• Abstinence Pledges Fail

    A recent survey showed that teens who take abstinence pledges are just as likely to have sex and are less likely to take precautions against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Many in the faith community are disheartened by such study results, but I can see how this happens. And it’s not a problem with the kids; it’s a problem of parenting. Parents assume because the church is has kids make abstinence pledges and wear promise rings, they don’t have to do anything. Parents are not taking their responsibility to parent and raise these kids; they get them to take the pledge and then take their hands off. They allow these young men and young women to spend inordinate amounts of time together alone and think that a purity ring on their finger is going to be the magic force field of protection. Listen, for teenagers to have sex, they have to have the opportunity to have sex and poor parenting is giving them the opportunities.
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  • Not Your Mother

    So often I hear women complain because they have to ask their husbands to do things. They complain that they have to remind them—sometimes repeatedly—to put their laundry away or do the dishes or help with the kids. The list of transgressions that they recite is then followed with a line similar to, “I should be his wife, not his mother!” or “I feel like I have two small kids and a big one!” You get the idea. What is really at the bottom of all this frustration is that these women expect their men to be like women.

    Because another woman would see that the dishes needed to be done, or the laundry put away. Their sisters, mothers, or girlfriends would automatically know that the kids need to be bathed and put to bed and they would jump right in and do it. But men are not women! Often, we literally don’t see these things; they aren’t big priorities to us and, as far as we know, the world won’t end if they aren’t tended to immediately.
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  • The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity

    Giving People the Full Story
    Not everyone who has sex gets pregnant. Not everyone who has unprotected sex gets AIDS or other STDs. Yet enough do that we take great lengths to warn people of the potential dangers. Sadly, little has been said of the danger of how pre-marital sex can negatively affect people for the rest of their lives.

    The Potential Damage
    Some years ago, while doing some video taping of cranes in the wild from a helicopter, I learned of how these birds “imprint” when they are first born. In other words, whatever creature they first interact with after birth, they assume it is their mother, even if it is a human. I immediately thought of what first-time sex does to a man. This overwhelming new experience IMPRINTS on him and he connects the context with the experience. Those who have their first sexual experience outside of marriage imprint on the lust of illicit sex – those who have their first sexual experience in the context of marriage imprint on the girl.
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  • Young Marriage

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” – Ariel Durant

    There has been quite a lot of press recently voicing opposition to young people marrying.  Many have decried the marriage of 18-25 year olds as a terrible idea since they are “too young”. But it wasn’t long ago that such marriages would not have been thought of as unusual.

    “The traditional markers of manhood — leaving home, getting an education, starting a family and starting work — have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved,” says Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland. For instance, in 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30; today, less than a third of males can say the same.
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  • Is an Affair Really Love?

    Infidelity is rampant in this country and unfortunately, all too common in the church as well. People claim to “fall in love” when they didn’t “mean to,” saying that it “just happened.” I point out that people fall in toilets, off of bikes, in holes, off of chairs, etc… but they don’t “fall” in love. Men and women who get involved in extramarital affairs think that it’s love; they feel this huge rush of emotion, passion, and desire and think, “Surely, this has to be love.” But to answer the question posed by Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?” My answer: nothing!

    Let’s look and see if an affair actually fits into the description of what love is:
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  • Honest Dating: Considering the Past

    Here’s a familiar scenario: a woman is dating a guy and thinks, “Ok, so he has A-B-C-D going on and he’s a bum, but I love him.”  Then she marries him and in the not-too-distant future she becomes… well, miserable.  She’ll then come to someone like me for counseling.  I often ask, “You didn’t see this before you were married?”  Then she’ll tell me, “Yes, but I thought I could change him.”

    I think a lot of people are not being totally honest during the dating process. Or many feel obligated to follow through with a relationship just because they have been dating for a while, even though they may have some strong reservations.  But if you are struggling with any aspect of who a person is, you probably need to look at that as a red flag.  Ultimately, that is what the dating process is for – to decide, based on what you have learned, whether or not to marry that person.
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  • Scheduling Sex

    Sex is an extremely important part of the marriage relationship. For couples who get this right, it makes life go so much easier. Those who don’t, can really struggle and it can make life together extraordinarily very difficult. One of the ironic things about sex and marriage is that before couples marry, you can hardly keep them out of bed, and after they get married, you can’t get them back in!

    I am often asked the question, “How often should we have sex?” Generally there is one spouse in a marriage who wants to have sex more frequently than the other and it’s not always the guy.  Often, I will have beautiful women come up to me at my seminars and say, “My husband doesn’t want to have sex with me. What do I do?” Honestly, this is not something I can easily relate to!  Being a hot-blooded Hispanic, I can’t imagine not wanting to have sex with my wife!

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  • Divorce or Separation

    I generally do not approve of divorce.  I am, however, a big fan of separation. I think that there are things that happen during a separation that can radically change perceptions, mindsets and the state of a relationship. Sometimes it is just the thing that an offending spouse needs to jerk the slack out of them.  It helps them to wake up and smell the coffee!

    When a separation occurs, it often gets friends, family, the pastor and people at their church involved… which is exactly what should happen. Too many couples live a big lie, showing up at family and church functions pretending that all is well, when in reality, all is hell. But when separation occurs, all of this under the radar stuff is blown out of the water and now they can really get the help, support and involvement of others that they really need.  Sadly, most couples bypass separation and go straight to divorce, oftentimes creating an environment where no one can do anything to help save the marriage.  It becomes “too late.”  They wait too long and get themselves into so much misery that either one or both just doesn’t care anymore. Continue reading →

  • Marriage is a Mirror

    Ever walk past a mirror and are shocked or mortified by what you see?  Your hair standing up in a weird way, your slip showing, your fly open, egg stuck in your teeth?  Mirrors can be real lifesavers.  Had it not been for that mirror, you may have gone the entire day looking ridiculous.

    Marriage is a mirror.  By living so closely with another human being, you start to get a picture of what you really look like.  You start to see where you need to adjust and change.  This is why marriage is so effective at making people’s lives more rich and productive—if they adjust to the needed changes.

    Unfortunately, many expect marriage to be something that makes them look better, not something that reveals where they don’t look so good.  Additionally, rather than see where we need to change, we opt to project our own negative images on our spouses and point out where they need to change:  She is so irritating….he is such a lazy slob….I don’t want to act this way, but she brings out the worst in me. In the Bible, Adam played the blame game like this:  “That woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

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  • Buck-Naked

    If you ever want to get to know people, go camping with them for a week.  Not only will you get to know them, they will get to know you.  Somehow who we really are starts to poke out whenever we get close to others over an extended period of time.  How we act under pressure in unguarded moments is always telling.  Most of us are pretty good at covering up our negative parts under normal conditions; we even fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we are.  But close relationships rat us out.  This is especially true in marriage.

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  • The Power of Understanding

    Understanding is extremely important when it comes to a healthy successful marriage.  When you are willing to understand each other, new vision and hope will emerge.  You will immediately become energized to work on your marriage, even if it is rife with trouble.  Here is a story that illustrates the power understanding has on our willingness to stick to a difficult relationship.

    Once there was a boy who lived with his mother and grandfather.  His grandfather was not really an elderly man, but he was confined to a wheelchair and had very little use of his arms.  His face was badly scarred, and he had a difficult time swallowing his food.

    Every day the little boy was assigned the task of going into his grandfather’s room and feeding him lunch.  This the little boy did faithfully, but not joyously.  It was quite a mess to feed Grandfather.

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  • The Frustration of Developing a Mature Relationship Later in Life

    Every married couple looks forward to having a stable, secure and mature relationship. A relationship where difficult issues have been resolved (or at least agreed to not resolve them), where the understanding and rules of the relationship have been firmly established and where both parties feel secure and understood. Unfortunately, there is one ingredient that is essential for a relationship to become a mature relationship and that is this: time.

    Even if you do everything right, time is the only way to grow your relationship from a weak, immature one to a solid, mature one. This can be particularly frustrating for couples who are marrying or re-marrying late in life. If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you undoubtedly have achieved a great degree of maturity in your personal life. You now have found that special other person, fallen in love and tied the knot. You look around yourself you see that many of your friends who are in the same age bracket have wonderful marriages that are secure and mature. You also assume that, since you are of a mature age, you too should have a mature relationship, yet yours seems to be a continual struggle. You ask yourself “We are grown adults, why do we struggle so?” or “Why do my friends seem to get along so good in their relationships but we are so frustrated?” I’ll tell you why: because your marriage is only a few years old while those in your age bracket have been married for 20, 25 and 30+ years.

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