Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FIrst of the Three Intolerables

In our marriage courses and in our church, as much as we encourage marriages to stay together and work out differences, there are always cases in which separation and even divorce must happen.  I say must, because if they don't happen, a very evil and destructive spirit will pervade that home and cause far more harm if it isn't stopped.

In some situations I have no problem encouraging a spouse to leave, even when he or she is hesitant.  Most of the time when separation is needed, there is so much guilt and fear involved, that what may seem like an obvious and necessary step can seem so confusing to the spouse that needs to take that action.  If we always take the "neutral" position of letting them choose for themselves, we can end up with a severely battered wife, a husband who ends up resenting God, or children who are taken away by CPS when they could have been protected by their own parents before things got out of hand.

What are these intolerables?

Abuse:  When there is domestic violence, sexual or emotional abuse, when the abuser refuses to be honest and get the help that he or she needs and continues this behavior, the spouse and children must be removed from the home immediately.  What if the other spouse fights back? What if he says he's sorry?  When abuse occurs, it is far more than just a problem of someone's temper getting out of hand.  There is a deeper root that has to be pulled out from inside the heart and emotions of a person who feels a need to inflict harm on those he or she claims to love.

This person is unwell, and needs to find help.  For a spouse to stay in that situation, especially with children involved, he or she is condoning that behavior just by staying put.  Not only condoning, but in essence inviting that behavior to repeat.  This can cause severe emotional damage to the innocent children who have to witness this, and could potentially have them removed from the care of both parents.  When you come into contact with a woman who wants to leave a violent husband, by all means, let her leave!  Pray for her, encourage her to get counseling, but he will NOT change when he gets his way.

One of the worst things that we can do to a spouse that is being abused is to tell them to "just pray." Faith is paramount to seeing God change hardhearted people, but faith (as the mantra goes in our church) has to be intelligent.  That means that we have to take action and do what is sensible, even if our emotions scream out in fear.  Fear has to be pushed to the side and rational faith take over.

Your fears say that if you pack up and leave, he or she will be so angry they'll never change.  Fears say that your children will suffer terribly if you take them away from their mom or dad.  Fear demands that you remain paralyzed and take the easiest, least threatening path to finding a solution, which often translates into doing nothing.  Fear makes you codependent.

But FAITH dictates that we do what is right - that we stand our ground and believe that through our boldness of action that God will see us through, protect our children, and give us victory.  And what if the abusive spouse spirals out of control, doesn't want to change and walks out on the marriage?  The answer to that is, move on. Your presence cannot heal him or her. Only God can heal them and only they can fight for their freedom.   You on the other hand, have an obligation to value yourself enough to fight for your own blessings and freedom.

The second intolerable coming next...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Love Walk continues...

Just because the date of our Love Walk has already passed, you can still do your own!  The Love Walk kit which includes 2 T-shirts, an explanatory CD and two brochures, can be ordered either by phone or online at or 888-691-2291.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Friends don’t let friends be lonely

Even with a boisterous bunch of kids, tons of activities and a busy social life, there is a surprising amount of marriages that are made of two, very lonely people. 

“I want to talk to him, but I know that he resents my questions.  He’ll just keep staring at his computer as if I hadn’t said a thing, so why bother trying?”

“She has no idea how frustrating work is, but there she goes complaining about how we haven’t taken a vacation in ages. Now why would I want to spend a vacation listening to that irritating voice 24/7?”

The walls go up and the busy routines get busier, just to drown out the emotional stalemate between the two.  Does this sound familiar?    

Ask yourself:  Was there ever a time we loved talking to each other?  When did that end, or did it just fade away?  What happened?  Do I really want to spend the rest of my life in a lonely marriage?  You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Unfortunately some couples never started out as friends.  Some found a partner that was a convenient escape from a difficult life, others found an object of sexual desire, and others just an opportunity to merge financial assets to raise a family.  Whatever the initial motive for your marriage, it’s not too late to change course.  But there is no way around the fact that making your relationship successful now, requires turning what you have into a friendship.  And not any old friendship, but a great friendship.  Great friendships talk.

Friends worry about each other’s feelings, and care about what each other is going through.  They learn to read each other and believe the best in each other, can’t wait to hang out, and think of each other first whenever there’s news to be shared. Friends enjoy a good laugh, and don’t take themselves too seriously. Friends have fun listening to each other’s silly rambling quirky thoughts, just because they’re friends.

Think about it.  Are you and your spouse friends?  Whether or not you are, you are in luck.  The Love Walk on May 20th is probably the best antidote to a lonely marriage that you can put to use right away.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mother's Day Resolution: Let your children see you fight

I thought this title might get your attention... 

Being a good parent means letting your kids see what you are made of when hard times hit.  They need to see you fight.  Not that angry selfish rage-aholic kind of fighting, but an intelligent fight against the negative things that attack us in our daily lives.  Those thoughts that we foolishly allow into our heads, the negative emotions and attitudes that can churn inside of us.  They need to see how we engage in this fight, and part of it is how we fight against our own selfish nature.  

That includes the ability to apologize, be humble and show our kids that we mean it when we decide to change for the better.  A child who witnesses mom or dad struggling through a decision to quit an addiction, to forgive an offense, to stop being negative or to overcome some obstacle, becomes more firmly bonded to his or her parent than those who live in a fantasy world that their parents can do no wrong. A parent who admits their faults and faces them bravely becomes a hero in their child's eyes.

Sarah had had enough of her husband's drinking problem.  She had tried so hard to make her marriage work, and at times he looked like he was really changing.  But evidence proved that he was secretly indulging in his addiction.  She did all she could to hide it from her daughter, who knew things were bad, but didn't know why.  Little Tyler heard the arguments, felt the tension of the silent treatment and  saw the tears in her mother's eyes.  But when she asked what was wrong, all she got was, "Don't worry, we're just disagreeing.  Just pray, God will take care of it."  Tyler was insecure, unhappy and was starting to get into trouble in school.  The two people she loved the most in the world couldn't get along, and she was just expected to be ignore it.

When Sarah finally decided to move out, it was the hardest thing to explain to Tyler why they were leaving Daddy.  Sarah didn't believe that Tyler deserved to know the truth.  Holding it back only confused Tyler, and caused her to resent her mother.  Without the right information, all Tyler knew was that her mother had just torn the family apart by walking out on the father she loved.  Sarah mistakenly thought she was protecting her child by hiding her marriage problems. In fact, Sarah was being proud.  Revealing her faults to Tyler would be humiliating.  I had to tell her that this was the perfect time to teach her daughter valuable lessons, and give her the tools to know how to deal with any kind of adversity.

Sarah asked me to help explain things to Tyler, and she was amazed at how well her little daughter was able to understand what had happened and what needed to be done.  

All the energy that Sarah had wasted in hiding the truth, she was able to use to a much more effective way.  I taught both Tyler and Sarah that now was the time to fight.  Daddy had an addiction.  They had to fight this spirit that wanted to destroy him and destroy their family as well.  They weren't going to fight Tyler's Dad or be angry with him - they should still love and pray for him.  But they had to fight the evil that was working.  This separation was a way to help him, not hurt him.

When Tyler was given her "mission" to fight in prayer with Mommy every day, the sad and confused little girl became a very brave and focused one.  Sarah had to admit that she hadn't been the best wife, and hadn't fought in faith like she could have.  But this time was different, and this time they would be blessed.  Even if he didn't want to change and the marriage had to end - they would be blessed.

Sarah had to take down her facade of being the perfect mom with everything under control.  It was such a thin facade anyway, that it wasn't fooling Tyler one bit.  Showing her daughter that she had made  mistakes and that her father was an imperfect man, allowed God to teach them all a perfect and beautiful lesson about Himself.

Through the struggle of faith, both Sarah and Tyler became stronger and more connected with God and with each other.  The end of the story is that Sarah's marriage has been healed, and her husband has not only stopped drinking, but is actively changing the negative attitudes that had fed his addiction.  I know - not all marriage problems have a happy ending, even with faith involved.  But even if he had refused to change, Sarah and Tyler would have had the wisdom and strength to move on, because they learned to fight.

So happy Mother's Day moms!  Fight, and teach your children to fight.  Let them see you fight, even stumble, get up and fight more.  Fight for your faith to become the greatest legacy to hand down to your children - a faith that is courageous and says no to evil.  Amazing how loving peaceful homes can come from fighting mothers.