Tag Archives: Relationships

5 Actions You Can Take to Problem Solve in Your Marriage

 Problem Solve in your Marriage

Whether it’s before an affair, to #affairproof your marriage, or after an affair to reconcile, there are specific actions you can take to problem solve in your marriage.

The #1 topic in our Affaircare Topic Survey  was Problem Solving, and today we tackle how to solve those issues that are damaging your marriage.

The first thing that MUST be ascertained

Are you trying to get someone else to solve the problem for you? If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t make my mind up” “I can’t help it” or “What should I do?” those are typical clues that you want someone else to do your job. Ask yourself if you are trying to avoid taking personal responsibility.  Do you manipulate things so you can avoid the natural consequences of your choices? In essence if this is the issue, than “the problem” is not the real problem. The REAL problem is that you don’t want to be responsible. The solution is to make a choice, and act. Make the decision and accept the benefits of the choice you made and live with the consequences of the choice you made.

If, on the other hand, you are worried about making the RIGHT decision, then the answer to that is simple.

5 Actions You Can Take to Problem Solve in Your Marriage

1. Secure commitment from both to Christ and His Word as the standard for all that is done and said.

1.a. Study together what the Bible has to say about the problem. Keep an open mind.

Nave’s Topical Bible Concordance Online: http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/naves-topical-bible/

2. Foster and establish companionship between the spouses (making sure they have a right understanding of what marriage is)

3. Unity in intimacy
a. United “the two are one”
b. Intimacy: physical/sexual and emotional/mental

4. Growth, which means sanctification. Grow in Christ as a couple because of this issue.

5. Exemplify the relationship between Christ (The Groom) and His Church (The Bride)

If you take these five actions, and there is not a resolution, then it comes down to personal preference. Honestly, discuss it with your spouse and agree to pick one. Do not assume and agree together that you will do nothing until there is earnest, mutual agreement.

Example: Arguing about money–husband bought a “man toy” without speaking to his wife and now they are in more debt than they can afford.

RESOURCES:

Marriage Blueprint: The Purpose of Marriage (Companionship)

Link to Nave’s Topical Bible Concordance Online: http://bit.ly/2jJj6wr

Top Ten Marriage Sites to Help Your Christian Marriage Grow

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Marriage Blueprint: The Purpose of Marriage

 Marriage Blueprint: Origin of Marriage

Our site is about helping people recover their marriage after an affair.  But how can we talk about adultery without first knowing what marriage IS?

This series will focus on erroneous views of marriage that lead to wrong expectations, attitudes, and practices.  Many bible-believing Christians go wrong because their concept of marriage is an illusion.  So we’re going to spending the month of September studying the blueprint of marriage: 1) the origin of marriage, 2) the purpose of marriage, 3) the obligation of marriage, and 4) the commitment of marriage.

We talked last week about the Origin of Marriage–it began with God, who instituted it even before businesses and churches, as a foundation of society.

This week we talk about another common misunderstanding: the PURPOSE of marriage.

Common Misconceptions

Many people think it is for procreation–or to raise godly offspring–and still others believe it is a moral sanction for sex–in other words, the purpose of marriage is so we can have sex in a way that is acceptable to God! But both of these purposes are too narrow. Sex doesn’t start a marriage and sex doesn’t end a marriage–so marriage is not “for sex”! Likewise, people can and do procreate inside, outside, along side and upside down of marriage! Mating and making babies does not equal “marriage”!

So what IS the purpose of marriage? Let’s look in a couple verses!

It is Not Good to be Alone

Genesis 2: 18

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

God made Eve, not only as Adam’s HELPER, although help is one dimension of companionship, but also as his COMPANION.

The reason God instituted marriage was to meet the need for intimate companionship. Marriage was designed to defeat loneliness. The essence of marriage is a COVENANT of companionship–and both parts are important: the COVENANT part…and the COMPANIONSHIP part. This same emphasis on companionship is stressed elsewhere.

A Companion Who Was Formerly WILD-Now Willing to be Close!

Proverbs 2: 16-17

“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;”

Hebrew word for “companion” here is אַלּ֣וּף  transliterated: ‘al-lūp̄ from the root word alluwph. This word means a friend, an intimate, someone who is familiar and gentle from the knowing. The funny thing about this word is that it also has an aspect that has to do with wild animals. The concept is “one who is turned” and it means a wild animal that has been tamed and is not familiar and gentle. So this so someone who had WILD attitudes and actions, who is now tamed–warm and willing to be close.

A Companion of Like Character, Rank and Calling.

Malachi 2:13-16

“You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Hebrew word for “companion” here is חֲבֶרְתְּךָ֖ transliterated  ḥă-ḇer-tə-ḵā from the root word chabereth. That is a word that means your fellows–your associates who are of like character. These are the people of your society who are of like rank and like calling. In other words–YOUR BUDDIES. The guys you grew up with and went to school with. The girl across the street. Someone CLOSE.

Marriage is a Covenant of Companionship

In both of these verses we are being warned about adultery and being faithless, and both verses indicate that abandoning the Covenant of Companionship is infidelity! Together the two Hebrew words speak of a relationship in which there is constant commitment (the covenant part) and intimacy (the companionship part). The two passages make it clear that entrance into marriage should mean the desire to meet each other’s need for companionship. Love, in marriage, focuses on GIVING one’s spouse the companionship s/he needs to eliminate loneliness! In practical terms that means finding out what makes your spouse feel lonely and giving them what they need so they don’t feel lonely!!

Intimacy apart from commitment is not adequate; commitment to remain together apart from intimacy is equally deficient. BOTH elements are necessary!

Now we’re not saying that raising godly offspring is wrong–it’s just not the purpose of marriage. It is PART of the purpose. It is an aspect of marriage, as is mating. The intimacy of biblical companionship extends beyond the physical (sex), to every aspect of human nature.

“One Flesh” Is Not All About Sex!

Finally, let’s discuss one phrase that is very commonly misunderstood as it relates to marriage: “One flesh” (as found in Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:6, Mark 10:8, etc.) Almost everyone thinks that is referring to sex! The words used are closer to the word we use in English when we say “everybody.” Do we mean “each physical body”? No–we mean “everyone” or “each person”–and the Hebrew and Greek words here are similar.

The marriage union is meant to be the closest, mose intimate of all human relationships. Two persons may begin to think, feel, and act as one. They function as one unit. So when God speaks of “one flesh” He’s talking about union:

  1. one body — sexual union, a close physical union
  2. one flesh — the marriage union, an even closer union of companionship
  3. one spirit — the union with Christ, the closest union of all!

God’s revealed goal is for a husband and wife to become one in all areas of their relationship–intellectually, emotionally, physically. The Covenant of Companionship fills this need.

People who enter marriage with the idea that marriage is pretty much legalized sex also have a grossly unbiblical idea of the next important concept about marriage that we’ll discuss next week: The OBLIGATION of marriage.

AFFAIRCARE RESOURCES:

Bible Verses to Save Your Marriage After an Affair

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Help! How do I deal with discovering a secret affair child? Part 2

half sibling DNA test

We recently had someone write with a request (slightly changed for confidentiality):

Can you write about how we should deal with discovering a sibling born out of adultery? In this case the Loyal Spouse was not aware there was a child conceived of adultery, as the child was hidden and never revealed. The Disloyal Spouse introduced their parents and siblings to the hidden child, and they helped the Disloyal hide the child until the marriage was over. How do I deal with this discovery?

We’re going to answer this request from two points of view. In our last blogpost we answered “How a Loyal Spouse, married several decades, would deal with discovering their Disloyal Spouse had a child that they didn’t know even existed from an affair in the past.” Today we will address “How a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.”

Before we go any further, let’s start with some definitions and statistics.  A STEP sibling is when parents divorce and remarry other people-the children of the two remarried people are step-children or step-siblings.  Step-siblings are not related to each other by blood but might be considered ‘family’ because they are living in the same home being raised by both the step-parent and their original parents.  A HALF sibling is when one parent has a child with someone other than the other parent, so that the children ARE related to one parent by blood, and the other parent is not the same.  Sometimes half-siblings are considered ‘family’ and are raised in the same households and sometimes half-siblings are raised in different houses.

Step and half siblings are becoming more and more common.  According to Smart Stepfamilies:

  • 40% of married couples with children (i.e., families) in the US are stepcouples (at least one partner had a child from a previous relationship before marriage; this includes full and part-time residential stepfamilies and those with children under and/or over the age of 18). The percentage of all married couple households is 35% (Karney, Garvan, & Thomas, 2003)
  • 42% of adults have a steprelationship–either a stepparent, a step or half sibling, or a stepchild. This translates to 95.5 million adults. (When you add the more than 5 million stepchildren in the US, the total is over 100 million Americans have a steprelationship.)
  • 40% of children are born out of wedlock; nearly 60% of these couples already have at least one child from a previous relationship. In other words, the majority of children being born out of wedlock are entering functional (nonmarital) stepfamilies (Carlson & Furstenberg, 2006).

To  put it simply, this means that if you’ve recently discovered that one of your parents had an affair and you have a half-brother or half-sister, you aren’t alone!  We are not suggesting it isn’t shocking to discover a hidden sibling, but even though it feels like you are the only one who has had this happen, the statistics above assure us that there are other people who have experienced this same thing and have gotten through it.  Hey–even OPRAH found out she had a hidden half-sister!

To help you cope with discovering a new half-brother or half-sister, here are a few applicable Bible verses and a short list of 10 practical issues you’ll have to address when you discover a new half-sibling.

BIBLE VERSES:

Siblings are mentioned often throughout the Old and New Testaments; unfortunately, not all siblings express love for one another!  Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers spring to mind–and yet the story of Joseph is a good place to start.  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:12–28), but during his time as a slave in Egypt and when he saw his brothers again years later, Joseph did not act toward them in hate or shut them out of his life.  He reacted to them in love.

Thus I think the next applicable verse here is Luke 6:27-36:

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I believe our natural, sinful reaction would be to shut them out of the family or be resentful of them because they were the product of the actions that rocked the family’s world! Yet Jesus is clear here–we are to love OUR ENEMIES! So even though we don’t really know the half-sibling well enough to know if they are an enemy, what we do know is that we are to do good to them.

Here are a few more verses about how we are to treat people–half-siblings included!

a) We should not only respond gracefully when others react sinfully toward us, but also go out of the way to serve them – John 13:12–14

b) We are instructed to “live at peace with everyone” playing the role of peacemaker when disagreements arise  –  Romans 12:18

c) We are to show kindness to each other, compassion, and forgiveness – Ephesians 4:32

d) We are to love others in a way that reflects the love of Christ – I John 4: 7-8

10 PRACTICAL ISSUES YOU’LL HAVE TO ADDRESS:

1. Learn how to decid confusion over (a) “who is who” in the nuclear and extended families, (b) who decides who belongs.  If you are a young adult, it may be time for YOU to decide for yourself who is in your family and who is not…and to take personal responsibility for what you choose.

2. Learn to accept that being a “half” does not mean they are somehow less loved, wanted, worthy, smart, normal, or valuable than “full” siblings, despite what some people may say.

3. Decide what to call your new half-sibling – e.g. “my brother,” “my half-brother,” “Jeremy,” “My Mom’s other son,” or something else, and why names are important to some family members and not to others (“I don’t care what you call me.”)

4. Learn that it’s OK if you don’t know or care about the half-sibling’s “other Mom” or “other Dad,” and don’t “have to” acknowledge them at holidays or birthdays, or expect acknowledgement from them.

5. Learn how to react when siblings and relatives get into “fights” (values and loyalty conflicts, and relationship triangles, etc.) about the half-sibling.  Not everyone is going to make the choices that you do, and not everyone will feel like you do.

6. Learn how keep your own boundaries clear and to assert your needs if a your parent treats you differently than they treat the half-sibling or if their “other parent” does or does not discipline them the way that you’ve been taught, etc.

7. Learn to feel compassion for your half-sibling’s many family-adjustments–which you don’t have to understand.  Just remember you aren’t the only one who’s having to adjust. Clarify what will change and what will not.

8. Learn why some (genetic) relatives may treat you”better” than your half-siblings (or vice versa), and how not to feel guilty about that. It’s their choice and they are adults! They will live with the benefits and the consequences of how they choose to live.

9. Learn why some or all of your other family members disagree on these issues, but ultimately remember that as a young adult, you are personally responsible for what you choose.  It’s okay to disagree.

10. Learn that it’s OK to say how this makes you feel (“I wish you guys would stop fighting all the time!”), and that not everyone is going to understand how you feel.  Share YOUR feelings and don’t expect everyone to think or feel “just like you.”

Top 8 Affaircare Topics: #2 Understanding Your Loyal Spouse Part Two [Podcast]

I just found out my spouse is cheating-what do I do? How do I do ‘no contact’ when we have children? My spouse was unfaithful and there’s going to be a child! Before you cheat here are some things you should know.

In this week’s episode, we continue our new our series  “The 8 Most Popular Topics on Affaircare.” We’re doing a countdown from #8 to #1, and today we are at the second most popular topic on our blog: “Understanding Your Loyal Spouse.”  This article is so long and has so much information in it, that I divided it into two parts: Part One was all about the Section 1–The Wild Patchwork of Emotions (last week).  This week’s video is all about Section Two–What Else Can You do to Ease Their Pain and Stress? and Section Three–What Are The Next Stages?

URL’s in this podcast:

Understanding Your Loyal Spouse:
https://affaircare.com/articles/understanding-your-loyal-spouse/

Please join us next week when I conclude our series of the Top 8 Most Popular  articles on Affaircare and we hit the #1 topic!!

[audio:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Top+8+-+%232+Understanding+Your+Loyal+Spouse+Pt1.mp3]

Top 8 Affaircare Topics: #4 Bible Verses to Save Your Marriage After an Affair [Podcast]

I just found out my spouse is cheating-what do I do? How do I do ‘no contact’ when we have children? My spouse was unfaithful and there’s going to be a child! Before you cheat here are some things you should know.

In this week’s episode, we continue our new our series  “The 8 Most Popular Topics on Affaircare.” We’re doing a countdown from 8 to 1, and today we are at number 4: Bible Verses to Save Your Marriage After an Affair

Verses in this podcast:

Romans 6:23
Romans 10:4
John 3:16
Romans 10:9-10

Matthew 19:26
Mark 10:6-9
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
1 Corinthians 10:13
Galatians 6:9
Ephesians 4:15
Ephesians 4:32
Philippians 4:13
Hebrews 10:24
Hebrews 13:4
James 1:19
2 Peter 3:9
1 John 4:7-8

I Samuel 25 – Abigail
The Book of Hosea

If you’d like to learn more about Affaircare join us next week when we’ll continue our 8-week series on “The 8 Most Popular Topics on Affaircare.”

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Top+8+-+%234+Bible+verses+to+Save+Your+Marriage.mp3]

Top 8 Affaircare Topics: #6 The Purpose of No Contact & No Contact Letters [Podcast]

I just found out my spouse is cheating-what do I do? How do I do ‘no contact’ when we have children? My spouse was unfaithful and there’s going to be a child! Before you cheat here are some things you should know.

In this week’s episode, we continue our new our series  “The 8 Most Popular Topics on Affaircare.” We’re doing a countdown from 8 to 1, and today we are at number 6: it’s a tie between “The Purpose of No Contact” and “Sample No Contact Letters.”

Articles in this podcast:
The Purpose of No Contact
https://affaircare.com/articles/the-purpose-of-no-contact/

Sample No Contact Letters
https://affaircare.com/articles/sample-no-contact-letters/

If you’d like to learn more about Affaircare join us next week when we’ll continue our 8-week series on “The 8 Most Popular Topics on Affaircare.”

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Top+8+Topics+%236-Purpose+of+No+Contact+%26+No+Contact+Letters.mp3]

14 Days of Love After an Affair

14days3x2

This is a tough period for many married couples recovering after an affair. For some Loyal Spouses, this day is now tainted. For many, Valentines Day isn’t special anymore or it’s a day full of triggers and bad memories instead of love.  For some Disloyal Spouses, they don’t really quite feel “in love” yet, but they know that their spouse has expectations…probably expectations they can’t meet.

So I’ve put together 14 Days of Love for a couples who are reconciling after infidelity.

Day 1–LOVE OTHERS! Chances are you aren’t the only person feeling weird about Valentines Day. Reach out to those around you who would otherwise spend their day alone. This may mean getting your friends together for a dinner. Or, it may mean finding a way to volunteer.

Day 2–RELIVE YOUR WEDDING DAY! Renew your vows even if only to each other. Then relive the honeymoon!

Day 3–Learn to have FUN with each other again. Tonight, play a game together. Just relax and have fun.

Day 4–Start retraining your mind. When you think about the Other Person (whether you’re the Loyal or Disloyal) just STOP…and think of something positive about your spouse instead.

Day 5–Sex after an affair can be hard, but fill your mind with God’s perspective on sex. Read I Corinthians 7:1-9 and Song of Solomon and enjoy your spouse.

Day 6–To help retraining your mind, write a list of 100 Things you love about your spouse.

Day 7–Thank God It’s Friday! Your work week is over, so PUT YOUR WORK ASIDE and pay attention to your spouse.

Day 8–Date Night IN. Go to the local bookstore, pick a marriage book together, and read it to each other.

Day 9–Day of Rest, so take a break from the affair… give each other the day off.

Day 10–‘Playing’ to a man and ‘playing’ to a woman can be two very different things. Tonight spend time finding out what your spouse thinks is “playful” and then play together a little…their way.

Day 11–Do the Five Love Languages quiz and tell your spouse what your love language is. LISTEN when your spouse tells you their love language.

Day 12–Even though it may feel awkward, this one time you be the one to initiate some kind of physical intimacy. It doesn’t have to be sex, but if it goes there, that’s cool.

Day 13–The stress of having to have a perfect love on Valentines Day, the expectations, the fear of doing the wrong thing can be very frustrating. Let your spouse off the hook. This year, talk to each other ahead of time, reach an agreement on what you both want to do, and then…go one extra mile and give your spouse one additional kindness or little show of affection.

Day 14 (Valentines Day)–You two are just rebuilding so don’t expect too much yet. Your spouse may not be ready to be all “over the moon” romantic yet. But take time today to purposefully put effort into showing your spouse that you value them above all others.

Purple heart in the hands

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Disloyal Dizzy Talk? What’s that?

dizzyHave you ever been speaking with your Disloyal Spouse while they are active in their affair and heard their mouth say something that just makes NO SENSE?  Have you heard your Disloyal say something that left you feeling like: “Did you even HEAR what you just SAID?”

I call that Disloyal Dizzy Talk.  It’s from all the spinning they do to justify their affair.  In their head they want to proceed with the affair because it feels good.  They get an affair ZING from all the positive brain chemicals.  But in their head they also know that adultery is wrong!  So they TWIST and TWIST reality to justify continuing, until they say things with about 1% truth in them and 99% DIZZINESS!

Now let me translate some examples of Disloyal Dizzy Talk for you. I will write what it REALLY means and what you can reply to the dizzy talk.

I can’t give up the OP even though s/he keeps me at arms length.
MEANS: Can’t=won’t, so this means “I want to behave immorally and I don’t really care who it hurts. I won’t stop even though I know it’s wrong.”
ANSWER: Oh you’re right! You are unwilling to live a moral life and that’s why I am protecting myself from you.

I still want the excitement of other person.
MEANS: “I’m so immature, I follow my hormones rather than honoring my commitment to my family like an adult.”
ANSWER: Oh you’re right, you are so blinded by the pleasure, who needs to think of the veneral diseases the exciting women may have? I choose to have a pure marriage bed.

Don’t pin your hopes on me.
MEANS: “I’m undependable, immature, and self-centered.”
ANSWER: Oh I have no hope for you.

I don’t want the same old stale relationship.
MEANS: “I want what I want and I want it NOW but I’m not willing to work for it at all.”
ANSWER: Oh you’re right, I would never accept that neglectful relationship we had in the past. Now I expect a mature partner who’s willing to keep his promise to keep working at it until death parted us.

I have too much baggage with you.
MEANS: “I’m not willing to forgive you or let go of the negative memories.”
ANSWER: Oh you’re right you do have too much baggage for me to accept you.

I don’t want to be committed to anyone at the moment.
MEANS: “I’m selfish.”
ANSWER: I can see that you’re only willing to consider yourself and can’t see the damage you’re doing.

I don’t want to be your one and only person.
MEANS: “I know this is wrong but I want to do it, so I want you to do it too so it’s legitimate.”
ANSWER: I can see that you don’t want to be a person who honors their commitments.

You are not my spouse anymore.
MEANS: “I’m looking for a way to make my cheating okay.”
ANSWER: (I can see going two ways with this one) #1–You’re right. Until you start treating me better I don’t choose to let you be my husband. #2–My promise to you was to keep working at it until death parted us and I’m not dead, so I’m your wife.

I can’t say if I’m definitely not coming home because I don’t know yet.
MEANS: “I want to have the freedom to be sexually immoral and have a safety net just in case.”
ANSWER: “You’re right you can’t say, and right now I’d say you are not invited to come home. I’m not sure yet.”

… be more encouraging to me because I might be interested in having a relationship – I don’t know.
MEANS: “I want to have my cake and eat it too.”
ANSWER: You’re right. YOU should be more encouraging to ME because I may be interesting trying to revive our relationship…I’m not sure.

Go to the dance with me and just have fun, they’re baby steps we can take together and might lead to doing more fun things.
MEANS: “Nobody else seems to want me right now so I’ll turn to you as a last resort.”
ANSWER: Are you ready to give up other person in your life? I’m not willing to be second best.

If we can have fun, you might be the one I want to be with.
MEANS: “I’m unwilling to do the right, honorable thing unless it’s FUN!”
ANSWER: You’re right, if you were fun you might be the one I wanted to be with.

You might be one of the other people I’m interested in.
MEANS: “I’ll string you along as long as possible.”
ANSWER: Look me up when you’re ready to give up having or looking for other people in your life and dedicate your affection and loyalty only to me

If you don’t want contact with me you will be burying any chance there is of a relationship.
MEANS: “I’ll threaten you with something I know scares you, if you won’t do things my way.”
ANSWER: You’re right. Your unwillingness to give up other women in your life buries any chance this marriage has.

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Adultery, Abuse and Addiction

praying

I’ve read three articles recently about the topic of pro-marriage, church and pastors not addressing the issue of difficult marriages well:

1.  “Help!” by elisabeth klein corcoran

2. “Enough with the Divorce Shame” by Chump Lady

3. “Pastors: Send a Different Message to Struggling Wives” on Crosswalk (also by elisabeth klein corcoran)

All three articles are written about one overall theme: the pro-marriage community…the Christian community…is not dealing with adultery, addiction or abuse in marriages.  The messages perceived by those who are hurting are “Pay me $199.99 and you can save your marriage all by yourself!”,  “If you tell anyone what’s really going on, you’ll be judged for it”, “Asking for help results in you being blamed for your spouse’s choices”, and “If you only ____ more (fill in the blank with prayed, submitted, cooked, had sex, or forgave) then your spouse wouldn’t ____.”

As a nouthetic counselor, I wanted to look at these articles and ask myself two things.  First, I want to do an honest assessment: Do we–the Christian, pro-marriage community–do an injustice to those who come to us, hurting and in a difficult marriage?  How do we need to change?  What do we need to learn?  I want to take an honest look in the mirror and see what we need to do differently … and better!  But second and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want to look at the Bible and what God says in the Bible, because I am duty-bound to obey God and encourage others to do the same.  It has been my experience that obeying God and doing what He wants is not always easy and is not always painless, nor is it usually what we want to hear!

The first thing that I’d like to address is the pastor himself.  I’ve heard many times of people going to their pastor or their counselor as if the person is a mind-reader and can magically tell what is “the truth” and what is a lie!  So I want to remind everyone who does go to a pastor, preacher, minister, or spiritual leader…they are a human being with the same human limitations that you have.  Can you just “detect” what is the truth and what is a lie?  No.  And neither can they.  Furthermore, they often only have one side of the story, and my guess would be that your version of what has occurred differs GREATLY from your spouse’s version of what has occurred.  Even in strong, godly marriages, each individual in the marriage has a different personality, different personal strengths and weaknesses, and the way they view things is entirely different–so it is just common sense that in a painful marriage that differing point of view is even more different!  Finally, any pastor or church is an imperfect, SINFUL representation of what God intends His bride, The Church, to be.  Pastors can have their own (sinful) agendas; churches can be anything but christian and just be basically social action committees, and sometimes people are afraid to stand up strongly against a sin because they don’t want to be accused of being judgmental–especially if the sin is a popular one!  So part of the issue here is that we expect “the pastor” to be a lie detector and then basically scold the cheating spouse (and come down on your side) — and those expectations are unrealistic.

The second thing that comes to my mind is that when one spouse goes to any kind of professional–whether they are a coach, minister, counselor or therapist–people who are professionally-trained are going to address the person in the room with them.  Your spouse is not there; you are.  Your spouse didn’t make the effort to make the appointment, figure out childcare, and get their behind end to the office; you did.  And the professional person (who is not a lie detector and can not just tell “the truth”) is not going to tell you “how to get your spouse to do it your way” or scold them if they don’t.  Again, that is an unrealistic expectation.  On this same topic, it is just one of those universal truths that no one can control another person.  Period.  The only person at the appointment is YOU and the only person you can control is YOU.  So the professional is going to help you look at and address YOUR issues…not your spouse’s.  What I’m trying to say is that as a pro-marriage Christian coach, when I have a loyal spouse in session with me whose disloyal spouse is wantonly flaunting adultery in their face, I can show the Loyal in the room how a loving spouse “should” act according to the Bible, but there are no magic words to MAKE the Disloyal do that.  We may be in complete agreement that a godly spouse would not do X, Y or Z, but if their Disloyal is bound and determined to sin–I can’t stop them and neither can the Loyal who took the time to come talk to me!  I can’t even change the spouse who came to me!  The only person who can change is the person who came can change themselves and even then it’s with God working in them, not through sheer will.  Thus, I can maybe confirm for the Loyal “Well, when your Disloyal expects to be able to sin with no natural consequence, that’s unrealistic, so you are okay in acting in a way that allows consequences.” But otherwise my options are limited to addressing the person in front of me: what ways they may have contributed (if any), how they handle it, how they decide to act, tools they can use to understand, and what they do to grow as a person due to this circumstance.

Soooo…we’ve addressed two unrealistic expectations: 1) Pastors/professionals can tell “the truth” and will do a perfect job doing the godly thing, and 2) Pastors will come down on my side when I tell them the sin my spouse is committing, and they will tell me how to get my spouse to stop it.

Next, let’s address some major errors I think the Christian community is making, and what we can do differently.

One of the MAJOR mistakes I see is when a hurting spouse comes to their pastor/priest/minister and reveals that there is adultery, abuse or addiction, and the pastoral response is basically a cliche…something like “Well you go right on back there and just submit more.”  Yes, as I said above, when you go to a professional they realize you can not change your spouse, so they may focus on you and what you can change, but it’s my experience that by the time someone gathers the courage to say “Ummm…I think something is wrong here” they are usually hurt so badly you better react as if you’re in the emergency room and they just came in with a gunshot to the head.  When it’s just “somewhat bad” people keep trying, keep their mouths shut, wonder if it’s just them, and try to just bear it (of course, not EVERYONE is that way, but many/most).  And when someone makes all the effort to set up an appointment and get to the office and says “It’s not going very well” that really means much, MUCH more.  Sending someone back into a home that is harming them via mental, emotional, spiritual or physical abuse is cruelty, frankly…and both adulterers and addicts DEFINITELY employ abuse!

Thus it seems to me that one area pastors REALLY need to do better, is to take the time to find out if it is a case of adultery, abuse or addiction, and if it is… to protect the spouse who is being abused! Now, this does not mean “end your marriage immediately” or encouraging divorce even–but it does mean taking the time to do true investigation, because often abusers are masters of deception.  And it does mean giving the abused spouse–whether that is a man or a woman–the support of finding safety.  As much as Malachi 2:16 is used to force “God hates divorce” down people’s throats, listen to the WHOLE VERSE: ” ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel,  ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’  says the Lord Almighty.  So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. 

One thing that is extremely important–and I mean EXTREMELY–is that the shepherd should “take the time to find out if it is a case of adultery, abuse or addiction”.  The reason that is so important is because there are times when a spouse will claim “abuse” when their spouse disagrees with them…or claim “abuse” as the justification for why they are doing the sin they are doing!  Since pastors are not lie detectors and do not live behind closed doors with you, they can’t “just tell” that one spouse is sitting in their office lying their head off, and outside the office they are a completely different person.  But too often I think one spouse comes in, the pastor hears one side of the story and does not investigate, and just believes whatever is told to them.

I’ll give you one crazy example … and then another the other way.  Once a lady came to her mentor and told him all about how her husband screamed at her last night for THREE HOURS and then threw some china at the wall that smashed it to smitereens.  Naturally the mentor told her the husband was abusive and no way was it acceptable for him to scream for three hours and break things…and the mentor encouraged her to leave him.  Only problem?  The wife didn’t mention that her husband screamed for three hours BECAUSE HE HAD FOUND HER IN THEIR MARITAL BED WITH ANOTHER MAN!!!  She “forgot” that little detail and when asked why she didn’t tell him, she told the mentor she didn’t think it was relevant!

Okay here’s the second example.  A spouse goes to her pastor and tells the pastor her husband has been drinking, been abusive and calls her names.  The pastor calls a meeting with the husband and tells him how wrong he is to be abusive and that calling your wife names is sinful and that he has to stop drinking immediately.  Well obviously “abuse is sinful” and “drinking is sinful,” right?  And they are…but what the wife didn’t tell the pastor was that she was having an affair and finding fault with everything about her husband, telling him he didn’t earn enough money, he wasn’t a good father, he wasn’t a good husband, having him do literally all the housework all the while screaming at him…and to escape the pain of being told how worthless he was, he would drink so he’d feel numb.  Okay not a SMART solution but it was a way to cope.  And finally, after getting abused all night long, he’d tell her, “Leave me alone you witch!” and off she run to the pastor waving the “abuse”word …who then called the husband and told him how wrong he was without ever investigating or dealing with the real issue: the affair.

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Save Your Marriage Saturday – October 27th

I’m starting something a little new.  I’m changing Save Our Marriage Saturday!

We have a tradition here at Affaircare. We call it “Save Our Marriage Saturday”–and we’re sharing the love.  Link-love that is!  Every Saturday I used to do a link-up and let people link their blog here on Affaircare.  Today I’m starting something new.  Instead, I’m going to share with you the sites I follow so we can all help each other to save our marriages!

If you would like to share your post on any and all things related to saving your marriage after an affair, reconciling after you committed adultery, recovering your marriage after finding out that your spouse cheated, or keeping your marriage affair-free–please leave me a comment with a link!

A few other requests:

1. If you leave me a link in the comments, please link to an actual post, not just the generic address to your blog or site home page.  I don’t guarantee I’ll include your blog next week, but I do guarantee I’ll come take a look at your site decide if we are a good fit or not.

2. If you leave me a comment and/or follow us, I would love to return the favor, visit your site, leave a comment and follow you back!

3. Please share the love with your fellow bloggers–Read and leave a comment on at least the two blogs.

4. Please help me spread the word. Let’s create a community of Christian believers who want to bring glory to God by teaching our brothers and sisters about how to have a godly marriage, how to avoid the typical traps that lead to infidelity, and how to be a living testimony of forgiveness and reconciliation if one spouse is unfaithful.

5. Link back to this community, either by using the button below or a text link. You can find the button code here for you to insert in your post:

HTML CODE:

Without further adieu, here are the blogs I read:

  1. WHY SHOULD I ENDURE MY HUSBANDS ADDICTIONS? by betrayedbyakiss
  2. Why I’m Now Okay That It’s Called Domestic Violence by Elizabeth Klein Corcoran
  3. When you can’t just “get over it” by Elle
  4. Infidelity Counseling Network
  5. I AM NOT FEELING BETTER, BUT IT’S OK at Our Journey After His Affair
  6. When Your Spouse Refuses to End their Affair and Come Back to You at Affair Resources and Advice
  7. My 100th Post at A Year After the Affair
  8. 38 years. Woo-fucking-hoo! at Being Her, (the other woman)…
  9. Communication is challenging at Tales of a Jealous Wife
  10. The Hero’s Spouse–a forum
  11. Learning to be Vulnerable at Being a Beautiful Mess
  12. Peace of Mind After the Affair at Healing After My Husband’s Affair
  13. Where to Go…What to Do at Always Yours, Bee
  14. so these mlc’s at It Won’t Always be Bad…
  15. The Familiar Darkness at brokenbutstronger
  16. Using grief for good at Rescuing My Marriage
  17. Passion..for anything at whinywife
  18. Can you know too much? at Repairing Shattered Pieces
  19. PTSD after discovery of affair? Wow. at Renewing a Right Spirit
  20. Dear Chump Lady, Should I give him another chance? at Chump Lady ( I LOVE her site!!)
  21. Healthy Things Grow at Choose to Trust
  22. Back to Therapy at gettingoverhisaffair
  23. Clarity About the AP at Diary of a Warrior Princess…
  24. Priorities at Almost Spring
  25. His Affair with Derek at Silver Linings
  26. Life and Love Forever Changed at Shattered27
  27. ON MY TERMS at Lessons From the End of a Marriage
  28. The Scapegoat’s “Whatever” Prayer at Lilly Grace Brown

Sooooo…what have you been reading lately?

I LINK TO THESE GODLY LINK-UPS:
Beholding Glory’s Blog Hop List, No Ordinary Blog Hop: Family-Parenting-Marriage , The Alabaster Jar-Marital Oneness Mondays, Revive Your Marriage MondaysTime-Warp Wife-Titus 2sdays, …to Love, Honor and Vacuum–Wifey Wednesdays, Unveiled WifeGrace Alone/Women Taking a Stand–Thankful Thursdays, and Beholding Glory–Faith Filled Fridays.

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