Hordes of couples in troubled or disintegrating marriages manage to attest their struggles to at least one or more of the following reasons: "We have irreconcilable differences" “We are incompatible. “We have grown apart. “We are no longer in love. "My needs are not met." But are these really the cause facilitating marital conflicts or is fear to love unconditionally the underlining facilitator? Loving unconditionally connotes loving the other person regardless of his or her strengths, weaknesses, or imperfections. Unconditional love demands that we place no undue burden on the other person to merit our love by his or her actions or behavior. This is a pretty tough thing to do because humans are fallible. It is this fear to accept the other person unconditionally and demonstrate love regardless of whether he or she deserves it or not that rattles our sense of reality. It does not make sense to share love with one who is not singing our high praises! It is not our human nature to forgive a mate who has betrayed us, extend mercy to one who does not meet our expectations, or be fair to one who is not meeting our needs. So rather than reach out and exhibit love, our human nature forces us to retrieve into a corner in fear and hoard it! Why? We feel that we cannot risk our vulnerability or love someone who is not rocking our world or measuring up to our standard.
Take an inventory of your own relationship and identify how you love yourself and your spouse:
Are you afraid to love wholeheartedly because you dread the possibility of getting hurt or not being reciprocated? Are you merely "flexing your love muscles" to conceal your fears or are you really "exercising your love muscles" to burn the excess fat of anger, emotional pain, and resentment? Are you defying fear and doing whatever is necessary to move the relationship to the next level or are you masquerading fears to feed your own agenda? Are you nourishing or starving your fears? Is loving the other person causing you pain or heartache? Often, we are miserable in our relationships because of the manipulative ways we give and receive love. "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear brings torment. He who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:16). The fact that we are tormented in our relationships prove that we are operating in fear. Remember, fear brings torment. Operating in fear spurs us to share conditional love, not the perfect love of God. Remember perfect or unconditional love alleviates fear. As long as we authorize fear to influence how we relate to others, there will always be unresolved issues to tackle, crises after crises to resolve, and fire after fire to extinguish in our relationships! Why? Relating to each other in fear ignites deadly uncontrollable fires that are difficult to extinguish. Not only that, someone usually gets hurt. The quality time that should have been invested in nourishing the relationship is now devoted to fending off bullets in the crossfire. There is nothing as devastating for a couple as striving to resolve one conflict after another in a relationship that is supposed to be a harbor, not a combat zone. Often, there are no "seasons of rest" in the relationship because each one is walking on "egg shells", afraid to tick the other person off. Couples who find themselves in such distressing relationships only allow "sleeping dogs" to lie for a while as long as they are on a leash or until they are forced to explode. We share conditional love partly because it is somewhat effortless. It not only relieves us from the responsibility of having to "exercise" our love muscles, but it positions us as the big bully in charge. Being a taskmaster empowers us to call the shots as well as use exploitative ways to meet our needs. As much as it is easier to share conditional love, it generates pain, misery, unfulfillment, lack of trust, and a ton of other negatives. A marriagethat operates on conditional love is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in the divorce court. On the other hand, sharing unconditional love or the perfect love of God cost us. It requires sowing our selves and sharing love sacrificially. It demands giving our all without holding anything back. But the rewards are worth the efforts. Unconditional love heals, rejuvenates, cultivates, liberates, and steers a relationship in the right direction. Often, couples try to navigate their way through various conflicts without really identifying the root-cause of their problems. Thus, they deal with the fruits or the actions, not the root of the problem and assume that all the problems will magically disappear. Lo and behold, when they are placed in a situation that pushes their buttons, it triggers off those demons and they are forced to manifest. Why? Only the fruits or actions were dealt with, not the root of the problem. The underlining cause instigating the actions was never confronted. Remember, it is the root that produces a tree. The tree produces the fruits. If you deal only with the fruits or actions, the root of the problem is still there to bear the fruits. The only way to permanently resolve marital problems is to attack it from the root. In reality, fear not only incites majority of marital conflicts, it also causes couples to react in unhealthy ways that jeopardizes the relationship.
Quickly, let us address how these fears shape or affect our relationships Fear of rejection and betrayal not only back us up against the wall in defense of the right to protect ourselves, but it isolates and imprisons us in our own little world as well. Instead of reaching out to the other person in love, we remain trapped in an emotional cage for fear of what might happen if we dare reach out to the other person to share love. But in reality, we feel lonely, isolated, and empty on the inside but are too proud to let down our defenses. Our unwillingness to take the risk to love is only a manifestation of deep-rooted fears camouflaged as excuses. If only we are willing to lay aside these entrenched fears, learn how to share love God's way, we will have healthy and fruit-bearing marriages. Fear of not knowing whether a mate will reciprocate accordingly if we practice the "golden rule" is the primary cause for withholding love. We withhold love because we want to either punish a spouse or gauge how he or she will respond to us. Often, if a mate's response mitigates our fears, we respond positively. But if it heightens our fears, we respond negatively to protect our self. Fear to accept the humiliating reality that we might be wrong after all spurs us to insist on our ways because we do not want to accept any responsibility or change any unhealthy behavior. Because we dread the responsibilities that come with our choices, we try to shift blame like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden so we will not have to be accountable for our choices. It is this fear that compels us to shift blame in order to dock responsibility. Fear causes us to "walk on egg shells" in a relationship. We walk on the edge because we worry about ticking each other off or getting on each other's nerves. We lash out in anger when our needs are not met, prowl around in frustration when the other person will not succumb to our demands or exceed our expectations. We operate in strife and confusion because there is no deep friendship, no mutual trust, no healthy boundaries, no genuine commitment, and no real communication, or fear of God in our relationships. Therefore, we are apprehensive about those we love betraying us if we love selflessly and sacrificially. Fear impels us to withhold love when we feel the other person is not measuring up to our high standard. Fear incites us to lash out in anger or retaliation when we feel that the other person threatens our security and rights. Fear causes us to camouflage our weaknesses so we can avoid the risk to love. Fear pressures us to demand or beg for love because we feel that the only way to receive love is use manipulative tactics to milk it from the other person. Fear causes us to cling to our sense of reality even when we are wrong. Why? Because we want to hide from truth. Fear produces torment and hurt in relationships. Because we are afraid of lowering our expectations for fear of being taken for granted, we set unrealistic expectations and watch a mate fall off the cliff! Love makes us vulnerable. We shrink back from loving because we dread the risk of giving all of our hearts to this other person and getting nothing back in return. Because we fear that too much familiarity or openness with a spouse might evoke some disrespect, we keep them at bay to protect our egos...until when we feel that we desperately need them. Only then do we woo them back to come closer. Fear of losing control or being controlled by the other person drives us to develop a competitive spirit that desperately yearns to compete with a spouse rather than work together with him or her like a team. Fear of losing something of ourselves if we love wholeheartedly causes us to hold something back so that we can always have something to go back to or revert to in case we get hurt. Because we are afraid to pay the price to love, we utilize all kinds of excuses to camouflage and defend our fears to love. We yearn to love and be loved, but are afraid to walk on love's "tight rope" which often reveals our inner motives. But there is hope in God. All these fears can be overcome because God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I will show you how to confront and overcome these fears so that you will have the liberty to love without any shadow of fear hanging over your relationship. Through my own life experiences and many years of counseling, I have come to realize that one of the most effective ways to heal and strengthen a marriage relationship is when both partners are willing to work together like a team, love each other selflessly, and share sacrificially like Christ did - without any fear. From childhood, because we have been programmed to embrace only that which soothes but shrink back from that which hurts, we embrace others only when they make us feel loved, needed, and secure but reject them when they are not meeting our psychosocial needs. If it hurts to love, why would a loving God admonish us to love? When true love is shared, it does not hurt. We hurt in our relationships mainly because we share conditional love, which is self-centered, egoistic, and exploitative. We are only concerned about how much we can hoard love, not extend love; how much we can be obstinate, not compromise for the good of the relationship; how much we can manipulate the other person to adopt our reality; not change ourselves; and how much we can withdraw, not deposit in the relationship. Yes, there are times when we feel that loving someone is causing us pain. But the truth is, it is not love itself that is inciting our pain but how we are love ourselves and the other person. It is the godless behavior, the unChrist-like character, the selfish choices that we exhibit in our relationships, how we define and exhibit love that hurt us. How we define love greatly influences how we give and receive love. This program will not only address the unhealthy ways we give and receive love but will also address the healthy ways to share and reciprocate love as well. You will discover fear triggers, how to avoid and overcome them.
This Conference provides the tools to:
·Identify fear in your relationship and whether you are confronting or defending your them;
·Discern how you are loving your self and the other person as well as discover healthy ways to give and receive love;
·Recognize, avoid or deal with fear triggers;
·Eliminate the barriers to building mutual trust and genuine friendship;
·Demolish emotional walls and replace them with healthy boundaries;
·Jump over the hoops that have held you back from risking your vulnerability to love;
·Discover how to build a safety net to protect yourself;
·The Root of Fear/Marital Conflicts
·Going Back to My Roots
·Dealing with the Four most Commo Marital Hurricanes