She'd also miss the boys. He needs to offer an option that's in sync with how she sees her world. Chris should encourage her to invite friends over when he goes out. That way, she'll be satisfied to be near her sons, but can also enjoy adult company -- renting a movie or sharing a potluck dinner.
Modern Marriage Makeover
New moms often say that the first thing that gets deleted out of their life is a tie with girlfriends. Having pals come into her home is essential, says Weiner-Davis, because then Kim wouldn't feel lonely. Chris might also call to let her know that he's thinking of her. When she's feeling connected to pals again, she will connect to him better as well.
Give each other what you need most. Chris should ask what specifically he could do to lighten Kim's load -- and then follow through and do the chores she requests. Kim would view that as thoughtful. You do it because a happy marriage is built on mutual giving," says Weiner-Davis. And then it's key that Kim step back and let Chris complete the task, a behavior that she admits has been a stumbling block for her. So I don't give him a chance to pitch in, even though I get irritable that he doesn't! This puts a wedge between a couple's connection. Maximize the personal time you do have. After the boys are fed and tucked into bed -- which resembles a race to the finish line -- Kim and Chris tend to watch a little TV together and then spend the remaining evening apart.
Kim usually heads to bed or to her computer to play a game of solitaire, which "relaxes me," she says. Chris watches his sports shows. Kim and Chris agree that they don't want to waste their precious moments, but by nightfall, they are both so bushed that vegging out is tempting. Their typical nightly routine shows little or no effort to sustain physical and emotional intimacy, Weiner-Davis notes. They must address the implications of not sharing private time at night. First step, ink in one or two evenings weekly to go to their bedroom as soon as the boys are asleep -- to talk or whatever, says Weiner-Davis.
For the Brosiuses, this means forgoing TV. Romance will then return, she adds. Revisit how much attention you're paying to your marriage. Kim and Chris are at the beginning stages of negotiating new parenting demands. But even after they figure out what will connect them more as a couple over the next few months, they need to be aware that a marriage has a life of its own and must be constantly fine-tuned. The boys will present new challenges; Kim might go back to an office job. But if more than a week has gone by and they haven't spent quality one-on-one time, they know to call a time-out together.
Type keyword s to search. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. More From Relationships. Argue Your Way to a Stronger Marriage. The Qualities Women Look for in a Man. I would not have felt comfortable counseling with anyone in our small town, since nothing travels faster than the speed of gossip. But because Gaye and her husband had lined up a counselor fifty miles away, I relaxed a bit.
Joy came home with red eyes after her first solo session. I wasn't supposed to join her until after her first two meetings. She had built up an ocean of tears in our sixteen years together. The tide had finally begun to go out. When it came my turn to join her, we drove the fifty miles in silence. I was thinking about how good it was that we were getting help so far from home. She was thinking about what she had to say to me when we got there. Once in the counselor's office, I sat silently, feeling like a punching bag in the corner of a gym.
Joy calmly painted a clear picture of the many aspects of our relationship I had wrecked over the years. Because of the third party in the room, I behaved myself and took one blow after another. When the pain of my wife's miserable life in our ministry made its way to my gut, I crumbled. I wasn't just perceived as a jerk by my wife. I was a genuine jerk. Finally, after the hour's drive back home, my feelings broke. I sobbed. Joy appeared more curious than moved over my weeping. We discussed our options. Would we leave the ministry?
What would we tell the kids—and the church? Joy and I had made a commitment when we were first married that we would never use the "D" word. Not even in teasing. During the first week of our crisis, we reminded each other of that promise. We said to the kids, then ages three, six, and eight, "As you can obviously see, we are having some problems.
We are mad at each other, but we still love each other. We are working on not being as mad. You kids have done nothing to cause this, and we both still love you. And we'll always love you. Their bedtime prayers included Mom and Dad. Those three kids would have been reason enough to stick it out, no matter how painful the process. Looking into their faces was like Peter, going under for the third time, yet looking into the face of Christ. We would tell our congregation's inner circle only that we were working through some challenges and ask them to pray for us.
If things weren't better in a month, we would ask for a three-month leave of absence for serious reconciliation work. Those who knew were very supportive. We received notes from church friends that said things like, "We know you are facing a difficult situation, though we don't know details and don't need to. Just wanted you to know that we are praying for you. God is big enough. The hardest part for me was getting up to preach every week. I felt like a hypocrite. How am I supposed to tell people how to live their lives when mine is falling apart?
In the middle of our mess, I picked up an aging issue of Leadership and read, "You can preach higher than yourself by preaching the truth from God's Word. The Word is always right, even if you're not all right. Preach higher than yourself, as long as you don't try to act higher than you really are. Those words kept me going.
And some in the congregation said later that those were some of the most powerful sermons I had preached. To this day I cannot understand how or why God demonstrated His strength so powerfully through my utter weakness. Meanwhile, back at Relationship , we discovered how we each had contributed to our problem.
Joy had learned to lie to me because she feared my anger. To avoid confrontation, she had practiced the temporary-but-dangerous behavior of withdrawal. She began working on ways to speak truth to me, even when what she said might upset me. Self-evaluation, recognition of sin, and true repentance is torture. Maybe that's why we refer to it as "dying to self.
For years I had perfected the fine art of problem solving, to the exclusion of empathetic listening. When Joy tried to share her feelings, I mentally made a list, then spat out my seven-point plan to solve her problems. In counseling, she informed me that all she wanted was someone to listen and validate her feelings. Often, after venting, she would solve her own problems.
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We made a deal. When I was tempted to "fix" her, she had my permission to say, "When I want your solutions, I'll ask for them. Our counselor urged us to take walks together, every day if possible. At first our conversations were wooden. It had been years since I had made small talk. Everything came out stupid: "It's nice we're having weather. After three months of banal banter, I made a statement so silly that Joy giggled. I said, "Gee, look over there. It's a squirrel.
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It had been months since I had seen that radiant smile on my wife's face. I said, without thinking, "You are beautiful when you smile. I thought she had misread my comment and that I was about to catch another arrow.
What is the Extreme Marriage Makeover?
Instead, she broke into a grin and said, "Gotcha! I wish I could say our healing took place in three easy sessions and that we have lived happily ever after. The truth is, it took eight weeks of counseling and another six months of painful work before we were "back" as a couple. I recall hearing someone say "You don't turn an aircraft carrier around on a dime. At first Joy wasn't sure I was serious. She had lived with my ingrained hostility for so long, she admitted her skepticism and questioned my motives for quite a while—Is he only acting this way to get what he wants?
But when she saw, over time, that I was making progress, she began to let down her guard. I made several important changes. I honored Joy with my calendar as well as my words.
I began making appointments to speak with people during office hours, instead of taking calls at all hours of the evening. I delegated someone to take my place on a committee, to open up a night of the week for family time.
And I began turning off the computer when Joy turned in for the night, instead of working an hour or two later. One question always asked by couples we speak with and always by the men is: "How did your crisis affect your sex life? Not when our crisis first broke loose. Joy had felt that even the physical part of our relationship was just another failed expectation. Because of the way I acted when I didn't get what I wanted, she felt like a failure at sex, too.
When our friendship broke down, the whistles and bells stopped working.
Joy needed some space of her own. She told me, "I need you to respect my need to say no sometimes. When the friendship began growing back into our relationship, we began having fun together emotionally. We were learning to tease, to laugh, to act playfully with one another. When we began enjoying our emotional intimacy again, the bells started ringing again. The nature of our conversations began to change.
Before our crisis, every time Joy started dreaming out loud, I shut her off. I had confused her dreams with her expectations. Her dreams of a newer car, a larger house, or a new outfit became my nightmares about my failure to provide. Because of my angry responses to her innocent wishes, I had robbed her of the ability to dream.
Without a vision, the people perish. And without dreams and something to look forward to, ministry wives lose hope. Joy now says, in marriage conferences and to women's groups, "When we allowed ourselves to dream out loud, that's when I felt like we were starting to snap out of it. We were learning to share a common dream for the future. Instead of my always adjusting my life to help my husband achieve his dreams, we were dreaming together. Our first corporate dream involved a family vacation to Colorado.
We traveled there the warm summer after our frigid winter and made some magical memories. Through the crisis and the months of personal work that followed, our church members demanded few details. We didn't have to tell them much because they saw the gradual improvement in our relationship. It was just over a year later that I felt free to provide more information about what had taken place.