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How to Know if Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate

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How to Know if Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The concept of “soul mates” is an age-old, romantic idea that each of us is fated to be with one special someone with whom we connect on a spiritual level. Many people put a lot of stock into this concept, and it’s not unusual for married individuals to wonder whether or not their spouse is their soul mate. The problem is that this can lead us to doubt the marriages we’ve committed to.

When a young couple transitions from the “honeymoon phase” and into a more day-to-day dynamic, they might begin doubting or questioning whether this is the person they were ultimately meant to marry. Maybe they find that they don’t actually agree on everything–since young couples tend to start out imitating one another’s preferences, dreams, and wants in order to achieve a sameness and avoid conflict–or maybe they’ve begun to butt heads more frequently.

From a biblical perspective, marriage is a lifelong commitment you promise to honor. And once you’ve made those promises to one another, it’s up to you and your spouse to nurture the spiritual side of your marriage. Because ultimately, nurturing the spiritual aspect of your relationship will be what binds your souls closer together. In other words, our marriages are at their best when we’re tending to our souls.

The good news is, determining whether you’ve married your soul mate isn’t a matter of guesswork. You simply have to take care of your souls.

So how do couples nurture one another’s souls and, ultimately, create that soul-mate bond so many of us long for?


Each of us has a deep, abiding longing in our souls for connection. Most young people believe finding their soul mate and getting married will fill that void–and for a while, it seems like it does. But eventually, the longing comes rushing back, and we begin to wonder, “Was this really the person I was supposed to marry?”

Even couples who have done “all the right things” to achieve a healthy marriage–premarital counseling, practicing effective communication and conflict resolution skills, achieving emotional balance, adjusting expectations, and more–feel this longing when their soul care is not in working order.

If you and your spouse aren’t working toward spiritual intimacy, you’ll continue feeling restless. But if you bond with one another on a soul level, you’ll experience a deeper connection and more profound meaning, both in your marriage and in your life. God calls soul mates to pursue and share spiritual meaning; in your partnership, the only way to discover that successfully is to pursue it together.


As you seek the spiritual meaning of your marriage together, God will be revealed to you more fully. Marriage itself has a way of revealing God to us, and anchoring ourselves in faith is critical to both the health of our relationship and our soul connection.

Marriage is an earthly metaphor that represents God’s love for us. Isaiah 62:5 says, “[…] as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” The Lord’s church is called “The Bride of Christ” multiple times in the Bible, and Jesus’s love for His church is an additional mirroring of the love and connection God intends for our marriages.

When we see and acknowledge these parallels, we gain a greater understanding of the sort of connection God wants us to pursue. In order to achieve this connection, we must practice God’s examples of faithfulness and forgiveness for each other on a daily basis. Without these two critical components, marriage can’t last.

Faithfulness is the foundation on which we build abiding trust. If both spouses aren’t willing to be faithful, the marriage crumbles. As God is faithful, we also promise faithfulness to one another.

Forgiveness allows us to start each day fresh. When we live together, we’ll inevitably step on each other’s toes (whether we mean to or not). We have to be willing to forgive each other over and over; if not, we risk growing bitter and resentful toward each other. As God is forgiving, we promise to forgive each other.

As we practice and model the qualities of God in our own marriages, we’ll see Him more and more.


Nurturing the spiritual aspect of your marriage requires daily, intentional action. Couples who practice soul care in their marriages:

  • Worship together
  • Serve one another–and others
  • Pray together

By keeping God in the center of their lives, they bind themselves closer together on a soul level.

If you would like help in cultivating your relationship on the soul-mate level, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Communication Disconnect: Why it Can be Hard to Understand Your Spouse

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Communication Disconnect: Why it Can be Hard to Understand Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It’s an age-old discussion we’ve all heard, time and time again: men and women find one another difficult to understand. We have heard countless stories from married couples who regularly (and habitually) confuse one another through their differing communication styles. Those differences can create a true disconnect in our relationships with one another.

The good news is that even though we might be puzzled by our spouses from time to time, we truly can work together to develop a greater understanding of where they’re coming from. Solving the mystery of the “gender gap” isn’t impossible; we’ll show you why.


No, we don’t come from different planets; our motivations and goals through communication are just vastly different. And that can throw a wrench in an otherwise benign conversation, because our approach to communicating informs how we respond to one another.

Generally speaking, men tend to be highly analytical. They’re concerned with the cold, hard facts and laser-focused on problem-solving. Men also tend to be task-oriented and straight-to-the-point.

Conversely, women (in general) approach communication in a more sympathetic way. They’re intuitive and attuned to the emotional connections between themselves and the people they’re communicating with, and they tend to be more concerned with feelings before facts. (That’s not to say that facts don’t matter; but sometimes, it’s more important to women to process emotional realities first so that they can then tackle the facts).


Communication between husbands and wives tends to break down when we try to impose our thinking pattern on one another. It’s easy to forget how differently we are wired, especially if we’re in the midst of conflict. The thing is, we don’t even have to be in the middle of a conflict to run across these issues.

For example, let’s say a wife approaches her husband to pour out her feelings…only to become frustrated that her husband tries to “fix” the problem. After all, she was probably looking for empathy and commiseration. She may have only wanted a listening ear so she could process her feelings verbally before deciding how to act next.

Naturally, her husband’s offer of a solution is frustrating because it’s not what she was looking for in the moment. And, to be expected, her husband is equally miffed because now, he thinks she doesn’t value his advice and problem-solving ability.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Husband: “Don’t come to me if you don’t want help!”
Wife: “I wasn’t asking you to fix the problem. I just wanted to talk about it.”
Husband: “What good is talking about it if you’re not going to fix it?”
Wife: “I needed to process things, but this is why I can’t talk to you about anything! You never listen to me!”

Women often decode their husbands’ quick jump to a solution as impatience. They might assume their husbands don’t really care about what they have to say, when in reality the husband might have felt good about the solution he offered…only to come away feeling like his solution was brushed aside and devalued.

See how the cycle perpetuates itself?


Our Love Talk curriculum delves deep into communication dynamics between husbands and wives, plus gives you the tools you need to decode one another and build a greater sense of understanding in your marriage. For now, though, we’ll leave you with a few quick tips.

For women (from Leslie):

  • Men don’t tend to identify their emotions as quickly as we do, so we can’t expect them to
  • We tend to focus more on experiences, fears, and feelings, while men focus on theories, concepts, and ideas
  • Don’t expect your man to communicate like your girlfriends do; they just aren’t wired that way

For men (from Les):

  • Women tend to focus on the present and how they feel about it, while we like to think toward the future
  • We want the report; they want the rapport
  • Don’t expect your wife to detail “the plan” with all the steps if you’re not taking the time to connect with her emotionally.

Keep in mind, these are general guidelines. While men tend to want results, goals, and efficiency and women want harmony and sharing, sometimes, the dynamics can be flipped. Maybe you’re an analytical woman who’s married to an emotionally-driven man. Or perhaps you’re a sympathetically-driven man who has a more solution-oriented wife. Whatever the case, rest assured the two of you can decode your communication styles for more effective communication–and a more harmonious life together.


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

When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best (Part 2)

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When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best (Part 2) 

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles.” – Proverbs 21:23

Being silent when you and your spouse are dealing with an unresolved issue is a difficult choice to make, but sometimes, it’s the best choice for the health of your marriage. Last week, we began a two-part series on holding your tongue–and gave you three questions to ask yourself that will help guide your communication decisions. Today, we’re sharing four more.


When we’re debating issues that are highly emotional for one or both of us, it’s easy to slide into a place of overreaction. When we allow our emotions to govern our discussions, we can quickly become unreasonable–and it’s almost impossible to have a constructive conversation with someone you can’t reason with. Emotionally reactive, unreasonable interactions are rife with black-and-white thinking, generalized statements, and hurtful remarks, so it’s best to end these conversations until you’re both in a more receptive frame of mind.

Resolution Tip: If your spouse is being unreasonable, stop feeding into their emotional reaction. Instead, end the conversation with a polite statement like, “I’m going to give you space now,” then stick to it. Chances are, your spouse will come back around after they’ve cooled down.


Have you two been going in circles around a big decision that means a lot to both of you? Even though you might feel very invested in a particular outcome, you need to determine whether your spouse needs a little more time to think about it–maybe more time than you’d like. Don’t push them; give them space and time to consider the options before you. Pressuring your spouse is only going to make the decision-making process more difficult…that could drag it out longer. If you resist the urge to nag or hound your spouse, you’ll be more likely to reach a compromise (that’s favorable for both of you) more quickly.

Resolution Tip: If you’re the spouse who needs a little extra time to think, end the ongoing conversations by saying something like, “That’s interesting. I’d like to think it over and let you know in a few days.” If your spouse is the one who needs time, honor their wishes and step back.


We know how it goes; your spouse probably has a few personality traits, quirks, or habits that really get on your nerves. And no matter how many times you’ve asked her to stop throwing her dirty clothes in the floor–or “reminded” him to fill up the gas tank instead of leaving it on empty–nothing seems to be changing. Or maybe you’ve gone round and round a particular conflict that you just can’t seem to resolve, and you’re exhausted. If you’ve been as repetitive as a broken record, maybe it’s time to take a break and give yourself some time to rest.

Resolution Tip: Decide on a set amount of time during which you’re going to drop the issue and not bring it up again. It could be three months, or it could be a year–the point is to give some space to the problem. In the meantime, figure out some ways you can alleviate the distress you’re feeling; for example, if your wife throws her laundry in the floor, chuck it in the hamper yourself. You might be surprised how much better you feel when the issue is resolved, even if it’s not resolved in the way you originally preferred.


As with many of our interactions, anxiety can play a big part in propelling us into conversation–even when one of us isn’t in the right frame of mind to tackle the issue at that moment. Husbands, don’t try to start a deep or weighty conversation when your wife is immersed in a work assignment; and wives, if your husband is wrangling the kids at bedtime, it might be best to hold that thought until the little ones are settled.

Resolution Tip: Wait to discuss what’s on your mind until there are no pressing distractions or obligations demanding your immediate attention. Let your spouse finish what they’re in the middle of, then ask if it’s a good time to have that conversation.

If you would like help with your communication or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best

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When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” – Proverbs 10:19

Communication is one of the most important and essential building blocks to a healthy marriage and lifelong love. But sometimes, we can complicate the situations we face with our spouse by over-communicating–and it’s times like these when we need to be able to read each situation and decide whether or not we should continue talking about it.

Silence can be a balm when we’re dealing with issues that are highly emotional, unresolved, or which have brought us to a stalemate with our spouse. Choosing to not speak–to refrain from pushing each other for answers or resolutions–can help us solve problems that might have seemed unsolvable before. Creating that space for one another can mean the difference between a solution and a long-term gridlock.

So how do you know when it’s time to give a topic a rest? We’ve compiled 7 questions to ask yourself when one or both of you has run a subject into the ground. With a little time and space, you’ll (hopefully!) be able to put your heads back together and land on a solution that works for both of you.

Let’s get started.


Have you talked circles around what needs to be done to solve a particular problem…yet taken no action toward solving it? Over-analyzing, over-thinking, and over-discussing an issue can lead to “analysis paralysis”–in other words, you get stuck in a proverbial spin cycle that keeps you talking, but never results in you taking charge and taking action. And unfortunately, you find yourselves with more pressure and less energy to do the things that need to be done.

Resolution Tip: When you find yourselves over-analyzing, hit the brakes on the talk and spark momentum by saying something like, “Alright, we’ve got this covered. Let’s make it happen.” End the spin and put that energy into motion!


We love our spouses so much, it can be tempting to try to “fix” their bad habits by offering too much unwanted critique. Maybe we don’t like how they cook, their clutter, or their propensity for being tardy all the time, so we say little things like, “It would be so much better if you could (fill in the blank),” or “You’ll make us late if you (fill in the blank).” This can make your spouse feel judged and inadequate.

Resolution Tip: If you absolutely must share an opinion or piece of advice, try saying something to make it more palatable, like, “I know you didn’t ask for my advice, but can’t I tell you where my brain’s going?” But for the most part, try to stop inserting your opinion at every turn because it’s not helping (we promise).


We’ve all been there–you get into a majorly heated discussion with your spouse about one thing, only to experience an avalanche of other topics and issues that are completely unrelated to what started this whole conversation in the first place. Maybe a discussion about which countertops to choose for the kitchen remodel just deteriorated into a character assassination competition involving the in-laws. Whatever the case, there’s no way you can resolve anything when you’re out in left field arguing over an unrelated topic.

Resolution Tip: When your conversation derails into unrelated territory, take a time-out by saying, “Hey, what are we doing? We need to cool down.” (Because wait–what was the first problem, again? We can’t even remember.)

(Tips 4-7 coming in a future post.)

If you would like help with your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

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3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Lately, you feel like you just can’t connect with your spouse. Maybe he’s not listening to you, or maybe she’s lost interest in activities you used to enjoy together. You might fight a lot—or avoid communicating to minimize conflict. Perhaps you feel like the kids have monopolized your or your spouse’s time to the point that you aren’t getting quality time together anymore.

Whatever the case, lately, you’re feeling more and more disappointed in your relationship with your spouse. You’re lonely and discontent, and you’re wondering whether the two of you might be happier apart, rather than staying married and slogging through each day with things the way they are.

It’s upsetting and downright discouraging to go through seasons in your marriage where you and your spouse feel more like roommates than soulmates. The reality is that it’s totally normal to experience times in your life that feel this way, and there are a lot of possible reasons for it: a new baby, having small children at home, work-related stress, demanding or unusual schedules, health issues, caring for an aging parent, unresolved conflict, and more.

The good news is that you can absolutely overcome seasons of emotional disconnect in your marriage…and come out on the other side feeling closer than ever. The trick is getting over the hump, making it through the challenging days, and staying committed to each other. Today, we’ll show you three ways to overcome seasons of emotional distance in your marriage.


Even though the feeling of distance you’re experiencing with your spouse is incredibly disconcerting, rest assured it’s very common for couples to go through times in their marriage when they just don’t feel close. While that doesn’t make the experience any easier, it gives you the perspective you need to weather the storm until it passes.

We often make the mistake of thinking that how our marriage feels today is how it’s always going to feel. The truth is, love is always evolving; even if you feel some distance today, the dynamic between you could change for the better very quickly. It’s worth it to hold on, stick to the commitment you’ve made to one another, and work on getting your relationship back on track.


Sometimes when we’re feeling disconnected, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how we want our spouse to connect to us. What we tend to forget is that how we want to connect might not be something our spouse will respond to. You and your partner might simply speak different love languages, and it will be up to you to tune into their language and communicate in it in order to reignite that spark.

For example, women generally want to have deep, meaningful conversations in order to connect to their husbands. But in our experience, men tend to be less likely to respond well to their wives’ need for that conversation, especially during a season of disconnect. If you’re a wife who’s feeling lonely and wants to be closer to her husband, it may help for you to focus on joining your husband in shared activities. Men tend to respond well and feel more connected to their wives through shared activities, so go somewhere he enjoys going or participate in an activity that’s important to him, and you’ll be more likely to get connected with him again on a much deeper level.

Husbands, if you’re feeling disconnected from your wives, open yourselves up for genuine conversation. Your wife will be more receptive and responsive to you if you’re intentionally connecting with her in this way. Even if it’s way outside your comfort zone, offering this gift to your wife will go a long way toward restoring the intimacy you’ve been missing.


When we’re going through a “roommate season” where we feel disconnected from one another, we sometimes get lost in our own circular thought patterns about what we’re facing. But when we ruminate, we become immobilized. We get stuck in our own expectations of what we think closeness and emotional intimacy should look like, and that can blind us from what we really need to be doing in order to reconnect.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Even a small positive change in your marriage can make a tremendous difference in how you feel about your relationship. Hang on tight, keep meeting each other where you are, and you can come out on the other side of this as a stronger, happier couple.

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.

7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

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7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Your wedding anniversary is a time of year for you and your spouse to deepen your connection and revive feelings that may have been overridden by jobs, everyday stress, and outside obligations. It’s the perfect time to renew your commitment to each other and reflect on your successes–and maybe even the inevitable failures and hard times you’ve overcome together.

When it comes to celebrating your anniversary, the sky’s the limit. There are countless ways to make your day special, but sometimes it can feel difficult to settle on an idea that does justice to your love and the life you’ve built together. Today, we’re sharing seven creative ideas to make your next anniversary especially memorable.


Did you and your spouse write your own vows for your wedding? Etch them in your memory forever by turning them into a piece of art for your home. You can have your vows printed, painted, or engraved on a number of different surfaces like canvas, wood, and more (do it yourself if you’re creative!). Then, hang them in your home to remind yourselves of the carefully-crafted words you wrote and recited to promise your lives to each other.


There’s never a bad time for cake–especially on your anniversary. You and your spouse can make your own cake in the flavors you chose for your wedding day (or have a friend help you if neither of you are especially skilled in the kitchen). If you have a recipe for your reception punch, you can mix that up, too–then enjoy it from your his and hers stem glasses (if you kept them!) while you savor the cake.


Whether you break out the photo prints or prefer a digital album, making a memory book of any sort is a great way to recall happy memories together. Buy yourselves a new album and get to work rearranging your photos, or use an online printing service to make a photo book that showcases your favorite memories from engagement, your wedding day, and beyond.


Maybe you’ve been married for twenty years…maybe just for one. No matter how long you’ve been together, a great anniversary adventure for you might involve re-creating your first date or revisiting the place where your spouse proposed. Focus on places and experiences that have been significant to you in your relationship. If you no longer live near those places or can’t easily travel to them, start new traditions together in a special place where you are now.


Renewing your vows on your anniversary can be a meaningful way to verbalize your lifelong commitment to each other. You can take the traditional route–or you could jump outside the box and write new vows to one another. Are there things you’d include today that you didn’t think of when you first wrote your vows? Now that you’ve shared a life together (for however many years), there are things you’ll love and appreciate about one another that you might not have been tuned into during the early years. Include those special things in your new vows that will carry you forward into the next phases of life together.


All anniversaries are milestones, but depending on your own story, some anniversaries feel more significant than others. Have you just come through a really tough season together? Have you reached a goal you’ve been dreaming of and planning for, for years? Are you healing from marital issues or just simply celebrating the wonderful years you’ve had? Throw a mini reception and invite your friends. It doesn’t have to elaborate or expensive–but sharing a little cake and punch (or finger foods) with your closest friends and family to celebrate your years together could be a nice touch for your upcoming anniversary.


Many of us have wedding trinkets tucked away in storage somewhere–programs, printed napkins, gloves, little sachets of bird seed, the bride’s garter, pieces of keepsake jewelry, dried flowers you’ve carefully stored over the years. Why not create a shadowbox together to put those mementos on display? Include one or two of your favorite wedding photographs and you’ll have something beautiful to enjoy together for years to come.


If you would like help with your relationship or help enhancing your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

5 Ways to Be a Good Listener for Your Spouse

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5 Ways to Be a Good Listener for Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Opening your heart to your spouse—and nurturing theirs—requires listening well. With so many different issues, obligations, devices, and people pulling at us from every direction, it can be difficult to slow down and truly listen to one another. Listening can be pleasant, but sometimes it’s downright hard. Sometimes, you might want to tune out and lose yourself in your favorite pastime instead—or dive into the list of to-do items you still need to cross off before the day is over.

But to have a healthy, thriving marriage, it’s critical to truly listen to your spouse with empathy and generosity. Today, we’re sharing five ways you can be a good listener for your spouse.


When you practice empathy, you’re putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes and seeing things through their eyes. Whether you’re trying to resolve a conflict or just simply listening to your spouse talk about their day, it’s beneficial to both of you to listen with empathy when your spouse speaks to you. For you, it gives you a window into their world and their perspective. For your spouse, knowing that you’re listening from an empathic vantage point helps them feel secure.

Maybe your spouse needs to vent about work, and normally, you tune out when they start talking about their tough day or their challenging project. Instead of switching your mind off while they talk, try to see the events of the day through their eyes, and in the context of your life. Have you been dealing with problems at home, like financial issues, trouble with the kids, or taking care of an ailing parent? Contextualizing your whole life along with what’s happening at your spouse’s job will help you understand the level of pile-on they’re dealing with.


When your spouse needs to talk to you about something—especially if it’s something hard—it’s easy to get wrapped up and carried away by your own emotions on the topic. In that case, you might respond to your spouse in a totally inappropriate way in your attempt to alleviate the difficult emotions that come up for you. Instead, take a minute to listen for what your spouse might be feeling. This type of intentional listening goes hand-in-hand with empathy.

Once you’ve identified what your spouse is feeling—whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, or excitement—you can adjust your responses based on their emotional state. It gives you an extra chance to check yourself before you say or do something that might exacerbate the emotional state they’re in. When our emotions go into a tailspin, it can be difficult to keep communication healthy.


You’ve both got your opinions, and it’s hard to let those opinions go in favor of simply listening to one another. Listening without bias is helpful when you have opposite stances on certain issues, or when you’re locked in a stalemate during a fight. Set your opinions aside for long enough to hear what your spouse is saying, then practice your empathy skills to try to understand why.

This doesn’t mean you have to change your opinion to match your spouse’s. What it does mean is that your spouse deserves to be heard, and you can’t truly hear if you’re filtering everything they say through your own bias.


When you’re communicating with your spouse, it can be helpful to use loving gestures and body language to let them know you care about what they have to say. It can be as simple as holding eye contact and nodding to affirm what they’re telling you. You could also reach out to touch them or hold hands. Turn your body toward them, or even stop what you’re doing and just sit with them if that’s what they need.

While you may be able to go about your business and have a conversation at the same time (and that can be okay sometimes), there are going to be times where you need to just put everything down and focus all your attention on your spouse. Turn off the TV, put down your phone or other devices, forget the to-do list for a little while, and give your spouse loving affirmation through eye contact and touch.


Your spouse needs the gift of your time and attention. It’s hard to take time out of our busy lives to generously give our energy to listening when we have so much to do every day, but communicating openly is key to a healthy marriage. When you listen generously, your spouse will feel secure in coming to you with their concerns, hopes, and fears.

If you would like more help with listening and communicating well with your spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

My Spouse Is Refusing Professional Help! What Can I Do?

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My Spouse Is Refusing Professional Help! What Can I Do? 

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

We all go through times in our lives and our marriages when we’d benefit greatly from getting professional help. Whether we’re having trouble dealing with a life change or transition, experience depression, or facing addiction, there are hundreds of scenarios that could warrant going into counseling with your spouse. But what happens if you recognize the need to get help…but your spouse doesn’t? Is there anything you can do?

You can’t force someone to seek therapy, but you can encourage it—and you can make changes to yourself that result in positive changes for your spouse. Read on for four common scenarios many couples face, and how to approach getting help for a spouse who doesn’t want or recognize the need for it.


Maybe you and your spouse have some recurring issues or unresolved problems that are causing trouble in your relationship. The two of you might be fighting a lot lately. Your spouse might have even asked for a separation, or you might suspect that he or she wants a divorce.

You know that working with a therapist or marriage counselor could help the two of you work through whatever you’ve been struggling with. The problem is, your spouse is completely against the idea, and nothing you say will change their mind about it.

It’s incredibly painful when you’re motivated to work on your relationship, but your spouse isn’t willing. You might feel stuck or hopeless, but there’s good news: you can seek help yourself and make changes on your own—without your spouse—that can improve your marriage.

Going to counseling on your own can help you focus on becoming the healthiest possible version of yourself. The most important thing you can do for your marriage is to work on who you are; every healthy choice you make gives your spouse a chance to join you.

Even if your spouse never attends a therapy session, the positive changes you make will affect him or her significantly. In fact, your change is a catalyst for change in your spouse. We’ve seen relationships turn around completely as a result of just one spouse stepping up to get help. So even if you’re the only one willing to seek help, you can still improve your marriage.


Have you noticed that your spouse seems distant from you and disinterested in things they used to enjoy? Have you observed sudden changes in their sleep habits, appetite, energy levels, or mood? If you suspect that your spouse is dealing with depression, there are a few things you can do that will go a long way toward encouraging them to get the help they need.

First, educate yourself on the degrees and common variations of depression. Depression is a spectrum, ranging from mild, circumstantial depressive periods to severe chemical imbalances and mood disorders.

Your spouse’s depression might be temporary and circumstantial; maybe you’ve just gone through a major life change that triggered it. Some depression is neurochemical, requiring medications and interventions from doctors and therapists. Everyone’s case is different, so it’s important to try to identify what’s going on.

You don’t want to treat depression lightly; if your spouse can’t identify it in themselves, it’s up to you to try to help him or her recognize the symptoms. Try to get some outside, objective help if you can; if your spouse continues to resist therapy or counseling, find a checklist of common depression symptoms and identify the signs you’ve noticed in your spouse. Gently share your list with your spouse and tell them something like, “You know, it feels like so many of these things are things you’re dealing with. I love you and I’d love to see you start feeling better again.”

Continue gently encouraging your spouse to seek help; it’s important for them to get evaluated by a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. It’s hard to admit you’re having a problem with depression, but the sooner your spouse admits it, the sooner he or she will be on the road to recovery.


Addiction is one of the most difficult issues to face in any relationship—especially your marriage. You might have been watching your spouse fall into their particular addiction for a while now, but maybe you’ve only recently realized how bad it is. And it’s difficult—sometimes impossible—to communicate with someone who doesn’t see a problem you see.

Whether your spouse’s addiction is gambling, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or something else, he or she is likely to be in serious denial about the issue. Addiction is the physical reality that you’ve lost control over your ability to resist something. And it’s the emotional reality of the pain you’re trying to escape from because you’re unable to cope with it.

If your spouse won’t agree to seek help, think about staging an intervention with some trusted friends or members of your family. Sometimes, a person who is in denial about an addiction needs a group of voices to lead them toward help—not just one. They have to be willing to say, “I’m powerless over this,” then be willing to be vulnerable and put in the hard work to overcome the addiction.


Childhood trauma—whether it’s emotional, physical, mental, or sexual abuse—is a serious and weighty topic that continues to impact victims into their adult lives (especially their marriages). If your spouse grew up in a sexually abusive home, for instance, he or she needs extensive therapy in order to experience healing.

When someone has been through that kind of trauma, they’re going to have baggage that will impact both them and their spouse for years to come until they’ve found some kind of resolution for the ongoing pain. Your spouse has the power to become a healing presence for others because of their past, but they need guidance from a counselor to turn their traumatic experiences into healing for others.

The first step toward healing is awareness. If your spouse has confided in you, that’s the first step. We know couples who have gone for decades before one spouse’s childhood trauma was revealed, and in retrospect, they could understand so much more about the troubles they’d faced in their 25 years of marriage.

Keep communication open and encourage your spouse to seek therapy. As an alternative step forward (although we highly recommend moving on to therapy together), your spouse might be open to starting the conversation with a mentor couple first.

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

11 Ways Engaged Couples Should Deal with Finances Now

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11 Ways Engaged Couples Should Deal with Finances Now

By Deepak Reju

So you’re engaged, and now you’re preparing for the big day. There are a thousand things on your mind. Wedding dress. Invitations. A cake. A photographer. The list goes on and on.

What about your finances? If you’re a typical single, you do your best to manage your finances and have a good sense of how much is entering and exiting your bank account. But now you’re getting married. What should change? Marriage gurus name the three big areas of conflict as sex, parenting, and finances. How can you prevent future fights over money?

Here are 11 recommendations.

1. Your money is not just a practical issue, but a spiritual one.

Don’t falsely divide your life into financial management or spiritual issues. As Christians, all of life falls under the sovereignty of God, including our finances. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).

A follower of Jesus cannot have divided loyalties; the Lord is to be first in all things. And Christian priorities should guide your handling of money. How you steward it is a spiritual issueYour money can be used for kingdom purposes, or it can hinder your relationship with God. Which is it for you?

2. Don’t merge your finances before the big day.

David and Sally were engaged. Things went so poorly they broke up. Problem was, they’d merged their finances and didn’t keep track of who spent what.

You aren’t yet married. So don’t pretend you’re married with all the perks of marriage. It’s a colossal mess to deal with merged finances after a nasty breakup. Tensions are already high enough when things fall apart. Why add to this mess?

3. Merge your bank accounts after you get married.

How you handle your money in marriage says a lot about your trust for one another. Getting married means merging everything. It’s no longer his money, or her money, but our money. Traditional marriage vows often state, “With this ring, I thee wed, and with all my world goods I thee endow.” If you’re not willing to entrust your money and everything you own to your future spouse, why are you getting married?

This is serious business. I won’t marry a couple if they won’t merge their bank accounts after marriage. It signals they don’t trust one another with important things.

4. You need a budget.

In and of itself, money is not anything. It’s a proxy for value. So when we fight over our money, we’re fighting over what we value.

We learn these values from different places (family, church, education, and so on). As Christians, your values will be similar. You treasure God and his kingdom (Matt. 6:19–2133). You desire a generous spirit (Prov. 14:21312 Cor. 9:11). You steward your resources wisely (Prov. 27:23). Nevertheless, even as Christians you’ve learned different financial values due to your differing educations, upbringings, and experiences.

Here’s the rub: Your financial values are primarily intuitive. And these implicit values will be made explicit in marriage. As your differing values come into conflict, they can create tension.

So how do you prevent conflict over money? Establish a common set of values—a shared value system. A husband and wife should operate with a mutually-agreed-upon set of financial values. When you form a budget together, implicit values get discussed as you answer the question, “What do we mutually value?” Your family budget is a primary way to give expression to what is important to both of you.

There will be less conflict in a marriage marked by careful financial planning and explicit shared values. So why not start working toward that goal during engagement by planning your future budget and discussing your common values? A budget turns conversations about money from reactive and constraint-driven to proactive and opportunity-driven.

5. Take the one-income challenge.

If you want to take things one step further with your proposed budget, remove one of your incomes and figure out how to live on just one salary. For some of you, the thought is painful. Here are four reasons I ask couples to consider this practice:

  • Learning to trim unnecessary expenses, like frequent eating out, is a good habit. It takes discipline to live on less.
  • A second income (while it’s available) can be used to eliminate debt or prepare for the future (for example, save for a down payment on a home or create a rainy-day fund). Use that second income to be especially aggressive about paying off debt with high interest rates.
  • If the wife desires to be at home once you have kids, it’s good to figure out now (while you’re engaged) what’s required financially to make that life possible. And no matter what you think you’ll do regarding employment once kids come along, you want to give yourselves flexibility for that new stage of life.
  • A one-income budget prepares you for uncertainty. Jessica and John got pregnant in their first month of marriage. She was sick throughout the pregnancy and was no longer able to work. They didn’t plan for it, so they weren’t prepared.

Even if you don’t end up living on just one income, learning to discipline your budget is a wise thing to do.

6. Establish a habit of communicating about finances.

Don’t leave one another in the dark. I cringe when I hear someone say, “I don’t know anything about our finances. If my spouse died, I don’t know what I’d do.” During engagement, communicate about your finances. Think, plan, and scheme together about your financial future. Establish the habit now, so that it’s normal in marriage to discuss it. Your finances are God-given means of building unity.

7. Figure out a plan for the grunt work.

Establishing a budget is easy. Executing a budget is hard. Too often I’ve met couples who created a viable budget, but never followed through. Don’t let that be you.

8. Get out of debt.

Take advantage of the time when you have no children and two incomes. Establish an aggressive payment schedule for getting out of debt now. You won’t regret it.

9. Don’t let difficult circumstances get in the way of giving.

The churches in Macedonia were suffering great trials and didn’t have much, yet they gave sacrificially (2 Cor. 8:1–2). They were poor, and they still gave. The love of Christ compelled them to live this way. Adopt a gospel-mindset that, no matter what, you’ll give generously to others.

10. Establish a habit of giving sacrificially and cheerfully.

Giving is an act of grace (2 Cor. 8:6). It’s a reflection of the grace we’ve received through Christ who, though rich, impoverished himself for our sake (2 Cor. 8:9). A gospel mindset says because Christ gave up his life for me, I should give up my life for others. A gospel-saturated life, then, results in generosity toward others. Oh that we wouldn’t be stingy Christians, but those who would beg for the privilege of giving more (2 Cor. 8:4).

Additionally, develop the habit of focusing outward and serving others rather than obsessing over the perfect wedding day. Give your money first to the Lord rather than spending it all on wedding vendors.

11. Give to missionaries and parachurch work, but start with your local church.

If your local church is the main hub of your spiritual growth, it should be main source of your generous giving (Gal. 6:6). Give to missions, campus workers, or lots of other solid Christian causes, but start with God’s primary plan for advancing his kingdom—the local church.

Start Now

Because your finances matter to the Lord, they should matter to you and your fiancé. Don’t wait until you’re married to take finances seriously! During engagement you can establish the habits of creating a budget, adjusting your spending, communicating about money, and giving generously to your church. This preparation will position you for a lifetime of wise financial choices.

Stewarding your money in a way that glorifies God is a privilege. A challenging one for sure, but a privilege nonethless.

If you are looking for more premarital help or premarital counseling, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

3 Can’t Miss Financial Tips for Married Couples

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3 Can’t Miss Financial Tips for Married Couples

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Money is one of the toughest subjects to tackle in marriage. It’s one of the top reasons married couples fight, and it’s a source of constant stress and strain for many couples around the world. But the good news is, you and your spouse can create a healthy attitude around money in your marriage if you know where to start.

It’s important to establish healthy financial practices as early in marriage as possible. Today, we’re sharing three financial habits you can establish to start out on the right foot.


Are you a saver, while your spouse is more of a spender? Savers and spenders have the uncanny ability of finding each other and getting married; it’s rare for both spouses to have the same financial style. And when it comes to spending versus saving, it’s important to have empathy for one another.

First, acknowledge that each of you might be a little more extreme in your stance than you need to be. When you acknowledge your spouse’s voice, it helps to prevent them from becoming more extreme in their money behaviors to protect themselves and their preferences around spending and saving.

The most important thing here is to create a sense of balance and shared ownership in your finances so neither of you acts out the most extreme version of your money tendencies. If you both decide to split bill-paying duties, that will serve as its own form of accountability.

An effective way to generate empathy for one another’s money personality is to go shopping together and reverse roles. If you’re the saver, act like the spender and have your spouse urge you to save. This could completely transform the way you each approach money because it gives you a chance to understand what kind of anxiety you create for each other when you’re digging in your financial heels by either pushing hard to spend or save.

If you’re the spender, maybe you could take over financial responsibilities for a month to see the reality of your expenses. Money will become more tangible when you’re making bank deposits and withdrawals, paying bills, and monitoring the budget. It will also give you empathy for your saver-spouse’s stance.


Once you’ve become more familiar with each other’s money style, start a budget. Budgets don’t work unless they’re a shared dream, so carve out some time to put your heads together and create a great starting point for your monthly finances. You’re going to want to do this together; this isn’t a solo act where one person runs the numbers and lays down the law. Look at the numbers together, talk through each issue, and chart a budget you agree on using our handy budgeting sheet (you can download a copy here).

The most important thing to realize when you’re creating a budget is that this is a work in progress; it’s not something you have to set in stone from day one. It’s not finalized; rather, it gives you a healthy starting place to operate from when it comes to spending and saving money.

Once a month, quarterly, or bi-annually, sit down together to take a look at your spending and saving patterns against the budget you established. As you review the numbers, ask yourselves what life has demanded from you in comparison to the budget you created. Talk through what’s negotiable versus what’s not, then adjust your budget to something that’s more realistic for you as a couple. (You can find a deeper dive into getting on the same page financially in this post.)


One of the best ways to save money every month is to put a system in place that will save for you. Set up automatic withdrawals that funnel a certain amount of money into your savings account as soon as your paychecks hit the bank; this creates a disciplined savings routine so you don’t have the option of changing your mind.

The most important thing is to build savings systems that provide automatic discipline so the hard decisions are already done for you. It’s like anything that requires willpower or sacrifice; you have to remove the temptation to spend the money by moving the money out of reach.

If you have a hard time saving toward a specific goal, set goal markers for yourself and build in gratification along the way as you reach each milestone. Maybe you allow yourselves to purchase something you’d like, or maybe you take a nice vacation. Or perhaps you can plan for small, realistic daily rewards. But be realistic; you can’t deny yourselves everything.


It can feel a little tricky to navigate financial issues together, but you can absolutely find common ground and a way to deal with money in your marriage that works for both of you. Stay patient, empathic, and kind as you create your unique financial style as a couple. The payoff will be worth the preparation!


If you would like help with your relationship or marriage, give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.