Saving Your Marriage by Healing Selfishness

23 06 2016

Saving marriage by healing selfishness

Recently the New York Times ran an opinion piece by popular philosopher Alain de Botton, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. It was widely shared and sat at the top of  The Times’ “most viewed” list for nearly two weeks. De Botton argued that the solution to marital unhappiness and divorce is to expect less happiness from marriage. In other words, swapping romanticism for pessimism can save marriages.

In a follow-up debate this week six pundits opine on Knowing When a Marriage Is Over – a pessimistic premise to be sure, and all of them accept that there will be circumstances (other than abuse) where it will be reasonable to say, “It’s over.” It comes down to “what you want”. Significantly, children are barely mentioned.

But as psychiatrist Dr Richard Fitzgibbons notes below, the welfare of children is a key reason for trying to save marriages. And this is possible because the underlying causes of conflict between spouses can be brought to light and healed – again, if “you want”. Not all optimism is merely romantic, just as pessimism is not necessarily realistic.

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Today marriage and family life are being severely traumatized by the divorce epidemic, the explosion of selfishness which is the major enemy of marital love, and failure to understand and address serious emotional conflicts. Around one million children a year in the United States are victimised by divorce. (See my chapter, “Children of Divorce: Conflicts and Healing” in M. McCarthy (ed) Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins – due out in August).

The toll from marital conflicts can be severe and debilitating.  Selfishness, excessive anger and behaviours that are controlling, emotionally distant and mistrustful cause grave harm to spouses and children. The loyal spouses who are victimized are often incorrectly blamed as being the primary cause of the marital conflict. These conflicts and their resolution through growth in virtues are rarely addressed in the mental health literature on marriage.

Origins of serious emotional conflicts

In my experience the spouse that initiates divorce often has the most serious psychological difficulties.  These are often unconscious wounds they have brought into the marriage.  They arise primarily from hurts in the father relationship and secondarily from hurts in the mother relationship, or from giving into selfishness.

These unresolved are on the periphery of the deep goodness in each spouse, the goodness that led to strong love, commitment and marital vows.  When they are resolved, trust grows and love is regularly rediscovered.

Confusion about the nature of marriage

An understanding of the nature of marriage is also essential to safeguarding marital love. At the present time, there are two markedly different views on the marriage. Sociologist Dr Brad Wilcox refers to them as the traditional Judeo-Christian view of marriage and the more prevalent psychological view. (Wilcox, B. (2009). The Evolution of Divorce)

In the latter, the primary obligation is not to one’s spouse and family but to one’s self and one’s own happiness and sense of fulfillment.  Hence, marital success is defined not by successfully fulfilling one’s responsibilities to a spouse and children.  It is characterized by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage, usually to be found in material comfort and through an intense, emotional relationship with one’s spouse and others.

Virtues, anger and forgiveness

The role of virtues has been viewed in Western Civilization as being essential in the development of a healthy personality.  The mental health field has grown recently to appreciate this approach and a new field, positive psychology, has developed – notably by Dr Martin Seligman and colleagues. (Seligman, M. & Peterson, C. 2004.Character Strengths and Virtues) Positive psychology promotes the development of virtues to address and resolve cognitive, emotional, behavioural and personality conflicts, including those in marriage.

My own particular contribution to this new field is in the use of forgiveness in treating the excessive anger that is present in most psychiatric disorders and in marital conflicts. This subject is treated in detail in a book I co-authored with Dr Robert Enright, Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, published by the American Psychological Association in 2000. (A second edition was published in 2014 with the title, Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope.)

Uncovering conflicts

The first challenge in the healing process is to acquire self-knowledge about one’s weaknesses, most often unconscious and hidden, so that they can be addressed. My own clinical experience is supported by research that demonstrates that 70 percent of adult psychological conflicts are the result of unresolved issues from childhood.

Most spouses do not deliberately set out to hurt the person they have vowed to honor and love all the days of their lives. Instead, they inflict painful wounds and even divorce because of their “baggage”/family of origin conflicts, giving in to selfishness or loss of faith.

The good news is that selfishness, excessive anger; mistrustful, controlling and emotionally distant behaviors, loneliness and insecurity, and the poor communication patterns that harm many marriages can be correctly identified and in many marriages resolved, especially if there is a faith component in the healing process.

Starting with singles

But we also have to prevent marital conflict and divorce by educating young adults about how the most common relationship stresses can be uncovered and resolved. Singles can then be more hopeful about having a successful marriage, and the retreat from marriage – itself partly attributable to the experience of divorce in families – can be reversed.

In particular young adults need to become more aware of selfishness, because it is of epidemic proportions in today’s culture and is a major reason for the retreat from marriage. This is a task awaiting parents, pastors and others involved in the education and formation of young people.

Dr Richard Fitzgibbons is the director of Comprehensive Counselling Services in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. He has practiced psychiatry for 40 years with a specialty in the treatment of excessive anger. Further information at: Institute for Marital Healing





Why Some Men are No Longer Attracted To Their Wives by Janet Smith

3 06 2016

No longer attractive

There is an amazing study reported from a book by a man named Lionel Tiger. Lionel Tiger is an anthropologist who studies animal behavior to explain human behavior. Lionel Tiger works with a colleague named Robin Fox, who also is an anthropologist who studies animal behavior to explain human behavior. He works at Rutgers. In the 1960s, as he saw contraception becoming more and more popular, he speculated that male/female relationships would change radically. He did a study in the early 70s that involved a tribe of monkeys. The alpha monkey of this tribe, named Austin, chose three female monkeys to be his exclusive sexual partners. Austin had a grand time with these three female monkeys. Then the researchers injected Austin’s three females with the contraceptive Depo-Provera. Austin stopped having sex with them and chose other female monkeys to be his sexual partners. Then they contracepted all of the females in the tribe. The males stopped have sex with the females and started behaving in a turbulent and confused manner.
Male monkeys at least evidently prefer intercourse with fertile females. Studies also show that males – human males – produce more testosterone when they are around women who have fertile cycles. In fact, men are more attracted to women when they are fertile and women are more attracted to men when the women are fertile.
Once when I mentioned this at a talk in Kansas, a man came up to me and said, “In Kansas, we don’t need studies to show that males are more interested in females when they’re fertile.” He said everyone in Kansas grows up on a farm and we know that when a bull is in a pen with a cow who is not fertile, he is not at all interested. But if the bull is in a barn a mile a way with metal fences in between, the bull will get to the cow when she is fertile.
Tiger speculates that one of the reasons that women are dressing so immodestly is that they’re not attracting men because of their fertility. They have to do sort of bizarre things in order to attract a male. They aren’t attracting them simply by their fertility since they are not having fertile cycles.
Tiger also reports on a study involving tee shirts. The study included two groups of human females, one contracepting, one not contracepting. It also involved a group of males who had been rated for their evolutionary desirability. Men who are evolutionarily desirable are healthy and aggressive and responsible; the other group included those who can’t hold a job, etc. These men all wore a tee shirt for a day. At the end of the day the women smelled the tee shirts. Without meeting the males the non contracepting women chose the evolutionarily desirable males as potentially attractive mates; the contracepting women chose the losers.
Mothers have approached me after my talk and said: “That explains a lot. It explains why my daughter is stuck with that loser.” Other women say, “Now I understand why my son, who is such a marvelous young man, seems to be having trouble finding good young women.”





How many rings are there in a marriage? by C. Moynihan

19 05 2016

 

how many rings

An old riddle told at weddings goes like this:  How many rings are there in a marriage?  The answer: three.  The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and then the suffering.  All of you married couples gathered here at this service will be able to identify with this, I am sure.  As for Ethel and Sung Yi, they have only been wearing the first one, and are just about to get ready to put on the second one.  But in my own reflection about the truth of marriage and the marital union of husband and wife, there are really many rings that one will have to encounter and wear.  I now present the first category of these rings.

In the first stage, which is the stage that courting couples begin to find their partner in life.  This is the Engagement ring period– the pairing, the luring, the alluring, and the pampering.  This is the time when the woman and man are on their best behaviour and try all the tricks in the book to win the heart of the future spouse.  And of all days in the calendar, today, Feb 14 is the day when all stops are pulled and the ace that is kept up the sleeve is used.  Of course, florists and chocolatiers make a killing today, but that is another story.

The second category of these rings is in the period that Ethel and Sung Yi are about to embark on.  It’s the wedding ring, where the following rings are also encountered – caring, dearing, and endearing, and followed very closely will be the siring, and labouring which is the start of mothering, fathering, and the demands of childrearing.

After the honeymoon, after the children, and when the everydayness of things set in, and most of all, t is very easy for the marriage to enter into the next set of rings, where life becomes tiring, and boring.  If left unaddressed, and when there is little communication, spouses can become daring, and start wandering, meandering, steering and veering away from one another.  They may also begin touring and the whole marriage may be very enduring.

When that stressful stage is still left to develop on its own accord, the next set of rings is the most painful to wear.  Hopefully, Ethel and Sung Yi will never get to wear this set.  These are the times of sparring, firing, swearing, hollering, which often leads to injuring and tearing, and sadly, may even include clobbering, hammering and devouring.

When things get to this stage, repair is not only difficult, but because communication is already so bad, and perhaps even non-existent, many couples do not carry on.  And so we have the high divorce rates of modern day.  In today’s forum we can receive very good and sound advice, but I feel that the Christ aspect, as expected, is missing.  And this is what must make a sacramental marriage like this one so different from other non-sacramental marriages.

A sacrament is visible sign of God’s love made present to the community and to each other as husband and wife.  It is Christ who joins the two of you together.  He must come between you and it is he who bonds the two of you strongly.  The stronger you hold on to Christ, the stronger your marriage will be.

If you make the mistake of letting go of Christ in your married life, and live your days without Christ in prayer and seeking his wisdom and strength in handling situations, you will be letting go of the very source of your peace and happiness in marriage.  It’s as if Christ is the one who is holding your hands together.  If you let go of him, you will be letting go of your safety line to stability and being steadfast in your commitment to one another.

Because it is only when Christ is recognized as being the VIP in your marriage, you will enter into the last set of rings.  These are the rings that make a marriage meaningful and last.  These rings are the remembering of marriage vows, encountering one another and Christ, adoring, unfettering of burdens and guilt, the correct ordering of priorities, correct hearing, shouldering each other, load-bearing one another’s inabilities, and catering to each other’s weaknesses.  With true empowering, honouring, and proper God-fearing, will you be the true witnesses of a sacrament as wonderful as this.

C.  Moynihan

 

 





Recovering Matrimonial love By John & Joann Ooi

16 05 2016

John and Joan

They say, love is blind. Marriage is the eye-opener.
What do you do when you don’t like what you now see?

Joann:
The eye-opening may take place soon after marriage, when the heady emotions have subsided. Or with ‘distractions’ such as focusing on career or raising the children, it may come many years later.

John:

When you don’t like what you see, it is timely to rediscover some old truths. And what are these?

We were created by God for a purpose, to share the joy and happiness of Heaven with Him eternally. This means that in our journey through life, we are invited to love God more each day and thus grow in holiness. For those of us called to the vocation of marriage, this love of God is expressed primarily through our spouse and family.Click to continue reading





The Definition of a Gentleman by Newman

15 05 2016

gentleman

Hence it is that it is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain.

He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself.

His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature; like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them. The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at his ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favors while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring.

He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp saying for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny.

If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it. He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed to be unjust; he is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is decisive. Nowhere shall we find greater candor, consideration, indulgence: he throws himself into the minds of his opponents, he accounts for their mistakes. He knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.

If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling, which is the attendant on civilization.

 

 





Wow! Dolly Parton’s getting Married @70

4 05 2016

Dolly patton

The very day Dolly Parton moved to Nashville in 1964, the 18-year-old aspiring singer met Carl Dean at the Wishy Washy Laundromat. Two years later, just before Parton had released her first album, the couple were married in Ringgold, Georgia, with only her mother there as a witness.

In the years since, Parton became country music’s most iconic star, while Dean ran an asphalt business and stayed resolutely out of his wife’s limelight. Since then, the pair embraced that unusual formula for marital success, but come May 30, they’ll celebrate their 50th anniversary in uncharacteristically public style, Parton tells PEOPLE.

“We’re going to get married again!” says the star, who releases her autobiographical movie Coat of Many Colors on DVD this week. “I’ll have a beautiful wedding dress, ’cause I didn’t have a big, long wedding dress when we got married and we’ve got a suit for him, so we’re going to dress up and take a bunch of pictures.”

Parton plans to sell the photos to benefit her Imagination Library literacy charity, an idea she was “shocked” her husband went along with.

“My husband is a loner,” she says, of Dean, who has rarely been seen in public with his famous wife. “He doesn’t particularly care about being around anybody but me. He’s just always asked me to leave him out of all this. He does not like all the hullabaloo.” And yet, she adds, “he’s always been supportive. He’s like a brother and a father and a friend and a husband and a lover – all of those things to me. I think he’s kind of proud that we’ve been in it this long!”

Parton admits she can’t fathom where the years have gone and says she finds it hard to believe she turned 70 in January. “In my mind I think I’m the same age I was when I came to Nashville,” she says.

The singer celebrated that milestone with friends at her condo in Nashville. “I had a bunch of girlfriends over and we had Mexican food and margaritas and laughed our asses off and drank and forgot we were 70!”

Source MSN





The Joy of Love: Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis

8 04 2016

p2

The much awaited apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis on the Family  called Amoris Laetitia is out!

The same mercy and patience that are essential for building a strong family must be shown to those whose families are in trouble or have broken up, Pope Francis said in his highly anticipated postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

The document, “‘Amoris Laetitia’ (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family,” released April 8, contains no new rules or norms. However, it encourages careful review of everything related to family ministry and, particularly, much greater attention to the language and attitude used when explaining church teaching and ministering to those who do not fully live that teaching.

p3

“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love,” Pope Francis wrote. People grow in holiness, and the church must be there to give them a helping hand rather than turn them away because they have not attained some degree of perfection.

pope fr1.jpg

The exhortation was Pope Francis’ reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Like synod members did, the pope insisted that God’s plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children. ..continue reading

 








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