Q: Should I be concerned that my husband of three months no longer wants to do everything together? Since marrying in April, we've had the time of our lives -- just the two of us. But today, he opted to go hiking with a couple of his guy friends instead of going shopping with me.
Jim: Although romance novels and poetry are marketed and sold on the idea that "my spouse is my everything," couples who buy into -- and won't let go of -- this belief are usually doomed to be miserable. The truth is that it's impossible for one person to meet our every need. I learned that the hard way.
When my wife, Jean, and I were first married, we spent a lot of time together, traveling to high schools around the country to encourage kids to avoid drugs. It was a great season in our lives and -- being an extrovert -- I loved the constant interaction.
But Jean is an introvert. She enjoyed the work we did in schools as much as I did, but she felt drained by all the people. One afternoon, she headed out the hotel door for some groceries. I asked to tag along, but she said, "Jim, I love you, but I'd really like to be alone." Initially, I was hurt. But I soon realized that she needed time alone to recharge her batteries. Once I learned to give Jean some breathing room, not only did she reap the benefits -- but our marriage did as well.
Your husband can't meet your every need, so fill those spaces with other healthy activities. Have good friendships, pursue hobbies you find satisfying, or simply enjoy a little solitude. Give each other reasonable room to breathe, and you'll find your times together will be even richer.
Q: My preteen daughter has developed a real talent and love for dancing. We signed her up for classes six months ago, and she's having the time of her life. Aside from her exceptional ability, she's made some special friends and has blossomed with confidence. The problem is the music she's dancing to. It's inappropriate for someone her age, and I sense that her instructor wouldn't be receptive to changing it. But with all the positive benefits of her involvement in class, we're hesitant to pull her out. How should we handle the situation?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged-In: It's great to hear your daughter has discovered an activity she enjoys and that is well-suited to her skills and interests. That said, I can appreciate the mixed emotions you're feeling because of the inappropriate music that's been a part of the experience.
Sadly, it's no longer unusual for kids or adults to be held hostage to the R-rated playlists of musical gatekeepers, whether at the grocery store, sporting events or on the school bus. Adding to this concern is the fact that numerous studies have concluded that suggestive and risque music shapes teen and preteen sexual values and behaviors. What's a responsible parent to do?
While your impressions regarding the instructor's receptivity may be on target, I'd still encourage you to approach him or her respectfully and privately to express your concern. Bring printed copies of the song lyrics. It's quite possible that, like many of us, the instructor has never really heard the messages behind the music and maybe will make changes upon being made aware. You could also suggest a list of alternative tunes with similar musical elements -- minus the racy content.
If your concerns fall on deaf ears, however, then I'd suggest the loving response would be to find another dance option for your daughter. Aren't her heart, mind and soul worth it?
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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