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That was the experience of a reputable neurosurgeon, who taught at Harvard Medical School, while in a coma. He believes he visited heaven. Dr. Alexander’s neuroscience career taught him that near-death experiences are brain-based illusions, but his own journey changed his beliefs. A Christian by name, but not a person who held deep faith, his near death experience opened his eyes to a new reality–the home of God.
In 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander, fell in to a meningitis-induced coma for seven days. From a scientific point of view, the coma made it impossible for him to experience even limited consciousness. But something happened that took him beyond scientific understanding. He experienced the afterlife and chronicled that experience in a new book, Proof of Heaven.
This story caught my eye because it speaks to the possibility of holding deeply religious beliefs as a scientist. If one truly believes that God created all things, then scientific discovery becomes man’s way of learning what God designed. In other words, science will only discover what God has created. A lack of scientific explanation may indicate our limited ability to completely understand the complexity of our Creator.
I am reminded of the story of Job. God shows up during Job’s troubles. He doesn’t enlighten Job but allows Job to know how little he really knows. He reminds Job that his view of the universe is very limited. As author, Philip Yancey notes, we need faith most at the precise moment it seems impossible. Job, through his suffering, learned that God cared about him intimately, and that God rules the world–a message that perhaps Dr. Alexander learned as well.
The “test” is called the five-to-one rule. If it is operating in your relationship, then you are probably a stable couple. It not, you could be in trouble.
The five-to-one rule states that for every negative interaction during a conflict, there are five positive ones to counteract the negative. Couples who evidenced this 5:1 ratio of positive to negative were less likely to divorce then couples who had an 8:1 ratio. For example, Tim and Sheila argued over a parenting issue. Tim criticized his wife during the conflict, but there were five positive statements to counterbalance the criticism. Because of this positive to negative ratio (5 to 1), Tim and his wife’s relationship remain stable and conflict doesn’t escalate to a negative point. Couples who do not have this positive affect during conflict were more likely to divorce.
So imagine a researcher standing over your shoulder and counting the number of positives to negatives during your couple interactions. Would you pass the test?
For more help on divorce proofing your marriage, I Married You, Not Your Family and nine other relationship myths by Dr. Linda Mintle
Steve and Jan are growing apart. Their lack of connection is impacting their children and they need help. They have talked about going to see a couple therapist, but are reluctant. Yet, research shows that couple therapy works.
Here are 5 tips to consider when needing relationship help:
1) Don’t wait too long to go get help. By the time, a couple finally decides to give couple work a try, they may have already decided to call it quits or are so ingrained in their negative patterns, that change will take much work. The sooner you get help, the better.
2) People who need it, don’t get it. Telling yourself that someone how things will magically work out is not a strategy. There is proven help for relationships. Why not access that help and save a marriage?
3) Those who do try couple therapy, try it for a short time, then declare it doesn’t work. It takes time to develop negative relationships patterns and time to undo them. Give the therapy a chance to work. Most changes are not easy and require practice and work. Your relationship and family are both worth it.
4) A therapist’s values towards marriage and divorce impact couple work. Therapists who have a positive versus neutral value on marriage commitment, influence outcome (Doherty, National Registry for Marriage Friendly Therapists). Find a therapist who has a positive commitment towards marriage.
5) Find the right therapist who is trained specifically in couple work. Some therapists who do couples work are not trained in it. A therapist may tell you that he or she does couple work, but you need to ask about training and credentials. Look for someone who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) to know that he or she is properly trained.
If you need help to restore those positive feelings about your partner, to stop the fighting, to grow together instead of apart and renew the martial friendship, see someone now. The benefits are worth the time, expense and effort.
For relationship help, I Married You, Not Your Family by Dr. Linda Mintle