The well-known adage for family gatherings goes something like this: “Never talk about politics, sex or religion.” That’s any family—modern family, traditional family, non-traditional family, you name it.
That well may be a practical suggestion for large get-togethers at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s not the best advice for your marriage. Avoiding difficult topics doesn’t make the tension go away. To the contrary, unwillingness to communicate mostly serves to deepen the divide. Can you spell marriage conflict?
Here at All Pro Dad, we recommend a marriage that values communication and acknowledges the potential for conflict in the context of mutual respect and affirming love.
Simply put, we’d better talk about the things we fight about. If we won’t talk, then fighting is all that’s left in the way of communication. Parenting 101 and Marriage 101 are often, fundamentally, exactly the same class.
1. Money. Sit down together and work out a budget. Agree to take a look at expenses every month. If the meeting is pre-arranged and you both come to the table with 100 percent transparency, then the conversation about money can move from the emotional into the practical.
2.Family communication. “You never talk!” “You never listen!” Well, it’s easy to be distracted, so try this:
Dedicate 30 minutes every evening to “conversation with coffee” (or the beverage of your choice).
Go through a book such as 201 Great Questions, and actually schedule time for a tête-à-tête every day.
3. Children. Of course you fight about the children! Recognize the fact that tensions run high because you love them so much. Then turn conflict into communication by saying, “I need your help figuring out how to deal with this,” at the start of “those” conversations.
4. Intimacy. Intimacy? Who has time for that? Consider this, busy parents. You schedule everything else that’s important—the things that you believe you shouldn’t miss. Isn’t this part of your relationship worth a little planning? Call it “planned spontaneity” if you like. Here’s an important truth: Planning doesn’t kill spontaneity. It simply gives your creative impulse room to find its voice.
5.Time. You know the old Rolling Stones old tune, “Time Is on My Side“? Well, it’s wrong. Time is typically the thief of family harmony. Couples fight all the time for a stake in how the 24 hours are divvied up. Instead of fighting, join forces: “Okay, here’s the day/week/vacation. Let’s figure out how to make it work for us.” Make it a partnership against the conspiracy of time—the common foe.
6.Priorities. Are they “my priorities,” “her priorities” or “our priorities,” and who has power of veto? First things first: Power in the marriage relationship equation is gained only by giving it away. It’s important to remember that the first priority is always love—that love gives itself away and that “love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking” (Paul, circa A.D. 70).
7. Jealousy. Jealousy is best defined as “resentment against a rival.” In marriage, everything can be a potential rival: the children, possessions, friends, work, colleagues, church commitments. The perception of rivalry is as powerful as the reality of it and, as such, should never be discounted. So, All Pro Dads, make it your business to communicate what is true to your wife! You can’t overdo this one, but you can undo your marriage if you take her for granted.
8. Religion. Some couples fight based on denominational preference; some fight over the fundamentals of faith; some fight regarding levels of commitment; and some fight about religion because one of them is interested and the other is not. Regardless of the fight, try to live your faith with authenticity, integrity and humility. The closer you are to God, then the closer (no matter where your spouse stands) you are to your mate. The key point here is your faithfulness, not theirs.
9. Politics. Question: Do we have to talk about politics? Answer: Believe me, we do!
OK, so why do you fight? Is it because your spouse is wrong? Your spouse would surely come around to your way of thinking if you just repeated your talk-radio sound bite one more time, right? Or maybe the fight comes in response to the fact that you fail to value her opinion or she refuses to respect yours?
Again, the important thing here is to cultivate an atmosphere in which you can talk about anything, because your spouse knows you love and respect them regardless of disagreement. Browbeating your spouse into thinking in lock-step will not ever bring peace or joy to your household. Don’t just agree to differ. Learn to understand your wife’s opinion—you might just learn something.
10. The past. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Never argue historically. But we do. We bring up the past and we hold it over one another’s heads. Here’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re tempted to throw something in your wife’s face that she can’t do a thing about today: “So what?” You are not that same person anymore—and neither is she. The past is past. Let it stay there. Move on.
All Pro Dad is Family First’s innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a by-product, the hearts of the children with their dads. At AllProDad.com, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include: daily emails, blogs, Top 10 Lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. From AllProDad.com fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities on Facebook,Twitter,YouTube and Instagram.
“There were two bands that we were trying desperately to recruit, one was Rolling Stones, the other was Led Zeppelin,” David Saltzman, executive director of the charitable Robin Hood Foundation told the “60 Minutes” website.
Then think about the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, or Dylan, and what do you remember? Chances are, you remember something much more recent. That’s because most of the great bands of the 60’s and 70’s got stuck. They couldn’t break out of the era of their initial success. Sure they continue to play, but while they used to pack any arena in America, today you’ll probably find them performing at State Fairs or Indian Casinos.
On the other hand, in spite of their age, the Stones, McCartney, Elton John, and a handful of others are still booking world tours in massive arenas, and have a new generation of fans. Why?
Some bands manage to reinvent themselves. They keep from getting stale, or locked into the period when they experienced their initial or biggest success. It’s no different for any creative artist, leader, writer, filmmaker – even pastor. The truth is, the world changes, culture changes, tastes change, and people change. As I said in my book “Jolt!”: “Change is coming whether you like it or not, and whether you’re ready or not.”
Contrary to what some people think, reinvention doesn’t mean compromise, or shifting from who you really are. So if you have a message and want to keep that message relevant, and continue finding an audience, here’s 5 things to consider:
1) Be willing to take a risk. Success is comfortable, but to transition to a new generation, you need to be willing to try something new – and potentially fail in the process. Most of the major bands that continue to be relevant released a few dud albums over the years, but that didn’t stop them from innovating. Keep exploring and trying something new.
2) You can’t fake long term success. Sure, “The Last Train to Clarksville” was a huge hit, but years later, The Monkees couldn’t replicate that success. Real talent carries you for the long haul.
3) Get out of the bubble. You may be the King of the Polka right now, but you need to know more about music than that. If you don’t, a hotter polka artist will eat your lunch. In other areas, I know preachers who were successful in the 80’s, who today couldn’t draw a crowd if they set themselves on fire. Just because it worked 10 or 20 years ago, doesn’t mean it will work today.
4) Plan for the future. My friend, Ralph Winter, who produced the blockbuster films “X-Men” and “Wolverine” says being successful in Hollywood isn’t about knowing what’s popular now. By the time you find the right story, develop pre-production, then film it, then do post production and distribution, a major film takes five or more years to bring to the market. Do you know what will be popular in your business five years from now? Start thinking ahead.
5) Finally, you may not like where the culture is going, but get used to it. Far too many talented people quit because they don’t agree with what’s popular, what’s selling, or what works. See above: Change is coming whether you like it or not, and whether you’re ready or not.
Remember – don’t sell out. Don’t compromise. But don’t be arrogant either. After all, no matter how great your film idea, book, sermon, business – whatever – if nobody’s listening, you’ve failed.
Written by Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture.Click here to visit his website.
Bob Grace has worked with some of the biggest names in music—from David Bowie to The Spice Girls. But none of those encounters compares with the day he “met God.”
After a rocky road of broken relationships and alcoholism, Grace cried out to a supernatural power—and says God “hit me like a freight train.” Now at 65, he’s written about his dramatic spiritual journey in a book called Rock Solid: From Demo to Limo to God, which released in June.
It was after a simple prayer in 1988 that Grace says “wave after wave of bliss” swept over him like “liquid honey.” Comparing that to his rock ‘n’ roll years, he says, “It was everything I’d hoped for in drugs and meditation—all in one!”
Brought up in Great Britain’s post-war “you’ve never had it so good” era, Grace was the son of a theatrical agent who worked with big names like entertainer Roy Castle and comedian Bob Hope. His father’s work brought him into contact with British music legends such as Cliff Richard and The Shadows. He also rubbed shoulders with The Rolling Stones.
Grace soon found himself escorting visiting American artists like Dionne Warwick, The Isley Brothers and The Shangri-Las to TV show appearances. But his real desire was to work for a record company.
Grace’s moment came when he joined the promotion department of music giant EMI in 1965. He helped publicize The Beatles’ Revolver and The Beach Boys’Pet Sounds. Interestingly, the latter included the massive hit “God Only Knows,” which was one of the first pop songs to carry God in its title.
When Grace was asked to publish music for David Bowie, he jumped at the chance. Strangely enough, the first song he dealt with was called “Holy Holy” in 1971. But the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle was taking its toll: “It wasn’t fun any more,” Grace told Charisma, “and I was at a low point in the drinking.”
Like others in the music industry, Grace started searching for a spiritual answer to life’s problems. A spiritual movement had already been underway among some of Grace’s contemporaries.
Texan guitarist T-Bone Burnett said this broader spiritual movement affected people like Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen of U2 in Dublin. Some of Bob Dylan’s band had been impacted by reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity—a classic study on biblical hope.
But for Grace, visiting Holy Trinity Brompton in London was a turning point. “There were more people in the congregation than in the clergy,” he recalls. “It’s normally the other way ’round!” Captivated by sermons from Bishop Sandy Millar, Grace couldn’t wait to attend services each Sunday.
He joined Alpha, a course that introduces inquirers to the Christian faith. But still he couldn’t grasp the gospel. Grace decided to give “the God of grace” a chance. He asked Jesus to be part of his life. “I did it every night before I went to bed,” he remembered. “But it didn’t make any difference.”
Finally, the seventh night brought a change he could feel. “The power of God came in,” he recalls. “It was awesome. His power knocked me to the ground. It was unbelievable.”
Grace and his American wife, Yvonne, have since joined a charismatic Anglican church and offer “healing prayer” on the streets of the historic city of Bath.
And his book Rock Solid is already having an impact. When Grace spoke about it at a summer event, two audience members became Christians. “We’re not a religious family,” said one reader, “but you’ve opened our eyes to exploring it more.” That’s the power of Grace.