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Here’s your script.

What? What script?

This is your script for the day. Memorize it. These are the only words you’re allowed to say to me today.

My wife would love to give me her “script of the day.” She suggested this recently when she was tired of my usual script (who can blame her?). We joked about what it would look like if she handed me the script first thing in the morning. How would it sound for me to talk through her prescribed lines mechanically, where every sentence led to perfect understanding of the author (herself!)?

She’d love for me to understand her… quickly.

She’d love me to be able to read her mind.

She’d love me to listen without saying a word.

I, on the other hand, want her to do all the hard work of following my convoluted train of thought, and to feel the g-forces of every twist & turn. She’d rather not. I kinda can’t blame her.

Are you a good teacher of how you want to be treated?

Over time, we teach people how to treat us by how we let them speak to us with their words and tone and body language; if we’re not psychologically healthy or emotionally mature, we may be prone to let people mistreat us by not establishing/checking good psychological boundaries.

Dr. Gail Gross speaks to this in her article, “5 Toxic Personalities and How to break the bad dating pattern.

We gravitate to people who let us do what we know how to do – whether positive or negative – people who are familiar to us. The early patterns of interactions that we learned with our opposite-sex parent might lead us to the same patterns again, keeping us in our comfort zone…

As you mature and grow, you may recognize that you want a different kind of partner in your adult life. To know yourself is the first step to gaining the ability to acknowledge and recognize similar patterns in relationships — and to avoid them.

Break a pattern quote

Sometimes – a Time Out – Break a Pattern

Sometimes when we meet with couples in tension, we are aware of the need to “break the pattern” of communication. Take a time out. Give everyone a breather.

Sometimes couples don’t return, emotionally at least.

Sometimes they fester with new arguments and reload for a bigger fight.

But more hopefully, the couple can separate in order to self-reflect on their own communication pattern – to evaluate their own “script” so to speak, and to make changes in their own communication.

Unhelpful Thinking Styles

In order to break a pattern, you need to self-reflect on your communication patterns. “Psychology.tools” does a good job of describing thinking pattern problems:

The theory states that biased thinking and biased information processing affects what an individual perceives. This leads to biased decision-making, biased emotion, and biased action… This Unhelpful Thinking Styles information sheet gives details of 10 common cognitive distortions.

Check out this chart for Unhelpful Thinking Styles and begin to identify which styles you are prone to use. A clue to knowing which are your patterns is if you have heard your partner say this to you. Try to think about your own styles first… the temptation is to find all the unhelpful thinking styles of your partner.  Self awareness is usually more powerful and teachable than being told… in an argument.

Spiritual Formation and Transformation

The most profound mechanism of change in my life has been the transformation of God speaking into my life. The Apostle Paul writes this in Romans 12:2:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

How do you renew your mind? You renew it by meditating on God’s thoughts, God’s word, God’s conversations with you, through His scripture, His people (including your spouse), His Spirit, and the experiences of life through which He leads you.

What does it mean to “meditate on God’s word”?  It means you chew over His word as spiritual food for your soul; it means you contemplate the relation of the word to all your life experiences and to your relationships. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way:

When your word came, I ate them, and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart.

To meditate on God’s word is to contemplate the presence of Jesus in it and leaping out of it – as Jesus told the bible experts of His day, “these are the scriptures that speak about me.” Meditating on God’s word is gaining a redeemed imagination – it is finding Jesus finding you as you are.

This is the fresh script for the day: God’s own word spoken to you through Jesus by His Spirit. If you don’t know where to start, you might begin in the Psalms to enter into the worship language of the Bible, or in the Gospels to read the life and words of Jesus, or you might begin to go through a daily reading plan. Ingesting this new script may be good for you to share together as a couple.

Grace to you in your relationship with the person closest to you, and with the One who is closer than you think.