Tag Archive: relationship

Rich and Cindy Erasmus

my friend, Rich Erasmus, has been married for seventeen years to his lovely wife Cindy, and has some nuggets of wisdom to share with us in the area of one way you can love your spouse better:

‘I would say one of the most important ways that I have “learned to love my wife better”, is through a technique I was introduced to during an “Imago” course.

Bottom line … I learned to listen to my wife better (never a bad thing).

Picture a husband and a wife sitting, facing each other with their knees touching.

The wife says “Hubby, I want to speak with you about you being at work when the kids and I really need you.”

Hubby replies “Wifey, I hear you saying that you want to speak with me about me being at work when you and the kids really need me.”

He then asks “Did I hear you correctly?”

If she says “Yes, you did”, then he asks the next question “is there more?”

… and so the conversation continues … until she says “that is all”.

It’s a conversation that is (at the end of the day) very one sided, in that the “sender” (in this case the wife) is determining the direction and the content of the whole conversation.

The “receiver” (hubby) has the humbling role of listening carefully (no … not justifying / explaining / contradicting / adding or interpreting), mirroring accurately (saying exactly what has just been said to him) and then inviting more explanation.

Let me admit that at first (if done properly) it is a super awkward tool … but man alive, it has really taught me a thing or 2 about genuinely listening to the heart of my wife, without belittling / undermining her.

I wish I could explain more (it is bigger than the above sample) … but I guess the bottom line is that effective communication often falls apart in a marriage purely because effective listening is a forgotten art.

If we are prepared to take the “weaker position” of just sitting, listening and asking for more explanation … I wonder how much more sympathy and empathy would enter the marriage … and out of that how much more love and connection.

Hope this helps someone.

Have a great day.

Rich E’

[to continue on to hear what Brett Fish has to say about Loving them in the way they best receive it, click here]

this was our wedding day and as one does, we had an original authentic replica of the Aragorn sword from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that our friend who ran our drum circle [as one does] brought with him for the occasion… the question ‘do you want me to bring my authentic Aragon sword replica?’ has only one correct answer and you figure out the details later…

so we took this picture:


and i really find it such a powerful image. the theme of FORWARD fits in nicely both as a visual image of the three dimensional sword reaching almost out of the picture as well as the idea of the wedding day which is the continuation of a journey as the new couple steps forward into a new journey that they will be embarking on together.

i like the idea that we are not entirely in good focus as the road ahead contains many elements of mystery and figuring it out as we go along, but we will do that together and so that is the element which is in focus – our Love and commitment and readiness for the task…

[plus it was a photo with an authentic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy Aragorn sword in it!]

[For the previous Photo Challenge with the theme of ‘Kiss’ click here]

these are a series of posts i am sharing that i have taken from a series called ‘How to Love your Woman/Man better’ from a while back and also a series titled ‘One way to Love your spouse better’ that i ran more recently [with the input of some friends] – there are many incredible gems here that can help you as you look to contribute to a healthy and thriving marriage and i hope you will find them useful and if so, please feel free to share and pass on…

Arguing Well

The Defining of Love

Small Intentional Sacrifices

Verbal Blessing

Halting the Movement of the Sun


Choosing This Day

Saying It

When my “yes” sounds like a “NO!”

doing the next right thing [Dalene Reyburn]

my beautiful wife Valerie [tbV] wrote a couple of thoughts on how to love your man better and so i thought these would be good to include here as they have a distinctly different flavour:

How to love your man better – “Just love him…”

How to love your man better – “Respond to his character”

How to love your man better – “Be Nice”

i said to my beautiful wife Valerie the other day something along the lines of ‘what do people write statuses [stati?] about on Facebook if they are not entering into a relationship or having a baby? [or these days in americaland making some kind of staunchly pro this party or anti that one political statement] as it just seemed like the majority of statuses [stati?] i was reading were about one of those…

two things come out of that, the one for those of you who are celebrating is this:

for people who are single and don’t want to be or those who have lost a child or been struggling to have one, these must be incredibly difficult posts to read – depending on the amount of friends you have and how filtered or not your feed is – because it is hard to celebrate someone else’s status when you are mourning your own…

and so it becomes a tough one – because you don’t want to, and shouldn’t minimise your excitement merely because someone else has gone through a hardship… but i think being aware, and even intentionally so – making some kind of motion towards someone you know who your status may be hurtful for – is a really life building thing to do… acknowledging [in a behind-the-scenes personal email or a live take-them-out-for-coffee invitation] that they might be going through a hurtful time and is there anything you can do or be aware of that might help…

realising that while your new relationship or engagement or new baby is the focus of attention for you now and is the center of your world and rightly so… that for some people out there it is simply one of six new relationships, two new engagements and five new babies that they are seeing…

this is a tightrope and a tricky one and i don’t know that there is any answer beyond awareness and sensitivity and possibly taking a step when it is someone you are really close to that is that person who might be hurting… i do imagine that being straight with them [in terms of how much they may want to hear about your new relationship or baby] could be a healthy thing or just giving them space to speak about their situation and hurt or loneliness or current vibe.

this all sounds a little morbid. but it’s not. or doesn’t have to be. i think this is an incredible opportunity to discover and celebrate community. that somehow, at the same time we can celebrate with those who celebrate but also mourn with those who mourn [or just be bummed with those who are bummed].

anyone else have any thoughts on this..?

to become aware of the unique amidst the deluge read this one

the other day i saw this cartoon that someone had posted on facebook that was pretty funny but involved hitler in a way that i knew would be offensive to a lot of jewish people. so i immediately wrote the girl who had posted it an email [more a friend of a friend than a direct friend] and just before i hit the send key i stopped for a moment, reread what i had written and changed it before sending it…

instead of ‘hey friend, you posted a cartoon that is going to hurt people’ or something like that, i started with some relationship [‘hey friend, long time no chat, how are you doing? what you been up to?’] and then i identified with the cartoon and why she had posted it [i find the cartoon really funny but at the same time i think it may be offensive to some people] and then finished off with more relationship and encouragement [‘continue to rock on – you often send along good twitter fun vibes… much love’]

she responded with:


You’re 100% right. Sometimes I don’t think… There’s a fine line between dark humour and plain darkness. I actually had a funny feeling after logging off and needed to come back on FB to delete it. Then I saw your message. Thanks for the mail, thanks for calling me out and gently pointing it out, I really appreciate it.

You rock on too.”]

and i realised i got that one right… and as a bonus victory, later in the week i decided to keep a certain description [of a friend who wrote for my marriage blog series] out of my intro [that she was someone who had always said she’d never be married] because i thought hey, maybe she wouldn’t want me to share that about her publically [she wrote back saying i totally didn’t need to edit it out, but i still think making sure was the right move when there was any kind of doubt]

so yay for double victories… but boo for the knowledge that there have been many [and probably many, many, i am quite old] times when i have not gotten it right.

and ‘but i meant well’ is not good enough for people i hurt by not being as gentle in my calling out as i was with this person…

Truth is important, but Truth-in-Love should be non-negotiable, as a Jesus follower at the very least. And i think that looking back, there have been times where I have shared Truth and possibly even meant Love but not conveyed it well at all. I have hurt people by being too quick to rush to Truth [or my version of it] and too slow to honour Relationship and for this i am deeply sorry. i don’t even know if i can pull a Zacchaeus and go back and find all the people i have wronged and make things right [and i imagine most of them will not be reading what i write here] just because i don’t have a comprehensive list of who they are. what i can do is learn from the two victories of this week and ensure that i follow a more Truth-in-Love stance as my go-to response as the norm.

however, having said all that, let me finish by saying these two things which make it incredibly more complicated and complex:

[1] there is not enough Truth-in-Love in the church! there is something we mistake as love which is usually born out of a fear of confrontation in any form and so we would rather let our close friends sink in their sin than call them on it, gently in love, and help them become better, stronger people… [Proverbs 27.6 ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’] Close friends are the ones more likely to be listened to and often i have felt forced to intervene because none of the people who should have been Truthing-in-Love were being good friends… we need to step up more into this.

and [2] there are times [and these must be so carefully discerned] where the person receiving the correction will not feel loved and that doesn’t mean Love has not happened – and there are times when the rebuke must be strong and times when it must be public… the trick is just figuring out the difference and i imagine the Holy Spirit is key in that – but Jesus publically takes down the pharisees and other leaders on occasion, and paul publically rebukes peter at one time [i believe that public sin often requires public dealing with it – very different to the matthew 18 ‘if your brother sins against you’ way of dealing with things, because the sin has affected so many more people and for their growth they need to be aware of how it was dealt with and that it was dealt with]… i was recently unfriended on facebook for doing this to someone and looking back i still think i did the right thing, but i am not completely convinced i did it in the most loving way, the jury is still out on that one although i did spend a lot of time trying to mend the relationship after that.

so we need to be being good friends to those around us and when someone who calls themselves a Jesus follower displays some behaviour or posts something on a social network that is strongly against the message of following Jesus, we need to have the guts to confront them. but we need to speak Truth-in-Love and always make sure that we have an abundance of Love. we need to [and by ‘we’ i mean ‘i’ and i imagine my wife is going to hurt herself nodding to this one] take longer to respond and be very sure of the Love and manner of response before we send it. we need to make sure we are as vocal and more public in applauding when people get it right…

hopefully that is one mistake i can choose to never make again.

…continuing on the journeying of looking at how we date and how we could do better at it…

this specific thort is very couple specific so for those who need to hear it, you REALLY need to hear it, whereas there are probably a whole bunch of people who don’t [but you know people who do!] but i do think it is a healthy thing to give a quick look to.

so the moment happens, you look across that crowded room and see that person – “the one” – and your heart does all that strange stuff and the whole world fades and there is just that person [slow motion baywatch beach running may occur as you move towards each other and interact and she/he actually speaks to you… or it may not… i dunno, it’s been a while]

and thru some miracle this person feels the same way and says yes when you ask them out on a date and again when you ask them to date [there’s a difference] and it’s a really amazing thing and time and feeling and so on.

the one problem that occurs with some couples is that they continue on in that state and forget to push the button that allows the rest of the world to come back into focus. you know the type – i call them klingons – not because they are the enemies of the Star Ship Enterprise, but because they simply just cling….on…. to each other, all the time.

we’re talking about exclusive couples who become a couple and then pretty much distance themselves from everyone else or else interact with people but only ever as a couple.

it may sound and seem pretty nice, but i don’t believe it’s healthy. what is healthy is for a couple to have friends, both as individuals and as the couple, and also to have some separate interests.

community is so vital for a healthy relationship and one of the things Christ-followers do or should have going for them is a sort of instant community when it comes to church [or cell group/youth] and so it makes a lot of sense to make the most of that. also klingon couples are generally not a lot of fun to be around. they are so self-absorbed that they alienate all those around them and so people end up wanting to spend less time with them which just reinforces the whole klingon thing.

so what i am saying is if you are in a relationship then…

[1] be around other people – don’t sit exclusively in your relationship and only spend time with that person – you will damage all the friendships both of you had before and if – heaven forbid – you were to ever break up – you would be left without a support group of friends who love you who can gather around you and help it be okay.

[2] be clinged off when around other people – i imagine you spend enough time touching each other when you are alone so when you are with friends or in other social settings you don’t have to be holding hands or onto each other all the time – it really makes it difficult or uncomfortable for other people if you are constantly physically clinging on to each other – and make space for other people in terms of not just zoning in to your person – when you’re around other people, be around other people

[3] it is healthy to spend time not with your person – hang out with your friends while he/she hangs out with theirs – be involved in some activity/activities that don’t doesn’t involve your person – time spent apart will increase the incredibleness of time spent together but it is also a healthy situation in terms of personal growth and growth with your other significant people

so eliminate the klingon from your relationship and be in relationship in community – you and your person and the people around you will all benefit from it and the relationship is likely to be a lot stronger.

i believe it is imperative that THE NUMBER 1 THING IN YOUR LIFE IS THE NUMBER 1 THING IN HER LIFE [i’m talking guy to girl here, but all of this flows both ways]

when it comes to passion and interests and hobbies and so on there is room to have differing, even at times opposing interests, but NOT WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS and joy and directional force.

in the context of CHRIST-FOLLOWING RELATIONSHIPS this is ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT EXCEPTION THE CASE, and the beauty is that the ‘what?’ has already been decided on (or in this case the ‘Who’)

because as a Christ-follower, THE NUMBER 1 THING/PERSON IN MY LIFE HAS TO BE JESUS! That is what Christ-following means. That is the call Jesus makes on your life [See Luke 9.23]

and so you need to find someone who has Jesus as their number 1!

which, in effect, answers the question, “IS IT OKAY FOR A CHRISTIAN TO DATE A NON-CHRISTIAN?” and the answer is NO, but for BOTH OF YOUR SAKES!

let me give you an example. if i started dating the beautiful Val (tbV) and she was not a Christ-follower then i would not have been able to share with her the most important thing in my life (Jesus and my relationship with Him). So for me Jesus would be the most important thing in my life. For her IT WOULD BE SOMETHING ELSE – and it doesn’t matter what that something else is – her number 1 could be herself or it could be me or it could be money or fame or sport or whatever – the bottom line is that WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO SHARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN OUR LIVES with each other.

and what that does is it interrupts and IT PUTS SHACKLES ON INTIMACY – intimacy with each other will only be able to go so far because we are completely unable to share the thing that is most important to us – and that is tragic. because a huge part of relationship is identification and sharing and journeying together and so we would be able to have relationship and it might seem great and be a lot of fun, but somewhere along the line there would be a friction or a tension because our two greatest things are different.

for some reason, when this happens, the way it generally (not always but usually) plays out is that the girl is a Christ-follower and the guy is not, and generally what happens is that THE GIRL MOVES AWAY FROM HER FAITH rather than the guy moving towards it…

“but i’m going to lead him closer to Jesus by dating him” – that’s the vibe a lot of girls have put out and with completely well-meaning intentions… and we have even coined a term for it – ‘missionary dating’ (pretty horrible actually and quite deceptive if you think about it) – but in my 3O plus years of existence I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF SOMEONE BECOMING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS THROUGH SALIVA

huh? yes, you heard me. cos what is the main difference between being someones friend and dating them? the physical aspects of a relationship. and so if your chief concern is to introduce them to Jesus and life to the full and so on, surely it can be done as a friend and there is no added need to do it from the place of relationship. in fact, THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS AND TEMPTATIONS that get added with relationship (especially relationship with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus who is likely to have a different value system to you when it comes to that stuff) ONLY BRINGS DISTRACTION to the purpose at hand so why not remove them altogether.

as i said IT’S A TWO-WAY THING. you are not just doing this for you, but for them. if they are not able to understand or ‘get’ or share the number 1 thing in your life with you, then it will be frustrating and confusing for them and a barrier will be built up between you and them.

so IF THE PERSON YOU HAVE FEELINGS FOR IS NOT A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, don’t complicate things for them, or you both. be the best friend you can be to them. love them and model Jesus-living to them and introduce them (in actions and also words) to the One who will bring life to the full. but DO IT FROM THE CONTEXT OF FRIENDSHIP! don’t waste your time, and theirs, pursuing something that cannot move to the next level.

this is a KEY ASPECT TO THE WAY WE DO DATING RELATIONSHIPS – conform no longer, transform your mind and your actions, and see better, safer, healthier outcomes.

[click here for next part]

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