Oct. 14, 2010 -- "Good Morning America" is launching a nationwide search for a 21st century Advice Guru.
This is a full time, on-air position at "GMA." You could sit next to George and Robin and be a part of the "GMA" Team!
Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring some of your entries on the website.
Check out this one from Brian Peters of Greenwood, Ind.
What's the best advice you have ever given? What was the result?
A few years ago, a middle-age man confessed an affair to me. He said he no longer loved his wife and planned on leaving her. I listened. Then I told him to stop the affair and start focusing on his wife. I directed him, for 60 days, to meet his wife's needs -- understanding he would not "feel" like doing this, but to do it anyway, and then to do it for 60 more days. In the end, things hadn't turned around - he still wasn't "feeling" in love with her. I persisted in encouraging him to serve his wife, but at that point he stopped contacting me. About a year and a half later, I got an email from him saying that he and his wife were still together, he loved her deeply, she had forgiven him for the affair, and they were enjoying their marriage together.
What would you tell his person: "Whenever there is an issue between my mother-in-law and me, my husband refuses to stand up for me. How do I get him to value our relationship more than the one with his mother?
This is a difficult conflict to navigate, especially early in marriage. The challenge for the wife is to make her feelings known without coming across as a "nag," the bane of any husband. The wife's approach should be to focus on specific examples when they occur, and explain, in an emotionally-detached manner, how the husband's actions indicate that he has chosen his mother over her. Then drop it. Don't become emotional, don't extend the conversation beyond the time necessary to explain the situation. Just move on. And don't expect one conversation to make a difference. This same approach will have to be repeated over (and over, and over -- at least that's the way it will seem to the wife). But eventually, the husband will get the message.
What would you tell this person: "While cleaning my son's room, I accidentally saw on his Facebook page threatening remarks from his friends. I fear he's being bullied. What should I do?"
The answer depends on the relationship between parent and child. That's why it's difficult to answer individual questions as if they exist in a vacuum. If we could assume the relationship between the parent and child is healthy and has been nourished over the years, then a direct approach that asks the question "are you being bullied?" - would be best. And asking the question once won't work. The first answer will be no. But again, assuming a healthy relationship, the child will not be offended by having the question repeated, and eventually will give an answer sufficient to allow the parent in on what's going on. One of the hardest things for a parent is to know something is wrong with a child, and yet have the child say nothing is wrong. The best we can do, as parents, is provide encouraging love and keep asking questions.
'Dear GMA': Featured Submission
What would you tell this person: "My boss keeps taking credit for my ideas. What should I do?"
Be direct, but polite, in making clear you are aware that your boss is taking credit for your ideas. Don't be threatening, but seek to turn it to your advantage. Simply indicate that you are glad your boss finds your ideas good enough to be put to use. Then ask for a raise. If your ideas are making a difference, then the company should be willing to place a value on them. The tricky part in this is not being confrontational, passive-aggressive, or rude, but being forceful. Depending on how the conversation proceeds it might be necessary to suggest that you feel the need to talk to your boss's supervisor. That, however, should be a last resort.
Life is hard and unfair, don't expect it to be otherwise. But there are moments that make it worthwhile -- seek those. That's the essence of what I've learned in the course of my nearly 50 years, and what I share with those who seek my advice. That comes from my own personal experience: I am a recovering alcoholic, sober now, by God's grace, for 15 years. At the peak of my alcoholism, I walked out on my family with the intention of leaving my wife and kids. Somewhere along the way, everything changed.
I got sober, found a relationship with God through faith in Christ, and fell in love again with my wife. Now, 15 years later, I spend my time providing marital counseling to couples in crisis. My counseling is based on my training as a lawyer (a law degree and 10 year law practice) and as a pastor (48 hours formal seminary training and 10 years as a pastor), and my own personal experience.
Often, I wonder if I'm really doing anything for those who come to see me. Most of the time I simply listen and ask a few questions. However, it seems that's what so many people need. We live in a world that has gotten too noisy and busy for us to listen to each other. But we all need someone to listen, not solve our problems or fix us -- just listen. And God has given me the gift of being a good listener. I sometimes even laugh at how people appreciate my "wisdom," when the it seems to me all I've done is listen.
Why would I be right for this role? Because I listen to people.