Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can There Be Too Much Info In Our Marriage Talks?

My four-year-old grandson was finishing up his meal recently when he asked me if we could go play again. I suggested that he needed to eat up his food and then we could play. To which he promptly replied, "Well, we could multitask!"

Yes, us men are known for our penchant for doing several things at once: watching TV, reading the paper trying to talk to our spouse or whatever. However, a recent study suggests that women are actually better than men at multitasking. I don't know the parameters or other details of the study but that's really not that surprising a result when you look at other research.

John Gottman has suggested that in conversation with their wife, most men can easily become flooded if they receive too much emotional information to respond to at one time. He suggests that there is a physiological limit to a man's ability to process and when he reaches that limit he tends to shut down rather than engage in more dialogue.

And I would guess that most wives can identify certain times when this has happened.

Some women might wonder if men then will suggest they now have an excuse for not listening more or stonewalling. Well, guys, that won't work. Just giving up or getting quiet isn't the answer.

Instead, wives should first be sensitive to how much they try to drop on their husband about their feelings, circumstances, goals or whatever before giving their husband some time to respond. And then both husbands and wives would be wise to talk about what to do when a man feels this flooding of information. They should have a a strategy that works for them. Guys, at times you need to be willing to graciously say to your spouse that you need a few minutes to process or respond before moving on to another aspect of that topic or a different one altogether.

I know of some couples who take a 20-30 minute break and then come back and talk more. Others might just stop more quickly and talk about the one main item first before moving on to something else or adding more detail. Others may feel a need to write some things down as they talk so the man especially has a good overview of what's been talked about so far.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on this simple idea that may help ratchet up your communication skills. Keep your conversations from flooding each other. Don't overdo it or over-expect. Floods are usually dangerous.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where Are You Putting Your Resources At Your House?

I heard this week that the average prom spending per family was $1100 in 2012. That's the average so of course some spent less but just as many spent more!  For a dance.

Now there's nothing inherently wrong with special nights and activities in high school. Kids look forward much of their lives to their junior and senior proms. But who's driving these high costs for one night out?  The kids? Probably. The parents, too?  You bet.

There aren't too many students out there with the kind of income on their own to shell out a grand or more for their dress, limo, tux, food, photos and whatever else comes with it. My hunch is that a lot of parents use prom, just like so many other things, to keep up with the Joneses and to not disappoint little Julie or Ryan.

But what messages might we be sending?

The obvious one is that you must do what everyone else does or you won't be good enough. Kids have enough self esteem issues to add this pressure to their lives. Our worth is never in stuff and there isn't enough stuff to satisfy us. If there were then every Hollywood celebrity and pro athlete making huge amounts of money and living in enormous houses would be happy. But that's rarely the case.

Second, we may send the idea that you never need to wait or save for something better later. We've lived in a I-must-have-it-now culture for a long time now and these latest statistics merely add to that mentality. Wise parents help their kids to have great memories and fun experiences without having to do or spend exorbitantly.

Third, we are saying that of the resources God has given us, we are going to exhaust a significant amount of them on things that really don't matter in the big scheme of things.  Do our children see us spend that kind of money on other people, God's work, mission projects and the like? They watch us throw a twenty or even fifty in the offering each week but not ashamed to break the bank for a dress or limousine.

I talked with a man today whose wife was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Thankfully, later in the day she was to be released but the man had no way to go get her and only $15 dollars left which he did not dare spend on cab fare. They don't live in the slums but have a place only a mile or two from us.  They've just been hit with lots of personal hardships.

So I spent a little of my time, money and gas and took him and his nine-year-old daughter to get mommy. And did I mention that I was the one blessed? That's the way it works when we try to spend our resources in the right places. Hope you and your family will try it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Monday, May 7, 2012

TMI: When We Say Too Much

One of our staff members is doing a search for another associate and received the usual resumes for the job. However, one this week stood out. It was in a three-ring binder and included copies of emails, notes, initiatives, articles and who knows what else that this person had written or compiled in the workplace!

Is it any wonder he was looking for work?

When it comes to applying for a job, more is rarely better. And the same is true in relationships and communication. Less is usually more. Where do we have a tendency to simply say to much?

In our questioning.  We are upset with a spouse or child and so rather than just focus on what seems to be the most important issue, we pepper the other person with all sorts of concerns. Why were you late getting home? Were you talking to her again? Have you done your homework? Why are you so moody lately? 

Stick with the here and now, the main issue. Anything else is likely too much.

In our answers. In the same way when someone needs more from us especially about something we may have erred on or handled poorly, we can start making a pile of defenses hoping we can explain ourselves away. But it's usually not that involved. And even if the situation is a bit complicated it still helps to say something like, You know, things got pretty messy in my world, but the main thing here is that I blew it and didn't communicate well. I'm sorry

In our comfort. Often another person is going through a hardship and we very much want to fix their problem or make things better. So what do we do?  We start throwing out myriad options. Well, why don't you . . .  you know, if you just tried this . . . when that happened to me I . . . . We're not going to be help but just overwhelm them. Keep it simple. Maybe just listen.

In our praise. It would be easy to think that we can never compliment or encourage our spouse, kids, friends or coworkers enough but in reality we can overdo it. Children, for example, don't need to be told they are wonderful every time they do something. Or people don't need to be talked out of their difficult emotions through us telling them how awesome they are and that people just don't know it yet.

When we do that we're really disavowing their emotions and telling them there is something wrong with them for thinking that way. Or with our children we can give them the impression that life will always tell them they are terrific.

So, by all means, communicate as well as you can with those you love. Learn to do it better. Just don't send them any three-ring binders.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Flowers From A Cactus

The past few weeks have brought an unusual number of pressures and challenges to my wife and me. The latest is a family illness where the unknowns bring significant emotional angst. We've also both been traveling, much of it separately, and our physical reserves are pretty low right now, too. Sleeping has been irregular and interrupted much of the time.

Nonetheless, Jackie, upon returning home from her trip, went to the store and bought some new little cacti to put out on the balcony of our condo. She really didn't have time to re-pot them or anything but planned to do that within a couple of days. Three of them sat for a day or so just outside the door wall.

However, the next day, Jackie looked and each of them had bloomed with a beautiful yellow flower. They brought tears to her eyes and a lump in my throat later to realize that from the middle of those prickly extensions came beauty that we had not seen before.

That was an important reminder that yes good can come from bad. That the miraculous can rise from evil. That resurrection comes after the burial. That joy can result from mourning. That life in God always wins over death.

You, too, may be experiencing your own challenges these days. And it's easy to only see and feel the sharp edges of them. The pain, sadness and even feelings of despair can be overwhelming.

And picturing a potential flower won't remove the cactus but it can help you deal with it better. It can assist you in coping, keep you from remaining paralyzed and help you remember that God may be doing something beautiful in and through your circumstances that you simply can't see. Keep watching for the flower.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.