Q: My husband and I both feel like our marriage is over, and we're ready to divorce. But we agreed to wait until after Christmas because we didn't want to ruin the holidays for the rest of our family. Part of me still wishes we could work things out. What should I do?
Jim: Some lawyers refer to January as the "divorce month" because of the spike in business this time of year. It turns out many couples who are thinking of divorce do just what you are considering. They don't want litigation to cloud the season for everyone else, so they muddle through until the new year rolls around. Once it does, they're ready to do something about their broken relationship.
Well, I agree that it IS time for you to do something about your marriage. But instead of divorce, why not put rescuing your marriage at the top of your "goals for the new year" list? Repairing what's broken probably won't be easy, but it'll be worth it. Research shows conclusively that the majority of individuals who stay married and work through their differences are happier a few years later than those who divorce.
Contrary to what many people believe, divorce isn't an easy way out. It's emotionally traumatic for everyone involved, no matter what time of year it happens.
Now that the Christmas tree has been taken down, give your marriage another chance. You and your spouse have a great opportunity to chart a different course through life together. We have many resources to help, including our Hope Restored marriage intensives that have an excellent success rate of saving marriages on the brink of divorce. For more information, go to FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: I've been thinking about my family's entertainment habits, and I think it's time to set some concrete standards. I'm just not sure how to go about it. As a business leader, I'm used to laying out a strategic plan for everyone to follow -- but at home, it's a different ballgame. Do you have any suggestions?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: I believe the answer to "concrete standards" regarding your family entertainment habits is fourfold. What I'm about to suggest is probably similar to the workplace "standards" you're already implementing -- just with some twists with children in mind.
-- Get on the same page. Let's say you and your spouse disagree as to whether or not your kids can play first-person-shooter video games. You'll have to come up with a compromise before one of you sets forth a house rule and the other undermines it.
-- Guidelines should be principle-based, not product-specific. I recommend having a "rule" that says, "As a person in this family, we pledge to watch movies that uplift, build up and encourage us," rather than, "No R-rated films ever."
-- Put your guidelines in writing. As my family did when our two children were roughly 12 and 9, I suggest you put your family's media commitments in writing -- then sign it and post it where all can see. Your children may wish to put handwritten pledges or unique ratifications in the margins to make the covenant more personal. The power of this pledge isn't in having more rules, nor the fanciness of the frame it's displayed in. It's in the accountability it brings, and the reminder it provides.
-- Talk regularly about making wise entertainment choices. Don't assume that once you have written media guidelines, your work as a parent is done. Far from it. Because entertainment is so HUGE with kids these days, I suggest you regularly discuss what's hot, what's not, what's in bounds and what's out, what their friends are into, and the technological gizmos that usher it into their lives daily.
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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