Category: General

Learning Marriage Skills

Question: My fiancé and I have been fighting almost daily about all sorts of things. The amount of arguing is beginning to worry me. Is this going to be a problem in our marriage?

Yes, if you don’t solve the issue now. Engagement should be a time to discover differences, and find solutions. All couples have conflicts, but arguing with raised voices and harsh words is not the way to solve conflicts. In my book: Things I Wish I’d Known Before we got married, I have a chapter entitled; I wish I’d known how to solve conflict without arguing. I believe it is essential to a healthy marriage. The key is learning to listen with empathy. Most of us have no training in how to listen. We listen only long enough to re-load our guns and shoot back with our ideas. Two people
shooting each other with explosive words is a battlefield, not a marriage. Go for pre-marital counseling and put this issue on the table. Learn how to listen, and respect each others’ ideas and how to find a meeting place. Don’t get married until you learn these skills.

Having The Attitude Of Christ

In the early years of my marriage, I didn’t know much about serving. I knew what I expected of my wife and I was disappointed when she did not live up to my expectations. I’m sure she must have been just as frustrated with me, because I know that I did not meet her expectations. Sadly, we had approached our marriage with a non-biblical attitude. When I finally learned that love and service is the hallmark of a Christian husband, it did not take my wife long to change her attitude toward me. Once we learned to serve each other the emotional climate of our marriage changed dramatically. Having the attitude of Christ is the key to a successful marriage. He came to serve.

On the Road to Greatness

The essential ingredient in a healthy family is learning to serve each other. Jesus said about Himself, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” In a healthy family, that will be the attitude of the husband, the wife, and the children. Young children want to serve. What mother has not heard these words, “Mommy, can I help you?” If the child is allowed to help and affirmed for helping he/she will develop an attitude of service. This attitude is fostered by the model of the parents. If the child hears the father ask his wife, “How may I help you?” And, hears the mother reciprocate, the child will learn that “serving others is important in our family.” Teach your children to serve and they are on the road to greatness.

Tough Love

Question: We’ve been married for 2 months and I just found out that my husband is using drugs and gambling. What now?

Answer: I know this doesn’t help, but for the sake of our listeners I must ask the question: Did you not see this before you got married? To the singles who are listening: Please keep your eyes open and ask questions. Dating is a time to get to know each other. These issues are best faced before you get married.

Now, having said that to singles, I’ll answer your question. Confront your husband with tough love. Don’t ignore his gambling and drug use. Continue to love him and to speak his love language, but also let him know that you love him too much to do nothing while he moves down a negative pathway. If he responds negatively, then contact a pastor or counselor and let them advise you. They can help you apply tough love. He needs help and unless he gets help, he will never reach his potential. Confront him – the sooner, the better. This problem will not go away simply with the passing of time.

Hollywood Did Not Invent Sex

In a culture which worships at the altar of sex, the Christian must take care not to over-react and view sex as something sinful. The truth is that Hollywood did not invent sex. A holy God, totally separate from sin, made us sexual beings. We must not relinquish the sanctity of sex because some have exploited it. Sex is not the trademark of the world; it bears the personal label, “made by God.” However, we must be quick to say that God gave us the ‘owners manual’. In God’s plan sex is reserved for marriage. Within marriage, sex bonds us together, body, soul, and spirit.

Things I Wish I’d Known…

As a pastor, I’m asked to officiate weddings for couples who have lived together before deciding to marry. Does your book: Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, apply to such couples?

Answer: The short answer is, “Yes”. The longer answer is that couples who live together before getting married are no better prepared for marriage than those who did not. In fact, their divorce rate is even higher. The topics I deal with in my book: Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married are designed to help all couples whatever their past experience. I include such topics as: I wish I’d Known that…apologizing is a sign of strength; forgiveness is not a feeling; toilets are not self-cleaning. I wish I’d Known…how to solve conflicts without arguing; that romantic love has two stages, and that personality profoundly affects behavior.

Most couples who have lived together before marriage, have not learned these realities, nor the skills to apply them.

Forgiving Like God Forgives

Gary, Jesus said that we are to forgive 70 X 7. Does that mean with an apology or without an apology? My wife never apologizes and I’m having a hard time dealing with the hurt.

Answer: We are to forgive others as God forgives us. So, how does God forgive us? The Scriptures say, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” If we don’t confess, the Scriptures indicate that God will discipline us – Hebrews 12. Jesus gave us clear instructions in Luke 17: 3 “If your brother (or wife) sins against you, confront him or her. If they repent forgive them.” In Matthew 18, Jesus said we should make more than one attempt at confronting them. Eventually, if they don’t repent, we are to treat them as a pagan. How do we treat pagans? We pray for them; we love them; we return good for evil. It is unconditional love that often touches the heart of the offender. You will need God’s help to follow God’s plan, but it is the most powerful thing you can do when someone refuses to apologize.

Retreat is Not the Road to Victory

Marital separation sometimes brings a temporary sense of ‘peace’. One husband said, “This is the first week of peace I’ve had for years.” Of course, he felt peace; he had left the battlefield. However, retreat is not the road to victory. You must come from that retreat with a renewed determination to defeat the enemy of your marriage. If you are separated, use this time to examine the biblical principles for building a marriage. Discover where you went wrong and how to correct it. Reach out for God’s help. I wrote the book: Hope for the Separated to help you do this. Separation is not necessarily the end. It may be the beginning of rediscovering the dream you shared when you were first married.

Repentance and Reconciliation

When marriages fall apart, where do we go for help?

The Christian turns to God because we know that He cares. The Bible is God’s clearest voice for guidance. And the Bible calls us to repentance and reconciliation. Notice I said repentance. There can be no reconciliation without repentance. In marriage, this calls for mutual repentance, for almost always the failure has involved both parties. I do not wish to minimize the hurt, pain, frustration, anger, resentment, loneliness, and disappointment you may feel. Nor do I take lightly your past efforts at marital adjustment. But this is a new day and calls for new choices. Deal with your own failures and ask God to help you do something positive today. Reconciliation comes one step at a time.

Preparing for Good Adult Relationships

Do you know the five love languages of children? They are: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. One of those five is the primary love language of your child. If you don’t speak that language, your child will not feel loved. This does not mean that you speak only the primary love language. No, you give heavy doses of their primary love language, then you sprinkle in the other four. The ideal is that children learn to receive and give love in all five languages. This prepares them for good relationships as adults. Your example is the most effective method of teaching. Love your children effectively and they will learn to love others.

Categories