Staying Together Chapter Two: The Fear and Insecurity Found in Us

24 07 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. Now available to purchase at a 30% discount through House to House Publications. 

Growing up with an angry and physically abusive father, Greg (a real person in our lives) adopted mechanisms of self-protection. Those mechanisms kept him out of harm’s way with his dad. He learned when to talk and when not to talk; he also learned that silence kept him from revealing his true self and his true emotions. Introversion protected an already fragile esteem and, in his environment, helped to prevent the experience of further pain.

Bringing those personal childhood precautions into marriage did not help Greg, however. His wife thought he became distant and quiet because of something she did or said. She continually second-guessed what he seemed to be thinking or feeling. Growing up, Greg’s insecurities were a direct result of his fear of his father’s abusive treatment. Today, even though he lives as an adult with a woman who loves him, he has been unsuccessful at overcoming this fear and being vulnerable with her. It is slowly killing his marriage. What once served a purpose and worked for him is now harmful and destructive. The inward silence speaks loudly to the very person he should feel most comfortable opening up to, his wife.

Other causes of insecurity can include:

■ A poorly developed concept of oneself, brought on by a low or underdeveloped self-confidence

■ Feelings of inadequacy

■ A negative body image

■ Never having felt accepted or approved of by others, especially those who were perceived as important in our life

■ Unrealistic expectations by authority figures still trying to be met as an adult

When our identity becomes intertwined with our insecurity we can become steeped in self-adoration. Perhaps the most telling definition of long-term insecurity is that of the idol of self. We bring these emotional insecurities and identities into our marriage, tending to look to our spouse to meet our unmet needs and provide all that we lacked in our lives prior to this relationship. This is unfair and unrealistic to our spouse.

For answers to insecurity within your life and your marriage, please see chapter two of Staying Together.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 





Staying Together Chapter One: The “Me” In Us

17 07 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. Now available to purchase at a 30% discount with House to House Publications. 

We live in a consumer-oriented society. We can obtain almost anything we desire, and we can have it our way, in our color, in our price range. If it doesn’t fit, we can return it. If it breaks, we can replace it. We can call toll-free numbers, complain to our boss, or even hire a lawyer if we are dissatisfied. I (Steve) once had a briefcase on which the handle fell apart. It can be pretty tough to carry a briefcase without a handle, so I contacted the company directly. The customer service person asked for the model number of the briefcase and said she would have a replacement sent to my door, at no cost, no questions asked! Literally the next day there was a box at my door with a brand-new briefcase in it. As a consumer, this company won me over.

Marriage, however, is not for the consumer; marriage is for the committed. Consumerism can spoil us. What happens when we bring consumerism into our marriages? We might expect to have everything our way. We might expect to have our needs met first. We might even expect our spouse to act like a customer service representative, bending over backward to win us over. We might expect a kind, cheery, or calm response to all of our selfish questions and requests. And because the customer is always right, if we act as customers in our marriages we feel perpetually justified.

After years of counseling and speaking all over the world, hearing story after story from many different couples, we have come to realize that most social scientists have missed the mark when it comes to identifying the primary cause of marriage breakup. While finances play a part, as do compatibility and sexual issues, these are all secondary to the primary reason—selfishness. When we become a consumer in our marriage, we become selfish and frequently used to getting what we want.

One time in a marriage counseling session, a husband responded, “I give her whatever she wants. She doesn’t work outside the home. She has a car. All I ask is that she…” That sentence could be finished with any number of things—get up and cook me breakfast, give me a back rub and listen to me when I come home from work, balance the checkbook, run the entire household, cook delicious meals, always be available for sex. You get the picture. The spirit of consumerism says, “I give to my spouse, therefore, I expect a certain return.” If you’re looking for a specific return, then you are looking for an investment and not a committed marriage relationship.

Order the book here.

Or other options: B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Supporting One Another as Husband and Wife

5 06 2017

There are so many practical ways to support our spouse on a daily basis. We have grown in this over the last 42 years. It does mean dealing with our own selfishness and seeing the needs in another, maybe even before they see them. For your marriage encouragement, here’s a dozen ways to provide your life mate some support.

 

  1. Try not to over manage one another. Give each other space. Stay away from the constant, “Did you do this?” And the, “When are you going to…”
  2. Speak words of encouragement. Of course there are a lot of things to nitpick about, but try encouragement first. For example, “I appreciate how you keep up with the wash without complaint” or “Thanks for working so hard and helping to provide for our family.” Words of encouragement turn something mundane into something to conquer.
  3. Call forth your spouse’s gifts, both spiritual and practical. Most often your spouse does not see all of their gifts. When you believe in them and encourage them to use their gifts, you are in effect calling forth something that God has placed within them.
  4. Be protective of your spouse. Watch out for the things that your spouse does not see coming or is not tuned in to. We all need protected from things people say or do that might be hurtful to one another.
  5. Pray with your spouse. Do not pray at them, rather pray for them. Cover one another in prayer. Do not just have their back, but have all of them. There is no greater intimacy of support than prayer.
  6. Compliment your spouse regularly. Be sure to tell them when they look good in that new shirt or new haircut. Let them know regularly that you are still attracted to them.
  7. Communicate regularly even if it’s about nothing. Send your spouse a text in the middle of the day to say hi or that you love them. Let them know you are thinking of them. Send them a card in the mail or put a Post It note in with their lunch.
  8. Praise in public; construct in private. Verbally affirm your spouse around others. Never challenge your spouse in front of others. If a word of input is needed, save it for a one-on-one time.
  9. Take time to regularly have the deeper talks. Do not let your communication go for days without connecting deeply concerning your relationship, the kids, your job, your spiritual walk or the finances.
  10. Speak words of honor. Honor is often lost in our cultures today. When speaking a word of honor your spouse will feel honored, appreciated, praised and trusted.
  11. Be physical. Touch your spouse, hold hands and kiss several times a day. Put your arm around one another. Rub each other’s back. Hug for no reason other than good, comforting and sustaining physical touch.
  12. Be a rock. Let them know you can be counted on. Be there and be on time. Be faithful in all you do and say, especially in your walk with God. Never give yourself emotionally or sexually to anyone or anything other than your spouse.




How Married Are You?

27 03 2017

I would love to create some scientific measurement tool to give to couples so they could discover how married they actually are. You say, “How married they are; whatever does that mean?” It means how connected, unified, truthful, in agreement and simply stated: how one they are. Here’s how I see this marriage measurement tool working…

There would be a series of questions where the couple would either gain percentage points or they would lose percentage points depending upon their responses. At the end, the percentage that remains would be how married they are. So, for example:

Do you have separate bank accounts? Yes -3% No +3%

Are you free to look through one another’s mail/email? Yes +4% No -4%

Do you pray together? Yes +9% No -9%

Do you share PIN numbers? Yes +5% No -5%

Do you regularly keep secrets from your spouse? Yes -7% No +7%

Do you always tell your spouse the truth? Yes +8% No -8%

You get the idea. In the end, we would discover just how married we desire to be. Author Gary Thomas asks, “Are we going be 60 percent married or 90 percent…or, are we committed to…100 percent?”





Fifteen Really Cheap or Free Dates

13 02 2017

images-6Running out of ideas for inexpensive, but fun date nights? It’s time to celebrate your Valentine, so here are a few ideas, many that my wife and I have enjoyed over the years:

1. Visit an open house or a new model home for creative decorating and renovating ideas.

2. Try a new hiking or biking trail in your area.

3. Rent a Red Box movie or download a free movie.

4. Visit several local thrift stores or a flea market and enjoy some bargain hunting.

5. Go on a coffee, tea or ice-cream date.

images-5

6. Is there indoor ice-skating in your area? If not, try bowling.

7. Take some back country roads you’ve never driven on and see where you end up.  Keep the conversation going while you enjoy the drive.

8. Try a new museum or art gallery. Look for tours you haven’t been on in your locale.

9. Visit your favorite wing night restaurant.

10. Take advantage of free music concerts at local parks.

11. Cook together or create a new dessert.images-7

12. Go on a scenic photo shoot and take some selfies. Then, post them on-line or on Facebook and ask your friends to guess where the pictures were taken.

13. If you’re near your home area, take your spouse to a favorite childhood spot.

14. Watch a really old movie you love or never viewed before.images-4

15. Take a night walk. Be sure to use a reflective vest and carry a flashlight.

Bonus date: Dig out your old photo albums, sit on the couch and laugh!  Send us your ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!





Love Locks

6 02 2017

imagesYou most likely know about the railings of the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in Paris, France. For years couples have been placing pad locks on this railing and then throwing the key into the River Seine as a romantic ritual of their love. Eventually the city had to intervene. It seems that according to those who know such things that the added weight of thousands of locks affected the integrity of the bridge and needed to be removed.

In June of 2015 forty-five tons of symbols of love were removed from the bridge railings. When I read about this it made me wonder how many of those couples were still enduring, committed, making sacrifices for images-2one another and “locked” together in love. In 1975 I said “I do” to my bride, Mary, while at the same time saying “I don’t” to every other woman. We never put a padlock on the bridge in Paris, but we have remained committed in our love to God and then to each other. I guess when God’s word says that His love endures forever (Ps 106:1), He provided a picture to us that love can, at the least, endure a life-time.





The Divorce Rate IS Declining

28 11 2016

imagesWe started writing about, training counselors and actually mentoring couples in pre- and postmarital counseling in 1989. Our primary goal as stated in our book, Called Together, Asks the Difficult Questions that all Couples Must Answer Before and After They say “I Do,” was to better prepare couples before marriage and follow-up with them after marriage using this book as a resource in the hands of trained counselors. The ultimate goal of accomplishing this was to have an effect upon the divorce rate of our day. We longed for, worked toward and prayed to see it lowered.

Imagine our surprise when reading the following in USA Today dated, November 23, 2016 on a return flight back into the United States, “Divorce rates have dropped three years in a row and are at their lowest level in 35 years. From 23 divorces per 1,000…in 1980…to 17 divorces per 1,000 in 2015, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research.” And the article went on to say that the rate of marriage is increasing slowly. Hopefully, that statistic speaks to fewer couples electing to live together unmarried.images

Perhaps these stats do not excite you, but for Mary and me it means so much. It means more intact families with fewer children living through the divorce of their parents. It means more stable households contributing to their communities, schools and local churches. It’s positive news for the economy with combined incomes purchasing homes, going on vacations together and providing for their children. But most of all, it means honoring the One who created this thing we call marriage, our heavenly Father.

To view our website or to order our book please visit: www.calledtogether.org








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