Q: Is there anything wrong with seeking support from my Facebook friends when I need to "vent" about my marriage? Sometimes I get frustrated and upset with my spouse, and feel like I need to express my feelings to someone who cares and understands.
Jim: Everyone needs to "vent" once in a while, and there's a place for it in any relationship. But that place isn't Facebook. If you air your dirty laundry in an open forum, you'll only hurt your marriage and destroy trust between you and your spouse.
Because venting is intensely personal, it should be done only with someone you trust, who understands your situation, and who has a personal interest in the emotions you're experiencing. The purpose is to get your feelings out in the open so that you can take a second look at them, view them more impersonally and evaluate them. This is an important part of the process of communicating with loved ones, setting and re-adjusting goals, and making necessary changes. But it should only be done in a private setting with a trusted confidant.
If you need to vent, take it offline. If the two of you find it difficult to communicate, locate a trained marriage counselor who can help you work through your issues. If you need to let someone else know what's going on, open your heart to a spiritual mentor, a parent, a sibling, a pastor or a close friend. Don't make yourself vulnerable with anyone but a person you know you can trust. As for your Facebook "friends," you can let them know that you need prayer without discussing any details. That's as much information as they need.
Q: I'm a single mom of a teenage son who's never been given any responsibility. He's spoiled, and it's my fault. I wanted to make things easier for him because he didn't have a dad, but I realize now that it's only made him self-centered and ill-equipped for adult life. Is it too late to turn this around?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It's never too late to require age-appropriate responsibility from a child. And with a humble approach and firm resolve, you could start seeing some immediate progress.
Begin by having an honest conversation with him. Let him know that you've been misguided in your efforts to show compassion toward him, and that you're sorry you haven't given him the opportunities he's needed to grow as a man. Sincerely apologize, ask forgiveness, and then ask him to join you in making some positive changes that will benefit both of you.
How the discussion moves from there will depend on his response. Your goal is for him to have buy-in and avoid a power-struggle. He may be cooperative and agreeable, but regardless, he should understand that his participation isn't voluntary.
Discuss what's involved in running a home. Because everything's been taken care of for him, he probably has no clue what all needs to be done. Once you've painted that picture, invite him to suggest what responsibilities he'd like to take on. Again, don't ask him "if" he could help around the house. Make a list of chores that need to get done and let him pick.
At first, you may need to work with him to provide instruction and show him what results are acceptable. It's also critical that you determine and clearly communicate what the consequences will be if chores don't get done. Accountability and consistency will be the keys to your success.
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.