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Physical or Emotional Intimacy?

May 18th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I’ve been married for twenty years, and my husband has become very controlling over the years. I ended up seeking counseling about 2 years ago and I also talked to my bishop (who was NO help, by the way, his basic advice was to pray and read my scriptures and have family home evening…which of course, we’ve done all along) anyway my counselor opened my eyes to the emotional blackmail I’ve been living with. He recommended that we come as a couple but my husband refused. Not knowing what to do, I just tried to fake along like everything was OK, but it only made me more depressed. Then my husband started dropping hints that we would be better off divorced. I can’t explain how I felt about that…mostly anger. I again suggested counseling. He agreed to go this time. But after only a couple of sessions, he was expecting overnight success, mainly- he thinks I should be all kissy and huggy with him, but I don’t feel any affection for him anymore. I don’t know how I should respond to this increased demand for affection. It makes me sick when he touches me. He says that if I don’t show him in this way, that I’m willing to try to make our marriage work, then he will just assume that I hate him and he will leave. I am really confused and need some quick advice because he keeps sending me lovey-dovey text messages and I need to know the best way to respond.


PS- he has never- before now- sent love messages of any kind or
tried to hug me all the time like this. I feel like I’m suffocating!


Dear Wylee,

Your situation is far from uncommon. Clearly your husband feels the most loved through physical affection and is now making demands for it or else… Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work very well for you when
you don’t feel close to him. It appears that his increasingly controlling nature has created some walls in your marriage. It’s quite difficult to open up emotionally to someone who tries to control or threatens divorce.

Most women need to feel emotionally close and connected first, before they can connect physically, which includes physical intimacy. It is not realistic to go to counseling for a couple of visits and then think that all is well. In some ways, he’s reaching out to you by sending you messages and trying to hug you. I realize that you’re feeling suffocated but it’s important not to make him feel totally rejected. Since your marriage is already on the rocks any further rejection might be the final straw.

If you would like to stay married here’s my suggestion. First, acknowledge the fact that he is trying to make deposits into the marriage account through his increased efforts of connecting physically. Tell him that you appreciate the attention. Second, if the two of you can discuss your needs, wants and desires on your own then go for it. It needs to happen in a respectful and attentive environment. If that doesn’t exist then, try it in front of a third party that you trust.

Explain to him that you need to feel closer to him emotionally and safe first. That’s what makes you feel loved the most. Once that happens, then you can begin to open up to him in the way that is the most meaningful to him, meaning physically.

A couple of good resources if your both open to doing some work together to bless your marriage. One is to read (or listen on a cd) The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. It’s one of the best books out there.
Another resource is the book And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura Brotherson (LDS) on the topic of physical intimacy. Finally you could also listen to the cd called The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going From Surviving to Thriving!

Good luck and let me know how tings work out.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

Overcoming different parenting styles

Apr 21st, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

My husband and I have been married for a couple of years. This is our second marriage, and we both have children from our first marriages. We love each other but have very different parenting styles, and we often find ourselves and our children in conflict. We don’t want this to ruin another marriage — what can you suggest?

Thank you,


Dear Tracy,

That is an excellent question. But before I answer it, I’d like to emphasize one very important point: different parenting styles are not exclusive to blended families and their children. As a matter of fact, they afflict most parents that I know of, and there is a good reason for it. When we get married, most of us have a preconceived idea of what kind of parents we would like to be, and it typically comes from how we grew up ourselves. Either we try to emulate those things we admired about our parents as children, or we vow to do exactly the opposite of what our parents did, if we did not like the way we were raised.

With regard to your question, blended families carry the additional burden of having to deal with the emotional baggage that a divorce always brings. Unfortunately, raising children and step-children can stretch a new couple in ways they had never imagined before, sometimes even pushing them to the brink of a second divorce. You are wise to seek outside counsel early on in your marriage as a prevention, which is always less expensive emotionally, spiritually and financially than waiting until the problems grow to mountainous proportions.

  1. Find some quiet time with your husband to talk, pray and, more importantly, listen to each others’ ideas and points of view. As the spirit guides you, look for a win-win outcome. This isn’t about who is right but which approach is best. For example, if my wife has the right idea about something that pertains to our children, it would behoove me to not only listen but support and fully embrace it. What would be the benefit if, by disregarding this advice out of pride or other reasons, I ultimately harm those children I claim to love more than anything in this world.
  2. Once you are more aligned with your spouse, you need to get “buy-in” from the children. This is best achieved by having a monthly “PPI” (personal parent interview). In our family, we typically do this on fast Sunday, when we meet with each child individually with the purpose of understanding their point of view. After prayer and inviting the spirit, we ask them specifically about school, their friends, church, personal spiritual growth and their relationship with Mom, Dad and each of their siblings. We look at what is currently working, what is not working, and what they would like to see changed. After that, throughout the month, we support, encourage and also hold them accountable to the promises they have made. We also encourage them to hold us accountable, as we are not perfect parents, and we have much to learn and improve from understanding our children’s point of view.
  3. The third point happens as we fully embrace the gospel as a family together, not by just merely going through the motions. By this I mean having daily family meaningful scripture study, sincere family prayer, and weekly family councils and family home evenings. It is so important to avoid having cliques within families, especially blended families, such as “my kids vs. your kids,” “boys vs. girls,” “oldest vs. youngest.” The best way to avoid this is through family councils, where each member of the family can, in a constructive and positive way, express their fears, concerns, hurts and successes. This allows the children, especially, to have a voice without behind-the-scenes manipulations, or without playing one parent against the other.

I recognize that it takes a tremendous amount of extra energy and time to bring these things about. But what could be the outcome of embracing these true and enduring principles? In my personal and professional experience, the outcome is what every parent wishes for: a united, thriving, spiritual family where growth is encouraged and love is expressed — daily, if not hourly. As parents, we all want our children to be happy, and there is no shortcut. This is the way!

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

The Big Day: Wedding Day or the Day After?

Mar 31st, 2009 by Dr. Gourgouris | 0

Many of us expect the biggest day of our lives to be the day we finally tie the knot! So many life-long expectations, dreams and aspirations are finally coming true. To have the “perfect wedding day” is often seen as the ultimate goal, and “bridezilla” is a humorous term often used for this phenomenon. However, it seems that the focus on being the center of attention, or on having the perfect party, really serves as a distraction from the true focus, which is this new eternal union.

Planning so many things that have to work out just right takes up great time and energy: the music, food, guests, seating arrangements, flowers, pictures, transportation, the wedding dress, hair styling, groomsmen and maids-of-honor (and their clothing), make-up, timing, the photographer…well, the list could go on and on.. It is, after all, a day that has been dreamed of or down-right planned for years in advance. The trimmings are abundant.

Amidst all the hoopla, however, comes amazing stress as the details of the “BIG EVENT” take over. It’s not uncommon for that very stress to cause hurt feelings when things don’t quite work as anticipated. Often the bride-to-be feels so overwhelmed and busy that she forgets to “check in” and see how others are feeling—her fiancée included. On the actual wedding day, running around during the event, the bride may not be able to even enjoy it! Many brides confirm that the wedding itself was exhausting, and that they felt quite empty and let down afterwards, almost like “that was it?”

All this expectation linked to having one perfect day (not to mention the honeymoon), can be expensive and start the marriage out with unnecessary stress (including debt). Simplifying the costs as well as the details will allow both the bride and groom to be able to focus on the spirit of the occasion, and the days after the “Big Day.” Simplifying can allow time to truly enjoy and visit with their guests and their families, instead of creating empty details for the “perfect” future wedding album.

For the success and longevity of a thriving and loving marriage, how important is the actual wedding day…really? President Spencer W. Kimball answers this question with great clarity and wisdom. He was once interviewing a young man returning from his mission and asked him what he was looking forward to the most when he got home. The young man answered, “I’ve been praying to marry the one I love.” Clearly this returning missionary had a girl back home with whom he was deeply in love and had planned on getting married.

President Kimball’s loving and wise response to this young man (and to all of us) was: “Don’t pray to marry the one you love, but pray to love the one you marry.” It’s not that the young man’s prayer was wrong, by any means, but that his prayer would be answered the day he got married, and the days thereafter.

It is the month, or the year, after the wedding, when those rose-colored glasses are gone, that we truly learn to love. It is the morning when we wake up to a crying baby after sleeping only two hours that we make a marriage union real. It is when you don’t really feel loving, but choose to act loving towards your new spouse that a marriage is truly born … not the wedding day or the honeymoon afterwards.

Praying continuously for an increase of love towards our spouse throughout our lifetime and acting upon those promptings is the real recipe for success. It is in the daily effort of thinking and praying about improving our spouse’s life that true love is found and grows.
So, it is true that the day of our wedding is a milestone in our eternal progression, a great day to celebrate with family and friends our eternal union. However, the greatest days start after the wedding day and continue for the remainder of our lives with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly deposits of loving prayers and actions.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

"Am I Too Churchy?"

Mar 20th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

My husband has accused me of being “Too Churchy”. I must admit that I am a “Molly Mormon”. I don’t try to be but that is who I am and what he married 20 years ago. I rely on PRAYER for answers, I serve others regularly in and out of my home. I fast every month, attend the temple alone, conduct family prayer and scripture study by myself. Read my Sunday Lessons and TRY to be prepared. His attitude is that you can still get to heaven without listening to General Conference, missing church or other activities to go camping or vacationing, not attending the temple and just living good. He has totally missed the boat! Our religion is my whole life! I am trying to pattern my life after the Savior, trying my best to do what is right. I feel like Nephi when he built the boat and there was constant murmuring from his brothers. He knew what he had to do. What can I do? I want our marriage to be a Celestial one and to our home to reflect the life of Christ through word and actions. I don’t want to have such negativity in my home. Our children are at a tender age now but will grow up to see their father’s attitude. I want them to be strong in the gospel and have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. I want them to pattern their lives after the Savior’s life. WHAT CAN I DO to help our marriage?



Dear Melinda,

You bring up an interesting topic that unfortunately seems to afflict quite a few LDS couples. The idea that doing what you believe is necessary to be a true follower of our Savior makes you, as you say “too churchy” seems rather odd. Your best comment is when you say that “our religion is my whole life!” Being a member of the LDS faith by definition makes you live your religion on a daily basis. This is NOT a Sunday only kind of church.

The main issue afflicting your marriage is lack of spiritual intimacy! I would encourage you to have a heart to heart discussion with your husband. You can also do it in front of a third party like your Bishop, if you think it will have a more desired outcome. The success of the discussion will be greatly influenced by the tone and spirit in which it will take place.

Spiritual intimacy involves a mutual desire to grow individually AND as a couple spiritually. Having a meaningful scripture study and a heartfelt prayer would be a good place to start. Read your Patriarchal
Blessings together becuase there are treasures waiting to be discovered for both of you! It is important for you not to come across as self-righteous or holier than thou! Since you have no control over his behavior, the best approach is one of love, patience even long-suffering as it says in the scriptures.

You might want to ask him about your children. Does he want them serving missions and getting married in the Temple? If not, then tell him not to change a thing because they will most likely follow the path of least resistance. If however he’d like for them to do those things then it will fall upon him to make some significant spiritual changes in his own life.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear a word you’re saying!” Kids spot hypocrisy a mile away…so how does he want to be remembered by his kids? As for you, stay true to your values. Be strong, faithful and continue to choose the right! You will never regret it…besides by doing so, you will fulfill your stewardship as a mother. As for your husband, at some point in his life, he will need the Savior’s help. Eventually life will bring him to his knees. Perhaps the death of a loved one or an illness, or a major financial setback or any other kind of loss. I hope and pray it doesn’t come to that…I hope he chooses to do the right thing without pain causing him to reconsider his relationship with God.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

What if he never changes?

Mar 3rd, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

My husband has been addicted to pornography for over 40 years. He was addicted before we were married, and tried to get me interested in sharing it with him and acting out together. I refused, and he has felt angry and rejected ever since. We have been to Church counseling, and the advice seemed to be get a divorce. Outside counseling aggravated the problem to the extent that our marriage has collapsed entirely, except for the fact we still live together and operate a small business–purely for financial reasons. I have been shattered by the realization that our marriage was always a sham–spiritually we were totally dead, although we were married in the temple–unworthily, I might add, due to heavy petting. We live with no contact, emotionally, spiritually, or physically. He has severe chronic depression and still views pornography infrequently. We attend LDS services, hold minor positions, and temple recommends. I attend the temple with friends, he does not. My question is: shouldn’t he have confessed this addiction during the temple worthiness interview? But my real question which really bothers me, is what will happen if he dies without resolving this problem? And where will I be as his wife? Is our temple marriage nullified in regard to the next world?


Dear BJ,

In terms of your husband’s life-long addiction to pornography, it is a sad state of affairs! The forty years of acting out have completely destroyed any kind of spirituality he might have had. The fact that he’s depressed is not surprising at all. If he lives another 40 years without a major life change, he will continue to feel empty, depressed angry and downright miserable. Sadly, the chances of him changing after all this time are diminishing…You guys are not only thriving in your marriage, but barely surviving. Is this the life you want?

Your business account might have something in it…but your love and spiritual account is facing bankruptcy! Why are you still in it then? What do you get out of this marriage and don’t you deserve something better? I’m just posing the questions…I hope you take time to ponder them…

You raise several important questions as to the eternal aspects of your marriage. Clearly this is outside my level of comfort in terms of giving you advice. The best course of actions would be to visit, at length I might add, with your ecclesiastical leader (stake president.) Let me ask you one last question…Let’s say you never divorce him but he also never changes in this lifetime…If you knew that you would be given a chance to decide on the other side if you want him forever or not, what would your decision be then??? The answer might help you in this lifetime more that you can imagine.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

Pornography addiction: What happens to the spouse

Feb 24th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

I recently received a question at that addresses a very important topic. What happens to the spouse of a pornography/sex addict? Here’s the question:

“Brother Gourgouris,
I had the privilege of hearing you speak at our Stake Enrichment Conference
and ever since, I have wanted to ask you about one of my closest friends.
Her husband was excommunicated a few years ago and has worked very hard
to come back into full fellowship and even be re-baptized. He was baptized in the fall, but his wife is still very hurt and very distant and just can’t seem to let go of her anger. I have tried talking to her about the atonement and taking full advantage of it, but I just don’t know if there’s any way to help her gain a testimony of its power. Is there anything that can be said that might help to heal her broken heart? Thank you for your time and the beautiful spirit that you left in our building.”

Over the years I’ve been able to counsel with many spouses (mostly wives) of pornography and sexual addicts. The symptoms are pretty universal when a spouse has caused such tremendous damage to the marriage. Initially, the reaction is often disbelief, as in “This can’t possibly be happening in my marriage, or to my family.” Then, once reality sets in, it can be followed by anger, depression, fear of what people will say if they find out, sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, escaping by overeating or a variety of other feelings and emotions.

In the early days of treatment, the main focus was always on the addicts themselves, helping them with their physical, mental and spiritual recovery. The wives would try to be supportive of the endeavor, while suffering in silence, often unable to even talk with their friends about such a sensitive topic. Not only were they on the receiving end of infidelity and the absence of the priesthood in their home, but almost always, no help was available. As the addict continued to recover, there was an unspoken expectation that the spouse also needed to be getting better. Forgiveness should be given, support extended and trust re-established.

Well, all these are easy to do on paper — in real life however it takes a very long time. I’ve known some marriages that never fully recover from such an ordeal. Others stay together for the sake of the kids, but once the “glass is broken” it can never be put back together again. I want to be clear that these are very normal reactions — if we try to do it all by ourselves! But there is another way, and thankfully the church has established local support groups for these dear sisters. If you are interested in joining one, contact your local Stake President to find out if one already exists in your area. If it does not, ask if he might be willing to help you get one started.

Aside from creating a support system, the best and ultimate resource of love and support needs to come from God! No amount of education or well meaning family and friends, can accomplish what He can do for a troubled and broken heart. In Mark 10:27 we read ” for with God all things are possible.” He alone can heal, comfort, love us through out toughest times in life, give us hope and most importantly help us to truly forgive. I have not found another way around it but I have witnessed many miracles of families re-uniting, couples re-building their marriages and eventually creating outstanding relationships. The recipe for success is as follows: repentance, forgiveness, trust and ultimately Christ-like love!

Know that there is always hope for the addict and their spouse if they can have an open mind, a willing heart and a tender spirit!

Confused in Texas…

Dec 27th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I have been with my wife for twelve years now, it has been great. we
have four beautiful children. however over the last few months i have
been confused and unsure about our relationship. is this normal or what
do suggest.

confused in texas

Dear confused in texas,

I wish I could give you an answer, but I need a little more information.
Being unsure and confused about what specifically? Marital
relationships have seasons. There are times when couples feel totally in
love with each other! There are times when they wonder why they EVER got
married! There are also times when things are ok…not great but not
awful either…just going through the motions.

You’re suggesting that for the majority of the twelve years together,
it has been great. So what has changed over the last few months to cause
your confusion? What exactly are you unsure of? Is it your love for her,
or her love for you?

Let me know if you like and we’ll continue this conversation.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

Learning from our mistakes is key to our happiness

Dec 16th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I love to read your posts and your new column on Mormon Times. I am a 49
year old woman going through my second divorce. My two husbands left me
for younger, sexually alive women. I have a 10 year old daughter with my
second husband. The trauma of living through betrayal, rejection,
abandonment and loneliness for the third time (my father left my mother
for a younger woman when I was 9), is almost more than I can bear. I
blame myself for my father and two husbands leaving me. Logically, I
know this doesn’t make sense, but emotionally, I scour my soul to reveal
my faults that cause men to turn against me. The proverbial “elephant”
in the room is my lack of sexual desire.

My question is why do I seem to attract my dysfunctional dad in every
man I form a relationship with? I also seem to have inherited my
mother’s inability to give to a man in a deep, emotionally, intimately
and sexually bonding way. I’ve lost the three most important men in my
life, I don’t want to attract this relational disaster for the fourth
time, nor do I want to pass on the same pattern to my daughter…please
help me stop the heartbreaking chaos.

What I would really like to know is how can I get in touch with myself
so that I can give a man what he really wants. That’s my problem, I
don’t know what men really want in an enduring relationship, meaning in
a sexual way. It’s hard for me to be so honest and vulnerable but I
can’t bear to live the rest of my life alone, nor can I bear to live
through another failed relationship with a man.

This will sound bold, but what I really want to know is what pleases a
man in the bedroom? My observation is that “sex makes the world go
round” for men. I have read your previous posts and I have obtained the
book you suggested, “And They Were Not Ashamed,” and that has helped.
But I want to know from a man’s perspective, especially a man with your
background in the “Greek” culture which is known for producing centuries
of great lovers, what do men want from a woman? Don’t get me wrong, I
don’t want to sound inappropriate, I just want to get in touch with my
feminine, intimate, sexual goddess side. My husbands have told me, and I
confirm that I am dead there. Please help me wake-up inside and attract
the man of my dreams and keep him!



Dear Charis,

Going through a second divorce, especially with a child involved is
not an easy matter. It is emotionally, physically, spiritually and
financially devastating. It seems like you’ve identified the root causes
of both failed marriages. Your husbands, just like your dad have
“abandoned” you for younger women. The issue of physical intimacy and
sexuality in a marriage is of primary importance.

I’m glad you are reading the book And They Were Not Ashamed by
Laura Brotherson. From a spiritual perspective, I believe it’s the best
book out there, in dealing with intimacy in the bedroom. As you might
recall, the author quotes President Kimball as stating, “Divorces often
occur over sex…If you study the divorces, as we have had to do in
these past years, you will find there are many reasons. Generally sex is
the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in
court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the

What makes this quote so remarkable is the fact that it took place
over 30 years ago. The world today inundates men and women with sexual
images on a daily basis. The availability of pornography plus all the
other sexual outlets have changed what healthy sexuality looks like. Men
especially, expect things that a lot of women are either uncomfortable
with or unaware of. When couples fail to discuss their expectations in
the bedroom, problems inevitably arise.

It might be of benefit to receive some help on this matter, so as not to
“attract this relational disaster for the fourth time” as you say.
If you have any further questions, you may contact me directly.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

A parallel marriage

Dec 1st, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

We have been married for 10 years. My husband is a member and I am not, but I do attend church with him. I bought your CD and we have both listened to it and filled out your questionaire on line. We both scored fairly low, I was lower than my husband. We both agree that we definitely have a parallel marriage. We have separate bank accounts, each pay certain bills. and spend little time together. My husband is a recovering alcoholic and drug user. It has been 6 years since he has
drank alcohol or used non-prescription drugs. He will admit he is addicted to TV and movies. Almost all of his home time is spent watching TV. I am so lonely, my animals keep me sane. I don’t really enjoy watching what he watches on TV most of the time, and he always has the remote. If I try to sit in the living room and talk to him he will often turn the TV up. We don’t have a TV in our room, and I usually go to bed early just because I’m bored and I’ll read or check my emails. It seems that anything I suggest to bring us closer he rejects. Also if I cry, show anger or he has to deal with any of my emotions he says I’m manipulating (crying), stupid or over reacting (anger) or sad ( history of depression). So I feel he shames me out of showing any emotions. So I just shut down, stuff it, and go to my room or to the barn. Also now his unmarried daughter and 18 month grandson are living with us indefinitely and she is expecting again in March. She doesn’t work or have a DL. We live in a 2 bedroom home with 1 bath. The basement is in process of making an apartment for her. So now she spends the evenings watching TV with him. Yes I am jealous. She likes to spent time
watching TV and movies with her dad. Please don’t ask me to watch the sci-fi channel and R movies full of violence and bad language. I know we need to give and take, and as I imagine what he wants, that would be sex, and I want attention. He wants to say family prayers at night and pauses the DVR for that. I have a hard time saying prayers out loud, I have trouble bearing my soul to someone so distant. And for example, one time after the first family prayer with his daughter here, he turned
the TV back on and It was so awful, I asked what are you watching? Hellboy! I asked him why he watches movies like that? I feel he is a hypocrite. He will tell me he can’t talk to me about spiritual feelings because I won’t understand and yet he watches this kind of stuff all the time. I try to take Sundays off of work so I can attend church with him and have a day together, even if we were to go eat after church as soon as we get home it’s to the couch and the TV and he shuts down and shuts
me out. He won’t do any chores on Sunday, but feels watching TV is OK? We have horses and I try all the time to get him to ride his horse with me on a trail ride and he never does, not once this summer. Every Wed. we get together with our home teachers because we are reading the Book of Mormon together. I also go home teaching with him. I know he wants a better marriage and I do too, but honestly if it weren’t for everything, home, pets, money, etc… and I love him. One day I told him
that I felt like getting in the car and just driving away, he said he feels like that sometimes too.
Any suggestions?


Dear Daj,

You are absolutely correct when you state that you live in a parallel
marriage. You share a house and a life but certainly not your heart and
soul. Although you are not a member of the LDS faith, I can assure you
that God wants us to be happy and have joy in our lives. Isn’t that what
loving parents want for their children? The two of you are living a
life of just surviving (barely I might add), emotionally and spiritually.

There are a couple of questions you both need to answer: Why are you
really married and are you interested in going from surviving to
thriving? If you can figure out the real reason for wanting to share
the rest of your lives together, then there’s hope. There are so many
dysfunctional habits that you both have developed in your marriage…it
would take a tremendous amount of work to turn it around.

By your description, it sounds like YOU are the member of the church,
not your husband. Either he doesn’t really know what it means to have
the Spirit in your home or he’s consciously choosing things to chase the
Spirit away. The solution to your problems is both spiritual and
emotional. I would start with the spiritual first. Ask your home
teachers for help beyond reading the Book of Mormon. Start by saying
daily couple prayers together…and NOT by pausing the t.v. only to
return to an unwholesome program right after prayer. That’s the quickest
way to nullify the prayer…

For you personally, I would encourage a visit with the missionaries in
your area. Learn about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ from them,
because I’m afraid you are not learning it from your member husband.
That doesn’t mean that you need to get baptized right away, but that you
gain the knowledge required to live a peaceful and joyous life,
irrespective of his choices.

I sincerely believe that if you pray the answer will come as to what you
need to do. As you grow spiritually and emotionally it will encourage
your husband to step up or make some other meaningful changes in his own
personal life.

At some point you might want to consider professional counseling for the
two of you, but first built yourself up spiritually.

Good luck and always remember that Heavenly Father loves you both in
spite of your imperfections.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

Part-Member Marriage

Nov 22nd, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

My husband is not a member but supportive of my membership. I actually
purchased your CD at the bookstore to see what I can do to repair our
marriage. (This is my second marriage, the first lost when my x divorced
me because of his pornography addiction.)
I was very controlling for the first three years, and then I got baptized and the gift of the holy ghost let me know I needed to learn to respect his agency. This has made for a sudden and large shift,much positive, but some very painful.
I have spent much time crying alone. Not only does he not understand my
feelings, because of his beliefs he thinks there is little he can do,
that you just have to bear whatever sorrow comes and that his influence
to change it is limited.
Because our values are different, he does not understand why things that
he does are wrong and could hurt. I am blessed that he is respectful of
my hatred of pornography, he does not indulge in that , but sees nothing
wrong with it, and if he views it incidentally as he visits a web page
he will not leave the page, and he has asked me to “get on board with
that”. Magazines he brings into the home have mild pictures of women,
but many still push buttons of fear and revulsion for me.
He really wishes I would get over the reaction I feel. Maybe I am afraid
to, as if that will mean having to learn to accept those images in my home.
He doesn’t watch movies around me but was happy before to watch supposed
r-rated movies with intercourse and nudity depicted. I felt so demeaned.

My greatest fear,after losing my previous marriage to pornography
addiction, is to be left again, this time by a man who has shown me
great love and been very instrumental in healing my spirit from the past.

A few weeks ago he informed me that he would be leaving to Fiji for two
weeks to visit his brother (who I don’t get along with.)
I cried like a baby, not in manipulation, but sadness and fear.
He has never taken me on a tropical vacation. He went ahead with his
trip and is now gone. He has talked often of moving abroad and has the
means to do so, but because of my children I am tethered here. It is a
real possibility that he could leave me behind, though he has promised
otherwise he has broken promises before.

I am scared that the pattern will be set for him to take what he wants,
financially and otherwise and ignore my emotional needs. I don’t want my
children to lose a positive father figure. Similarly, I don’t want to be
manipulative or retaliative. I want desperately to follow Christ and be
an example of Him.
I want the blessings of comfort, not the false security of doing things
my own way.

I feel like I am surviving an earthquake every day, The ground beneath
me is shifting and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I am doing my best to fill my heart with gratitude for my blessings, I
am distracted by feeling I am losing my marriage.
I need to learn how to talk to a man that fears communication
and I would like to set a boundary , I don’t want to be left in the
Canadian snow again while he goes vacation with his brother in warm
places. (This is the second brother trip, the first to California.)
Thank you for your time.
Sister Janet


Dear Janet,

It seems like the damage your first husband caused when he divorced you
has left some scars. You said that you are married to a good man now,
“…who has shown me great love and been very instrumental in healing my
spirit from the past.” In spite of acknowledging his good influence and
traits, you seem to feel quite insecure that he might leave you too!

It is very important not to bring the old baggage from your first
marriage to the second. The past does NOT equal the future. The choices
you make today will determine how happy or successful your future will
be in your relationship(s).

You chose to marry a non-member which is perfectly fine. There are some
inherent difficulties however, that arise when such a union is made. The
most significant one is the different standards and understanding of
those standards. Because he does not espouse your belief system, he
lives his life somewhat differently. This isn’t right or wrong, it’s
just a fact. He allows you to believe as you choose, but in all
fairness, you must allow him to do the same. After all, you knew that he
was not a member when you married him.

If you do not want to lose this good man, I would encourage you to
express your gratitude for him and for his love. When the time is right,
you might also want to communicate with him, how much you would enjoy
going on a tropical vacation with him. Ask him if that’s something you
can both plan together…

Look for the positive, express your love, remember that he’s not your
first husband, but that his standards are different than yours…and
that’s ok. Be grateful that the Lord has brought you a good man to help
you heal from the past. Like I say on my CD, “Ask not what this marriage
can do for me, but what I can do for this marriage!” It usually works
out just fine…

God bless,

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.

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