Take Out The Trash!

Shelly Foshee

In March of 2023, my husband (Gray) and I (Shelly) attended a marriage retreat. Yes, marriage missionaries attend retreats and conferences. Every marriage needs to be investing into the gift God has given them in each other. We watched God move throughout the room, healing, redeeming and restoring.

Daily Check Ins

The organization that led this conference is called Live the Life. This conference was called “Adventures in Marriage”. This event is centered around communication. It starts with the importance of couples checking in with each other on a daily basis. Making sure to thank our spouse for something and reflect on the previous day. Is there anything you need or want your spouse to know? Did something happen that I need to apologize for? Process what tomorrow holds. Is there anything you need to talk about? Is there something that needs to be worked out? Ask if you can pray for anything for your spouse. Statistics show if you and your spouse would do this daily it would greatly decrease conflict in your marriage.

 The retreat covers much information that might be covered in another blog. These events are packed with practical information. Training you how to have conversations about your feelings with each other.. Then to talk through the bumps in the road in your relationship, with “heart to heart” conversations. Ending in the difficult conversations with “Take out the Trash” conversations. This is where I want to focus my attention.

The Trash Can

We were created to have many feelings. If we stuff all these feelings and try to keep the lid on them, we will explode. What comes out first is anger, because that is what will be on the top. This is why we have to communicate through our feelings as they arise. 

EQ

I am careful sharing this, there is much to know prior to starting this conversation. Releasing strong emotions must be bordered with lots of intentional care. Your EQ must increase in order to control your emotions and allow your mental skills to kick in. This skill of managing your behavior and reactions is a lifelong journey. Developing your EQ brings stability, peace and health to you.

Protective Walls 

Live the Life explains the importance of “Us”. In order to begin this type of heated conversation, we must set boundaries. The four things that create safety for “us” are: 1. Goodwill, 2. Respect, 3. Empathy, 4. Humility. We need to keep in mind that we, as a couple, are on the same team. God’s word is clear, when we marry, we become one. (Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31, Matthew 19:5) So in conflict, we must not set out “to win”. If I win, my husband loses. That means no one wins, because we are one. Creating an environment that protects “us” searches for the win-win-win. I win, my spouse wins and we win!!

The Science

Being a retired nurse, I found this part quite intriguing. Trying to make this very simple, there are three parts of our brain.

The brain stem (lower brain) is our “fight or flight” area. It is what helps us survive. Protects us from danger.

The limbic brain (emotional brain) is where our emotions arise. This is where our feelings are banked.

The frontal cortex (high brain), is our thinking space. It is the place where we make decisions. This “high brain” is what separates us from animals. If we use it effectively, we can be logical. This is an area of our body that can be trained, no matter how old you are. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Taking out the Trash

Before you try this for the first time, it is suggested that you vent to one another about outliers of your marriage. When you decide you are ready to move to a matter that is within the walls of your marriage, stay on the one topic you have chosen. Sit eye to eye, knee to knee and holding hands if possible. Both the speaker and listener will have guidelines. Each participant is important. 

The Listener

The listener should be the listener until the entire trash can is emptied. They do not need to repeat anything. The listener will ask questions for clarification. They should not react. Remember how you say something is more important than what you say. If you start getting worked up, ask yourself why you feel threatened. Stay in the “high brain”. Listen to what is being said.

The Speaker

Remember to value “us”. No attacking statements. Stay in your “high brain”. If you don’t think you can do this, then only discuss topics outside of your marriage. Walk through this carefully, being mindful of what you are saying. Say it in love. Say it with a desire to become closer to each other, to remove the “things” that are between you. 

Express Yourself!

Strong emotions need to be expressed! If we have stuffed emotions for whatever reason, they need to be let out. This will bring healing to you, your spouse and your marriage. When we get to the place where we can openly talk with one another in a safe environment, this develops trust. When things are confessed, then they no longer have a grip on us. 

This has been a very brief overview from all the material covered and needed to "take out the trash". We highly recommend Live the Life . It is an impactful organization that is restoring, reconciling and strengthening marriages significantly. Our marriage is one of them. Thankful for the tools taught and shown to us through them. We apply them to our marriage and share them with others. We highly recommend you check out Live The Life and sign up for your own retreat! For more info on this topic listen to the podcast where Richard and Elizabeth talk about this concept.

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