Tag Archives: Emerson Eggerichs

“… and the Ugly”: part 1

ugly1

In my first Indifferent Muddle post, I referenced Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect, a book I recommend highly. I mentioned how he and the Byerlys, of Generous Husband and Generous Wife, speak of good-willed spouses, husbands and wives who do have goodwill in their hearts toward each other. It was in that first post that I discussed that not all marriages have spouses who are still good-willed, hence the Indifferent Muddle.

I tend to see things as being on a continuum instead of terms of black and white, and marriages are no exception. As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I see the marriage continuum as resembling this little graphic:

Marriage continuum

Having dealt with the Muddle, I want to address those marriages that have moved from generous good-will, past the Muddle into, erm, well…, for want of a better word, Hades.

As I’ve stated before, I highly recommend Eggerichs’ L&R; that being said, I do have one caveat. The book is directed toward “good-willed” marriages; not that this is a crime, mind you. He freely admits that the husbands and wives that he writes about, who are having communication difficulties, are still in love with each other and want to have great marriages together. These marriages aren’t really “on the rocks”; as Eggerichs points out, neither husband or wife hates or even dislikes the other, but through hurt and misunderstanding have come to a rocky place in their marriage. 

But he realizes that his audience isn’t in Hades.

The Fly In The Ointment

Okay, it’s time to “tell the truth and shame the devil,” as the old saying goes. None of us are ever keen on airing dirty laundry in public, and we in the Church are among the world’s best when it comes to evading uncomfortable truths and topics. We can mumble, harrumph, and mouth pious platitudes with the best that the world has to offer when it comes to avoiding the ugly truths we don’t want to talk about. But we all know that despite all our preaching about the blessedness of marriage, the dirty little secret is that there are some “christian” marriages that aren’t so much “made in heaven” as they are spawned in Hades.

As I’ve mentioned in past postings, I have been participating and posting in a non-Christian forum, and I am reading of situations in which all traces of good-will and generosity are gone. I’m talking about marriages where name-calling, disrespect and animosity aren’t just occurrences, but an entire way of life. But here’s what’s killing me; I’m also reading of similar marriages on christian marriage fora.

It’s heartbreaking. As I’ve said before, marriage isn’t supposed to hurt.

I am not the only person reading/dealing with people who are in Hades-type marriages. Recently, Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, wrote a blog post that, for him, was quite unusual; it was entitled My Nightmare Marriage. Don’t let the title throw you; when he says “nightmare”, he means “nightmare,” as in a bad dream he experienced. In the comments section of his post, I asked if he knew what might have triggered such a dream, and he wrote of trying to help people who were in such marriages, in recent months; he thought it might have caused his dream.

Both Paul and I write for christian audiences, and so these nightmarish, Hades marriages that we come in contact with are “christian” marriages. We understand that the world gets marriage and sex wrong, and so we’re not surprised when non-christian marriages go south, but the truth that the church tries to ignore is that christian marriages go south, too. And people are hurting because of our desire to hide the, oh so ugly.

“Invested Selfishness”

In writing about the Indifferent Muddle, I spoke about marital drift. I said that no one intends to direct their marriage into the Muddle, but through indifference, care-lessness, and what I call “casual selfishness,” marriages end up in the backwaters and eddies that are the Muddle.

Care-lessness? – yes, not having a care, just drifting. Not being intentional in working on the marriage.
Casual selfishness? – yes, not intending to take from your spouse, but making choices that add up to “Me uber alles.”

But then there is Invested Selfishness, where one intentionally looks out for #1. For this person,  marriage has become a life-enhancement accessory. When it comes to trying to define someone who has come to invest in their selfishness, there’s no way I could begin to provide a catalog of the different methods by which those invested in their personal selfishness work to create a Hades.

I could try to come up with different character types, such as the Shrew or the Man-Child, the Terrorist or the Princess, to try to categorize the different ways by which a spouse makes a home a Hell, but again, I would run the danger of leaving your particular sin off the list. Instead, I think that a better indicator for judging your marriage is simply your reaction to being in your own home.

Decades ago, I heard a minister say that Christians are ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom here on earth, and that a christian home is like an embassy of heaven. From that statement, I’ve had the idea that a christian home should be a sanctuary, a place where the stresses of the world can’t enter and where God’s peace and love abides. For me, leaving work every day and driving about twenty miles to my home was just that. Entering my home at the end of a workday was pure heaven for me.

Contrast that to someone whose home is a Hades. In my reading, I’ve come across such statements as:

“I have to take Tums in order to enter my house.”
“Lately, I realized that I started driving slower as I neared our home. Apparently, my subconscious mind didn’t want me to arrive.”
“I’m spending more time at work or at the gym in order to spend less time at home.”
“I find that the best part of my life is when my wife has to travel on business. Is that wrong?”

I realize that, as Christians, we are expected to put on our “I’m blessed” face for the world and make like everything is just peachy-keen, but be honest with yourself: can you identify with any of the above statements? Or maybe you have your own version of these aversion statements? Plain and simple, if your home is not your sanctuary from the world, where do you see yourself on the Marriage Continuum?

In my Indifferent Muddle post, I gave some suggestions for trying to move your marriage from the slough of the Muddle back onto the road of a good marriage. In my next post, I want to piggy-back on some ideas that Paul B. made in HIS follow-up post, and resurrect some of my old posts that can help someone dealing with a Hades in their home.

More to come…

CSL

Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”

 

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Bad Teaching: Women Rule, Men Drool, part 3

 

bad teachingThis is the last of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

 

In my first post in this series, I presented the possibility (probability?) of a wide-spread acceptance in the Christian church of the idea that women are more godly, holy and spiritual than men, and included quotes from others who said that they have bumped up against the idea. I posited that this assumption might be a reason for the disconnect between men and the Church, and presented findings from a Pew Research study showing that, of all the world’s religions, Christianity is the only one with a greater female membership.

My second post explored material that showed that the presumption of a female-superiority teaching is actually quite possible and that there is a very good likelihood that this teaching is at the root of much of the dysfunction that troubles today’s church. Continue reading

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Bad Teaching: Women Rule, Men Drool, part 2

bad teaching

This is the second of a three-part series: here are the links to part 1 and part 3.

In my last post I presented the idea that, contrary to the teachings of the Bible, today’s church had somehow gotten hold of the idea that women were superior to men and without sin. I admit that it is a novel idea to articulate, but since it seems that this is held as truth by more than a few Christians (however tacitly), this seems like a good time to bring the teaching out into the light of day and examine it.

I cited several writers who have suggested that they have come across the concept in their interactions but didn’t give any particulars or examples, other than to comment that they have observed evidence that it is held by some Christians. While it might be difficult to find a teacher or preacher who openly avows support for such a belief, I did cite a study by the Pew Research group that might demonstrate the results of such a teaching being promulgated. In that first post, I included the Pew Research chart that showed that in all branches of Christianity (save the Orthodox branch) women outnumber men as adherents. The chart further showed that every other major religion has more male adherents than women, leaving Christianity as… Continue reading

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Two Black Holes

readers respond

This is going to be short (well, by my lights, anyway), and certainly won’t answer any questions. But if it prompts someone to action, then well and good.

In response to my last post, one reader wrote a comment and included this at the end of his comment:

In my reading of many of the marriage blogs by wives, I’m starting to think, a lot of the lack of desire in wives for husbands, is a symptom of lack of respect, and appreciation for what the husband does and is.. All the comments about only wanting sex, to me as a man, is very disrespectful. As if my desire for my wife, is perverse or sinful.

And as seems to be the custom of my commenters (my readers are perscipacious, if I do say so myself), he put his finger squarely on something that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks. Oddly enough, I’ve even run some thoughts by Wife. The fact is that while Christian marriage bloggers and writers (I include myself) deal very earnestly with trying to help husbands and wives to improve their relationships and their marriages, there are two specific target audiences that seem to have little to no support at all. These two audiences I refer to as the Black Holes of Advice. Continue reading

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Bad Teaching: “Unconditional Love” Marries LYWACLTC

bad teaching

I began this series of posts on bad teaching with a re-examination of the ubiquitous “God’s Unconditional Love” statement. Since that first post, I’ve been deconstruction the malpractice version of “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church”, demonstrating that much of it is a load of, erm, hooey. I’m pretty sure that there have been a few readers waiting for the other shoe to drop.

After all, when you juxtapose my posts on LYWACLTC with my post on God’s Unconditional Love, you just have to believe that I would eventually arrive at the point where these two bad teachings intersect, right? Well, that day is here, as I want to look at the mess that is … Continue reading

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