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.

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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.

Marriage Enrichment: Strengthening Communication and Affection

Marriage is a unique institution that involves the coming together of two separate individuals to form a single union. The task required to sustain the marriage union can be daunting. However, with nurture and enrichment as part of everyday marriage regime, a marital union can be blissfully sustained. The importance of communication and the ability to show affection in marriage cannot be overemphasized. Clinton and Trent are of the opinion that communication is about verbalizing or writing a message to a recipient who attaches a meaning to it. How couples choose to communicate or not to communicate has the tendency to connect or disconnect couples in any marital relationship. Furthermore, Clinton and Trent indicate that “90% of couples seeking counseling say communication issues are at the root of their problem.” The ability to listen carefully, learn to make adaptations, avoid changing one another, and expand the way a person listens makes communication more effective. A Nigerian adage states that marriage is like a gift with an unknown content. This simply means that a wife or husband is a gift that might contain a few surprises. However, good communication can help overcome the tough obstacles that every couple faces. Good communication does not come naturally without work, but strategies to improve it can be learned. In the words of Karahan, there is a considerable link between communication, conflict resolution abilities, and congruity in marriage and divorce and one avenue for advancing cordial relationships between couples is to teach them simple communication skills. These simple skills have been found to be effective in helping couples prepare for marriage, repair their marriage, and maximize marriages. Marital satisfaction has positive outcomes for couples and the society at large. Couples who report more fulfilment in their marriage are more likely to testify to being fulfilled in their marriage, Carroll asserts. Carroll states that marriage appears to be “beneficial for individuals; married people report living a healthier lifestyle, having better mental health, experiencing greater sexual satisfaction, being better off financially and being better parents.” This is indicative of the benefit of having a fulfilled marital relationship. Marital communication is associated with marital satisfaction. The way happy couples relate is different from the way struggling couples relate towards each other. It is evident that a couples communication pattern is indicative of how fulfilled they are in the marriage.

There are various reasons that might lead couple to develop communication issues. The major reason is poor listening skills. Listening involves being able to accurately restate the content and feeling of a message. However, barriers to listening abound. Some of these barriers include; defensiveness, personal biases, different listening styles, Inner struggles, habit of interrupting, mental overload, bad timing, physical exhaustion, selective attention. These barriers impede communication which negatively impacts marital satisfaction.

Helpful Techniques

One of the techniques I found that will benefit couples as they strive to become better at communicating is the “I said, you said technique’’ as illustrated by Parr. This technique involves a couple going through a cycle of communication trainings that stresses the influence of spoken and unspoken cues. The goal is for couples to concentrate on the lucidity of the verbal message. One of the steps in this technique involves a conversation between the couple on a subject they have differing opinions. The subject cannot be a topic that has just initiated a disagreement or fury between the couple. According to Parr the exercise begins by the assigned speaker-couple clearly stating his/her opinion about an issue. The listener-couple then repeats what he or she has heard the speaker say. Then the listener changes roles and becomes the speaker, and the process is repeated with the new speaker and listener. The purpose of the exercise is not to escalate conflict between the couple, but to let both speakers an opening to express their view devoid of having to back their stance.

Accordingly, helping couples communicate love by listening is another intervention that teaches couples guidelines for changing their communication. Worthington states that marriages become problematic when couples stop listening to one another rather they listen for rebuttals. Couples need to learn to use “minimal encouragers (that is, ums, head nods, uh-huhs), repeat words or phrases, reflect content, reflect feelings and summarize larger blocks of information” Worthington, asserts. Furthermore, when couples show genuiness, empathy and respect during communication it goes a long way to improve and prolong the relationship. Couples should spend more time talking, should not allow anything to interfere with their communication, should be careful with nonverbal communication, and should end poor communication strategies. These suggestions serve as techniques for effective communication. Accordingly, marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden, thus “therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV). Therefore it is vital to invite God into marital unions to guide and to reign supreme. In this case biblical verses are useful tools that can assist couples reach their goals. In the book of James 1:19 we are called to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”. God calls us to willingly listen yet slow to speak and to get angry. This passage summarizes every therapeutic or coaching technique that tackles communication related issues in marriage. Also, scripture tells us in Ephesians 4:31 that “all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice”. This verse shows that it is the reaction from our buttons being pushed that creates conflict. God is asking us to put aside anger, arguments, and all negative vices that hamper marital growth.

The way we communicate is habitual. In other to effect change in that area we need to form a new habit which calls for practice and perseverance. In the words of Clinton and Trent communication involves “both sending and receiving messages. Of these two, listening respectfully to the entire message is the most important.” Listening entails putting down what one is doing thereby signaling to the other person that they are significant and indeed valuable.

References

Carroll, S. J. (2013). Couple communication as a mediator between work-family conflict and marital satisfaction. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 35(3), 530-545.

Clinton, T. E., & Trent, J. (2009). The quick-reference guide to marriage & family counseling. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Karahan, T. F. (2009). The effects of a couple communication program on the conflict resolution skills and active conflict tendencies of turkish couples. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 35(3), 220-229.

Parr, P. L. (2008). I said, you said: A communication exercise for couples. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 30(3), 167-173.

practice. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

 

 

Requirements to Attain Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage

couple-reading-scripturesSpiritual intimacy is an unfailing love that has the ability to create a path to admiration, appreciation, and reverence. According to John Fisher, a successful marriage is not dependent on finding the right man or woman rather the ability of both mates to attune to the actual person they certainly recognize they are espoused to. To be spiritually intimate, couples need to;

  1. Live according to the standards set forth in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13,” Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends… And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (NRSVCE). This scriptural passage simply informs us that love does not flop; rather it boosts faith, hope, and love. It is evident that being spiritually intimate help couples grow into spiritually experienced unified entity that are willing to look beyond their male/female variances and gain knowledge and growth from these unique variations. For instance, a spiritually experienced couple will not take offense to or misconstrue the calling on the grounds of male/female variances for husbands to love their wives and wives to be submissive to their husbands as stated in Colossians 3:18-19. A spiritually experienced couple would understand that both calling entail love, humility, and obedience not a show of dominance and defiance.
  2. Leave, cling, and intertwine to each other as clearly written in Genesis 2:24 that, “therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (NRSVCE). Leaving ones father and mother implies a mental, monetary, and physical departure. When we cling to each other, we move our key allegiance to our spouse and become conjoined in all things. Becoming intertwined to each other involves a sexual and emotional union. Becoming one flesh also symbolizes Christ love for the church. It demonstrates the scale of love that a husband should show his wife as expressed in Ephesians 5:25 “husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (NRSVCE). Husbands are called to selflessly protect their wives from internal and external forces irrespective of any associated discomfort like Christ exemplified on the cross of Calvary.

The presence of spiritual Intimacy in a union makes the marriage God’s harbor. Any marriage built on God’s solid foundation will surely weather any storm. Spiritual intimacy allows couples to learn how to sacrifice for each other, show appreciation towards each other, and suffer together as a personification of love.

Reference

Allender, D. (2015). Coaching couples in spiritual intimacy.

“Pope to allow all priests to forgive abortion during Holy Year”

divine_mercy_confessionThe headline “Pope to allow all priests to forgive abortion during Holy Year” is an inaccurate and misleading statement. The pope cannot allow priests to forgive any sin, abortions included or determine which sin needs or does not need forgiveness. This is because;

  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ already commissioned priests with this responsibility as His representatives on earth. John 20:19-23 states, “then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (NKJV). The sacrament of reconciliation, penance, or confession is one of the beauties of the Catholic Church. It was the above stated biblical passage that established the grounds on which priests hear confessions and remit absolution. It is noteworthy that any penitent individual will have their sins forgiven if they are sincere and contrite in their heart. It is immaterial whether absolution is granted or denied, God is the one who forgives us our sins and faults. However, Christ not the pope specifically handed the responsibility to hear confession and absolve sins to his apostles which priests represent.
  2. Our sins can only be forgiven if we humbly confess them, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). An individual can decide to go directly to God in prayer for forgiveness of sins, however, the Catholic Church also chose to adopt the practice found in John 20:23 hence it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ alone knows why He gave the apostles this responsibility. It is our responsibility as followers of Christ to be hearers and adherents of the word of God especially those explicit commands. The fact that some Christian denominations don’t have this practice should not negate or invalidate the instructions specifically handed down by Jesus Christ.
  3. In 1 Corinthians 11:27 Christ instructed that we should examine ourselves before we receive the body and blood of Christ(Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion) lest we bring condemnation upon ourselves, “whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” When we go to confession, we hold a conversation with the priest who in turn counsels us and encourages us to live a Christ like life. God’s forgiveness can never be denied to a person who has genuinely repented especially when they have come to partake in the sacrament of reconciliation in order to be truly reunited with God the Father. In its bid to save souls, the Catholic Church thought it wise that mortal sin needs to be confessed before a priest. It is the responsibility of every priest not to deny any penitent soul absolution when seeking God’s face during confession. Likewise, an individual guilty of venial sin equally needs to be in a state of grace before receiving the body and blood of Christ.

My brothers and sisters there is no issue here. The pope isn’t promulgating a new law. He is only improving upon an already existing order. The catholic church has always practiced mercy as instructed by our Lord Jesus Christ. A penitent sinner can never be denied forgiveness. This has always been the practice of the Catholic Church. All it takes is to ask for forgiveness, seek God’s face, and knock on God’s door and it will be rendered to you according to your word. There is nothing wrong in going to confession before a priest, Christ commanded it. It is neither a doctrine or pope sanctioned authority. If we can share our darkest secrets on live television broadcast, confide in counselors, therapists, friends, and pastors etc. we shouldn’t be outraged that Christ expressly gave his apostles the authority to forgive and retain sin. When we attend confession, we are not confessing our sins to Fr. John or Fr. James because they are God. If that’s what you’ve had at the back of your mind, then that mindset needs to be changed immediately. It is God who forgives. Priests are Christ’s representatives on earth. Christ handed down the command to forgive or retain sins on His behalf because He knew that He was no longer going to be physically present on earth. It was Christ who gave the apostles this authority and not man.

Building Spiritual Intimacy in your marriage

bi_spiritual_intimacyIntimacy encompasses undertakings that foster a sense of unison or attachment. An enduring marital bliss demands that couples become soul mates in addition to being sexually and emotionally intimate. Becoming a soul mate entails spiritual intimacy. Spiritual Intimacy is “feeling that partners experience a sense of unity in things spiritual such as worship, prayer, private devotions how much they talk about spiritual issues, ways they react emotionally to spiritual things, ways they use their faith to cope with adversity, ways they use religious beliefs and values in daily life and the amount of emphasis they place on religion in their family and in their private life” (Worthington, 1999, p. 232-233). Therefore, it involves a meeting of the mind by couples regarding spirituality as it pertains to their matrimonial union and acting upon that agreement. Spiritual intimacy is characterized by joint participation in prayer, scriptural study, mass/church service, scriptural reading, fasting, corporal works of mercy, suffering and redemption etc. It is a never failing love that unlocks the gate to admiration, thanksgiving, and reverence. However, spiritual intimacy does not bring about a dispute free relationship; rather it brings about a relationship where couples mutually influence each other for the better. The presence of spiritual Intimacy in a union makes the marriage God’s harbor. With God’s presence in a marriage, couples display physical, emotional, and spiritual bond that deepens every passing day and tackle spiritual and religious matters amicably devoid of quarrel.

What are your thoughts on spiritual intimacy in marriage?

References

Allender, D. (2015). Coaching couples in spiritual intimacy

Worthington, E. L. (2005). Hope-focused marriage counseling: A guide to brief therapy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.