Thursday, February 14, 2013

V-Day Trip 2013: Language Barrier


(Pedernales River)

"Little children, let us not love in word and talk but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:18

Language Barrier is a term we use to indicate the difficulties faced when people have no language in common, which often leads to confusion, frustration, and creates a barrier to progress. It's putting me in the middle of a small Nothern Chinese village and asking me to understand Mandarin to navigate my way through town. It's not going to happen. And even if I did have a small working vocabulary of this    
foreign, really foreign language...I would utterly fail in the nuances, tones, inflections, dialect, non verbal facial expressions (essentially the phonetics of language) and then there's the composition of words and phrases, the semantics, and of course context, etc, etc

So take a Chinese villager with no understanding of English and a first generation American with ESL tendencies (me) and get us to figure something out. Yeah...again, not going to happen.

Yet, at times, I would argue that I could probably communicate more effectively with my Chinese stranger than I can my own wife of almost 8 years. And why is this? Because as a close friend best put it, "I don't speak wife."

The most difficult language in the world to pick up is the language our spouses speak. There's no Rosetta Stone for Husbandese or a dictionary for the most frustrating, hair pulling language ever-Wifey or more commonly known in male circles as Womanese.

Truth is, there is a chasm in our communication within our marriages. Most of us still struggle with what our spouses are "really trying to say." Some days I have no clue what Sarah is trying to convey to me...in addition to the words that she speaks, there are the phonetics as mentioned above, context of our relationship, emotions, and expectations that she wants me to understand. There's no way I can keep up...I get frustrated, confusion sets in, and of course I fail to interpret what my wife is saying to me...

Then there's my language...or there lack of. Looking back, I feel bad for Sarah. She doesn't have a chance to pick up what I'm putting down. Often times, the language barrier is so thick between us because I make no sense to begin with! As many of my friends know, I am a mumbling idiot anyhow.

But the good news is...there is a common language we can all share in if we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for our better halves. As the disciple John best put it, "Little children (us), let us not love in word and talk but in deed and truth." The language of love, the language of Jesus can be the language we primarily speak in our marriages if we submit oursleves to each other. As John explains, love is not talk...it is not fuzzy feelings or Valentine's day roses and dinner...no, love is deed and truth. Love is a sincere act, a righteous doing, a genuine submission of yourself to an other by serving them and their needs (and I would add their wants too!!!!)

So this has been my prayer for the last month. Something that God has laid upon my heart to be a better husband to my Sarah. To be able to set aside the way I think, the way I feel, and the way I do, so I can serve my wife in deed and truth. To be fluent in her language...know and understand her thoughts and feelings...to interpret the tones, the context, and the non-verbals...to be able to decipher "Wife." To speak the language of love in our marriage...and make that our primary source of communication. If I do this...I can lead us and navigate our marriage through any foreign territory!!! This through Jesus Christ name...Amen!
What: V- Day Camping and Climbing Trip for the Moore's and Pasquels annual V-Day Marriage Conference (4th annual)
When: 2/8-2/10/13
Who: Jen and Chong Moore, Katie and Matt Fisher, Sarah and Dummy Pasquel, Amy and Brad Hardin,
Oliver Pasquel (my pooch)
Where: Pedernales Falls State Park, Reimer's Ranch, and dinner at the Salt Lick in Driftwood.

The Moore's drove up on Thursday and the rest of us drove up on Friday evening...We camped out at Pedernales Falls and just enjoyed each other's fellowship. Chong got the fire started...and we all sat around the fire for most of the evening...the following day, we would all head to Reimer's...

...to climb all day long. Now, we usually head out to the Wichita Mountains for this weekend every year. However, the weather was not cooperating with us...most of Oklahoma was under severe thunderstorm warning for the weekend. We liked our odds heading South...though there was an occasional sprinkle...the weather held out for us the entire day. It really turned out be a great day for climbing...and a great marriage seminar, as explained below:

This is an officially sanctioned Marriage Conference held by us, not just some random hang out session...we had to incorporate team building and relationship skills. Throughout the day...we all had to communicate with each other, rely and trust in each others ability, be patient with one another, and encourage each other for every climb. We were following the marriage conference curriculum as planned...I hope you enjoy our program and maybe this will interest you next year!
(Matt)
(Ching)
(Matt and I)
Then we moved on to the problem solving portion of the marriage conference. As we all know...we all face problems in marriage. So we included problem solving on rock as a metaphorical exercise in our weekend program. As seen above, Brad and Katie are trying to map out their first moves...strategically setting themselves up for success. A similar step in marriage.
Chang, as seen above, demonstrates what happens when you rush into a problem without giving it much thought...you end up stuck, looking around, trying to figure out what to do next??? Sometimes, exercising caution is best...especially when handling your marriage.
Then there's the introspection component of our program. This is when you take a step back, during your "quiet time"...to take a moment and try to understand what you can do differently in your challenges. Here, we found Brad staring at a wall...perhaps studying his route or "line". But really, he was studying his marriage. He was trying to understand which route to take in his finances, his parenting skills, possibly even his role as a "man" of the house. It was a deep moment. I think he found himself today.
We also cover the importance of dating your spouse. It is extremely essential to do things as a couple...as seen above, Matt and Katie were found working through this fun exercise as a couple. Together, they enjoyed the same activity at the same time...this is what we call dating. They did an excellent job of dating on this day...good job guys!
Then we get to the nitty gritty...the part that is necessary in all our marriages. We all know that in our relationships...we all have to face the everyday, mundane crap to get through our days...Things like chores, paying bills, dishes...just crap that needs to get done. So we installed a new component into our program this year. The "Crack" climb. And yes...to be able to climb up the crack...you have to get dirty and stick your hands in there...you don't know what kind of crap is in those crevices...but it doesn't matter. If you want to finish, you have to just pull up your sleeves and get your hands dirty...it's not pretty, but it is what it is. As seen above, Sarah and Jen are doing what they pretty much do everyday at home...
Finally, we ended our program with a comedy skit by Cheang Moore. In the pictures above, he revealed to the rock climbing world a new rock climbing technique. I call it the "Beached Whale." Never seen anything like it on rock...Bringing humor to the rock...and bringing humor to our marriages. BTW, the next day...I went climbing with Sarah down in the Greenbelt in Austin...and I did the exact same thing!!!! Sorry Sean...I shouldn't have laughed at you...it's actually helped me up a wall.
So there it is...I hope you enjoyed our program. In reality...we just hung out, had many laughs, climbed routes, and goofed off. It was a perfect day.

***We had V-Day Dinner at the Salt Lick. I apologize...I usually take pictures of food, but I forgot to take pics***