Q: I lost my arm in a heavy equipment accident recently. I'm not dealing well with it, and I'm concerned about the major adjustments this means not only for me, but also for my family.
Jim: We're so sorry to learn of your injury. You're right: This will mean adjustments for you and your family. But that doesn't mean you can't live life to the fullest.
Our counseling team recommends six things you can do as you learn to live with your "new normal":
-- Educate yourself about your condition.
-- Recognize your limits and learn to say "no."
-- Accept help from others.
-- Build fun into your life.
-- Focus your physical and emotional resources on those things that matter most.
-- Share your gifts and talents with others.
In addition, marriage and family therapist Deborah B. Dunn recommends that married couples facing an injury of this nature find a third party outside of the family who is supportive and encouraging and who can help them process the event. She also recommends being honest with children about the realities of the injury. There's no need to be graphic, but don't try to sugarcoat what has happened.
There are several organizations that can offer you additional encouragement and resources. These include Rest Ministries, Joni and Friends, and Endurance With Jan and Dave Dravecky. In addition, if you think it would be helpful, feel free to contact Focus on the Family for a free consultation with one of our licensed counselors and a referral to a counselor in your area. God bless you and your family!
Q: My husband works hard, and I appreciate that, but he doesn't help out at home. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, and the situation feels unfair (to me and to the children). How can I get him to understand the importance of helping me and of spending time with the kids?
Dr. Greg Smalley, executive director of Marriage and Family Formation: In my years of marriage counseling, I've discovered that emotional word pictures can be powerful tools for getting your message across. An emotional word picture involves using either an object or a story to express your feelings. This simultaneously activates a person's emotions and intellect -- it's a fancy name for an analogy or parable. The key to crafting a potent word picture is identifying things your husband is interested in.
It sounds like you want to communicate several things to him: 1) the importance of helping you with housework, 2) the importance of spending time with the kids, 3) that you feel the situation is "unfair" and 4) that you feel "exhausted."
For the sake of illustration, let's assume that the most pressing issue is the need for him to understand the importance of helping around the house. And again, for illustration, let's say he's interested in fighter planes.
You could say something like this: "Managing the housework makes me feel like I'm a fighter pilot whose jet has been riddled with bullets and can barely fly. But to win the war, we really need my jet flying at full strength. When you help me with the kids and the housework, I feel like you're a dedicated ground crew, working overtime to bring me back to full strength and getting me ready to soar into battle again. It makes me feel like we're a team and that you value me enough to help me recover from battle. I need my excellent ground crew because I can't fight without you."
Of course, your illustration may be different depending on your husband's interests. It may seem far-fetched, but I've seen it work time and again -- emotional word pictures can help get your message across!
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.