I would like your input as to how I can intercept/correct derogatory comments to myself and to others from my husband. He is a great person but has this awful, hurtful way of half joking, half serious comments to me and other family members. What can I do?
-Not Laughing in Maine
Dear Not Laughing,
From what you are saying, your problem does not rise to the level of abuse. (If it did, I would not presume to give advice from a distance.) Your husband's behavior is a sin against charity. It can be a real challenge to correct someone else's sins against charity, without sounding uncharitable yourself. So I suggest a couple of things:
1. Work on thickening your own skin. Tip #63 of my 101 Tips booklet suggests: "Protect yourself when your spouse starts criticizing you. Imagine yourself inside a giant bell-shaped jar. You can observe what is going on around you, but the jar protects you from anything harmful actually coming in."
2. Take the lead in becoming more charitable yourself. Find as many positive things to say as you can. Raise the overall tone of your life together. He won't necessarily make the connection right away, but things will improve because your behavior has improved.
3. On the particular question at hand: my tips booklet has a tip on exactly this question. Tip #39 "Remove all forms of sarcasm from your vocabulary. The word sarcasm comes from a Greek word meaning, 'to tear flesh like dogs.' There is never a good time or good reason to tear your spouse's flesh."
4. After you have spent a good amount of time monitoring your own charity in the relationship, (say, about a month) mention me as an authority figure, quoting this tip: "Dr. Morse says sarcasm means ..." Then let him think about it. I wouldn't push him to admit wrong-doing, unless you want a fight. Let giving up sarcasm become his idea.
God bless you for your efforts to strengthen your marriage!
One of my daughters has a daughter in the first grade, and on the school bus a young boy showed her and her friend a photo of a couple performing a sex act. My daughter found this out when my granddaughter and her friend cried and begged my daughter to drive them to school so they wouldn't have to ride the bus.
What do you do when something like this happens, the innocence of your child is really ripped away, and the opportunity for a parent to educate and discuss with her child the world of sex at an appropriate time is stolen from you? I feel that we are being forced to educate our children at earlier and earlier ages - perhaps before it is really needed - because of outside influences.
Driving the kids to school to keep them off the bus is a stop-gap and not a solution. Your daughter really needs to take this situation to the school principal, and the bus company, if that is a separate entity. She also needs to tell her daughter that she will protect them, if needed, by driving her to school. But the big picture is that she needs to tell her little girl that she is going to do everything she can to put a stop to this situation.
This is for the protection of her own child, as well as for the little boy who brought in the picture. To use the educational buzz-speak: It is never, never “age-appropriate” for an elementary school child to see photos of adults performing a sex act, much less having them and showing them around. This child’s parents should be informed, at the very least. This may be an indication of neglect on their part. Or, there may be some adult other than the boy’s parents who are feeding him this material, without their knowledge. If that is the case, these parents would surely want to be informed. The principal needs to take action here, as school officials are “mandatory reporters” of suspected child abuse and neglect. Your daughter is well within her rights to inform the principal, and follow up to make sure the principal deals with the situation.
Tell your daughter to take courage! She has a “teaching moment” not only for her child but for the school’s principal.
Why do we see so many children of strong Christian families choosing to cohabit and/or becoming pregnant? (I first wrote "seemingly Christian families" and realized that that is not true - the families that I am thinking of are strong Christian families)
People often cohabit because they are afraid of marriage, and they are poorly informed about the effects of cohabitation. They think living together will help them have a better marriage in the end.
Trouble is: these folks are misinformed. The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University did a thorough study of the literature that was current as of 2002. Their conclusion: “No positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found.” Couples who cohabit before marriage have a higher probability of divorce that couples who don’t. That’s because: people make poorer choices about partners when they move in than when they marry; they attach to their partners whether they are good for them or not; and cohabiting couples learn a whole lot of habits that are destructive to marriage, that they have to unlearn once they get married.
You can get the Rutgers University Study here.
My article on cohabitation has been reprinted more than anything I have ever written. You can read “Why Not Take Her for a Test Drive?” here:
My husband of 25 years has a bad temper. I have tried different ways of helping out, and as of this day, there is very little change on his part. He has been very strict and gets out of control with my kids. Our kids are older and do not have a good relationship with him. We spoke to a priest, and he understands that he needs to change. I know he is trying again, but I am just afraid it won't last for long.
I did order your book, "101 Tips for a Happier Marriage," and I plan to read it with him. I would appreciate some advice from you.
I am not in a position to do counseling by e-mail. You should really get some help closer to home. If your husband is physically violent, you need to get counseling immediately. The tips booklet is not intended for that situation.
If he is an angry person who is unpleasant, the tips booklet will help you come up with strategies to make yourself happier, even if he doesn’t change a bit. You may still want to find a counselor.
I hope this helps. I wish you the very best. Please know that I will pray for you, but that is all I can reasonably do from this distance.