When There Aren’t Easy Answers

No Easy Answers
This has been a strange week.

I’ve had some heavy posts on the blog, and have had some very difficult email questions sent to me. And then on Facebook I’ve had some happy posts that have gone really viral.

I’ve talked about when to leave your marriage, but I’ve also talked about how to save it. I’ve talked about a little thing you can do to turn a marriage around, and I’ve talked about what to do when nothing seems to work.

Sometimes I feel like I have whiplash, almost arguing diametrically opposing things. How can I believe that sometimes separation has to be used as a last resort, and yet also feel that the vow really matters?

And so today, rather than writing a “regular” blog post, I thought I’d take you through some of my reasoning over the last week, and point you to a few articles that are just so amazing–especially one not even written by me. (please read to the end to see it! It will be the best thing you read all year–I promise!)

Easy Answers Don’t Usually Exist in Hard Situations

Post I wrote this week: When Your Marriage is in Crisis

I once heard a line in a movie that said, “the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are almost always the same thing”, and I agree. Magic reglationship bullets have never been found.

Usually when a relationship is in crisis, what a woman (assuming it’s a woman who is hurting, since most of my readers are female) wants to know is “what can I do to get him to change”? If he’s watching porn all the time and ignoring the family, what can I do to make him stop? If he won’t get a job, what can I do to make him work? If he’s been texting an ex-girlfriend and is considering having an affair, what can I do to bring him back to me?

Nothing.

That’s the hard truth. You can’t make him change. The only thing you can do is to change what you are doing in response. When you change your behaviour, his will also adjust. And sometimes that can bring about reconciliation–but not always.

Nevertheless, even that isn’t an easy answer, because the way that you change may be different in different situations. I had one woman email me whose nonChristian husband was using porn–but he was still a great father, he was still a great provider, and they still had a good sex life. Should she give him an ultimatum?

And in that case, maybe not. It’s not always clear cut. And I get so many questions like that: here’s my situation. What should I do? But the truth is I don’t know, because I don’t know my readers in real life. I can give general principles, but I can’t tell you specifics.

But that’s why we need two things: we need to run to God and get used to distinguishing his voice now, so that when hard times come in our marriages, we’ll be able to hear what he is telling us to do. And we need to surround ourselves with a solid Christian community that can hold us up, pray with us, and help us make decisions in times of crisis. You need people who know you in real life. But to have those kinds of relationships, you have to invest in a church. You have to be a friend to someone else if you want someone to be a friend to you. You have to use your giftings and your time there, so that when you need help, others already know and love you.

Do you see? We need to be spending our time building up our relationship with God and our relationships in Christian community now, before a crisis hits, because that’s the only way to get through a crisis.

Easy Answers Sometimes Do Exist in Other Situations

Post I wrote on this: How a Simple ‘Thank You’ Can Transform a Marriage

There may not be hard and fast rules for what you should do in every crisis, but there are easy answers that seem to really help a marriage BEFORE it hits crisis. And this is what I so want my readers to understand: when we are intentional in the little things, showing love to one another, being kind to one another, understanding one another–we usually can avoid many of these crises.

I gave one example on my post on Monday of what Shaunti Feldhahn found when she researched thousands of couples over several years. Men say ‘I love you’, and women say ‘thank you’. It’s very simple, but it matters! Check it out.

Often these things are simple that can change the whole dynamic of our marriage. So please, before a crisis hits, be intentional! And then you may never hit that crisis in the first place.

Sometimes All It Takes is a Change in Perspective

Increasingly, though, I believe that most crises can be solved if we just get a change in perspective. Often things take on a life of their own because we get so wrapped up in our feelings that we aren’t able to see straight.

As I’ve been working on the final edits to my upcoming book, 9 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage, I found this article on Today’s Christian Woman that was brilliant. A woman was packed up and ready to leave her husband, when her mom made her make a list. It just wasn’t the list she thought of, and it changed everything.

I included the story in my book. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something so profound. And on Facebook, as of this morning, it’s been seen by more than 350,000 people.

The List That Saved My Marriage

Please read that. It will bless you. And if you haven’t joined my Facebook page, please do so. I share stuff like that all the time, and much of it doesn’t make it to the blog. So don’t miss it!

I so appreciate all of my readers, and I do wrestle with how to answer difficult questions. But ultimately I may point you in the right direction, but you need God’s wisdom to know the specifics. So please: invest in a Christian community. Chase after Him. No matter what happens in your marriage, He is always there for you and He always loves you, and His power is there to help you make the right decisions in difficult situations.

Archives

Sexually Aggressive Culture

Helping our Daughters Navigate Through a Sexually Aggressive Culture

Today please welcome Sarah Ball, aka The Virtuous Woman Exposed, as she shares about how to help protect and teach our daughters in a sexually aggressive culture. My husband was shocked to hear from me that from the age of 13 -19, I had never had a job where I wasn’t sexually harassed by a male boss or coworker. It was to be expected as a young teenaged waitress, for my boss to ‘brush’ past me, pushing his crotch against me, as I stood collecting food from the back. It was the running joke for … Read More...

When your marriage is in crisis: how to move forward by setting boundaries

Wifey Wednesday: When your Marriage Is in Crisis

It's Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own posts below. Today I want to tackle a really hard question--one that is left often in the comments. What do I do if my marriage is in crisis, but he doesn't think it's a big deal and refuses to change? Here's a comment, for instance, that was left yesterday when we were talking about the trauma of a husband's porn use: If he is unrepentant how do I set boundaries? I have read your … Read More...

Getting Over the Trauma of Your Husband's Porn Use

The Trauma of Your Husband’s Porn Use: 8 Steps to Dealing with It

The most common email I receive and comment I get on this blog is about pornography. So many of my readers are struggling with their husbands' porn use. I've asked several experts to write some guest posts for me over the next few days to help us deal with the trauma of porn use and point our way to recovery. Today Dorothy Maryon, a clinical therapist, shares with us about the effects of discovering your husband uses porn--and how to get through it. Most women are blindsided when they discover … Read More...

What a Husband Needs: Gratitude

How a Simple “Thank You” Can Transform a Marriage

Last Friday I had the tremendous privilege of meeting up with fellow marriage author Shaunti Feldhahn while she was speaking in Ottawa. Shaunti is part of my new Christian Marriage Authors Pinterest Board, and you have one more day to enter our contest to win a marriage library of 12 books! I took her on a bit of a walk in downtown Ottawa, where we saw the Parliament buildings with the flag at half mast and the War Memorial with the flowers from the recent shooting, but then we went to her … Read More...

On the Ottawa Shootings and Our Response

On Ottawa, Terrorism, and the Family

Just four days ago I was emailing with author Shaunti Feldhahn and her assistant (Shaunti's part of my new Christian marriage author Pinterest board). Shaunti was going to be in Ottawa on Friday (today), to present her findings from her book The Good News About Marriage. She had some free time in the afternoon, though, and I suggested we get together. She's staying at a downtown hotel, so I said, "as long as it's not raining, let's go for a walk! It's beautiful downtown. I'll take you by the … Read More...

Men only want one thing

Lies We Believe About Men: Men Only Want One Thing

Yesterday I started talking about the lies that women often believe about men. Today I want to tackle another one: Men only want one thing. And I've asked Julie Gorman to share an excerpt from her book What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Men. What more could he possibly want from me? Greg seemed dissatisfied with our love-making. Displeased, discontented, and disappointed. Put a “dis” in front of it, and Greg probably experienced it. I felt him becoming more and more distant. “What’s … Read More...