Category: Marriage help

Q&A: Resolving Conflict

Q: I tend to be very passive in dealing with conflict and my wife is direct and confrontational. How can we be better at resolving differences?

A: To solve conflicts, we both have to share our honest feelings and ideas. We also have to listen to the other person with the view to understanding and not condemning what they’re saying and how they’re feeling. If you can’t get this together yourself, you can try reading one of the many books on this topic. One of those is my book, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. If that doesn’t work, by all means, sit down with a counselor or pastor to learn the skills of listening and resolving conflicts in a positive way.

The Heart Of Marital Desires

The need to feel loved by one’s spouse is at the heart of marital desires. A man said to me recently, “What good is the house, the cars, the place at the beach, or any of the rest of it, if your wife doesn’t love you?” Do you understand what he was saying?  “More than anything, I want to be loved by my wife.” Material things are no replacement for emotional love. However, most of us focus on “getting love” nor on “giving love.” But Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Why not ask your spouse: “What could I do or say that would make me a better husband or wife?” Their answer will tell you how to love them most effectively. When you love them, they are more likely to love you.

Q&A: Husband Viewing Pornography

Q: My husband has struggled with viewing pornography. Where do you suggest I start in dealing with it.

A: Many men are lead down a trail that leads to emptiness and lonliness. The pornography world is not a real world. I do think you have to take a strong stand—if you request that he not be involved in that and it doesn’t help, and typically it doesn’t, you take the tough love approach. You say to him, “I love you too much to sit here and do nothing while you walk down this trail.” Then you decide what you’re going to do—move out, live with your mother for a while, see a counselor—and then you do it and follow through. When he realizes there is a crisis and that you’re not going to accept this as nomr

Q&A: Emotional And Verbal Abuse

Q: I’ve dealt with years of emotional and verbal abuse from my husband and there are times when I just want out. What can I do?

A: I think when you live with constant verbal and emotional abuse, it does become extremely difficult. That’s why I would suggest that you see a counselor—you need someone to come along side of you and to give you ideas on how you can influence your husband. I wrote a book called Desperate Marriages, in which there is a chapter on living with a controlling spouse and another one on living with an abusive spouse. You can’t make him change but you can influence him.

So reading that book and talking with a counselor would be my suggestion on how you can either learn to cope with this or be a positive influence on him.

Why Is Love So Elusive?

“If love is so important, why is it so elusive?” Through 30 years of counseling I have heard it over and over again. “Our love is gone, our relationship is dead. We used to feel close, but not now. We no longer enjoy being with each other. We don’t meet each other’s needs.” Could it be that deep inside these hurting couples there is an emotional love tank that is empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank? I think the answer is “Yes”. If you would like to change the emotional climate, then look for something positive in your spouse and give them a compliment. Your positive statement is the first step toward a growing marriage.

Q&A: How To Help Friends Who Are Divorcing

Q: What is the best way for my husband and I to help a couple from church who are in the process of getting divorced?

A: First of all, I want to commend you for desiring to help the couple. First of all, listen to the parties involved. Let your husband listen to the husband. You listen to the wife. Hear their stories and how they perceive the sitution. The two of you share that information with each other. Then as you go back to them, you’re better prepared to know what to encourage them to do. Typically, each of them is blaming the other and they are not seeing their own faults. I think when you hear each of their stories, you may be able to help them understand each other better. It’s understanding that leads to reconciliation.

Forgiveness Does Not Heal Everything

We often have the mistaken idea that forgiveness will heal everything. Let me share three things that forgiveness does not do. (1)  Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrong doing. The father who abandons his children may repent ten years later, but forgiveness does not restore the ten years of void. (2) Forgiveness does not immediately restore trust. Once trust is violated, it must be rebuilt by the person being trustworthy. If that happens, then over time trust will be restored. (3) Forgiveness does not remove the offense from one’s memory. It does mean that you choose not to hold the offense against them.

Resource: Love As a Way of Life.

Without Forgiveness

There are no healthy relationships without forgiveness. From time to time all of us do and say things that hurt those we love. Such behavior calls for an apology—and apologies call for forgiveness. Now, let’s be honest, forgiveness does not come easily. The husband who gambles away the money they had saved for a new car cannot expect his wife to be happy. Nor should she expect herself to simply accept his behavior and move on. No, forgiveness is the response to genuine repentance. God does not forgive us our sins when we refuse to repent. Nor, can we do this on the human level. But when there is genuine repentance, than you must extend genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness brings healing and hope for a better future.

Q&A: When Do I Call It Quits?

QWhen do I call it quits in a marriage that has been filled with lies and infidelity?

A: When you’re in a difficult marriage and particularly one that involves untruths and infidelity (both of those issues create a very dysfunctional marriage), I don’t want to say when you give up because we ought to always have hope. So, I would say: if they are not willing to go with you in counseloing, you go yourself for counseling to help you decide how to exercise tough love in an effort to stimulate some chagne in the other person. You can’t change them but you can influence them. Someone coming along side you can help you do that.

On Reconciling a Separation

In my book, Love as A Way of Life, I talk about the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice to lift the penalty and let the offender back into your life. Their actions or words hurt you deeply, but they apologized and you extended mercy instead of demanding justice. That is exactly what God has done for us. The justice of God was settled on the cross. He can forgive us and still be just because the penalty has been paid by Christ. We can forgive others for the same reason. Forgiveness does not remove all of the hurt, but it does open the door to the possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness removes the barrier and allows you to even return good for evil. This is love as a way of life.