Need Help Appreciating Your Husband or Wife?

Sometimes in counseling, a spouse will ask for help to rekindle a flame–recapturing a sense of value and desire for a husband or wife. If you’re someone needing support in appreciating your husband or appreciating your wife, perhaps this story will add value…

I remember a mission trip I took to Port Au Prince, Haiti and the poverty we experienced while we were there. Often at night, we’d hear children crying outside our gate, “I’m hungry…I’m hungry!” The problem was so severe that if we took food to those who were crying, they might be trampled or beaten-up by others once we’d handed them something to eat.

Once, I had a small boy working beside me the whole day while we were helping build a school. He couldn’t have been more than 10-12, but worked hard—like an adult. At lunch, our hosts tried to sweep us away behind closed doors to feed us, but I couldn’t bear to leave my little Haitian buddy behind with nothing to eat. So, I said in my broken Creole, “follow me,” and I led him down several back alleys to a quiet spot where I could hand him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and stand guard over him while he ate.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when I gave him that sandwich. I try to remember it whenever I’m tempted to complain about my life!

Now I realize that most of us need more than a comparison to someone less fortunate in order to feel better about our circumstances. If your spouse isn’t what you dreamed he/she would be, just knowing someone with a worse mate isn’t enough. Still, the idea of appreciating what IS good about those we love is a biblical concept that works.

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Christian Marital Happiness

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

So, my suggestion is this. Make a list. What is it about your spouse that is positive and worthy of praise. Pray over that list. Speak to your mate about those things–positively reinforcing those traits and behaviors. Sometimes, this not only helps your mindset, but inspires even greater positive change in the one you love.

 

To that end,

Pastor Joel

 

 

Is There No Sex in Marriage?

The modern paradigm in our culture is that sex ends when marriage begins. But is there no sex in marriage? And, can Christian marriages experience great sex? The answer is, “absolutely yes!” Still, it works best in a Christian marriage when we follow certain principles.

In my book, “The Crucified Couple,” I cover many of these principles in detail. I’ll reprint the most pertinent chapter here:

“Chapter Six: Sacrificial Sex?

Second only to money, sex is a leading cause of marital stress, separation, and divorce. Whether it’s a difference in sexual desire or an affair, sexual issues can tear apart a relationship. On the other hand, as God intended it, sex can be the glue that helps keep couples together. The key to having sex be a positive force in marriage is, you guessed it…sacrifice.

Before we explore this further, we should consider what I call, “The façade of sex as a basic need.” In the U.S. and throughout most of Western Europe, we’ve been conditioned to believe that all people need to have sex and that without it we are psychologically and perhaps even spiritually deficient or ill. Movies like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” teach young people that anyone who doesn’t have sex is odd, or sick.

This idea affects marriage in that we come to believe thatif we’re not having sex as often as we like—or at least as often as one partner likes—we MUST be divorced or at least be allowed to cheat or use pornography since, sex is a primary need. If a partner gets sick or just loses interest due to age, menopause, or a mid-life crisis, we panic—or worse.

As an aside, this is also why the idea of sexual compatibility is also a farce. Couples who live together are more likely to become divorced than couples who don’t live together before marriage. The idea that you must “try before you buy” sexually is ridiculous based on the studies that have been done on premarital sexual experience and its impact on marital success. But even if it was true that sexual experience before marriage helped ensure sexual compatibility, the reality of change due to health, age, stress, and other factors negates that benefit.

In other words, if you’re 100% sexually compatible and enjoy the same
interests in frequency and positions for intercourse, etc., today; it’s entirely probable that this will change over time. My question to you is—then what? Will you quit? If your marriage and frankly your sex life is only built on your own pleasure, the answer to that question is, sadly, “Yes”.

So, when God tells us to save sex for a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman, He really does know what he’s talking about! It actually works—when we understand that sex is the icing on the marital cake, not the cake itself. It isn’t a basic need without which we die or become mentally warped. On the other hand it’s a beautiful uniting factor for couples who use it correctly and sacrificially.

Psychologically, and physiologically, sex is more satisfying when the focus is giving to the other person. This is ironic when we consider that the focus of sex in our culture is personal satisfaction or pleasure. This is not to say that we can be 100% happy simply by satisfying our partner. The key is focus—the priority is giving to our spouse with a desire to also achieve sexual satisfaction.

The key to making this work is communication. I’ve noticed over the years that, apart from medical issues such as Erectile Dysfunction, (which is more than treatable in most cases), the majority of sexual problems in marriage can be resolved by improving communication.

When couples learn how to share their sexual likes and dislikes then it’s possible to give and improve intimacy. This communication is both verbal and non-verbal. And, like all communication, it involves both sending and receiving information. Reflecting what you’ve “heard” or “understood” from your spouse by repeating what was said or by acting on it in bed is the key to completing this sexual communication loop.

It’s also important to consider creativity and the role it plays in romance. Sometimes romance and routine are contradictory. Not only do most couples find that changing things up a bit sexually helps, it’s also part of communication in that without trying new things, it’s hard to know what each partner likes or doesn’t like.

The point is, don’t get stuck in a rut, use variety to find out what your loved one enjoys and then provide that. You will likely be surprised at how much that pleases your spouse. You’ll be even MORE surprised at how much this pleases you!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (I Cor. 7:3-5).”

What we have here is a beautiful sacrificial balance. When our attention is on the needs of our partner, both in terms of frequency of sexual intimacy as well as the type/approach to giving them pleasure, a bond is created and a protection exists against the temptations of a fallen world. In this context, romantic times and positive sexual experiences also create positive memories. All of this contributes to martial health.”

 

Stop Fighting Over Money!

As a pastoral counselor, I’ve worked with dozens of couples who want to stop fighting over money. Unfortunately, money and sex are the two biggest conflict areas in marriage–often stated as the reason for divorce.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Based on my experience and the great teaching of people like Dave Ramsey as well as material in the Prepare-Enrich marriage program, here are some tips I’ve compiled to help couples draw closer regarding finances, not pull further apart:

  1. There’s no such thing as “my money,” only “our money.” While it is good to have discretionary cash for each of you to spend (see point 6 below), thinking in terms of “my money” versus “your money,” doesn’t work and frankly, is a false paradigm. Whether it’s the IRS, the credit card company, or your bank–everyone else will see a debt incurred by either of you as a joint responsibility. Since the entire world sees it as your collective earnings or debt, why don’t you choose to see it that way also? Having a single budget with a total income and a total expense balance makes more sense and leads to more peace than having separate bank accounts, budgets, expenses, etc.
  2. Use a budget worksheet. In my book, “The Crucified Couple,” I’ve got a chapter on finances and a sample worksheet in the appendix. Here’s a link for more information: CRUCIFIED COUPLE BOOK. Having a unified and often reviewed worksheet will help you avoid a lot of trouble while pursuing common goals together.
  3. Communication is the key. This leads well to the most important factor of all–good communication. If you can’t share openly, reflectively listen, and resolve conflict in a healthy way, no marriage book or counselor will be able to help you find or maintain financial peace! This is another area covered at length in my book as well as in posts on this site as well.
  4. Let the most gifted partner manage. Some couples struggle financially simply because of pride. If you’re not gifted at math and/or accounting, but your partner is–let them handle the checkbook! This doesn’t mean you are “out of the loop.” Communicating regularly about your financial state is critical. Still, the day-to-day paying of bills and reconciling of statements should be done by the most capable partner.
  5. Make sure both of you have some discretionary cash. As mentioned above, it’s good for each of you to have “blow money.” Money you use for whatever you individually wish/see fit. The amount should be budgeted and maintained though so that you don’t incur debt or miss important payments.
  6. Use the debt snowball to get out of debt…and stay that way! Dave Ramsey’s method found in his book, “Total Money Makeover,” (which you can learn about HERE),  Dave talks about a method of paying off debt starting with the smallest amount owed and working toward the larger amounts one step at a time, while making the minimum payments on each monthly. So if I’m making a $30 minimum payment on a $500 debt and a $50 on a $1,000 debt. I’d pay off the $500 first and then apply that $30 to the “snowball” until the $1,000 is gone. Again, I highly recommend Dave’s book to understand and implement this. You can learn more HERE.
  7. Let financial priorities be based on goals you set together. Too many couples are in what I call “financial survival mode.” Even if it’s just a few dollars a month, money should be set-aside to meet future goals including travel, retirement, or other dreams. Dreams become goals when you set an amount and start saving for it. Build your budget around those goals and be encouraged by each small step of progress.

My prayer for you is that you’d be richly blessed and that you will draw closer to your spouse as you implement these steps and work together to make finances a blessing, not a source of stress!

To that end,

Pastor Joel

 

How Do I Make My Marriage Last?

I worked security in college and had an awesome boss. He was an ex-Texas Ranger and when they say, “One riot—one ranger.” I totally get it. Lee Stolley was his name and he was T-O-U-G-H, tough! Loved him though…He was fair and fought for his men, so we were all completely loyal to him.

I remember one incident that illustrates his toughness. We had a drunk guy on campus that was threatening to cause trouble. Lee calmed him down, but the guy was then ready to climb into his truck and drive home. He was in NO condition to drive. Lee stealthily slipped the keys out of the ignition while trying to talk him out of driving, but the guy suddenly grabbed the ignition to start the truck, and found that the keys were gone…

Then…IT WAS ON!

He slammed the door into Lee and jumped to his feet. He was easily a foot taller and probably 50 pounds heavier, but that didn’t matter. Lee was on him like Tar Baby on Briar Rabbit and soon had him in a choke hold from behind. He was yelling to my coworker, “Mace him Louis—hit him with the mace!!”

Louis Bergin, the other guard, was in his late 60’s and moved at the speed of frozen molasses. He looked like Yoda from Star Wars, but that’s where the comparison stopped. He slowly took out his mace canister, waved it around trying to aim carefully, and when he finally “let ‘er rip,” the suspect ducked and Lee Stolley took a direct hit to the face and eyes.

Now gagging and blind as a bat, Lee was completely off the ground and on the back of this 260 pound, angry drunk who, like a wild bull at the rodeo, was trying to fling him off his back. Didn’t matter. Lee hung on, tightened his choke hold, and eventually subdued and cuffed the guy.

Perseverance…that’s the word I would use. Lee Stolley was a pit bull when it came to wrestling a perp, protecting his men, or just completing an “everyday task.” I just wish most married couples I know had this same tenacity.

I know that conventional wisdom requires that we come-up with a magic cure or technique to ensure marriage longevity. The truth however, is that what it really takes is just a heavy dose of perseverance. One, or preferably both, partner(s) saying, “I’ll make this thing work or die trying!”

How do you develop that?

Well, that’s at least in part what we do at Christian Marriage Mentor. If you’d like coaching or other tools to help you develop that tenaciousness, please contact us using the link above.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

How to Take Back What You Said

A friend of mine served as an elder in a large church in Waterbury, CT many years ago. He tells a story about how their pastor literally got carried off the stage—but not the way we might like to carry a winning quarterback off the field…

They were signing the praise song, “Shine Jesus Shine.” The pastor, feeling exceptionally inspired, decided to dramatically preach the lyrics while the music continued in the background. “SHINE—Jesus, Shine,” he began, “Fill this land with the Father’s glory! Blaze, Spirit Blaze…”

And that’s where the service “went off the rails.”

He was SUPPOSED to say, “Set our hearts on fire.” Unfortunately, in the heat and passion of the moment, what came out was, “Blaze, Spirit Blaze—set our farts on fire!”

Revelation speaks of a moment where “there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour.” The silence didn’t last that long, but there was a moment where everyone was thinking, “Did he REALLY say, what I think I just heard him say?”

That’s when chaos was released. Someone snorted and then everyone exploded with laughter. At first, the pastor didn’t realize what had happened, but when someone whispered to him between giggles, he came completely unglued. He shook with laughter and eventually slid out of his chair onto the floor in mass hysteria. The worship leader attempted to regain control, but to no avail. The deacons and elders literally carried the pastor off the stage and someone closed with prayer…

Speaking the Unspeakable

Sometimes, we just say things we wish we had never said. I’ve had days when I put both feet in my mouth–as if one wasn’t enough. It’s almost like we can see the words leaving our lips and we want to scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!!” but it’s too late.

Then what?

Married couples tend to be more guilty of verbal offenses because of familiarity. When you’re that close and intimate with someone, you tend to let your guard down. You tend to say whatever comes to mind because you are, in fact, “one” with that person (Mark 10:8).

And, while its impossible to “put the Jeannie back in the bottle,” what CAN we do when we say what shouldn’t have been said?

Steps to Heal

  1. Admit the mistake. Too often, we try to explain, justify, or “spin” what we said and that just makes it worse. Better to just admit that it was a dumb thing to say and that we’d like to retract, reject, and renounce it.
  2. Ask for forgiveness. Don’t assume that it will be overlooked. Rather, ask the hearer(s) to grant you grace.
  3. Accentuate the positive regarding the offended party and contradict the statement as much as is possible/reasonable.
  4. Accept the need for time to pass and healing to occur. Sometimes, we want the other person to just “move on,” but the hurt is deep and thus time must pass. We need to be patient with this and grant them the time they need.

If these steps fail, third party counseling or help may be in order. Feel free to contact us here if you need help finding someone in that case.

 

God Please Save My Marriage!

Praying for a miracle

As a pastoral counselor, I wish I had a proverbial dollar for every time I’ve heard someone ask for a relationship miracle. “God please save my marriage,” many ask.

But do we understand what we’re seeking?

Miraculous Rescue from the Abyss

We were driving home from a family fishing trip in northern Quebec Canada. We were on a 1.5 lane logging road 80 miles north of Maniwaki—literally the middle of nowhere. It was dark, it was late, and it was raining cats and dogs.

I crested a hill and my father said, “You might want to move over to the left.” As he said this, I noticed we were headed down a hill toward a one lane bridge over a logging river. There were no guardrails, just 4×6” planks on either side of the bridge. We were just off to the right of where the bridge would be at the bottom of the hill so I needed to move.

And I did—or at least I tried!

I moved the wheel, but nothing happened. I turned sharper and still nothing. I tapped the brakes and still nothing—now I knew I was in a mudslide and had no control of the vehicle. “I can’t stop it—we’re sliding,” I shouted! “Hang on everyone,” Dad yelled. We slid into a sign and it flew over the car. We were headed at an angle off the side of the bridge seemingly to go air-borne into the abyss…when all of a sudden…we stopped.

We stopped!

We sat there stunned for what seemed like hours, but was actually only a few seconds. “W-we stopped,” I stammered. Dad opened his door to try to get out but quickly realized that wouldn’t work and that we were not yet out of danger. The front third of the car was handing over nothing—he couldn’t get out because there was nothing but air to stand on.

“OK girls,” Dad shouted to my Mom, sister, and friend in the backseat, “Slide out the driver’s side door quickly and carefully. They complied between sobs and shrieks. “OK Son,” Dad said, “Now you get out too.” “But I can’t Dad!” I was white-knuckling the steering wheel still with both feet on the brake, the car in park, and with the emergency brake pushed all the way to the floor as well. “If I let go, the car may fall with you in it!” “It’s OK,” Dad said, “You keep it in park with the emergency brake on. Just slide out and I’ll be right behind you.”

I remember sliding out like a cat jumping from a proverbial tin roof. I ran to the front of the car and held the hood—pushing the car back from the edge of the bridge as best as I could. Before Dad even made it out, a man mysteriously showed-up behind us in a jeep with, believe-it-or-not, a winch on the front. Without a word, he strapped the cable to our back pumper, cranked up the winch, and pulled us off the board on the edge of the bridge. When he did, the plank fell off the edge of the bridge, right into the rocky water below. It was broken and split in two—thus, there was literally noting holding our car on the side of the bridge before he pulled us.

Like a hot, the man rewound his cable and jumped back into his jeep. Dad tried to pay him, but he just shook his head “No” with his hand out as if to say, “Stop it.” He drove away, and while we pulled out pretty quickly right behind him, we never saw his taillights or any sign of him again.  Was he human—or an angel—we don’t know! What we DO know is that God spared our lives that night and there’s really no good explanation as to why I’m still here, apart from God’s grace and work with me, even as a young man.

Miracles and the Abyss of Divorce

The difference between the abyss we nearly fell into that fateful night and the abyss of divorce is simply this–one involves free will and the other does not.

Plummeting off that bridge would NOT have been my choice. But I’ve seen many couples and individuals in a marriage choose to give up–to plummet into divorce while their partner prayed for a miracle. Was God being “stingy?” No. He simply chooses not to override the free moral agency of others.

Having said that, if you’re praying for a marriage miracle, is there no hope of God’s intervention? Furthermore, is there nothing else you can do but “wait and see?”

Actions: God’s and Your’s

What God will do, is put truth into the path of a spouse headed toward divorce. He’ll speak to them through His Spirit. He’ll put people in their path who can speak to their hurt and bring healing–if he/she will receive it. I’ve watched this happen again and again.

Your job in this?

First, it’s to pray, pray and then keep on praying for your spouse. Next, it’s to take whatever steps you can. I turned the wheel, hit the brakes, and shifted down into first gear during our terrifying mud slide event. None of this stopped us, but I know I did all that I could. Furthermore, I know God took over at that point and, I believe, saved us. Part of the reason for that is that we had prayed before we left and, knowing my mother, he was praying the entire trip–especially since I was driving!

God rescued us. And, He can do the same for you and your spouse…if you’re both willing.

I’d love to help you if I can. Check our “Resources” tab above or contact us for a free consultation.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

Finding Christian Marital Advice: 7 Keys

Every marriage has challenges. So when a christian couple is struggling, how do they find solid christian marital advice and counsel?

Not an Easy Answer

This isn’t as easy as some may think. The “knee-jerk” reaction is often to

Happy Christian Couple

say, “Well, just call your pastor.” The problem is that many pastors don’t feel comfortable doing anything even close to marital counseling. First, they weren’t trained for this in seminary. Second, they are afraid of lawsuits if their advice doesn’t work or is misapplied. And third, it’s hard–and often not much fun either.

“Christian Counselors” Often Aren’t

Christian, that is. In other words, that’s the other challenge here. Many who advertise themselves as “Christian” counselors or therapists are nothing more than secular clinicians who mention Jesus occasionally. Their therapy consists of Freudian psychology and secular humanism with a few Bible verses added in to make it sound spiritual.

While some of what these folks offer is helpful, it often misses the bigger picture of what marriage really is and thus, how to fix it. Since God created it (See Genesis 2:24), who better to show us what to do to make it better?

So What’s a Believer to Do?

Over the past 25 plus years of my pastoral ministry to couples, here are a few tips I’ve picked-up that may help:

  1. Pray! It’s amazing how often we forget the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6. This passage tells us that God will direct us if we seek His direction over our own ideas and understanding. Start your search with sincere, fervent prayer.
  2. Then, do a Bible Study on Marriage. I always tell people that it’s important to see what God has already said on a subject before pursuing His specific word on your situation or seeking advice from others who claim to represent Him. An easy way to do this kind of study is to get a copy of a Topical Bible or just use an online Bible resource to search for verses on marriage. Here’s a great site which includes access to resources like Nave’s Topical Bible.
  3. Talk to your pastor, but give him a break. What I mean is, start with him, but let him know right up front that you don’t expect him to do counseling. Rather, you’re looking for advice on FINDING someone you can meet with. If he’s comfortable doing it and you’re comfortable with him, fine. Still, this approach gives him an “out” if he wants to refer you to a counselor, mentor, etc.
  4. Call your denomination. Most Christian networks or denominations have referral services to help you find good marital counselors. Call or go online to see what you can find.
  5. When considering a counselor or mentor, do your homework. Go to the counselor’s website and look at his/her statement of faith. If one isn’t posted, call the office and ask for one. If they don’t have one or won’t send one, move on to other options. To see an example, CLICK HERE.
  6. Ask Questions. Choosing a counselor is important. A good one will welcome your questions in making a decision about whether or not to use his services. Ask about the counselor’s philosophy, training, and faith. Where does he/she attend church? What schools did he/she attend? Many times, the answers to these questions give you more options of websites to surf so that you can find out what this person believes and thus how they’ll approach the task of helping you.
  7. Ask us! If all else fails, you can click the Contact Us button above to ask a question or seek further information. Our mission is to support couples from a biblical perspective. We’re always glad to provide more resources including our flagship book, “The Crucified Couple.” Get your copy or learn more here.

 

Tolerating Bird Dogs and Imperfect Partners

I grew-up in a family of hunters. My favorite season was the Fall when we’d hunt partridge, pheasant, and ducks. I was a pretty good wing shot and I loved working with a group of friends/family plus a good dog…although that was/is hard to find.

A good bird dog will find birds, wait till the right time, jump those birds and when the hunter shoots one, retrieve them. I never seemed to get the combination right over the years. First there was Smokey, actually my uncle’s dog. Smokey would point and jump them well, but then he’d only bring birds to my uncle regardless of who shot them. Also, if they fell in the water, we were all out of luck because Smokey, a Weimaraner, didn’t do water.

Later in life, I had Ginger, a Beagle/Spaniel mix. Ginger was a great dog and would find and jump birds well. She didn’t wait for me, but usually stayed close enough so when the birds jumped, I’d still be able to get off a good shot. Ginger even retrieved. The problem was, she retrieved for herself more than me. She would literally tear the birds to pieces before I could get to her and attempt, (notice the word “attempt”), to take them away. She was great to hunt with if you never planned to eat anything you shot.

In more recent years, I had Daisy, a purebred Labrador Retriever. She was awesome. Great at finding birds. She’d wait for my command to jump them. She’d even find them once they fell. The problem was, she wouldn’t touch them. Apparently, she’d been punished for messing with birds where she grew up before we got her, (I’m guessing chickens). Thus, she wouldn’t touch anything with wings. She’d just run up to them and sit down next to them. She’d then look back at me as if to say, “Hey, this is yours. I don’t want it. And don’t even think about asking me to grab it—‘cause it ain’t happenin!”

Imperfect dogs…imperfect people

What I’ve come to see is that there are no perfect dogs. People either. That is, as much as we want to find the perfect partner for marriage or the perfect employee or the perfect friend, we soon learn that he/she doesn’t exist.

Now while we all admit this and spout it as a cliche, our response to it is often illogical and well, ridiculous. Here are some common reactions I’ve witnessed to the lack of human perfection:

1. Keep hunting for it. Whether it’s romantic relationships or a corporate vacancy we’re attempting to fill. I’ve watched people waste years chasing something that we all know doesn’t exist–perfection. If we know it doesn’t exist, why pursue it?

 2. Attempt to create it. Some of us believe our talent, patience, and skill set is so amazing that creating perfection in others is inevitable should they be given the opportunity to spend time with us. Right!

 3. Harp on, and focus on the lack of it. This is the opposite of #2 above. In this case we think if we just complain about what’s missing in someone, they’ll suddenly become able to fix it and thus become, you got it, perfect! This is the most common approach and my only question to those practicing it is, “How’s that working for ya so far?”

 4. Live in the denial. In this case, people just pretend others are perfect even though they know deep down, that this just isn’t the case. The ultimate example is a mother who’s child is a public menace, yet she brags to others about what a model child he is. My wife is a school psychologist and lives with this daily.

 None of these work!

 Yet, we continue to try them.

 What’s better is to accept the reality of imperfection and then play to and focus on people’s strengths. Now with selecting a mate, we obviously know we can’t live with some things and that’s OK. The same is true of hiring. A kleptomaniac with a wrap sheet miles long wouldn’t make a good bank teller, for example. Still, the “little things” we decide we can live with need to be, just lived with! This is easier when we focus on strengths and leverage those.

 Each of the retrievers I’ve owned had strengths. I learned to adjust my hunting approach to those and, we did very well together. Smokey brought all the birds to my uncle which meant I had more room in my bag for other things. He didn’t do water, but he was great in the brush for hunting partridge or woodcock. Ginger was great at finding and jumping birds. I just had to be fast enough to get to them and her, before she shred them like yesterday’s financial reports. I’d just give her treats to trade for the bird and all was fine. And with Daisy, I’d just get more exercise by walking to her as she sat next to my downed prey instead of asking her to bring it back to me. It was healthier. 🙂

 So, my advice is to analyse the four common responses to imperfection above and reject any you’ve been guilty of. Next, I’d make a list of absolute requirements for the people you’re seeking and admit that anything else is what you can live with. Finally, I’d recommend choosing to support and encourage the strengths in the people around you. You’ll be happier–and so will they!

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

Help Me Save My Marriage!

When I first met Kathy and Dan (not their real names) Dan was living with another woman in an open, and blatant affair…

“Help me save this marriage pastor,” she begged. She had been praying for and trying to work things out with her husband for at least a year before we spoke. Kathy was amazing in that most women would have walked away. She wanted to save the marriage and their family despite her husband’s obvious excesses.

What does a counselor/mentor do in such circumstances?

I don’t know that there’s an easy answer to that question, but I DO believe that even these kinds of marriages can be saved. Unfortunately, many counselors just listen and empathize without giving much if any practical advice.

In Dan and Kathy’s case, I spent time with Dan and learned that he needed to do some spiritual healing based on some pretty severe emotional wounds. We did something called “Steps to Freedom in Christ” by Dr. Neil Anderson. He was able to forgive his father, forgive Kathy for some of her mistakes in their relationship, and then seek forgiveness after walking away from the adulterous relationship.

Today, if you were to meet Dan and Kathy, you’d never believe they had ever had a problem. They love each other deeply and spend a lot of time laughing and serving together in their church. Their kids are happy–it’s really an amazing story.

So how does this kind of miracle turn-around occur and how might it happen for you?

  1. Don’t give up. Kathy’s commitment led to Dan’s and together they were relentless about rebuilding their relationship. I’m convinced that two people who are committed to healing and growth can will have a successful marriage.
  2. Seek spiritual healing individually as well as collectively. Too often, we want to tackle the obvious physical problem and thus miss the underlying issues. Forgiveness was the key for Dan and Kathy. God led them to it and the rest was/is history.
  3. Learn your spouse’s love language, personality, and motivation. Also seek to understand the basic difference in primary needs expressed by most men versus most women (See Ephesians 5:33).
  4. Most importantly, know and focus on the real reason for marriage. I cover this in detail in my book “The Crucified Couple,” but suffice it to say that the real purpose for marriage is bigger and more powerful than meeting your needs or your spouses. I would argue that a good marriage demonstrates the unity and perfect balance of the Godhead (Genesis 1:26 and 2:24). I would also argue that it pictures Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:32).

If you’d like to speak with someone about your marriage and see if you can experience what Dan and Kathy did, please click this link and send us an email. It would be our pleasure to serve you.

office@christianmarriagementor.com

Blessings,

Pastor Joel