Who Is Responsible For the Success of Your Marriage? – Part 1

As I was growing up my mother used to say laughingly, “Relatives and friends come to our home as ‘The Last Resort!’”

We had a swimming pool on the side of a hill overlooking a deep valley. A beautiful setting in which to swim, but not exactly a resort – only the last resort!

Mom’s humorous meaning differed from others who used to come to my office for marital counselling. As they entered they would say, “Pastor, we have serious marriage problems. You are our last resort.”

After Sarah and I launched the Love and Respect Marriage Conferences, we would hear people say the same thing, “We are coming to this conference as our last resort.”

In the opinion of these folks, coming to see me or attending the conference was a final plan of action. To them all else had failed. For years I felt honored by that comment.

Is There An Upside To Erupting In Anger? — Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 037

How angry can we get and for what reasons? In this week’s episode, Emerson and Jonathan discuss the consequences of anger within relationships, both inside and outside of the home. Anger is a part of being human, but when used in eruptive ways, it can be very damaging. It can affect the inward, the outward, and the upward. Listen to learn what this means.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.


01:23—Check out the latest release of digital products in the Love and Respect online store: Communication 101: Married & Pre-Married Edition!

05:00—Emerson reviews last week’s episode about prayer in your marriage.

08:33—Letter from a listener: “Each episode is an anchor tethering my sanity to my head sometimes.”

Do You Only Give Love and Respect When Your Spouse Deserves it?

What would you think if your husband said something like the following:

“On a scale of 1–10, you have to be at least a 7 according to my standards before I will speak to you with a loving tone of voice. If you are a 6 or below, I will talk to you any way I like. If I sound a little rough or crude, get used to it.”

What would you think if your wife said something like the following:

“On a scale of 1–10, you have to be at least a 7 according to my standards before I will speak to you respectfully. If you are a 6 or below, I will say what I like, usually with some contempt.”

Judging each other on a scale of 1–10 is no way to have a good marriage, but I have counseled many couples who appeared to approach each other from just this perspective.

The mentality seems to be “You have to earn my loving or respectful speech because I am placing conditions on just how much I will love or respect you.”

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Self-Esteem – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I discussed the difference between carnal and healthy self-love, and why it is important for Christians to understand the significance of both.

But what do we do about it?

How do we develop a healthy self-love?

Simply put: people view themselves as God views them. We do not listen to the accuser of the brethren condemning us about our shameful past, but instead we receive the forgiveness of Christ who loves us and died for us.

The Bible says, “For you have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), which is the blood of Christ.

We are worth Jesus to God. His life for our lives. Galatians 3:13 states, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.”

Had each of us been alone on the planet, Jesus would still have come and died for us, even while knowing we alone would be responsible for crucifying him.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Self-Esteem – Part 1

Much of today’s self-esteem teaching is centered around the love of the self, or rather the old self, fallen nature or the carnal person. Paul refers to this when he says, “…people will be lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2 ESV).

This is the carnal self and it is not a good thing.

This is why the Christian community has been scratching its head over the self-esteem teaching. Should there be self-love or should there not be self-love?

Actually there is both, and we must know the difference.

Godly Self-Love Is Vital To Loving Others

Christians know there should be a measure of self-love, which enables us to love others, and the Bible reveals healthy self-love as the standard for loving others.

Ephesians 5:28,29 declares, “He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.” Husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves.

4 Prayers That Will Impact Your Marriage – Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 036

Can prayer impact your relationship?  Emerson and Jonathan look at four areas where an individual or couple can invite God in. The Presence, Peace, Power, and Purpose of God are examined through four specific prayers and corresponding Bible verses.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.


01:40—New to the Love and Respect Podcast? Check out all of the episodes HERE.

05:03—Emerson reviews last week’s popular episode.

09:20—Praying for God’s presence in your marriage, even in the midst of trouble.

14:30—Shaking your fist in the pursuit of peace vs. a thankful pursuit.

Basic Principles of Effective Communication

John is a student writing a paper on male and female communication. He emailed me saying, “I would be honored if you would please take a few, brief moments and answer three questions for me.”

Question #1: In your opinion, what communication breakdowns occur between males and females?

We often say communication is the key to a successful marriage; however, I prefer to say that mutual understanding is the key.

If I speak perfect Spanish and you speak perfect German, we can communicate in prose that touches on poetic, but if the other does not know our mother-tongue, they will not understand us.

I take the position that women lean toward Love-Talk and men toward Respect-Talk, which I show in my books, Love & Respect and The Language of Love & Respect. The principles explained in both books are based on Ephesians 5:33, the discoveries at the University of Washington, as well as my own research.

When a husband does not understand what his wife means by what she says (“You aren’t loving me”) and a wife does not understand what he means by what he says (“You aren’t respecting me), they will not understand each other and thus will not communicate very well.

Two Sides Of A Parenting Coin – Part 3

Part 1 showed us the value of focusing on the long term.

Part 2 gave us the game plan.

But what if a child’s behavior is not what it appears to be?

Not What It Seems

The immediate disobedience of a child may not be what it appears, and the “obedience” of another child may not be what it seems.

We read the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:28-31,

Two Sides Of A Parenting Coin – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we realized there are holy and unholy means to correcting a child’s behavior.

As parents we must do what God called parents to do. For this, I use the acronym “G.U.I.D.E.S.” Let me explain.

Work The Game Plan
In football, the coaches develop a game plan.

Even if they get behind by 21 points in the first quarter, quality teams stick to the game plan. There are three quarters left, and time and again we see football teams come from behind to win the game.

The coaches plan the work and work the plan, regardless of the negative outcomes in the first quarter. They don’t lose their composure. They don’t start fouling just because the opponent is not playing by the rules.

Two Sides Of A Parenting Coin – Part 1

Should a parent focus on a child’s behavior?

Absolutely, but not solely. A parent must keep his own actions in sight, not just the outcomes in his child.

Those parents who see the two sides of the parenting coin – their own behavior and the behavior of their children – increase their chances of being more effective with the outcomes in their children.

When we obsess over the child’s misbehavior and take our eyes off our mature responses to that wrongdoing, we decrease the odds that we will effectively correct their disobedience. For example:

Who Do You Feel Is Responsible For The Success Of Your Marriage? — Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 035

Emerson and Jonathan discuss responsibility inside of marriage, including the notion that some of us hold others responsible for our happiness and ultimately the success or failure of our marriage.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.


01:08—Emerson tries to review last week’s episode in under two minutes.

04:59—The downside to making someone else responsible for the success of YOUR marriage.

06:45—“This is our last resort.”

07:50—Your counselor can’t save your marriage.

God Joined You Together, But Will He Keep You Together?

Matthew 19:6 says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

We are all familiar with the phrase “until death do you part” in the wedding vows. The Christian view is that marriage is for keeps–a value that is under constant attack in our present-day culture.

Jesus’ words are a powerful reminder that God–not some human legal requirement–has joined you together.

I hear from many couples who are very sure of this. Regardless of marital bumps they say, “God brought us together, and that is all that matters,” or “We know God brought us together,” or typical of our cyberspace times, “We met online and God brought us together in the most wonderful way.”

Sincere believers agree with these enthusiastic testimonies. They start out wanting to keep their vows, but for many, something goes awry on the road to wedded bliss. One spouse writes,

The 80:20 Ratio: The Secret to Appreciating Your Marriage [Video]

1 Corinthians 7:28 says, “But those who marry will have trouble in this life” (NCV).

In the book of Corinthians, Paul warns us of the responsibilities, involvements and, yes, the troubles that come with marriage. When I quote 1 Corinthians 7:28 at our conferences, many in the audience chuckle as if they understand perfectly what Paul is saying.

Something else tied to this idea of trouble in marriage is what I call the “80:20 ratio.” That is, around 80 percent of the time, your marriage can be categorized as good or even great, while around 20 percent of the time, you may have troubles of one kind or another.

I arbitrarily chose 20 percent to make my point–for some couples it can be less or it can be more. It depends on many factors and can vary from week to week.

I cannot put a precise number on the amount of trouble you may have in your marriage, but what I do know is that God does not promise a fulfilling, trouble-free relationship 100 percent of the time. (I heard one man say he and his wife had twenty-eight happy years, then they “met and got married.”)

Do You Have A Goodwilled Marriage? [Video]

Proverbs 11:27 says, “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it” (NIV).

I am sometimes asked what I think is the most important principle we teach. Pink and Blue (not wrong, just different) comes to mind, but so does one simple word: goodwill. When you and your spouse see each other as good-willed, good things are in store for your marriage.

When they first hear the word goodwill, people have questions: Just what is goodwill? How can I know I am showing goodwill toward my spouse? How can I be sure my spouse has goodwill toward me?

A simple definition of goodwill is “the intention to do good toward another person.”

Pink and Blue: Not Wrong, Just Different! [Video]

One of the most powerful and eye-opening concepts in the Love and Respect approach to marriage is the difference between pink and blue.

We aren’t talking about how to decorate a nursery here.

We are simply pointing out how God made men and women as different as the colors pink and blue.

The analogy is simple: a woman looks at the world through pink sunglasses and it colors all she sees; a man looks at the world through blue sunglasses and it color all he sees.

Men and women can look at precisely the same situation and see life very differently.

Inevitably, their pink and blue lenses cause their interpretation of things to be at odds, some more than others.

To carry the pink and blue analogy a little further, men and women not only see differently, but they also hear differently–God created men with blue hearing aids and women with pink hearing aids.

They may hear the same words, but receive very different messages. Because men and women wear these figurative sunglasses and hearing aids in different colors, they see, hear and behave differently in countless ways.