This one was at the top of the list of examples I provided in my intro to this post and I have chosen to put it first on my list because of how important I think it is.
Obviously being faithful to my wife means not getting involved romantically with any other woman, but it means so much more than that. It means being faithful to her with my heart and mind as well as my body. It means not staring at other women. It means not flirting with other women. It means not thinking about other women. It means not putting myself into situations where there might even be an appearance of unfaithfulness. It means not looking at pornography. It means not betraying her confidence to other people. It means always taking her side when other people are involved. It means always sticking up for her and watching out for her best interests. And it means doing all of these things and so much more NO MATTER WHAT.
In many ways, this N.U.T. doesn’t have anything to do with my wife at all. Sure it affects her, but my being faithful to my wife is really about me. It’s about who I am as a man and the content of my character. It’s about me placing a high premium on the value of fidelity.
I’m confident that a lot (not all, but a lot) of the problems in our world today could be greatly minimized (if not eradicated entirely) if men would simply honor their commitments to be faithful to their wives. Think of how many divorces, broken homes, and kids growing up without a dad could be prevented if men everywhere made this one of their non-negotiable, unalterable terms.
To read more about N.U.T.s from Michael, please visit:
In today’s society where phrases like “fear of commitment” and “starter marriage” are all too normative, I am inspired by married couples who have persevered through difficult circumstances or otherwise made the deliberate decision to be committed to their spouse and their family.
As you may know, my days are spent overseeing relationship education services and supports to couples and individuals through The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. As a part of that project, we partner with Oklahoma Publishing Company to make a commitment of our own….to recognize couples across Oklahoma who have beat the odds by sticking together for better and worse.
Last year, we searched for Oklahoma’s most inspiring couples through a statewide nomination process and produced an amazing calendar honoring these couples. Now, we are actively seeking nominations for 2011’s most inspiring couples.
Do you know a couple who exhibits extraordinary traits such as team work, commitment, or has lived a life of infectious fun? Perhaps they have impacted their family, neighborhood or community in an exceptional way or have braved sickness or other hardships as a team?
Please nominate these couples so their stories can be shared! In addition to the calendar, The Oklahoman will publish feature stories on the couples throughout the year.
To nominate, simply submit 250 words about the couple, sharing why you feel they deserve to be recognized, along with a picture. You can do this quickly and easily at www.newsok.com/inspiringcouples or by mail:
Oklahoma’s Most Inspiring Couples
P.O. Box 25125
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
You may also view pictures, stories and video of last year’s Inspiring Couples on the nomination site.
Reading through the nominations was truly the highlight of my last year and I look forward to again hearing about the wonderful couples across our great state! Nominations are due soon, November 22nd, so please submit your nominations now! We will notify selected couples the first part of December and move forward with capturing their stories and producing the calendar.
Let’s face it. “Super sized” any-food is too much unless we’re talking about athletes, extremely physically active people or adolescent boys. I once saw a six-foot, thin-as-a-rail boy down two super sized Mc-Meals without blinking an eye…his body was a consuming machine, growing nightly and amazing those around him daily. But for most of us, the super sized phenomenon has resulted in a proverbial thunder thighs and badonk-a-donk butt plague gripping America by the cholesterol-packed veins.
But this essay isn’t about America’s battle of the bulge. Rather, it’s about the something else that makes you feel like you’ve just eaten way too many calories and and you can’t shake the weight of what’s getting you down: a super sized conflict with someone you love.
When someone begins eating healthy, the first thing they usually have to do is come to terms with what it is they are actually putting in their mouth. Sometimes you look at a plate of food and it just doesn’t seem that 1200 calories are sitting there waiting for you to engage. It’s the same thing with fights…people rarely understand how they started, the result is overwhelming and they feel as thought they bit off way more than they could chew. And…frequently they experience physical symptoms like indigestion!
However, if you break down a Big Mac into all its parts, you can see what you’re getting yourself into. From the seventies we know this is…
And, once you know what you’re getting into sometimes it seems easier to make choices that affect outcomes. For a Big Mac, we could pull off the middle layer of bread, one of the patties, all of the sauce and have a moderately decent meal. For fights, however, the ingredients are invisible. Here’s the list: feeling, action, intent, interpretation, and response…FAIIR. And, fair fighting is something the world could all use more of so we’ll stick with that acronym to help you remember our anatomy lesson.
Generally about this time in an article I would provide an example of an argument. However, I think what I’d like you to do instead is think back to one you’ve had recently. What was it about? How did it start? Got it in your head? Okay…here’s the breakdown –
Feelings There are feelings surrounding every action, interpretation and response in an argument. Identifying those feelings and being clear about them is the first order of business. If you started it, what were you feeling? Sometimes you have “feeling salad” wherein you have several at the same time. Make sure and list them all.
Action Usually the feeling precedes the action; feelings are the propulsion, so to speak, for your move. So, what did you do? What action did you take? Sometimes a fight is precipitated by feelings and the action becomes “shutting down.” It doesn’t always have to be a forward-motion behavior. It’s important to note, however, that there is always an intent for the action.
Intent Here is a major key for you – most all intentions within normal couple fights are positive. It’s actually a positive thing to want to resolve an issue. It’s a positive thing to want the fighting to stop. It’s a positive thing to think you’re protecting someone’s feelings. It’s a positive thing to try to change something that’s not working. Even though your partner may not view your action as having a positive intent, it usually does…even if that intent is only to protect yourself because you’re feeling attacked. That’s a positive action! No one wants to feel attacked!
Interpretation The next part of the argument, however, is the interpretation. In most every fight, the “intent” of one person is “interpreted” in a negative manner. This is where the real problems lie. A history of hurts pile up and so many times interpretations are based upon historical “sameness,” even if this fight is different. Further, negative intents are often labeled (correctly) as “mind-reading.” No human being can read minds, have ESP about another’s feelings, or judge what an intent really is…you’re just not that good. Neither am I. But over time, trust erodes when fights continue and it’s difficult to remember that your partner is a living, breathing, autonomous person with their own thoughts and feelings. So, this is where you need to be the most cautious: assumptions of negative intent are toxic.
Response You can tell where this is going now, right? If you have an behavior that was feeling inspired, had a positive intent, but then a negative interpretation…the logical “response” would be to then counter with a behavior that is feeling inspired, has a positive intent, but will probably be negatively interpreted. This is how humans, and for that matter pretty much most of the animal kingdom, are engineered. And many times, we can’t even really identify where these fights began or how they ended.
If this type of escalation continues, it becomes super sized. And before you know it, your relationship may have some pretty heavy baggage (thunder thighs) to slowly repair with healthier interactions. However, the cool thing about healthier eating and exercise, AND about healthy communications and interactions, are that they make a difference immediately. And both, over a longer period of time, can radically change your outlook on life.
Envisioning a relationship with healthy communication (clear, open and FAIIR dialogue) feels good doesn’t it? As I think about it, I am experiencing absolutely NO indigestion!
(Now that you know the anatomy of a fight, follow THIS LINK to learn what you can do better to avoid some of that mess I just shared with you!)
After you do that, if you’re still not there…write us and we’ll get you more resources. Thanks.
A small farm town is great for overhearing comments like these: “Oh, he has heart trouble? Better not let him out on that tractor during harvest. You won’t know if he’s had any chest pains until he gets every last acre of that crop in!” Then everyone around bursts into laughter, nods their heads, and asks to hear more about Farmer Brown’s cardiac condition. However…
It’s a human law of nature, isn’t it? We laugh the loudest at that which rings the greatest truths?
Over the last ten years or so, I’ve studied one area about relationships more than others, and it’s because I know so many “Farmer Browns” in Oklahoma: the phenomenon of seeking help. Some of the reasons I began researching this topic are personal. My own husband and I struggled with seeking outside assistance when we were having marital issues around the third year of our marriage. When we finally DID access couples therapy services, however, it only took two sessions for both of us to realize that our marriage was much greater than the two of us sitting in the room. It took longer for our emotions toward each other to repair, but once we made the decision to stick out our relationship we looked at all our other decisions in a very different way. And, recently celebrating our 25th anniversary felt really great.
Another reason I’ve spent so much time researching this topic is because it’s such a pervasive problem. I’ve only found one paper over the years by an anthropologist who wrote specifically about Oklahomans’ inability to ask for help when they need it, but through my own research and that of my colleagues, I’ve found out a little more. Here’s what I know about folks in Red Dirt Country (AND for the rest of the US…I have national data sets as well).:
1) It’s easier for people to tell their friends to go get help than it is for them to go themselves. A full 95% of respondents from one of my surveys stated that they would “encourage their friends to seek premarital or marital education,” or “therapy.” However, around 60-70% of most populations said they thought they might try it themselves – many of that population responded “only when it’s the last option.” It’s easier to suggest to others than take our own advice, it seems.
2) The number one constraint to seeking marital education OR therapy services among Oklahomans in 2003 was the concern about “getting the other person in the relationship to agree to the idea.” In other words, it wasn’t the individual’s attitude or belief about seeking help as much as it was their fear or anxiety about bringing up the discussion, or anticipating how their partner might respond to their request. So it seems that sometimes what we think about others, or how they might react, is even more powerful than what we believe for ourselves.
3) On a better note, however, a greater majority of people were more willing to get couples counseling, attend marriage or relationship education, or other type of couples service (retreat, take an inventory, etc), than they were to seek individual help or education for themselves. So, they are thinking of others or their relationship over themselves, for the most part. This is important information – knowing that someone might make a decision for the sake of another over themselves is valuable when we’re talking about relationships.
These are just a few tiny bits of data out of a very large amount of information but I think they might be useful for a couple of reasons. First of all, what this information tells us is that it’s NORMAL to feel conflicted, worried or resistant to opening up our relationship to outside help. Some even feel that going to an educational workshop over relationship skills will “make things worse;” that if they just ignore the issue and keep the boat steady, maybe things will blow over.
Others feel ill-equipped to know where to begin when asking their partner to go with them. This is NORMAL too! If you’ve been arguing or the two of you readily step into “blaming mode,” then it’s easy to see how something well-intended could turn sour quickly. The very best way to bring up a topic like this is to make sure to “own your own wishes” (say, “I’d really like for you to go with me. Here’s what we can learn. Would you please think about this?”) and resist the urge to blame or to criticize, or make things personal (for example, “Maybe this will keep us from arguing about the dogs.”) If you talk about what you can GAIN, and avoid bringing up what is WRONG, chances are the conversation will go better.
Telling your partner about skills the two of you can learn is a much clearer message than telling them what’s been wrong. They already know what’s gone wrong; reiteration isn’t needed in a committed relationship. You know each other very well.
Finally, if you happen to be the one who is thinking about inviting your partner to begin therapy or attend a relationship education workshop, having the information handy is also important. Don’t know where to start? I’ve got four links for you I’ll share at the end of this article – you can look up the information right now!
So, what have we learned? Seeking help is hard. People are scared to ask their partners to go with them. People are willing to do something for others over themselves. How does this work together? Well, the fact that “people are willing to do something for others” actually increases the chances that your partner will accept an invitation from you. Now, all you have to do is ask. Good luck…and let us know if you need extra support.
Five weeks ago, I passed a friend of mine in the hall. I treasure this friend because she’s one of those laid back, Oklahoma women who looks you square in the eye when talking with you. She rolls with the punches, she has an air of confidence and she gets cooler every year I know her. She greeted me: “Hey, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog! Who knows…you could be another Pioneer Woman!”
First of all, my friend just got even cooler because she had right then and there provided tangible evidence that someone other than my family members were reading our posts. And second of all, who was the Pioneer Woman? Two more weeks passed before I thought, “Oh yeah…I need to check out this Pioneer Woman blog.” Or, should I have thought, “Sensation!?” As soon as I pulled up her site late one evening I became hooked for so many reasons. First, the Okie Factor was major. Second, the context about which she wrote reminded me of multiple reasons I loved Oklahoma country life. Her photography was wonderful, her food looked sinful, her children were darling, her husband was hunky and the sunsets across her pond were even redder than those I see when driving home. Within an hour, The Pioneer Woman had wrapped her blog around my heart.
Before I closed out the site I noticed she had written a autobiographical series entitled “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (BHTW),” about her decision to ditch law school and marry an Oklahoma cattle rancher. I didn’t even start those posts; I needed sleep. Flash forward a few more weeks…
Earlier today I introduced you to my new love, the iPad. Last night I began the BHTW series and seriously tested the battery, streaming/loading and sheer determination capacity of my new technological wonder. I began the series at 7:45 p.m. and finished at 1:38 a.m. I took a few breaks along the way. At one point I cooked myself the worst dinner I’ve made in several years…but that’s a different story. And, at several points during the evening my husband came into the living room and began talking to me. He told me a story about his day, he asked me a few questions about something, and came in to tell me goodnight.
At no time during any of these interactions did my brain engage what he was saying. I was thinking in my head, “Look intently into his eyes, nod and hurry him along so I can get back to the next entry in my beloved BHTW series.” The Pioneer Woman was tightly wedged between me and my husband. I was putting my relationship with her stories above him, and was so hooked I couldn’t even see it…I was in way too deep. I just wanted answers to all the questions I had about “What might happen next!??” to the Pioneer Woman and her Marlboro Man.
6:04 a.m. was an unwelcome time for me this morning. The alarm on my cell phone did its job and I took way to long to find the cancel button. I usually get up early and blog if it’s my day to contribute. “Tuesdays – TwosDays – Relationships…” I thought. Meh. I got ready for work, ignored the post writing (read: avoided the relationships section by writing about my new iPad), had a few meetings, and took a very late lunch. The first thing I did was call my husband: “Hey there, I’d like to go out to dinner tonight. Ludivine is opening and I want to eat their food.”
After he came to grips with the fact that he probably could NOT wear his khaki shorts and a sweatshirt, he agreed. “I’ll call Rylee and tell her we’re going on a date. And that she needs to manage dinner on her own,” he told me as he hung up.
I love my husband. The Pioneer Woman was no longer between us. She was somewhere in the room, but Mick and I were back to our interdependent state once again, standing side by side. “P-Dub” (Pioneer Woman reference for herself) is no longer causing distance between us, or deafness and blindness on my part.
Okay, now for the serious stuff. Triangles are tricky and very powerful dynamics. They basically exist when something comes between, or diverts, a healthy relationship between two people. The “third party” can be a person (any person – young or old), a thing…oh, say…like a blog, a substance being abused (drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, eating, etc.) or even something that might normally seem healthy – like a work out regimen. If you can see three elements in your relationship, and in general two of them are close, two of them are distant, and two of them are conflicted, then you’re probably in a triangle.
So my thought for you today is to examine the close relationships in your life and see if there’s extra baggage in your important dyads (two person relationships) that needs to be trimmed. If you find some, take that baggage and put it where it belongs. We keep real luggage on the top shelf of our closet. I put my marital baggage back at this address where it belongs: @ http://thepioneerwoman.com/
and…I’ll visit when I can. But if Mick asks me a question, I’ll put my new iPad screen on blank and really listen. He deserves it, and I’m pretty sure P-Dub wouldn’t want it any other way.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.