A Negative Cycle & Life in The Box

simple solutions for the negative cycleThe Negative Cycle reminds me of a poster my dentist has on the ceiling at his office. He put it there so his patients would have something to look at while they’re in the chair. I think about it sometimes because it reminds me of myself. It’s a picture of a tiny kitten looking up helplessly from the bottom of large cardboard box.

The caption reads,

“I’m much better at getting myself into things than I am at getting myself out of them.”

Maybe you can identify? Isaiah put it this way:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way… (53:6a)

Kittens, sheep, people. Sometimes there’s not much difference. No one plans to get himself or herself into a pickle (Sorry. I like to mix metaphors), yet we all do at one time or another.

Many couples start backing themselves into The Box early in their relationship. Something happens and one of them feels disappointed or hurt. Maybe it’s the woman. (Sometimes it’s the man.) If she says something to her partner about it, he might minimize her feelings or get defensive about his actions or intentions. He means well, but it doesn’t help her feel better.

At first, it seems like a simple thing. Each tries to forget what happened, to move beyond it because it feels so childish to them both. However, the outcome of those early hurts starts a cycle of negative interactions that will continue to grow and solidify over time. Before long, they’re trapped in The Box.

Life in The Box: Trapped in a Negative Cycle

In The Box, he believes that she is overly sensitive and avoids sharing his own thoughts and feelings with her. She believes that her feelings don’t matter to him, and she withdraws, too. It’s lonely. Being in The Box together.

Getting out of The Box is simple, but it isn’t easy. The Good Shepherd is there to help. Just ask. He may suggest you find a local “shepherd” to walk with you through the process. If He does, let me know. I’m here to help you get out of The Box.

Learn the step-by-step process here > How to Resolve Couple Conflict.

In the meantime, I’ll be praying for you both!






3 Reasons Men Won’t Go to Couple’s Counseling

Couple's CounselingDo you wish you were in couple’s counseling, but your husband won’t go? You’re not alone. In fact, many women spend several years urging their husbands to get help, either as a couple or as an individual.

They chalk it up to stubbornness, an unwillingness to admit he is wrong, or complaints that it takes too much time/costs too much. However, men actually have very good reasons to avoid the counseling office.

Here are the first three that come to mind:

1. Shame. Seeking counseling breaks the #1 Rule of Masculinity: “Don’t be weak.”

Men learn the Rules of Masculinity as boys. By the time they enter kindergarten, they have already learned the Rules at a deep emotional level.  The Rules are essential to their identity as a member of the male gender. To break the Rules means certain shame: his vulnerability exposed in front of his peers.

2. Fear. Going to couple’s counseling is volunteering for an emotional suicide mission.

Being open and vulnerable, yet able to handle the onslaught of emotions that brings, is a major goal of psychotherapy. And most therapists (male and female alike) totally ignore the fact that men are far more sensitive from birth than are women. They don’t acknowledge that he has his defenses up for very good reason and, instead, try to get through that wall at any cost. Usually by attacking, blaming, and criticism. Sometimes it’s subtle. Other times, not-so-subtle.

3. Doubt. Couple’s counseling doesn’t often offer much hope for a man.

Sadly, too many counselors choose sides. They’re not thinking about the man’s needs, only the fact that he’s disengaged. So the cycle continues and intensifies during the session. I’ve heard so many stories about counselors who just sit there while the wife attacks her husband, then they recap what she’s upset about. That type of intervention perpetuates his Male Relational Dread and makes him want to run … or least not return for another session.

Even the kindest, most well-intentioned, most well-trained counselor can miss this.

So what can you do about it?

You have far more power than you realize. Schedule an appointment for yourself and invite him to join you. In other words, tell him you want to work on yourself and let him know you’d like his input in the safety of the counseling office.

Instead of trying to change him with more of the same strategies that have never worked yet, why not take a whole new approach? Grow in wisdom, confidence, and influence. Then learn to use your wisdom, confidence, and influence in new, more productive ways.

No, you are not responsible for what he does.
Those are his choices to make.

However, you do have the responsibility to learn how what you say and do influence his choices. In fact, you were created to influence him. And he is designed (physically, emotionally, spiritually) to be influenced by you. Not controlled. Influenced.

Additional Resource: Quick Start Guide to Understanding Men

2 Truths You Must Embrace to Live an Authentic Life

I’ve always believed that knowing Jesus should make a real difference – not only in terms of where we spend the hereafter – but also in the here-&-now of our daily existence. So how do we connect the dots between what we believe & what happens to us in “real” life? Or do we?

As you may recall from Genesis 3, the serpent started up a conversation with Eve back in The Beginning. The most crafty of beings, he got her to question the Truth about:

  1. God’s goodness &
  2. her own identity

If you’re going to connect the dots …

… between what you believe & what you experience, you need to embrace the Truth about those same 2 Things!

[callout]What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ― A.W. Tozer[/callout]

The enemy probably tries to do the same thing to you that he did to Eve – virtually every day.

  • He plants doubt to get you to question God’s care & personal involvement in your life.
  • Mostly he distracts you with everyday physical-realm life — what you know with your five senses.
  • He wants to keep you thinking the spiritual realm is — just something that happens in the movies.

He doesn’t want you to know who you really are in Christ because he knows he wouldn’t stand a chance against you.

So he does the only thing he can do: confuse & intimidate you with everything that’s going wrong – to keep you living your life in the flesh.

My Prayer for You (Purloined from Paul)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven & on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted & established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. EPHESIANS 3:14-19, NIV