Thursday, August 21, 2008

Private Blogging

During our separation I wrote alot; some to myself, and some to counselors, as I was trying to sort out my feelings. I wish that blogging had been around then, or maybe it was and I didn't know it. Most people reading this are probably aware that you can set up a blog to be your own private journal.

You would need to study through the various settings on your blog site. Pay special attention to what you set as "permissions" or "authors".

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Four Horsemen

A marriage researcher, John Gottman, has named four attitudes - called The Four Horsemen - that are deadly to a marriage and often lead to divorce if not addressed.

They are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.

To read more go to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saving Your Marriage When You're The Only One Who Wants To

Many marriages in crisis have just one spouse who really wants to save the marriage. So often I hear comments like, "It takes two to save a marriage", which usually means, "My spouse doesn't want to work at our marriage, so I am quitting."

I believe too many spouses give up too quickly. To read some of what I did when my wife wanted out of our marriage, see my posts "Short Testimony" and "I Want To Do Everything Possible To Save My Marriage."

If nothing in all of that is something you want to try, or if my testimony isn't enough to convince you to try to save your marriage when your spouse wants out, then here are some other resources to give you some ideas and some hope.

The Hope Line at
Divorce Busting Coaching at
Larry Bilotta's resources at
Dr. Phil McGraw's "Relationship Rescue" materials at

If nothing else, just keep clicking through my resource lists until something really seems to stand out to you. My encouragement is to keep trying. Jesus promised that He who seeks, finds.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Click Off?

As I work with couples I ponder what the tipping point is for people to click off and be done with their marriage. Usually, it's one person to just give up and quit working on the marriage. Then the second spouse has to decide whether to continue to try or not. Sometimes they just seem to quit also, even after protesting that they don't want a divorce. I am really puzzled how to inspire hope enough in either spouse to keep trying. I guess part of the secret is to be available when someone really seems ready to need someone to listen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More FIREPROOF the Movie

I wrote earlier about my experiences watching the trailer for FIREPROOF The Movie. Well, my wife and I got to see a pre-screening. The movie was awesome. I thought it did a great job capturing the emotions and struggles of the different characters - the husband, the wife, the parents, and friends. The message I got was that "Yes, marriage is tough, but with Christ there is hope, even for hopeless marriages."

I hope you take time to see the movie when it comes out in late September.

Has anyone else seen the trailer or the screening? What did you think?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shock Waves of Divorce

Just found this on the Smart Marriages website. I thought it was a good article about the broad ranging effects of divorce. I am inspired to keep trying to help marriages, but puzzled how to convince people that divorce is no easy road out of pain.

Sunday Reflections: Shockwaves of Divorce Slam Entire Family
Sunday, June 1, 2008
By Tracey O'Shaughnessy

Last night, my brother told his son that he is getting a divorce. It was the conversation he had dodged and choked on, the inevitability he had hoped to defer or evade.

Whenever he came near the subject, he saw himself 35 years before, weeping into my mother's chenille robe, begging her to tell him that the rumors — my father's flight, his irreversible departure — were not true. He saw the hedges going untrimmed, the shingles on the house rotting and then falling off, the basement ruined by an incontinent dog, the illusion of family bliss irremediably shattered.

And in spite of all these ghosts, my brother had come to the same conclusion his father had: He could no longer live in the same house with his wife.

I wish I could say I was sanguine about this decision, or that I stood resolutely at my brother's side, supporting him in every barbed assault and eviscerating invective. The truth is, I was shamefully equivocal about the whole thing. To be a child of divorce is one burden. To watch another unfold is an acute form of torture, laced with poisonous memories. Misery to an adult is comprehensible, and even soluble. To a child, it is merely cruel and incomprehensible.

Nevertheless, my brother was resolute. As his sister, I am bound by blood to support him — even if it meant distancing me from a sister-in-law I loved.

Divorce has become so common in American society that it is often viewed as just another pothole on the highway of contemporary life. So common are its features — the single-parent household, the divorced-dad condos, the joint-custody juggling act — that divorce has been declawed. The sidelong glances and collective shunning that my parents endured when they divorced in the early 1970s has been replaced by a collective shrug. Today , we have books about "The Starter Marriage," as if the implosion of a first marriage is inevitable.

Statistics bear this out. Nearly 43 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, the federal government reports. The first years of a marriage are particularly vulnerable ones; one in three first marriages end within 10 years and one in five within 5 years. Today, a married couple with children is the exception rather than the norm.

There should be safety in numbers — or at least some semblance of solace.
Divorce shouldn't hurt my brother and sister-in-law as much as it does. But it is hurting them acutely and perhaps irremediably, largely because they are both children of divorce and intimately acquainted with its cruelty.

When my brother's chocolate brown eyes meet the wounded, familiar eyes of his 6-year-old son, the anguish is exquisitely familiar. It is, in fact, unbearable.

Unlike a marriage, divorce is excruciatingly lonely. Marriage, with its lavish drama and celebratory rituals, is lavish with witnesses and supporters. It's easy to forget that the reason we squeeze into uncomfortable, dazzling clothes and embrace a couple exchanging intimate assertions of fidelity, is to support and sustain their pledge.

So, when a couple unravels so fabulously, it is easy for family members like myself to feel a wee bit guilty.

It has not gone unnoticed by my family that my brother and sister-in-law have spent thousands of dollars on professional advice in an attempt to keep their marriage alive. I often wonder where the rest of us were during these pricey therapy sessions. Certainly, geography and employment have flung us into disparate quarters. But I remember my grandmother's quiet assertion that there was nothing that couldn't be solved with a cup of tea, a kitchen table and a little forbearance.

When my grandmother had inevitable travails with her volatile Irish husband, her sister Ruthie would come "up the house" for a cup of tea and sympathy.
In the end, it was mended. It was not perfect, but it was endurable. Today, things seem less endurable, perhaps because the choices are too robust, or perhaps because children of fractious marriages will not tolerate such chronic irascibility in their own lives.

Oh, for a few Aunt Ruths, in their polyester pantsuits and sensible shoes.
Heaven knows how many marriages they saved.

I, alas, saved none, in spite of my fervid entreaties. Now I am left to figure out how to sustain my beloved and bedraggled brother, my shattered and confused nephew and a sister-in-law I am supposed to excise from my life. It will be less of a struggle for me, than for him, to be sure. But a divorce's effect on a family is not limited to the couple whose marriage imploded. It sends shock waves throughout a fragile web, ripples that are deep and tenacious, and whose end is unknown.

Marriage Education: Cradle-to-Grave

My wife and I just finished our Life Forming coach training last week. As part of our final program, they asked us to share how we hoped to use our coach training. I said that I wanted to help marriages from pre-marrieds through long-term marriages, including struggling marriages.

At the end, I added something about helping marriages from cradle-to-grave. For some reason, I felt like I wanted to mention the whole cradle-to-grave concept, but in the short time we had, I couldn't quite get all my thoughts gathered, especially how to help marriages from the cradle.

But, I realized that when I can help a couple to be on good footing in their marriage when their child is born, I am really helping that child to have better prospects for a good marriage.

The more I read about the effects of divorce, and the more I listen to people whose parents divorced, the more I realize that the divorce of parents is so devastating to a child's sense of worth, no matter what the age of the child.

I have known children whose parents divorced when they were infants, who still have questions about their worth when they are adults. I have known successful professionals in their 20's and 30's when their parents got divorced, struggle in their own lives with the aftermath.

Most couples who have been married 50 years or more admit that they don't have it all together, so many of them may even be interested in some new couple skills. More importantly, I would love to inspire more of those couples to share what they have learned in the ups and downs of marriage with the younger generation. Those long-term couples have a wealth of trial-by-fire knowledge, and also know from personal experience what commitment really means.

In the future, I hope I can help marriages from cradle-to-grave.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Searching For Resources

During our separation I was desperate to find helpful resources. One thing I discovered is that you can go on Google and put in words like "divorce", "marriage", "separation", "reconciliation", "Christian", or even sentences such as "I want to save my Christian marriage." Google will bring up lots of resources. It takes some discernment, but I have found lots of good resources this way including some that are listed on this blog.

You can also use those same words in searches in library catalogs and bookstore catalogs, most of which are also available on the web. There is help out there for those who really want it.

The Sex-Starved Marriage

I have found The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michelle Weiner-Davis to be an excellent book to help both the higher and lower sex drive spouses to understand themselves, understand their spouses, and be inspired to work together to have a better marriage.

Weiner-Davis taught alot of good active listening skills and coaching techniques that should help improve a whole relationship, not just the sexual aspect. She also shared openly about some of her own ups and downs in her marriage and interspersed some good case studies.

This lady is one "bulldog of optimism" for marriages; especially for those marriages that look hopeless. I really appreciate that about her.

Monday, August 4, 2008

"This just doesn't make sense. . ."

I am involved at various times with men and women who are separated or divorced from their spouses against their wishes. They often have heartrending tales to share, and many unanswered questions. One of the most common statements I hear them make is "This just doesn't make sense."

I have found, both through my own experience and the experience of others, that in alot of these situations - things just don't make any sense. Someone is hopeless, even though there is hope.

My main conclusion is that God said " I hate divorce" for a reason. Marital breakdown and divorce just shatters something in people on either side of the situation.


Steve Arterburn authored "Healing from Your Past". One of the chapters is about forgiveness.

Steve's story is that he was divorced against his will. He does a good job discussing the practical aspects of forgiveness. One of his key points is how much forgiveness frees us from the past so that we can move on in life. One comforting thing that Steve mentions is that healing is a process. It may take a day, a week, a year or several years, depending on the depth of the hurt, but we can all chose to start on that road today.

A comment that I read somewhere else about unforgiveness is that it is like drinking poison and hoping the other guy dies.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


In the book of Revelation it talks about the saints overcoming Satan with the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Testimonies are powerful in inspiring hope.

One of the best sources of testimonies that I have found is at Rejoice Ministries.

From their homepage click on Restored Marriages, then Testimonies, or you can sign up for the daily devotional Charlyne Cares which dedicates every Saturday to testimonies.

If you are discouraged about the prospects for marriage restoration, you will find hope here.

The DVD series, Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce, and the Divorce Care series, both have some awesome testimonies on DVD. Go to