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3/31/14

IWANM...Pride

Q:  How do you build your spouse's pride in their work if you are in a very difficult financial situation and he/she is not making enough money?

A:  That's a great question, and one that has a variety of answers.  I suppose to answer your question, I'd have to ask you a few questions  myself.  
     1.  Is he/she the primary or secondary source of income?  For instance, until recently, my wife was 
          a Project Manager for Dell Computers.  She was very good at what she did and very well paid.
          However, her job was high-pressure and very stressful.  She quit and went from a very 
          substantial salary to nothing...as in $0.00.  She's beginning a career in Real Estate, but that 
          takes time and doesn't pay bills yet.  It's caused some changes in our lifestyle.  However, its 
          been easy for me to tell her how great she's doing, how great she's GOING  to be and to 
          encourage her to hang in there, I'm rooting for her.  As the main bread-winner, I'd do 
          whatever it takes to provide for my family.  I've actually worked 2 or 3 jobs at one time
          to provide.  It's my job and my delight.
    2.  Is the problem one of lack of drive or laziness?  If so, you can encourage them in what they 
         ARE doing while at the same time, building up their confidence to do more.
    3.  What are YOU doing?  Are you helping out financially?  If not, why not?  It's difficult to 
         condemn your spouse for not being a good provider if you're not being a good helper.  In
         today's world it often takes two (or more) incomes to make things work.  Even if you can't 
         contribute financially, you can cut costs at home and save money for your family.  Everyone
         can and should help.

3/29/14

IWANM....Neatness

Q:  My husband is very neat and organized and I am not.  I know my stuff everywhere bugs him, but that's how I've always been.  What should we do?

A:  First, let me say this is a very interestingly worded question.  Let's look at a few telling terms.
"I know my stuff everywhere bugs him".  This is your spouse.  If you know something that you are doing really bugs your spouse, then the question is, why would you want to do it?  If your goal is to create animosity and discord in your marriage, then keep up the good work.  Sounds like you're being successful.

"I've always been that way".  Apparently, this disclaimer makes everything OK.  By this logic, if I've always been a nose-picker or verbally abusive or.....well, you fill in the blank...you get a pass.  So much for marriage making you better.

"What should we do?"  Here's the problem with that statement, I'm not talking to "we".  I'm just talking to "you".

So, here's my answer to you...You need to decide whether you want to be messy or happy.  Pick one. If you know something bugs your spouse, stop.  This isn't rocket science.  Why would you want to do anything that would harm your marriage?  Pick up your socks.

One more thing I need to add.  You asked, so I'm answering you.  If your spouse had written and told me he's really neat and organized and it bugs his wife, I'd tell him to decide whether he wants to be neat or happy.  I'd tell him to lighten up.  Life's too short to be all puckered up all the time.  But, he didn't ask.  You did.

If you can find a compromise, that's really the key to a happy marriage.  Most likely, one of you needs to loosen up and the other needs to pick up.  Meet in the middle.  That's where sanity lives.

3/28/14

IWANM...Distance

Q:  Do you have any advice for a marriage separated by distance (military deployment)?

A:  I have to admit, this is not anything that I have experienced personally.  However, in talking with Susan, she reminded me of times I was out of the country doing mission work which, although not nearly as dangerous as your situation, was still in the realm of the unknown, and caused her some trepidation.

Some things that we tried and also some suggestions for you that you might find helpful:
1.  Find a daily devotional that both of you can use, so that you are reading the same thing each day and praying for the same things each day.  This can be so very beneficial in that it keeps you both on the same page spiritually.
2.  When you have an opportunity to communicate, be sure to share what God is teaching you, in general, but especially, in regard to your devotional studies.
3.  Share prayers, prayer requests and answered prayers with one another.  If possible, keep a prayer journal, to help you remember what God is doing and be able to share it.
4.  Possibly, acquire accountability partners...a guy for him, a girl for you, where you are.  Ask them to ask you the tough questions that your spouse would if they were here.

Being apart is hard...I can't even imagine.  But, there are some things you can do to help.  The best thing is that you already have realized that, and that's half the battle!

3/26/14

IWANM....TRUST

Q: How does one build trust again after one spouse had an emotional affair with someone from work?

A: That's a great question, but one that I can't answer for you.  That's the bad news.  But, here's the good news...You can answer it for yourself.  In fact, you're the ONLY one who can answer it.

The question you asked was "How does one build trust", but the real question isn't what does he/she need to do to build your trust?  Honestly, they could do things right and left all day long, and it might, or it might not build your trust.  Only YOU know what you need from them in order to begin to trust them again.  To force them to read your mind...or even for me to read your mind, is cruel and unusual punishment.

So, here's what I suggest you do.  Ask yourself one simple question, "What would it take for me to trust this person again?"  Sounds simple, but here's what it requires:

*You have to be HONEST.  Don't sugar-coat this.  Be real.  Be true to yourself.  You have the right and the responsibility to be honest enough to ask whatever your require.  Even if it's more than the other party is willing to do, it's best they know that right up front, rather than trying to guess and hitting a brick wall.

*You have to be ALL-INCLUSIVE.  You need to tell them everything you require.  This can't be an ever-changing list....a moving target.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  No amendments.

* You have to give a TIME FRAME.  It can't be, "I want you to quit drinking" or "I need you to see a counselor" or "I need you to have no contact with this other person".  Whatever it is that you require of them to begin to trust them again needs a specific time frame.  Do you mean for a week, a month, six months, a year....what?  Otherwise, when they've done what you require of them for a week and you don't trust them, they'll think you lied to them.  Also, they need to know exactly what the requirement is and if they're willing to pay the price to win you back.

*Put it in WRITING.  That way there's no misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

*You need to be a person of your WORD.  If you say, "I need you to do A, B, C & D for six months in order to win back my trust", and they do it, then you need to trust them.  You laid the ground rules, and they played by them.  Now it's your turn.  Be careful what you ask for...you just might get it.  Once they jump through your hoops, they need to know they can trust you.

3/25/14

IWANM....Secrets

Q:  Should you share a secret with your spouse from the past that you know that would destroy them and your marriage?

A:  That's an excellent question, and my answer may surprise you to some extent.  I'm big on the necessity of unfiltered, unconditional, honest, get to the heart of the matter communication between every husband and wife.  Communication is key.  It's our secrets that make us sick.  So, obviously the answer is an unequivocal "yes"....right?

Well, possibly, but there's a few other components to take into consideration.  Here's the biggest one:

What is my purpose in sharing this?

If your motivation is to be open and honest in your relationship, then the answer is yes.
If your motivation is the fact that you have done something that could be harmful to your spouse and/or family, then the answer is yes.
If your motivation is that this is causing a break in your relationship with your spouse, then the answer is yes.
If your motivation is that you have sinned and you feel miserable about it and simply want to make your spouse share in your misery, then the answer is NO.

Confession is honest, freeing and cleansing.  But, we also need to remember that every bad thing is a good thing perverted.  Confession can be used as a tool to inflict pain..."Well, I'll tell you what I did.  What do you think about that?  How does THAT make you feel?"

There are stupid things I've done in the far distant past before I knew Susan and that in no way impact Susan.  Although brutally honest with my wife, I don't use her as my personal conscience washing machine.  You have to decide what your motivation is in confession.  Although 99% of instances of honesty and confession are appropriate, necessary and healing, and very few can be just to take a load off our shoulders and put it on the one we claim to love.

Be honest.  Be real.  Come clean.  Just don't be selfish.

3/24/14

IWANM

Yesterday, we culminated our series, I WANT A NEW MARRIAGE with a Q & A with my wife Susan and myself.  You texted in 100's of questions, so we couldn't get to every one.  Over the next few weeks, I'll try to answer as many as possible.  So, here we go...

"How can you get romantic time when your spouse insists that not ONE, but TWO kids under age 5 sleep in your bed?"

That's a great question.  This is a practice referred to as Co-Sleeping, where the child or children are invited into the bed with the parents.  The ideas behind the practice are to further promote bonding between parents and children, boost emotional health and build self-esteem and independence later in life.

In answer to your question as to how to promote romance in your marriage while practicing co-sleeping, I have no answer for you.  My belief would be that the practice of co-sleeping, although not biblically forbidden, is in direct contradiction to at least two biblical concepts.

1.  It makes the parent-child relationship superior to that of the husband-wife relationship.  I believe that cuts directly against the biblical priority structure.

2.  The Bible tells us to love our children, but our main over-arching goal is to raise independent, God-honoring adults.  Anything that precludes that is in direct contradiction to the scripture.  As we look at these little bundles of joy it's difficult, at best, to be reminded of our responsibility toward them.  ANYTHING that inhibits our raising them to be independent, God-honoring adults is counterintuitive and should be avoided at all costs.

I believe common sense should rule here.  If our marital relationship is to be the primary relationship, then co-sleeping is simply a bad idea.

Beyond the simple idea that it's not best for a marriage and places the child's needs (or in more cases than we want to admit, the parent's needs) above that which is best for the marriage, the American Pediatric Association warns against the dangers of any such practice.

Personally, I believe co-sleeping puts a child at risk of being smothered in more than one way.  It's a bad idea.

3/8/14

IWANM

IWANM.  That may mean nothing to you, but for the people of Crosspoint Church it has come to be something of a war cry...I WANT A NEW MARRIAGE!  One important detail...we're not talking about a new spouse.  Quite the contrary.  NEW MARRIAGE..SAME SPOUSE.

Hundred's of couples have made a priority of their marriage and decided to make an investment of time and attention by taking the 30 Days to a New Marriage Challenge.  Thirty days worth of topics we seldom talk about, but desperately need to.  The beautiful thing is that if a wife or a husband brought up most of these topics, the other spouse would automatically go on the defensive.  But, this little innocent book is able to do what neither spouse is able to.  It's amazing.

Fun?  Not always.  Needed?  Certainly.  Life-Changing?  Absolutely.  When we're forced to deal with our "stuff" that we've ignored and denied, it can only do amazing things to our marriage, no matter whether it's a good one, a not-so-good one, or it's on life-support.

Wanna join us?  All the messages and the 30 Day Challenge are available online @ crosspointchurch.tv.  Do it!