Mark’s Marriage Minute

Fighting Fair...

All of my life I have sought to bring peace to people in conflict. It is a core part of who I am, and why I wrote The PLEDGE of A Lifetime.

Dr. Tony Wheeler, President and Director of The Family Ministry Institute, Faculty Chair for Dr. John Trent’s said the following in his endorsement of my book, The PLEDGE of a Lifetime:

“A practical guide to help couples who struggle to ‘fight fair’ learn new ways of responding to conflict….”

Question for you today:

  • Share one tip you have learned about “fighting fair.”
  • If you kept one thing in mind this week about “fighting fair,” what would that be?

Somewhere, even on your hand, write down a key word that would remind you to live it out this week!

3 Things Graduation Teaches All Of Us

There’s nothing quite like that moment when you see your son, daughter, or spouse walk across the stage and you are filled with pride for all they have accomplished. This year I watched one of my children do that very thing. It was the ninth time I felt those feelings whelm up inside. It was amazing!


Accompanying the experience of graduating from any level of education, or from one area of life into another, the question looms: Where to from here?

Keep the following three ideas in mind and you won’t go wrong:

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Mark’s Marriage Minute

Feeling disconnected...

The following is a quote from my book, The PLEDGE of a Lifetime:

“I don’t know when it started exactly. All I know is that one day I remember thinking it didn’t seem right between us. I longed for connection and it just wasn’t happening. All our conversations seemed to end up in an argument or with us just ignoring each other. I tried over and over to get him to see there was a problem, but he never got it. Then one morning, I realized I was dreading seeing him at the end of the day.”

Have you ever found yourself at a similar point in your marriage?

I know I could relate – at least at different times with Zerrin and I. We both would definitely say we know what it is like to feel disconnected. We finally learned that when we felt that way, we knew too many other things in our lives had taken precedence over our relationship with each other – and we needed to make some changes. How about you?

What one change could you make THIS WEEK that would make at least a 50% change in your relationship?

You Are Being Watched!

Every day, all day long you are being watched. It is an eerie feeling when you stop and think about it. Someone recently commented on Facebook how they didn’t like ads popping up in front of them of a product they were just searching for online. Makes you wonder.


The watching I am talking about however, is in our marriages. Here is what I mean:

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Mark’s Marriage Minute

Love in the midst of conflict...

“Lovingly relating in the middle of conflict (and all the time) is perhaps the highest value of a Jesus-revealing life, and the least understood and practical. My friend Mark’s book goes a long way to providing clear understanding and practical instruction of what it means to actually love.”

~Larry Crabb, Psychologist, Author

Dr. Crabb wrote this as an endorsement of my book, The PLEDGE of a Lifetime. Questions to consider:

  • How often do you think about love when in the midst of conflict?
  • To the degree that love rules your heart when in the midst of conflict, what difference would that make in the way you relate?

Ask God this week for LOVE to rule in your heart every day!


10 Key Ingredients To Living At Peace With Your Spouse

If you have been reading my blog for very long at all, it would hardly be a surprise to hear that most of my life I have sought to learn principles to get through conflict in a more productive manner rather than just fighting. As an adult I formed those principles into a conflict resolution process we call PLEDGE. I use the process personally and teach it to others on a regular basis so that they might truly learn to love well.


More recently I have been thinking that to get the most out of the PLEDGE process, some key ingredients are necessary to put into the mix. This blog post lists those ingredients.

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When Your Spouse Says They Don’t Love You Anymore

I received a call from someone wanting counseling for their marriage. They were desperate, not knowing what to do. Their marriage was fine – so they thought – up until recently when their spouse informed them things were over. The reason given?  “I don’t love you anymore!”


I have had that call on many occasions.

What was to be my advice? Why does this happen? What can you do when this occurs or if you find yourself feeling this way?

Three facts to keep in mind about feelings:

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We Are Going to Asia to Teach on Marriage!

This is a bit of a different take on our regular blog on marriage. Normally I write about ways in which you can grow in your marriage and relationships. I hope you permit me to share just a bit about an opportunity that has come our way to ask for your support and encouragement. I realize some of our readers may not be followers of Christ. That is OK – glad you are still interested in doing what you can to invest in your marriage! For the rest of you who are followers of Christ, we would appreciate your prayers as well as any financial support you would be able to give!

We have been asked by a respected Christian mission to Asia for the past 25 years to go to Asia this summer to mentor, counsel, and teach on marriage and family. The vast majority of church leaders in Asia are struggling greatly in their marriages because of long periods of separation due to persecution or traveling to evangelize. Asian church leaders they have introduced us to have expressed that they believe the teaching/writing we have done on communicating in love and conflict resolution is cross-cultural and would be very helpful to our Asian brothers and sisters.

A Great Opportunity

We have accepted this invitation, believing for a number of reasons that God has orchestrated it. At each of three different locations we will spend four days training, counseling, and mentoring leaders to further the work there with marriages and families. In one place we will be teaching the top leaders of a church movement of thousands of churches, where 90% of its leaders’ marriages are very unhealthy! We are humbled, sobered, and excited all at the same time.

One of the Asian leaders who is asking us to come, is hopeful not only about marriages being healed, but about the lasting effect this will have in drawing others to Christ.

Want To Hear More?

If you would like to connect and hear more, before putting this letter aside, mark your calendar and plan to join Zerrin and I at our home, Thursday night, April 30th from 7:00 – 8:00 for dessert and a time of further sharing about our trip.  Please RSVP through phone, email, or Facebook. Also watch Facebook for a prayer time in June before we leave.

We are raising funds and a prayer team for this trip and invite you to partner with us in both areas. In the natural it seems a formidable task but we are stepping out in faith to live not in the natural but the supernatural! We need to raise an additional $5,000.00 for the trip. This will cover the expenses for both Zerrin and I, $2500 each, including int’l round-trip flights, flights and travel in Asia, hotels when needed, meals, etc. The first half ($2500) we need by May 1 and the remainder by June 1. Gifts exceeding the funds required for this trip will be donated to needs in Asia.

Whether you are able to donate or not, we would love to have you be a part of our prayer team to get updates over the coming weeks and while in Asia. Please send us your email for updates.

Thank you for considering this. In all reality, we cannot do this without you, and frankly we don’t want to. Knowing many are behind us and cheering us on in prayer will be a great source of strength and encouragement.

Because of Him,

Mark & Zerrin Oelze

Having The Same Fight Over and Over? Here’s why: (Part 2)

No doubt you have experienced the dining decision dilemma. You know, the one where she says: “where do you want to go out to eat?”

And he says: “Oh anywhere is fine with, me. Where do you want to go?”

Her response: “Oh I am ok wherever we go.”

Him: “Really?”

Her: “Really.”

Him: “How about the barbecue out on old route 30?”

Her: (you know what’s coming!) “Oh – I don’t want to go there again. Besides I am really not in the mood for barbecue!”

And he simply does not know what to say or do next!

Same Fight (part 2)

In my last blog, I introduced the idea proposed by John Gottman, that nearly 70% of the problems we experience as couples, are likely perpetual in nature. Whether it is a minor issue like where we go to eat, or a much larger issue like how to parent a rebellious child, these are problem areas that might cause conflict between us as husband and wife again and again.

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Having The Same Fight Over and Over? Here’s why:

I’m not sure when it really hit me, but there it was: we were having the same conflict again that we did the week before. And the week before that, and even the one before that! What was going on? Why did we keep fighting over the same thing?

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Being a counselor who is trained to analyze complex situations, I had to figure this one out. What I eventually discovered was transformational to my marriage.

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