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Although…feelings of jealousy come over the husband and he suspects that his wife is impure. Even if she is innocent and his jealousy and suspicions are groundless…” Numbers 5:13-14 (MSG)

 

Even when you are with the most trustworthy partner, there may be times when jealousy can take over your mind and relationship. Those feelings are driving you crazy and driving you apart.  How can you get yourself out of the jaws of jealousy and combat these crazy feelings so you can find your sanity again? Leslie Becker-Phelps, from WebMD,[i] provides some ideas on how to deal with jealousy.

First, recognize that jealousy for what it is.  Recognize that your fears are coming from your own insecurity and mistrust. At the same time, acknowledge that this jealousy is making you unhappy. Once you are honest with yourself about your jealous feelings, you can start addressing them.

It is a common saying that people are “green” with jealousy because this is the color of sickness.  Only you can choose to heal that sickness rather than allow it to infect your relationship. While it may not be easy, you can start to do this by admitting your struggles to your loved one. Acknowledge your pain. And concede that the problem resides inside you, not in the actions of your partner.

Green is also the color of the vile in the digestive system, and much like vile jealousy tastes bad and burns.  If you allow those feelings to continue, your relationship, even when you want it to be good, will always have a bitter edge to it.  Don’t let this horrible beast to find a dwelling place in your relationship or in your home.

If your partner is supportive, consciously accept their love for you, and move forward.  The next time you fall in the jaws of jealousy again, redirect your thoughts to your partner’s loving words and actions.  If your partner is not supportive and you’re not able to talk as a team to address this issue between you, then the problem among you is bigger than your jealousy. You would be wise to address this breakdown in communication. If you cannot do it alone, then you might want to consider couple therapy.

 

Father God, when the ugly beast of jealousy raises its ugly head, please help to deal with it in a positive, constructive way.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/01/how-to-deal-with-jealousy.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_012415&ctr=wnl-sxr-012415_nsl-promo_2&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

I opened for my beloved, But my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. Song of Songs 5:6 (NKJV)

 

As Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD , from WebMD[i] explains, it is normal to feel nervous before going on a first date with someone new. Every first date has the potential of leading to a permanent relationship, and therefore you want to make a good impression.  For some people, the pressure can get a little nerve wracking.  Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when you feel the first-date jitters.

Instead of trying to suppress those feelings what would work better is to redefine them as excitement.   Most people try to calm themselves when they are anxious, but this is difficult to do and rarely works.  What happens as a result is that the anxiety remains or increases which in turn tends to harm performance and self-confidence.  Reframing anxiety helps performers and public speakers, so it’s not so debilitating, and they are able to gain a new perspective on their emotionally threatening task by viewing it as an opportunity.

In the same way, when you are preparing for a date, it can feel emotionally threatening.  There’s a possibility this won’t work out and that you will be rejected.  Instead of thinking of the risks, you can choose to think about the date as an opportunity to meet a person that may end up being your future spouse or simply meeting someone interesting and learn new things, or just to gain more dating experience. The feelings may still be strong, but you are more likely to proactively create a better outcome.

To get yourself into this positive mindset, make a conscious decision to recognize a potential positive outcome and tell yourself that you are excited about it. You can also encourage yourself to get excited. If you already know something about what makes the other person more interesting, think about that. Or, think about how you find your date’s career or hobbies to be interesting. In other words, choose to focus on positives that can help you to feel more excited.

 

Father of love, dating is an opportunity to get someone else at a deeper level.  Help me to be open and willing to listen and learn.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2014/01/how-to-overcome-first-date-jitters.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_012415&ctr=wnl-sxr-012415_nsl-ld-stry_1&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 1 Timothy 5:14 (NKJV)

 

In her blog, Shoshana Hayman[i] writes that, “when a child’s attachments are disconnected from each other, the child can’t orient to both his parents and to other adults who serve as the parents’ support system. This also makes it more likely for the child to attach to other children instead of to adults, and then look to these children for direction.  This influences how we pass on our values and ideals to our children, both when they are young and even more so when they are teenagers. It is not true that teenagers need to separate from their parents in order to find their individuality, and well-meaning adults easily assume that teenagers need friends more than their parents.

What she means is that parents need to be the compass point for their children.  She suggests parents can do three things to reclaim their rightful place in the lives of their children:

  1. Assume responsibility to be your child’s compass point, their guide, their comforter, and their safe home base. You don’t have to have all the answers, but it is more important to believe that you are the answer for your child, because no one cares as much as you do.
  2. Provide your child with secure and deep attachment, and continue to protect and nurture this relationship during all the years your child is growing up. This will give them the context they need to internalize your values while they develop more maturity and find their own reasons to believe in these values.
  3. Make room for your child to express their own thoughts, ideas, opinions, questions, and feelings. This will give them the room they need within the relationship to become their own individuals. Listening to them without being judgmental will open discussions that give you a window into what they are exposed to and what they think about it.

Your children need you to be the compass to your children need as they cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood.

 

Father of love, you are our compass, our true north.  May we play the same role to our children during their growing up years.

[i] http://attachmentparenting.org/blog/2015/01/28/parents-need-to-be-the-compass-point/

Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: Proverbs 7:24 (NKJV)

 

Evidently when it comes to learning honesty, it seems boys may be getting a different lesson than girls.  Parents are more willing to lie in front of their sons than their daughters, according to a recent analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research as reported by TODAY.[i]  Why parents seem to be much more careful to teach honesty to girls than boys is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps they value it more in girls or maybe they believe girls might pay a bigger penalty for lying than boys when they’re adults.  “Perhaps it’s socially more accepted when men are dishonest, but not women,” says Anya Samek, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and one of the authors of this study.

The findings are based on a simple experiment involving 152 parents and their children, each 3-6 years old. The parents were asked to flip two coins, each with a green and a blue side, and jot down the results. If both coins landed green side up, they would win a small prize. Any other outcome meant no gift at all. Some parents were left completely alone in the room during the coin toss. Others were allowed to take their child along. The experimenters made clear they would not observe any of the results.  The probability of winning a prize was 25 percent, but the parents often self-reported much higher rates of winning — almost 60 percent in some cases — which is how the researchers knew some of them were cheating.  As expected, the adults were more honest when their child was in the room. What surprised the researchers was when the parents were in the room with their daughters, they reported a winning coin toss close to 25 percent of the time, or just as would be expected if they acted honestly, but when they were left alone with their sons, they “won” more than 40 percent of time, a significant difference.

Samek’s advice to parents:  Modeling good behavior is important because kids do pay attention to how you act — whether girl or boy.

 

Father God, help me to be a good example to my children, not just through my words, but most importantly through my actions.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/parents-lie-more-front-sons-not-daughters-why-2D80487813

You love all devouring words, You deceitful tongue. Psalm 52:4 (NKJV)

 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me,” are words repeated by children.  But, while it is a cute rhyme, it is not only false but quite damaging, both to children and adults, and particularly to relationships.  Debbie Sibert says there are three more things one should never say to our spouse because they can be so harmful:

  1. “I can’t wait to go to work/for you to go to work.” Telling your spouse that you would like them to be elsewhere or that you don’t want to be near them is hurtful and devalues them as your partner and parent of your children. Regardless of the argument(s), just rephrase your need for some space. You may try something like, “I’m sorry we’ve had a rough couple of days together. Maybe we can start again tomorrow.”
  2. “You’re such a (insert insulting name).” Remember, this is your spouse, your trusted friend, your love. Even if you feel they deserved the insult, don’t say it. Instead take the higher road.  Don’t just react in an argument by becoming defensive, and offensive; instead try to diffuse it by saying something like, “I’m sure you didn’t mean that. Let’s talk about this when we are calmer,” or “That was hurtful. When we both cam speak respectfully, we can discuss this problem together.”
  3. “Well, so-and-so’s spouse does that…” Comparisons can cause resentment and feelings of inadequacy. How you approach your partner defines how safe and valued they feel with you. Here’s another way of communicating your feelings: “You know what makes me feel loved? When you help me do dishes, help the kids with homework, or you clean up after yourself.”

Marriages are fragile. We need to be more careful and mindful of what, and how, we communicate with our loved ones. The wrong words, tone of voice, or an angry outburst can do more damage than most of us realize.

 

Father God, help me to be careful with what I say and how I say to my spouse and children.  Help me to build them up, not tear them down.

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)

 

Debbie Sibert[i]  writes that there are many things that can harm a marriage such as financial stress, an unfaithful partner, or uncontrolled addictions. These take a great deal of effort and time from both partners in order to make positive changes. But there is one thing that can change the quality of a marriage almost instantly: What you say to each other on a daily basis. She recommends you make a conscious effort of omitting these phrases from your conversations.

  1. “You always/never…” It’s a harsh accusation to say to your spouse “you never listen” or “you always work late” because a) it’s not true. b) Most of the time this comment is born in the heat of the moment. It would be better to take a deep breath and say something like, “Sometimes I don’t feel heard or understood. Do you mind listening for a couple of minutes? It’s really important to me” or, “I’m sure all these extra hours are hard on you. It has been tough on our family, as well. Maybe we can discuss some ways we can have some more family time.”  The use of “you never/always” also tends to make the listener get defensive.
  2. “I hear a new gym just opened up. You should seriously think about signing up. You need it.” This is an indirect way to tell your spouse they are overweight or out of shape and it is basically a slap to their face. Never say anything negative about your sweetheart’s body. Never!
  3. “If you really loved me, you would do…” What these words communicate is that your spouse is selfish if he/she doesn’t do XYZ. In reality, the person who is making this request is being more selfish by not considering the feelings of his/her partner. What if it’s something your spouse is uncomfortable doing? What if it’s not in the budget? Any decisions that will affect both parties should be mutually decided on and not demanded in the name of “love.”

 

Father of love, guard my mouth that I may never say things that hurt, criticizes, or demeans my spouse.  Instead, help me to love, build up, and strengthen my spouse with every one of my words.

[i] http://www.familyshare.com/6-marriage-killer-phrases-to-avoid

And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Luke 22:35 (NKJV)

 

Before a couple gets married, they should take the time to talk about their financial plans and goals. Mary Bitsko[i] suggests two more questions they should discuss before they say I do.

  1. Do you divide the bills equally or pay a percentage? For those couples that choose to keep their finances separately, you need to decide whether you will divide the bills equally or use percentages. Some couples break down each bill based on salaries. For example, you make $500 more than your spouse, so your spouse believes you should pay a higher amount on the bills.  For those couples who choose to join all their finances  this should not be an issue.
  2. If you plan on having children, do you keep a separate account for them? Many couples who project a family of their own begin to invest in advance. They open a savings account for their children’s expenses. If you have plans of starting a family, it’s wise to open a joint account and deposit whatever amount possible.

There’s another question that should be resolved before tying the knot:  Will you tithe on the gross or on the net?  And the accompanying question is: How much, beside the tithes, will you give to the church?  It is important to understand and decide on this early on.  The bible teaches:  Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field. Deuteronomy 14:22 (NRSV)   Based on this, the tithe should be based on the gross, that is, on the total we get before taxes are deducted.  Once you settle this part, you need to decide what percentage you will give for the needs of the local church for the church budget and for any special needs of projects it may have.

It is helpful to have a good talk about these issues and make the decision as to who will be in charge of the budget before saying “I do.”  You and your spouse will enter marriage with a financial plan in place, and a lower risk of financial problems.

 

Father, helps us to manage what you give us wisely and carefully that our finances may not be a problem but another way to honor you.

[i] Ibid.

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