Q: I don't want much -- just a comfortable life. I work diligently and want to enjoy the fruits of my labor without hassle. Is it too much to ask for a simple existence without pain and hardship?
Jim: No other generation in history has enjoyed the level of comfort that we do today. But all that luxury comes at a high cost -- and I'm not just talking about dollars and cents. I'm talking about wisdom. Technology has made our lives so easy that we're losing it.
Comfort and leisure have become our highest pursuits in life. We chase them, and then we desperately cling to them once we get them. We'll do anything to avoid discomfort. And therein lies the problem. You see, past generations knew something that we're forgetting: Wisdom is more important than short-term comfort.
Look at the Book of Proverbs, the most popular collection of wisdom in history. It was written by a culture that believed that wisdom was the highest pursuit in life -- not money, not comfort, not luxury. The proverbs repeatedly tell us that wisdom usually requires a little pain. The path from here to there is never a straight line. You make decisions -- you get stuff wrong. Hopefully you learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
The trouble is that we want wisdom, but we don't want pain. I like nice things as much as anybody. But I don't want my desire for comfort to win out over my desire to do what's right. That's how you build a better marriage, become a better parent or make better career choices. You live with the courage to do what's right.
So enjoy your comfort -- but don't run from pain and difficulty. There's wisdom to be found there.
Q: My wife and I try to take regular date nights. The last couple have turned awkward because we ended up arguing over issues we've been facing. Should we just forget date nights until we get things sorted out?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Letting conflict invade your recreation is like throwing a red shirt into the washer with white clothes. Even though it's just one small shirt, it can destroy an entire load of laundry by turning it pink (I might have some personal experience in this area). Likewise, even though you may be discussing just one tiny issue, if it's allowed to enter into your relaxation, the entire experience can be damaged.
Conflict can be destructive to your fun times, because it intensifies negative emotions. Painful memories flood into your awareness, and you both may become frustrated. As this happens, it becomes virtually impossible to relax and enjoy each other. If this pattern repeats too often, your mate may lose the desire to do fun things because the experience ends up turning "pink."
Before your enjoyment is destroyed, interrupt arguments or sensitive discussions by agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time. Reschedule the conversation when you can provide the necessary attention it deserves -- and when it won't mess up the fun time you've got planned. Simply say, "Let's not do this right now. How about we talk about that issue later when we're back at home?"
The key is that you must deal with the conflict issue later, or your spouse won't trust that you'll ever talk about it again. Instead, she'll express those negative feelings during your date -- because her past experience has been that it'll be the only opportunity.
By not allowing conflict to harm your recreation, you're sending a very important message: "Our relationship is more important than impulsively arguing about a problem."
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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