Category: Marriage help

Recognizing Communication Issues

Have you ever accused your spouse of something they didn’t do? I once accused my wife of miss-placing my briefcase, when in fact, I left it at my office. What do you do about false accusations? Ignore them and hope your spouse will forget? Not if you want a loving marriage. Every time you ignore a harsh word, it sits as an emotional barrier between the two of you.

Love removes the barriers. So, I called my wife and said, “I found my briefcase.” She didn’t say anything. She knew there ought to be more to it than that. So, I said, “I’m sorry for the way I talked to you. It was wrong. Will you forgive me.” She said, “I thought you’d call.” We’re committed to removing the barriers.

How Do You Nurture Love?

Many couples are at a stalemate because they have allowed a wall to develop between them. Walls are erected one block at a time. It may be as small as failing to take out the garbage or as large as failing to meet sexual needs. Instead of dealing with the failure, we ignore it. The wall becomes high and thick. We were once “in love” but now only resentment remains.

There is only one way to remove a wall. We must tear down the blocks on our side. Someone must take the initiative. Will your spouse forgive you? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. Confess your past failures and ask God to help you make the future different.  The wall is not as thick when you remove the blocks on your side.

How Do You Nurture Love?

Many couples are at a stalemate because they have allowed a wall to develop between them. Walls are erected one block at a time. It may be as small as failing to take out the garbage or as large as failing to meet sexual needs. Instead of dealing with the failure, we ignore it. The wall becomes high and thick. We were once “in love” but now only resentment remains.

There is only one way to remove a wall. We must tear down the blocks on our side. Someone must take the initiative. Will your spouse forgive you? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try. Confess your past failures and ask God to help you make the future different.  The wall is not as thick when you remove the blocks on your side.

Q&A: Restoring Trust

Q: What are some ways to restore trust after an affair?

A: First of all, there has to be a clear-cut break from the adulterous relationship. Then, what rebuilds trust is that the person who has been involved in the affair says to their spouse, “No more deceit…You can check my email any time you like. If I’m going over to George’s house to help him work on his car, you can call over there to make sure I’m there. I want you to know that from here on out, you can trust me.” If you take that approach and allow your spouse to do those things, over time trust will grow. You see trust is broken because we are unreliable and when we become reliable and trustworthy, then trust can be reborn.

A Better Marriage

You can’t create a perfect marriage, but you can have a better marriage. And it all begins with you. Most of us think that if our spouse would change, we would have a better marriage. But that’s the wrong place to start. Begin my identifying your own failures.  Confess these to God and then to your spouse. You now have a clear conscience and you are free to change your behavior and become a loving spouse.

Nothing impacts your spouse more than loving words and actions. Nagging builds resentment. Love stimulates positive emotions. When your spouse feels genuinely loved by you, they are more open to your requests for change. You can have the marriage you’ve always wanted.

So you want your spouse to change?

In my thirty years as a marriage counselor, I’ve drawn one conclusion: Everyone wishes their spouse would change. “We could have a good marriage if he would just help me around the house.” Or “Our marriage would be great if we could have sex more than once a month.” She wants him to change and he wants her to change. Both of them feel condemned and resentful. However, there is a better way.

Start with your own failures. Admit that you’re not perfect. Confess some of your most obvious failures and tell your spouse that you want to change. Ask your spouse for one suggestion each week on how you could be a better husband or wife. To the best of your ability, make changes. Chances are, your spouse will reciprocate.

Q&A: I’m tired of always cleaning up after my messy husband. What can I do to change this?

There are two approaches: You can either try to change him or change yourself. It is not life threatening for his clothes to lie around the house. I know you’re organized and that it hurts you when things are not in their place. However, you can work on yourself in accepting a little more messiness.

The other approach is to say to him, “I think I’m being a good wife to you. If I’m not, I certainly want you to give me ideas on how I can be a better wife to you. One thing that would really help me would be…” Then you tell him specifically what you would like for him to do. I’m not saying he’ll do it but when you express the desire to be a better wife, it gives him hope that things might get better on your side and he might be willing to give more on his side.

Q&A: My wife always wanting to talk deeply about things and it’s hard for me. Can you help?

A: Set time limits. Giver her thirty minutes a night to talk about whatever she wants to talk about. But let her know that when the 30 minutes are over, the conversation is over. Since she knows that you’ll be back tomorrow night for another 30 minutes, she’ll stop. She’s getting what she wants–quality conversations with you–and you’re getting what you want–time limits so that you can go do other things that evening. This has been the key for many couples on how to resolve the differences of opinion over how long we talk and how deeply we talk.

Love is a Choice

I’ve never met a couple who got married hoping to make each other miserable.

You were ‘in love’ and you intended to love each other forever. So what happened? It’s not that you were insincere. But just maybe you expected love to go on without effort. The truth is, the ‘in love’ experience doesn’t last very long after the ceremony is over and real life sets in.

Once you come down off the emotional high, you must choose to express love in ways that are meaningful to your spouse. We tend to express love in ways that are meaningful to us. My book, The Five Love Languages has helped thousands of couples learn how to keep romantic love alive by learning to speak each other’s ‘love language’.

How Do You Nurture Love?

Some time ago, a man asked me, “What happens to love after the wedding?” He went on to tell me that he had been married three times. Each time it had been wonderful before the wedding but shortly after, the honeymoon was definitely over! Does marriage destroy love? Not at all! However, if love isn’t nurtured, it will die a natural death.

So, how do you nurture love? Sometimes it’s a call just to say, “I love you,” a note tucked in a briefcase, a special dinner after a long hard week, volunteering to do a household task that you don’t normally do, or a small (or not-so-small) gift. All of those keep love alive. Don’t let anyone tell you differently—it’s the little things that count.