Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000073
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:34 I'm Alanzo Smith and this is my lovely wife, June.
00:40 We have been married for 33 years.
00:43 And we have been working with families around the world
00:49 as we help them to negotiate their lives to make home
00:54 happier and better.
00:57 We would like to talk today about families
01:01 that are having problems.
01:03 So our topic is, When Your Marriage is in Trouble.
01:07 June, do you think that we have marriages that are
01:11 in trouble these days?
01:13 Unfortunately, too many.
01:15 The challenge, however, is that there are some people
01:19 who don't admit that their marriage is in trouble.
01:23 I've had so many women that say to me,
01:27 "We're having problems and we need to go get help
01:30 but my husband refuses because he does not think
01:34 we're having a problem. "
01:36 Or I've had husbands who say, "We're having problems.
01:39 I'm about to walk away.
01:42 I've invited my wife to come to get help but she refuses
01:46 because she doesn't think we have a problem.
01:49 She thinks I am the problem. "
01:51 Okay, as two clinicians, let's see if we can
01:56 diagnose the problem.
01:58 If I should say the following statement to you,
02:02 what might be your response?
02:04 "Your marriage is in trouble when each partner
02:11 gets agitated very easily. "
02:14 If the agitant is perceived to be caused by or imposed by
02:22 one of the parties, then yes, there is a problem.
02:26 Okay, "Your marriage is in trouble when one partner
02:32 shuts down emotionally. "
02:35 That happens frequently.
02:37 When individuals get frustrated or when they think they have
02:41 done everything they have control or power over
02:44 and nothing seems to be working, then they just give up.
02:47 It's almost like, you know, the computer shuts down.
02:50 Their emotions just go blank.
02:54 "Your marriage is in trouble when one partner
02:58 is over critical; very critical and sensitive and makes
03:03 an issue over everything. "
03:06 That clearly indicates problems.
03:09 While you should be open to feedback and you should
03:13 certainly be able to communicate effectively, if you're
03:16 only criticized or criticizing, then that's not a good thing.
03:22 "Your marriage is in trouble when one partner
03:25 feels stretched out.
03:27 'I have reached my limit. I've done my best.
03:31 I don't think there's any more I can do for this marriage
03:34 and I am tired of trying. '"
03:37 That must be such a sad state to get to.
03:39 Because a marriage is designed to be a happy union,
03:45 to be a harmonious relationship.
03:47 And if you get to a point in your relationship where you
03:51 give up or you think you have done everything you can
03:54 and you're at the end of your rope, then you
03:56 definitely need help.
03:59 I also believe that your marriage is in trouble when
04:04 one partner is insensitive.
04:06 You know, sensitivity goes a long way in helping
04:10 marital relationships to grow and to bond and to be stronger.
04:15 When one individual is insensitive, however,
04:18 to one's feelings, insensitive to one's pain,
04:22 insensitive to one's problem, or whatever it is,
04:25 insensitivity can drive a dagger into the heart
04:29 of the next person.
04:30 So, yes, the marriage is in trouble if you find a partner
04:34 that is very insensitive to you.
04:37 It is the goal of all relationships to be happy,
04:43 to problem solve if there are problems,
04:46 to get help if you're not able to resolve the problems.
04:49 But certainly, not to stay in disharmony.
04:53 So the challenge is that we should recognize when
04:57 there is a problem and get help early.
05:00 Okay, let's look at some possible causes now.
05:04 We have given you some scenarios as to what could cause
05:09 a marriage to be in trouble, or when it's in trouble
05:11 when these things are happening.
05:13 It's in trouble when these things are happening.
05:15 What might be some of the possible causes?
05:20 I think there are a myriad of causes.
05:23 But among the ones I can think of are, people sometimes
05:27 don't take responsibility for for how they're
05:31 contributing to the problem.
05:32 And so they point fingers or they blame the other person.
05:35 And if you're in a relationship where there are problems,
05:39 even if the other person is directly contributing to it,
05:42 chances are the way you're adjusting or not,
05:45 the way you're relating, the way you respond,
05:48 or the way you're communicating,
05:49 there's something you're doing that's feeding that behavior.
05:52 So both of you must take responsibility to resolve it.
05:55 A marriage problem is not just one person's problem.
05:58 It is a problem between "us".
06:01 You're listening to us.
06:02 And if you have a rigid mindset, that would be a problem.
06:09 That's a cause for a problem in the marital relationship.
06:12 You see, human beings are not static human beings.
06:17 We're dynamic.
06:18 The way God created us, we're dynamic human beings.
06:22 We're able to change.
06:23 Change our positions, reflect, go back on.
06:26 That kind of a thing.
06:28 But if you are rigid, if you are inflexible,
06:31 if it is just what I say, what I want, what I feel,
06:35 if you have this kind of rigid mentality,
06:38 you are creating problems in the marriage.
06:42 There are times when there will be difficulties.
06:45 There are times when you will say things
06:48 that upset each other.
06:49 There are times when you'll frustrate each other.
06:51 But you are on the same team.
06:54 Your goal is to work it through.
06:57 So when you do something and you say, "I'm sorry,"
07:01 it means it's gone.
07:03 It should be a thing of the past.
07:05 Let it go.
07:06 But if you carry grudges and keep bringing back the past
07:11 and throwing back the past in the person's face, as it were,
07:14 then you are going to be an agitant to the problems.
07:17 Let's talk a little about unfulfilled dreams
07:21 in relationships.
07:23 Because a lot of times individuals are frustrated
07:27 in their relationship because they feel unaccomplished,
07:32 they feel like their dreams are not met,
07:35 their goals are not met.
07:36 And how to do live with someone who is carrying these feelings
07:42 where sometimes they think you're the cause
07:44 of my unfulfilled dreams?
07:46 "If I hadn't married you, I would have gone
07:50 on to medical school. "
07:51 If I had not...
07:52 And so you keep hearing this over and over.
07:57 What does that do to your psyche?
07:59 It will allow you to feel like you're in a very bad place.
08:05 You're not responsible for the personal choices that one makes.
08:10 And so if for whatever reason being married was a hindrance
08:15 to your progress, then that is something you have to
08:20 work through, but not blame your partner.
08:22 If there was something that your partner did that may have
08:26 hindered your success, then hey, things happen.
08:31 Don't allow it to destroy your relationship.
08:34 Work it through.
08:35 So whatever the problem is, the reality is, move on.
08:41 We're talking about when your marriage is in trouble.
08:45 Some people possess what we call, impulse control.
08:49 They just cannot control themselves.
08:52 They act on emotion, they act on impulse,
08:56 they are irrational.
08:58 That is destructive to a relationship.
09:00 When we have poor impulse control, it means we
09:04 can't regulate our emotions.
09:06 And so yes, that becomes a real problem.
09:09 Because we are suppose to be able to control our impulses.
09:12 You get angry but you don't act on the anger.
09:14 As the Bible says, you get angry but sin not.
09:17 So while it's a natural thing for you to get upset
09:20 at some things, you should be able to control.
09:24 But there are some people who are just out of control.
09:27 They break things up, they throw things around,
09:31 they throw tantrums.
09:34 And the funny thing about it is that sometimes there are
09:37 children in the home and they're behaving this way and they
09:40 don't understand that this does have an effect on the children.
09:43 If you're in a relationship where there's physical abuse,
09:45 that is unacceptable.
09:47 Two partners, two lovers just shouldn't be behaving like that.
09:51 And that's a very psychological, emotional, destructive
09:55 way to live.
09:56 So that is another seminar really.
09:59 But yes, those are signs that tell you there are problems
10:02 and you need help.
10:04 You know, you talk about signs and needing help.
10:09 When marriages are in trouble, often times people feel
10:16 like they can solve their problem on their own.
10:21 It's this feeling like if I have a tooth ache,
10:25 I know I am to go to the dentist.
10:27 If I'm having a heart problem condition, I know I'm to go
10:32 to see a cardiologist.
10:33 Any medical condition, I know I need to get help.
10:36 But if the marriage is having problems, I can take care of it.
10:41 Is that a right approach, a right attitude?
10:44 That's usually why the problem escalates
10:46 or the marriage falls apart.
10:48 Because many times, the things that agitates isn't something
10:52 that the partners are even aware of sometimes,
10:55 or that they're resolving on their own.
10:58 And so we do encourage that they seek help,
11:01 whether the help is from a spiritual leader,
11:03 or a professional counselor, or somebody who is objective
11:06 and is able to help you.
11:09 But don't just sit back and allow your marriage to
11:11 disintegrate simply because you refused to get help
11:14 thinking it will automatically go away.
11:16 You know, well said.
11:19 One can contribute to a problem in a marriage
11:23 when you minimize an individual's pain.
11:27 What should be the reaction?
11:30 Together, here we are.
11:32 We have been married for these many years and
11:35 we thank God for that.
11:36 But we're in a marital relationship and if I say
11:41 I'm frustrated about something or I'm hurting about something,
11:45 should you minimize my pain, should you ignore it?
11:48 Should you act as if, "Well, you're an adult.
11:50 Go deal with it. "
11:51 What should be your attitude?
11:54 I need to feel with you. It's called empathy.
11:57 Put myself in your place.
11:58 While I may not quite understand what you're feeling,
12:01 the reality is that I want to share your pain.
12:03 So no, I don't want to discount it.
12:06 I don't want to minimize it.
12:07 I don't want to say, "Oh, you're being a kid, grow up. "
12:10 I want to listen to what you have to say,
12:12 find out what and where the pain is coming from,
12:14 and help you if I can to get help.
12:17 What if I shut down emotionally because I want to register
12:23 a protest, so I shut down emotionally?
12:26 What should be your...
12:28 Unfortunately, God has not given us the power to read minds.
12:32 And while we might be able to interpret nonverbal's at times,
12:36 the truth is if you talk about what's going on,
12:40 then your partner can assist you better.
12:43 So shutting down and withdrawing is a very negative way to
12:46 try to resolve a problem.
12:49 There are always problems in relationships.
12:52 We're talking today about when your marriage is in trouble.
12:56 There is so much we need to talk about and there is so much
12:59 we want to share with you.
13:00 And we want to take you into the area of what to do.
13:03 Perhaps your marriage is in trouble.
13:06 Perhaps you have been challenged at this time.
13:09 What do you do? Where do you go from here?
13:11 Those are some of the issues we want to address
13:14 and some of the questions we want to answer.
13:17 So in our break, make sure you stay right where you are.
13:20 Don't go anywhere because we will be right back.
13:23 Families are a challenge, but by God's grace
13:26 families can be helped.
13:34 There are many "How To" books available,
13:36 but there's one that's free and perfect for every couple.
13:40 "How You Can Build A Better Marriage"
13:42 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted
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13:53 Simply call or write for your free copy.
14:07 Welcome back to Marriage In God's Hands.
14:09 We're talking about when your marriage is in trouble.
14:14 And yes, there are so many marriages that are in trouble.
14:19 And we're here to do what we can do to help your marriage.
14:23 We're encouraging you, if something is wrong
14:27 don't walk away.
14:28 Try as best as you can to get help.
14:31 After all, we did pledge "for better or for worse. "
14:35 Now there are some factors that can cause a marriage
14:40 to be in trouble.
14:42 What would you say to your listeners?
14:44 What are some of these factors?
14:46 Earlier we talked about some of the things that creates
14:49 the problems and puts one in trouble.
14:52 But I think in general terms, we might say
14:55 there could be religious incompatibility
14:58 or spiritual incompatibility.
14:59 You might be of the same faith but you're at different levels
15:03 in your spiritual journey.
15:05 And you're just not getting the stimulation and the
15:08 encouragement and the support from your partner.
15:10 You may, for example in some homes, you might avoid
15:16 having family worship and it is important to the
15:19 other partner to have it.
15:21 So that could create a problem.
15:23 Or tithe paying, even.
15:24 A lot of times, that creates a lot of problems in families.
15:29 One person believes that they should return a faithful tithe,
15:31 the other person does not feel.
15:33 And so there are religious factors that can create.
15:37 How about social factors?
15:38 That sometimes is a major problem.
15:41 The way one socializes and the way you divide your
15:46 social network or integrate the social network
15:49 can create a problem.
15:50 For example, if you have a network of friends
15:54 that isn't inclusive and your partner feels like there
15:59 are secret relationships and you have divested energy
16:04 from the relationship into these other friendships,
16:07 then that becomes a point of pain many times.
16:10 Would this be considered a social factor too,
16:12 like we call a syndrome, the Peter Pan syndrome;
16:15 men who haven't grown up, men who have left home,
16:19 that it creates a problem for the marital relationship
16:23 because they're acting like boys when they should
16:26 be grown up men.
16:27 And I think the reverse can be true where some women
16:30 just don't take on the role that the mother and wife
16:33 should be playing and they act like they're little girls still
16:36 playing with dolls rather than being in a real life experience.
16:39 So it could go either way.
16:41 How about economic factors?
16:42 That's probably one of the major problems that marriages have.
16:46 Issues on spending, budgeting.
16:48 The feeling of being in control.
16:50 The feeling that, you know, "I work, it's my money.
16:53 I can buy what I want. "
16:54 And so there is no budgeting, there is no organized spending.
16:58 And so the resources are not tied together for the
17:01 common good of the family.
17:03 And we should add to this list the education factor.
17:07 Education is a factor because sometimes that creates
17:10 problems in the relationship.
17:12 You know, it's amazing, it's strange how when two people
17:15 are dating, when two people are in love, that often times
17:19 they don't look at some of these variables, these factors
17:21 that we're talking about.
17:22 And so one individual might be highly educated and the
17:25 next person is not, and it's no problem.
17:27 But after they are married, then they start having
17:30 different problems in social settings where they want to go,
17:33 one is not comfortable going, then the issue of education
17:37 comes into play.
17:38 And one starts saying, "Well yes, because you're educated
17:41 and you think I'm not. "
17:42 And that can create a lot of havoc.
17:44 So we're saying that's something that you need to examine.
17:48 The final one I think we should look at is ethnicity;
17:51 the ethnic factor.
17:53 There are many families who are in relationships that are
17:57 blended from different cultures and different
17:59 ethnic backgrounds and are doing well and are able
18:01 to communicate effectively.
18:02 But there are others who, sometimes there are cultural
18:05 nuances that creates difficulties in understanding
18:07 and comprehending behavior.
18:09 And it sometimes gets stereotyped or you know,
18:12 it creates trauma.
18:14 So yeah, those are sometimes issues that
18:16 places a marriage in trouble.
18:19 When your marriage is in trouble.
18:22 We have identified some of the factors, some of the
18:24 causative factors that can make a marriage troublesome.
18:29 The question that we must now ask and address is,
18:33 where do you go from here?
18:35 What do you do?
18:37 And we want to say to you, the first step that you
18:40 must take is commitment.
18:43 You both must make a commitment that you want to stay together.
18:48 Now I'm cognitive of the fact that one hand cannot clap.
18:52 It takes two people to make this commitment.
18:55 So we're encouraging both parties, both spouses,
18:59 to make a commitment because that's the first starting point.
19:02 That you both commit that, "We are willing to hang in there
19:06 and to work this thing through. "
19:07 Now once there's a commitment, I think that next step
19:10 is to clarify what you perceive, either of you perceive,
19:15 as the problem.
19:16 Because what I find in listening to families or couples who
19:19 have problems is that one person thinks this is the problem,
19:23 and then you ask the other person from their perspective
19:25 what is the problem, and they have a
19:26 total different perception.
19:28 So it is important that you're dealing with the same issue
19:31 and that both of you are resolving the same issue.
19:33 Because then you could be operating on
19:36 two different planes.
19:37 You know, June, one of the things I hear,
19:39 and I'm sure you too among our clients that come in
19:43 for counseling, is the notion of listening.
19:46 It seems as if listening has become the long lost art.
19:51 But I hear a lot of spouses complaining that their partner
19:56 does not listen.
19:57 That they get frustrated and flustered when they're
20:00 speaking to their partner and they're not listening to them.
20:04 Do you find that to be...
20:06 I think in general whether you're in a marriage or not,
20:09 listening is a very difficult skill for people to have.
20:11 We like to talk, talk, talk.
20:13 And we just find it difficult listen.
20:16 So it's a skill, it's an art, that people really
20:18 have to develop.
20:19 And it creates difficulties.
20:22 Wives often complain especially, "My husband doesn't listen.
20:25 Or if I'm speaking to him, he's watching football
20:28 at the same time. "
20:29 Or the child who comes to talk to the parent, you know,
20:32 the parent is multitasking while the child is communicating.
20:35 So yes, listening can be a challenge.
20:38 And that is something that is very essential
20:39 if you're going to work towards a resolution.
20:42 But if that father is sitting on the couch watching his
20:46 favorite sports come playoff, and you know, he's into the game
20:50 and the wife comes talking to him, is it that he's not
20:54 listening or he's not hearing, he's not communicating?
20:57 What's happening right there?
20:59 He isn't listening to her, but he is communicating.
21:02 He's saying, "Leave me alone, I'm doing what I want to do. "
21:05 And that of course pushes her away and creates other
21:08 kinds of problems.
21:09 Okay, we're talking about what to do.
21:11 We have problems in the relationship, what to do.
21:14 Now here we are, we want to talk about the issue.
21:19 Should we talk about the person or should we talk
21:23 about the problem?
21:25 Once you both have committed that you want to stay married,
21:28 and you both decide on what the mutual problem is,
21:31 then yes, you need to stay with the issue.
21:34 You stay away from descriptions and adjectives about the person.
21:37 "You are like your father. "
21:39 "You are such a terrible wife. " Whatever.
21:41 You don't describe the individual.
21:42 You say, "When you leave my laundry undone,
21:47 you know, it frustrates me because I assume
21:50 I have clean clothes and I go and there's none. "
21:52 So you talk about what's causing the problem
21:54 and what the issue is that's the upset,
21:57 but not about the two individuals.
21:58 So you're saying, focus on the issue.
22:01 You should also accept responsibility.
22:04 One of the things that causes marital breakdown
22:07 and why there are a lot of arguments and fights
22:10 is that people fail to accept responsibility for what
22:13 they have done.
22:15 Often times a spouse comes into me and they will say
22:18 something like this, "My spouse is never wrong.
22:22 He can never admit to a wrong. "
22:25 As individuals, you know, the Bible says, "Except ye become
22:29 as little children, ye cannot enter into the
22:32 kingdom of heaven. "
22:33 That's talking about humility.
22:34 So we have to be humble enough to see the part that
22:38 we're playing in the marital destruction,
22:41 and own it, accept it.
22:43 We have to accept responsibility for our behavior
22:47 and for our action.
22:49 Another thing that I think is important is that each person
22:51 in the conversation in their attempt to resolve this issue
22:55 should, as we said, speak directly to the issue.
22:59 But identify the concerns that you have about the dynamic
23:03 that's going on.
23:04 And clearly ask for what it is that you would
23:08 like to be changed so that you don't blame the other person.
23:12 You're sticking to the issue but you're also
23:14 identifying a remedy.
23:15 What do I need from you?
23:16 How can you help me feel better, or act better, or etc.
23:20 That's what I need.
23:21 Then let me decide how I will go about doing that.
23:25 So I'm hearing you saying then that we should not just
23:29 state the problem and we should not just focus on the problem,
23:33 but we should say, what changes could we input, implement,
23:40 that would help to make the situation better.
23:42 So we should also have some solutions.
23:45 What type of solutions?
23:46 We're working together, we're on the same team.
23:48 So I state a problem and I'm saying, "June, I think it
23:53 would be helpful to the relationship if we could... "
23:56 And I provide a workable solution.
23:58 It's an act of compromise as we're trying to
24:02 work through the solution.
24:03 And it's also providing some remedy.
24:05 Because the expectation is, you say, "this is a problem,"
24:08 but then you're assuming the other spouse knows
24:12 what to do about it.
24:13 So if you say, "This is the problem and this is how it
24:16 would be helpful," or "This is what I would like or expect,"
24:19 then it allows the other person some leverage
24:21 and they can either negotiate the terms of how they deliver,
24:25 but at least they know what you want different.
24:27 And as you continue this discussion, this dialogue of
24:30 resolving the conflict, it is important for you to reaffirm
24:34 your love for each other, to reaffirm your commitment
24:39 to each other and your commitment to the
24:40 children and to the family.
24:42 That's important.
24:43 So as you discuss, reaffirm and express your love
24:46 for each other.
24:47 That's very helpful to the process.
24:50 Because you know, sometimes you could be very upset,
24:52 very mad about something and someone says to you,
24:54 "You know, despite these challenges that we're
24:57 going through, I still love you.
24:59 And I want you to know that there's no one else
25:03 outside of you, except you.
25:04 I don't' want to go anywhere else.
25:06 And so I want us to work it out. "
25:08 And that is like magic to the soul.
25:10 It makes you move towards the person
25:11 in working on a resolution.
25:13 Absolutely, but if there is somebody else,
25:16 if there is a third person in the relationship
25:18 and that's causing a problem, then you also need to
25:22 be able to say, "This needs to stop. "
25:25 "I expect that you will cut this relationship off. "
25:28 "This cannot continue. " "That is unacceptable. " Etc.
25:31 So the person clearly knows you are determined to stay married
25:36 and to be loyal and to be faithful.
25:38 And the converse is true to.
25:40 If you really love your spouse and you want the
25:43 marriage to work, you should also say, "I am willing to. "
25:46 You understand me?
25:47 It's a symbiotic relationship so I should be able to say,
25:50 "I am will to. "
25:52 Now if both of us have this conversation going and
25:55 we're just not getting any place and we can't seem to
25:57 help ourselves, then our recommendation is
26:00 get professional help.
26:01 It is important.
26:02 Get professional help.
26:04 Just like how you go see the dentist, see the cardiologist,
26:07 and what have you.
26:08 Your marriage is important.
26:10 Get professional help.
26:11 On top of that, as we're working through an issue,
26:15 couples must learn to start dating again.
26:18 You know some of the little things they use to do prior to,
26:21 they need to inject some spark into the relationship.
26:24 There are some relationships that have become lifeless.
26:27 It's like they're dead and they need to inject some spark.
26:29 What are some of the little things they can do to
26:31 inject spark into the relationship and spice it up?
26:34 As we said when we diagnose a problem, that some of the
26:38 issues are lack of sensitivity, lack of being responsive to the
26:42 need of the other and just a dryness to the relationship.
26:46 So if you're going to spark it up then you have to meet the
26:48 needs of the other person.
26:49 You have to be very touchy feely and be responsive
26:53 to the person's emotional needs, listen to them.
26:55 Is there anything you have ever done for your
26:57 husband to spice up?
26:59 Why doesn't my husband say if there was something?
27:02 Wouldn't that be a better way to say it?
27:04 One of the things I like that you do is that you put these
27:06 little love notes in my lunch box when I'm going to work
27:10 and I read it, "Oh honey, I love you.
27:11 Have a nice day. "
27:13 But I really appreciate that and I should let you know.
27:15 Thank you.
27:16 So yes, there are things that you should do to re-register
27:21 that I'm thinking about you, that I love you,
27:23 that you're the oxygen in my life.
27:25 And each other should share symbiotically.
27:28 And it is true that love covers a multitude of evil.
27:32 We have been talking about when your marriage
27:35 is in trouble.
27:36 We have shown you the problem and what to do.
27:39 We hope by God's grace you will do something
27:41 about your marriage.
27:43 Yes, again we will emphasize, put Jesus Christ at the heart
27:47 of your marital relationship.
27:48 We want you to be happy.
27:50 We want your children to be happy.
27:52 Remember, you must commit yourself to build
27:55 stronger families against all odds.
27:58 Trust in the Lord with all thine might.
28:00 He will bless you.
28:02 Thank you.