Category: Marriage help

Separation Does Not Necessarily Lead to Divorce

It’s my conviction that separation does not necessarily lead to divorce.

Separation forces us to admit that we have serious problems. When we examine divorce, we realize that divorce doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it creates more problems. The best of our options is to seek reconciliation.

The Christian who makes this choice has all the help of God. God instituted marriage. He knows that marriage is not easy, but He also knows that He wants to use the pains of marriage to build us into more Christ-like people. When this happens, then the potential for a renewed marriage becomes real.  Are you asking God to use your present pain to make you more like Christ? As you grow in your own intimacy with Him, you will have His wisdom in what you should do in relating to your spouse. Your actions cannot control your spouse, but your actions will influence your spouse, for better or for worse.

Q&A: How do we handle the scars of pre-marital sex in our marriage?

Q: My wife and I got married recently. I had premarital sex with another woman before I met my wife. We are trying to get rid of the memories. It is very difficult. Do you have any advice?

A: You are identifying one of the major scars of pre-marital 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 woman together for a lifetime. It is very difficult to erase the memories because the two of you ‘bonded’. Your memories and your wife’s imagination create an emotional barrier.

My suggestions include: confessing your sin to God and your wife. (I think you have already done this.) 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: How do we handle the scars of pre-marital sex in our marriage?

Q: My wife and I got married recently. I had premarital sex with another woman before I met my wife. We are trying to get rid of the memories. It is very difficult. Do you have any advice?

A: You are identifying one of the major scars of pre-marital 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 woman together for a lifetime. It is very difficult to erase the memories because the two of you ‘bonded’. Your memories and your wife’s imagination create an emotional barrier.

My suggestions include: confessing your sin to God and your wife. (I think you have already done this.) 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: How do we deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage?

Q: How can you deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage, especially when that person doesn’t think they have a problem?

A: Thousands of people can identify with that question. In my book Desperate Marriages, I address the problem. 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, six months into this process, you make the request that they seek treatment. Keep loving them. Then, apply tough love. You might say, “I love you too much to sit here and do nothing while you destroy yourself. If you do not go for treatment, then I’m moving in with my mother.” Then move out. Since you have been loving them in a meaningful way for 6 months, they now have something to lose. Typically, they respond. After treatment, you can get marriage counseling and rebuild your marriage.

Q&A: How do we deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage?

Q: How can you deal with alcohol addiction in a marriage, especially when that person doesn’t think they have a problem?

A: Thousands of people can identify with that question. In my book Desperate Marriages, I address the problem. 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, six months into this process, you make the request that they seek treatment. Keep loving them. Then, apply tough love. You might say, “I love you too much to sit here and do nothing while you destroy yourself. If you do not go for treatment, then I’m moving in with my mother.” Then move out. Since you have been loving them in a meaningful way for 6 months, they now have something to lose. Typically, they respond. After treatment, you can get marriage counseling and rebuild your marriage.

Does Separation Equal Divorce?

I know that when couples separate, they’re not likely to be thinking “growth”.  Murder maybe, divorce—most likely. I really believe that separation can be a time of tremendous growth. Look, the two of you made some unwise choices that brought you to the point of separation. Now, with the help of God, the two of you can make some wise choices that will lead to reconciliation.

But my spouse is not willing to change! Okay, then are you willing to change? Are you willing to let someone help you examine your marriage to see what went wrong? You can’t make changes until you know what changes need to be made. Are you willing to admit that you may be just a small part of the problem? And your spouse may not always be the mean evil person they are today. God has changed some pretty rough characters in the past. Your spouse is not beyond the hand of God!

The Person Behind their Verbally Abusive Tongue

Behind every verbally abusive tongue is a person of value.

I know that’s hard to believe when you are hurt by exploding words, but it is true. Your spouse is an extremely valuable person, a person deeply loved by Christ. Of course, their verbally abusive behavior saddens the heart of God as it does your own. But their abusive behavior does not distract from their worth.

If you can focus on their worth rather than their abuse, perhaps you can be God’s instrument for bringing help. The wife who says: “I’ve been thinking about us. I’ve been thinking about our dating days. I’ve been remembering the tender touch, the kind words, the smiling face, the fun we had in those days. I guess that’s why I believe in you so strongly. I know the good qualities that are there. Sometimes I lose that vision when I am hurt by your verbal attacks, but I know the kind of man you are and I believe in that man.”

She is giving him what all of us need: someone who believes in us. This has powerful potential for motivating positive changes in his behavior.

Q&A: How do we prevent arguments during Christmas?

Question: How do you keep a marriage healthy during the Christmas Holidays? It seems like we have our biggest arguments around Christmas.

Answer: Many couples can identify with this question. Christmas can be a stressful time. The buying of gifts, decorating the house, cooking meals, and having extended family present, can all be very stressful. The problem is that we often get so busy with the details of life that we forget to touch each other emotionally. When we don’t feel loved and supported, the stress can bring out irritability and harsh words.

I’ve found that one of the best things you can do to keep your marriage healthy is for each of you to ask the other: “What can I do to help you?” Ask this question at least once a day between now and Christmas.

My second suggestion is to speak the words: “I love You.” at least once a day. That’s my formula for having a Merry Marital Christmas.

Q&A: How do we prevent arguments during Christmas?

Question: How do you keep a marriage healthy during the Christmas Holidays? It seems like we have our biggest arguments around Christmas.

Answer: Many couples can identify with this question. Christmas can be a stressful time. The buying of gifts, decorating the house, cooking meals, and having extended family present, can all be very stressful. The problem is that we often get so busy with the details of life that we forget to touch each other emotionally. When we don’t feel loved and supported, the stress can bring out irritability and harsh words.

I’ve found that one of the best things you can do to keep your marriage healthy is for each of you to ask the other: “What can I do to help you?” Ask this question at least once a day between now and Christmas.

My second suggestion is to speak the words: “I love You.” at least once a day. That’s my formula for having a Merry Marital Christmas.

Q&A: Is my husband spending too much time with his parents?

Question: My husband goes to his parent’s house every afternoon after work and every Friday night. I only see my parents once a week. My question is: What does a healthy relationship with parents look like for a newly-wed couple?

Answer: 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 “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 is 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.