One of my “Billingsley Axioms” is “Insight without change means nothing.” In other words, you may gain insight from your mistakes, but if you don’t change the behavior that created the mistake you will repeat the same mistakes.
• If drinking too much results in you fighting, arguing or being put in jail, you will probably realize drinking causes you lots of problems. The insight is not helpful if you continue to drink to excess.
• The most important lesson to teach your children and grandchildren is also related to learning from their behavior whenever they screw up. The first question should be, “What did you learn from this experience?” When the child says that he/she doesn’t know what he/she learned, it’s time to sit down and discuss behavior that needs to change if he/she wants to move forward in life.
• Marriage that seems to be the happiest encourages ongoing discussions. When you are talking, insight occurs easily and often.
When you deny problems and refuse to talk, insight doesn’t occur and negative behavior continues. Denial and silence turn a marriage into a stand-off or a get-even existence. Passion leaves the scene, and divorce becomes a possibility.
• Recently I heard a coffee break discussion regarding ideas to improve church attendance. These following “solutions” were offered:
— Offer appetizers before communion and dessert afterward.
— Declare Wednesday night prayer meetings as a “clothes optional” session.
— Limit sermons to 22 minutes.
— Offer sermons on the screen with a delete button.
— Offer “donations only” breakfast after 8 a.m. service and “donations only” lunch after 11 a.m. service.
• Smart guys learn how to retreat when their wives show their anger. The quicker you retreat, the quicker peace is restored.
• When the wife says, “What did you just say to me?” It’s not really a question. She heard every word, and now she wants to debate. At this stage you may want to fake a loss of memory or try to retract whatever you said. If her hands are on her hips, you should leave the scene and allow her to cool off.
• If your wife says “Who do you think you are?” — this is also not really a question. This statement is an accusation. She very well knows exactly what you said, and she is prepared for battle. She not only disliked what you said or did, she believes you think your actions were OK. If she adds the phrase, “I’m sick and tired of …”, her anger has been boiling for a long time. You may be in jeopardy.
• At this stage you can forget the hope that a discussion is about to occur. Your smart role would be to listen and avoid denial, at least for the first five minutes. After all is said and done, your apology will enhance peace in the homestead.
• You may consider telling your wife to cool down and take a “time out,” but don’t get too close to her when you make this suggestion! Somewhere in my life journey, I remember someone suggesting that silence is better sometimes. If what you want to say is not an improvement upon silence, shut up.
• In the movie “Radio,” one of the actors said, “A measure of a life is not what is accumulated, but rather is what is given to others.” Whenever you get outside yourself, that is when love begins.
• Those who devote their energy to loving others are easy to love. They can become trusted friends you can count on. During difficult times, they show up, even when you are wrong or stupid.
Bob Billingsley is an El Dorado Hills resident and bi-weekly columnist at the Mountain Democrat.