Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Dr. Seuss on Marriage

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose

There may be some wisdom for us married couples buried in this simple Seuss observation. Specifically we have a choice in how we view our marriage, in how we think about our husband/wife; in how we talk to our mate; how we treat our spouse and in how we talk about them to ourselves and others. We make those choices throughout the day. We can focus on our partner’s little idiosyncrasies, the ones that drive us nuts, or we can choose to reflect on their admirable qualities. We can choose to dwell on how he/she has failed to meet our expectations or think about those things that our praise worthy. We can tell friends and family about how our needs are not being met or we can or we can share what is good, wholesome and positive about the person we have married. We can mumble and grumble during the day about the shortcomings of our spouse or we can remember those positive virtues that drew us together in the first place.

Dr. John Gottman, a professor and highly regarded researcher in the area of marriage, claims to be able to predict with 94 percent accuracy which couples will stay married and which will divorce. It is not surprising that what we say about our spouse, what we think about our marriage and the way in which we interact with our spouse will contribute to the success of our marriage or its demise.

Gottman has found that four specific behaviors are present in marriages that are near the brink of failing:
(1) Criticism – attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with blame, instead of focusing on a specific behavior or issue.
(2) Contempt – intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner. This can manifest itself in sarcastic humor, insults, body language, etc. A genuine lack of respect.
(3) Defensiveness – is characterized by behavior that is unwillingness to accept responsibility, that makes excuses, that blame shifts and that is quick to play “yes-but” to name a few.
(4) Stonewalling – is exhibited when one or the other partner begins to regularly tune the other out. It is though you are talking to the wall.

The cure – apply Philippians 4:8
8For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

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