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
Maybe you already know what it is. You know: that one thing. It’s one thing that, like an arm in a cast, its layered hardness immobilizing you from totally embracing your spouse.
Maybe you’re like me; I didn’t even realize it was there. But still, it was a silent, mildly bitter seed I’d unwittingly nurtured when it niggled at me. Sometimes it was watered by a bad day that couldn’t keep pace with my vision of what life could be like if only.
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:
The following post was written by Glen Solberg
. Glen is a marriage counselor in our Little Rock, Arkansas office.
72 years. No way!
I had to re-read the number.
But my eyes were not faulty. The couple my wife and I were reading about had indeed been married 72 years. That’s not something you hear about every day, especially in today’s world.
As I have pondered the story of Bruce and Esther Huffman since then, I have thought about Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4 that speak of “finishing the race”. The Lord had given me a picture of what it means to finish well in marriage in Bruce and Esther.
I want to finish well, like Bruce and Esther.
I know if you are married and reading this, you may be thinking the same thing. You may even be asking yourself the question I had to ask myself:
“What do I need to do today and tomorrow and next week to be intentional about “finishing well” in my marriage?”
As my wife, Shawn, and I pondered that question, here are some suggestions for ways you can work today to have a “Bruce and Esther” kind of marriage:
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…
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.
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…
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: