Restoring Family Relationships

Question: Our son and daughter-in-law will not allow us to see the grandchildren. It stemmed from something my husband did last summer. He is not willing to apologize. What can I do?

Answer: That question makes me sad. I can hardly imagine having no contact with my grandchildren. I am empathetic with this wife. I don’t know what happened, but if an apology would lift the barrier and he is unwilling to apologize, he needs help. I know he is not likely to go for help. So, I suggest you go for help. Tell him something like this: “I love you too much to do nothing. I know that you do not want to deprive the grandchildren of their grandfather. So, If you are not willing to apologize, then I’m going to see a counselor (or a pastor) and try to find help. I want you to go with me, but if not, then I’m going alone.” Then do it. This kind of tough love, maybe what is needed to awaken him to reality. Life is too short to live with broken relationships. You might also give him my book: The Five Languages of Apology, which gives real-life illustrations of how an apology can restore relationships.

Second Marriages and Finding Answers

Question: I’m engaged to someone who has a child from a former marriage. It bothers me. Will I ever get over the mistakes he made when he was younger?

Answer: Probably not. This is one reason why second marriages are so difficult. I don’t mean you can’t learn to deal with it, but it will always be a factor. Until the child becomes an adult, your fiancé will likely have some contact with the mother of the child. This creates all kinds of emotions in you, him, and the child. It is a reality with which you must live. I’m not saying you should not marry him. I’m just saying you need to be realistic and decide how you are going to deal with this reality. Holidays, recitals, sporting events, graduations, and weddings are always more complicated in a second marriage. I suggest you talk with some of your friends who are in such marriages and ask how they have handled these issues. Also, pre-marital counseling would be a wise investment. Don’t ignore your concerns. They will not go away with time. Finding answers to these issues is one of the purposes of engagement.

What Can I Do to Help You?

Adults and youth alike are attracted to the young man who goes out of his way to serve others. True greatness is found in serving. No parents challenge their children to be like Hitler, while thousands challenge their children to be like Jesus. The hallmark of Jesus was service to others. Peter said of Him, “He went about doing good.” Would you like for that to be said of your children? It all begins at home. If your children hear you ask, “What can I do to help you today?” They will learn to ask the same question. As they see you experience the satisfaction of serving, they will follow your model. Service will become a way of life and your children will bless the world.

Do I Have An Attitude Of Service?

Did you wake up this morning and ask yourself: “How can I serve my spouse today?” If you did, you probably live in a healthy family. Nothing stimulates a positive family atmosphere like an attitude of service. And, if you have it, it is contagious. Your children will pick up on it and your spouse will begin to reciprocate. Everyone takes delight in serving. Jesus said, “Whoever will be great among you, let him be your servant.” Jesus set the example. We are His followers. Tonight, let your family report on ways in which they served others today. It will focus your family on what is important. Your family can impact the world for good, and it all begins with an attitude of service.

What if Couples Have Different Love Languages?

Question: Why is it that husbands and wives seldom have the same love language? Wouldn’t it be easier if we did?

Answer: Let me answer the second question first: Yes, it would be easier if couples both had the same language. However, I’ve noted that when this is the case, they usually have preferred dialects of that language. For example, if Quality Time is their language, one may prefer taking walks while the other prefers long conversations over dinner. So, it still requires the willingness to speak their dialect.

So, why is it that couples seldom have the same love language? I think it is the old idea that ‘opposites attract’. The acts of service person is attracted to the person who expresses words of appreciation for all the things they do for them. Another factor is that when we are ‘in love’ we typically speak all the languages of love that we are capable of speaking. So we don’t know that some of those languages will fade when we get back to being normal. That’s when we discover that we do indeed speak different languages.

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.