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Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word

askauntdara@gmail.com


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Reconcile with Mom

Dear Aunt Dara,

I need some spiritual help to do something that I know I need to do.  Scripture is very clear: forgiveness, honor your parents, etc.  However, I am still so angry after all these years and Ephesians tells parents not to provoke their children to anger and my mom is not blameless.  Still, I am seeking the strength to do what I should do.

Growing up I thought my single parent mom was the best parent my little sister and I could have asked for.  She was nurturing, supportive, high energy, and always had time.  Discipline was rare but fair and consistently applied.  But then, just short of my 10th birthday, I get spanked for supposedly breaking a house rule and not leaving a note saying where I was when I went down the street to watch a movie.  Thinking I was missing, mom was in a panic.  I had left a note, but somehow it ended up in the middle of the garbage.  It was found 5 minutes AFTER I was spanked.  No taking my word, no investigative work, no fact finding, no due diligence.  Just shoot first and ask questions later.  She was so sorry, apologizing, and crying afterwards, but how could I have been so wrong about her?

I mean if a 10-year-old could find the truth and clear her name in 5 minutes, what could a 32-year-old have done if she had been willing to try?  I was innocent but got a bright red butt anyway.  This had to mean that I was nothing to my mom.  I felt worthless and I ended up crying myself to sleep every night.  The happiness of my childhood ended that day with my mom.  I moved in with my dad about a year later.  I think I just wanted to make myself relevant again and to have a fresh start by moving.

I am a 19-year-old college freshman now.  My mom has made contact through my sister about us meeting and trying to work things out and be mother and daughter again.  My mother remarried and had twin boys at 35 and another daughter at 38.  So, the old girl kept cranking them out.  My siblings are pushing me to do this, especially my next youngest sister who blames herself because she was the one who accidentally threw my note away that day.  I don't blame my sister.  How could mom have gotten it right with my brothers and sisters with them just thriving under her care but washed out and been incompetent with me?  How do I move forward and forgive unfit parenting?

Thanks,

Rejected Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

You must have been terribly hurt by your mother's reactions that day and this has been affecting you greatly.  I can tell that you have struggled a lot with feelings of pain regarding your perceived lack of love from your mother.  Your feelings were only natural from the perspective of a child who was unjustly punished.  However, forgiveness is possible for you by looking at the situation from a different perspective—your mothers.

If I may, I would like to suggest what may have been on your mother's mind at the time.  You said that she was in a panic because she thought you were missing.  A parent in that situation would be imagining all sort of terrible things that may have happened to her child.  She may have been thinking perhaps you were abducted and had been raped or murdered.  If she truly did not care for you, if she truly felt that you were nothing to her and she believed that you were worthless, then she would not have been panicking.  A non-caring parent would not have become worried and upset.  Though you did not say so, I am positive that your mother was very angry when she found out where you were and angry that you did not let her know where you were (or so she thought), and that she was very angry when she spanked you.  Her anger was the normal reaction of a person who believed that something terrible may have happened to someone they love dearly, only to find out that their panic was unnecessary because the person (who was safe after all) had failed to notify them of their whereabouts.  The reason that she spanked you so quickly before doing an investigation was because she was very angry and scared (NORMAL emotions for that situation), and nobody makes good decisions when they are overcome with fear and/or anger.  However, as a child, you would have interpreted her anger and a sign that she hated you and her unjust punishment as evidence of that hatred.

At the time, as soon as she realized that she was in the wrong, your mother did the right thing by immediately admitting that she had been wrong and she apologized to you.  She was very remorseful for having treated you unfairly and I am quite sure that she has continued to shed tears for her actions and the consequences of her rash judgment. Parents aren't perfect.  They make mistakes.  Your mother showed humility and maturity when she acknowledged she made a mistake and asked for your forgiveness.  You heard something from her that many people never ever hear their parents say—“I'm sorry."  You are carrying a lot of resentment toward your mother that she does not deserve.  She loved you and loves you still.  Please give her a chance to be in your life again.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part 2 

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I did it.  I just did it!  I just called and accepted my mother's invitation.  I am scared to death.  I am as nervous as I have been.

You could not have been more accurate in describing what happened that day if you been there.  Yes, mom was mad.  I guess it's never a good sign when a parent opens a conversation with a kid with, "Where the hell have you been?" I may have left you with the impression that my mother was heavy handed, but she had only spanked 3 other times.  But those times, I was as guilty as sin and had it coming and was not mad at my mom over it.  Even this last one, in which she "wore my butt out" and really had me crying, if I had done wrong, I would have trusted her judgement and taken it as a tough lesson learned.

Over time, especially now that I have accepted Christ, God has been working on me about this.  I would feel guilty, then I would actually work myself up into getting mad and then guilt wins out again.  Even you seemed to indicate that the blame shifted to me after I refused an apology.  I can be a vicious person.  I accused my mom of being abusive and unfit, have attacked her online, sent back gifts, declined an invitation to her wedding, and even last year, she attended my graduation without getting an invitation. Using myself as a weapon, I hit her with everything I had, and she still tried again with me.

I want to be a part of their family if possible, but I don’t know what to say.  I don't want to replay and dwell on the past, but I don't want to just have small talk about the weather either.  How do you rebuild?  My stepfather called and we had a nice talk.  I was afraid he would hate me.  He adores my mother.  I am just so nervous right now!
 

Thanks,
Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

I am so glad that what I said to you was helpful and that you accepted the invitation to get together with your mother and siblings.  I can tell that you are very worried and scared about what will happen and what will be said when you meet with her.  I would suggest that you not bring up any specifics from the past.  Sincere apologies are the best way to rebuild relationships.  I would suggest that you say something along the line of this:

"Mom, I have been holding resentment toward you for a long time and have treated you badly.  I am sorry for the things that I have said and done to you for the past (X) years.  Please forgive me.  I want to make things right with you now.  Please help me to know what I can do to make it up to you."

I predict that if you say those things to her, it will bring tears to her eyes and make her very, very happy.  She will take it from there and together you can work to heal the wounds between the two of you.  Be sure to pray a lot about this.  God is the one who has the power to reconcile and heal relationships.  Please let me know how it goes.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Friday, April 22, 2016

She has Fallen Out of Love with Her Husband and has Feelings for a Younger Man

Dear Aunt Dara, 

My husband and I got along great and were compatible the first 2 years we were married, but over time he has become unbearable.  He has a brain injury and has issues with his anger.  He gets mad easily and yells at me and the 3 children.  He has never been on same page with me on parenting.  He constantly teaches bad things to the younger children.  He teaches the 2-yr-old to pull hair, yell, and he won't stop him or put him in time out like I do.  The middle child is in treatment for severe emotional and behavioral issues.  My husband lectures this child constantly and tells him to shut up and be quiet.  He even told this child that he hates him.  I have child welfare, 2 parenting teachers, and 2 therapists coming into our home, but my husband acts like he doesn't care.  He will not listen and will not get with the program.  In the meantime, I see my husband flirt with the young girls coming over to teach us parenting, one of the therapists, and even the welfare worker.  I catch him staring at lots of girls and it hurts me.  My husband never treats me like a woman or a wife.  He no longer wants to make love with me and he doesn't even want to touch me.  He treats me like I am just his friend and nothing more.   

Lately I have developed a friendship with a man who is 10 younger than me.  He and I have more in common than my husband and I do.  He shows me attention and he also flirts a bit.  He rubs my arm to get my attention, he jokes with me, he talks to me, and he invites us all (including my husband) to Christian singings everywhere.  When there, he stares at me while my husband sits way away from me.  As soon as I look over at the other man, he looks away quickly.  So now we have become close loyal friends.  I didn't intend to develop close feelings for him and he doesn’t know that I do.  I tell myself I am married, but I can never say I am truly happily married.  So to deny how I feel, I tried to fix this man up with another single friend of mine, but I ended up depressed after they became friends.  This man continues to flirt with me.  I do have feelings for him, but my husband is in my way.  I have fallen out of love with my husband, but financially we cannot get a divorce.  Please help!

Unhappily Ever After
 

Dear Unhappily Ever After,

Unfortunately, you are in a marriage that is toxic to you and your children.  Since the Bible teaches against divorce (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12), I rarely recommend that a marriage be broken.  Unless your husband begins listening to you and the various social service workers and mental health professionals who are working with your family, I see no hope of anything improving.  If he is not already getting the professional help that he needs, I urge you get him into treatment. If he already is seeing a neurologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, please consult with them regarding his potential to improve.

Please understand that this is not about you and your happiness.  This is not about whether you are happily married.  This is not about whether you and your husband are compatible or whether or not you are “in love” with him anymore.  This is about your health and the health of your children—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—and you are in a spiritual battle right now because you have developed an attraction to another man and the two of you have been flirting with each other.  Satan is tempting you with this man by using him to give you the thing that you crave from your husband—attention.  Satan is using your unhappy marriage to tempt you and your male friend to sin.  You cannot work on improving your marriage as long as you remain infatuated with another man.  If you continue your friendship with him, you are playing with fire and both of you are likely to get burned, destroying your marriage and harming your children in the process.

Love is not something that people fall in and out of.  Physical attraction and the warm, fuzzy feeling that we get when we are around someone is not the type of love that can be the foundation of a relationship or marriage.  Too many marriages fail and too many people are tempted to be unfaithful to their spouse based on their feelings of whether or not they are “in love.”  Feelings come and go, and any long-term marriage will have periods of time when one or both partners think they aren’t “in love” anymore.  Don’t mistake the attraction that you feel for this other man as “love” and jeopardize your marriage by falling into Satan’s trap.

Your husband has many, many problems—including his anger issues, the way he treats you and the children, and his flirting with other women.  That is why I said that you are in a marriage that is toxic to you and your children and I don't see it getting any better if he doesn't change his behavior.  You have some decisions to make regarding your marriage.  To remain in this marriage as it is now will ultimately be harmful to you and your children.  To stay requires that you concentrate on what needs to be done to save the marriage, which means consulting with the professionals who are working with your husband and pulling away from your attraction to the other man who is showing you attention with his flirts.  I'm not saying that you have to tell the other man that you can't be friends.  What I am saying is that you should not be alone with him, not confide your problems to him, and not return his flirts.  Please let me know if this helps.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Having Sex in a Committed Relationship with the Person You Love

Dear Aunt Dara,

I'm a 31-year-old male virgin.  I have kissed a girl, in fact came very close to having sex with one girl.  I just never actually had intercourse.  As a Christian man I once believed that you don't have sex with a woman unless you're married to her, but now I'm not so sure.  I believe now that if you're in a committed relationship and love the woman then sex is okay.  I also once was proud of being a virgin.  I felt I was pleasing God, but now I'm ashamed of it.  I mean in today's society most women my age want a man with experience or are turned off by a 31-year-old man who is a virgin.  As for dating, it has been hard for me.  I respect women so I try to take things slowly, but I'm starting to think maybe I move too slowly.  The girl eventually starts thinking I'm not interested in her.  I don't tell girls I date that I'm a virgin because I think it will scare them off.  I also don't like talking to people about it.  If people ask, I lie.  I know lying is wrong but I just don't want people to know the truth.  What should I do when it comes to dating or even talking to people about it?

Sincerely,
A confused young man

Dear Confused Young Man,

First of all, I would like to express my admiration and praise for your wanting to obey God and keeping yourself pure for your future wife.  Do not underestimate the value of your purity to the woman destined to be your bride.  Any Christian woman who is like-minded would be pleased that you have kept yourself pure.  I believe that God is very pleased with your abstinence and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

Satan tempts us through the desires of our flesh and through lies and deception.  The Bible is full of examples of his tactics, beginning in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.  Satan even tempted Jesus the same way, appealing first to the desire of the flesh and then by lying to Jesus by twisting scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11).  Satan has tricked society into disobeying God by convincing them that sexual purity is undesirable and that God understands, or even approves of sexual sins.  Satan tells us many lies to convince us of this, including but not limited to:

(1) Everyone else is doing it and everyone will make fun of me if I don't.  The Bible says, "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil" (Exodus 23:2) and, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).  There may be some who will make fun of you, but we ought to be seeking to please God rather than men.

(2) Sex is okay in a committed relationship and marriage is just a meaningless piece of paper.  The Bible says, "And He [Jesus] answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).  Without marriage, there is no commitment and nothing prevents either person from leaving the relationship at any time.  Whereas, in marriage a couple is legally bound by the marriage certificate and joined to each other by God.

(3) If you eventually marry the person, then premarital sex with that person is okay.  The Bible says, "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1 Corinthians 7:2) and, "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

(4) Sex with someone you love isn't a sin.  Actually, the opposite is true!  The Bible says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).  If you love someone, you will NOT want them to sin and you will avoid doing anything that would cause them to sin.  Therefore, you will NOT have sex with them unless you are married.

(5) God wants us to be happy.  The Bible says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1) and, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18). God wants us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and happiness will be the result.

It sounds as if you are feeling the pressure of society (which is strong) and that coupled with your own natural desires of the flesh can be a very difficult temptation to resist.  Here are some scriptures that may help: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).  "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

If you give in to society's expectations (Satan's lies), you can never go back to the same level of purity that you once had.  You can repent, you can be forgiven, and you can return to your former pure lifestyle, but you will never be able to erase your memory and the regrets that will inevitably follow.  If you are being rejected by women because you "move too slowly," perhaps it would be helpful to have a conversation about your moral standards and expectations toward the early part of your relationship to assure that you are both on the same page.  If a woman rejects you because you are still a virgin, then she was the wrong woman for you.  Also, you do NOT have to tell anyone that you are a virgin.  That is nobody's business.  If someone asks you if you are still a virgin, don't answer that question.  Instead, just ask them why they would ask you such a personal question, and tell them that it is not appropriate to ask someone such a personal question as that.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

FOOTNOTE TO MY READERS REGARDING SIN

I have counseled many, many people over the years in my professional practice, yet I have never had any Christian with a good and sincere heart say to me, “I’m glad that I sinned,” nor have I ever heard anyone say, “I regret that I obeyed God.”  However, I have had many people in my office who have told me that they regret having disobeyed God.  Many who acknowledge an awareness that God has forgiven them still struggle with guilt and have difficulty forgiving themselves.  Even those who have been able to forgive themselves still carry regret over their sin.  Save yourself the heartache of a tortured memory, guilt and regret (Psalm 51:3, 1 Timothy 1:15).  Obey God.  You won’t regret it.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Parents are Concerned about Teenaged Son’s Online Relationship

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband and I are very concerned about our 17-year-old son.  He is a wonderful young man, does well in school, and has never given us any trouble.   He recently told us, however, that he has fallen in love with a 16-year-old girl that he met online.  The girl lives in another country thousands of miles away.  He has been communicating with her through texts and Skype for over a year, but has kept it a secret from us.  The girl's parents do not know about the relationship and she continues to keep it secret from them (they are also Christian, but are apparently very strict and will not allow her to have a boyfriend until she is 18).   Both the girl and our son say that they are deeply in love and hope to be together forever despite the long distance between them, despite having never met, and despite being from completely different backgrounds and cultures.

We are concerned, first of all, that this could be a scam to somehow get money from our son or our family.  We have tried to investigate this possibility, but the answer is inconclusive and I don't think we will ever know for sure, unless she eventually asks him to send her money (which she has not).  Secondly, even if this is not a scam, we are worried that this will be a distraction to our son, keeping him from meeting someone he could have a real future with.  He is going off to college this fall and has already said that he will never date anyone at college because that would be "cheating" on this girl that he has never even met.  It also bothers us that her parents are not aware of the relationship.  As Christian parents, we do not want our son to be involved in deceiving someone's parents.  If her parents knew, they would most likely not be in favor of this relationship either.  Their culture is one that does not look favorably on dating or marrying an outsider.  We have talked with our son at length about our concerns, but he is adamant that he and this girl are "meant for each other" and that their love will overcome any obstacles.  We don't see this as a typical teen relationship that will just fade away with time.

What should we do as parents?  How can we get him to understand the problems and potential dangers of this relationship?  We have prayed for wisdom in this situation and are really at a loss as to what we can do.  If we ban him from communicating with her, then we feel that he will rebel and will still talk with her behind our backs.  Plus, there is no way we can control his behavior when he goes away to college in a few months. However, if we do nothing we feel like this will continue for years to come, only to end in more heartbreak for everyone involved.  Should we somehow try to tell her parents about the relationship?  If you have any suggestions for us, we would kindly welcome them!

A Concerned Mom and Dad


Dear Concerned Mom and Dad,

Thank you so much for writing to me and trusting me with this situation.  I do not believe that you or your son are in any danger from this situation and I see nothing in your letter that would indicate that this might be a scam.  It's been over a year and the young lady has not asked your son for money.  Most scam artists act very quickly in asking for money so they can move on to their next victim.  I also do not think that your son is participating in deceiving her parents.  It is the girl's responsibility, and her responsibility alone, to tell her parents.  She is likely keeping it secret from them because she knows they would disapprove and she fears the possible consequences of their finding out.  Please do not interfere by contacting her parents, because that would surely make the situation worse for her.

Communicating on Skype is nearly the same as meeting in person because you can SEE and HEAR each other.  It is clear that your son has become very involved with this girl, emotionally.  You have already told your son what you think about this situation and explained the problems involved.  Any further effort that you take to stop your son's communication with this girl will just drive a wedge between you and your son and strengthen his resolve to continue the online relationship.

As I was reading your letter, a passage of scripture in Acts came to my mind.  Please look at Acts 5:17-39, and pay special attention to verses 38 and 39.  Only time will tell the outcome of your son's online relationship.  If God wills it to be, it will be.  If God wills that nothing will come from this online relationship, He will guide your son to meet and develop love for the woman that He has chosen.  So, I suggest that you do nothing and say nothing more about it.  Just sit back and wait for God to work it out.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mother Reacted Harshly to Daughter

Dear Aunt Dara,
 
Recently my mother, who is in her mid-80's, told me that she was thinking about not remembering one of my children with a gift this year...not a problem except she had already sent a monetary gift to my other child.  Her reasoning was that my daughter did not send her a card for her birthday so she must not care.  I became upset and reminded her of the many times she had come with me to visit, and that I know this was nothing intentional, she just forgot.  Anyway, I told her I did not agree with her and reminded her how hurt my daughter would be.  Her response was that she didn't understand why I was so upset.  I will admit I raised my voice and told her that she needed to rethink all this.  She sent my daughter a gift through the mail to me, and I thought that was the end of the matter.  When I got home last night, she had left me a nasty voicemail, telling me how upset she was and that she couldn't sleep.  She told me not to call or contact her this Christmas, that she had plans.  Also, that she couldn't believe the way I spoke to her after all she had done for me...that I was hateful.

This is not the first time I have been through this, but I know I didn't say anything wrong.  I had planned to apologize for losing my temper, but not being welcome for Christmas is a pretty harsh reaction.  I am an only child, so she's my family (my dad is deceased).  There have been several incidents like this in years past, so it's not dementia.  She is a Christian, as I am, but she has difficulty accepting that things don't always go as she wants.  I recently had surgery and was looking forward to seeing her this Christmas at a time when I wasn't in pain.  We live three hours from each other, and I try to go once a month.  She doesn't like my husband and is generally uninterested in what I'm involved in.  I plan to honor her request and wait until she cools off to visit, probably January, but I am very hurt, as is my husband.  The Bible instructs us to honor our parents, but this is hard to deal with. Any advice?

 
Hurting Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Yes, you are hurting.  What she said to you was very hurtful and it was a harsh reaction, but impulsive reactions do tend to be harsh.  However, your mother really didn't mean that she doesn't want you to contact her or visit her.  Calls and visits are very important to her, as evidenced by her reaction to not having received a birthday card from your daughter.  You are your mother's only child and you live 3 hours away from her.  She just can't jump in a car and drive to see you.  She is old and lonely, and she fears being alone and uncared for.  (She will not admit these things.  She responds to her internal pain by being rigid and harsh.  That's her way of getting attention, though it tends to push others away.)  If you choose to not call or visit her until January, that will just serve to validate her deepest fear—that her family doesn't care about her and she truly is alone in the world.  You need to set your pride aside and apologize to her, even though you think you didn't say anything wrong, and you need to visit her to reaffirm that you care about her.  We need to have love, kindness and compassion toward others and overlook things that hurt our feelings but truly don't matter (Proverbs 19:11).

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Can a Long-Distance On-Line Relationship be the Right One?

Dear Aunt Dara,

I’m kind of frustrated with this young man I meet three years ago.  He always wanted to be with me but I never really felt in my heart to give him a chance until the beginning of this year.  We started talking and everything was going well until my parents found out.  To make a long story short they weren't too fond of him.  The problem is he lives in Kentucky and I live in Iowa, so we have only communicated on Facebook, texting and webcam.  My parents don't like the fact that we meet on Facebook.  He swears up and down that he is in love with me and wants me to be his future wife, but we have never meet each other face-to-face.  He wanted to take me out many times but I never wanted to because my parents wouldn't allow me.  They said they have to meet him first before I can even be his girlfriend.  I told him that and he got really upset and asked how he could meet my parents if he has never met me.  Also, there are two things that really frustrate me.  Sometimes he can say really mean things to me that really hurt my feelings and then act like he never said them, and other times he can be a true sweetheart and really make me think he really loves me.  Secondly, I feel as if he is not ready to sacrifice for me.  I can't stop thinking about that, and it bothers me.  Yet, sometimes I get so lonely that I find myself texting him just to pass the time.  
 

Do you think I should still talk to him?  Is he worth my time?  Do you think he loves me?  Could he be after something?  I wonder about that because we had gotten into a big argument and didn't talk for months afterward, and he ended up getting with another girl.  He said he broke up with her because she found several pictures of me on his phone.  He said he wasn't over me.  
 
Sincerely,
Lone Star 
 

Dear Lone Star,

You raise some interesting questions regarding your on-line friend.  You met him on Facebook three years ago and have been talking via Facebook, texts, and webcam.  You can get to know a lot about a person in three years, even though you have not met face-to-face.  Your parents may not understand that and wish to protect you.  I can appreciate that, and I also can appreciate their desire to meet him before allowing you to be his girlfriend.  The logical solution would be for him to meet for the first time with you and your family together, or you could invite your parents to talk to him via webcam so they can become more comfortable with the idea of allowing you to have a boyfriend that you met on Facebook.

I can't answer whether or not he is worth your time or if he loves you.  However, you raised some issues that may help you to determine the answers.  How often does he say mean things to you?  Have you spoken to him about this and when you do, does he acknowledge his behavior and how it affects you?  What do you mean that he doesn't
seem to be ready to sacrifice for you?  What has he said that makes you feel as if he is unwilling to make sacrifices for you?  You seem to be worried that he was with another girl after the two of you broke up, as if that indicates that he may not be sincere in his current intentions for you.  I would not be too concerned about that, from the information that you gave me, but it is an issue that deserves further consideration.  You question if he is after something.  What do you think he may be after?  What signs do you see that would indicate that he may have a hidden agenda?  What is the general tone of your communications with him?  How frequently do you communicate?  Does he welcome your texts when you are just feeling lonely?  How much personal information has he shared with you?  Has he shared any of his own personal thoughts and feelings with you, or have your communications been mostly superficial?  Most importantly, is he a Christian and does he put God first in his life?

I know this is a lot of things for you to think about.  It is possible to maintain a long-distance relationship via electronic communication, but use those opportunities to learn as much about each other as possible.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Husband in Communication with Married Female Friend

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband, Bill, has been friends with Sherry for over 30 years.  When we began dating, Sherry and her husband and children lived in the same apartment complex as my husband.  She would come to Bill's apartment many times during the course of our 1 1/2 year courtship.  She was ALWAYS coming over and she and Bill would go off and talk.  I discussed with Bill how much this bothered me and he would tell me that she was his sister in Christ and he would offer her Godly advice on her marriage and she would offer him Godly advice on our relationship.  I told Bill that I thought this was information Sherry should discuss with family members or girlfriends, not with him.  When we got married, things got a little better as we moved into my house and Bill was out of the apartment complex.  He knew that I did not like Sherry and did not agree with their discussing relationship issues with each other.  So, he limited how much he contacted her.  In May, Bill lost his local truck driving position and went over the road.  Since that time, Sherry's private contact with Bill has become much more frequent—several times per month for the past 3 months.  I was very upset when I found out about this.  I told Bill that under no uncertain circumstances did I want myself or our relationship discussed with Sherry.  I know she tells Bill all about her marriage woes.  He has told me that he does not discuss us, but I am not sure that I believe him.  He has asked me to find forgiveness in my heart and become friends with Sherry as this is his friend of 30-plus years and his "sister in Christ."  I feel as though he wants me to become friends with her so that they get "my blessing" to continue their private communications with each other.  When I ask what they discuss, he does not want to tell me.  I have discussed with Bill that if he does have the need to talk with Sherry to do it when he is on home time and I am there instead of in private when he is over the road.  He says that I am overreacting and that he sees nothing wrong with him contacting Sherry or Sherry contacting him.  We are at a standstill on this subject and I could use some advice as to what to do. 

Thank you,
Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

Thank you for writing to me and trusting me with your situation.  I pray that I can say some things that may shed some light on what may be happening and perhaps spur some change and growth in the way that you may be interpreting your husband’s behavior.

First of all, the Bible is very clear that we need to have friendships with other Christians.  We are instructed to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16).  We are to be a source of strength and encouragement to each other (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), and we are to instruct and correct one another (Proverbs 27:6, 17; James 5:19-20).  However, nowhere in the Bible are we told that it is wrong for a man and woman to have a Christ-centered friendship with each other.  The idea that women can only have female friends and men can only have male friends seems to be based on the culture and time in which we live.  The Bible gives examples of what appear to be friendships between men and women.  For example, we know that many women followed Jesus during his ministry and took care of meeting His needs (Luke 8:1-3), and some of these women were married.  Jesus had an extensive, private conversation with a woman (John 4).  The apostle John apparently had a close friendship with a woman, so much so that he wrote a letter to her, the book of 2 John, and told her that it would be a joy for them to talk face-to-face (2 John 12).  We even have an example of the prophet Elijah living with a widow and her son for a while (1 Kings 17), and undoubtedly the two of them developed a friendship while he was living in her home. 

That being said, the cultural taboo against mixed gender friendships is likely based on the human fleshly desires that can easily enter into such a friendship.  Factors that make us more vulnerable to this temptation are (1) spiritual immaturity and (2) an unhappy marriage.  That is why Paul gave guidelines for how to manage Christian relationships when he told Timothy to treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:20).  We are to think of each other as family members, WITH ALL PURITY, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Regarding your specific situation, it would appear that your husband is aware of the need to maintain purity in this friendship, because he keeps emphasizing that Sherry is his “sister in Christ” and he is honoring the purpose of Christian friendships by offering her Godly advice.  Hopefully, your husband is encouraging Sherry to address her marital problems directly with her husband so they can resolve them.  Your husband appears to be respecting your wishes by not discussing you or your marriage with Sherry, so what reason do you have to doubt his honesty other than your own suspicions?  Your husband persists in maintaining contact with Sherry, believing there is nothing wrong with that.  He is right.  He wants you to become friends with his friend, and you think it is because he wants your blessing to continue his private conversations with Sherry.  Perhaps he wants you to get to know her so you will feel less threatened by his friend of 30 + years and less jealous and suspicious of his friendship with her.

Before you married your husband, you knew that Sherry had been his friend for over 30 years and that they had regular, private communications with each other.  To require or expect him to break off this friendship or to try to set rules to control it (needing to know what they talk about, forbidding private communication, and wanting to be around when they talk) is being unfair to your husband.  This could drive a wedge between you and your husband and could result in his increased attempts to keep his conversations with Sherry secret.  Perhaps if you got to know Sherry, you might realize that her more than 30 years of friendship with your husband might have had a positive influence on his spirituality and helped to shape him into the man that you fell in love with.

God bless,
Aunt Dara