Sometimes people around us make decisions that make us MAD. We hear about a decision or situation that may or may not affect us personally but about which we have information and/or vested interest. And we rightly begin to think:
We've all been there. It's almost impossible to avoid the grind of stories and thoughts and emotion that follow which exhaust us and suffocate our joy.
I'd invite you to bring to mind a situation in your marriage like this.... Little or consequential, it doesn't matter....
This exercise I'll walk you through is not meant to help you make a plan of action regarding what happened. Through this exercise, you’ll begin to peek under the layers of your experience until you find a place that is true. From that place you can reflectively consider your options…and in this place you will discover wisdom and prudence.
As you consider the situation about which you are frustrated or angry, can you identify a belief you have that is fueling the reaction. For instance, if you are angry about the way your spouse leaves clothes around, your belief could be that people should fold all their clothes and put them away at all times. (There is nothing wrong with that belief, but it becomes an expectation and a demand if it remains outside of our awareness.) So what is your belief about the situation under consideration?
What are the stories you tell about the other person or yourself or the situation around that belief? In our example, a possible story might be: He is a slob. She doesn’t care about the home we just bought. His mother must have taught him nothing…. I have to do everything around here…. And on and on the stories go.
Ready to go on? What is the inflated image of yourself which you are holding on a pedestal in relation to this story. Perhaps I will have to carry the responsibility for our home. I am the neat one. I care about the environment we are creating for our family. I am going to be the only teacher for our children around here. I am a victim. I am the model wife…. Find the inflated image that is the strongest.
Observe the possessiveness connected to this image. When you can touch it, drop down underneath the possessiveness.
Next you will encounter the positioning to get your way connected to this image. When you can touch it, drop down.
Next you will encounter the attachment to this image, the marshalling of rationalizations to prove you're in the right. When you can touch it, drop down.
Next you will encounter the resistance to give this image up. When you can touch it, drop down.
Next you will feel defensiveness. When you can touch it, drop down.
Stay at the level of experience of whatever exists prior to this inflated image. Refuse to possess or attach or resist or hate.
It is a place of simplicity, peaceableness, waiting.
Remain open, welcoming, waiting, learning.
Pray. I am here. The other person is here. God is here.
Worship and wait.
From this place, when you consider the situation, you have options other than simply imposing your inflated image on others, your expectations and demands of how things or people should be. You can be wise, discerning, prudent, redemptive in the actions you prayerfully decide to take. Rather than wearing it down, the discussion can deepen your love and strengthen your marriage.