Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Will This Couple Divorce?

posted by Linda Mintle

John and Ann are asked about the history of their relationship. They have nothing positive to say. In fact, all they can remember are the problems. For years, they have been unable to deal with conflict in a way that repairs problems thus, they are left with negativity about the relationship.

When John and Ann try to talk about a problem, it doesn’t go well. Ann usually comes on harsh with several statements of criticism. John becomes defensiveness and thinks about how much he doesn’t like Ann. Ann rolls her eyes and really believes John acts like a jerk and doesn’t care. John wants out of her sight. A defensive wall goes up between the two and neither talks it out.

Overwhelmed with negative feelings towards each other, neither looks to the other for emotional care. Instead, they grow apart. Trying to deal with Ann upsets John to the point that he feels it in his body. And Ann is convinced that someone else is better suited to meet her needs.

This couple is ripe for divorce: They don’t repair the damage they do to each other with their words and actions. They feel very negative about the relationships and can’t even discuss issues without arguing and name-calling. They are critical and defensive with each other and have put up emotional walls. And when couples get to this point, they usually call it quits.

But should they?

No, they should find a well-trained licensed marriage and family therapist and work to turn their relationships around. A couple therapist knows how to help.

But here is the kicker. They must be willing to work on the relationship. Without the commitment to work it out, they will simply become another statistics. And that is sad since we know how to help people like John and Ann fix their relationships.

Willingness to work on a relationship usually requires humility. Can you humble yourself enough to see your part of the problem, work on that and begin to repair the damage?

If so, repair can take place. But so many times, I have asked couples like John and Ann to work with me and they are unwilling to let down their guard and work it out. In those cases, not only will they divorce, but they will simply repeat their negative patterns with the next person.

Pornography Involves Somebody’s Daughter

posted by Linda Mintle

I’ve treated a number of people caught up in pornography addiction. So when my friend and founder of the ministry, Music for the Soul, Steve Siler did a CD and DVD on this topic, I had to pass it on.

What would happen if every man (I know women deal with pornography addiction as well) thought of the woman he was looking at as somebody’s daughter?

And while not all pornography has women has its object, much of it does.

Watch the music video, listen, pass this on to others. That person you are looking at is or was somebody’s little girl!

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When Your Think Your Marriage is Over, Think Again!

posted by Linda Mintle

Sarah and John were at a family dinner. During a trip to the restroom, John pulled Sarah aside and said, “I’m done. No more of this. I want out of this marriage. ” Sarah, stunned and speechless, wondered what prompted such a big decision. She, like many spouses, was unhappy in the marriage but had not gone to counseling.

According to the Gottman Institute, unhappy couples wait an average of six years to get help. And the wait doesn’t usually make things better. But should this couple divorce over their unhappiness?

Not until they’ve tried a few things first.

One of those things is something rather new called “discernment counseling.” Developed by veteran marriage therapist, Bill Doherty, at the University of Minnesota, discernment counseling aims to help couples decide if divorce is really the next step. The idea came to him after talking to a family court judge who told him that many couples he saw in court handled their divorces so well that he couldn’t really understand why they were divorcing. Doherty figured that the judge was on to something. A reconciliation service may play a role in helping couples stay together.

In typical couple therapy, one spouse usually wants out while the other wants in. Doherty built his model of help around this dynamic. He processes with couples what is good about the marriage and how they arrived at this point of contention. He also asks what they have done to try and save the marriage.

Three options are suggested: 1) Keep things as they are 2) Try a 6 month reconciliation with marriage therapy or 3) Divorce. So far, 25 couples have gone through his process with 40% choosing the reconciliation option. The rest are considering their options or pursuing divorce. Basically, Doherty is offering a service for high risk couples, giving them time and space to really talk about what went wrong, decide if the wrong can be repaired, and discuss their willingness to try options before declaring divorce is inevitable.

Because marriage is a sacred covenant, the idea of slowing high-risk couples down, and allowing them time to process their most important relationship, seems like a great idea to me. Regardless of the outcome, couples owe it to each other to think through their relationship and try to repair it. This process takes time. During that time, some may find that there is reason to salvage the marriage.

How to Handle Rejection

posted by Linda Mintle

When a gunman opened fire and killed seven people and wounded three at a Christian college a week ago, the question was, “Why?” Why would anyone walk into a classroom and shoot people at point blank range? While we may never know exactly what triggered such an horrific event, we can guess that feelings of rejection and deep anger were rooted somewhere in the shooters psyche. And certainly his inability to deal with whatever upset him, tragically ended the lives of innocent people. Our prayers are with the families who suffered the loss of their loved ones.

Rejection, while never an excuse to hurt anyone, is a painful thing. It is about exclusion–social, relationship, peers, family, friends and romance. A group or an individual can be rejected. And while rejection is a subjective experience, it hurts because we are wired to be in relationship. Our basic need to be accepted and belong is tested when rejection is part of any relationship.

We all know how it feels to be rejected, but are there psychological consequences?

Rejection can bring on loneliness, low-self-esteem, aggression and depression. Feelings of insecurity are heightened and once rejected, a person can become more sensitive to future rejection. Anxiety can develop as well as anger and deep sadness. When social rejection is part of the picture, a person can learn to conform to peer pressure and comply to the demands of others even when that compliance could be dangerous or unhealthy. And in the worse cases, people who are rejected can lash out in violence, wanting revenge for the hurt.

So what is important in dealing with rejection?

1) Don’t allow rejection to define who you are or determine your actions. God never rejects you and sees your worth even when others do not. Other people do not determine your worth!

2) Ask yourself if the person’s opinion of you is really all that accurate. Rejection is about you not measuring up to someone’s subjective experience. Who says he or she is right? His or her opinion is only one opinion of many.

3) Forgive the person. Do not carry resentment and hurt inside or it will turn to bitterness and become explosive or depressing. Choose to forgive and let go with God’s help.

4) If you become angry, deal with your anger in a biblical way–don’t give vent to it, don’t get back at the person, don’t hurt those who hurt you. It is natural to feel like taking revenge, but the God part in you says don’t do it. Revenge doesn’t take away the hurt and only hurts others. Take the high road of emulating Christ. You will be a better person for it. (See my booklet, Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness for guidelines on dealing with anger)

5) Confront the rejection but do it with love and gentleness. Sometimes people don’t know they have hurt you. Other times, rejection was intentional. It you would feel better confronting the person who rejected you, do it but practice your confrontation in a way that isn’t harsh, and tells the person the impact the rejection had on you. Understand that confronting rejection doesn’t mean the other person will be sorry or apologize. So you really have to decide and pray about what to do.

6) Take the pain of the rejection to God. Cry out to Him. He knows what it feels like to be rejected and encourages you to give your pain and burdens to Him. God is safe and will not hurt you or reject you. And He wants to heal that part of you that was deeply hurt.

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