Category Archives: trust

Saying “I Do or I Don’t”

It is always an anxious moment for a pre-married or pre-engaged client when they ask us this age-old question:
“Should I ask her to marry me?”
I almost never answer this question directly. I don’t believe I should be given this much power in someone else’s life. But what I do is try to lead them through some questions that might help them make a good decision. If we are seeing a couple that is undecided, we often ask them to do a homework assignment from a workbook that guides them through this process. We ask them to take a personal retreat and seek God for an answer.
Confusion over this decision may come when boundaries have been crossed. A relationship may have become too intimate too quickly – especially when sexual boundaries have been discarded. We may feel very close, allowing our heart to rule over our head. Feeling close is not the same as being well-matched. It’s especially easy to ignore important signs when a relationship is relatively new and in the infatuation stage (less than six months or so).
This heart over head, or head over heart question is extremely important to the longevity of a relationship. If out of balance you may be opening up your life to either chaos or coldness, which might not be sustainable. 
Ask yourself these questions:  
  • Will he/she make a good parent?
  • Can I trust this person completely?
  • Will I fit into his/her family system?
  • Do we have common goals?
  • Is there any hint of abusiveness, physical or emotional?
  • Is he/she emotionally mature?
  • Are there any addictions that are not healed (drugs, alcohol, spending, sex)?
  • Are there any character issues that worry me (lying, angry, irresponsible, needy)?
  • Will we be partners, both carrying the weight of the relationship or will one person function more like a dependent child?
  • Do we resolve conflict effectively?
  • Do we apologize and forgive easily?
  • Is he/she possessive, jealous, manipulative or controlling?
  • Do I feel safe with this person? 
Intense feelings of love are not sufficient to sustain a lifetime marriage. The right questions have more to do with direction, purpose, respect, integrity and commitment. Those are questions that have to be answered with courage and rigorous honesty.  
A good goodbye is so much better than a painful life.   
If you are married, and struggling with some of these issues, take heart. There is always an opportunity to heal old wounds, build some relationship skills, and change some bad habits. Those things also take courage, honesty and just plain hard work. You may have to lead the process in your relationship. Start with prayer, surrender your heart, and get good counsel.  

Marriage, Millenials and Miscellaneous

Some thoughts gained in part from a talk by Gabe Lyons
The society that we were born into in the 1950’s was very different from the one that we are now living in. Being connected to a faith community was not only accepted, but expected most of the time. As kids we would ask each other “What are you, Christian (protestant), Catholic or Jewish?” Two parents were the norm and getting married when you grew up was a given. Job applicants might be asked about their church affiliation — and a pastor, priest or rabbi was often a reference. Marriage and faith were seen as indicators of good moral character and stability. (Statistics bear out that both add to a longer and more affluent life.)
This is not the world that Millenials (roughly 1983-2000) have been born into.
I won’t go into an explanation of the characteristics attributed to this generation, other than this group is rising in power and influence, but does not rest on the same foundational principles that I inherited. The current culture is described as postmodern, pluralistic and post-Christian. In a nutshell that means nothing is absolute, truth is open for interpretation, all religious paths are equally valid and Christianity is no longer the dominant force in religious thought.
What this results in is a lot of confusion and uncertainty. What can be trusted? Who can I believe? Does life have any ultimate meaning? Does it matter that I exist? Is this life all that there is? Anxiety and depression increase as these questions float around without any way to answer them.
It has been suggested that Christians have moved from the Moral Majority to the Prophetic Minority.
This means that a smaller group of people are carrying the messages that have the power to transform our culture. The good news in this is that a small group of intensely committed people have always been able to accomplish great things.
I see this as a mandate to support and encourage those of current and future generations as they cling to the values of marriage and religious freedom. It will become progressively more difficult to oppose the deconstruction of these institutions and maintain a Christian worldview. Some will likely go to jail in the struggle.
Yet people still yearn to be known deeply in a way that only marriage can satisfy. And when death and destruction and trouble comes, people look heavenward and hope that a merciful and powerful God exists and hears their prayers.
This is why I fight hard against divorce and the destruction of families. Families are often the best conveyors of values and positive traditions. Kids feel more secure even in a troubled or conflictual family than they do in a broken one. Just sit in a counseling room for an extended period of time and you will realize this.
It is important that we speak up and not be afraid of communicating our beliefs and not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence. How many times in the Bible are we commanded to “Fear not”? It is difficult to tell someone what they need to hear rather than what is popular. But don’t miss those opportunities. You may be the only one willing to speak the truth and be Jesus to them.
I know this post is a bit different than usual, but I just had to get it out while it was rolling around my brain. Love compels me to be a watchman on the wall at times. I would love to get some feedback from you. Use the comment box below and say yay or nay.

It’s All About ME!

I love being on the receiving end of wisdom from my counseling clients. Often they will bring snippets of useful information that I can store away in my toolbox to bring out as warranted.

This week I heard this statement from one of my younger clients:

“If you could do something to meet a need of your partner, why wouldn’t you?”

Wow – what a difference from the more common

“Why should I? What’s he/she done for me?” 

The truth is he or she has probably done a lot for you. Or it is entirely possible that they haven’t because of the above attitude. I remember Sarah Eggerichs comment in the “Love and Respect” conference video:

“Why wouldn’t you give your husband sex if he wants it? It’s an easy enough thing to do and it makes him so happy.”

(Right about now some husbands are thinking “I like this blog — I should share it with my wife”)

Of course there are always exceptions, but she is speaking to the far greater percentage of good willed marriages. I thought at the time “That’s a pretty mature attitude. Why didn’t I think of that?” I don’t know why I didn’t consider applying that same thinking to many other parts of relational life.

  • Turn off the electronic stuff and engage in a connected conversation. This used to be a complaint I only heard from women, but I hear this more and more from men as well.
  • Take out the trash without being asked. Enough said.
  • Be on time for a change. Always late and worth the wait? Umm – maybe not.
  • Don’t leave the gas tank empty. You might make somebody you love late because they have to stop and fill up.
  • Make plans before the very last moment. I used to do this when we were dating. It drove Nan crazy. I still sometimes do this when it comes to making vacation plans. And I love vacations. What gives with that?
  • Monitor your own spending. Don’t create a parent-child scenario by being irresponsible. It’s no fun for either one of you.
  • Help with dinner and clean-up. Or make dinner even when you don’t particularly feel like it. Sometimes it’s seen as the measure of a good or troubled marriage.

What prevents this kind of thinking? Sorry, but it’s selfishness or not being willing to surrender in some kind of immature power struggle. I’ve done it — actually still do it at times. But I’m not proud of it, and it isn’t my goal.

Phil 2:3-4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.