October 6, 2014
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.
September 29, 2014
Q: My husband spends a lot of time with his parents and not with me. What can I do about it?
Gary: This is a question that many young couples can identify with if you live in the same town as your parents. The scriptures say that we are to leave our parents and to be joined to each other. What that looks like may differ with each couple, but the principle is clear. It appears to me that you think he’s spending too much time with his parents, and that may be true. What I’d like to know is what is he doing when he goes to see his parents? What motivates him to go there? Is his mother demanding that he come to see them? That’s unhealthy. Or is he helping his father with a work project? That’s different. Is he sharing his marital problems with his parents? That’s not good. Find out the motivation, and then seek a pattern that demonstrates that the marriage is priority.
September 26, 2014
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.
September 22, 2014
Q: I’ve had past physical relationships and I want to get over them now that I’m getting married. What do I do?
Gary: You are identifying one of the major scars of premarital sex. Sexual intercourse is not simply the joining of two bodies. It is a deep, emotional and spiritual experience. It was designed to bond a man and a woman together for a lifetime. It is very difficult to erase the memories because the two of you bonded. My suggestions include: confessing your sin to God and to your wife, then picture the blood of Christ flowing over your sin and hiding it from your sight. It happened but it is now covered by his blood. That is the way God sees your past and that is the way he wants you to see it. The blood of Christ is the most effective medication for healing the memories.
September 19, 2014
Q: I’ve been dating for several years but my best friend tells me that something’s not quite right. What should I do?
Gary: Listen to your friends. I don’t mean that you should necessarily break up. What I do mean is that you should listen to what your friends are saying. It’s not uncommon to have blind spots. Your friends see things that you don’t see. You need to find out what their concerns are and then address the issue. If you don’t, you’re likely to wake up married and realize that your friends were right. Don’t assume just because you are in love you should get married. It’s highly possible to fall in love with someone you should not marry. If you want a practical guide as to what you should consider before deciding to marry, you might want to check out my book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married.
September 15, 2014
Q: How much does age matter in a relationship?
Gary: It depends on how old you are. If you’re 16 and he’s 26—then yes, age should be a deal breaker. You’re too young to be involved with someone 10 years older than you. You have high school and college ahead of you. A person who is 26 and wanting to date you is revealing his own insecurity and may even be a predator. On the other hand, if you are a widow of 46 and dating a man who is 56, age difference is less important. You’re both old enough to be mature. There may be other factors that would indicate you should not get married, but age would not be that significant. The general principle is that the younger you are the more important age difference becomes.
September 12, 2014
Q: Are married people obligated to have children?
Gary: God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” In the Bible, children are viewed as a gift from God. However, I don’t think this means that every Christian couple is obligated to have children. If a couple decides not to have children, their reason for such a choice should clearly be understood and should not be rooted in selfishness. Some good reasons for not having children might include: physical and mental disabilities, poor relational skills, or ministry for Christ. Selfish reasons might be: the desire to travel, not willing to accept responsibility, or wanting to be free to follow personal interests. Make sure that your choice is based on a genuine desire to follow God’s plan for your life.
September 8, 2014
Q: What’s the best way to deal with substance abuse in marriage?
Gary: My approach is to see yourself as a positive change agent. The process is two pronged—first, tender love and second, tough love. By tender love I mean learn their love language and speak it daily no matter how they treat you. Then, 6 months into this process you make the request that they seek treatment. Keep loving them. Next, apply tough love. You might say, “I love you too much to sit here and do nothing while you destroy yourself. If you don’t go for treatment, I am moving in with my mother.” Finally, move out. Since you’ve loved them in a meaningful way for six months they now have something to lose. Typically they respond to this. After treatment you can get marriage counseling and rebuild your marriage.
September 5, 2014
Q: I have jealousy issues toward my wife. We are newly married, but I struggle with her having other guy friends. How can I deal with this?
Gary: Some jealousy is normal, particularly in the early years of marriage. We cannot, however, smother our spouse and not let them have friends. If it’s simply friendships with simple conversations, then no problem. But if indeed she has hidden (or not so hidden) feelings for these friends and there are some romantic elements involved, that’s not permissible in a healthy marriage. Be honest with her about your feelings. She in turn needs to be honest with you about the nature of these relationships. Marriage is designed to be exclusive and this conversation will help set that standard.
August 29, 2014
Q: After getting married we are having a hard time with coming together with our money. When it comes to bills it seems like it’s either hers or mine. Any advice?
Gary: Talk about it. It’s normal for couples to have issues of adjustment when they get married. I suggest that each week you have a family conference in which each of you brings up one thing that is bothering you. Then the two of you look for an answer. If it’s done on a regular basis, you will process normal conflicts in a positive way. If you don’t have a set time to talk you will likely hold things inside until the pressure gets so strong that you explode and end up in an argument. Sharing concerns and looking for solutions draws a couple together. Love is always willing to listen and open to change.