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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why Do Some Men Find It Hard to Talk About Deep Stuff?

Responding to a request, this article hopes to answer the question. The answer is cultural as much as biological. I’ve also sought to connect with the issue personally. Those who know me well know I crave talking deep stuff, but I wasn’t always like that.
Until I lost my first marriage I had the capacity to go deep in discussion, but little interest. And it didn’t go well for me. It’s part of the reason my first marriage failed. As I look over my journals in that period of life I certainly was reflective. So why didn’t I open up with my then wife in the latter period of that marriage? I was busy, distracted, unstimulated at that point of my life, and really didn’t think there were any problems worthy of discussion. I’d become blind to my own circumstances.
Culturally, baby boomer men (born between 1945-1960) don’t reflect about deep stuff with themselves, let alone talk with others. There are exceptions. They grew up in a challenging and confusing time. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say they think a lot, especially as life’s transitions confront them. This can be frustrating for their wives, who see them shut in, who resist ‘help’. The more a wife may want to help, the worse the husband feels the pressure to give what he may feel incapable of giving. He may feel he can’t give her what she wants, and he may be right.
Gen-X men (born between 1961-1981) are probably a little more amenable to expressing their emotions, but don’t forget who their fathers are — baby boomers. They’ve had to learn how to do it, and some, like myself, have had to learn the hard way.
I read an article by Gail Sheehy, and she said that men don’t understand women, and they know it, yet women also don’t understand men, but they don’t know it. Hence, why women are trying to work their men out, and why men don’t tend to bother. Another issue that Sheehy mentions is men don’t seem to ask questions as much as women do. We’ve been trained by our culture to work things out for ourselves. Our biology, too, because we’re the ‘stronger’ gender, causes us to think we’ve got to work it out for ourselves. No wonder we’re telling ourselves to man up instead of open up. And little wonder men seem less inquisitive than women.
Interestingly, the cultural scales are sliding and more young women are working things out for themselves; young men can be the ones asking the questions.
Advice for women who feel they can’t reach their husbands. Back off. Don’t make it a sport. Ask better questions. Questions that do get him talking. Work into the discussion from there. Understand that he will engage if he knows how to. Time discussions appropriately when he’s not distracted by something he thinks is more important. And, accept his simple answers. Don’t get frustrated by them. And if he feels you’re satisfied with his answers, he’s more likely to keep going.
I find I open up when I’m stimulated, when there are no other distractions, and when I know I’ll be listened to, and most of all when I’ve got something to say.
Intimacy is central in all this, yet…
Intimacy is a vague concept in marriage. Clarity comes when both partners can agree what it means.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Commonest Cause of Marriage Conflict Today

“The best thing you could ever give someone is your TIME, because you’re giving something that you’ll never get back.”
— Author Unknown
The amount of time couples give to each other must be inversely proportional to the amount of conflict experienced.
Time equals communication, and communication means information, and information breeds empowerment for both spouses, as partners have the time they both need for reflection and decision-making.
It suddenly occurred to me recently that couple satisfaction has to correlate with the amount of time and effort they put in with their communication. Take my wife and I as an example of this. Our communication is usually of a great standard, but at times we argue briefly on matters we disagree about, simply because we haven’t spoken about it, when suddenly there’s time pressure to make a decision. Neither of us is in a position of empowerment when a discussion goes awry.
In other words, there isn’t the time to devote to quality communication, so we tell each other what we think. Respect gets dropped for a moment because a thing just needs to be done. And we polarise, and it’s possible that some unlaundered issues can spring out of the closet that we’ve been unconsciously hiding away. Both of us can retreat to our corners, and there’s no resolving the issue from there. Instead of treating each other as cherished and sacred, pressure situations can be the catalyst for tersely conveyed words.
It’s the same in all marriages where there’s commitment and passion, amid pressure for a decision.
Time for communication, on the other hand, facilitates thought and reflection on matters of household business. My wife and I often talk shop on our Tuesday date nights. We both love to plan. Date night isn’t just romantic; it’s also pragmatic. Better to have the communication there, where thoughts on decisions can be broached, before time runs out. And issues always prove that there was a finite life for any one issue. We talk a fair bit daily about the processes of our lives together. But there will always be a matter or two that we didn’t discuss, and that’s generally where the conflict comes from — from what wasn’t discussed earlier.
And, no matter how much communication there is between a couple, there will always be the issue that catches one or both by surprise. We have to learn not to sweat over small issues, for all issues are small in the scheme of things.
Couples who spend time intentional in their communication endure less conflict and experience more contentedness.
Communication needs to be about investing time and the commitment of intention. Respect follows when we’ve prioritised time with our partner.
Good marriage can be as simple as removing unnecessary distractions, slowing down, and spending time with the one we love most.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And the LORD said, Don’t Prejudge a Thing

Introduction to Ethics was a seminary unit of study foundational for a theology for morality, proving how complex the wisdom of ethics is.
Recently I was given update training about the ethics of life in the only way life can teach us; through raw lived experience.
Something piqued my awareness that something suspicious was going on. Righteous anger welled up within me, and I decided to take matters further. I consulted with my wife. J Given the information I supplied, she was equally alarmed. We had to respond to this. Not an injustice done to us, but an injustice of systemic proportions where others affected, dozens of them, were potentially taken advantage of.
Ethics is about justice, and justice is about fairness, and fairness is about equity. Semantics, perhaps. But ethics is about people and a virtue ethic is about the fruit of the Spirit as it is shared in relationships. Obviously, the opposite is what I was concerned about — we were — the appetence of greed morphing into abuse. We were about to make a drastic decision.
Oh the folly of prejudging a situation!
How good is God to show us, me no less, within two hours, three separate and salient situations that would turn my perception, in gaining God’s perspective, on its head. From insidiousness to inspirational… in a matter of hours.
All because I had briefly misunderstood and misread a business model. That’s understandable. I wasn’t the author of it. I was just one of the stakeholders with my own skinny vantage point.
We see very little from a limited vantage point. And this is what ethics teaches us: we can only judge when we have the full picture. And rarely do we, ever, have that. Any response of judgment prior is a banking on folly. So many of us, so much of the time, have very little through which to see, and the moment we prejudge a situation we close our minds off to the truth that might otherwise break through the night experience that God wishes to turn into day for us. To look into a mirror with clarity when we would otherwise, without Him, look into that glass dimly.
The Author of the ethics of life is the Author of the wisdom of life, and these two are one and the same; they’re, like God, inscrutable, as life itself is enigmatic.
From the matter of understanding comes wisdom, and that because of one thing: right perspective. Upon which a true ethic can be gleaned.
Judge a thing prematurely and we can expect to get it wrong. Wait. Can you hear Him? He will speak when it’s time.
Ethics teaches us to wait on the truth, for the truth tarries, and the right remains behind the scenes for the proper time to be revealed.
Ethics in the Kingdom of God is wisdom for life for the discerning and doing of virtue.
Ethics is the provision of wisdom that saves us from the prejudging responses of folly.
I am so grateful to God, that, in this instance, He showed me what He had revealed for me to see. My prejudging of a situation was foolish. He came through with His wisdom, and everyone prospered, not least, me.
Only God can turn a person’s perspective so effectively.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Some of Life’s Little Ironies

It’s not about you, but, on the other hand, it’s all about you.
Life is about God, but life is all about how we, ourselves, interact with God.
Life is in the giving to others, but life is also about receiving from God so that we may be enabled to give to others.
We all have incredible gifts, but those same gifts, pushed too far, are a scourge and our downfall.
You are dark. I am dark. The darkness we notice about others highlights the secret darkness resident in ourselves. The more we bear and resolve our darkness, the more light shines upon us. You and I. We both need God.
We may become masters at what we do, but we never break clear of the schoolyard.
We get old and those whose bottoms we wiped become the wipers of our mouths.
It’s fine to get angry for the right reason, but we quickly find we’re in the wrong as we respond in that anger.
Innocence works well in life until that moment we’re wrongly accused and we’re castigated even more for protesting our innocence.
We eat what we want when we’re young, and get away with it. We watch what we eat when we’re older, yet struggle with our weight.
When we’re at the top of our game we are proudest of all, and what’s more, we get away with it. Arrogance has its place. But when we’re on the way down there’s no tolerance for the tiniest conceit.
Life is an enigma in the contrasts.

Friday, January 13, 2017

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

One recent working day, a full eight-hours to labour, I had a revelation — why do I ask God to hurry those few hours? The truth is we all have components of our lives we would rather hasten or skip. But a bigger, burgeoning truth: hasten or skip anything and we rush to our deaths.
It’s the same with our growth. Too often we’re quick to rush to an outcome like a goal. The problem is we take a short cut to the goal and we compromise our success.
It’s like the moneybox we bought our three-year-old son. We gave it to him with a few coins inside. The next day we let him help clean the car out and told him he could keep the coins he found. He put them inside his portable bank account and shook it. “It’s not full yet. Can I have some more money for my moneybox?” He wasn’t happy that it’s going to take a full year to fill it up.
We wish our lives away — the hard and bad bits, anyway — never realising that these precious seconds we never get back. Yet, God’s Presence is with us and can be experienced anytime. Whether we desire or detest what we do, it’s all fluff compared with reality that’s eternally true.
Good things take time to develop. From little things, big things inevitably grow.
Growth has about it this promise: as slow as it takes to secure, is as sure as it is to stick.
Our time is finite. It’s all we have.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In Contemplation of Spiritual Presence

I first came across the idea of thinking interrupting presence only recently, in reading Alan Watts’ work, The Wisdom of Insecurity.
Here is the idea:
Whenever we’re engaged in thinking we cannot be present — i.e. we lose touch with being present in our senses when we’re engaged in thought. Contemplation is the mid-ground — part thinking, part presence. Anytime we’re busy thinking, or doing for that matter, which is also beyond contemplation, we lose presence.
God is deeply part of each experience as we allow.
And each process — thinking, contemplation and presence — is of equal value. Each has a vital part in our contemplative experience. And of reality, each of these three melds with the others into our felt experience of reality, being that one cannot be separated out from the others with any firm distinction.
It could be deduced, then, that in doing and doing and doing, we’re also thinking too much. Not that it’s bad to think. No, it’s good to think. But to think too much makes the mind weary and dissuades the heart from its passion.
Presence is healing, and if presence is being without thought, then we need to simply sit and be, without thought, more often.
Could it be that nothing would add to our lives unless we were prepared to have some  things taken away?
Could it be that less is more, and that more is disillusioned by the lies it’s been told?
Imagine if minimalist living really was the secret to experiencing healing, that presence, through the abandoning of thought, held the key to our contentment.
The idea of presence, which underpins rest, peace, and shalom, pivots around not thinking, but the absence of thought.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Acts of Kindness and the Propulsion of Love

I watched I AM by Tom Shadyac with some good friends and was inspired by the thrust of its message — love is in our DNA. Incredibly, as one of my friends was opening his car door to leave we had a random guy ride up my driveway on his bike and, nose-to-nose with my friend and I, picked a fight, to which we both said at the same time, words to the effect, “No, man, we won’t fight with you. We’re only interested in love.” As if in complete rewind, he immediately backed off, said he was lost, and then asked for directions to Leach Highway, which we promptly gave him! Off he went…
Non-violence is the thesis of victory over the disease of materialism, because materialism is the basis of all aggression, and aggression will certainly be the end of humankind. But, astoundingly, as we refuse to engage violence with violence, becoming the pacifier, people join our collective strength, for our strength is not in our solitude, but in our solidarity.
Acts of kindness may be small, but there is a sure cumulative effect, as each kindness is done it is added to the movement of kindnesses bestowed and school of such kindnesses are the body of the propulsion of love.
Kindnesses joined with kindnesses are propelled in some seemingly random pattern, but they all coalesce in love. No kindness is wasted, ever.
If you and me and soon almost everyone else committed one or two kindnesses a day, a movement of love could sweep the world. The propulsion of love is about believing in the power of miniscule acts of kindness to create such a movement.
We’re interconnected more than we know, which is why every random kindness makes more than its share of difference.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Man, His Fears and Tears

From the ManUp videos. Link below article.

I look forward to the day when it will be socially unacceptable, everywhere, to decry a man his emotions.
Where four people suicide, three are men. Why is this?
Men are told to ‘harden up’, to ‘grow a pair’ (of testicles), to be a man, because apparently, men don’t cry. Isn’t it funny that anatomically (the parts of the body) and physiologically (the way the body works) men are no different from women in the regions of the mind and emotions? There may be biochemical differences, but as men and women we’re more similar than we’re different.
It’s hard enough for men to cry, because there’s already a biological default to deny his feelings, so it’s even worse that culture reinforces the lie that men can’t cry.
I can tell you there are several times I’ve broken down in tears in places I would rather not have. I knew each time that it wasn’t so much weakness that compelled me to cry, rather it was the urge to be me; the courage to maintain emotional integrity. Often it was because of genuine suffering, sometimes it was in response to reality’s sadness, and at times it was because I simply felt overwhelmed.
If suffering’s our lot, or our reality is nothing but sad, or we feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to be tipped over the edge into tears; infinitely better than bottling it up or harming ourselves. Indeed, the wisdom of tears are they relieve pressure and augment healing.
The Bible records the phrase “do not fear/be afraid” 365 times—one for each day of the year. The Bible isn’t just speaking to women. Men experience fear, too. And it’s not simply about being ‘scared’. Fear is manifest through a myriad series of activators including, but not limited to, not measuring up to the world’s, someone else’s or our own expectations.
We need to wrestle with the shame we feel when we cry and really ask why we feel it.
We have to start giving men permission to cry when they need to. And it starts in every home and in every workplace. The shedding of tears shouldn’t ever be public spectacles; indeed, they should be private and dignifying. We need to begin to feel very privileged that a man has trusted us sufficiently to open up enough to cry.

Acknowledgement: manup.org.au

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Understanding the Discipline of Gratitude

Anyone who has ever resolved to be inwardly happy has entertained gratitude within the court of their heart. But, like happiness itself, gratitude, as a process, is foreign as a concept of habit. We knew to be happy we had to be grateful, but how does one become instinctually grateful, even when we know we ought always to be?
Gratitude does not come naturally upon the human condition. Our default is opposite. We’re much rather given to complaint. We’re prone to comparison and to compromise.
Really Engaging With Gratitude
Some years ago, I had a friend from a distant land who resolved herself to the practice of giving thanks daily. Her practice was a great journey with a community behind it. It made of gratitude an expedition to a serene destination that one could visit any day of choice. It illustrated how to put gratitude into the daily arena of many who followed or contributed to that blog.
Like almost anything good in life, gratitude costs us a great deal in terms of commitment. We cannot just pick and choose to be grateful and hope that it will stick. We need to wed ourselves to it.
We need a covenant relationship with gratitude. We cannot just be occasional lovers. We need to truly esteem her, and give her all our attention, and resolve to be grateful especially when we aren’t, for, in that, we’ll finally learn what God is sure to teach us.
Understanding that acquiring gratitude is a discipline is to understand discipline is central to gratitude’s acquisition.
But it isn’t discipline in any direction that secures us the acquisition of gratitude.
Gratitude – of Gifts Given in Love to be Celebrated with Joy
This is the nexus of the quote at top. Those words again:
The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
I have attempted to emphasise the important phrases.
The discipline of gratitude is an explicit effort. It’s overt. Something very intentional. The effort is put in to acknowledge something first and foremost; a thing that takes precedence over all other devotional activities. What is acknowledged is everything that is part of me and you. Everything. The good and the not-so-good. Every bit. Appreciating everything we’ve been given — the things we want as well as the things we don’t want — is appreciating the Giver. True thankfulness is gratitude. And the output of gratitude is joy.
We can be grateful when we recognise what we’ve been given as a gift of love. Knowing we’ve been so richly loved breeds joy in us.

Monday, January 2, 2017

He Wants Peace, She Wants to Be Heard

It’s a theme I’ve noticed in the couples I’ve counselled that aligns also with my own experience as a husband. Married life pairs partners who were initially alike, but are worlds different. And one key variance is what they want during conflict.
He wants peace. She wants to be heard.
Yes, of course, this is a massive generalisation as there are certainly exceptions.
There is a reason he wants peace. The relationship needs peace, but not at the expense of the truth. He knows she needs to be loved, and conflict, for him, is an interruption to the love he wants her to feel. If only there is peace there’s room to love her — as he wants. But what he wants isn’t always the right way. Truth also told, he wants a peaceful life as free as possible from family frustrations. His desire that everyone get on is good, but his way of securing peace is not always the right way. (I concede that she wants peace, too.)
There is a reason she wants to be heard. Simply, she needs to be heard. And the truth is the relationship needs it. If only he will hear her at this crisis point, he will show her he’s as serious about the issue, and the marriage, as she is. At root, it’s about love showing itself as respect. If he listens — with genuine intent — he will prove not only respectful, but trustworthy. The bigger truth is both he and she need to be heard. Every marriage prospers when, as James says, partners are “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”[1]
Good relationships find peace through effective conflict resolution. So both he and she want what the relationship needs. Both simply need to value what the other wants.

[1] See James 1:19-21.