The Great Marriage Weekend

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I am honored to be speaking at the Castle Rock Church of Christ in Castle Rock, CO this summer. June 24-26 is their Great Marriage Weekend. Below is the schedule and more information. If you live in the area, register here. I hope to see you there.

Marriage is a gift from God and worth fighting for! Spend a weekend with Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor, Dale Sadler, as he brings us six encouraging lessons designed to build stronger bonds between husbands and wives.

Childcare will be provided for children ages 6 months to 12 years.

Weekend Schedule:

  • Friday, June 24
    • 7-7:30 pm          Greetings
    • 7:30-8:30 pm     “What is sex all about?”
  • Saturday, June 25  
    • 8-8:30 am          Coffee & Bagels
    • 8:30-9:15 am     “Why is Marriage Difficult”
    • Break
    • 9:30-10:15 am   “Six Stages of Conflict”
    • Break
    • 10:30-11:15 am  “Deeper Connections”
    • Break
    • 11:30-12:30 pm  Questions and Answers
  • Sunday, June 26
    • 9 am  Bible Class: “Generations to Come”
    • 10 am  Sermon: “How to Win at Marriage”

Your spouse messed up so why do you feel guilty?

Let’s say that you just found out you’re spouse has done something wrong and it’s pretty drastic. He or she has cheated or went against his word on something you both agreed upon. You are deeply pained. What is her reaction and where does it take you and your relationship?

You address the issue with your spouse and he/she could have one of two reactions. First, he could admit to his error and you can both begin the process of healing. It’s not easy to do but you are thankful that he sees his place in the matter and is willing to take responsibility. The other path he could take is this; turning the tables. Where once you were angry because he did something wrong, you suddenly feel guilty. You’re not sure why this is but before you know it, you find yourself apologizing and working to sooth his now upset emotional state. Later, you think, “what just happened?”

Like a crying child caught with chocolate brownie all over her face, your spouse has turned the tide of blame away from her (where it belongs) and on to you. By making you angry and confused, she transfers the blame. Her threats of leaving or other behaviors frighten you and you relent. You are now the one apologizing and asking her to be happy again. What have you done? Accepted the responsibility for something that is clearly not your fault.

Well, maybe you are doing something. No one is perfect. Think about it and listen to what she tells you. Later, when you are calm, consider what she says and work to make necessary changes. We all could be better spouses. However, this does not mean you should take the blame for something that is clearly her fault. While your lack of attention towards her may be the reason she had an affair, you did not choose the affair. She chose to do what she did and no amount of blaming can change this. Promise to do better. Promise to be a more attentive spouse, but do not carry the burden that says you are the cause of the infraction.

What’s going on with your spouse? Well, he/she is selfish and childish. He can’t handle the negative feelings that go along with guilt so he “flips the script” and suddenly he’s the victim because you brought the subject up. You are hurting him. Why would you do this? This shows immaturity and a lack of character on his/her part and this behavior can be very detrimental to the marriage.

What else is happening? Your spouse is angry with himself and suddenly you are the object of his anger. While anger can be a natural expression of guilt, it isn’t necessarily a healthy one as an angry mind is often a clouded mind. By choosing anger, he isn’t choosing the best method to solve the problem and fix what should be fixed. Instead, he blows up, blames you and hopes you’ll just forget about it because the experience he just caused was so uncomfortable. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t forget about it. Misbehavior on the part of your husband or wife at this level could be a sign that you need counseling. If he continues to transfer the burden of guilt on to you, you’ll eventually get tired and calloused towards his behavior. Rather than growing closer, you are growing apart.

There is one area where you are at fault here. You allowed this to happen. When you know you are right (and you better be abundantly sure on this) stand your ground and force him or her to accept their responsibility. Otherwise, you’ll continue to be a parent wiping the chocolate brownie off the face of a guilty child.

3 Ways to Tell Your Spouse Isn’t Happy and 1 for You

It is a scenario that I regularly see in my office. Spouse A has cheated on spouse B because he/she wasn’t participating in the marriage. Then, spouse B hurries to fix what has been wrong for 10, 20 or even 30 years, but many times, spouse A believe this effort is too little, too late. What has happened? Spouse B kept hitting the snooze button on their wake-up call. Here are some signs that your spouse wants to improve the marriage; typically through counseling.

He/she says, “I want to improve the marriage. We should seek counseling.” This is pretty straight forward. It might not be this nice, but it will typically be a blatant statement that he or she isn’t happy and wants things to change. Has your spouse said anything like this?

Your spouse spends time on other activities rather than the marriage. Your marriage is no longer fulfilling so other hobbies must be pursued in order for your spouse to get the daily recommended allowance of enrichment. This might be a personal activity or it might be another individual. In either case, it’s not with you like it should be.

Your spouse isn’t happy when he/she is around you. It is a cliche that marriages are to be unhappy prisons of barren loneliness. Well, after 16.5 years of increasing marital bliss, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn to be happy with your spouse. You should be happy.

You aren’t happy when you are around your spouse. You may be ignoring your wife or husband because of his or her behavior. This too can be fixed through counseling or even a pursuit of your own self-improvement.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Fix what’s wrong in your marriage, now.

How Bad Do You Want A Happy Family?

We must invest in our families, but too many of us do other things besides build the relationships with our children or with our spouses. We spend time at work and all too often doing things we want to do which typically doesn’t involve family activity.

The story is told of a man who wanted to be successful so he met up with a guru and asked, “how can I be successful?” The guru told him to walk out into the ocean. The two men walked way out until it was up to their necks. The guru then held the man’s head underwater and asked him when he let him up what he wanted more than anything else when he was under water. He said, “I wanted to breathe.” The guru then said, “when you want to be successful as bad as you wanted to breathe, you’ll be a success.” How bad do you want to have a happy family?

Too many of us want to watch football more than we want to spend time with our family. We’d rather work in the yard, look at our phones or watch whatever is on TV. How we spend our time shows what we value. Do you value your family or whatever it is you do at the end of your day? Your actions speak louder than your words and your kids notice. Your spouse does too.

Speak to Your Wife’s Heart

Men often struggle with just what to say to their wives. We tell them we love them but somehow this isn’t good enough. We tell them good morning and this doesn’t work either. “What’s going on?” men lament with a frustrated tone.

Think of Valentine’s Day. Saying the stuff you are just supposed to say or that you say everyday is like presenting her with a little candy heart. It’s nice, cute and is made of sugar, but it’s not that impressive. She wants the candy hearts. They are expected. You know that you’ll see them starting sometime in January and they will be everywhere. Well, what she wants every now and then is a Dove chocolate bar. I am speaking metaphorically of course. On occasion she wants you to stop what you’re doing, have her stop what she is doing and reveal to her your innermost thoughts regarding her. This takes a bit of planning, but you’re good at that. Jack Nicholson does it best in this scene from As Good As It Gets.

You might not be Jack, (my wife is thankful I’m not) so what can you say? Keep in mind that these just get you started. If she suspects that you’re response to her is canned, she’ll appreciate the effort, but it’ll be a Hershey’s Kiss, not a full Dove bar like you’re shooting for. Do this right and just wait’ll she gets a load of you.

 

 

  1. Remember that time we went to / ate at / ___________________? I really enjoyed it. You looked so beautiful. This tells her you were thinking about her earlier in the day. Keeping a collection of good memories that involve her can give you a quick resource.
  2. You are so good at ____________________. It helps me so much and I appreciate it. Women enjoy praise as much as men. Verifying her talents will show her you respect her talents.
  3. You’re such a good mom. She is constantly comparing herself to other women and families. She wants to know she’s a good mom and hearing this from you means a lot.

Speaking to your wife’s heart is how you can connect with her emotionally. It could be just what your relationship needs.

Three Things You Must Get Right In Your Marriage

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I love the above picture. It’s a reminder of how things change and of how people can believe they are so right about something yet be so wrong.

The picture is from the Tour De France, sometime in the 1920s. Back when smoking was considered healthy, this made perfect sense, but now we know better. Unfortunately, many have died discovering this fact for themselves. The same can be said for our marriages. We know there are better ways but we don’t take the time to consider them or look for how we can improve. Instead, we continue to have a marriage where we aren’t fulfilled.

What are some areas in your marriage that you need to improve? The following are pretty typical.

Learn to communicate better and while this is a standard answer, it is one that continues to be proven over and over again. Couples know how to yell at one another but they don’t know how to listen. They know how to complain about what’s not happening, but they don’t know how to ask for what they want.

Meet the needs of your spouse. Don’t know what they are? He/she probably doesn’t either. Willard F. Harley’s book does a great job of outlining how this issue can be resolved in your marriage. When needs aren’t being met, spouses often look elsewhere.

Learn to spend time with your spouse and enjoy it. If your daily routine does not involve regular time spent with your each other, a real change must occur. While you might not spend every night enraptured by one another, sitting close on the couch will go along way to communicate love and affection.

Life is made up of the little things and the little things must be done right.

Christian Parenting Books

Below are my books available on Amazon.com, all from a Christian perspective.

 

1. My latest work on parenting, published by 21st Century Christian.

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2. No More Yelling formerly titled, How to Argue with Your Teen and Win; a good primer to start communicating better, tonight. Available in Kindle .

This book was formerly titled, How to Argue with Your Teen and Win; a good primer to start communicating better, tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. A collection of my best posts on marriage. Available in Kindle and paperback.

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4 Tips to Save Your Dying Marriage

Never too far gone

Sometimes couples get into such a state that they are extremely divided, but because of one spouse’s level of commitment, he or she refuses to quit on the relationship. Certainly, there may be a time to quit, but at this time, one of the spouses has resolved to save the marriage. It can be done. As I’ve said before, you’re never too far-gone in your marriage if you’re willing to make the journey back. So, what should a spouse do if he/she wants to save the marriage?

First, is it worth saving? If your partner is on his/her 20th affair, should you keep going? Only you can answer that. Anybody can change at any time and Jesus teaches us in Matthew 18 to have no limit on our forgiveness, but there should be a limit to the degree we are going to endure poor marital behavior. How much is that for you? Decide and then move forward.

Second, if it is worth saving, what are you saving it for? There must be a motivator and in a chaotic state, any will do. Children come to mind first. They are better off in a home where mom and dad learn to love one another than in a home void of this love. So, if you are doing it for your children, make sure you do it right. You might also consider the material investments you’ve made in the marriage. Remember, any motivator will do and starting over on what you’ve gone so far to earn is pretty scary.

Third, you must work to change the narrative in the home. For weeks or months your relationship has been built on the negative. “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you hadn’t . . .” is what you might say. What is wrong in the marriage must be discussed but do it during controlled times that you agree upon. Also, if you learn how to communicate about difficult topics, the discussions can be just that, discussions rather than arguments which only make the problem worse. Localize the negative, deal with it, and make the rest of your home life positive and encouraging.

Finally, you must now change the behavior in the marriage. If you are not the offending spouse, this means acting out of love (not obligation) for your lover. If you are the offending spouse, this means going overboard on showing your spouse that you have nothing to hide. In either case, changing behavior to look like a happy marriage results in being a happy marriage. It became unhappy because you were doing all the wrong things. Now, you must act differently. This “fake it til you make it” method can work and eventually be sincere. This is not a replacement for discussing the issues that brought you to such a lowly state.

Marriages are worth saving and if yours is one of these, I hope you’ll consider these tips as a new beginning for a lifelong relationship.

Stop Doing Love Wrong

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“I love you but I’m not IN love with you.”

This phrase has come into my office on more than one occasion in the past month which caused me to put some thought into its meaning. I hadn’t thought about it much but the spouses who had heard it know its weight all too well.

It is often the closing bell on a relationship as a cheating spouse comes clean. Or it is an indicator that the spark that was once there is now gone. The problem is that we often equate love with feeling and when the feeling is gone then the love must be gone. Unfortunately, this is a short-sighted vision of the love that a man and woman are to have for one another.

In his book, The Social Animal, author David Brooks says that love is a collection of behaviors that lead to feelings. The apostle Paul said it well also when in 1 Corinthians 13 he lists all the things that love DOES. It is patient, kind, loves truth, protects, hope, trusts and perseveres.

Paul also writes that there are things love does NOT do. It does not envy boast, act proud, dishonor or seek its own interests. It is not easily angered, does not delight in evil, and keeps no record of wrong.

In watching what little TV I do, there’s plenty of what people say is love but is not. On one home makeover, all the wife could talk about was her apartment, her house and what she wanted to do. She had her husband actually sharing a closet with the dog. All she wanted to do was seek her desires and wore this like she was some sort of suffragette. His needs were second and possibly third after the dog’s.

I also see spouses who continually bring up the past, lose their temper and continually dishonor the person they are supposed to love. Not in love anymore? I wonder why. You’re doing love wrong.

Love has a positive polarity in the things it DOES and it has a negative polarity in the things it DOES NOT do. What do the negative and positive sides of a magnet do? They attract. Maximize the positives and keep away from the negatives and your feelings of love will return. Wait for the feelings to come without doing anything and you’ll be stranded with no one to love.

Love must be tended to and grown like the living thing that it is. When people say, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” what they mean is that they desire to have the feelings of love but the passion is missing. It may be missing because they’re doing love wrong as I discussed above, or it may be missing because they have traded the pursuits of this life for the holy matrimony they promised on their wedding day. The departure from a happy vivacious couple is so slow and so gradual that neither spouse sees it coming until they wake up one morning in an empty shell of a relationship.

Your marriage cannot survive on the notion that you live together and that’s enough. You must enjoy one another’s company, have mutual dreams and meet each other’s needs. Start today.