Archive for the ‘bridge-building’ Category

There is a story my husband loves to tell, about this man who was walking on a beach one day.   Looking down, he sees a brass lamp, which he excitedly pulls out of the sand.  As he begins to rub the sand away, (you guessed it), a genie appears.  The genie asks him, “I am allowed to grant you one wish. What would you like more than anything else?” 

 The man, being from California, says, “I would like you to build a bridge from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with restrooms, and no tolls.”

The genie frowns, replying, “Are you nuts? Don’t you know that will disrupt the shipping lanes? Besides, in order to engineer a secure bridge in the middle of the ocean like that, I will have to make all kinds of changes to the weather patterns.” He stops and thinks. “No, I don’t think your bridge is such a good idea. What else would you like?”

The man looks at the genie, pondering. Then, he answers, “I think I would like to understand the female mind.” 

The genie smiles, and then responds.  “Would you like that bridge to be a four lane or two lane?”

Ha ha, very funny, I say… 

But then, I’m female.  My husband, and every man he has ever told the story to, just howl together in laughter.  Interesting, I thought. So, during a speaking engagement, I decided to reverse the genders in the story, and see what happened.  Guess what?  The women laughed, and the men didn’t.  Let me say here, that Bill and I spend lots of time in communication each day; and I am finding myself more and more in love with him each day — even after 30 years of marriage.

Communication in marriage is like bridge-building. It is  a process requiring time, thoughtfulness, and above all, safety. Over the years, I have been amazed at the number of times I have had to remind married couples that they need to  learn to listen, as well as learn to share. Not long ago, I worked with a couple who had been married for more than twenty years, and had never shared their childhood stories with each other.  When I asked the husband “why,” he said, “My childhood bothered me, so I didn’t want to upset her.”  The wife, for her part, had been waiting for him to initiate a deeper conversation; one delving into the “why’s” of his principles and values.  But he had never opened the door.  So the silence remained.  When the door finally did open, this particular couple discovered a greater appreciation for each other, and a mutual emotional magnetism between them.  They fell in love again.

They had come to my office thinking they were heading to divorce court. The Silence between them had become deafening.  Sadly, they had waited until their children were grown, using their same patterns of relationship, to ask how the problem could be repaired.  Over the  years, the Silence had become Unresolved Conflict.

When a man and woman marry, hopefully they do so, because they love each other, and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Hopefully, it is because they have found a safe person who accepts and reciprocates their desire to know and be known.  In the Bible, this process is called, “the two becoming one.”  Notice that the word ‘becoming’ denotes a process.

Becoming one involves learning to speak a new language — the one your spouse speaks, many times not worrying about whether they are speaking yours… It means both partners giving 150%, rather than an even trade of 50%.  Servant-minded living is the economy of the Kingdom.  At the end of the day, each partner gains the ability to live in relationship “bi-lingually.”  If you need an illustration of how well it works to only speak your own language, imagine yourself needing to find a restroom in a foreign country, and not knowing how to ask.  What do you have to do in order to communicate?  Of course, you have to find someone who knows your language and ask them how to ask for directions.

It is too easy to consider only one’s own mindset in relationship.  And sadly, the “easy way” always costs us.  We lose relationship; we lose experience; we miss out on the richness of humor and discovery.   Mistakenly believing the only language we will ever need is our own, we isolate, we retreat.  We become self-centered, expecting everyone else to come to our point of view. 

And far too many times, if we have fortressed ourselves in, Anger shows up when we are asked to speak another language. 

Relationship is a God-idea —–  Isolated Independence is not.

Honesty and Vulnerability are Creator-concepts —-  Defensiveness and Secretive Silence are not.

God created us for Community.  Marriage is that Community’s first picture.  Family is its second picture. Community is where healing is supposed to take place. It is where relationships grow and develop; where we are allowed to grow; we discover even when we make mistakes.   Sadly, even church environments have at times become places where safe community has strayed from His original plan — so how to we learn to trust each other again?

It starts with Hope — Hope opens a door — it’s like finding the brass lamp.  Then, we have to let someone else in, to help us to learn a new language.  Because understanding the mindset of the opposite gender is always like building a bridge…..

Where do you want to start?

(c) 2010 DG — Awakened to Grow — Duplication without permission prohibited.


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