Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

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The tragedy in Newtown is so incredibly heart breaking. I can scarcely take it in.

As the nation grieves with Newtown, people around us are searching for answers to some of life’s deepest and most basic questions, such as, “Where was God?” and, “How could God allow evil?”

When evil is expressed at this magnitude it knocks us off our routines of relative comfort. Our base survival instincts heighten and fear can often set in.

Those on the political left are blaming semi-automatic weapons. Some blame Hollywood. Those on the political right are mostly silent, and as in most arguments, the side not talking often loses.

A dialogue needs to take place on many fronts, such as gun control, mental health issues, school security, freedom versus government overreach, influence of video games, Hollywood’s glamorization of violence and the early detection of possible psychopaths.

I’d also like to add a subject – fatherhood.

All of the mass school killings in recent history had two things in common, semi-automatic weapons and young males.

What is so broken in our culture that empowers young males to kill innocent, lovely children? Where were all the shooters’ dads?

There has been minimal news coverage on the Sandy Hook shooter’s father. We know he is wealthy and was divorced from the shooter’s mother. But, there is plenty of coverage on the dead mother. In just a few minutes you can know the name of her favorite bar, how many guns she owned, what kind of medication she gave her son, ad nauseam.

Our culture has marginalized men and fathers and for good reason. Now, 40 percent of all children are raised in homes without their biological fathers.

These statistics are indicative of a culture where fathers are weak, unnecessary and absent. The result of a broken house is a broken family. Broken families lead to a broken society. Broken societies don’t value life.

The bottom line is that our culture must change and these senseless shootings must stop.

I don’t believe we’ll see a decrease in psychopathic acts of violence until our society 1) acknowledges the collapse of the American family and 2) engages a serious reconsideration about the role of fathers.

Read my earlier post titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Father.”

This fictional post is a reaction piece to Liza Long’s “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” Long’s brutal and honest article is a powerful read about the tragic loss in Newtown addressing the mental health element in the midst of this national catastrophe and conversation.

Let me also preface this post by adding that this is not a personal attack on the Newtown shooter’s father rather a commentary on the state of fatherhood in America.

Newton Political Cartoon

Three days before 20 first-graders were gunned down in Connecticut, I wasn’t anywhere near my family. In fact, I haven’t spent much time with my two sons at all over the last four years.

You see, I gave up on my marriage several years before my divorce. I literally walked out on my kids and left my wife to raise them alone.

Like many other men, I loved my wife when we first married, but her nagging wore me out.

Then, similar to other couples in trouble, we thought having kids would “fix” us.

At first, I enjoyed being a dad. But as they grew older, I grew less interesting and they less fun.

Leading my home and raising my children was exhausting and never-ending. Our special needs child was particularly challenging. Sure, he was intelligent and strong-willed, but sometimes I wished my autistic son had been born, well, less special.

I didn’t live with my mentally ill son, so I didn’t see when he started slipping. My ex-wife had to bear that responsibility alone. She had to cope with his frequent meltdowns. At first, she was physically stronger than him, but as he matured, she grew to fear his violent outbursts and irrational, uncontrollable and temporary insanity.

Overall, my home life was just too hard. I was overwhelmed by the constant need to make good decisions. Every little mistake I made impacted others. I didn’t “sign up” for all of that.

When asked about my failed marriage, I blame “irreconcilable differences,” but inside I know I really abandoned my family to pursue my selfish, adolescent desires.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about; fathers don’t do much anyway. We can’t grow a baby inside of us. We can’t experience the pains of childbirth or the intimacy of breastfeeding. How important are we really?

Women do a great job of raising children on their own. Women are right; they don’t need men and are often better off without one. Dads really only get in the way.

I really love my sons, but I left them to be raised by their mother.

“They’ll be alright,” I told myself. “I didn’t grow up with a dad around and I turned out ok.”

Seeing my kids on court-appointed days was weird at first. Then it became normal.

Missing important events was expected. Working long hours paid the alimony and child-support and kept the judges and lawyers off my back.

The distance made it hard for me to discipline them on a regular basis. The distance hindered us from developing deep relationships, so my sons learned about the “real world” on their own.

I wasn’t there to guide my sons into manhood. I didn’t teach them to love and respect their mother. I especially failed at teaching my children to value and protect the gift of life.

Looking back I see that I was unprepared for family life. I was still a boy who hadn’t put away the things of my youth. I was ruled by narcissism.

I was weak, unnecessary, absent. It made me sad to see what my son had become.

What was I supposed to do? I was powerless to stop what happened inside my son and inside that school.

Many years ago, before I was a father, I began thinking deeply about my family legacy. One thing I read has led to my intentionality today and one reason why I enjoy blogging about fatherhood.

A November 2010 article about being a Christmas Dad by pastor and teacher, Mark Driscoll, is something I circle back to every Christmas/Advent season.

It has helped me set and keep Christ-honoring family traditions, hopefully leading to fun and solid spiritual memories for my wife and kids as well as ease the stress of the holidays on my wife…

Christmas Daddy Tips

A dad needs …

  1. … a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?
  2. … to ensure his family is giving generously during the holidays. Dad, who in need is your family going to adopt, bless, and serve?
  3. … to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is you calendar ready for December?
  4. … to not let the stress of the holidays, including money, cause him to be grumpy with Mom or the kids. Dad, how’s your joy?
  5. … to make memories and not just give gifts. Dad, what special memories can you make this holiday season?
  6. … to manage the extended family and friends during the holidays. Dad, who or what do you need to say “no” to?
  7. … to schedule a big Christmas date with his daughter(s). Dad, what’s your big plan for the fancy Daddy-daughter date?
  8. … to schedule guy time with his son(s). Dad, what are you and your son(s) going to do that is active, outdoors, and fun?
  9. … to help get the house decorated. Dad, are you really a big help to Mom with getting things ready?
  10. … to ensure there are some holiday smells and sounds. Dad, is Christmas music on the iPod, is the tree up, can you smell cookies and cider?
  11. … to snuggle up and watch fun shows with the kids. Dad, is the DVR set to record old classics and holiday shows?
  12. … to connect with Mom during the holidays. Dad, do you have some fun date nights or getaways planned for you and your wife?
  13. … to help Mom get the kids’ rooms decorated. Dad, do they get lights or a small tree in their room?
  14. … to read about Jesus with and pray over his kids. Dad, how’s your pastoral work going with each of your kids?
  15. … to repent of being lazy, selfish, grumpy, or just dumping the holidays on Mom. Dad, are you a servant like Jesus to your family?
  16. … to help his kids learn to be generous and give. Dad, whom do your kids want to buy presents for outside of your family?
  17. … to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family.
  18. … to not let technology eat away family time during Christmas break. Dad, will you make sure the electronics are turned off so your family can interact, play games, talk, etc.?
  19. … to take the lead in family devotions centered on the birth of Jesus. Dad, have you picked out parts of the Bible to read together over dinner during the holidays?
  20. … to take the family on a drive to see Christmas lights while listening to music and sipping cider. Dad, is it mapped out?
  21. … to study the incarnation of Jesus Christ to help prepare him and his family for the holidays. Dad, do you have some reading lined up?
  22. … a break during the holidays. Dad, it’s not a sin to watch some football, nap, or relax a bit so long as you’ve taken care of your other priorities first.

You can read the first post in this series here – Things Dads Should Be Able to Do.

Men, if you want to keep your wife happy, just quit doing your share of the chores.

According to one recent study, marriages where women do the “lion’s share” of the chores are more content. Think I’m kidding, read the full article here or another version here.

In this day and age, teamwork on household chores is one of the traits touted by Americans in successful marriages. But that study shows European couples who share housework are more likely to get divorced.

The article starts off with…

Divorce rates are far higher among “modern” couples who share the housework than in those where the woman does the lion’s share of the chores, a Norwegian study has found.

In what appears to be a slap in the face for gender equality, the report found the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 percent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home.”

This same study from Europe discusses that men are the ones that benefit more from splitting the chores. Men who do their “fair share” around the house are happier. From my observation of the reports, it appears that men use household chores as a relief valve for decompression.

So, you want to keep your marriage (and family) together? According to research, don’t run the vacuum. If you want to be more content yourself, go dust something.

How are chores divided in your marriage? What chores seem to drift back and forth between you two? What chore do you dread the most but do it because your spouse dreads it too?