How Technology Threatens Marriages

How Technology Threatens Marriage
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s offers a snapshot through the years of technology and how it could move the boundaries of safety in guarding your marriage–and even make it easier to have an emotional affair, or actual adultery.

It’s 1975 and Mr. Company Manager needs to talk to Ms. Sales Manager about an account. It’s after hours, so he picks up the phone and calls her at home. Her husband answers. The two chat for a bit about the latest Maple Leafs’ loss, and then husband passes the phone to wife.

It’s 1991 and Miss Recent Law Grad needs to talk to Mr. Lawyer Partner about a case on the weekend. She dials his home phone and Mr. Lawyer’s 4-year-old son answers. Recent Law Grad convinces him to pass the phone to his mommy, who explains that Mr. Lawyer Partner is out taking the 8-year-old to gymnastics. Miss Recent Law Grad used to take gymnastics, too. They chat for a bit about the lessons, and she leaves a message with Mrs. Lawyer Partner explaining why she’s bugging Mr. Lawyer Partner at home.

It’s 1982 and Johnny Doe is driving through his hometown when he passes the old “make out bridge”. He has fleeting thoughts of Mary Jane, with whom he often frequented that spot. But he doesn’t look her up, because he has no idea where she is. She’s probably married anyhow.

Now it’s 2013, so let’s redo all of those scenarios. Mr. Company Manager texts Ms. Sales Manager about the account. They banter back and forth, in texts that grow increasingly personal. He never actually talks to Ms. Sales Manager’s husband, and thus often forgets the man exists.

Miss Recent Law Grad texts Mr. Lawyer Partner while he’s watching gymnastics. She’s never talked to the wife. She knows vaguely that he has a few kids, but they’re not real to her. But everyday she and the partner text back and forth at least a dozen times. They’re becoming good friends.

And Johnny Doe? He found Mary Jane on Facebook a couple of months back. They’ve been privately messaging for a while now. She’s been married for 23 years, but she feels dissatisfied. “Talking” to Johnny reminds her of those exhilarating times when she was young and felt desirable and the future was all open to her. Her husband has no idea that she’s found Johnny again.

How Technology Threatens Marriage

Technology has completely changed the way we interact, and I don’t think it’s always for the better. Sure I appreciate being able to text my daughter when she’s late, rather than plotting revenge for making me worry. I appreciate being able to text my husband to ask him to pick something up without having to fret that I’m interrupting him by calling. Texting is a wonderful tool.

But it can also obscure true relationships. That family phone at one point acted as a gatekeeper. You couldn’t just call a married individual of the opposite sex without also talking to that person’s spouse or kids. You were constantly reminded that the person was part of a larger unit. You had no real way to pursue a more personal relationship unless you did so deliberately. Today often innocent texts can turn into something more.

Or take Facebook. According to the Loyola University Health System, it’s implicated in 20% of U.S. divorces. You can flirt with someone while sitting next to your spouse! He’s watching football; she’s messaging Johnny.

We can’t turn back the clock on technology, but I do think every married couple needs to establish boundaries that clearly tell the outside world “we are a unit”. Several of my couple friends have a combined Facebook account. Others have a “no texting during family time” rule, or a “both spouses always know the password to the phone” rule. Marriage is tough enough without other people driving a wedge. So talk to each other. Set boundaries about texting the opposite sex. Get to know your spouse’s co-workers. And above all, never stop working on your marriage.

Don’t miss my Friday reflection! Sign up to receive it FREE in your inbox, along with my weekly blog highlights, every Friday!

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


// ]]>

Seeking Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column addresses the home in light of the horrific events of last week in Connecticut.

I’m not really happy with it. I was upset when I wrote it, which may explain part of it. But I think my answer is inadequate. The fact is this world is filled with brokenness. And I believe it’s getting worse. For years we lived on the residual benefits of our Christian heritage, but now we’ve got barely fumes of it. That’s not enough.

And the problem is that I don’t think you can have true healing from brokenness or pain apart from God. I can’t say that in a secular column, but that’s what’s missing here. There are no answers to the pain in this world except for people coming back to God and letting Him heal the brokenness. We need to pray harder and maybe we will see God work!

The message of the Christmas season is supposed to be “Peace on Earth”, yet there are years when that message seems especially anachronistic. This would be one such year. How can we reconcile the Christmas spirit with the abject horror of a gunman shooting up a class of six and seven-year-olds in Newtown?

My daughter said to me, “at least shootings don’t happen here,” referring to small town Canada. But shootings like this do happen in small towns because they have nothing to do with the crime rate of big cities and much to do with the pain inside the home. This week has brought renewed calls for gun control and increased security, and there very well may be merit in these proposals. But the problem is not primarily a safety one; it’s a heart one. We are creating a society of hurt, angry, warped individuals.

We don’t know all the details about the shooter, but I have yet to hear of a mass murderer who came from an intact, functional family. Even those who are mentally ill rarely act out unless it is combined with deep wounds at home. That does not mean that all people from broken or dysfunctional homes will turn out badly; I’m a child of divorce, and I like to think that I’m quite emotionally well-adjusted, thank you very much. But there is no denying that family instability is the root cause of much childhood emotional trauma. The Longevity Project, which followed thousands of people for decades, found that divorce of parents is harder on a child than the death of a parent.

That’s not polite to say, because we don’t want to make people feel badly. But I am sick of tiptoeing around certain unpleasant realities. Some marriages, of course, can’t be saved. Abusive homes are more damaging than divorced ones. But if a split has happened, let’s work even harder at helping our kids feel cherished and whole. Whether divorced or married, let’s focus on their needs, not our wants.

We are raising a generation of kids who are lost. So many are missing a parent. They spend more time on video games than they do with responsible adults. They live solitary lives on the internet. They’re looking for an outlet for the pain.

But once we’ve caused that pain, it’s either going to be dealt with in a healthy manner or it’s going to be turned inward or outward. When it’s turned outward, no amount of locks or gun control is going to rescue us.

There is no solution other than to start loving each other. Honour your commitments. Think of others first. Be nice.

Above all, do not get so caught up in your own angst that you ignore your kids’ needs. And if your relationship with your children’s other parent is already disrupted, do what you can to live in peace with your ex anyway. Let peace reign.

Dayspring Peace Mug

Peace isn’t something that you can magically find by putting up the right Christmas lights or cooking a great turkey or watching a Christmas special. It’s a matter of the heart. It’s a feeling that you have done the right thing. It’s the relief of making peace with your past. It’s not shoving problems under the rug; it’s acknowledging them, confronting the pain, and then deciding to move forward together.

And so, my readers, I wish you Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all, in whatever tradition you celebrate. Hug those you love even harder this year. Do the right thing, and love one another, and we, too, can create peace in our homes. Indeed, that is the only way we will ever have peace outside of them.

Don’t miss a Reality Check! Sign up to receive it FREE in your inbox every week!

Emotional Affairs–The Dangers are Real

'157/365 I am...Cute' photo (c) 2009, Rachel Carter - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Today’s post is a guest post from Marsha Rozalski, author of Godly Whispers: A 90-Day Devotional to Help You Recover from Your Spouse’s Affair

“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.”
(Proverbs 10:9, NLT)

Last year I had a Christian woman tell me she found her “soul mate.” I was more than intrigued since I knew she’d been married over 20 years. There were warning bells going off and I felt my stomach drop as she told me her story. I knew she was falling into an emotional affair and she was heading down a very slippery slope that never has a happy ending.

Her church hired a new choir director and, as all affairs do, it started out very innocently. He would compliment her on her voice, giving her praise and attention every practice. His words stirred up feelings inside her of loneliness and longing for affection. Feelings she didn’t even realize she had. If she’d only realized she was feeling lonely and ignored by her husband she could have talked with him about her feelings. But instead of turning to her husband, she turned to the new choir director.

She started staying behind after everyone left so she could talk with him. Over these “chats” he told her his marriage was not doing well and she in turn did the same. Before either of them realized it, feelings of attraction started stirring in their hearts. She told me how much she enjoyed their chats, that he understood her and that they had a “real” connection. She then told me she just knew he was meant to be her true “soul mate.”

This “soul mate” idea can do a lot of damage. When you pledge yourself before God to someone in marriage, you become soul mates.

“A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
(Mark 10:7-9, NLT)

Christians seem more likely to get mixed up in emotional affairsThey feel it isn’t sin if there’s no touching involved. An affair is not defined by whether you have sex with the other person, but rather the secrecy involved and the fact that a spouse is being betrayed. Think about it: would you be hurt if your spouse had a “secret friend” that he or she shared their deepest secrets with that you knew nothing about?

Years ago, I remember a woman that started an emotional affair with another man she felt she had more in common with than her own husband. I guess the children they shared didn’t count. She became so entangled with this man that she left her husband for him. They didn’t last a year. Today she’s alone and the children are shuffled between both of them. Many times we find ourselves suffering from the “greener grass syndrome.”

We need to learn to be very honest with ourselves and God. Even thinking about and wanting to have an affair is sin.

“‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.”
Matthew 5:28 (The Message)

Know this; an emotional affair is only the beginning of a physical affair.

This issue isn’t only for those who are married. I’ve known singles–both men and women–who struggled with falling for someone who’s married. We must all learn to guard our hearts against developing inappropriate friendships with the opposite sex. If you’re in a “friendship” with someone of the opposite sex that isn’t appropriate, I strongly urge you to end it now. You must stop feeding this addiction and run away from this sin. Do everything possible to make this happen including changing your email address, phone numbers and daily routines.

Always guard your heart and avoid inappropriate friendships with those of the opposite sex. Never speak of your marital problems or personal issues with someone of the opposite sex, save that for your same sex friends or a counselor. Have someone keep you accountable and ask how you are doing every now and then with your friendships. If you are married, take the time and effort to invest in your marriage. After all, your husband is your only true soul mate.

You can find Marsha’s book here:  Godly Whispers

Also here are a couple of articles I have written on emotional affairs that may help you, too:

Wifey Wednesday: Are You Expecting the Impossible?

 

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!


Photo by Easywebsites.ky

You may have heard it said before that “the enemy of the best is the good”. The French philosopher Voltaire made it famous (though he said it in French!), and it’s famous because it’s so true. Often we get so caught up doing good things that we miss the best. We miss our priorites.

But that being said, I think the reverse can also be true. Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. When the best is more a fairy-tale ideal than a reality, then it can become the enemy of making any kind of real progress. The best can actually be a hindrance to your marriage.

Allow me to use an analogy that doesn’t have to do with marriage first to show you what I mean. A while back I caused a ruckus in the comments section of this blog because I insinuated that there were things that women could do to reduce the chance of sexual assault, and we should teach these to our daughters. I never said that we could eliminate rape–but I said that we could reduce it.

People kept taking issue with me, so I kept writing follow-up posts, and the comments grew worse and worse. One commenter really summed up the other side perfectly. She said (and I paraphrase):

Women should be able to wear whatever they want and go wherever they want. You should be talking to the men, not to the women!

She was a little ruder than that, but I’ll leave out the colorful language.

What a strange comment, though. OF COURSE women should be able to wear what they want and do what they want without getting raped. We should live in a world where there is no abuse, no rape, no children in poverty, no wars, and no violence. But we don’t live in that world. And since we don’t, what steps can we take to protect ourselves?

They were focusing so much on what SHOULD be that they refused to acknowledge that there were any steps you could take to make our present life, the one we are living in right now, even the least bit better. It was all or nothing.


Have you ever felt that way about your marriage? I once knew a woman who eventually left her husband, who explained it to me this way:

God created marriage to be a joining of two human beings–an institution where we’re able to communicate, and love, and respect, and share ideas and share vision and purpose. He created marriage to build us up, not to tear us down. He created marriage to be part of our fulfillment, not part of our destruction. My husband didn’t know how to communicate. He never listened to me. He never talked to me; he only ever talked past me. He used sex just to satisfy himself. In other words, it wasn’t actually a marriage. And so I ended it.

I have no doubt that her marriage was extremely difficult, but do you see the problem with her position? She was saying that because her marriage was not one in which two individuals were completely joined, it was thus not a marriage. God intended marriage to be fulfilling; it was not, therefore the argument about whether one had biblical grounds to divorce was moot because this wasn’t even marriage!

Her argument is flawed, because while God said marriage should be like this, He never invalidated marriages that were not like that. Indeed, in Corinthians Paul even tells women married to men who aren’t Christians to stay if they can–and these marriages are obviously not a complete joining of minds and ideals.

This woman was looking for the best; she didn’t find it, so therefore she invalidated everything else.

Many of us enter marriage with similar thoughts. Marriage SHOULD be a place where we can completely bear our souls. Marriage SHOULD be a place where we are unconditionally cherished. Marriage SHOULD be a place where we find our best friend. Then, when the should doesn’t happen, we give up. That’s how things SHOULD be, and we can’t settle for second best. We don’t look at little changes that we could make to grow the marriage, or to grow our communication, because we figure that he is just hopeless. He’s so out of touch with what a husband should be, that growth is well nigh impossible.

None of us is perfect, though, and I think we need a different strategy. If your husband isn’t a good communicator, or sulks constantly, or watches too much TV (or plays too many video games), or never spends any time with the kids, that doesn’t invalidate your marriage, and it doesn’t mean that things can’t get better. After all, by staying away from drunken parties, girls can drastically reduce their risk of date rape. Similarly, by learning new communication techniques, you can drastically reduce your risk of growing apart and ending the relationship. You can do things to move in the right direction, even if those things won’t give you 100% change. They can still make your life significantly better.

What I would suggest, then, is that we stop looking at what marriage is supposed to be in the ideal, and we start looking at what we can do to make things better. In other words, quit focusing so much on the destination, and focus instead on the direction. Move forward, even if it’s slowly, and you will eventually get there. Focus so much on the finish line, and how far it is away from your current position, and you can quickly lose heart.

This applies to aspects of marriage, too. I was at a place in our marriage once where everything was going really well–except sex. It’s not that it was horrible; it just wasn’t what it was supposed to be, according to the media and all the sermons I heard about how God created sex to be wonderful. For a few years, I gave up. It’s not that we didn’t make love; it’s just that my attitude was one of: “this just isn’t for me. It’s all for him, and I’ll just get through it.” I believed that if it wasn’t the ideal, then I had been gypped, and there was no point in even trying.

It was only when I had an attitude shift where I started to ask whether I could believe that it could get better–even if it was slowly. When I made the mental shift, then the way I acted also changed.

Whether it’s in your marriage as a whole or in individual parts of your marriage, don’t give up because you haven’t reached the ideal. Ask God to help you make baby steps, because those steps can add up! Ask Him to give you a new heart to grow, even if it’s slowly, because moving in the right direction gives you a new attitude or outlook on your marriage which is so much more energizing.

Whatever you do, don’t let the best become an enemy of that real, helpful change.

Wifey Wednesday: What Does Til Death Do Us Part Mean?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!
'Wedding - Relaxing couple' photo (c) 2009, Ben Luckman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Today I want to tackle a tough one, one that I’ve been mulling over a bunch for the last few years. And that question is: What does til death do us part mean?

When you married, you pledged that. But so often, five, ten, fifteen years down the road you decide you’ve had enough. I know so many women who are in just awful relationships. He pays no attention to her, he’s never home, he speaks in condescending tones, he’s lazy. I know other men who are control freaks, who nitpick about their wife’s weight, or her clothes, or her housekeeping. And they’re horrible to live with. And I find myself thinking, “she’s not honestly expected to stay in that, is she?” She’s miserable in her marriage.

Now please, I know many of you completely believe “Til Death Do Us Part”, and your inclination is to make a snap judgment. But think of some of the women who are likely reading this. They’re extremely lonely. They cry almost everyday. They’ve sought out counseling because the marriage is so difficult. They’re worried about their kids. If you haven’t walked through that, please don’t just assume that you know the answer. Just bear with me for a minute.

I speak at marriage conferences with my husband, and my passion is to see marriages restored, strengthened, and thriving. I have seen relationships go from a place where he is bordering on cruel to where he has become tender, at least around the edges. God can do anything. But for most women who are in the midst of that heartache, it isn’t so easy. Nothing is changing.

They desperately want to leave. They want a new start at life, where no one is telling them what to do, criticizing them, or perhaps worse, ignoring them. I know some women who have prayed for their husbands to have affairs so that they would have biblical justification in leaving him. And I have talked to other women who have said that they find the whole affair justification strange, because having a one night stand is not nearly as bad as what her husband does to her on a daily basis, but her friend with a husband who had a fling can leave, and she can’t. It doesn’t seem fair.

No, it doesn’t. But here’s the thing: God never promised it would be. And He never promised that any of us would have easy lives. I really struggle with the idea that divorce is off limits when I talk to some of these women, because I truly feel for them, and I truly do think their husbands are horrible. But we have to go back to Scripture. Can Christians divorce?

My reading is this: if he has a one night stand, you probably shouldn’t leave, but if he has cheated on your continuously, he has been the one to end the marriage, not you, and if you leave now, you are perfectly justified. I also believe, though this one isn’t as Scriptural, that if you are being physically abused, or if your children are being abused, you are justified in leaving. We are not asked to sacrifice our lives, or our children’s lives, on the marriage altar. And as for addictions, sometimes we have no choice to protect the family than to leave.

That doesn’t mean that in all these cases we need to divorce. I know one woman who left her husband a decade ago because he was addicted to gambling. She is still single, and they have never divorced. She just felt she needed to get her kids out of the situation.

Often, though, when we are trying to justify leaving, we will build up our husband’s sins, and say that they encompass abuse or addictions. And since nobody actually sees what goes on inside your house, I don’t think anybody is really in the position to challenge this that much. I certainly wouldn’t, because I don’t think we can really judge others when it comes to this. So I am not trying to judge anybody, but I would say that you need to be very careful if you’re going down this road.

Marriage, you see, was not meant to be fair. One Christian writer I know well told me that she left her husband because he had violated his marriage vows to love her. He had an anger problem, and even though he wasn’t abusive, he was often angry and sullen, and he criticized her, and demanded sex all the time. She felt that the Christian view of marriage was “oneness”. We have been made one, we treat each other with respect and love, and God intended for us to be connected. When that hasn’t happened, as in her case, then you’re justified in leaving.

I don’t believe this. Yes, God intended marriage ideally to be a certain way, but He never says anywhere in Scripture that if the ideal is not met we are welcome to violate our vows. When you marry, you make a vow before God. God takes that seriously. I don’t think we understand that because we live in a society where fulfillment and happiness are the prime goals. To continue in a relationship which drains your spirit rather than fills it seems like a sin in and of itself.

But for whatever reason, God made marriage this way. He gave only a very narrow excuse for leaving, and even then, He doesn’t command us to leave. He just leaves the door open, should we choose to do so. And He says, very clearly, “God hates divorce”. We need to get that in our heads. God wanted relationships to be permanent, even if they are far from perfect. Commitment matters. Stability matters.

Why? Because when we commit, we teach our children to commit. We create a society that is based on grace rather than performance. We leave room for God to work. We learn to rely on God in our hard times, rather than thinking another person can fill our voids. We learn to compromise, to accommodate, to give. We become less selfish.

And perhaps there’s a bigger reason. How about, quite simply, because God said so. That is what I am teaching my kids about their future marriages: you stay married because God said so. You don’t look for a way out. Divorce is so hard on kids, even when that divorce is justified. It usually leaves one or the other of you down the wrong path. I have seen divorces occur in my family where one of them became promiscuous and alcoholic after the divorce, which likely would not have happened had they stayed together, because they had stability. Take that stability away and everything falls apart. Marriage increases holiness, even if the husband appears petty, mean, or clueless.

The question becomes, then, “If God wants me to stay, then how am I going to manage it? What can I do to make my life bearable?” And that’s a good question to ask, because it forces us to go to God. It forces us to ask Him to be our peace. It also forces us to confront the real issues in our marriage and make an honest stab at fixing them, whether it means counseling, or a lot of prayer, or persistence.

I don’t think it’s easy. When these women in hard situations come to me and say, “I hate my marriage” and explain why, I want to say, “You’re right. You should leave.” Their husbands don’t deserve them. But I can’t say that, because I just don’t think it’s true biblically. I may think it should be true, but it isn’t. And at some point we have to submit.

Some people in this life will have much more difficulty than others. It seems unfair to stay in a rotten marriage when those around you have great ones. But things happen. Some people have children born with disabilities. Some people have health issues in their 30s. Some people are born into violent societies. Life is not fair. You can’t make it fair by doing something that God explicitly said not to do.

That, then, is my philosophy. When we vow Til Death Do Us Part, we mean it. God means it. And there is no Get out of Jail card. At the same time, I would never tell a woman that what she did was wrong, because like I said, I can’t see into your particular home. I don’t think we are to judge others in this regard. But I do think we need to preach this louder: no divorce. Absolutely no divorce. And if people realized that, perhaps they’d be more careful about who they married.

Here’s a bit of encouragement, though. In large scale studies of marriages, they have found that couples who split were less likely to be happy five years later than people who stayed together, even if their marriages were equally miserable. And even better, 78% of couples who had miserable marriages rated their marriages as wonderful five years later. The act of committing to riding it out made them happy. So if you’re going through a rough time, it likely will not always be like this. And no matter what, God is there to help you, to heal you, to comfort you, and to change you (and minister to him). If you’re miserable, throw yourself on Him. Wrestle with Him. He can take it. And ask Him to provide you with an escape from your misery–even if that escape is actually within your marriage!

Father Cravings

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in newspapers around Canada. Here’s this week’s, on fathers. It becomes hard, after seven years, to keep thinking up new things to say about holidays!:

A century ago, Sigmund Freud posited that women suffered from an envy of a certain part of male anatomy. Personally, I think Freud may have had an inflated sense of the importance of this body part, because I have never entertained even a fleeting thought of possessing such a thing.

I can understand women in Freud’s day, though, eschewing their own sex in favour of the other, since women back then couldn’t pursue their dreams very easily. But today women are no longer denigrated in the career sphere; men, on the other hand, are frequently denigrated in the domestic sphere. They’re the brunt of all kinds of jokes about their ineptitude when it comes to relationships. Fifty years ago the popular image of a dad was Ward Cleaver. Today it’s Homer Simpson. We praise and revere mothers; we laugh at dads. The tables have turned.

Think about it: on Mother’s Day, we wrap ourselves inside out trying to say thank you to mom. In fact, Mother’s Day, not Christmas, is the day when the long distance lines buzz the most. Of course, many dads have failed miserably at their parenting role. For every woman raising a child alone there is a man who has not lived up to his responsibilities.

But by trying to break the stigma of single parenting, we’ve also inadvertently said that fatherhood doesn’t matter. We don’t want any single mom to feel badly, or any child to feel like they’re missing something, so we loudly declare that children will be fine with a mom. They don’t need a Daddy; they just need someone to love them.

Forgive me, but I think that’s stupid. Children are programmed to need both parents, and those parents are not interchangeable. In general, psychologists tell us that children get their sense of love and security from their mothers, but they get their sense of identity and purpose from their fathers. It is the mother who nurtures, but it is the father who launches the child out of the nest.
That doesn’t mean that all children without dads will have identity complexes. I grew up without a dad, and I overcame. But I also know that my childhood lacked something. My children, who have both parents, are doing much better than I did at their age.

Recently my kids and I ventured to the Toronto Zoo, where we saw father-craving firsthand. A 10-year-old orang-utan kept swinging upside down, over his father’s head, so that he could periodically swat dad or pull his hair. The father responded by swatting back, but rarely by looking at his offspring. The mom would snuggle with him, but he still wanted the dad’s attention.

The mandrills did the same thing. The baby jumped on all the other mandrills, cuddled with mom, and bugged his siblings. But he would sneak up to dad, waiting to see how close he could get before dad would react. When he came within arm’s reach, the dad would jerk, and the baby would scamper away. He, too, wanted dad to acknowledge him. This father craving has been built in, even to animals.

It reminds me of children on a diving board, yelling, “Watch me, Dad!” We moms can love kids, and hug them, and affirm them, but they’ll still want dad.

This Father’s Day, let’s treat the dads who are active in our lives with the same respect and gratitude that we treat the moms. They aren’t just extra additions to the family; they’re central to the child’s well-being. So to all the dads out there who are watching soccer games, reading stories, helping with homework, and hugging a baby, thank you. You are needed, you are appreciated, and I wish you a wonderful day!

Don’t miss a Reality Check! Sign up here to receive it free in your inbox every week!