In today’s article, we’re tackling disagreements. How often you disagree isn’t as important as HOW you resolve them. What patterns are healthy? What patterns are toxic?
***This week’s blog post is an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek from my newest ebook “Dating to The Altar.” ******
People talk about falling in love. I laugh when I hear that because to say I fell in love would be a lie. I went in kicking and screaming. At God.
Let me explain.
I was raised a good Christian girl in a very conservative church, by conservative parents. But growing up I fed myself a steady diet of romance novels. So in my mind, the man I would marry would have rippling muscles that made my heart race. He would be tall, light skinned, play a musical instrument, and know how to sing. Basically, he would be a sexy young pastor that shared my love for God. Together we would lead young people to Christ and be role models for our community.
With a list like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I first met my husband, I dismissed him. He was unremarkable, and to be honest, I found him a bit strange.
So here’s how we met the first time.
At the time, we went to two different churches that had the same pastor assigned to them. One evening we had a joint youth service. Afterward he approached me and sat down. I don’t remember what we talked about. Being a good Christian girl, I tried to be nice and make conversation. At the end of it he hit me with,
“Can I have your number?”
I cocked my eyebrow at him. “How old are you?” I asked warily. He couldn’t be a day over 18, I guessed. I was 20, a junior in college, and I wasn’t into younger guys at all.
Confused, he answered, “I’m the same age as you!”
When he noticed that I was still skeptical, he turned to a friend from his church who happened to be nearby.
“Hey, how old am I?” She looked taken aback at first, then scrunched her forehead as she tried to remember.
“I’m 20, right? She doesn’t believe me.” She nodded her head in confirmation.
“I was born in 1985,” he continued.
I didn’t want to be overbearing, so I finally agreed to believe he was my age. I couldn’t think of an excuse not to give him my number without being rude, so I gave it to him. I figured I could always ignore his call if I really didn’t want to speak to him.
By the time he called a few days later, I’d already forgotten meeting him and my mom handed me the phone while I was in the midst of cleaning the house.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hey, it’s Jono.” My stomach dropped. Dangit! I forgot to ask my mom who it was! Now I’d have to make small talk again. How annoying.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which I asked what he planned to do with his life.
“Oh, I’m going to work for myself. I’m never going to work for someone else.” He sounded so confident when he said it. To me it sounded like something an arrogant lazy person would say. I was very unimpressed with his ambiguous plan.
“I bet you would if you had bills to pay,” I replied just as confidently as he had.
“No I wouldn’t,” he insisted.
Okay, now I was completely convinced he was a bum and we had nothing in common. After that, the conversation stalled and it was clear to the both of us that we had no chemistry.
He proved to be persistent though. A couple of weeks later, he came to my church and sat down beside me, smiling at me with that cocky smile while I tried not to think of the fact that my mom was sitting right behind us and would probably have questions about him later. A few days after that, he had a Valentine’s day basket of candy, a teddy bear, and CD mix of love songs delivered to my house.
I was impressed with his efforts, but still very uninterested. So nothing happened, and a year went by where we didn’t speak.
Until we did.
God brought us back into each other’s lives in a very casual way. Remember how our churches shared a pastor?
So his church started renovations, and their youth committee asked ours if we could have joint youth services until their church was done with reconstruction. I was now a senior in college, with plans to go to medical school. It also happened that my heart had just been broken by a young man at his church who fit (most of) my list of preferences. We had been talking for a while, getting to know each other, but in the end he decided to get back with his ex.
I was devastated. I swore that I was done with love, and got really involved at my church. In fact, I was now the assistant Youth Director. So was Jono. We both started this youth training program, so we saw each other every weekend now. Of course, I wasn’t interested in him since I was consumed with my mission as a youth leader. But he seemed different to me now. He seemed less arrogant, and more earnest about helping the youth at his church develop their relationship with Christ. I admired that.
When I graduated from college I was still in limbo about going to medical school. I wasn’t sure if it was the right path for me, so I decided to take some time to work and figure things out. I felt like I was at a crossroad in my life, and I needed to really seek God and solidify what exactly my calling was.
Around that time, Jono invited me to go to a Bible study he attended. I figured that was the perfect way to get more in tune with God, so I went with him one day. He picked me up at my house and we drove a few blocks away to the house where the Bible study was being held.
I was blown away. I know that sounds weird to say about a Bible study, but it’s the truth. The man leading out the Bible study was this super-ripped guy that everyone called Brother Mack. He was a Trinidadian guy in his forties, and let me tell you, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit!
The way he broke down the Word of God, you could tell everyone there was amazed too. He made everything so practical and applied every verse to stuff we were actually going through and struggling with. There were a bunch of people jam-packed into the house, and there was no air-conditioning, so sweat beaded up on everyone’s forehead as we searched through our Bibles. But it was life-changing!
Afterward Jono and I sat in his car for an hour talking about the stuff we had learned and how it related to our lives at the moment. I was shocked when I realized so much time had gone by while we were talking about Jesus. It felt exhilarating, and liberating.
I felt like I had rediscovered God in my life that night. And I was even more amazed that I was able to share my experience with Jono, of all people. Someone that I had low-key looked down on and been annoyed by in the past, I now had a connection with.
We kept going to that bible study every Tuesday night after that. All the seats were taken and about 20 of us young adults crammed in that house every week because we were that serious about God. Every week we were able to come together and learn about God, and it felt like such a personal connection.
And the more we went to Bible study, the closer Jono and I got. Of course, at that point, I saw him as a friend, nothing more. I was glad that I was able to have a male friend who had no ulterior motive, no agenda. It was refreshing. We would talk on the phone for hours about life and our goals.
Then one day he ruined everything and told me he was attracted to me as more than a friend. I remember feeling dread because I was sure our friendship was going to be ruined when I told him I didn’t feel the same way about him.
But when I told him, he was super cool about it-unbothered, in fact. “Now don’t go getting awkward on me okay?” he teased. “We can still be friends,” he assured me. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Guys had said stuff like that to me before, only to avoid me when they saw me after that.
But Jono surprised me again by genuinely being unaffected by my lack of attraction to him. Our conversation kept going and after a while I forgot about the awkwardness I felt and relaxed again. When we hung up I thought to myself that he was a one-of-a-kind guy that I could truly call my friend.
One day he went out of town on a trip with his church, and we didn’t speak the whole day. I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s weird, we’ve usually had a conversation by now.” I scrolled through my call list to see if I had somehow missed his call. Nope.
I dialed his number….and felt a rush of warmth when he answered the phone.
Later on, when we started dating, he said he had a feeling I was going to call him that day.
But in that moment all I knew was that this guy had become important to me, and I wanted him to be in my life as my friend from now on. I stressed the word “friend” in my head because I was reminding myself that he wasn’t my type.
But that entire month, as we got closer and closer, I could tell that I had started to care about him as more than a friend. And in those moments I reminded myself sternly that he didn’t have any rippling muscles that I could see. In fact, he had a gut y’all! He wasn’t light-skinned, wasn’t an older pastor that swept me off my feet and made my heart race at first sight.
It didn’t help. The more I tried to deny it, the more I realized I couldn’t. We started talking, but still I fought my attraction to him all because I wasn’t physically attracted to him the first time we met.
I remember one day I told him to meet me at the park. My plan was to tell him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. But when I started telling him, I broke down and started crying because suddenly I realized I didn’t want him to not be in my life. He had become a part of me and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be without him.
I had tears flowing down my face and I was sobbing so hard I’m pretty sure he couldn’t make out what I was saying. He put his arm around me and comforted me while I cried some more. The next day we agreed to take things very slowly.
And we’ve been together ever since.
The point I want to make by telling you our love story is this: sometimes, our “standards” are really superficial. I wanted to fall in love with a man who loved God, BUT who also looked a particular way. Once I made up my mind to stop fighting my feelings I realized, “Dang, this man was always handsome! I was just so focused on the man I had created in my imagination so when my husband came along, I almost missed out on my blessing! Thank God for giving me a patient, persistent man!
What about you? Have you ever become attracted to someone over time even though you didn’t think they were your “type” at first? Tell me about it in the comments!
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When my husband and I got married I had a serious problem with pride. I knew it was there, but I didn’t realize how deep it was until we had an argument that almost ended our marriage.
Up to that point, whenever we had a disagreement I would take it SUPER personal. I thought to myself, “I need to ignore him, give him the silent treatment, be petty and not cook him breakfast so he knows to never do that again.” It sounds ridiculous now when I write about it, but I actually still struggle with it from time to time when we’re upset with each other and I feel like I was justified.
Then one day the silent treatment went on longer than it ever had before, like a couple of days of us being cold towards each other. When we finally sat down to talk about our issues, I wasn’t really listening. I just wanted to be heard. I told him in so many words that I didn’t care what he was struggling with or that it would take time for him to get things right-I wanted my way right then. I even hinted that I was willing to leave our marriage if he couldn’t get his act together.
Things went downhill from there. He left for hours. I had no idea where he went.
The only thing I could think of, the one thing that God kept hammering at me with was “Is your pride really worth sacrificing your relationship with your husband?”
In the hours that he was gone, God showed me that I was creating the habit of choosing my pride over my love for my husband. I had become self-righteous and magnified his flaws mentally, while downplaying my own. When I did stuff to mess up and hurt or disappoint him, I found ways to minimize my guilt; but when Jono messed up, I quickly became offended and impatient. I wanted him to change to fit my preferences.
That night, God showed me that my pride would cost me my marriage if I continued on that path. He showed me that I needed to be humble and be more patient with my husband’s flaws-especially if I was always minimizing my own.
I broke down and asked God to forgive me. Yes, my husband was wrong for letting his temper get the better of him, but now I could also clearly see my part in the situation. I had let things between us fester for days trying to “punish” him, but no one won because our relationship suffered for it.
That night I had to ask God to help me stop being so scared of being done wrong and just trust His hand to guide our marriage. I had to make up my mind that I was going to treat my husband with patience and compassion instead of waiting to pounce on the first mistake he made.
Most of all, I had to accept that I was messed up too. My anger, pride, and impatience were real problems too. And I needed to put more energy into working on myself instead of trying to “train” my husband into becoming the man I thought he should be.
How Pride Issues Affect Relationships
You Become Manipulative
A prideful person doesn’t see that they need to change. In fact, all the problems in the relationship are ultimately their partner’s fault.. In the mind of a prideful person, their spouse’s issues are a cross they have to bear, and they themselves are a martyr. So they constantly guilt, prod, criticize, or nag their partner into submission. They constantly find ways to blame their partner and make them feel like they need to change, but never acknowledge that they are messed up too.
That kind of manipulation can cause your relationship to self-destruct. You’re putting yourself in God’s place in the relationship. You’re actually trying to force your spouse to change instead of working on yourself.
This kind of strain can do serious damage to your partner’s self esteem. Imagine always being made to feel like you’re the most messed up person in the world? Imagine being made to feel like your flaws are bringing your partner down all the time?
That kind of relationship can become emotional abuse.
So if you find yourself always pointing the finger at your partner for the issues in your relationship, you probably have a problem with PRIDE.
2. You Neglect Your Own Issues
If you’re struggling with pride issues, you’re probably not spending much time working on yourself. Sure, there are things you’re willing to work on, but I’m talking about that deep, painful, uncomfortable stuff that you find hard to face.
There’s no time to work on that stuff because you’re so focused on changing your partner and getting them to see things your way.
3. Your Partner Can’t Communicate With You
Trying to bring a complaint or concern to a prideful person is hard because you feel like somehow they’re going to find a way to turn the problem back on you and make it your fault. You can’t get to the core of your relationship problems and actually work them out if your first response is to blame your partner. With that kind of dynamic, your partner will become more and more unhappy, until your marriage becomes a business arrangement. You will become two people co-existing, with all the affection and passion dried up because your partner will resent you.
What To Do About Your Pride
It’s hard to give advice on how to overcome pride because it’s not something you consciously decide to to do. It’s more of a mindset. And so working on pride issues require a mindset shift. Here are some things I had to start remembering every time my husband and I had conflict.
1. Avoid the the blame game.
No one wins that game. All it does is create resentment and bitterness because each person is rubbing the other person’s shortcomings in their face. That’s not how God wants us to deal with our issues.
2. Always examine the part YOU played in the situation.
Sometimes even when I felt like I was right and my husband was wrong, when I took time to think about it more I would realize that my reaction to his action caused things things to escalate.
Looking at the part you played helps you be more honest with yourself. It helps you develop a more humbled, balanced view of you and your partner. If you always think of yourself as the wise, perfect one who’s trying to be patient with your lost, struggling spouse, you will never see the need for growth on your part. And your relationship can’t improve if you’re not trying to work on your issues and better yourself.
3. Look at your partner’s flaws with the same compassion and understanding that you look at yours with.
It’s easy to downplay your own flaws and behaviors, because you know what you were thinking when you did them. You can find reasons to justify yourself and make your actions seem less wrong.
On the other hand though, it’s harder to understand the motivations that drive your partner. That requires you to listen to their side and put yourself in your partner’s shoes. It requires you to look at them with the same love and compassion that God does.
That’s what marriage is all about. It’s a continual practice of humbling yourself, listening, showing compassion, and forgiveness. It’s about learning to compromise, adjust, and put selfish preferences aside in order to build a stronger union between you and your partner, one that reflects God’s character.
There’s no room for pride in love. One usually ends up destroying the other. Only one can win.
What you now have to decide is this: Is being right more important than being unified? Is your pride worth your spouse? Are you willing to sacrifice your relationship for your ego?
Spoiler alert- it’s not.
I hope you choose love! It never fails.
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When I was in elementary school, I was molested by a family member. That same family member introduced me to porn for the first time. That was just one occasion too, but I can never forget those two things. They’re stamped in my brain.
After those events happened, I felt ugly and dirty. I had a stain on the inside of me that I couldn’t escape. As I got older, I started becoming afraid that if people got to know me, they’d see what I saw and run the other way. I became so insecure and down on myself that I couldn’t affirm myself unless someone else did it first.
I got good grades because I saw how proud it made my parents, and I figured if that’s what it took to make them love me, I’d do it all the time.
I was a super strict vegan and was super religious and “holy” because I thought God would love me more if I did those things.
When I got married, I asked my husband’s opinion about every little thing and second and third-guessed every decision I made because I was scared of messing up in any way.
All my life, I had to be the good girl because it was the only time I felt like a person of value.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was struggling with toxic shame.
You see, when someone suffers from shame, they can’t distinguish the acts they commit, or the acts done to them, from themselves. In their minds, they think, “I’ve done something bad, so I am bad. I am a terrible person.” Or if they’ve been the victim of abuse, they may think this way, “I must be a terrible person for them to have treated me that way.”
That’s exactly how I felt. I thought to myself, “I’ve been molested. I’ve watched porn; therefore I’m permanently stained and damaged. I’m unlovable.”
No matter what has caused you to feel toxic shame-abuse, rape, criticism from others, poverty-you are NOT your past. You can be free from your shame.
Acknowledge the source of your shame.
Until I acknowledged my shame, it had power over me.
It wasn’t until I had been in therapy for 6 months that I was finally able to pull the curtain back on my thoughts and emotions and pinpoint those memories and the pain I associated with them.
I finally got the courage to tell my therapist about being molested. I could barely say the words out loud. I had never told anyone, not even my husband, about what happened.
That’s the day my life changed for REAL and the weight I had been carrying fell off.
2. Allow yourself to grieve.
When I started explaining what happened to my therapist, my throat got really tight, and the tears started flowing. I felt like I was watching myself as a little girl all over again in my mind.
It’s okay to feel sad about the things you’ve done, or the things that have been done to you. Let yourself feel the pain. Allow yourself to relive that moment and feel what you felt when it first happened, because that’s when you’ll finally be able to start letting it go.
3. Develop compassion for yourself.
We’re only human. And nothing we do can make God love us any more, or any less. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world. Our hearts and thoughts naturally turn toward things that are corrupt. Naturally, we’re enemies of God in our minds. So some of us may have been victims or even perpetrators of evil.
But God has compassion on us, and He forgave us freely.
We need to do the same for ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves.
When I talked to my therapist, I told her I felt angry with myself too, for not doing anything to stop the molestation from happening.
She asked me a simple question: “What could you have done?”
“I could have said no. I could have told my parents so he wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did.”
But as I said it, I realized how irrational that sounded. It wasn’t until I said it out loud that I realized I had been taking my molester’s guilt and placing it on myself. I finally understood and accepted that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t have to blame myself anymore.
That day, I became free, because I finally developed compassion for myself instead of blaming myself for the things I couldn’t control.
4. See yourself the way God sees you.
You are a masterpiece. I’ll say it again. You are a MASTERPIECE. There’s nothing you, or anyone else can do, to make God see you any other way. You can take a $20 bill and crumple it up, jump up and down on it, but guess what? It hasn’t lost it’s value. You can still take it to McDonald’s and get you some food. How much more true is that of us, God’s own children?
5. Get professional help.
I can’t say enough how much going to therapy has helped me uncover the broken pieces of myself and heal from the inside out. My marriage is so much happier. I mean, my husband and I had really good communication and an amazing friendship before that, but he could see that there were things in me that made me super insecure and down on myself. Now, my marriage is on another level simply because I’m happier. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, no matter who’s around. I’m okay with myself messing up.
We couldn’t afford therapy at the time, but we made sacrifices to make sure I was able to get the help I needed. It’s by far the most important I’ve ever made in myself.
What will your choice be?
**This article was a snippet from my new e-book bundle “Love From the Inside Out.” To find out more about how you can get it, click here.