Reawakening Manners and Morality in Men

Science in the Bible – Don’t Sleep Angry

Sleep

We return to our Science in the Bible series with a look at Ephesians 4:26.  “Be angry and do not sin; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”  This is a well known verse and seems based in common sense because it is difficult to fall asleep when angry, and the sleep you get is often less restful.  Science, however, has just proven this to be much more than common sense.

Earlier this year neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted a polysomnography study (sleep study using electrodes and computers) with interesting results.

The Experiment:

Here is the experiment conducted.  The study included 106 adults between 18-30 years old, 68 females and 38 males.  The two phase test involved showing participants pictures on a computer screen and asking them to rate each one as sad or happy, and their own response of calm or excited on a scale of 1 to 9.  By using the two rating per picture system, each participant’s emotional value score was unique for the pictures.  Twelve hours later the participants were shown a mix of the pictures they had already seen, and new pictures.  They rated each picture on the two scales again, and indicated if they had seen the picture in the previous test.  Forty one of the participants were tested early in the morning, then later that same day, and forty one were tested in the evening and then the following morning after a full nights rest.  The remaining twenty four were tested with only a 45 minute break as a control group.

The Result:

The researchers found that sleep had significant effects on participants recognition memories and feelings.  Contrary to the popular opinion that sleep will soften a person’s negative emotions, the study found that sleep actually preserved the memories and emotional responses to the images.  Those that stayed awake between viewings did not recall the images as well, and they registered a less negative response to the images, while those that slept retained the memories and negative responses to the images.

The bottom line:

Go to bed angry at your wife, wake up in the morning STILL angry at your wife.  Sleeping on the issue does not help to lower any negative feelings.

Options:

If you can’t go to bed angry, and staying up until oh-dark-thirty yelling at each other isn’t going to accomplish anything, what can you do?  Here are some ideas to help end the fight on civil terms so you can go to bed in a better emotional state of mind.

The Pause Button

The highly decorated sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” has an interesting way of dealing with the long arguments between one of the long standing couples on the show.  They hit the proverbial pause button.  While in pause land they sleep, eat lunch, or do whatever else needs to be done, while being perfectly nice to one another until such time as the fight can resume at a more convenient time.  This is obviously done for comedic effect, but it is not a bad idea on principle.  Instead of arguing all night or going to bed angry, hit the pause button, go to the kitchen and share a late night snack and go to bed on civil terms.  The fight can be resumed with cooler heads after a good non-angry nights sleep when emotions and lower and exhaustion isn’t threatening to make you lose your grip on the mean things you want to say but know you shouldn’t.

The Distraction

Another option is to refocus your brain before going to bed angry, after the fight is over leave your spouse alone, but don’t go immediately to sleep.  Instead of sleeping angry, go watch 30 minutes of something on netflix or read a book.  This will provide your mind with 30 minutes of not fighting to store in it’s ‘preserve-this-feeling-for-tomorrow’ buffer.

The Change Rule

People tend to stick to routines and things that you have done before will be easier to do again.  If your fight is in a rut and you keep going in circles, change one thing to break the cycle and force your brain to start listening and engaging instead of just repeating.  This is easiest to do by declaring a new fight rule like ‘you can only talk about relatives when lying on the floor’ or ‘you can only discuss bad habits while wearing an oven mitt’ or ‘we only discuss financial issues in a British accent.’  By changing one thing about the fight you add a little bit of funny to ease tensions, and force yourself to engage instead of repeat.  This can help you come to an accord or find a good place to stop the fight in a lighter frame of mind, which can prevent you from going to bed angry.

The Own Your Part Rule

One effective method for reducing conflict in a fight is by owning up to your mistakes and apologizing.  Even if you are 90% right, and they are in the wrong, you can always find some small part of the fight to own up to and apologize for.  Fighting isn’t going to change their mind, or resolve the issue, so what you are after isn’t resolution, but simply an end to the fighting.  Solving the issue will be done at another time in a different frame of mind.  It’s hard to continue screaming at somebody who is saying “You know, you’re right.  I shouldn’t have done/said that.  I apologize, and will work on not doing/saying that again.  Will you forgive me?”

Your mileage will vary with these tips as each couple has their own method for resolving conflict.  Some friends of mine resolve their issues with a knock-down drag-out pillow fight.  Figure out what works for you, and find a way to stop the fight on civil terms, or find some way to let go of the anger before putting your head on the pillow.  Failure to obey verse 26 about not going to sleep angry will lead to the consequences of verse 27.  Obey the Bible, Science says so!

Distracted Dad

Father ignoring child

I got to go to my first Daddy-Daughter dance last week.  My eldest daughter and I had a wonderful time on our date and dancing the night away.  We ordered what may possibly be the largest ice cream Sunday ever made.  I was not expecting the ‘feed a large family’ size of it.  We had a great time trying to devour it.  We failed.  Overall I had a wonderful time dancing and having fun with my daughter and making her feel special.

While I was at the dance I noticed a lot of disengaged fathers standing on the sidelines playing with their phones, not actively participating in any activities with their daughters.  It made me kind of sad, but one dad takes the cake as my new poster child for disinterested daddy of the year.

This guy was sitting on the side with a freaking laptop. This was not a cute little pocket PC kind of thing, but a full on big sized 17 incher.  His ‘I don’t want to be here’ demeanor was so blatant I actually stopped mid-stride and stared at him for a moment.  Perhaps I’m judging to easily, and he was a member of the elite Air Force Cyber Command and he was single-handedly saving the good old USofA from a legion of evil hackers.  Maybe he was remotely monitoring a sensitive science experiment that would consume the region in a black hole if any of the variables went outside the parameters.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet you dollars to donuts he was playing Angry Birds.

No matter what he was doing, I do know one thing for sure.  Somewhere in that sea of princesses was a sad little girl, wishing her daddy would dance with her.

Don’t be the kind of dad that plays with his phone at the diner table.  The world WILL NOT end if you don’t respond to emails in nanoseconds.  If you don’t look at your children when they are talking to you, you will receive the same treatment from them when they grow into teenagers.  “Yea yea, whatever dad, can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

Would you lay down your life for your daughter?  Of course you would.  Why then, can you not lay down your cell phone, or laptop, or pager, or e-reader for her?

Don’t be the guy who shows up at a daddy-daughter dance with a laptop.

Lead Me – by Sanctus Real

Lead Me – by Sanctus Real

Sanctus Real’s Lead Me is a song that has earned itself a permanent place in my music rotation.  I think every man should listen to this song every morning as a reminder of why he’s getting out of bed, and what will be expected of him for the next 18 hours or so.  I find that this song’s powerful words really resonate with me.  Matt Hammitt, the lead vocalist and guitar player wrote the song after his wife had the courage to come to him and beg him to be a leader for their family.

Andrew Funderburks from New Release Tuesday interviewed the band shortly after their album Pieces of a Real Heart came out.  The following is an excerpt from that interview.

One song I know that is poignant for the band is “Lead Me.” Would you mind sharing the story behind the song?

It’s a pretty amazing song. Our lead singer, Matt Hammitt, had most of the song written. It was written after Matt and his wife had a pretty gut-wrenching conversation, where she told him that she needed him to be a better spiritual leader to her and their family. It rocked Matt’s world. They’re the ones who have been married the longest in the band. They’ve been married longer than I have. They already have two daughters and they’re expecting their third child right now. Matt said that he found it humbling that his wife would have the courage to say something like that out of love. Secondly, he realized that he had to do something about it. There was no way around it. We don’t believe in divorce. There were some things they had to work on to keep that open dialogue between the two of them, so that they could admit problems and work through them. That’s where the song came from.

The idea is actually at least a year and a half old. We had a rough idea of the song because he had a demo, but it got put in the pile. The president of our record label somehow found the song before we completely finished the record and said, “Something is going on with that song. I think it could really be turned into something special if you guys finish it.” Until he said that, we hadn’t even entertained the thought of putting the song on the record. When we went in the studio to finish the song with this writer from Nashville, the story came together perfectly. The song is kind of a father’s prayer for his family and wife. It’s an honest cry out to God saying, “If I’m going to lead my family, I need You to lead me.” I can say this because I didn’t have a lot to do with it. [Laughs.] I hope that hearing the story behind the song, and what went into writing it, will touch a lot of lives. It’s a powerful song!

You can catch the entire interview on New Release Tuesday’s Website.  While I wasn’t able to find an official music video for this song, I did find a pretty neat production by My Bridge Radio.  I think they did a fantastic job on this, and hope they continue to produce videos of this caliber.

 

Here are the lyrics, in case they didn’t instantly burn themselves into your soul.

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying…

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They’re just children from the outside
I’m working hard, I tell myself they’ll be fine
They’re in independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying…

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I’m called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won’t You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can’t
Don’t want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I’ll show them I’m willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, ’cause I can’t do this alone

Father, lead me, ’cause I can’t do this alone

Matt put out a podcast with his wife giving more of the back story behind the song.  They knew they were having problems, but they took divorce right off the table.  If there is no escape route, you have no choice but to fight.  They fought for their marriage and came out stronger for it.  I hope more men can learn from his example.  It sickens me that the divorce rate in the church is no different than in the world.  As a geek, it annoys me when people leave their electronics set to forever blink 12:00 when they have a users manual that tells them how to fix the problem if they would only read it.  Well you know what?  Life comes with an instruction manual too.  If you want to salvage a marriage, or simply improve one, go READ THE MANUAL!  Looking at the smoldering remains of my keyboard, I do believe I’m going to have to write some more on this topic.  Anyway, go check out the video on youtube.