Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Could The Way You Start a Fight Predict Divorce?

posted by Linda Mintle

Jenna was really mad at her husband. He promised to come home at a reasonable hour. She cooked a fabulous meal, got the kids to bed but sat waiting in the silence. Two hours after his scheduled arrival, husband Tom showed up. By the time, he walked in the door, Jenna was ready to explode. He walked into the kitchen and she let loose. How dare he not call. What a jerk! Before he could get a word out, Jenna threw down her towel and left the room. “Enjoy your very cold dinner.”


What Jenna didn’t know was that there was a major car accident on his way home. Traffic didn’t move for an hour and his cell phone was dead. But that conversation was slow to develop because the way Jenna began the argument was harsh. Did she have a right to be mad? Sure.

But would she and Tom have a sensible discussion about what happened? Probably not based on the way she began the conflict. Martial Researcher John Gottman has discovered that when a conflict begins  with what is called a harsh startup, it won’t end well. In fact, a harsh start up is a predictor of divorce.

When a partner is negative, accusatory, filled with contempt, the conflict will reflect that tone and go nowhere.

So what is a soft start up–a better way to begin?


First, don’t begin with accusation, criticism or anger.

Second, don’t assume the negative. In Tom’s case, things were out of his control. He had no way to communicate.

Third, begin with something positive like, “I’m glad you finally made it home. Everything OK?”

Fourth, talk from your point of view. “I was sitting here getting upset because I made a great dinner and got the kids to bed. I am so disappointed. What happened? I never heard from you and it is so late?”

The start up is so important that Gottman says 96% if the time it predicts the way a conflict will end–negatively. And harsh start ups are associated with relationship break ups. So next time, you are ready to attack, stop, think about what your goal is, follow the above guidelines and see if you can engage in a more positive way.



For help calming down and dealing with anger, click on the book cover, Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness. 


Is “Sin” a Bad Word in Church?

posted by Linda Mintle

Sunday, I heard a sermon on sanctification. The pastor was direct with the congregation. If you are cohabitating and having sex, you are sinning. If you are looking at pornography, you are sinning. If you cheat on your taxes, you are sinning. If you lie to your parents, that is sin. Gossip? It’s sin.

The direct approach took the audience by surprise. People were uncomfortable and the pastor knew it. But he felt it was his job to make Christians uncomfortable when we sin. Why? Because as Christians, we are supposed to be in the process of sanctification. And sanctification requires us to pay attention to our sin and repent.


But because the process of sanctification points to our sin and requires effort on our part, we don’t like to talk about it.

When we are saved, we are justified to God. This mean we are new creations in Christ. We are justified by faith–we don’t earn it and it is a completed work. We are the righteousness of Christ, an unearned gift given to us at the point of salvation. Justification relates to our position in God.

But once we give our lives to Christ, there is a type of effort that goes into living a transformed life. And that transformation is what we call sanctifcation. Sanctification involves conforming to the image of Christ. It is the righteousness of Christ working in us and can’t be done until we are first justified to God. Once saved, we have what we need (the righteousness of Christ in us) to become more like Christ. But we have to participate in the process. And this is where we get uncomfortable.


We hesitate to confront sin because we don’t want to judge and want to be tolerant. And sin is often enjoyable. But we all fall short and are regularly in need of repentance. Without facing our sin, we can’t continue the process of sanctification.

We have to cooperate and “work out our own salvation” (Philippians 2:12; Ezekiel 11:20, 20:19). Sanctification is about our relationship with God. Because we love Him, we want to obey and serve Him. This means confronting our sin.

With so few pastors willing to even talk about sin, we grow a little too comfortable letting sin slide.  “Sin” is not a bad word and needs to find its place in the American church again.




Stressed? A Quick and Easy Way to Relax

posted by Linda Mintle

The next time you feel tension creeping into your body, try this:

If you, like millions of Americans, feel stressed out and in need of a long vacation you can’t afford to take, don’t sweat it. There is a lot you can do to de-stress yourself.  Keep in mind that the opposite of tension and stress is relaxation. Relaxation comes in many forms. Sometimes it has to be learned and practiced.

For example, if you grew up in a home with an alcoholic or abusive parent,  you may not even realize that your body has carried physically tension for years. Alcoholic/abusive parents can create uptight kids. Kids never know when the alcoholic/abuser will be available, angry, critical, physical, kind or calm. This unpredictable pattern creates a tense child–always waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. Tension becomes a learned state of living. Many of these adult children need to teach their bodies how to relax.


Here is an easy way to learn to relax. Before you begin, try to rate the level of tension in your body from zero (no tension– you are probably dead) to 100 (this much tension will kill you).

Now, take deep breaths – When you are tense, breathing often becomes short and rapid. It tends to originate in the chest. Some people even hyperventilate which can lead to panic. Breathing should come from the abdomen, not the chest. If you are unsure, place your hand on your abdomen, take a breath and see if your hand moves. If you don’t feel an in and out motion, chances are you are breathing from your chest and throat.

When you concentrate on taking deep, slow breathes, you supply more oxygen to the brain and muscle system. You stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you. Taking deep breaths can help you clear your mind. Try to concentrate on your body. Try to inhale slowly through the nose and let the air go down low. Pause and slowly exhale through your nose or mouth.


Do this over and over, about 10 times. When you practice deep breathing three or four times a day, you will catch yourself breathing incorrectly and teach your body to breathe correctly. The good thing about this form of relaxation is that it is free, easy to do and can be done anywhere. You can be in the middle of a crowd, start feeling tense and take a number of deep slow breaths to calm down. Or you can be alone in the house and practice.

After you have practiced this exercise a few times, rate the level of tension in your body again on that 0-100 scale. The number should be lower. If not, you need more practice. The more often you sense stress in your body, the more you can apply this technique. So next time you feel tension creeping into your body, take a deep breath and relax!



For more help, Click on the book cover above, Dr. Linda’s Breaking Free from Stress


Are You A Compulsive or Binge Eater?

posted by Linda Mintle

Are you a compulsive overeating? Do you binge eat? What are the signs of emotional eating?

Julie is frustrated with her weight. She has been steadily gaining for months and can’t stop bingeing on candy. The more her weight goes up, the more depressed she becomes. Every night Julie promises herself that she’ll be “good”. Tomorrow she’ll start a diet and get control of her eating. But tomorrow turns out like today–she eats compulsively.


It’s hard for Julie to tell the difference between physical hungry and eating out of boredom or stress. She hates feeling this out of control and won’t look at her body in the mirror.

Julie is a compulsive overeater who doesn’t binge eat but “grazes” all day on food. She picks a little here, a little there, until she has grossly overeaten and gained weight. The compulsion to eat is emotionally based but adding physical pounds to her 5’2” frame. Julie reports she can’t get control, vows daily to diet and fails.

Compulsive overeaters usually:

· Overeat due to emotional issues and stress, not because they are hungry

· Diet often because of guilt and weight gain

· Feel out of control when eating


· Feel disgusted with their bodies because they are overweight

· Binge eat or overeat throughout the day

Another type of compulsive eating is called binge eating. Binge eating is similar to bulimia because the person experiences uncontrolled eating episodes (binges). The difference is that compulsive binge eaters don’t purge. They eat until they are uncomfortably full. Most binge eaters are obese and struggle with weight fluctuations. About 2% of people are binge eaters with about one-third of those people involved in medically supervised weight control programs.

Look for these signs if you think you may be a binger:

· Recurrent episodes of binge eating

· Feel out of control during a binge

· Eat fast and feel uncomfortable


· Eat large amounts of food when you are not physically hungry

· Eat alone because you are embarrassed by how much you eat

· Feel disgusted, guilty or depressed by the way you eat

· Are distressed by the above

· Binge at least 2 days a week for a 6 month period

· Don’t purge to get rid of the food

The tell tale sign of compulsive overeating is usually overweight or obesity which can have serious medical consequences. If you or a loved one struggles with compulsive or binge eating, get help now. There are no magical shortcuts but you can get control over food and learn to eat healthy.


For more help, Click on the book cover above, Dr. Linda’s Breaking Free from Compulsive Overeating

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