Q: I know several couples who have gotten divorced when we all thought they were perfectly matched. But others have stuck together when I thought there was no way they would. Why do you think some marriages work and some don't?
Jim: I heard an analogy a while back that I think illustrates the point. It's about the trees in the Cascade Range. The majority of these trees are hundreds of years old. It seems amazing they've survived so long when you consider that forests in the American West are under constant threat of fire from lightning strikes. Every year, thousands of acres of trees are killed by fires sparked by lightning.
So, why do trees in the Cascades keep growing strong for centuries? Well, that area of Washington State routinely experiences drenching rains. The lightning still comes, but the trees remain safe because the forest is saturated with water.
The application to marriage is simply this: Every marriage will be struck by lightning of some kind -- whether it be financial trouble, a longstanding illness or some other hardship. Many marriages erupt into flames while others survive the challenges -- or even thrive through them. The primary difference is the absence or the presence of drenching rain. In marriage, drenching rain is found in things like good communication, the willingness to forgive and taking the time to laugh together. It's the proactive commitment to love each other through every season.
Drenching your marriage with love takes time and sacrifice. But no matter who you are, the storms will come. So, protect your marriage from the lightning and flames. Let it rain, and your relationship can survive for decades.
Focus on the Family has plenty of resources to help. And if your relationship is nearing (or at) a breaking point, our Hope Restored® program has an exceptional success rate in healing troubled marriages. Visit HopeRestored.FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: How can I help my child break out of her shyness?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: Shyness is not a bad thing, and many kids end up learning how to manage their shy personality as they get older. However, there are some children who are excessively (even excruciatingly) hesitant to speak because they're insecure and scared. Shy kids often overthink because they're afraid they'll say "the wrong thing."
As a child-and-family therapist and school social worker, I've helped many parents of kids who struggle to speak and socialize freely. Here are some practical steps I've found valuable:
Ask your child what they experience when they feel shyness. What do they see, hear, feel? What do they think is demanded from them in the situations they encounter? Is there another way to look at these scenarios?
Help your child make observations rather than assumptions. What do they see around them when they feel shy? Do they feel the need to be perfect? Where did they get that assumption?
Proactively discuss when/how shyness becomes a problem. For instance, does shyness:
Prevent them from meeting new people?
Keep them from sharing their thoughts with others?
Restrict them from spending time with friends or peers?
Cause them to be self-critical or critical of others?
Provide challenges and celebrations:
Encourage kids to share their thoughts without calculating every potential angle.
Help them work through the worst-case scenario of opening up -- and how unlikely that result actually is.
Encourage your child to write their thoughts in a journal then read them aloud to you to practice offering their perspective.
As your child gains confidence in sharing their thoughts -- or at least starting with a friendly smile -- celebrate successes with dinner out or other special experiences.
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.
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