Category: Relationships

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.

Forgiveness is Always the Christian Response

So, your spouse has failed you. But now, they have confessed their wrong and are seeking to change their behavior. What are you to do? In the Scriptures, forgiveness is always the Christian response to confession and repentance. Remember, forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision to lift the penalty and declare the person pardoned. Forgiveness means that you will no longer hold that failure against your spouse. Human forgiveness is based on God’s forgiveness. Christ paid the penalty for our sins. When we confess and repent, God forgives us. The same principle applies in human relationships. There are no healthy marriages without confession, repentance, and forgiveness.

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.

The Difference Between Recognition and Appreciation

Do you know the difference between recognition and appreciation? Most companies focus on recognition and think people feel appreciated. However recognition puts the emphasis on performance and uses “words of affirmation” or “tangible gifts” as their methods. This misses half of their employees. Recognition is also “top-down” and often becomes routine. Appreciation, on the other hand, focuses on the person. They may not be performing at their peak, for many reasons, but when you express interest in them as a person, they are motivated to become more involved. It is the difference between treating people as machines who crank out the work and people who have feelings, frustrations, desires, and dreams. When people feel appreciated, they want to be a part of the team.

Helping People Feel Appreciated

Because we spend so much of our time on the job, I have been deeply interested in workplace relationships. Why would we not want to make things as pleasant as we can for everyone? One ingredient is helping people feel appreciated. However, what makes one person feel appreciated will not make another person feel appreciated. Thus our efforts often get rebuffed. We fail to hit the target in how to express appreciation. Dr. Paul White and I wrote a book to help you be more successful in your efforts: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. A free online inventory: Motivating By Appreciation will give you the persons primary, secondary and least important language of appreciation.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Understanding the 5 love languages has helped many couples restore emotional intimacy. Over 11 million copies have been sold and it has been translated into 50 languages around the world. Now, we are taking the love languages to work, but we are calling them languages of appreciation. It is the emotional need to feel that those with whom and for whom I work appreciate me. If I feel appreciated, I will give my best to the job. If not, then I may only do what is required. We hear much in business circles about employee engagement. We want employees to be committed to the company and give their best. If you are a supervisor, manager, or employee: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace will help you effectively communicate appreciation.

Identifying Past Failures

Most of us will admit that we are not perfect. From time to time we say and do things that are not loving, kind, or helpful. In a marriage these failures build into walls of separation. If you would like to remove past failures, you must first identify them. Get pen and paper and ask God to bring to your mind the ways you have hurt your spouse in the past. Now, go to your children individually and ask them to tell you times when they have seen you being unkind to your spouse. Get ready, because children can be brutally honest. Then ask the same question to close friends who have had opportunity to observe your behavior. This process can be painful, but it is the first step in dealing with past failures.

Q+A: Pornography in Marriage

Q: Gary, my husband says he views pornography to ‘make up for time we’re not together’ and that he is not addicted. Is this wrong?

Gary: I believe that pornography never enhances a marriage because it takes the focus off of the spouse and puts it on someone else. I would never encourage a man to use pornography while he and his wife are apart for seasons of time. His focus always needs to be on you, not on another female who is simply trying to stimulate him sexually. I think if the two of you can’t solve this, I would encourage you to sit down with a pastor or counselor to talk about this together.

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.

The Attitude of Listening

When two people are talking at the same time, no one is listening. Consequently, there is no communication. For conversation to be meaningful, it requires talking and listening. How hard can that be? Yet, 87% of those who divorce say their main problem was that they could not communicate. Listening begins with an attitude. If I choose to believe that every person I encounter is made in God’s image; that their thoughts and feelings are important, than I am prepared to listen. If I think the world revolves around me; that my ideas are all that counts, then why should I listen to anyone else? Many couples don’t have a communication problem, they have an attitude problem.

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