Q: My wife and I have been married for a few years, and our relationship is already starting to seem a little stale. Is that normal? It bothers both of us, but we’re not sure what to do about it.
Jim: I understand. When Jean and I first started dating, I lived in San Diego, and she lived in Orange County. Without giving it a second thought, I’d often drive 90 miles to bring her dinner while she was at work. During our courting days, I was willing to inconvenience myself to show my interest. But fast forward to the early years of our marriage, and something had changed: I couldn’t be bothered to run an errand for her down the street, and I was easily distracted by work.
We all do that, don’t we? Once we’re married, we stop pursuing our spouse like we did when we were dating. It’s human nature. But it’s also a reason why many couples fall “out of love” -- they stop listening to each other and serving one another.
It’s as if we think saying “I love you” one time should last forever. The truth is that love has a shelf life. It has to be renewed every single day -- not once a month or once a year. We can’t bank on that big vacation we took last year or that romantic gesture we made last month. We need to actively show our love to each other every day.
So if your marriage isn’t what it used to be, fall back in love by treating your spouse with the same kind of dedication as you did when you were first dating. Give them your attention, listen to them, and make them a priority in your life once again. Restore the passion you once had when your relationship was new, and your feelings of love will grow.
To help your marriage thrive, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: I’m ashamed to admit that I lose my temper with my young kids occasionally. It’s usually not that extreme, and we all seem to get over it fairly quickly. But I’m wondering: is this a problem?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: I’m sure you love your children. And if you’re like most parents, those outbursts may not be directly related to your kids themselves. We all tend to let stress and anger build up, and then something minor -- like a spilled glass of milk -- sets us off.
Sometimes we may feel like our children think the world revolves around them. Believe it or not, they actually do think that. But it’s not because of a lack of discipline; it’s a product of their development. A young child’s brain is not capable of understanding experiences outside of its own perspective. And that’s exactly why anger toward kids can be so damaging.
When a parent screams, children are not able to rationally process the situation and think, “My parent may be angry, but this isn’t my fault.” Instead, children will immediately feel they’re to blame. And if the home environment consistently reinforces that message, the child’s sense of worth will deteriorate.
A child who grows up in a loving environment will know they’re valuable and loved, even though they make mistakes. Children living under a cloud of anger and harshness, on the other hand, eventually see themselves as a mistake -- that they’re unlovable and without value.
Almost every parent loses their temper at some point, of course. Fortunately, children rebound from occasional outbursts. But frequent anger is damaging.
If you’re struggling with anger, I encourage you to get help. You can start by speaking with one of our counselors by calling us at 1-855-771-HELP (4357).
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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