By Dr. James Dobson
Because of the critical nature of this discussion, we are going to turn to an expert for advice. Following is an edited version of an interview I conducted with Larry Burkett on a radio broadcast. Larry has devoted his life to helping families live within their means. I believe the advice that follows will be especially helpful to young couples who are establishing lifelong spending habits. Now is the time to lay hold of these fundamental principles.
When I was a teenager I had a recurring dream which invariably delighted me: the episode would always begin by my noticing a shiny dime near the sidewalk where I walked. As I reached down to retrieve it, two quarters would be uncovered in the soil. By grabbing those two coins, at least four half-dollars would appear underneath, and it was obvious that I had stumbled onto a numismatic fortune. I would begin shoveling money by the handfuls, while looking over my shoulder. Always standing or walking nearby were dozens of people who hadn't noticed my discovery, and I was anxiously trying to stuff the cash in my pockets before being mobbed by competitors. There were slight variations to this theme (once I found millions of S&H Green Stamps,) but a distinct element of greed was always represented. Now, many years later, I'm happy to say that I've recovered from this greedy nature; instead, I frequently dream that I'm standing immobilized while everyone else finds the money! That's what decades of taxes and creditors have done to my adolescent aspirations.
I would like to offer some evidence to show that men and women are biologically unique. The women's movement, in its assault on traditional sex roles, has repeatedly asserted that males and females are identical except for the ability to bear children. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
By Dr. Tim Clinton
4 Things to Stop in Your Marriage:
1) Focusing on Your Own Interests—so many people get married and never move into the “we” dimension of relationship. Being a couple costs your selfishness.
2) Maintaining Unrealistic Expectations—we will always want something to “fix” us. For most, the treatment of choice is for God to take anything away that we don’t want in our lives. Similarly, people choose the treatment of marriage to fix what is going on in their soul. You cannot believe that your spouse will meet all of your needs—no one is capable of doing this for you but God...
Many years ago I saw a documentary television program that I never forgot. It focused on the life of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Holt Hartford, who lived alone in a Los Angeles slum. These were her parting words that were aired on videotape a few weeks after her death:
I will not soon forget a television program aired in Los Angeles which was devoted to the topic of aging. It was one of those unusual documentaries which burns its way into the viewer's memory forever. The subject for the half-hour program was an eighty-eight-year-old woman named Elizabeth Holt Hartford. She lived in a tiny room of a decrepit hotel in the slum section of Los Angeles. The film crew for the station selected Miss Hartford to dramatize the plight of the poverty-stricken, sick old people who populate the central part of the city. Though she was wrinkled and bowed by time, Miss Hartford was remarkably lucid and eloquent. Her message still rings in my ears, and it sounded like this: "You see me as an ancient old woman, but I want to tell you something. This is me inside here. I haven't changed; I'm just stuck within this body and I can't get out. It hurts me and it won't move right and it gets tired whenever I try to do anything. But the real me is not what you see. I am a prisoner within this decaying body".
If I had one evening I could spend with any person, no one in the world would outrank my wife. We have grown in mutual understanding so that it is rarely necessary to quarrel and argue. Nevertheless, Shirley and I once had a dandy fight and three distinct concepts emerged which may assist you in your marriage.
• 7 Action Steps for Divorced Parents:
1.Do not put your children in the middle—allow your children to love your ex-spouse both by your words and actions. Encourage their relationship.
2. Admit your mistakes—acknowledge where you’ve messed it up in the past. Learn from this and seek to make changes for the future.
Simply reading and understanding God’s will for us isn’t enough. We must also choose in obedience to follow it—and that’s the difficult part. So often, we are too headstrong to submit.
Do you think happily married husbands and wives should be able to live together without fighting?
Something changes the moment one of the two romantic partners begins to fear that the other may be slipping away. He complains about who she was with last night and whines about not being given enough attention. He parks his car near her house at night and spies on who's coming and going. He blows up frequently and makes impossible demands. These signs of desperation quickly snuff out a romantic spark before it can grow into a flame of love. The key issue to understand here is the importance of respect in romantic affairs. It is the fuel that feeds the fire.
In addition to physiological differences, the sexes are blessed with a vast array of unique emotional characteristics. It is a wise and dedicated husband who desires to understand his wife's psychological needs and then sets out to meet them.
Inevitably, these differing assumptions collide head-on during the early years of marriage. Young John is out there competing like crazy in the marketplace, thinking his successes are automatically appreciated by the lady at home. To his shock, she not only fails to notice, but even seems to resent the work that takes him from her. "I'm doing it for you, babe!" he says. Diane isn't convinced.
I will never forget the first Valentine’s Day of my marriage, six months after Shirley and I walked down the aisle. It was something of a disaster. I had gone to the USC library that morning and spent eight or ten hours poring over dusty books and journals. It slipped my mind completely that it was February 14.
Some men will never be able to meet the needs of their wives. They don't understand how women think and have never been required to "give" to anyone. Those who are married to these unromantic and noncommunicative men must decide what is reasonable to expect and how they can forge a meaningful life together.
Suppose that one partner, the husband, begins to show signs of disinterest in his wife. Let's say that their sex life has been rather dull lately, and the sense of emotional togetherness is more of a memory than a reality. (The decline of a marriage is rarely brought by a blowout; it's usually a slow leak.) Then the relationship reaches a low point and the husband consistently treats his wife rudely and disrespectfully in public, pulling behind a wall of silence when they are home. These are symptoms of a condition which I call "the trapped syndrome".
We come now to the final task assigned to mothers and fathers, that of releasing grown children and launching them into the world of adulthood. It is also one of the most difficult. Several years ago, we explored this topic by conducting another informal poll of the Focus on the Family radio listeners. I asked them to react to this question: "What are the greatest problems you face in dealing with your parents or in-laws, and how will you relate differently to your grown children than your parents have to you?" An avalanche of mail flooded my offices in the next few days, eventually totaling more than 2,600 detailed replies.
How can you talk to someone who won't talk — someone whose language consists of seven phrases: I dunno. I don't care. Leave me alone. I need money. Can I have the car? My friends think you're unfair. And, I didn't do it.
That "no rights" philosophy would be unbeatable if both partners were totally mature, unselfish and loving. Unfortunately, we are all riddled with imperfection and self-serving desires.
All that is needed to grow the most vigorous weeds is a small crack in the sidewalk.
Q: Would you identify some of the major "marriage killers" that are most responsible for the high divorce rate that plagues today's families?
A: It would take perhaps 50 volumes to describe them all, and even then we would only scratch the surface. Any one of the following "dragons" can rip a relationship to shreds if given an opportunity to do so:
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Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A Message To Husbands and Wives
Don't Break Your Child's Spirit
The Influence of Friends
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