Q: Part of what drew my wife and me together is that we experienced similar wounds in our respective pasts. We thought that would help us relate, but now we're actually struggling. Do you have any advice?
Jim: Thanks in part to Hollywood, generations of people have been taught that marriage is best when two individuals who are broken and lost on their own meet that special someone who completes them. It's an idea that works well in the movies. But in real life, relationships like that are doomed to years of struggle unless there's some form of intervention.
Here's why: Genuine intimacy within a marriage can only occur between two people who are healthy and whole as individuals. People who feel incomplete inside usually rely on others to fill them up. But emotionally, that's like a bucket with a hole in the bottom -- no relationship is ever enough to fill it.
This leads to a second problem. Healthy people feel emotionally content inside, so they're able to freely give of themselves to their spouse. However, someone who is wounded rarely has anything to give because their energy is devoted to seeking after what they "need" from their spouse.
In math, two halves make a whole. But marriage isn't a math problem; it's a relationship. Two broken people cannot combine their wounds to create a successful relationship. A strong marriage consists of two healthy individuals, each of whom is content inside and able to give to their spouse in love and sacrifice.
The answer, then, is that both of you need to do the hard work -- professional therapy, spiritual growth, etc. -- to sort through your own "stuff." The good news is that encouraging each other through that process will help strengthen your relationship. Our staff counselors would be happy to help you get started; call 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: I'm concerned that my three children (ages 5, 7 and 10) are heavier than most of their classmates. My husband and I also carry some extra pounds; in fact, several members of both our extended families tend toward "plus sizes." But I'm worried about my kids' health -- what can we do?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: It's possible that genetics may play a role in the "plus sizes" within your family -- along with certain habits that may need attention. There are two key areas where parents can take an active role in improving their children's health: nutrition and exercise.
Let's take nutrition first. This isn't about reaching a certain ideal size, but of overall health. Various internal factors can impact poor diet, including fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety and lack of self-control. Help your kids learn what leads them toward bad (or good) eating habits.
Meanwhile, one suggestion is to avoid fast food as much as possible. By offering simple meals at home, parents can help children learn about healthy eating. There's plenty of helpful information available online (and you can never go wrong with extra vegetables). Also, consider healthy alternatives to carb- loaded sugary snacks. Don't worry -- when healthy foods become common at mealtime, children will not only eat them, they'll eventually prefer them.
Exercise is the second area of benefit to a child's overall health. It's important to limit our kids' time with computers, TVs, mobile devices and just sitting around. Instead, get them outside: running, jumping and playing. Maybe there's a sport they would enjoy trying. Take walks and bike rides as a family. At the very least, create a safe place where your child can be physically active.
As in so many areas, children learn the value of healthy diet and exercise by watching your example. So parents need to be "all in," too -- it's well worthwhile.
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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