Q: Last year while confronting cancer, I underwent a hysterectomy and had a breast removed. Since then, my husband has distanced himself emotionally and doesn't seem to care at all about sex. I'm devastated. Can you help me?
Jim: I'm sorry to hear of the heartache you've had to endure. Many couples in your situation experience similar struggles, and most don't understand the underlying dynamics.
For a woman in your position, it's easy to feel like she's been "diminished" as a person -- that she's lost part of her identity or femininity. As a result, her body image is skewed and her self-image plummets, which often is further compounded by the emotional ups and downs associated with menopause and midlife.
The man, on the other hand, is frequently wrestling with issues of his own. Despite his best efforts to put up a brave front, he often finds it difficult to watch his wife undergo a major surgery like a mastectomy or hysterectomy. Fear, uncertainty, or feelings of inadequacy may cause him to shut down emotionally in the form of silence and withdrawal.
In both cases, perception is the problem. Both husband and wife are laboring under false ideas about themselves. The solution is to get the streams of honest communication and candid self-disclosure flowing. If you and your husband can acknowledge your feelings to yourselves and then discuss them in open conversation, the cloud hanging over your marriage may begin to disperse. I'd also encourage you both to find the support of a trusted same-sex friend who can help you work through the specifically male and female aspects of your respective situations.
If you find it hard to talk with your spouse about this subject, consider seeking the help of a professional counselor. Our staff would be happy to assist you with a referral.
Q: My 12-year-old daughter loves YouTube. But since there's no real rating system, she can bounce from an innocent talking cat video to some guy's profanity-laced "vlog" without warning. How can I keep her on the right channel?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: Sadly, some of the most risque stuff I've ever seen (and as a film critic I've seen a lot) has been on YouTube. One billion video clips are now viewed daily on YouTube, with 100 hours of content uploaded every minute. In other words, no matter how committed YouTube may be to keeping its service clean and porn-free, there's simply no way its censors can keep up with the volume.
That said, YouTube isn't all bad. Think of it as a library filled with books: Some books are great, some are neutral, and some are disgusting. A good friend of mine recently replaced a broken driver's side window by following a how-to-fix-it YouTube video he found. It saved him hundreds of dollars -- definitely a "good book."
Keeping your daughter in the great books section of the YouTube library, however, is a real challenge. Fortunately, Internet filtering software such as NetNanny does a good job of blocking undesirable content, and I recommend installing such software.
But better still, I'd encourage you to sit down with your daughter to view and talk about a variety of YouTube videos, including some out-of-bounds ones you've previewed. Resist the urge to just give a thumbs up or down. Rather, cultivate discernment in your daughter by asking her questions and discussing the content and messaging of each video. Your goal is to help her identify and understand why a certain video does or doesn't make the grade and how to respond when she encounters unsavory material. Finally, be sure to revisit these conversations every few weeks.
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.