Dr. Barry Ham is the author of “Living on Purpose” and “Unstuck: Escaping the Rut of a Lifeless Marriage.” He has decades of experience in private practice counseling families.
Although he does not wear a referee shirt to counsel, he does get in the midst of heated and difficult situations to help. He sees couples that have experienced decades of dysfunctional communication. Often people are out of touch with their feelings, and they are not good listeners.
What Communication Skills do I Need to Improve My Relationship?
“I” messages and reflective listening are key techniques to master. Learning to be honest with your feelings, owning your feelings and being responsible for them is very important. Another great skill to learn is building boundaries.
As counselors, it is important that we continue to encourage couples as they develop new boundaries and support them to stay intentional with it. Dr. Ham compares falling back into bad relationship habits to muscle memory. We have to be consistent with being intentional and following through with our boundaries.
An important boundary can be to determine when a disagreement needs time to cool off, rather than to continue digging into it. Our culture of instant gratification has made it even more difficult for couples to navigate disagreements, as we have come to expect quick resolutions.
Let’s See Marriages Saved!
We have the ability as individuals to relate to our mates not just in saving our marriages, but making them engaged and vibrant. We impact our culture by setting an example of a model of what God desires relationship to be like with His people.
Children learn how to ‘do’ relationships from their parents. If we can create healthy marriages we will create a healthier society.
Live On Purpose
People who do not live on purpose usually don’t give much thought into doing things differently. People who do not live on purpose get “this” schooling because it’s what’s expected. They have “this” number of kids because that’s what everyone else is doing. They retire at “this” age because that’s when everyone else is doing it.
God put us here to serve, to make a difference in people’s lives. If you get to retirement and you are sitting there with your feet propped up, it’s not satisfying, you get disillusioned.
Around the age of thirty, Dr. Ham came to a crossroads where he became disillusioned. He began to reflect on God’s word and how it relates to His people. There are principles and truths in scripture that God has created for us that help us better find our purpose.
Knowing your purpose and your destination, improves the ride. It is spiritually irresponsible to not live out intentionally.
What has been your biggest stumbling block in your relationship with God?
Not wanting to do things God’s way. (Especially in his younger years.)
Today, his biggest stumbling block is spending adequate time with Him. If you’re not connected to God, you won’t have the energy to do what it is He needs you to do today.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Listen to God. If I don’t hear Him, nothing else matters. If I don’t spend time listening to God, it gives a sense of peace.
Who do you admire the most, other than a biblical figure?
People who are genuine, who are what they appear to be. People who have poured their lives into others’ lives.
What is your favorite book, besides the Bible, and why?
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Dr. Ham went through a period in his thirties where he was seeking purpose, and found that through this fairytale story, he was able to better emotionally connect to Jesus’ sacrifice through the character of Aslan.
When our marriages get to the edge of the divorce cliff or delegated to the trash heap, God has designed marriage to be vibrant. If two people are willing to come to the table, it can be restored. Biblical principles work in any marriage, if put into practice.
Another piece of wisdom, it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, the best is yet to come!