Author of NY Times best-selling The 5 Love Languages series which sold more than 9 million copies
Latest book, One More Try, (2014)
Director, Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc.
Travels the world presenting seminars
Radio programs air on more than 400 stations
Married, Karolyn, 53 years
2 adult children
Give Your Faltering Relationship "One More Try"
The 700 Club
MARRIAGE IN CRISIS
All marriages endure ups and downs. Some need more than a “tune up” or a weekend away from the kids. Gary says those marriages need saving. Many “couples in crisis” end up going for counseling. “It’s a last ditch effort,” he says. For years, Gary has devoted his life to helping people in troubled marriages, and many who have come to his office have already entered a point of marital separation. Some were not yet at the point of walking out but were considering separation. Either way, Gary says as a counselor his role has been to always provide hope. “People need to know their marriage is worth fighting for,” he says. It’s not easy and there is no simple formula or medication to fix a diseased marriage.
“I remember in the early days of my marriage I thought I married the wrong person,” says Gary. While Karolyn and Gary loved each other, he says they could not resolve persistent conflicts. “We held to our own ideas of what the other should be and do, but neither of us lived up to those expectations,” says Gary, 76. They did not physically leave each other, but they were separated emotionally. “If God can come through and give us a good marriage, then He can do that for anyone.” There was no magic wand that changed their lives, but they stayed with each other until attitudes changed. “Books, conferences, friends and God all worked together to help us see that much of our destructive behavior grew out of our own insecurities,” he says. They decided to understand their own personalities; they started listening to each other instead of talking; asking instead of demanding; seeking to understand rather than seeking to get their own ways. “We came to see ourselves as friends,” says Gary.
Couples in crisis sincerely want to save their marriages. “Divorce is not the answer,” he says. The first questions to ask the couple: “Are you willing to work on being reconciled to your spouse? Will you spend energy, effort and time finding out what can be done and then take constructive action?” It takes honesty, courage, the willingness to repent and a profound sense that you do not wish to live life without this person with whom you were once so joyfully united. It is important for both of you to guard your attitude and actions. Keep them positive. “We can’t determine our emotions, but we can choose our attitudes and actions,” says Gary.
ALL DIVORCES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Typically in their mind, it’s always the other person. “If you want to improve a relationship, it’s not that you demand your spouse to change,” says Gary. “You have to ask, Where did I fail in this relationship?” When you let God show you where you are failing, Gary says you will need to go to your spouse and ask for forgiveness. Your best efforts may be met with coldness, hostility and eventually failure. Sometimes reconciliation is not always possible. Gary reminds us that in Jeremiah 3:8 the Bible tells us even God was not always able to be reconciled with His people. Reconciliation requires the response of two people and neither can force the other to return.
If reconciliation is not possible, Gary says God’s purposes for you are not over. “He wants to use your life for positive purposes and He wants to meet all of your needs,” he says. If your spouse will not return, God will lead you from the valley of despair to the mountain of joy.
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