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What Goes on Under Your Roof?

Demands. Ultimatums. Insisting. Dictating. Are these a norm in your relationship?

If so one of you is attempting to control the other? Do you think this is acceptable? God himself grants mankind the freedom to have their own will and to make their own choices.  Should we be above him and attempt to take this will away from someone?

Don’t hear me the wrong way. I’m not saying decisions should be made without consultation and discussion. It just means you recognize each other as an individual and grant them the freedom to have their own desires and opinions, even if they differ from yours.

Sadly, in relationships many force the other to comply with what they want. Force? Really? That’s extreme don’t you think? Sure, no one’s arm is being twisted but a great deal of effort, energy and coercion is taking place to ensure that someone in particular gets their way.  Ahem, that is the definition of force BTW.

What’s Getting Dished Out?

What happens if things don’t go as this forceful individual wants? Does the condescending tone get whipped out? How about belittling remarks or an irritated disposition? If this person doesn’t get their way do they make the other suffer?

In relationships opinions should be heard, considered and understood and if at all possible negotiations should be made. But what happens when nothing more needs to be said and all is talked through? Both individuals need to be released to make their own decisions. No one should be verbally or emotionally beat up whether their decision is good, bad, foolish or otherwise.

  • If there is a disagreement over the decision. They are still free to choose.
  • If you are upset about their choice. They are still free to choose.
  • If their decision is foolish or unfair. They are still free to choose.

Let’s get real, some decisions bring a natural consequences but everyone must be free to make mistakes. If it harms the marriage or violates values then boundaries will likely need to be laid. This doesn’t take away the fact that they still should be free to choose.

Bondage Doesn’t Breed Connection

This is an area many need to understand. Individuals think they are serving the relationship well by preventing behaviour that is uncomfortable or has consequences. Actually, they are harming the relationship because love cannot flourish when someone is kept in bondage.

“A man convinced against their will is of the same opinion still” Zig Ziglar.  

To get lasting results and truly get on the same page, both must make that move out of choice, not force.  If dictation stops, demands come to an end and harsh attitudes are laid to rest then choices can be made without the fear of being mistreated. This attitude towards one another will cause an openness to sprout as you come together out of a desire to do so, not out of force.

I hear ya’ll thinking….  If freedom is granted, HOW should one respond during disagreements?

Clear the Clutter

Besides granting freedom to make choices you must also know how to act (and how not to act) when disagreements arise, which they inevitably will.

Many people clutter their day-to-day dealings with disrespectful comments.  Whether it’s annoyance behind their statements, a tone that delivers disapproval, or an overall harshness in their demeanour.  Speaking this way is not fitting for leaders, lovers or anyone who desires to be an individual with integrity. Many may not realize how disrespectful they sound across until it’s pointed out.  Even then this new reality may get rejected because they do not want to admit this is how they are. Being mindful of how you come across is the first step towards change in this area.   

Let’s take a closer look at disrespect.

  • Acting like someone is worthless
  • Feeling like someone is beneath considering
  • To pay no attention to
  • To overlook
  • To have inconsiderate behaviour
  • Impolite remarks
  • To be brash, bold and harsh in tone

The Flip Side

Let’s examine the other side of this scenario…. Respect is an attitude that has an overall demeanour that is KIND.  Oh boy, here we go again… not another post on respect. Don’t worry I have a different take, let me bring it home.

You may have heard the phrase I respectfully disagree but what does that look like in real life? Simply put, it’s remaining kind in your words, tone and body language. If you need to confront an issue remain respectful by keeping kindness close.

Being kind means you are….

  • Hospitable
  • Considerate
  • Thoughtful
  • Warmhearted
  • Affectionate
  • good-natured
  • Neighbourly
  • Well meaning
  • Attentive
  • Warm
  • Unselfish
  • Thoughtful
  • Helpful
  • Sympathetic

What are You Radiating?

As you deliver kindness you are showing respect and for goodness sake, add a smile to it.  A smile says, “I like you and I am happy with you.” But even if you are not happy with or even like them a smile says, “I choose to treat your with respect and show you kindness.” A person of integrity will do this for no other reason then it’s the right thing to do. Consider this weight training as you gain inner-strength along the way.  A smile is the fastest and easiest way to show kindness to those around you. Even in the midst of troubling situations be mindful of the shape your face is making, much of your communication radiates from it.  

When we are unhappy with someone are we able to be kind or is disrespect the only option? Are we impolite, brash and inconsiderate or warm, thoughtful and hospitable? I understand how difficult this seems to tackle but let me explain the benefits and why I believe everyone should put in the effort.

Get In the Gym

First and foremost, you should want to treat people with respect because it challenges you as an individual. As your character grows reputation develops your self-worth will increase and you’ll be  proud of who you are becoming.

It’s easy to be kind when others are kind to you but it shows true inner-strength to be kind to those who are not.  

Developing inner-strength is similar to gaining muscle. When you pick up a weight you choose a mass that is uncomfortable and exert your muscles until they are fatigued.  Some call this working out until failure. You may start at 50 lbs but after so many reps you won’t even be able to lift 5lbs.  This rips the fibres in your muscles until they no longer functional but as they rebuild they become stronger.

In Weakness Strength Develops

Relationships are like heavy weights, they apply pressure and make you uncomfortable under it.  When you respond positively with a warm, sympathetic heart you get stronger because you’ve endured. If you are rude, brash and impolite during the pressure then you need to try again and keep at it. Do whatever you can to remain kind, start where you are at.

By the way, it you haven’t heard the term yet this kind of training is called Emotional Intelligence. Gaining strength in this area is imperative to your overall success. You can read more about it here.  

Detour – Too cool not to point out

2 Corinthians 12:10 says “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How does this verse even begin to make sense? If you understand the process of bringing your muscles to a place of weakness before they build up strong, you will understand inner growth happens when you feel weak but endure anyways.

During relationship difficulty you need to hold onto kindness when it’s hard.  Hold on when you feel like you’ve failed, because you will experience failure.  

I know this doesn’t sound very encouraging but look at it this way. Any great skill has failure along the way to mastery. No one learns to ride a bike without falling. No child walks without a few tumbles. No mucisian gets great without hitting the wrong notes and no one always hits it perfect in every sport.

Failure is inevitable so don’t let it derail you. Handle it well and keep going. This is where persistence pays off and the great get separated from the mediocre.  Just think, in your apparent failure you are growing.

Consistency breeds results. Consistency causes growth. Consistency demands practice.

How to Change Your Spouse

The next benefit to having a kind disposition is that it softens a hard heart.

If a women remains kind in her behaviour and words this quiet dignity will make a man see where he has been wrong and she win him over. You may not agree with this statement but I didn’t come up with this concept God did, so take it up with him.

1 Peter 3:1 A man can be won not by words but by a pure, respectful demeanour.

A man can also win the heart of a hard, calloused women if he would respect her by displaying kindness. He can do this by showing thoughtfulness, affection, hospitality and having an overall warm, good-nature.

I’m trying…

It’s important to realize most men and women are good natured who desire to do right and build a healthy relationship. Sometimes certain issues continue because they have been simply been permitted to do so. Perhaps it’s time to confront what’s been bugging you and pick it apart so it’s no longer a sore spot.  

Here are three areas many couples trip on and if you can agree here then you are off to a great start.

1: Deal out tasks and duties and come to an agreement on who does what.

Be fair, reasonable and don’t expect perfection if they don’t consistently follow through. Extend grace as you would want it extended unto you.  

2: Identify who is in charge of which areas and which decisions.

Make a quick list of all the important things that need to get decided. Negotiate who will make which choices based on who has the time to do so and knowledge or skill in each area.  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so this is very specific for each relationship. Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer. Talk things through until you both agree and are happy with the outcome.

I once heard of a couple who allows the women to make all the minor decisions while he makes all the major ones. Apparently in all the years of operating like this there have been no major decision to make. Ha!

If most things are working well then just bring up the areas you want to discuss. Where you would like to see change? Go from there and see if you can reach an agreement. No need to unroll everything if most areas are already running smooth.

3: Outline relationship values.

This is a biggie. It’s important to be on the same page with your values or this will cause a lot of tension. This is perhaps the most important area relationships need agreement in. Let’s examine values a closer so we can better understand our own.

Values….

  • … are the standards that govern your behaviour.
  • … govern the decency of your conduct.
  • … determine your pride of dignity.
  • … outline what’s important.
  • … create the standards to calculate what is acceptable and what isn’t.

You don’t want to live in violation of your conscious but if you are extremely rigid and endlessly unyielding you will need to stretch and become flexible so you can live in harmony. Core values tend to stay in place throughout the different seasons of life and make you uncomfortable if step on. Here are a few.

  • A simple lifestyle or a life of luxury?
  • Is faith important or do you detest it?
  • Perhaps one of you is hot and the other is cold when it comes to faith.
  • Children or no children?  
  • Career orientated or family orientated?
  • Time together or solitude?

Secondary values are ones that are open to change. It’s nice to live by them but not imperative.  

Here are a few example.

  • A wife should cook dinner.
  • A husband should cut the grass.
  • Date night is once a week.
  • Protein is eaten at least during supper.
  • I need to work out 3x a week.

The list could go on.

Shared values are far more important than shared interests. Amos 3:3 asks the question…  Can two walk together if they don’t agree on the direction?  Uncover the core and secondary values you hold and work towards heading in the same direction.

Which Hill Will You Die On?

When outlining values it’s important to know which are core and which are next in line to take priority.  When faced with opposition ask yourself “is this a hill I want to die on?” The military have used this term to ask “will you hold this position at all costs?” In other words, is this a battle you will choose to fight?

No one can get their way in a relationship 100% of the time. This we know. Yet when we come to a fork in a road and a decision must be made you have to assess how strongly you feel about the issue at hand.

Relationship Rule 15 talks about being flexible.  The more flexible you are the less pain you will experience when you are required to stretch. The more rigid you are the more you expect others to bend to your wants, needs and wishes. As pressure is applied on you to bend you fight, squabble and do everything in your power not to feel discomfort.

If you can relate then my advice to you is to let yourself get stretched. The more you practise being flexible the easier it becomes. In time pain and discomfort disappear and you will be left as a tolerable, cooperative, easy going individual.  

The Standoff

If you come to a situation where you are both holding your position then you must be in agreement to bring in a third party to hear your case. Bring in an unbiased outsider who can speak wisdom over the situation and see things from a different perspective.

Your Relationship Song

Are there too many demands and ultimatums taking place in your relationship? Perhaps there is too much disrespect and not enough kindness?  Has this way of living been permitted to continue? Would you like to put an end to it? It’s time to exercise, it’s time to stretch, it’s time to implementing change. It all starts with you.

Perhaps your relationship has a song that never ends? Maybe it goes on and on my friend? Maybe you started singing it not know what it was, but you keep singing it forever just because.…. This is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend…

If you discuss situations over and over and an agreement cannot get reached then grant one another the freedom to make a decision without the fear of getting verbally attacked. Identify your unwavering values but don’t hold fast on every issue or your spouse will feel they live in jail.

Alternatively be unwavering in kindness, hospitality and thoughtfulness. Hold fast to a warm heart and sympathetic disposition.  This stand point will cause ugly attitudes to be drawn to you which will spur on change.  Then you can come together willingly to examine situations and reach agreements.

You can do it, I know you will. I am cheering you on.

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