Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What makes a lasting marriage?

A survey studied 351 couples to find out what makes a good marriage. Each individual responded to 39 statements identifying characteristics which matched their own marriage experience. Here are the top characteristics each gave, in order of frequency. Notice anything about the top 7 reasons? 

Husbands                                 Wives

My spouse is my best friend                       My spouse is my best friend
I like my spouse as a person                       I like my spouse as a person
Marriage is a long-term commitment         Marriage is a long-term commitment
Marriage is sacred                                      Marriage is sacred
We agree on aims and goals                       We agree on aims and goals
My spouse has grown more interesting      My spouse has grown more interesting
I want the relationship to succeed              I want the relationship to succeed
An enduring marriage is important to        We laugh together                                                                 social stability                                                                            
We laugh together                                       We agree on the philosophy of life
I am proud of my spouse's achievements   We agree on how and how often to show                                              affection        
We agree on the philosophy of life             An enduring marriage is important to                                      social stability
We agree about our sex life                       We have a stimulating exchange of ideas
We agree on how and how often to            We discuss things calmly  
show affection                                                             .
I confide in my spouse                                We agree about our sex life
We share outside hobbies and interests      I am proud of my spouse's achievements                                                                                                                  

Just for fun: Write the characteristics in random order, then re-order them based on which characteristics you believe most important, and ask your spouse to do the same. Share your answers and learn something new about one another!

Adapted from The Premarital Counseling Handbook, H. Norman Wright.
If you'd like more information about marriage, Temperament, or to arrange counseling by Skype or phone, please contact me at

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Five steps to a healthy self-esteem

People constantly talk about their self-esteem. Is it good, is it bad, is it healthy, overblown, or non-existent? It doesn't have to be confusing. A healthy self-esteem can be attained by taking a shortcut in 5 simple steps. 
Now, I didn't say every step was easy for every person. I said simple, meaning achievable, do-able. If you do it. Here we go:
  1. Know yourself. I'm not talking about your personality, or your choices, or what your friends think about you. I'm talking about getting to know what you think and feel before you put on the mask of personality and do what you think you should, or is expected, or is even just right. Discover you, warts and all. What makes you tick, gives you true joy, makes you feel ashamed, drives you onward in life? You can spend months, or years, in counseling, seeking mountain-top gurus, or piling up self-help books, but the quickest and easiest way I know to discover who you are, which is your God-created temperament, is through through an APS profile. APS stands for Arno Profile System and it involves an online response form that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. From this, the testing center uses a method proven to be 97.5% accurate at identifying your temperament, with all of its wondrous strengths and challenges. No more trying to figure out what you need in life from love, friendship, career, or recreation: it's all right there. Sure, I am a Certified Temperament Counselor and you may contact me at for more information or to take the APS right away with your results in less than one day. Otherwise, just go to for a directory of counselors qualified to administer the APS profile. It's easy and because temperament does not change over time, as does your personality, it's a one-time investment in yourself that will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life.
  2. Accept yourself. Don't use your temperament as an excuse for bad behavior ("Well, this is just how God made me so deal with it") but do celebrate the unique, wonderful, and truly one of a kind being that you are. Look, there are no more you's at the human store. You are it! Why not enjoy being yourself instead of trying to imitate what you think others want, expect, demand, or approve? Who decided they get to be the boss of you? 
  3. Love yourself. Again, this is totally within your control. Do you make a choice to embrace yourself and to love yourself today, or not? Do you think people are lining up to love other people who hate themselves? Not so much. So are you waiting for when you are a better person, a more lovable person, a healthier person? No, because that's how you begin to get better, lovable, and healthier: when you choose to accept and love yourself as you are right now. You love yourself as a human being who is worth love simply for existing. God says that before He formed you in the womb He knew you (Jeremiah 1:5) and that we love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He already declared you lovable so that is not even a question, it's an indisputable fact. So start loving yourself as a verb: being loving to yourself, being kind and gentle with yourself, treating yourself like a person treats someone they love. Stop waiting for permission. God already gave it.
  4. Be yourself. Who else are you going to be? Everyone else is already taken. Start to laugh at your quirks instead of being embarrassed by them. Practice saying things like, "Yup, I can be klutzy," when you trip in front of others, or "Awkward..." when you flub an introduction, then shrug and move on. People enjoy being around someone who is comfortable making mistakes or doing things that might be embarrassing without making it the end of the world. They can then feel more comfortable admitting and laughing at their foibles as well. A person who can accept that they are in the midst of working through, or just accepting for a while, their weaknesses come across as more confident and capable than those who try to pretend they have it all together.
  5. Forgive and forget yourself. Is it helping anyone to continue to punish yourself for something you cannot re-do or change? If you need to make amends or apologize to someone, get it over with and behind you. Ask God to forgive you. He promises that if you are sincere, He always and immediately forgives (1 John 1:9.) Jesus' whole purpose in offering Himself as the final sacrifice for sins was to provide a means of complete forgiveness to anyone and everyone who will simply ask for it. What a gift. So, if you have asked for forgiveness through Jesus, and you have apologized if appropriate to any person involved, what's the point of holding onto it any longer? You are free. Open the door and walk out of your prison. Then, start forgetting to think about yourself and what you want, need, wish for, desire, don't like, do like, etc. for most of the day. Think about what someone else would like, want, need, wish for, and see if you can make that happen once in a while. It's a whole lot more fun than me, me, me, forget you, me living!
So, that's it. Simple, right? Not necessarily easy, but the first step is the hardest and then it's all downhill from there! Know yourself so that you can truly accept yourself, begin loving yourself, and truly rock being yourself, and finally, forgive yourself. Healthy self-esteem...check!
Adapted from material by Tim Hansel, Christian Author, Founder of ignite!

Monday, January 30, 2017

5 ways to really show your kids love

Now that Christmas is over, you might be experiencing buyer’s remorse for all the money spent on gifts. Christmas is a time when parents feel especially pressured to buy their children objects in order to show their love. You might be surprised to learn that the more gifts a child receives, the less he or she actually feels loved. In fact, kids respond to other gifts much more readily than a new toy or electronic device.

Here are 5 things you can do to help kids truly experience your love: 

Eye Contact: Making eye contact is not only helpful in communicating with a child, but also in filling her emotional needs. This is especially important during the younger years, during which time a child is learning if they can trust their parents to care for their needs, if they are loved and accepted, and what their role is in the family. Loving eye contact and the parents’ physical presence communicates value, confidence, warmth, acceptance, and security. 

Take their feelings, thoughts, and opinions seriously whether you agree with them or not: Children and teens already deal with enough insecurity without feeling mocked or having their thoughts disregarded. Allowing your child to share with you about their ideas and opinions helps you to get to know them, discover what they are dealing with, and understand why they do, think, and feel as they do with greater clarity. Show interest by asking questions to show you are willing to hear them out and accept them as an individual. If you must correct something off-base, it’s best to start with something that will keep the window of opportunity open, such as, “What do you think about this other idea ….?“, or “Can I share with you what I’ve experienced with this subject?“ or even, “What if…?“ Remember, no kid wants every conversation to end in a “teaching moment,” a correction to their beliefs or opinions, or a rebuttal. Sometimes the best way to conclude a conversation with a child is to simply thank them for sharing their thoughts with you. Carol Wise, author of Pastoral Counseling: Its Theory and Practice, writes: “A person cannot communicate the deep intimate aspects of his life to another unless he has a feeling of security, confidence, and trust in the other.” 

Physical Contact: Loving touch including hugs, arms about the shoulder, hand-holding, pats, kisses, snuggling, etc., and other appropriate physical attention from parents can build a relationship bridge that will facilitate good communication. It doesn’t have to be constant, effusive, or cross comfort boundaries, and neither should loving touch stop when kids become teens and pretend that they are too old for such things. For example, one of my teen boys no longer wanted me to hug all over him in public, so we agreed that when I wanted to tell him I loved him, I would poke him gently with my finger. I still do this now that he is an adult and it always makes him smile and say, “I love you too, Mom.” 

Time: Giving kids our undivided, focused attention for even brief periods throughout the day is an easy way to communicate unconditional love to them. Another way is to spend scheduled time alone with each child, such as at bedtime, reading stories and saying prayers, or on a walk, for a lunch “date” or movie, or playing a game, etc. This communicates to a child that she is very important and special. While sometimes children need to learn the valuable lesson of being polite and waiting for an opportune moment to excuse themselves and interrupt parents, no child should feel that they are routinely pushed aside and told, “wait till I am finished with what I am doing.” This tells the child that everything and anything that interests a parent is more important than the child.  

Discipline: Dr. Ross Campbell, Christian psychiatrist and author of How to Really Love Your Child, states, “Disciplines involves training through every type of communication: guidance by example, modeling (children do what you do, not what you say to do), verbal instruction, written instruction, teaching, and providing learning and fun experiences.” Rev. John W. Luton and Drs. Richard and Phyllis Arno, authors of Mastoring Pastoral Counseling Using Temperament, add, “Making a child feel loved and accepted is the first and most important part of good discipline. Unfortunately, many parents make the mistake of equating discipline with punishment. When a child feels loved and accepted, he disciplines more easily and less punishment is required.”

Sometimes when a child is misbehaving, he or she is actually testing you to see if you meant what you said, to see if they can trust you to keep your word. He is asking, can he count on you, do you know what you are talking about or is he on his own?  Other times, they are misbehaving because they are feeling in need of something such as eye contact, physical contact, focused attention, rest, food, or water. Fill these needs first, then discuss what behavior needs to change and how to work together to bring that about.

Ultimately, discipline (teaching, requiring positive behavior, and applying consequences designed to increase a child’s desire to obey) shows a child that you care enough about them to teach them the process of how to become a loving, respectful, considerate, joyous, and responsible Christian adult, instead of leaving it up to their peers, the media, or their schoolteachers, to mold your children into who they want them to be. Parenting is tough stuff and it‘s not for the lazy or faint-hearted. At the end of the day, if you are not influencing your kids, you can bet someone else is…

That's it: 5 ways you can really help your child to feel loved. You will be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around in your relationship with your child with these easy techniques. Remember, “If you try to be your child’s friend when they are young, they will not want to be your friend when they are grown. If you are your child’s parent when they are young, you will become their friend as they get older.”  Dr. Henry R. Mohen in Christian Counseling: Integrating Temperament and Psychology

Adapted from “Loving Our Children,” in Mastering Pastoral Counseling Using Temperament, by Luton, Arno, & Arno, 1997


Friday, January 20, 2017

How to help your child when they are afraid

We have all experienced childhood fears. May be you were afraid of the dark, perhaps it was the monster under the bed, or, it might have been something else, something a parent thought even more silly or irrational. Children are afraid of different things for different reasons; sometimes for no reason we can discern, but that doesn't change the fact that your child is having a very real experience.

While you might not be able to convince your child that they have nothing to fear, you can help them by using your ears. Or, more specifically, your E.A.R.S., a technique from Byrd and Warren's, Counseling and Children:

E.A.R.S. for Fears

Earnestly listen - Earnest and undivided listening is the first way to help a child deal with fear. Listen and ask open-ended questions (requires more than a yes-no answer) that encourage the child to talk further. Avoid drawing conclusions quickly, giving immediate advice or preaching to a child. The fear may seem vague, but it has caused the child great distress.

Accept the child’s story - be willing to see the situation through the child’s eyes. Don’t give “just do this” advice, or brush off the fear as silly or unnecessary. For a child acceptance, especially peer acceptance, is the lifeblood of social survival.

Reassure - Children need to know that parents will try to see the future as best they can, that they take what the child is going through seriously, and are not angry or confused but confident, as this will be an anchor point for the child.

Suggest - suggesting good solution options as in “what do you think would happen if you…” or “tell me what you have tried so far,” and “would you like to hear some ways you might think about handling this?” etc. Supporting the child as she tries (and fails) at some options is important to help them overcome fears. Support and consistent encouragement by key adults builds a child’s sense of worth. Yamamoto says, “The basic requirement for everybody, young or old, is to feel that he or she is worth something.”

So, the next time your child is afraid, try to use your E.A.R.S.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The 7 Stages of Marriage: which one are you in?

Did you know marriage has predictable stages? In what stage of marriage are you right now? Depending on the source, there considered to be from 3 to 9 stages of marriage. Here are the 7 main stages that any marriage will likely go through at various times. 
This stage is also known as the Honeymoon Stage, and usually occurs during the first year or two of marriage, but may also occur at other stages, such as after the Empty Nest stage. Not every couple has a passionate stage in their marriage and for some it doesn’t last long. You may be in the Passion Stage if your relationship is all about the two of you and the excitement, sex and intimacy you are experiencing. You can extend, or begin, the passion stage by doing things that strengthen your sense of “us” – such as making spontaneous time for each other, leaving work at work, and scheduling in date and intimate time together.
You may be in the Realization Stage if you find you are beginning to get to know, or to stop denying, each other’s real strengths and weaknesses. Disappointment and conflicts are a part of this stage, so couples must learn to recognize the needs and wants of their partner if they are to grow beyond this stage. You can improve your communication during this stage by active listening and confiding, both are essential to expanding understanding and trust. Certified Temperament Therapy is very helpful at this stage. 
In this stage each spouse starts to reconsider their part in the marriage. You may be tempted to return to friends and activities from your pre-marriage days. Power struggles may take place. You might begin to feel unappreciated and feel it’s “your turn” to be happy. 
This is an ideal time to remember Paul’s words about marriage: if a husband is seeking his wife’s counsel before making difficult decisions, and putting her and the children’s welfare ahead of his own interests, he will not likely have any trouble inspiring her to respect him and choose to submit to his leadership. A husband must love his wife in the way Christ loves His Bride, sacrificing himself to show his love for her and to care for her. A wife truly wants a man she can respect, and a man wants to be respected. A man desperately wants a woman he can love, and a woman wants to be cherished and treated with love. 
Paul exhorts both the husband and wife to submit to one another to reduce conflicts. To avoid or end this stage, learn how to negotiate and to keep agreements – keeping promises builds trust. Identify areas of difference and start talking about them – one at a time. Don’t change the subject and point the finger of blame at one another. Look for the win-win. 
During this stage couples are preoccupied with the kids, money, home and work. It can be a period of growth or it can be a time when emotional separation begins. Cooperation is often focused on individual goals for which each person cooperates with the other in order to achieve, including careers, college, parenting, home buying, etc. As long as each are helping the other achieve goals, things are fine. 
However, Eph. 5:31 reminds us that we are no longer two individuals in a marriage, we are made one and need to develop a marital identity. Individual likes, pursuits, and interests are not the problem as long as they don't replace time building the marital relationships. Turning your marriage into a business partnership, instead of a unity of hearts, minds, and bodies is not what God desires. 
When you find yourself in the cooperation stage and losing a sense of togetherness, regenerate your marriage by making it a priority. Try new things together, start a hobby you both will enjoy, or take a weekend away for romance. Remind yourselves why you were attracted to each other in the beginning, before the kids, the mortgage, and the aging parents.
Typically, this occurs when parenting needs are diminished, finances are established, careers are set, and perhaps the mortgage is paid. You may be enjoying grandchildren and more freedom to travel or relax. 
For happy couples, this is the time to appreciate each other again as lovers, friends, thinkers, and seekers without all the pressures that came with being a younger couple or parents. This can also be a time couples separate, if you have not prepared emotionally for developing a new relationship as empty nesters. Refocus on your marriage, get off autopilot and plan some special events that bring back good memories. Go on a mission trip together or begin mentoring younger couples, laughing about how you got from there to here. Find a renewed purpose as a couple now, instead of the old roles that no longer fit.
The Explosion Stage can happen anytime during a marriage, especially during times of major career, health, parenting and family crises. This is a common time for a couple to seek counseling. 
The most important thing is to learn how to deal with crisis events in appropriate, God-honoring ways. Each spouse may have a different way they naturally respond to stress, which causes even more confusion because the other spouse has unspoken needs and expectations of their own. It is important during stressful times to make use of emotional, physical and spiritual support for yourself, your spouse and your marriage.
Find Godly friends who will support your efforts to cope in healthy ways, instead of giving you poor advice that will only make things worse. Pay attention to your physical and emotional health and well-being. Certified Temperament Therapy is very helpful in this stage.
In the Completion Stage, stability and security reign and you enjoy each other and the life you have created. You have gone through a lot together, survived, and possibly thrived. Much of the arguments and tension have worn away and you can laugh at the fact that you actually made it, you are still married in spite of everything. 
You have many life experiences in common that you share with no one else. Usually by this time couples can share their thoughts openly with one another without fear of rejection. Other people see this as “sniping” but it might only be that you can openly say what you need to and the other understands and does not take offense. This is a good time to try some new adventures together that are pleasurable, building new memories that are exciting and loving, without the painful drama that may have been a part of your past. 
Adapted from The 7 Stages of Marriage by Sari Harrar and Rita DeMaria and Christian Counseling: Integrating Temperament and Psychology, by Henry R. Mohen, PhD

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ten Questions To Base the Rest of My Life On

The new year has come and our resolutions are already going stale. There are a few reasons New Years Resolutions don't work (read why here) and people resist change. But, surely there is something we can do to help us focus on what will make a difference in the year ahead.

Instead of making a dramatic announcement that you will never again, or will always from now on...anything, try to think focus instead of ways you have held yourself back from making true change, and what are the simplest things you can do to make a difference that lasts.

The following 10 questions were designed to help you really define and pinpoint what those things are. Get a notepad, a journal, or a scrap of paper, a comfortable place to sit, and write your answers to these 10 key questions. Jot down the first response that comes to your mind. Do you see anything surprising? Next, answer again, this time thinking about each question, challenging yourself to go deep, be brutally honest, and open to what you will discover.

  1. What is my single greatest strength?
  2. What are three decisions causing me the greatest stress?
  3. What is overwhelming me?
  4. What impossible roadblock has me stuck?
  5. The three things I would do in my lifetime are?
  6. What should I resign from or drop out of?
  7. What can I postpone?
  8. What things on my to-do list can someone else do and 80% as well as me?
  9. What are the elephants in my schedule?
  10. What are three things I could do in the next 90 days that will make a 50% difference in my life or schedule?
Now, what would be the first and smallest thing you can do about each one of your answers today, this week, or this month? It might be to make a phone call or email, in fact that one small action will probably set into motion a chain of events in your thinking, your planning, and your actions that will begin to change your life in ways that really matter, and that really last.

Adapted from Temperament Case Studies, Phyllis J. Arno, PhD

Friday, December 30, 2016

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

I bet you can think of one thing you’d like to change about yourself or your circumstances. We all can. We make New Year’s Resolutions, start new diets then give them up in the face of temptation, vow to quit something old or start something new, but most often, we do nothing more than complain, or laugh, about what we claim to want to change.

The truth is we rarely develop new habits until the pain of staying the same is greater than the fear of making a change. Why is that? Most of the time, we just don’t want to expend the effort to get going. We don’t change until we get sick of ourselves complaining about needing to change, so until then, we avoid it or deny it.

In fact, there are 6  main ways we excuse ourselves from making changes:

1. Ignorance. Sometimes we don’t know what to do or how to do it. We may not even know there is another way to live or even understand that our belief system is faulty.

2. Suffering. We use our pain as an excuse. When we are paying the consequence for what we’ve done, we can use that as a substitute for change. In other words, we say to others, “Feel sorry for me, I‘m in jail, in rehab, in the hospital, kicked out of my house, or in some other way reaping what I’ve sown and now I am suffering, so don‘t ask too much of me.” Holding onto suffering obscures the need for change, and erects a block to actually changing. 

3. Self-Pity. “I just can’t do it,” or “Just do it for me.“ Living in perpetual distress may be an effective way to guarantee attention, but we are rendered emotionally paralyzed in the process and are prevented from making any constructive changes. 

4. Risk. Change takes time, effort, and risk. It’s easier to stay with the painful known, than to venture into the unknown with no guarantees.

5. Toleration. Sometimes people who are considered to have a poor self-image, begin to use that identity as an excuse to continue their bad behavior without losing the approval of others. They are excused from making positive changes because they have “poor self-esteem” and so can’t be expected to be responsible.

6. Relinquished decision-making control. Allowing others to be in charge, make decisions, or handle responsibility can make us appear humble, virtuous, or self-sacrificing, which may be true on a case by case basis. However, as a lifestyle, it’s a means to free ourselves from being accountable for any decisions made, as well as negate any responsibility to make changes in our thinking, beliefs, or behavior. For example, making statements like, “I’d cook healthier but my kids will only eat fast food..."

So, how do we break the cycle?

  • Start small.
  • Trying to do something drastic rarely works long-term.
  • Pick one thing you want to change and make small alterations in your daily behavior.
  • Ask yourself, is this action going to bring me closer to my goal of ___________ or take me farther away?
  • Reward yourself for even small changes.
  • Most importantly, pray daily, asking God to empower you to make the changes you desire. Trust Him to change you from the inside out!
  • And when you are inevitably faced with temptation to react the same old way? Pray for self-control, then give yourself permission to wait for 5 or 10 minutes before you take any action. Usually the temptation has subsided by then.  
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Adapted from Rust, Father-Daughter Connection

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

God's Unique Differences Between Men and Women

Guided by the "powers that be" in the media, the Feminist Movement, and the cultural push towards blending of sexual identity, the roles of men and women become more confusing every decade. There is an identity crisis, for sure, however, it has nothing to do with gender-swapping; it has everything to do with rejecting the wonderful differences with which God purposefully and intentionally created us.

 Our God-given Temperament reflects, and equips us to celebrate, our individuality and our differences, but our sex-linked similarities enable us to rejoice in knowing ourselves as uniquely male or female, as a group. There is a comfort, security, and camaraderie between men and women when we recognize that while we are all human beings, there are basic strengths in our differences that create a unity that isn’t attainable any other way.

 Now, before the ruckus begins, yes, due to differences in levels of sex hormones during prenatal development, cultural gender expectations, and parental influences, there are variations on those male-female specific differences: for example, men who are more relationship-oriented than task-oriented, and women who would rather break a finger than ask for directions; men who enjoy more traditional female interests and vs.vs. for women.

However, there are also irrefutable basic biological, physiological, and emotional differences between men and women that absolutely result in consistent typical traits. In fact, we have been designed this way by the Creator Himself! “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” There was purpose in His creation, a reason to make us of one flesh, but also unique, compatible, and complementary. Scientists have described these sex-specific generalities as following:

Emotional Differences:
  • Men tend to establish relationships with other men based on respect. Women tend to build their relationships on close, intimate friendship.
  • A man’s sense of self-worth, identity and feelings of masculinity are derived from his work; a woman’s self-worth is derived from her relationships.
  • Men tend to be more rigid than women, which presupposes them to deny their own weaknesses, making them ill-equipped to feel sympathy for another’s  pain or weakness.
  • Men tend to equate asking for help as a sign of weakness; women consider asking for help as a shortcut for getting the job done.
  • Men tend to create a “thinking bypass” by changing one feeling into another in an attempt to replace feelings with thought and logic. And example would be acting angry when they are feeling hurt or fearful.
  • Men tend to express anger by either yelling and condemning, or by inflicting the “cold-silence treatment” toward the source of their frustration.
  • Men tend to avoid expressing their emotions, their rationalities, their weaknesses or their fears because they equate these as feminine traits and therefore a threat to their self-esteem; women make no such connection and freely express these inner emotions to others.
  • Men tend to [profess] that they prefer dogs over cats because dogs are loyal, obedient, and submissive, which are qualities men value, whereas cats are aloof, independent and cannot be controlled.
  • Men possess a natural inner masculine drive to pursue, conquer, and protect: women manifest a natural urge to organize, build a home, and procreate.
  • Men tend to give a reward for performance; women tend to give love unconditionally.
  • Men tend to give intimacy to procure sex; women tend to give sex with the goal of gaining intimacy.
Biological/Physiological Differences:
  • Men are unable to utilize both sides of the brain simultaneously the way women do, due to higher levels of testosterone during prenatal development resulting in an altered brain structure, therefore men tend to focus without being distractible.
  • Women do have higher levels of intuition due to their intact nervous system connections between both hemispheres of the brain. Women “multi-task.”
  • 75% of men are left-brained oriented, causing them to think in analytical, sequential, and rational means. The more left-brained a man is, the less he will comprehend or desire to comprehend emotions and feelings.
  • Due to differences in brain function, men tend to communicate in a facts and information exchange, whereas women tend to communicate utilizing emotional information.
  • A man’s skin really does tend to wrinkle later in life than does a woman’s. (So unfair.)
Part of the conflict between men and women is based on these basic differences. Women expect things from a man that he may not be capable of giving, and men make demands upon women that she might be unable to provide. The result is anger, hurt feelings, and unmet expectations. (This is particularly important in the relationship between a girl and her father from whom she seeks to discover if she is beautiful, worthy, and acceptable, just as she is.)

Understanding and accepting these basic differences, then going deeper by discovering our God-given Temperament*, equips and enables us to accept one another as being different, but not bad, wrong, or in need of fixing!

 In fact, we can see how our differences help us make a Whole when we join together in cooperative teams, in marriage, in parenting, and in the Church Body. Rather than looking for ways to criticize, down-play, deny, or even mock our differences, choosing to believe the other sex is inherently wrong, damaged, or merely a culturally-created manifestation, we can give one another permission to be who we are, even if who we are is more traditional, and less unisexual, than some would like.

*If you would like to have your own Temperament Analysis Profile completed, contact me through this blog to set up an apt. and I will send you a link to answer the necessary questions online, then I will complete your report and email it to you within 24 hours. Testing and reports are $75 for adults, $80 for teens and children (contains an extra report in child/teen-friendly language plus a complete report for parents with parenting suggestions based on your child's temperament.) Payment by PayPal.

Resource: The Innate Differences Between Males and Females, Dr. Donald Joy;
Why Did Daddy Disappoint Me (Always Daddy’s Girl) H. Norman Wright
(in The Father-Daughter Connection, MariLouise Rust, MA)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Are you a part of a relationship triangle?

Every family system has stress and conflict. To relieve this, people develop triangles with other people, with organizations, and with activities. Triangles surface when there are power struggles. They often involve two people in alignment against a third.

Some triangles are healthy: they help to balance the system. For example, a couple in the empty nest phase of their lives learning a new skill or language together, becoming more active in church, or finding a common interest, is a healthy and productive triangle. Siblings often triangulate with other siblings or with friends in order to ease the competitiveness of activities in the relationship. A pastoral counselor provides a temporary positive triangulation for a stressed couple.

Other triangles are unhealthy and disruptive. Some examples are entering into an affair, asking a parent to intervene in an adult child’s marital squabble, using work as an escape from problems at home, aligning with a child as an ally against the other parent, or feeling responsible to solve another couple‘s problems for them.

How do you know when you are in a triangle? The following are examples of triangles which can be positive, neutral, or unhealthy:
  • Whenever a threesome exists in which the functioning of two people influences the functioning of a third, it is a triangle
  • When two people are joined in some kind of battle with a third, there is a triangle
  • When there is a shifting three-person relationship with one person always in the “out” position, there is a triangle
  • If a very strong emotional reaction to one person takes place and another is sought out for solace and support, there may be a triangle
  • Those who are overly involved in trying to solve one person’s problem with someone else, are probably in a triangle
  • If words like mediator, fixer, rescuer, or buffer seem to describe a role, there is a triangle
  • If a person feels stuck in a relationship or cannot seem to let go of certain feelings, like anger or resentment, it may mean that a triangle has formed to avoid confronting these negative feelings
  • Triangles occur more frequently when we are going through some kind of major life stress
Family Therapists Philip Guerin and Leo Fay, authors of The Evaluation and Treatment of Marital Conflict identify six main triangles that negatively affect marriages:

The Extramarital Affair Triangle - generally it’s a spouse who is under great discomfort and anxiety in the marriage who chooses an outside affair in a dysfunctional way to relieve their stress. The short term result is a temporary reduction of stress, often making the person more pleasant in the home, which makes them feel the affair is a positive thing. However, this is short-lived, especially when the other spouse finds out about the affair.

Social Network Triangles - Feelings of pressure within the marriage lead partners to look outside the relationship for relief in the form of activities with friends, social organizations, or key social contacts. The husband might golf every weekend with his buddies, the wife may volunteer or take monthly trips with her friends. They begin to invest most of their time with their social group instead of one-on-one time with their spouse. Church activities, when used as a substitute for family or spousal connection time, fall into this category. Other people begin to commiserate with the individual spouses, taking sides, offering advice that is supportive of their friend's point of view, fostering a sense of victimization for the friend, while the absent spouse is seen as the “bad guy.” While it does offer relief, it does not foster healing and creates further division.

In-Law Triangles - Separating from one’s parents after marriage is a process, not an event. Well-meaning parents who want to “help-out” their newlywed children often cause stress in the area of loyalty and significance for the grown child’s spouse. Example: when the couple is learning to live within a budget, and one spouse’s parents keep slipping their adult child money. Competition among in-laws for attention also causes stress. Example: where to spend the holidays.

Primary Parent Triangles - If a grown child is emotionally enmeshed with one of his/her parents, they will feel they are dishonoring the parent if they set boundaries to protect their spouse or the marriage. Example: a parent uses guilt to keep a grown child at their beck and call. Compare Eph 6: 1 and 2 regarding children. The second is more applicable to an adult child: Eph. 6: 1 "Children obey your parents;" Eph 6: 2 "Honor your father and mother." Gen. 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." God tells us once we are married, our spousal relationship is now primary and our parents are still to be honored, but not necessarily obeyed.

Triangles with Children - A child is a quick and convenient way to defuse issues or dilute tension
between a husband and wife. The focus on the child hides the marital conflict, which is never addressed, because all the attention, mental and emotional focus, is on the child.
There are three main ways a child is used in a triangle:                                           

A. Child as a Refuge - a child becomes a place of refuge and comfort, usually for one parent, placing the child in an adult-role. The child becomes the confidant, buddy, or in the worst cases, an object of sexual attention.
B. Target Child - the child may be very special to one parent, and an object of wrath to the other. This child is caught in the middle and often becomes self-destructive, forcing their parents into an artificial alliance to deal with them. Example: one parent excuses a child’s bad behavior, leading the other to be more punitive; one parent dotes on the child whereas the other resents the child for having attention that used to belong to the spouse.
C. Tug of War - Both parents attempt to be closer to, and more influential, over the child. The child may then manipulate the parents for their own gain. Family rules and stability will be lost. Frequently happens during and after a divorce, or once a new love interest enters one of the parent’s lives.

Step Family Triangles - Triangles within step families fall into one of the following four categories:
A. Wicked Stepparent - there is open warfare between stepchildren and stepparent and the natural parent is pulled back and forth between them.
B. Perfect Stepparent - the stepparent may try to treat the child as their own, often in response to an implicit demand from their spouse. The stepparent operates as the rescuer, moving to “straighten out” the child, or make up for the past. This is most often seen with an overly close or involved stepmother and a distant  biological father. This also occurs with a stepfather trying to “make it up” to the child for an absent, divorced, or deceased biological father.
C. Ghost of the Former Spouse - the wife or husband is reacting to the partner’s relationship with a former spouse, usually the children’s mother. Conflict surrounds alimony and child support, also nature and frequency of contact with the former spouse. There is an attitude of “If only we didn’t have to deal with X, we wouldn’t have any problems.”
D. Grandparent - if the grandparents are forced to deal with a former son or daughter-in-law with whom there was a great deal of reactivity before the divorce. Again the child can become part of a tug of war, or the grandparents seek to undermine the relationship with the other parent or obstruct visitation, etc.

Why do people remain in triangles even when they know they are unhealthy? People have great problems breaking free of unhealthy triangles, mostly because of fear:
  • Fear of separation
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of conflict
  • Fear of change
  • Guilt feelings
  • Fear or rejection or retaliation
  • Fear of anger
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Fear of self-examination
  • Need to protect oneself or others
Emily Marlin, author of Genograms, offers these four tips to extract yourself from an unhealthy triangle:

Decide - be aware that you are in a triangle, and that it is best for you to be out of it. Your anxiety level is your best gauge to tell you when you need to disengage. The higher it is, the more important it is for you to find a solution. Make a conscious decision to get out of the triangle.

My note: in this stage it is important to repent of taking control of the situation, to ask God to take control of the situation, to ask Him to lead you out of the triangle, and to thank Him for having your best outcome in His heart. ("For I know the plans I have for you…" Jer. 29:11)

Defuse - look at the amount of emotional energy you’re expending in a troubled triangle. If you are constantly reacting to what the other two parties in the triangle are saying and doing, you’re depleting your energy needlessly. Calm down and cool off. Try to stop reacting. Be a listener and observer, rather than emotionally involved participant.

My note: Continue to pray, asking God to lead and guide your reactions, to give you self-control, and to take authority over the situation, to help you close your mouth and listen without giving your opinion or input. (James 1: 19 "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.")

Detach - stop trying to control other people. Realize that you really don’t need to fix anything or anybody. Take your focus off the other two sides of the triangle and put the focus on yourself. Affirm your own importance and autonomy.

My note: stop betting on the outcome. Detach from needing a certain outcome. Let go and let God. Place it in His hands and refuse to take it up again, reminding yourself that the Creator of the Universe knows all your needs and can handle this far better than you or I. (Prov. 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight;" Phil. 4: 6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.")

Distance - you may have to temporarily physically remove yourself from the two parties in order to get the emotional distance you need to separate. You aren’t fleeing forever, you’re just changing the constellation. My note: in the case of children or families, this distance might involve merely a walk away from the house, or taking a long bath, in order to gain distance and perspective.

Resources: Working With Relationship Triangles, Guerin, Fay, Fogarty, Kautto, Basic Books, NY 1997 and Integrated Temperament Couple Therapy, Twerell, J. Terry, Dr., NCCA,  1997

In Christ, Karen 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

SETI to knock on ET's door: who will answer?

Of the groups searching for extraterrestrial life, SETI is probably the most well known. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and by their own definition is an exploratory science that seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology. [1]

The modern SETI era can be defined as beginning in 1959. In that year, Cornell physicists Giuseppi Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in Nature in which they pointed out the potential for using microwave radio to communicate between the stars. In the spring of 1960, a young radio astronomer named Frank Drake conducted the first microwave radio search for signals from other solar systems. Their work caught the attention of the Russians who then dominated the SETI field for nearly a decade, using nearly-omnidirectional antennas to observe large chunks of sky, hoping there were a few very advanced civilizations capable of radiating enormous amounts of transmitter power. No such luck.

At the beginning of the 1970's, NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California began to consider the technology required for an effective search. A team of outside experts, under the direction of Bernard Oliver, from Hewlett-Packard Corporation, produced a comprehensive study for NASA known as Project Cyclops. The Cyclops report provided an analysis of SETI science and technology issues that is the foundation upon which much subsequent work is based.

By the late-1970s, SETI programs had been established at NASA's Ames Research Center and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. These groups attempted to examine 1,000 Sun-like stars in a Targeted Search, capable of detecting weak or sporadic signals as well as systematically sweep all directions in a Sky Survey. In 1988, after a decade of study and preliminary design, NASA Headquarters formally adopted this strategy, and funded the program. Four years later, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World, the observations began, however, within a year, Congress terminated funding.

More recently, (1994 - 2004) the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute was funded entirely by donations from individuals and grants from private foundations.  In 2005, a NASA grant was awarded for work on signal detection for the Allen Telescope Array.  Donations and non-governmental grants still comprise the vast majority of funding for the Center.

SETI asks the questions, "What if space alien's landed? Would it be War of the Worlds, Independence Day, or The X Files?" SETI representatives believe Sundance Film Festival Danish director Michael Madsen lays out "a more cerebral storyline, and one that might be more realistic.

In The Visit, a fictional piece presented as documentary, real scientists, politicians, military types, and United Nations officials sit behind their stunningly neat desks and mull over what to do about a house guest who's arrived from the stars."

The movie portrays officials in complete control, the visitor almost a bystander, offering no risk, threat, or it seems, benefit. The focus of the film seems to be our reaction, as if, the visitors, or guests, simply await our apparent wisdom-fueled reaction to their arrival.

SETI researchers are in fact, so sure extraterrestrials are just blithely unaware of our awesome existence and will surely be so wowified to discover we exist they are pushing for a cease of passive listening for life elsewhere in leui of an aggressive attempt to initialize contact ourselves, kind of a celestial doorbell... a really annoying, in your face kind of doorbell.

To date the only known space messages sent out from the earth have been a graphic message was sent into space by the Arecibo radio telescope in the 1970s, a radio message broadcast from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico toward a cluster of stars 25,000 light-years away, in 1974, and in 2008, Doritos company sent an advertisement from a radar station in Norway to a potentially habitable star system 42 light-years away. Because any decent space alien has got to be craving some cool ranch Doritos, y'all.

Other researchers seek a more cautious approach, demanding an international consensus before "outing" Earth to the rest of the universe. [2] Scientists in both camps faced off on February 12, 2015 at a debate held at a meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science:)

"Advocates for active SETI say that keen-eared aliens could already pick up some of Earth’s ambient transmissions. Current radio and TV transmissions could be heard only a few light-years away with the current radio telescope technology on Earth, but Vakoch says that an advanced civilization would have far more developed techniques for listening. Brin says this is the “barn door excuse” and adds that many active SETI techniques would send out focused, powerful messages that would travel many times farther than the day-to-day transmissions from Earth. He views active SETI messages as cosmic pollution, rather than exploration. Although he’s not worried about alien invasions, he thinks the assumption of benevolence—or even the existence of aliens—is overstated."

Did I actually hear a voice of reason? The assumption of benevolence is overstated? To my understanding, there has not been one instance of a benevolent meeting between "alien creatures" and human beings. There have been multiple encounters with people who have reportedly been kidnapped, examined, physically violated, and even claimed to have had unborn children removed from their wombs.

Similar to the belief in evolution, despite the magnitude of evidence pointing elsewhere, SETI researchers seem determined to force their ill-advised agenda on the world at large, seeking to increase communication and interaction with beings that thus far, have shown themselves to be nothing but malevolent.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, people want so badly for someone other than a moral and just God to have designed, created, and ultimately to judge this planet and those that dwell on it, that they are more willing to reach out to an "unknown" and definitely self-serving force that surely, will allow humans to also serve themselves, thereby deceiving themselves to their very doom.

1. Web. Accessed on 2015/03/07

2. Hand, Eric. Researchers call for interstellar messages to alien civilizations. 2015. Web. Accessed on 2015/03/07