Q: We just learned my spouse has cancer, and we're reeling. We have the best possible medical care, but there's one area where doctors can't help us: What can we do to keep the disease from harming our marriage?
Jim: Your world's been turned on its head overnight, and my heart truly goes out to you.
As you've wisely anticipated, medical crises can present a challenge to any marriage. I'd encourage you to prepare yourselves for potential threats by keeping the following thoughts in mind.
-- Adjust your expectations. Life is changed for the moment. How you respond as a couple will depend upon your willingness to set aside your earlier hopes and dreams and roll with the punches of your present circumstances.
-- Become adaptable. A medical crisis requires compromise and sacrifice for the sake of the patient and other family members. You may have to learn different medical skills, exchange previous roles and responsibilities and find new ways of enjoying life together.
-- Count your blessings. Make a determined effort to look for and find things for which you're grateful. While this is admittedly tougher to do in the midst of deep water, you both will reap the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits that result from an attitude of gratitude.
-- Nurture your faith. Perhaps the biggest challenge you'll face is making sense of and finding meaning in all this. Feelings of doubt are normal during crisis, so don't sweep them under the rug or feel guilty for having them. You may discover a deeper and stronger sense of God's presence as you wrestle with them.
-- Ask for help. Practical assistance, prayer, medical or legal advice, and a meal shared with a listening ear are things you may need at different times. Don't be shy about making your needs known. Friends will want to support you, and the experience will be as good for them as it will be encouraging to you.
It's people like you I had in mind when I penned my book, "Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength." I know your deepest need is beyond any human act or offering. But if it's any encouragement, I'd like to invite you, and others who are facing difficult circumstances, to call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) and request a copy with my compliments as supplies are available, or to speak with one of our licensed counselors. We're here and ready to help.
Q: Video games are always begging for our kids' attention. But I'm concerned about some of the detrimental effects of gaming. Can you give me any advice?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: There are several things to consider, but I'll touch on the two most important.
First, make sure the content of your family's gaming consumption is on the positive side of the ledger. There are a lot of upbeat, fun-to-play games families can enjoy together that can promote deeper relationships. In fact, I've almost always got a game of electronic chess going with my son, who lives out of state.
Unfortunately, many of today's most popular video games are anything but positive. As a parent, it's your responsibility to establish wise guidelines in your home that steer clear of games that glamorize life's ugly side.
Second, even positive games can be a time bandit and lead to addictive behaviors if not kept in check. So establish reasonable time limits. In our home, we used an egg timer to enforce a 30-minutes-per-day rule.
For video game reviews and other helpful resources, check out pluggedin.com.
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.
Focus on the Family counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). Focus on the Family's website is at www.focusonthefamily.com.