~ Denise

Dear Denise:

Yes, you have misunderstood me. I agree -- I don’t think we should sit idly by as our mate indulges in sinful behaviors. To do so is not only unscriptural, it allows a sinful behavior to continue. The Apostle Paul tells us in Gal. 6:1: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself or you also may be tempted." The emphasis here seems to be on our attitude when approaching someone. Matthew 18 also instructs us about going to someone who sins against you.

There is far too much enabling taking place on critical marital issues today, allowing serious problems to run rampant and causing extreme harm to all concerned. Balance is the key. We must find a way to say what needs to be said in a compassionate way. Shame-based communication ruins rapport and is hurtful, adding insult to injury. Ephesians 4: 29 also instructs us to build one another up, using only language that would encourage. This is quite different than "preaching" at our mate, or nagging them about a particular issue. Those two techniques never works. It is never effective to use coercive language in a futile attempt to get someone to change their behavior.

So, say it to him straight — speak the truth in love; share your feelings and thoughts clearly on the matter, and set healthy boundaries for yourself and your family.

Have a question for Dr. David? Contact him at

David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He
 is the author of over 18 books, including  Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage,  Saying It So He'll Listen, and  When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest book, When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit, will be released in February, 2006. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.

Ministries for those struggling with pornography addiction:

Pure Life Ministries 
Focus on the Family's PureIntimacy.org