Everybody Marries the Wrong Person

Turning Flawed into Fulfilling Relationships

Angry Christians Miss the Point

Self-responsibility Includes Taking Command of Negative Emotions

Oh, my.  Anti-Christian, anti-traditional family, militant feminist! And not in a good way.

Write a book about self-responsibility in relationships and attract shots from angry fundamentalist Christians?  Christians who log on to the internet, take aim, and do as much damage as possible - with words?  Cyber-snipers for Christ, so to speak. Note:  Not to be confused with Snipers for Jesus.  Google it.   

Surprising and not so surprising.

Behavioral tenet 

Verbal shots from fundamentalists are surprising because I thought Christians held themselves to a higher standard.  Also surprising because, according to my personal cyber-snipers for Christ, Christians claim self-responsibility as a behavioral tenet.  Actually, I don't recall self-responsibility being emphasized during my fundamentalist Christian, traditional family upbringing.  To the contrary, it was all about obeying God, the Scriptures, and parents, and suffering the dire consequences of disobedience.  Praying to God for answers to life's questions.  Following the Lord's will for your life. But, I digress.  

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Political conservatives also claim self-responsibility as a behavioral tenet. Not to say, of course, that all Christian fundamentalists are political conservatives or vice versa.  Also, I would be remiss to neglect mentioning the self-responsible leanings of independents, liberals, progressives, the non-political, the non-Christians, and the non-religious.  Nobody gets to call "dibs" on a universal concept such as self-responsibility.  

Since Everybody Marries the Wrong Person was published over two years ago, Christian fundamentalists and political conservatives across the Bible belt and elsewhere have shown interest in and enthusiasm for the application of self-responsibility to relationships.  For example, I have talked with many Christian fundamentalists and/or political conservatives via talk radio.  Hosts and on-air callers alike respectfully and cheerfully discussed common ground and positive insights about self-responsibility in relationships.  Not once, have I been spit at by a verbal sniper while on the radio.  Now, there was that heckler at a book talk, but he came around when he figured out that it was not a "male-bashing" book.

Anonymity and confirmation bias

Cyber-sniping from Christian fundamentalists is not surprising, I suppose, when you consider the anonymity afforded in Comments sections around the worldwide web. And there is another contributing factor - confirmation bias.  Psychologists use this phrase to refer to the tendency to:

1)  Search and interpret information in a way that confirms what we already believe.

2)  Ignore everything else. 

3)  Cherry-pick. 

We do this in the political arena, of course.  We also do this with our spouses, partners, loved ones.    Examples:  Not this again!  You always... You never...  If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.  You don't listen to me.  Etc., etc.   

Tale of Two Christians

Aim and shoot!  Maybe it's just me, but it seems like cyber-snipers intend to be threatening.  Whether they behave this way out of fear and insecurity or out of venom-spewing, mean-spiritedness, it highlights their incomplete understanding of self-responsibility.  

For example, one anonymous commenter (not on this website) stated that Everybody Marries the Wrong Person is anti-Christian, anti-traditional family, a vehicle for militant feminism.  He emphasized, presumably to establish his credibility as a critic, his personal Christianity, twenty-year marriage to his "true love," and his thorough understanding of self-responsibility.  Maybe, as he skimmed the first chapter, his eyes fell on one or more statements that threatened his God-given authority over his "true love."  Or maybe... Well, only God knows.

Happily, other experiences with self-described Christians provide balance. For example, one recent graduate of "a Bible college" contacted me through my website (which pictures both traditional and non-traditional couples) and asked whether he could pre-pay by personal check for an hour of my time.  He had read Everybody Marries the Wrong Person and wanted to get my perspective on his relationship with a young woman (also a Bible college grad) who was pressuring him to marry her.  Throughout our subsequent interactions, this young man impressed - both with his commitment to loving behavior and his broad grasp of the concept of self-responsibility. 

Self-responsibility - the broad grasp

Self-responsibility in romantic relationships means taking responsibility for our own happiness and unhappiness, expectations, anxieties, and dark moods.  It means letting go of the great fantasies that spouses will sustain the special treatment we experienced during infatuation or that we are deserving of this level of indulgence.  Most importantly, self-responsible spouses take command of their negative emotions.  See prior posts: How to Train Your Dragon and Does Taking Command of  Emotions Make You Heartless and Soulless?

Broadly self-responsible individuals (married or not, fundamentalist or not) grow themselves up emotionally. They recognize and accept responsibility for their negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. They grasp the fine points of self-responsibility:  

1)  There is a difference between behaving rationally and using one's rational mind to justify irrational behavior.

2)  Everybody has negative feelings but the emotionally mature do not vent these feelings because venting is destructive to self and others.

3)  Taking command of negative emotions demonstrates the highest level of self-responsibility.

Take away:  Beware your tendency toward confirmation bias.  This narrows your mind and your world and hinders your progress toward emotional maturity.  

Final word for potential cyper-snipers for Christ:  Less Onward Christian Soldiers and more "Peace be with you."  Please.

 

 

  

Christine Meinecke, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and author of Everybody Marries the Wrong Person.

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