Archive for the ‘desperate marriages’ Category

Knowing Your Needs

May 7, 2009

After dispelling some of the myths about dysfunctional marriages, you may have been left with more questions than answers. The problem is we all have needs and sometimes it’s hard to know what they are.

What are the inner needs which motivate much of our behavior? Let me mention three.

1. The first is the need to love and be loved. I feel good about myself when I am helping others. Conversely, I feel significant when I believe that someone genuinely loves me and is looking out for my interest.

2. A second inner need is the need for freedom – the desire to order my own life and not be controlled by another. Free to have thoughts, desires, and feelings as a person.

3. A third need is the need for significance – to feel that my life counts for something.

It should be clear that if we don’t understand the inner motivation of our spouse’s behavior, we will likely misjudge their behavior and hurt them deeply. It is worth the effort to try to discover the inner motive behind your spouse’s behavior.

One of the inner needs which motivates our behavior is the need for peace with God. That is why religion is a universal phenomenon. If your wife is attending a weekly Bible study and you are complaining that she is getting too religious, you are going to stimulate her defensive mechanisms, because you are striking at one of her inner needs. Far better to encourage her pursuit and ask yourself, “Which of my needs is going unmet that motivates me to get on her case about her Bible study?” Chances are, you’ll find your answer.

When you share your need with her and she is open about her own needs, you can find a way to meet both of your needs. It should be apparent that in order for this to happen, you must both be in touch with your own inner needs and respect the needs of the other. You are there for each other. This is God’s design.

How can you share your needs with your spouse? What support system do you and your spouse have besides each other? How does it help you both maintain your relationship with each other?

Dispelling the Myths about Dysfunction

May 6, 2009

Unfortunately, many people in desperate marriages base their lives upon commonly held myths. This week I want to expose some of these myths and challenge you to take constructive action in your marriage.

Myth #1
The first myth is the idea that my state of mind and the quality of my marriage is determined by my environment. “I grew up in a dysfunctional family, so I am destined to failure in my relationships.” This kind of approach leaves one helpless.

Our environment certainly affects us, but it does not control us. You can keep a positive spirit even in a bad marriage, which will affect your emotions and your actions. God can give peace of mind even in the worst of situations.

Myth #2
You’ve probably heard this one: “People cannot change.” This myth fails to realize the reality of human freedom and the power of God. History is filled with accounts of people who have made radical changes in their behavior. From St. Augustine, who once lived for pleasure and thought his desires were inescapable, to Charles Colson, the Watergate criminal who repented and began an international agency to offer prisoners spiritual help, the record is clear: People can and do change, and often the changes are dramatic!

Don’t give up on yourself or your spouse. God is in the business of changing lives. Begin with prayer, and believe that God can and will change you and your spouse.

Myth #3
“When you are in a bad marriage, there are only two options: be miserable for life, or get out.” This myth limits one’s horizons to two equally devastating alternatives.

But there is always something you can do to improve a marriage. You can be a positive change agent in your marriage. Being miserable or getting out are not your only options, and there are loving solutions even in desperate marriages.

Myth #4
“Some situations are hopeless.” Have you said those words? Have you believed them? The person who believes this myth usually also concludes, “My situation is hopeless. Perhaps there is hope for others, but my marriage is hopeless. It has gone on too long; the hurt is too deep.” This kind of thinking leads to depression and sometimes suicide.

God is the God of hope. When you put your hand in His hand, He will lead you through the valley of despair into the plane of hope. With God no one and no situation is hopeless. Focus your eyes on Him rather than your situation.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

April 10, 2009

“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church…”

In the contemporary world, perhaps nowhere has confusion reigned more than in the area of the husband’s role in marriage. On one extreme there’s the dominant husband who makes all decisions and informs the wife as to what they are going to do. On the other extreme is the husband who expects the wife to support the family and make all the major decisions. But, there’s a healthy middle—the husband is a responsible, dependable, leading but non-domineering. A husband who is deeply committed to his wife and family.

Leadership means communication, not control. The husband is to love and provide for his wife as Christ loves and cares for His Church. But how can the husband do that if he doesn’t know her needs? We must take the initiative in asking questions and listening in order to “know” our wives and thus be able to meet their needs. If God invites us to come to Him with our needs, and make our requests known, why shouldn’t the husband do the same?

Being a loving leader requires us to serve whomever we lead. To put them at the top of our priority list. So, the husband who loves his wife will make his wife his number one priority. Throughout the day he will ask himself the question: What can I do for her that will enhance her life? He will pray for her daily and commend her for her accomplishments. Last week Gia commented that to show love for her husband meant that she prays for him. It is equally as important for husbands to be lifting their wives up in prayer as well.

As Christ intercedes for us and showers us with daily blessings, so the husband as a loving leader will shower his wife with actions and words which say, “I love you.” And she? She will follow his leadership.

Today there are two sets of questions:

For the Men-
What ways have you been a loving leader, and what are some ways you want to improve in this area? What could your wife do to help you be a better loving leader?

For the Women-
Submission is a taboo word, why does it bother you so much? What does this word look like in your marriage? What ways do you need to improve in submitting to your husband, and how could he help you with that?

January "Dear Gary" Episode

January 28, 2009

On this past week’s Building Relationships

Our January “Dear Gary” broadcast!

We kicked off the show with a caller whose wife had just passed away. The caller ecouraged husbands to love their wives and care for them as God has called them to. Gary expanded on this thought by encouraging spouses to remember that the loss of a loved one can come at any moment. He urged listeners to live in a way that would allow them to end as Brian and his wife did, on a positive loving memory.

[Click here to listen]

We also learned the details on the 2009 Building Relationships Valentine’s Day Contest! Interested? Here’s the deal:

To enter, you must have seen the movie Fireproof.

Call our listener line at 1-866-424-GARY and tell us your story about how the movie made a difference in your marriage relationship-how it clicked with you, or how it gave you a vision for your marriage.

Your voicemail message must not exceed two minutes, and don’t forget to leave your name and phone number. The deadline to call is Tuesday, February 3rd. What you say might even make it on air for our Valentine’s program! The grand prize is a trip for you and your spouse to Gary Chapman’s “A Growing Marriage” conference of your choice, a copy of Fireproof, and a copy of The Five Love Languages. Runners up (15 total) will receive a copy of Fireproof and a copy of The Five Love Languages.

Thanks for listening to Building Relationships radio! Tune in Saturday, February 14 to hear the results of the contest.

Please, one entry per couple. Conference trip expenses will be covered up to $1,000. Winner agrees to pay additional costs. Deadline for entries is Tuesday, February 3rd. Winners will be notified by phone.

Learning to Meet Needs

November 17, 2008

It has been my observation through the years that many husbands simply do not understand the needs of their wives. Conversely, many wives do not understand the needs of their husbands. In their ignorance, they make little effort to meet each others’ needs.

Some husbands believe that if they work at a steady job and bring home a decent salary, they have completed their role as a husband. Some wives believe that if they cook a meal now and then, do the laundry, and wash the baby’s face – that’s it. He should be happy. What’s wrong with the man?

The fact is we all have needs. This is part of what motivates us to get married. When these needs are not met over a period of time, we tend to get irritable. Irritation brings criticism, and criticism brings counter-attack. So, we find ourselves fighting rather than seeking to meet needs. This week we are going to look at marriage as a “mutual aid society.”

The husband who is satisfied with simply putting food on the table has a very limited view of the importance of his role as husband. The wife who is satisfied with cooking that food has a very limited view of the importance of her role as wife.

Food is important, but it is only foundational. It is not the final word. We have needs for love, affection, tenderness, kindness, and encouragement. These are as foundational to our emotional health as food is to our physical health.

Once the food is on the table, it is now time to nurture each others’ inner emotional needs. Why not make a list of what you think your spouse’s needs are? Then ask them to make a list of their needs. Rank them in order of importance. Compare your lists. You may find that you have been spending your energy in the wrong place. Remember your spouse is the expert on his or her needs.
One of our most fundamental emotional needs is the need for security. Safety from the crime-ridden streets of the neighborhood? “Yes,” but the greatest security need is the need for the deep assurance that your spouse is committed to you. That they can be trusted and that they will be there for you. The person who threatens his spouse with such statements as “I just think we should get a divorce. You’d be better off with someone else. Or “I think I’ll find someone who will really love me,” is striking emotional terror in the soul of the spouse.
We need to communicate to each other that whatever happens, we are with them. We want to help. We want to learn. If there are disagreements, we will take time to listen, understand, and seek resolution. “If you are hurting, I want to be there for you.” These are the commitments that create a secure atmosphere in which to grow a healthy marriage.

All of us have the need for significance or self-worth. We want to feel that we are important, that our lives are counting for something. In marriage we are called upon to encourage each other in our pursuits for significance. Ultimately our self-worth is rooted in who we are, children of God by faith in Christ. This makes us extremely important.

As children of God we are all uniquely gifted. As we express these gifts or abilities under the direction of the Holy Spirit we experience satisfaction. We can see something of how God is using us as His instrument for good. We are humbled, but we are also encouraged.
Positive comments about your spouse’s efforts to explore their interests and giftedness is a way to help meet their need for significance. “You’re a super mom,” is encouraging to a wife who has chosen to be a “work at home Mom.” Critical comments, on the other hand, tend to diminish self-worth. Look for ways to encourage your spouse.
Wherever man is found, he is a social creature. He relates to others. Marriage does not diminish this need to relate to those outside the family. The wife may wish to be a part of a ladies’ civic club. The husband should seek to encourage her involvement. In so doing he is helping meet her social needs.

A husband may want his wife to initiate a neighborhood dinner or participate with him in a church Bible study. Such activities may not be at the top of her priority list, but they quickly ascend in importance because meeting his needs is important to her.

In helping each other develop social relationships, we are enhancing their growth as a person. If we put down their social interests as being superficial and unimportant, we create tension because we are seeking to thwart one of man’s basic needs, the need to relate. In a healthy marriage, social relationships are seen as a normal part of life. When we seek to meet each other’s needs, we are building a strong marriage.

The Importance of Attitude

November 3, 2008

I am responsible for my own attitude. My spouse may treat me unkindly, or ignore me, but I am still responsible for choosing my thoughts. The challenge is to have a loving attitude. The question is, “What is the loving way for me to look at this?” Love always seeks the well being of the other person. This does not mean that I am unconcerned about myself and meeting my needs, but my first concern must be for my spouse.
This does not imply that I am to become a doormat. That is not the loving thing to do. Accepting such behavior is not loving my spouse. When you choose the attitude of love, you are asking yourself, “What is best for my spouse in this situation?” Always that means holding your spouse accountable for unacceptable behavior.
“I love you too much to sit here and allow you to destroy yourself. What you are doing is hurting me, but it is also detrimental to your well-being and I will not be a part of it.” This is a loving attitude.

Trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional. Attitude has to do with the way I choose to think about things. It has to do with one’s focus. Two men looked through prison bars – one saw mud, the other stars. Two people were in a troubled marriage – one cursed, the other prayed. The difference always is attitude.

Negative thinking tends to beget negative thinking. Focus on how terrible the situation is, and it will get worse. Focus on one positive thing, and another will appear. In the darkest night of a troubled marriage, there is always a flickering light. Focus on that light, and it will eventually flood the room.
Maintaining a positive attitude in a troubled marriage may seem impossible, but the Christian has outside help. Lord, help me to see my marriage the way you see it. Help me to view my spouse the way you view them. Help me to think the thoughts that you have toward them. This kind of praying will lead you to a positive attitude.
A positive attitude can be the salvation of a difficult situation. A lady said to me, “My husband hasn’t had a full-time job in three years. The good part is that we can’t afford cable TV, so we spend a lot more time talking on Monday nights. She went on to say, “These three years have been tough, but we have learned a lot. Our philosophy has been “Let’s see how many things we can do without that everybody else thinks they have to have.” It’s amazing how many things you can do without. It’s been a challenge, but we are going to make the most of it.”
There is a wife who has learned the power of a positive attitude. Do you think it has been easy for her? For him? Not at all. But a negative, critical, pessimistic attitude would have made things worse. Why would you want to make things worse?
We must not yield to our natural tendencies. We must seek to walk the high road of looking for God’s hand in everything. Even in a troubled marital situation, God is always at work.
The challenge of keeping a positive attitude is not a new idea. It is found clearly in the first-century writing of Paul the apostle. He wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. …Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil. 4:4-7.
We are responsible for the way we think. Even in the worst marital situation, we choose our attitude. Maintaining a positive attitude requires prayer. Paul said, bring your requests to God. Tell him what you want. Will God always do what we ask? No, but what does happen is that “the peace of God” descends on our emotions and our thoughts. God calms our emotions and directs our thoughts. With a positive attitude, we become a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem.
One reason my attitudes are so important is that they affect my actions–that is my behavior and words. If I have a pessimistic, defeatist, negative attitude, it will be expressed in negative words and behavior. The reality is that I may not be able to control my environment: sickness, alcoholic spouse, teenager on drugs, mother who abandoned me, father who abused me, spouse who is irresponsible, aging parents. But I am responsible for what I do within my environment. My attitude will greatly influence my behavior.
If you want to know your attitude, look at your words and behavior. If your words are critical and negative, then you have a negative attitude. If your behavior is designed to hurt or get back at your spouse, then you have a negative attitude. Guarding the attitude is the most powerful thing you can to affect your behavior. And, your behavior greatly influences your spouse.