7 Steps to Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is possible

Forgiveness is always more difficult than an apology. It seems so unfair, but in addition to being hurt, the offended spouse is responsible for the most difficult aspect of restoration – forgiveness.

While having breakfast with a mentor, we entered into a discussion about alcohol. I don’t recall how we got onto the subject, but I certainly remember how it ended. During the discussion, he asked me about my thoughts or feelings about should a Christian consume alcohol. I gave him the same answer I’ve offered probably hundreds of times.

“I’m a total abstainer. I believe I have biblical grounds for such a stance, but more practically I avoid alcohol because my dad is an alcoholic and it scares me.” As usual, this response invoked a few more questions about my dad and my biblical support for abstinence. But it was the final question my mentor asked that haunted me for months. “Have you forgiven your dad,” he asked.

“Umm, well… I think I have,” was my sheepish answer.

It took me months, but I was finally able to work through these 7 steps of forgiveness. This forgiveness has enabled me to begin rebuilding a better relationship with my dad. These steps of forgiveness will certainly help you restore your marriage relationship as well.

095 – Marriage Expectations

Unrealistic and Unmet

Welcome to episode 95 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss unrealistic and unmet marriage expectations.

Shortly after the honeymoon, every couple begins to encounter the unrealistic and unmet marriage expectations they brought to the wedding. The expectations are seldom recognized as unrealistic. Therefore, they become destructive to the marriage relationship as they continue to go unmet. This podcast will cover many of the common expectations we have about marriage, debunk them, and share how you can keep them from hindering your relationship.

Also in this episode – email question
From: Steve

How do you ensure you don’t bring work home with you?

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Complete Apology

Final elements of apology

So many apologies inside a marriage fall short. Maybe the apology is sincere and unconditional, but that isn’t enough. A complete apology establishes a restoration of the relationship, not just expresses remorse or sorrow.

In many of my opportunities to apologize to my wife, I’ve often fallen woefully short of completing the apology that results in restoration of our marriage relationship. It’s important to understand every offense creates a division in the marriage relationship. The offense may be small, therefore the division is small, but over time the relationship can really struggle from death by a thousand cuts.

A complete apology is the only resolution to the divisions created by offenses. Time can enable us to somewhat forget about offenses, but time will never remove the divide created by an offense. These divisions in a marriage relationship can only be removed by an unconditional and sincere apology that includes these final three elements.

094 – The Reason For Every Marriage Argument

Eliminate arguments from your marriage by understanding this root cause

Welcome to episode 94 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss the root cause of every marriage argument.

Every marriage experiences arguments. Some marriages are plagued with constant and severe arguments.

There is hope for an argument free marriage. Couples can begin the process of eliminating arguments from their relationship by understanding the root cause of their arguments.

In today’s podcast, we will identify the root cause of marital arguments and help you remove the constant arguments from your relationship.

Also in this episode – email question
From: Tim

How do I convince my wife she needs to make time for herself? Rather than devote everything to our children.

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Art of Apology in Marriage

Apology is becoming a lost art, especially in marriage

I’ve done it so much in our twenty-three-year marriage you’d think I’d be an expert by now. However, I still struggle with genuine apologies in my marriage. Unfortunately, an apology is an art, not a science that can be repeated with predictable results.

In one case, I found myself in the situation that I owed Jennifer a sincere apology. I had messed up big. My mistakes had put her in a lonely and stressful situation. I was grossly neglecting my responsibilities as a husband. Additionally, I was abdicating all parenting activities to her. She was in the all too common position of having a negligent husband and absent father.

It took a pivotal moment and gut-wrenching conversation with Jennifer to open my eyes to my mistakes. I had made the mistake of putting other really good activities before my family. The church became my stumbling block. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting church is a bad thing. My mistake with the church was allowing it to so infiltrate my personal calendar that I had no time or energy remaining for my marriage or family.

That pivotal and gut-wrenching conversation with Jennifer came at a time I was trying to commit to even more activities within the church. Through her tears, Jennifer was finally able to get me to understand how badly I was failing as a husband and father. She didn’t call me a miserable failure, but I finally realized the mistakes I was making and how badly they damaged my family. I felt like a miserable failure.

Upon this realization, I really had only one option. Apologize. Let me share with you the elements of a proper apology. The elements won’t turn an apology into a science, but they will remove much of the mystery in the art of apology.

Why Do We Treat Strangers Better Than Family?

It’s common behavior, but it doesn’t have to be

I’ve watched it happen in our family numerous times. We are caught up in a heated argument among ourselves one second, then smiling, shaking hands, and cordially greeting near strangers the next second. As I’ve witnessed this behavior in our family, I ask why do we treat strangers better than family?

Believe it or not, this is a common and explainable phenomenon. Every marriage relationship will eventually experience the reality of being more polite and pleasant with strangers than the spouse. Parents will tend to be more patient and caring of other children over their own.

Let me share a couple quick examples in my own life. Consider the Sunday morning routine in our home. Church for us begins at 9:30 am. No one in our family is particularly high maintenance and require exorbitant amounts of time to get ready for church. Yet, we often find ourselves rushing across town to get there on time.

I have no patience for being late. Well, let’s revisit that statement in just a moment. My frustration with running late leads to a fierce argument on the drive to church. I’m barking orders at the kids to hurry to their respective areas of the church. Jennifer and I have begun a downward spiral of harsh words that only mutual repentance and forgiveness can help.

But then we arrive at the church. As we stroll across the parking lot into the church, we smile and ever so pleasantly greet everyone we encounter. I even cheerfully great those couples that arrive late to our group Bible study. Clearly, my impatience with tardiness only applies to my family. Similarly, I find myself listening intently and conversing deeply with small children I hardly know. I then rise to my feet and give the command to my own children, “get in the van, it’s time to go!”

The explanation of this common behavior is rather simple. It isn’t that our spouse or children have so drastically changed over time that we now loathe them.

093 – Overcoming Negative Beliefs

What they are, where they come from, & how to overcome them

Welcome to episode 93 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss overcoming negative beliefs in your relationships.

Negative beliefs can go unnoticed, but they can hinder good communication in any relationship. In today’s podcast, we will identify what they are, discuss where they come from, and most importantly how to overcome them.

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Also in this episode – email question
From: Anonymous

You seem to believe that divorce is non-negotiable. Why do you insist that those absolutely miserable in their marriage stay married?

Accepting Expressions of Love in Marriage

Don’t make expressing love a risky endeavor in your marriage

It was Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages that finally helped me understand my wife’s rejection. Her love language isn’t gifts, therefore every bouquet of flowers and box of candy fell short of garnering the response I’d hoped. She wasn’t really rejecting me, but it sure felt like it. She simply misunderstood the importance of accepting expressions of love in marriage.

I recall recognizing my wife had struggled through a few rough days and thought I would cheer her up with a bouquet of flowers. So I stopped on my way home from work to grab the best-looking bunch of roses I could find. I bragged to myself the entire ride home. “I’m such a good husband to buy flowers for my wife. She will be so appreciative. It will make everything all better for her.”

The kitchen scene

When I arrived at home, I charged into the house to find my wife deeply engrossed in homeschooling activities with our three kids. The kitchen table was littered with school books, papers, and pens. A serious conversation was taking place between my wife and our youngest son regarding his attitude toward school work.

Undeterred by the chaotic scene and her obvious preoccupation with the mountain of schoolwork to accomplished, I bolted across the kitchen to present her with the flowers I had so thoughtfully selected. As she took the flowers from me, I lifted my head high and awaited the accolades that were sure to follow.

The reaction

Instead, I received only a weak “thanks” and she placed the flowers among the papers on the table as she returned to math homework with our son. I was demoralized. Luckily, the words didn’t come out of my mouth, but they certainly went through my mind. “That’s it? I bust my [bleep] at work all day, but still find time to get flowers for you. And all I get is ‘thanks’!” Boy, am I glad I didn’t actually say that.

In her defense, she was very involved in the important activity of school with our children. Additionally, gifts would be considered Jennifer’s last love language. Those flowers didn’t speak love to her at all. Now, if I’d sat down to help my son with his math or made dinner for the family while she continued school, that would have spoken her love language.

The rejection

But enough about her, let’s get back to me. Let’s examine the rejection I felt. Though I know she wasn’t rejecting me or even rejecting the gift of flowers, it sure felt like it at the moment. I moped away from the kitchen table like a little boy that had just lost his puppy. I felt as if I couldn’t do anything right for my wife.

The importance

Why is this little exchange in our marriage so important? It’s important because, unbeknownst to me, the experience shaped how I attempted to show Jennifer love. More specifically, it caused me to be more cautious about showing her love. Feeling rejected hurts, so expressing love just became riskier.

It happens so subtly, even unconsciously; we shy away from expressing love in various ways because we fear rejection. Inside our marriage, we stop offering acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, or gifts because we fear it won’t be well received.

The conclusion

You must recognize and cheerfully accept expressions of love from your spouse. It might be contrary to your love language, but it is nonetheless important to your spouse. In fact, the expression of love they offer is likely their love language. This makes your rejection all the more painful.

Don’t make expressing love a risky endeavor in your marriage. Accept them cheerfully, no matter how menial or small they may seem. The best way to accept an expression of love is to reciprocate with words of affirmation. This frees your spouse to express their love in deeper and more meaningful ways without fear of rejection.

092 – One of God’s Greatest Gifts to the World

An Interview with Stephen Buckner - Part 2

Welcome to episode 92 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we have the opportunity to hear from my good friend, Stephen Buckner regarding one of God’s greatest gift to the world.

Stephen and Debbie Buckner are passionate about strengthening marriages because it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to the world.  They’ve been married for over 21 years and live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Stephen and Debbie’s primary mission is to help local churches build ongoing, comprehensive marriage ministries.  They believe the church is the Body of Christ and the hope of the world; therefore if the dream of marriage is going to be restored, it will happen in, and through, local churches.

They are also seasoned speakers with a presentation style that is fresh, unique, and honest.  They’ve been through more than their share of tough times in marriage, and they are not afraid to talk about it.

Stephen and Debbie founded Hot Marriage, Inc., an organization committed to strengthening individual couples by partnering with churches to build ongoing marriage ministry.

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The R&R of Marriage Sex

R&R no longer means rest & relaxation

Ninety-six. It’s the favorite number of any member of the United States military. Getting a ninety-six means you are getting ninety-six hours (four whole days) off duty. The Lieutenant of my Marine platoon had a dismissal routine that included the phrase “some much deserved R&R.” Lieutenant Bland meant rest and relaxation, but R&R takes on an entirely different meaning in marriage sex.

Over our twenty-three year marriage, I’ve read countless books, listened to endless podcast and radio episodes, worked through multiple Bible studies, and attended hours upon hours of mentoring sessions, but none of them really cracked the code of balancing sex drive in our marriage. I’ve followed every piece of advice offered – everything from “sex starts in the kitchen, so start with washing dishes” to “she’s a crockpot that has to simmer for long periods, so start early.”

Now in full disclosure, I’m the higher desire partner in our marriage. So naturally, marriage advice and topics related to marriage sex have always captured my attention. I credit Michael Smalley of Smalley Institute for helping me understand the R&R of marriage sex. R&R wasn’t the main topic of his podcast, but one sentence mentioned resonated with me and helped me uncover a secret about marriage sex that most couples miss.

By the way, you can find Michael Smalley and many other great marriage resources in my marriage resource guide. Get it here…

So, R&R in marriage sex? What does it mean? What is this secret so many married couples miss?

Well, R&R is related to rest and relaxation, but there is an added dimension that can lead to great marriage sex.