Thursday, 22 September 2011

What Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated

When someone says, ”thank you”, I really appreciate it. Frankly I’m delighted when I am affirmed in any way. In fact I’m so shallow that I am pleased when I allow a fellow driver a courtesy of the road and he/she gives me a wave and displeased when they don’t. Okay now that we have established that I’m a self-centered people pleaser, i.e. I please people because I want them to like me, I still contend that most people want to be affirmed, thanked or encouraged.

So what is your point – do you want me to thank you for writing this blog? Well yes, but that is not my point. Too often we take one another for granted. We assume our partner will cut the grass, or wash the dishes, or take out the garbage or make the meals, or help the kids with their homework, or shovel the snow, or do the laundry, etc. Many of these jobs are thankless. Who in their right mind likes to vacuum – sorry if I offended you. Often you can’t see the difference anyway and the carpet is only going to get dirty again.

The point is be lavish with your praise, be quick to show appreciation, find something new every day on which to compliment your partner, say thank you a lot. It is basic psychology that what we reward gets repeated. It doesn’t take long for the dog to learn that every time he rolls over, sits up or fetches whatever you throw you give him a treat.

It doesn’t take a husband long to learn that when his wife says “ I so appreciated that walk we took together last night and thank you for listening to me” that it might be something he would want to do again. Granted he won’t learn it as fast as the dog learns to do tricks to get a treat but don’t let that stop you. Or if the husband were to say, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time you spend helping our kids do their homework. You are a great mom.” That comment will probably carry her for a year.

Sincere praise, thank you, or words of affirmation and appreciation, are foundational to a good marriage. John Gottman, renowned clinician on the subject of marriage, says that for a marriage to remain healthy it requires five positive interactions for every negative.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

To Be or Not To Be

For many couples today, “to be or not to be?” seems to be the question. Dr. Dana Fillmore ( attempted to address this dilemma in a recent blog. She said,

A common mistake that people make is stopping at this first step. Maybe one person says, “OK, I agree to give it another try,” or even, “I’ve realized I still love you and our family and I want this to work.” But that’s not enough. Just “wanting to” and agreeing to work on your marriage is not enough. You have to learn and then practice the skills it takes to have a long-term happy marriage; otherwise you’ll just end up right back at this same place again. “Wanting to change” and actually changing are two very different things.

Being happily married has more to do with knowing how to be married than with who you are married to. In other words, most people whose marriages end up in trouble believed in the fairy tale that once you married the “Right Person,” everything would be easy from then on out and they’d live Happily Ever After. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. Marriage takes work; not just “trying really hard,” but knowing some real practical skills that most of us were never taught.

I agree with much of what Dr. Fillmore has said but obviously if I agreed with everything I would just post her blog. I do agree that marriage takes work and it is more about knowing how to be married, than who you married. I also agree that wanting to change is different than actually changing and definitely different than just wanting your partner to change. I also agree that learning skills can help “some” couples.

Real change however takes place at the heart level. Learning communication skills and conflict resolution techniques won’t bring about a heart change. More than likely your marital problems are caused more because of your sin nature than your lack of skills. Relying on skills alone is like putting a bandage on a gaping wound. Heart change then necessitates inviting God into the healing process. It starts by going to God and asking Him to change your heart attitude toward your spouse and by asking Him to show you where you must change.
                                                         HUSBAND  WIFE

As the husband and wife move closer to God they grow closer to one another. The couple’s primary motivation becomes to glorify God. As a result each person starts to become other centered instead of self-centered. This in turn will motivate each person in the relationship to learn new skills, the ones needed to convey the love and respect that God has outlined in His instruction manual –Ephesians 5:21-33.