Q: I was recently shocked when a coworker said he's heard that having an affair can actually spice up your marriage. I'm sure that's wrong, but I'm at a loss as to what to say in response. What's your take?
Jim: My take: ALL of the best social research shows that having an affair will certainly NOT "spice up" the relationship in any positive long-term way. Infidelity has been described as a huge bomb detonating within a marriage. At Focus on the Family, we hear from hundreds of people every month who confirm that imagery. The effects on everyone involved are devastating.
Affairs are driven almost exclusively by emotion. The euphoria and excitement of infidelity can seem intoxicating. In fact, "intoxication" is a perfect descriptor -- because at their core, affairs are virtually identical to alcohol and drug addiction. Neither addiction nor infidelity are rational, logical solutions to life's challenges. They're simply attempts to escape reality.
We all have legitimate desires for love and significance. But trying to fill those needs with the emotional high of an affair is just an illusion. You're not in love with a human being -- you're in love with the fantasy of what you wish your relationships could be. And just like every addiction, it'll eventually only leave you feeling even more empty.
The truth is that a truly authentic, satisfying relationship can only develop over time through years of healthy, intimate connection. So, I would tell your friend: Don't look for a quick fix that's nothing but vapor anyway. Invest your time, your emotions and your efforts into strengthening your marriage the right way.
And I would say to any reader: Maybe the idea of an affair has crossed your mind, or maybe you're already in one. Your marriage and your life can be restored. Our counselors can help; see FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: My 6-, 11- and 13-year-olds all struggle with gratitude. How can I teach them to be thankful?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: As a parent, you help set a healthy culture of gratitude in your home. This question is a wonderful first step toward that end.
Here are 5 quick things you can begin doing to foster a culture of gratitude at each age and stage of your children's development:
1. Teach the difference between a right and a privilege. Acknowledging and appreciating what they have teaches children the trust that what they have is enough. This helps free them from the vortex of always wanting more. Emphasize the importance of perception.
2. Highlight the discipline and trait of humility. Humility helps cultivate a thankful heart.
3. Model gratitude by saying "thank you" and expressing grateful thoughts you have throughout the day. Your kids watch and learn how to respond to life through what they see in you. Learn to be aware of your own attitude and response to life throughout the day.
4. Take time to talk about what each of you is thankful for throughout the year. Keep a posterboard in a central spot in the house -- each day, write down various things that make your hearts grateful. Noting these people, events and things trains your minds; it's like working out your mental gratitude muscles.
5. Be generous. Giving helps your children recognize what it feels like to be thanked. It also fosters selflessness and a mindset that is considerate of others.
Creating a culture of gratitude in your home takes patience, consistency and persistence. November is a great month to press the "reset button" of gratitude in your home and foster a thankful mindset all year long.
You can sign up to directly receive free practical content based on the age of your child; go to MyKidsAge.com.
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 jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or at Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.
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