Question?

Why does the bible refer to “Tax Collectors” as sinners?

Mindset: A Biblical Perspective

Every person is God’s creation. God created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, as God’s reflection, we need to be constantly reminded of how precious and loved we are in His eyes. God’s love for us is unfathomable and His thought for us is for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11). God is constantly thinking about ways to bless us with growth and peace of mind. However, He requires that we not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). However, with our fallen nature, we tend to conform to this world and that causes dissatisfaction in our lives.
Nonetheless, God still wants us to have a renewed mind. God wants our minds renewed because what we harbor in our minds are reflected in what we say and what we profess with our mouth affects our whole being. Matthew 12:34 and Proverbs 18:21 remind us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and that life and death are in the power of the tongue respectively. These biblical passages attest to the power of the human mind and the power in the words we speak as it relates to achieving success and fulfillment in life. They also show us the relationship between our mindset and the things we affirm in our lives.
The truth remains that the devil wants our misery but God wants us to have eternal life in Him, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). Therefore, whenever we a clouded with a mindset that is negatively affecting our wellbeing, all we need to do is surrender our burden at the feet of Christ and reject the negativity, “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7, KJV). Also, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Therefore we are a product of our thoughts. If we have a victim mindset we become victims but if we have a conquering mindset we become conquerors and victors even in the midst of trials. Jesus is the way, He is truth, and He is life and without Him we cannot have a fulfilled life (John 14:16, KJV). Therefore, when our mindset fills us up with lies and negativity we should identify the negativity, argue against them with God’s words, and replace them with God’s truth.
God wants us to be happy and joyful. However, our lives are short of happy because of the various beliefs and misbeliefs we hold unto. Authors, Backus and Chapian state that “beliefs and misbeliefs are the most important factors of mental and emotional life” (p.17). The authors also contend that “our feelings are caused by what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, whether in words or in attitude. What we tell ourselves can be either truth or a lie” (p.17). Therefore, in order to become the happy person God created you to become you have to “locate your misbeliefs, remove them, and replace misbeliefs with the truth” (Backus & Chapian, 2000, p. 15). So, guard the affections of your heart above everything else because the emotional attachments we make determines our life path (Proverbs 4:23).

Reference
Backus, W. D., & Chapian, M. (2000). Telling yourself the truth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

The two types of mindset that affect how people reason and react to life issues are the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck states that a fixed mindset “creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them” (Dweck, 2006, p.7). Based on Dweck’s statement, having a fixed mind-set may lead an individual to dodge challenges, quit easily, shun effort, shun beneficial undesirable feedback, and feel intimidated by the attainment of others.
Conversely, a growth mind-set is based on the “belief that your basic qualities are things you can activate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others” (Dweck, 2006, p. 7). The implication is that a growth mind-set stirs a yearning to learn and as a result the inclination to accept challenges, hang on amidst obstructions, value effort, learn from negative feedback, and be motivated by the accomplishment of others. Essentially, the growth mind-set is ideal for growth and goal achievement. Dr. Dweck also asserts that the hallmark of the growth mindset is the “passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well.” She suggests that a growth mindset allows people to bloom during some of the most demanding periods in their lifetime. In essence, the growth mind-set is what keeps people moving in the midst of challenges and setbacks.
Our mind-set determines how we accurately view our assets and limitations. This is because studies have shown that “people with the growth mind-set are more likely to have inflated views of their abilities and try for things they’re not capable of while people with the fixed mindset misestimate their performance and ability” (Dweck, 2006, p. 11). Therefore, a person’s mind-set can positively or negatively impact their life aspirations. Likewise, research also shows that individuals, who visualize positive results, end up achieving a positive outcome and vice versa (Williams & Menendez, 2015). This implies that mind-set is two-way faceted, it could lead to growth or regression.
Authors William and Menendez assert that for an individual to alter their mindset, an acknowledgement from the individual that change is needed and an ability to observe and detect their negative imaginations is required. The authors state that “our habits of thinking, our habitual moods, our habits of using our energy, the ways we hold our bodies, and the stories we use to explain what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen-all of these habits and actions shape how we see and experience the world. They circumscribe our world and limit our possibilities” (p.345). Indeed, our mind-set confines our world and restrains our opportunities.
There are various reasons that might lead individuals to develop a particular mind-set. For ages, scientists made the belief that the human brain is static and lacks plasticity thereby making the assertion the norm. The assertion left many people hooked in a fixed mind-set. William and Menendez emphasize that an individual’s mindset is sourced when it “becomes so familiar that it is habitual, we may lose sight of it as something we have adopted and mistake it for reality. When this happens, we may focus outside ourselves and say, “that’s just how the world is,” unaware we have choices” (p.346). This type of belief system has the capability to dictate our thoughts, actions, and cap our being. A fixed mindset limits our existence thereby making us susceptible only to what it sanctions.
Individuals tend to be taken aback when the goal that they want to achieve is blocked by a flawed habitual way of thinking. Williams and Menendez affirm that individual struggle with achieving their goals when it is “blocked by a mind-set that is a holdover from an earlier level of consciousness… by specific experiences that were so intense they created brain ruts; that is, the habitual response is so wired into the clients’ neural pathways that when the stimulus occurs, the neurons immediately fire in the habitual sequence” (p. 346). However, the good news is that the human brain is not static but is capable to readjust in ways that foster a growth faceted mind-set as opposed to a fixed mind-set. Nonetheless, it will take several replications and reiterations to establish a fresh brain footpath to supersede the previous one.

                                                     References

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random        House.

Society for Neuroscience. (2011, July 1). Neuroplasticity. Retrieved from http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thinking-behaving/learning-and-memory/articles/2011/neuroplasticity/

Williams, P., & Menendez, D. S. (2015). Becoming a professional life coach: Lessons from the institute for life coach training. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

Mindset

mindset-logo-directionThe impact of an individual’s mindset in relation to overall wellness and optimum performance cannot be overstated. This is because a person’s mindset is instrumental to their life outcome. It influences the way they perceive and react to daily life issues and determines their ability to have a fulfilled life experience or an unfulfilled one.

1.      Do you know that a person’s mind-set is instrumental to their victory or defeat? All that a person achieves and perceives starts in the mind considering that is where the germ that sprouts into their viewpoint is sown. Individuals who think less of themselves are positioned to achieve less while individuals who think highly of themselves are positioned to achieve more.

2.      The way an individual acts and reacts to an incident is influenced by the way the incident is construed based on the individual’s convictions, outlooks, notions and emotions. Basically, the way an individual scrutinizes and gives analysis of an issue is based on their established perception. This established perception could be productive or destructive. Therefore, it is important for individuals to become aware of those habitual ways of viewing events or how their established perception of events affect their life and make the conscious decision to make necessary changes where needed.

3.      Accordingly, a person’s belief system about their individual abilities and capabilities feed their behavior and foretells their achievements. Some of the fundamental beliefs an individual holds about themselves is based on what they see and accept to be their nature. According to a research conducted by Dr. Carol Dweck on the issue of mindset shows that “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.” Therefore, in order for an individual to achieve their personal, relational, and occupational goals, they need to change their mindset which then brings about positive life changes.

Reference

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is an integral part of wellness. Physical fitness can be achieved by incorporating exercise into everyday regime. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) the dilapidated degree of physical activity among people is a chief culprit to the problem of chronic disease. The burden associated with lack of physical activity is expensive as it regards to quality of life and economic resources needed to provide medical care. Being physically active helps to reduce feelings of fatigue, increase weight loss, reduce aches and pain. The level of physical activity one engages in is a question of individual choice and their surrounding environment. According to the ODPHP, the finest physical activity is the one that is so gratifying to frequently engage in. Movement helps with wellness realization. The author, Michael Arloski suggests using the word moving instead of exercise to allow individuals see the benefits of movement. Dancing, stair climbing, parking far off, and walking are all acts of movement individuals often engage in without having the notion of working out or exercising.

In order for individuals to take the necessary steps needed to effect change, they would have to identify the benefits of physical activity to them. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion state that individuals who are physically vigorous are in good health and less likely to develop many lingering illnesses. In order to achieve good health, one has to set individual goals specifically geared towards physical activity. Taking daily brisk walks, stair climbing, and dancing are very beneficial. Furthermore, an individual in need of physical fitness will have to understand various types of physical activity and the extent of physical activity required to achieve their personal goals. For instance, if losing weight is one of an individual’s goals, it is ideal for that person to know that high intensity activity like running is efficient in burning calories. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 reminds us that “ bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things” (KJV). Therefore, although physical exercise is to some degree valuable, spiritual exercise trumps it.

References

Arloski, M. (2014). Wellness coaching for lasting lifestyle change (2nd ed.). Duluth, MN: Whole Person Associates.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2016). Nutrition and health are closely related – 2015-2020 dietary guidelines. Retrieved from http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/introduction/nutrition-and-health-are-closely-related/

Hale and Hearty for Christ

hale-and-hearty-for-christWellness involves making every effort with respect to upbeat growth. It calls attention to optimal performance by detecting and propping up those dynamics that permit persons to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. It encompasses accountability and self-actualization. Authors Granello and Young are of the opinion that wellness is illustrated by the person who is relentlessly working on forming a sense of well-being and quality of life in all areas, even when hurting from severe or prolonged mental physical problem. This illustration indicates a sense of personal responsibility and self-actualization. Also, Arloski considers wellness as the willful effort made by individuals to improve their health and welfare. However, focusing only on physical lifestyle changes that lead to wellness should not be the main focus in the quest for wellness. Spiritual lifestyle and changes should be incorporated in this quest for optimal performance. A biblical worldview of wellness emphasizes a responsibility on individuals to care for the body. Corinthians 6: 19-20 states that “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (KJV). Although a biblical worldview acknowledges the importance of physical exercise in terms of optimum wellbeing, it calls for more focus on spiritual wellness as stated in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 “exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things” (KJV). Also, biblical worldview sees a correlation between sin and wellness. Psalm 38:3-4 state that “there is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin” (KJV). This passage indicates that sin negatively impacts our health and well-being. However, God has power over health and stress. He urges us to come to him with our burdens and find rest (Mathew 11:28-29, KJV). Learning to live a life according to God’s plan based on biblical worldview is an integral part of complete wellness. 

References

Arloski, M. (2014). Wellness coaching for lasting lifestyle change (2nd ed.). Duluth, MN: Whole Person Associates.

Granello, D. H., & Young, M. E. (2012). Counseling today, foundations of professional identity. New York, NY: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Helping Couples Manage Conflict

 

pic-6-300x200The innate nature of human beings to step on the toes of others is what leads to conflict. Conflict in itself is not bad rather it brings awareness to areas in need of change, growth, and nurture. Smalley and Smalley indicate that conflict is inevitable in any relationship. It is bound to happen. However, it is vital to understand what drives conflict. Conflict is driven by a push on the emotional buttons of other people. Emotional buttons are sensitive areas in people that tend to be easily aroused when pushed. The reactions that stem from pushing someone’s button tend to make matters worse. Stepping on the toes of another in marriage can be very irritating and the things we do to address the issue tend to keep things stagnant. In other words, the way we react causes more harm than good. We try to determine who is to blame, who is right and who is guilty of wrongdoing, we enter a fact finding mode demanding the truth and nothing but the truth. These quests are often fruitless because they are clouded with the urge for revenge. Ecclesiastes 7:21 asserts, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you” (NKJV). This biblical passage urges us not to take everything said about us personally rather let it pass so as to avoid trouble. Taking things said about us to heart often leads to retaliation and revenge. The outcome is always ugly. When there is a conflict, people either fight or flee. Those who choose to fight may become defensive, critical, angry, belittle their spouse, escalate etc. Conversely, those who chose to retreat become withdrawn, passive aggressive, stuffed up with their feelings, shut down, negative towards their spouse etc. In the past, when my buttons are pushed, I usually react by getting angry and then withdraw into my shell. The irony is that the problem remains and never gets resolved. The danger is that things remain stuffed up inside and may someday explode or spiral out of control. With these reactions that stem from our buttons being pushed, having a negative believe about your spouse is very destructive. This is because ones you’ve validated a negative or positive perception of your spouse and have validated such perception in your brain, you begin to view your spouse’s words and actions in that way, thus, “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (NKJV). Basically if you anybody considers something unclean, then for that person it is unclean. Therefore if you consider your or perceive your spouse in a negative way, then he or she becomes to you that which you perceive him or her to be.

Stepping on another’s toes can be fatal. This is because the way we react creates rivalry in the relationship which ultimately leads to feelings of insecurity in the bond. When couples begin to feel insecure in their union, their souls shut down and they detach.

Reactions that are centered on defense, withdrawal, criticism, anger etc. do not work and are not relational. Better strategies need to be utilized in other to achieve the desired results. Strategies that will help couples describe their buttons, reactions, and feelings to each other are desirable. It will help them work on better ways to react in the face of conflict.

Reference

Smalley, G., & Smalley, E. (2015). The fear dance: Helping couples manage conflict

 

Movie Suggestion for Couples

temptation-confessions-of-a-marriage-counselor_27389The Review

Some movies have strong life, marriage, and family themes that mirror the daily struggles several couples face. One of such movies is Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. In the movie, Brice was a hard worker with the intention of creating a secure future for him and his wife but unknown to him, his marriage was on the verge of disintegration. Brice spent most of his time at work ensuring that inventory was up to date and attending to the needs of customers. His motivation stemmed from the fact that he wanted to buy the pharmacy from its owner at some point to better his family. Although Brice put in a lot of effort at work, unknown to him, his relationship with his wife was suffering. Judith and Brice where childhood sweethearts who have been married for six years and living in Washington, D.C., where Brice works as a pharmacist in a little family drugstore. Judith works as an in-house therapist for a high-end matchmaking firm. She was raised a Christian and had never been with another man except Brice, her husband. However, things began to take a different turn when Harley, a social media billionaire who apparently came to invest in the matchmaking firm makes a proposition to get Judith into his whims. With his billions, he promises to set up a private marriage counseling practice for Judith since she always dreamt of owning one. From the moment he slips into Judith’s office, he heaves compliments at her like; how beautiful she is, how intelligent she is, how lucky her husband is. Although Judith has been entirely happy with her marriage, she begins to question how happy she really is.

Therapeutic Implication

When the recommendation to watch a particular movie is made to couples, the purpose is to see if they will identify with some premise, concern, or individual character in the movie. If a correlation is made, it can create an avenue for discussion during coaching sessions or between couples. Furthermore, the movie could serve as homework for the couple, in order to obtain a new viewpoint on some life issue. Sometimes pondering on another person’s tussles can open up an avenue for us to handle our own related issues. The scene where Brice forgets Judith’s birthday for the second year in a row will be relatable to a couple who feels neglected. However, Brice makes an attempt at connection to his wife by apologizing, promising to be more attentive, and wielding a guitar as he sings a silly song to woo his wife all in attempt to right the wrong he inflicted on his wife. Although his attempt at connection worked that night, Judith’s heart was beginning to yearn for the man who sent her some rose flowers on her birthday. This scene will remind husbands and wives to always treasure each other. It will also show couples how easy it is for the heart to drift towards something else.

Melinda, became Brice’s go to person because she was always available to listen and empathic to his concerns. It was her genuiness and past hurtful experience that trapped Brice’s hurting heart, thus encouraging him to control his emotions. This is evident in the scene where Melinda comforts Brice when he feels as though he has lost Judith for good and Brice quickly looks for different type of comfort from her, she obviously pushes him away. She lets him know that they were not attracted to each other rather he was being driven by his hurting emotions. Melinda encouraged Brice to take control of his emotions. Brice quickly apologized and took heed of her advice. The new situation Brice found himself created a new kind of relationship between them. It was through Melinda’s coaching and conversations that led Brice to fight to save his wife’s life on two separate occasions.

Angry tirades create problems in relationships. In the scene where Sarah, Judith’s mother confronted Judith over her affair with Harley which resulted in a slap by Sarah shows that they felt the problem was the other person’s fault. Judith wanted to portray her mother as a hypocrite while Sarah tried to portray Judith as becoming wayward and in need of repentance. Judith and Sarah failed to look at their personal behaviors; however they focused on the shortcomings of each other.

As God’s children we are called to pray for each other. The scene where Judith eventually leaves Brice but comes back to their apartment to pick up her laptop, and finds her mother and other women praying fervently for her also stood out to me. The fact that Sarah chose to pray for her child even though they left on a bad note during her last visit says a lot about her. Judith’s mother showed empathy in this instance because she understood her daughter’s plight.

Personal/Professional Implications

 I really connected with this movie on a personal level. I have learned not to take my spouse for granted. I have also learned to treasure, value, and remain content with what we have while nurturing and enriching our union. This movie shows that one can indeed have good intentions but the approach becomes problematic. A subtle problem is worse than an obvious ticking time bomb. Similar to Kirk Cameron’s Fireproof movie, Brice was a hard worker with the intention of creating a secure future for him and his wife, however while he worked hard, his home was equally filled with gas fumes that ended up burning the relationship down. Harley infected Judith with the HIV virus and Brice ended up marrying someone else with whom he had children with. It is always easy to point accusing fingers in the face of conflict. However, for any marriage to stand the test of time, hard work is required. Marriage vows must be taken seriously, couples must be in constant prayer, couples must understand their individual weaknesses and avoid occasions that may compromise them, and couples must learn to rebuke the devil as soon as he raises his ugly head, thus “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, KJV). There is always room to flee when we are tempted, however, the body is often weak while the spirit is willing (Matthew 26:41, NIV).

I use this information personally to nurture my marriage. I also utilize it professionally as a homework tool. It  gives couples insights on issues that pertain to them. Sometimes pondering on another person’s problems can open up an avenue for us to handle our own related issues.

Every scene in this movie has a lesson to teach. The scene where old Judith walks into the pharmacy to pick up her medications and Brice’s new wife walks in with their children on Judith’s way out teaches a lot. The scene shows that while God is loving, full of mercy and grace, our defiant choices come at a heavy price. However, I would have loved to see Brice sticking with Judith after saving her from Harley. Our human nature makes it difficult for Brice to remain married to Judith after the infidelity and HIV infection. It would have demonstrated the true meaning of sacrificial love, the kind of love that abides by the marriage vows’ call to remain as one union in good and in bad, sickness and health, richer or poorer, and until death separates. Furthermore, I strongly agree with the opening scene where the therapist (Judith) narrates this story to her client and at the end it helped the client decide to value her marriage and work towards keeping it as a single indivisible union.

This movie calls for balance in every aspect of life. It shows the disastrous effect of infidelity. Accordingly, it calls for the nurture and treasure of things that we believe are of immense value to us. It is a must watch for every couple.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

 

Life comes with unique sets of challenges every passing moment. These challenges pose as stressors which cause several physical, spiritual, and emotional problems. However, how we individually, collectively as a family, or couple handle theses challenges determine the outcome. As human beings, it is normal to feel anxious but excessive worrying could become problematic. Excessive worrying that affects your productivity, social life, and overall well being is problematic. This problem is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). According to the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5) GAD is a mental disorder. The DSM-5 requires the presence of excessive, uncontrollable anxiety and worry that occurs most days for at least 6 months for this diagnosis to be made. It also requires the presence of symptoms such as; restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Furthermore, the diagnostic criteria for this disorder requires the anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Also the disturbance should not be attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition, and the disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder. Therefore, if a person has become excessively worried, restless, easily fatigued, tense and unable to sleep and his worries cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning then it is likely that the person may have GAD. Some of these symptoms could also be attributable to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, in this scenario the individual lacks most of the symptoms needed to meet the criteria for OCD because a disorder can only qualify as an obsessive compulsive disorder if the intrusive images, thoughts, or urges are not centered on more real world concerns. If the intrusive images, thoughts, or urges are centered on more real world concerns, anxiety disorder is considered. A good example would be if the individual sometimes experiences upsetting images about his or her grandchildren being injured or harmed when worrying about them. These thoughts are centered on real world concerns therefore do not qualify as an obsessive compulsive disorder rather an anxiety disorder.

Treatment Recommendations

Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated using psychotherapy or medication. Cognitive therapy and applied relaxation are examples of empirically supported treatments for adult disorders. Cognitive therapy for generalized anxiety disorder involves the following;

  • educating the individual about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) by teaching him or her how to differentiate between beneficial and not beneficial worry which will help the individual understand his or her anxiety and encourages a more accepting and active response to it
  • teaching the individual to monitor his or her anxiety and its triggers, severity and length of each episode
  • assisting the individual with physical control strategies such as deep breathing exercise and progressive muscle relaxation to help decrease the “physical over-arousal of the fight or flight response that maintains the state of fear and anxiety
  • teaching the individual cognitive control strategies to help him learn to evaluate and alter his thought process that contribute to generalized anxiety disorder

Accordingly, religious beliefs and practices have been associated with lower suicide rates; less anxiety, substance abuse, and depression; a greater sense of well-being; and more social support in addition to other benefits and this should also be utilized as a form of treatment. As Christians we are called not to be anxious, thus “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”(Philippians 4:6,NKJV). It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t have cause to worry rather God wants us to cast our worries at his feet when faced with worrying thoughts or challenges. The truth remains that the strength of anxiety is often underestimated. Proverbs 12:25 tells us that “an anxious heart weighs a man down.” Indeed anxiety commands a lot of strength when it isn’t addressed in a timely manner. It can spiral out of control, becoming a disorder rather than normal daily concerns. It is ideal to seek for professional treatment if your worries seem to be causing you pain.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Treatment and medication for generalized anxiety disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/gad_supplement.htm

Review of Gottman’s Text: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

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Summary

In Gottman and Silver’s book, The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work, the authors address the truth about happy marriages, six telling clues that a marriage is in jeopardy of ending in divorce, and the seven principles for making a marriage work. Gottman and Silver (1999) believe that deep friendship makes a happy marriage. They stated that deep friendship calls for a “mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company” (p. 19). The authors explained that happy couples utilize certain tools to deescalate when faced with marital conflicts. The secret tool used by happy couples to deescalate during conflict is called the repair attempt (Gottman & Silver, 1999). A repair attempt is any “statement or action silly or otherwise that prevents negativity from escalating out of control” (Gottman & Silver, 1999, p. 22). How successful the use of a repair attempt depends on the depth of the friendship. Therefore, the deeper the friendship the more likely for a repair attempt to work in marital conflict resolution.

Conversely, when a marriage is in jeopardy, it may be very evident or salient. However, the authors indicate that there are six clues to look out for when a marriage is nearing its end. The first clue is called the “harsh startup” (Gottman & Silver, 1999, p. 26). Start Ups are how a couple begins a dialogue about any issue. According to Gottman and Silver (1999) harsh startup involve an exchange that begins with “criticism and/or sarcasm, a form of contempt” (p.27). Furthermore, Gottman and Silver (1999) describe the presence of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stone walling in marriage as the second cue that a marriage is heading for divorce. The authors refer to them as the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Gottman & Silver, 1999). Gottman and Silver (1999) indicate that if the four horsemen are not put in check, they have the capacity to ruin a relationship. The third sign that a marriage is in jeopardy involved feeling flooded. According to Gottman and Silver (1999) flooding involves the negativity a person exudes that is so overwhelming and swift that it leaves the other shell-shocked. Flooding makes it overwhelming for couples when in wrangle and causes hypervigilance (Gottman & Silver, 1999). Accordingly Gottman and Silver (1999) describes body language as another sign of a marriage heading for divorce. They indicate that physiological readings like elevated blood pressure, hormonal adrenaline secretion that triggers fight or flight response, and a fast pounding heart are risky during marital dialogue, thus “your ability to process information is reduced… You’re left with the most reflexive, least intellectually sophisticated responses in your repertoire: to fight (act critical, contemptuous, or defensive) or flee” (Gottman & Silver, 1999, p. 37). The fifth sign that a marriage is in jeopardy of divorce is failed repair attempts. Gottman and Silver (1999) indicate that failed repair attempts arise when the quality of the friendship between husband and wife is low or nonexistent. Therefore, the current state of a marital relationship determines whether a repair attempt will thrive or flop. Lastly, Gottman and Silver (1999) discuss bad memories as another sign of a dying marriage. The authors indicate that when a marriage is fixated on the negatives of the marriage while losing memories of the positive aspects, that marriage is heading towards divorce. According to Gottman and Silver (1999) the key to resuscitating or divorce-proofing a marriage is “not in how you handle disagreements but in how you are with each other when you’re not fighting” (p.46).

The authors also discuss seven principles for making a marriage work. Gottman and Silver (1999) address the topic by explaining how and why the various principles are potent. They also utilized useful exercises to help couples develop the needed skills to enrich and rebuild their relationships. The first principle, enhance your love maps emphasizes on the importance of knowing what is going on with each other. This includes know each other’s likes, dislikes, worries, stressors, friends etc. Gottman and Silver (1999) indicate that the absence of a love map makes it difficult to really know your spouse or truly love them. The second principle is nurture fondness and admiration. This principle entails honor and respect for each other despite flaws in personality. Fondness and admiration are vital in a satisfying and long-lasting relationship. The presence of these two elements makes a troubled marriage salvable (Gottman & Silver, 1999). Turn toward each other instead of away is the third principle for making marriage work. Couples who make connections during small moments tend to stay together. According to Gottman and Silver (1999) couples who turn toward each are passionately involved, thus “ they are building up emotional savings that can serve as a cushion when times get rough, when they’re faced with a major life stress or conflict”(p.80). Being emotionally engaged keeps the flames of romance alive, thus “a romantic night out really turns up the heat only when a couple has kept the pilot light burning by staying in touch in the little ways” (Gottman & Silver, 1999, p. 81). The fourth principle is let your partner influence you. Gottman and Silver (1999) stress that if spouses create the opportunity for influence, it will foster a more profound degree of respect. Gottman and Silver (1999) suggest that instances of happy marriages are obvious when power and decision making are shared. Differentiating between solvable and perpetual problems is the fifth principle for making marriage work. Gottman states that conciliation is important in order to facilitate solvable conflict resolution (Gottman, 1999). This can be realized by the softening of one’s start up, learning to create and receive repair attempts, soothing oneself and your partner, compromising and tolerating the faults of one another (Gottman, 1999). Furthermore, the sixth principle for making marriage work is overcoming gridlock. The crux of this principle is to acquire necessary skills that are needed to talk over the perpetual problems in marriage. Knowledge of how to get out of gridlock keeps couples from dissatisfaction. The final principle for making marriage work is having a created shared meaning. When couples have a shared dream, spirituality, culture, or values their marriage is strengthened, thus “the more shared meaning you can find, the deeper, richer, and more rewarding your relationship will be. Along the way, you’ll be strengthening your marital friendship” (Gottman & Silver, 1999, p. 246).

The authors urge couples to have high expectations for their marriage and work towards realizing those expectations.

Reference

Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (1999) The seven principles for making marriage work. New York, NY. Crown Publishing.