Category Archives: Marriage

Límites Personales En La Consejería

Satanás ha tenido mucho éxito en contra matrimonios cristianos.

· Mediante el uso de la cultura popular, ha convencido a muchas personas de que aunque estén casadas, siguen siendo dos personas completamente separadas.

· En muchos casos, esto produce una atmósfera de contención, con ambos intentando ganar el control sobre el otro.

· Esto se debe a que en lugar de ambos individuos trabajando juntos para lograr metas mutuamente beneficiosas, cada uno trata de alcanzar metas que se benefician a sí mismos.

Texas es un estado de propiedad común, esto significa que lo que le pertenece a uno de ustedes también le pertenece al otro.

· Si uno de ustedes debe una factura, ambos deben la cuenta, no importa cuyo nombre esté en ella.

· Esta es la ley, y no importa lo que digas o lo que creas.

· Por lo tanto, si uno de ustedes tiene un problema legal, ambos tienen problemas legales.

En las Escrituras, nos dicen que cuando una pareja se casa se convierten en uno.

· Esto significa que la pareja es vista de la misma manera por Dios.

· Cada uno tiene sus responsabilidades, pero ambos son responsables ante Dios y entre sí.

· Si uno de ustedes hace algo malo, afectará al otro tanto.

· Esta es la Palabra de Dios, y no importa lo que digas o lo que creas.

· Así que si uno de ustedes tiene problemas, entonces ambos tienen problemas.

Si una persona casada piensa que si su esposo (a) es quien tiene un problema, y no ellos mismos, es una mentira.

HAY 2 MANERAS DE ENTENDER ESTOS “LÍMITES”.

· Una de ellas es condicionamientos , y la otra es acuerdos.

· Las primeras (condiciones) se refieren a condiciones que establecemos para que otros puedan elegir si desean una relación con nosotros o no.

· El segundo (acuerdos) se refiere a la manera en la que vamos a tener una relación con los demás.

· En el matrimonio, ambos son importantes, y son diferentes entre sí.

CONDICIONES

El primer tipo de límites son importantes para nosotros específicamente.

· Son lo que usaremos para protegernos de los malos tratos de otras personas en nuestras vidas.

· Cuando dejamos de ser claros a otras personas en cuanto a lo que es aceptable y no aceptable en nuestra relación con ellos, nos abrimos a la posibilidad de que puedan aprovecharse de nosotros.

· Si no decimos que no a lo que creemos que está mal, permitimos que otros crean que estamos dispuestos a tenerlos para tratarnos de la manera que ellos elijan.

· Incluso si la gente no se dispone a aprovecharse de nosotros, con nuestro silencio les enseñaremos y les capacitaremos para que hagan exactamente eso.

Nadie puede leer tu mente.

· Sólo porque son adultos que no saben automáticamente lo que está bien y no está bien.

· Y, en muchos casos, usted tendrá que enseñar (tal vez incluso entrenar) a ellos cómo hacer lo que usted está esperando de ellos.

Las condiciones pueden ser colocadas bajo dos secciones separadas.

1 – Aceptable 2 -Inaceptable .

ACEPTABLE

Condiciones aceptables son los que usted ha considerado seriamente y encontrar está bien si están en su vida.

▪ Por ejemplo, usted pone una condición en sí mismo para hacer ejercicio.

▪ Tal vez decidas orar más a menudo.

Las condiciones aceptables le ayudan a aclarar las cosas que desea en su vida, y quieren continuar y/o mejorar.

▪ Por ejemplo, ahorrar dinero para una casa, hacer nuevos amigos, y / o estudiar su Biblia

INACEPTABLE

Condiciones Inaceptables son los que usted ha considerado seriamente y decide que NO está bien si están en su vida.

Por ejemplo, usted elige no fumar cigarrillos o beber alcohol, o decide no tener relaciones con personas que se aprovechan de otros.

▪ Las condiciones inaceptables le ayudan a aclarar aquellas cosas que NO desea en su vida, y/o que continúen en su vida.

El establecimiento de condiciones , después de toda una vida sin aclarar las condiciones, será estresante y algo difícil.

· Esto es porque los seres humanos tienden a seguir los patrones.

· Nos acostumbramos a vivir de cierta manera y generalmente no nos gusta el cambio.

· ¿Por qué?

· Porque el cambio significa que tenemos que trabajar en ello, y no hay respuestas fáciles.

Las condiciones son importantes porque nos entrenamos para vivir una vida más segura y más saludable, y otros aprenden lo que está bien y no está bien hacer en una relación con nosotros, si quieren tal relación.

Consecuencias de las condiciones – Este es simple, si la otra persona no está dispuesto a aceptar sus condiciones para tener una relación, usted no tiene una relación con ellos.

Donde no hay consecuencias, hay permiso.

ACUERDOS

Los acuerdos son límites que usted trabaja con alguien con quien usted tiene una relación.

· Esto podría ser un esposo o esposa, padre o hijo, pariente o amigo, gente en el trabajo iglesia.

· Los límites en el matrimonio se refieren a los acuerdos entre usted y su cónyuge.

· Estos acuerdos son una especie de reglas que usted y su cónyuge crean juntos para aclarar circunstancias que podrían convertirse en problemas importantes si no se resuelven o aclaran pronto.

La idea de los acuerdos es que si la pareja elabora un acuerdo sobre cualquier asunto o situación que pueda afectar su matrimonio, tienen la posibilidad de evitar cualquier argumento o argumentos problemáticos en el futuro.

· El problema será si ambos mantienen su palabra y siguen el acuerdo.

· Si lo hacen, tendrán una relación más pacífica y más saludable.

Los acuerdos son sólo eso, los acuerdos.

· No deben ser utilizados uno contra el otro.

· Se trata de acuerdos que han sido considerados por ambas personas, y ambos coinciden en que es para su mutuo beneficio que se establezca el acuerdo.

· Los acuerdos deben aplicarse a ambas personas por igual.

· Nunca debe haber acuerdos dirigidos a una persona u otra.

· No se trata de controlar a los demás, sino de estar de acuerdo unos con otros.

· El objetivo NO es para ti ganar, el objetivo es que AMBOS de ti gane.

Consecuencias por violar un acuerdo – Esto dependerá de la violación. Voy a dar ejemplos a continuación.

EJEMPLOS

· Ninguno de nosotros puede tener un amigo del sexo opuesto sin la presciencia del otro, y su acuerdo para la amistad antes de que comience.

o Si tengo una amistad con una persona del sexo opuesto, y mi cónyuge no lo sabe, significa que hay algo malo, porque lo he escondido de mi cónyuge. Por lo tanto he estado engañando a mi esposo. Si estaba en el trabajo, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que renuncie a mi trabajo y encontrar otro como consecuencia.

o Ninguno de nosotros hablará negativamente sobre el otro a ninguna otra persona, pariente o amigo, y tampoco permitiremos que otros hablemos negativamente sobre nuestro cónyuge.

o Si hablo negativamente acerca de mi cónyuge a otra persona, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que vaya a esa persona y decirles que estaba equivocado en lo que hice. Si permito que alguien me hable negativamente acerca de mi cónyuge, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que regrese a esa persona y les advierto que no hable negativamente sobre ella a mí de nuevo.

· Nuestra casa será un hogar divino, todos los que viven aquí irán a la iglesia.

o Cualquier visitante de nuestra casa, a quien permitimos que viva con nosotros por cualquier período de tiempo y que elige no asistir a la iglesia, se le pedirá que se vaya.

DONDE NO HAY CONSECUENCIAS,
ALLI HAY PERMISO.

What Does Love Feel Like?

While sitting through the movie, “The Shack,” along with my wife, I was struck with an odd idea. Well, to be honest, odd to me. The main character was going through a dilemma which tore at his very soul. On the one hand, he blamed himself for the death of his daughter, and on the other hand, he was angry with God for not saving her life. The main point, I think, at least regarding him, was that he was blinded to what he was really struggling with because his anger and bitterness kept getting in the way. The “odd” idea which came to me was whether I was going through something similar.

At the age of 3, I remember playing in the living room of our West Dallas project’s apartment in which we lived at the time. Movement caught my attention, and I turned to the window and saw my father looking in as though he was looking for something. I walked over to the window and stood there looking up at him. After a while, he turned away and I never saw him again for the rest of my life. The point here is that the one thing which has stayed with me for over 62 years is that he never looked down at me, as though I wasn’t even there.

When I was around 5 years old, my mother had a “nervous breakdown,” whatever that is. I think she just became so angry at the world that she introverted herself, and dove wildly into an emotional depression. The result was that we (my brothers and I) were taken into custody by the state and placed in a foster home. I have no memory of being transported to the foster home, which gives me the idea that we may have been asleep at the time. I do remember the abuse we suffered at the hands of those people. During the whole time we were there, we lived in constant fear. And, to myself at least, it seemed we were there forever. Those foster “parents” should never have been allowed to get near children. Their treatment of my brothers and I was atrocious. I, as the oldest of the three, was the butt of their attacks. At least to the best of my memory, it seemed they enjoyed making me suffer. I remember them laughing at me, calling me names, and to scare me even more, they would mistreat my brothers in front of me to cause me even more fear. At one point, my youngest brother, George, pooped on himself, and the foster “parents” found it hilarious when they forced me to eat some of it because I had not taken care of him. I learned to hate while in that house. I learned to hate, and I learned well.

One day, after what seemed years (which was probably only a few months), we were cleaned up and dressed nicely. We were going to have visitors. Actually, two ladies arrived. One seemed familiar, but the second was completely unknown to me. I could tell that something was different from normal, the foster “parents” were behaving like nice people. That only made me more apprehensive, as I was expecting some sort of abuse to occur at any moment. I remember the three of us brothers standing together, huddled, and afraid. One of the ladies, the one that did not seem familiar to me, began speaking to us. She was speaking in English and I did not fully understand her. I could tell by her hand motions that she wanted us to come to her and the other lady, the familiar one. Our response was to huddle even closer. One of the foster “parents” came to us and grabbed my arm, and gently (but forcefully) pulled me forward to the ladies. My brothers came along with me. The first lady spoke again and said, “Mama,” as she pointed to the other lady. I looked at the first lady, then I looked at the second lady, and back to the first. I did not know what was happening, but I was beginning to catch on that she was trying to tell us that this was our mother.

That is my brother Joe on the left, then me, and George is in our mother’s arms.

Our mother smiled and called to us in Spanish. My young mind struggled to bring to memory her picture in my head. The abuse we suffered at that home left me confused and fearful. A part of my mind told me that we were being fooled again. She seemed confused that we did not just run up to her immediately. She stepped forward and reached out to us. I tried to back away, but the grip of the foster “parent” was stronger. “Soy tu mamá,” she said (I am your mother), and she knelt before us. It was then that I remembered her. My mother, the one we loved. The one we missed so terribly during those torturous months in that hell house. The one who sent us there. The one who was responsible for all we had suffered at the hands of those evil people. All of my fears, anger, and hate swelled up in me. I felt as though I was going to explode. “I hate you!” I screamed at her, “I hate you. I hate you.” I finally had the chance to release all that pent up fear. I was staring straight at the person who was responsible. I hated her so very, very, much.

I have scattered memories of abuses and violence which we suffered, too many of those memories are of things which happened to me personally. The way my mother handled all of that was with lots of screaming and yelling on her part. She had a mean streak. She blamed us for everything that went wrong in her life. Her favorite attacks were when she would scream “Hijos de su p**che padre (sons of your f***ing father). I had no idea what she would go on about, but I quickly learned that she hated that man. I have yet to learn the truth about all that happened between them, but I no longer care. At the time, though, it was her ammunition against us. He left her, and she was angry, and she was going to punish us for it. I especially took the brunt of much of her anger, because I was the oldest and was supposed to “know better.”

In those years I sort of remember trying to love her. I mean, come on, what other choice did we have? We were as stuck with her as much as she was with us, and she did not make that easy. My memory of her, during that time, was that she was mean. Her anger was her most obvious quality to me. Like her, my anger was my most familiar companion as well.

The trauma and abuse I (and my brothers) suffered at the hands of an angry mother, and a coward of a father who abandoned his children, left me scarred with an emptiness of the heart, and blindness of the soul, that to a point still haunts me to this day.

So, what is love? I have learned to rationalize things in my life. I compartmentalize, put things into separate “boxes” and learn to keep each thing in its place. I have specific rules I follow, which guide me in how to act and react to situations and circumstances in my life. The Bible teaches me that if I love someone I will do what is best for them, even if it means they must suffer consequences for their actions and choices. I understand that, I understand pain and punishment, so “suffering the consequences” of my actions and choices is not something altogether strange to me. Since I was little, I have known that when you do something that displeases those in control, they will make you suffer for it. I learned to accept that as a truth of life. So, when I first read in the Word of God that he punishes His children (Hebrews 12), I rolled with the punch and accepted that for what it says. I began my “walk” with God understanding that He was the Lord. By “Lord” I mean the Boss, the one in charge, the controller of my life. This meant to me that He can do whatever He wants with my life, and that there is nothing I can do about it. It means that He can choose for me to go through hard and difficult things, situations, and circumstances, and that I am supposed to just “grin and bear” it.

I first came to know “God” as my new owner. I was “owned” before by the hatred, fear, and bitterness which permeated every pore of my body, all the way down to my soul. Love had no place in my life. I want to believe that there must have been someone in my young life who actually loved me, but if there were, no real evidence comes to my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, and misunderstand my words, I believe that there were people who “cared.” I know that I cared for my brothers and sisters, in fact I still do. I hope they cared about me as well, but when we were younger, all of us, brothers and sisters, suffered our own demons in various ways. None of us “children” of that woman came away unscathed. For many years, and maybe even to some point up until now, we drifted apart and dealt with our own separate lives. I, along with my brothers, Joe and George, tended to spend more time with each other. My brothers, Larry and Rick (sons of a different father), were often left to themselves. My sisters, Connie and Diana (from still another father), tended to spend more time with each other, and later on, with my youngest brother, Don, who had the same father as my sisters. We all care about each other, at least to the best that we are able while dealing with the traumas and emotional damage we suffered as children.

So, what is love? I know one thing clearly and without any doubt, before turning my life over to Christ, I had no earthly idea what is was. And, now as a Christian of about 35 years, I am still working on it. As I said I have learned to rationalize love. When I have been asked to define love, I always revert to my standard answer, “The Bible teaches that love is what we do.” I have always given that answer, because it works with my understanding of what I perceive love as being. But, what I rationalize and what the Bible actually says, may not be the same. The verse which always comes to mind is John 14:15 (NASB), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” It does not say, “Keeping my commandments is HOW you love me.” It says, If you love me…” If you “love” me. “Love.” I have always seen this verse differently. To me it always read, “Obedience is love.” So, I committed myself to doing what God wanted so that I could thereby prove my love. The way I interpreted the instruction was that I did not have to concern myself with feelings, but only with doing something. So, I gave in to God, as He started working on me, out of obedience. I conceded to changes in my character, out of obedience. I responded to God’s call on my life for the ministry, out of obedience. I tithed and gave offering faithfully, out of obedience. I prayed for people, counseled people, and pastored people, out of obedience. I have lived a life of service to others for all of my Christian life, out of obedience. Why? Because this is how I have always understood love. Love is obedience, and obedience is love. This way I was never expected to feel anything, I was expected to obey, and that I could do without too much trouble.

Again, do not misunderstand my argument here. I am not speaking out against just obeying God for the sake of obedience. There are many benefits from that kind of response to the Lord. And, remember when I use the word “Lord,” I am speaking about the Boss, the controller of our lives. I am referring to the part of God that expects all of His children to do what He says regardless of how they feel about His orders. He wants done what He wants done, and He does doesn’t want us to do differently. When you do obey Him, the biggest perk is that He will bless (reward) you for your obedience. There will never be a time when you obey Him and He will not bless you for it. Why? Because that is one way He shapes your life, and mine. When we obey, He blesses us, so because we liked getting blessed we will obey Him again, and, every time we obey we change a bit more. So, because we change a bit more, we want to obey Him a bit more, and we will, which will result in Him blessing us again. Get it? It is not a matter of how we feel, but whether we obey. The benefits to seeing your relationship with God in this manner are obvious, when you think about it. On the other hand, it is also a great way to avoid having to deal with feelings.

So, what is love? The Bible clearly states that God is love, but is love God? I don’t know the answer to that one. I am also not one of those people who just accepts some nice sounding words, act like I actually understand them, and then start spouting them out of my mouth. To me love is still not what I feel, it is what I do. But, that should not be interpreted as though I am saying I am not open to learning the truth, if I am in error as to the truth. Though, I still want whomever it may be to use language (when explaining “love”), that is not just a bunch of emotionally meaningless terms and expect me to understand. Truth does not hide behind vague emotional drivel, though I will admit that “love” may not fully be explained with logical, rational, terms which have clear meaning. I am willing to listen to some emotional terms, as long as that is not to whole of the explanation. For example, the Bible teaches on many concepts and ideas. Thankfully, the Lord did not resort to using only ambiguous terms and language. Even the most difficult themes and arguments in the Scriptures can be studied and understood with time and effort. The reason being that God provides enough logic, rationale, reason, and evidence, along with the “touchy feely” parts of the Word of God.

The dictionary defines the word “love” as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Yea, that really makes it clear right? First of all, what is meant by “intense” and “deep?” And, tell me this, how does one “love” God “intensely” and/or “deeply?” These two words are subjective, in other words dependent on the feelings of each person as to how they would define them. The dictionary is of little help, you see it defines “intense” as, either (1) of extreme force, degree, or strength, or (2) having or showing strong feelings or opinions; extremely earnest or serious. The second definition may be closer to what we are trying to understand, but still we just have more adjectives to work with, and we are no closer to a clear understanding. So, let’s instead look at the word “affection,” in the definition. It means, “A gentle feeling of fondness or liking.” Gentle? What happened to “intense?” I’ve decided the dictionary is of no real help.

So, what is Love? Let’s turn to the Bible as our source for trying to get a clear understanding of this elusive word. The Scripture teaches that:

  1. It is as strong as death. (Song of Solomon 8:6)
  2. It is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 14:15)
  3. It is patient, kind, and is not jealous; it does not brag and is not arrogant, it does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not (easily) provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
  4. Greater than faith and hope. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  5. The fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
  6. The perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:14)
  7. It is from God. (1 John 4:7)
  8. It casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
  9. “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6)

If I use only the above references from the Bible as my basis for deciding what love is, I have to conclude that it does not involve feelings at all. All nine of the references speak of actions and decisions. They speak of what is, not how something feels. None of the nine require a person to feel this way or that. So even by using the Bible as my sole resource for finding the answer to what love is, I still don’t seem to have a clear understanding regarding whether feelings are supposed to be part of the formula. If I follow the teaching from the Word of God, specifically the nine references above, I have to conclude that love is what I decide and choose to do, not how I feel about something. For example, 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” John 14:24 says basically the same, notice, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words…” in other words, those who do “love” Jesus show it by obeying Him, not by how they “feel” about Him. So then if we “love” (obey) Jesus, we have to obey His commandment to “love” one another (John 15:14). It seems to me that it means that we show love to others by obeying the Lord. Hmmm.

So, what is love? It is the decision to treat someone else as more important than yourself. It is the understanding that someone else has priority over you, in this case it would be God, through our Lord, Christ Jesus. It is the decision to do what God has instructed us to do in regards to others, and not allow our feelings to cause us to choose to do differently. It is the decision to obey the Word of God, when our feelings tell us that we should instead do what we believe is right.

Even after writing almost 3800 words in this article, I still don’t understand love as a feeling. The idea of it is foreign to me. I understand hate, anger, rage, bitterness, frustration, depression, and vengeance. I understand those words, and I even have a personal knowledge of how they feel. I can stir up anger in milliseconds, and can feel the rage flow through me. I have lived with those feelings for so long in my life that I have an intimate acquaintance with each of them, but “love,” I have no concept of how that feels.

I love my wife. That means I make her my priority, treat her as more important than myself, and will always choose behavior and actions which will benefit her and not damage her. I will obey God, and His Word, in regards to what I will or will not do with or to her, or allow in our lives, regardless of how she feels. Her feelings cannot ever override the instructions of the Lord in my life. If I let that happen, then, according to my understanding of “love,” I will prove I don’t “love” her. The concept is a logical and calculated one. It is practical and clear. There is no ambiguity in that form of love.

When she is not around me, I miss her. If she were to die before I do, I would want to die as well. I know that this world means nothing to me if she is not here to share it with me. Because of her I want to be a better man. I treat others better because she has taught me how through her sacrifices and actions in my life. I have learned how to submit to God because she has taught me how through her submission to me. I want her to always be with me, and I am not as happy when she is not around. She makes my eyes to smile when I see her. She makes my heart feel better just because she is alive. I thank our Lord with all of my heart for allowing me to have her in my life.

But, my “feelings” of “love” for her are flawed. I sometimes don’t like her, just as she sometimes does not like me. We sometimes hurt each other’s feelings. We don’t always agree. There are many things we both like similarly, and there are other things we like differently. I talk more than she does, but I don’t listen as well as she does. I am more educated, but she tends to be wiser. I know she loves me, but I know this by her actions, choices, and decisions. I don’t always know how she feels about me, but I am aware of her behavior and I see her decisions in action. These two things prove to me that she loves me.

I may never learn how to love someone else by feelings alone, and I don’t know if that is really necessary. Throughout my whole life, my feelings have neither hurt nor benefitted anyone else, but my decisions, actions, and behavior have. No one has ever told me that they know I love them because they can tell how I feel about them, but many times I have been told by someone that they knew I loved them because of what I did, or did not do, to or for them. I guess I will leave things the way they are. I will probably have to wait until I get to heaven to “feel” love, and that is okay with me.

 

 

Unconditional Love? … I’d Rather You Liked Me.

The-Flip-Side-of-LoveWe are instructed to “love” one another, but we don’t have to like anybody. In the Bible, the word used as love has three Greek meanings; Eros, Phileo, and Agape. I will not go into all the translation details in this article. You can “Google” “Greek words for love” and get plenty of information on the subject. My point, though, is to emphasize that there is no one way to “love” others, and that depending on the way you are “loving” someone else, there are conditions.

In my 30 years of counseling people, I have heard countless of times how much couples “love” each other. Men who physically and emotionally abuse their wives will argue about how much they “love” them. Wives who committed adultery will, after they get caught, cry about how much they “love” their husbands.

According to Holman’s Concise Bible Commentary, love is an “undivided allegiance and unswerving obedience” to God. This definition of love does not involve a person’s emotions as the determining factor. But, there is a clear object of this “love,” it belongs to God alone. The question I am dealing with today is not about our “love” for God, but, rather, in how we feel about one another as humans. The question is are we expected to love one another “unconditionally?” Keep in mind that I used Dictionay.Com’s definition of the word. “Conditionally – imposing, containing, subject to, or depending on a condition or conditions; not absolute; made or allowed on certain terms: conditional acceptance.” Therefore, if someone will or might benefit from something they do, then there was a condition. I searched the Bible to find any reference which would lead me to believe that I was to love someone else “unconditionally,” and I came up with zero verses.

On the other hand, I also searched the Bible for any references which would, at least, give the impression that some condition was tied to loving someone else, and came up with a bunch. For example, let’s look at, Matthew 5:43-45 (NASB), “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” I added the bolding, underline, and italics to emphasize the condition for “loving” our enemies. (See also Luke 6:32) Notice the very next verse, Matthew 5:46a (NASB) “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” Did you get that? Why mention a, “reward,” if loving our neighbor is to be done “unconditionally?” Doesn’t “unconditionally” mean you are not supposed to get, or look forward to, a reward?

God understands that humans are driving by selfishness. Even those of us who have learned to also be selfless, still deal with some selfishness. God understands that when we humans are rewarded for what we do, we are more likely to continue to repeat the behavior.

Let’s also look at Matthew 19:19 (NASB) “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Did you notice the condition? “As yourself,” it said. Not just “love” your neighbor, but love him or her as you would show that “love” toward yourself, that is the condition in this case. It means you have to evaluate how you “love” yourself. Identify what you do which demonstrates love for yourself, and then do the same for others. That is conditional “love.” There is a principle which will help us better understand this concept, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” If you do not “love” yourself, then you will have a difficult time trying to “love” someone else. You must first “love” yourself, and see the benefits, so that then you can give it to others.

Human “love” is almost always some emotional soup made up of distorted perspectives, selfish desires, and mixed in with self-serving manipulation and abusive control over the object of one’s affections.

Do you get it now? No? You want more proof? Okay, let’s look at Luke 7:41-42 (NASB), “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” The obvious answer is the one who owed the most money. Why? Because this “love,” which the Bible recognizes as affected by human feelings, is swayed by the condition by which it is promoted. See, the Bible understands that people’s love is likely conditional.

Confused LoveThis word “love,” in the Greek, has different connotations, for example in Luke 11:42 ((NASB), “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”), it is the Greek word: ἀγάπη. Transliterated it means: agape. The definition is: love, goodwill, and is used in the New Testament 116 times. On the other hand, the Greek NASB Number: 25 (John 8:42 (NASB) Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.), used as love is: ἀγαπάω. The have the same root, from which the words come from, but this one is transliterated as the word: agapaô. Its definition is: to love, and is used 143 times in the New Testament. The first word “agape,” is used to mean, “Doing good unto others, because you want to do the good.” The second word, agapaô, is used to mean, “An emotional attraction and desire for something.” Between the two, the closest one which could be considered as unconditional is the first, “agape.” But, even then, the person is “loving” others because he or she wants to, this means that their feelings, motivation, and/or desired outcome affects their “love.” These feelings, motivation, and/or desired outcome is the condition upon which this “love” is based.

You see? Love is not unconditional with humans, nor does God expect it of us. But, my goal in this article was not to argue against “unconditional” love. I have a different objective, I want to argue in favor of another word used for love in the Bible, “Phileô.” This word is Greek NASB Number: 5368, φιλέω. It is transliterated as the word: phileô. The definition is: “to love,” and is used only 25 times in the New Testament. The meaning of the word is better understood by replacing the word “love” with “like.” Yes, I mean, “Like!”

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the word like as, “to enjoy (something), to get pleasure from (something), to regard (something) in a favorable way, to feel affection for (someone): to enjoy being with (someone).” The great majority of the time, when people use the word “love,” they are actually using this definition. We use it for, “I love hamburgers,” or “I love my dog,” or “I love my wife,” or “I love writing long boring articles.” In either case, we are not really meaning “agape” or “agapaô.” We are really saying, “Phileô.”

 

I was counseling with a couple once where the wife found out her husband was having an affair. When she threatened to divorce him, he agreed to come to counseling. I asked him why his wife should even consider staying with him, he argued that he loved his wife!”

In my 30 years of counseling people, I have heard countless of times how much couples “love” each other. Men who physically and emotionally abuse their wives will argue about how much they “love” them. Wives who committed adultery will, after they get caught, cry about how much they “love” their husbands. Parents who have physically (and sometimes sexually) abused their children, will then turn around and adamantly claim “love” for the children. I will often have couples in my counseling office, who will spend an hour or two accusing each other of horrendous things, calling each other names, putting each other down, blaming each other for countless of wrongdoings, and when I ask them why they even want to be with the other person, they say the “love” them. There is no way they are saying they, “agape” or “agapaô” the other person. What they are saying is they “Phileô” the other person. In other words, they want the other person around, because they have some level of like for them. If you really “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”) someone, you don’t do things on purpose which can damaged them.

Chicho - LoveWhat is the one main factor in why marriages fail? Most people will say that it is because people stopped “loving” each other. I disagree. I believe that the real reason marriages fail is because one or both of the two stopped “liking” each other. Real “love” develops over time, or it is done intentionally, as in, by obeying God. “Love” at first sight is a lie which has deceived many couples into relationships which turned out terrible. The truth is that we can have “like” at first sight, and then get to know each other and start learning to “love” one another with time. True “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”) has a condition, and that is that the one who “loves” does so with the intention of giving the other the fullest benefit. In other words, that the “love” results not be solely selfish in actuality. For example, when a young man says he loves a young woman, is he saying, “I want to do for her all that will be in her best interest, even if that means she won’t end up with me? (“agape” or “agapaô”), or is he saying, “I want her to be with me, because it will make me happy? (“Phileô”). Everyone reading this article, will know that he really means that second kind of “love” (in other words, “like”) right?

I am a counselor, I don’t lie to, or deceive, myself as much as I am able. Just because people use certain words, it does not mean they actually mean what they say. Truthfully, most people say one thing but mean something else. In their own minds they know what they intend to say, but the will choose words which say something different. For example, I went to visit a friend, a while back, when I knocked on his door he yelled out “It’s open!” I glanced at the door and it was not open. I responded to him indicating the truth. He yelled again, “Yes, pastor, it is open!” I glanced back at the door and saw clearly that it was shut and that it was not even slightly ajar, much less actually open. I stood at the door waiting. He walked to the door and opened it, and the said, “See, it was open.” “No,” I said, “You opened it.” “No,” he said, “I meant that it was unlocked.” I smiled and said, “Why didn’t you just say that?” “I did,” he said grinning, “I said it was open.” If you look up the word “open” in the dictionary, you will see that it does not define “open” to mean “unlocked.” He was saying one thing, while he clearly meant something else.”

People who really like you will not willingly
make choices which will harm you.
Scary Love

Do You See How MUCH I Love You!!!!!!!

The word “love” is the same. People use the word, but, more often than not, they really mean “like.” When most people define the word “love,” they mean something like, “I want, I need, she or he is mine, it makes me feel good, I should not be deprived of it,” and so on. Human “love” is almost always some emotional soup made up of distorted perspectives, selfish desires, and mixed in with self-serving manipulation and abusive control over the object of one’s affections. Too many times human’s “love” is displayed by jealousy, abuse, violence, and traumatic behavior. Why? Because, they are not actually speaking of “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”), they are speaking of something which has no resemblance to real “love,” any more than a duck resembles and dog.

On the other hand, one thing I don’t see in my counseling office, is a couple who is there because they are having problems because the “like” (“Phileô”) each other. When people “like” someone they go out of their way to spend time with that person. They miss that person when they are apart. They look forward to those times they spend together. A couple who is dating (and also “like” (“Phileô”) one another), write poems to each other, buy flowers for each other, will sacrifice time with friends to be with each other, will spend lots of time talking about practically nothing, just to be with each other, they care how they dress, smell, and look to each other, and so forth.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Treasures are those things which we consider important to us. If your wife or husband is your treasure, your desire is for them. You want them to like you, because you like them. “Phileô” (“love” that is really “like”) is an emotional choice to desire someone or something. People who “Phileô” each other tend to stay together much better than people who just claim to “love” each other.

I was counseling with a couple once where the wife found out her husband was having an affair. When she threatened to divorce him, he agreed to come to counseling. I asked him why his wife should even consider staying with him, he argued that he loved his wife!” I asked him two questions, “If you had not been caught, would you have already quit seeing the other woman by now?” and “Were you loving your wife while you were having sex with the other woman?” He just sat there silently, because he knew the truth, and he didn’t want to make things worse. If that is love, I sure don’t want any part of that. On the other hand, I asked the wife why she wanted to try to save the marriage. “I love him,” she said, “I know that he was wrong, and I know that he deserves for me to divorce him, but I want to give him a chance to prove to me that he really loves me by making the necessary changes.” Now that, dear reader, is love. She was willing to make a sacrifice and take a chance he would just hurt her again, solely because if it worked, it was the best thing for the relationship.

So, what was my point to begin with? Well, it is this. I would rather that people liked me than “loved” me. People who claim to “love” you, too many times, are actually referring to a conditionally motivated, self-serving, self-satisfying, and ego-centric, emotion. On the other hand, when people truly like each other they want to spend time with each other, spend time speaking with each other, treat each other with respect, do enjoyable things with each other, and so on. Someone can “love” you and abuse you, attack you, lie to you, manipulate you, control you, be unfaithful to you, be jealous of you, fool you, and so on. People who really like you will not willingly make choices which will harm you.

There is no such thing as “unconditional love,” even God has a condition for His love (“agape” or “agapaô”), regarding us, He wants to end up with His children in eternity with Him. God does not “love” us just for the heck of it, with no intention, desire, motivation, or personal benefit from that “love.” He wants something for that “love.” He wants you.jesus_wants_you

Conflict Resolution, Before or After?

Conflict is best resolved when two persons are able to communicate their separate concerns and together are able to reach compromises which work in the favor of the relationship. The question is, “Do I want to win, or do I want us to win?”

The difference is demonstrated by the approach that a person takes, when dealing with the issue of conflict. There are two options which will produce very different results:

  1. The Fireman Approach – waiting for a fire and using various techniques of putting out the fire.
  2. The Fire Marshall Approach – identify circumstances which could lead to a fire, and take preemptive action to avoid the fire altogether.

Most people take the first option, waiting for some problem to start working at resolving it. The problem with the Fireman Approach is that you have had a fire. Fires damage things, and sometimes even to the point of total loss. And as with real fires, sometimes the only real solution is that you may have to tear down the complete structure, to be able to build a new one in its place. In human terms, concerning relationships, this means that the couple has a greater chance of ending up in divorce.

Another danger with real fires is that even if the structure itself is not complete destroyed, the loss of personal items, many which will never be replaced, can impose a major emotional trauma on people. Relationships can have the same result; the couple may resolve some traumatic event in their relationship with each other (such as an adulterous affair), and still have linger circumstances which might remain for the duration of their marriage (the loss of full confidence in each other).

Taking the Fireman Approach to a relationship, means that the couple is not willing to commit themselves to the task of learning how to identify possible problems, work out solutions in advance, and then comply with the expectations as agreed. The Fire Marshall Approach requires that type of commitment. A Fire Marshall can inspect a home or building, and identify any situation or circumstance which may possibly lead to a fire, and offer steps which may be taken to avert the possibility of a real fire.

HOW DOES THE FIRE MARSHALL APPROACH WORK?

I call it the Marital Agreement Process.

The idea here is for the couple to identify areas of conflict in the past, and establish agreements that can prevent the same behavior, on the part of both, in the future.

  1. Select an issue, problem or a topic of concern (money issues, relatives, sex, friends, people of the opposite sex, etc.).
  2. Discuss the intended outcome; what you think should happen in that circumstance or situation in the future.
  3. One of you offer a possible solution (I.e. “We could agree to do things this way at those times.”)
  4. If the other disagrees, they should offer a compromise (i.e. “What if we did this instead …?”)
  5. If the first person still is unsure, they could offer another compromise (i.e. “That’s better but I see a problem, what about this…?”)
  6. Once both agree on the intention of the agreement, it needs to be written down on paper.
  7. Once written, someone needs to read it out loud. The purpose is to listen to the words.
  8. Is there a loop-hole somewhere in there?
    1. Are there words that may have different meaning to each of you?
    2. Does the agreement bring up other questions?
    3. Do you both find the agreement acceptable?
    4. Can either of you think of any reasons (good ones) for violating that agreement?
    5. Do both of you give your word that you will comply with this agreement?
  9. If you find any loop-holes, then either change the written agreement until there is no loop-hole, or add an additional agreement that would cover the loop-hole.
  10. If there are any words that could mean different things to each of you, then write down the words and define the meaning that both of you agree upon.
  11. If the written agreement prompt other questions, then either correct the agreement to deal with them, or save them for later to deal with separately.
  12. Do not make any one agreement too long and convoluted. It is better to have several short and to the point statements.
  13. If either of you can think of any (good) reasons for violating any agreement, bring it up now. Later on you will be seen as a liar who should not be trusted.
  14. Once you have reviewed the written agreement, understand it, and agree with it, go on to the next agreement.

Each of you should have their own “copy” of the agreement. Neither of you is responsible for reminding the other of the agreements. Each person is responsible for keeping his or her own word. But, both of you are responsible for imposing consequences on the one who violates an agreement.

The issue is TRUST. The consequence needs to reflect the same. Each time trust is violated the consequence must be bigger and longer lasting than before.

8 Marital Principles That Can Work, Starting Today

Are you struggling with that hard-headed husband who seems to never grow up? Does your wife sometimes make you wish you weren’t married? Does he constantly make promises and then not keep his word? Has she been going on spending binges, when you have bills that have not been paid? Are you unhappy with the way some things are in your marriage? Today you will get answers that CAN force change in your married life, if you’re brave enough to use them.

PRINCIPLE ONE:

IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK, AND IT TAKES TWO TO DESTROY IT.

While it is true that one person can do something that is obvious to hurt their marriage, it is also true that the other person does NOT do something that they could have to keep the bad behavior from continuing.

DOING SOMETHING does NOT mean: crying, nagging, screaming, cussing, locking yourself in your room, praying and praying, wishing things were different, complaining to friends and relatives, lying about what happened,  making excuses for him, hoping things will get better,

Those things may be expressions of your feelings, but they are NOT ACTIONS.

When a wrong is committed, ACTION means you allow the violator to suffer a consequence; see the second principle for more explanation.

THE WRONGDOING OF ONE SPOUSE THE LACK OF ACTION BY THE OTHER
If there has been violence in the marriage for some time That means that the one being violated has NOT called the police, separated and possibly considered divorce
Most of the time when she does call the police She will also be the one who bails him out of jail the next day, and then won’t press charges
If one commits adultery The other will tend to forgive without the violator suffering any real consequence
If one deceives the other (lying, keeping harmful secrets from, doing something that can harm without telling, etc.) The other usually gets mad for a little while and then acts as though nothing happened.
When other people find out that one spouse has been abusive The other will defend the violator, lie to the people, and hide the truth of the abuse.
One of the spouses does not do their part in the care of the home and marriage The other tends to just get angry and nag.
PRINCIPLE TWO:

WHERE THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES, THERE IS PERMISSION

Every time that your spouse does something that is not acceptable, they must suffer a consequence. This will teach them not to repeat the unacceptable behavior.

What is NOT a consequence? What IS a consequence?
Nagging is NOT a consequence. The possibility of really losing something they do not want to lose.
Telling them off is NOT a consequence. If you stop doing something they want you to do (i.e. sex, massaging, paying attention to them).
Crying is NOT a consequence. If you make them do for themselves things you have been doing for them.
Complaining is NOT a consequence. If you separate for a day or two.
Showing them the error of their ways is NOT a consequence. If you separate for a long period of time.
Reminding them is NOT a consequence. A consequence is when someone is about to lose something they do not want to lose if they keep up their unacceptable behavior.
Pouting is NOT a consequence.
Screaming is NOT a consequence. A real consequence has REAL results.
Yelling at them is NOT a consequence. IN OTHER WORDS, A CONSEQUENCE HURTS.
Threatening is NOT a consequence.
PRINCIPLE THREE

PERSONAL BOUNDARIES IN YOUR LIFE WILL PROTECT YOU, AND HELP YOU HAVE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.

A personal boundary is like a rule you give yourself that you will follow if a particular thing happens. Below are examples of personal boundaries:

Personal Boundary The Action I Will Take
If someone cusses in my presence I will leave the area or end the conversation
If my spouse commits adultery I will separate from them until they get counseling and make character changes in themselves
If my spouse physically assaults me (hits) I will call the police and press charges, and will separate from my spouse until they get counseling and make character changes in themselves
If my spouse make fun of my food I will stop cooking until they promise not to do that again
If my spouse promises something and does not keep his or her word I will choose not to trust them again until they prove they will stop lying, and I will stop being intimate with them until then
If someone take advantage of me I will cut off the relationship until they prove (not just say) that they will not repeat their actions
If someone lies to me I will not believe anything that say again, until I see a change in them
If my spouse repeatedly (more than once) hurts my feelings on purpose I may choose to leave home for a day or two, or until he or she apologizes and promises not to do it again.
If I find that my spouse has a friend of the opposite sex that I am not aware of I will consider it the same as adultery and follow the same steps
If I learn that my spouse has committed crimes I will separate from them until they resolve the legal matters.
If my spouse does not want to go to church I will go without them, in obedience to my Lord
IF THIS HAPPENS … I WILL DO THIS …

BOUNDARIES THAT HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES ARE JUST A LOT OF HOT AIR.

PRINCIPLE FOUR

WHERE THERE IS NO VISION (rules, laws etc.), THE PEOPLE ARE UNRESTRAINED

Have clear and written rules for your marriage, home, and children.

Proverbs 29:18 (NASB) “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.”

Everyone and everything that wants to succeed has rules they live by.

WHO ARE THEY? RULES THEY LIVE BY?
Businesses Policies and procedures; employee handbooks; job descriptions
United States of America Constitution of the United States, and Articles of Independence
Society State laws; county regulations; city ordinances
Gangs Gang rules that members have to follow
God His Word; the Bible
Married couples Little to none
Homes rules Little to none
  • Most of society’s problems come from persons who were brought up in homes without clear and fair rules.
  • Most marriages in the United States end up in divorce within two years, due to the lack of clear and understood goals and objectives. Example: If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there.
  • True Marriage and Home rules are written down on paper.

Only a fool argues that you don’t have to write down rules.

  • Businesses do, The USA does, Society does, many gangs do, and especially God did.
  • Everyone and everything that wants to succeed writes down their rules and follows them.
PRINCIPLE FIVE

FOR THE HUSBANDS:

SUBMISSION WORKS BOTH WAYS, BUT THE HUSBAND IS THE EXAMPLE

Ephesians 5:21 (NASB) “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Your wife has the RIGHT to do Anything You Do.

  • If you check out other women, they should be able to check out other men.
  • If you daydream about other women, they should be able to daydream about other men.
  • If you flirt with other women, they should be able to flirt with other men.
  • And so on. Right?

Ephesians 5:23 (NASB) “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”

Ephesians 5:25-28 (NASB) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.”

What does it mean to be the Head of the wife?

  1. You are to serve as her example in everything; 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB) “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

You should be able to say to your wife:

“You have the right to behave like I do, mess up like I do, lie to me if I lie to you, don’t do things for me if I won’t do things for you, don’t give me attention if I don’t give you attention, and don’t show me love if I don’t show you love. Imitate me in the same way that I imitate Christ. If I am just fooling like I’m imitating Christ, then you also have the right to fool me.”

The way in which a husband is subject to his wife is that he makes himself accountable to her to judge his actions, and then for her to make decisions based on those actions.

PRINCIPLE SIX

FOR THE WIVES

TRUE SUBMISSION IS A SPIRITUAL PROTECTION FROM GOD TO YOU

What is submission?

  • Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that a wife is supposed to obey her husband.
  • True submission is when a person already knows what is expected of him or her and goes about doing it without having to be instructed to do so.
  • Waiting until someone tells you to do something is called obedience.
  • While submission is part of obedience, obedience is not part of submission.

Submission is always done to an authority.

  • Submit to your pastor
  • Submit to your leaders.
  • Submit to the elected officials and laws of the United States.
  • Submit to Christ.

If the person violates his authority, he has no authority to which to submit.

  • If a police officer commits a crime, he or she loses their authority as a Peace Officer. We do not have to submit to them.
  • If the husband is fulfilling his authority in Christ by living according to His word, then the wife must submit to her own husband in obedience to God.
  • If the husband violates his authority, then the wife is to obey God and wait until her husband starts to fulfill his authority again.

The mistreatment of the wife.

Malachi 2:13-16 (NASB) “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

God hates the mistreatment of the wife.

A woman is never expected to submit to a man who is violating and mistreating her. But she is instructed to submit (willingly follow and support) her husband who is loving her and caring for her (Ephesians 5:25-28 [NASB]).

PRINCIPLE SEVEN

CHANGE IS NOT CHANGE UNTIL THERE HAS BEEN CHANGE

Women say and men do.

Women tend to express their feelings by verbalizing their emotions concerning things that bother them.

Men tend to express the feelings by acting out and behaving in one manner or another.

  • If a woman tells you that she will change and that she will behave differently, she most likely means it, but she will convince herself that just saying it is the same as doing it.
  • If a man tells you that he will change and that he will behave differently, he most likely knows it is not really the truth, but he wants you to believe it is just because he said so.

The truth is that WORDS CAN BE LIES, BUT THE ACTIONS ARE ALWAYS THE TRUTH.

The truth is in the actions

  • Stop listening to what they say, or what they tell you is true.
  • Pay attention to what they do, and the results of their actions.
  • If your spouse does something new just one time, or a few times, there has still been no change.
  • If your spouse has been doing the new thing for 3 to 6 months consistently, MAYBE then it might mean he or she really is changing. Notice I said changing, not changed.
PRINCIPLE EIGHT

WORDS CAN BE LIES, BUT THEIR ACTIONS ARE ALWAYS TRUE.

Actually, it is the result of their actions that are true.

  • If they promise something and don’t keep their word, they are lying.
  • They say they believe something, but they do the opposite, they are lying.
  • If they say they’ll TRY to keep their word, they are lying.
  • If they actually keep their word, they’re telling the truth.
  • If they actually do what they say they were going to do, they are telling the truth.
  • If they say they believe something and actually live according to that, they are telling the truth.

Don’t get distracted by your spouse’s sincerity. Don’t listen to their words. Watch their actions, that’s where the truth will be found and obvious.

Married Women Dealing With Abuse

By Marisol Lucio

Marisol LucioWhy did I choose this topic?

Though I am not currently married, nor have I ever been, I felt drawn to write on this subject considering that it hits very close to home – with my mom. Also, I was told once that I was starting to take after her,when it came to choosing the guys I would date. The thought of that frightened me. Not because I could end up with an abusive, manipulative, controlling man, but because I could probably become a woman who does not love herself enough to walk away. Since then, the Lord, through professional counseling, has helped me realize and accept who I am in Him and to love myself. Still, it is not an easy subject to write about because I wish mom would stop putting up with what she goes through at times; but she has to make that decision. I cannot do it for her. I want to research and study a bit more on this issue that I may gain knowledge on why many women go through this and why it continues to happen.

The problem

On The Power Of Two website, the author lists 5 types of abuse in marriage along with a description of each. With what I understood from the article, I have listed the types of abuse in 4, with one of them including 2 sub points. The order they are listed in it is also important (to me at least) as the very first one is the most common and obvious in a relationship, but the last 3 are the types of abuse that, with lies, cover ups, and thought-out explanations, can be hidden very well.

Physical Abuse – This type of abuse is the one that is obvious as most of its results are visible. A woman could lie that she fell down the stairs and so forth, but in reality, it could be the many beatings she receives from her husband. This is sometimes also called, domestic violence. Physical abuse also includes, abandoning you in dangerous places, driving at high speeds or toying with dangerous situations to intimidate you, refusing to help you when sick or withholding aid when sick, injured or pregnant.

Verbal Abuse – This type of abuse is one that in my opinion, many women condone. Why do I think that? Because for them the lie could be “Well, at least he did not hit me; he just cursed at me?” or “Even though he calls me names, he has never hit me before.” Demands, insults, humiliating comments in public or private, hurtful jokes, name calling, belittling, swearing, questioning your sanity, or ridiculing your opinions or desires are still forms of abuse even if they do not lay a finger on you.

Psychological Abuse – I have chosen this one as a third type of abuse even though it includes a bit of verbal abuse as well. Let me explain. As with verbal abuse, psychological abuse uses words but, in my opinion, these serve a specific purpose for the man. that of controlling the woman’s emotions and behavior.

Controlling Emotions – the man may use guilt, criticism, anger or manipulation in order to degrade the victim, even constant cheating (adultery). Why? He does so to hurt her and makes her comply with what he wants.

Controlling Behavior – the man makes demands on her regarding her friends, their finances and activities; he will keep her isolated, to lower her self-esteem, and in this way he becomes the only person in her world. He will succeed in controlling her behavior by threats, anger and criticism.

Sexual Abuse – A woman, who probably already suffers from any of the types of abuse listed above, may be unaware that sexual abuse is possible in her marriage. I say that she is probably unaware, because if her husband manipulates her with words, then he could probably come to the point where he manipulates her to have sex, forcing her, even if she does not want it. Unwanted or forced sex, withholding sex, forced engagement in any sexual activity that hurts or frightens the woman, refusing to practice safe sex, preventing her from taking birth control, or making decisions about pregnancy and abortion, are forms of sexual abuse.

What is the problem actually?

Mr. Roy Gomez, from his lesson on Love, Trust and Respect quoted: “You don’t put up with their disrespect because you love them, you put up with it because you don’t love yourself enough to leave.” I believe that this is one of the reasons, if not the core reason, why many women find themselves in an abusive marriage.

Because she has not yet seen herself as a valuable person, the woman may stay tolerating the abuse by believing some lies in her head:

-If I confront him or report him, I will be alone because he will leave.
-How will I make it by myself and with the children (if any are involved)?
-I cannot leave him, who will do this or that for him.
-This is my fault, I deserve the abuse.
-What will people say if they find out?
-This is normal, it happened to my parents.
-He is all I have.
-I love him, I believe he will change.
-If I report him, everything will change.

The Love Is Respect website says that people who have never encountered abuse in marriage often wonder why the person just does not leave. Again, because of the lies that the woman may believe and her not loving herself enough to leave, it is more complicated than it seems.

Why it happens

The article Fatherless Women: What happens to the adult woman who was raised without her father? says, “Optimally, a little girl needs to see herself reflected in the love she sees for herself in her father’s eyes. This is how she develops self confidence and self esteem. This is how she develops a healthy familiarity with what a positive expression of love feels like. This is how she develops an appreciation for her own looks, her own body. This is how she develops what Jungians would call her ‘animus,’ her counter-sexual self; her masculine self, which will help her be proactive, productive, and creative in the outer world as she grows into adulthood.”

I found it necessary to quote verbatim from the article due to how it pinpoints exactly what I see happening in my mother’s life. I could have not put it into better words, but she grew up away from her dad since the age of 5, and was raised by her grandmother. I can now see that her married life is the perfect imagery to the above quote.

A woman who did not have a father (for whatever reason) to show her what love really is (which is an action), and with that same love to help her build her confidence,  this will push her to find her worth in a man. Her perception of a loving relationship may become so distorted, to the point that she could potentially be attracted to the type of man that is controlling and abusive. This could be directly due to the fact that her father was not there to guide her. She may not know how a man is supposed to treat a woman, so in her mind this is all she knows to expect of a husband (abusive, control, “he is the head of the house.”). She does not have enough self-confidence, nor loves herself, so therefore she does not have the will power to walk away.

To whom it happens

Though the paragraphs above describe abuse regarding married women in general, I want to focus this portion on one specific group: Hispanic married women.

Based on what I have seen in my parents’ marriage, I can attest that it is not only in their relationship that abuse happens, but in many other Hispanic marriages I know of or have known. It is almost like a tradition, or a type of generational curse (for lack of a better word), that abuse in Hispanic married women happens.

The notion is that the Hispanic (especially the Mexican) man is the “Macho man.” According to Wikipedia, a macho man or machismo, in this culture, is a concept that is associated with men and their masculine pride, with the supreme valuation of characteristics associated to the men and a denigration of characteristics associated to the women.

The Hispanic women, whom I have met, or am related to, seem to have this idea. Even though they might not grasp the actual concept of what a macho man is, their idea is this: He is the head of the house, it goes as he says, and/or I cannot do anything without him. This type of woman will be under his control. Because of this concept (or lie), the abuse continues from generation to generation. It stays within the family; the great-grand mother, who became the other woman, and had 8 children put up with abuse, until the man left her. One of her daughters married, then later was cheated on by her husband who left with one of her own sisters. Those two had children but the man sexually molested one daughter and impregnated her.

Another one of the grand-mother’s daughters also married, and was left alone with child. One of the sons, of the great-grandmother, married and had 3 children of his own, his wife died 4 years into the marriage and he remarried leaving his children with his mom. Because he was hardly ever there for his children, the eldest became pregnant out of wed-lock, in hopes that her soon-to-be-husband would continue a loving man, as he was when they were dating. She now suffers verbal abuse (to my knowledge), and does not seem to have the willingness to get out. One of her daughters seems to be suffering some of the same type of abuse from her husband.

These people from the example above are all relatives of mine, and this is only on my mother’s side of the family (not counting my father’s side). It has become a tradition, or a generational curse, to put up with abuse, whichever type it has been.

Why it continues in someone’s life

Abuse continues in a married woman’s life because of the lies she believes, or the truth she has never heard, seen or even gotten the courage to accept.

Quoting from Pastor Juan Perez’s Counseling Principles:

“People do what they do, because they believe what they believe.”  A woman who puts up with abuse from her husband believes the lies listed above (and sometimes many more), therefore the abuse continues.

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten”  The problem continues because she makes no changes, and if nothing changes the abuse will continue to get worse.

“Change is not change until there has been change” The woman can tell herself that she intends to leave, that she intends to put a stop to it; that she is tired and fed up, but until she acts on it, the abuse will continue.

“Where there is no consequence, there is permission” The woman’s inaction will prompt the man to continue the abuse; making it more difficult for her to get out, and easier for him to control.

And, just as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, married women deal with abuse and it continues in their lives because “they do not love themselves enough to leave.”

Works Cited

(n.a) Should I leave him? How to identify abusive relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.poweroftwomarriage.com/info/abusive-relationships/

(n.a.) Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships? – www.loveisrespect.org. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay/

(n.a.) Fatherless Women: What Happens to the Adult Woman who was Raised Without her Father?

(n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from http://www.trans4mind.com/ counterpoint/index-happiness-wellbeing/kortsch4.shtml

Marisol Lucio is a counselor-in-training, She is two months away from completing her training and requirements to be certified as a Faith-Based Christian Counselor. 

Godly Love versus Human Love in Marriage

As a counselor, I have worked with many couples in my 28 years in this ministry. One thing I have learned that is the source of many conflicts between them is the mistaken idea of what they believe love means. When someone uses the word “love,” they are actually saying many other things. Let’s look at a list of the things the word could mean to different people:

  1. I want you in my life.
  2. I need you in my life.
  3. I want you to be mine.
  4. I want you to be with me alone.
  5. I want you to be the father/mother of my children.
  6. I want to grow old with you.
  7. I don’t want someone else to have you.
  8. I don’t want someone else to take you away from me.
  9. You make me feel good about myself.
  10. I am happy when you are around.
  11. I can’t live without you.
  12. I don’t want to live without you.
  13. When you are not with me I feel sad or angry.

What is the common denominator in all of the above statements? Yes, it is all about the speaker (I, me, my, and mine). Notice none of the statement say, “I want to do what is in your best interest, even if you reject me.” Human love is, by its nature, selfish. This is why two persons will start off liking each other in a relationship, and can end up hating each other in the end. They may claim to have loved each other at some time, but the “love” they had was a human one, flawed and selfish. The truth is that many couples do not really know true love.

Their love is more easily defined in the term “fifty-fifty,” where each are expected to do their part. The problem is that too often they don’t know what their part is, and secondly, they are only doing their “part” of it. Human love can better be understood this way: “I will try to do my part (whatever it is that I think or believe I am supposed to do), but I will expect you to do the right things all the time (whatever I think or believe you are supposed to do). The truth is that many couples just do not know what love really is, and therefore have unrealistic expectations as to what their partners are supposed to be doing, much less themselves.

As a counselor you run into these situations constantly. One of the pair will argue that the other is failing in their responsibilities, but will, at the same time, overlook their own indiscretions when it comes to marital responsibilities. Each will be adamant that they understand what love means, but will also spout selfish expectations which place the greater responsibility on their partner to fulfill their part (whatever that may be). As well, each will use the word “love” in inappropriate and confusing ways. For example, a client of mine, a woman, told me that she called the police when her husband assaulted her, then, she said, because she went to jail and paid for his bond to have him released. She said that she did this because she “loves” her husband. The husband went home with her and assaulted her again for calling the police to begin with. Was that really “love” on her part, or stupidity? Another example, a male client told me that he “forgave” his wife after she had committed adultery, and did not impose a consequence on her for her discretion, because he “loves” her. Six months later she was caught texting with another man about getting together with him. Was that “love” or stupidity?

Once a couple gets to my office, they have reached a point of concern which demonstrates to me that they do not know what love really means. The sad truth I seem to confront over and over is that these two people don’t even know how to love themselves, much less know how to love someone else. I don’t mean they don’t care about others, I agree that they do. They care about their children, they care (to a point) about their spouse and marriage, they care about many things, but caring about something is not the same as love. The two words do not have the same meaning.

I had one wife who came to see me because she wanted to divorce her husband. She kept saying she still loved him, but did not want to be with him anymore. After a couple of sessions she came to understand that what she felt was not actually love. She cared about him. She understood that she was going to hurt him with the divorce, and she felt “sorry” for that, but she did not want to be with him anymore. She did not love him, she only cared somewhat.

Human love in marriage, dating, and other similar type of relationships, usually means, “You belong to me. I should be able to do whatever I want, and you should accept me the way I am without trying to change me!”

In the following pages, I have included a chart which demonstrates the differences between human love and Godly love. I have defined the terms from the point of view of marriage, and other similar relationships. When reading it, you should not conclude that I am saying that one hundred percent of all married people always behave the way I have listed below. The chart can be better used as a guide when dealing with a couple, or even if you are just counseling one of the two. You can use the chart to help the person (or couple) to understand the difference between what they believe to be love, and what God says is love.

Your goal needs to be to help them compare their own actions, behavior, and decisions regarding their relationship, and the problem encountered, and not for judging their partner. This can help them make some decisions which can have the capability of causing change in their relational circumstances, even hard, difficult, and painful decisions.

Remember, we don’t put up with their disrespect because we “love” them, we put up with it because we don’t love ourselves enough to walk away.

 Chart - page 1

Chart - page 2


 

My Spouse’s Relationship with our Children

The Classic Problem:

Julie and Tony have been having many arguments concerning the children. Julie insists that Tony must spend more time with the children. Tony argues that he spends as much time with them as he is able, seeing as how he works all day and comes home tired. He argues that he makes time on weekends when it is possible. Julie accuses Tony of not loving the children enough to make a real effort. Tony feels that Julie is completely unfair.

What is really happening here?

(The “key words” are emphasized)

  • Is Tony not spending any time with his children? Of course he spends some time with them (movies, meal times, watching TV, and so on).
  • Have the children been complaining that Tony is not spending time with them?
  • If they have, did they confronted Tony, or have they only complained to Julie?
  • Does Julie feel her children are being neglected (as in, mistreated) by Tony’s lack of attention?
  • Is Tony a bad father because he chooses to spend time with his children when he can, and is not worn out from work?

What are the arguments?

Julie argues that she is with them all day and that he must help her in the evenings. What is he really saying? Is she saying that:

  1. She spends all day with the children paying attention to them, playing and having fun with them, or,
  2. That she is with them all day long, feeding them, bathing them, teaching them, washing the clothes, cleaning the house, buying the groceries, tending to the children’s needs, like a job?

Is she is saying the first, that all she does all day is have fun with the children to keep them happy doing what they want to do? If this is true, then she would never have time for shopping, paying bills, washing clothes, and so on. Is this what she is arguing, that Tony spend all day playing and having fun with the children?

Is she saying the second, that she is busy working all day, and that she has to have the children with her at all times? Running a household without children is hard enough. Dealing with children while doing the household duties, such as washing clothes, makes the chore harder. Needing to go out of the house to handle an important matter (or just to buy the groceries), can become a major project. No wonder why many stay home parents feel worn out by the end of the day. Think about it, the parent who outside the home gets worn out and tired and wants to come home and rest, not keep on going and “spending time” with the children doing more activities. But, the parent who works in the home is not able to “leave” work and go somewhere and rest from a day’s work. Usually the “work outside the home” parent feels that they work hard, and that the “work in the home” parent has it easy, and should not complain about being tired.

The truth is that they both work hard, and that they both deserve time off from activities, to rest. The problem in Julie and Tony’s case is that they have not worked out a compromise of sorts which would allow both of them to have some times to themselves, on occasion. Each is convinced that the other should, must, or ought, to just understand and do the right thing: make life easier for me!

What about other circumstances?

Blended families are another source of conflict when it comes to children getting “attention.” The syndrome is usually obvious in the terms the parents use for the children. For example, If Julie had Bobby, her 12 year old son, from a previous marriage, she will usually refer to him as my son when arguing with Tony over whether Toby is spending “time” or “paying attention” to Bobby. At other times, she will use the “our” son term, because it will suit her better.

As an example, If Julie were to complain to Tony that:

  1. He was not treating Bobby the “same way” as the children who were born from both of them, or,
  2. That Tony was not treating Bobby, like he does his own daughter (from a previous marriage), who also lives with the couple.

The question here is that of fairness. Are the children being treated “fairly” by both adults? The answer is not as simple as saying “yes” or “no.” What is “fair” to one of them may not seem to be “fair” to the other. There are instances where the child involved is just not interested in establishing a “good” relationship with the step-parent. The efforts of the step parent may be ignored or reject, regardless of how much effort they exert in trying to make the relationship with the child better.

At the same time, no matter how “unfair” it may seem, emotions will play a big part in the relationship between children and step-parents. For example, let’s say that Bobby’s real father is the source of constant problem. Let’s say that Julie and Bobby’s father end up arguing over child support, or other similar complaints. Let’s also say that when Tony tries to defend or support Julie that Bobby sees this as Tony attacking his father, and resents Tony. Children will often ignore the wrong their parents do, just so they can keep the relationship. In this case Tony will also start to resent Bobby. He will, if at all, make only half-hearted attempts at establishing a “good” relationship with Bobby. The question, again, is how hard should a parent try to improve a relationship with a child who just does not want the relationship at all?

Do some people treat their own “blood related” children better than other children? Of course, that is just being a normal human. Treating other children “like as if they were yours” is when the human goes beyond fair expectations. The adults in these cases are being asked to do something that is contrary to the basic human nature which is to look out for what is ours. The step-parents who achieve this level of maturity are like heroes. Like “heroes” because they go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Let’s consider what is fair and unfair when it comes to a step-parent. Is it fair to expect a step-parent to:

  1. Love their step-child exactly like their own blood-related children?
  2. To develop and have good feelings about a step-child who does not want the relationship, and will make no effort to reciprocate the feelings?
  3. To want to spend time with a step-child who does not care?
  4. To keep on trying, over and over, no matter how much the step-child rebuts the step-parents efforts?
  5. To not let the rejections of the step-child hurt the step-parents feelings?
  6. And so forth.

The parent, which is related to the child by blood, will struggle understanding why the step-parent is having so much trouble loving the child. Except for those “hero” type step-parents, the all others are normal people who may make real effort to “love” another person’s child, but will fall short.

 What Might Be The Real Problem?

I cannot say that I have covered every exiting problematic circumstance above, regarding step-parents and step children, and parents and their blood related children, in reference to parents spending time with their children. We still need to consider other factors. We have to wonder what may be the real problem. Sometimes people do not find the right answers because they do not ask the right questions.

Let’s ask a few questions which may have some bearing on this issue:

  1. What are the real motivations of the blood-related parent for admonishing the step-parent in regards to spending time, or getting along with, the step-child?
  2. Is the blood-related parent being fair in his or her expectation of what should be happening between the step-parent and the child?
  3. Is it possible that the blood-related parent is struggling with past childhood traumas which are influencing his or her present day concerns regarding the child and the step-parent?

The idea of past childhood traumas interfering with present day concerns is a real probability which needs to be considered. Often-times a mother who was a victim of childhood mistreatment, or even abuse, will tend to relate her own unhealthy childhood circumstances with the present day events regarding her child and the step-parent, her husband. She may be associating the circumstances to the point that she starts believing that her child is being “abused,” because the step-parent is not “loving” the child in exactly the same manner as she, and that it seems to be on purpose.

In this case the mother may be regressing to an earlier emotional state and reliving some of the past trauma vicariously through her child. Abuse is wrong, it is always wrong, and if we decide that someone is being abusive we tend to become angry. And, if abuse is actually occurring, the abusive parent must be confronted and corrected, to the point of imposing serious consequences on that person. But, too often in these cases, abuse is not the issue, it is often that the step-parent is a normal human being who, selfishly, has trouble “loving” the child of another. Selfishness is not abuse, it is better equated with immaturity. More often the step-parent who has trouble relating to a step-child is plainly immature.

Immaturity cannot be resolved through confronting the person and insisting that they “love” someone even if the other person does not want to “love” them back. The wife who becomes angry and badgers her husband to “love,” or “spend time with,” her blood-related child will continue to be frustrated because the relationship depends on several factors. Let’s look at some here:

  1. Most important of all, the child has to want the relationship as well. Keep in mind that the children’s opinion rarely helps their parent decide who they will choose to marry. Many times the parent will marry the step-parent while the children are very young. As the children grow, they can become bitter and unhappy as they learn that one of their natural parents is not in the picture. They can resent that the parent left, or died, and they may start to focus their anger on the step-parent.
  2. The step-parent did not seriously consider the responsibilities which come with marrying a person with children. Immaturity will lead a person to believe lies. Everyone knows that child grow up, but the immature person will fantasize living with their new spouse, who has children, and thinking that things will always be the way they are at the present. They will not consider that when these kids grow up things may take a bad turn. They will fantasize that they will win the hearts of the children, and just “love” them the way they would their own children. The truth is that if you have never had your own child, you do not have the capacity to compare how you would treat other children, as compared to how you would treat your own. It is those people who have had their own children who then can, as it were, possibly transfer their “love” to another. And, even then, that is no guaranty that they actually will be able.
  3. The step-parent really is giving the relationship with the step-child as much effort as they know how. The blood-related parent may be judging the step-parent’s efforts based on how they (the blood-related parent) believe they would be behaving under the same circumstances. They may be thinking, “If I can love my own child, and if I believe that I could love the child of another, then my spouse must do the same with my child.” Notice that the word chosen was “my” instead of “our.”
  4. Many times the child do not grow to “love” the step-parent. They don’t have to, and if they are pressured into doing so they will likely rebel. There are times when even blood related parents and children do not turn out to like each other, and sometimes they even choose not to love each other. To expect children to have to “love” their step-parent is wrong. It must remain their own choice. The step-parent should either make an effort to establish a good and healthy relationship with their step-children, but they should not impose themselves on the parent.
  5. Sometimes, the step-child and the step-parent are just comfortable with the way things are, and it is the blood-related parent who is all bent out of shape over the circumstances. People need to be able to develop personal relationship on their own accord. This means that step parents and children should be allowed to handle their own relationship, without the blood-related parent interfering and causing problems for them.

These are just some examples of circumstances which the blood-related parent must consider in determining her role in trying to get the step-father and the child to have a “better” relationship.

What Was The Expectation?

When the couple got married they made certain promises before the minister:

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”

Notice that nowhere in those vows does it say or even imply that the person promises, acknowledges, or even understands, that they will have to make a concerted effort to “get along with,” “love,” or “spend time with” the children of the spouse. The person who argues that this is just understood when you marry someone with children is just fooling him or herself. They are forgetting the main culprit here, maturity. It takes maturity to consider things that are not, at the moment, apparent. It takes maturity to consider how I will feel about someone else’s children five years from now, if things turn out bad, if the children hate me, and so on.

So What Is The Answer?

Unfortunately, there is no easy and quick answer. But there are things which must be understood which may, at the very least, not make things worse. Let’s explore them here:

  1. Give both your child and your spouse the time and opportunity to either try or not try to establish a relationship. It must be something that comes forth from them, not you. If things work out okay, they will give the credit to their efforts, but if things turn out bad, and you were the catalyst, you will be blamed by both sides.
  2. Understand that your spouse may still be immature in this area of their lives. While this is not an excuse for not trying, you cannot force maturity on anyone. The harder you try to impose maturity on someone, the harder they will fight it. You will only succeed in damaging your relationship with the immature person (spouse or child) and may damage it to the point which will be beyond repair.
  3. Take your spouse (and maybe child) to parenting seminars. Let someone else say all those things which you want to tell your loved ones. This way if the spouse or child gets angry at the words, they won’t associate those words with you. On top of that, the speakers at these events won’t be personally involved and get all emotional about the circumstances. Your spouse or child may even listen and agree with them.
  4. Invite your spouse to consider going to counseling to examine why they might be having trouble with developing a relationship with their step-children. In marriage, many times the “me” issues interfere with the “we’ issues of the marriage. The same can be true of the relationship between a child and the step-parent. Counseling may help the step-parent understand some of the trouble or reluctance in working out a healthy relationship with the child of another person.
  5. Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never argue with your spouse in front of the children (or where they can hear your arguing). This will only serve to earn their disrespect for you as well. Take him or her into a private room and share your feelings about how you believe that he or she might handle the relationship with the child. But, once you have giving them your opinion, leave it alone. They do not have to agree with you. Their relationship with the children is their business, not yours. While is it appropriate for a husband or wife to confront their spouse in an adult manner over any subject, it is not okay for a spouse to start attempting to parent their spouse. This will only serve to produce a wedge between you both, which will also widen as the arguments continue. You will come out of that situation bitter, frustrated, and angry, and nowhere nearer accomplishing the goal you intended. Your goal is not to work out their relationship for them, your goal must be available for either of them should they ask for help.

The relationship between your children and their mom or dad is none of your business!

Ouch, that hurt, right? But, it is true. Whether they work it out or not is their business alone. Your job is not to interfere with the success or failure. This is not to be interpreted as meaning that you do not step in when something is going wrong. Neither the parent nor the child have the right to harm each other physically over their disagreements, but whether they have arguments should be their business. Along with this, neither of them must be allowed to violate the rules (or expected decorum of the home). For example, is the child disrespects the step-parent, this must not be allowed by the blood-related parent. As well, mistreatment by the step parent must be confronted and stopped. The blood-related parent must be careful in these circumstances not to cross the line from protecting both the child and spouse to the point of trying to control them and their relationship. This “control” may seem appropriate to the blood-related parent, but it could, at the same time, become the main source of division between the child and the step-parent. Protecting them is a good thing, but attempting to eliminate all conflict is bad.

Conflict is the tool of change. People make changes, compromises, and adaptations based on the outcome of conflict. Without conflict, things will remain the same forever. Stale relationships are just not interesting, nor do they prompt the person to improve the circumstances. Conflict will bring change, sometimes what we want, and sometimes what we do not want. The conflict between your child and spouse will produce a change. What the change will be will be dependent on some of the factors described in this article.

Finally, I will end this discourse with a simple but powerful Word from our Lord. Trust the Lord (by obeying His Word) with all your heart (that He will work in the lives of your spouse and children), do not lean to your own understanding (and try to force things to happen a certain way, because you feel that they must), in all your ways (especially in how you behave toward your spouse and child) acknowledge Him (know that He is there), and He will make your path (your life) straight (easier to handle)” – Proverbs 3:5-6.

Resolución de Conflictos, ¿Antes o Después?

Conflictos se resuelven mejor cuando dos personas son capaces de comunicar sus preocupaciones individualmente y en conjunto y son capaces de llegar a compromisos que trabajan a favor de la relación. La pregunta es, “¿Quiero ganar yo, o quiero que ganemos los dos?”

La diferencia se demuestra por el enfoque que una persona toma cuando se trata de la cuestión del conflicto. Hay dos opciones que producirán resultados muy diferentes:

1. El Enfoque de Bombero – esperar un incendio y usar diversas técnicas para apagar el fuego.

2. El Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos – identificar las circunstancias que podrían dar lugar a un incendio, y tomar medidas preventivas para evitar el fuego por completo.

La mayoría de la gente toma la primera opción, esperan que ocurra un problema para empezar a trabajar en la resolución de la misma. El problema con el Enfoque de Bombero es que usted ha tenido un incendio. Los incendios dañan las cosas, e incluso a veces hasta el punto de pérdida total. Y al igual que con los incendios reales, a veces la única solución es que puede que tenga que derribar la estructura completamente, para poder a construir una nueva en su lugar. En términos humanos, refiriéndose a las relaciones, esto significa que la pareja tiene una mayor probabilidad de terminar en divorcio.

Otro peligro con fuegos reales es que incluso si la estructura en sí no está completamente destruida, la pérdida de objetos personales, muchos que nunca serán reemplazados, puede imponer un mayor trauma emocional en la persona. Las relaciones pueden tener el mismo resultado; la pareja puede resolver algún evento traumático en su relación (por ejemplo, una relación adúltera), y aun así todavía pueden persistir circunstancias que podrían permanecer durante la duración de su matrimonio (la pérdida de la plena confianza en sí).

Tomando el Enfoque de Bombero a una relación, significa que la pareja no está dispuesta a comprometerse en la tarea de aprender a identificar los posibles problemas, elaborar soluciones de antemano, y luego cumplir con las expectativas según lo acordado. El Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos requiere ese tipo de compromiso. Un Jefe de bomberos puede inspeccionar una casa o edificio, e identificar cualquier situación o circunstancia que, posiblemente, puede dar lugar a un incendio, y ofrecer medidas que pueden tomarse para evitar la posibilidad de un incendio real.

¿CÓMO FUNCIONA EL ENFOQUE DE JEFE DE BOMBEROS?

Yo lo llamo el Proceso de Acuerdo Matrimonial.

La idea aquí es que la pareja identifique las áreas de conflicto en el pasado, y que establezca acuerdos que puedan evitar el mismo comportamiento, en la parte de ambos, en el futuro.

1. Seleccione un tema, un problema, o un tema de preocupación (problemas de dinero, familiares, sexo, amigos, personas del sexo opuesto, etc.).

2. Hablen sobre el resultado deseado; lo que piensan que debería ocurrir en esas circunstancias o situaciones en el futuro.

3. Uno de ustedes ofrezca una posible solución (por ejemplo: “Podríamos estar de acuerdo en hacer las cosas de esta manera en esos momentos”).

4. Si la otra persona no está de acuerdo con la solución ofrecida, él o ella deberían ofrecer un compromiso (es decir, “¿Qué pasa si lo hacemos en este modo…?”).

5. Si la primera persona todavía no está segura, él o ella puede ofrecer otro compromiso (es decir, “Eso es mejor, pero veo un problema, “¿Qué pasa si hacemos eso, pero con este cambio…?”).

6. Cuando ambos lleguen a un acuerdo, y sean claros en la intención de lo mismo, se tiene que ser escrito en un papel.

7. Ya que sea escrita, alguien debe leer el acuerdo en voz alta. El objetivo es escuchar las palabras.

a. ¿Hay partes del acuerdo que se le puede tomar ventaja o abusar?
b. ¿Hay palabras que pueden tener un significado diferente para cada uno de ustedes?
c. ¿Causa este acuerdo que piensen de otras preguntas?
d. ¿Está el acuerdo aceptable?
e. ¿Puede alguno de ustedes pensar en cualquier razón (buena) para violar este acuerdo?
f. ¿Dan ambos su palabra que cumplirán con este acuerdo?

8. Si encuentran algunos problemas con el acuerdo, entonces cambien el acuerdo escrito hasta que no haiga escapatoria, o añaden un acuerdo adicional que cubra la escapatoria.

9. Si hay palabras que pueden significar cosas diferentes para cada uno de ustedes, entonces escriban las palabras y definan el sentido de ellas en un modo que ambos puedan estar de acuerdo.

10. Si el acuerdo escrito trae a mente otras preguntas, entonces o corrige el acuerdo para tratar con ellas, o guardarlas para más tarde para incluirlas en otros acuerdos.

11. No hagan un acuerdo demasiado largo y complicado. Es mejor tener varios acuerdos cortos y puntuales.

12. Si uno de ambos puede pensar en cualquier (buena) razón para violar cualquier acuerdo, se debe mencionar en este momento, si no usted se verá como un mentiroso que no se le debe confiar.

13. Cuando acaben de revisar el acuerdo escrito, lo entienden, y están de acuerdo con él, vayan al siguiente acuerdo.

Cada uno debe tener su propia “copia” del acuerdo. Ninguno de ustedes es responsable de recordarle a su pareja de los acuerdos. Cada persona es responsable por mantener su propia palabra. Pero, ambos son responsables de imponer consecuencias sobre el que viola un acuerdo.

El tema es LA CONFIANZA. La consecuencia debe reflejar lo mismo. Cada vez que se viola la confianza, la consecuencia debe ser más grande y más duradera que antes.

Si ustedes, como pareja, crean unos acuerdos, y los siguen sin excepción, ustedes van a evitar muchas situaciones en el futuro, que en el pasado resultaron en argumentos y peor. Esto es el Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos.

Conflict Resolution, Before or After?

Conflict is best resolved when two persons are able to communicate their separate concerns and together are able to reach compromises which work in the favor of the relationship. The question is, “Do I want to win, or do I want us to win?”

The difference is demonstrated by the approach that a person takes, when dealing with the issue of conflict. There are two options which will produce very different results:

1. The Fireman Approach – waiting for a fire and using various techniques of putting out the fire.

2. The Fire Marshall Approach – identify circumstances which could lead to a fire, and take preemptive action to avoid the fire altogether.

Most people take the first option, waiting for some problem to start working at resolving it. The problem with the Fireman Approach is that you have had a fire. Fires damage things, and sometimes even to the point of total loss. And as with real fires, sometimes the only real solution is that you may have to tear down the complete structure, to be able to build a new one in its place. In human terms, concerning relationships, this means that the couple has a greater chance of ending up in divorce.

Another danger with real fires is that even if the structure itself is not complete destroyed, the loss of personal items, many which will never be replaced, can impose a major emotional trauma on people. Relationships can have the same result; the couple may resolve some traumatic event in their relationship with each other (such as an adulterous affair), and still have linger circumstances which might remain for the duration of their marriage (the loss of full confidence in each other).

Taking the Fireman Approach to a relationship, means that the couple is not willing to commit themselves to the task of learning how to identify possible problems, work out solutions in advance, and then comply with the expectations as agreed. The Fire Marshall Approach requires that type of commitment. A Fire Marshall can inspect a home or building, and identify any situation or circumstance which may possibly lead to a fire, and offer steps which may be taken to avert the possibility of a real fire.

HOW DOES THE FIRE MARSHALL APPROACH WORK?

I call it the Marital Agreement Process.

The idea here is for the couple to identify areas of conflict in the past, and establish agreements that can prevent the same behavior, on the part of both, in the future.

1. Select an issue, problem or a topic of concern (money issues, relatives, sex, friends, people of the opposite sex, etc.).

2. Discuss the intended outcome; what you think should happen in that circumstance or situation in the future.

3. One of you offer a possible solution (I.e. “We could agree to do things this way at those times.”)

4. If the other disagrees, they should offer a compromise (i.e. “What if we did this instead …?”)

5. If the first person still is unsure, they could offer another compromise (i.e. “That’s better but I see a problem, what about this…?”)

6. Once both agree on the intention of the agreement, it needs to be written down on paper.

7. Once written, someone needs to read it out loud. The purpose is to listen to the words.

a. Is there a loop-hole somewhere in there?
b. Are there words that may have different meaning to each of you?
c. Does the agreement bring up other questions?
d. Do you both find the agreement acceptable?
e. Can either of you think of any reasons (good ones) for violating that agreement?
f. Do both of you give your word that you will comply with this agreement?

8. If you find any loop-holes, then either change the written agreement until there is no loop-hole, or add an additional agreement that would cover the loop-hole.

9. If there are any words that could mean different things to each of you, then write down the words and define the meaning that both of you agree upon.

10. If the written agreement prompt other questions, then either correct the agreement to deal with them, or save them for later to deal with separately.

11. Do not make any one agreement too long and convoluted. It is better to have several short and to the point statements.

12. If either of you can think of any (good) reasons for violating any agreement, bring it up now. Later on you will be seen as a liar who should not be trusted.

13. Once you have reviewed the written agreement, understand it, and agree with it, go on to the next agreement.

Each of you should have their own “copy” of the agreement. Neither of you is responsible for reminding the other of the agreements. Each person is responsible for keeping his or her own word. But, both of you are responsible for imposing consequences on the one who violates an agreement.

The issue is TRUST. The consequence needs to reflect the same. Each time trust is violated the consequence must be bigger and longer lasting than before.

If you, as a couple, create a set of agreements, and follow them without exception, you will avoid many future situations which in the past have resulted in arguments and worse. This is the Fire Marshall Approach.

Pre-Marital Counseling Format

Introduction

The purpose of this course is to acquaint the counselor with the tools used in pre-marital counseling.  This course is intended to be used as a stepping stone to knowledge, not an all-inclusive/comprehensive reference.

In counseling couples before marriage, the counselor should be prayed up and willing to listen to both the couple and the Lord.  It is important that the counselor be willing to listen and help the couple understand the step they are about to take.  Premarital counseling should always touch on each subject, with the couple gaining an understanding of what a marriage is.  Many problems that occur in marriages today occur because of lack of premarital counseling.

Anyone who wishes to become a premarital counselor should understand the importance of the above.  As more couples are counseled, marriages will be stronger and will last.  As more marriages last, the church will be that much stronger, and the Lord will be glorified in this.

Premarital counseling should be at least 4-5 sessions long.  That way, you as a counselor can be able to go over all the points needed to and also be able to see if more counseling, either one on one or as a couple is needed.

There are three crucial areas that cause difficulties in a marriage.

Money

How much debt is okay? Who handles the finances? Do you have two accounts?  How will this be settled before the wedding?  How much will you be able to keep before putting together for bills?  And so on.

Responsibilities

Will both work? If both work, who cleans?  Who takes out the trash?  Dishes?  Household responsibilities? Who dals with the kids? Who makes the “final” decision? And so on.

Sex

How much?  What is acceptable? When may it be withheld? And so on.

 

Benefits of premarital counseling:

Counseling brings reality to unrealistic expectations.  (People often assume their relationship is unique and will not encounter marital problems)

Counseling helps uncover immaturity in one or both of the partners that can spell disaster to the marriage.  Your counsel can facilitate the revelation and discussion of the self-centered tendencies that strain a marriage.

Counseling helps define each individual’s responsibility in the marriage relationship.

Counseling encourages healthy, Godly patterns in the couple’s communication style.

Counseling helps the couple understand the role of sex in the overall meaning of marriage.

Counseling helps a couple know what to expect as they adjust to married life.

Counseling highlights unaddressed issues from families of origin or previous marriages.

Counseling directly addresses serious problems that are likely to destabilize the marriage.

 

For the counselor:

Your approach to premarital sessions should be interactive. This is not a time for lecturing, though there will be opportunity for you to share truths from Scripture and personal experience. Send the couple home from each counseling session with “homework” to do.  This will make the counseling discussions more meaningful and allow you to cover more ground in the time you have together. Emphasize to the couple that you take premarital counseling seriously and that it is not just another motion to go through on the way to the altar. And yet, don’t forget to have fun. A little humor can help even the healthiest couple with the stresses of engagement and wedding planning.

Many couples tend to resist premarital counseling. Their unrealistic view of their ability to survive normal marriage challenges makes them feel invincible.  Encourage their commitment to each other while discouraging unrealistic expectations of marriage. Be willing to set goals for each couple, as well as use homework to help guide the counselee’s towards a better, realistic view of marriage. The Boundaries series of books is excellent material for them to read.

Remember:

People do the things they do, because they believe the things they believe.

 

How many sessions and for how long?

As for the length of counseling sessions, it should be four to five.  One or two will not give the counselor a chance to know all necessary to guide effectively, while more than five will usually just get redundant.  Most premarital counseling programs recommend five sessions.  This would give the counselor enough to complete some measurement instruments and thoroughly discuss them and enough to discuss key areas of married life. As well, each session should last between one and a half hours to two hours.

 

Get to know your counselees. 

Are they saved?  If so, are they serving the Lord?

All counseling should always lead the counselees to a closer relationship to Jesus.  This primary question will always guide you to a better understanding of the direction to go with the counseling sessions.

What is the basic history of the relationship?

This is important because it will guide you into knowledge of how prepared they are to even approach marriage.  Too many marriages today are hastily made, and sorrowfully ended.  By understanding the history of the relationship you, as a counselor, will be able to guide them to a more meaningful direction to prepare for marriage.

Have they set a wedding date?  When is it?

If they have already set a date, and are wanting to “do the right thing” in getting counseled, be careful of prejudgment.  Carefully guide them in the areas this course will set forth, so they can approach the wedding correctly.  Always find reasons for the wedding.

Ask them to individually describe their family histories.  How well do they understand the impact of their families of origin on their current behavior?

They may not understand that they are “marrying the family”.  By understanding the family histories, the couple can know ahead of time where difficulties lie, and can effectively be able to deal with them ahead of time instead of as a crisis.

What life crises have they experienced?

As a couple gets to know each other, the past crisis experiences can help them to learn to help and uplift each other.  If there has been death, divorce, financial, or other crises in the past, they can deal with it before and put it aside instead of having to deal with it magnified during another crisis when married.

What other significant dating or live-in relationships have they had?  How and why were they terminated?

Openness about past relationships will allow healing if needed

Understanding the past and how it was dealt with will give you and the counselee’s knowledge of how to work through their relationship.

Has either of the counselees been married previously?  Are there Children? What are the custody arrangements?

See the section on children.

What are the strengths of this relationship?

Strengths always give a foundation to build on.  The more strengths, the more solid the relationship.

In what areas does this couple have the most problems?

Identifying problem areas will always help in guiding the counselees to a more solid relationship because they can learn to deal with them now instead of later.

Reasons for marrying

8 reasons couples want to marry.

  1. Pregnancy – about 25% of all weddings occur when the bride is pregnant.   Through God’s grace, draw these couples towards forgiveness and restoration.
  2. Rebound from a failed relationship.
  3. Rebellion against parents and an attempt to control their own lives.
  4. Escape from an unhappy home environment.
  5. Loneliness—expecting marriage to solve relational issues.
  6. Physical appearance of spouse, to satisfy a person’s own sexual needs, or gain society’s approval.
  7. Social pressure—“You shouldn’t be single-it is normal to be married.”
  8. Guilt and pity for the one you marry.

If you as a counselor feel that any of these motives lie behind a couple’s decision to marry, directly address your concerns with them.   If a delay in the wedding is necessary, you should be willing to work with the couple either directly or through a referral until they are ready to marry or decide to cancel the wedding. If you are a pastor, in an extreme case, you may refuse to officiate at a couple’s wedding.

 

Finances – before and during marriage

Whose bank account?

Finances are probably one of the top reasons for marital strife.  By determining at the beginning how to set up finances; a couple has begun a process that will help their marriage when times are difficult. One of the primary principles of a marriage is that the two become one.  If both have bank accounts, after marriage how will they handle the finances.

As a counselor, you will need to have a good understanding of budgeting and how to handle money issues.

Questions to ask each of the counselees are:

  1. How was money handled before by the family? Was is used responsibly?
  2. Does money provide security, self esteem, validation?
  3. What is your current financial condition? Major bills, credit cards, savings?
  4. Do you currently have a budget? Have you ever tried to budget, and what happened when you did?
  5. Can you give me a list of bills vs. income?

By getting to the root of the finances, you bring the counselee to a point of seeing where they are financially.  If the need is there, you can refer them to a financial counselor.

Common misuses of money you can identify are:

  1. Anesthetic. Spending money to numb self to emotional pain.
  2. Emotional gratification. Spending money give a high, makes you feel good when you see all you have bought.
  3. Validation. Spending money is a sign that you are successful, someone to be reckoned with.
  4. Escape from self discipline. Money is an entitlement, shouldn’t have to account for it since you work hard for it.
  5. Security. Had nothing growing up, money reassures me that I and not poor.
  6. Idolatry. I can put my hands on money, so I can trust it.  I can’t trust what I can’t see.

Bills before marriage.

Have each of the counselees list all bills they are bringing to the marriage.  This will help them evaluate the financial state they will be in after marriage.  By presenting this, they can better set up and budget and be prepared to meet obligations before they become a financial crisis.  By discussing what is owed be each before the marriage, they can be dealt with before and are out in the open.

For homework, have each counselee track their expenditures, no matter how small for two weeks.  Then they can see how the money is spent, and also can help in setting up a budget.

When they bring this in, pay close attention to areas where expenditures were unnecessary or out of proportion to the income.

Responsibilities during marriage.

By discussing how the Lord wants them to become one, they can set up accounts in both names, and be responsible for handling them together.  The husband is always the one responsible for problem solving.  If a financial situation arises, he is the one to take the initiative to resolve it.  Never should the wife have to resolve financial situations, no matter who caused it.

An example would be if the wife is the one to pay the bills because she is the one more financially sound, and a check should bounce, the husband is the one to take care of it.  No matter why it was returned, as the head of the house, and the head of the family, it is his responsibility to take care of calling whoever is required and make what ever arrangements necessary to get it taken care of.  This also means that he cannot “take it out” on his wife.  It would have been his responsibility anyway, so she is not the one to be blamed.

The couple should have a budget set up before marriage.  That way, they will have open eyes to what is their responsibility before they get married.  By setting up a budget, they can also set how different situations can be handled before they arise, and have sound principles to fall back on if there comes a difficult time.

Using the homework, you can assist in setting up a budget, paying attention to tithes and offering, debt reduction, pocket money, and savings.

Setting Biblical principles in the budget keeps the counselees thoughts on how the Lord is primary in their relationship.  Putting tithes and offerings first, sets the precedent of the Lord first in their lives.

By building debt reduction into the budget, it provides a means to get out and stay out of debt.

A small amount of “mad money” should always be included into a budget.  It provides a morale booster as well as keeps encouragement higher.

Any budget should also include savings, even if it is only a few dollars a week.  By setting up a savings account, the counselees will be able to provide when an emergency arises.  But they have to remember that an emergency is just that, a time when a crisis has arisen that needs immediate response.  A death in the family, an accident that requires immediate payment, not a weekend trip out of town…

Responsibilities

  1. Who is supposed to do what?

Household chores can be one area the counselee will chuckle at.  However, when it gets down to the marriage, how the toilet paper hangs can be a major crisis.  Discussion of household responsibilities is paramount for a happy marriage.

  • Who will take out the trash?
  • Who will do the dishes?
  • Who will vacuum?
  • Who will wash the clothes?
  • Who will clean the toilet?
  • Who cooks when both work?

These questions are things that many couples fight over.  If both work, who does what to help each other?  By getting the counselees to discuss things as simple as this, they can see that it is important to at least one of them.

Children, Have any or wait?  How to discipline?

Many couples never discuss children, or think that it can be discussed later.  However, if one does not want children and the other is, later is too late to discuss it.  By bringing it up now, the couple can openly find out how they view having children.  Also, along with this is birth control.  It is the responsibility of both to take care of it.  It is not just the woman… All forms of birth control should be discussed.  The one form of birth control that is used today that is not acceptable is abortion.

One of the difficulties today is in punishment of children.  Be ready to discuss the Biblical principle of using a paddle to correct and discipline.  Punishment is not child abuse, but can lead to it is used improperly.

”Applying the board of education to the seat of understanding is Biblical.”

Contrary to today’s ideas, a young child does not understand a discussion of right and wrong, but do understand punishment for wrongdoing.

Step children

In a marriage of partners where one or both have been married before, or there are children coming into the new marriage, steps must be taken to make sure that they are brought in with love.  It is not the children’s fault for their being put into a situation they have no say in, and both partners need to work together. The one thing that causes many problems is discipline of step children.  Both partners must agree ahead of time that there is a set way to discipline.  And they cannot allow the children to use them against each other in this.

If the children come in with the woman, the man must accept them as if they are his.  He must not over punish them, or use them as a means to vent frustrations.   Paddling must be done without anger and must be done with love.

Consistent punishment is necessary.  Never should punishment be done without thought.  As the children grow older, they should be taught discipline, not an angry response to something they did.  Never go back on your word on punishment, nor make unreal or unrealistic punishment statements.

Responsibility of the husband is to discipline.  The man should be the leader/head/priest of the family.  And as such, he is the one to do the discipline.  However, the wife must also be willing to follow the guidance of the husband.  If the child needs discipline and the man is not home, the wife must also enforce the discipline.  And she must do it consistent with the husband.

The child must know consistency in their life, and must know that they are loved.   Discipline shows both.

Ultimate responsibility always falls to the man.  It is God’s directing that he be the head of the family, and therefore, take responsibility for all things that happen.  The man must be willing to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance in all aspects of child rearing, and he must be willing to do what the Lord directs.

Sex

The word that scares many Christians yet is a vital part of our lives.  Many times a couple comes to counseling, and the one area that is left out is the sexual union of marriage.  Many of today’s marriages fail because of false or mistaken ideal and ideas of sex in marriage.

Premarital sex

If a couple is already living together, then as a counselor, you will need to guide them into a relationship that is not involving sex.  They should strive to abstain before marriage.  If they can control their urges now, they will be more able to control themselves in all areas after marriage.  Sex before marriage is selfish and does not consider the partner.

Marital Sex

Discussion of marital sex is important.  Too many think that it will all work out.  Instead, it becomes a point that can destroy a marriage.

As a married couple, what they do in the marriage bed is for their God-given pleasure.  As long as both agree, then what they do is acceptable.  The sexual union of a husband and wife is for more than just having children, it is for enjoyment.  As long as both enjoy it, it is acceptable. If someone says “no,” then they should stop or just not do that thing.

It is important that the counselees have discussed the sexual side of marriage.  It is not good if they have preconceived ideas and then find that the other does not agree.  Discussion of methods and times should be done so there are no surprises in the marital bed.  If one thinks once a week is plenty and the other thinks twice a day not enough, there will be problems.   By being open about it now, there will be no surprises.

  1. There are certain obligations which a man accepts when he marries, whether he is aware of them or not:
  2. Safety
  3. Comfort
  4. Love
  5. Sex
  6. Companionship
  7. Protection from temptation
  8. We are going to talk about the obligation which involves sex
  9. Sexual temptations are difficult to withstand because they appeal to the normal and natural desires that God has given us.
  10. Marriage provides God’s way to satisfy these natural sexual desires and to strengthen the partners against temptation.
  11. Married couples have the responsibility to care for each other; therefore, husbands and wives should not withhold themselves sexually from one another, but should fulfill each other’s needs and desires.

Discussion

Be willing to discuss what the counselees need to discuss.  It is imperative that the discussion be directed in healthy ways.  It should never become embarrassing to any at the session, yet should be tastefully done.  As the counselor, you must be in control here, and guide the discussion.  Suggestions and ideas must be kept clean and in Scriptural context.  Song of Solomon is a good book for each to read, to show that enjoyment is a major part of the loving relationship.

It may well be that one or both may want to spend a session alone with the counselor to discuss things that they may be embarrassed to discuss openly.  While this may help that person, every effort should be made to get both counselees talking about this.  Perhaps one could wait outside for a part of the session, and then come in, or one could be a little early for a short discussion.  However, the major thing is that this discussion must be done with much prayer.  Many counselors have been caught in a trap they built be allowing the counselee guide this part of the session, and they get into a situation they cannot handle, or actually get involved with the counselee.  If there is any hint of unethical conduct, the counselor must request someone else to step in.

Discussion of techniques, positions, or other parts of the sexual union must be handled carefully.  Never put yourself in a situation that can be construed as improper.

It is possible to do some of this in a written format, where each counselee can put on paper what they expect, and then use that for discussion.

  1. Divorce

Put very simply, divorce is never the better option, but it may be necessary. Proper premarital counseling should all but put divorce out of the mind of those who are counseled. The goal is to encourage the couple to learn to identify ways to find solutions for the problems they will inevitably have. Discussions of divorce should always be done from that point of view.

The counselees should see divorce as a very negative thing, and should never be threatened in a marriage out of anger. Once the words come out, it may change things for the worse.

Encourage them to:

  1. Try to work out a solution between themselves.
  2. If that does not work, they should go to a pastor, or mature Christian for advice.
  3. If that still does not work, they should go to a trained counselor (not a friend, relative, or acquaintance, or someone else).
  4. They should follow the instructions of the counselor.

The Marriage Agreement Process

The Goal:
Your goal is to solve problems, eliminate circumstances which may lead to problems, and to avoid future problems where you can.

Follow the process the way it is intended. Do not jump to a step further along without finishing the current step. If you change the process it may not work for you, and you may not accomplish what you hope for.

To begin with, let’s suggest some rules to follow for this process:

1. Make time to discuss the process and get started. This means do not try to work on this process while dealing with children, household duties, and/or in a hurry. You will need to be able to concentrate patiently with each other. Do not schedule time for this right before or after another event, such as a football game.

2. DO NOT try to come up with all the agreements that you think you will need in one sitting. Pick an issue or two, or just one topic, and find agreements for those; then stop for the day.

3. Agreement may not be aimed at one or another, like saying “We agree that HE may not do this or that,” or “We agree that SHE has to do this or that.” All agreements must be applicable to both spouses. The wording should be, “We agree that we will, or will not, or both of us this or that, or neither of us this or that, and so on.”

4. It is okay to disagree with each other, but getting angry only means you don’t want to work on the process and want to stop it.

5. While you will have to bring up touchy issues, this is not the time for accusations and getting defensive. Instead of getting defensive and angry, offer a suggestion for an agreement which will help avoid the problem in the future.

6. Turn off phones or decide not to answer them until your process time is over. Do not allow distractions from texts or emails either. If possible sit at the kitchen table while sitting opposite of, and facing, each other.

7. It will not be fair to get mad and walk away. Manage your anger and stay and find a compromise that will work for both of you. Only people who want to stop the process will play the angry game and walk away.

8. If you find that you cannot work on the process without fighting, go and see a counselor who can help you through the process.

The Truth and Some Lies

1. LIE: “I don’t have a problem, he or she has a problem.”

2. LIE: “We wouldn’t have problems if he or she had not done what they did?”

3. LIE: “If he or she would change then everything would be okay.”

4. LIE: “I didn’t do anything, so it his or her problem, not mine!”

5. TRUTH: If one of you has a “problem,” or does something wrong, then BOTH of you have a problem. What affects one affects the other.

6. TRUTH: If one of you changes and the other does not, you will still have similar problems because the one who did not change will continue to behave the same way as before.

START with a Problem Area, Ongoing Issue, or a Questionable Situation.

1. A Problem Area is something that you have dealt with before.

a. Mishandling of finances.

b. Relationships with people other than spouse.

c. Children discipline issues.

d. Etc.

2. An Ongoing Issue is something that has been continuing in your relationship for too long.

a. Multiple affairs.

b. Drug or alcohol misuse.

c. Violence.

d. Misbehaving.

e. Etc.

3. A Questionable Situation is something where you may not have yet dealt with, but understand this may cause a problem to your relationship.

a. Relatives and their effect on the marriage.

b. Friends and acquaintances and their effect on the marriage.

c. Finances and the use of money.

d. Etc.

CLARIFY the problem or concern.

Don’t just say, “I don’t like this or that,” or “You should do this or that.” To clarify a problem identify what the real problem is. For example: “Drug or alcohol abuse has been a problem for us because it has been the center of many of our arguments and disagreements. I think we should decide if and/or when drug or alcohol may be consumed by both of us.”

Another example: “We are always running short on our money, and we sometimes pay late, and have to pay additional late fees. I think we should decide how we should solve that problem.”

1. DO NOT just start accusing each other, and DO NOT get defensive just because ya’ll are dealing with something that you yourself are doing, or have done, wrong.

2. REMEMBER that you are trying to solve problems. Concentrate on how to find answers, NOT on how to defend yourself and prove the other wrong.

3. Arguing solves nothing, and might prove you are trying to derail the Agreement Process.

OFFER a Suggested Agreement.

A Suggested Agreement is where one of you thinks up a possible solution for a problem or concern. For example (using the above example of drug or alcohol abuse) you could suggest, “We agree that neither of us will drink alcohol nor use drugs that are not prescribed by our doctor.”

Or (using the second example above on running short on money) you could suggest, “We agree to set a budget and follow it faithfully, according to the rules we set for following the budget.”

In this second case, you could add some additional agreements like:

1. We agree not to spend money from our budget, without both of us agreeing.

2. We agree not to buy anything on credit, but instead to save money and buy it cash.

3. We agree not to lend money to anyone without both of us agreeing in advance.

4. And so on.

If You Disagree

If you do not like the suggestion, explain why and then offer an alternative. For example (using the drug and alcohol example above), let’s say that one of you agrees that abusing drugs is wrong, but feels that drinking is not a problem.
That person could offer an alternative suggestion like this, “We agree that neither of us will use drugs that are not prescribed by our doctor, but we may choose to drink alcohol on weekends only.”

The alternate suggestion kept some of the first suggestion and proposed a different condition on the other part.

If you do not like the alternative suggestion, explain why and then offer another alternative suggestion.

If you disagreed with the proposed suggestion, you could say, “What about, ‘“We agree that neither of us will use drugs that are not prescribed by our doctor, but we may choose to drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday only?’”

You can continue to offer suggestions until you reach a workable compromise.

Cannot Work It Out

If you continue to disagree with a suggested agreement, leave it alone for this time, and come together again later and come to a compromise, or see a counselor.

Work on the Language

If you like and/or agree with the suggestion(s), then work on the language of the agreement. Read the agreed upon statement again. In example: “We agree that neither of us will use drugs that are not prescribed by our doctor, but we may choose to drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday only?”

Questions you could ask yourselves may include:

1. Is it okay to drink on Fridays and Saturdays all day long?

2. Is it okay to drink on Fridays and Saturdays without limit?

3. Is it okay to drink on Fridays and Saturdays until very late at night?

4. Should there be any limits on the drinking or will you both make mature decisions on how much and when to drink on those days?

5. And so on.

If you have no problem with the suggested agreement at this point, then go on to the next one. If one of your questions brings up a concern, then offer another suggestion that will cover the concern.

Remember that you don’t want to try to stuff too much into just one agreement. You may decide to create separate agreements for different parts so there will no confusion on what is intended.

For example, using the drug and alcohol example above, you could instead break it into two different agreements:

Part one: “We agree that neither of us will use drugs that are not prescribed by our doctor.

Part Two: We agree that we may choose to drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday only?”

Separating the above parts makes the intention of each part clear and subject to less confusion.

It is okay for you to separate agreements into as many parts as will be necessary. For example, Pastor Juan and his wife, Lydia, had problems in the past concerning “friends.” They created three different, but related agreements that have helped them to avoid any problems in these areas in the future.

1. Neither of us may have a “friend” of the opposite sex, without the full knowledge and approval of the other.

2. Neither of us may have a friend that the other does not like or get along with.

3. Whenever possible we will avoid having friends who are not married.
The first suggestion of the above three agreements was stuffed with all three ideas together and somewhat confusing. By separating them it made each of them clearer and easier to understand.

Look for ambiguous language. Any word or phrase that is not clearly understood by both of you will result in the misapplication of the agreement, or of one of you possibly using the confused language as a loop hole for violating the agreement.
Finally, if it becomes necessary, and it often does, write out each word that you have concerns with and write out the definition. This way neither of you will say they thought it meant something different than what was intended.

For example, using one of Pastor Juan’s agreements: “Neither of us may have a “friend” of the opposite sex, without the full knowledge and approval of the other.” The one word that could present a problem with the agreement is the word “friend.” Pastor Juan and Lydia decided that “friend” did not include acquaintances, people you meet on the bus, work along with, know at church, etc. They realized that you cannot always control who is around you.

On the other hand, they agreed that a “friend” was someone you would want to spend time with, do things with, enjoy having them around, and so forth. So, a “friend” was someone that one could develop close or intimate feelings with. This could end up resulting in a relationship that could contribute to problems in a marriage if the person is someone of the opposite sex.

Move On

After you complete one agreement, or set of agreements, then go to another topic or Problem Area. Choose a different day or time if you have already spent much time working on the ones you just completed. Keep in mind that this is not a race. Your goal is not to hurry up and get the agreements in place so that you can control your spouse.

Don’t Forget

Your goal is to solve problems, eliminate circumstances which may lead to problems, and to avoid future problems where you can.

This process is about your marriage and your spouse. It is not about your pride and righteous indignation (defending yourself by attacking your spouse). This process will, if used correctly, improve your marriage and reduce the incidences of arguing and fighting, and conflicts.

From Pastor Juan Perez:

Because of the rules and agreements, which my wife, Lydia, and I have had for many years, we have eliminated many possible problems and conflicts from our marriage. Our rules help us know what to do, and how to do it, when a situation (which we have addressed in our rules) arises. We know what to expect of each other, not because we think that the other should know, or already knows, what must happen each time a situation comes up. This has helped us trust each other more, and be more at peace in our marriage. This process can work for you as well, if both of you will commit yourselves to each other and your marriage as the highest and most important priority over everything and everybody else, period. May God have mercy on you, and help you through the process.

Rules For The Home?

Greyscale - Poster sizeBefore we were saved, my wife and I lived in a marriage full of troubles. Besides having no healthy rules for our marriage, we also had not healthy guidance for our home. Since our salvation, she and I have come to understand that a home without boundaries is a home that will produce confusion. Most of our societal ills stem from children growing up in homes without healthy direction and instruction. My wife and I decided that we did not want to continue to live in a home where confusion could rule. The answer to this is setting rules and guidelines that will govern our home and those who choose to come into it. We are clear about our “rules” to all people who have lived with us for short periods of time. Once we had a family of eight living with us for a short time, due to an emergency. There were already four of us living in our home. The twelve of us had to cohabit the house with only one restroom. Some of the following “rules” came from that adventure, and some of the problems it produced.

Over time we learned that if we followed the rules, we avoided the arguments that would normally come with them. We decided that less arguments was preferable. Therefore we develop the following. You may decide to use these as a pattern for developing your own home “rules.”

1. This is a Christian home. We will always acknowledge God, and be grateful for His mercy on us.

2. All persons who live in this home will attend church. This means both Sunday and midweek services.

3. Everyone will be treated with respect. This means that rudeness, mouthing-off, cursing at someone, violence, and other similar behavior is not acceptable under any circumstances.

4. Violence is never acceptable or allowed. The only difference accept where one is defending the health and/or life of one’s self or others.

5. Cursing in general is not acceptable. Even using replacement words like “darn” and “Jesus” can soon become sources of conflict.

6. Everyone who lives in this home will participate in it’s up keep. This means that everyone will help with the chores. Each person will help, but the help will be decided according to their age, abilities, time not at their employment, etc. The fact the someone has a job is not an excuse for not helping around the house in some predefined manner.

7. Drinking alcohol is either not permitted at all, or allowed only to a very limited level. Drunkenness is never acceptable, under any circumstances.

8. The misuse of drugs, legal or not, will never be acceptable. Illegal drugs are not allowed in this home whether the person has them on or IN his or her body.

9. Anyone who is high on drugs, or drunk on alcohol, is not welcome to be in this home.

10. Children are to mind the adults, and the adults are to treat the children with firm respect and healthy discipline. Other than the use of a paddle or belt, children may not be struck physically by anyone, at all.

11. Anyone who is 18 years of age, or older, must be contributing to the payment of expenses in this home, in some manner. If the person is not employed, and yet healthy enough to work, must leave the home early every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to look for work, and fill out applications. They may return after 2:00 pm each day.

12. If you eat in this home, whether you buy the food or not, and whether you use dishes or not, then you must help wash the dishes when its your turn.

13. Everyone is responsible for the cleanliness of this home. If you see something that needs attention, then just do it. Pick up stuff off the floor, put that dish in the sink (and wash it), throw out the trash, etc.

14. Pornography whether on the internet, by physical materials (such as magazines, photos, videos or any other stuff), is not allowed or acceptable.

15. Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, or anything else) is not allowed or acceptable in this home. If you smoke elsewhere, do not bring the stink of the cigarette into the home on your clothes either.

16. This home is not a motel. There is a 12:30 p.m. curfew for persons over 18 years of age. If you do not return by this time, then find somewhere else to stay until the morning. The only exceptions will be for emergencies and employment, and even then, a phone call is urgently expected.

17. If you break something that you personally do not own, then you must buy a replacement.

18. Yelling and screaming at each other is not allowed or acceptable.

19. Used clothing that needs washing must be placed in the designated location (i. e. clothes bin), and may not be thrown about, or left, elsewhere.

20. Electrical equipment that produces sound (TV’s, Radios, etc.) must be kept at a sound level that does not disturb the other rooms. The only exceptions are during times of celebration when louder sounds are expected.

21. Each person may prepare his or her own food, without being expected to cook for, or feed, everyone else in the house. By the same token, just because someone bought food home, it does not mean it is for the consumption of anyone but the buyer, unless he or she is sharing it.

22. If you have certain foods that you want to use for yourself, then you must label the items, by placing your name on them. Therefore no one is allowed to eat food (whether in the refrigerator or in the pantry, or elsewhere, that has a name on it).

23. To control the possibility of roaches or other vermin, if you eat anywhere other than the kitchen table, you must immediately (after finishing) remove the dishes to the kitchen sink (and maybe even wash them), and clean anything that might attract the vermin.

24. All guests are expected to dress modestly, even when in “comfortable” clothing, especially in the evenings and night.

25. Guests may not invite other persons into this home, under any circumstances, without the clear and expressed permission of the owners.

26. Guests may not remove any item from this home without the clear and expressed permission of the owners.

27. Guests may not make long distance phone calls, or any other phone calls which may incur a fee, without the clear and expressed permission of the owners.

28. Guests may not give anyone else permission to do anything on this property, which has not already been stated and clarified, without the clear and expressed permission of the owners.

29. Sexual expression by individuals is to be limited to the privacy of their own rooms. This does not include kissing, holding hands, and the such. Homosexuality, or Lesbianism, is not an acceptable practice in this home, under any circumstances at all.

30. Persons who are not legally married, may not sleep in the same room. So called “Common Law Marriage” is not recognized in this home.

31. If anything comes up that the guest is unsure of what to do, then take whatever action is necessary, unless otherwise stated above, which will cause the least damage, harm, or trouble to the owners.

Should Marriages Have Rules?

I say YES!

Juan-Lydia 3My wife and I married shortly after we met. We didn’t know what we were doing. We just knew we wanted to get married, so we did. Our first six years were miserable. We were separated the seventh year and going through a divorce. It was only by God’s mercy that our marriage was saved. That was 33 years ago (as of 2015). We have now been married for 40 years, and we got here the hard way. We both thank God for intervening in our lives and changing the course of our disastrous relationship.

Over these last 33 years, my wife, Lydia, and I have learned much. Especially, we have learned that we will not always get what we want. We have learned to be content with what we have, and to have mercy on each other. We are aware of each other’s faults and imperfections. We have learned to accept some of those from each other. We have learned that we don’t need to argue over every single thing that bothers us of the other. We have learned to pick our battles. We know we will win some, lose some, and sometimes we both will win or both will lose. In all cases we learned that if we try to win all the time then we will likely lose the marriage.

Greyscale - Poster sizeThe one thing that has helped us to survive as a couple, more than anything else, is that we realized that if we could agree to certain conditions or situations then we would have less to argue about. We did not like arguing, and just trying to avoid confrontations or ignoring the problems never solved anything. We learned that when we did ignore the problems, or try to avoid confrontation, things ended up worse than they were before.

What we did was we started a list of the things we had agreed to do or not do as a couple. Some of the things that ended up on our lists were the result of problems we had suffered in the first six years of our marriage. Those were the easy ones to identify and consider for inclusion onto the list. We remembered a problem area and came to an agreement as to how to handle that situation in the future.

For example, we suffered through adultery. Due to that we agreed that neither of us would have a friend of the opposite sex without the agreement of the other before that friendship gets started. You can see the advantage to this already, I hope. If either of us even considers having a friend of the opposite sex, then we have to think of a good reason why our spouse would want to agree with that. As you can see, the chances of my wife agreeing that I should have a female friend is little to none. So I don’t end up with a female friend, and we don’t ever end up fighting over a person who is not in our lives.

Marital rules (or boundaries) will work only if both persons choose to keep their word. If you are experiencing trust issues in your marriage that relate to someone not keeping his or her word, then setting rules or boundaries will have no positive effect at all. You first need to resolve the trust issues so that you can afterward work on the marriage. This could involve months of counseling where you both learn about boundaries and consequences.

Trust is the glue that holds a marriage together. It is when both spouses are able to trust the word of the other that peace and security reign in that marriage. The truth is that both spouses want to have a good marriage, but too often they do not know how to get there. Neither got any training on how to be a husband or wife before they got married, right?

For the purposes of this post, I will assume that you and your spouse want to have a peaceful and secure marriage. I will also assume that you and your spouse want to do whatever it takes to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, arguing with each other. I will also assume that both of you have demonstrated to the other that you will keep your word, and can be trusted by him or her. Finally, I will assume that you both have come to the conclusion that if you had a set of rules or boundaries, you would have a more secure and happy marriage. If, and I emphasize the word, “if,” the above is true of you both, you will find the following useful.

These “rules” work for us because they were practically sculpted for us by us. You may find them useful as a guide for forming your own “rules.” You will notice that these “rules” are written in a general form. They are not the exact rules my wife and I have for each other, the wording in those is specific to our circumstances and situations. These are more general for use as guides for forming your own “rules.”

1. Never have a “friend” of the opposite sex, without the knowledge and approval of your spouse.

a. Don’t fool yourself, just because you may deny that the relationship is no more than a “friendship” the other person may have something completely different in mind. They can become your “fatal attraction” situation. Even if you are convinced that the other person understands that this is no more than a friendship, things can get way out of control before you know what is happening. If the other person does get attached to you and want more than what you are giving, they can make it look like you two are doing something wrong. Just a phone call from them could get your spouse very angry.

b. You both should also consider not having friends that your spouse does not like. This is also an area that causes problems with couples. Always remind yourself that you married your spouse because you want to be with them the rest of your life. This alone should help when considering who to keep happy, your spouse or your friend.

2. Never share the private “troubles” you are having with a person of the opposite sex, without the prior knowledge and approval of your spouse.

a. There is something troubling to men and women when their spouse shares private problems with other people, without their prior knowledge. Especially when the other person is of their sex. For example, speaking with your mother about problems with your wife can be troubling with your wife if she did not agree with that to begin with. Or, for example, speaking with another man about private problems with your husband.

b. The only exceptions should be when speaking with a counselor or pastor who will promise to keep the conversations private.

3. If you are going to start talking, about your problems with your spouse, with others, let the first one be a Christian marriage counselor, pastor, or trusted church leader (who will not take sides).

a. It is important to have someone we can discuss our concerns with, who will care. Talking to relatives, friends and acquaintances is a bad idea, because they will likely take sides, even if they say they won’t. Professionals are usually much better at remaining objective. Anyway, what you need is someone who will not take sides to also let you know what you are doing wrong, or what you can also change.

4. Never hide serious problems; secrecy is the friend of the abuser. Exposing the problem is the first step to a solution.

a. The truth is if you hide, or lie about, the abuse you are letting the abuser know that he or she can keep on doing it without worrying about consequences. It is a lie that the abuser will come to realize, all by themselves, that they are doing wrong and quit. Where there are no consequences there is permission. If the abuse should happen to extend to the children, and you know about it and do not report it, you also will be charged with child abuse. Just because you were scared to report it won’t hold up in court.

b. Do not allow the lie, “Our problems are for us to resolve by ourselves alone, and no one needs to know what is happening” become a cover for the one doing the wrong and hurtful thing. Yes try to work them out, but if you see that things are not changing, then reach out for help. As an example, no problems should takes months of “working out.” If you aren’t finding a solution in a week or two, call for help.

5. Do not let fear and embarrassment keep you quiet when you really need to reach out for help.

a. Pride is stupid if your marriage is in trouble, get help! Is it better to be embarrassed and find a solution, or not to be embarrassed and continue to have problems?

6. Establish clear and healthy boundaries, with clear and well thought out consequences for the violation of those boundaries, and then stick to them no matter how difficult it gets.

a. The principle is: If you have no boundaries, you will have problems, if you have boundaries, you eliminate many problems. You choose.

b. Keep in mind that boundaries do not work if you don’t have clear consequences associated with them. For example, if your husband behaves badly, and all you do is get angry, then you gave him permission to keep up that behavior. But if you take something away from him that he likes, until he changes his behavior, then he will understand that you have limits that he should not cross.

7. Remember, your spouse and children are your FAMILY, others are relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

a. Many couples have problems with this simple concept. They call their relatives family, so then they feel obligated to them. This becomes a problem when one has to choose between his or her real family (you, your spouse, and your kids) and the extended family (relatives). Many times people confuse their obligations so much that they have constant battles with their spouses over this subject.

b. Your spouse and kids are YOUR FAMILY. Other relatives are just that, relatives. Your first obligation belongs to your family, and the relatives always have to come in second.

8. Your spouse has priority over everyone else, no matter what the situation or circumstance, including children.

a. Never side with someone else against your spouse in public. Even if they are wrong. Always be on your spouse’s side when there is a disagreement with someone else. You can always disagree with your spouse at home, in private. The only exception to this should be during counseling.

b. Even when it comes to the children, always side with your spouse in front of them, and disagree in private, if you must. To the degree that you argue with your spouse in front of your children, they will learn to lose respect for you.

9. Be fair in the expectations you impose on your spouse; do not expect your spouse to read your mind, and “NO!” they probably don’t know what you think they should just because they are adults.

a. Remember that they cannot read minds. If you did not say it, they probably do not know it. If you want your spouse to know you like or dislike something, take time to share this with them when you are not angry. Trying to do that during an argument is the worst time.

b. When deciding what is fair to expect from your spouse consider several things: abilities and talents, age, sex, education, physical limitations, and so on. Don’t decide that they should be able to do something just because you can. That is not fair.

10. Never use the “D” word (divorce) in an argument, once one of you says it, you cannot take it back. It will eat at both of you from then on.

a. People who throw the “D” word around are usually frustrated because they have “tried everything” and nothing works, so they resort to threats. Find a counselor and start working on your problems, only if your spouse refuses to try should you consider divorce.

b. If you find yourself making threats, it is because you have run out of effective ways to solve your problems, find a counselor.

11. It is not fair to walk away from an argument, but it is also unfair to keep arguing just because you want to win.

a. The real goal of arguing should not be to win. The goal should be to find a solution. Walking away from an argument means that you want to win and are not doing so. Offer a workable solution that either is beneficial for both of you, or at least one in which neither of you wins.

b. For example, you spouse says you spend too much, and you say you don’t spend enough. The compromise could be that you agree on each getting a set allowance and you limit your spending to that amount. This way you can spend all your allowance, and still not be overspending.

12. The only time sexual intercourse should withheld, is because of health reasons (illness, monthly period, etc.), spiritual reasons (fasting and prayer), and, during troubled times, but only after having met with a counselor for reasons of imposing a consequence due to a boundary violation.

a. Sex must never be used as a weapon. The minute you do you will ruin something good and valuable between the two of you. On the other hand, sex is also a reward, and you must never reward bad behavior on the part of your spouse.

b. Sex is a right for both of you due to marriage, but how often and how enjoyable is a privilege. Privileges are something that is earned by doing something good for the person giving the privilege. For example, your husband wants to have sex more often, you want him to help clean the house. He helps you clean the house more often, and you have enjoyable sex with him more often.

13. Never use the Bible to attack or try to coerce each other for any reason (first go to counseling).

a. One mistake many Christians make is, due to their frustrations of not getting their way, they start using the Bible to try and control the other. God did not intend for His word to be used as a battering ram to get what you want from others. For every verse that you throw at your spouse there is likely one that you are ignoring about you.

b. The better way to use the Bible in reference to marriage is to take marital counseling, go to seminars, get into a married couples Bible study, and so forth. This way both of you will hear what God wants from you as a husband and wife.

14. Think carefully, before you give your word. Always keep your word.

a. Many times people give their “word” over stupid stuff. Then when they get into trouble, they argue that they were just keeping their word. The correct manner in which to give your word is:

i. First, think about what you are going to promise (even if you don’t use that word). There are things that can be done and some that cannot. Some things can be done, but not at the time they are wanted. Don’t give your word and know you cannot keep the time limit. Some things will depend on other concerns, such as work. For example you quickly give your word that you will take the family to the park Saturday. The next day the boss says that you have to work overtime on Saturday on that it is not optional. Just because you did not think and mention that your job may interfere (and that is your responsibility alone), your wife and kids are upset with you. You may tell yourself that it was not your fault, but it was.

ii. Secondly, give your word. Don’t play ignorant or be wishy-washy. You should be able to give your word and keep it. Too many persons, especially men, want their spouses to believe everything they say, but will also fail to give their word because they know they will not keep it.

iii. Secondly, you keep your word. If you thought about what was being asked of you, and you considered the possibilities, then keep your word without fail. Nobody likes a liar, and anyone who breaks his word looks like a liar. If you practice these three steps, you will find that people, especially your spouse, will have more respect for you.

15. Consider, develop, plan out, and write down a plan for your lives together.

a. The Bible teaches that people without vision perish. In other words, if you don’t have clear (and written down) plans for the future, then you are just living day by day. People who have long term plans they are both working toward have a greater chance of a successful and long-lasting marriage.

b. By the way, working toward the same goal does not mean you both have verbally agreed it would be a great idea if it happened. Working together on future plans means that you set smaller goals that each of you do something specifically to accomplish, as you work your way to the big ones.

c. For example, let’s say you agree to buy a car in one year. To accomplish this you both decide to reduce spot save money, so you can buy the car with as little credit as possible. Each of you lists some things that you will cut back on; eliminating cable TV, getting rid of the gym membership, stop buying AVON products until then, and so on. This way you both can see the other doing something that is obvious and helps to accomplish the goal.

d. This includes planning for children, schools, education, savings, etc.

16. Never listen to anyone (including relatives) who say negative things to you about your spouse, make it clear to them you refuse to engage in that type of conversation.

a. If you believe you have problems with your spouse, bring it up to them, or call a counselor for a session. Other people’s opinions are not important. They won’t have all the details and will get things wrong.

b. On the other hand, do not blind yourself to wrongs your spouse may be committing. When you realize you have a problem with your spouse call for help.

17. Make time for each other (dating, sex, fun, etc.), force it if you have to, life will conspire against you to steal those precious times from each other.

a. That’s right, I said “force it” if you have to. One of the biggest complaints that wives have is that their husbands do not make time for just them two alone. If you have to start off by forcing yourself to make time then do it. Once you see the benefits you will change your mind.

b. You might lie to yourself about having plenty of time to do this or that with each other, but life can be short. You never know what may happen tomorrow. Do not be one of those people that waited too long.

18. Always put the real needs of your spouse ahead of yours, if you both do this, you will both be happy.

a. You have heard that marriage is supposed to be fifty-fifty, well that’s a lie. The truth is it is supposed to be one hundred-one hundred. If both of you are giving one hundred to the marriage, then you are also receiving one hundred in return. Nobody loses and everybody wins.

19. Never separate just to separate.

a. Have a goal for the separation which will include the possibility of finding a solution and getting back together.

b. First go to counseling for other options. If none will work at the moment, separate (if necessary).

c. Secondly set conditions for the reconciliation of your marriage.

d. Thirdly, communicate your boundaries to your spouse.

e. Fourthly, follow the instructions of the counselor.

20. Confrontation is a necessary and healthy part of communication in relationships, when it is used correctly.

a. Don’t wait to confront a problem until it’s full blown.

b. Ignoring something that is wrong or bothersome, just because it seems like a small matter means that it will have all the time it needs to grow.

c. Once it grows, you will have a monster to deal with, monsters are very hard to get rid of, and they can destroy your marriage.

d. People usually avoid confronting due to fear. Fear will never produce anything positive in your marriage.

21. Have only one argument at a time.

a. Do not start bringing up other situations which are not part of the present and immediate issue, even if you sort of think it relates. There has to be a clear and obvious connection. Otherwise, you will end up fighting over several things at the same time, and nobody wins, but you both lose.

b. People bring up other issues during an argument because they feel frustrated that they are not winning in the present argument. They hope that by bringing up lots of other stuff they will distract you and win the argument.

22. Do not lie to yourselves about how you are different from every other couple.

a. You will encounter all of the same obstacles, problems, situations, and circumstances that others have. The difference will, if any, be how you handle those problems.

b. You can do the same as every other couple and argue and fight over and over about the same things, or you can be different by forcing the issue and establishing rules for your marriage.

c. Remember this: where there are no consequences, there is permission.

d. If you keep doing the same things over and over, then you will get the same results over and over.

23. Violence is never acceptable.

a. You should use violence ONLY when defending your family or yourself. Only in defense, never attack.

b. Hiding the truth about physical violence is the way to give permission to the abuser to keep doing it.

c. Call the police and have him or her arrested. Never accept violence against yourself.

24. Drinking (liquor) or any use of legally prescribed drugs becomes a problem when the user begins to behave badly or dangerously.

a. Neither should be accepted in the home, unless the user demonstrates personal self-control and self-discipline that is not harmful to anyone else.

b. Any person with past alcoholism problems should refrain from drinking under any condition or any amount, no matter how small.

25. Husband “love” your wife, wife “respect” your husband.

a. Regarding this statement from the Bible, “love” means to be patient with your wife. It also means to take time to pay attention to her. It also means to spend time with her doing what she likes. It also means to tell her she is special and beautiful to you, no matter how she looks. And so forth.

b. “Respect” means to treat him like a grown man, not like a kid. It also means do not keep nagging and trying to make him act the way you want. It also means to tell him how much you care for him and like him. It also means to brag about him to others. And so forth.

26. Avoid anything that even looks like adultery.

a. Adultery comes in several forms:

i. A sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse.

ii. An emotional relationship with someone who is not your spouse, even if no sex is involved.

iii. Any relationship with a person of the opposite sex, who is not your spouse, and your spouse is not aware. Relationships are any interaction with any person that involves more than just casual acknowledgment, and where something is expected, no matter how small.

b. What makes something adultery is that there has been deception on the part of the one who does it. Deception is when you or your spouse are hiding something from the other that could hurt them or hurt the marriage. If there is nothing going on, then why not tell your spouse about the person?

27. Love is what you DO.

a. Love is NOT what you feel. Liking someone is how you feel. Love is doing the best for the other person, not just feeling it.

b. Like does not require you to do anything. It just means you feel something good about someone else. Like considers only what makes you feel good. Love considers what is good for the other.

28. Your FAMILY is your husband, wife, and children (until they are legally adults).

a. Everyone else, including parents, siblings, and others are your relatives.

b. Too many couples have unnecessary arguments because they don’t seem to understand that when they got married they created a new family.

c. Now that you have your new and real family, everyone else is a relative, friend, or acquaintance.

d. You obligation is to your family (spouse and children), before anyone else on this planet. Never put relatives ahead of your real family.

29. You are accountable to your spouse, and responsible to your family.

a. Accountable means:

i. Your spouse has the right to know anything about you, and should not be denied any information which will directly impact them.

ii. It also means that God will expect you to obey His Word, and that He will “discipline” you if you do not.

b. Responsibility means:

i. That you are to meet all of your family’s needs, by getting and keeping a job, unless you have come to an agreement to do different.

ii. Keeping yourself healthy enough to care for them. No illegal drug use, or other behavior which could cripple or damage you.

iii. Avoiding criminal activity which could stop you from caring for them. This could even include hanging out with others who may be involved in criminal activity, even if you are not. Police officers will arrest everyone around, and can charge you with complicity in the crimes. Even if you did not join in the crime, if they think you knew about it and didn’t report it is enough to charge you with conspiracy.

iv. Avoiding relationships with others which could result in harm to your family. This means anybody, including mom and dad and siblings. If you have a friend that your spouse does not like, get rid of the friend and keep your spouse.

v. Being obedient to the Word of God, as it pertains to your overall familial and marital responsibilities.

If you don’t know, or are not aware of, what the Bible says about being a husband or wife, then get into a church where they have classes for couples and start learning.

If you want to learn more about this, leave a comment regarding this post, and email me at pastor.juan.perez@gmail.com, and I will send you a free copy of my book, “Write It Down,” where I go into even deeper explanation and instruction on this subject.