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Advice For Husband’s Workaholic Tendencies

Dear Dr. Bill,

For the past several years, my husband has been going to school full-time and working full-time in a start-up ministry.  As a result, he hasn’t had much time to spend with our two sons, ages 5 and 8.

Now my husband wants to get his Master’s degree and I’m concerned that he’ll have even less time for our family.  Our sons have started complaining about their Dad’s schedule — he’s always too busy, and the only interaction he has with them is church or disciplining them.  What should I do?

–Tina

Dear Tina,

Many men find their sense of purpose through their work.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless it begins to interfere with their relationship with their family.

People who are involved in church work sometimes confuse their ministry with their relationship with God.  They “spiritualize” things and justify shortchanging their families because they are doing “the Lord’s work.”  But family commitments should always take precedence over ministry involvement.

Your sons are at a critical time in their development and they need both quality AND quantity time with their dad.

Your husband’s desire to earn his master’s degree is commendable.  But graduate degrees can be completed part-time, taking one or two classes per semester.  It may take a while to finish, but no degree or job is worth sacrificing your children for.

Your husband needs to be held accountable by an older, more experienced mentor or a group of Christian men who can help him keep his priorities straight.  If you discuss this issue with him and he is inflexible or defensive, then family counseling may be the next step.

Thanks for writing Tina.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Shine Family Expert

Good News: Suprising Marriage Proposal

A one in a million chance encounter has Milwaukee Abigail and Tim talking about a marriage proposal they’ll never forget.  On a recent vacation, her boyfriend Tim proposed on the beach!  The fun part of the story is in who took the pictures.  Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy just happened to be on the beach, and as lifelong Packers fans Tim and Abigail approached him for a picture.  What Abigail (and Coach) didn’t know was that Tim was about to accidentally create the most memorable proposal!  Read on and see the pictures here.

Two Words To Avoid During A Fight

“Calm down.”  There aren’t any words in the English language as infuriating if you’re in the middle of a a fight.  Just ask a woman. On the surface, they seem harmless enough: A gentle reminder to take a deep breath, relax, and gain perspective before a relationship issue snowballs. Problem is, when a woman hears these two words from a man, the effects are anything but conciliatory.  Read about all the details in Lisa’s Home School.

Listen to Lisa’s Home School here.

Good News: Teenage Lovebirds Reunited

A lovesick British couple whose teen romance dissolved under the weight of parental disapproval has reunited and married—six decades after splitting up.  78-year-old Eileen said that they have just picked up right where they left off.  They are just like teenagers in love!  It’s like they’ve never been apart.  Read all about these lovebirds here.  Congrats Eileen and Warner!

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A Young Wife Writes To Dr. Bill About Her Husband’s Computer Game Addiction

Dear Dr. Bill,

 

My husband and I have been married for a year and half and we’re expecting our first child in a few months.  I’m concerned about his fascination with computer games — especially the ones that involve a lot of battles and war.  Every night when he comes home from work, he goes straight to the computer and will play these games until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning.

 

I’ve tried talking to him about the amount of time he spends gaming but he doesn’t seem to care.  I’ll admit that I feel cheated since I don’t get to spend much time with him during the day.  But now that the birth of our baby is approaching, I’m worried that our family will end up being 2nd place to a computer game.  What should I do?

Heather, computer game addiction is becoming a real problem in many families, and obviously it’s impacting yours.

Most people consider addiction to be related to substances like drugs or alcohol. In reality, addiction can consist of anything that becomes such a priority to a person that he or she is willing to neglect friends, family, responsibilities–even their physical health in order to pursue it.

It may sound extreme, but given your description, your husband may require a formal intervention, such as the type used in dealing with an alcoholic. I’d suggest you consult with a licensed Christian counselor in your area, one who has experience in dealing with addictive behavior.

In a best case scenario, your husband will admit he has a problem and be willing to get help for his addiction. But he may also react defensively and deny that there’s anything wrong with his behavior. In that case you’ll need to make some tough choices about what to do next.

Regardless of what course of action you take, you’ll need the support of friends, family, and a caring therapist.

Thanks for writing Heather.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Good News: Return To Sender

A love letter from 1953 was finally returned to its sender.  Private Bob Rodgers had just arrived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for basic training when he sat down to write a letter to his wife after the post’s power went out.  Sixty years later, that letter finally turned up, when the U.S. Postal Service gave it back to Rodgers, who’s now living in southwestern Michigan.  Watch the video here.

Help—Our Blended Family Is Falling Apart!

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am the father of 4 boys, ranging in age from 21 months to 13 years.  All are my biological children, but the eldest two came from my first marriage.  At first, my 2nd wife seemed to accept these older boys as her own, and treated all four of our sons equally.  But over time that has changed, and I often find her attitude overbearing and overcritical — especially with the older boys.

She demands that I back her form of discipline, but that’s hard to do when I think my kids are being treated unfairly.  Every day it seems our household is in conflict.  And if something doesn’t change soon, I fear my family will fragment to the point that I’ll have to choose between my older boys and my wife.  What do you think I should do?

–Andy

Dear Andy,

Unfortunately what you’re describing is fairly common in blended families.   Many step-families deal with divided loyalties and conflicts over disciplinary issues.  It’s natural for a biological parent to feel protective of their offspring when they feel that their new spouse is being unreasonable or harsh.

Unfortunately, it sounds like things have reached the breaking point in your family.   You and your wife should seek professional help from a therapist who is skilled in working with stepfamilies.  Your kids are already facing challenges in life because of your first divorce—the last thing you want to do is subject them to another fractured relationship.

One of the goals in therapy will be to strengthen the relationship between you and your wife, as that is obviously suffering.  Your counselor will assist you to get your “couple” relationship back on track, and show you how to clarify all the many roles and expectations in your blended family of six.

Also, let me recommend an excellent book that will provide you with some practical help immediately.  It’s called “The Smart Stepfamily,” and is written by my friend Ron Deal, a family therapist and step-family expert.

Thanks for writing Andy.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Secrets From A 73-Year Marriage

Nothing like true love on a Monday!  Today, in Lisa’s Home School, I share the secrets to a happy marriage from 94-year-old Cutie Cooper, who has been married to her husband for more than 73 years!

If you missed today’s home school, listen here.

Remarriage in Widowhood

Dear Dr. Bill,

I’ve been dating a woman who is a widow.  Can you tell me anything about dating and perhaps marrying someone who has suffered the loss of a spouse?  Most of the books and articles I’ve seen relate to remarriage after divorce.  While some of the information seems relevant, I wonder if widowhood puts dating and remarriage in a different context, especially where there are preschool-age children involved.  Do you have any advice about this?

–Kenny

Dear Kenny,

It’s encouraging to hear that you’re developing a relationship with this woman.  My main advice to both of you is to take things slow.  As you might expect, marrying a widow or a widower is much different from marrying someone who is divorced.  There are far fewer complications, emotionally, financially, legally and spiritually.

However, it’s important to understand that when someone divorces or loses a spouse, there can be a tendency to rush into a new relationship—the “rebound effect.”  This can cause significant problems down the line, as the person who has experienced the loss hasn’t taken the time to grieve and heal.

Many marital experts recommend that widows and widowers shouldn’t consider getting remarried for a minimum of one to two years after the loss of a spouse.  Since you mention that the woman you’re dating has pre-school aged kids, my guess is that she lost her husband fairly recently.

If so, I would encourage you to put the brakes on your relationship and keep it at the friendship level for a while.  I’d also suggest you consult with your pastor or a Christian counselor about the dynamics involved.

Also, if you decide to move forward into engagement, let me recommend an excellent book for you to read.  It’s called “The Remarriage Checkup” by family therapist and remarriage expert Ron Deal.

Thanks for writing Kenny.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Good News: Widow’s Surprise

Elsie Smith, a 91-year-old Washington woman, lost the love of her life to a two-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  Her husband, Joe, of 46 years passed away recently, leaving Elsie with $9 to her name.  Her husband’s dying wish was to be buried next to other family members.  Elsie was set to sell all of her worldly possessions to pay for the $3000 burial costs.  After she told her story to ABC news, viewers responded generously by donating more than $12,000.  See Elsie’s story here.