When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possible even divorce.  Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise.  It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason.  Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth.  Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking.   Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked.  Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures.  Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change.  You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real.  Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself.  Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed.  Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal.  Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults.  This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well.  This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results.  This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation.  Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed.  You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible.  One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem.  By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way.  However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor.  You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years.  Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills.  In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment.  Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship.  As if there wasn’t enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment.  These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow “For better or for worse” was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship.  But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed.  Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing.  But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage.  Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

  1. The grunge look ended in the 90’s.
  2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
  3. Did you do anything today?
  4. Didn’t you wear that yesterday?
  5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
  6. Here is your “To Do” list to do.
  7. Did you get a job yet?
  8. I knew this would happen.
  9. I see why you were let go.
  10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments.   After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time.  While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment.  Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage

Win, Lose or Draw

Win, Lose or Draw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are having that same argument about money again.  One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved.  Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over.  If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won.  In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifests differently but the pattern is the same.  The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome.  There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win.  However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose.  In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away feeling as if nothing was resolved and words were unnecessarily spoken.  The argument may have escalated beyond the issue into past behavior, words, and/or feelings or additional unrelated topics may have entered the argument.  Lose-Lose outcomes occur when both sides lose track of the topic and begin the finger-pointing game.  The reality is that both of you are on the same team in a marriage so every lose-lose argument becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Win-Lose.  In win-lose outcomes, if one of you feels like they have lost, then in actuality both of you have lost because a marriage is a team of two people.  One spouse trying to get the upper hand of the other is like pampering your right hand over your left.  Even if one hand does more work than the other, both are equally important while serving separate functions.  So when one spouse walks away from the argument feeling like they have not been heard, there is no real agreement and the win-lose outcome becomes a lose-lose outcome.

Win-Win.  In win-win outcomes, both spouses feel heard, feel safe, feel valued, and feel respected.  This is by far the most time-consuming outcome of the three but it is also the most rewarding and will strengthen your marriage in the process.  As the win-win concept becomes a goal in your arguments, you will find that it takes less and less work to reach the outcome because you have already laid out the ground work for mutual understanding.  Notice that the win-win outcome is not about who is right but rather about each of you feels at the end.  One spouse maybe right all along but how they value the other spouse’s opinion or perspective makes all the difference.

As a side note, submission in a marriage is not about winning or losing in an argument, rather it is a gift of trust given from the heart just as loving unconditionally is a gift given from the heart.  A person demanding submission or love misses out on the true value of the gift just like a child demanding a present misses out on the joy of receiving something unexpected.  Once demanded, it does not satisfy quite like the unexpected gift.

Striving for win-win outcomes in your arguments is a struggle but in the end it is worth the effort.  So the next time you are tempted to end the argument by railroading over your spouse, stop and consider the value of your team.  If your marriage is important to you, then the extra time to make it work is well worth it.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to be Unloving to Your Wife

Just as a wife needs to read what it feels like to be disrespectful to her husband, a man needs to read what it feels like to be unloving to his wife.  So if you are a wife reading this, please don’t email this article to your husband and demand he reads it.  If you are a husband reading this, please take it as it was written, tongue-in-cheek.  Sometimes you can see things more clearly by identifying what it looks to be unloving rather than loving.

These can be done nearly anywhere as your wife is sure to take offense at each and every one.  Just be careful not to do all of them at the same time or you might overload her with feelings of resentment.  Rather, spread them out over a period of time to make sure she knows just how much you don’t love her.

  • Her home – Whenever possible, point out all of the things that are wrong in the house and how it never looks like she contributes to the care of it.  This is especially effective when she has gone out of her way to make the house look nice and you ignore it with your silence instead of recognizing it.  If she has done something that you don’t like such as rearranging the furniture or painting a wall, take the time to rearrange it back or complain that the color is your least favorite.  The more she prides herself on how her house looks, the more effective this tactic will be.
  • Her relationships – Since most women gain value from their relationships, criticize her friends regularly and demand she be friends only with the people you like.  Throw in a couple of sarcastic remarks about her friends in front of her friends and watch the tension mount.  If she seems to side with the friends, don’t be compassionate instead demand her undying loyalty to you in front of her friends.
  • Her religion – Don’t forget about the power in reminding your wife that she needs to submit to you because God says so.  By mixing a dose of religious guilt along with your statements, most women become confused and frustrated because love and guilt don’t mix well.  That is your opportunity to strike the next blow just to make sure she knows who is boss.
  • Her family – Many wives are attached to their mothers and have a bond that is difficult to break so do your best to target her mother at every opportunity with cutting remarks.  When you are done with her mother, attack her father especially if she was a “daddy’s girl”.  Even if he is the nicest person, you can still find fault.  Make sure there is a dose of truth mixed with plenty of exaggeration to alienate any allies she might have now or in the future.
  • Her work – This is one of the best categories as any way you go you can still win.  For instance, if she makes less money than you, tell her that she is not pulling her own financial weight.  This is best done to stay-at-home moms who don’t earn any income, make sure you remind her at every turn just how much she has to depend on you for financial support.  If she makes more money than you and you work, be as unsupportive of her job as possible so she knows just how frustrated you are that she is earning more.  If she makes more money than you and you don’t work, drop the mommy guilt card as often as possible by insisting that she spend more time at home and how much the kids miss her every day.
  • Her appearance – Most women take some pride in their appearance so if she gets some new make-up complain about the cost or if she buys a new dress tell her that it doesn’t fit.  This is a tactic that yields results quickly as the more subtle the remark, the more she internalizes your comments and plays them over and over in her head.  She never really escapes obsessing over her appearance even when she doesn’t look good, she’ll just say that she doesn’t care or doesn’t have time.  So one of the best ways to discourage her is to tell her that those few pounds she lost really don’t make a difference in how she looks and she still shouldn’t wear that dress.  Take the opportunity when she gets a hair cut not to notice the difference, better yet ask her what the hairdresser did for all of that money.
  • Her hobbies – Just walk into any craft store and you will find a host of hobbies that most women love to do.  If your wife is one of these women, tell her she is wasting her money on such enjoyment and her money would be better spent on something that you or the kids need.  Adding the mommy guilt touch is especially effective when your wife is spending her time doing something she enjoys.  After all, she had the children, she needs to raise them.
  • Her sexuality – The internet has wonderful pictures of perfect female bodies doing crazy sexual things that are great for comparing your wife and her performance.  If you are bold enough, leave a screen up or show her one of the sites so that she can get a good idea of just what you want and need because it is all about you.  If she has a period of disinterest in sex, don’t justify her behavior by saying it’s hormonal, instead demand that she perform for you sexually.
  • Her dreams – Every now and then remind her of a dream that she never fulfilled or one that she tried and failed.  This is very powerful if you had to rescue her from whatever the situation was and by reminding her of that you are telling her just how dependant she is on you.  There should be no promotion of independence as that is showing love.
  • Her moods – It is no secret that some women get moody a couple of days during the month so if your wife is in this category show no mercy.  Remind her that no matter how she feels, she still needs to take care of you and all your needs.  Never mind that you have been grumpy on occasion, her moodiness is no excuse not to do everything you expect her to do.  You can also use her moods against her by saying that she has no need to cry and that crying is for babies.
  • Her decisions – No doubt she has made a few bad decisions in the time you have known her so keep a tally of all of her mistakes.  You may need to write them down so you don’t forget the next time you have an argument.  Bring up all of her poor choices and then treat her like a child even talking or yelling at her as you would a child.  If she protests, remind her that she acts like more like a child then an adult.
  • Her morality – Last by not least, if your wife has done anything immoral such as drunkenness, adultery, slept with someone before you, pornography, or drug use just to name a few, remind her of her previous behavior and suggest that she return to it whenever things get too tough.  Don’t let your wife get away with the idea that people can change, remind her that she will never change and she will always be the ___ you once knew.

By mastering all of the above suggestions, your marriage will be well on its way to join half of all marriages that end in divorce.  So now that you know what your wife needs to feel unloved, go and conquer.

For more information, watch this YouTube video:

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to disrespect your husband

No, I am not a man-hater and this article is not meant to be taken seriously.  Rather it is written tongue-in-cheek to demonstrate the obvious and not so obvious ways a wife can show disrespect to her husband.  Sometimes the best way of understanding something is to begin with what it isn’t.  While this can be a roundabout way of addressing a subject, it can also establish some necessary boundaries from which to form a better understanding.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for demonstrating disrespect the next time you are alone or out with your husband.  You can do this over dinner, in front of his friends, better yet your friends, and best yet in front of family.  Make sure you temper your comments with sarcasm, mockery or cynicism to add an extra dose of disrespect.

  • His work – Try making a joke about what he does for a living, where he works, or how much he earns.  This can be even more disrespecting if you add a comment or two about how great your career is going or how much more successful your dad was in his line of work.  After all, most men get some satisfaction from what they do as a profession even if they don’t enjoy it because they are providing for their family.  So attacking their work is one of the easiest targets for disrespect.
  • His dreams – Take one of his future aspirations or a desire to become something and then tell him how stupid it is and how he can never accomplish it.  Better yet, don’t even discuss it with him, just roll your eyes and talk behind his back especially to someone who is likely to tell him about your remarks.  It most likely took a lot of trust to tell you about his dreams in the first place so ridiculing even one dream drives the disrespect right to the heart.
  • His sexuality – It really does not matter how frequently he wants sex because if he wants it too much: harass him, too little: tell him he is inadequate.  While you are at it, joke about what he likes sexually and overexpose him to others around you.  No matter what he says about sex, most men fear that they are not performing well enough sexually for their spouse so attacking this area is very personal.
  • His worship – One of the easiest places to show disrespect to your husband is in how he worships in church.  Make sure you poke him when the pastor is preaching, compare him to other men in church or demonstrate how much more you know about spirituality than him.  If he goes to church, he has been told that he is the spiritual leader of the family so under minding him and taking over the leadership role becomes disrespectful.
  • His leisure activities – Whatever he likes to do for fun can be a target for ridicule, especially if it involves a sport of sorts and requires that money be spent for him to have fun.  If there are other men involved then this is an even better opportunity to not only make fun of him but his other teammates, especially if you can tag team with another spouse.  As any self-respecting spouse knows, the money he earns and extra time he has should go to the family and not towards doing something he enjoys.
  • His appearance – Insecurities regarding receding hairlines, pot-bellies, changing body, and outdated clothing should be exposed and highlighted just to make sure that he fully aware of his inadequacies.  Some men age quite well, so make sure that you compare your husband to other men who are aging better than him.  While he has been repeatedly told that you don’t like him to comment on your flaws, his are open game.
  • His moods – Since most men are raised to be strong and take things on the cheek, any sign of weakness, moodiness, depression, or anxiety should be the talk around the dinner table especially with a few of your not so close friends.  By highlighting any mood swings you can literally cut him off at the knees and cripple him for the rest of the evening.  It is a moment of disrespect that will be noticed by everyone in the room.
  • His morality – Another opportunity for disrespect is to exaggerate the number of times your husband has made immortal or embarrassing decisions.  Of particular interest are any past times of infidelity, hospitalization, use of pornography, drunkenness, or drug use just to name a few suggestions.  However, if there are few of these events in his past, making up a couple to add some interest to a conversation by putting him down can be very disrespectful.
  • His decisions – Most wives have this area down to a science as nearly every decision their husbands make can be questioned.  Eve taught us this well as just before she ate fruit from the tree she mistrusted her husband by not agreeing that God had told Adam not to eat the fruit.  Wives can do this in many little ways such as questioning his driving, asking and re-asking the same question, questioning the tie he picks or what he decides to eat.  All of this can be disrespectful.
  • His authority – If you are blessed to work with your spouse at work, on a project or part of a charity, then you have an excellent opportunity to attack his authority.  Just make sure that you do it in front of others adding some sort of intimate touch or glance to maximize the insult.  Minimizing his authority thereby increases yours and creates a natural disrespect with your viewing audience.  This is especially powerful if your husband is in an influential position.
  • His reputation – Gossiping about your spouse especially in a negative manner is highly effective form of disrespect.  Everyone loves gossip and it can spread like wild-fire to all kinds of people destroying a reputation that has taken years to develop in a matter of minutes.  The best people to receive your gossip are the ones who already gossiping about others, after all they are the pros at disrespect.
  • His children – When all is said and done, even if you fail to disrespect your husband in any of the above ways, the easiest and perhaps most sneaky way to be disrespectful is to talk bad about your husband in front of his children.  They could be your children or his by another woman, no matter which one, the impact can be destructive beyond comparison.  By disrespecting your husband, you are modeling behavior for his daughters to imitate and his sons to repeat.  If you can paint your husband in a bad light to his children, then you have truly passed on an inheritance that can last beyond your generation.  It is the gift of disrespect that can keep giving.

By the way, if you find that you have mastered just a few of these areas, just know that you are not alone.  Over half of all marriages end in divorce and yours is likely to be headed in that direction.  Many divorced women in my office have long mastered this list with their ex-husbands and some are working on marriage number two or three or even four.  If this scares you, good.  Now go over the list again, admit what you have done wrong, ask for forgiveness, and decide to be the model of respect instead of disrespect.

For more information, watch this YouTube video: 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Dealing with the In-Laws-to-be

Preparing for a wedding is fun, after all this is a party, a celebration of two lives coming together.  Preparing for a marriage is entirely another event; it is not fun, rather it is work.  Any time you take two different view points, two different personalities, and two different backgrounds and merge them together, there is bound to be tension.  One of the often overlooked areas of preparing for a marriage is dealing with the in-laws to be.  They are likely to be involved in your lives going forward so setting the parameters now before marriage decreases the potential conflict.

The new “we”.  Before you walk down the aisle or go to the courthouse, you should begin the practice of changing your perspective from “me” to “we”.  More importantly, the “we” means you and your spouse to be, not “we” meaning you and your parents.  For some this a hard adjustment as even the most simple of decisions were discussed with your parents, for others this is a no-brainer.  Nevertheless, if you begin this process now, before the wedding, your parents are more likely to adjust to the new perspective as well.  This is not a perspective that you want your in-laws to adjust to after the wedding as it may cause frustration and resentment.  Rather, practice it now.  When you say “we”, it is only you and your spouse; no parents allowed.

Mine are mine, yours are yours.  As a rule of thumb, communication is best received from you to your parents.  Parents are more likely to receive good or bad information if given directly from you to them without any interference.  You talking to your in-laws can create a question of whether or not their child, your spouse, really agrees with the decision.  This question then lives in the minds of your in-laws for the duration of your marriage and will likely be brought up an inopportune time.  When the two of you finally agree on an issue, you tell your parents and your spouse tells his/her parents.

Mark your calendars.  One of the most common disagreements that an engaged couple find themselves addressing is where to spend the holidays.  This may not have been an issue while dating, but when engaged each set of parents are basically staking out their claim on a particular holiday.  They know that the plan you set the first year is going to be very close to the one you will follow every year including when you have their precious grandchildren.  So plan carefully.  Keep one holiday for yourselves, at your house, to begin your own tradition and then divide out the rest amongst everyone else.   You don’t have to communicate your plan ahead of time but if both of you agree now, there will be less tension later.

Keeping these tips in mind will reduce the in-law tension in your home.  Remember, future decisions should involve you and your spouse; not you, your spouse, your parents, and your in-laws.  The more people involved in a decision, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement, just look at congress.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to properly balance parents’ and spouse’s opinions

A common issue among Christians is defining the proper balance between their parents’ expectations and opinions and their spouse’s expectations and opinions.  Too often, Christians carry into their marriage the idea that they must continue to obey their parents long after they have reached adulthood because Scripture tells them to honor their parents.  However, there is a huge difference between obeying parents and honoring parents although both are right depending on the maturity of the individual.  The desire to honor parents is right but sometimes contrasts with their spouse’s opinion.  This produces tension frequently resulting in an argument or worse in unspoken frustration.  The unresolved issue can then potentially give seed to resentment which can in turn devastate a marriage.

It does not have to be this way.  By understanding the meaning and application of the Scripture for obeying your parents, honoring your parents and cleaving to your spouse, many Christian marriages can become stronger rather than weaker.  God’s perfect design for how to treat each other in our relationships improves those relationships while increasing our desire to learn more about Him. Applying the truths behind these concepts can also improve your relationship at the most fundamental level.

Obeying your parents.  Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.”  Notice the opening of the verse; it is addressed to children, not adults.  Children are to obey their parents.  To obey means to submit to someone in a position of authority.  Repeatedly we are told to obey God’s commandments but nowhere in Scripture are we told as adults to obey our parents.  Yet many couples do this well after marriage concerning themselves with the expectations and opinions of their parents over their spouse.  This becomes apparent when a spouse goes to their parents with problems (usually money) before ever discussing it with their spouse.  It is worsened when the spouse follows the direction of the parents, obeying them as if they were still a child, and then either never informs their spouse of the discussion or does so after the fact.  This is destructive to a marriage and not consistent with God’s expectations of us.

Honoring your parents.  Ephesians 6:2-3 then goes on to say, “’Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise.  If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’”  To honor means to esteem with high regard.  Think for a moment of the people in life with the title of “Honorable”.  They are judges, diplomats, elected officials, and others who have already earned respect and whose opinion is considered valuable.  This is how parents should be treated once maturity is reached, as people for whom their opinion is valuable.  As in the example above, if a spouse sought the opinion of their parents without following the direction until consensus was reached with their spouse, this would be honoring.  But there is still an even better way.

Cleaving to your spouse.  Genesis 2:24 says, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  Cleaving to your spouse means to unite or to adhere to closely.  It is a bond that should not be broken even by a person’s father or mother.  This bond defines marriage in the Christian church and should not be taken lightly.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 states, “Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”  This is God’s design for marriage for two to be united as one so they can support and help each other in life.  Marriage is meant to help spouses through life, not tear each other apart.  Looking one more time at the above example and it becomes apparent that the right view-point is for both spouses in a marriage to agree to seek the opinion of their parents first.  Then to listen to their parent’s opinions with respect and finally to decide together (without the parents) if the opinion is one they will follow.

By understanding God’s principles and how to apply them to everyday living, marriages can be strengthened.  God knows that relationships with parents and spouses are important which is why it is clearly addressed in His word and why He established proper balances for living well.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.