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May 23, 2020 8:03 am
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When crisis from outside hits your marriage will you find the strength to hold together. We started out there's "God where are you in the midst of the mess there's so many things that hit a marriage when you're moving along at a pretty hot direction. All of it, like the wind is not out of your failed welcome to building Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller. "The 5 Love Languages" , whether it's financial trouble in fertility health challenge addiction or heartbreaking loss in our guest today believe that when life falls apart. Your marriage doesn't have to. In fact, they believe you can come out on the other side even stronger teacher resource. There is a book written by Jean Carol Wong Lambert titled staying power building a stronger marriage when life works. Find out more. Five love languages.com. There are many marriages that have been through the ringer in the last few months and I don't think there could be a better time for this conversation will certainly agree with that.
Chris you use that to figure speech through the ringer and I don't know if the younger generation even knows what a ringer is what I remember, your goods, it's been a stressful time. I think very everyone there's been adjustments for everyone, so more than others and if you didn't have a good relationship going into this in terms of marriage. You could really be struggling now so I'm excited about our conversation today about this topic.
My grandmother used to have a wash machine that had a ringer on top close through and then crank it you know it. It'd bring the water out of it so that's been there. That way today with your marriage. I want you here Carolyn Jean Kent that the founders of speak up ministries which include, speak up speaker services the Christian speakers Bureau speak up conferences, equipping the next generation of speakers and writers and speak up for hope, which is a nonprofit organization that benefits inmates and their families. Carol has written more than 20 books. Jean serves as chief operating officer of their ministries and our featured resource is their book staying power. You can find out more at 5lovelanguages.com Carolyn Jane welcome to Building Relationships hey Gary, thank you very much for us to build. We followed your ministry through the years and glad for this opportunity and especially excited about this book now before we talk about the storm. Your marriage went through.
Let let's set the stage tell me a little bit of the back story of Jean and Carol can't. Well I'll tell you that one of the great things for me that my mom and dad let Jean can the Lord when he was 17 years old and that it taken a little church and there were 42 people in the first congregation, seven of them were in our family and I was only allowed to date Christians. But we had eight girls in the church group youth group eventually and there were only two guys one of them was so unattractive he prayed he wouldn't have to out gorgeous. You could get killed in the rush of women trying to get Jean Kent came to faith. That meant there was now 1/3 possibility today and little did I know that while I was home doing the mundane ordinary job of babysitting my mother and dad were out winning my future husband Jesus Christ. So we got married right after we got out of college and five years later I gave birth to Jason call Kent and he was our only child.
He was a delight to raise funds sense of humor.
He came to know the Lord at an early age and grew up and set his sights on getting into the US Naval Academy. He said I really believe God wants me to serve in military and maybe even in political leadership and I believe I could get the best education to do that at the Academy while he graduated, went to Orlando, Florida, where he was in nuclear engineering school, joined a great church and met a girl and he fell madly in love with a previously married woman who had two precious little girls years old and six years old and that we we got a call saying my order changed.
I have to be at surface warfare officer school in Newport, Rhode Island. April and I are in love and we want to get married next day that we can go together and we put together very quick wedding and into the first year of marriage.
There were some issues and I became the Graham stir for the two little girls since the payment to our life. There when that marriage first took place and you our son love the Navy and he loved what his assignment was going to be the was in the nuclear engineering school men after marriage went to a dive school versus I'm going to be to go to Hawaii and when they were still in Florida. The have visitation with their biological father and the, the visitation would go well and the father only have supervised visitation and he was being good visitation so he was applying to the courts to have unsupervised visitation and sad to say when it look like the courts were going to give him unsupervised visitation.
Our son had been obsessing about him to the point where he traveled to Orlando and see met the guy amateur and a restaurant parking lot and put four bullets into the man.
Well, I cannot believe what happened. We got a middle of the night phone call.
We were told that our son had been arrested for the murder of his wife's first husband and I could hardly read. We just were in total shock and that we wound up going through two and half years and seven post elements of the trial before our son was eventually convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the state of Florida and we wound up with a situation in our marriage that had been a wonderful happy marriage where even two weeks before we were walking outside together and we set does life get any mess and suddenly we had the wind knocked out of our sales and we realize that we were going to face very new kind of normal and that we would have a choice, would our marriage make it through this storm. Or would we begin blaming each other for not parenting properly, would we begin blaming God because we live for the work. Why would he allow this horrible thing to happen. We had some decisions to make. Some folks of course and heard your story.
Carolyn heard this before, you need to hear this story even if you heard before we try to put ourselves in your shoes and had to be a horrible horrible thing for the two of you to process yes you know Gary, we got that phone call at 1230 at night and we did not sleep probably for the next three days Carol and I went when traumatic events happen in our bodies all handle in different ways but we couldn't sleep you and Noah were constantly going over all the things that we do something wrong.
What we do now. Do we need an attorney. How are we coping with the strength of you know I've been a Christian quite a while with Carol's father leading me to Christ and we went to we had a Christian college education and all of those things, but we started asking yourself questions God where are you in the midst of this mess and so I got my Bible out which is always a good thing to do whenever you're in trouble. I started reading over again in Genesis and I came to a passage in Genesis 2816 where Jacob you know was wrestling and he had a dream and he saw a ladder going to heaven and saw angels going up and down any realize that there is an invisible war going on in the world and it's just seems so applicable to us and then there's one little verse that says Shirley, the Lord is in this place.
I was not aware of that and that we came to know that when God deems the most absent. He is still present everywhere, even in the middle of what feels like place of desolation and deep loss and grief that you thought you would never be able to control or explain or experience that little verse gave us the confidence that God knew we were in the midst of the struggle that we were in midst of the fight for the life of our marriage, and for the life of her son, but he was there with us and would walk along in this journey with us, you know there are a lot of books Jean Carol that are written about wrong choices that are made by the husband or the wife or both of them things that you do that facilitate a struggle in your marriage.
This is different though you're talking about things that are outside the marriage.
The storms that come on you that hit your marriage.
That's what you're born down on right so many times we forget the financial crisis that strikes or you might be raising a grandchild as your own child because of the wrong choices of your son or daughter who have gone into addiction and that you might have a situation where you're caring for aging parents, are you, you might be in a very stressful situation where you love your autistic child. But you realize that you will always be parenting that child and they will never be able to live completely independently on their own. There's so many things that hit a marriage when you're moving along in a pretty positive direction and all of a sudden you feel like the wind is knocked out of your sales.
Let's talk about a couple okay sure we have a lot of newly married couples and all of us know how wonderful it is when you living in the euphoric state that all of us can remember that stage, but the truth is, sooner or later, most couples are going to face an outside crisis in their lives. Maybe not as traumatic as what you all just describe what happened in your lives. Is there any preparation for this kind of thing before you get there. Hey, that's a great question, Gary, Carol and I have an advantage over over lots of couples in that when we went off to college.
We went to a very very conservative college and when you wanted to have a date you could only go to a 11 place that you could have the day was to go to the dating parlor. You couldn't be implemented at all in that you couldn't even hold hands and it look like a big furniture store, you would sit in the dating parlor monitors that would walk around and make sure I remember one time I had my arm around Carol and the monitor came by Deputy on the shoulder and looked me in the eye and said you cannot do that move you that is all we could do was talk and so for four years of school. We do a lot of talking.
Now in the summer we would have a kiss or to cause us to a great extent what we thought about each other what we thought about what was our marriage going to look like we knew that when we got married were going to have differences.
How were we going to settle those differences now are we going to talk about things that were both going to going to the silent mode you know I'm going to separate rooms not talk for a week or how we going to do this and I came from the culture of watching my mother and father who communicated so poorly that it eventually led to divorce in my family and I saw that take place with and I saw that they didn't have any communication any meaningful communication to take place. So I do in my heart that that communication would be so important as the two of us would merge our lives together well and I think to in the book we talk a whole lot about making predispositions and not something a young couple can talk about doing and what we mean by that is to talk about in your marriage. What are nonnegotiable. What are the things that are so pertinent to you that you are truly going to make sure that this is something I cling to in one of those for me is I will serve my spouse and sacrificially, and that even before the crisis started for us with Jason. That was the commitment we had made and Jean is better at that. When then I am. And I remember when I was in such grief over Jason's arrest, Jean would make coffee in the morning and that he would bring it to me and without words, he would put his hand on my arm or if I was really blessed he would put his hands right on my on my feet and give me a good foot rub, and it was a wonderful thing for me to know without words.
He was basically saying Carol I love you. I'm committed to this marriage. I know this is hard, but we will get through this and he did all of that without words and then I think for young couple one of those important pre-decisions is I will request honor and respect the advice of my spouse give you secret about me first born six preachers kids you know that makes me bossy and I like to talk more than I like to listen and so I found myself in a place of needing to be intentional about letting my husband finish sentences and really keying in on listening to him asking him questions about what he meant, and if young couples who have not the hardships of of the surprises that come along that are negative those crises that happen that very, very important decision to make and another one of those is I will practice automatic forgiveness and no husband and us men. We know what that means is we think we know everything and we think we are the final judgment in all things that matter and we are never wrong, and you know we take the heart that that American motto you know that we are the strong silent type, and everything I say needs to go, but we when we come into a marriage.
We need to practice forgiveness to one another.
I needed kills forgiveness. When I would screw up when I would say the wrong thing. You know it's really easy for guys to say the wrong thing to ask forgiveness to come to apologize is difficult for men just because of that strong silent type module kind of man that there, but he wants to be a Clint Eastwood back in the day, but we college choosing to be honest send about that. I know you love me your heart toward me is good. So even if you speak in a vocal tone that makes me feel like you're judging me or like you're being a little too authoritative in this moment I am going to choose not to be offended by that because I know the bottom line is we want our marriage to work. We do love each other and we are in this together. When you feel like you've been treated wrongly. The ceilings of their decision. You're not going to be offended, but you do feel offended. He put together. I think for many of we need to just pause, take a few seconds before lashing out and we also need to remember that when we forgive that does not negate the wrong done to us. But it frees us from bitterness. It frees us from living in anger and it allows us to move forward.
And if we can begin just realizing that forgiveness is really letting go of my right to hurt you, for hurting me. Often we can begin to move in a positive direction. Now you're probably a more perfect marriage partner then than I have been's Jean with your wife Gary but I know there've been times when I have practiced the silent treatment. So long because I felt offended that I forgot why we weren't speaking to each other. I realized halfway through the day. I don't even remember when I was just ticked past me. I think for me it is nonverbal. We call it in the book the articulate style of doing a gesture that is meaningful for our spouse and in my case, you know, it might be bringing him an afternoon treat at his desk and without words I am saying I care about you and I love you even know I was here with you and it's almost a nonverbal active, forgiving, and it really does work for us to be able to serve each other in love with a common practice in Chinese culture since someone you don't go and verbally apologize.
You took them a gift for you and there's some truth to that skin what you're saying and since then yes dear Gary, I accidentally had that happened just yesterday Carol and I were I was in her office. We were just talk talking about events that we had on the calendar and some of those events were not going to happen and we were just listing them down and she was taking longer about looking at each event than I liked and I got a little short with her and basically just sort of blew up for a minute and said, hey, I didn't want to go over this anyway and I walked out of her office. The other end of the house where my office was and I just there thinking you know this doesn't always happen, but fortunately this time it happened, thought man I screwed that up so bad I went to the refrigerator.
I have a little treat, which was a chocolatey clear that she didn't know about you chocolatey clear walk to her office and I put the chocolatey clear in front of her and I was only thing please forgive me. I wrong thing and later we laughed, we have an interview with Gary Chang when you're going to talk times and we we then laughed out loud.
And there's something about laughter in the middle of the stress that read do all of that tension and when you start laughing together you start practicing automatic forgiveness and you might even fall into each other's arms with a hug that says we really do love each other no way that reminds me, I will consider this.
You don't have to be perfect to have a long-term healthy marriage which I do have to deal with your failures and all of us encouraging for listeners to hear that you all. After all these years and it would be to remove Carolyn as well. There are times in which to do things like things are good, but Harper are appropriate.
But if were willing to acknowledge that thing and were willing forgive each other. We removed we don't let the barrier whittle at the wall. Bill between the two of us. That's a really really key issue were talking about here. It's really important it's so important that we take care of those differences as soon as we can after they happened. I remember yet. Gary talking to my mother about my mom and dad's relationship and I was just asking over several years after their divorce took place know what happened there and answer.
You know what dad do. That was wrong or trying to get some details about all and she could not give me any one particular thing. It was like a mountain of things that that built up over time and there were. It was so insurmountable that there were individual think she could even itemize anymore in marriage which it illustrates to us. We need to take care of things as soon as we can because we don't want them to fester. Just the sooner we can take care of those things, the better it is for communication of our marriage we talked in the book about making the next right choice and sometimes decision-making is so hard when you're dealing with a child with disabilities or your dealing with an enormous interruption in your financial structure and that you've lost a job there are many many things that happen where you have decisions that are important and I'm the kind of person who likes to evaluate everything in over a period of three or four days make an eventual decision that feels like the best decision we could ever make and that we refer in the book to what Clara DeGraff calls the 10 second rule and that 10 second rule has to do with this. He says just do the next thing you're reasonably certain. Jesus wants you to do and commit to it immediately in the next 10 seconds before you change your mind and I think sometimes we forget that as Christian couples we have the Holy Spirit in our lives. He's our teacher. He's our guy.
He's our counselor and so if were walking in a right relationship with him.
When we are faced with these challenges that come at us from the outside and were seeking advice and of course the Bible says if we lack wisdom, we can ask for it and that when we seek that advice and ask for we can be reasonably certain that the Holy Spirit is leading us to make the next right choice, and so we in my case anyway need to do that more quickly and then start taking some action steps as a result of the choice we've made that will move us in the forward direction.
Instead of getting stuck in a rut.
Carol and Jean uses the row with co-authors of this book Dave and Cindy Lambert and it was hours you were having this discussion tell me where the book came from.
Well, we have known each other for a long time and become good friends, and it occurred to us that we had something unique in common. Jean and I had an only child who was arrested for a heinous crime and went through his trial and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and we had to learn how to survive and hopefully learn how to thrive. After that, and they were in a situation where they had an adopted son who had made some pretty wrong choices in that wound up with the addiction issues and that he married had a child and the child needed help because the parents were in a situation where there were people in and out of that home using substances that were not legal to be used and they were very worried about the well-being of their grandchild and they wound up eventually raising their grandchild as their own and that so we said you know there are many books out there that are written on how to hold your marriage together when suddenly you are faced with very traumatic issues that mean the rest of your life will certainly be impacted by how this outside force and in crisis has come, and we started to write down everything we could think about about what we felt would help other couples to learn how to be godly in the middle of the decision-making that was involved and all of a sudden we look at each other and we said this is a book is Annette and took us a couple years to do the proposal and the more we talked about it we saw that we have these things in common. We we decided what we could just talk about their story and our story we needed to have some other illustrations about other people and what it their marriage and what was different about the circumstances and so that we would have a number of different kinds of illustrations so that people could react to them and down the relate to those kinds of things so we we came up with 1314 different kinds of things that hit a marriage from the outside you.
One of the big things is our help and the no-win health problems here a marriage and it's an attack from the outside. We often treated in many different ways. You know my wife is good about taking care of me if I'm sick or something, but if I have have any blood showing she does not want to be around bloodshot in their very difficult traumatic things like losing a child. The child can be so incredibly traumatic.
And I'll never forget my friend Carol who told me her husband knew it was very difficult for her to talk openly about what happened, but he found a heart-shaped stone and she said I would be at work and I would open up my lunch sack and that heart-shaped stone would be inside the sack or she said I'd be on a business trip and I would find that heart-shaped stone in my suitcase and she said that became that signal between them that even though they found it difficult to talk through the issues of losing their child that their love was strong and that they would hold onto that until they could start breathing again and then work through that the whole biblical counseling that would go with their healing and I loved hearing that because it is a process.
Absolutely that's a powerful story of a symbol without words, but assembled with let let's talk a bit about anger because of outside pressures that we have. Anger is a motion arises and you will do with that pretty pretty well in this book and you even talk about positive uses of anger, but researcher your perspective on anger hey when we first started thinking about anger Will Rogers that great sage of about 5060 years ago had a little quotation worries that people who fly into a rage, always make a bad landing, and that is true of so many of us is after we fly into whatever anger we illustrate with our actions and especially men. Later on, or maybe even soon after it we say where on earth did that come from boy that was just terrible. How do I correct this now with my wife but I think one of the things we forget about is that when anger is expressed in the. The other marriage partners sees it.
There's no more hiding your Internet hiding your feelings.
And so that marriage partner is aware that something is causing you to be very upset and that can lead to two positive discussion and I think something else. Anger can do is to bring us to a place of knowing that we are motivated to find out what were doing wrong here, and we wanted to do something about it thing for me that anger can do is to become a catalyst for learning how to really communicate with each other to get it out on the table and I like to think of people in a marriage is some of them are hot reactors you know if mom ate happy, ain't nobody and I get all their emotions out on the table and then others are the slow boiler and they found no problem. Everything's fine, and undergirding gritting their teeth same. While praying the Lord and we respond often so differently but if anger can lead us to think okay let's talk about what the issues are, let's share with each other. What bothering us about this issue right now.
It can lead us to a place of finding answers in God's word or seeking biblical counseling talking to a pastor and that can produce up very positive long-term result that is honoring to the Lord.
So closer to your marriage when anger got the best of their where sometimes in the very early part of Jason's arrests that were extremely difficult for me. I came to know Jesus and my mother's name when I was five years old and I am not a young person who went into rebellion I ever remember as a teenager, saying, Lord, I want to do something with my life for your glory that will outlast my life. I want to live for something that will matter for your kingdom work and so when I got married to Jean and we raised Jason and we were actively involved in Christian ministry as her full-time life's work. I think there came with that, the expectation that God would show with real favor and wrong thinking that I was really expecting God to come through for us and when Jason was arrested. My mind just was swirling with Lord you know you could've given him a flat tire in that parking lot before he pulled the trigger.
God, why did you allow him to make this stating choice and then went out with that little anger directed first at God before was directed at my spouse Lord, you know, I have loved you with a pure heart. Just so you for allowing this to happen and when I felt angry at God. Sometimes I express my anger toward Jean and I would do that verbally and nonverbally. I remember getting upset about little things now. I keep a clean house guys but we were master bedroom one day and he said, Carol, I just don't understand why it is so crowded. Why don't you get rid of clothing you haven't worn in a year and I blew up at him in anger. I said, I must say we need housekeeper.
I don't know why you have to come in here and criticize the way there and we wound up falling into each other's arms in tears and changes since 20. This isn't really the issue is that it's Jason and we wound up coming to a place of being able to talk about the fact that we were so upset, anger was right there on the surface and we were exploding but but we really were exploding because we were hurting over her son's arrest and over the bad choice he had made that wound up impacting our own lives in a very very challenging way as well as his head. I have read "The 5 Love Languages" so I've learned a few things. One of them is not one of my wife's love languages is touch and so I knew that to quell many situations down is to hold her in my arms and just hold her close and just touch her and knowing that letting her know nonverbally that I love you in spite of what's going on around us, honey and were in this thing together so many times we we act like we are on two different teams. You know, in our marriages and we need to convince each other because it is so true.
We are together on the same team and the she responds really well to when I touch her.
That's one reason why understand each other's primary love language and speaking it can really help you while you're working through Greece because we we grieve differently so hello yeah I think one of the other things we need to remember is that in our anger words can slip out of our mouths that cause permanent damage. I asked the preacher's kid.
I remember my dad coming home one day and saying there was a couple he met and they were in a very serious automobile accident and the man was able to walk away, but the woman was in intensive care for weeks and she suffered from severe facial scarring as a result of that accident. And once in a heated argument. The husband yelled at his wife and said you will Scarface woman you can't you do anything right and from that moment on, every time he looked at her, even during a tender intimate moment as she saw him she knew he was seeing her as an old scar faced ugly woman and that became a permanent risk in their marriage. So in our anger, we need to really watch our words because they can be something that can put a knife in her heart that is very hard to recover from the proverb life and this is in the power of the tongue. I'm sure that I listen to what were saying and I'm also sure that some of them are wondering in their minds, how you all are processed. This long-term. That is what happened to your son Jason and one of the chapters in your book deals with dedicating yourself to serving while you're suffering can you can you share how that is ministry how that's help but help you. What we found ourselves standing in two hour long lines waiting to get through the intake process at the prison to visit our son and we got to know a whole lot of families who are hurting and I'm married to a very compassionate man. He would try to encourage the children who were going in to see their daddies and and I would talk to some of the mamas but I started to notice when I was at home that genes a pile of black T-shirts was getting shorter and shorter and I know the dryers. He talks that I know they don't eat T-shirts and I think Jean what's happening.
Tears starts and he just kind of chuckled is that you'll find out soon enough at a week later we were standing in that line again and I saw a woman going into business or loved one who was turned away and she was shopping and I instantly knew why she was wearing a sleeveless blouse and one of the new regulations that women could not wear sleeveless blouses into the prison, and suddenly I realize that Jean had disappeared from his place in the line where he was standing with me, and I saw him out in the parking lot with her trunk lid up and he emerged with a black T-shirt I saw him walk it over to the woman and say here ma'am put this on go to the front of the line. It's my gift to you today. Have a wonderful visit with your family member anyone back over to where I was standing and I said so, that's what happened here teacher and you look at this momentous story. Later I was speaking in with aunts and ensure that every since it happened so recently and out three weeks later there was a big box on our front porch held with black T-shirt and letter top, and it said dear Carol I attended the event you spoke it in Wisconsin and heard about your husband's ministry through the T-shirts I work for a company that makes these T-shirts and she said so I can get them very inexpensively.
She said please use this donation toward your husband's T-shirt ministry through his trust distribution program. I left for some people, but has been one of the ways that we been able to serve while suffering and Jean can tell you about the nonprofit we launch speak up for whole that benefits inmates and their families send Jason as well. We've done this for and seeing our son in prison for 20 years now and in some ways, you would think we sort of get used to it and in some ways we do, but there every time we see that prison.
As we approach is an approach that parking lot would say it, we will say to each other.
Look at each other, said how did this happen and we have found that by taking by taking our attention and align our attention to other people and their circumstances and we found the needs of the people who were standing in line of those inmate families were so great with the for the most part don't have any money.
The major breadwinner and their families is incarcerated and families just getting by after getting by and so we started ministry just called speak up for hope where we try to help those inmate families try to provide some comfort items for them. We will put together a whole box which just have comfort items and maybe a lotion and again candle in a teacup from T and a few little things for the children in the family and will send them to the wiser mothers or girlfriends of inmates that we know and we sent them all over the country. They end up sometimes getting there the same day as a birthday for a mother and the mother written this letter a letter saying how good you know what was her birthday. Of course we did and it was just God using that but it so changed our whole feeling about God, why did you allow this to happen to us. God I'm mad at you into it takes my mind off of my circumstance and I see all these other people and I end up being thankful for my situation. Nothing else that has happened is that Jason has been full of repentance has asked the forgiveness of the victim's family and he is our missionary on the inside. He leads Bible studies.
Even president of gavel club which is Toastmasters on the inside teaching men how to communicate. I love that because I teach the speak conference teaching Christians how to write and speak so I figure he's a chip off the old block we watch him designating book that he will be able to read and then pass on to 20 other inmates and that we are discovering that as we are open about our story opens other people up to share about their story and that when you start looking around and finding one person he needs help worse than you do and you do a tangible act of loving kindness for that person. What happens is that people begin sharing with you in your own life is so blessed in the process and that our son has sent mom and dad. Oh how I long for freedom. But he said I I know that even if I don't walk in freedom in this lifetime. One day we will all be home and we will all walk in freedom, and while were here were just going to faithfully do the next thing God wants us to do to bless the people around us and I have watched him turn into a man of God who is truly living valiantly for Jesus behind the razor wire Carol James. This is been a wonderful conversation. Really appreciate your openness and am excited about this book.
I think God is using to touch the hearts of many who were walking a similar plan to roll Thanksgiving.
Thank you Gary, thanks much.
We sure appreciate you in the title of the book of the talking about staying power building a stronger marriage when life sends his words to find out more. Five love languages.com and next week will take your questions and comments on any topic you want me to address domicile may dear Gary or Miguel anything With Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman's radio with ministry