Q: It's Mother's Day, and I can't remember ever feeling so lonely. I recently lost my mother, who died suddenly this past Christmas. On top of that, my husband and I are still childless after two years and thousands of dollars' worth of infertility treatments. I just want this day to be over.
Jim: I hurt with you. Today is always emotional for me, too. Though decades have passed since my own mom's untimely death when I was just 9 years old, I still feel the power of her influence and the pain of her absence.
It's fitting and proper to set aside a day to honor mothers. I'm aware, however, that the occasion doesn't always feel joyous for everyone. Some, like us, have lost their mothers recently or too young. Others might be estranged from their mom, or perhaps divorce has changed the dynamic of the day.
My heart also breaks for the scores of women who long to be mothers but whose dreams haven't been realized due to infertility, illness or other reasons. And then there are mothers who've lost their children to inexplicable tragedy. Please know that you are not forgotten. The Lord knows, and He cares. He is close to the brokenhearted.
In that spirit, Focus on the Family is here for people like you. We're a ministry dedicated to helping families find hope and healing, whatever the circumstances. Please call us at 855-771-HELP (4357).
In the meantime, let me encourage you to consider that God can use our suffering to bring comfort to and deepen our relationships with others. As you work through your grief, be on the lookout for similar souls in need of the shoulder you currently seek. There's great truth in the saying that friendship multiplies joys and divides sorrows.
Q: Should I marry a man who has a problem with pornography? We've been dating for some time and recently began talking about marriage. He's a fantastic person, but I'm wondering whether his porn addiction is a red flag.
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It is a red flag, and you shouldn't expect his addiction to go away on its own once you've said your wedding vows. To be more specific, don't assume that normal sexual relations will take the place of porn in his life.
That's because porn addiction isn't really about sex. It's a symptom of an intimacy disorder -- a comprehensive psychological illness that compels an individual to avoid deep, meaningful interaction with a real human being and to replace it with impersonal sensual imagery. Unless this disorder is addressed and resolved, your relationship cannot move forward on a healthy footing. Marriage will not fix the problem. It will only complicate matters and increase your pain.
So, what can you do? We recommend you get professional counseling together before there is any further talk of marriage. An intensive counseling model, consisting of a limited and concentrated series of sessions focusing specifically on the addiction problem, is the best way to address this issue. And now is the perfect time to do it. At this stage in your relationship -- before you've made a formal commitment to each other by buying rings and mailing invitations -- you're in a much better position to take an in-depth, candid look at this issue and its impact on you as a couple.
If your boyfriend really cares about you and sincerely wants to spend his life with you, he has a powerful incentive to make the necessary changes at this stage of the game. Once you've tied the knot, that motivation will no longer exist in quite the same way.
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.
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