The Three R’s of Connection

Relationships feel good when they are connected and there is a good emotional exchange going on. They don’t feel very good when we feel disconnected. You can feel lonely or unsupported with unmet needs or expectations. Often, when couples take a marital evaluation, the results will come back indicating that the couples relationship is disconnected.

What do you think of when you hear the word disconnected?

Being an electrician, I immediately think there must be a break in the wire somewhere causing a loss of power. Or, maybe the breaker is tripped. Either way, the power is off for some reason and needs restored. What is “the power?” It’s the flow of energy. When we get it restored, the lights come on. The things that make us feel secure and cared for are restored. Like running water, heat or air-conditioning. Not to mention the internet!

If you feel like your marriage is disconnected now, what are your feeling or experiencing that makes it feel that way? How would it look or feel different if it was connected?

That’s what we’re going to talk about. The three R’s of connection. You remember where the three r’s came from? Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Whoever came up with that hadn’t learned the three R’s yet. They were at the beginning of the course. If that isn’t how it is in relationship! We seem to be always at the front of the learning curve when it comes to successfully loving another person. As soon as you think you have it down, an unseen button gets pushed and you are humbled all over again, and are searching for the right letters in the luv alphabet. This is a good segue into the first R; Repair.

Repair.

When something breaks down, it needs repaired. It can be a vehicle, a lawnmower, or a relationship. They all break down and need maintenance to keep them going. This is normal and to be expected. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It may be a good saying, but life has a way of squeezing the prevention part of living out and we find our vehicles or relationships showing a warning light on the dashboard and fear compels us to address it, or we’ll be on foot or alone. Wisdom will take care of the important things by making it a priority.

Repair will take action. It usually involves replenishing of some sort. Adding oil or changing it works. Changing a gas or air filter so the thing can breathe and receive the fuel it needs to run. Maybe adjusting the brakes so we can slow down safely when we need to.

Repair is needed when there has been neglect or inattention. It’s easy to have too many days in the fast lane, and you’ve lost touch with your spouse. Long distance relationships are prone to disconnect for more reasons; You aren’t together physically.

We repair by tuning back in to the one we said “I do” to. I was absent but now I’m available to you.. Tuning in to their feelings, needs, struggles, and desires. The loneliest place on earth can be marriage. We made a covenant to them to be there for them for their companionship and other needs. When we fail at this, we need to repair. It sounds like; “I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch and not kept you as my priority.” (This is the Loyalty conflict.)

Repair is needed when there has been an offense and it hasn’t been cleared up. It hasn’t been talked through. The feelings and damage haven’t been brought into the open. Other offenses can build up and resentments can build. This brings us to the second R;

Restore Communication

We stop talking for many reasons. We don’t like conflict, so we avoid it, thinking; “it will work itself out.” This is denial. It won’t work itself out, it will fester in the unseen relational realm until it’s thrown on the table and hashed out. This is the way.

Maybe we haven’t learned to fight fair yet, or believe the falsehood that “conflict is bad” or negative. No it’s healthy and good and connecting when you learn to navigate it with skill and authority. We can’t resolve our issues and differences without it. Conflict has gotten a bad rap. It’s not negative or of the devil unless you escalate and trash each other. God is behind many of our conflicts, so we can unpack our brokenness and love each other to life. It’s easier to blame the devil or avoid conflict than learn the skills and grow up to navigate it like adults instead of children. It takes discipline, humility, and anger management.

Restoring a dialogue is the way to repair and reconnect, but it’s scary. Maybe we haven’t learn to be safe place for each other yet. We want to talk about where we are, but we can feel paralyzed or don’t know where to start. You start by committing that your are going to be nice to each other and treat each other with respect. Then you courageously break the ice. The only way out of isolation as a couple is to start talking your way out of it.

It may sound like emotional honesty. “I feel isolated and alone, can we talk about it?’ Be prepared for defensiveness, and refuse to respond to it. You aren’t attacking, you are being honest. Safety is not attacking and defending, but speaking the truth in love. “How can we move from this place? Will you talk with me about where we are relationally?”

Romance

No, the glory days may not return, but surely we can come up with an echo. Romance is not a myth, and has also gotten a bad rap. Of course there has been fairy tale thinking that has had to die, and it isn’t just with the ladies. I could write about the idealism I’ve had to let go, and still do. God is a romantic and created the dynamics of romance. (He’s to blame for this. Don’t worry, my keyboard won’t self-destruct.)

He created the flowers that grow, and the tenderness that romance evokes. You cannot remove it from the equation of love, no matter how awkward you feel about it. Besides, you aren’t even sure what it is because there is a mystical quality to it. On Purpose. You can feel when it isn’t there though. It has something to do with what could be, but isn’t. Maybe it has to do with the things we do for each other and together that produces a feeling that isn’t there when we don’t do those things.

It has something to do with a caring relational message of love and tenderness by an action we do, or an attitude we have towards our lover. Something is sown by us that we both start breathing in our relational environment. A seed that grows romantic fruit. It’s often connected to the needs and love language of our partner. Something we do, say, or initiate that makes them feel loved. Their natural response is to move towards you because they are feeling cared for. This usually has to be intentional where effort and choice is involved. It isn’t automatic. Like love, it is not effortless or passive. For God so Loved… that He gave…

The Power of One

You are each, as husband and wife, one half of your marriage. This mean whatever dynamic is going on, you ma’am, or you sir, are responsible for one half of that dynamic. You can’t blame them for how it is. You will always be one half of the problem and you are contributing to whatever it is, because you’re in the relationship of cause & effect.. That’s a good thing, because it gives you the power to change it if you will move out of the victim role and move into the architect role. (Creator, builder.) You can affect the change by who you are and how you respond. No one makes you do or feel anything. You are responsible for how you react or respond. You possess the power to reconnect your marriage with your attitude, words, and actions. That’s a lot of power for you to use. You can change the dance.

Flower or Stinkbug?

Which would you rather be? That’s easy. Flowers, such as a rose, make an attractive fragrance, and you are drawn to the good smell. Stinkbugs on the other hand stink, and you want to disconnect and get as far away from them as possible. You know where I’m going with this. The other day I was driving into town and I saw a snapshot of myself and my current attitude. I was being negative and grumbling about something and I saw how I was pulling myself down with my negative attitude. I saw at the same moment that it is impossible to complain and express gratitude at the same time. We can’t give thanks or gratitude towards God when we grumble. We have become stinkbugs. No good fragrance is going upwards with complaining going on.

I think the same holds true in our marriages. Our spouses will not want to connect to us if we’re being stinkbugs. However, if we are being romantic flowers, we may find them coming over to smell the nectar like a hummingbird or honeybee. Following are some practical tips to connect;

Delete the Negative

Focus on removing negative relational messages towards your spouse. Edit out criticism, and disapproval. No one wants to connect with that. Remember we blame them for a disconnect we ourselves may be causing by being a stinkbug towards them. Who would want to connect with that? They are probably performing for you anyway, and your attitude could be sending a message of failure and not meeting up to them. This pushes them away.

Show them some appreciation and validate their efforts. Use kind, affirming words. Who won’t respond to those? Try killing them with kindness instead of disapproval and dishonor that only sabotages the very thing you’re after. Meaningful connection. Love them and trust God for what you need.

Show Support By Tuning In

Join them in their place of struggle and offer them support at the edge of their battle. especially if you know they are hurting. (even if it seems irrational)

“What’s going on? How can I help. What are you feeling? I want to support you.”

Grab a vacuum cleaner, a dishtowel, change a diaper. Go out for dinner. Get a babysitter. Go to a concert. Write an important check, or make a charge. There’s a time for everything. Have the hard talk with the kid together as a united front. Share the load, mutually submitted. Tap into the power of agreement by talking things out as long as needed.

Go All-In

Quit keeping score, forsake the 50-50 lie and go mutual. You are not two separate river beds flowing in two directions when you marry. Not according to the oneness model. You are one river now, crashing together, facing your differences and choosing covenant to keep you engaged in your conflicts and growing, resolving your issues connected together.

Hopefully this pep-talk helps give you courage to re-engage and go deeper in love! Prayers are with these words and love! XO Dan

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