A Marital Check-up

While it is true in marriage that opposites attract, couples do need to share core morals and values. A couple has to be headed down the same path with the same goals. Very often discussions about money turn into major conflicts because couples do not share the same core values regarding spending and saving habits. If a couple is not like-minded there could be serious trouble ahead in the marital relationship. Another area for potential conflict is artificial contraception and how to regulate the birth of children in a marriage. One of the major purposes of marriage besides building your spouse’s self-esteem and helping each other achieve eternity with God, is the procreation and education of children. Very often it is the woman who is asked to sacrifice her health and well-being because she is expected to take birth control pills. However birth control pills have a demonstrably detrimental side effects to the overall health of a woman. A couple should share the core morality of regulating births through Natural Family Planning (NFP). A man who genuinely loves his spouse would never ask her to go on birth control pills and deal with the very real consequences to her body, mind, and soul. This continues to be visibly demonstrated by study after study, so much so that even a non-Christian would draw the same conclusions.

Psychologists all the way back to the ancient philosophers of Greece have studied and categorized a variety of human temperaments, meaning an individual’s “thumbprint” as to how they are wired. Typically a simple way to look at it is that a so-called “Type A” temperament fits better with a laid back temperament. So in marriage, temperaments should balance out with one another. Two “Type A” temperaments generally will not work well for a marital relationship nor will two laid back people have much success either.

The third area where couples need to take a more reflective look is, “Are both committed to saving and/or creating a healthy relationship?” The assumption that marriage is forever and that your partner is going along just for the ride is quite dangerous. Marriages must grow and stretch and the couple has to be “all-in.” Wanting to stay married is the best predictor of being able to work through and compromise in areas of disagreement that at first glance seem daunting or irreconcilable. The assumption that a partner will go along just to get along is faulty and a real danger area for marriages. It is a simple but true axiom, “don’t take your spouse for granted.”

Now beyond avoiding taking your partner for granted is a huge one, do you speak your partner’s love language? This can mean simply things like, “What does he like?” or “What makes her feel special?” The answer to these questions are not panaceas meaning fixed formulas to calm an unstable relationship. These are things that bring true meaning and sincerity to the marital relationship. If your spouse’s love language is quality time then are you present with him/her in a genuine and thoughtful manner. Spouses do not like to be a “third wheel” whether it is to work or a leisure activity. A spouse should be able to say to themselves, “No matter what we do, I want to be with you.” Yes guys that may mean a trip to the mall.

Even very good marital relationships have conflicts and it is during these conflicts where spouses have an opportunity to really hurt each other and damage the relationship deeply. Instead of working against each other (oftentimes for the same goal!) couples need to be able to work together to resolve problems. Marriage can be thought of as a pair of shoes and from time to time these shoes need to be cleaned and polished. This means both shoes! Marriages can always benefit from a good “brushing up.”

Not surprisingly couples who stay invested in their marriages are attracted to each other physically and they genuinely like each other. Ask yourself if you like the sight of him in his boxers or her in her “nightie.” Most marriages are based on a solid friendship but if that has been lost then get it back. This can be done through going on dates or talking and listening to each other without the distractions of media (or children!). “Liking” each other again can mean everything for a marriage to continue growing and being all that it can be. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review

Last week my wife and I went to see a movie called, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” starring a slew of well-known English actors and set in India. As the movie opens the viewer is introduced to various characters experiencing specific life events that are going to place them in the same location, a start-up retirement community in India run by an ambitious young man who is the youngest of three sons. I did not read a review of the movie beforehand but had seen a preview of it. Years ago I had read a book called “Howard’s End” by E.M. Forester and remembered the fine movie I had seen made from the book, so I was expecting something similar. Forester’s book is about three families and does address class and gender struggle among other things. The “expectations” of my mind floated to an exotic location with an understated plot full of subtle twists and turns with plenty of psychological nuances and tensions. Boy were we disappointed. Movies have tremendous power to convey messages and Hollywood rarely disappoints when it comes to furthering an agenda that is not only misguided but very dangerous. We have a generation of brainwashed individuals both young and old falling for this balderdash like no other. It was actually embarrassing to see well-known seasoned actors play parts beneath their true talents. What a waste!

In the movie we see the word or concept of “love” linked throughout to the following: a thirty-year marriage portrayed as miserable, overbearing, and on the verge of breaking up; an elderly man focused on finding a woman to have a “mountaintop” sexual experience with; a recently widowed woman whose husband of forty years hid their finances from her throughout their marriage, thus leaving her broke and having to find work to support herself; an older woman with a reputation of multiple past marriages; a recently retired lawyer with health concerns who is returning to find a man he had a brief sexual fling with in their late teens (he is a confirmed lifelong “gay” man); a bitter old maid with deep prejudices (and no ability to hold her tongue about it) who has taken care of someone else’s children her whole life; and lastly a young couple who are attracted to each other (it is implied that they are having sex) but of course their attraction is counter to their stations in life (i.e. clearly a reference to the caste system). While we do get a very brief glimpse of these people’s lives before they leave for India, the move seems impulsive because they just up and leave family and friends. This is clearly an attack on the family and the stability it provides. Where are these people’s roots? Do their life experiences count for anything? What we see in their behavior is just not realistic. In short there is nothing that reflects a traditional view of what real love is as stated by Paul in the Bible. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong; but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7). Upon reflection, the movie bashed marriage and quite frankly why would the young couple in the movie want to persevere given what they witness going on around them in the so-called “older and wiser” generation. It was as if these people never learned anything from their own personal life experiences. Human beings are not just reactive animals. We can reflect on our experiences and grow emotionally and spiritually from them.

Mary Eberstadt author of “Adam and Eve After the Pill” (a book everyone should read) states that, “Christian teaching in these intensely controversial matters (such as premarital sex, cohabitation, homosexuality, and birth control) is actually being vindicated by secular social science and secular evidence from elsewhere, including the popular culture.” Even an atheist would draw the same conclusions. Most of what is portrayed in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” strikes at the dignity of the human person. There is not love but the “use” of another human being for one’s own personal gratification (selfishness). The evidence is in: must we as a nation collapse due to a lack of moral clarity or can we begin to teach virtue and strive for the happiness that authentic and genuine relationships provide? Happily, ticket sale revenues for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” are low and I am sorry I saw it. However I am grateful to point out to readers how movies can associate truly beautiful God-given capacities like love with such hurtful, immature and destructive behavior. This association is deceitful and will ruin lives! There was nothing charming about this film and in fact, it made me angry and miserable on the inside.

The book, “50 Shades of Grey” by E L James, is being billed as an “erotic best seller” and is sweeping through neighborhood book clubs at an alarming rate. How can anyone in their right mind proclaim anything redeeming about a book that portrays “rape” as some form of “romance.” St. Paul said “flee immorality” and we should all do the same. I briefly glanced at a blog about the book and was simply shocked by the nonsense that I read. St. Augustine said, “Sin diminishes sight” meaning the more we separate ourselves from God’s self-revelation through his Son, Jesus Christ, we don’t think or do things in a right mind. We become senseless. Where has common sense gone? The book is just another example of the “pornification” of our culture.

Studies clearly demonstrate that premarital sex, cohabitation, and the use of birth control lead to markedly higher levels of marital/relational dissatisfaction and ultimately divorce. Social science confirms what faith and reason already tell us. Spread the Word! If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

Marriage and Sex

Marriage is about so much more than a sexual relationship. It is a relationship between two thoughtful and intelligent human beings united by a special friendship. It is in marriage where new lives are conceived and find the human and material resources necessary to grow to maturity. This explicitly tells us that the family, a married couple plus children, is an institution of vital importance for society. Thus sexuality affects man very deeply and is the nucleus of social life. This is why “sexual discipline” has always been an imperative for any healthy society and this includes even non-Christians. A lack of sexual discipline is a significant symptom of social collapse. Now Christian teaching is very clear that a sexual life is a married life and sexual pleasure is only permitted in marriage and must be open to the generation of new lives. Sadly our culture trivializes sex to the point that sex is reduced to just another item for consumption. This trivialization of sex leads directly to a trivialization of love. Thus to trivialize love, the most noble of personal human relationships, makes it impossible to enjoy the happiness that it can produce. This is the love between spouses, the love found in family life, and of course the love found in friendships. When trivialized, love is reduced to the satisfaction of an instinct. Many aspects of literary and artistic productions exist based on exploiting a certain kind of physical pleasure. None of us are beyond temptation and we need to take the words of the Bible seriously when it speaks about our sexual behavior. Human happiness and the Kingdom of Heaven, the here and the now and the afterlife, are such serious matters that it is worth the effort to live well. There is an assault taking place on our “intimate selves” delivered through media and advertising and we have to react mainly because we are predisposed “to give in.” The central issue is about love and the nature of love. True love gives one the strength to live sexuality in an ordered manner. “Love, when it is genuine, is all-embracing, stable and lasting, an irresistible spur to all forms of heroism.” (Pope Paul VI) When love is great, pure, and generous, it has the strength to combat our lower desires, which can often be cruel and self-centered. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

What Makes A Marriage Work

Marriage has the power to sanctify (make holy) each person in the marriage. A couple cannot love each other just based on their own power and initiative. There must be a vital and shared prayer life because faith changes everything. There is a heroic generosity in working for the good of the other person.

As a starting point both individuals in a marriage need to develop their Christian identity. This means a set of values and asking yourself the question of, “Would you live out those values if a camera were on you?” Values are a reflection of your choices and actions. It is a clear sense of your mission.

Couples should start with a “Marital Mission Statement” and asked themselves who they are in relationships with people. If you don’t know what qualities to work on look at Galatians Chapter 5, verses 22-23. Typically the qualities of patience, gentleness, generosity, and self-control need to be worked on marital relationships.

Next, get practical and write it down. If one partner has difficulty with their temper (i.e. patience) then the other partner needs to know how to respond to outbursts of temper. Make sure it is about the quality or virtue you each want to work and remember you are there to help be a source of grace for your partner’s emotional and spiritual growth. Attacks on a partner’s character have no place in a marriage. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

High Standards

Here are some ways a young woman can claim the respect they deserve. First, dress in a way appropriate to your dignity. Don’t walk around sending a message that your body is the best part of you. This implies that your heart, mind, and soul aren’t so important. Say with your modesty “I am worth waiting to see.” Second, refuse to sleep with a man until you have his wedding ring on your finger. If he really loves you, he will wait. The respect you have for yourself and for each other will carry over into your marriage. Third, set your standards high on who you will date. A real man will rise up to meet your standards, but if you stoop and lower yours to his, you will have much to regret. Be patient, amazing men do exist! Lastly be willing to confront any guy who ogles you with his eyes or touches you inappropriately. Firmly and respectfully (and maybe in private) let him know that this is completely unacceptable. Parents do not be afraid to talk to your sons and daughters about this sensitive issue. It can save everyone a lot of heartache.  If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

Do You Have a Loving Relationship?

There three components of a loving relationship are: (1) having an emotional connection with others, (2) being able to disclose private thoughts and feelings, and (3) participating in nonsexual touch. When you demonstrate or show sensitivity and responsiveness to the feelings of others it creates emotional connection. It implies not only understanding but also empathy, the ability to see the world through another’s eyes. Disclosure is the cornerstone of intimacy. Think “in-to-me-see.” We become vulnerable when we share out most intimate and personal thoughts and experiences with those we are connected to. Lastly, everyone needs touch especially kids. Nonsexual touch is linked to the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is called the “cuddled hormone”.  If you are in need of marriage counseling or need some counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

The Grace of Marriage

The key to making changes in a marriage is to see your spouse as God’s son or daughter. Your spouse and you are someone Jesus Christ died for and thus you both are part of God’s flock, a part of His handiwork in the Kingdom. Your spouse is worthy of your respect at all times. Spouses can work through each other to accomplish God’s work. Spouses can influence each other to the good. If you want to influence someone to be more Christ-like then you need to become more Christ-like yourself. A spouse’s behavior should be exemplified by a single word: grace. Grace heals. The hallmark of grace is forgiveness, and one aspect of forgiveness is the attitude of “I am giving up my right to retaliation, my right to hurt you back.” If your spouse has given you every reason for withdrawing, pursuing, or fighting, forgiveness means just letting it go. You are going to cancel the debt. However cancelling a debt is just part of forgiveness. The other part is establishing an appropriate relationship. That means not being foolish or inviting more hurt but having enough courage to take risks and to be vulnerable. Share those parts of yourself you have been keeping locked away…secret feelings, risky opinions, times when you risk rejection but share an idea anyway.  If you are in need of marriage counseling or need some counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

Defenses Up?

One of the things that we typically do in a marital relationship is to constantly scan for faults in our spouse. Maybe they are going to let us down and not be there for us in some way. If we do find evidence that indicates that our spouse just really doesn’t care such as not listening or not being considerate, we will complain bitterly, criticize their intentions, and maybe even go on the attack. Our “radar system” has been penetrated and we counterattack. Or we may simply withdraw. If you have an avoidant attachment style where “relational” warmth (things like “touch-feely” talks, a warm hand on the shoulder, or dinner by candlelight) feels really uncomfortable then you may constantly have your radar up for any behavior that will confirm your spouse’s unreliability. You just might become either defensive or very busy. Those with an ambivalent attachment style will scan the horizon looking for proof that their spouse will abandon them and they will be left alone. Those with an ambivalent attachment style look for evidence that these wedges already exist by saying things to themselves like, “He doesn’t call on time” or “She talks with friends more than she talks to me.” Shut down your radar. Pull the plug. Back off. Quiet your heart. Allow your intellect to override your instincts. If you are avoidant, accept the incoming “warm and fuzzy” moment. If you are ambivalent and sense abandonment on the way, do the opposite; move in and be the mate your mate wants you to be. Assume the best and react to it positively. If you are in need of marriage counseling or need some counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

Make That Change

Fostering a closer connection in marriage may involve being the first to change. Husbands and/or wives often say, “Why should I change first? I am tired of giving and never getting anything back.” These words are often the words heard when this course of action is first suggested in counseling. With this change might come vulnerability and vulnerability means risk. And taking a risk is what got a spouse hurt in the first place. You either don’t want to be criticized again or you don’t trust that your spouse will be there for you and listen to what you have to say. Old relational wounds may open up again and you would rather just keep your distance or not even bother bringing it up again. So why should you change? Because you are the only one you have control over and you cannot simply abandon a relationship because it gets uncomfortable. Pride, resentfulness, and fear should not prevent you from fulfilling your marital vows. You must make every reasonable effort to fulfill those vows. Couples either grow closer together or they grow apart and that is not good for your emotional health. What are you doing right now to grow closer to your spouse? How are you changing? Where are you stretching yourself? What quality in yourself do you want to work and improve on? Oddly enough if you take the initial step to change it usually does work.  If you are in need of marriage counseling or need some counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.

How To Help Your Spouse

Your job as a married partner is to consider your spouse in a way that brings understanding and healing to your relationship. This means you listen to stories that under girds their hurts and pains. This means you listen attentively and with sensitivity. When you provide acceptance and empathy, there is safety and your spouse can more aptly correct the misconceptions built into their attachment (and relational) patterns that produce their fears. God wants to work through spouses so they can help each other become more like Him! This is a big role with a lot of responsibility. Understanding and caring bring about security, safety, and stability. Couples can experience emotionally corrective experiences and learn to trust and love in a more meaningful way.  If you are in need of counseling or know someone who does, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.