for the night and be reassuring…and agree when you will resume the discussion the next day.  Don’t put it off hoping it will go away!  It won’t!  “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” ~Ephesians 4:26

3. Stay on topic–don’t chase around and be side-tracked, and don’t bring up the past.   Stay focused on the present discussion.  Once an argument is resolved it should be like our sins:  “…as far as the east is from the west,  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” ~Psalm 103:12

4. Don’t hint or expect your partner to read your mind–ask questions, clarify but don’t judge.  For example, “It sounded to me like you meant XYZ.  Is that what you meant or did you intend that another way?”   “A gentle answer turns away wrath,  but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ~Proverbs 15:1

5. WTFS–To bring up the “fair fight” do not use “YOU” language (such as “You always tell me what to do!”) but rather use the format I call WTFS, which stands for “When you….” “I Think…” “I Feel…” “So I’m going to request…”  When you use that format you don’t blame but you do identify the issue, you explain both your thoughts and feelings so either a Thinker or a Feeler would be able to identify, and you make a request that would “fix it.”  Assuming it’s a respectful request your partner may very well be willing to do it!

6. Attack the issue not the person–rather than attacking your spouse, putting the two of you into opposition, attack the problem together as a team and brainstorm how to address it.  That way you two are working together.   “”Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” ~Matthew 12: 25

7. REPS–when you are wrong, and you know you are, rise to the occasion and admit you were wrong with an heavy-weight apology: I suggest doing some REPS!  That stands for Responsibility, Empathy, Plan, and Saftey.  So take Responsibility for what you did wrong and name it.  Make an Empathetic statement such as “I bet that made you feel…” or “I bet you thought ….”   Indicate your Plan on how you intend to change or grow, and what you’ll do differently next time.  And finally, give your spouse permission to do what they need to do in order to be Safe-whether that is physically safe or emotionally safe.

Advertisements

Sex and Marriage … marriage and sex

According to the latest Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey in 2010:

  • 44% “are fully satisfied” with their sex lives.
  • 48% “usually orgasm.” Globally, twice as many men (64%) as women regularly have orgasms.
  • 39% are looking for more love and romance.
  • 36% would like more quality time alone with their partner.
  • 31% would like more fun and better communication and intimacy with their partner .
  • 29% a higher sex drive.
  • 37% want to feel less stressed out and tired.

Did you notice anything interesting about those numbers? I did.

After writing the blog last week entitled “Fidelity is not asking ‘How Far Can I Go?’ ” I started to see it in many aspects of life. Here in the USA we look at many things completely backward to how they really are in reality.

In my previous blog I noted that rather than looking at infidelity like the media does and asking “Is sexting really unfaithfulness?” and wondering how far we can go until we cross the line, we should look at it from the completely OPPOSITE side of the coin, and ask ourselves: “What exactly is faithfulness? How can I be more faithful?”  We do the same exact thing with sex and marriage … marriage and sex.  Namely, we look at it from the exact opposite side of the coin from where we ought!

Look at the figures up above about sex. Do you notice anything? Each and every one of them asks the person basically “What do you want out of sex?” Now I do realize that we can not read another person’s mind and they are responsible for communicating what they want in a respectful request–not a demand. I do realize that. But we look at sex–before marriage and in the marriage
setting–exactly bass ackwards. Here in the USA and in the world at large, sex is looked at as “What can I get out of it?” You get affection. You get romance. You get attention. You get your orgasm. You get horny and your sexual need is met. You have a place for your lust to be satisfied. You get off. You get pleasurable physical feelings. You get…You Get…YOU GET!!

Sex is not meant to be about you!

Okay–let me dial it back a moment. It is the gift of God that when a man and a woman commit to each other for a lifetime, that they lovingly serve each other and meet each other’s needs. In
that covenant He created us such that sex is supposed to be pleasurable. So in that sense, in a marriage, the fact is that you and your spouse will have a sex life and it is intended to be very
pleasurable! BUT we have turned sex from a gift we receive because we commit to another person…into a physical sensation that we pursue selfishly!

Therein lies the rub. Even people who call themselves “christians” will act like they are very special indeed, when they haven’t had sex in X number of months after their non-christian spouse divorced them or if they stay virgins until marriage. Much like fidelity, though, rather than focusing on what sex IS and how it’s supposed to be used, they ask “How far can I go before it’s sex? Can we masturbate but not penetrate?”

So let me put this into perspective for you. Sex is focused on YOUR SPOUSE. Sex is meeting their need. Sex is what you give to someone who has made a covenant with you for a lifetime and is acting on that commitment. Sex means studying THEM, and paying attention to what pleases THEM, and concentrating on THEM, and examining THEM and their beliefs and fantasies about sex. Sex is serving your spouse. Sex is helping your spouse resist temptation. The focus of sex is not on you, your horniness or your pleasure. In other words, don’t think of sex as a “right” — think of it as a “responsibility.” Sex is a type/mirror/picture/symbol of the union Christ has with the Church…His Bride.

Now let’s look at a few bible verses about sex:

1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Proverbs 5:15-19
Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Don’t share it with strangers.
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral

I Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Fidelity isn’t about asking “How Far Can I Go?” and sex in marriage is not about asking “What Can I Get Out of This?”

Fidelity is not asking “How far can I go?”

All the hoopla about Rep. Anthony Weiner has gotten people (and the media) talking about infidelity and asking themselves “Is Sexting the New Infidelity in the Online Era?”  There are numerous articles right now discussing whether sexting even IS infidelity or not, whether it is infidelity to have cybersex, or whether emotional affairs are even real!  Yet with all this talk with so-called “experts” spouting psychobabble opinions, one MAJOR thing is missed.  Why are we talking about infidelity like this: “How far can I go?  What is the boundary so that I can push the limits and then quote this or that ‘expert’ and claim that it not an affair”?  When we got married, we made a vow to forsake all others until death parted us, so rather than look at it asking for the maximum you can do before it’s cheating, I challenge you (the reader) to look at it from a new point of view and ask “What is faithfulness?  What do I do to be 100% faithful to my spouse?”

Fidelity, according to the American Heritage dictionary, is:

  • Faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances.
  • Exact correspondence with fact or with a given quality, condition, or event; accuracy.

Of course it doesn’t help that they use the word “faithfulness” in the definition–but we could further say that faithfulness is “devotion to a person or duties: allegiance , constancy , fealty , loyalty.”  In other words, fidelity would be “the state of loyalty and devotion to obligations, duties, and observances that are owed to a certain person (namely your spouse).

In addition, there are several Bible verses that can help us get a grasp on what faithfulness means:

Psalm 26:3
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness

Psalm 36:5 and Psalm 57:10 and Psalm 108:4
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 89:2
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

Psalm 117:2
For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.

I realize these are all Old Testament references but I think we can get the concept: namely that faithfulness is following through with a commitment regardless of difficulty.  It is over a long time, and it is based on a conscious decision to BE loyal and devoted to a promise.  If we are married people, the promise we would be loyal and devoted to is our marriage vows.

Soooo most marriage vows do promise the “…forsaking all others” part in there somewhere as well as the “…as long as we both shall live” part.  Most marriage vows I know of do not say something like “…forsaking all others until I get bored or until someone more interesting comes along” nor do they say “…as long as you continue to have sex whether I’m romantic or not.”  Thus fidelity is a DECISION.  Like love, it is a choice you make and then act on.  You CHOOSE to be faithful.  And to make it easy, I have a 2-second definition of faithfulness that you can memorize:

Giving 100% of your affection and loyalty to only your spouse.

So rather than asking if it is cheating to have a guy or girl “friend” on Facebook, ask yourself this:  Are you more loyal to keeping that friend then you are to your spouse?  Then it’s infidelity.  And rather than asking if sexting is an affair, ask yourself this: When I’m sexting am I giving 100% of my affection to my spouse or am I sharing at least some of it with someone else?  When I’m sexting am I giving 100% of my sexual loyalty to my spouse?  If not, then it’s infidelity!

Should we “Stand By Our Man”?

With the latest “Twitter” (literally) online and in the blogosphere about the Rep. Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, the media is in a frenzy about what he’s done, whether he should resign, whether he will remain married, and whether there should be an ethics investigation.  I’ll leave that shark tank alone and let the pundits and politico’s duke it out while I roll my eyes, but one part of this scandal that stood out to me was that when Rep. Weiner did his press conference to “fess up” his wife did not stand by his side.  With a long line of political wives that “took the heat” and stood by their man while he confessed to unfaithfulness, her absence sparked a question that I thought was worth addressing:

When the disloyal spouse confesses, should the loyal spouse stand by as a show of support?

For most of us, we will not have to give a public press conference for media when we confess that our marriage was affected by adultery.  Political wives in the past have had to stand there, before the press,  and act like the supportive spouse when probably what they wanted to do was make it all go away!  More and more, though, political wives are not even attending the “confessional press conference”–instead letting their disloyal spouse face the music alone.   Although most of us aren’t public figures, when our marriages are affected by infidelity, I still  suspect for most it would be more like confessing to parents, siblings, pastor, folks at church, or adult children.  For some disloyal spouses, admitting that what they did was wrong can be VERY hard AT ALL–even in private.  Thus, whether it’s in front of family members or a mob of shark-frenzied media who smell blood in the water, admitting your indiscretions can be tough!

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” so I do know that before ANYTHING, the disloyal spouse should confess to God and make sure that relationship is restored.   When David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba, his confession to God was recorded in Psalm 51.   After repenting before God, the disloyal should next talk to their spouse and repair that covenant.   Luke 17:3-4 tells us “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” so I would say that if a disloyal truly turns 180 degrees from what they’ve been doing to live a new life, that it would please God if the loyal spouse made the choice to forgive.  However, Matthew 19:7-9 says  “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”  Thus one thing that I think many disloyals forget is that their actions broke the covenant–at that point the loyal is 100% morally free to choose to end the marriage (the disloyal is not free to do so).  If they were to get what they merit–it would be a divorce!!  So if a loyal does choose to forgive, it is a gift!

Finally this leads to our question today–should a loyal spouse “stand by” their disloyal when the time comes for them to confess?  Before I even go one step further, I want to note that this applies whether the loyal spouse is wife or husband…whether the disloyal is male or female.  To be honest, I can understand why many of today’s political spouses no longer make the morbid “stand by your man” appearance when they do their confessional press conferences.  As a public  official, the civil servant has both a public life and a private life–and although they may have worked it out privately, a press conference is about the public life.  Furthermore, what the officeholder did privately was HIS/HER choice–why should their spouse have to be on public display?  It is reasonable for politicos to accept personal responsibility on their own.

Frankly I think that goes in private too.  Whether the disloyal spouse is a public personage or not, they made the choices that lead up to acting unfaithfully, and it is their responsibility to take personal responsibility for their choices.  BUT  if a loyal spouse does choose to “stand by their man” (so to speak) it is a gift of amazing magnitude that can often go a long way toward mending the marriage and uniting the two spouses–so they are on the same team and working together.  The Bible has no clear command, but we are told to act more and more and more like Christ, and He forgave those who wronged Him even as He died on the cross.  Who are we to offer less when we ourselves were so unworthy?

Where was her husband?

Have you seen the movie “The Dilemma” yet?  In that movie, Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are best friends.  Nick is married to Geneva (Winona Ryder) and for the most part Ronny loves her and thinks Nick is a lucky man and they are a happy couple.  He’s thinking about asking his girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly) to marry him, but they have a BIG deal coming up with Chrysler to make electric cars sound and feel like muscles cars again…and he wants to wait until the big deal is signed.  Then, by literally freak accident one day he sees Geneva out spending the day with another man–kissing him!  And hence the name of the movie: should he tell his friend he knows–tell Geneva he saw her–what should he do?

As a general rule I love Vince Vaughn movies because he portrays marriage in a positive way and supports FAITHFULNESS rather than glamorizing adultery.  This movie is no exception.  But there was one scene in this film that really stood out in my mind as a perfect example of how affairs start.  In the movie, Ronny just found out Geneva was cheating and decided he wanted to be sure he wasn’t just seeing things–sort of “Gather Evidence” and be sure it really was what he thought he saw.  So he follows her.  She goes to the Other Man’s (OM’s) house and there’s Ronny, across from them taking pictures of them talking, laughing, drinking wine, undressing, and making love.  He got it all ON FILM, and he got so mad that once she left, he walked up to the OM’s door and BANGED on the door and they got in a huge, hilarious fight (let’s just say that no innocent fish were killed in the filming of this movie).  Anyway, he really gave it to the OM, and the OM really dished it back to him…but one thing about that scene really bothered me.

WHERE WAS HER HUSBAND?

Why wasn’t HE the one caring enough about his wife to wonder where she was?  Why wasn’t he with her?  Why wasn’t he wondering, “Hey where is she?”  Why did his best friend care about her whereabouts and her own husband didn’t?

In the movie, eventually the affair is brought to light and with the evidence out there for everyone to see…she confesses.  But they never really do go into whether or not they recover or even try to save their marriage–the movie ends once Nick knows, they get their big Chrysler deal, and Ronny asks Beth to marry him.  We do get to have a great scene between Ronny and Beth where he keeps secrets from her and she completely assumes the wrong thing and it harms their relationship…and she keeps secrets from him and it harms their relationship…so the movie is really clear about the way that hiding things and keeping secrets (even little ones) can be like the tip of a wedge that slowly drives a couple apart.

But I want to discuss that one scene–the “where is her husband” scene.  I want to discuss this scene because it so eloquently demonstrates exactly how an affair starts in a marriage.  She had “her life” where she spoke with and spent time with people other than her husband…and he had “his life” where he spoke with and spent time with people other than his wife.  I have no doubts whatsoever than when they started off as a couple, they had PLENTY of time together, but gradually as time wore on…she spent more time on her own life (separate from Nick) and he spent more time on his own life (separate from Geneva).  I also have no doubt that at some point she noticed it and missed him–and likewise he missed her!  They may have even tried to talk to each other and fought about it.  I bet she tried to say something like, “Honey you spend so much time working I never get to see you” and he said “Well how else do you think we pay for everything you spend?”   I bet she felt neglected and he felt criticized, and eventually when she’d bring it up he would ignore her or worse avoid it and sleep on the couch.

Marriage is a commitment.  We marry each other voluntarily, and at that time we promise to forsake all others for our spouse–and that means that we freely offer ourselves AND OUR TIME.  Marriage means that given the option between a ladies’ prayer meeting (a very nice choice) or a night with our spouse–we will willingly and happily enjoy time with our spouse to meet their needs.  When a husband is spending time with his wife meeting her needs, she WANTS to be with him and he looks forward to time with her.  When a wife is spending time with her husband giving of herself to meet his needs, likewise she WANTS to be with him and enjoys it, and she looks forward to being with him.  And then..if they were to suddenly “not be there” or be spending time with another person.. then THEY would be the one who’s wondering “Where is he/she?  Why aren’t they with me?” and they would care enough to look for them and see where they are.

It may seem like a small thing, but spending time together can be the glue that holds your marriage together or you can spend time apart and it will be the tip of the wedge that drives you apart.