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Understanding The Hot Buttons In Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2022 5:00 am

Understanding The Hot Buttons In Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 7, 2022 5:00 am

Dr. Bob Paul and his wife Jenni explain how seemingly innocent disagreements can spiral into a major argument because of unidentified personal hot buttons that trigger primal reactions that are out of proportion to the issue at hand.

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Our marriages in the church as a result of our knowledge and our relation with Christ should be materially better different than those that are not walking with Christ having a good marriage is a great goal but you sometimes feel like it's really difficult to achieve with some encouragement for you today. Along those lines on Focus on the Family in your hostess focus president Dr. Jim Daly I'm John Fuller, John we have a fascinating message today from Dr. Bob Paul of our hope restored marriage, intentions, and his wife Jenny and they're going to help us to see how hidden issues from our past can sabotage our marriage and why we can often feel like all of our disagreements end up covering the same ground and they're actually going to dissect one of the recent arguments point by point so you can hear what they were feeling but not really say just like an iceberg. 90% of the problem seems to be under the water line and this is to be instructive and very helpful. Here's Bob Paul and his wife Jenny speaking at an event for supporters of Focus on the Family.

We are so excited to be here with you guys, we have the opportunity to be part of something miraculous that is happening through hope restored through Focus on the Family every single day and guys we doubt that we would not be able to do this if it wasn't for you I hope you know how much we feel your support and your partnership with us from God is using you in amazing ways.

And the miracles that we see taking place of hope restored every single day are astounding and you know the interesting thing we've learned over the years. It's virtually never the people that are the problem we are led to bike by well-meaning people. We are led to pursue ideas and strategies for relationships that cannot work and we don't realize that, because they been told to us by people that we trusted and we have people coming to us every week with that going on and we get to unravel that in many times their spiritual issues that are there and were mostly working with Christians, but so interesting. I get the opportunity to tell you that a few weeks ago I was working with a couple and the guy has known the Lord for many years known of him practicing self professing Christian studying the word, but when he discovered in the intensive and this isn't that uncommon was that he actually didn't understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ. I mean he is in every most everybody would think of him as a believer and I had the privilege again to lead this man to the Lord in the group and he was he was there for counseling for his marriage, and he found the Lord, and you gotta believe that that's going to make a major difference in his relationship so we have focus have been having the opportunity for many years.

Over 22 years now to have what's more or less like to let marriage laboratory because we have couples that are coming in severe crisis and they're hurting are motivated because they're in pain and we have been learning so much about God's design for marriage and what happens and what it looks like when people get out of line with God and I working contrary to his design and they're confused because they understand because their believing in there pursuing what they been taught and they don't understand why it's not working, and as a result of what we've learned and the tools and the techniques that we have. We have to my knowledge the highest success rate in the world, working with couples who were in crisis and we see miracles of cardiac God.

I have the date we worked with over 9000 couple. Every state in the United States and over 30 foreign countries and I just sit back and so these lies have resulted in us a Greg Smalley and I produced a book last year. Nine lies that will destroy your marriage and the truths that will save and set it free. And that's the end of the model that has emerged over these years is embedded in this book, and the lies are on the surface and then we show how the truth actually can be a source of restoration of healing of growth and of discovery. So today when Jenny and I want to share with you is something that we realize is actually a way that people get lost and misguided and it's really common because we want to share with you is something we've learned that is underlying all conflicts in marriage. Everybody is dealing with this exact cycle.

The details will be a little different because were different and you're different from us, but the cycle itself that is underlying it is true for everybody. When we first discovered, as we did note applied everybody and I'm telling you when you finally realize you've been led to something you been given something that applies to everybody gets gold so we want to do is spend a little bit of time of unpacking that for you and helping you to see like we've learned why when you get into conflict with your spouse.

It virtually doesn't matter what you're arguing about. There will be an eerily familiar feeling to it is like while were talking about something different were arguing about something different.

Why does it feel so much like the last time we want to be able to flush that out and let you see that you know that's because the problem is rarely the problem. Conflict is more than the topic and the process there's a process going on beneath the surface. In fact, like to look at it this way, the issue on top is not the whole issue that's the part we see the part that we see commonly going on between us is only the tip of the iceberg.

There's so much more that really matters that's going on below. So what is going on beneath the surface were going to show you kind of little peek about a conflict well. We have lots of conflicts organists pick one. One conflict and we can use that were to start with the above the surface issue and then were going to go deeper with that kinda take you with us right so on this issue started because I was playing a game on my phone and this game half-and-half teams and usually just the person kinda makes a team and becomes the leader is not like any qualification time on this team enzyme as I'm playing on the team. There's 50 people. I noticed like 20 of them are not playing and I'm like well it's going on. I'm kinda new to this inside chin so I just chatted in the chat box hey guys, and I noticed your plane is anything I can do one a leader wasn't really happy with that and she disciplined me in the chat box in front of everyone.

Public is public as hello I would like oh wow I'm not six years old and I'm not her child that was really no hard no chatted back in bed now just encouraging them. No big deal and she chatted another one back.

There was even more severe and it was like that was painful.

So I told Bob mean can you believe what she said. I mean, first it was like I was six years old and this was more like to do in a like him and how to control and down so any way. So I see my wife hurting and she's clearly disturbed by this. So as a normal male, not leaning on any of my knowledge as a therapist.

What you think my response was, well, I wanted to come up with something to help fix the problem. No, when I when I'm in my my professional mode.

I know better than this, but in that moment I was just being Bob, the husband and I see my wife hurting so I thought maybe it would be helpful to help her to think about what might have been going on for this gal. You know, so that she would be able to maybe just not take it so hard and so forth. And it didn't land well because they came out like I had said something that was wrong and she was right in reprimanding me. That's how it came out, and so now notice that you have a conflict based on on that belief system that happened between the two of us that the whole issue started outside of the marriage.

You know often when conflict happens. It's something that happened with the kids or something in the car something at work and then you get home and you start sharing about it and something below the iceberg system you know goes on so we started into an argument and it kinda looked like this on on what we get the couples. The chart just so what were going to show you now is what we understand in hindsight was going on below the waterline because obviously there was plenty going on for each of us that we were oblivious to at the moment sorting it take you below the waterline for Bob and Jenny. So this is what we call a reactive cycle okay and as you can see me at the top there. I've got a series of fears now that that's relevant, obviously.

Here we call them buttons triggers things that you we've all got them you cannot survive any length of time in this fallen world without getting stung okay so we all acquire these bruises. These wounds along the way and here are some of mine.

I hate feeling controlled. I hate feeling helpless and powerless. I hate feeling inadequate miss portrayed or misunderstood, and I react even in the. The anticipation of feeling those things. I hate those feelings enough when the bottle gets pushed, I will need your reactive doesn't take any thought any deliberation I will do things like, I will complain get defensive going to fix it mode lecture and talk about who's right and who's wrong.

Know what I really want. However, is to feel accurately portrayed.

I like to feel successful hate failure.

I love feeling of experience of partnership, a passion and want to feel wanted. So that's a little bit about what's going on below the surface for me about for you. I mean I got a lot of buttons that I don't like being controlled, suppressed and validated, judged and ignored and typically windows get hit. I react sometimes in anger or blame. I might get defensive and explain myself Magi jury might go to, who's Ron or who did what you know right wrong kind of thing really really what I want in the relationship as I want to feel heard and I want support I want approval to exist, I want value to exist and I want validation of who I am.

So here's now you know little bit about us is that there's plenty more than that, but we had to condense it to fit it onto our little map here right so this is what happened. So, Jenny is reacting, and I see that she's upset and when I feel this in a lot of different ways but it's always worse if it's any one of the three most significant women in my life. My wife or my two daughters.

I don't manage that. Well, I managed two years we have Kleenex all over the place in my office. I'm I always tell people their tears are welcome and I really believe that in less it's my wife or my two daughters and that inside I start freaking out because I love these people and they matter so greatly to me so I see that and I don't know what to do and I ended taps my help was powerless, but and I instantly without even thinking going to fix it mode. Now here's where it gets weird and this is what's so bizarre that this happens with couples all the time when I going to fix it mode.

What happened to you. Well for me when he doesn't think that I feel judged. I feel like he was telling me that I was the one at fault and I had done something and when I started to, you know, react to dad and started to talk to him instead I started to the words that came out were defensive words. I began to explain myself. That's really what being defensive as is when you start explaining what you did and satchel well you know she I didn't really say anything, Ron, and she was the one that wrote down those statements and stuff and I was being really kind on the chat and I just kinda went into defensive mode. Since I'm trying to be helpful, and clearly it wasn't being perceived as helpful.

I feel immediately misunderstood. So my misunderstood button gets pushed and then I get defensive because I want to explain that no no no that's not what I meant which pushed her but yeah so I feel like well he's not listening to me so I feel in validated what I just said is completely and out and validated, and then I go into explaining who's right and who's Ron and I'm not talking about the lady on the game. I'm talking about these Ron and I'm right so soon so you can kinda see how this goes.

This is what is so bizarre about the cycle and I'm not.

I don't wish. I don't know how it gets this way and why it's this way but I just know it is this way for everybody and we have couples and we and we we took it in super slow moan now okay really slowed it down because honestly when this gets rolling between couples.

It reminds me most of a Fourth of July pinwheel.

You know you like the fuse and all of a sudden they start to go and it's spinning fast and sparks flying and that's common now. Sometimes couples are not like this and it becomes like a Cold War and it's quiet but it's the same cycle underneath and it's amazing how that happens. So what's actually going on okay underlying this what's really happening is that our brain processes emotional fear in the same way as physical fear. When we feel afraid it doesn't even matter if something is actually there.

The thought of something that worries us, triggers the same brain process we call it's what we call an amygdala hijack the amygdala is a gland in your brain and when it gets triggered, it sends a message out that that releases hormones like like adrenaline and so forth that readies us into our fight or flight mode. Okay. And really what happens is there's an amazing shift in blood flow. Any guess where the blood flows to. If you are going to fight or flight mode. It goes to your arms and your legs to get you ready to fight or flee. Where does it go from your brain it leaves your brain to go to your trim as you are physiologically handicapped. Think clearly in that moment there is no way that you can think clearly when the blood has left your brain okay and emotional intelligence goes out the window.

So what's actually going on.

Then with these buttons yeah what is it that's getting set off in you and basically that is our past wounds that we we can have new battens develop as we grow, that typically we bring most of our buttons with us into the relationship.

So those are hiking with a pack of past wounds that we feel when someone bumps into them and when they talk to us or something that they may do it. Kind of like if Bob had a bruise on his arm and then I walked by him and I happen to hit the bruise that he might say to me, Jenny, Colleen hurt you. Thinking that point I'm going I feel the pain of going ouch you hurt me. That's a meeting without cause and effect right. But what's the truth.

Did she hurt me no she just from my bruise the bruise. The wound was already there.

She tapped ensure there is a bit of a cause effect, but the magnitude of what I feel is greater because there was a pre-existing wound and most of the buttons that you possess.

You brought with you to the party and they get tapped regular by your spouse and do you have any guess who is more skilled at pushing my buttons than anybody on the planet. I give you a hint. Now why you think that is because she wants to hurt me know. The truth is, because nobody is closer. I don't let anybody get even close to the control panel and she's so good in it. She frequently doesn't just push a button, she just leans on the whole control panel. All the buttons to press simultaneously in my head just means in place. Okay, it's because she's got access to and same thing with her.

I have access because she lets me close to those tender, vulnerable spots in a way that nobody else on the planet does yet because buttons are our wounds and we actually become afraid of having those pushed for instance, mine are that I'm afraid I kind of protect and I get afraid of being controlled. I might be afraid or had tender kind of Hartford being supported. I might know with approval and valued and validation so those are kind of tender spots for me and then another one that what we think, though, is that like Bob said is that he pushed my button and so then I have this external reaction above water stuff that goes on and start blaming him for pushing my button. But what we try to tell couples is that instead blaming that your spouse is that you actually can feel a batten go off it actually kinda makes your you might get like a feeling across your Brower or palpitations in your heart, you get a flushed feeling about you. Are you get upset and kind of feel that energy and anger coming on you when you feel that you can actually go to the Lord instead and say all my button just got pushed on that. It takes some time and talk to God about this yes to what we teach in the intensive. Obviously, understanding the reactive cycle doesn't actually take you to a better place, but it does help people to identify what's going on so that this unconscious reactive spin can be turned into something conscious. And once you're aware like Jenny just said you go. We I triggered I am stirred up and we ask clients all the time to say okay what happens in your body. That's the tipoff that you had a button pushed how do you know because it is a little different for everybody.

We literally go from client to client when were a group and say what physiologically happens for you because like the red light flashing on the dashboard and you say whoa I am stirred up and then you wake up and you become conscious and that we want people to see is what the options are different than just continually reacting in the unconscious.

What alternatives do you have that you could do that would be more righteous, more loving or caring or true to who God created you to be more Christlike. So this is just something to wake people up to what's happening below the waterline so it opens up an array of possibilities and alternatives to be more righteous and create a better more satisfying relationship when our patent gets pushed a lot of times what were feeling inside of that is what we really want. Also at the same time.

I wish we had this in our marriage my list of wants are that I want to be heard, ported, approved, valued validation and typically I have relic three pages of wants. Okay, but what we have come to find out that what your wants are those things that God is giving you that you are passionate about, so is not the responsibility of someone else to give you your wants. Instead, we can get to know our wants. Find out what God has given us that we are passionate about grow those in the Lord and then bring those into our relationship, our family, our community and our world.

That's what our wants are and it's really really hard to not try to get your wants net from your spouse or even your kids and your friends that it is very very valuable to just reiterate what Jenny saying that something is so powerful we didn't realize is the first a lot of these things we just stumbled onto. We had these divine inspirational moments where we realize that we just tapped into something that's true to God's heart and God's design and what Jenny saying that I think is so worth repeating is that the things of the desires of our heart are longings of ours because they reflect something that God created in us. The fact that she wants to be heard is because she values being heard, so she is a person who naturally listens really carefully to people because that's a reflection of who God created you to be.

She wants to feel supported and she is very supportive of others.

She wants to feel approved. And it's amazing how much affirmation and approval.

Jenny is capable of giving to people because that's reflective of who she is, not just what she wants from me and from others.

I actually when I learned this, I actually was not good at hearing others. I was really good at talking and when I when the Lord really revealed this to me and he showed me that that he's really good at listening because when we pray, how much of the conversation in prayer is talking to him. Yeah so we don't do real good job listing in the Lord's and he is a really good listener to ask anything I want you to become a really good listener and when I did I felt someone balanced because I wanted to be heard.

And now I miss any time learning how to hear others and it was really a passion of mine that I have not cultivated so that's another thing that we do is to really encourage people to cultivate their wants. So for over 22 years we have been learning now so many things about God's design for life. God's design for marriage what works and what doesn't and what we realize it is that it doesn't just work for couples in crisis.

It actually works. These ideas these principles. These tools work every bit as well and maybe better for couples who are just doing good and want to do better for the average couple out there.

So what we've been doing for years is trying to figure out ways to package this information in books and and in advance and so forth to get the word out to the masses because guys this is kingdom work.

What we need more than anything, is for the church to demonstrate that what we claim to be true about a relationship with Jesus Christ is not just true in theory but it is true in real time because our marriages in the church as a result of our knowledge and our relation with Christ should be materially better different than those that are not walking with Christ Dr. Bob Paul Focus on the Family marriage Institute and our hope restored intensive's on today's episode of Focus on the Family where I really appreciate the transparency Bob and Jenny shared in this message and I hope you found some insights for your own marriage were running out of time today but let me quickly mention that we have a great follow-up resource to this broadcast. It's a book written by Bob Paul and Greg Smalley called nine lines that will destroy your marriage and the truths that will save it and set it free.

And this is a great book and some of the lies that Bob and Greg identify are those that tend to be believed by a lot of us like oh they lived happily ever after, or all you need is love and our differences are irreconcilable yeah and those lies can be very destructive. This book is published by Focus on the Family and I really want to get it out to as many couples as possible so will send you a copy of nine lines that will destroy your marriage for a donation of any amount can afford it get in touch with us will trust others will cover that. Remember, when you get the book from focus the proceeds correct back in the ministry, not into the pockets of shareholders support our work to enrich marriages by ordering the book today and you can reach us when you call 800 the letter a in the word family or follow the link in the episode notes to donate to the work of Focus on the Family and request you while you're online look for an article that Bob and Jenny have provided that illustrates the cyclical nature of their argument in the hot buttons the got pushed along the way really helpful to see that it's free and it's right there on the website on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us for this Focus on the Family podcast if you would please take a moment and leave a rating in your podcast at the mint sure about this episode with help us spread the I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ

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