Pornography and your Christian Marriage

Pornography and your Christian Marriage

If the gospel is good for anything it must have an answer to the worst problems humans face. As believers we know that intellectually, but the body of Christ frequently hides from some of the really bad stuff. Pornography and your Christian marriage may seem like things that should not be said in the same sentence. But in 21st century culture it’s something we must acknowledge, and find God’s answer for.

I hear from people every week who struggle with this. I hear from the small-church pastor who feels he has no one to help him out of his addiction to pornography, the godly wife who just found out her husband has been watching porn for years, the young Christian woman who weeps in shame over her continued failure to stop engaging in internet pornography.

Although statistically more men than women get hooked by sexually-charged images and videos, pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Men and women, married and single, Christian and unbeliever, young and old – it affects them all. Our sexualized society spends multi-billions of dollars on this. It starts young; your ten-year-old (or younger) can watch it on their cell-phone while riding the bus to school. (That’s a whole article – or book – in itself!)

Dr Juli Slattery, psychologist, author, and media professional, has stated that she no longer asks couples whether pornography is an issue for them; she asks what role pornography is playing in their relationship.

So what is a Christian to do? Refusing to address pornography is putting your head in the sand, especially if you’re married or contemplating marriage. But as with all human brokenness God has an answer – if you’re addicted, if your spouse is addicted, or if you want to proactively protect your marriage.

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Avoid these 8 Mistakes in Communicating with your Spouse

Avoid these 8 Mistakes in Communicating with your Spouse

“Honey, we need to talk.” How does that work out for you? Do you end up in a screaming match? Does one of you clam up and walk away? Do you say things you later regret?

It’s a rare person indeed who goes into marriage knowing how to communicate in a healthy way. We asked couples where they wanted help in their relationship, and communication was clearly the Number One issue. Communication is a learned skill, and avoiding these mistakes in communicating with your spouse will get you a lot closer to the goals you’re after.

Doing your homework before trying to communicate will help prevent some of these mistakes. But here are some specific land mines to watch out for when it’s time for “Honey, we need to talk.”

8 Mistakes to Avoid

1. Reacting out of Emotional Volatility

Beginning a conversation when you’re ready to boil over with anger, frustration, sarcasm, or desperation is almost certain to elicit defensiveness in your spouse. The walls between you will only become thicker.

Learn to own your own emotions; no one, not even your spouse, can make you feel any certain way. Discover healthy ways to deal with your feelings that don’t involve taking it out on your spouse. Cry with a friend. Go for a run. Spend some time in prayer. Let your emotional temperature cool off before trying to work toward a solution with your spouse.

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Why Marriage is Hard

Why Marriage is Hard

Sometime after the preacher pronounces you man and wife the unwelcome truth hits you; marriage is hard!

That realization may come within hours or it may take months, but every marriage encounters real and big problems. Just today someone told me, “Dr. Carol, tell people the truth – how hard marriage really is!” I don’t know any statistics, but I would guess that for most couples some major problem has ambushed them by the time they return from the honeymoon.

It’s no wonder that for the past couple years there are, for the first time, more unmarried adults than married adults in the US and other developed countries. It’s well known from other research that, in general, successfully married people live healthier, longer, and happier. But that’s not enough to convince many to take on the enormous challenges marriage presents.

Ask almost any married couple and they will tell you the problems are real: communication, intimacy, conflict, differing expectations, money, parenting, and more.

These and other visible problems, however, are just the surface issues. As helpful as pre-marriage instruction, date-night advice, and much of the marriage help out there may be, it only deals with the symptoms. And just like with physical symptoms, problems will continue until and unless the underlying diagnosis is made and treated.

The Troubled Marriage Diagnosis

Perhaps 90% of those who write to me about their troubled marriage say something like, “My spouse is doing these things wrong, and I can’t get them to change.” The spouse writing to me is filled with misery, frustration, loneliness, or anger, and they can’t see any way out.

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How to Know if it’s Right or Wrong

How to Know if it’s Right or Wrong

You’ve heard the questions. You’ve probably asked them yourself. “Is it a sin to drink alcohol?” “How far can I go with my boyfriend (girlfriend) sexually before it becomes sin?” “If I get a divorce, am I sinning?” Our human nature sometimes struggles to know if something is right or wrong.

When I was a tween I went through a period of being overwhelmingly concerned about my standing with God. Every night I’d religiously write down every wrong thing I had done so I wouldn’t forget to ask God or others for forgiveness. I kept a notepad hidden near my bed, and would cross off a “sin” once I had appropriately humbled myself before God or anyone else involved.

I’ve grown up a lot since then. It’s not that I’m any less committed to seeking forgiveness when I do something wrong, but I have a much deeper understanding of what God is after. And frankly, His “list” is a lot longer than mine!

But God’s list has much more to do with matters of the heart than it does with outward behavior.

Sin in the Bible

Religious people and institutions have a tendency to come up with lists of outward behaviors that you’re supposed to do and not do. The Jews in the Old Testament were very good at that, and God did not look kindly on that behavior: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

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You’re NOT Stuck in this Marriage

You’re NOT Stuck in this Marriage

Stuck in this marriageOne of the most common sentiments I hear from married people is, “I feel stuck in this marriage.” Yes, you’re miserable. You’re needs aren’t getting met. There’s little or no intimacy or sex. Your spouse doesn’t get you.

But I’m here to tell you, you’re NOT stuck in this marriage!

Perhaps if you’re reading this from some middle-eastern country that might be true – sort of. But even there we regularly hear stories of women who refuse to be stuck. Some may be whipped, imprisoned, or killed for trying to leave – and that’s NEVER NEVER ACCEPTABLE! But the point is you always have options regardless of your gender.

That also illustrates that your choices have consequences. In most of the world you have the choice to get a divorce, to leave the marriage. That choice may involve financial difficulties, trauma to your children, emotional and spiritual baggage, and a change in the way others see and treat you socially. But that is a choice you can make.

So get it out of your head and your vocabulary that you’re stuck. Remember the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? It’s time to do something different if you want a different outcome. Now that we’ve illustrated what may be the extremes, let’s consider some of the various choices you have if your marriage is not the way you’d like it.

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