QUESTION: My wife has moved out and our communication is strained. Can you give me advice on how I can try to reconcile with her?
Juli: It is difficult to give specific advice without knowing some background about your situation. However, here are some basic principles to consider if you are serious about wanting to win your wife back.
Ask her to clearly communicate what has caused her to leave. She probably feels like she has told you 100 times what the issue is, but have you ever really listened? You will naturally want to be defensive and explain why her complaint is no big deal and how she has done hurtful things to you, too. Now is not the time for that. Don't respond other than to ask clarifying questions. Take home the information she has given you to think and pray about, and perhaps sort through it with a counselor. Take responsibility for your part in the split. Remember that even if your intention was not to hurt her, you have.
The next step is to let her know you are committed for the long haul. Your wife will be skeptical if you make big gestures and commitments to her that don't stand the test of time. If you want to win her back, show her love consistently, even if she doesn't respond right away. If she sets boundaries regarding how much she wants to communicate, respect those. Even so, let her know that you are willing to wait.
A strong marriage is made up of not just the good parts of sharing love, but patience and unrelenting love when a crisis like yours hits.
QUESTION: Our son is very athletic, but I'm afraid he may be overdoing it. He goes out for soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring, and also plays in various summer leagues. He's only a sophomore, but he's already experienced broken arms and numerous sprains. Should we ask him to tone it down?
Jim: I had my share of youthful sports injuries, and I have the scars to prove it. When I was 13, I played a game of catch with an extended family member who also happened to pitch for the California Angels' farm team. One of his fastballs "went wild," as they say, and impacted squarely with the left side of my face. I spent two weeks in the hospital with a broken nose, cheekbone, eye socket, and jaw, and a fractured skull. To this day, the left side of my face is still numb as a result of reconstructive surgery.
By the time I was a senior in high school, football had become my primary passion. But my dreams of gridiron glory ended with a broken collar bone.
A recent study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that young people are facing more serious sports injuries than ever before: torn ligaments, dislocated shoulders, neck and knee injuries, and strained muscles and joints. We're not talking about the NFL or Major League Baseball here ... this is all from high school sports!
I'm not slamming youth sports. It would be a shame to prohibit your son from participating in athletic activities that he enjoys and in which he clearly excels. But you might encourage him to find a balance between sports and other less physically demanding activities. Rather than being involved in sports year-round, perhaps he can be persuaded to take a season off to pursue the debate team. Remind him that most teens his age feel indestructible. But even though they're young and energetic, teens' bodies need time to rest and recuperate.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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