January 31, 2018

The Bubble Busting Spouse

Gary Thomas — 

Robert has an admittedly sordid history with pornography. He has been in recovery for years, has set up appropriate accountability and has gone out of his way to rebuild his marriage.

He has (in his words) “devoured” my book Cherish and has sought to apply every principle in every chapter. He knows he can never remove the hurt he has caused his wife in the past. He knows she will always feel a sense of betrayal, but he is working diligently to cherish her in the present in order to give her hope for the future. He has kept a “cherishing journal.” He makes the bed every day, praying that God would bring joy back into their intimacy. He keeps fresh flowers in the bedroom. And he has learned to make sex all about his wife’s pleasure. She is discovering, to her great delight, that it’s possible for a thoughtful middle-aged husband to help his wife experience two or more “standing ovations” during a single performance.

His efforts outside the bedroom are just as intense. On vacation, he plans for her enjoyment and fun. He tries to make the most of every birthday and anniversary (as well as Valentine’s Day).

On a recent birthday, he researched and purchased the perfect birthday present for her and couldn’t wait to give it to her (though he waited to let her sleep in). She was delighted when she opened it. He then had two options for breakfast—her favorite restaurant or her favorite meal at home. She opted for the restaurant.

Robert took great pains to get ready. His wife had scolded him for always wearing a “Jerry Seinfeld” outfit of jeans and running shoes, so he picked out an outfit that he thought would perhaps even impress her.

“Gary,” he told me, “I came out of the bedroom all dressed up, feeling like a boy who is looking at his mom before he goes to school, hoping she’d be impressed that I have listened and changed, and the only thing she said was, ‘Your shirt is wrinkled.’”

Robert didn’t respond the way he wishes he would have or should have. But this was not the first such “bubble busting” occurrence. He knows he has messed up. But he also knows he has changed and that there has been great improvement in virtually every aspect of their marriage. He doesn’t want his wife to pretend the past never happened, but he does want her to acknowledge that the present is very different.

“Our family knows her as a ‘bubble buster,’” Robert explained. “The family joke is that when one of her grandchildren is old enough to draw her a picture, she’s likely to say, ‘The leaves are the wrong color.’”

Forgiveness is difficult. It takes time to fight past resentment and contempt for a spouse’s past failings. But if you have decided to work through whatever the issue was, then part of working through it is learning to “reboot” your brain and acknowledge the progress your spouse has made. Sometimes, we fear that acknowledging a new present might diminish the hurtful past. That’s not true. That’s a lie. But you punish yourself and your spouse if you keep acting like nothing has changed.

Robert remains committed to cherishing his spouse. I admitted to him that one of the potential weaknesses of Cherish is that marriage is much sweeter when both spouses embrace the message. Lisa and I are in the midst of our best marital years by far because we are both committed to the idea and practice of cherishing each other. Doing so makes marriage very sweet, indeed.

“Unilateral” cherishing still makes marriage better, but it’s not the same and it won’t produce the same results. It can help, but the marriage will still have its weaknesses.

If your spouse is trying to grow, don’t hold her or him back by nailing them to the past. Acknowledge the growth. Don’t compare them to where you wish they would be, especially if your wish is a perfect spouse. Compare them to what they were, be thankful for the growth and encourage them.

My fear is that Robert may be tempted to give up. He has had many doors slammed in his face. My prayer for him and my counsel for him is to persevere, and to find creative ways to share with his spouse how this “bubble busting” is holding both of them back.

I wish his spouse would read Cherish. She’s of the mindset, however, that because Robert is the one who “messed up,” he’s the one who needs to experience all of the “fixing.” She’s missing out on some sweeter seasons of marriage, perhaps not realizing how far a husband will go to preserve a cherishing marriage once he tastes it.

Let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves, do we acknowledge our spouse’s growth? Are we comparing them with how much better they are now than they used to be, or are we downgrading them because they’re still not where we think they should be? Do we think discouragement fosters more change than encouragement? Wouldn’t you rather go out on a date with an enthusiastic and earnest husband who has a wrinkled shirt than blow up a date by essentially saying, “I know you tried really hard, but you still don’t quite measure up?”

Let’s not be bubble busters. Let’s learn to cherish each other as we are and as we grow into the people we yet want to be. After all, doing so is ultimately for our own good.

[As always with posts of this kind, I want to emphasize that I am not calling wives in abusive and violent marriages “bubble busters.” There are some marriages from which women need to be saved, and cherishing isn’t an appropriate strategy to confront violence.]

If you’re a wife reading this who recognizes a little bit of herself in Robert’s wife, I urge you to consider getting a copy of my newest book Loving Him Well: Practical Advice for Wives to Influence Their Husbands. It’s a substantial re-write of Sacred Influence. You can read more about it here: http://www.garythomas.com/books/loving-him-well/

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37 responses to The Bubble Busting Spouse

  1. Hi Gary – my husband and I have listened to the first couple of chapters and really want to continue with the book, but we may be ahead of ourselves – what do you recommend for dealing with the hurt and pain in order to be working on forgiveness so that trust can start to be rebuilt before/while? cherishing? Right now it feels like I are just trying to rebuild on a really poor foundation. Thanks!

  2. Thank You Gary for addressing the epidemic of Pornography, yes in Christian marriages. I found 6 yrs ago that my husband had been lying for 20 years. His addiction to Porn led to strip clubs and other betrayal. I found there was help for him but NOT the wives. I could not find one Church in my hometown that had a wife that had went thru this in her marriage & had the marriage restored, that would talk w/me. Gary the Church has got to address this & I know now that it must first come from the pulpit.For men who want a good resource “Worthy of Her Trust” by Jason Martinkus from New Life Ministry is the best I have found. I pray you will keep talking about Porn & challenging the Church to be there for both the husband & the wife if the marriage has a chance of being restored.

  3. Great blog, I am on Roberts path. I admit that I am not as far along as Robert and probably way older. I know that I’ve hurt my wife to her very core. And I will not give up. My recovery from porn addiction is as much about being the man of God I have always wanted to be as it is about being the husband I’ve always wanted to be and my wife deserves. I feel like my wife is blocking every effort I make. She calls them all scribble drawings. We can’t pray together, marriage intensives are off limits as are any books I suggest or even reading the bible together. We both are Christians and do study and read the bible separately. My wife says she wants an intimate relationship and I truly believe she does. And I am going to stop here as I think Shaunti Feldhahn’s advice about complaining only makes things worse is wise counsel and I feel I might be headed down that fruitless path. Just looking for advice I guess.

    • Dont give up. Please dont give up. While I am not a counselor, I am a wife whose spouse has a porn addiction. Just when I think things are good Satan is whispering in my ear or his. Pleae bear with her pain and dont give up.

  4. Excellent post. I think sometimes we unintentionally “bubble bust” but nevertheless the pain is there. I think this calls us to notice where we might cause hurt even though we may not mean to. Good stuff.

  5. I agree with this article and would add that men must realize the deep pain that they cause and that just because they can “snap out” of things in a moment, with women it takes T-I-M-E.

    In my case…my spouse lied about having a mental illness….there is no repair in my mind for the marriage as it would have effected my decision to say “yes”. This is like the 3rd big blow to the marriage and I can’t anymore, it took me over the top, and I’m sorry to say despite reading your books and many others, marriage doesn’t work when one person is committed and the other is manipulative.

  6. Gary, we have been going thru your book as a couple for a year. For 25 years we’ve had a sexless marriage – and not by my choice. We went thru “Intimacy Ignited” before your book, without really any change from my wife, so I though maybe we should try your book.

    While she claims to like your book, she completely discounts Chap 3 (I think its that one), where you link sex and cherishing for a husband. Basically her whole problem with your book can be summed up in one sentence:

    You may want or need to be cherished in a particular way, but if thats not who I am or that way of cherishing is not in my makeup- tough luck, I shouldn’t have to do things I don’t feel like doing.

    A “love language” comparison is this: If my love language is physical touch (which it is), but that is not her love language, then according to her, she doesn’t have to do that. Because its “not who she is”.

    (meanwhile if I don’t meet her needs – watch out!)

    So yeah, its painful to go thru a book like yours, together with your spouse, and hear “Well, thats just not who I am”. I’m “all in” – she is not. And while I found the book helpful, it has in essence caused more conflict between us.

    But I appreciate you writing it.

    • John, I’m so sorry. That must have been (and continue to be) very painful

      • Yeah, it is. I still try to apply the principles in the book, though. At least they make me feel better about the marriage. Just this week I was told I call her “Beautiful” too much, and she doesn’t like it. Ugh. Every. single. step. is a battle with her. I think it all boils down to her views on our sex life (ie, its not necessary) – if we actually do these things to cherish each other, grow in communication, grow in emotional intimacy, grow in spiritual intimacy, grown all other areas of our marriage then sexual intimacy ==should== grow too, as a result. Which she doesn’t want. So everything else is brought to a grinding halt, and fought against every single inch.

        • John, I can hear myself when you mentioned your wife said you called her “beautiful” to many times. I have told my husband the same thing when he is always “thanking me” or repeating the same compliment too many times. I think for me the reason is that is begins to feel insincere. I feel many times my husband is trying to hard to repair the damage that was done earlier. (although his was not porn or infidelity) I think what I expressed earlier in my other post is that I struggle with forgiveness. True forgiveness means you leave the past and move forward even though you may not forget the past. Forgiveness is a choice and I know that from a previous failed marriage that did involve infidelity.
          I do not know your wife or her personal struggles however I would encourage her to seek a counselor that she could see alone to be able to express her feelings openly and without judgement. Who knows better than her the reasons she doesn’t like sex, they may have nothing to do with you and your previous addiction. That may have only compounded her problem with sex.
          I was able after seeing a number of different therapists (sometimes it takes seeing a few to find one you connect with) to connect with one that really helped me with some issues from my past as a child that were creating problems in my marriage.
          However, the hard work still lied with me and I often failed/fail out of fear. My fear is that if I give my heart back out completely it will be tromped on again and it is easier and safer for me to hold it closed. If I trust that things will be better and I work toward that, what if they don’t get better? I am afraid of failure. Maybe your wife is feeling the same way, I don’t know.
          I only hope that she seeks out some help to be able to deal with her own emotions and be honest enough with them to see how to deal with them so she can move forward with a healthier attitude toward you, your marriage and sex. Pray for her daily and I encourage her to do the same for you. I think it has been the only thing that has held my marriage together. God bless!

          • Thanks for your reply. You mention “your previous addiction”. There was no addiction, of any kind, on my part. I don’t use porn, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t use drugs. I’m not a sports addict, or workaholic. At best, I’m a “homebody”. I put my family 1st before anything. I do more than my share of housework (I am on bathroom, kitchen, basement, and vacuum duty, plus kid-care duty, plus I do all outside work). I serve in our church in several capacities. Good grief, even my mother-in-law literally adores me, and has praised me publicly many many times.
            Not to say I’m perfect, as I am introverted, a homebody, not the greatest financial guy (tho we have never had money trouble), and avoid confrontation at all costs (which has not helped this at all)

            Our sexless marriage began on our wedding night, and we didn’t have sex for 16 months (until she wanted a baby), and in the first 3 years we had sex less than 8 times. 5 years, less than 15 times. There was no premarital sex, there was premarital counseling (that covered sex), and we dated for several years before hand. In other words, I was blindsided.

            She has been to/continues to go to counseling on her own, and we go together. And her reasoning is absolutely adamant, and the counselors have confirmed this, and she has not changed it in the nearly 2 years of this counseling, and its the same reason she has given for 26 years: “I just don’t care about it, I don’t need it, and its not who I am. And its not going to change because of that. So, deal with it.”
            No matter how much I pray with her, serve her, pursue her, romance her, woo her, date her – she has made it abundantly and brutally clear that none of this matters one iota (oh, but I better not stop, BTW!)

            I post this only because I hear this so so so so many times. “She’s not having sex with you? Somehow, its gotta be YOUR FAULT that it started. And its YOUR FAULT that its continuing. So YOU have to change.” Somehow, this always applies to the man, and never vice-versa. For 26 years I have prayed. Nothing. I have fasted for days many times. Nothing. I have wept, I have begged, I have pleaded, I have shouted, I have cried out to God. Nothing, nothing has changed, ever. So, there are only 3 possibilities. 1) God has said “no” to my prayer. 2) God is ignoring my prayer. 3) My wife has free will, and no matter what I do, God still grants her that free will.

            Since God doesn’t say “no” to what he directly commands in scripture (1 Cor 7), and God does not ignore prayers, it is my wifes choices that are the problem here. And I can’t do anything about that, it seems.

        • John ,
          So sorry, I thought I read you had a previous addiction. I was never intending it to be your fault in my reply, in fact quite the opposite. I guess I mixed your post with the blog post an assumed that your wife might be angry over the porn addiction which may have compounded her problem with sex. Seeing now that was incorrect, I apologize. I however was still not saying you were to blame for the ongoing sexual issue as I feel like it is clear that your wife has issues there. I can’t understand if she is a believer that she doesn’t clearly understand her part in the marriage bed. I think it is very clear in the scripture you wrote 1Corinthians7:5-6 that neither party is to refuse the other sex except for short periods for prayer & fasting. I see by your reply that you are quite frustrated and angry which is indeed understandable. I am certain God is not ignoring your prayers although it may feel that way. If your wife is receiving biblical counsel I can’t imagine that they haven’t told her that she has a duty to you in your marriage to have sex whether she likes it or not. It is part of the marriage covenant. It is simple selfish of her to say because she doesn’t like it she won’t participate. I’m very sorry that you have had to endure this. I wonder how she would feel if you said you were just not going to go to work anymore cause you just don’t like it and that is just how you feel. Or if you didn’t do any of the number of things you listed anymore and only went to work and came home and did only the things that benefited you? and when she begged you for some help you told her you are so sorry but you just don’t like to do those things anymore, too bad you are gonna just have to live with it. I bet that would fly like a lead balloon! Anyway, I have no real solution except continued prayer. I commend you for even staying in the marriage as long as you have.

    • John, my heart broke for you as I read this. I experienced a pretty similar situation in my marriage (due to porn use) and know how heavy that burden grows day after day after day. I would encourage you to BE ON GUARD against temptation, and to definitely ask your wife to see a counselor together. I don’t know any good marriage counselor who would say that her behavior is anything short of selfish. (My counselor used the term “sexual abandonment.”) Withholding sex is especially harmful because marriage is the only place where that need can be met in a way that is pleasing to God. (This from one of Gary’s books, I think possibly Sacred Marriage — but they have begun to run together in my mind.)

      It is vitally important that you stay *personally victorious* (and by that I mean completely sexually pure) despite your wife’s frigidity. What good does it do…. if a man saves His marriage but loses his soul? (This is obviously paraphrased.) And if you aren’t successfully remaining pure, talk to a good Christian counselor about Biblical options.

      I will be praying for you.

    • John,
      What you have described is not ok and it is not what God desires for you or your wife.

      Not sure if you have tried it already but you must seek counseling for you and your wife. If she refuses, I pray that you go.
      Blessings

  7. Great blog post! I am that bubble busting wife and it started way back when my husband was the bubble buster. He still can be but I have honed and perfected that skill way beyond his. After a major breakdown in our marriage 3 years ago mostly because of finances and total lack of valuing each other. At any rate since then my husband is trying to repair the damage he did with that breakdown and I have found that I bubble bust because I am still angry and I want to hurt like I have been hurt. I hate that this is the reason and I am stuck in not really wanting to move forward. The things wrong in our marriage have not been the big major ones except finances yet we struggle big time after 30 years. I think lack of forgiveness for past hurts is the major reason for the bubble busting. I hope that Robert’s wife can work thru that but I have to say it sure won’t be easy!

    • This is interesting to me. Definitely I am praying about the situation described in the blog. I am finding some excellent preventive advice for those of us still single and waiting. What I find interesting is that I think the issue of the wife toward her husband’s past mistakes is separate from the issue of the wife’s negativity toward his attire. Certainly her hurt over what he did could have spurred negativity if her hurt turned toward bitterness, but I think they are probably two separate issues. If Robert was genuinely repentant; seeking help; genuinely turned from what he recognized would be a stumbling block in his marriage; and is heading in a new direction, then I would hope his wife would see the change and be receptive to his attempts to cherish and love her again. If his change has not been genuine and was more talk than action, then it would be important for his wife to help point out the lies and deception.

      Still, the issue of her negativity toward Robert’s attire and the negativity observed by other family members are probably separate issues. The question does need to be asked if that type of negativity was present before Robert made his mistake or if her negativity started when she and Robert started struggling over his mistake. I have a feeling it might have preceded even the marriage to Robert and, therefore, she would need to allow the Holy Spirit to help her address how to remove unholy negativity in order to accept the change in Robert, encourage him, and cherish him. I know in my life that when I was annoyed by the “perfectionist” people around me, I typically could not argue with what they were saying even though I did not like it. They were still being honest, which made what they were saying all the more annoying. Tact, timing, intention, love, encouragement and the qualities of the Holy Spirit…the “fruit of the spirit” …are what I think God desires, and Robert’s wife may need to rely more on the Spirit of God as she gives God permission to work on how to be more loving, positive, accepting, affirming, encouraging, and nurturing with her perfectionist tendencies. I remember working in businesses in which I and my colleagues were basically paid to be “tattle tales” without knowing prior that was ultimately what our job would entail. We were to identify error, potential and known risks, and communicate concerns. It was like a dance to figure out how to encourage those susceptible to making mistakes who had not; how to affirm those who did right; how to help the wayward turn from mistakes, etc. We had to learn to distinguish the difference between trivial matters and those of significance. It is difficult to do even to this day. I think Robert’s wife needs to recognize that her negativity may have stunted her husband’s progress, affected her relationships with others, and possibly precedes her concerns over Robert’s behavior. She was probably negative over trivial matters, such as a wrinkled shirt. God can use her tendency to identify shortcomings for His glory and her good, but it will require her complete surrender to His work in her. I think her negative spirit is a separate issue from accepting Robert’s changed ways, assuming he was truly repentant.

  8. My hubby has a habit of “popping my party balloons.” He does it to the kids and me. Part of it is him, part of it is the culture he grew up in. All of it stinks!

    One problem with this is that it devalues him as an important part of my personal life! We surround ourselves with people we love and trust to bounce things off of, to receive feedback from, to endure iron sharpening iron, to celebrate with, but when they are professional criticizers and party poopers and balloon busters, their words become of no worth, anymore.

  9. I love this post Gary! A month ago Scott Kedersha did a great guest post about Cherishing. I asked some questions about what happens when your spouse ‘isn’t interested’ in being cherished. I got some replies, but what you described in today’s post fits much of our situation and provides some answers.

    I am far from perfect – in fact ‘further away’ from my wife in many ways – so this is not about who is right. We have a very good marriage, but my frustration is exactly what you described – that it could be even better if there was ‘mutual cherishing’. Maybe this is selfish of me and it’s not like my wife puts me down or holds me back. I find myself thinking exactly what you wrote: “I wish his spouse would read Cherish.” Mine won’t and asking her to do so would be seen as an attempt to change her.

    Like Robert, I have made a dedicated effort over the past 2 years to improve our marriage. Early on, it took a few months to realize I needed to do this by correcting my own faults, not hers. Significant change, for either of us, needs to come through the power of the Holy Spirit. I have chosen to submit our marriage to the Lord and pray for His divine guidance to make each of us, both individually and together, to become what He wants us to be. It’s not easy being patient and resisting the urge to ‘change my wife’, but ultimately I have come to the conclusion that trusting God to do so is the best and only way.

  10. It may help to point out which one of Robert’s actions prove he is a new man and that his porn issue has not just gone deeper under cover? Ribert’s sin has affected not only his wife but has altered the future of his children and their children. You cannot be saying Robert was a good godly father, while a lying and cheating husband, right? His wife needs evidence of repentance and contrition. Without this assurance, his “good boy” behavior is likely to be enjoyed but suspect. How can he earn back his wife’s trust and repair the damage to his family? That is the question. In blaming his wife for “busting his bubble” you are siding with the guilty. is It possible that Robert is a great showman? Yes. And we know he is because of his reaction to his wife’s simple observation. Give her some credit — she has lived with him and knows him. And please answer my question. Thank you!

    • Patricia,

      I believe Robert HAS provided evidence of both repentance and contrition, repeatedly, over the years. He has sought and is receiving church accountability. He is at that stage of helping other men leave the same bad habit. Having eradicated the sin, he is now building the positive–cherishing his wife, giving her flowers, making sex all about her, giving way to her desires on vacations, etc. I’m truly not “siding with the guilty” here and I’m definitely not excusing the past behavior or even minimizing it (he doesn’t either). What I’m saying is that when a spouse decides to forgive and the behavior has stopped (not just promised to stop but actually stopped), mental “recalibration” is necessary to take the marriage further. It’s totally understandable to be suspicious and to ask for safeguards to make sure it really and truly has stopped. But if you put those safeguards in place and you know it has, then recalibrating is necessary to go forward. Grace and truth are BOTH essential for lasting marital intimacy

      • I think it is unfair to be judging her in this way. It’s easier for us on the outside of the situation to give him trust. We didn’t live through what she did. I think it is much more Christ like to give her the same grace and understanding you are extending to her husband. She needs the freedom and support to heal at her pace, not our condemnation and shame because she isn’t moving quickly enough. Her actions may not be right or fair, but neither is the light you are painting her in. I wish you showed half of the compassion and grace to her that you are giving her husband, that would be much more likely to soften her heart to the truth of her actions than shaming and blaming her.

      • It’s a complicated issue February 1, 2018 at 5:40 am

        Patricia’s question was my question too. My husband is in the stage of a long held Jekyll (seemingly nice/ softhearted) Hyde (hardhearted/ angry/ passive and overtly aggressive) pattern where he seems “nice” and possibly repentant of emotional/ verbal abuse and porn use (though his repentance is usually false). He does many of the things you listed above – but it drives me crazy bc I don’t care about the flowers or if he brings me coffee and tries to plan nice dates bc he does all that instead of talking with me to work through the hard issues or caring about any of the pain and consequences he’s caused. And when he’s “nice” he is often like a little boy seeking my approval (like I’m his mom) that those nice actions are noticed – to the extent of wanting me to thank him for doing the right thing and apologizing after he slips up and hurts me again. It’s so frustrating – but it reminded me of the man in your story seeking his wife’s approval about the shirt. He might want her to tell him he looks great, but it’s his responsibility to deal with how he felt after her response – to either address her response and let her know how he felt about it or let it go and feel confident that he likes his shirt. It’s great that he’s involved in so many things that show he’s repentant and recovering of the porn use but maybe the things he’s doing aren’t things that matter to his wife/ rebuild trust in their relationship/ show that he’s safe and a true partner? (I have shared my perspective with my husband – that the “nice” things don’t rebuild trust bc they’re not how it was broken or what matter to me – but he basically ignores what I say bc bc he thinks flowers and coffee and being sexually attentive matter – and bc they are much easier than hard conversations/ growth/ and partnership).

      • A very wise counselor in a season of distress in my marriage taught me “ stop bringing up the past.” While acknowledging the issues that had led us to our “season”, regurgitating the past kept us from the abundance of what God wanted us to experience in our marriage. Acknowledging & validating our hurts led us to repentance with each other. The grace of growth is a beautiful thing.

  11. Thank you for this.

    I have been on both sides of this coin from time to time. I try to be deliberate in my actions not to behave that way, but I know there is a spiritual battle to be won as well.

  12. “I admitted to him that one of the potential weaknesses of Cherish is that marriage is much sweeter when both spouses embrace the message.” I feel like you are trying to soften the struggle of this by changing course in the middle of that sentence. This describes my first marriage, and that sentence should rightly read, “One of the potential weaknesses of Cherish is that — if only one spouse is cherishing — it’s still going to be a very hard, lonely road.”

    This is made even more difficult if your spouse is thoughtlessly selfish and a “taker.” (Which is the opposite of cherishing and being focused on *giving.*) Most spouses hope that their cherishing will start a chain reaction and eventually be reciprocated, but sadly, some spouses will never do so.

    I’m glad you do acknowledge this difficult situation, Gary. (‘“Unilateral” cherishing still makes marriage better, but it’s not the same and it won’t produce the same results.’)

    I’m happy to report that I am now blessed to be in a deeply cherishing marriage. When two people are more concerned about loving than being loved, it’s wonderful!!! But I do still read your books and blogs with an eye on the past, remembering how hard it was to be the only person investing in a difficult marriage. It makes me pray for all those currently in that same situation.

    • Sarah,

      Totally fair comments, Sarah. No book can “fix” every situation and that’s as true for Cherish as it is for any other. This is also why I put so much time into The Sacred Search, trying to warn and help singles to make a supremely wise marital choice in the first place

      • You have a difficult job, Gary, in attempting to speak Biblical truth (which is unchanging) that must be applied with discernment to each and every marriage in a very customized way. What might be a helpful application for one couple may be totally hurtful for another due to unique personalities, circumstances, etc. I often pray for you when I read a post and then the occasional disparaging comments. Of course not everything is true for all couples! Very grateful for what you share and the encouragement it provides. Soli Deo gloria!

  13. Melody Joy Cary January 31, 2018 at 9:54 am

    This post is exactly what I needed today. I’m guilty of this in my own marriage and have seen how it hurts my husband. I’ll be ordering that book and taking steps to praise everything my husband does well (there are plenty of things to choose from!) and lovingly pointing out only the shortcomings that actually matter (like sin).

  14. Would ‘Cherish’ be a good book to read together as a couple?

    • Brenda, yes! That’s the absolute best way to read it. Because cherishing is particular rather than general, it’s most valuable to get your spouse’s feedback as to what does and doesn’t make him/her feel cherished

  15. Such an important message!

  16. Gary,
    Thank you for always calling us to a higher level of loving our spouses. And for wrapping that message with hope and grace, not condemnation or ‘try-harder’ packaging. Reflecting further today on my bubble bursting tendencies with my sweet husband of 20 years (those words feel strange to type as I still feel 30!). Thank you for your gift of words.

    • Thanks, Karen. My prayer was that this post would be seen as an encouragement, not a condemnation, and I’m so grateful it seems to be received in that spirit

  17. Barbara Hutchins January 31, 2018 at 6:57 am

    This is such a good message for both husbands and wives, really for any one of us! Relevant for not just those who have struggled with pornography but anyone who has struggled with what some refer to as a besetting sin. We are all in need of the grace of a loving Father and a loving spouse.

    Deliver me from being a bubble busting spouse and help me to love my husband well recognising that His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning and if I truly seek to have the mind of Christ why would I want anything less for my husband, really for any one of us!

  18. Great read! Will be praying for Robert, his wife and their Journey!
    Don’t give up, keep moving forward!
    FR