Don’t Go It Alone

You dreamed of a marriage where each made the other supremely happy. Now one of you has walked out. Separation is not the time to capitulate. Your dream can live again. But not without work – work that will demand listening, understanding, discipline and change. That work will likely involve the help of an outside counselor; someone who can help you think, evaluate, and reach out for God’s help. I know you’ve tried before, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. One of God’s great gifts is the gift of choice. It is extremely important that you make the right choices. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. There is hope for the separated.

Learn to See Your Own Flaws

When I counsel couples, I sometimes ask them to write for me the things they dislike about their spouse. You should see the lists. Some have to request additional paper. A bit later, I ask them to list for me what they consider to be their own weaknesses. Usually, they can think of one right away, but I’ve seen them think and think to try to come up with number two. The message is clear. “I’m not perfect, but the real problem is with my spouse.” Jesus had a different approach. He said, “First, get the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see more clearly how to get the speck out of the eye of your spouse.” A more loving marriage begins when you pray this prayer: “Lord, show me where am I failing in my marriage.” It’s a prayer He will answer.

When Marriage is in “Critical Condition”

When your spouse walks out, is there still hope for your marriage? Separation does not equal divorce. Separation may be the valley of restoration, and the pain you feel may be the labor pains that will give rebirth to your marriage. What happens will be determined by what you and your spouse say and do in the next few weeks and months. In a very real sense, separation calls for intensive care, much like that given to one in grave physical danger. The condition of your marriage is ‘critical’. Things can go either way at any moment. Be assured, God is concerned about the outcome. Begin each day with prayer for His wisdom. When you ask, you will receive.

Start with Your Own Failures

In my 35 years as a marriage counselor, I’ve drawn one conclusion: Everyone wishes their spouse would change. “We could have a good marriage if he would just help me around the house.” Or, “Our marriage would be great if we could have sex more than once a month.” She wants him to change and he wants her to change. Both of them feel condemned and resentful. There is a better way. Start with your own failures. Admit that you’re not perfect. Confess some of your most obvious failures and tell your spouse that you want to change. Ask your spouse for one suggestion each week on how you could be a better husband or wife. To the best of your ability, make changes. Chances are, your spouse will reciprocate.

Digital-Free Zones

After two years of research, Arlene Pellicane and I wrote a book entitled: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World. One of our suggestions is that you create digital-free zones for your family. For example: Don’t allow phones or screens during mealtimes. Here are some questions to make the meal time social. Who did you enjoy spending time with at school today? What do you like about him or her? What is something you are thankful for that happened today? Did anything happen today to make you feel angry or upset? How did you respond? When was the last time you apologized to someone or someone apologized to you? What happened? Life can be exciting if cellphones are silenced and screens blackened.

Love Languages in the Workplace

On a scale of 0 – 10, how much appreciation do you feel from your supervisor? How about your co-workers? Employees and volunteers perform better if they feel appreciated. It is not enough to express appreciation, it must be expressed in a way that is meaningful to the employee. Here are the five languages of appreciation: Words of affirmation, Quality time, Acts of service (that is offering to help out), Tangible gifts, and appropriate Physical touch. Words of appreciation may make one employee feel appreciated, but be rather empty to another. Learn the language of each employee and change the climate of your workplace.

Essential “Love Language” Skills for Children

What social skills are you seeking to develop in your children and grand- children? May I suggest five essential skills needed by every child.
1. How to receive and show affection
2. How to express appreciation.
3. The skill of anger management. Few things are more important than
learning how to handle anger.
4. The skill of apologizing. If a child does
not learn to apologize he will have fractured relationships.
5. The skill of focused attention.
If a child can show affection, appreciate others, deal with anger, learn to apologize, and pay attention, he will be a responsible adult.

The “Food” of Love

During infancy, a child does not distinguish between milk and tenderness, between solid food and love. Without food a child will starve. Without love, a child will starve emotionally and can become impaired for life. A great deal of research indicates that the emotional foundation of life is laid in the first eighteen months of life, particularly in the mother/child relationship. The ‘food’ for future emotional health is love expressed in five ways: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Speak all five languages to your child the first eighteen months and you are laying the best possible foundation for emotional health.

Reach for Help

Over the past 35 years, I have counseled many couples who were contemplating divorce. The one scripture that always comes to my mind is Gal. 6:7. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” God gives us real freedom, but we are never free from the seeds we plant. The pain and brokenness of divorce follows us and our children for a lifetime.
When the Bible says that “God hates divorce,” it’s because He knows the pain that divorce causes. I know that you cannot make your spouse reconcile. But you can reach out for help. Call a pastor, a counselor, a friend; read a book. Discover your options and don’t forget that God is the God of miracles.

Unconditional Love and Love Languages

I love you, no matter what!” This is unconditional love, and it is what children crave. Don’t withhold your love from a child when they miss-behave. Does this sound like permissiveness? It is not. Rather, it is doing first things first. A child’s emotional love tank must be filled before any effective training or discipline can take place. A child with a full love tank can respond to parental guidance without resentment. On the other hand, when the child does not feel loved, the discipline seems harsh and unfair. Discipline wrapped in love is the most effective discipline. So, if your child’s love language is ‘physical touch’ give him a big hug before you give the correction and after you give the correction.