Archive for June, 2010

Is There Still a Case to be Made for Marriage in the USA?

June 22nd, 2010

The June 11, 2010 edition of Newsweek contained an article titled, “I Don’t: The Case Against Marriage”. [i] It was written by two women who argued that the reasons that once tied women to men in the legal constraints known as marriage are no longer sufficient motivations to enter into this life-altering commitment.

“Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights. But 40 years after the feminist movement established our rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is—from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway—no longer necessary.” [ii]

While that rhetoric might appeal to cynical individuals whose hearts were broken by absent parents or whose lives were shredded by painful divorces, the fact remains that married people, on the whole, live longer, are healthier, enjoy greater financial prosperity than their single counter-parts and enjoy a more satisfying sex life.[iii]

Dennis Prager asks and answers some important questions regarding marriage in a brief video posted and accessible to anyone with an internet connection at Prager University.[iv]

  • Do you want to share your life with someone?
  • Do you want become a deeper, more mature individual?
  • But a marriage license is just a piece of paper!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit Prager University to hear his well reasoned responses. He argues skillfully that marriage is not only necessary for society but that it’s the most beneficial living arrangement for men and women in regard to the depth of personal growth individuals can experience.

One of the many responses to the Newsweek piece was by the directors of an organization called Family Bridges. They wrote: “I’ve heard cynical comments about marriage being just a piece of paper. However, history and experience show that some papers (such as the Constitution) are timeless, priceless, and capable of providing an irreplaceable foundation for creation of stability, deep meaning, and greatness.”[v]

My heart goes out to those who’ve been hurt by marriages that went wrong. We can’t allow pain and cynicism, however, to keep us from upholding marriage between a man and a woman as the most life-giving relationship on the planet. While there are no perfect relationships in this broken world, those who give priority to establishing and maintaining a healthy marriage will reap the benefits all of their lives!

If you’re considering marriage and want to make sure you have the tools to build a solid foundation, the Arizona Wedding Pastors can help you with customized premarital counseling. If your marriage is struggling and you’d like some support, we can assist you with that through marriage counseling. Give us a chance to help you make the most out of your marriage! Call us at 623-606-8909 or visit our website www.azweddingpastors.com.


[i] http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/11/i-don-t.html

[ii] ibid

[iii] (See the book review for “A Case For Marriage”) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_6_118/ai_71250700/

[iv] http://prageru.com/13.htm

[v] www.familybridgsesblog.com

Dealing with Conflict in Your Relationship

June 15th, 2010

One of the stimulating aspects of living in the age of information is the stream of diverse statements and ideas that pour over us through the media. If you enjoy variety just watch, read or listen for a while and you’ll encounter a broad spectrum of ideas! One statement that I’ve heard repeatedly in various ways is that aside from plumbing, there really is no substantial difference between men and women. While I’m all for gender equality in society and the work place this statement’s ubiquitous error transcends common sense. How is it that highly educated people embrace such obvious error?! Ask any school-yard child and they’ll confess that the opposite sex is WAY different–“Girls are weird!; Boys are dumb!” Maybe the singing group Smash Mouth got it right by summarizing the intellectual change from child to adult as “Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb [i]”  The fact is there are great differences between men and women which dating and married couples quickly realize as the guy and gal processing the same data or encountering the same situation frequently arrive at very different conclusions about what to do.

I saw this first-hand early in my own marriage. After being married about seven years and producing three offspring, my wife and I plus our pre-school children were doing missionary work in an obscure location on one of the islands in the Philippines. We were progressing in our study of the language and learning about the culture but something less than obvious was brewing under the surface. As we discussed the intangible tension that had been developing between us we realized that we were clashing due to our gender-based perceptions of what we were living through and how we individually thought we should respond to it. As we discussed the facts of our situation and our feelings-both of which are relevant in a relationship-we concluded that we were at a relational crossroad. We could either continue to minimize our mates’ perspective and grow apart or we could draw out our partners’ point of view and combine it with our own and have a much fuller and clearer outlook on the situation. Men and women are amazingly different but when they work together they can enjoy a synergy of wisdom and vision that individually would be impossible to create.

An ancient phrase that applies to nations and relationships is “Pray for peace but prepare for war”. While we all want to enjoy the comfort of a close, harmonious relationship with our mate this “peace” is frequently achieved through conflict. You and your partner are different so living and working together will, at times, lead to conflict! That is why one of the most needed- but frequently avoided- skills for a married couple is the ability to resolve conflict. As a counselor, one of the most satisfying experiences is helping a conflicted couple learn how to effectively verbalize their needs and work with their partner to arrive at mutually acceptable goals. Some of us naturally avoid conflict fearing the chaos that a verbal disagreement will involve. A more accurate and empowering perspective is that conflict is inevitable when two different personalities come together. If you’ll invest some time in acquiring the skills to have a constructive “fight” you’ll be able to work through your differences and enjoy a new degree of oneness! A good place to start is the book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Les and Leslie Parrott.  Chapter Six asks and answers the question “Do You Know How to Fight a Good Fight?” It emphasizes how to resolve conflict in your relationship.[ii] Another option is to call Arizona Wedding Pastors and schedule a time to visit with one of our Officiants. We would be happy to assist you in working through your relationship challenges and customize a strategy to strengthen you! Our goal is to help you turn “I Do” into “Happily Ever After”.

Call us at 623-606-8909 or visit us at www.azweddingpastors.com


[i]Allstar” by Smash Mouth as performed on Shrek©

[ii] http://www.realrelationships1.com/store/206.html

What Can We Learn from the Divorce of Al and Tipper Gore?

June 12th, 2010

On June 1st, 2010 Al and Tipper Gore announced that their 40 year marriage was coming to end. The Gores claimed it was “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.”[i] I grieve whenever I hear of a marriage ending in divorce. Especially when it’s one that has weathered forty years of the wear and tear of life! How is it that intelligent people who once longed to be in their partner’s presence and previously drew comfort and strength from that relationship would conclude that life would be better apart?!

In January of 2009, our family gathered with my parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Like every other marriage, my parents have faced many challenges over the length of their relationship. (Not excluding the antics of this author, their first born son!) There were times of disagreement and tension in their relationship but they never allowed conflict to keep them apart. Over the years I watched my parents make many choices to maintain their relationship to one another. Personal imperfections called for generous doses of compassion and forgiveness. While being very different in personality-and obviously gender- they found common ground and oriented to spending time together. After years of working in separate domains Dad left a job that took him out-of-town and away from home and went to work with my mother in a real estate office. They worked together and in their free-time, served the community doing volunteer work together. While they maintained divergent interests they also found areas of common ground and invested time in doing things with each other. Dad is a skillful trap-shooter and seeing his love for that sport Mom consented to him teaching her to shoot and each week shot in league with him at the local gun club. She learned to consistently break the clay-pigeons as well as any of the male trap-shooters on the team and Dad loved it!

In October of 2009, Mom suffered a devastating stroke. Her recovery has included hospitalization, weekly rehabilitation appointments and a stay in an area nursing home. Dad stayed at Mom’s side every waking moment and as soon as possible transferred her out of the care-center to their home. Both their lives were profoundly impacted by the stroke. Mom can’t walk or talk and Dad now devotes all his energies to meeting her needs.  He shops, cooks, cleans, bathes her and transports her to all appointments. Though she can’t verbalize her needs, Dad studies her behavior and is quite adept at interpreting what she can’t effectively express. He respectfully and joyfully cares for his life-partner from the depth of a life-long relationship they cultivated choice-by-choice for over 50 years!

When I see them together I’m reminded of the ingredients it takes to enjoy a vital marriage. Generous doses of compassion and forgiveness, choosing to be with your mate and valuing the relationship so highly that you choose time together over other pressing issues or attractive opportunities.

If you’re planning to get married or if you’re married and struggling to get along please consider investing in your relationship by meeting with a qualified counselor. In my work with receptive couples I use the highly regarded Prepare/Enrich®resources to help them overcome challenges and enjoy a satisfying marriage. Learn more at our website www.azweddingpastors.com


[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/01/al-gore-tipper-gore-separ_n_596199.html