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Forgiveness in Affair Recovery: God’s Design in Marriage
In this Sunday Special, we address the biggest faith question I get during affair recovery, which is how and when do I forgive? Of course this is a difficult question to answer depending on the damage that has been done. Join me as I walk with you through scripture that gives us a blueprint for forgiveness and hope for restoration. I address: God’s purpose and design for marriage How and why the enemy wants to destroy your marriage What Jesus says about when to forgive, and How we are not called to repeatedly forgive without boundaries Sunday Specials on the Lifegiver Podcast are a chance for us to dive deeper into honest conversations regarding our faith and topics that come up in our marriage. In the last episode of the Lifegiver Podcast, I shared with you my strategy for affair recovery. If you haven’t heard that episode, listen to it here: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-5jwg4-b63b20
My Strategy for Affair Recovery: How to Move from Crisis to Intimacy Again
Betrayal is unfortunately more common than you think- especially in the service culture. In this episode, I share with you the strategy I use to help couples work through affair recovery. There are three phases and couples will certainly stall, if not fail, in recovering their marriage if they miss important steps throughout the phases. Two people, if are both willing to work hard, can rebuild their marriage after an affair and go on to have a rich relationship. Here are some of the resources mentioned throughout the episode: My interview with Dr. Mike Sytsma Here is also my podcast on “Sin in a Christian Marriage” Part 1 & Part 2 More Resources: • Torn Asunder by Dave Carder. There is also a workbook available for this book. (faith based) • Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity by Gary & Mona Shriver (faith based) • Secrets to Surviving Infidelity by Scott Haltzman • After the Affair by Janis Spring Rebuilding Trust Video – Using the image of a “trust bucket,” Dr. Mike addresses rebuilding trust after an affair. Setbacks in Marriage- The Podcast Episode Women & the Tough Bible Verses– (Topic of Submission and gender roles in the Bible- Authentic Intimacy) People Are More Important Than Marriage– Authentic Intimacy, When you shouldn’t fight for your marriage Sexual Intimacy and Post Affair with Mike Sytsma How do Affairs Happen? New Life Church, Brady Boyd Articles: So You’ve Hit a Marriage Setback: 3 Steps Military Marriage: When to Separate Mike Sytsma- Betrayal & Affair Recovery (articles and video) Protecting Your Marriage from an Affair Books: Mission Ready Marriage: My Life As An Active Duty Wife Claire Wood Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage Corie Weathers
Sin in a Christian Marriage
“How do I confront my spouse’s negative behavior?” “What does it look like to be a godly wife when my husband has stopped caring?” “Is God is okay with me ending my marriage?” “How do I continue to love and serve my husband if he is not being a spiritual leader in the home?” The question is actually about how to deal with sin in marriage. Every marriage will struggle with sin- individual sin, sin against each other, even sin against God. How do I love like Jesus when I feel so hurt and hopeless? Depending on your upbringing and whether or not it involved church, this question makes everyone stumble. Betrayal, neglect, anger, pornography, and other negative behaviors are difficult to address when you are hurt enough to leave but scripture and the church seem to tell you to forgive and fight for your marriage. And then there’s that submission thing…. So Matt and I are tackling this question together- because being in a military (and first responder) marriage has extra variables like PTSD, compassion fatigue, and constant changes in roles at home. In response to my message in Sacred Spaces that we should be pursuing our spouse, I commonly get emails that sound like this… “How long should I pursue my spouse when they aren’t reciprocating?” “What if my service member came home different and neglects me and our family?” “How long must I lead before my husband picks up his role as the spiritual leader of our home?” These are tough questions and the root issue here is… “How do we address sin in a Christian marriage?” Here is some of what you can expect in our 2 Part Series: Matt and I continue our discussion on gender roles in a godly marriage We share some of our own story of how we addressed unmet expectations in our marriage Matt talks to service members who have come home different and need hope I’ve also attached ALL of my favorite resources as well. SAVE IT. You will want to reference it later and pass it to a friend- I promise. You wouldn’t believe how many struggle with this in silence. There’s a whole lot more than this, but these are some of my favorites: Podcasts: Setbacks in Marriage- The Podcast Episode Women & the Tough Bible Verses– (Topic of Submission and gender roles in the Bible- Authentic Intimacy) People Are More Important Than Marriage– Authentic Intimacy, When you shouldn’t fight for your marriage. Sexual Intimacy and Post Affair with Mike Sytsma How do Affairs Happen? New Life Church, Brady Boyd Articles: So You’ve Hit a Marriage Setback: 3 Steps Military Marriage: When to Separate Mike Sytsma- Betrayal & Affair Recovery (articles and video) Protecting Your Marriage from an Affair Books: Mission Ready Marriage: My Life As An Active Duty Wife Claire Wood Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage Corie Weathers
After the Affair
While the world is waiting to hear how much of the Ashley Madison leak is real, there are thousands of couples that are squirming in their seats. Some are tempted to sift through the email addresses just in case there is something they didn’t know about their spouse. Some have felt the pain of betrayal before and are looking for one more piece of evidence to push them into action. Some have done the hard work to heal and can’t decide if they should keep looking forward or risk looking a fool. Some… are wondering if they are finally caught. Whether they ever got on Ashley’s website or not, they are wondering if their name somehow appeared in the digital “book” of adultery. It’s amazing to think that people would want to get caught but when that much energy goes into keeping secrets and covering evidence, a person can get sloppy. I see it all the time. People don’t usually start off wanting to see their marriage fall apart. The beginning somehow traces back to one tiny, subtle voice that says something like “I deserve this.” It doesn’t take much. Feeling unseen, under-appreciated, taken for granted- it all builds to a point where a person feels entitled to that one look, that private log-in, that lingering conversation. We should all have a booming alarm in our mind as soon as those thoughts show up. The Ashley Madison event doesn’t so much concern me that people will be caught, that will eventually happen no matter what. People may not get caught this time, but they always do. My thoughts are on those that are wondering if there is hope from the pain of betrayal and the pain of being the betrayer. I have seen healing come from a broken marriage. I have seen couples go on to rebuild a marriage that is vulnerable, intimate, and in some cases better than before. Although they would never recommend it and wish it were never part of their story, couples can and do heal. Often, though, I am asked by those betrayed, how do I know if it’s worth the energy to rebuild the relationship. Here are a few variables that must be present. Both individuals must be open, honest, and ready to do the hard work. There is no room for second guesses here. The betrayer must be all in, or they will continue inflict wounding on their spouse. The betrayed spouse must also be willing to show up. Most of the time, they are the one that carries the most risk in the beginning. There can be no time limit put on recovery work. On average, it takes 3-4 years of weekly or bi-weekly counseling to find a couple back in a better place. There is no rush to rebuilding the heart. There will be ups, downs, and re-opening wounds. Like any other death, grief never goes away, it just changes over time. Each person will sacrifice much. Just to name a couple, the betrayer must be willing to follow strict rules set up and agreed upon by their spouse. As much as this feels like a parent-child relationship, it is crucial to rebuilding trust again. Every marriage needs rules, and when a big one like loyalty has been broken, you must be willing to go back to the beginning and show you can go to the grocery store by yourself without going somewhere else. The betrayed spouse sacrifices the right to need extra details about the affair that they think would make them feel better. These details are not productive and lead to obsession and paranoia. Finally, much like the world of addiction, there is hope found in the broken pieces from hitting bottom. It is there that we all see ourselves for who we are. Hope can be found in opening your eyes to see your life unmanageable and you powerless to fix it on your own. There is maturity is recognizing a need for someone bigger than yourself. We will all mess up, every time, on our own. Reach out to someone else for help, or take the bigger step to reach out to a God that loves you despite the number of people you have hurt or failed, including yourself. Don’t wait to have someone else make your sin public. Far more couples make it when a dishonest person begins to choose honesty before it is too late. For more, see 12 Steps that lead to an Affair/Protecting Your Marriage From an Affair that also include ways you can begin to protect your marriage today.
Click on the images below to order from Amazon: * Please note that the following links are resources that I recommend and are affiliate links: Breathing life into your marriage and family… Resources are necessary for growth. While doing coaching, counseling, or events, I often get the question “How can I learn more?” or “How can I work on this?”. Of course I get very excited about these questions as a great marriage takes work- often times hard work. We weren’t born with the skills to have a healthy relationship, so why wouldn’t we pick up a book or two to learn something new? These are some of my top picks for taking your marriage to the next level. Boundaries: Townsend and Cloud This is a hugely popular series. I encourage you to read the first book first, then move on to Boundaries in Marriage, Parenting, etc. I have also listed the Audiobook version fro those who are not readers. Either way… this is my number one recommendation. Shaunti Feldhahn Series: Shaunti Feldhahn is a researcher- but don’t worry, its not as boring as it sounds. Her books “For Women Only” (about men) and “For Men Only” (about women) are my favorites for understanding your spouse and also helping them understand the way you uniquely understand and receive love. I would highly recommend that you read the book about you FIRST. Take notes and write in the margins. Then, switch books. What this does is keeps your spouse from guessing throughout the book whether you relate to the chapter. It will make your conversations easier and much quicker. Feldhahn’s “Through a Man’s Eyes” is literally an eye-opener. For years, men have tried to explain what sexuality and visual attraction is to them and media and misunderstandings have largely skewed this natural side of him. I highly recommend EVERY woman read this book. Her book “Highly Happy Marriages” was the result of studying the happiest and most successful marriages. Spoiler alert- she found that all of them assumed that their spouse had their best interest at heart and was not out to hurt them. John and Stasi Eldredge: The Eldredges changed the marriage landscape when they wrote these two books on how the male mind is different from the famle mind. More than just a nuerological perspective, these books will not only help you understand your spouse better, but is a GO-TO for parenting. If you have a son or daughter, these books will change the way you parent. “Wild at Heart” is about the mind of a boy while “Captivating” is about girls. Les and Leslie Parrott: Planning to get married soon? Or maybe wanting a good healthy check up on your relationship? This husband and wife duo (both counselors) not only wrote a great book on how to take a look at key areas of your relationship and make them stronger. Even better, find a local SYMBIS counselor to dive even deeper into your assessment. Sexuality: Sexuality is one of the top three topics brought into the counseling office. There are so many things that can go wrong in a couples life in the area of intimacy. With work and communication, though, it can be one of the most fulfilling areas- even after betrayal. Understanding and Investing in Intimacy: Unfortunately media and culture shape our understanding of intimacy more than they should- often resulting in major consequences and conflict in marriage. If you grew up in the Christian church, you likley didn’t get much guidance other than to save yourself for marriage. Women especially are not taught about their bodies or sexuality. If you are struggling to embrace sexuality as something that was created for you to enjoy within your marriage, understanding your husband’s perspective of intimacy, or seeing intimacy as a healthy aspect of your relationship- the following books are for you. ” Passion Pursuit” was created by a team of women made up of three generations. It can be done solo or as a bible study group with videos to supplement by going to www.authenticintimacy.org “Celebration of Sex” was written by my favorite team of sex therapy experts at Building Intimate Marriages in Atlanta, GA. They recommend reading the book together and even taking turns reading out loud to help you grow more comfortable with talking about sex, relating together, and communicating intimacy with each other. Betrayal: If you have experienced betrayal- whether abuse in your childhood, problems with pornography, or infidelity- it can be one of the most painful issues to work through. Do I believe it is possible to experience restoration in the marriage? Absolutely- but not alone or without both parties working hard together. The following resources are my favorites for bringing healing into your relationship. “Surprised by the Healer” was written by the women at Authentic Intimacy and is filled with stories about healing from sexual trauma, infidelity, and intimacy wounds in marriage. There is nothing more powerful than reading stories of hope and healing in the area that you are struggling with. The same team wrote “Pulling Back the Shades” in response to the Shades of Grey books and movies. They help explain why the book and movie series was so powerful and the danger of pornography for women as much as men. “After the Affair” is my go-to if you have experienced betryal and you both are ready to do the hard work to restore the relationship. It will walk you through steps of communication and healing while also helping you process how betrayal entered the relationship in the first place. Of course the greatest healing will come when you have an expert helping you walk through the journey. Invest in You: Where it all began… Read the book that started Lifegiver for me. It is a fantastic book on what it means to be a lifegiver to those around you- especially your marriage and family. Tammy Maltby provides perspective on the power we have to make our home a peaceful place, inviting, and making sure our soul can offer the same. This is truly where it all started for me. Women’s Issues: If you are a woman, someone who works with women, or a leader, “Leading Women Who Wound” is absolutely amazing. It will help explain how women handle conflict with other women as well as men. There are very specific differences between men and women in how they handle conflict and this book upacks it in a beautiful way. It will help you be an amazing leader understanding those differences, how to handle cat fights, and set you up for success as a leader. “Mission Ready Marriage” is a fantastic book if you are a new military spouse. Written by Claire Wood, the ups and downs of her first assignment will make you laugh and cry. What I also love about her book is how she concludes each chapter with what she would have told herself in hindsight. Not only that, she shares how she would encourage her marriage differently knowing what she knows now. Fantastic book! “Present Over Perfect” is great for those who wish to find the permission to stop pleasing the world and focus on self care and your family. There is something freeing about the permission to sit back, slow down, and enjoy the one life you have. “Uninvited” and “Ragamuffin Gospel” are great books for taking your spiritual relationship to a deeper level. Understanding the power of rejection and our acceptance with God is necessary if we are going to live a live that is focused on our true purpose. “Ragamuffin Gospel” is a bit denser of a read if you like to read a really “meaty” book. Spiritual Growth: The following books are those I would recommend if you want deeper dives in your faith and spirituality. Ragamuffin: A classic for those who want to find a new “Adult” level of spirituality and understanding of God. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos: A book recommended ONLY for those who are strong in their faith. Jordan Peterson is considered an agnostic, meaning he doesn’t deny that there is a God- in fact he is extremely knowledgable about the Bible and applying scripture. However, he is so smart, in some cases I believe he believes in logic even more. But it is a fantastic book on faith, and the power of making changes in your life. Building your talents and strengths as a couple and family… Most of what I do in coaching sessions is lead a marriage and family through the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment. I honestly find that it is the most powerful, positive tool for helping a couple (and family) work together as a team, reduce conflict, focus parenting, and heal wounds. Each of these books come with a code to take the assessment and will walk you through your results and how to use them. I definitely encourage a coach to help you. Most of the time we are used to reading an assessment on our own only to discover there are far more ways to apply it when we work with a coach. Do not short change yourself- invest in coaching through your strengths so you can truly understand your purpose! PTSD/Trauma and Stuck Points: If you are interested in all the talk about EMDR and it’s ability to help you move past trauma, the following books are great. Consider “Getting Past Your Past”- it will walk you through a lot of what you will do in therapy in ways you can do from home!
Sin in a Christian Marriage, 2 Part Series
Part 1: Every marriage will deal with sin- that is a fact. But when there are destructive patterns like betrayal, addiction, and selfish behavior, what does it actually mean to love like Christ? How do you selflessly serve when firm boundaries need to happen in your relationship? Matt joins me for a 2 part episode on understanding scripture on marriage roles, submission, and dealing with sin. Part 2: Last time on the Lifegiver Podcast, Matt and I started a conversation about Christian marriage. In response to my message in Sacred Spaces that we should be pursuing our spouse, I commonly get emails that sound like this… “How long should I pursue my spouse when they aren’t reciprocating?” “What if my service member came home different and neglects me and our family?” “How long must I lead before my husband picks up his role as the spiritual leader of our home? These are tough questions and the root issue here is… “How do we address sin in a christian marriage?” -Here is some of what you can expect in Part 2: -Matt and I continue our discussion on gender roles in a godly marriage -We share some of our own story of how we addressed unmet expectations in our marriage -Matt talks to service members who have come home different and need hope.
Sexual Intimacy & Post-Affair
Dr. Mike Sytsma is one of the most respected Christian Sex Therapists in the US. Based out of Atlanta, his office, Building Intimate Marriages, sees mostly couples who feel sexually “incompatible” or are post-affair. Most of his post-affair couples continue on to find new hope in their marriage. In this candid interview (FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY), I ask Dr. Sytsma all the questions I believe we are often most afraid to ask, especially as it relates to military specific issues that interfere with a healthy sex life. We discuss what couples can do during and after deployments, how to protect your marriage from affairs, and what you can do to start healing if your marriage is broken because of one. You can find all of the resources Dr. Mike mentioned in the link provided. Special thank you to In-Dependent.org for allowing me to host the Military Spouse Wellness Summit 2016 where I interviewed Dr. Mike and allowing me to post this extended version of that interview here.