relationships

Is The Problem in Your Relationship Actually Your Pride?

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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.

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How Pride Issues Affect Relationships

  1. 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.

If you’re reading to become the BEST version of you and experience personal TRANSFORMATION, I put together an awesome ebook for you which you can check out HERE.

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My Struggle Trying to Be A Virtuous Wife

I never thought that at the age of 32, I’d feel like a failure. When I got married, I thought my husband and I would live happily every after, changing the world side by side, and being a beacon of hope to our family and friends of what marriage can be if two people are really committed to each other and to God.  In recent years though, that picture really started to unravel. I saw myself slowly going in a downward spiral. Then I had a breakdown that jolted me awake and made me realize I need to get into the driver’s seat and take control of my life! I’d gone into a dark place that I never want to be in again, ever.

I can’t say that my responsibilities as a wife, mom, and teacher are what broke me. What I can say is that the strain of bearing those responsibilities exposed my brokenness. I realize that now. That’s what life does; it shows you what you’re really made of.

I had no idea how drastically my life would change when I became a mom. Giving birth to another human being literally rewires your brain. As a mom, my priorities shifted. I was now responsible for the survival of a person other than myself. And now, as my kids are getting older, I’m now responsible for not just the survival of 2 human beings, but making sure that they turn out to be decent, moral people who live a successful, healthy life.

No pressure.

Taking care of my kids, keeping up with things at work, and making sure the house doesn’t look like a war zone all the time is tiring, to say the least. And I started neglecting myself. It was so easy to shove myself to the backburner. By the time I put my kids down for the night, I’m done for the day. My body refuses to go any further. Sure, I could force myself to work out or make a smoothie, but sleep or watching Netflix wins every time. At the end of every day I yearned to shut my brain off.

 So I did.

The problem with that was, I wasn’t getting the rejuvenation I needed. I wasn’t blowing off any steam. And you know what happens when steam gets bottled up, right?

The pressure in the bottle builds up to the point where the bottle cracks and breaks. And that’s exactly what happened to me.

I was constantly feeing ashamed and guilty for not measuring up to the standard I’d set up for myself. I’d wake up on Sunday mornings and make a to-do list with 10 things on it, and as the day wore on, my anxiety would build as I realized that certain things on that list wouldn’t get done. Then I’d spend the rest of the week trying to catch up on what I missed, but most of the time my body wouldn’t cooperate with me past 8pm.

I’d wake up the next morning and do it all over again. And again. And again. 

It wasn’t sustainable. I was running on fumes most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I actually took time to read my Bible and actually drew comfort from it. I kind of shoved God to the backburner too. I thought I had to do this myself. Other times, I was afraid of the changes He might tell me to make. So I ignored His voice and plowed forward as best as I could, until I couldn’t anymore.

I was constantly battling myself in my mind. On one hand, I’d feel so ashamed and overwhelmed by the fact that the house wasn’t as organized, or that the meals weren’t eating weren’t as healthy as I wanted to be, or that I wasn’t cooking as often I had said I would.

All of my shortcomings, everything I wasn’t doing right, would constantly come up in my mind, and I’d beat myself up over it.

Then one day I got tired. Of everything. I remember driving home and handing off the kids to my husband. I crawled into bed feeling numb. I called in sick the next day and stayed home, feeling like I would never smile again. I had reached the end of my rope and I physically just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the will to go on, and it scared me.

I asked a friend to recommend me to a therapist, and I ended up finding a wonderful one.

Now I can honestly say that I’m in a better place emotionally, but this whole experience showed me some very important lessons.

1.  Some time with God is better than no time with God. I kept expecting to have a whole hour to dedicate to prayer in the morning, and if it couldn’t happen, I’d skip that time altogether. But now I realize that even 5 minutes reading a verse and talking to God makes a big difference in my day. That time with God first thing in the morning centers my thoughts on Him. He re-orients my thoughts and emotions and puts everything into its proper perspective. When I spend time soaking in His Spirit, there’s no room for depression, fear, anxiety, and worry to crowd my mind. I know that even when I don’t get everything done, He’s got everything under control way better than I do.

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2.   We’re not meant to struggle alone. God made us social beings. We’re created to engage in relationships. It’s so important to have a circle of friends you can talk to, cry with, and pray with. You NEED to surround yourself with people who can encourage you when you’re down and haven’t yet gathered the courage to seek God for yourself. I’m making it my goal this year to create a circle of women that meets regularly just for this purpose.. My experience showed me that it’s dangerous to get stuck in your own head for too long because the downward spiral of your thoughts is harder to stop if you have no outside encouragement.

3.   It’s okay to not be okay. I got so caught up trying to prove to God and myself that I could be this superwoman, that I hid my struggle from people. I guess I just didn’t want people to feel like I was a fraud. But I’m realizing now that being yourself is actually the BEST way to gain people’s respect and trust, because they know that what they see is what they’re actually getting.  Writing this blog post is my way of letting you guys know that this is who I am, and this is what I go through. Even if you’re not going through the exact same thing, at least you know there’s one other person out there who’s not afraid to admit that they don’t have it all together.

4.  It will all be okay, I promise! Listen, God has your back. Even when you back yourself into crazy situations, He’s STILL going to find ways to get through to you and bring you back home, into His arms. No matter how far you stray, His love will bring you back…if you DECIDE to let it.

Until next time!

Kay

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I Had To Remind Him To Hold Hands (And It Made Me Mad)

  A couple of months ago, my husband and I were driving to a restaurant on our monthly date night. I was super excited because, well, I got all dolled up for the occasion. I had on a shortish lacy, off-the-should dress with my hair done and a lipstick that made my mouth look all kissable. I had on perfume and heels. We got a friend of ours to baby-sit the kids and had even rented a fancy car for the occasion. I felt beautiful, unstoppable. I felt fierce.

  So here we are in the car on our way to strip on the beach where the restaurant is located. I darted my eyes sideways to steal a glance at my husband. His eyes are on the road and music is playing in the car as he sings along. I scroll through my Facebook feed for a few minutes, then put my phone down and sigh a bit dramatically.

No response.

I roll my eyes and reach over to lightly place my hand over his on the gear stick. I gently roll my thumb back and forth over the back of this hand.

Nothing.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

“When we were dating you ALWAYS used to reach for my hand when you were driving,” I exploded.

  Jono glanced over at me in surprised confusion. “Matter fact, you actually used to get mad at me for not holding hands with you more often in the car. I guess now that you got access to booty any time now, there’s no need for any of that,” I went on.

  You might think I was overreacting at that moment, but believe me, that conversation had happened several times before, and here we were again.

  He quickly grabbed my hand, squeezing and caressing it with him thumb. He had that sheepish grin on his face that he gets when he knows he’s wrong. “I’m sorry babe, you’re right.”

  I leaned back in my seat as I tried to calm myself down and decrease my rising blood pressure. His thumb started working it’s magic in seconds and I looked over at him again. “Let’s not be mad, okay mama?” he continued. He went on for a few minutes to admit that he isn’t as physically affectionate as he used to be but that he’s working on it, that it has nothing to do with me and it’s just him having a lot on his mind, etc.

  Our date night continued smoothly after that exchange (can’t waste a baby-free night ya’ll!) but it got me to thinking (again) about how time impacts romance in marriage. 

  See, when we were dating, living several blocks away from each other, sleeping in separate beds (with separate bank accounts), we couldn’t wait to be with each other again. Whenever we were together we would hold hands, hug, and sit super close to each other because we knew that eventually we’d have to separate until the next time our schedules allowed us to spend time together. Things got even MORE intense when he left on a year-long mission trip.

  But when you get married, the dynamic changes. You go to sleep together. You wake up together (hello morning breath!). You brush your teeth at the sink while your spouse does their business on the toilet, and you even wash their dirty underwear without blinking an eye. In a word, you get FAMILIAR.

  That’s when it gets really easy to take your spouse for granted and stop treating them the way you did when your love still felt new. It’s like a gradual transition from making out while saying hi to just “Hey, did you remember to pick up milk at the store? ” When you see someone all the time and they become a part of the environment around you, it’s natural for some of the spark to fade.

  That’s why BEING INTENTIONAL matters. You have to start reminding yourself about the things that attract you to your spouse. You have to revisit the memories you made together and recount the things you’ve gone through as a couple, the obstacles you’ve overcome. You have to move appointments around on the calendar so that you can leave work early and spend some time alone without the kids.

  Being intentional about keeping the romance between you and your spouse going isn’t easy. You may have to put alerts on your phone to remind you to do the special stuff until it becomes second nature again. But that’s okay.

  Every couple that’s been married for more than a couple of years eventually has to start being intentional about keeping the romance alive in the relationship. There’s no shame in that. What is wrong is when you don’t make an effort to recalibrate and get things back on track. A romance-less marriage eventually dwindles to basic cohabitation, a roommate with occasional benefits.

  If you noticed that you and your spouse have lost your spark, it’s okay to get upset and voice your concern. It’s okay to fight for your marriage. That means that it still means something to you. It’s okay that I got passionate about my husband not holding my hand because it shows him that I still crave his touch and want his full attention. It reminded him that our romantic connection is still important to me.

So fight on friends! Keep that flame going.

Till next time,

Kay