Today's Christian Marriage

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Posted 1/28/09 at 6:03 PM | Mark Gungor

Advice for Stepfamilies

Stepfamilies face many challenges. Taking a group of total strangers and throwing them together and expecting them to get along is chock full of problems. These stepfamilies are often called "blended families", but there's nothing blended about most of them. They tend to be more like two opposing armies lined up for battle than anything that can even remotely be referred to as "blended". Just ask most couples who have blended families about their experience and you will probably hear the word "hell" in about 60 seconds.

My best advice to those who are considering remarriage with children from previous marriages: wait. Just hang on, trust God during this time and wait until the kids are grown-and even then it still isn't a guarantee! Sometimes even adult children will have a difficult time with their parent's remarriage situation. But generally those who wait until the kids are out of the house have much less trouble and way fewer problems.

If, however, you choose to go into the stepfamily situation, know that it's going to be a very rough road to travel. You will have to deal with each other's children, the ex-spouses, the multiple sets of grandparents, complicated holiday and summer schedules, etc. Again, in my opinion the best thing you can do is to wait until the kids are all out of the house and then move on to a new relationship.

That being said, here are some general guidelines for those of you who are already in a blended family situation:

  • Don't make your spouse choose between you and his/her kids.
  • Allow your spouse time with his/her kids.
  • Let the biological parent deal with discipline issues.
  • Get help from other stepfamily organizations. (see the links on our website)
  • And above all: DON'T criticize or condemn your spouse's children. I know, I know... you're just trying to help your spouse see the problems and you're just trying to help, but trust me - you are headed down the path of misery. You want to help? Volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Let your spouse deal with his/her own kids.

Finally, don't try to change people - just try to understand them. People don't like it when others try to change them. Go down that path with your step-children and you can virtually guarantee you will become the "wicked step-parent" in their minds. Understand why they act the way they act and let them know you understand, and you have a chance to turn from a wicked step-parent into a compassionate human being. FULL POST

Posted 1/21/09 at 1:04 PM | Mark Gungor

Divorce or Separation

I generally do not approve of divorce. I am, however, a big fan of separation. I think that there are things that happen during a separation that can radically change perceptions, mindsets and the state of a relationship. Sometimes it is just the thing that an offending spouse needs to jerk the slack out of them. It helps them to wake up and smell the coffee!

When a separation occurs, it often gets friends, family, the pastor and people at their church involved...which is exactly what should happen. Too many couples live a big lie, showing up at family and church functions pretending that all is well, when in reality, all is hell. But when separation occurs, all of this under the radar stuff is blown out of the water and now they can really get the help, support and involvement of others that they really need. Sadly, most couples bypass separation and go straight to divorce, oftentimes creating an environment where no one can do anything to help save the marriage. It becomes "too late". They wait too long and get themselves into so much misery that either one or both just doesn't care anymore.

Here is one of the reasons why clicking into "divorce mode" is so problematic and destructive: it creates instantaneous war. Separation doesn't do that. During separation you are still in the frame of mind to solve issues and work at making things better. Not so in divorce mode. Once you hit that mark, the whole thing takes on a life of its own. Now you are no longer considering what you can do to save your marriage; you are in the mentality of "kill or be killed" and "take or be taken". Everyone is out to guard, defend and protect their own interests be they financial, property or children. And fight they do. FULL POST

Posted 1/14/09 at 3:35 PM | Mark Gungor

Scheduling Sex

Sex is an extremely important part of the marriage relationship. For couples who get this right, it makes life go so much easier. Those who don't, can really struggle and it can make life together extraordinarily very difficult. One of the ironic things about sex and marriage is that before couples marry, you can hardly keep them out of bed, and after they get married, you can't get them back in!

I am often asked the question, "How often should we have sex?" Generally there is one spouse in a marriage who wants to have sex more frequently than the other and it's not always the guy. Often, I will have beautiful women come up to me at my seminars and say, "My husband doesn't want to have sex with me. What do I do?" Honestly, this is not something I can easily relate to! Being a hot-blooded Hispanic, I can't imagine not wanting to have sex with my wife!

But this can become a major point of contention for couples. During my seminars and on my DVD I challenge men to be lovers to their wives; I teach them how to win their wives sexually. But for a lot of people, it still doesn't work and so many couples struggle with this issue. They get frustrated and guys can get especially discouraged. When that happens, they don't want to be lovers to their wives anymore.

Sex was designed by God to be the single greatest force to bring a husband and wife together. If you aren't having sex, you end up with all this separation and tension in the relationship and if you don't fix it, it can eventually destroy the marriage. You must find a way to deal with it. You have to find a way to make this work. Not having sex with your spouse is not right; in fact, it is blatantly wrong and the Bible is very, very crystal clear about it. FULL POST

Posted 1/12/09 at 5:27 PM | Edward Ridenour

Marriage: The Battle For Ownership

As most people are aware, never in the history of our great nation has the establishment of marriage, exclusively that between a male and female, been attacked with such ferociousness. Because of this unprecedented assault, it has forced the true Christian church to defend the unchangeable idealistic structure of this "God ordained" establishment as never before.

The church's success on this matter will be determined on whether it is able to effectively segregate Biblical marriage from cultural marriage. At this point in time, it will be hard for the church to do this, because what qualifies and depicts marriage to the culture are the same qualifications and depictions for the church. There aren't any differences.

Along with other themes and reasons, which help form the bedrock of the church's argument, one that is predominately noted by many leaders advocating the exclusivity of heterosexual marriage is "tradition." For centuries, world wide, marriage has traditionally been established between a man and a woman and the tradition of this establishment, up to now, has been preserved. Tradition has accepted and conveyed the natural and Biblical premise that the male and female union is the only true legitimate joining. Therefore, qualifying homosexual unions as a marital equality with heterosexual unions disrupts the tradition of marriage. FULL POST

Posted 1/7/09 at 5:12 PM | Mark Gungor

Abstinence Pledges Fail

A recent survey showed that teens who take abstinence pledges are just as likely to have sex and are less likely to take precautions against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Many in the faith community are disheartened by such study results, but I can see how this happens. And it’s not a problem with the kids; it’s a problem of parenting. Parents assume because the church is doing something like having the kids make abstinence pledges and wearing promise rings, they don’t have to do anything. Parents are not taking their responsibility to parent and raise these kids; they get them to take the pledge and then take their hands off. They allow these young men and young women to spend inordinate amounts of time together alone and think that a purity ring on their finger is going to be the magic force field of protection. Listen, for teenagers to have sex, they have to have the opportunity to have sex and poor parenting is giving them the opportunities.

I am stunned at the number of people who allow their teenage kids to be in scenarios of temptation that they would never allow themselves to be in. Think about it—as a grown, mature adult, would you spends hours on end, in a private place—such as a bedroom—talking, sharing, and forming a relationship with someone to whom you are not married? Of course not! That would be ridiculous. Yet, many parents consistently put their kids in this exact kind of jeopardy by allowing them to be in compromising positions where they are bound to be tempted and make wrong choices. FULL POST

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