Category: Emotional Health

Q&A: A wife struggling to recover from her husband’s emotional affair

Q: Gary, I discovered emails between my husband and someone from his past. They have been in touch throughout our marriage. He met her for dinner on a business trip out of town 5 years ago. He ended the contact; we did counseling. But, I’m still angry and so hurt.

Gary Chapman: It’s understandable that one would be hurt and experience the emotion of anger when a spouse has stepped out of line. What is fortunate is that, in this case, your spouse ended that relationship, the two of you went for counseling, and, I’m assuming, you processed that rather thoroughly.

I would suggest that even though the hurt and the anger may come back you take these emotions to God. Say, “Lord, you know what I am remembering. You know what I am feeling again. But, in spite of this, I thank you that my husband repented and I’ve forgiven him. Now help me to do something good today.”

Don’t allow the emotions that come from the past memory destroy today.

Eaten up with Anger

One of the common problems I encounter in the counseling office is people who are eaten up with anger. They have been deeply hurt by others. In an effort to be good Christians, they have held their anger inside. They didn’t want to explode or be unkind, so they said nothing. Anger held inside leads to bitterness, hatred, and often depression. If you have internalized your anger for a long time, it’s time to release it to God. Tell God how much you have been hurt. Then, release the person and your anger to God. He is a just and loving God. If the person repents, God will forgive. If they do not, God will punish them. When you release people to God, you put them in good hands.

Q&A: Staying Positive after a Job Loss

Q: My husband recently lost his job, how can I help him to stay positive?

Gary: Here are three things I suggest: (1) Speak your husband’s love language. The deepest emotional need we have is the need to feel loved. When your husband’s love tank is full, life is much easier to process. He may not have a job, but if he has you and feels that you really love him, he can go on looking with a positive attitude. (2) I suggest that you look for volunteer jobs at your church or in your community. Getting involved in doing something worthwhile is a big deterrent in getting depressed. Often it’s in the context of volunteering that you make new friends and sometimes even find a new job opportunity. (3) Ask your friends to pray for you. That’s what friendship is all about. Don’t walk it alone.

Q&A: Dealing with Depression

Q: Depression has been an issue in our marriage for a long time. What can we do?

Gary: Depression that extends over a period of time can be difficult to deal with for both of you. However, there is hope for those who are depressed. The most successful treatment involves both counseling and medication. I know that some Christians want to stay away from medication but the reality is that often there is a chemical basis for the depression. Successful treatment then requires medication. I also know that you may have tried medication and it has not helped. Different medications help different people. Don’t give up, talk with your doctor and try another medication. However, don’t omit the counseling. Many times the depression is fed by relational issues. This is where a counselor can be very helpful.

Internalized Anger in Young Adults

One of the most common problems for adolescents and young adults is passive- aggressive anger. This person has a subconscious motivation to do exactly the opposite of what one is supposed to do. Typically this behavior is designed to get back at a parent or other authority figure, at whom the individual is angry. The tragedy is that their behavior hurts them more than the other person. It is an immature way of handling anger. If your child’s behavior is illogical, rebellious, and self-destructive it may well be coming from internalized anger. The answer lies not in condemning their behavior, but in dealing with their anger. Someone must hear the pain and help the child find a better way to deal with anger.

Do’s and Don’ts of Depression

If you know someone who is depressed, let me give you some Do’s and Don’ts. First the Do’s: encourage them to go for counseling. Let them know that if they want to talk, you want to listen. Look for life-threatening symptoms such as suicidal talk or actions. Inform the counselor of such talk or actions. Invite them to do things with you. And pray for them daily. Now the don’ts: Don’t tell them that they have nothing to be depressed about. Don’t tell them to snap out of it. Don’t tell them that the problem is spiritual. Don’t tell them that the problem stems from their past failures. With proper help your friend or family member can work through depression and be able to move toward independence.

Depression in Young Adults

When Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote our book: Parenting Your Adult Child, we discovered that depression is the most common hurdle faced by young adults. Symptoms include feelings of helplessness, despondency, and despair; problems with sleep (either too much or too little); problems with eating – too much or too little; and lack of energy. Depression in turn will affect the young adult’s performance in school or on the job. This may result in flunking out of college or being fired from a job. It is often at this point that the young adult turns to parents for help. May I encourage you, don’t try to help them alone. Insist that they see a counselor, medical doctor, or a pastor. Use the resources that are available to help your child succeed.

Struggle With Anger?

Let’s be honest, many of us have never learned to handle anger positively. Our responses to anger in the past have always made things worse. Some people deny that they have an anger problem. Margaret was a screamer. She prided herself in “speaking her mind”. She justified her tirades until the day her daughter left her the following note. “Dear Mom, I won’t be home tonight. I can’t take your screaming anymore. I don’t know what will happen to me, but at least I won’t have to hear all the nasty things you say to me when I don’t do everything you want.” Margaret read the note, cried, and called her pastor, who in turn helped her find a Christian counselor. Don’t wait until you get a note – reach out for help.

Investing Your Life

“It’s not how long you live, but how well you live.” You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. But, it’s really true. Ultimately, age has little to do with success. It is not how many years we have to live, but how we use the years that we have. My sister died at age 58. I have a close friend who died at 52. Recently, a 24 year old graduate student in our church died. As I listened to the eulogies, I realized that he had accomplished far more in 24 years than many people accomplish in 80.

The key is to invest life one day at a time. Do something kind for someone every day. When you do, any day will be a good stopping place. It was said of Jesus, “He went about doing good.” We are called to follow His example. He said, that we are to love one another as He loved us.

Q&A: A Spouse with Depression

Q: My wife struggles with depression, and it’s hard to deal with, especially with our young children. What do you suggest?

Gary: Depression will not go away simply with the passing of time. There are many kinds of depression and many ways to approach it. The most effective approach with severe depression is both counseling and medication. That combination has been the most successful treatment for depression. Don’t sit idly and hope it goes away; get her to a medical doctor, get her to a Christian counselor, and get the process moving so that she can discover the source of the depression and the answer to that depression.

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