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Communicating with Your Spouse through Tough Times.

Wendy van Eyck

The morning my husband woke up with a mysterious head-to-toe rash our heads were filled with the ideas, dreams and hopes of newlyweds. A week later, we sat before a surgeon as he explained that my husband had cancer.

There is so much that needs to discussed in a situation like that but so few words to describe how one feels. We were unsure how to communicate this news to others, and even more so how to speak about it with each other. Was it okay to speak our biggest fears aloud? Just a week before our thoughts had been on the future, now we spoke about the worry, heartbreak and disappointment we felt.

It’s been just over two years since we first heard Xylon has cancer. We’ve “celebrated” both our anniversaries in hospital. My husband has had 18 chemo treatments, radiation and a stem cell transplant. We’ve celebrated being cancer free and twice we have heard the crushing words, “There are still active cancer spots.” The reality is that we live from test-to-test grateful for even a few weeks of treatment free time together.

Through all of this we have had to learn how to keep communicating with each other. We often fail. There have been many times when I have snapped at him out of tiredness or kept quiet when speaking up would have been better. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about the realities our future might hold but I’ve learnt that when either of us stays silent about our thoughts and feelings it actually adds stress to our relationship.

Here are few things we’ve tried that have made communicating in tough times easier.

Make Space

Engage all five senses when you communicate. I often find that my mind wanders when Xylon speaks, or that I continue watching TV with one ear. I’ve been consciously choosing to tune out of everything else (switch it off, put it down, close it) and look at him and listen to what he has to say. If bringing up the topic of putting down electronics might be a touchy subject create opportunities to talk when this isn’t an issue. Some of our best conversations happen in the car when we are free of all distractions.

Find Time

Before bringing up a difficult topic ask yourself, “Is this the best time to discuss this?” Often there will never be a perfect time but there are usually times that are better than others. I needed to learn that talking about the broken washing machine when my husband was still tired from chemo was more likely to lead to an argument, than if I had waited a day or two. Be sensitive to the struggles your partner is going through and choose a time when you can both engage with situation.

Be Open about Fears

One lunch time we sat down and asked each other two questions. First, “What is your greatest fear?” Once we had both answered we asked, “What is your greatest opportunity?” I have found this exercise helpful for us a number of times because often I discover that the thing I fear the most is also where our greatest opportunity for the future lies. It is also a simple way to start conversations where you can both be vulnerable about future worries.

Seek God Together

We have been making a lot of decisions over the last few months. We have prayed together about the future. Not long drawn out prayer sessions just short prayers before we fall asleep. Often after a difficult conversation we’ll pray or sentence or two asking God to help us through the situation. Just being able to pray about a situation can often lead to clearer communication.

Talk about the Future

It is easy to get bogged down in the present problems. I find when that happens that refocusing on the future can help move communication on. Shifting focus from what is wrong right now to how we want the future to look can mean we find an unlikely solution. It’s amazing how often when you’re doing life with someone day-to-day you can forget to dream with them. Talking about individual dreams, and finding common dreams, can help get past momentary problems that don’t hinder the future you dream of together.

Speak to Others

Realise that the two of you don’t always have all the answers. My husband and I have both seen psychologists at different times over the past two years to deal with his diagnosis. We have also spoken openly with friends about what we are going through and accepted help when it is offered. Often an outside point of view can change how we see a situation or help us talk about an issue we’re struggling with from a new perspective.

Having hard conversations isn’t easy and it’s not something that anyone wants to do but I’ve found that by speaking tough words it brings my husband and I closer when circumstances could push us apart. Tough times don’t last forever and neither do hard conversations. Speak through the awkward stuff and then go do something fun.

If you’ve had to learn to communicate through tough times I’d love you to share some of things that have worked for you in the comments.

Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, life and more life” at She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.


How to Enjoy a Happily Ever After Marriage.

Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Les and Leslie Parrott’s new book Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage (Worthy Publishing, 2014).

Everyone who gets married wants to enjoy a happy marriage. But too often, people wait in vain for happiness to come to them, hoping that the right spouse or the right circumstances in their marriage will somehow make them happy. The truth is that marriage can’t make anyone happy, but happy people can make their marriages happy.

Enjoying a happy marriage is possible – no matter who you’ve married, or what circumstances you all are dealing with in your lives together – if you rely on God to help you build a happy marriage according to his design. Here’s how:

Understand that your choices significantly affect how happy you become. While your circumstances and genetics do affect the level of happiness that you experience, a significant portion of your happiness is well within your control – it comes down to the choices that you make. So decide throughout each day to pursue happiness through intentional activities. The more you practice behaviors designed to increase your happiness, the more you’ll inspire your spouse to join in, and your marriage will become happier in the process.

Pursue meaning that transcends pleasure. Realize that pursuing pleasure isn’t enough in itself to make you happy; you also need to pursue meaning in order to achieve real happiness. That’s because God has designed holiness (devoting yourself to God by living the way he intends) to lead to happiness. When you move beyond the self-absorbed pursuit of pleasure for its own sake to making meaningful choices that will help you love God and others more, you naturally invite happiness into your life.

Count your blessings. Gratitude for the many gifts that God brings into the life that you and your spouse share will strengthen your relationship with each other. The more you give thanks to God for your blessings, the more blessings you will notice and appreciate, which will cause you to enjoy your lives more and inspire more love between you.  Make a conscious effort to count your blessings regularly, in ways such as: cutting down on complaining, keeping a written record of your blessings in a gratitude journal, going with your spouse to visit someone who has helped either one of you in the past to thank him or her, and savoring the good moments you and your spouse experience together.

Try new things. Moving out of your comfort zones to experience new adventures together keeps your relationships fresh and leads to deeper happiness in your marriage. Some of the ways you can try new things together include: sharing a passion for an activity that both of you can enjoy doing together for fun, spicing up your sex life with new sexual positions and lovemaking locations, making new friends together, and spending your money on experiences together (like vacations and restaurant dinners) rather than material items.

Dream together. Following your dreams together will make your marriage happier by stirring optimism and empowering action in your lives. Plus, when you support each other in the process of pursuing dreams, you can accomplish more together than you could alone. You can dream together in ways such as: envisioning what you each hope your future will be like and discussing details of it together, overcoming your fear of failure by taking steps of faith toward making your dreams come true, building a “bucket list” of experiences you hope to have together during your lifetimes, identifying dreams that are most meaningful to each of you, keeping hope alive by discussing your dreams together often, and setting goals (that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive) to help you achieve your dreams.

Celebrate each other. When you make a habit of celebrating the positive moments that you and your spouse share, you avoid falling into the unhappy trap of taking each other for granted and instead fuel mutual admiration and honor that will contribute to happiness in your marriage. Celebrating each other inspires and motivates each other to be your best selves as you relate to each other. Ways you can celebrate each other include: complimenting each other for positive words and actions you notice every day, responding to each other’s good news with excitement, incorporating fun and loving sex into your lives on a regular basis, enjoying listening to music together often, expressing affection freely (such as through hugs, kisses, and backrubs), and serving each other regularly through acts of kindness (such as preparing special meals or taking on chores and errands for your spouse when he or she is especially busy).

Attune your spirits. Pursuing spiritual intimacy with each other will make your marriage happier by drawing you both closer to the ultimate source of joy: God. You can do so in ways that include: incorporating spiritual disciplines (such as praying, reading the Bible, and participating in church) into your lives together, openly and honestly discussing details of how God is working in both of your lives, and responding gracefully to each other’s faults as God does.

Add value to others. When you work together to assist or cheer up people whom God leads you to help or encourage, you double your impact for good and make your marriage happier as you make others happier. Keep in mind that, as Christian spouses, God has ordained you to serve others as a team. Some of the ways you can add value others include: making a list of kind acts you can do together (of different varieties, including some that you all can do anonymously), reviewing your experiences together afterward, mentoring other spouses to help them have better marriages, and sponsoring an impoverished child together.

Overcome the biggest hurdles to happiness as a couple. Those hurdles include: depending on money to make you happy, comparing yourselves to others, holding on to pride, obsessing over the past pain and regrets, fixating on the future rather than living fully in the present, and focusing what you don’t have rather than what you do have. When you overcome those hurdles, you can enjoy a happy marriage that endures through life’s uncertainties with the certainty of God-given joy.

Adapted from Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage, copyright 2014 by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, Tn.,

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are #1 New York Times best-selling authors and founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. Their work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today, and they have appeared on CNNFox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Oprah. Visit

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at:

Publication date: February 19, 2014

7 More Ways Husbands and Wives Injure Each Other Without Even Knowing It.

What other ways can you think of that you might injure your spouse unintentionally?
What other ways can you think of that you might injure your spouse unintentionally? (Stock Free Images)

I recently wrote two blog posts, “7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It” and “7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without Even Knowing It.” These two posts have quickly become the most-read blog posts in my blogging career.

I received lots of feedback. Numerous sites reposted them. I made a new friend whenStronger Marriages shared them. I can seeDave Willis and I becoming friends and working together in the future.

Charisma suggested I add more ways husbands and wives injure each other, based on the two post’s feedback.

So, here are seven more ways husbands and wives injure each other:

1. Sarcasm. In my original post, I wrote it with some sarcasm, explaining it was easier that way to address a more difficult subject. I still think it was easier, but it wasn’t received well by everyone. A few very vocal people were offended, so I edited that version. It reminded me, though, why I wrote the post. We sometimes unknowingly hurt one another in the way we approach an issue. That certainly was not my intent. Attempting humor isn’t funny if it’s only funny to you but actually hurts another. (And I also learned that some people need to learn how to better offer constructive criticism.)

2. Comparison. I learned that some were offended that they were grouped into a general post, rather than making one post for husbands and wives combined. I get that. We do generalizations all the time, though. Conservatives, liberals and moderates. Introverts and extroverts. At the same time, I understand that no one is just like someone else. We are all unique—but equally true, in many ways we are also alike. We all have similar needs and desires. Still, it did remind me of a way we injure our spouse and so the point is well taken. We should be careful not to compare our spouse to others—especially in a negative way. They are unique individuals.

3. Ignoring. Some commented they feel ignored in the marriage. It could be the response to an argument or the boredom in a relationship or simply refusing to actively listen. But when a spouse pretends the other spouse isn’t even in the room—or makes the other spouse feel as if that’s the case—it hurts.

4. Devaluing the relationship. Some spouses feel they are more serious about making the marriage work than their spouse. Not taking the relationship seriously allows holes to develop and injures the other spouse. And a spouse knows when we aren’t placing a high enough value on the marriage.

5. Lack of contentment. Numerous people indicated they were tired of their spouse never being satisfied in the marriage. It feels to them like the discontentment is directed toward them. In the relationship—in life, with social status, with finances—when one spouse is never satisfied, even when the dissatisfied spouse doesn’t intentionally or knowingly blame the other, it injures. Deeply.

6. Putting others first. Some spouses feel forgotten or neglected. When everyone else gets the best of a spouse’s time and the family gets the leftovers, it injures the relationship and the heart of the neglected ones.

7. Ignoring a spouse’s needs. Several spouses noted they were hurt most when their spouse didn’t realize how something was so important to them. It could be as simple as closing the cabinet doors, which may seem like a frivolous request to one spouse but to another, it drives them crazy. When we act like it doesn’t matter or isn’t “that big of a deal,” we injure the one to whom it is a big deal. (Now, granted, everything can’t be a big deal, or nothing really is a big deal, but we should value the other person enough to care about the things they care about, and when it’s easy enough to do, why not comply?)

By the way, the last example is one from my own marriage. It doesn’t matter to me that a cabinet door is slightly ajar. It bothers my wife greatly. I can clearly see that cabinet doors were designed to close. So, knowing it matters to her—I close them. Easy enough.

For more complicated issues, it requires better communication, mutual understanding and a willingness to humble ourselves in the relationship. When two spouses are doing this—and yes, it takes two—I am convinced that any marriage can be a great marriage.

Sadly, in my experience, many people think they are doing that, but they are really only expecting one spouse to do all the humbling of themselves. If the other spouse would only see and do things their way, they think, things would be good in the marriage. That doesn’t work, however. It takes two people, both willing to collaborate and compromise toward a greater reality of the two unique individuals becoming one.

Let me close by sharing a couple of general thoughts. First, I’m trying to help marriages. I realize all of these—maybe none of these—apply to your marriage. Some marriages are in serious trouble, and these posts can’t help at the stage where you are at right now. You may need professional counseling, and I strongly encourage you to get help if needed.

Some have dismissed these as too elementary. I understand that too. Although, I must say, some of the replies were extremely harsh and unkind in the way they expressed themselves. I seriously couldn’t help but wonder if that type response is occurring in the marriage if there is a wounded spouse and the spouse doing the injuring is totally unaware of the hurt they are causing. (Which is why I wrote the posts.)

No post can be an answer for everyone. I’m grateful, forever, for the numbers who have been positively impacted by them. I’m overwhelmed by your responses. Thank you.

Now help other marriages (and be kind in your reply). What are other ways husbands and wives injure each other without even knowing it?

Ron Edmondson is a church planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing, especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the kingdom of God.

For the original article, visit

Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia’s Ban on Gay Marriage.

A federal judge struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional late on Thursday, saying it denied gay couples a fundamental freedom to marry.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk, Virginia, added momentum to growing acceptance of gay marriage in the United States.

Allen said Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violated the right to due process and equal protection of the law under the U.S. Constitution. However, she stayed execution of her order striking down the ban pending an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” Allen, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote in her 41-page opinion.

She ordered submission of a proposed final order by March 14.

The decision in Bostic v. Rainey, in which two gay couples sought to strike down the Virginia ban, follows two high-profile rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The high court paved the way for gay marriage to resume in California. It also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Federal judges have cited the DOMA ruling in finding gay marriage bans unconstitutional in Utah and Oklahoma.


Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, including eight states where it became legal in 2013.

Thirty-three ban same-sex couples from marrying by constitutional amendment, statute, or both. In Indiana, a vote by state residents on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was delayed by at least two years on Thursday.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the Virginia case, said Allen’s ruling upheld core U.S. principles of equality.

“Laws excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage violate personal freedom, are an unnecessary government intrusion, and cause serious harm. That type of law cannot stand,” lead co-counsel Theodore Olson said in a statement.

Olson was part of the legal team that argued before the U.S. high court for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

Also applauding the ruling, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement that it “is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Herring, a Democrat, said last month he would not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court.

In 2006, 57 percent of Virginians voted for the constitutional amendment imposing the ban. But a poll released in October by Virginia’s Christopher Newport University showed that 56 percent of likely voters opposed the ban, while 36 percent favored it – reflecting the reversal in public opinion.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States’ Rights on Marriage.

Image: Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on MarriageUni

By Greg Richter

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a bill Wednesday to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages and spouses from same-sex unions in other states.

“Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to redefine marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” The Hill reported Cruz as saying on Thursday. “The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states.”

The bill comes after Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ordered the Justice Department to treat all same-sex marriages the same – even if the couple involved does not currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Holder’s rule would apply to same-sex couples that deal with the federal government, but would not apply to state laws that deal with such issues as spousal benefits.

The bill by Cruz, of Texas, and Lee, of Utah, appears to be an attempt to head off any future move to also apply those rules to state governments.

Thirty-three states currently define marriage between one man and one woman, while 17 allow people of the same gender to wed.

When the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it ruled that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that have been made legal in those states. Cruz said his bill seeks the same protection for states where gay marriage is illegal.

“Redefining marriage will entail high social costs,” writes Ryan T. Anderson at in response to the bill. “Thus all Americans should insist our laws embody the truth about marriage. And the federal government should respect it when state laws do so.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Tens of Thousands in Paris March Against Gay Marriage.

Image: Tens of Thousands in Paris March Against Gay MarriageSupporters of the “La Manif Pour Tous” (Protest for Everyone) movement demonstrate to defend their vision of the traditional family on Feb. 2 in Paris.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Paris and Lyon on Sunday against new laws easing abortion restrictions and legalizing gay marriage, accusing French President Francois Hollande’s government of “family phobia”.

Marching in the French capital, Philippe Blin, a pastor from nearby Sevres, said he felt a “relentlessness against the family” in France.

Police said 80,000 people took to the streets in Paris, far lower than the organizers’ own turnout figure of half a million.

At least 20,000 rallied in south-central Lyon, many of them ferried in aboard around 60 buses, waving placards reading “Mom and Dad, There’s Nothing Better for a Child” and “Two Fathers, Two Mothers, Children With No Bearings” — a slogan that rhymes in French.

The president of the lead organizing movement LMPT (Protest for Everyone), Ludovine de la Rochere, said she was thrilled with the turnout and appealed to the government to respond to the marchers’ concerns.

The mass protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a “Day of Anger” against Hollande’s Socialist government, with the demonstration ending in clashes between police and protesters.

Those demonstrators railed against a slew of policies under Hollande — the most unpopular French president of modern times — including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

Other targets of LMPT’s protests include medically assisted procreation (MAP) techniques for lesbian couples and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

They are also demanding the scrapping of an experimental school program aimed at combating gender stereotypes.

On Sunday, a few counter-demonstrators waved signs behind De la Rochere as she gave a stand-up television interview, one reading: “Protect Our Children from the Witches”.

© AFP 2014


5 Ways to Turn Up the Heat in Your Marriage.


Marriage heats up
Could your marriage use a little (or big) spark? (Stock Free Images)

It is bad enough that the temperatures are below freezing outside, but when your marriage is cold, you have a much bigger problem. Don’t let your marriage grow cold; turn up the heat and bring back the romance.

Below are five ways to make your marriage hot:

1. Check the thermostat. Recognize the temperature of your marriage, but don’t focus only on the bad parts. Think about the good things in your marriage, and make that your focus.

2. Slow down. During the cold seasons, things seem to slow down. Do the same thing with your marriage. Slow down and look for ways to spend more time together.

3. Light a fire. There is nothing that changes the dynamic of your relationship like prayer. When prayer is absent, you don’t love as well. When prayer is present, you love one another well. Light a fire with the power of prayer in your marriage. If you don’t know what to pray, here are “10 Things to Pray for Your Marriage.”

4. Speak your wife’s (love) language. Communication is important in your marriage. But sometimes you are communicating in different languages. Find out what your wife’s love language is, and speak it regularly.

5. Cozy up with one another. Once you start speaking love to her in the form of her love language, it is time to heat it up. Get as close to one another as you possibly can. Spend quiet and intimate time together, without the kids.

For the original article, visit

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