Q: My husband and I have been married nearly 20 years, and frankly, the relationship has become somewhat stale and even boring. It seems like we're basically just going through the motions. We don't want a long checklist, but do you have one suggestion for something we can do to help?
Jim: I once asked author Ted Cunningham, "What's the best advice you ever got on marriage?" His reply was short and to the point: "That's easy -- lighten up and laugh!"
Why do you suppose Ted's thoughts jumped immediately to the importance of humor and lightheartedness? It's because life in this world can be a grind. Our daily routines are rarely easy and, at times, they're even marked by tragedy. All of us need opportunities to stop for rest and refreshment along the way. Retreats and oases are absolutely indispensable to life's journey. And I firmly believe that marriage ought to be one of them.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking at this point: "My marriage? An oasis?" But this is precisely what it can be if you take the time to grease the skids with healthy doses of laughter. A couple's role is not to squash all the good moments, but to share them with each other. Remember, the two of you got married because once upon a time you actually looked forward to being together!
So if you feel like you've lost that spark, make an effort to recapture it. Fan the flames again. If you can do that -- if you can lighten up, laugh and enjoy the journey together -- you're halfway toward achieving genuine marital success. And, in the process, I predict you'll eliminate much of the monotony and boredom that have characterized your daily grind in the first place.
Q: A friend of mine regularly takes her young children with her when she attends PG-13 and R-rated movies. She doesn't seem to think twice about it. Do you think that's wise?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: One of the most baffling things to me about parenting in this day and age is the fact that many moms and dads who would take a bullet for their children don't think twice about "abusing" their kids when it comes to entertainment. I put "abusing" in quotes because culturally we don't consider it child cruelty. But I do. More specifically, I'm talking about parents who, like your friend, take their young kids to movies that could cause serious emotional and spiritual damage, and influence their children in untold negative ways.
At a recent screening of a film that I knew was going to push the envelope, I actually asked the mom next to me something along these lines, "Since you haven't seen this film, do you worry that the content will be detrimental to your child?"
Her response was telling. Instead of saying, "Oh, yes. I'm very concerned about how the messages and visuals in films might affect my child. I'm just pretty sure this isn't one of those types of movies," what I got was something very different. The mother motioned with her hand in a sweeping gesture and said, "Look at all the children here at this movie."
In other words, her justification had nothing to do with the welfare of her child, but simply the fact that she wasn't alone in her decision.
I believe responsible parenting involves being informed about what your kids might be exposed to before it happens. That's why our team at PluggedIn.com works so hard to do what we do -- provide the detailed information parents need to make entertainment choices based on what's best for their children.
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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