The Rushmore Report: Three Reasons Christian Marriages Fail

I love God’s institution of marriage. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many marriages – even Christian marriages – fail. I have met with hundreds of couples in my tenure in counseling and have, after much contemplation, exhaustive study, review and prayer, narrowed the list to three major reasons Christian marriages fail. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Selfishness

2. Selfishness

3. Selfishness

It’s a well-known axiom in real estate circles that the three most important considerations when purchasing a home are location, location, and location. In similar fashion, I propose the three most important reasons Christian marriages fail – selfishness, selfishness, and selfishness.

If you have one selfish partner in the marriage, it can limp along. Two selfish people almost invariably results in carnage. A couple who professes Christ should be following biblical principles, and if they do, then the marriage can survive, thrive, and prosper.

We have seen many people benefit greatly from deliverance ministry, temperament analysis, and marriage counseling. We have seen others who reap very little. I believe the key begins with the attitude of the heart in this area of setting aside self.

If you are selfish, can you purpose and commit unilaterally to becoming more of a giver and less of a taker in your marriage? If you are primarily a giver now, you need to ask for the grace, wisdom, peace, and power of God in your situation. He is faithful and all things are possible for those who believe.

About the Author

Don Ibbitson has been a Christian counselor since 2001. Through Above & Beyond Christian Counseling he has impacted hundreds of marriages.

The Rushmore Report: Seven Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage

After an affair, couples often feel blindsided by the betrayal. “I have no clue how we got here,” one partner will say. “I can’t believe this happened to us.” But therapists who counsel couples in such a position usually have a good understanding of why it happened. We have consulted with such therapists, and now offer seven ways to minimize their risk of infidelity.

1. Don’t think you are immune to an affair.

If you think infidelity is something that only happens to other couples, think again. Accepting that an affair can occur in any relationship ensures that you’re better equipped to see the warning signs, said Alexandra H. Solomon, a clinical psychologist and the author of Brave, Deep, Intimate: 20 Lessons to Get You Ready for the Love of a Lifetime.

2. Recognize and tend to the needs of your relationship.

People who cheat often talk about how their affair partners simply fulfilled a need their spouse couldn’t, be it physical or emotional. To sidestep the same fate, clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark said you need to fiercely guard the connection that initially brought you two together. At the same time, check in occasionally to make sure everything is still okay on your partner’s end.

3. Define what monogamy means to you.

Talk openly and honestly about what kind of behavior isn’t acceptable outside the confines of your relationship, then set some clear, mutually agreed-upon boundaries, said Solomon. For example, you might think your borderline flirty behavior at dinner is okay, but your partner may think you need a reality check.

4. Close the door on old flames.

With Facebook at your fingertips, it’s all too easy to reconnect with an old boyfriend or that girl from biology class you always had a thing for in high school. It only takes a click to add him or her, but you ask yourself, “Is it really worth the temptation?” If you’re already having problems in your relationship, your answer should be a clear-cut no, said Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author.

5. Make time for sex.

It’s natural for your sex drive to wax and wane in a long-term marriage. But if you can’t recall the last time the two of you were intimate, you may want to address this issue, said Clark. “The truth is, touching and sexual activity drive up chemical reactions in our brain that promote feelings of connection, attachment, and desire.”

6. Don’t confide in someone other than your spouse (especially an attractive someone).

It’s fine and healthy to have close friends and family who listen to your relationship rants. But discuss your relationship problems with someone you’re drawn to in a physical way and you could be well on your way to an emotional affair, said Saltz.

7. Actively show how much your partner means to you.

The love you feel for your partner may be more than you ever imagined possible, but don’t assume he or she knows that. Your partner wants to feel wanted; make a point to prove your feelings to them on a regular basis, writes Clark.

About the Author

Brittany Wong is the Relationships Editor for The Huffington Post.

Stages of a Cold

A husband’s reactions to his wife’s colds during the first seven years of marriage evolve.

Year 1 – “Sugar Dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle and there’s no telling about these things with all the strep going around. I’m putting you in the hospital. I know the food is lousy, but I’ll be bringing your meals in from Landry’s.”

Year 2 – “Listen, Darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough and I’ve called the doctor to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl.”

Year 3 – “Maybe you should lie down, Honey.”

Year 4 – “Now look, Dear, be sensible. After you feed the kids, do the dishes and mop the floor, you better get some rest.”

Year 5 – “Why don’t you take an aspirin?”

Year 6 – “If you’d just gargle or something instead of sitting around barking like a seal all evening, you might get better.”

Year 7 – “For Pete’s sake, stop that sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?”

Does this sound familiar to anyone other than my wife? Remember the nice guy you used to be? Guess what? That was the man your wife thought she was marrying.

Shopping Carts and Marriage

The great Charlie Brown commented on what it meant to have a good day. “I know it’s going to be a good day when all the wheels on my shopping cart turn the same way.”

Don’t you love it when you get the one cart that has one wheel that is not aligned?

If ever we need our wheels aligned, it is in marriage. I heard about one couple who could never get aligned with their schedule. Bob called his wife from work in the middle of the afternoon. “I’m able to get two tickets for the show we wanted to see. It’s playing now. Do you want to go?”

Martha answered, “Oh, yes! I’ll get ready right away!”

“Perfect,” said Bob. “The tickets are for tomorrow night.”

Another couple was not aligned. The Vermont farmer was sitting on the porch with his wife. He looked over at her and thought about all the ways she had blessed him in 42 years of marriage.

Then he spoke, “Wife, you’ve been such a wonderful woman that there are times when I can hardly keep from telling you.”

To have a really great marriage, we need all wheels headed the same way. Then it is okay to tell your spouse you love them. Read the Song of Solomon, in the Bible. You will find a modern romance story. You will find two mates whose carts are fully aligned.

The Rushmore Report: Liberals Unhinged over Pence Loyalty to His Wife

Vice President Mike Pence probably wasn’t expecting to receive backlash when the Washington Post published a profile last Tuesday on his wife, Karen. The piece detailed the couple’s relationship and included a statement Pence made in 2002 saying he didn’t go out to dinner with another woman without his wife being present and that he didn’t attend events serving alcohol unless his wife joined him.

Though this honorable and respectful practice can logically be seen as refreshing in today’s society, which has divorce rates as high as 50 percent nationwide, liberals around the country and even Canada are attacking Pence for the dynamic of his relationship.

Friday morning, the liberal website,, published a story called “Vice President Pence’s ‘never dine alone with a woman’ rule isn’t honorable. It’s probably illegal.” The author, Joanna Grossman, argued that Pence’s practice is illegal “sex discrimination” under Title VII with regard to employment law and a boss-employee relationship.

“The practice described by Pence in that 2002 interview is clearly illegal when practiced by a boss in an employment setting, and deeply damaging to women’s employment opportunities,” Grossman wrote.

“By law, working dinners with the boss could be considered an opportunity to which both sexes must have equal access,” she continued. “Employers are not permitted to classify employees on the basis of gender without proof that sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for a particular job. A Pence-type rule could never satisfy this test.”

Notably, the article did not offer in support of their position a single instance of a court ruling that a rule like Pence’s constituted sex discrimination, in any jurisdiction. In fact, the only court ruling mentioned by was an Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which held that an employer’s decision to actually terminate a female employee because of the employer’s wife’s jealousy was not sex discrimination under the law.

Vox harshly criticized this ruling as “absurd” but offered no legal precedent that would suggest that their bizarre reading of Title VII has been upheld by any court, or by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Not to be outdone, Ashley Csanady of the Vancouver National Post actually wrote, apparently with a straight face, that Pence’s care to avoid the appearance of impropriety with respect to his wife constituted an element of “rape culture.”

Csanady contended that while she believes the term “rape culture” is widely overused in today’s society, it is entirely applicable in this case.

“‘Rape culture’ is a phrase so overused, it’s become almost meaningless, like calling someone a Nazi on the internet. But it has a very clear meaning: the notion, whether conscious or unconscious, that men can’t control themselves around women because boys will be boys,” Csanady wrote.

“The explicit reasons for Pence’s restriction are religion and family, but the implicit reason is that he must avoid alone-time with women lest his stringent religious moral code fall apart in the presence of a little lipstick and decolletage. That is rape culture,” she wrote.

She ended the opinion piece in high dramatic fashion, attempting to connect dots with no real evidence other than her own assumptions.

“So, while Pence’s marriage is none of our business, his attitudes towards women are,” she concluded. “And if, in 2017, he believes they remain such fallen, lascivious things that he can’t possibly be in a room alone with them, it says less about his faith and more the fact he sees women as lesser beings.”

After the outrage extended to President Donald Trump for his derogatory comments about grabbing women, it is difficult to understand how liberals can muster the same outrage toward Pence for saying virtually the exact opposite.

About the Author

Sara Gonzales is a writer for The Blaze.

God’s Gift

The unthinkable occurred 34 years ago. On February 26, 1983, Elizabeth Ann Solomon became Elizabeth Ann Denison. The most beautiful, godly, amazing woman in the universe became my wife. In the ultimate example of “opposites attract,” Beth said “I do” when she could have easily said “Are you kidding me?” To the disbelief of those who knew me best, she married me.

Looking back over these past 34 years, it is clear that this was ordained by God. Beth has demonstrated the character and love of God like no one I’ve ever met. I am a better man because of her, and the world is a better place. These 34 wonderful years of marriage have taught me five lessons.

1. Laughter is a good thing.

The Bible says a godly woman “laughs without fear” (Proverbs 31:25). Solomon said “there is a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:3). For Beth, that time is a daily occurrence. Through times that were bad and times that are good, we have learned to laugh in our marriage – a lot. We laugh at life’s circumstances, each other, and many of you! Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” By that standard, of our 12,418 days of marriage, very few of them have been wasted.

2. Grace is real.

One of the great lessons I’ve taught Beth is the value of grace and forgiveness. By that, I mean I have given her thousands of on-the-job opportunities to practice grace on the highest level. And rarely has she disappointed. Jesus said to forgive 490 times (Matthew 18:2 ). That worked well for us. And then we entered our second year of marriage. Ruth Graham Bell said it best – “Marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Grace is real.

3. Marry your best friend.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Beth and I are together – a lot. And we never get tired of each other. We seldom need “a break.” We have fun together and share so much in common. We love the outdoors. We love the beach. We collect shells together – a state requirement for anyone over the age of 50 living in Florida. We even bought a two-person kayak recently – the ultimate test of our friendship.

4. Marriage is a journey, not a destination.

I used to think the marriage altar would be the consummation of a dream. I’d be married. Check it off the list. Take a victory lap. Take the ring, cut the cake, and accept the congratulations. But marriage is not a destination; it is a journey. God said he’d guide our journey with his light (Psalm 32:8). But I have learned God uses a tiny flashlight, not a giant spotlight. For 34 years, marriage has been about the next step, not the next mile. And that’s a good thing. It is the unpredictability of marriage that keeps it fresh. After 34 years, we are having more fun than ever.

5. It only works with God.

Solomon spoke of marriage as a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12-13). You can have a good marriage apart from God. You just have to decide if “good” is good enough. It is through God that success becomes celebration. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Beth and I have learned that marriage only reaches its highest mountain and deepest meaning inside the boundaries and personhood of God in Jesus Christ. Max Lucado writes, “God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”

Today, we are celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary at Disney World. We are riding roller coasters. If properly drugged, I may even ride the “Tower of Terror.” But when we leave at the end of the day, our greatest ride will continue. We’ve been on this ride called marriage for 34 years now. And with all the twists and turns and ups and downs, the ride is as fun as it is unpredictable. And it keeps getting better every day.

The Rushmore Report: Ten Commandments of a Better Marriage in 2017

Is your marriage all you could hope for? As you move into 2017, keep two things in mind. First, if all you do is what you’ve done, then all you’ll get is what you’ve got. Second, your current strategy is perfectly suited for the results you are getting. A better marriage requires changes. And a good place to start is with ten biblical commands to a better marriage.

This is from Stephen Arterburn, best-selling author and host of New Life Live, a Christian radio program heard by two million listeners.

1. Never bring up the mistakes of the past. “Stop criticizing others or it will come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

2. Neglect the whole world rather than each other. “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?” (Mark 8:36).

3. Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. “And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).

4. At least once a day, try to say something complimentary to your spouse. “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

5. Never meet without an affectionate welcome. “Kiss me again and again; your love is sweeter than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

6. “For richer or poorer” – rejoice in every moment that God has given you together. “A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate” (Proverbs 15:17).

7. If you have a choice between making yourself or your mate look good, choose your mate. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Proverbs 3:27).

8. If they’re breathing, your mate will eventually offend you. Learn to forgive. “I am warning you, if another believer sins, rebuke him; then if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

9. Don’t use faith, the Bible, or God as a hammer. “God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:17).

10. Let love be your guidepost. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

About the Author

Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show in the country, heard by over two million people. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Every Man’s Battle.



The Rushmore Report: Why Priscilla Presley Had to Divorce Elvis

Last week, Priscilla Presley appeared on the U.K. talk show “Loose Women,” opening up about what it was like to meet Elvis as a young teenager and the challenges they faced during their six-year marriage. Born Priscilla Beaulieu, the model and actress met Elvis Presley when she was just 14. He was serving in the U.S. Army in West Germany. What followed was a whirlwind relationship that was doomed from the beginning.

Elvis was serving at the same time as Priscilla’s father, a U.S. Air Force officer. At the time, Elvis, ten years older than Priscilla, was already an internationally known rock star. The couple married when she was 21 and moved to his home in Memphis – a transition that proved to be difficult.

“Moving into Graceland, he already had his inner circle,” Priscilla revealed. “Of course they embraced me, but I never realized that that was it. We didn’t go out. He didn’t like eating in restaurants because people would take pictures of him and he didn’t want to be shot putting a fork in his mouth.”

She summarized, “We lived in a bubble.”

During their six years of marriage, Priscilla went to great lengths to maintain what she calls “mystique” in the relationship. Elvis never saw her without makeup or while she was getting ready.

“There are things you keep to yourself,” she explained. “He never wanted to see me getting dressed. He wanted to see the result of getting dressed.”

Even though Elvis was the love of her life, Priscilla said she became lost living “his life,” seeing the movies he wanted to see, listening to the music he liked, and going to the places he wanted to visit. She hadn’t lived her teenage years “as a normal girl.”

Ultimately, Priscilla chose to leave Elvis because she “needed to find out what the world was like.”

About the Author

Maria Carter is a freelance writer who has been published by major newspapers such as the Dallas Morning News. Her focus is on cultural and entertainment issues of contemporary American society.

The Rushmore Report: Top 5 Obstacles to a Great Christian Marriage

I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage. But marriage isn’t easy. It’s actually hard to have a good marriage. One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31, which says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

One flesh.

The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages. In my work with marriages, I’ve identified five of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages – you are not alone – can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger “one flesh.”

The five major obstacles I have seen are:

1. Lack of Biblical knowledge about marriage

There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver’s license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don’t really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.

2. Differences between men and women

Men and women are designed differently by God – not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. We need equality, but must never forget the master Designer made men and women differently.

3. Communication styles

Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking, while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is that I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it’s received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.

4. Outside influences

Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of these influences are: children, relatives, friends, stress, and the devil. All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influences in the marriage. The key is not to let any of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.

5. Differing goals and objectives

Remember that every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities, and opinions to the relationship. Again, that’s part of God’s overall design to make two people one.

Remember that God didn’t promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this column says, “This is a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). If you are married, praise God for this mystery.

About the Author

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader, passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors. As pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexingon, Kentucky, Ron has ministered to thousands. His writings can be accessed at

The Rushmore Report: An Empty Nest and a Full Marriage

Why is it that so many men and women who have weathered countless ups and downs over years of marriage suddenly give up? It’s happening all over America – couples married for 30 years, as soon as their children move out (for good) – they split up. Why is this? What is it about the empty nest that dooms so many marriages? If you are among that growing number, I believe there is hope.

Some couples say they don’t have anything in common anymore. Others say the only reason they stayed married for as long as they did was for the kids’ sake. Then there are those who admit they simply aren’t willing to make the effort it takes to create a full marriage that spans both time and seasons of change.

So how can you have an empty nest and a full marriage at the same time?

1. Keep talking.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I love a quiet house. Still, after rearing four children, these walls can feel eerily still at times, which is why I advocate talking to one’s spouse. Regularly. Daily. Hourly, if possible. I would never suggest that an empty-nest mom immediately unload her quota of unused words on her unsuspecting husband the minute he walks in the door after work. On the other hand, I’ve seen more damage done when couples decide it’s too much hassle to keep talking to each other. Ask questions. Discuss. Stay curious. Keep talking.

2. Put your spouse first.

Some husbands and wives believe that after their children leave home they won’t be privy to their kids’ problems anymore. More often, parents find themselves on the receiving end of news more troubling than ever before. Expect your kids to come back and dump their stuff on you. But put your spouse’s needs ahead of your kids’ needs. Sure, that sounds tough. But is also sounds biblical. Take tender care of your primary relationship so you’ll have what you need to responsibly care for your adult children when they need your help.

3. Choose activities together.

One of the aspects of having been married to the same person for so long is that both of you understand the other’s likes and dislikes. Gone are the early days of guessing what your partner might enjoy, and now is the time to start dreaming as you put to paper some imaginative ideas for having fun together. To start, make his and hers lists. Later, bring the two together and create a master list that blends the best from both. Don’t be afraid to try new adventures. Have fun. Together.

4. Don’t allow the past to ruin the future.

Most married couples could admit to knowing there were times when they could have given up on each other. For my husband and me, it doesn’t take much for either of us to peer back into our past and dredge up heartaches or pains we caused each other. In hopes of not letting past hurts and disappointments ruin our future hopes and dreams, we need to intentionally have a terrible memory about what’s past and painful at the same time we develop an eagle eye for recalling every wonderful thing our spouse has done for us.

About the Author

Michele Howe is a writer and the author of 17 books for women, including Empty Nest and What’s Next?