Thursday, September 2, 2010

Think Twice, Speak Once

Think twice, speak once... that's the title of an article I got from a Sparkpeople email today and it really got me thinking about how that kind of advice sure could prevent a lot of unnecessary trouble. The particular article ended with, "Once you have said something out loud it cannot be taken back, and rarely can it be undone even with a tremendous amount of work.

It's so ironic how I sometimes get messages like this in my inbox, either from subscriptions I ask for, or from people who get placed in my path, that are so applicable to what I'm going through in my life right now. Not very many people know that my husband and I are currently in marriage counseling. It's been a long time coming, and I'm quite sure it's the best decision we could have ever made for our future and for our family. I'm so grateful just to have an opportunity like this, and so thankful that he has chosen to come alongside me and to strengthen the bonds that keep us holding on to one another. At the same time, however, it saddened me deeply to HAVE to get to this point - as I know that God's idea of marriage wasn't for us to go all destructo on things before we both figured out it was time to stop taking care of everyone else and get some help for us.

Lately it feels like we're not the only ones in the rocky marriage boat. I'm pretty sure I'd feel a lot more happy if we were all alone on that boat, but to see many of my friends and my family aboard this not-so-loving Loveboat cruise makes me really afraid that something has gone horribly wrong. Typically I'd prefer that those I love be standing on SHORE waving at us, and encouraging us to steady our craft and keep up the work so we could be on solid ground with them soon, but instead they're bouncing around on the same rickety boat. The one that tosses it's victims from one side to the other with no regard for the little kids rolling around on deck getting trampled in the process. Not pretty.

Everyone has a different story. Some have to do with addictions that have been swept under the rug far to long, recurring problems with abandonment or rejection that stem from childhood mistreatment, abuse issues that never really got dealt with, worry, self-doubt, lack of trust in others and in God, the list goes on, but most of all there is this screwed up belief that we need to take care of SELF, and not others. 
A wise friend stated that you must first put on your oxygen mask before you can help those around you. And I believe that is absolutely true - but I think somewhere that statement gets completely misinterpreted. We don't put on our oxygen mask instead of helping others. We also don't badmouth, intimidate, lose our temper or force our will onto someone else to get them to put their mask on. We HELP them. I think somewhere along the way in marriage, the thought of helping or serving those around us gets lost in the whole idea of "I need to take care of myself first". Then the rest of the thought process, the part about helping others, drops off into oblivion and doesn't get revisited until a few anniversaries later when the pretty bride and handsome groom finally remember that they are in this thing to honor, respect and love each other as Christ loved the church. Nowhere does Christ say to "Help yourself as you'd maybe, eventually, possibly, help someone else, if you feel so inclined, and if it's not your time of the month, or if he put the lid down on the toilet seat." He said, "Do to OTHERS as you would have them do to you". End of sentence.

Quite simply put, this really just says you are responsible for making the first step. This isn't at all about waiting for someone else to straighten up and pull his (or her) head out from wherever it's stuck. It's about you adjusting your own behavior, to be more Christlike, and to be less selfish.

Philippians 2:3-4
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

To bring this point back to where I started in the first place (I do not ramble!), what comes out of our mouths must also be in the forefront of our minds as a way of caring for, and serving others. It's those words that will come back to haunt you when you aren't expecting it, because someone else remembers them. Those words etch into the brains of our children, friends, family and our mates - and those words can't be taken back. Can you go through the lengthy process of accepting and forgiving each other and getting a do-over? Sure! But is that an easy road to take? Heck no. I strongly advise taking the road of least trouble and just thinking twice and speaking once.

From my life experience, the words I heard in my past, now make up my present. So seriously, what kind of present do you want to give your family?

Totally random shot of an unknown couple who climbed on a big rock out in the surf to hug and watch the sunset together. It touched me, but...
I'm totally betting they have relationship problems too.


CaraDD said...

I don't have any good words for you, but did want you to know I read your post. :)

Toni said...

Every relationship has its issues, and the stress of these turbulent times really brings it all to the forefront -- no more sweeping it under the rug.

I have found that as long as both parties are willing to work on it (requiring humility), a marriage will not fail. It won't always be "Happily Ever After", but it will have HEA moments and phases.

To me, putting the oxygen mask on first means morning devotionals which entails scripture study, personal prayer, couple prayer and just a few minutes to do something to demonstrate my love for my hubby.