Healing your Marriage, Recovery Corner

How Can My Counselor Get My Husband To Repent?

Excellent article by Leslie Vernick.  This is a common theme in couples counseling, especially in those couples whom I work with where pornography or infidelity is an issue.  Please read the entire article, it is worth the time…


Question: My husband and I have been separated for 2 months now. How can our marital counselor start my husband down a road of true repentance? What are the actionable steps he needs to take?

Answer: This is probably one of the most frequent types of questions that I receive from women desperate to change their husband. “How can I or someone else, get my spouse down the road of repentance?”

Friend, that is not yours or anyone else’s work to do. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone and the one who has sinned must take the steps of repentance.

If it were possible for another person to get someone to take the steps of true repentance, we would think Jesus would be our role model. Yet, we see during the Last Supper, Jesus showed his disciples, including Judas, the full extent of his love. He knew Judas was about to betray him, told him he knew he was going to do it, and yet, Judas did not repent. He did not turn away from what he was about to do (John 13).

A Biblical example of someone who did display some of the fruit of true repentance was Zacchaeus (Luke 19). Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector. He loved money and had no problem extorting his fellow Jews for more tax money than was owed to fill up his own coffers. He is described as a very rich, but unpopular man.

When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch that day, something in this man’s heart changed. We hear it when he says, “Lord, I will give half my wealth to the poor and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much.” These action steps indicate that Zacchaeus’ heart had been changed. He no longer loved his money the most anymore. He loved Jesus. We can see what happened by the way he handled his money and his desire to make restitution to those he took advantage of.

True repentance cannot be coerced or taught. If your husband is genuinely repentant, then he already has started down the path and with accountability and help he can make real changes. If he hasn’t repented yet, no one can create the steps that will take him there. Consequences may open his eyes to the results of his sin, but he still must personally change directions (which is the definition of repentance).

So I’m going to answer another question you didn’t ask. What does genuine or true repentance look like if it’s indeed happening? We all know people who say they have repented but there is no fruit or evidence of that reality in their lives.

Paul discusses this process in Ephesians 4 when he describes the changes that genuine repentance brings. He says, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” And then he goes into specific situations.

For example, he says, “If you are a thief, quit stealing.” That is the first evidence of a change. The person STOPS doing what he was doing that was damaging to him or to you or to your relationship. He puts it off.

Secondly, Paul tells the thief something else. He goes on and says, “Instead, use your hands for good hard work.” You see a thief’s heart is one that takes what he wants with no regard for the people he harms. Now he is to take responsibility for his own needs by working instead of stealing from others.

Paul doesn’t stop there. He adds something else. He says, “Then give generously to others in need.” You see Paul says that transformation doesn’t just occur in outward actions, but in inward motives. The thief was to be transformed inwardly from a taker to a giver.

So if we take this model, of course, we want to see the sinful behavior stopped. We want to see responsibility assumed for one’s self, and we want to see a character transformation and new behaviors begin to develop.

Now we know this transformation is a process. It doesn’t occur in a moment. But what “evidence” do we see over time that this is happening?  What “fruits”are we looking for? Here are some things I look for without making a specific checklist.

  1. We see the person desiring to gain greater self-awareness. He begins to take responsibility for himself and asked himself why do I do what I do – without blaming other people or external situations for his own actions or feelings.  As he does this he begins to “put off” or stop himself from reacting or doing what he’s always done in the past. He self-corrects and gains self-control (one of the fruits of the Spirit).

2. We see him now open and willing to receive feedback from others. For example, when you notice he ’s slipping into some old behaviors, you can kindly tell him and he’s grateful, rather than angry or resentful.  It’s still up to him to “put off” those old behaviors, but he’s consistently practicing.

3. We see him willing to be accountable to a small group of trusted men to help him make the changes to his life he desires to make. Major life change never happens without accountability and support. How could Paul encourage the thief? Because he knew him. He understood what was happening in his heart and life and therefore he could speak into it.

So is your husband actively putting off the old thinking and habits and learning to respond in new ways by putting on new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving?

Are you observing a consistent change in his character as he now displays more humility instead of pride? Is there gratitude rather than entitlement, diligence rather than laziness, and compassion for others rather than impatience and anger? Is he becoming more God-centered rather than continuing to be self-centered and self-focused?  Is he willing to take responsibility for the pain he’s caused and no longer expects amnesty, but rather he is looking to make amends to those he’s harmed?

There is no exact list but you do want to see this kind of progression both internally and externally so that you are seeing the FRUIT of genuine repentance. Click To Tweet

Friends, when you have seen genuine repentance, what are some of the fruit you have noticed coming forth from a person?  

Article source: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/39511834/posts/1816248807


Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Tips for Making your Relationship Last (Tip #2)

Strengthening your marriage relationship does not have to be complicated or expensive. Throwing money at problems rarely brings the desired result. For instance, getting counseling just to say that you are “in counseling” is not going to save your marriage or solve any problems. You must do the work – not just when times are bad, but along the way to keep the relationship alive and moving forward in health.

The next few posts will consist of a few tips to keep your relationships going strong.

[TIP #2] Fight Fairly.

Knowing how to fight is just as important as knowing how to resolve conflict.  When fighting with your spouse (and yes, this is normal behavior for married people) you need to be aware of why your are fighting.  If your goal, in the fight, is to win – you have already lost.  The goal in fighting should be to understand one another and not necessarily to agree.  It is okay to disagree in marriage.  At times you will have to agree to disagree on certain specific topics.

You do not need to agree on everything to have a fulfilling and happy marriage.

A common misconception is that a person must “agree” with your viewpoint in order to “understand” you.  This belief is steeped in bad thought.  Why do I need to agree with someone to understand them?  Consider this example:  John is convinced that coffee should be consumed black, without cream or sweetener.  Susie, on the other hand, doggedly asserts that “coffee is just not coffee without cream and sugar.”  Which one is right?  Which one is wrong?

Surprisingly, the answer is both are right and both are wrong.  In this example, we are discussing preferences – not moral truths.  [Telling the truth vs. lies, for example].  If a person only feels affirmed and “heard” if another person “agrees” with their point of view; then that person will likely feel rejected by anyone who disagrees with them – potentially about anything.

Yes, this is an extreme example, but purposefully so.  This dynamic exists in all relationships, and is the subject matter of many a discussion in my work with couples.  In our attempt to persuade our partner to our point of view, we may stoop to name calling and the hurling of insults to “convince” them of our “rightness.”  In the end, we are merely submitting to our own pride and carnal natures when we allow this to happen.

How can this be dynamic be avoided or minimized in our relationships?  Here is one strategy:

Sit down with your significant other and devise your “rules of war.”  Talk about what can and cannot be said in a disagreement.  Literally, devise your “rules for fair fighting,” and commit to following them.  Below is a sample list of “rules for fair fighting.”

  1. No name calling

  2. No interrupting

  3. No blaming or making accusations

  4. No cussing

  5. No yelling

  6. No sarcasm or “witty” insults

  7. No defending of your actions

  8. No generalizations (“you always…”  or “you never…”)

  9. No physical, emotional, or verbal intimidating gestures/actions/threats

  10. No walking out without rescheduling a time to “finish” or follow up on the argument


According to John Gottman, PhD, and founder of the Gottman Institute, 69% of conflict in marriage goes unresolved.  It is not whether or not couples have conflict that is important; rather, it is how they handle conflict that determines the quality of their relationships.

The people who have stable, happy relationships are much gentler with one another than people who have unhappy relationships or break up.” – John Gottman

Ephesians 4:31-32 speaks to how we should treat one another in relationships:

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Start here: Choose to treat your spouse better than you want to be treated.  Approach them with love and tenderness in all conversations; even the “loud” ones.

A great resource to consider in learning how to covey love to your spouse is the classic from Gary Chapman: The Five Love Languages.  His website offers a free version of the assessment to determine your spouses and your love language.

The 5 Love Languages


Some of the ideas from this post came from this article:


Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Meaningless words?

Great article on the power of our words.  Found this on the blog at Focus on the Family.  Enjoy: 

I had been out of town for three days. When I returned, I found that my wife had one of the chairs in our bedroom reupholstered. She asked, “How do you like it?”

I replied, “I like it, but to be honest, I liked the old color better.”

She broke into tears. “I spent two weeks trying to find the right colors,” she said. “I thought you would like it.”

I could have tried to defend my comment, but I said, “I’m sorry, honey. I should have looked more closely before responding. I dolike it, and I appreciate all of your efforts to get the right color.”

After hearing this story, one husband said, “You really did like the former color better. Why should you apologize because she got upset?”

This man’s comments reflect an attitude many husbands have during disagreements with their wife. So they settle for a fractured marriage, refusing to accept responsibility for careless words or ill-thought actions.

Every marriage has areas that are working well and areas that could use improvement. In order to have a healthy marriage, it’s important to evaluate these areas and give them the attention they need. Learn how you can grow and strengthen your marriage »

If I hurt my wife, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I should apologize. When my behavior puts an emotional barrier between my wife and me, it’s my responsibility to try to remove the barrier. Apologizing does not mean that what I did was morally wrong; it means that I am deeply concerned that I have hurt her.

Most wives will respond positively when we admit our mistakes, when we acknowledge our careless comments or our preoccupation with other things.

A gentle approach

So the next time your wife explodes at your behavior, why not say, “Honey, obviously I have hurt you deeply. Tell me why it hurts you so much.” Then listen, express understanding and ask her to forgive you. When she seems emotionally distant, consider responding with, “Honey, I’m wondering if I have done something to hurt you. I sense that something is bothering you, and if I’m the problem, I certainly want to deal with it. I love you.”

Owning our mistakes is the road to marital intimacy.

Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor, speaker and best-selling author of The Five Love Languages.

Link to original article: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/why-you-should-apologize-for-careless-words

Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Tips for Making your Relationship Last

Strengthening your marriage relationship does not have to be complicated or expensive. Throwing money at problems rarely brings the desired result. For instance, getting counseling just to say that you are “in counseling” is not going to save your marriage or solve any problems. You must do the work – not just when times are bad, but along the way to keep the relationship alive and moving forward in health.

The next few posts will consist of a few tips to keep your relationships going strong.

[TIP #1] Know that small things can yield big results.

In the majority of happy and healthy marriages, both partners feel cared for, appreciated and “special.” This is a quality of the relationship shared by marriages that last long-term. Just telling your spouse “what” you appreciate about them and “why” you love them on a regular basis can increase overall happiness in the relationship and help to prevent divorce.

Many who read this may now be thinking about how important it is to keep the wife feeling “appreciated,” but here is the big “shocker”:

It is actually the men who seem to need affirmations more than women!

Research suggests that men who don’t feel affirmed by their wives were twice as likely to be involved in a divorce. How can this be? Consider the fact that women are much more likely to affirm one another in their friendships and compliment one another than are men in their friend relationships. Men just don’t “affirm” other men on a regular basis.

In most cases, even in Christian marriages, if men do not receive affirmation and encouragement from their wives, they often do not receive it at all. This creates a huge deficit in the area of a basic human need in a man’s life – the need for acceptance and approval. Men who feel respected (what being accepted and approved of creates in a man) are men who know they are loved by their spouses. Men who do not feel respected by their spouses (who feel neglected, dismissed, or de-valued) are those who tend to look for “respect” in “all the wrong places.”

Ephesians 5:33 challenges men to make sure they [love] their wives (=do whatever it takes to communicate and express that which makes them feel “loved.”) and that wives see that they [respect] (=do whatever it takes to communicate and express that which makes them feel “loved.”) their husbands.

What if maintaining mutual love and respect was not as complicated or hard as you thought it was? What if all we need to do is make each other feel valued, appreciated, accepted, and “special?” If that were true, then it could be that we have the ability to strengthen our marriages daily, without any financial expense, and without excessive effort or the loss of large quantities of time.

Start here: Tell your spouse every day that you love them. Tell them every day something that you love about them and compliment them regularly. This simple activity will help your love last.

If you want to learn more about the concept of what communicates love to men and women, I highly recommend the book, “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

Love and   Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

Some of the ideas from this post came from this article:


Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Learn to Fight Fair

Great article I found on [www.focusonthefamily.com]:

“You’re trying to change me,” Leslie blurted as we sat down for dinner.

“What are you talking about?” I demanded with as much piety and surprise as I could muster. Truth be told, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I was trying to change her. She knew it. I knew it. I just didn’t want her to know that I knew. It had been tense in our little apartment ever since we got home from work. The issue? Who knows. It happened more than 25 years ago. All I recall is that I’d made some inane comment about not being able to find something I could always find in my kitchen growing up.

“I’m talking about the way you make snippy comments,” Leslie said as she tried to restrain her tears. “No matter what I do, it’s not good enough.”

“That’s not true,” I said defensively. “Give me one good example of how I’m critical.” That was a mistake. For the next several minutes, she’d give a specific example, and I’d attempt to show exactly how reasonable my critical comment was. It was a game of mental pingpong that no one would win. Actually, it was a fight — our first fight as a married couple.

Finally, Leslie said something to end the tiresome bout. “The point is, I’m trying to be a good wife, and I feel like I’m disappointing you.”

“You’re not disappointing me,” I responded in an attempt to keep her from crying. But it was too late to prevent her tears. I sat helpless, not knowing what to do or where to go.

Leslie, on the other hand, knew exactly where she wanted to go — back home. Sitting in that tiny apartment in the middle of Los Angeles, beginning graduate school as well as a marriage, Leslie wanted nothing more than to be somewhere safe and sound. We both did.

We’ll be honest — Leslie and I still have fights. But thankfully, they are less frequent and more productive than they used to be. And in the 25 years since that first real fight, we’ve learned a lot about finding safe, common ground when the fur starts to fly. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Conflict can be good for your marriage

One of the thoughts that went through Leslie’s mind when we had our first fight in that tiny kitchen was that there must be something wrong with us — that loving couples don’t fight. We’ve since learned that this simply isn’t true.

Consider the reasons for marital spats. First, people are not perfect — and neither is the world we live in. While it makes logical sense that there are no perfect marriages, many of us are still surprised when we encounter conflict and expect our marriage to be different. Another factor that adds fuel to the fire of marital fights is the human tendency to resist compromise. Every day, couples have individual desires, big and small, that collide. A compromise is needed if they are ever going to resolve their conflict. Yet for most people, compromise is difficult and conflict is thus inevitable.

But the goal of marriage is not to avoid conflict. Not by a long shot. If handled correctly, conflict can help build a stronger marriage. In fact, we’ve come to believe that conflict is the price smart couples pay for a deepening sense of intimacy. Conflict helps us peel away the superficial layers of a relationship and discover who we really are. When Ruth Graham was asked if she and her famous husband, Billy, ever fight, she said, “I hope so. Otherwise we would have no differences, and life would be pretty boring.”

No matter how deeply a man and woman love each other, they will encounter conflict. It’s a natural component of every healthy marriage. The truth is that buried conflict has a high rate of resurrection. If something is bothering one of you, it is always best to put it out on the table and discuss it. So don’t bury your differences. Instead, view them as a potential source for cultivating a deeper sense of intimacy. Of course, to do this, you must learn to fight fair.

Seeing the world through your spouse’s eyes makes a difference

Several years ago I was conducting a training seminar for elementary school teachers. To help them better understand the world of a third-grader, I gave them the assignment of walking through their classroom on their knees. “I always assumed students were viewing the classroom as I was,” said one teacher. “It looks so different from their perspective.”

We make the same error in marriage when we assume we know what our spouse is experiencing. We don’t. Everyone interprets life from a composite of unique insights and perceptions. Only after entering our spouse’s world with our heart and our head can we accurately understand his or her perspective. To look at life through the same lens means asking two questions: 1) What does this situation, problem or event look or feel like from my spouse’s perspective? and 2) How is his or her perception different from mine? Accurately understanding your spouse’s hurts and hopes will change you. Once you consciously feel his or her feelings and understand his or her perspective, you will see the world differently. And in the majority of cases, empathy is enough to bring a marital conflict to a screeching halt. It sets the stage for two simple words: “I’m sorry.”

An apology can either hinder or help

When one partner blows it and the offense is minor (maybe someone forgets to put gas in the car after promising to do so), a graceful apology is all it takes for the incident to be dropped. At other times, an apology can be surprisingly complicated.

Like lots of couples, one husband and wife we worked with would regularly short-circuit their arguments with hasty apologies. “I said I was sorry for what I did,” one of them would say. “Now why can’t you forget about it and move on?”

This form of apology is really a tool of manipulation. It’s a way of getting off the hook and avoiding the real issue. What’s worse, a premature apology blocks real change. One husband snapped at his wife at a dinner party. Later he said, “I’m sorry, but look, you have to understand that I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.” The husband was avoiding responsibility for his insensitive behavior. What his wife needed to hear was, “I’m sorry. It isn’t right to lash out at you when I’m stressed.” This would have communicated that her husband understood he had hurt her and would try not to do it again.

All couples need a healing mechanism, a way to turn a new page in marriage. Knowing how and when to say you’re sorry can make a big difference. Ask yourself when and how you apologize. Does one of you apologize more than the other? Do you use apologies to whitewash issues? A sincere apology will leave you with a relieved sense of the air being cleared and a renewed feeling of closeness.

Staying focused on the problem is more likely to lead to a resolution

Remember to attack the problem, not the person. Our natural impulse during conflict is to defend and protect our position, not to accommodate the other person. If you accuse your spouse of always making you late, she is probably not going to say, “Oh, you’re right. I’ll be different from now on.” She is more likely to tell you that you only make it worse by pressuring her or that you are too impatient or a hundred other reasons why she is not at fault. You will be far more productive if you focus on the problem of being late and work together, as a team, to devise a way of avoiding it. In other words, separate the problem from the person.

If we were to sum up fighting fair in a single word, it would be cooperate. You must be willing to flex and yield to your spouse. Scripture says, “Wisdom . . . is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). If you cultivate a cooperative attitude with your spouse, you will save yourself and your marriage a lot of unnecessary grief. And you will have found the secret to fighting a good fight.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are New York Times best-selling authors and the founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University.

Tips for Fighting Fair

  • Start your sentences with “I” instead of “You” — “I feel frustrated when we’re late” is easier to hear than “You always make us late.”
  • Keep your fighting away from your kids — unless you model how to resolve it in front of them.
  • Stay clear of “character assassination” — don’t assign negative labels to each other (e.g., “You’re so lazy”).
  • If you need a timeout, take it — but agree on when you’ll come back.
  • Avoid expressing contempt by rolling your eyes or being sarcastic — it’s toxic to your relationship.

For more on fighting fair, watch Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott at “Improving Conflict Resolution.”

For more on fighting fair in marriage, see Dr. Juli Slattery’s article, Fighting Fair and Dr. Greg Smalley’s How Fighting Can Help Your Marriage.

article source: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/learn-to-fight-fair