7 Marriage Lessons from Flying on an Airplane

by Karl & Sharon Leukert

With summer travel in earnest, you might be considering boarding an airplane to take you to your destination for fun and relaxation. When we were younger (and it was our first few times flying) it seemed like such an adventure. Now, after many multiple flights, it too often ends up being a major hassle. This is kind of like marriage – at the start it is so fun and exciting, but after years of the journey, too often it ends up often seeming like more trouble than it’s worth. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together some Marital Flight Rules that will help you regain or retain the sense of adventure.

FlyingCouple

Copyright: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo

1) Everyone has baggage. Some is carry on, some is check on. Everyone enters marriage with “baggage” – EVERYONE! Some of that is very visible. Little idiosyncrasies from how we have been raised, or the culture we’re from, or just from our unique way of seeing the world around us. This is totally normal, even though it may be frustrating to our spouse. But we all also have hidden baggage – learned parenting skills or financial management that are destructive; emotional constructs that impact our relational success or failure; sexual activities prior to marriage (either with your now spouse, someone else, or pornography) that effects your relationship and sexual behavior after the “I do”; abuse in the past that has not been dealt with; damage from divorce; lack of understanding yourself enough to enter the marital relationship with a mature frame of mind. Of course this list is not exhaustive. What can be exhaustive – and exhausting – is that even if the “check ons” are hidden at the beginning of the flight, at some point they will come to the surface and will have to be dealt with. It’s all part of the successful journey of marriage, so don’t get discouraged! (Did you bring your dysfunctional childhood into your marriage?)

2) There will be turbulence. Everyone who been flying for any length of time knows that very few flights are completely smooth from takeoff to landing. As the plane passes through the air it encounters invisible pockets of varying pressure as well as currents, causing the plane to suddenly rise and fall. Usually it is not too concerning (and can actually be a bit fun). When severe enough, though, it can cause serious injury.

Marriage can be like this as well. Every marriage has normal ups and downs, which, while somewhat disturbing, can also be enjoyable, if relationship growth comes from them. Then, there are also occurrences that almost seem like the video above. Financial setbacks, health emergencies, car or home accidents, deaths of family members, relationship crises that seem to hit without warning. All these and more can create havoc in your marriage. So what do you do?

First, don’t get out of your seat, and stay buckled! It’s easy during these times to want to try and run to greater safety. Resist! Second, spend time going back over the most important positive events in your married life.

  • What were your favorite dates?
  • What are your best/worst hotel experiences?
  • Recount what one vacation together you would relive if you could.
  • Make a list of the most memorable POSITIVE sexual experiences.
  • Share some of the things your liked/didn’t like about each place you’ve lived.
  • anything else that reminds you of your good history together

Those good memories are what keeps you in place during turbulent times. Third, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help.

3) Have a destination picked out when you start. No one would get on a plane without knowing where it will land. You have to have a destination determined before boarding. What about marriage? “Til death do us part.” Historically this has been part of vows recited at weddings by both spouses. However, as is too often the case, this seems more of a fantasy than a reality. Does that mean that it should not still be the goal? Hardly. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of long-term marriage. Every day, remind yourself of this destination. Just like you wouldn’t start flying without knowing where you’re going, plan from the beginning (or start now) that “Til death do us part.” is still the ideal.

4) Don’t get off until you get there. How many of us have heard the speech about what to do with the loss of cabin pressure (“Pulling the mask toward you will start the flow of oxygen…”) or what to do in the event of a water landing (“Your seat cushion will act as a flotation device…”)? Of all the flights we’ve been on, we have yet to hear the flight attendant say, “If you desire to get off of the plane in mid-flight, please press your button as we have parachutes available.” Many times marriage problems show up within the first 5-7 years. It’s at this point too many couples opt for the parachute of divorce. We are not advocating remaining in a an abusive marriage. If you are in an abusive situation, seek help immediately! What we are advocating is to not move to ending the marriage when the normal turbulence of marriage occurs. In fact, if you make it through the first 7 years, you are more likely to make it all the way to “Til death do us part.”

5) Trust other, more experienced flyers. The first time we each went on a flight, we had so many questions. What luggage should I use? How early should we arrive at the airport? What toiletries should I take? Window or aisle seat? Am I taking too many clothes? Etc. Now, we have been able to answer those questions for our oldest child as he went away to college for his freshman year. Asking those who have successfully flown makes a huge difference. For your marriage to be successful, it’s vital to find out what others have done who have solid marriages and learn from that. Do a search online for advice from other couples, but be ready to filter out those things that would not benefit your relationship or fit into the principles of an Unashamed Marriage. Beyond that, look for couples that you know who have solid marriages and ask them to mentor you. It will have tremendous benefits!

6) Enjoy the in-flight refreshments and entertainment. When you’re on a cheap one hour flight (and even longer ones), you’re going to get a soda and maybe some pretzels. It’s fun to watch the flight attendants pass out the goodies and then quickly pick up the garbage before the plane lands! Then there are longer flights where you can order your meal to your preference (and enjoy a movie that’s offered). When we’re on the soda and pretzel flights, we don’t refuse what’s being offered just because other flights have place settings and meals designed by food stylists. Wherever your marriage is at, enjoy the benefits of what’s there in front of you.

God has designed marriage to be full of joy, refreshment and entertainment, when it is lived unashamed. In fact, living out the 9 principles of an Unashamed Marriage will help to make sure they are present in your marriage.

7) Lose some baggage on the way. It was our first flight with all three of our children, two of which were under the age of two. How were we to balance the car seats we would need for our rental car when we arrived with our connecting flights? We made mistakes the first time and we were traveling from one gate to the next with all of the car seats and fixtures. On the return flight home, we found there was a lot more luggage that could be checked in, we didn’t have to carry it with us through all the connecting flights. We even combined our things in to one carry on diaper bag/wonder bag. We adjusted and kept things simpler, enjoying the flight home much more than our trip out. A few other times, our luggage has been delayed and had to be delivered by shuttle. As technology has improved there is much less lost luggage, but here are tips to minimize that even more. (Curious about what’s been found in lost or unclaimed luggage?)

There are some things in your marriage that always need to stay in the forefront – baggage that NEEDS to be lost. Do you have carry-on items that really should have been put into the cargo hold? It’s OK for most or all of that to be lost in transit. Also, know that others on the marriage plane may have extra baggage as well. Be careful not to add to your burden while even on the flight. Regularly go to marriage programs, read marriage strengthening materials, take part in online or offline assessments to see where you are at, or, if necessary, seek a flight attendant (a.k.a. marriage therapist/counselor).

 

Make your marital journey the best it can be! Thanks for flying, UNASHAMED AIRLINES!

Marriage Maintenance

This is a guest post from our friends, Mike and Gayle Tucker at Mad About Marriage.

Maintenance is boring UNTIL something breaks down.

These 5 tips are routine maintenance healthy couples follow to stay happy:

1) They tackle problems.

Problems are a reality of life.

Some come from the inside our marriage relationship and others from the outside.

Doesn’t matter whether they’re internal or external, problems must be dealt with.

Healthy couples stay happy because they tackle problems – they don’t stick their heads in the sand.

2) They understand.

Next time you’re disappointed, upset or frustrated with your spouse, try to understand where they’re coming from.

Do what grown ups do: Start a conversation.

Think twice before assuming, attacking or accusing.

You might discover it’s just a simple misunderstanding.

How do you keep from having full-blown, in-your-face conflicts? By dealing with simple misunderstandings along the way.

Healthy couples stay happy because they seek to understand each other.

3) They act.

We have a tendency to react to our environments and relationships.

The challenge is that if this becomes a dominant pattern in our marriage, we can easily create a marital environment where we all we’re doing is reacting to problems.

It’s good to remember that marriage isn’t always about solving problems.

Marriage is about celebrating life and love, which is a pattern of action that keeps love ignited.

So come up with special dates or surprises for your partner; recreate romantic moments.

Be active, not reactionary.

Healthy couples stay happy because they take action to savor life and love.

4) They express their feelings.

Don’t assume your spouse knows you love them.

Healthy couples stay happy because they demonstrate their love routinely.

5. They make love.

If sexual fulfillment is weak or missing from your marriage, your relationship is unhealthy.

Granted, there are situations where, due to a medical situation, sexual intimacy might be lacking.

But generally speaking, a sexless marriage is an unhealthy marriage.

But before blaming your partner for drop-kicking your relationship into the “friend zone” where you behave more like roommates than lovers, evaluate your own behavior to see if anything might be throwing cold water on the fires of sexual intimacy.

Healthy couples stay happy because they enjoy mutually satisfying sex.

These are a few ways healthy couples stay happy.

If things aren’t running as smoothly as you would like, then maybe it’s time for a little routine maintenance.

Spiritual Abuse

Guest Post from Mad About Marriage

This is a guest post by our friends, Mike and Gayle Tucker, at Mad About Marriage

 

This might be uncomfortable but we need to bring it up because it’s so damaging to relationships.

Spiritual Abuse

What is it?

Would you recognize it if you saw it? 

Would you know it if you were doing it?

How can you know if you’re in a spiritually abusive relationship?

First of all, spiritual abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can be perpetrated by men or women.

All abuse (including emotional abuse), is based on power and control as opposed to love and respect.

*** That’s so important let’s read it again:

All abuse (including emotional abuse), is based on power and control not love and respect.

Spiritual abuse occurs when a leader, or a spouse, attempts to control, manipulate, or dominate another person.

Fear is used by the spiritually abusive because it’s one of the most effective ways to control people’s minds. If you control their mind you control their behavior.

Additionally, guilt and shame are effective weapons the abusive party uses to victimize and establish control.  

Spiritual abuse occurs in marriage when the husband or wife uses religion to “rule over” their spouse. 

Spiritual abuse makes its victims dependent upon the will of the perpetrator.

The abusive person may succeed in making the victim feel incapable of doing anything on his or her own without their help, permission or approval. 

Victims lose confidence in themselves.

They also lose confidence and assurance in their relationship with God apart from the perpetrator. 

They become emotionally enslaved to their abusive partner.

Spiritually abusive spouses are driven by the need to control.

They are jealous and try to isolate their partner from others.

They are disrespectful.

They shun privacy and personal boundaries, which is also a form of emotional abuse.

So, how do you know if you’re in a spiritually abusive marriage? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Does your spouse exhibit control-oriented leadership – do they “lord” over you?

2. Does your spouse demand submission and unquestioning loyalty?

3. Does your spouse demand obedience?

4. Are questions unwelcome or perceived as challenges to their “authority?”

5. Are guilt, fear, and intimidation used to control and manipulate you?

6. Does your spouse claim that questioning him/her is akin to questioning God?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s likely you’re suffering emotional abuse and are in a spiritually abusive relationship.

What can you do if you’re being spiritually abused?

1. Remember & accept that you are a child of God and that He wants you to be free. 

2. Realize that God, despite His power, doesn’t “lord” over you – and He doesn’t expect you to allow yourself to be “lorded over” by any human being. He hates any and all means of coercion.

3. Believe that God has freed you from your abuser – and gives you the right and power to stop listening to them! 

4. Accept the truth that you are being led by the Holy Spirit, and that through Bible study and prayer, you have the privilege to decide what is good, bad, wrong or right for yourself.

Please listen carefully to what I’m about to say next:

You do not require the guidance or approval of a third party to encounter God or know His will.

And, finally, remember this:

Healthy spirituality elevates people, freeing them from guilt, fear and shame. 

Healthy religion is based on love and respect and does not seek to control, but instead invites people to choose to connect with God willingly and become one with Him. 

Healthy spirituality and religion do not seek to create fear or shame in believers. 

Guilt and shame are done away with by a caring God who forgives and restores.  

There is absolutely no emotional or spiritual abusiveness within an authentic relationship with Him.

Nor should there be any in your relationship with your partner or community of faith.

What Men Want (Other than sex)

by Sharon Leukert

Men seem to be driven by formulas: a+b=c. When they find a formula that gets good results, you can believe it will get burned on to their psyche and they will repeat it. Formulas such as: I go to work everyday + I do my job well = I get paid.

So what is one of the big results that men are looking for, something that they are willing to do a+b in order to achieve? It is simply this: to be appreciated.

Everyone likes to be appreciated, but men especially thrive on knowing that what they do and say is favorably acknowledged. Ladies – do you want the secret to appreciation for men? Everything needs to be appreciated. When he takes out the garbage, whether he remembers to put a new bag in or not; needs to be appreciated just as much as when he plans a week long getaway for your 25th wedding anniversary.

Perhaps the ladies are wondering how this works for them. Let’s put it into the favorite male vehicle of a formula. I take out the garbage + I remember to put a new bag in the can=I get a thank you from my wife. Make it a point to tell him you appreciate him remembering to put the new bag in the can and punctuate it with a kiss or a quick graze of his arm. Verbal appreciation + physical touch = a man who will do almost anything for you.

Take the time to appreciate your spouse. Ladies especially, acknowledge your husbands deeds, great or small. Show your appreciation.