Helping Struggling Couples Webinar


This webinar highlights some of the most common reasons couples can struggle in their marriage. Bro. Kaleb Beyer provides a framework to consider on keys to healthy marriages and shares skills minsters and their wives can use to encourage couples as they walk through the dynamics of marital struggle.

Handouts:

Helping Struggling Couples Webinar PPT


Transcript:

It’s great. Wonderful having everybody here. Real great opportunity to have Kaleb Beyer. He’s our marriage counselor here at ACCFS. And, you know, Kaleb, struggling individuals is a tough thing. Struggling couples is a extra special, tough thing. And, I don’t know how it’s been for you all, but they’re hard to sort out. And so thanks for bringing your expertise in teaching. So I’m excited for tonight. Look forward to it. I asked Kaleb when we first started to plan this one. I asked him what the fundamental theorem of marriage counseling was. And he looked at me like I had two heads. And so then I explained to him that mathematics has fundamental theorems in all of their major disciplines. So there’s a fundamental theorem of arithmetic, fundamental theorem of algebra, and fundamental theorem of calculus. And, the value of those fundamental theorems is a bit of a rudder. All the content is moving towards that theorem or away from that theorem in that course. And so it is a way to find your bearings.

And, I have found with the very little bit of marriage counseling that I’ve gotten pulled into or struggling couples, sometimes I’m wondering where the footing really even is. Like, where’s that fundamental theorem? So you thought long and hard and this is what you came up with. No equations either. So you’ll be glad to know.

So, I think for me the fundamental theorem is that we were created for relationships. God created that within us, our very fabric to need and long to be in community, to be in connection with someone. As it says in Genesis 2, it’s not good for man to be alone. And so, Matt, as you asked that question, one of the things I think that is helpful in that is to see as we meet with couples in our homes, in our offices, wherever, is to say, I’m gonna use generalizations here, but maybe it’s the critical wife or the withdrawn husband to not see them as the behavior, but understand underneath that likely there is pain and a longing to be connected. And so that those behaviors are coming out of that pain, and I think it helps us approach them in a more compassionate way to be present with them and understand that while for all of us in all our relationships, while we try to move towards our spouse sometimes without us knowing we’re pushing them away.

There’s complications that are pushing them away. But what you’re saying is that this is a framework to say we’ve got struggles, we’ve got problems, but really they both want relationships. They both want this solved. They desire to be seen and each one is the answer to their need. Is that true statement? What do you mean by that? Well, this is a struggling couple and they’re struggling in many ways, but each one is that other side of that relationship. Yes, absolutely. I think that’s helpful as we go in. It breathes hope, it breathes perspective into that.

So, Kaleb, I want you to explain the house. We’re gonna basically build this house here tonight and provide, really, we’re gonna try to weave in some of the questions that were posed as you registered for this. And one was, how do I encourage couples that came up a number of times. And, I think this house is going to give us multiple ways to encourage couples. But why don’t you tell where this house comes from and how.

So this is referred to as a sound relationship house, and it actually comes out of a marital researcher by the name of John Gotman. He did extensive research around couples and basically to differentiate what are healthy couples? What he called relationship masters from relationship disasters. And these were really the components and the backbone, if you will, to differentiating those relationships. And this is, I mean, you’ll see as you go through this, while this comes out of that research, it’s very much, these are components that are very biblically based.

Yes. Absolutely not surprising, but I was really as Kaleb shared this with me, there was a lot of aha moments and it really flushed some things out. And, one aha is that very frequently we think about marriage conflict, Kaleb, as kind of the one issue. Maybe you joined this webinar because I want to have a key on how to work through marriage conflict with couples. But this house is going to build to this point of marriage conflict. There’s actually much more that needs to be said before we really address marriage conflict. So, is that right?

Yes, it’s true. And I think often that’s what speaks the loudest to all of us. Think about it, when conflict and heightened emotions are present. We pay attention. And so when couples come to us in conflict, that’s often unhealthy. That’s what gets the attention. And on one level, rightly so, but realizing that there’s much more that’s going on in conflict. In fact, what we find is couples that actually have gone past a conflict. And are more disengaged. It’s more difficult to engage them and work with them. So, actually, conflict’s not a bad place to be. It really isn’t. Okay. Because there’s still something that they desire that they’re in a sense fighting for, that they want this relationship. But when that’s been going on for so long, then they go down parallel path.

Give us some example. One question that came in was what are common marital struggles? Okay. And, Kaleb, you work with this, struggling couples and thriving couples every day. And sometimes those of us who don’t, we engage and here and there get pulled into some things. We’re a bit naive. So what are some common marital struggles? What are the big ticket items?

They probably won’t surprise you, but I think a couple of the common one is when we think of effective communication is slowing down, being able to communicate with each other and understand, or what we call empathize. Too often we move in quickly with fixing or problem solving. So simply the communication Yes. Is one place. Another place is a friendship piece, which is really important, but over life stages. We do focus generally on that early in the relationship, but as the relationship moves on, it takes intentionality with kids and work and more responsibilities. And so they grow distant from one another. Correct. Complex. Yes. Okay. And consequently, those go together as we’ll find through this sound relationship house is the sense that if our friendship bond, our emotional connection is there, communication and conflict resolution, all those things flow out of that and can be addressed much more effectively versus if my emotional connection isn’t there, sometimes I’m just fighting for that emotional connection. Okay. Does that make sense? Sure, it does. So those are two.

Any other big ticket items for where conflict arises. Yeah. So back to your fundamental theorem. I told you it’s fun for me. Well, for me, when I think of big struggles, I guess I go back and this is my own bias and lens, I think it all comes down to, this seems too simplistic, but being connected and understood at a deep level. Okay, now we can say financial comes out of that. There’s specific content areas. And so I guess one of the things here, Matt, is to remember is we as people helpers, can easily get dragged into the content. Okay. What was the fight about? And get sucked into that. When in reality what’s helpful is for us to move into the process. Is set the content of finances aside, which is a common marital struggle, and how are they communicating together? So how is the process unfolding in the room? Are they looking at each other? Those sorts of things are really the important pieces of, I think a ton of help, just even with that.

So let’s now build this house, Kaleb, let’s go through it and just start talking about the components that are required. So trust and commitment. This is seen as a must have. In order to build this house, these things need to be in place if they’re not in place. And this is between a couple, right? Yes. The two couples, there must be trust and commitment. Yep. There’s a reason they’re on the side. If you think about our homes, it creates the wall. Okay? And so it creates an environment where by the outside environment we’re protected. Our relationship is protected by external threats, if you will, to the relationship. So if we think about trust, we used to as kids or in Sunday School groups, do the trust fall. Okay. A good example of when you’re standing behind somebody, and do you trust them enough to catch you? Yes. In relationships, there’s small moments right where we’re building that trust. And so if trust isn’t there, essentially we’re letting in elements that affect the rest of the relationship, that erode that relationship, right? Questions? Are you in this for me? And when we’re apart, are you choosing a relationship? Are you prioritizing a relationship?

Which I can see the commitment being very much protective as well, right? Yes. I mean, it’s if, yeah are you in it or are you not? Yeah, absolutely commitment in the sense that this is a lifelong, for better or for worse. We make that covenant in that I know you’re not gonna run when you see parts of me that I don’t even like myself. And the other thing about commitment is that we see is true commitment says that. So for me, I don’t make negative judgments about Ang, my wife, in fact, I make positive judgments. Commitment is about saying, wow, I am so blessed that Ang is my wife versus, if only I was married to that person over there, or that those negative comparisons really erode commitment. So you’ve just taken commitment to another level. It’s not just, am I committed to life to this person? Yes, but am I committed to viewing this person in a positive way. Yes. And not allowing myself to compare and view others. And allowing others to enter the relationship. Others can enter our relationships in more than one, just physical way. Right.

Physical is not the Yes. Right? Yes, very much so. So we have trust and commitment that are our walls. Now let’s start building a house, Kaleb. And, we’re gonna start here on the ground floor there. So as we click through this, we do have a Scripture there to the side that kind of, I think, echoes some of the heartbeat of the element, although we won’t unpack the verse necessarily, but let’s talk about love maps. What are those? So if you think about, we used to have, I remember growing up these atlases that mom and dad would pull out and look at the map and basically identify the territory of where we were going for vacation or whatever.

And so we can think about that for our spouse. And so that is identifying that territory, the climate around our spouse and knowing them. It’s actually shown that attachment, those that we’re closest attached to, which in this case is our spouse is we carry them with them even when we’re not present. And so knowing or understanding even a cognitive sense, what their hope about them really creates that connection.

So you’ve got that said there. What is my spouse’s worries, stresses, joys, and dreams. So we don’t need to overthink this too much. This is a real cerebral knowledge. Do you know what your spouse’s favorite x, y, and z is? Yes. Could be that simple. Absolutely. What’s your favorite flower. Or what makes you happy? Yes. How do you like to spend your free time? Correct. These are, if you think about it, these are questions that we ask when you first were engaged to Rebecca.

What kinds of questions did you ask? Lots of these kinds of questions. And the issue is, over time we stop asking those questions. But what happens when kids come along or when kids leave the empty nest? We are constantly changing. God is molding and shaping us and so these sorts of questions and they go deeper than that, but Yeah.

And I like the simplicity, really of this exercise, that it can be taken very deep but it can be very, very simple, right? And I think too, Kaleb, in Hosea calls the Israelite people and he says, I have one controversy with you. You do not know me. That’s what he says. Out of all of the atrocities that they were committing at that time, he put his finger on one, you simply don’t know me. And so what a call. And so again, put this in perspective as we work with couples. Kaleb, what you’re saying is, Hey, this is a great low-hanging fruit here. Help spouses know one another.

Yes, the marriage conflict is there, but there’s more that needs to be laid. Before we get there, let’s go to the second one. So share of fondness and admiration. So this is really about, think of Philippians 1, or a number of other Paul’s letters. He starts with appreciation and thanksgiving for the church. His heart is how much he appreciates them, how thankful he is about them. And really this is what this part of the house is it expressing appreciation verbally, right? Not just up here. Yeah. I’m thankful, they should know that, but I’m expressing that. And what they find is, so if you think about a bank account, we have an emotional bank account in our marriage relationships. And so continuing to express what we see, what we value, what we appreciate about our spouse actually builds that bank account, right? Puts things into it so that when inevitably things that, life happens, stressors come, they withdraw. And so this is a way to deposit into that emotional bank account that you’ll need to draw on.

So you’ve said here just to share what you appreciate about your spouse. And that makes a logical step from first down at to bottom foundation, know them. Yeah. And then once I know them, that my wife knows all the classical music artists, for example. I have grown to really, suoport and appreciate that. Really. That’s right. You do have to lean into that knowledge to have that appreciation also. If that makes sense. Yeah. And I would say here too, as we help couples, it’s just interesting. One of the exercises I have them do in the office is just have them turn towards each other and express three things. They go back and forth what they appreciate about each other, they’re thankful for, and then we talk about that exercise and invariably how they talk about how wonderful that was and how little they do it. And so it’s about being intentional, about engaging that on a regular basis. It seems simple, but it’s important.

And again, when the marriage conflict is so paramount in our minds, sometimes we don’t even think to go there. And we’ve probably run some stories in our head that, there’s nothing to be appreciative about, but with some careful thought. I asked a couple this exact question. I guess I was lucky and did something right, Kaleb, but I asked them that question and one spouse realized that the other spouse gave up a workday to help take care of a family need and didn’t realize what a sacrifice that was. That spouse gave up a workday to make sure Johnny got to a certain place and took care of the family needs. And when the spouse realized that, oh wow, I do appreciate that, but we lose track of that type of stuff. And we don’t express it as often as we, should.

Let’s go next, up on the house, turn towards instead of way. What’s this about? So if you think about it, just as I’m turning towards you, Matt, and I’m sending you a message. And so throughout the day, we are reaching out for our attention, affection of our spouse. And so this part of the house is really about finding ways in small moments, not big moments. These are small, everyday before you leave the house. Is turning towards each other and connecting even if it’s for 10 seconds, a hug or sharing what’s stressful about that day. And so again, what you find is building these relationships isn’t about so much the getaways. Those are important, but it’s the small everyday moments that, whether it’s I’m cheering in joy or if I’m walking down the hall and I see Ang crying. Do I in sadness just ignore and keep walking or do I stop? Do you turn your face?

I do love that. Number six, his face shines upon us. God turns his face towards us and it’s such a wonderful reception. So you mentioned here in the gray box, encourage spouses to make bids for a connection. I want you to say a bit about bids. What are bids? So you can think of it like invitations. Okay. So when I make a bid for connection, I’m reaching out. Sometimes it’s verbally, okay. Would you please do this for me? Right. I’m requesting something, but a bid could also be me reaching out physically for Ang’s hand to hold her hand. So they can be non-verbal or they can be. .Some couples have quirks just between the two of them, that they’re able to express a wink, a funny look, and they know exactly what that means.

And you’ve said connection and a connection happens at that point? Yes. It’s like you’re throwing yarn back and forth and over time that yarn creates a connection and a web that binds you together even when you’re apart. And, that’s about being securely bonded to each other.

So I, let me say this, Kaleb, cuz this was helpful for Rebecca and I when you helped us understand bids, and then later we caught where we were ignoring one another’s bids. You know, she may have said something about the weather and I shrugged it off as just weather talk. Yeah. And then when I came back later, I said, that was a bid for a larger conversation, wasn’t it? And it was, I missed the bid, if that makes sense. Sure. And so I think this is a really applicable activity to help teach people how to do it and actually the vocabulary is helpful. Sometimes I need to help. Right. She’s saying, all right, I’m gonna give you a bid right now. You ready? Just because we’re seeing it. Yeah, absolutely. It just being aware of that and sharing that language can be a really helpful piece. Okay. So turn towards, instead of away.

Let’s go to the next one. All right. So the next one is a positive perspective. And so if you think about it, we are constantly, we have thoughts about our spouse internally. and what this house would say is if you do the bottom three levels well, you have a positive perspective in the relationship. Okay. So positive perspective, meaning when my spouse reaches out for me, makes a bid for connection. I see it in a positive light. Okay, so she makes my favorite thing for dinner or she does something for me. I see it of, wow, you see it as a affection. Yes. And not just, Hey, she just made a meal. Okay.

However, when we’re not doing those bottom levels well, and even conflict comes in here, it can lead to what’s called a negative perspective, in the relationship. And what happens, and this is challenging, but what happens in couples, if you think about it, if there’s a negative relationship, it’s like a negative climate. One spouse can be reaching out in love and pouring into this relationship, but it’s seen through a negative lens, and so it’s not seen as love and affection. Okay, because over years of negative interactions, this negativity has grown up and there’s not safety in the relationship. Oh, I see what she’s doing now. Yeah. She just really didn’t mean that, or he really didn’t mean that. It’s just, right? So your encouragement then has helped them see motives that they attribute to their spouse. So that’s a thoughtful piece. You’re really drawing couples to say, how do you view. Now that we understand what a positive and negative climate is.

What motives are you placing on your spouse? Is it positive or negative? It’s important for them to see that. Yes, it is. And I think as helpers, again, one simple way to do this is when you’re sitting with a couple in the room and one spouse says something that you say, you turn to the other spouse and you ask them, what did you hear your spouse say? Because through your lens, right? What? Did you hear them? And then you hear their spouse. Yeah. Let’s say the wife just shared something. You asked the husband, what did you hear her say? It’ll give you a pretty good indicator of what is she attributing to? And you can appropriately challenge or, oh, that’s interesting, this is what I heard. That sort of thing. That then helps you understand what is underneath, what that temperature is. That’s a great very applied example. Okay.

And now we’re at marriage conflict, right? That’s why we all showed up. That’s right. Managed conflict. So the first thing here you’ll notice, Matt, is that it’s managed conflict. Okay. It doesn’t say resolve conflict. Okay. That was intentional when he put that in the house because his belief, which I agree with him, is that there is conflict that’s unsolvable. In the sense that you’re different individuals, God created you differently, you have different personalities likely, and it’s not so much about, Hey, let’s come to this once and for all agreement, but rather how do we effectively dialogue about differences so that each of us feels understood. So manage conflict is intentional.

So you’re really saying, so if the resolve of the conflict is not the most important thing. My question then is, what is the most important thing? What are we driving at? For managing conflict. I think initially with conflict we are driving for understanding. Okay. So I think the key is, as it says in this box, focus on understanding for agreement. Oftentimes we move too quickly, I think, into how do we come to an agreement on this issue when my spouse doesn’t feel understood. Okay. And there’s a difference I think between me saying, I understand Ang and me asking Ang, do you feel understood by me? You see the difference there? I can think I understand Ang, I get her. So I’m gonna start talking about my side of the financial disagreement. But that’s a whole other thing if she feels understood by me. So that’s another important coaching piece. Maybe we’re mediating this situation, but to simply say, do you feel understood? And because here, I can totally see myself, I’ve looked at one spouse and say, do you understand? And they not. But that was the wrong question, . Well, I mean, does that make sense? It’s an important question, but they may not, maybe let’s just say it was an important question, but it wasn’t the end question. Yes. There you go. I need to turn back to that spouse and say, do you feel understood? Because that’s key. Yes, it is. And that connection of being understood will actually give us more miles in the marriage relationship than coming to some agreement on some conflict. It’s paramount in order to move into agreement. Cuz if you think about it, when I feel understood, it’s like I can feel seen by my spouse and understood.

And sometimes the agreement, I mean, we can get to agreement. And I really don’t care. I agree. You know, either way we can come to an agreement on how to allocate funds in the budget if it’s financial. Right. Finally come to an agreement, balance it, but not having understood one another. You still got a mess. Yes. And, but we can have come to an understanding of one another. And that’s gonna be so much, Yeah. But it’s hard work. I’ll just say these and just briefly Yeah. I know. Keep going here. But it says, practice self soothing. Okay. When it comes to conflict, all of us approach conflict in different ways, and I think it’s with intense emotions. Okay. And those affect how we communicate, how we process information. So it’s really important to be able to regulate our own emotions in the midst of that. And to be able to say, wow, I’m getting worked up. I need to take a break and calm down, and then finally accept your partner’s, your spouse’s influence. And this is really about, again, that to listen and understand one another is for me to approach engaging my spouse so that I’m gonna be changed by what I hear. That’s really hard to do, right? That means I’m in tune with them not coming with this preconceived, this is, I want to make sure I’m understood because I’m not listening to them. And those are important pieces. Okay.

So, now I want to, yeah, Arlan, do you have something? Yeah, a couple of thoughts. I’m gonna drill in here a little bit. So I’m putting myself in the shoes of a helper here, and a couple comes to me with conflict or with some, they have continual arguments about, I mean, some of the questions that were brought in about the budget or about social engagements, cuz one’s an introvert, one’s an extrovert. What I heard earlier was the idea that it’s not as much about the content specific, it’s about the emotional climate or the relationship climate of the marriage. What are some tips that you have learned? You mentioned the activity of saying how well were you heard or did you feel heard. What are some other things you have learned to focus on the bottom part of this house? The fondness, the admiration, the turning towards the love maps. Are there other things that you would encourage spouses to start with at this very proactive piece before we even get into the actual nitty gritty of the conflict, so to speak.

So it’s a good question and I think with that we acknowledge, I think with this house, Arlan, is the fact that we need to do both of these. Too often we focus only on conflict and forget about the friendship piece, but know that this goes bidirectional. And so, things like the love maps. So for example, we have on our website, I think learning about one another is sending that home with the couple, or better yet, which is I think a list of questions that kind of help them walk through. Sometimes just having those questions and so you can send it home with them, but better yet, especially if it’s more a couple that has been in conflict for a long time and you have a sense that their emotional connection is poor. Starting off by giving them in the room and letting them talk to each other. Okay. I want you to take this list. Okay. And I want you, husband to pick one question off of that list. And I want you to ask your spouse and then let’s just focus on reflecting, right? Active listening. So basic skills. But if you think about it, Arlan, when we are in conflict and emotional connection has been ruptured or is not real intact, that can be difficult just to listen at that level. So that’s one idea. The other one is with the share fondness and admiration. Again, there’s a thanksgiving checklist or even having the couple write down three things that they appreciate about their spouse. And again, share, I think it’s important. This is what I think is important to have them share it with each other.

So when we’re working with a couple, it’s easy for them to talk to us. But the more and more we can have them communicate with each other, that speaks volumes to us. Because that’s the process piece. How well are they engaging each other in the room with you? Okay, because that’s a whole different piece. And then you can incorporate that into prayer as well, Arlan, with couples like even once a day, being able to write out one thing they appreciate values, see their spouse’s gift and incorporate in their own personal prayer or together is something that I found to be a practical, but a helpful way.

Now what I heard too though, and let me make sure I got this right though, is that these are very proactive, very practical things that couples should be doing at all times. You shouldn’t wait until you have conflict to start to the page in love maps, admiration, turning towards each other, getting to know your spouse, dwell with your spouse according to knowledge, I guess as in Peter that’s by the time you actually maybe get to some of this conflict, we should have been doing these activities or encouraging these activities or creating environments that nurture these activities in the past.. Is that correct? Yes. I mean, it’s a proactive type measure. So true. So, one other question that kind of dovetails in here as well, that’s come up. Because I feel like you could potentially tell me if I’m wrong, but you could potentially come off as almost minimizing the conflict. If someone comes and talks to you about this and you say, oh, just go and spend some time together talking, right? Yeah. And they’re saying, well, we got real things, we got and you’re telling us just to go on a date.

When is the point when you realize that this is a very serious type situation? And we need. maybe there is warning signs of something more intentional or something more serious, or we need to get more help involved or whatnot. Are there some points when you feel like, okay, this needs to go to another level at this point?

So, good question. And I think that’s true too. I think with each of these pieces, being able to take them in context is helpful. Because with some couples that I would say, for example, a couple that has just been through, an affair, I wouldn’t hand out building love maps. That would not be something that I would start with. So for some couples actually that could have the adverse effect. Okay, so this is a really good question, and which I think also speaks to having them do it with us at least in small amounts can be really helpful versus expecting them to go out and do that on their own. So related to your question about, when is it more when you escalate?

When do you escalate? So I think some of the things is if the couple is spinning on particular issues, they feel like they keep coming up and up and up and they don’t feel like they ever making no progress over time. No progress. That’s an indicator. Certainly when they are living parallel lives and so they learn to just whenever they make decisions, they do it on their own finances, activities, they’re really operating an individual lives. That’s a pretty good indicator when there’s addictions. Okay. Present. We talk about the three a’s addictions, affairs, a major betrayal, that’s involved because when broken trust happens which we’ll talk more about, but that affects all levels of the relationship. And so, being able to engage these other levels becomes very difficult. Well, and those are the two sides of the house. Trust and commitment. So if they fall ’em. And then abuse is another one. The three A’s. And then if there’s a significant mental illness. So if whether it’s been from the marriage relationship or it was preexisting, so intense anxiety or depression. Those are just common ones, but when that is also present and it’s being intensely exacerbated by the marital relationship we need to address. So one of the things that we often look at is how distressing is it to the couple? Does it impact their day-to-day functioning and is it significantly impacting even their spiritual walk. External relationships when it starts bleeding out into those other things. Safety. Those are good indicators of escalation.

That’s very helpful. Thanks for, well, I’ve got a question on this one as well, Kaleb, and you partly answered this, I think by saying the goal is to get them to talk to each other. I love that. That’s something that I’m gonna remember. Okay. How can I get them to talk between themselves? But one question that I have is how do you not take sides? It seems to me. Well, maybe, I don’t know. Is it okay to take sides? I don’t know. It’s hard to have a couple, you hear the situation and it seems like if one feels like they’re getting ganged up on, that’s gonna, all right, so I’m gonna stop and, how should I think through that? That’s an important point to think through, but really challenging, right? How do I join with one spouse? Actually leading into the story of the other spouse. And so a couple things are I think are important as we work with couples. One is the fact that I need to join and understand each spouse’s pain. If I am struggling connecting with one of the spouses, the chances are that I haven’t understood their story fully.

And so oftentimes what I’ll do, I know this isn’t always possible, but is meet with a couple first, and then spend time individually with both spouses, so it gives an opportunity where you can really join with them, seeking to understand nothing but you’re focusing on hearing their story, hearing their pain, but also during individual sessions you can challenge them softly versus challenging them in the couple context. Sometimes you play into the spouse. So I think that’s helpful. But the other thing that happens if you, even if you have one meeting with both spouses individually, and I try to keep that balanced. I’m not meeting more regularly. But is if I, if they felt understood by, I can challenge them much more easily in the couple context without their spouse not being heard, if that makes sense. Right? So those are some pieces that I think are helpful, but at times I leave a session, I feel like, wow, I was too hard there. I didn’t listen. And that happens. I think it’s just the reality that these are complex interactions that are playing out in front of us. And the more we can slow down, stop ’em, and, and reflect. But I think those are pieces that are helpful.

Well, that’s good. Let’s move on to the top of the house because there’s life after conflict. All right. So here we have make life dreams come true. So, this is really extending, enhancing marriage. Which is a great thing as we talk about working with couples, even though this is entitled, working with struggling couples. Perhaps we’ve learned some things tonight to work with all couples. And this might be one of those things.

So, making Dreams come True. This is really about, first of all, knowing, and again, you can see how this builds up, but it’s knowing and understanding what are our dreams and our hopes, and these don’t have to be big things like, certainly we have hopes and dreams for our family, for our relationship, but it can be small ticket items as well, wants to learn the piano. Exactly. Encourage that. How can I support my spouse learning the piano? And so what you’re doing there is you, first of all, you know. But then you’re accommodating. So maybe it means I’m watching the kids one night a week so that my spouse can have piano lessons so you’re joining her or his world, right. And supporting that dream, to make it a reality.

I like that. And then we have one final component now, create shared meaning. So this is about sharing life together and experiences together. And so if you think about it, it’s the attic of the house. And so it’s like think about, I don’t know if you as a family, all the memories are stored in boxes. Exactly. You pull the photo albums out and you look at them, and you laugh together about those situations that were really challenging in the moment, but you’re able to reflect back. But here’s the thing. Creating shared meaning is also, if you think about believers, we are sharing in the same the same reality, the same faith. And this is about creating meaning and purpose. And so the same is true in our marriage relationships is how do we do that proactively by creating these, we call ’em rituals of connections? So connecting intentionally where we building these experiences so that it knits us together over time.

Good. Yeah. So there we have it. We have the house. You know, Kaleb, one question that came in that I really liked. What are some questions to ask, to gauge if marriages are struggling? This is one of the ahas that I’ve had. I’m always surprised by the marriages that are struggling. I’m surprised. Yeah. Some of ’em are my friends, never knew it, we go to church and we greet and say, we’re fine. And then you find it seems like sometimes when it’s way too late. I don’t know. How do we tap into this space? What are good questions to ask?

Well, I think the first reality that we need to acknowledge, Matt, is that, generally, couples seek help six years after they start having challenges. Okay. So if you think about it, part of it, who wants to open up and that’s a huge risk for them to step out and say, I need help. And so by the time they do come, Sometimes it’s more intense. The other thing is, for all of us, we get comfortable in our dysfunction. Okay, so meaning, that’s life. That’s life. That’s my life in my relationship. Though it may seem dysfunctional as someone else, I’m not saying about sinful in the sense that they’re acting out in sin, but they’re just kind of, they’re okay with parallel lives or the negative climate. To us it would be like, really. And so I, again, I just say that in context of this question because as we approach this, it’s helpful us for us to remember that as we engage couples that though it might seem really, and again, I wanna separate sin from just. You know what, mundane, they’re just flowing through life and they’re okay with that.

So with marriage, couples that are struggling, I think engaging them, I think some components can be helpful. And that is even if we, approached Matt, if I approached you on Sunday and said, how are things going in your marriage relationship, and you say, ah, they’re doing okay. So help me understand. Help me understand what does okay mean to you? Like what does it look like in your home? And so what you’re doing is you’re starting to engage them with an open-ended question that has to be answered out. The other thing I think is helpful is that we’re curious about the meaning and we drill into okay or fine. Or we’re having some conflict. Yeah. What does conflict mean? So if I was a fly on the wall in your. What would that look like? What would I hear? You know, what would I see? And so you’re, trying to get them to expound, explain, communicate.

I really like the positive perspective when number four there, and I think that climate thing. I think with some discerning questions you could probably get a sense if there’s a positive or negative climate in the marriage. Which would probably be quite telling. Are you attributing positive motives to your spouse’s actions? I mean, some of those things come out in conversation. You know one’s perceptions on the things that their spouses are doing, the reasons for it, if that makes sense. So I wonder if that, I mean, to me, that’s one thing that I’m thinking about.

Another thing too is just, we often use what’s called the scaling question. And so it goes like this on a scale from one to 10. Okay. Where 10 is the closest you’ve ever felt connected. Okay. Emotionally, spiritually, you can define that and 1 feeling hardly any at all. Okay. Where would you rate yourself on that scale related to your relationship? And they may say, okay, a five. Well, that gives you an indication right there. Okay. Help me understand, what would a seven look like? Or what, and so again, you’re clarifying, that gives you an idea of perception and how they’re struggling. And again, you can use that as a conversation, but that’s, I think that’s a helpful question to clarify and get some concreteness to that struggling or how close or feel. That’s great.

Well, we’ve got 10 more minutes here. Arlan, where do you want to go? You want go? Why don’t you question few questions that popped up, and I’d like to just talk through a few of those together with you if we could, Kaleb, and thoughts on it. So if you wanna just, actually keep it on that slide. I think it’s important to show the house and I’ll just read the questions, from there. So one of the questions or a couple of questions came up about this idea of trust. So trust has been broken in a relationship. You uncover that. And I really liked what you just said, Kaleb, about the idea of asking, if you were a fly on the wall, what would this look like? Because I find myself always viewing things through my own paradigm through, this is what healthy looks like to me. Well, that might be a very different definition for this couple over here. So a couple comes to you and says that trust has been broken. Maybe there’s some event, or maybe it’s an ongoing type. How do you begin the process of repairing that trust?

Yeah, that’s a good question and a common thing that comes up within in working with couples. So if you think about from this house perspective, okay, when trust has been broken, what happens is, we basically open up this wall. Sometimes if it’s an affair, it matters what the betrayal was, if it’s an affair or if it’s simply just someone who isn’t responsive over time to their spouse’s needs or being empathetic. So essentially we’re opening up a, affair would be a doorway into the house through another means. Okay. And so what happens? You start to wonder at the base level, who is this person I married? I did not come in with this perception of this individual. Okay. And sharing fondness and admiration. Those are not there, so quickly, what I think is helpful to walk through is one, it’s helpful to know when trust has been broken, what has been each spouse’s experience with broken trust in the past?

Okay. Is this a first time the individual has broken trust? Because for all of us, this is my belief is that relationship experiences of broken trust back here can very quickly bleed into present day trusts. Very similar. Okay. That’s one thing. The second thing is, there’s a model that I like to walk through. This doesn’t start with me, but it’s been a helpful framework. It starts with atonement. Okay? One thing that’s critical in rebuilding trust, is that the individual that has been betrayed is able to see remorse, not remorse in the sense that I got caught. I’m sorry for getting caught, but I’m broken before the Lord, like David, right? I’ve sinned before the Lord, and for the individual that’s been betrayed, they need to see that without. And a full acknowledgement responsibility is, I’m not making excuses for that. I am broken and contrite before you and I acknowledge there’s no excuses for that. So that’s atonement. The next one’s attunement that the betrayer is attuning to the relationship and making it a priority beginning to remend this wall, right from external is saying, I’m turning towards a relationship and that’s gonna be done over time.

Yeah, it is. It’s a process time required. Yes it is. Okay. Relearn positive history to build trust back. And yes, for both individuals it’s a different experience. Because if you think about it, the one who’s betrayed, and again, I’m using a significant betrayal. It may not be a significant betrayal, but they need to understand how it affected their spouse. But the one who’s been betrayed has to work through safety issues, have to work through being vulnerable again, and that takes time. You can forgive somebody, but that’s separate from reconciliation or building trust. So I have, and I think the story of Joseph is a wonderful account of Joseph forgiving his brothers, but he tested them. You know what, have they changed? Do they see this now? Is it safe for me to start opening up to them? So it is a some significant betrayals. They, like an affair, for example, takes six months to two years for individuals to really rebuild that trust. And so we need to walk with them through that and understand it as a process.

And I’m guessing one question that came up, which I think too, you mentioned that if there’s been past trust disruptions in the past, maybe even past abuse or trauma in someone’s life in the past, that’s gonna heighten the seriousness of what these can do or what some of these situations can do and you need to view it through that lens. Okay. I think that’s helpful. Another thought here, what if one of them, one of the couples or a couple in general, doesn’t feel like they need help the lenses there, maybe it’s one of the two, feels like there, there’s no problem. Or maybe it’s the couple as a whole, they just start drifting away and how do you, minister, elder, minister wife, elder wife. How do we help in those situations? What can we do?

Good question. Hard, hard question. So I think the first thing, I would split those in two places, Arlan. Maybe the first is, let’s say we have one spouse that’s really leaning in and committed to working on the relationship, and you have one really checked out. And not committed. Okay. So in that instance, we can do two things. We can encourage meeting with the spouse that’s interested to engage and engaging them from a place that helps them walk through hurt in a healthy way that doesn’t lead to resentment, bitterness, harboring negative feelings towards the spouse. So meeting them where they’re at. So in that case, the other thing we can do is say as a couple, for sometimes what I find with individuals that are disengaged or leaning out is that if it means I’m gonna go sit in a counselor’s office or a minister’s living room and hear my spouse rant and rave on me for a few hours, check me out, I’m not interested. And so being able to say, would you be willing to, really slimming it down to meeting with three or four times, and again, just asking them to commit to that amount of time. And after that you’re obligation free. And so it’s a smaller kind of commitment, but at the end of the day, if the couple isn’t willing to engage, unfortunately, Arlan, there’s not a lot that we can do. One of the things we talked about, and you, I think you talked about this in the minister training, stages of change. And so one of the things is you can engage them at is what is the pros of continuing down the path that you’re already on? What are the cons? And so you begin to help them see the pain or the struggle that their own decisions are causing them.

I just wanna capture one of the key things that I learned from that exchange, Kaleb. If one is interested and engages in counseling and not the other, your subject matter changes a bit. It’s not how necessarily to mend this marriage, as much as it is, how do you walk through the pain that you are walking through given the marital situation? Is that a true statement? Yes, that’s correct. Walking through that pain setting boundaries effectively managing those emotions.

And a lot of this seem to be really heavy stuff or can get into very heavy stuff. I don’t wanna overstate it, but I don’t wanna understate it either. If there are questions that come up and there is ideas, just you want someone to talk through or to run ideas by, those are the type of triage calls we take at the office every day. And that’s one of those services that is provided where you can call in and you can speak with a counselor and you can run a situation by them and say, here’s what I’m experiencing, or here’s what I’ve seen. You have ideas of how I can help? It can be a very powerful thing. And so I just wanted to make sure that this, if some of this seems to be at a level that’s, well, I can never handle that. Well there’s help out there to reach it. Absolutely.

Any last questions that have come to you? I wanna watch our time here a little bit. Matt, or any other places where you wanna go? No. The last question of themes that we can just take a couple of minutes here, and I think it probably ties in with the last question. It’s just if you have a one spouse that’s not a believer and one spouse, that is, how do you navigate that? I’m sure you’ve had that in the counseling office. Is it similar to what we just shared there, that it’s different content a little bit? I think for all of these. So if we think about this house, we read in 1 Corinthians 13, I can give my body to be burned, right? And, all my goods to feed the poor. But if I don’t have charity, which is a fruit of the Spirit. Then it profits me nothing. And so doing a, we understand that really the fruit of the Spirit, the life of even engaging these things comes through the power of the Spirit. And so when you pull that away, invariably it’s impacted.

However, I’d also say as much as we appreciate that, I have a friend that is not a believer and he’s married and they have a wonderful relationship. And so some of these components still apply. And so the reality is while they aren’t believers, and so where you have unequally yoked, you can still engage principles from this sound relationship house to connect them. I think the other thing is making space for the believer to be able to engage them and grieve with them. That’s a significant loss and that’s affecting them. And again, to walk alongside them in that I think is an important piece. So that their life is a witness.

I think as it talks in first Peter. Their conversation that is engaged in a way that speaks grace and love. And obviously when you’re walking through a significant loss like that and a desire understanding that and making space for that individual is a really important piece. God has a heart for that situation. Yes. And for Peter, you mentioned it. Yes. He speaks to it directly. With a ton of hope too. Which is neat. So yeah, I think we’ve used our time up, Arlan. We have. And so we really wanna thank you for joining us. Thank you Kaleb and Matt for your time.

We recorded this. We will put it onto the website and really appreciate all of you and thanks for being here and we hope you have a good night.