Category Archives: For Parents

Are You Just Communicating? Or Truly Connecting?

Today I’m asking you to read through the blog with the intention of sharing an experience where you learned something about communication. Interacting with you is a joyful blessing in my life and ministry. So read. Think. Share!

The couple walked in to my office and took a seat on the sofa. The couple looked normal enough, and appeared to be respectful of and courteous to one another. After basic introductions and “house cleaning” necessities, I asked the wife if she would explain to me why they had chosen to come for counseling. Like a microwave on high, she instantly set the stage with a diatribe of criticism that was primarily aimed at her husband, the man sitting only inches from her. But she never got to finish, because as quickly as she began, her husband began loudly defending himself from the arrows she was slinging. The conflict went on for two or three minutes before I held up my hand and asked, “Can we all stop for a minute and bring our conversation down to a helpful level?” Both husband and wife turned their heads back and simultaneously answered, “Sure.”

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After a few more minutes of information gathering on my part, I began talking through somewhat of a treatment plan – a course of action, and recommended that one of the first areas attempt to conquer was communication skills. Both husband and wife turned and looked at one another and the wife retorted, “We thought that’s one of the things we did best!” I smiled, breathed in slowly, and explained, “Neither of you appear to have any trouble speaking your mind. But from the small sample of communication I’ve seen between the two of you, I’m telling you that throwing up on one another in a moment of hurt or anger is not effective communication.”

In the coming weeks we waded through the dynamics of effective communication, focusing frequently on respect and resolution. They did not, in their course of therapy, master communication completely. But they did make really good strides sharing their hearts and minds with one another with a focus on resolving their problems, rather than winning.

It seemed that one of the primary faults in their communication with one another was that they were trading information with each other, but they weren’t really connecting. 

Proverbs 18:13
He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame.One of the common downfalls in marriages with any longevity at all is that we lose that connectivity we had when we were “young and in love.” The corporate effort to be an effective team seems to fade away like a sunset sinking below the western horizon. We spill our guts when needed, but otherwise seem to be living separate lives that are on truly different paths. 

In a previous post I noted that the longer a couple is married, the more comfortable they become with one another. And although that comfort is a nice thing to experience and observe, it often has children. Bad children. Children that do their best to cut corners and make everything short and easy. The children of comfort can often be apathy, individuation, and maybe most importantly, the loss of connectivity.

Being connected requires intentional effort. Ongoing effort. Unfading, and selfless effort. If that effort is not put forth by both people in the marriage, the likelihood is that one or both are truly going to be connectedJust not to one another.

Spouses tend to get connected to their work, their hobbies, recreation, friends, and in the worst situations, intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. Remember, affairs are seldom initially about sex. They’re about communication.

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A husband is weary of his wife tuning him out and assaulting him at every turn, so he begins to confide in someone that will listen – sympathize with his plight – tell him he’s right – and offer encouragement that may just be meeting a bigger need in her life at the same time.

There is no possible way to cover the gamut of dynamics needed for truly effective communication in a blog, but there are hundreds and thousands of resources available to us all that can help us begin the journey of communicating with our wives responsibly, lovingly, and intentionally.

Don’t want to put in the work? Then don’t expect it to get better. Willing to make the sacrifices and put forth the effort to make it better? You have no idea how blessed and fulfilling your marriage can be.

Remember, true wisdom comes from experience. We can only learn so much from books or observing others. Having found ourselves in a place we don’t want to be, and putting forth the genuine effort to correct it or make it right, provides the fertile soil for wisdom to both be planted, and to grow.

So agree with your spouse to go through a “check-up from the neck-up.” What are you learning about your own communication style or skills?

I eagerly anticipate hearing from you! Don’t forget to “follow” and share!

And, as always . . .

FINISH WELL!

Realtime . . . Right on Time . . .

We just never know when someone – literally out of nowhere – will take the risk of speaking something boldly into our lives.

Something that means something.

Something that was needed desperately.

Something spoken with courage.

Something that is real, and just as importantly, is right on time.

The funny thing though, is that when a person takes that risk because God gently tapped them on the shoulder and said, “Go ahead, I got this,” it is always on time!

If you are new to this blog, then welcome to Realtime! If not, then you may have been wondering what happened, and why you have not received any blogs in quite some time. There are those however, who may be relieved that you have not been bothered with it. 🙂

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Regardless of the seasons and/or reasons for the “time out,” it is time for our encouragement and exploration to resume, and I am glad you are along for the ride. I sincerely hope you stay the course as we walk and talk out some of the real struggles, and wonderful blessings we experience along the way. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it’s ugly. Then there are those times when it is pretty ugly. But that’s ok, as long as it’s real. If we’re being real, there are some eye-opening discoveries we need to share, whether or not everyone thinks it’s ok to be transparent.

Jesus was transparent – never leaving any doubt about his thoughts or feelings in any situation. If my goal is to mirror the character and the life that Christ lived among us, being real is not negotiable. It is a must! I can’t wait to see and hear how many of you feel the same.

I’ve walked through some new struggles lately – the kind that throw you off course and cause you to wonder things about yourself that you might never utter to another human being. The kind that slam you onto your back and although you imagine that you’re up again, fighting for your life, it’s really just a mirage and you’re really still laying there, bleeding out ever so slowly. But you don’t know it.

I don’t know if it’s a phrase that is overused or not, but one that is often spoken by or about people that have walked through struggles is, “A Crisis of Faith.” I am not completely confident that I know for sure what a crisis of faith really is. But what a friend boldly and courageously spoke into me earlier this week left an impression that now gives me the latitude to think I have a pretty good idea.

The friend said to me, “Our walk of faith is a balancing act of action and trust. The Holy Spirit is our helper and sometime we sit around waiting for Him to “do something”. But, helper implies that we are already doing something that we need help/support with. So I encourage you in your passion. God will work out the circumstances but I can promise you it will look NOTHING like what you thought it would in the beginning.”

There is no doubt that I am not the sharpest cheddar in the fridge, but neither am I the bleu. Like a delivery of flowers or an important package that is supposed to arrive at a specific time, this God-laced statement arrived with some Gorilla Glue already on it, nice and sticky, and ready to adhere to my heart.

We all find ourselves in places where action is easy, but trust is hard. Conversely, I doubt there are many of us who have not also experienced a time or two when trusting has come almost naturally, while the ability or even the willingness to take action seems near impossible – almost like being paralyzed.

Oh wow . . . do I ever have a story to tell you about that! But in the midst of the struggle, and thanks to some early and wise encouragement from a long-time brother, this part of the journey has been spent looking for ways to Glorify God, even though the struggle has been immeasurably tough.

We have to summon the energy to push through the mental, emotional, and spiritual cobwebs of a personal trial to determine whether ours is an absence of trust or a lack of action. Making that determination is the first piece connected in this large, complicated, and constantly changing jigsaw puzzle we call life.

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But once that “absence” (trust or action) can be correctly identified, we still have to stand up on our own feet, learn to walk again, and know that the One we are trusting will hold us up, and dust us off when we fall.

The coolest thing about this encouragement of outrageous words of life? We have neither seen nor heard from one another in at least 35 years. The details and logistics are not important because God directed the whole thing from a curiously hidden place, unbeknownst to anyone other than Him.

And when that friend heard His voice, felt the tap on the shoulder, and said, “It might be bold, and it might be awkward, but Yes, I will,” He sat back in His chair, crossed His arms, and smiled broadly.

As always my friends . . .

FINISH WELL!

K

(Thanks for putting up with my crazy thoughts. I’ll be asking you again to be interactive with the blog on most occasions. That’s how we “Show up,” and it’s what gives God the chance to “Show off!” I crave, and really look forward to interacting with you, and as always – if you have any thoughts, ideas, or experiences that would make good “Blog-Fodder,” send it on! You can send it through this forum, or you can email me at kargrove@gmail.com. Thanks for taking the ride!)