When I Feel I’m Better than my Spouse

All of us have come across someone who feels that he/she is better than anyone. Will one shed that feeling because they enter into marriage? Rather in the early days and months of marriage, couples are busy with many things that their individual differences are not brought to surface. In these early days, couples tend to communicate effortlessly at length. Their energy is spent on pleasing each other and to surprise each other. Individual differences are minimized and partners are very accepting. They are “purely” in love and this love is blind. Even if they “see” the shortcomings they are more than happy to bear it. Thus couples tend to overlook any shortcomings of each other. This is the romantic stage. A time to cherish!

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Soon this stage began to wean off, couples began to notice their individual differences. They find themselves in disillusionment regarding these differences. Some feel that they are better than the other with regards to job, salary, parenting, organizing, or communication. Some resort to blame their spouse, find excuse and others actively search for ideas and strategies to handle these differences. As couples work at each one of these, they become successful in certain areas but can get discouraged in other areas especially where personality and temperament meddles. In reality, certain habits and situations continue to remain which cause one to behave in a certain way. Thus the other partner sees it as something that need to be improved. This can cause disagreements and even conflicts. Not only the relationship between couples suffer but also children suffer. This can cause disturbances in other areas of life like work, church, relationship with family members.
However when unresolved issues make one to feel superior to one’s spouse, disequilibrium happens in marriage. Oneness in marriage is under threat which can be problematic. The one feeling superior become conceited and the weakness of the other is often highlighted. Disrespectful words and behaviours find their origin from feeling and thinking superior which can not only tear apart marriage but also lives. When the other spouse begins to retaliate, it can further pull them apart.
The Bible commands us to value others above us in humility and to be considerate of other’s interests. Besides one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help us in our weakness. When applied in the context of marriage, another aspect is also involved. The dream of God for marriage is for the two people to develop oneness which supersedes all other human relationships. Thus harboring superiority complex in any relationship is against the will of God much more in marriage.
What can one do here for not to allow superiority complex to destroy the intended oneness? How can oneness be preserved with care and caution?

  • There need to be a change the behaviour and values. One without the other can be ineffective. So work with the perspectival change and behavioural change in order to overwrite superiority complex with acceptance of your spouse.
  • Put your effort on learning to encourage and support your spouse. Also value and compliment contributions of your spouse.
  • Remind yourself of your love for your spouse and carefully take small steps for your love to grow.
  • Reflect to see whether there is insecurity in you as superiority may arise from your insecurity.
  • Specify policies to define boundaries in relationship. Never put down each other before others, never use foul words or name calling, never inflict physical injury, never compare each other with others, always respect each other
  • Pray regularly for your marriage and for each other that you would grow in oneness in your relationship

Photo Courtesy: http://www.erepublik.com/

Posted on Feb 23, 2015

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A Gift and A Shift

My husband and I along our infant son met my maternal great uncle for the first and last time in my life in 1995. He arranged the stay for us at the hotel where he was briefly staying in Naples, FL. I told him about my memory of his parents and his home on the opposite shore of the river near my grandparent’s house. He too shared some old memories. The most memorable incident of this visit is the gift he gave a One-Year Bible. It was evident that it was not a gift for the sake of a gift but intentional and deliberate. His expectation of me to finish reading the Bible in a year was clear to me along with the importance he gave for daily family prayer.

I am proud to have such family members who instill eternal values in their kith

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and kin. The Bible became part of our family prayer. I found another One-Year Bible in my husband’s library which became the Bible I began to read for my daily meditation. Since 1996, I read the same Bible with the desire of reading the whole Bible in a year and to hear God’s voice.

Do I accomplish the goal every year? Of course not! I have missed assigned reading portions for each day many times over the years. I may not be able to read the Bible every day. But what is important to me is the opportunity to have a broader perspective of the Bible rather than reading my favorite portions and passages year after year. Besides, every first day of the New Year gives me a fresh start as I open my Bible to Genesis Chapter1, Matthew Chapter 1, and Psalm 1. This gives me a new expectation for the year and a delight to start not only the whole year in mind but also the whole Bible in mind.

I am glad that my great uncle’s envisioning has become part of my daily routine. It took me to another level of my Bible reading habit which has never wore me down. Rather to me it is an opportunity to affirm my habit of beginning my day with a fresh look at the Word along with a big goal of reading the whole Bible.

I have blogged about the importance of making Bible reading a daily habit in one of my previous blogs: A Habit Worth Investing Your Time. Yet this blog intends to take you to a next level of Bible reading: to develop a desire and a habit of reading the whole Bible every year. However it is not intended to develop guilt when you miss a day but to return to the Bible each day with a longing to hear from God.

Why wait to have a bigger vision of Bible reading habit not only for you but also for your acquaintances? One-Year Bible is available online or there are many one year reading plans on the Web. For eg., Biblica has given the reading plan titled: Bible in a Year: 365-Day Reading Plan It is not about the reading plan but about valuing and reading the entire Bible in a year.

Besides, I learn other lessons as I reminiscence the visit. What kind of influence do I intend to have on others and on my family members? If I see a person only for one time, what do I want them to remember me for or what will they remember me for?

Photo courtesy: Wikihow.com

10 Life Lessons on Being a Homeowner

One morning as I woke up, a thought welcomed me, “what have I learned on being a homeowner?” Besides my parents’ home and my husband’s parents’, I have lived in 4 rented homes and two homes which I called our own. All homes varied in sizes from two rooms to many rooms. I have stayed in the homes of family and friends as well.
I offer the top ten lessons to you as a source of inspiration to search and see what you have learned. This does not mean I have learned everything and finished learning. I hope to be still learning. But for right now, these are what I have. For this one I searched my heart to see which ten I would include. For right now, enjoy reading and pass it on to others.

  1. It is not the designing or decorations that make the house beautiful but the people who invest their lives in each other through love, trust, and honesty.
  2. Do not worry about how spectacular our house is as we invite friends and family, may our hearts reach out to them in sincerity and serenity.
  3. It is not in the rich cuisine you serve that your friends are satisfied but the warmth they feel in their spirits.
  4. Our home can become a home for others only if we are thoughtful.
  5. Love all our neighbours but draw clear boundaries.
  6. As we open our home for others, never allow our own to always feel ignored.
  7. The chinaware or the expensive dishes are not just for special guests but also for us to enjoy with kith and kin.
  8. If bricks and wood were to testify let them echo stories of forgiveness more than strife.
  9. There is nothing called the dream house. Every house big or small will eventually be our dream home as lives are weaved together through times of joy and tears.
  10. Never get our hearts fixed on any home; see it just as a temporary shelter as we will move on to our eternal home sooner or later.

Please share lessons you have learned in the comments.

Posted on Nov 20, 2014

10 Life Lessons on Being Human

Here is my list of Life Lessons. They are lessons learned from various experiences. I offer them to you as a source of inspiration to search to see what life has taught you.

This does not mean I have learned everything and finished learning. I hope to be still learning. My top ten will change as I grow older. But for right now, these are what I have. Do not think I had a heart breaking search to write these. Not at all. It just flowed as I began to scribble in my note book. Enjoy reading and think of what life has taught you.

  • Rejoice with all your heart when others rejoice.
  • Stay close to those who suffer even if you have no words of comfort to offer. It is not the time to dig out the past to discover all whys and what ifs.
  • Life is not meant to be lonely. There are many who enjoy your company.
  • Once you’ve helped someone, learn to walk away. They do not owe you anything.
  • Those who have helped you, learn to be thankful regardless flaws you may discover later.
  • Life is not a rat race; so enjoy the smile of a baby, smell of jasmine, touch of loved ones.
  • You do not have to get ahead of everyone all the time in life. Stand back and watch how others enjoy when they achieve something important.
  • No need to always explain when you are misunderstood. If it is to be settled it will, otherwise it will develop resilience in you.
  • Blessings in your life are never to be hoarded. Sharing gives you an opportunity to witness others enjoy their lives.
  • You will often find yourselves in dead-end but that is not the end of your life.

Posted Oct 22, 2014

Perspectives…Empty Nesters

 

This year is a significant year in our life as husband and wife. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We are still dreaming for many more years together. Another important event was our daughter leaving home for college which created an empty nest for us.

So often people ask “how is life now?” “Are you sad as no children are home?” “Do you miss them?” “Do you cry?” Yes we miss them. Life is different without kids. But often I have mixed emotions. Sad at the same time happy! Sad that they are not home. But happy that they are where God wants them to be and they can manage their lives without the constant supervision of parents. I know they will come back home but still they are adult children steering their own lives with little direction from us compared to their childhood.

This is the dream of any parent. Children trailing their way to move forward in the path they see as theirs.  Moving from dependence on parents to interdependence is indeed an adventurous task for any young adult. It becomes a risky phase if the child was not prepared for this transition.

For parents too it can be a difficult task if they are not preparing themselves for this phase in life. Even though the sense of loss is normal, some parents feel a great sense of loss when the last child leaves home to the extent that it affects the sense of purpose and life.  For others it is a constant feeling of regret.  (Here I am not taking about elderly parents but middle aged parents. Of course the aged need constant support and care of children.)

How can middle aged parents live without losing their sense of direction and purpose when children leave home? It has to do with certain perspectives of marriage, parenthood, and life. The perspective of marriage is that husband and wife do not live for children or anything else or anybody else but for each other. In the bond as husband and wife, next to their relationship with God comes their relationship with each other. They become best friends and companions as they invest their time and resources to grow in these terms.  So when children leave home their friendship still grows.

Second is the perspective of parenthood. Parents need to see themselves as stewards of children not owners.  They have been entrusted in our care to their wholesome development. In this process we want to give them space, resources and freedom to grow into the design set by the creator God. Here, dreams of children and their parents about their lives are only secondary to that of their creator.

Third is the perspective of life. Of course parenting is a fulfilling experience. But there are also other meaningful experiences in life which can bring joy to us and to many in our community. This may not be a full time 9 to 5 job, yet being available to others in their time of need.  Here the involvement not at all suggests ignoring your family but using the time, energy, talent and resources appropriately to enrich others. Today people generally do this through employment which also produces a monetary reward. Yet the focus here is not money but leading a fulfilling life to bring smile to others who may not be our kin or kith. Then life presents a bigger role than being parents and couples.

When does the preparation for this phase begin? Is it after kids are born? Or after they become teenagers? I think the preparation begin from the day of marriage. On that day begins the commitment to be best friends, enriching children’s lives to fit into the design of their creator, and to encourage each other to have an other- focused life. Thus even after children leave home, there is still opportunity to enrich each other, children, and many others as well.

Young couples begin the process now and empty nesters there is more to it than being empty.

posted July 24, 2014

Honouring the Family Members

 

As my daughter and my husband were returning home after securing admission for her, I cleaned her room, made her bed with clean sheets. There is nothing new in doing these. But this time I did so being conscious of doing this with a spirit of honoring her. I experienced a new sense of delight and pleasure not the attitude of doing my mundane chores.

It is quiet easy to honor and even overlook an offense if the person is our guest or a person of honor. We may go an extra mile to honor such people. It is important to practice the biblical principle of being hospitable.

Yet, how often we have the same attitude towards our family members, our acquaintances, and those whom we see all the time. As my mother died during my mid-teen years, I have learned not to take our dear ones for granted. I learned to cherish my time with my family and extended family.  I made sincere efforts to let my children meet their extended family.

Still honoring is different from not taking someone for granted.  How is it different? To take someone for granted means to appreciate the ways by which a person enhances and contributes to the quality of your life and the relationship. Honoring also involves appreciation but it is to value the person not just valuing the person for his/her contributions.

As I began to think more about this after listening to last week’s sermon of the visiting pastor, I realized that it is a perspectival shift which leads to practice shift. I am able to appreciate my dear ones as those whom God gave me to cherish and love not just because of their contributions. This naturally leads to not to take them for granted. But the starting point is honoring not the other way.

Imagine extending this perspective to all whom we come across. What a solace we would experience and smile we are able to bring in the hearts of those we meet! But let us begin this in our family.

posted June 3, 2104

Setting Godly Boundaries for Your Marriage

Boundaries are well-defined and clearly identified in land deals. This helps owners to know their limits of ownership. Respecting the limits allows neighbors not to encroach into other’s space. In any organization, job descriptions, rules and regulations have the same effect. Effectiveness and productivity of the organization rest upon respecting each other’s boundaries of space and work.
311af-th1.jpgIf respect of the other is the basis of functioning within the set boundaries in the above instances, growing in love with each other is the basis for setting boundaries in marriage. Or to develop oneness in spirit, mind, and body is the goal rather than controlling each other or to force the other into your mold.


In the first stage of marriage, namely romance, even when boundaries are not well defined, this stage will care for itself as the newness the couple enjoy, may cause them to focus on loving each other. Here the couple ignores each other’s faults thus getting along and pleasing each other become their priorities. Brain also comes in our aid as it releases chemicals like Oxytocin, Phenylethylamine and Dopamine which set one’s heart thumping thus feeling similar to being “high on drugs.”


However, it is necessary to set boundaries in Romance stage itself. Just like all other stones in a foundation will be set in reference to the cornerstone in a foundation, some key patterns of words and deeds set during this stage will further guide couple’s life. Setting of boundaries may not naturally evolve. It needs deliberateness from both partners but either of the two can take the initiative. Thus it is neither an autocratic process nor just the interest of one person. Even in the midst of enjoying each other’s company both husband and wife can create a list of boundaries to steer their life together. This may not be an exhaustive list but surely it is the cornerstone.


As there is an urge in pleasing each other during Romance stage, the couple may be willing to do anything for each other. This is the stage in which they have certain high ideals about one’s marriage. Thus it is easier to set boundaries during this stage. One limitation may come from the fact that couple sees each other only through the beautiful, rose coloured glass which can create fuzzy vision. Yet with little effort realities can be brought to one’s perception. Besides this is just the initial attempt, the beginning of listing boundaries of their married life.


Boundaries can be set during any stage in marriage. Yet newlyweds have an added advantage. From the beginning itself they can avoid causing damage to their relationship and others. Yet for others who have been married for some time, it is better late than never. If the couple has the intention of creating oneness, let a new chapter emerge in life with clearly defined boundaries. While past issues are to be resolved they can avoid creating further damage in and through them.


What are some common boundaries that couples usually set? Family will pray together twice/once a day. Settle all disagreements before sleep. Always sleep in the same bed even when there is disagreement. Discuss disagreements not in anger. Not to use words like “divorce” and “suicide” in family discussion. Not to hit each other or use foul language. Not to discipline children in anger. Family will have at least one meal together. The family will visit their parents once a week/month/year. Never tease each other before others. Never to place one in a vulnerable situation where one is mentally/emotionally/physically attracted or attached to someone else other than one’s spouse. Take money from each other’s purse only with mutual understanding.

The list can go on. It is to be tailored according to context of one’s family but with the aim of growing in oneness in spirit, mind, and body. One life to live, why don’t we live life to the fullest and enable others to do so!

photo courtesy http://www.ladiesflight.com

First posted May 2, 2014