Sunday, May 31, 2009

Requested Relationship Advice...

Good Evening My Friends,
Well tonight will be a more unusual blog as I will address a readers question that was asked of me earlier in the week. But before I do that I would like to talk about another topic of discussion that will surely be the talk of the upcoming news cycle.

Today, Wichita, Kansas physician George Tiller was shot to death as he entered his church this morning. Dr. Tiller has been known over the years as one of the few physicians who still performed late-term abortions. His clinic has been the site of many protests over the years. Well, today someone took it upon himself to end this man’s life. My input on this issue is this. I hate abortion. I don’t hate much in this world but abortion is an absolute abhorrent act. I wish nothing more than to see this practice stopped. However, what is equally appalling is for an individual to take another person’s life, period. As Christian’s we have very deeply held beliefs and we honor these beliefs by submitting ourselves to Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
At no time, does the Holy Spirit guide us to murder. We must face the increasing degradation of our society with prayer and submission to Christ, not with violence and hatred. We have tried that in some of our more shameful past acts and it simply doesn’t work and it is not the direction in which the Lord has led us. I pray for this physician’s soul as he had obviously not repented for his sinful behavior. I also pray for the misguided soul who took this man’s life. We are better than this non-sense and I pray for Godly intervention to the entire abortion issue.

Now, on to other things. I have been incredibly blessed with this blog. I have a fairly large number of faithful readers and I receive dozens of emails every week from readers that I have never met. I love the feedback. I have determined that some of you are insane and are incredibly well humored. I have received letters from school teachers and factory workers. I have had letters from college students and elementary school children. I had one 5th grade young lady who asked me ‘how many grandchildren I had.’ I have written to her parents and asked for her to be grounded. :0). I have had people ask me if Brandon Buchmeier is actually Brandon the ‘Physical Fascination’ Bishop the professional wrestler. Well, yes he is and no, I will not give out his email address. I have had three marriage proposals but they were from Travis’ 81 y.o. aunt. Travis, please tell her that she is beautiful, but I am married.

But this week, I had an interesting letter from a young lady named Claire who wrote to me and asked me for advice on a situation. She said it was o.k. to answer on my blog as she thought that her problem is not uncommon. I told her that I would honor her wish, but made it very clear to her that I am not an expert in the subject she wanted me to address. Here is her question:

Good Morning,
I have a problem that I would like your advice on. My fiancé and I have been engaged for almost two years. We were engaged a few months before he deployed to Iraq, with his National Guard Unit. He returned about five months ago, and he has been completely detached from me. I have done my best to understand the adjustment difficulties that soldiers have when they come home, but he has been having a real difficult time with any conversation that pertains to getting married. He has always been a little stand offish when we talked about getting married, but since he has returned, he is absolutely uncomfortable talking about our marriage. He says that he wants to marry me but his actions make me doubt his resolve. What should I do about this? I was hoping that you could shed some light on this problem as you are a deployed soldier and I know that you are a medical officer and have probably dealt with this issue before. Could you give any advice? I love him very much but I want to make sure the man I want to marry loves me and is marrying me for life. Thank you for your blog, we both read it at every posting and love your insight and humor.’
Thank you, Claire.

Wow!! I have to say Claire that I am completely honored that you would come to me about this issue. I must put in a disclaimer though. I am not a relationship expert. If you ask my wife she would tell you that my idea of a romantic date is dinner at Montana Mikes followed by carefully guided tours of Menard's and Best Buy. ;o).

But in all seriousness, your problem is not unique. Soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan face a difficult transition back home. We create bonds with other soldiers that are so deep and intimate that it is difficult to describe. When a soldier returns home they have to rediscover their purpose in their civilian life. I do not know what experiences that your fiancé had in Iraq, but I would venture to say that he would do well to get involved in some counseling to help him deal with unaddressed issues relating to his deployment.

I would like to ask, ‘does your fiancé love you?’ Have you addressed your concerns with him? Or do you walk on eggshells when the topic of marriage comes up?

As you know, if you have been following my blog, my initial response to any problem is to recommend that you submit your concerns to the Lord. I believe that God understands our relationship problems and he is truly the place to start when seeking guidance. God has a plan for your life and I believe that he puts people in your life for a reason. Be honest with Him about your feelings and seek His guidance.

As far as the relationship aspect goes let me give you my limited opinion on the matter. Men and woman approach relationships in a completely different manner. Men tend to be impulsive and appear to be less emotionally involved with the relationship in general. We really like the comfort of having a woman care for us and love us, but we are really bad, often times, at verbalizing and expressing our love in return. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love you but we tend to express our love differently. Some men show their love by providing for the family and doing things for their wife like keeping the car maintained and mowing the lawn. It is a fairly primitive way to express love, but men really have a desire to show a woman that they are of value and that they can take care of their family. I admit that this approach marginalizes the emotional aspect of a relationship, but their heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, this type of expression rarely fulfills the emotional needs of a woman.

Now, women, approach relationships with their heart and whereas, you desire a man who will provide family stability financially, you also desire a husband who will show his love in a more intimate and physical manner. A woman wants to hear that her husband loves her and values her as a partner in their relationship. A woman wants to know that she can trust her husband and that his heart aches to be with you. Women want to know that their man is completely devoted to them and they need to be comforted that their husband will hold them in a place of honor. These are entirely appropriate expectations. Unfortunately, men, many times, simply don’t get it.

I would advise you to address your concerns with him in a loving and honest manner. I would suggest that you try to get him to go to counseling with you before you get married and try to identify coping mechanisms as they relate to marriage and try to find out what concerns or apprehensions that he may have as it relates to marriage.

I have to be honest with you. I said earlier that men appear to approach a relationship with less emotion. Please note that I said, ‘appear’ In a man’s mind and in his heart he may very well be madly and passionately in love with you. It is just that his is not speaking your love language. Often times men are unaware that they are not meeting your emotional needs and if confronted some men will do their best to change their behavior. I have been in relationships where I was clearly aloof to the feelings of my girlfriend and had I been aware that I was not on the same path with her emotions, I would have done anything to change my behavior and make it work. I believe that any loving relationship where much has been invested and deep emotions have been shared, should be given a chance to work out the problems. But those problems need to be addressed and if your fiancé is unaware of your feelings then he may not know that he is being emotionally apathetic.
I am married to an incredibly loving woman who has devoted her life to me and our family. I admit that I have not always appreciated her love and devotion. I tend to involve myself in so many projects that I barely have time to get any one project completed. I really show my love by doing things for the family, when in reality all my wife is wanting is conversation and time devoted to her. We don’t always speak the same language of love. I am still a work in progress.

I believe that men, need to approach their relationship with their girlfriends or wives by seeking Godly, wisdom. I believe that the Lord molds men to understand that their wife is a treasured gift. A Godly man does not hesitate to verbally express his love. A Godly man understands the incredible gift that the Lord has given him in his wife and he is quick to let his wife know how important she is to him. Often times, Claire, men need rethink their approach to their relationship with their wife or girlfriend. Unfortunately, men, often times don’t get the importance of expressing their love until it is too late. Women will tolerate an unemotional and an ungodly man for so long and then they cut their losses. I have learned that when a woman has given up on a relationship she turns her heart off and tries to emotionally sever ties with the very man that she once loved. When a man, finally sees the error of his ways, it is often too late and the resulting destruction of the relationship is devastating to him. It is not that he doesn’t love you; he just needs to learn how to speak your love language.

You both need to identify those things that make each other feel loved. For you, your may feel loved if your husband would verbally affirm his love for you. For him, he may feel loved by you verbalizing, acknowledging, and appreciating the hard work that he does for the family. It is simply a matter of adjusting the manner in which we show our love.

There is a book called ‘The Five Languages of Love’ written by Gary Chapman. In his book, he attempts to help couples identify those things that your spouse or loved one can do to make each other feel loved. I would recommend that you buy a copy for yourself and one for your husband. Dr. Chapman does a great job in communicating to men those things that women truly desire in order to feel loved an appreciated. He also provides women guidance on how men think and what makes them feel loved.
In conclusion, Claire, I would say that your fiancé has to address any baggage that he may have as a result of his military deployment. He also needs to hear from you that you love him and that you want to work on your relationship. He needs to know how you are feeling and what your desire in your relationship. Whereas, you may spend a great deal of time on the emotional aspect of your relationship, he may not think about it at all. In his mind, he may feel that the relationship is fine and he may not understand your concerns. But be honest and sit him down and share your feelings. If he loves you and wants to make the relationship work he will do as you ask. Please avoid approaching this problem with ultimatums. Try not to tell him that if he doesn’t change then you will end your relationship. This type of approach is hurtful and does little to improve a relationship. Additionally, if your relationship doesn’t improve and ultimately fails, please allow it to end on its own merits. Often times a woman will stay in a relationship up to a point but she will end it if she finds someone else. If you are pushed to the point where you desire a relationship with someone else who is willing to meet your needs; please have the courtesy and integrity to end your relationship first. No one wants to be left with the impression that their loved one left them for someone else. It leaves the person humiliated and hurt and it is shows contempt for the man's emotional feelings. These are wounds that could last a lifetime. I would advise men to do the same.

I have faith that you are wanting to make this relationship work and I believe that your fiancé loves you. He has some external stressors that are making him anxious and as a result he tends to pull back from any discussion about getting married. Help him to identify his concerns and reassure him that you are willing to work with him to make your relationship work.I pray that you find a solution to this problem.
I am honored that you asked me for advice, but, again, please understand that I am not an expert in relationships or in conflict resolution. I do pray that you find my response helpful to you. Please take some time to talk to your pastor about your concerns and be sure to talk to your fiancé. My guess is that he wants to marry you as much as you desire to marry him. I am confident that you will have a joyfully, fulfilling, marriage that will last a lifetime.

God Bless you, young lady and please keep me up to date on your progress.I will keep you in my prayers and I ask our readers to pray for you as well. There is tremendous power in prayer and I just know that the Lord will provide you guidance.
Have a great evening.

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