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When I Don’t Feel Love For My Spouse

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When I Don’t Feel Love For My Spouse

By Steve Cornell

A woman once told me that she planned to leave her husband because she “just didn’t love him anymore.” I asked her to change the way she worded what she planned to do so that her decision could be understood accurately. I asked her to say it this way: “I am choosing to no longer value my husband and to break my commitment to remain faithful to him.”

She declined to word her decision this way but insisted on using terms that made her appear to be a victim of feelings she could not change. She also thought her decision was actually virtuous in its honesty and in her refusal to be a hypocrite.

Being and Behaving in Love

When performing weddings, I raise this question: “What is it that draws people together to be married?” Most answer with one word: love. Yes, love draws us together. But what is love? Is it something we can fall into and fall out of? Is it chemistry? Infatuation? Is it an emotional response or a choice?

Over the years, people have told me they want to be married because they love each other. I’ve also had people (like this woman) tell me that they want out of their marriage because they no longer feel love for their mate.

This has led me to ask some serious questions about the nature of love. In my evaluation, I’ve concluded that we need to distinguish two dimensions of love.

Being in love. This dimension is the emotional attraction of love. It’s what people mean when they speak of “falling in love.” It’s usually based on more superficial reactions to appearance and first impressions. Clearly, it’s a natural part of human attraction. Though not necessarily wrong, it’s not enough to sustain a meaningful and lasting relationship. It’s far too superficial. Deeply satisfying relationships are built on the second dimension of love.

Behaving in love. This dimension does not depend on feelings and chemistry. It’s the love of volition. It’s the choice to respond to my mate in a loving manner, regardless of feelings. This dimension of love is a choice to value my mate and seek his or her best. While I can’t always make myself feel a certain way, I can always choose to act in a loving way.

In the context of marriage, the distinction between these two dimensions is very important to understand. Most relationships start with a high dose of the being dimension of love and, in most relationships, this feeling diminishes with time. When this happens, the key to keeping the flame of love burning is not pursuing a feeling but deciding to value the other person and be devoted to his or her best—no matter what one feels.

It’s a choice to act in love even when we don’t feel love. I realize that to many people this sounds almost like a great sin. It sounds as if I am advocating some form of dishonesty but, surprisingly, when we choose to love, the feelings often follow the actions!

Cultural Barrier

We must confront a cultural barrier that threatens this understanding of love. Our culture sends a strong message telling us that above all else, we must be true to our feelings. To do anything else, we’re told, would simply be dishonest and hypocritical. So it has become a mark of good character to be true to your feelings.

This cultural ethic is often used to give people a false sense of virtue when breaking deep commitments. By “avoiding hypocrisy” and “being honest enough to admit the loss of feelings,” they feel justified—perhaps even virtuous—in breaking their wedding vows.

There is a deep and self-destructive deception in this line of reasoning. It implies that we are somehow victims of our feelings, incapable of mastering them. Feelings come and go with changes in the weather.

But do you go to work only when you feel like going? Do athletes or great musicians only practice when they feel like it? We simply cannot live a healthy and productive life if we let our feelings master us. This is especially true regarding relationships.

If we hope to experience deep and lasting relationships as intended by God, love must be understood as an action more than a feeling.

Remember that God demonstrated his love for us not because we are a warm, lovable group of people whom he could not resist. Instead, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the kind of love husbands are commanded to show toward their wives (Ephesians 5:25).

Reflect often on this distinction between being in love and behaving in love. Use this for conversation as couples, in small groups, and with those preparing for marriage.

Reflect also on the best definition of love available to humanity.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a)

If you are struggling with your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

How to Thrive When One Spouse is Traveling Solo

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How to Thrive When One Spouse is Traveling Solo

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

For many couples, it’s difficult to fathom either of you traveling on your own after you get married. Especially during the early years of marriage, it feels almost painfully essential to remain in one another’s presence at all times. And while it’s ideal for you to be able to travel together as often as possible, there will be times when one of you travels alone, and the other stays home.

Some couples are perfectly comfortable with this idea; others are not. Today, we’re going to give you some tips for helping your relationship thrive when one of you is on the road (or in the air) alone.

BEFORE THE TRIP

Get it All Out in the Open: If you’re feeling uneasy about the fact that you or your spouse is going to be traveling solo in the near future, get that out in the open. Have an honest conversation with your spouse about your nervousness, and come up with a game plan to alleviate as much of that anxiety as possible. Simply discussing the things you’re feeling worried about can take a huge amount of pressure off both of you.

Tie Up Loose Ends at Home: Work together to make sure everything will be taken care of at home during the trip. If you have kids, make sure to line up adequate childcare so there will be plenty of help available for whichever of you is staying home. Stock the kitchen with disposable dishes and plasticware to reduce dish-washing, go grocery shopping beforehand, work together to get the laundry in order, and plan some meals ahead of time (make-ahead freezer meals can save a lot of time when you’re going it alone at home!).

Make a Communication Game Plan: Based on travel activities, obligations, and scheduling, make a game plan with your spouse when it comes to communicating regularly with each other. If you’re traveling to a conference or work-related event and you know you’ll have limited talk time, let your spouse know up front and make sure to be available via text message to keep the lines of communication open.

DURING THE TRIP

Pretend You’re Dating Again: Remember that old saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? And remember your dating days, where you would pine for one another when you were apart? You couldn’t wait to hear one another’s voices, and you savored each phone call. Enjoy messaging and talking to one another when you’re able to.

Share Good News: When you communicate with each other, be sure to exchange positive experiences from the road and from home. Give your good energy to one another, even while you’re separated. Be happy for one another, and cheer each other on. Being supportive and pleasant when you talk goes a long way toward making each travel experience just a little bit easier. (But, as always, lend an ear, some positive affirmations, and a giant dose of empathy for your spouse if they’re having a difficult time–at home or on the road.)

Anticipate Your Reunion: There’s something so special about the anticipation that builds as you get closer to seeing one another again after a time of being apart. Share that anticipation with each other. Let your spouse know you miss them, and that you’ll be so happy when you’re back home together. Make plans for the homecoming; a romantic evening together could be just what you need to unwind from the time apart.

AFTER THE TRIP

Enjoy One Another: You made it through the trip! Now is the perfect time to refocus on each other. Take some extra time to lavish attention on one another and enjoy being together again. If you have kids, plan a special family outing to celebrate all of you finally being home. Or go out on that special date night you’ve been dreaming about.

Talk About Next Time: What worked? What didn’t? How can you work together to make the next time easier for both of you? Chat about how things went, both on the road and at home, and look for ways to alleviate any issues that came up during the trip. Then, next time there’s an opportunity for travel, things will go more smoothly than ever!

If You Give a Husband a Kiss

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If You Give a Husband a Kiss

This mom turned “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” into “When You Give a Husband a Kiss”… and it’s kind of amazing!

By Leah Heffner

If you give your husband a kiss, he’ll probably want a hug to go with it.

You’ll nestle your head under his chin, and just breathe him in.

The smell will remind you of when you first started dating and you didn’t want to be anywhere else but nestled under his chin.

You’ll think back on some of your favorite first dates – ice cream, pancakes, holding hands in front of your friends.

Before you can get too carried away, a toddler will probably squeeeeeeze his way in between your legs, breaking apart your hug.

You’ll open your eyes to see breakfast dishes that need cleaned up, kids who need noses or butts wiped, and the million other tiny and enormous things you do every day.

You’ll see the little babies running around and the messes and pile of bills and the work shirts.

You’ll see the rogue marker marks and mountain of laundry and the inch thick dust bunnies.

You might be so overwhelmed, you won’t know where to start.

You’ll see all the ways your life is different now than it was when it was late-night pancake dates and ice cream runs.

So you’ll take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, take a drink of coffee, and just start on something.

You’ll get so caught up in what’s going on around you, you’ll miss talking to your husband before he leaves for work.

You’ll start to say goodbye as he leaves, when you notice the baby has had a blow out.

After you change the diaper, you’ll wash your hands, and notice your wedding ring.

Your wedding ring will remind you of your wedding, and the man that you married.

You’ll think again of all the ways life is different now than it was when he slipped that ring on your finger.

And then you’ll think of all the ways it’s still the same, just like when you nestled your head under his chin.

You’ll hear the door to the garage shut and realize your husband’s leaving for work.

You’ll realize you don’t want to miss giving him one more hug before he leaves this morning.

So you’ll run out into the driveway looking like a hot mess.

He’ll smile because he thinks you’re beautiful, and you’ll still not understand how much he means it.

You’ll probably smile back, trying to pick one out of a million things you could say.

Instead, you’ll decide to give him a hug.

And chances are, if you give your husband a hug, YOU’LL want a kiss to go with it.

 

If you would like help with your marriage relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

How to Skyrocket Your Intimacy Through Shared Activity

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How to Skyrocket Your Intimacy Through Shared Activity

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

We all have hobbies and interests that we’re passionate about; the trick is finding a way to integrate them into our marriages. Some couples do this with ease. Others, however, struggle to find a good middle ground–or even new activities to share.

Today, we’re talking about how to create opportunities for shared activities in your marriage to skyrocket your intimacy and make your relationship happier.

THE VALUE OF SHARED HOBBIES

Sharing activities or hobbies as a couple is incredibly important to the health of your marriage. Enjoying hobbies, recreational activities, and downtime together allows intimacy to flourish in your relationship.

For wives, spending time together in shared activities fulfills their longing for intimacy. It also draws husbands into that sense of intimate connection, creating a mutually beneficial situation for both partners. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, as long as you put the time and energy into spending time together.

When you spend time with your spouse, you’re creating memories and good feelings together that will spill over into other areas of your marriage. No matter what’s going on in your life, you have these times set aside, when you and your spouse will simply be doing an activity you enjoy together. And when the going gets rough, you’ll have those good times to lean on and look forward to.

You’ll also be setting a great example for your children of what a healthy marriage looks like. One of the best things you can do for your kids is to let them see the two of you loving each other well. And when they’re grown, they can emulate that in their marriages.

HOW TO FIND ACTIVITIES TO SHARE

If you two already have many common interests, then agreeing on what to do together should be a cinch. You’ll have a ton of options to choose from! If you both enjoy physical activities like biking or tennis, hit the trail or the court together once a week (or alternate, if you like both!). If the two of you are music buffs or love theatre, choose a show or performance to attend together every month (and in the meantime, kick back and listen to records together for a relaxing date night at home).

It gets a bit tricker to find things to do together when you don’t share many interests, so you’ll really have to put your heads together to figure something out. The good news is that it’s not about what you have in common–it’s how you work with one another to find that common ground, or create something new in the process.

First, make a list of each of your favorite hobbies, and sit down together to talk through each of them to gauge each other’s level of interest in the items on the list. Create a new list for the solutions you land on, and write those down. After that, talk through each item again until you’ve landed on one or two activities that you’d like to participate in together.

Another way to approach this could be to ask each other, “If you could only do one thing in your free time from now on, what would it be?” Then, make the effort to get involved (as much as possible–even just a little) in one another’s top choice.

If you find yourselves coming up short on ideas, we’ve created a free cheat sheet that will help jump-start your search for some activities that both of you feel interested in. You might both find an activity to engage in that you’ve never tried before, and who knows? It may end up becoming your favorite.

REMEMBER TO KEEP IT FUN

If finding shared activities has proven to be a challenge, don’t look at it as being mismatched with your spouse. Instead, view it as an opportunity to experience life on a deeper level with your partner and best friend. Exploring new activities and hobbies together can enrich your life and your marriage, and that in itself is a huge payoff.

Next week, we’ll focus on what to do when hobbies or activities steal your spouse’s time and energy…plus give you some tips on how to get his or her attention back on your relationship.

If you would like help skyrocketing your intimacy through shared activity, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

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6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Addiction is an overwhelming illness whose hallmark symptoms are the physiological craving of, and emotional attachment to, a legal or illegal substance or practice. Most often, we see addictions in the form of substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs.

Substance abuse is devastating to marriages, families, and relationships. It can result in career loss, financial ruin, divorce, estrangement, and even death. Today, we’ll focus on six landmines that substance abuse plants in your marriage when you’re struggling with addiction.

For all of these issues, we strongly encourage that you and your spouse seek outside professional help. Consult your local minister or physician for reliable recovery resources, like a 12-step system that understands your unique struggle. Addiction is not something you can overcome on your own, but with the right help, you will be able to move past this and rebuild your lives.

DENIAL

Denial is risky business when it comes to facing a life-altering issue like addiction. For the addicted spouse, denial comes in the form of the idea that they’re in control of their addiction–they can stop any time they want. This is frustrating for the non-addicted spouse, who can often (eventually) see the problem for what it is, but finds it difficult to impossible to interact with the addicted spouse who is so strongly rooted in denial.

But many times, especially at first, the non-addicted spouse is also in denial. While the other person may display a host of red flags that point to substance abuse, it can feel easier in the moment for the non-addicted spouse to come up with alternate explanations or write off the signs as coincidence. Denial on the part of the non-addicted spouse is dangerous because it delays the possibility of seeking necessary professional help…even if that help only comes in the form of support for the non-addicted person in the marriage.

HELPLESSNESS

Whether it’s you or your spouse who is struggling with an addiction, helplessness takes root quickly. After a period of denial has passed, an addicted spouse may feel helpless to control what is happening to them; they find themselves at the mercy of the drug. The non-addicted spouse is likely to feel helpless when it comes to their spouse’s addictive behavior because they can’t do anything to stop it or make the situation better.

Feeling totally out of control of any situation–but especially a situation like this–is terrifying, stressful, and unsettling. Both spouses are at risk of seeking out behavior patterns that make them feel more in control of their lives, which can create a volatile situation in the relationship.

DISHONESTY

Addiction breeds dishonesty. It’s nearly an inevitable byproduct of substance abuse. The addicted spouse inherently knows that the substance that’s controlling their life shouldn’t be playing a role in it at all. Yet, because the physiological need for it is very real, they find themselves lying to cover up the problem.

However painful it may be, the non-addicted spouse must keep track of their spouse’s dishonesty. It’s essential to learn the telltale signs that the addicted spouse is lying; he or she may fall into a pattern that is easy to recognize. During and after recovery, the non-addicted spouse may still find it difficult to trust their husband or wife, but if they’ve become familiar with his or her patterns during dishonesty, it could become a framework they can use to evaluate the recovering spouse.

NEGLECT

Addictive substances tend to steal an addicted spouse’s entire focus (perhaps not at first, but eventually, this tends to be the case). This can lead to the spouse neglecting the needs of their family, plus their responsibilities at home and at work. As a result, the addicted spouse may eventually find themselves jobless and even in the throes of financial ruin.

For the non-addicted spouse, experiencing neglect is detrimental to their health and wellbeing, the health and wellbeing of their children, and the financial stability of the family. Over time, they find themselves shouldering the burden of the addicted spouse’s responsibilities, plus their own. This can lead to anger, resentment, and contempt, which can be difficult to overcome even after the couple has received professional help to overcome the addiction itself.

PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ILLNESS & PAIN

Substance abuse often begins when a person is trying to escape pain of some kind. What addicted individuals often don’t realize is that the substance will eventually cause them physical and psychological pain. Addiction also leads to varying types of illness, brought on by the years of self-harm.

For a non-addicted spouse, psychological pain and illness may occur as a result of the tremendous stress brought on by the addiction. Practice radical self-care and talk to your physician or counselor if your family is facing an addiction that has caused your health to deteriorate. Your recovering spouse and any children you may have will need you to be healthy in the coming months as you face this down.

ABUSE

Unfortunately, addiction is capable of creating an abusive environment in your home–be it verbal, physical, emotional, or otherwise. A person who has become addicted to a substance is susceptible to personality changes that include aggression and violence.

If you are a non-addicted spouse and your husband or wife has become abusive, creating a dangerous environment in your home, get yourself and any children you may have to safety. Consult your counselor for the safest way to communicate to your spouse that you have left the home, and you won’t be able to come back until it is safe for you to be there. Encourage them to seek the help they need to get well so that your family can be together again in a healthy environment.

If you would like help with your marriage or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

The “Perfect Couple” Myth

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“A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” (Dave Meurer)

If you would like help in learning and enjoying your differences with your spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

Infidelity: Does the Root Cause Matter?

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Infidelity: Does the Root Cause Matter?

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Learning that your spouse has had an affair is a jarring, traumatic emotional experience. For the foreseeable future after the discovery (or your spouse’s confession), you’ll go through a deeply painful mourning period. Everything you believed about your life before this knowledge may be shattered, and you may wonder if you’ll ever be able to trust your spouse again.

Picking up the pieces after infidelity is incredibly difficult, but it can be done. The question is, can it be done if your spouse isn’t willing to dig into the why behind his or her actions?

WHY WE WANT TO KNOW

If you’ve been betrayed by your spouse, you’re most likely trying to figure out why they made the choice to have an affair. You’re probably asking yourself questions like:

  • Why did my spouse want to cheat?
  • Was I not good enough
  • What does the other person have that I don’t?
  • Was it something I said or did? Or something I didn’t do?
  • Did my spouse feel their needs weren’t being met?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • How can I be sure it won’t happen again?

It might feel tempting to try to answer all these questions (and more) at once. After all, infidelity will rock your marriage to the core, and if you’ve recently learned of an affair, you’re probably trying to decide what the future has in store. Will you be able to work it out? Will you need to end the marriage? What’s going to happen?

It’s normal to want to know what to expect going forward, as much as possible. For this reason, you might be inclined to question your spouse to get to the bottom of the issue. If you can learn the reasons behind the affair, you believe, perhaps that will help you determine your next steps–especially if the two of you want to work toward saving your marriage.

Learning the reasons behind an affair can also be a powerful form of closure. Perhaps you feel like you can’t forgive completely or move forward unless you’ve gotten all the answers from your spouse. But often, spouses who have been unfaithful don’t want to dwell on details of an affair, much less get to the bottom of the reasons why it happened.

If your spouse is holding back or avoiding conversation about the affair, it can create tremendous anxiety for you. Shouldn’t your spouse be willing to open up and answer all your questions? After all, he or she is the one who’s in the wrong…right?

WHY YOUR SPOUSE WON’T DIG DEEPER

When infidelity has occurred, spouses who have committed adultery often aren’t very articulate about what has happened, and don’t have a deep sense of understanding about the internal factors that drove their decisions to engage in the affair. If your spouse is avoiding these conversations, it’s likely he or she lacks insight into the “whys.”

Another motivation he or she might have is shame regarding the series of decisions that led up to this situation. Your spouse isn’t proud of what has happened, and it’s not something they want to repeat. At this point, they’re so bogged down by the shame of what they’ve done that they have a deep desire to move forward rather than wallowing in the past. Answering questions dredges up emotions, mental images, and more questions that your spouse probably doesn’t want to deal with over and over again.

The future seems very, very bright compared to what you’re going through right now. Your spouse is craving that brighter future, away from the dark season you’re in.

All these factors can compel your spouse not to look deeper into the situation at all; they just want to move forward and put all this behind you. The problem is, you might be left feeling like you’re in the dark.

MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

Can you and your husband or wife move forward without dissecting the reasons behind an affair? Absolutely. But only the two of you can determine whether this path is the best for you. Healing from infidelity is very tough, no matter how you and your spouse choose to approach it.

What matters most is where you’re headed as a couple, not necessarily understanding everything about the past. You can choose to put it behind you and move forward without digging into the details, but it won’t be easy. (Bear in mind that, after an affair, every path to recovery is difficult in its own way–and the answers are different for each couple.)

While it may be possible to heal and move forward without delving into all the reasons behind an affair, keep in mind that lack of open communication can make it more difficult to reestablish trust. If you feel that your spouse’s avoidance of the topic indicates a desire to hide the truth (whether that’s their motivation or not), that’s likely to raise your suspicions and feed resentment.

If you don’t have an open license to discuss how you’re feeling with your spouse or ask him or her questions about what has happened–and have them honestly answer–trust may not be reestablished in your relationship. Infidelity wreaks havoc on the emotions of the injured spouse, and one important avenue to healing is the ability to freely express how you’re feeling and ask questions. This is not to drag your spouse through the mud over what he or she has done, but rather to reach forgiveness and the closure we talked about earlier.

Agreeing together on a commitment to openness will allow your communication to flow more freely. This is key to healing from the affair that has hurt your marriage so deeply. If you are unable to reach this agreement at first, take heart in knowing that it is possible to move forward regardless. But we strongly recommend finding a way to open those lines of communication between the two of you (seeking out a professional counselor can help you to do this).

If you would like help in your marriage or the fall out of infidelity, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Balancing Act: Marriage and Friendships

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Balancing Act: Marriage and Friendships

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Friendship is a great blessing. Can you imagine going through life without friends? (We sure can’t!) Our friendships make up some of the closest relationships in our lives, and that doesn’t stop when we get married.

But when we go through a huge change in life, like beginning a dating relationship or getting married, it shifts the landscape of our relationships. Even though these changes occur, it’s important to find a new balance together, because maintaining our close relationships is important. So how do we do that?

FOCUS ON YOUR MARRIAGE FIRST

When you get married, it can be difficult for your friends (especially if you’re the first one in your circle to tie the knot) to accept the inevitable changes in your relationships with them. They don’t want to “give you up,” in a sense, for you to embark on something new. But it’s impossible to keep pouring the same amount of time and effort into your friendships as before, while cultivating intimacy with your new spouse.

It’s important for you and your spouse to understand that you’re both going to have to make some adjustments to the amount of time you invest in your friendships. You’re starting a new life together, and you need this time. Be empathic toward one another, and work together to make sure you’re meeting one another’s needs, as well as honoring one another’s need for your other friendships.

It’s also important to show empathy toward you friends, who may not understand your need to pour more time into your marriage. If you need to, you can explain that there have been some changes in your life, and right now you need to honor those changes as you start this new chapter.

Remember, your single friends will probably start getting married soon, and at that point, they’ll have a better understanding of where you are right now. In the meantime, you’re the pioneer, so start setting some great patterns in motion. Your friends will see your example of dedication to your marriage, and that will give them a strong model to follow when they get married, themselves.

CREATE SHARED FRIENDSHIPS

One of the greatest joys of a healthy, happy couple is having a shared circle of social connections. Shared friendships enrich your life, but it’s tricky to create a social circle within your marriage that works for both of you (and for those you bring into the circle).

When you gather friends together, something magical happens. You and your spouse get to know the deeper layers of each other in the process, particularly if you have a shared past with some of these friends. Enjoying friends together will deepen and enrich your relationship.

It’s easy to find a single friend we’d like to spend time with, but when it comes to forging friendships with other couples–and creating a relaxed, comfortable dynamic–it takes work, and it’s not as easy to pull off. All four of you need that natural chemistry, and that can be a challenge to find.

But when you and your spouse do “click” with another couple, it’s so rewarding. Not only are you friends with each of them; the mentoring that occurs when you watch another marriage play out in front of you is a huge bonus. When it comes to friends like this, the whole really is greater than each individual.

MAINTAIN INDIVIDUAL FRIENDSHIPS

While we’re big proponents of shared friendships (especially with other couples), this doesn’t mean you can’t also have individual friends. Our lives are enriched by keeping connections with friends from the past, work colleagues, classmates, and others. Communicate openly with one another about these friends, and allow one another the space you need to continue cultivating these individual friendships.

Sometimes we have a sense of responsibility and ownership for friends who have been loyal to us over the years (especially the single years!). It’s important to try to pull those friends into your shared life, but there are times when some of the friends you choose might not be your spouse’s favorite choices, and vice versa.

If your spouse has a friend he or she wants to maintain a connection with, open your arms a little wider to this person. Honor your spouse’s shared history with them, and allow your social horizon to expand. Your spouse is loyal to their friend, and it’s important to show grace and to respect your spouse’s desire to keep this friend in your lives.

Over time, you may find that the friends who aren’t in the center of your shared social circle draw closer to you as a couple. Relationships shift and evolve over time, and you may find that a friend of your spouse’s–who might not have been your top pick at first–turns out to be one of your most loyal friendships.

If you would like help with this balancing act of marriage and friendships, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Who is the Mature One in Your Marriage?

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Who is the Mature One in Your Marriage?

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

It is much easier to sit back and say, “Well Emerson, I would be more loving if my wife was more respectful!” Or, “Why should I show my husband respect when he is treating me in an unloving way?”

Of course it is easier to be obedient to God in our marriage when our husband or wife is also being obedient. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

So who goes first?

My answer: the mature one.

How do you know if you are the mature one? Let me put it this way.  I can tell you if you are the immature one.

The immature person uses this information not to change themselves, but to try to change their spouse. Their whole mindset is to get their spouse to be more loving or respectful rather than trying to be more loving or respectful themselves. They do not believe that they have the power to influence their spouse, but instead see their spouse as having all the power to influence them. Therefore they must change their spouse in order to be happy.

The immature person lacks obedience to God’s commands. Instead their mission is to get their spouse to obey God’s command toward them. Bottom line, the Lord will not honor that and a spouse is not going to respond to that any more than if the roles were reversed.

The mature person, on the other hand, will do their part to improve the marriage, even if it means putting their own feelings aside. They will choose obedience to God’s commands over their own feelings and over their circumstances. That’s because they understand the nature of God:  He is a good God, whose commands are given to help us, not to harm us.

Let me also add that the mature one does not tell their disobedient spouse that they are immature. Nor do they throw it around that they are doing all of these loving or respectful things because of their maturity. That would be immature – and counterproductive! Shaming or condemning your spouse for their immaturity is really a reflection of your own immaturity. The mature spouse displays their loving or respectful actions with a humble heart.

Which are you in your relationship?  The mature one – or the immature one?

If you have hesitated to step out in faith and honor God in your marriage, trust His word and His character. Trust that He would not ask you to do something foolish. He is too wise for that. Be the mature one and make the first loving or respectful move. It could change everything!

-Dr. E

If you would like help with your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Does He Need to Confess Adultery to His Wife?

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Does He Need to Confess Adultery to His Wife?

By Dr. Russell Moore

[Note: Questions and Ethics is a monthly series in which Dr. Russell Moore provides insight into how Christians should navigate through life’s most challenging moral and ethical issues. The following is a transcript of this audio.]

Today I have an email that came in from someone who is writing—he is a Christian man, a member of a church, who writes and tells me that he had an affair several years ago, that this affair only lasted about a week, that he put an end to it, but he writes and wants to know whether or not now—even though he has confessed it to God, he has repented toward God, he has talked to a couple of key accountability partners in his life—whether or not he ought to tell his wife. Now, this man says that their marriage is already precarious. It has been precarious for some time. He is not sure whether or not his wife knows the Lord—or if she does, how mature she is in Christ—and he doesn’t want to jeopardize their marriage. He doesn’t want to split up their marriage and really wreck the lives of their children. And so he says do I have to tell my wife?

Now, what I want to say is first of all I just stopped and prayed for this family because I know that this has to be absolutely agonizing. It is agonizing for him. It will be soon agonizing for her and for the children—those who are completely innocent in this saga. I do think that you need to tell her and for several reasons: One of those reasons being, you have sinned against her. Your having this adulterous affair is a sin against your wife, and until you have confessed to her and until you have repented to her I don’t think you are finished with the process of repenting. Biblically she has ownership—that is radical language, I Corinthians, chapter 7—she has ownership over your sexuality, and so your sin affects her, even if she doesn’t know about it. And it affects her in several ways: one of them being you have joined yourself with some other woman outside of your marriage, which has a spiritual, mysterious effect, Paul says in I Corinthians, chapter 6.

Secondly though, you have brought to the marriage a breakdown in intimacy. You are keeping a secret from her about something that is at the core of your marriage. She deserves to know this, and I don’t think you have finished repenting until you confess it to her and until you ask for her forgiveness. I also don’t think that you are going to be free from the weight of conviction that you feel from that sense of guilt that you either feel—or if you don’t feel, it’s because you have covered that over and you have a heart that is numb to that. I think that you need to confess this and get that out in the open.

Having said that, I want to say to you be prepared for the consequences of your sin. And I think that you need to make it very clear when you confess this to your wife that she is more important to you than the risk that may come along with your confessing this to her. And so you need to own your sin. You need to communicate this to her as a sin, and do not give any indication that you blame her at all. She is already probably going to be looking for that in whatever it is that you are saying. Do not give even the appearance that you are blaming her. So whatever problems you may have had in your marriage, whatever sorts of issues that you may have with her, this is not the time to talk about those things. You have no ground to give any list of grievances to her—regardless of whether or not those things may be legitimate. She is not to blame for your immorality and your sin, and so don’t imply that she is.

And I would also say don’t take her first reaction to be necessarily her last reaction. She is going to feel betrayed. She is going to feel outraged. She is going to feel as though she doesn’t even understand what her world means right now. That is all completely natural because you have broken the covenant. You have sinned against her, and you have done so with a breach of trust. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t give excuses, reasons. And let her express the grief and the anger that comes out of this. You have been carrying this sin with you now for several years. It could feel to you almost as a relief to get it out in the open in front of her. But this is the first time she is hearing about this, and so, you can’t expect her to forgive you immediately, reconcile with you immediately, move on. She has to grieve this, and she has to express the sort of anger that she has. Let her do that, and then wait patiently for her to forgive you. Don’t expect that she owes you some sort of immediate reconciliation. You are going to have to spend in many ways the rest of your life in your marriage rebuilding the trust that is there, even when she does forgive you.

So I am really sorry about this, and I am praying for your entire family, but yeah, you need to tell her. That is the second step for you, after confessing to God, in your repentance.

 

If you would like help in navigating the struggles of your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.