Monday, January 23, 2012

The Marriage Thing: Can Two Older Pups Learn Some New Tricks?

It was a question of teaching older pups new tricks.

Hubby JR and I have been married for 22 years.

A while back,  hubby JR and I headed to church for a marriage enrichment workshop--or as JR referred to it, "the marriage thing." 

Guess which one of us signed up, served on leadership planning, devloped the workbook and theme for the event, purchased the giveaway products, met with the speakers in advance AND guess which one of us dragged into the "thing" with resignation and furrowed brow? 

It was scheduled the night of the Cotton Bowl.  Guess which one of us attended Kansas State and was looking forward to watching the game AND guess which one of us was looking forward to exploring what makes a strong marriage tick?

Guess what happened?  We were pulling out of the church parking lot following the first session and, yup, the tension turned to a fight.

JR and I don't really fight frequently and we do fight differently (which we knew, but following the session we had the technical terms for our "conflict buttons").   I won't burden you with the details, I hope you are correctly assuming that I was mostly in the right, but given the bowl game situation JR was vulnerable.  That's how I remember it.

However, the great thing about our absurdity is we had very fresh material to apply to the teaching the next morning, and it brought some clarity.  The speaker made a great point that when we are aruguing, we are dealing with emotionally fueled states such as-need to be in control, need for afirmation, a feeling of failure or inadequcy--and that is what the teacher called a button.  The button takes over the conflict and crowds out the actual issue. When we are in conflict our instict is to tend to the button, not so much the issue.  He also made the point that as long as I am working on the button (emotion) I will never really resolve the issue. 

It was the classic helpful instruction--taking something familar and important and pointing to a way to make make modification which improves the circumstance.  I wonder how long we would have been stuck without tending to the actual issue. 

We both agreed and appreciated that the event was also full of some real humor, which kept us laughing both at the jokes, videos and most certainly at ourselves.

A post script:  K-State lost badly, so our time together watching the game was sure to be abbreviated.  All's well...

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?