Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When You're Ready

There's another marriage event, a "weekend to remember" that our church is hosting. I'm sure it will be a wonderful time for many. But I think I have an abnormal reaction to these kinds of things. Neither my husband nor I like to go on these marriage enrichment weekends- but for different reasons. He just thinks our marriage is already "enriched". He may be right.

I don't want to go on one of those weekends, though, because I have a terrible taste in my mouth from anything relating to forced, planned communication, marital or otherwise. And that bad taste in my mouth comes not from me having gone on a marriage retreat, but from my parents having gone on one. Years ago. Our family was never the same after that.

My father learned about this technique called "dialoging" when he and my mom went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. This technique- of writing out what you felt, reading it to your spouse, and then listening to what they read to you- was supposed to be a dynamic tool for helping improve communication, peace, and marital stability. So my Dad figured - what's good for a marriage should be good for a whole family.

From the time of their return from this marriage weekend, our large family of five children and two parents then began periodic "assemblies" around the kitchen table where we were supposed to share openly, read out loud and share our deepest feelings. This was supposed to conclude in bonding, tears of forgiveness, and increased camaraderie. But it didn't. At least, not from my point of view. These were rather upsetting times for me, once in a while punctuated with a bit of bonding and forgiveness, but more often than not- no. Really, it was a mess of a scene. We tried this "dialoging" thing many times. I don't know- maybe it did clear the air, a bit. Maybe it aired out our inner chambers of resentment and hurt. I'm just not so sure it was helpful. But you have to give my Dad and Mom credit- they tried. It's just that I don't think you can force these times of bonding and openness to occur, simply by announcing that you're calling for it to happen.

So that's why you would have to drag me kicking and screaming to one of these marriage encounter weekends! Now, you might be confused about my stance here. Didn't I just write about authenticity,communication ,and sharing your emotions and feelings- yesterday? Yes, I did. I believe in being open and in setting a tone in our home where we're not shocked easily by expressions of doubt or controversial viewpoints. I believe in letting kids share what they feel, and what they see as hypocrisy in the Church or, gulp, in your life. I might cringe as I hear it- but the truth should be told.

But we can't call a meeting and announce that we ALL will NOW share what's on our heart- like it or not. Cause you'll see me high tailin' it outta there in a flash. (Now that I am able to leave the table without first asking to be excused). I have to be prepared to not only share with you, but I have to count the cost for what I'm going to share. I have to be ready to live with the aired truth, as well as the reaction to what I say.

Sometimes I don't even want to know what I think. I might be in the midst of formulating my opinion. I don't want to conclude prematurely and incorrectly something that could have been viewed differently if I considered longer all the aspects of the scene. I want to discuss all that I think and feel with...God, first. He can help me sort out the truth of not only what I'm dealing with, but what I'm feeling.

I still think my Dad was gutsy for what he tried to do with us. As I mentioned, we lived in a time period where open sharing, honest discussion, conveyance of doubt and fear, was not occurring- as a norm. Our own family went from periods of denial to periods where we tried to "be real". It's just that nobody is ever really ready for what "real" sharing can bring.

"When you're ready, you can tell us what you think, what you feel." That may possibly be the best thing we can tell our kids or our spouse or our best friend. When you're ready, I will be here. But to be honest, while your loved one gets ready to share, you may want to prepare for the truth of what they feel. Good, bad, or ugly. You may not be prepared to hear it. But I know Someone who always is.

"From the end of the earth, I will call to you, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (Ps 61:2) When you're taking it all to the Lord, in prayer, He can handle it ALL perfectly, capably. You never have to ask God, are you ready to hear what I really think? What I'm really feeling?

And so for that, when heaven reminds me every morning that the throne room is open and consultations are freely given, I go....running....towards Him. And there is nothing abnormal about that. It's the healthiest of responses, I think.

But then again, that's coming from a woman who will not, I repeat,- will not- go to a marriage encounter weekend. Pray for me.

I've got some "issues" I have to work on(!)


friendinME said...

I had to smile because you nailed my feelings about marriage enrichment weekends. Actually, I agree with your husband, too.

Often, well meaning people will inform me about an upcoming weekend. I smile and say, "oh... sounds interesting" or something like that...

But inside, I am thinking... "ohhhhhh goodie. You go get get "enriched," I am gonna stay home with my wife, put on our jammies and watch some tv. :)"

Hey, I just realized that I sound cynical. :)

Angie said...

I hear you. The thought of that kind of forum is intimidating and overwhelming to me.

There's something about the flourescent lights of a conference room that cause me to want to clam up. I need the familiar surroundings of my home to be able to delve into the deep matters of a relationship.

It can't be so contrived. I'd rather have it in context and as necessary.

Angie said...

BTW, I have a family member who's looking for a guest speaker at her church. She may be contacting you by your blog. Just wanted to give you a heads up.

BoydGreeneArt said...

I agree. There is a place and time for things and an audience is not the place for a man and his wife to air out their deepest feelings. I'm real straight-spoken as you and have to pray over things before I speak!:)

Lauren at Faith Fuel! said...

Just to be fair to all who have benefited from marriage weekends and to be fair to these well intending ministries, usually the dialoging is done privately between the husband and wife, in their room, maybe between sessions.

It's just that there are usually "guided questions" and I probably would rather ask my husband things that will not be on those sheets, like "Why can't you drive faster?" and "Let me tell you how I feel about your passive-aggressive tendancies"!!

I am terrible at following directions, and "staying in line"! (I would just rather "chat", at home, like friendinme said- in my jammies!)