Hang-Ups

How do you handle your hang-ups?

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Kids and hangups? Ha!

What is your biggest hang-up?

For some it’s their body, for others it’s social interaction. Maybe you have bedroom hang-ups, or food hang-ups. I’m sure we are all aware of something that we just can’t quite get over.

But what about unconscious ones?

What hang-ups are lurking in your sub-conscious mind?

I took medications for years for a painful back. Very rarely did they help, and they came with the unpleasant need for blood work every six months or so just to make sure my liver was handling the stress. These days it’s difficult to take even herbal remedies (which I have found to actually work) because somewhere in my mind I am expecting nothing.

Like many people, marriage led to weight gain. I gained over 35 lbs after tying the knot. Diet, lack of exercise, stress, parenthood, there were so many factors it was hard to fix them all. It wasn’t until I switched careers to one that made me work out that I began to see a downward movement in my weight. Even then it took a drastic change in diet to get back to what I was on our wedding day.

Well, guess what my new hang-up became?

Carbs.

I got so good at counting them that I became almost phobic. And when you cut back on carbs you start eating less in general. Which leads to losing more weight than you really wanted to. In the month I have been on this mountain I have lost ten lbs. I am way more active than I am at home and I am sitting at 9,000 ft. My basal metabolism is higher, my activity level is higher, but my calorie intake is lower. I have gone too far.

It is really hard to tell yourself “eat more” when you remember what that extra 35 lbs felt like.

Hang-ups are trained into us. For years my wife suffered debilitating depression, and I adapted my behaviors around hers. I changed my personality, my habits, and my speech. My thought patterns were molded by how I expected her to respond. My very being was changed.

College psychology class was full of boring lectures and seemingly crack-pot ideas about how humans behave. But from what I have observed, people really do react and adapt to stimuli in sometimes bizarre ways.

Now that she is not depressed my brain is having a fit retraining itself to respond properly to her new and different stimuli. I expect her to be one way and act accordingly, but she is so different now my predictions hardly land correct.

There is so much I avoid doing or saying around her, all because of the training my brain endured for eight years. These hang-ups are hardly ever conscious. Like Pavlov’s famous puppies my body and behaviors have simply learned to respond according to what my mind expects.

What do I do with these hang-ups?

Well, the first step is realizing that I have them. As so many of them are subconscious it usually takes a secondary factor (like ten lbs of weight loss) to realize they are there.

Then it takes discipline and concious effort to change the behavior that results from the hang-up. Eat more, eat carbs, eat when you aren’t hungry but know you should. Talk to your wife, tell her what you like about her, pinch her butt, kiss her in public because you want to, ask her to do things you need. Take your medicine, even if you aren’t sure it will work, don’t stop taking it when you discover it does actually work (this will make it stop working, dummy).

You won’t necessarily be able to get rid of the hang-up. It may still lurk somewhere back there, whispering lies, trying to keep you locked up in it. But by changing your behavior, conciously and consistently, you will break it of its power.

How do you handle your hang-ups?

A Slow Down Of Sorts

I promised I would keep up a report for you of our various preparations for the summer season and I intend to keep that promise no matter how boring I may think developments are.

Not a lot happened the past couple of days, mostly just cleaning. Lots of cleaning. The mountain of laundry on top of the dryer is a symbolic reminder of the mountain we’ll be living on for the next six months. And that’s just the clean laundry, the dirty pile is a picture of Everest itself.

Not my laundry pile but from my Steemit post yesterday. I got mountains on the brain ya’ll…

There was also some schooling and some calling around looking for medical records from our retired pediatrician. Did you know they recommend that pediatricians keep records for 28 years from a child’s birth? The things you learn from Googling all day.

In fact it has been so calm I have had time to contemplate matters both political and religious. When I have time to head down those rabbit trails, watch out!

I might make some posts about those thoughts once things settle down some more. Perhaps it’s a little too calm…

I will say this though: I am so glad that this year we actually get to go out as a family. I was never made for the bachelor life and despite Nicole’s introversion neither was she. We need each other for so much. Companionship is one of the best blessings of marriage.

Even though we travel in separate vehicles, there is something to be said for shared experiences, especially the difficult ones. There is no one I would rather be stranded in Savannah, GA with a peeling trailer roof than her.

Did I mention our temporary tag also blew off?
When stranded in Savannah, get sushi!

No one else could keep me as cool and collected as she did when we had to hunker down for a day in the parking lot of the Artesia Wal-Mart while waiting for spark plugs to soak.

And with outfits like this, who wouldn’t want to be stranded at a Wal-Mart with her?!

When I am alone I think too much. And it’s always worst case scenarios. Thank God for the sanity of a companion.

Oh look, Hobby Lobby. It’s like she planned it…
It’s always the Ford isn’t it?

Enough of this deep stuff, I have a mountain to… fold?

Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and Birth Control, A Dangerous Combination

From “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler

From my previous posts you have learned that I don’t oppose all forms of birth control, but that I urge caution about hormonal birth control.

I have two reasons for this: the first is the fact that hormonal birth control can be an abortificant. The second is much more personal, hormonal birth control can really create havoc on your body and mind.

Shortly before we were married, my wife went to her gynecologist for a routine check and pre-wedding screening (not like she needed it but whatever). While there, the doctor told her she should start taking birth control a couple of months before the wedding. “You don’t want to be inconvenienced by a baby.” she told her. Being young and naive my soon to be wife acquiesced and started taking what the doctor prescribed.

The side effects began her first week on the pill. At first it was a near constant nausea which kept her in bed most of the time. Next, a nearly insatiable libido disappeared. Then came the depression and anxiety. She reported these to the doctor and was assured they weren’t side-effects, she was probably just nervous about the wedding.

Reluctantly, the doctor switched her pills for the patch. Her nausea abated slightly, but the rest of the symptoms remained in full force.

By the time the wedding came, she had very little interest in sex. There were a few nights on the honeymoon where she cried for hours because she couldn’t understand what was happening to her. She didn’t want me anymore. What sort of switch happened that would cause her to suddenly stop her interest in me?

Upon our return, my new wife reported these problems to the doctor only to be told that she was probably just regretting her decision to get married so young. “Depression is not a side effect of birth control.” Nonetheless, her doctor agreed to change the medication again, this time to the Nuva Ring.

While the ring was better for nausea, the depression worsened dramatically. There were nights I would wake up next to a sweating, rocking, tearful woman. Sex was nearly impossible. She contemplated suicide.

All the while, the doctor insisted it was in her head.

I don’t remember exactly what clicked in my mind, but one morning I told her to quit the birth control. While the side-effects weren’t spelled out on the packaging, it was too suspicious to me that they would coincide with her first dosages. She quit taking them, much to her doctor’s chagrin.

Within a month her mood was vastly better. Her nausea disappeared. There were still incredible mental and emotional scars that made sex difficult, but her appetite for it returned in force. Two months after quitting (three months after the wedding), she was pregnant.

After our first daughter was born we ignorantly decided to try the BC again. Breastfeeding was a hellish nightmare (thanks to a lack of lactation consultants) and parenting did not seem like something we wanted to do more of at that point.

Side effects came right back full force. She was told “oh, those aren’t side effects” yet again.

Funny how they disappeared shortly after she stopped taking the pill for the second time.

The labels did vaguely mention that you could have suicidal thoughts as a side-effect. But it was listed as an almost unheard of side effect. Our only guess is that women who do not suffer from Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) rarely have those side effects. Or that doctors simply don’t care.

She was never screened for PMDD, we didn’t know she had it until almost ten years later. But the diagnosis made everything make sense. Any fluctuation in hormones brings about emotional and mental changes in her. Birth control, pregnancy, and breastfeeding each had their own effects, whether nausea or severe depression or decreased libido. Like clockwork she gets severe depression about ten days before her period and starts feeling better immediately upon menstruation. Then she is healthy for a week or so after, before plunging back down again.

Most doctors don’t even know what PMDD is, it’s just not on their radar. They are convinced that BC simply doesn’t have any emotional side effects. They barely listened to her about the nausea.

It’s almost like they have an agenda to push. Hence the “you don’t want to be inconvenienced by a baby” comment.

Needless to say, hormonal birth control is definitely not for us. Since this happened to us we have talked to dozens of women who had similar experiences, even ones without PMDD.

If you decide to use it and you experience similar side effects, don’t let the doctor tell you that you are crazy or that you should just switch until you find one that works. Get your hormones checked and talk to a doctor about the possibility of PMDD. It took a general practitioner about ten minutes to make the diagnosis and prescribe medication and other therapies. Now she is healthier emotionally than she has ever been.

It’s not worth living in misery when there are other ways to go about preventing pregnancy.

Love Your Wife: Love Yourself

Simpson Selfie
Sometimes I see myself as a Simpson, apparently…

From stay-at-home moms being called bad moms for wanting an hour to themselves, to husbands and fathers who just want some time away in their “mancaves” being called irresponsible, self-care gets a bad rap.

In blogs and books and sermons, folks are told that they should give up everything and give themselves to everyone else’s needs far above their own. People are beaten to death with the line that true happiness is only found in complete and utter self-denial.

But the Bible implies something very different, especially to husbands, in Ephesians 5:28-30:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

In order for a man to properly love his wife, he must first love himself.

But… This is not the selfish, narcissistic, self serving “love” that many men demonstrate through cruelty, waste, disrespect, slovenliness, and misplaced passions.

The self-love spoken of in these verses is informed by a proper perspective of self. The man who practices this self-love is enlightened by Gods own view of him. This man sees himself as God sees him, frail and sinful, fallen and weak, but loved, saved by grace, imperfect, but being sanctified daily and made more holy. God is pleased to see us as image bearers reflecting His glory back to Him. Instead of wretches clothed in rags He is pleased to see us in the robes of His Son.

A man who loves himself will care for himself, he will take pride in himself. He will understand that his value and loveliness is not in his success, his wealth, his looks, or his health, but simply in his createdness. Only when he understands this will he be able to take care of those things. When he properly loves himself he will be able to properly love those things and care for them.

And when he cares for those things he can care for his wife. Only when he cares for himself will be able to care for her. When he takes care of his health he is able to care for her. When he tends to his wealth he is able to care for her. When he is successful in any number of other areas, he will be able to care for her.

A man who eats too much, sits too long, and invests far too much time in pursuit of wealth and “security” is not a man who is able to care well for his wife. A man who hates himself and takes no pride in the fruits of his labors is most often married to a miserable woman.

Christ cared for Himself, He took time away from the crowds, the disciples, and from healing. He knew enough to rest, because His humanity was frail like ours. By taking the time to care for Himself, Christ was better able to care for His bride, the church.

About a week ago I was forcefully informed that my self-hatred was killing my marriage. My life to some degree has been falling apart because I have been refusing to take pride in my own life and worth, and refusing to care for my responsibilities (because what’s the point?). Even what I learned back in February seemed to be going by the wayside.

I tried to take care of everyone, tried to make everyone else better, but neglected myself.  I shut myself down, never expressing feelings thoughts or emotions. I never had an opinion that didn’t agree with someone else.

I became a nothing. And my wife despised it.

She wants a man who loves himself, who takes charge of himself, who disciplines himself, who prioritizes himself. She wants a man with a voice, opinions, thoughts, challenges to her daily life. not a lump of flesh. Certainly not the weak-willed mumble I was quickly becoming.

I am learning, slowly, to love myself. I’m figuring out how to to do the things I want, to make time for me, to refresh my soul and take care of my body. I’m making sure to take care of my appearance as well, as this is important.

And for the first time in my life I’m learning to take some pride in what I do, instead of loathing the silence from critics or friends, I’m taking it as a sign to improve and keep striving. Eventually I’ll get someone’s attention. At least I’ll know my capabilities.

It’s refreshing and terrifying all at the same time.

Dealing With the Dreaded Monster of Disappointment 

The saddest picture I could find…

The other morning I woke up disappointed, my wife had promised me that she would do something the night before. But we arrived home late and having chased children all day and gone shopping she collapsed exhausted into bed without doing what she said she would do. 

I went to bed sad that she hadn’t done what she said she would do but I forgave it and went to sleep. But after she woke me up at 5:00 AM to lower our awning during a storm,  I could not go back to sleep. I kept thinking of my disappointment.   I did not want to go back to bed. I let my disappointment ruin my sleep.  I was so resentful that when she finally did what she said she was going to do I let the disappointment ruin my gratitude for it.

Disappointment is not sinful. We live in a world filled with sinners and sin, there are going to be plenty of times when we are disappointed.

What is sinful is allowing that disappointment to fester into discontent or resentment. 

What is sinful is using that disappointment as leverage to be selfish and disappoint others. 

There are ample opportunities in life for disappointment to rear its ugly head. In marriage, in parenting, in work. Any place where sinners interact is a place where disappointment can take up a comfortable residence. Everywhere that we have expectations of others is a place we can be disappointed. 

Don’t be like me and not voice those expectations. And really don’t expect others to randomly know what you expect and meet those expectations as though it was their idea. 

Does that person know your expectations of them?  Does that person know how strongly expectation is? Do you express your expectations in a healthy way or do you expect that that person is just going to meet your desires of their own volition?

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  I’m sure that your wife or your child or your coworker do not make it their goal in life to make your life miserable.  I doubt that they make it their purpose in life to disappoint you.  Sometimes they just don’t know your expectation. Sometimes they just don’t know how strongly you expected it.  Often, they may not know how to go about it or they’re just not going to do it until you press the matter and make it important to them. 

Even in places where we don’t have to interact with people we can find ourselves disappointed. When rain washes out your evening walk. When weeds choke out our favorite garden plants. Really, anytime we don’t get our way is a time in which disappointment can take hold. 

The best way to avoid or turn away that disappointment is to adjust your expectations. Understand the fallibility of those you interact with. Understand the fickle nature of the universe around us and realize that it doesn’t revolve around you. Nature will hurt you, people will hurt you. 

Adjusting your expectations doesn’t mean that you become a pessimist and expect others to fail. It just means that you anticipate the possibility and have the grace to accept failure when it occurs. 

When my wife fell asleep before the lights of the trailer were even out, I responded sinfully by holding onto her failure towards me and letting it fester into resentment. Instead, I should have forgiven her and given her grace. I should have adjusted my expectations (she was exhausted) and let it go. Then, when she did get around to doing it, I could have enjoyed it and been grateful instead of grouchy. 

Disappointment is a fact of life. The better we learn how to handle it the better off we will be. Adjust your expectations of fallen man and learn to forgive. Only then can you begin slaying the beast called disappointment. 

My Wife Is Fat, Therefore I Look at Other Women

Come on, dude, she’s probably not even THAT big….

Recently I came across a discussion on Facebook that boiled down to this: “How does a woman respond submissively to her husband when he expects her to stay thin during pregnancy and is bothered by her weight gain from 3 kids in 4 years?” 
The question then went on to describe his concern that he might fall into lust because he no longer found her attractive. He argued that men are hardwired to find thin and young looking women attractive and cited this article as a source material for his way of thinking.

Now, of course this post rightfully incited a riot. There are several disturbing things going on with this question. 

First off, his main concern is not that his wife is a glutton, eating herself to death, and in sin. Even the blog post he cites is mainly addressing gluttony (though it’s focus is a bit off). His main concern is that she is losing her physical appeal to his appetite. 

Second, is this really a matter of submission? Is a woman required to keep herself attractive for her husband? Is she required to submit herself to whatever physical standard he deems attractive in the moment? 

Third, did he really marry his wife for merely her physical appearance? Is his love dependent on externals? 

If he was concerned with her eating habits and not just her baby weight, he may have a case. But he would be wise to approach the subject delicately. The last approach he should consider is the “You’re not attractive” route. Perhaps he should even consider leaving it up to her doctor to discuss it with her. Or offer to cook healthy foods for her (and eat them with her). Or exercise with her. I don’t care how ugly you think your wife is, you don’t have to tell her. 

The word “submission” gets thrown around frequently in these sorts of discussions. I don’t believe Biblical submission gives a husband license to ask whatever he pleases of his wife. There are some things, especially appearance wise, that people just can’t change. If this were a question about hair length or body hair or whether or not she wears makeup or certain outfits he has some leeway. But how she gains or loses weight is not something she has much control over. 

There is give and take in marriage. There is no Biblical requirement to stay attractive to your spouse. It is definitely a kind thing to do what you can. If you know they have a preference do what you can to meet it. My wife enjoys my beard and hair, and I like to keep her happy, even if sometimes my face itches and my hair gets hot. But I don’t think you’re in sin if you just can’t meet their standards. 

Probably the second most disturbing part about all of this is the way these “Christians” are adopting the world’s idea of what is attractive or necessary in a spouse. The Bible warns against putting too much emphasis on physical appearance because youth and “beauty” fade. 

Christians should seek to find the inner beauty of their spouse attractive.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4

Inner adornment should be far more important to a husband than his wife’s outward appearance. It’s his job to wash her with the Word and present her without blemish. 

Besides, the world has a stupid standard. The average woman will spend most of her life with a post partum body. Why does the world expect women to forever look pre-baby (or in some senses pre-pubescent) when the reality is that most of womanhood is spent with scars from child bearing and age? 

I sincerely hope that he married her for more than her looks. A man who concerns himself only with how his wife looks is not loving her, he’s merely lusting over a body or a pretty face. Further still, he’s probably basing his standards of beauty on worldly standards. 

The most disturbing part about this question is the fact that he is willing to shift the blame for his sinfulness onto his wife. He is trying to blame his problems with lust on his wife’s appearance. This is nothing new, Adam played the same game when asked about his decision to eat the Forbidden Fruit. 

Christians need to stop writing blog posts and books giving men ammo for their blameshifting. His sin is his own, even if his wife is hideous or withholding sex from him, his lust is his sin. She will answer for her sins, be they gluttony or withholding. He doesn’t get to blame her for his sin anymore than she’ll be able to blame him. 

I’m glad to see the response to that post was overwhelmingly against this guy’s way of thinking. But the fact that these conversations come up at all is still evidence that we have a long way to go. Stop lusting after women, and stop blaming them. 

And please, stop calling your wife fat. 

Hey! Checkout blog post on Steem https://steemit.com/life/@driptorchpress/my-wife-is-fat-therefore-i-look-at-other-women-2017524t72752861z

Why We Stopped Reading Marriage Books

Blogs are not a good place to get marriage advice.
Despite sometimes writing about marriage, I personally don’t read blogs about the subject unless it’s to pick them apart.

The Internet is a great source of horrific marriage advice. Instead of going there and being inundated with nonsense, I recommend that you get your marriage advice directly from your spouse, not some credentialed celebrity pastor, not some well known author or speaker, not some mommy-blogger with too much time on her hands. Those folks don’t know you or your spouse. They don’t know your needs or your spouses needs. They know only themselves and some generalities that have been spread around since the beginning of time. 

The assumption of so many blogs seems to be “my husband/wife enjoys this, so yours must too.” They will offer advice like “look good” for your husbands and get your wives flowers once a week. While the advice isn’t always the worst, it doesn’t always apply to everyone. My advice? Do not heed such general and reckless advice. 

It reminds me of those old magazine articles about what women should do for their husbands. Have drinks ready. Fluff his pillow. Get the children cleaned up. It’s not bad advice necessarily, but if you step out and suggest that it’s perhaps a bit stringent you must be a radical. You might even hate your husband.

So much of this bad advice comes from complementarian circles. I’m not anti-complentarian, I’m anti-bad advice. Honestly, I don’t want my wife to do all those things for me. That is just not the way I want to be served. Just because we are complentarian doesn’t mean that we should assume men and women are cookie-cutter and all marriages are going to look the same. 

There are many books out there as well that carry lopsided advice. One is called Love and Respect. The basic premise of this book as I understand it is that men need respect from their wives and women need love from their husbands. Now, again, this is not completely untrue. But it does seem a bit overly simplistic. Not all men want just respect and not all women just want love. Love and respect are not mutually exclusive things. Nor is the desire to have one or the other determined by gender.

Unfortunately, when some of these suggestions are taken to their logical conclusion some people can get really damaged. If your husband doesn’t like make up or your wife is not the flower type, you can be left out to dry when truly trying to find help for your relationship.

Worse still is that some of the suggestions almost become rules. It’s not simply advice, it becomes law. And the authors will often find some obscure scripture (out of context) and say “see, the Bible agrees!”

Sometimes, they will take a verse not out of context, but apply it in a horrible way. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” becomes “confess all lustful thoughts you ever have to your wife.” This is a horrible thing to do, especially if you have a very sensitive wife. It becomes worse when  you’re expected to describe them in detail. This not only may horrify your wife, it makes you dwell on thoughts that you should probably just repent of and move on.

If I could narrow down most good marriage advice it’s this: treat each other with kindness. Be respectful, be loving, both of you. You should both be loving and respecting the other. Treat each other with common decency and humanity. Above all else, spouses should be learning as much as possible about each other. Find out what your spouse likes, asked detailed questions, then strive to do those things. Find out his or her love language. Seek to fulfill them in the way they request, not the way some book or blog tells you.

Learn about your spouse’s personality. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Do they need time alone or do they unwind with people? Does he need to talk things out or does he need to be alone to figure out his problems? Maybe your wife likes gifts, maybe your husband likes for you to serve his plate. Maybe he likes to do things for himself and can’t stand to be waited upon. Maybe he does not want to burden you with superficial things like makeup. Does he really care? Don’t just assume that he does because a book or magazine told you he does, ask. Make him think about it. He is probably just going along with what other men have told him is attractive and has never really thought for himself about the subject.

It is a cliché, but communication is the key to good marriage. It’s important to communicate constantly so that you have an idea of your spouse’s desires and needs. Realize that they will change over time, but if the communication lines are open you will never miss those changes.

Marriage books will not prepare you for those changes. You read it, you accept it as law, and then you think your marriage will be static and perfect. But you grow and your spouse grows. In different seasons of life you two will always be changing and what was at one time indispensable is now completely unnecessary. Likewise, new needs will spring up and you will find yourself serving your spouse in ways you never imagined. You must communicate to know these seasonal changes.

Maybe I’m too hard on the books and blogs and other marriage related paraphernalia. Read them. Discuss them. Take them with a grain of salt. If something doesn’t sit right with you, make it known. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.