By Gary Moore
I began coaching couples over 16 years ago. During that time, I have identified several problems that are common to most married couples. Each couple has their own unique version of the problem, but the underlying issues are pretty much the same.
One of the problems I identified was that couples seldom talk about their relationship. Oh, they talk – about the kids, their jobs, their siblings and families of origin, politics, etc., but they don’t talk specifically about their relationship.
Another thing I have learned is that most couples don’t do a good job of managing their emotional energy. We only have so much emotional energy for a day. And when we have a day that is going to be emotionally draining, at the close of that day we will have little or no emotional energy to give to the relationship. If we don’t understand this concept and how it affects each of us individually, we end up with a lot of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and increased emotional distancing.
I have also realized that one of the most difficult things for us to do is to really understand our spouse’s perspective on different things. We have unique perspectives because we are unique. God’s design for marriage is a man and a woman in covenant relationship for life. A man and a woman – that very fact, in and of itself, gives us very different perspectives. Regardless of what popular thought may be, men and women are very different. We see life differently. We have different perspectives – and they will always be different. Add to that the fact that husbands and wives come from different families of origins with differing perspectives. Then add to this cauldron the fact that prior to marriage you each had different life experiences that contributed to shaping your unique perspectives. You are unique and you have a unique perspective.
You may say, “So what?”. In the real world this means that the two of you can look at the same set of circumstances and come to two totally different conclusions. In the seminars I do I ask a couple to stand back-to-back in the center of the room. Then I ask them, one at a time, to describe what they see. Typically, one of them will be looking at a wall with windows, possibly curtains, etc. and the other will be looking at a wall with an exit door and maybe some pictures hanging on the wall. Then I ask the audience to answer this question, “Which one is right?” Their response is normally, “Both are right.” And that’s true, but their answers were different. But from their unique perspective, each of them was right. Then I ask the audience, “Is your marriage healthy enough that you can accept the fact that you can both be right about something and yet be on opposite sides just because of perspective?”
In marriages that have not come to grips with the concept of perspective, the couples use communication to convince rather than to connect. They know their own perspective is not only factually correct but that it also “feels right”. And since their spouse has an opposite viewpoint, they must be wrong. And thus, they begin to try and convince their spouse of their position instead of trying to understand their spouse’s unique perspective. They try to convince rather than connect. Any victory that one of them may claim will be a hollow victory. And the net effect will be that they are further apart emotionally.
If, in fact, they put their energy into trying to understand their spouse’s perspective and then meet somewhere in the middle, they will find themselves connecting more deeply.
Another thing I have learned over these 16+ years is that most couples don’t recognize and understand their need to be continually, intentionally, learning about relationships in general and theirs specifically. They only seem interested in learning about them when they find their relationship in trouble. I think a great part of that comes because the way relationships are portrayed is that they will “just work out”. But they don’t.
I’ve searched for various tools to help couples in these areas but never really found one that put everything together in an easy, simple way. And thus, the birth of The MUM 3 Step Connection Plan. Step 1 of the plan is the Sunday Night Meeting. This is where you lay out your upcoming week and discuss the tasks you must do and whether they give you emotional energy or deplete you of emotional energy. I created a downloadable PDF to assist you in this area.
Step 2 of the plan is the Daily Check-in. These short meetings include, at a minimum, answering these questions: (1) What is one positive thing that happened today? And, why do you consider it a positive? (2) What is one negative thing that happened today? And, why do you consider it a negative? (3) What is one thing you appreciate about your spouse today? And why? The “whys” are the most important part of these questions because they will help you better understand your spouse’s perspective.
Step 3 of the plan is the Weekly Relationship Check-in. This is a time to talk about the relationship and get input from each other. It is not a time to solve or deal with specific issues. It’s a time of discovery, to hear and be heard, and to understand and be understood. There are questions provided to help you. And then I recommend you listen to the MUM Moments audio teaching for that week. This 4-6 minute audio, along with furnished starter questions, will help you in learning more about relationships and how to apply this knowledge to your particular relationship.
To further check out The MUM 3 Step Connection Plan, go to my website, www.mutualunderstanding.net, and on the Home Page, click on the “Click To See How” button. Watch the explanation video and listen to the sample MUM Moments audio.
These three simple steps will change your marriage.
Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for 15 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He has a weekly radio program – Life Point Plus – on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. His website at www.mutualunderstanding.net has video teachings and other resources for couples. He may be contacted at [email protected].