New Life

 

Last week our 3rd son, Norman, was born. It was a whirlwind of emotions and experience. Shelley pushed Norman out in 3 pushes, 18 minutes after we arrived at the birthing center. It wasn’t easy; but it was quick! After he was born, we ended up spending a couple days in the NICU because he had amniotic fluid in his lungs. He couldn’t get quite the amount of oxygen he really needed. Turns out this is somewhat typical in situations where there is a really fast birth or a C-section.

Apparently, the process of contractions and the baby making its way down the birth canal has some intrinsic value for breathing. This was news to me. As the contractions and descent occur, the baby is squeezed, forcing amniotic fluid from his chest. These pauses in the labor process are vital to open the baby’s lungs and maximize breathing capacity. When the baby is delivered quickly, there is no squeezing, thus amniotic fluid remains in the lungs. And you end up in the NICU on oxygen for a couple days.

Turns out, the slow, painful process of birth is actually good. It results in that initial cry and gasp, where the baby takes his first breath and new life is formed.

A client helped me see this week that sometimes this is exactly how things go with God and us. He allows us to bear a slow, painful process so that, on the other side, there is new life. If we rush it, we may not fully develop the capacities necessary to do life well.

Don’t rush the process.

 

Stonewalling

Too many of us have developed the art of stonewalling. I call it an art because those of us who do it have typically crafted the skill with our own twist. It’s the technique we use to shut out any person or situation that might be a threat to our sense of self. It is usually triggered by shame, embarrassment, feeling insulted or even by our own guilt. When the threat is present, we learn to stack bricks fast and create an impervious wall that effectively preserves our sense of self. Nothing can get in that would hurt us. The reverse is true too of course; we also can’t get out very easily. By ‘get out’ I mean, we cannot do empathy.

Self-preservation is the archenemy of empathy.

When we get into that stonewall mode where we ignore and get short with other people, we do more damage than we realize. This is especially true for men trying to restore a relationship damaged by sexual betrayal. In the space where you’re on one side of the wall and your wife is on the other, usually every old trigger is going to be activated. While you’re giving her the cold-shoulder she is going to be wondering what you’re doing, when you last acted out, who with, what else you’re lying about, etc. Trust begins to dwindle, worst case scenarios play in a wife’s mind and she’ll begin to shut down.

In the end you’re going to be left with one ugly stack of bricks. If this is you let me suggest 4 things to do instead of stonewall:
1 – Recognize that you are triggered and that stonewalling is only medicating the emotions. It is very similar to acting out sexually; it numbs the negative emotions for a short while. But afterwards, just like acting out sexually, we typically feel guilt and shame for behaving that way.

2 – Process the emotions that trigger you with an accountability partner. You should be able to vent and talk about how you’re experiencing the emotions. You ought to be able to share how you want to shut down and stonewall, while asking for confirmation of your decision not to.

3 – Work with a counselor to figure out what, if anything, is at the root of your stonewalling. Most guys didn’t hone the craft recently. They developed it over years and maybe even learned it in their family of origin.

4 – If you’re married, keep your wife in the know while you take space to process. If you insist on putting up a wall, at least leave a couple bricks out at eye-level so she doesn’t have to wonder what’s going on over there. Let her know that you’re choosing to talk to an accountability partner, reassure her of your commitment to integrity, and give an estimation of when you’ll be able to re-engage.

Warning: Facebook Could Destroy your Marriage

A New Jersey pastor told his married church leaders that they either had to delete Facebook or they would have to resign from their leadership role in the church. Other pastors have likened Facebook to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and have urged their entire congregation to shut down their pages. The issue became more urgent when the marriage statistics came out for 2011. The report said that 33% of all divorce filings mentioned in their paperwork Facebook as a factor that led to the divorce.

We cannot blame Facebook–it’s what people do on Facebook that is the problem. The most obvious problem develops when out of curiosity, one reaches out to an old flame–“just to see how they are doing.” Or an old flame reaches out to us for the same reason. Without realizing it, we can soon be spending more time “Facebooking” with an old flame than we’re doing face-time with our spouse. And the longer we reminisce about those old feelings the more we find they become current feelings.

I don’t do Facebook. I have a Facebook page, but it is managed by the New Life Live radio/TV program people. But I’ve worked with couples whose major complaint was that their spouse was spending hours a day on Facebook, posting pictures, chatting, and checking on their “friends’” postings. It’s all too easy to get caught up in what appears to be someone else’s exciting life, especially if we feel we are merely existing.

Another step to creating a major problem in a marriage is for one partner to become too personal in what they share with a “friend.” Talking about your marital issues with someone other than your spouse creates intimacy with that person, and it is especially dangerous if they are of the opposite sex. That’s really how just about every Facebook affair begins–They say they simply just sat and talked with an attractive other about what was not working in their marriage.

In the real world, an affair can take months to develop. But on Facebook, all it takes is a couple of clicks. People are tempted, and it is so much easier to give in to that temptation on Facebook. One may be too reserved, or shy in real life, but they can become much bolder behind the screen than they would be in person. Many of those who have ended up destroying their marriage would never have even thought about having an affair without the private seduction available over Facebook.

How do you know if your marriage is in danger? The problem is already occurring if one person refuses to talk with their spouse about what is happening on their Facebook. If you are being shut out of your spouse’s activities on Facebook, your marriage is probably already in the danger zone. Safety comes with complete openness regarding who you each are talking with, and when both of you know all of each other’s passwords. That’s at least a beginning point in protecting your marriage. Be careful in this digital age–you don’t want to be one of the 33%.

How do you handle Facebook and other social media issues in your marriage? In your family?

Article was sourced from the blog of Dr. Dave Stoop with permission:  Dr Stoop is a regular co-host on New Life Live.