Today's Christian MarriageTweet
Posted 7/21/09 at 10:18 AM | Mort Fertel
In your quest to stop divorce, you may encounter resistance-from your spouse!
Your spouse may dwell on the 101 reasons why "this just won't work for us" and blame you for every one.
Or, your spouse may be emotionally "checked-out" of the marriage and not care about your efforts to improve the situation or be willing to extend any effort of their own.
This is, by far, the most common question people ask me: "How do I get my spouse to change?"
Why would your spouse resist POSITIVE change in your marriage and what should you do about it?
There's a deep-seated belief in our culture that people resist change, no matter what. But is this true? Do people really want things to remain status quo? Do we really not want things to change? If you look closely at human nature, it's not change itself we resist; it's change that's IMPOSED UPON US.
Think about it. We have no problem with change that WE INITIATE ourselves. But when we feel forced or manipulated to change, then we resist WITH ALL OUR MIGHT.
Your spouse may not be willing to change for the sake of your marriage right now, but that's not because your spouse doesn't want a great marriage. Everyone wants a great marriage. It's because if they're going to change, they want the change to be THEIR IDEA!!!!!!
I promise you, your spouse will decide to change when they're ready to change and not one second before. And the more you push them, urge them, nudge them, ask them, scream at them, or beg them, the LESS LIKELY they are to change. I know it's hard to wait, but you have to let it come from them.
It's possible someone could INSPIRE your spouse to change, but the person LEAST LIKELY to be the inspiration is YOU. It's sad but true. A complete stranger is more likely to get through to your spouse than you are. A chance experience or encounter is more likely to shake up your spouse than anything YOU could do.
Mary Ellen (name changed) came to me for marriage coaching. She knew she had to make changes and came to our sessions with a genuine interest to improve her marriage. She wanted Tom (her husband) to be part of the process, but he wasn't willing to join her. She had been asking him to go with her to get help for over a year. But Tom consistently refused.
I met with Mary Ellen twice and convinced her to back-off Tom and just let him be for a while. I counseled her to make some changes that created a more positive energy in their relationship. When the time was right, I suggested that Mary Ellen ask Tom is he would be willing to speak with ME for 10 minutes. Mary Ellen's timing was good. Tom agreed.
Within 7 minutes of my conversation with Tom he agreed to join Mary Ellen in the marriage coaching sessions.
Why was I able to get Tom to agree to something in 7 minutes that Mary Ellen couldn't get him to do in over a year? It's true I know how to handle these situations, but there were 2 other important factors:
1. For the first time in over a year, Mary Ellen backed-off far enough so that Tom had the space to make his own choice.
2. The inspiration came from someone other than his wife.
Your effort to change your spouse is probably COUNTERproductive. The chances are good that you're "in the way." You need to get out of the way and create the space for your spouse to CHOOSE to change. That's the only way it'll ever happen.
I can't tell you how times a spouse will say to me that their husband/wife changed for a few days, but then returned to their old ways. That's because they never really decided to change. They were pressured. They were manipulated. And so it didn't stick.
If you tell your spouse what to do; it's a challenge. If THEY decide to do it; it's a great idea. YOU HAVE TO LET IT COME FROM THEM. That's the only way it'll make a difference long term in your marriage.
Now you're probably thinking, "Makes sense, but isn't there anything I can do to encourage my spouse's choice?" YES there is! YOU CAN BE AN INSPIRING EXAMPLE and let your spouse see how the choices YOU'RE making impact how YOU feel about yourself and your marriage.
Resist the urge to believe that your marriage won't change until your spouse "gets with the program"! The love YOU feel is much more a result of what YOU DO for your marriage than what your spouse does for it.
We tend to think that the love in our marriage is in our spouse's hands. But it's not. Love is a verb. And if we do it...if we love...then we feel love. THE CHOICE IS OURS.
Consider the love you feel for your children. Is it because of everything they do for you? Is it because they're such angels? Of course not. The love you feel for your children is a result of what YOU DO FOR THEM. The love you feel in your marriage is a result of what YOU DO too.
Furthermore, there's no better way to inspire your spouse to make the choice to change than to make that choice yourself.
It happens quite often that one spouse will register for the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot CampTM in the "Lone Ranger" track and then half way through the program they will switch to the "Duo" track which is designed for couples participating TOGETHER. What caused their spouse to change their mind? Simple. 2 things. First, they learned to create a space in their relationship for their spouse to make a choice to change. Second, they showed their spouse, through their EXAMPLE, how to make that choice and that impact it could have on their marriage.
Very often one spouse will come to me to stop a divorce and ask if it makes sense for them to be coached alone. The answer is ABSOLUTELY yes! One spouse can make more than a 50% difference in a marriage. And that difference is often exactly what will get the other spouse to open up to marriage coaching too.
So, bottom line-as Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see..." It's YOU changing that has the greatest impact on YOUR EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it's YOU changing that is the single most important thing you can do to motivate your spouse to change. So get off your spouse's back and be the change you wish to see and watch how much better YOU feel and watch how quickly your spouse will come around.
Author & Founder of Marriage Fitness
Posted 7/14/09 at 10:56 AM | Mort Fertel
Posted 7/7/09 at 11:27 AM | Mort Fertel
Do You Feel Like A Grape?
By: Mort Fertel
Have you ever been to a winery?
Can you imagine what it would be like to be one
of those grapes? Really...play along with me here
for a moment.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be
plucked, pushed, crushed, pressed, skinned, and
fermented? OUCH! The pain! What's the point of it
all? FULL POST
Posted 7/5/09 at 11:06 PM | Edward Ridenour
There are certain rules and conditions involved in marriage that are required to make that marriage righteous. That is, a marriage pleasing and acceptable before God. A righteous marriage is one that is sanctioned by Him, fulfilling His design and will for a man and a woman in His creation.
The first and most important condition required for a marriage to be righteous is understanding what really constitutes a legitimate marriage in the eyes of the Lord and whether you qualify to be married without actually making it unrighteous by it being deemed an act of fornication instead.
Once it is determined that you qualify and you make a marriage, there are three other important rules and conditions applicable to make the marriage functional and righteous: FULL POST
Posted 6/30/09 at 10:36 AM | Mort Fertel
Posted 6/23/09 at 1:01 PM | Mort Fertel
During one of my seminars, a woman asked me a question. She said, "How do I know if I married the right person?"
I noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so I said, "It depends. Is that your husband?"
In all seriousness, how do you know if you married the right person?
Here's the answer.
EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.
Falling in love with your spouse wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely spontaneous experience. You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love...because it's happening TO YOU.
People in love sometimes say, "I was swept off my feet." Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.
Falling in love is easy. It's a passive and spontaneous experience.
But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It's the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.
The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.
At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, "Did I marry the right person?" And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.
Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances.
But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it.
I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully) THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON; IT'S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND.
SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It'll NEVER just happen to you. You can't "find" LASTING love. You have to "make" it day in and day out. That's why we have the expression "the labor of love." Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work.
Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to save a marriage.
Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable-you can "make" love.
Author & Founder of Marriage Fitness
Posted 6/16/09 at 10:49 AM | Mort Fertel
Posted 6/4/09 at 12:28 PM | Mark Gungor
"I just don't feel what I used to feel for you."
"I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore."
"I believe I've found my soul mate...and it isn't you."
Or as the Righteous Brothers sang, "You've lost that loving feeling".
However people want to word it, the bottom line is this: the fabulous and intense experience of our early love isn't there anymore. I guess it wasn't true love after all.
In the wonderful, movie classic The Princess Bride, the cotton-mouthed, speech-challenged priest talks about "true love" (or "twuuuu wuv" as he says it!) at the wedding ceremony of Princess Buttercup and Prince Humperdink. He states that true love will follow you forever. While it makes for a great movie line, in reality it is a bunch of nonsense. True love doesn't follow you like a little puppy that is constantly there. It's actually more like a greased pig! You have to chase after it and pursue it. You have to run it down and tackle it and when it gets away, you go after it one more time. You may finally get a hold of it for a while, but then the little rascal can slip away and you have to chase it down again.
I know, I know-a greased pig isn't all that romantic of an analogy to use, but it surely is more realistic and more accurate! Men and women who ascribe to all this romantic fantasy stuff will be sorely disappointed. So many people actually think that love and marriage will always be easy; that it will always be a skip through the meadow with birds chirping and butterflies flitting and the orchestra playing in the background. They think that the emotional high and buzz they experience at the beginning of dating or marriage will always be there. "Our love is true love and it will never fade!" That's why so many people become disillusioned once they get into marriage-and sometimes it doesn't take very long at all. They think that they have "fallen out of love" with their spouse once the flames of passion begin to die down to a smoldering ember. FULL POST
Posted 4/23/09 at 12:33 PM | Mark Gungor
This is the final part of a three part series on The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity
In the first two parts of this series, I talked about the potential damage of sexual promiscuity. In this final installment, let's look at what we can do about it.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul gave us some very powerful advice that can help us overcome the negative effects of sexual damage.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. - Romans 12:2
So here we have the answer to the big question "How can I make things different?" The answer is "Change the way you think!" Quit thinking in the destructive patterns of our lust-driven culture and be transformed. Transformed not by special prayer or through being anointed by holy oil or holy water or by being touched by some holy preacher, but by the renewing of your mind. In other words, you need to change the way you think! You need to re-program the way you think about sex.
If you have imprinted on lust and find yourself constantly thinking in that way when you have sex with your spouse, you need to STOP it. Refuse to allow your thoughts to drift off to a "lust" context when having sex with your wife. You need to re-imprint on the girl you are married to. You need to key off of her and her alone.
May you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer-
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
- Proverbs 5:18 & 19
You may find, however, that re-training the way you think can be extremely difficult. You may even find that your sexual performance may get worse initially as you refuse to think those lustful thoughts that drove your erections in the past. But if you persevere, you will find your sexual energy will come roaring back and without the need for dirty thoughts that take you back to your early sexual encounters. You will find that your wife will be all you need in order for you to be sexually fulfilled. And you will find that the sex you experience without lust is multiple times more fun, exciting, and fulfilling than the kind of sex you try to re-play in your mind. FULL POST
Posted 4/15/09 at 10:35 AM | Mark Gungor
This is part two of a three part series on The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity
In part one of this series, I discussed the potential damage to men that can happen as a result of pre-marital sex.
What about the girl...
The answer, of course, is that a woman also receives a great deal of damage from being sexually promiscuous, and her damage is both psychological and physiological. First the psychological damage:
When a woman experiences sex without commitment, she soon learns (falsely) that sex means little to nothing. Why? Because nothing happens as a result: no meaningful relationship ensues - he may never even call her or talk to her again. She has inaccurately learned that sex and commitment are two completely separate issues, which they are not. That is why so many married woman view sex as an unimportant side issue in marriage, when it is, in fact, a key and central issue to a successful marriage. God's original plan was to use sex as the path to commitment. But because of promiscuity, she no longer views sex as a path to her husband's commitment. On the contrary, she begins to demand that commitment BEFORE sex is granted, something he is not wired to do. The result is a relationship that struggles to succeed.
As for the physiological damage, science shows us that when a woman has sex with a man, a chemical called oxytocin is released into her system. Oxytocin is a neuro-peptide most commonly associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding. It seems to act as a human superglue and helps a woman bond with her infant. This chemical also helps a woman bond with her lover during sex. New scientific studies, however, suggest that if a woman has multiple sexual partners, this will lower her levels of oxytocin which in turn can inhibit her ability to bond to her husband. According to an article by Drs. John Diggs and Eric Keroack, "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual." [You can read the entire article at http://www.abstinence.net/library/index.php?entryid=344] FULL POST