The sludge in our “house” that was already there—the hurts from our past, the hang-ups we often dangle from and the habits we often don’t even realize exist—combines at a caustic level with the new sludge we tend to slather around; finger pointing, projection, expectations and resentments.
It’s inevitable in our lives, mine and Nathaniel’s…yours too…, in our marriage, in our child rearing to mix toxic levels of grime because we are grimy people, sinful people and hurt people who hurt people. Though we strive to be like God, we are still imperfect, fallible creatures screwing up and spewing our slime onto the closest person. Often times that super slimed person is my husband or my sons, not to leave out myself either. Because when I junk up someone else’s day I get a good dose of my own junk too.
So, how do Nathaniel and I clean our “house”?
We have a three layer approach to cleaning before, during and after the sludge has hit the fan.
Before we ever have an argument about anything, past or present, before we ever get the inclination to point a finger, be resentful, or project our hurts onto each other, we pray.
Not exactly right before, that would be amazingly telepathic of us and heck if we were telepathic more of our arguments would never start in the first place. Rather, we have prayer built in to our daily lives as well as daily Bible reading, conversations about scripture and regular, weekly church attendance and involvement.
We make God a priority in our lives not just as a church box to check off or as a spiritual slogan wall hanging, but in real, daily application. We use prayer daily and often throughout our day to guide us through the good, bad and the indifferent parts of our day. Before Nathaniel leaves for work we read our Bibles and pray together (Thank you Dad for instilling this in me!). More often than not we pray for other people and their needs. But, quite often we will pray for our day to come so that God may lead it and reside in us. We take this morning ritual with us though the day…I pray for school with my kids, Nathaniel prays for people at work he chats with, we pray at dinner and the children’s bedtimes, as well as ending our night with a final prayer as we close our eyes. Without prayer our foundation would not be steady.
During an argument we have sex.
Okay…so maybe not RiiiiGHT in the moment….but before midnight, which really puts a damper on the whole arguing thing. When we stop an argument to make sex a priority before midnight what we are really doing is making each other a priority over the argument, over who was right and who was wrong, over pointing the finger and unmet expectations, and over anxious projections spewed all over each other. We make a point to come together for the sake of our relationship on a deeper level….sex is just the conduit to get there sometimes.
After an argument we talk. But, more importantly we listen.
Any relationship, whether deep or superficial, is a two –way street. Going one way we talk, going the other way we listen. The relationship will be deeper, more evenly weighted and healthier when there is more listening than talking. And to take it one further, the more we listen in our relationship and then act appropriately in accordance to what we heard, the stronger the relationship will be as well. A listening relationship starts with listening to God and that obedience then trickles down to relationships and marriages.
There ya have it… my simple (HA!), no fuss (Sure…) Three Step Guide to Cleaning House.
Pray….Have sex…Talk (I mean Listen)