Q: How can we get a break from the kids once in a while? Ever since they came along, we can't even find two minutes to sit down and have a meaningful conversation.
Jim: This is a common challenge for most parents, and it probably won't surprise you that the biggest hurdles are typically time and money. Although these are real concerns, a little outside-the-box thinking and expectation adjustment can go a long way toward getting around these obstacles.
For instance, you may not be able to afford a baby sitter or dinner at a restaurant once a week. If so, you might choose one night a week to get the kids in bed early, put a pizza in the oven, and enjoy each other's company. Many couples are avoiding this roadblock by sharing baby-sitting responsibilities with other young parents. One couple goes out while the other cares for both sets of kids; then, the following week, they trade places. This is just one of the ways you might get creative about finding child care in order to free yourselves up for regular "dates." If the cost of a night out on the town is prohibitive, pick up some fast food and head for the park. Relaxing and meaningful time together doesn't have to be expensive.
If you're wondering whether it's worth the hassle, think back to the time you had with your spouse before your first baby arrived. My guess is that you'll recall some special moments you'd forgotten about that brought the two of you closer together. Even if you can't find the same time you once enjoyed, take whatever you can get. The main thing is to consciously and regularly look for any and all opportunities to be a couple again. You'll be glad you did.
Q: Several times you've suggested that pornography is detrimental to individuals who engage with it. I can understand if you want to make this a moral issue, but personally I don't see how it negatively impacts the person who consumes it. Where's the harm?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: The most obvious evidence may be seen in the increase in sexual addictions that has accompanied the digital age and its corresponding easy access to and proliferation of porn. Sexual addictions of every kind have become widespread, affecting men and women, boys and girls, from every age group and all walks of life.
God has designed us with a basic human craving for relationship, and all of us are wired with the need to connect. Unfortunately, pornography offers a counterfeit and distorted form of intimacy and attachment. In fact, Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow, co-founders of Authentic Intimacy, report that married couples younger than 30 years of age are facing intimacy challenges that previous generations never had to confront -- and a common, significant factor is pornography.
Many of today's young men have been "raised" on porn and have become accustomed to the instant sexual gratification it provides. As a result, they often don't know how to build an authentic sexual relationship with their wives. Or they may not want to invest the effort needed to achieve true physical intimacy, especially since women generally require time to respond, and men can interpret it as personal failure when they don't. That's not to mention the sense of rejection and betrayal experienced by a wife or husband whose spouse is hooked on porn.
Recovery isn't easy, and it takes time and hard work to develop healthy relationships. But help is available. Our Focus staff of licensed therapists would be happy to talk with anyone who may be struggling. Please give them a call.
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.