12 Ways To Stay Close When The Going Gets Rough

Guest Post: Janel Breitenstein is a married mother of 4 who writes frequently for FamilyLife. Janel and her husband John currently serve with eMi in Uganda. You can visit her blog at www.agenerousgrace.com

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It was one of the most pressing seasons for our marriage.

We were facing a trifecta of major life decisions—only one of which included the continent we’d be living on. And our marriage that had been marked by teamwork and partnership now found our opinions diverging in opposite directions.

To say we were stressed was more than an understatement.

An Open Letter To A Spouse Who Wants Out

Open Letter

It usually starts with a phone call. Maybe an e-mail.

And this is the part where I feel my gut clench; I find my fingers covering my lips. No matter how many times I’ve received the news, I’m stunned for a bit. Broken.

The communication is typically from the husband or wife desperate for the marriage to work. He, or she, is pleading with me,

“Please call. Please, please meet with. Please email something—anything—to my spouse. Please do whatever you can to talk them out of leaving, or worse yet, divorce.”

Some of my most challenging, gut-rending work—though it’s why I do what I do!—is when one spouse is completely done with their marriage.

I’ve written previously describing what to do when your spouse wants out. But now I want to speak to the spouse that actually wants out.

To the one who wants to leave…

Did You Marry The Wrong Person?

Guest Post: Janel Breitenstein is a married mother of 4 who writes frequently for FamilyLife. Janel and her husband John currently serve with eMi in Uganda. You can visit her blog at www.agenerousgrace.com

Oops for FB

He surprised me, you know.

I was eighteen. I was leading a college Bible study around a book called Lady in Waiting. I had Kissed Dating Goodbye. I was running hard after God—“Dude, you were hard core,” a guy friend told me years later, in that “we kind of thought you wouldn’t be interested in us” kind of voice.

And then…there was this curly-haired guy with a head-turning but modest self-confidence, a guy who seemed to be running as hard as I was, but in retrospect, more peace and joy.

I initially thought of every reason in the book not to date him, scared of doing the wrong thing (or even feeling pleasure) as I was. Looking at those broad shoulders: I bet he works out and thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips.

Help! I Can’t Find Time For My Marriage

Everyone’s busy. Too busy.

One of the most common denominators amongst struggling couples that sit on my couch is a lack of quality time together. Schedules, to-do lists, house projects, homework, and sports schedules frequently take priority to the marriage relationship.

Of course, quality time by itself will not change a marriage, but it is required in order for change to take place.

More Ideas For Your Time Together

 

How To Stop Small Fights From Turning Into Explosions

Stop Drop and Roll - Smaller

My lovely wife and I were talking pleasantly the other day in the car, enjoying its quiet freedom from children.

Then she said something that frustrated me.

It wasn’t anything big, but I made a decision to gently talk about it.  Before I knew it, this small, seemingly insignificant chat was a full blown conflict.

It felt like we both went from 0-60 faster than a Ferrari.

You know them: those ‘discussions’ that started out so calm trying to reconcile something so simple that eventually turned into a dog-eat-dog, blame-shifting, name-calling, slam-the-door firestorm.

At the end of these fights, and sometimes even during them, you and your spouse are full of regret, anger, shame, guilt, sorrow. The ashes: Loss. If only.

How do we stop these small fights from turning into full blown explosions?

I learned one of the most practical tools for resolving these types of conflicts from a firefighter in the third grade. By now, you might even be reciting those three little words:

3 Pillars Of A Great Marriage

Every Great Marriage I Know Contains These 3 Things

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I’ll admit, I’m somewhat of a pyro.

My older friends can attest to my disorder.

When Star and I lived on 10 acres, we, actually I, would frequently build huge fires. When I say huge, I’m talking about ‘2 story high flames‘ huge. I’m shocked we only got 1 visit from the fire department!

What’s fascinating to me about fire is how a small spark can grow into a raging flame so quickly. As long as there’s oxygen and something for the fire to consume, such as wood, it will continue to burn and grow.

If the oxygen supply is low, such as at high altitudes, or if the wood is wet, the fire will struggle to burn. If the wood is completely removed from the fire, or if the supply of oxygen is cut off, the fire will die.

Fire thrives when good dry wood and a fresh supply of oxygen are present. The fire will continue to intensify to the degree wood and oxygen are supplied.

The same is true in marriage…

I’m Tired of Great Weddings!

How to turn a great wedding into a great marriage

George Booth and I collaborated on this post together. George is a good friend and currently serves on the Board of Marriage Revolution.

Great Mariage

I’ve been to some great weddings!

We once attended a wedding in Ireland where we traveled with a plane load of fellow Scots and celebrated for almost a week.

I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a colleague in Azerbaijan where we danced, ate, and celebrated into the wee small Azeri hours.

I’ve been to great weddings in the prettiest of Scottish Castles and great weddings in the grandest of Cathedrals – but quite frankly I’m getting tired of great weddings!

The more I think about it, I haven’t been to a bad wedding. Every wedding I’ve ever facilitated, attended, or observed has been great.

This weekend, great weddings will be happening all around the world where a beautiful bride and a handsome groom will enjoy with their fortunate guests, all the spoils and pleasure of months and often years of meticulous planning and paying! They’ll be great. People will laugh, parents will cry, and everyone will hashtag their memories to the happy couple’s Instagram tag – #greatwedding

So why with all these great weddings do we only know a handful of great marriages? Why do we pour so much time, energy, creativeness and money into great weddings but we are reluctant to invest in having a great marriage?

Lost That Lovin’ Feeling?

How To Get It Back

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One of my favorite parts of my job is doing pre-marital counseling.  I’m so encouraged when a young crazy in love couple sits in my office and subjects themselves to God’s instruction for their upcoming marriage.  I love it!

Inevitably, at some point in my first session with them I’ll ask, “Why do you want to marry each other?”

Although I get a ton of different answers, one or both of them usually say something like, “He / She makes me happy.”

In fact, I have yet to encounter an exception to some form of this answer.  Most couples get engaged because of the feeling of happiness they experience when they’re with each other.

Most couples think they’ll never lose, “that lovin’ feeling”.

But then something happens.

Sometimes it happens before the wedding, sometimes after. Sometimes it happens in the first year of marriage, sometimes not until 5 or more years in. And sometimes, it lasts weeks, months, or even years. Some couples even divorce when it happens.  But, it always happens at some point to one degree or another.

Please don’t do it…

The Affair Illusion

Guest Post: Janel Breitenstein is a married mother of 4 who writes frequently for FamilyLife. Janel and her husband John currently serve with eMi in Uganda. Additionally, Janel’s husband serves on the Board of Marriage Revolution. You can visit her blog at www.agenerousgrace.com

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Last Friday, Fox news reported that Ashley Madison—the self-proclaimed “original extramarital affairs site”—anticipated a 500% increase in applicants following Mother’s Day.

There are so many aspects of this statistic that baffle the mind. I suppose—or rather earnestly hope—that there are enough blog posts out there about the mere idea of a site dedicating itself to (how to put this politely?) willful marital annihilation. But in an effort to step beyond preaching and into understanding, there are a few observations that beg unpacking.

Finally Free (Zondervan)

Porn sucks.  I hate it.  I hate everything about it.

I hate what it does to men.  I hate what it does to women.  I hate what it does to marriages.  I hate how it affects kids.

Unfortunately, a lot of my clients struggle with porn.  I wish they didn’t.  But, they do.

But, there is HOPE!!!

If you’re struggling with porn, the Gospel is the answer.  How?  Read this book by Heath Lambert for starters:

Heath beautifully articulates the Gospel in a way that not only applies to someone’s struggle with porn, but in a way that deals with any type of habitual struggle with sin.

I highly recommend this book.