Every Marriage Needs CPR

How to identify and revive the vital signs of your marriage

My first job at 16 was a lifeguard at a local waterpark. I thought it would be the perfect summer job. I mean, what could be better than spending my summer days sitting on a lifeguard stand getting paid to look cool and get a killer tan?

Oakley mirrored sunglasses…check.

Red Swim trunks…check.

Whistle to blow at little kids being punks…check

Training to actually know what to do in the event of someone drowning and not having a pulse…what?! Didn’t anticipate that one.

Insert CPR training.

CPR is a lifesaving technique designed to revive vital signs that have ceased to function. If you need to give someone CPR, you know the situation is dire. Something needs to be done quick or the person will die.

I want to suggest that your marriage has some vital signs as well. If any of these vital signs are absent from your marriage, the situation is dire. Something needs to be done quickly or your marriage will die.

Don’t wait for your marriage to “stop breathing” to start checking its vital signs. Regardless of whether your marriage is on its death bed or just needs a tune up, the place to start working is on its vitals:

How to Confess A Sexual Sin To Your Spouse

PART 2

When I confessed my sin of pornography to Star about 15 years ago it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. It was also one of the most painful times for my wife.

She was shocked. She felt like she had just been hit by a truck. She thought I was a sicko. She thought I needed to be admitted for sexual addiction counseling. We had just rebuilt our marriage from a pile of ashes and now this?

My confession broke trust, exposed insecurities, and shattered any intimacy we had built over the 3 years before. But, I don’t regret it for a second…

Why You Need To Confess Sexual Sin To Your Spouse Now

PART 1

I went to Cambodia a couple weeks ago with Tim and Stephanie Broersma. I love this couple. One of the reasons I love them is their authenticity and their willingness to share how God has rescued and restored them from their marriage struggles.

Tim struggled with sexual sin for many years (watch their powerful testimony below). When God led him to confess his sin to Stephanie, he didn’t do it perfect, but he did do a lot right.

Now, 7 years later, their marriage is stronger than ever and they are helping other marriages who have been through the same thing experience similar restoration. One of the biggest reasons they have recovered so well is because Tim confessed right.

So many married men AND women are struggling with sexual sin (pornography, emotional affairs, physical affairs, etc…) and it is destroying their relationship from the inside out. If there is any hope for the restoration of these marriages, confession needs to happen now and it needs to happen right.

I want to help those who are struggling with sexual sin confess in a way that will give their marriage the best possible chances of restoration.

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

Couple walking in rainy

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.

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:

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.

How to Forgive After an Affair

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When I discovered Star was having an affair just 18 months into our marriage I was distraught. I could barely contain the rage and anger.  The thought of my wife being with another man made me want to vomit, scream, crawl in a hole, and lash out in anger….all at the same time.

I didn’t think I, much less my marriage, would ever recover.

But, not only did God restore me, he restored my marriage as well. And, “restore” is an understatement. God made my marriage stronger than it ever was before and the intimacy and closeness my wife and I now share is almost unbelievable given what we went through.

How did this happen?  Forgiveness was a key ingredient.

Regardless of what you’ve been through in your marriage, you’ve undoubtedly been put in a position of extending forgiveness to your spouse.

Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not. For the times it’s not, here are 10 thoughts to consider:

Are you clueless?

Clueless

I’m sorry to be offensive, but if you’re a guy reading this there’s a good chance you might be…

I know this because I was clueless, still struggle with being clueless, and see men almost everyday that are clueless about the condition of their marriage.

My wife begged me to go to counseling for almost 12 months before we got separated. She tried to tell me things were bad, but I just didn’t see it. I know we had things to work on, but I had no idea things were as bad as what she said they were.

I’ve since learned that it matters less if my wife’s perception about the condition of our marriage is right or wrong, but rather if and how I respond to her perception.

If her perception is right, I have a problem. If her perception is wrong, I ALSO have a problem. The only wrong way to deal with my wife’s perception is to ignore it.

I want to help you determine and discuss the condition of your marriage with your spouse.