Questions and Answersconfused_couple-web

These are real questions, received from real people with real relationship issues.  If the answer you need isn’t here, email it to us at contactmbtb@gmail.com.

 

Question: I’m in my 30’s and have never been married. My fiance and I have had some issues, but the most important for me is affection. There is none. She says that when we get married it will feel right, and that it will change then. I have a hard time believing that. Is this situation the same in most relationships?

Answer: My response depends on what you mean by affection. A dictionary definition of affection would be to like someone, to feel mutual warmth, fondness, emotional attachment and love.

There should certainly be this type of affection between an engaged couple. Genesis 2:18-24 shows that God intended marriage to provide companionship and intimacy. If affection is absent, it may be due to a heart issue in one or both of the people involved. When Rebekah and I first got together, I kept her at arm’s length due to old hurts from a previous relationship. She didn’t feel much affection from me. Marriage alone will not change a heart issue like this. Only a change of heart will result in a permanent change in how someone acts toward others. (A true change of heart comes only by putting God’s Word into your heart and learning to love and live His way). A person like this needs to learn to love and show affection; which is what I had to do. I had to learn to speak Rebekah’s “love language” (refer to The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman). If this is a problem now, it almost certainly will be a problem after marriage; premarital problems are usually magnified after the wedding.

There is another possible answer to your question. Some people consider affection to mean displays of affection such as touching, hugging, kissing and so on. Too much of this type of affection is often best avoided in a premarital situation, simply because of where it may lead. For example, kissing can arouse desire and possibly lead to sex. It is definitely a good idea to avoid actions that could cause loss of control prior to marriage.
 

Question: After 25 years of marriage and 2 children, my husband cheated on me for several weeks before I caught him.  He left me and the kids. He is still seeing the other woman and living with his mother who has been trying to break us up since we got engaged. He says he wants a divorce and says he doesn’t love me. He is very angry and ugly towards me and hasn’t been spending time with the kids. He used to be all about the kids and was an involved dad and now he doesn’t even call them. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I have been with him longer than I have been alone. He’s the only man I have made love to and he is the father of our kids. We got married in church before God and family. What am I supposed to do?? It hurts and at the same time I’m angry and devastated. Please advise.

Answer: We are very sorry to hear about your situation, but I want you to know that God can help.  One thing you need to know about us is that we base everything we teach and counsel others to do on the Bible.  So that is where we are coming from.  You mentioned you got married before God, and I’m not sure what your relationship with God is like right now, but He has the answer.  He is the one you need to be guided by, and He will help you.  This is not just some pat answer.  We’ve been there and we know that He does have the answers.

There are three basic things you should do in your situation. 

The first thing you need to do is make a decision as to what you want to do about the marriage.  This may not be something you can do overnight.  That’s where you really need to seek God for direction.   Do you want the marriage? It sounds like you do.  As you may know, the Bible does permit divorce in cases of marital infidelity (Matthew 19), but that doesn’t mean you have to divorce.  We have worked with other couples who were able to restore their relationship even after marital unfaithfulness.

It is possible to save your marriage alone.  In fact, most marriages are saved when one spouse, acting alone, takes the initiative to save the marriage.  I know it can be done because that is the situation we were in 18 years ago.  We were headed for divorce.  A PhD psychologist we were seeing for marriage counseling told us that in her 15 years of practice we were the only hopeless couple she had ever seen.  She told us we needed to get a divorce.  Rebekah didn’t take that as the final answer, though.  She decided she wanted the marriage, acted alone to save it, and with the help and guidance of God, we succeeded. 

So that is the first thing to do – decide if you want the marriage. 

The second thing you need to do is not be led by your emotions.  Jeremiah 17:9 in the Amplified says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?  The word heart here is referring to the seat of the emotions.  You simply can’t trust the anger and hurt you are feeling to lead you in the right way to go.  You can trust the Bible – the Word of God to guide you.  Emotions are normal.  God created us to have them, but you simply can’t allow yourself to be led by them, especially now.    
You are going to have emotions going in every direction.  This is perfectly normal.  We are not telling you it is going to be easy to control your emotions, but it is something you are going to have to do.  When you know what you want to do, it will help you to stay focused.  James chapter 1says a double minded man will receive nothing from God.  Your emotions can make you double or even triple minded.  Stick with your decision.

Friends and relatives will all have their own advice too.  Generally, such advice is well intended but not always helpful.  Here again, don’t let this play on your emotions.  Stick with the decision you make.   

Finally, you are going to have to walk in love toward your husband.  This includes forgiving him.  Whether or not you decide you want the marriage, you still need to forgive him.  Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Ephesians 4:32-42 (especially from the Amplified Bible) describe how God’s love acts.  Our book, Marriage By The Book, and CD series, How to Save Your Marriage Alone, go into a lot of detail on this.  Something else you need to do if you’re not already doing it is find a good church where they believe the Bible and can support you and your family during this time.  This will be very, very valuable to you right now.  We are praying for you.  

Let me leave with one thought to remember — there is hope.  1 Cor 13:13, in the New Living Translation says, “Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.”  There is always hope.
 

Question: My wife and I have been married for almost three years.  We are currently separated due to my inability to control my anger.  My wife filed a restraining order and now I’m not able to even speak to her. I am currently going to a counselor to get help with controlling my anger; I also have gotten my life right with God.  It’s hard for me right now not being able to talk to her, but has said that when then counselor is ready for the two of us to work on our marriage she will drop the order. I guess my question is how do I rebuild that trust back within my wife?  I love my wife dearly and she has told me that she loves me as well but she can’t live with the angry side of me.  Do you have any advice that I could use to make her fall head over heels in love with me again?

Answer: I could address several things in what you have written, but I will stick with your questions;  how do you rebuild trust, and how do you make her fall head over heels in love with you again.  

Let’s talk first about rebuilding trust.  Simply put, it takes time.   Matthew 3:8 in the Amplified Bible says, “Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]”.  By getting your life right with God, and seeking counseling to help overcome your anger problem, it sounds like you have repented.  For your wife to trust you again, though, she is going to need to see a difference in your life that proves you have changed at heart.  Again, this will take time.  I can’t say how long. That varies from person to person and situation to situation.  But, I can say that you can start right now and begin building trust.  We have worked with people in the past who have anger problems.  Whether you control your anger or not is a choice; you can control yourself.  Galatians 5:23 lists self-control as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (the King James Version calls it “temperance”).  A born again person can exercise this fruit of self-control; you can control anger.  Think of a situation in which you got angry.  Had a police officer been there, would you have acted differently?  I’ll bet you would have.  This shows that you can choose to control your anger.  Get control, keep control, and let your wife see the change.  This will begin to rebuild trust.  

Your second question was regarding how get her to fall in love with you again. You wrote that she said she still loves you, so it sounds like the anger is the main problem. The best way to get her to love you is for you to love her.  I’m talking about God’s kind of love – agape’.   You need to find out what agape’ is and make it your lifestyle.  Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Ephesians 4:32-42 describe how agape’ acts.  If you love her, I believe she will return that love to you.   Our series, “How to Save Your Marriage Alone”, goes into a lot of detail on how to resuscitate a loveless marriage.  
 

Question: Divorce and remarriage – what does God think?

Answer: There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding this issue. 

First, it is God’s will for every marriage to succeed.  Malachi 2:16 says “God hates divorce.”  However, at least two scriptural reasons for divorce are given in the New Testament. One is for marital infidelity (Matthew 19:9) and the other is if a Christian is married to a non-Christian, and the non-Christian leaves (1 Corinthians 7:13-15).  While it is God’s best that every marriage succeed (and it is possible for every marriage to succeed) divorce does happen.

Some teach that if you are divorced, you can never remarry, and if you do remarry, you are committing adultery.  I do not believe scripture bears this out.  

Consider 1 Corinthians 7:27 – 28.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.

This scripture clearly says that if you are loosed from a wife (divorced) do not seek a wife, but if you do marry, you have not sinned.  God does allow for remarriage after a divorce.

 

Question: I have been married almost 7 years and my husband is a very driven Christian.  I love the Lord, but not like he does.  I am growing, but not as fast as He is.  Sometimes he makes me feel like I am not the one for him, which makes me want to leave and find someone in the Lord at my pace. He may be called to ministry one day, and right now, I do not know if I can handle that.  I sometimes want to stop being a Christian because he makes it hard for me.  He has such high expectations for himself and I feel I should have the same.  I tell him that I believe I will grow more but I feel pressured and smothered by him sometimes, which makes it hard for me to want to grow.  What can I do?

Answer: In situations where one spouse has a greater desire to grow in the Lord than the other, it is better for the more zealous one to lead rather than push.  Pressure is counterproductive; it results in resistance.  Leaving your marriage isn’t the answer.  The answer is found in true love and communication.

When Rebekah and I first got married, I didn’t know what true love was (by “true love” I mean God’s kind of love).  I finally learned, though, that true love is selfless and it will go to any length to attain the well-being of its object. It is based on a decision and a commitment rather than on feelings.  Edwin Louis Cole described it this way, “Love desires and seeks to benefit other people at the expense of self, because love desires to give.”  Basically marriage is about each spouse loving and meeting the needs of the other and not trying to force them to meet your needs or expectations.  We have seen situations where one spouse trys to “recreate” the other in their own image.  The result is frustration on the part of both.

I would suggest that you and your husband discuss each other’s needs with the intent to find out how you can best serve each other.  James 1:19 says be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  This is a scripture you will need to apply during the conversation.  

You said that your husband may someday be called to the ministry.  If that is so, God will also call you.  Remember, as far as God is concerned you and your husband are one.  He will not call one without also calling the other.  For example, if God calls your husband to be a pastor, he will call you, and grace you, to be a pastor’s wife.  You will be able to handle it.
 

Question: What do you do for a 25th wedding anniversary?

Answer: Wow and congratulations!!  What a huge milestone in your marriage and your life.  As for what to do – celebrate!!  The traditional and modern gift for a 25th anniversary is silver (that’s probably why the 25th anniversary is called the Silver Anniversary).  So, if it were me, I would buy my spouse something silver.   I’d probably make it something pretty big depending on what my financial situation would allow.  Be sure to make it something that your spouse would like.  Some people like practical things, some like whimsical things.  One lady we know tells us that to her a romantic gift would be a new washer and dryer.  Another tells us that diamonds and flowers are the ticket.  What would your spouse like?

I would also have a party or take a trip.  Make an event of it!  Here again, what would your spouse like?  I’d let that dictate what I do.  Does your spouse like surprises or should you coordinate with them.  I know a man who surprised his wife with a trip to the Bahamas.  He packed her clothes and makeup and everything, picked her up from work, and drove to the airport.  She had no clue what was going on until that moment; she thought it was great.  Others might not like such a surprise.  Everyone is different, so I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but do something.  Loving the same person for 25 years is fantastic and should be celebrated.  My hat is off to you!
 

Question: What constitutes a Biblical marriage?

Answer: A Biblical marriage is between a man and a woman who have entered into a marriage covenant before God.  The couple should be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14 says not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”); in other words a Christian should not marry a non-Christian. I believe it goes even beyond this, however.   For example, there is  a lot of controversy in the Body of Christ about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues.  Some believe and some don’t. 

Some people debate whether a couple needs a marriage license or ceremony to be married.  If the law requires a license, then you need to get one.  The Bible tells us to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1).  As for a marriage ceremony, when covenants were made in the Bible there was an event, or ceremony, at which the covenant was established.  Today the marriage ceremony is the event that established the marriage covenant.  

I want to expound on one point — Biblical marriage is between a man and woman.  There are no Biblical examples of same sex marriages.  In fact, the Bible points out several times that marriage is between a man and woman.  In Genesis 2, we see that God created a woman to be the companion and wife to a man.  It leaves no room for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman.  When Jesus taught on marriage in Matthew 19, He quoted Genesis 2 saying, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female.”  1 Corinthians 7:2 says, “… each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”  The wording referring to husband and wife is gender specific.  No room is left for same sex marriages.  Much more could be said, but the point is there is no Biblical evidence to suggest that same sex marriages are OK with God.
 
Question: I feel like I am still in love with a person I had an affair with several years ago.  My current marriage is bad.  A part of me wants my marriage.  Another part of me longs for the man of my past.  How do I let go of the other man?  
 

Answer: You have what is known as a “soul tie” to the man you had an affair with.  Sometimes people are married for a while and they begin to think about someone they used to be involved with.  They wonder about them, and may even long for and miss them.  People will even leave their spouse over this, thinking they love the other person and made a mistake in marrying.  They sometimes refer to this other person as their “soul mate.”

What you feel for the other person is not love, although many people mistake soul ties for love.  Your emotions are part of your soul.  When you put a lot of time into a relationship with someone, or are intimate with them, and they are removed from you, your soul can stay emotionally tied to them even if you are not involved anymore.  

There are examples of this in the Bible between parents and children (Genesis 44:30), between friends (1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4), and between men and women (Genesis 34:2-3).  

What can you do?  Identifying what you feel as a soul tie helps.  Also, remember that you are no longer with that person for a reason, and it is probably a good reason.  You should also pray for closure and healing regarding this past relationship.

Here is another Biblical principal that can help you.  You become sensitive to whatever you give attention to; giving attention to wrong things hardens your heart toward the right things (2 Cor. 3:18, Heb. 3:13, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 66:18 and others).  Making a decision to close that old door once and for all, and focus on your husband, will cause feelings for the other man to decrease, and feelings for your husband to increase.  Even though you view your marriage as bad, there are things that you can do by yourself that will make it better.  We have a teaching series titled “How to Save Your Marriage Alone” that would be a great help.  

One final note.  You said that part of you wants your marriage.  That is your spirit (some would say your conscience) telling you the right thing to do.  The spirit of a born again person is a reliable guide.

 

Question: Our marriage is so bad that at times I really don’t want to be with my wife, but because I know what the word of God says about divorce, I feel like I have to stay.  Will GOD still bless me and my marriage?  I feel it is more of a sacrifice than being obedient.
 
Answer: Yes, GOD will bless your marriage, and not only that, he can turn your marriage around and make it great.  I would recommend a few things to someone in your position.  First, realize that something has to change.  Continuing to do what you have been doing is not going to fix the problem.  We all think our spouse needs to change, but the truth is, you cannot change your spouse.  BUT – changes in you can produce change in your spouse.  Somebody needs to initiate change and since you are the one looking for help, it will need to be you.  Most marriages are saved when one spouse steps out alone to save it.  You can do it.  Secondly, you need to keep the focus on you.  So often we think about how badly our spouse is treating us.  If only they would do this or that we would be happy.  We wind up reacting in kind when our spouse does something hurtful to us.  They say something ugly — so we say something ugly in return.  This perpetuates the problem. You need to do the right thing no matter what your spouse is doing.  That means you need to learn to love God’s way and walk in God’s love toward your spouse.  When they say something ugly, try looking them in the eye and saying, “Look, I love you and I am committed to you no matter what.”  Finally, James 5:13 says, “Is anyone troubled, let him pray.”  You need to pray for your marriage.  There is a prayer on the Resources page of our website that you can use.  Also, I would recommend our series titled, “How To Save Your Marriage Alone” that would be very helpful.  
 
Question: Someone told me if your spouse tells you it is over, and that they don’t love you anymore, that it is too late and your marriage can never be good again.  Is all hope gone?
 

Answer: This is completely wrong!!  Hope is not gone; 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the New Living Translation says that hope lasts forever.  Matthew 19:26 says all things are possible with God.  In 1991, I told Rebekah that our marriage was over and that I wanted a divorce.  She didn’t accept that.  She turned back to God, started praying for our marriage, and God turned things around for us.  In a nutshell, what she did (in addition to praying) was keep the focus on herself, and walk in love toward me.  

By keeping the focus on herself, I mean that she focused on doing the right thing no matter what I did or said to her.  If I said something ugly, she didn’t respond with something ugly.  

By walking in love, I mean that she put 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 7 (called “the love chapter” by many) to work in her life.  I particularly like how it reads in The Message; Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.  Love never dies.

God turned it around for us, and He wants to do the same for you.  God created marriage; He is on your side.  We have a whole seminar on CD in our called How To Save Your Marriage Alone.  It provides a lot more information on how to deal with this situation.
 
Question: Our marriage seems to be stale.  We love each other and It isn’t like we are going to get a divorce.  It just isn’t as fun or passionate as it used to be.  Is this just how it is after you’ve been married for a while?
 
Answer: No, it definitely does not have to be like this just because you have been married for several years.  The truth is that marriage should get better and better from year to year — and (brace yourself) that includes the sexual relationship.  There is a Biblical principal that applies here — people become sensitive to whatever they give attention to and hardened toward whatever they neglect (2 Cor. 3:18, Heb. 3:13, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 66:18 and others).  Almost without exception, people in your situation have given too much attention to things other than their spouse.  It may be your career, your children, your house, your friends, serving in church, or whatever.  None of those are bad, but they should not take precedence over your spouse.  The solution?  Focus your attention on your spouse.  Do it consistently, day in and day out.  Go on dates.  Make it a point to make love.  Do something fun together.  Take a long weekend away by yourselves.  Our CD series Marriage By the Book goes into a lot of detail on how to “rekindle the fire.”
 
Question: My husband and I have been married for six years and I have come to dislike sex.  He resents this, and I know it shouldn’t be this way.  Help?  
 

Answer: Go get your husband and tell him to come and read this with you.  Really — go get him!!  I promise, he will be glad he did.  First, understand that a good sexual relationship is an important part of a strong marriage.  A dissatisfying sexual relationship is too common.  If one partner doesn’t enjoy it, the pleasure of the other partner is lessened too.  This results in less frequent and less satisfying sex.  The solution is simple – serve each other in bed.  Men and women tend to be stimulated differently.  Men are stimulated by sight, and women are stimulated by romance and foreplay.  Men tend to get stimulated more easily and quickly and they are ready “right now”, but it tends to take the woman longer.  1 Corinthians 7 tells us that it is the husband’s job to satisfy the wife’s needs, and it is the wife’s job to satisfy the husband’s needs.  Rather than trying to serve ourselves and satisfy ourselves in bed, we need to learn to meet our spouse’s needs.  This requires communication.  When both people’s needs get met, your sex life will be more satisfying and the frequency of sex will tend to increase because both people enjoy it.  God created mean and women; He created the sexual relationship; He created both men and women to enjoy the sexual relationship.  You can do this. It will work for you.