Category: Q&A

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.

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.

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.

Q+A: Alcohol Addiction in Marriage

Q: Gary, how can you deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage, especially when that person doesn’t think they have a problem?

Gary: Well this is another very common phenomenon in our society. Alcoholism is very prevalent and often the alcoholic doesn’t see themselves as an alcoholic, they just see themselves as drinking. You see the problem, you see it effecting their lifestyle. I think we have to confront them on it, but also realize that they’re likely to push back. However, there does come a time where you say, “I love you very much and I cannot sit here and watch you destroy yourself. If you’re not going to get help then I’m going to get help because I cannot simply sit here and do nothing.” You invite them to go with you if they want. You go for counseling, you go share your struggle and let the counselor help you decide how you can be a positive influence on them trying to get them to the point where they reach out for help.

Q+A: Keeping Love Alive When Focus is Elsewhere

Q: Gary, our kids are taking more and more time and my husband and I seem tired ALL of the time. How can we keep our love alive when all focus is going elsewhere?

Gary: Well if all focus is going elsewhere, you can’t keep love alive. there has to be time to stimulate love in a marriage relationship. It’s a matter of priorities. Listen, children are important, but marriage is the most fundamental relationship in a family. If the two of you grow apart, what is that going to do for your children?

I think you need to look again at your schedule. Make time. Put it on the schedule. “We’re going to have dinner on these nights this month,” “We’re going to do this,” etc. Make plans, spend time with each other. Get a babysitter! There are people who would be happy to watch your children while you go out together. You have to make time to have a loving marriage.

Q+A: Is He the One?

Q: Gary, how do I know He is the one? Friends have their opinion & so does family….but How do I decide for myself if this is the person for me? The pressure is there of not choosing someone outside of the will of God but how does one really accomplish that?

Gary: “How do I know if this is the one?” Isn’t that the question that everyone asks when they’re single? How am I going to know if this is really the person? I would say you need to listen to your friends and listen to your parents because they see things that you don’t see. Don’t discount what they’re saying to you. Sometimes we fall in love and we overlook a lot of red flags that are waving because of our feelings, but our parents and others are sometimes able to see things we don’t. Listen to what they’re saying, ask questions, and read my book Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. It’ll help you make that decision.

Q&A: Loving Someone and Being Loved

Q: Gary, I thought the ability to truly love someone and to feel loved is directly linked to the ability to love oneself first, so can someone who doesn’t love themselves ever really feel loved?

 

Gary: Well I think you’re wise to address the issue. The answer is to learn to love yourself. Listen, if the Holy God loves you, then you need to love yourself. Accept his love. If you’ve done wrong things, fine! Repent of those things. Ask God to forgive you and you then become a child of God, and God loves you with an everlasting love. So if you’ve experienced God’s love —whether you’ve experienced love from people or not — you’ll be able to love others.

Q&A: Should I Apologize to Those from Past Relationships?

Q: Gary, I will be getting married soon and I want to have a clean conscience. Should I apologize to those whom I might have hurt in previous relationships?

Gary: I think a good basic pattern is that we always apologize to the people we’ve hurt in the past. Sometimes we haven’t learned that and we leave a whole string of relationships that are fractured because we never accept that responsibility. If you’ve hurt people in past relationships, then yes, I think it’s good to go back and apologize for your part in that relationship and for what you did. You’re not asking for reconciliation because you’re getting married to someone else, but you are acknowledging responsibility for your failures in the past.

Q&A: Marrying your 3rd Cousin

Q: Gary, is there something spiritually or otherwise wrong with dating a 3rd cousin… especially if it’s been going on for a long time and you both love each other?

 

Gary: 3rd cousin! Boy, I don’t even know how you figure that out! I think that’s far enough removed… probably a lot of people have married 3rd cousins and not even known it. I don’t know of anything biblically or socially that would speak against that. I’m not a medical doctor, though, so there might be genetic factors that would come into play. I personally don’t see any red flags waving.

Q&A: Spending Quality Time During Long Distance Relationships

Q: Gary, I’m in a long distance relationship, how can I show quality time while apart?

Gary: I have found that that question arises often with military couples when one is deployed, but in today’s world of technology, it’s much easier to spend quality time than ever before. There’s Facetime and Skype where you can look at them when you’re talking to them, actually have a face to face conversation. You can also read a book together. Read the same chapter that week and then talk on the phone, email, or connect however you prefer. You can discuss what you learned in the chapter so it gives focus to your quality time.

I think there are many wonderful things you can do now with technology so when you’re apart you can still have extended conversations. But you still want to make them as meaningful as you can and often you can do that when you focus on a particular topic when you are talking or emailing.

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