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:

6 Secrets To Building a Marriage That Lasts

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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:

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.

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

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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:

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…

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.

What To Do When Your Spouse Wants Out

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I’ll never forget that day.

I had been out of town for about a week and I couldn’t wait to be home to see my wife and 2 year old daughter.

Things had been rough in our marriage, but while I was out of town I felt like my love for her was renewed. I was going to be different when I got home: more patient, more gentle, less angry. Our marriage was going to be different.

My excitement to share my fresh start with Star quickly turned to confusion as I pulled into the driveway to her standing outside and holding hands with our innocent, red haired, pig tailed, daughter by her side.  Next to them were two suitcases.

I got out of the car and asked what was going on.

She was noticeably distant and silent for a few moments, then she looked up and said with a cold determination, “Hans, I’m leaving”.

“What?!”

“I said, I’m leaving.”

“Why?”

“Are you kidding me? Why?”

I was in unbelief.  I felt like I was hit by a truck.  I didn’t even argue with her I was so shocked. She had begged me to go to counseling for some of our problems for months, but now I was ready. And now this?! I didn’t fully understand what was happening until she was already driving away.

It was the start of our six month separation where I fought for our marriage. Alone.

The most heartbreaking calls and emails that come into my counseling office resemble stories like this. One spouse wants out. The other doesn’t. The spouse that wants out is confused. Hopeless. Desperately searching for anything – anything – that will save the marriage.

What do you do in a situation like this or how do you help a friend walk through a situation like this?