Welcome to my yellow couch. Let's sit and chat about therapy.
Have you heard of "Life Hacks"? They are the bits of information that show you how you can do things more efficiently. For example, my friend taught me recently how to quickly clean my cast iron skillet with salt. It's apparently an old southern trick that I had never heard of until now and I use a cast iron skillet every single day. It rocked my world!
Well, today while we sit here and chat, I am going to share with you a life hack for your personal relationships. I have experimented with this idea and it works. It has been a game changer for me and I hope that it will be for you as well.
When I was younger my mom would call my sister and me together for a chat by saying, "Let's have a tea party". We sometimes would actually have tea, but mostly we would sit outside with a snack and my mom would use these times to discuss matters about personal hygiene, behavior, chores, etc. My older sister and I were allowed to ask questions and discuss things without fear of punishment, reciprocation, or humiliation. I have fond memories of those times and how it felt to be validated as a young person with questions and fears about things I was wondering about myself, the opposite sex and life. I learned that trust between two people goes a long way in helping someone grow as an individual.
I have taken the idea of my mom's "tea parties" and expanded on it for my adult relationships. I call it "Therapy Session". Let me explain:
My husband and I are polar opposites. Like, if you set two choices of ANY thing in front of us, I can guarantee you that we will NEVER choose the same thing. I can't ask my husband to pick me up a snack from the store without being specific. If I want something salty, he will inevitably show up with something sweet. We often play a game together when we are in a mall. We will pass by a jewelry store and look into the display window. I will ask him to choose the one piece of jewelry from that display that I would love. Every time over the last 29 years he has chosen the piece that I least like. Why? We are opposites. That old saying about opposites attract rang very true in our case. LOL
My husband is intelligent; I am simple. My husband loves to hike; I love Netflix. My husband is a miser; I like Michael Kors. My husband is patient; I like things done yesterday. You get the picture. We are two completely different people. We don't think alike. And please, don't even get me started on what it is like when we try to choose a restaurant! Mark will ALWAYS choose something with seafood or cajun and I like mom and pop diners. I could go on and on.
So, let me ask you, what do you think it is like to be married to someone and both of them see subjects from completely different perspectives? It has all the markings of a divorce if you ask me! Fights can go to Defcon 1 in the matter of seconds. Each will think the other is meaning something that they don't and words can be exchanged that have truly painful barbs attached. Shoot, I remember our first fight as a married couple. It was on our honeymoon because that is about as long as marital bliss lasted for two polar opposites!
My idea of a perfect honeymoon was a cabin in Tennessee or North Carolina. Somewhere cozy with shopping and restaurants nearby. I hate the beach and heat, and since we were married in the dead of summer, I thought the mountains would be perfect. Guess what we did for our honeymoon? We went on a Caribbean Cruise. Now, you may think, "Wow Sheri! A cruise! How wonderful!". Yes, for some people that would seem ideal. But for someone like me that doesn't like crowds, small spaces or wind blowing my big 80's hairdo at the time, it was a nightmare. I am not a fancy person and NO ONE told me that we would have to dress up for dinners. I walked out of our little cabin in my plain clothes and was met by people wearing tuxedos and sequined evening gowns! I backed up into our room and told Mark that I was NOT going to the dining room. He thought I was being silly and thus our first big fight ensued. Why? Because we did not see the subject from the same viewpoint.
Over the years, because we love each other, we have learned how to communicate and how to live with each other's idiosyncrasies. But man have there been some heated discussions along the way! (Yes....missionaries do fight!) Don't go dropping our support or anything just because we are normal people with normal sins. LOL
So, this brings me to the "therapy session" idea. No, Mark and I did not go into therapy. Although it probably would have been a good idea! We, like you, lead very busy lives. We each have our own "things" we have to accomplish in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Spending time together outside of the ministry has to be planned, thought about and done on purpose. We learned that if we didn't take the time to plan something together, we wouldn't ever go on a date. Missionaries feel guilty about taking time for themselves and this can be detrimental to a marriage and family on the foreign field. So Mark and I decided years ago that we would take time for us as a couple and time for our family when our children were still at home. And those times were and are some of the most precious of my life! But the day to day schedule and tasks can wear on a couple. Especially two people like us who are night and day in our thinking. Because Mark is very task oriented and I am a self starter and don't need motivating, we can get consumed by what we are doing individually. We won't realize that we are handling something on our own until it reaches a boiling point. We were trained to go to God first and foremost with our problems, so we do. But marriage is not about handling life's stresses by yourself. You and your partner are supposed to be each other's support system. The very idea of being a wife is to be a "helpmeet" according to the Scripture. But sometimes we can forget this as leaders in the ministry and things can get out of whack between us as partners.
When these times of being out of sorts come along is when you can put into practice the "therapy session". Whether it be in the middle of a "discussion", a car ride, a church service, a shopping trip, or watching the nightly news, you can grab a tissue, napkin or just wave your hand, look your partner in the eyes and say, " I need a therapy session". This means you want time to talk without fear of repercussion, humiliation or argument. You need validation and you will give validation. It is a two way street. I promise you that almost 100% of the time, if you will practice these therapy sessions, your partner and you will find that fears are allayed, concerns are addressed and apologies are given. Not every "session" is about an argument either. Sometimes we need them in order to talk through the heavy things that are weighing us down. If we will do this, we may find that we avoid personal depression and or suicide. Yes, I said suicide. You don't get to the bottom without a series of choices made to "hold it in". The idea of never showing weakness is TERRIBLE! We are human beings, that denotes the very fact that we are weak. And if we continue to struggle alone without the help and wisdom of the Word and our partner or friends, we just may wind up staring at a bottle of pills and consider ending it all. We may not need to hang out our dirty laundry for the world to see, but certainly we should be able to go to our partner, our best friend, or a trusted confidant and allow them to practice Galatians 6:2 and bear our burdens.
There are rules to these sessions however, and they must be discussed before putting the idea into practice.
1. Whomever is talking is allowed to speak their heart without being interrupted. God allows us to do this during prayer. We should be willing to do the same for someone we care about and truly love. Whether it be our spouse or our friend or our child. We should be willing to simply listen.
2. Whomever is listening must do so without going on the defense. Validate your partner's, child's or friend's words and expressions by simply listening. Going on the defense is selfish and shows pride. The problem the other person is talking about is the way they see it and to them, that is their truth. YOU may see it from another perspective, which you can share when it is your turn, but not defensively. Just share and also be validated.
3. Once each party has spoken, remind each other that it WILL be okay. You WILL get through this and decide something you can do to positively head in the right direction. 9 times out of 10, most of the anxiety and frustration will be dissipated simply because one or both of you have been able to talk it through and be heard.
Sometimes you may be in a position or location where you cannot immediately sit down and talk. But don't let that stop you from picking up a napkin or waving your hand and mouthing the words...."Therapy Session". You will both know what it means and you can plan a time to talk. Even this simple step begins the process of "bearing one another's burdens". Trust me....I have done this and it does work.
I travel a LOT in my line of work as a missionary. I am constantly in different churches when I am not here in Brazil working in our ministry. I have sat and listened to a lot of people....young and old. I am SHOCKED by the amount of people who have no one to talk to. This is a crying SHAME to our churches. We preach for people to maintain a walk with God and forgiving etc. But we shun them when they need to work through trauma and life experiences. This should NOT be. We NEED more Christian Counselors. We NEED more people willing to bear the burdens of others in confidence. If we would do our part, then maybe people wouldn't seek out the compassionate ear of the world, a lover or a vice. I don't have the solution to this problem, but I am determined to always be available to those who seek me out.
Maybe you are reading this and you are a widow and your partner is no longer there to listen. I'm sorry. But don't let that stop you from finding someone to talk to outside of your prayer time with God. He listens and He acts on your prayers, so ask Him for someone in your life that can give you some validation as a human being. And ask for someone that will tell you the TRUTH, based on Scripture and not situational ethics. A real friend will tell you the advice that is sometimes hard to hear, but needful.
If you are married and you are thinking, "Well, we never fight, so this doesn't apply to me." I respectfully disagree with you. And here is why: You may not fight, but you do have things to work through and you can't hold it all in or pretend that they don't exist. Problems and stress are a daily part of our lives as adults and we are unwise to believe that we never need counsel or godly wisdom beyond our own thoughts. "Therapy Sessions" can be a time when you simply ask a question about why you believe something that you do or work through a problem you are having with a child. (All of us parents know the weight of raising children...especially adult children).
My point is simply to be willing to talk and be willing to listen.
This life is hard enough to live without having to feel alone in our struggles. Be there for each other. If the "Therapy Session" or "Tea Party" doesn't work for you, then find something that does and communicate. God communicated to us through His Word. He communicated His love to us through the Living Word, Jesus Christ. He asks us to communicate to Him through prayer...fervent and continuous prayer. Communication is important to God and should not be low on our priority list as spouses, parents and friends.
I am currently building a site called the "Pink Flower Initiative". I am creating it as an avenue for people to anonymously send a pink flower emoji when they are in a situation of deep depression or numbness due to grief, trauma or loss. If you are in a place in life where you need my yellow couch to just sit and cry on or be heard, I am here. Just message me a pink flower emoji and I will know you need prayer and if you need to talk, you'll know that I am there to listen.
If you have questions about how "Therapy Session" can work for you or ideas that you added to it, PLEASE SHARE! This idea is not a solve all, but it can help you keep it together while you get it together.
Thanks for the chat. My coffee cup is empty, but this has been fun. Come back for another visit soon!
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