Category Archives: relationships

Hanging On To the Good Times

Good TImes

This week Nan went through a surgery and while she was at the hospital my 93-year old father was admitted to another hospital for rapidly failing health. Yes, in the same day. Although Nan’s has turned out to be successful, I don’t expect it to be the same for my father. These are times when all the past squabbles mean nothing and the happy memories are cherished. This is one of them.

But the lesson to be learned here is to anticipate a day like this, and put the things you do today into perspective. Whatever you create in the here and now is what you will have to look back on. And you never know when “that day” will come.

We had prayerfully anticipated a good outcome for Nan’s surgery although there were some unknowns. But as anyone who has had a hospital procedure knows, you sign a lot of paperwork that reminds you of the scary reality – there is always a risk of things going badly.

Over my lifetime I have let anxiety rule some of my choices. I have not done things that would have created good memories for Nan and me. And because of my sinful nature I have created some bad ones, too. As I sat in the hospital waiting for the surgery to be finished I thought: “What if this was it? What if there were no more memories to be made?”

I think it is human nature to believe that you will always have enough time to do what you would want to do. But it’s a lie. You can miss it. Circumstances change. Health and energy fades. The years get away from you while you raise kids and go to work.

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2

This isn’t a justification for going out and blowing all your money or abandoning all your restraints. Most of what is important will fall into other categories. It’s about investing your time wisely. It’s about being kind in your relationships. It’s about taking vacations and talking to each other rather than staring at your smart phone or computer. It’s about not accepting overtime just so you can buy more “stuff”.

I had an offer from someone to sit with me at the hospital. That meant a lot. That’s what true friendship looks like. Our church encourages building that kind of community and those kinds of relationships. Even the hard times can be good times if you don’t face them alone.

So what are the good times you want to hang on to?

As I get older some of the ones I used to think were good times are now regretful memories. We all have a past, so perhaps you are like me. These days I am more concerned with building significant or eternal ones. How about you?

Kind Friendliness – Does It Need Some Work?

kind-friendliness

Recently we have been experiencing a lot of kind friendliness. This is a term Nan uses when I am grumpy. She will say “I need your kind friendliness.” I know what she means. My grumpiness tends to translate into a more critical or negative behavior.

We have been dealing with quite a few new people as we set up a vacation cabin. What we have experienced is a lot of genuinely nice people. What makes them that way? Is it just good customer service training? I don’t think so. I believe it goes deeper than that.

The attitude might be a result of living in a less densely populated area. Or perhaps it might be the result of being in a community where people need to rely on each other much more because of fewer options. We have experienced this kind of attitude in rural Hawaii also. The people take time with each other. They are not in a hurry to move on. As our pastor would say, there is not the mindset of “chop, chop, get it done!” In Hawaii they pause to “talk story.”

I experience this “kind friendliness” at church all the time. I believe it is because we genuinely like our church community and we have intentionally cultivated this attitude towards each other. I am not sure we have slowed down to the extent that we have been enjoying at the cabin location, but it seems a marked contrast to the busy Los Angeles culture.

I wonder how many relationships lack kind friendliness? Yes, I am talking about the  romantic types, but also other kinds as well. Sometimes I treat strangers better than I do family members. I smile more and am more patient with them. I might respond defensively that I am more “real” with people that are closer to me, but does that actually mean that I should treat them with less kindness or respect?

It is true that close relationships require us to develop more resiliency. The more intimate the relationship, the more necessary it will  be to give and receive forgiveness readily, particularly for small offenses. But I want to draw as little on the goodwill that exists as I am able.

Things I can do to promote kind friendliness:

  • Ask for what I want, not what I don’t want or like.
  • Watch my tone. Do I sound harsh, critical or cold?
  • Use the “sandwich” technique: affirmation – request – affirmation.
  • Smile, make eye contact while communicating, assume positive intent from the other person.

Holiday seasons are particularly vulnerable to stress related behavior. It’s a great time to practice kind friendliness.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)  “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

Politics and Marriage: Expectations and Renegotiation

renegotiate

OK, I know you’re asking “Why in the world would he put those two subjects together – especially now when we are just post election? ” Well, to answer your question, we are also just post (another) premarrieds class and it got me thinking.

There is all this campaigning that goes on prior to “the big event”. A lot of promises get made that honest candidates hope they can fulfill. But the truth is that many of them really don’t know what is actually possible until they step into the job. I think that may also be true of couples that get married. They might believe they can deliver on their pre-marriage promises or agreements, but once they get into the pace of marriage, especially when kids are in the picture, it might be a real challenge.

Engaged she says: “I’ll probably want sex 4 or 5 times a week.”

Married with 2 kids she says: “Tonight? Are you kidding me?”

Engaged he says: “I intend to share the housework evenly.”

Married with a stressful job he says: “I need to relax. You don’t realize how hard I work all day.”

It’s at this point that a lot of spouses feel betrayed, or at least disappointed. I want to reassure you that this is normal. This is idealism giving way to reality. So what should a husband or wife do?

Renegotiate

If you have ever been through the process of buying a house or running a business you will understand the need to leave certain aspects open to renegotiation. There are circumstances that you cannot know until you experience or discover them. The parties involved must believe that they are getting a fair deal. Marriage is no different.

Some people have a really hard time with compromise, but along with forgiveness, it is the secret to a great marriage. I, of course, am not talking about moral compromise, but the day-to-day adjustments that have to be made in order to maintain a marriage’s equilibrium. As is often said, if you cannot bend, you will break.

The key to being able to compromise is developing empathy for the other person. Do you seek to understand, or only to be understood? Can you see a situation from their perspective as well as your own? I know it’s hard, sometimes really hard and “unfair”.

Your spouse never held the “office” of being married to you before saying “I do”. If you can remember that then maybe you can forgive some of those broken campaign promises.

Proverbs 3:13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.