Q+A: Controlling Spouses

Q: Gary, my husband is very stingy with ‘our’ money and doesn’t let me spend anything on my own. I feel like a prisoner!

Gary: My guess is you also feel like a prisoner in other areas of the marriage because what you’re talking about is a controlling personality. In this case, it happens to be money, but when a spouse has a controlling personality they make all the decisions. The other person feels like a prisoner or a child that has to ask for every nickel. I think I would discuss this openly with him, share your feelings with him. If he’s not willing to think with you about it, I would say to him, “I’m going to counseling because I can’t continue to live with this kind of pressure. I would encourage you to come with me.” If he does, wonderful! If not, you go and chances are you will have the support and help of a counselor in how you might take further steps to help him recognize what he’s doing to the relationship.

Forgiveness is Always the Christian Response

So, your spouse has failed you. But now, they have confessed their wrong and are seeking to change their behavior. What are you to do? In the Scriptures, forgiveness is always the Christian response to confession and repentance. Remember, forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision to lift the penalty and declare the person pardoned. Forgiveness means that you will no longer hold that failure against your spouse. Human forgiveness is based on God’s forgiveness. Christ paid the penalty for our sins. When we confess and repent, God forgives us. The same principle applies in human relationships. There are no healthy marriages without confession, repentance, and forgiveness.

Becoming the Person Your Spouse Deserves

You don’t have to be perfect to have a good marriage. But, you do need to deal effectively with your failures. Otherwise they sit as barriers to a growing marriage. How do you get rid of past failures? First, you identify them – write them down. Second, you confess them as wrong – to God and to your spouse. Third, you repent – change your behavior. To confess this week, and then repeat the same behavior next week, does not remove barriers. It makes things worse. God is in the business of changing lives. Why not sign up for God’s rehabilitation program. Let Him give you the power to break old habits and replace them with acts of kindness and love. You can become the person, your spouse deserves.

Q+A: Are We Ready For Marriage?

Q: Gary, how long would you recommend dating before considering marriage?

Gary: Typically you don’t continue dating very long unless you have some idea that this might be the person you want to marry. I do think you need to give it significant time, however. I can’t set an arbitrary time, one year two years, I can’t really say that. But I do think you need to give it significant time. What you do in that time is far more important than how long it is. Are you reading a book on marriage that is looking at the different aspects of marriage that you ought to be looking at? Are you being honest with each other about your background? Are you working through the struggles that might be there with your family and extended family? I wrote a book called Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. I think you might find it helpful.

Q+A: Marriage Preparation

Q: Gary, my fiancé and I are engaged to be married next Spring. What kind of conversations should we be having and what questions should we be asking towards building a strong and godly marriage?

Gary: You know I can give you a short answer that will take you a little while to read, and that is my book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. I would encourage you to work through that book. Read through the 12 things that I know now that had I know it then, would have made my marriage much easier. And I think it will help you make a wise decision about getting married.

Dealing with finances, sharing, and conflict. These are just some of the topics of Gary’s book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married.

Starting Over

Would you like to put the past behind you and start over? I’m talking about in your marriage. Many couples have so much pain from past failures that they have a hard time moving ahead. Time alone, will not heal hurts. Healing comes when we are willing to confess our failures and change our behavior. Some of us would like to leave out the confession part and just focus on being different in the future. However, confession is essential to the healing process. Even God requires confession before He forgives. I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Confession means that we admit to our spouse that what we did is wrong. We accept responsibility for our failure and request forgiveness.

10 Fun, Cheap Date Ideas for You and Your Spouse

Christi and I maintain a date night once a week. With little kids, it’s necessary for us to stay connected with one another beyond “business talk” or “kid talk.”

However, like most couples, spending money on a babysitter and the date itself can get pretty expensive over time. That’s why we’re creative in what our date nights often look like.

Need to stick to your monthly budget?

Here are 10 fun, cheap date ideas for you and your spouse this summer:

Continue reading article by Joshua Straub>>

The Difference Between Recognition and Appreciation

Do you know the difference between recognition and appreciation? Most companies focus on recognition and think people feel appreciated. However recognition puts the emphasis on performance and uses “words of affirmation” or “tangible gifts” as their methods. This misses half of their employees. Recognition is also “top-down” and often becomes routine. Appreciation, on the other hand, focuses on the person. They may not be performing at their peak, for many reasons, but when you express interest in them as a person, they are motivated to become more involved. It is the difference between treating people as machines who crank out the work and people who have feelings, frustrations, desires, and dreams. When people feel appreciated, they want to be a part of the team.

Q+A: Am I Still in Love?

Q: Gary, if I am in a dating relationship which has moved out of the “tingly” love stage – how do I know that I am still in love with this person as we transition into the love languages stage?

Gary: When you come down off the high of the in-love experience often we feel like “I’ve lost it. I just don’t have it. It must not be the right person.” So we often break off the relationship rather than speaking each other’s love language. I would suggest reading through my book The 5 Love Languages, discussing the whole concept of love languages. Because that will keep emotional warmth alive in the relationship. It’s not the high of the in love experience, but it is emotional love. Then you can look at all the other aspects of life and ask, are we really compatible? Do we have what it takes to have a life-long relationship? Then you can make a wise decision, really a better decision, now that you’ve come down off that high.

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