Category: Relationships

A Friendship with a Female Online Gaming Partner

Q: My husband seems to be pursuing a “friendship” with a female gaming partner online. He says there is nothing going on, but it makes me uncomfortable.

Gary: I think many wives can identify with this question. Let’s face it, most affairs do not begin with the affair. It begins with interaction with another person, often online, and bit by bit it develops into something. So, maybe there is nothing really going on that’s improper here. But, the very fact that you’re concerned and you’re sharing that with your husband, which I think you should share it with him. It ought to trigger in him a desire to please you and be willing to draw back from that. So, pray that God will touch his heart and make sure that he knows you’re not happy with this.

Q&A: My Wife Never Apologizes

Q: My wife never apologizes, how can I help her with this?

Gary: 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.” Jesus gave us clear instructions in Luke 17 verse 3: If your brother or wife sins against you, confront him or her. If they repent, forgive 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.

Q&A: Balancing Grad School and Getting Married

Q: How do you suggest my fiancé and I handle getting married as well as going to Grad school?

Gary: My first suggestion is postpone the marriage. If you are 20 years old and already applying to graduate schools you must be exceedingly smart. So use your smarts, don’t get married till you both have been accepted into graduate schools and have part time jobs. This will give you a realistic idea of how much time will be left over for your relationship. You have plenty of time for marriage. Why not finish graduate school before you get married. If, however, you decide to get married while still in school, I can tell you from experience that you will have minimal time for each other. I got married at 23 while in graduate school and we had some very difficult years. Before you get married, talk with at least two couples who got married while in graduate school. They will give you realistic advice.

The Four Seasons of Marriage

Some time ago, I wrote a book entitled, The Four Seasons of Marriage. It’s not the idea that you get married in Spring and when you are old you end up in Winter. Rather, I use the seasons to describe the quality of the marriage. It has nothing to do with how long you’ve been married. So people go from Spring to Winter on the honeymoon. Yes, Spring marriages are exciting. We have plans, we are optimistic. We love each other. Most people get married in Spring. On the other hand, a Winter marriage is cold, harsh, and bitter. We’ve stopped talking because we don’t like to argue. If you would like to move from winter to spring, you need to confess past failures, and give love a second chance.

Learn to Listen Empathetically

If you are married and you take pride in being reasonable, and you see your spouse as being unreasonable, you are in the process of destroying your marriage. The person I’m talking about is calm, cool and collected. He believes that if you will listen to his arguments, you will be forced to agree. Any sane person could not disagree. “Let me explain this to you one more time.” The implication is that if you will just listen, you will understand and thus agree. This person makes no room for emotions. All that matters is logic. But I remind you that God made us emotional creatures and if you don’t allow for emotions, you will never create an intimate marriage. Learn to listen. Treat your spouse as a person of worth. Ask for their opinions and be empathetic with their feelings.

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.

Healthy Patterns of Communication

Communication is not enough. It must be healthy communication. There are many unhealthy patterns of communication, but none as deadly as “The Blamer.” “It’s your fault.” “If it weren’t for you everything would be fine.” “You never do anything right.” “I don’t know how you could be so stupid.” The blamer destroys intimacy and makes communication impossible. An ancient Hebrew proverb says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.” If you are a blamer, I urge you to apologize to the person you so often blame. Your relationship will never improve until you admit your destructive words and seek to understand the other person’s perspective.

Evaluating Communication

We talk a lot about the importance of communication in relationships, but we don’t often evaluate our communication. Yet, how we talk greatly affects the quality of our conversation. Many have developed unhealthy patterns of communication and wonder why their conversations seem to go down hill. One such pattern is the placator. “That’s fine with me.” Or, “Whatever you want is fine.” It’s really not “fine,” but this person does not like arguments, so, on the surface they simply agree, but inside they resent the attitude of the other person. We will never have an authentic, relationship until we learn to share our honest thoughts and feelings. You might begin by asking, “Would you really like to know my thoughts?” If they say, ‘yes’, then share them.

How to Get over a Past Physical Relationship

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.

Q&A: Friends Tell Me That There Is Something Wrong With Us

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.

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