The Less-Stressed Life








Research shows that one of the most important features of successful relationships is the depth of your friendship.  In fact, I find that I can often make a quick (and accurate)  assessment about the state of a marriage by taking a few minutes with a couple during their initial session to determine how close their friendship is.  Check out the following test* developed by Dr. John Gottman to see how well you know your spouse.

Answer yes or no to the following questions:

  1. I can name my spouse’s best friends.
  2. I know what stresses my spouse is currently facing.
  3. I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my spouse lately.
  4. I can tell you some of my spouse’s life dreams.
  5. I can tell you about my spouse’s basic philosophy of life.
  6. I can list the relatives my spouse likes the least.
  7. I feel that my spouse knows me pretty well.
  8. When we are apart, I often think fondly of my spouse.
  9. I often touch or kiss my spouse affectionately.
  10. My spouse really respects me.
  11. There is fire and passion in this relationship.
  12. Romance is definitely still part of our relationship.
  13. My spouse appreciates the things I do in this relationship.
  14. My spouse generally likes my personality.
  15. Our sex life is mostly satisfying.
  16. At the end of the day my spouse is glad to see me.
  17. My spouse is one of my best friends.
  18. We just love talking to each other.
  19. There is lots of give and take (both people have influence) in our discussions.
  20. My spouse listens respectfully, even when we disagree.
  21. My spouse is usually a great help as a problem solver.
  22. We generally mesh well on basic values and goals in life.


What your score means..

15 or more Yes answers

Congratulations – your friendship and your marriage are

8 to 14

There are many strengths that you can build on, but there
are also some weaknesses that need attention.
While counseling is an option, you might also benefit from simply
spending more time together doing activities that you both enjoy, or scheduling
a vacation during which you can reconnect.

7 or fewer

Your relationship may be in serious trouble.  If this worries you, you probably still value the relationship enough to get help.  Consider seeking the advice of a trained couples therapist or taking amarriage retreat where you can focus on mending your relationship.


Live the Life You’ve Always Wanted!

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle


*Source:  Copyright © 2000-2007 by Dr. John Gottman and
the Gottman Institute.

Late one night several months ago I couldn’t sleep so I flipped on the television.  As I surfed through the channels I came across a poker game.  Normally, if you asked how I felt about watching a poker game on television I would have preferred to watch paint dry, that would be more exciting.  However, it was late and I was longing to get some sleep so I thought this might do the trick. 

About two minutes into the program I quickly realized that not only was this not boring but I was actually mezmerized.  There was so much more to the game of poker than I had ever taken the time to discover.  Full of intrigue, suspense and mystery, sometimes a duel to the death and sometimes a fiery flamenco dance where the dancers are passionately one-upping each other, poker is brilliantly exciting.

As I watched the players become eliminated one by one I noticed that at some point they pushed all their chips into the center of the table.  It’s called going “all in”.  It occurred to me that in order to make significant change in our lives we have to be willing to go “all in”. 

Taking that leap to experience radical change may be scary for some but there comes a time when you’ve got to jump if you’re going to realize a life of less stress.  Little steps toward your goal help to a small degree but research suggests that in order to experience lasting change you must be willing to give it all you’ve got and go “all in”.

Live the Life You’ve Always Wanted!
Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle

Do you wake up in the morning happy about the fact that you are about to start your day?  Or do dread going to work in the morning and look for every opportunity to take a “personal mental health day”?    The research is very clear that it is almost impossible to get burned out if you are engaged in a vocation that is consistent with your passion (…dare I say “calling”).  I spoke with entertainer/composer/author Jim Brickman a while ago about how he is living his dreams.  There is a lot we can all learn about how to live the life we have always wanted from Jim’s comments here.  Check it out…



The playwright Jules Renard wrote, “The only man who is really free

is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving

any excuse.”

 By that definition, are you free? Few of us are because

we feel guilty when we draw boundaries with people in order to focus

on what’s important. That’s a problem. It will be impossible to

maintain your priorities and experience margin in your schedule until

you get comfortable saying a simple word: no. No excuses, no

rainchecks, no babbling about when you might be able to fit it in—just

plain no.

Why do we find that so hard as Christians? Why is it so

difficult to say no? Probably because on some level we feel that God

has called us to be sweet and humble. And we think that sweet,

humble people don’t deny requests for help and definitely don’t turn

down invitations to dinner. If this is your struggle, I can’t help but

point you toward the example of Christ. Yes, He did spend a lot of His

time ministering to people—healing the sick, teaching in the

synagogues, and sharing the gospel with prostitutes and tax collectors.

Yes, He did the ministry thing, and He did it quite well, but He also

said no to ministry on occasion.

Take the last supper, for instance. On the night before He was

to leave this world, we see Jesus spending time with His disciples. He

had only a little time left—just a few hours in which to heal the sick,

raise the dead, and do ministry—but He didn’t spend His final

moments that way. He said no to that aspect of His work with people

because He knew it was important for Him to be with His disciples at

that time. There were also times when Jesus would withdraw from

even the twelve disciples just to spend time alone praying, reflecting,

and even enjoying nature. In those moments, Jesus was saying no to all

the other opportunites He had so He could step back and smell the


Jesus was willing to say no in order to create some margin in

His life. Are you? Are you willing to, perhaps, disappoint people when

you say no so that you can keep the main thing the main thing?