Dan and I attended a Gary Smalley Marriage Seminar this weekend called "I promise" (http://www.smalleyonline.com/). A church we've been visiting regularly hosted it, and it's kind of hard to pass up CHILD CARE when it's being offered.
The speaker at our particular seminar was Ted Cunningham, a pastor out of Branson, MO(http://www.woodhills.org/). At bigger conferences he co-teaches with Gary who is his mentor. He told several anecdotes that gave a picture of who Gary is as a person, and I think I would like the guy. Here is an example: Ted was going through a vicious church split a few year ago at a previous church. When he sat down with Gary to tell him the whole thing, Gary said, "That's great!!!" That's great? Gary said that the lessons Ted would learn by the pain he would experience would be more than Gary could ever teach him. How true is that! Once I started learning how much trials help me, I find myself thinking that same way. No matter how we wish we could become wise and Christlike without them, it's not possible, so why would we hope that Christians could avoid trials? How many of our prayers are some form of "trial prevention"? Okay, that's for a different blog.
The seminar was very "story-esque" in nature, so it's kind of hard to pass on the info, but there are a few things that struck me in interesting ways:
1) "Women dress according to the messages written on their heart." A huge part of this conference was about "guarding your heart" and discovering/rewriting the messages that have been put there. I have to confess, I can think pretty judgmentally about women who are scantily clad. Tonight at the mall, every time I saw a woman dressed inappropriately, I thought about the messages (lies) that have been written on her heart to make her feel like she has to dress like that. Anything that helps me love people more can't be bad!
2) Speaker says to his daughter: "You can walk down the aisle when I know "that guy" loves you as I do." What a beautiful picture.
3) Sex is not a need. Food, water, and shelter are needs. Ted said that we've taught Christians the scriptural principal that they are not to deprive eachother. This is true. Unfortunately, it has become so strongly "explained" that Christian men have been convinced that sex is something they can not live without. Not true. (That was not my commentary. It was all from Ted, and Dan agrees.)
4) Wherever you go, you are there. (Examples I'm about to use are from the speaker, so I'm not trying to point at anyone.) If you keep trying to find a job you like, if you move from relationship to relationship, or if you are frustrated by every church you go to, there really is only one common denominator-you!
5) "Fear Dance" is the biggest barrier to great communication. Let me try to boil it down. We each have buttons (or feelings) and subsequent fight or flight reactions to them. Many times our reactions actually push our spouse's buttons which creates a vicious cycle. There wasn't time at the seminar, but we were encouraged to write down our buttons and reactions on our own. Dan and I have not had time to do that yet, but we identified with the examples given. I'm sure there are hundreds more we could come up with.
Male Buttons: Feeling Controlled, Judged, or like a Failure
Male Reactions: Withdrawal, Defensiveness, Sarcasm
Female Buttons: Disconnection, Abandonment, Rejection
Female Reactions: Escalation, Negative Beliefs, Exaggeration ("You always", "You never")
6) Win/Win. Ted said that you should walk away from arguments with win/win, that if it's win/lose, really nobody wins. Even though I said outloud to Dan during this that I wanted to win (and he agreed with me), I could grasp a bit what Ted was saying. Ironically, that's what keeps sticking in my head, but I don't think I would describe it the way Ted does. I understand that I shouldn't feel like I have to "lose" an argument, but sometimes my will just has to die. Sometimes, no matter how much I hate it, I may just have to die to myself for my marriage to have new life.