AAF Newsletter: Doherty & Whitehead/Intentionality & Divorce Culture
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Sat Aug 5 12:58:40 EDT 2000
subject: AAF Newslter: Doherty & Whitehead/Intentionality & Divorce
from: Smart Marriages
All About Families Newsletter
July 26, 2000
Norman Bales, editor
This week's newsletter had to be composed in advance because we're
away attending the Bible Teacher's Worship at Abilene Christian
University in Abilene, Texas. It will also probably arrive a day
late in most localities simply because we've never mastered the art
of being in two places at one time.
We wish to apologize for the lateness of last week's newsletter. We
had it ready to go out on time and then we learned that "Bluehill" -
the server that sends out our mass mailing, had chosen that time to
overhaul their system. There was nothing we could do except sit
tight and wait. You'll also be receiving this one a day late because
we won't return from Abilene until late Thursday.
I know you'll appreciate Mikal's article this week. We are so
grateful to have a person of her caliber who is willing to write.
She's a very busy person, as you can imagine and she has to burn the
midnight oil to write articles for us, but we're all blessed because
she does. We were both impressed with Bill Doherty's presentation
at the Smart Marriage Conference. Doherty hammers away at the
importance of "being intentional." Last Saturday night, he was on
CBS news talking about parenting. Guess what he was discussing?
Norman and Ann
* * * * *
THE DANGER OF DIVORCE
by Norman Bales
I was getting ready for church while halfway watching Fred Lowery on
television. Fred Lowery is a minister in our area who speaks on a
popular weekly television show. I stopped thinking about matching
my tie and jacket when I heard him talk about Charles Stanley's
divorce (Stanley is a well-known television preacher). He got my
full attention when he said, "If it can happen to Charles Stanley; it
can happen to me." His comment was not only honest; it forced me to
look inside my own soul.
We live in a divorce culture so pervasive that people with deep
spiritual commitments are giving up on one another. You may
remember that we reviewed Barabara DaFoe Whitehead's book, The
Divorce Culture, a few weeks ago. Lowery reminded me of our
vulnerability and of the tragedy that invades every family divorce
touches. The ripple effect of divorce extends far beyond the malice
between a divorcing couple and the breakdown of their marriage. Some
of the consequences of divorce include:
1. Poverty. Forty-four per cent of the women, who experience
divorce, also experience poverty.
2. Health problems. In families where divorce has occurred, health
problems are 50% more likely to occur.
3. Relationship stability. Children, whose parents are divorced,
are 76 % more likely to divorce themselves. (Source: The Marriage
Movement - A Statement of Principles. New York, Institute for
American Values. 2000).
These rather dire figures suggest that Jesus directed us down a
healthy path when he said, "Therefore what God has joined together,
let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6). God hates divorce (Malachi
3:16), but he does not hate divorced people. He hates the terrible
things that happen to people as the result of divorce.
Perhaps the strongest deterrent to divorce is commitment. Every
marriage will be tested at some point. What's the difference
between those who survive the test and those who don't? Commitment
tops the list. When we attended the Smart Marriage conference, Norman
heard Atlanta therapist, Frank Pittman, say, "Marriage is like riding
in an airplane. You don't increase your safety by being part way out
of the airplane." We all need to recognize our vulnerability to
divorce and strengthen our sense of commitment to marriage.
* * * * *
SPIRIT: SKILLS AND PERSPECTIVES FOR INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS IN TRUTH
by Mikal Frazier, LMFT, LPC
"The roads to nowhere are difficult to make. For a man to work and
sing there must be an end in view."--- George Moore
"Put a canoe in the river at Saint Paul. If you don't paddle then
you go south. If you paddle you stay at Saint Paul. If you want to
go North you have to have a plan," states Bill Doherty, director of
the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of
Minnesota in St. Paul. Dr. Doherty was introducing the idea of being
intentional in our relationships, of choosing to act in the best
interest of the marriage.
Using a tool I have learned from the solution focus folks, I often
ask a couple, "If a miracle happened tonight while you are asleep,
and your problem was solved, when you awoke in the morning and
realized the miracle had occurred, what would be the first thing you
would notice that is different?" Often the answer to this question
gives an idea as to the direction therapy needs to take. This gives
us a goal to work toward. The work that is done to attain that goal
To assist a couple in strengthening their marriage, there has to be
a plan. Then some action must be taken to accomplish that plan.
Healing the marriage occurs through intentional behaviors formed for
the purpose of nurturing the relationship.
Keeping a marriage in a healthy state requires intentionality. As
Doherty continued to speak to the recent Smart Marriages Conference
in Denver, Colorado, he identified the absence of intentional
behaviors and statements of connection between the partners in a
marriage. Doherty says this absence "may indicate that a marriage is
drifting along on ~automatic pilot." "Automatic" he says, "means
that we are going with the flow toward less intimacy over time. It
is time to mindfully reconnect."
As I visit with a couple I will often ask each party, "What are you
willing to do to accomplish such and such?" When a partner
considers this question seriously, the answer will be something
intentional. The word "willing" indicates making a choice to do
something and following through on that choice -- intentionality.
Acting with intentionality is most empowering. When a partner acts
with intentionality, he/she is being proactive rather than reactive.
Being intentional in making a positive connection to your mate
creates competence for the one making such a choice and validates the
receiver of the act. When members of a couple both act with
intentionality to connect, they validate the relationship.
Marriage can bring out the worst in us and it can bring out the best
in us. The difference is in acting with intentionality. My husband
often says, "There are no heavenly hamburgers." His message is that
we must choose to make things happen, we must be intentional.
Intentionality is mutually exclusive to automatic.
Fear keeps us from acting with positive intentionality. "Now to him
who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in
the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever
and ever" (Ephesians 3:20). "For God did not give us a spirit of
timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2
Timothy 1:7). BE INTENTIONAL.
* * * * *
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