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Strengthening Marriage: Bridging Emotional Cutoff (earlier version)

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Note: this is an earlier version of my Doctoral Thesis

CAREY THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE

 

STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE: BEYOND EMOTIONAL CUTOFF

 

BY

 

EDWARD ALLEN HIRD

 

A Doctor of Ministry Project submitted

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Ministry

 

 

Vancouver, British Columbia

 

 

May 2013

 

 

CAREY THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE

DOCTOR OF MINISTRY PROGRAM

 

 

The undersigned certify that they have read, and recommend for acceptance a

Doctor of Ministry Project entitled

STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE: BEYOND EMOTIONAL CUTOFF

Submitted by EDWARD ALLEN HIRD

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF MINISTRY.

 

 

 

__________________________________

 Dr. Patrick J. Ducklow (Supervisor)

 

 

__________________________________

Dr.

 

Date: _____________________________

 

CAREY THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE

 

RELEASE FORM

 

NAME OF AUTHOR: Edward Allen Hird

 

TITLE OF PROJECT: Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff

 

DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF MINISTRY

 

YEAR THIS DEGREE GRANTED:  2013

 

Permission is hereby granted to the Regent-Carey Library to reproduce copies of this Doctor of Ministry project and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only.

The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the project, and except as hereinfore provided neither the project nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatever without the author’s prior written permission.

 

____________________________

#1008- 555 West 28th Street

North Vancouver, BC, Canada

V7N 2J7

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Special thanks are due to my faithful wife Janice and my three sons who believe in my calling and regularly encourage me in season and out of season.  I am also appreciative for the support of my parents who believe in what I have been investing in.

Dr. Paddy Ducklow, my doctoral advisor, and the Carey Theological College Professors have been a great inspiration to me in my growing in action/reflection.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance and encouragement that I received from Haupi Tombing, a fellow pilgrim and Carey doctoral student who helped me stay focused.

Dr Ron Richardson, Dr Randy Frost, Dr Roberta Gilbert, and Dr Peter Steinke all gave me helpful advice as I have been expanding my understanding of Family Systems Theory.

I am grateful for our St. Simon’s North Vancouver congregation which has been the crucible of all that I have been learning.  Our Bishop, the Rev Dr. Silas Ng and our AM Canada National Leadership Co-ordinator, Rev Peter Klenner, have been strong supporters of this doctoral work when I have most needed it.

For the five North Shore couples who participated in the Strengthening Marriage workshop, I am deeply appreciative of your assistance.

I give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for his faithfulness to me through good times and challenging times.

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

This Doctoral Thesis Project asked the research question: “In what ways might a four-session workshop on marital conflict strengthen participants’ marriages?” The situational problematic is the emotional cutoff of marriages on the North Shore of Vancouver.   Based on the reading of Family Systems Theory, a four-evening workshop over one month on Strengthening Marriages was conducted with five currently married North Shore couples who had been previously divorced. The method for evaluating any potential strengthening was done through a qualitative analysis comparing the results of the MESQ ‘appreciative approach’ questionnaire done with the couples first before and then after the four-session workshop.  A newly-developed  Strengthening Marriage manual and transcript of the four-session workshop, which are transferable to other church and non church contexts, are included in the appendices.  The largest number of participants indicated that the workshop strengthened their marriage through ‘fresh thoughts’ and conflict management, which connects with the Family Systems Theory emphasis on clear original thinking and facing conflict as ways of strengthening marriages.  There was also measurable stated growth in the area of self-differentiation and marital learning, which are also significant Family Systems Theory concepts.  This qualitative research on strengthening marriages adds to a growing body of research-based analysis showing the practical benefits of Family Systems Theory.

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1)      INTRODUCTION

a)      Topic

b)      Ministry Problematic and Contextual Dimensions of the Field

c)       Initial Knowledge of the Field

d)      Act of Ministry

e)      Description of Project

f)       Research Question

g)      Contribution to Knowledge on Ministry

h)      Methods

i)        Evaluation Procedures

 

2)    EMOTIONAL CUT-OFF AND STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE

a) Emotional Cutoff and Emotional Distance

b) Emotional Cutoff and Differentiation

c) Emotional Cutoff and Multi-generational Transmission

d) Bridging Emotional Cutoff

 

3)      STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE FROM A FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY PERSPECTIVE

a)    Nuclear Family Emotional System and Strengthening Marriages

b)      Coaching and Strengthening Marriages

c)       Symptoms and Strengthening Marriages

d)      Emotional Reactivity and Strengthening Marriages

e)      Anxiety and Strengthening Marriages

f)       Objectivity and Strengthening Marriages

g)      The Question technique and Strengthening Marriages

h)      Over/under-functioning and Strengthening Marriages

i)        Calm Connecting, Distance, and Strengthening Marriages

j)        Differentiation of Self and Strengthening Marriages

k)      Triangles and Strengthening Marriages

l)        Family Projection Process and Strengthening Marriages

m)    Family of Origin and Strengthening Marriages

n)      Societal Emotional Process and Strengthening Marriages

 

4)      ATTACHMENT AS SEEN THROUGH FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY AND ATTACHMENT THEORY

a)      Emotionally Focused Therapy’s Approach to Attachment

b)      Family Systems Theory’s Approach to Attachment

 

5) THEOLOGICAL AND BIBLICAL INTEGRATION OF MARRIAGE STRENGTHENING WITH FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY

a) Covenant-making God

b) The Covenantal Marriage of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3

c)  Covenantal Differentiation in Marriage

 

6)      RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM THE STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE WORKSHOP

a)      Challenges

b)      Data Collection Experience

c)       Likert Scale and Pie Chart Portrayal of Measurable Change

d)      Bar Graph Comparison of Pre-test and Post-test Data

7) CONCLUSION

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

APPENDICES:

 

i)    Letter of informed consent

ii)   Newspaper advertisement for the workshop

iii)  Poster for the workshop

iv)  North Shore Outlook article on the workshop

v)   Interview questions

vi)  Strengthening Marriage Manual

vii)Transcript of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop

viii)Interview with Dr. Randy Frost about Dr Murray Bowen

ix)  Analysis of the Interviews with the Strengthening Marriage Workshop Couples

x)   New Features in the Post-interview research data

xi)  Glossary of Terms used in Family Systems Theory

xii) Marital Statistics for the North Shore and for BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      INTRODUCTION

 

  1. Topic

We live on the North Shore in a transient, impermanent culture that often gives up on the family and on marriage.[1]  Strengthening marriages brings great benefits to family life.  A Family Systems Theory approach to strengthening marriage has the potential to reduce emotional cutoff through discovering strengths, celebrating differences, embracing conflict, and finding the balance between closeness and personal space.  Our covenant-making God is passionate about bringing strength to the marriage covenant.

 

B. Ministry Problematic and Contextual Dimensions of the Field

The ministry problematic is an examination of the emotional cutoff of marriages on the North Shore of Vancouver.[2]   North Vancouver Lonsdale has a higher percentage of people listed as divorced (11%) than the BC average (8%).  North Vancouver Seymour and West Vancouver has a lower percentage (7%).[3]  There are mostly baby boomers on the North Shore with some of the builder generation, many of whom were married but are now widowed.  There is a smaller but significant group of young adults, many of whom are single but interested in potential marriage and couple issues.  Many on the North Shore are upper middle class and wealthier. Most have at least a bachelor’s degree.  There is a large Caucasian population, a significant Iranian population, and a growing Chinese population. [4]

 

Some of our St. Simon’s North Vancouver elders are people who initially went through serious marriage crises, then did Christian-based marriage counseling which aided in the restoration of their marriage, and later became church leaders, giving hope to other struggling marriages. As a contextual dimension of the field, I have observed in my twenty-five years of serving on the North Shore numerous North Shore couples who are high-functioning or over-functioning at work but are far less functional in their marriages, often resulting in emotional cutoff.[5]  Bowen defined his last Family Systems Theory concept ‘emotional cutoff’ as the process of separation, isolation, withdrawal, running away, or denying the importance of the parental family.  Emotional cutoff primarily describes how people disconnect from their past in order to begin their lives in the current generation.[6]

 

There are a number of counseling agencies and practitioners on the North Shore, some Christian, some shaped by Ron Richardson’s pioneering work in Family Systems Theory with the (formerly) North Shore Counseling Centre (called Living Systems). There are also North Shore police, courts, schools, North Shore Family Services, and social services involved in marriage-related family crises.  The churches on the North Shore are involved in conducting weddings and marriage preparation. The stand for ‘traditional’ marriage’ by St. Simon’s North Vancouver Church has given us a visible platform and presence regarding strengthening marriages.  St. Simon’s North Vancouver has developed a reputation of being a place where many marriages have been restored over the years. Restored and strengthened marriages can give hope to the emerging generation.[7] Studies indicate that marriage can bring greater overall health than its relational alternatives.[8]  Looking at historic timelines, I have written many marriage-related articles in the North Shore Newspapers.  I have been writing monthly in the Deep Cove Crier for 25 years to an audience of 32,000 people, and for a ten-year stint in the North Shore News from the year 2,000 to 2010.

 

 

C. Initial Knowledge of the Field

Through my Social Work training and my 33 years of ordained ministry, including 26 years on the North Shore, I have had extensive  involvement with married couples facing various challenges. The first course that I took at Carey was with Dr. James Ponzetti on Marriage and Family.[9]  My assignment for the Carey Research and Methodology course involved interviewing a number of North Shore couples about their marriages using a questionnaire that I designed from the Emotionally-Focused Couple’s Therapy model.  I have used the Dr Gil Stieglitz marriage DVDs many times at St. Simon’s North Vancouver for both stabilizing marriages and helping new couples enter into healthy marriages.[10] Taking a guided study with Dr Paddy Ducklow on “Couple Conflict and Family Systems Theory” and a “Conflicted Church/Conflicted Leader and Family Systems Theory” strengthened my Family Systems Theory knowledge of marriage and conflict. Ducklow also introduced me to other applicable Family Systems Theory books and resources.

 

 

D. Act of Ministry

 

A Strengthening Marriage workshop was conducted, spread over four sessions with married couples who have been married more than once[11], and either live or have lived on the North Shore.  People were invited both from the wider North Shore community, which included advertising in the Deep Cove Crier, North Shore News, North Shore Outlook, Craigslist, Facebook,  Twitter, and with posters posted in over 200 North Shore stores, Recreation Centres, and libraries. Married couples who had been married more than once were invited to participate.  In the workshop, I taught Family Systems Theory on selected topics on marital conflict, including emotional cutoff and family of origin issues.

 

E. Description of the Project

Based on the reading of Family Systems Theory, a four-evening workshop (over one month) on Strengthening Marriages was conducted with five currently married couples who have been separated, divorced or widowed and currently or previously lived on the North Shore.  Sixteen couples and one individual inquired about the workshop, including a)four couples which had not been separated, divorced or widowed, b) two couples whose husbands were away, c) one couple considering separation d) one divorced person without a current spouse and e) four couples who decided not to proceed.  The couples were interviewed in one-hour conjoint interviews before and after the workshop, using the same MESQ interview protocol and format.[12]  There was one final three-part question about the workshop added to the post-workshop MESQ interview.

The workshop formed a document on emotional cutoffs and conflictual marriage which was added as an appendix to the Doctoral Thesis Project. This Strengthening Marriage manual is transferable to other church and non-church contexts.  A transcript of the four-session workshop was included as an appendix in order to give clarity regarding the content of the workshop teaching.  A glossary of Family Systems Theory terms is included in the appendices to bring greater clarity for the reader.[13]

 

 

F. Research Question

In what ways might a four-session workshop on marital conflict strengthen participants’ marriages? The method for evaluating any potential strengthening was done through a qualitative analysis comparing the results of the MESQ ‘appreciative approach’ questionnaire done with the couples before and then after the four-session workshop.

 

G. Contribution to Knowledge on Ministry

One contribution to the knowledge of ministry is an increasing understanding of the value of Family Systems Theory in strengthening marriages.  Another contribution was the development of a MESQ questionnaire that takes an appreciative approach to strengthening marriages using Family Systems Theory as seen through reduction of emotional cutoff, in light of the couples’ deeper understanding of their families of origin.[14]

 

 

H. Methods

 

A MESQ interview was given before and after the four workshops.  The research method was qualitative, looking for meaningful patterns, particularly for measurable differences in the responses of those married either once, twice or more.[15]  Family Systems Theory journals and books provided the theoretical framework for interpreting the data.  The target group was married couples who have been separated, divorced or widowed and who either live or have lived on the North Shore.

I. Evaluation Procedures

There was a qualitative analysis of the MESQ interview results from before and after the four-session workshop.  The protocol involved 1) recruiting the couples through the North Shore media, posting of workshop posters, and word-of-mouth 2) meeting each couple in a neutral location [the North Vancouver City Library, a coffee shop, or their home if preferred] and having them sign the Informed Consent form 3) interviewing the couple using the same MESQ questionnaire before and after the four-session workshop, using an IPhone4 Audio recording 4) transcribing the recording 5) tabulating the results of the findings 6) turning the results into a pie chart analysis  7) ensuring the anonymity of the couples being interviewed through what is quoted or not quoted, and  8) reporting the results of the interviews in my doctoral thesis project.

 

 

 

 

2)      EMOTIONAL CUTOFF AND STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE

 

In 1975, the emotional cutoff concept was added by Bowen as the last of the eight Family Systems Theory concepts.  Until then, emotional cutoff was a “poorly defined extension” of the concepts of the triangle and multigenerational emotional process.[16]  The backdrop for the concept of emotional cutoff was the many young people running away from home during the 1960s.[17]  Parents were seen as the problem and getting away as the solution.[18]  Bowen described emotional cutoff as the “process of separation, isolation, withdrawal, running away, or denying the importance of the parental family.”[19]  The term ‘emotional cutoff’ was chosen by Bowen after much reflection.[20]  He noted that

Much thought went into the selection of a term to best describe this…However much cutoff may sound like informal slang, I could find no other term as accurate in describing the process.[21]

Titelman writes that

Cutoff is not created or sustained by a single individual.  It takes two or more individuals to sustain a cutoff.  In addition, it takes at least one parent and a child for a process of cutoff to occur.[22]

2a) Emotional Cutoff and Emotional Distance

Emotional Cutoff is the extreme form of unresolved emotional distance.[23]  Cutoff, says Richardson, is a matter of degrees.[24]  The degree of cutoff, says Klever, is the amount of distancing and the current level of anxiety in the relationship.[25]  Distance between generations is at the heart of emotional cutoff.[26]  The phenomenon of cutoff is not judged negatively by the Bowen clinician but rather is analyzed neutrally to understand its function in the family emotional system.[27]   Klever holds that

one quick way to assess an overt cutoff is to inquire about frequency of contact between the person and his parents and extended family.  If the contact is non-existent or only once or twice a year, then the clinician can easily assume a cutoff exists.[28]

Ferch and McComb describe emotional or physical cutoff, emotional or physical overcloseness (fusion), silence or anger towards parental figures as typical relational responses to generational wounds.[29]  Cutoff is sometimes a response to nodal events that bring shock waves spanning several generations.[30]  Where there has been generational violence, cutoff functions to increase its replication in the present generation.[31]  Past fusion become future fusion through the generation mechanism of emotional cutoff.[32]  Emotional stuck-together fusion and emotional cutoff, says Titelman, are interrelated expressions of undifferentiation.[33]  While fusion is separation-anxiety, cutoff is closeness-anxiety.[34]  Priscilla Friesen describes emotional cutoff as “the mechanism for managing anxiety related to the connection with one’s original family.”[35]  The emotional anxiety and loss of self connected with fusion makes married couples want to run away, to cut off.[36]  One of the unintended consequences of emotional cutoff is increased loss of self.[37]  Steinke calls fusion and cutoff two key temptations in human functioning, which include the pulls to dominance, dissolving, or absence.[38]  Cutoff is

the opposite of fusion and it relates to being unapproachable psychologically and emotionally. This is how some people deal with demands that are uncomfortable (anxious) to them.  They withdraw or leave, emotionally or physically when life is too intense.  They do so because they feel powerless in the encroachment of another.[39]

Cutoff, says Steinke, is often a way of overfunctioning in an attempt to achieve self-sufficiency.[40]  This may explain why some people do exceptionally well after generational cutoff, only to have their next generation flounder and underfunction due to fewer relationship resources.[41]  Fusion, says Titelman, can evolve into cutoff, which inevitably evolves back into fusion, followed by cutoff.[42]  Cutoff has been linked in several studies to marital discord and long-term marital dysfunction.[43]  Cutoff can take many forms with married couples, such as physical distance, or avoidance of emotionally charged subjects. Bowen taught that time and distance do not fool an emotional system.[44]  Systemic marital openness is the opposite of systemic marital cutoff.[45]  Openness to one’s parents is the foundation of marital openness.[46]  Often those who were overly fused in their childhood are most prone to emotional cutoff in marriage.[47]

2b) Emotional Cutoff and Differentation

Differentiation is the antidote to cutoff.[48]  Steinke says that cutoff is standing out against others whereas differentiation is standing out from others.[49]  Standing out against others brings rigidity and distracts people from doing their own marital and self work.[50]  The less differentiated the spouse is, the more they will be blaming and prone to cutting off the other spouse.[51]  At the highest level of differentiation, we grow away from our parents; at the middle level we tear away; and at the lowest level, we cut away, cutting off and even collapsing.[52]  Cutoff paradoxically reflects a problem, ‘solves’ a problem and creates a problem in terms of reducing and increasing anxiety.[53]  Running away from anxiety is impossible, because it is chained like a ball (or a pet rock) to our ankle.  It always comes along for the ride.[54]  One cannot cut one’s self off from multigenerational anxiety, but rather only from the knowledge of the sources of this anxiety.[55]  This causes anxious people to ‘fly blind’ relationally without any generational, emotional map.[56]  The loss of multigenerational connection through undifferentiated cutoff produces an unhealthy excessive dependence on the present generation.[57]  This is too great of an emotional load for one generation to bear alone.[58]

Cutoff is pseudo-separation.[59]  Marital and family cutoff can be subtle or more dramatic.[60]  The compliant non-present spouse may simultaneously pretend through his/her pseudo-self to be present.[61]  Both those cutting off and those being cutoff feel powerless, and think that the other one has the power.  Their cutting-off is a reaction to their own perceived powerlessness.[62]   Balswick comments that when spouses insist on their own way, marriage becomes a dreadful place of vying for power.[63]  The lower the level of differentiation in married couples, the more they will use cutoff to reduce the anxious symptoms of emotional fusion.[64]  At the lowest level of differentiation, cutting off results in emotional collapse, accompanied by internal cutoff as a way of denying the ongoing parent-child attachment.[65]  Richardson notes that cutoff may increase during times of family deaths as a way of coping with new family triangles.[66]  The laws of the triangle, says Klever, are key indicators as to who will end up in an outsider, more cutoff position.[67]  Adultery in a marriage is a form of cutoff that may reflect generational cutoff patterns.[68]

2c) Emotional Cutoff and Multi-generational Transmission

Does emotional cutoff only or just primarily refer to one’s relationship with one’s parents?  Bowen held that cutoff can “describe the immature separation of people from each other.”[69]  Titelman sees Bowen’s phrase “separation of people from each other” as indicating that emotional cutoff can refer to a process between an individual and others besides his or her parents.[70]  Parental cutoff in the past shapes the degree and intensity of our emotional cutoff in present and future relationships.[71]  Cutoffs are either primary when directly related to one’s parents, or secondary, indirect, and inherited when based on interlocking triangles and on the multigenerational emotional process which can be traced back to the primary parental cutoff.[72]  Titelman holds, in light of Bowen’s use of the phrase “separation of people from each other” to describe cutoff,  that the Bowenian term ‘cutoff’ can legitimately be applied to other relationships than just the parent-child relationship.[73]

The family projection process expressed in parent-child triangles often leads to emotional cutoff, especially when the parents are emotionally divorced from each other and have a lower level of differentiation.[74]  The more cutoff, the more reactivity.[75]  The more cutoff, the less the awareness of one’s reactivity.[76]  Titelman writes that

cutoff is related to the triangling process insofar as it involves an intensity with the parent(s), followed by a reactive distancing, and often a movement toward an intense fusion with a spouse.[77]

Emotional cutoff is often the counterfeit of self-differentiation as it does not address the issue of anxious fusion.[78]  Like many teenagers, emotional cutoff is about “acting and pretending to be more independent than one is”.[79]  Both pretending and exposing our pretending is a significant Bowenian theme.[80]  Schnarch comments that “people screaming ‘I’ve got to be me!’ ‘Don’t fence me in! and ‘I need space!” are not highly differentiated.  Just the opposite.”[81]  Two sure signs of emotional cutoff, says Nichols, are denial of the importance of the family and an exaggerated façade of independence.[82]  Gilbert self-discloses that cutoff is an issue for her, saying that

Cutoff is in my own history and in our generations.  I am swimming upstream when it comes to people staying in good contact with each other.[83]

One of the greatest problems with cutoff is that it impedes healing until reconnection occurs.[84] Cutoff creates emotional stuckness, solidification, and stagnation.[85]  Without extended family support, there is increased marital instability in the present generation.[86]  Reduced marital reproduction has been linked with emotional cutoff and the absence of extended family support.[87]  With the decrease in social complexity that accompanies emotional cutoff, there is a generational loss of flexibility and diversity.[88]  With emotional cutoff, the person perceives that there are fewer choices in their marriage.[89]  Cutoff thinking is more rigid, narrow and polarized, with differences and personal issues being avoided.[90]  Sometimes covert marital cutoff is hidden behind a cozy togetherness which masks an internal cutoff.[91]  Kerr and Roberts have experimentally explored and demonstrated the link between cutoff, poor functioning, and greater marital conflict.[92]  Adorney’s research confirmed the Family Systems Theory hypothesis that emotional cutoff measurably impacts marital functioning.[93]  Cutoff is closely related to the level of gossip and evasiveness.[94]  By avoiding the discussion of certain family of origin issues, we maintain the marital toxicity.[95]  Cutoff among married couples is so common that it is almost the air we breathe.  Runners tend to keep on compulsively running.[96]  Friedman said that the one who ran away from his own family will tend to run away in the marriage.[97]  Divorce is ‘total’ cutoff.[98]  Impulsive multiple marriages followed by living together after failed marriages was seen by Bowen as an expression of emotional cutoff.[99]  Sometimes married couples cut off over presenting issues such as financial conflict, religious conflict, and even over conflict about other family member’s divorces.[100]  Family Systems Theory holds that the issues are rarely the issue; rather undifferentiation is   the issue.[101]  The more intense the cutoff, the more he/she is vulnerable to duplicating the pattern with the parents with the first available other person.  Cutoff exaggerates the existing family systems problems in the next generation.[102]

The cost of cutoff for married couples is major in our disposable culture.  Suicide is a tragic form of permanent cutoff.  Cutoff is the painful gift that keeps on giving.  Gilbert called this the “knee jerk family reaction pattern of cutoff”.[103]  Bowen noted that

the more intense the cutoff with the past, the more likely the individual to have an exaggerated version of his parental family problem in his own marriage, and the more likely his own children to do a more intense cutoff with him in the next generation.[104]

 

 

 

 

2d) Bridging Emotional Cutoff

 

Gilbert compassionately asks the following process questions about emotional cutoff:

Is there anything I might do to bridge the cutoff?  Is there a way I can work to lower my emotional intensity so that cutoff will not be inevitable in the future?[105]

It is encouraging to know that cutoff is not an emotional death sentence that we are fatalistically doomed to endure.[106]  Richardson teaches that this can be reversed through 1) bridging cutoff, 2) gaining knowledge about the functional facts in the emotional system of our family and our part in it and 3) then managing self in the midst of having close contact with members of the system.[107]  Titelman holds that in order to bridge emotional cutoff, one must

define self in the extended family using three main principles and techniques:  (1) working toward person-to-person relationships; (2) becoming a better observer and managing one’s own emotional reactiveness; and (3) detriangling self in emotional situations.[108]

Some divorced people deny the significance of their loss and cutoff through anxious busyness.  Others bridge their cutoff through greater self-defining and systemic awareness.[109]  Through learning about emotional cutoff, emotional blind spots can be removed.[110]  Neutrality and curiosity reduces cutoff.[111] The greater the cutoff, the more challenging it is to integrate Bowen theory.  Simultaneously those who are most emotionally cutoff may be the most motivated to learn Bowen theory.[112]  Bridging cutoff requires recognition of the existing marital fusion.[113]  When we first attempt to bridge cutoff, some may see us as betraying our family homeostasis and going over to the enemy.[114]  Naively attempting to bridge cutoff without a family systems understanding can bring more distance and tension in the marriage and family relationships.[115]  The goal in bridging cutoff is to replace fusion and reactive distance with “a reasonable degree of separateness with contact”.[116]  Bridging cutoff is closely linked to symptom reduction.[117]  The process of bridging cutoff changes the adaptability of the brain and physiology of the bridging individual.[118] As part of bridging cutoff, one can bring greater flexibility through increasing self and other-awareness, examining one’s mindset, reducing immature expectations and blaming, and generating options for alternative responses.[119]  Rather than being a quick fix, bridging cutoff is a long process that needs to be worked on throughout one’s marriage and life.[120]  Viable contact with the past and present generations, both living and deceased, brings higher functioning.[121]  Calm contact helps bridge and reverse the patterns of avoidance, blame, withdrawal and cutoff.[122]   Generational dialogue brings cleansing from cutoff, fusion, rigidity and emptiness.[123]  Because cutoff instinctively shrinks our definition about who is included as family, Richardson says that it is best when bridging cutoff to contact all family members rather than a narrow subset.[124]

Emotional cutoff is a pseudo-solution, says Titelman, that

describes the way people, using physical or internal emotional distancing, handle their unresolved emotional attachment to their parents, expressed through specific issues.[125]

 

 

3)      STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE FROM A FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY PERSPECTIVE

Reading the original works by Murray Bowen has removed in me much ‘observational blindness’ about how marriages function.[126]   Bowen held that one has to be an observer before it is possible to see.[127]  Kerr and Bowen commented that “the closer we get to ourselves, the greater the pressure to see what we want to see or, at least, to see what we have always seen.[128]  Observing requires self-regulation of one’s emotional reactivity.[129]  Gilbert and Bowen describe such observing as being like putting on a lab coat or watching from a space craft.[130]

Bowen is widely recognized even by his critics as one of the key founders of the field of Marriage and Family Therapy[131].  Family Systems theory brings potential paradigm shifts in which we see previously invisible emotional systems.[132] Bowen defined the term ‘emotional’ to mean ‘instinctual’.[133]   In choosing not to define emotion as equivalent to feeling, Bowen admitted that his definition is a minority opinion.[134]

Bowen theory is formally made up of eight remarkable cohesive concepts that deal with the human family and also with the individual.[135] Gilbert states that Bowen’s eight concepts, in the logical progression that builds on the family as the emotional unit, are:

1) Nuclear Family Emotional System[136]

2) Differentiation of Self[137]

3) Triangles[138]

4) Emotional Cutoff[139]

5) Family Projection Process[140]

6) Multigenerational Transmission Process[141]

7) Sibling Position[142]

8) Societal Emotional Process[143]

 

 

3a)   Nuclear Family Emotional System and Strengthening Marriages

The heart of Family Systems Theory is clear thinking, sometimes called “thinking systems”[144]  or “thinking in systems”.[145] What is a relationship system?  Bowen taught that any relationship with balancing forces and counter forces in constant operation is a system.[146] Richardson describes this balance as like a hanging mobile.[147]  Kerr and Bowen commented that

Families, in other words, while they had widely different values, attitudes, personalities, etc, still played out the same fundamental patterns in relationships.  …The family system is, at the one and same time, unbelievably simple and complex.  It is simple in that one step predictably follows another, and complex in that there are a large number of intricately related variables on many levels.[148]

Bowen had the ability to “think in motion” reflecting a high level of self-differentiation and morphogenesis.[149]  Thinking systems is about seeing the family as an emotional unit.[150]  Marriages and families become emotional units by spending time with each other and thereby becoming important to each other. [151]  Bowen theory is a thinking therapist’s therapy.[152]  A systems thinker embraces marital complexity while simultaneously cutting to the core of the issue.[153]  Family systems theory is about the big picture.[154]  Thinking in systems is a learned skill that does not come naturally for many people.[155]

A strong theoretical focus is at the heart of family systems thinking.[156]  Richardson teaches that

the primary factors that keep us on track in our efforts to help are (1) our understanding of theory; and (2) our ability to live the principles of that theory within our relationships.[157]

Becvar states that Bowen’s model

is perhaps the only theory in the field.   It gives us a method of organizing and categorizing events, helps us predict future events, explains past events, gives a sense of understanding about what causes events, and gives us the potential for control of events.[158]

A widespread misunderstanding is that Family Systems Theory is a division of Bertanlanffy’s general systems theory.[159]  Bertanlanffy’s model is mechanistic and mathematical.  Family Systems Theory, in contrast, is biological, with a focus on living emotional systems.[160]  These living systems are ‘written in nature’.[161]  We did not devise human relationships anymore than the elephant or gibbon devised their family systems.[162]  Discovering such pre-existing living systems is like encountering a tribal system in the African jungle that no one imagined existed.  It was there all along. We were just unaware of it.

The Family Systems Theory emphasis in strengthening marriages is not on the content or subject matter as much as the process.[163] Concentrating on the content of the discussion, says Nichols, is a sign that the therapist is emotionally entangled in a couple’s problems.[164]

As Friedman puts it,

The process can continue regardless of content or subject matter discussed.  The critical issue is the emotional reactiveness between the spouses, and the ability of the therapist to keep self relatively detriangulated from the emotionality.[165]

 

Nichols teaches that we need to pay attention to process and structure.[166]  Process, says Nichols, refers to patterns of emotional reactivity and structure to the interlocking network of triangles.[167] Sometimes the intense chaos of marital relations leads people to believe that there are no patterns and no order to be found.   Murray Bowen was one researcher who was able to take this step back and to discover that there was indeed an order and predictability to human relationship.[168]   Kerr and Bowen commented that

When a therapist’s theoretical understanding is inadequate, he can become so overwhelmed by the mountain of details collected in the evaluation that the information serves little function.  Another way of saying this is that theory enables a therapist to distinguish content and process in evaluating a clinical family.[169]

As a former Freudian psychoanalyst, Bowen birthed most of his Family Systems Theory concepts in the midst of his disappointment with the relative ineffectiveness of Freudian counseling. [170]  Friedman noted “the exaggerated importance of being informed and the colossal failure of insight to bring change…”[171]  Self-awareness and new information, while important, do not by themselves bring morphogenesis in married couples.[172]  Bowen was also concerned about the tendency of Freudianism to blame the parents.[173]   Family Systems Theory seeks to blame no one.[174]

When working on the symbiotic relationship between mother and schizophrenic person, Bowen found that it was no longer necessary or productive to speculate about the unconscious conflicts and motivations of the mother and patient.[175]  Bowen decided:

I am not going to use (any) more ‘ids, egos, superegos, repression, suppression,’ all the stuff that goes with psychoanalysis because once you use it, you’ve got psychoanalytic theory.  And right in front of our eyes is a new way of thinking.  So I’ll put the next years on trying – trying not to use old concepts.[176]

What becomes important, said Bowen, is not what is in people but what is in-between people.[177]  He concluded that many of Freud’s followers were more disciples than scientists.[178]  Psychiatry for Bowen was a pseudo-science.[179]  He longed for a scientific basis for psychological theory.[180]  Kerr says that the choice is between mythical emotional autonomy and scientific emotional interdependence:

We can continue on a path that embraces the myth of emotional autonomy and fails to acknowledge the limits of the medical model, or we can choose a new path that recognizes human emotional interdependence and the need for a systems perspective to address the complex forces that govern health and disease.[181]

 

Bowen moved the attention from what was going on inside the heads of each family member to instead drawing on other scientific models and analogies with which to observe the relationship process itself.[182]   Nichols commented that when working with married couples,

…the therapist attempts to explore the process of the couple’s relationship, asking both partners to think about what’s going on between them, increase their awareness of their own contributions, and consider what they’re planning to do to take responsibility to make things better.[183]

 

This relationship process though it “is usually not immediately visible”, once it is “observed, it is hard to ignore”.[184]  Bowen is one of those rare individuals with “a genuinely new idea.”[185]  In a rather fused, emotionally reactive but insightful accolade, Foley has compared Bowen to Immanuel Kant.[186]  As many of Bowen’s students were ex-Freudians, they “literally had to untrain themselves…from individual concepts in order to see the family emotional system.”[187]   Bowen became to many an ex-Freudian heretic, leading Friedman to comment that “Bowen theory is often so anathema to many therapists that it isn’t even mentioned.”[188]

Friedman saw the wedding rite of passage as essential to understanding married couples.  He believed that weddings are like icebergs in which only one eighth is visible. [189] Weddings have a major impact on the family homeostasis[190] and release major generational transmission in terms of the emotional processes in one’s families of origin.[191]  Merely living together, Friedman suggested, has less fusion impact on a couple, saying that “it is as if fusion does not develop as long as they still have the option to terminate the relationship.“[192]  The wedding releases major emotional fusion forces in which the couple can lose their own sense of self and merge into an undifferentiated ego mass.[193]  Friedman said that

the undifferentiated family ego mass  is …an conglomerate emotional oneness that exists in all levels of intensity – from the family in which it is most intense to the family in which it is almost imperceptible. [194]

 

3b)   Coaching and Strengthening Marriages

Friedman and Bowen describe the maturing of marriages and families as a natural process that takes time.[195]  In western culture, we want fast results, including in the strengthening of marriages.[196]  Family Systems Theory warns against the quick fix, as the “solution that becomes the problem”.[197] Richardson says that strengthening marriages and families

takes time, patience, and repeated efforts. We are attempting to lay down new pathways in our brain that will interrupt the automatic reactivity of the old patterns.[198]

While there can be quick symptom relief of anxiety, this is not the same as long-term systemic change in a married couple.[199]  Bregman notes that some psychological researchers are primarily measuring symptomatic change rather than the more significant long-term systemic change.[200]  Longevity rather than frequency is the aim in terms of the coaching of the married couple, as longevity is linked to impacting family of origin issues.[201]  The Bowen model prefers the term ‘coaching’[202], shifting from couch to coach.[203]   As Bowen put it,

“Terms such as ‘supervisor’, ‘teacher’, and ‘coach’ are probably best in conveying the connotation of an active expert coaching both individual players and the team to the best of their abilities.[204]

 

Coaching married couples doesn’t mean telling them what to do, but rather asking questions that help them understand their own emotional processes and how they function within them.[205]  Coaching is about focusing on the structure rather than the symptomatic ‘IP negative’ (Identified Person Negative).[206]  The term ‘coaching’ symbolizes that most of the self-change happens out in the field rather than in the counseling office. [207] The coach is a calming presence who reduces the tendency of the married couple to emotionally vent and dump on each other.[208]   Another benefit of coaching is that it helps married couples not to regress when there is push-back, but rather to stand firm in their attempts to truly bring marital change and self-definition.[209]  While a couple by themselves can increase their ability to distinguish between thinking and emotionally reacting, a coach can greatly improve one’s effort. [210]  Clergy with significant coaching training are more likely to stay thoughtfully calm when coaching a married couple.[211]

 

3c)  Symptoms and Strengthening Marriages

When counseling married couples, it is important to pay close attention to symptoms, not so much to relieve the symptom, but rather to use the symptom as “a pathway into the emotional system.”[212]  Gilbert talks about herself symptomatically coming down with three physical illnesses, including constant migraine headaches after a tragic family death.[213]

The Freudian model tends to see symptoms as indications of intrapsychic diseases within the patient.  The Bowen model sees symptoms as indications of a wider emotional system that transcends the mere individual.[214]  The symptomatic spouse in a marriage does not necessarily need to be the focus of therapy, as the aim is to modify the whole unit, acknowledging reciprocity between functions.[215]  Symptoms like marital distress usually develop during periods of heightened or prolonged family or group tension.[216] Sometimes when one spouse successfully sets boundaries, the other spouse will reactively develop physical symptoms.[217]

Symptoms are intensified by emotional cutoff[218] and reduced by family of origin work.[219]  The presence of symptoms is linked with a lack of flexibility and an inability to recover from emotional arousal.[220]  Kerr and Bowen recognize that the relationship between chronic anxiety and the resulting symptoms may vary significantly[221], saying that

The type of symptom that develops (physical, emotional or social) is connected both to the particular way an individual manages anxiety and to what others in the system focus on in that individual when they get anxious. [222]

 

Friedman suggests that marriages should not be measured by longevity or happiness but rather by being symptom-free in three locations: 1) in the marital relationship (as conflict, distance or divorce)[223] 2) in the health of one of the partners (physical or ‘mental’), or 3) in one of the children (though this last could also be placed in the space between the parent and the child).[224]

Kerr and Bowen see symptoms like over/under eating, over/under achieving, excessive alcohol/drug use, and affairs as indicators of having given up too much self, often absorbing anxiety within the relationship system.[225]  Ironically, says Kerr and Bowen, conflicted couples sometimes have fewer symptoms, because their conflict “can provide a very strong sense of emotional contact” with the other spouse:

Mutual projections that are successfully parried give people a sense of having themselves as individuals under control; it is the relationship that is the problem. So spouses in a conflictual marriage are less vulnerable to physical, emotional, or social symptoms.  In addition, children of conflictual marriages are less vulnerable to symptoms.[226]

 

Kerr and Bowen say that chronic symptoms are sometimes a diversion from the most challenging relationship problems of the couple and/or family.[227]  Many married couples blame all their problems on a lack of communication.[228]  Gilbert suggests that communication is less a problem than a symptom. The problem is the relationship position or posture itself.[229]  Predominant relationship patterns shape how one symptomatically expresses one’s anxiety.  Steinke notes that

The great grandfather (of the word anxiety) is the Greek ananke, meaning ‘throat’ or ‘to press together’. In fact Ananke was the name of the Greek god of constraint who presided over slavery. Ananke was the word used for the yokes or rings on the necks of slaves.  Anxiety can hold us back, take us by the throat, and chain us like a slave.[230]

Marital conflict occurs when one spouse externalizing their anxiety onto the other spouse; in contrast if the predominant pattern fosters dysfunction, then high anxiety is characterized by symptoms in the spouse or child.[231]

Who is most vulnerable to developing symptoms? Kerr and Bowen suggest that the compliant or adaptive spouse picks up the anxiety projected from the dominant spouse, becoming more anxiously at risk for a symptom.[232]  The dominant spouse engages in will conflict, trying to will another to adapt to them, resulting in a loss of self and an increase of symptoms like anorexia, suicide, schizophrenia, abuse, violence, and many chronic physical diseases. [233]

Focusing on the symptoms of the married couple tends to obscure the strengths of the couple.[234]  By focusing on what is right with the couple rather than on their pathological symptoms, one decreases the anxious reactivity of the couple.[235]  Richardson comments:

I try to point out early in counseling the strengths every couple displays in their lives.  When they come for counseling, they often feel like failures.  I make sure they know that I see the ways they are competent in life.  This helps them put their difficulties in a larger perspective.[236]

Symptoms remind us that “the human power for preservation, healing and change are already resident in the (married couple).”[237]  The resources are already there in the emotional system of the couple.  They just need to be discovered and tapped into.  Gilbert holds that we can choose to step out of the anxious worry loop when major regressive symptoms are adding to the anxiety of the married couple’s emotional system.[238]

 

3d)   Emotional Reactivity and Strengthening Marriages

One of the most important processes to observe in the emotional system of the married couple is emotional reactivity.[239]  Reactivity is the opposite of thoughtful responsiveness where one retains the power of choice.[240]  Emotional reactivity in married couples is associated with rigid inflexibility and demanding the other person to change.[241] Bowen emphatically said that one of the greatest diseases of humanity is to try to change a fellow human being.[242] Our futile attempt to change our spouse indicates self-serving nonacceptance which will likely be resisted on principle.[243]  The more differentiated we are, says Richardson, the less urgent is this desire to change our spouse.[244]  Friedman notes that

When clients first come in, they are way over to the right, meaning that they are highly anxious, constantly reactive with little self-regulation of their direction in life.[245]

 

Nichols holds that the single greatest impediment to understanding one another is our tendency to become emotionally reactive.[246] When a married couple are emotionally fused, they will be controlled by their emotional reactivity to each other, as well as by their urge for togetherness.[247] Sometimes a spouse, who is not feeling listened to, will anxiously chase their spouse until they get a reaction.[248]  Kerr and Bowen hold that the rugged individualist’s determination to be independent stems more from his reaction to other people than from a thoughtfully determined direction for self.[249]  Rugged individualism and compliance are often two sides of the same emotional reactivity. [250]  Gilbert visually describes emotional reactivity:

It is almost as if, in relationship systems, electrical connections link the individuals of the system, transporting emotions and feelings from one individual to another continuously. Emotional reactivity passes like a hot potato between individuals.[251]

Awareness of the impact of our reactivity on our spouse is an important step towards breakthrough.   Kerr and Bowen hold that

There are two particularly important elements that influence the success of therapy for conflictual marriages: (1) people’s ability to recognize the effect of anxiety and emotional reactivity on their own and on their spouse’s behaviour, and (2) people’s ability to see that many of the things they use to justify the rejection and condemnation of the spouse are things they themselves help create.[252]

 

In Bowen theory, the client is coached to gain control over his or her emotional reactivity.[253]  The higher the marital conflict, the higher the emotional reactivity is to each other. [254] Richardson says that in such reactive situations, “compromise is out of the question because it feels like a loss of self to the other.”[255]  Emotionally reactive couples tend to focus on “obstinate, uncaring, unreasonablequalities of the other”, painting their own self as the victim.[256]  Benswanger observed that emotional cutoffs perpetuate the dichotomy of good/bad, rejector/rejectee, and victim/victimizer.[257]

Kerr notes that

Conflictual marriages are extremely intense relationships in which much of each spouse’s emotional reactiveness is focused on the other spouse. Both partners are usually up to it in that neither buckles under intense pressure and attack. Each is exquisitely sensitive in giving in to the other, lest he /she be the loser…[258]

 

The better that married couples become at observing and learning about reactivity and their emotional system, the greater reduction of reactivity.[259]   Consequentially this reduction of reactivity allows couples to become better observers of the emotional process.[260] Married couples become healthier as they nonreactively understand how they came to be the way they are.[261] Part of coaching a couple is teaching them at the right moments about family emotional systems.  When their level of reactivity is too high, they will be more resistive to this new way of thinking.[262] Nichols reminds us that changing emotional reactivity in a married couple is a long process.[263]  Kerr and Bowen commented that

When people can listen without reacting emotionally, communication is wide open and differences are an asset to a marriage, not a liability. Nobody is an expert on everything.[264]

 

Bowen saw immunology as a scientific analogy showing how reactivity affects married couples.[265]  Emotional reactivity accordingly is an ‘auto-immune’ dysfunction.  As Friedman puts it,

Bowen therapy is about the immunological response. It is a focus on strength rather than weakness, on the evolution of the self that is necessary for its expression and on the self-regulation that keeps the opposite extreme auto-immunity (reactivity) in check.[266]

 

Friedman sees the leader (i.e. pastor/pastoral counselor) “as its immunological system …well-defined (meaning, primarily, clear and nonreactive.)”[267]  By being nonreactive, we set the emotional thermostat in the room.[268]  When working with marriages, pastors/pastoral counselors are

transformers in an electric system, “dialing down” our fears and “dialing up” our confidence in God.  Leaders who accept their responsibility as system transformers carry the “load” of reducing reactivity within the charged system.[269]

 

By being nonreactive with married couples, the pastor/pastoral counselor functions as a catalyst or enzyme for change and morphogenesis.   He/she also incarnationally models the process of nonreactivity in a way that can give a template to the couple.  As Bowen put it,

When any key member of an emotional system can control his own emotional reactiveness and accurately observe the functioning of the system and his part in it, and he can avoid counterattacking when he is provoked, and when he can maintain an active relationship with the other key members without withdrawing or becoming silent, the entire system will change in a series of predictable steps.[270]

 

What limits us as pastors from being nonreactive in our ministry to married couples?[271]  Perhaps it is the vicious cycle of our personal emotional reactivity which limits our ability to think clearly, which then limits our ability to be nonreactive with couples.[272]  In order to best help married couples, we need to become more aware of our own personal reactivity.[273]

Married couples may sabotage our nonreactivity to see if we really ‘love them’ enough to emotionally fuse with their pseudo-selves.[274]  Some will even react to any suggestion of nonreactivity, claiming that their feelings are being disregarded and invalidated.[275]  If however we stay on track, the reactivity and sabotage will die down.[276]  Time is on our side when we do not emotionally fuse with the married couple.  One of our best ways to stay nonreactive with couples is to good-naturedly say no to “the urgent, important and serious”.[277]

 

3e)   Anxiety and Strengthening Marriages

A second emotional process to observe in the emotional family system is anxiety.[278]  Anxiety, said Bowen, is the crucial issue.[279]  There is a chronic anxiety in all of life that comes with the territory of living.[280]  Papero uses a snow analogy to help us understand the anxiety process:

(it)  is akin to the situation of the auto driver who, mired in the snow, applies increasing power to the drive wheels, virtually eliminating the ability of the tires to grip the surface and provide traction.  In the case of a family, the driving force is anxiety.  The higher the anxiety in each person and in the unit, the greater the tendency (there is) to ‘spin the wheels’.[281]

We need to get over our fear of anxiety.[282]  Bowen reminds us that

Anxiety does not harm people.  It only makes them feel uncomfortable.  It can cause you to shake, or lose sleep, or become confused, or develop physical symptoms, but it will not kill you and it will subside.  People can even grow and become more mature by having to face and deal with anxiety situations.[283]

 

Gilbert describes anxiety as a powerful teacher.[284] Chronic anxiety is sometimes called emotional pain.[285] Of all the relationship patterns, says Gilbert, people caught in conflict are most apt to seek help because of their awareness of pain.[286]  Growth, said Friedman, comes from increasing the pain threshold, not reducing the pain.[287] That is why Friedman memorably commented: “I am on the side of pain.”[288]  Pain and reactivity are closely linked.[289]   Emotionally-fused soothing does not help the married couple.[290] Neither does dumping our anxious and angry feelings onto the other person.[291]

The most contagious of all emotions is anxiety, followed by depression.[292]  Anxiety rubs off on people, being transmitted and absorbed without thinking.[293]  A married couple doesn’t have to choose someone else’s anxiety, any more than one choose someone else’ flu or cold.  All that has to happen is for the other spouse or another person ‘sneeze’ anxiously on the partner, while their emotional immune system is low.  Gilbert compares this biologically to the response of an animal herd under threat, causing them to flock or herd together.[294]  Kerr notes that

Anxiety that begins in one person can eventually infect the whole family…As anxiety subsides, each person recovers some ability to act on thinking, the emotional boundaries between family members gradually return to baseline level, and symptoms diminish or disappear. [295]

 

Anxiety can seriously reduce our ability to think.[296]  It can also reduce the ability of married couples to see the big picture, the emotional system.  Anxiety heightens our tendency to see one’s parents as “emotionally endowed images” than as people in their own right.[297]  As anxiety increases, couples tend to focus on linear cause-and-effect blaming of each other.[298]  Physical intimacy and connectedness in marriage, says Schnarch, depends on a functioning front-brain cerebral cortex.  Without engaging the cerebral cortex, marital sex lacks the intimate power of choice and thoughtfulness. [299]  Ferrera observes that under stress, sex in a marriage is usually the first thing to go.[300]  When the cerebral cortex is flooded with anxiety, this creates groupthink, an anxious fused imitation of actual thinking [301].  Groupthink simulates thinking, using the appearance of reason to whitewash over emotional reactivity.[302]  Bowen observed that with groupthink,

…if one member had an itch, another member would scratch himself.  If he asked a question of one family member, another would answer.[303]

Anxiety also can shut down our curiosity and willingness to learn.[304]  Paradoxically learning reduces anxiety. As Kerr and Bowen stated,

The process by which an individual can reduce his level of chronic anxiety depends primarily on learning. The learning depends on having the courage to engage emotionally intense situations repeatedly and to tolerate the anxiety and internal emotional reactivity associated with that engagement. [305]

Papero notes that with reduced anxiety, family members become more objective and calmer.[306] Gilbert recommends going to the gym as a way of reducing anxiety.[307]  When anxiety is less, many of life’s problems simply don’t happen.[308]

We need to be careful observers of the patterns of anxiety, looking for potential triggers.[309]  By addressing the triggers, there will be a significant reduction in anxiety.[310] Ron Richardson teaches that

emotional systems get into trouble and symptoms erupt as a result of some kind of imbalance in the system. The imbalance is almost always related to a heightened level of anxiety in the system.[311]

 

Anxiety comes in waves, sometimes feeling like a tsunami.  Friedman notes that “chronic anxiety is given to surges…,has electrifying potential…,(and) is modifiable by transformers”[312]  Pastors/pastoral counselors can choose to become transformers who reduce the marital anxiety level rather than increase it.  Bowen holds that

Anything that can interrupt the spiraling anxiety will be helpful. Any one significant family member who can ‘cool’ the anxious response, or control one’s anxiety, can make a step towards de-escalation. [313]

In our relationally-fragmented culture, we tend to see togetherness as the cure-all for most of our problems.[314]  Weddings and marital togetherness are not a quick-fix for our own personal issues, giving us an automatic happily-ever-after card.[315]  Marriage in no way guarantees emotional maturity.  It is a mark of maturity, says Balswick, to know what pleases our spouse and to make the special effort to do what pleases him or her.[316]  Immaturity with high anxiety is a difficult combination for married couples.[317]  Bowen says that it causes us to confuse ourselves with God as if we are omniscient and omnipotent regarding our spouse.[318] Family Systems Theory teaches us that the wrong kind of togetherness is actually part of the problem, and leads to greater anxiety.[319]  Bowen named this the “togetherness force” (Bowen, 1971).  Togetherness and anxiety feed off of each other.[320] Anxiety can cause both reactive togetherness and reactive apartness.[321]  Kerr and Bowen stated that

…the universal problem for all partnership, marital or otherwise, was not getting closer; it was preserving self in a close relationship, something that no one made of flesh and blood seems to do well. (I eventually came to define my marriage counseling as trying to help people separate so that they would not have to ‘separate’.)[322]

The togetherness force urges us toward others, for attachment, for affiliation, and for approval.[323]  Anxious togetherness will bring more rigid boundaries and less morphogenetic flexibility in married couples.[324]  Papero comments:

Togetherness operates in the name of love, kinship, and loyalty.  If greater togetherness prevails, the family moves toward increased emotional functioning and less individual autonomy.  A by-product is increased chronic anxiety.[325]

 

Anxiety can be defined simply as fear of a real or imagined threat.[326] On a somewhat different level, it can be defined as physiological arousal preparatory to action to preserve the safety of the individual.  The greater the level of anxiety, the more behaviour becomes automatic or instinctual.[327]  Gilbert observes that

Anxious people are not easy to be around…People instinctively flee anxious people. And so they distance themselves.[328]

 

The avoidance of anxiety explains why many married couples are connected by a ‘rubber band’ where they pull away during high anxiety, only to snap back into fused togetherness.[329]  Gossip and anxiety are very closely connected, feeding on each other[330].  The higher the anxiety, the more those couples isolate from each other, which in turn lowers responsible communication and increases underground gossip.[331]

Kerr holds that when acute or chronic tension/anxiety builds in a marriage, people have four options in responding to it:

1)They can distance from each other; 2) they can get into conflict with each other; 3) one can compromise his/her own functioning to preserve relationship harmony; or 4) the couple can band together over a common concern, for example, a child. When any of these options is overused, it can lead to the category of problems that families commonly seek help for, namely, marital conflict, impaired functioning of a spouse, or problems with a child. ….[332]

 

The more fusion in the married couple, the more anxiety; this makes these four dysfunctional mechanisms more normative.[333]  Schnarch comments that

poorly differentiated people have difficulty handling anxiety.  As a result, they deal with it through their relationships because emotional fusion can temporarily reduce anxiety and restore a sense of identity and purpose.  That’s why poorly differentiated people often dive into fusion when they’re highly anxious.[334]

One of the dangers of empathy, an important trait, is that it can easily slip into emotional fusion and collusion.[335] We care so much either as the spouse or the pastor/pastoral counselor that we lose the big picture.  Calmness sets tone.[336]  Clarity is more important than empathy, because it brings objectivity and reduces anxiety.[337]

What should be our watchwords during times of high anxiety? Gilbert recommends

1)observing, listening, being curious 2) Managing self, not taking on anxiety 3) keeping in contact 4) thinking systems, defining self factually, with logic and principles.[338]

 

Anxiety can cause spouses to fixate on each other. [339]   One of the benefits of anxiety is that it can be motivational for having the couple go for counseling.  One of the dangers of short-term reduction of anxiety is that many married couples lose their motivation to continue with therapy in order to bring lasting morphogenetic change. [340]

Anxiety can lead us to unfairly blame our spouse for problems in the marriage.[341]  Blame is rooted in shame and deficit-based judgments.[342]  Bowen advocated stepping back and getting beyond anger and blame.[343] It is remarkable how easily our self-centered ‘reptilian brain’ (basal ganglia) justifies our angry blaming of our spouse.  As Ron Richardson put it,

When we begin to feel anxious, one of the first questions we usually ask is whose fault it is…most people decide that the fault lies with the other person when significant, anxiety-stirring difference is discovered.[344]

 

Communication is itself an emotional phenomenon, depending on three inter-relational variables: direction, distance and anxiety.[345]  Anxiety is the static in any communication system and can distort or scramble any message.[346]  In their anxiety, distancers can always outrun pursuers. [347]  Pursuing others ensures that they will not be able to hear you.  Only if people move towards you can your message crack through the anxiety communication wall.[348]  Richardson gives an illustration where “after some period of pursuit, feeling cut off and as if she has run into a stone wall, the wife gives up, saying that  she cannot get through to him.” [349]  With anxious couples, Fogarty recommends that they try a relationship experiment:[350]

Pursuers are encouraged to restrain their pursuit, stop making demands, and decrease pressure for emotional connection – and see what happens, in themselves, and in the relationship.  …Distancers are encouraged to move towards their partners and communicate personal thoughts and feelings – in other words, to find an alternative to either avoiding or capitulating to the other person’s demands.[351]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3f)   Objectivity and Strengthening Marriages

When ministering to married couples, objectivity is vital as it helps protect us against fusion and collusion, out of our compassion for others.[352]  Bowen commented that

…when I find myself inwardly cheering the hero, or hating the villain in the family drama, or pulling for the family victim to assert himself, I consider it time for me to work on my own functioning…Note-taking has been an efficient device to help me remain detached. [353]

 

Gilbert compares this therapeutic practice to the objectivity of a scientist.[354]  Friedman affirmed “…Bowen’s lifelong effort to maintain objectivity (a scientific attitude), which he has always seen as crucial to effective change.”[355] When we maintain objectivity, we are able to “think about subjectivity, feelings, and emotions without triggering more subjectivity, feelings, and emotions.”[356]  As Richardson comments

Being differentiated does not mean becoming unfeeling.  Well-differentiated people never lose touch with their feelings, and they can experience and express feelings when necessary. They recognize feelings as one source of information about what is going on in their lives.  They can also be passionate in their feelings if they choose.  The critical element in a well-differentiated person is this choice.  They can decide whether or not to act on feelings. [357]

 

Papero says that objectivity will be lost if we focus with couples on content issues like sex, money and children, especially on issues of right or wrong, fairness and rights.[358]  In order to see the married couples’ emotional process clearly, the pastor/pastoral counselor needs

a relatively objective, neutral position…From such a position, like the quiet observer of a mountain pond, the therapist can see the ripples and vortices of emotionality that characterize family reactivity…[359]

 

Objectivity with one’s spouse is not about asking

‘How can I change this troublesome partner of mine?’ Instead the question is, ‘What is my contribution to this relationship pattern?’[360]

 

Changing oneself in a marriage is very challenging.[361]  Schnarch said that there are two paths to we-ness: one through change and the other through sameness.[362]  If a person can discover and correct the part that one plays, said Bowen, all the others will automatically correct their parts.[363]

It requires intentionally thinking and objective watching to understand the relationship patterns, what one’s contribution to the pattern is, and how to change that.[364]  It is very easy to lose objectivity, either as a spouse or as the pastor/pastoral counselor.[365]  Friedman says that to maintain objectivity, we must be careful what we promise as results.[366]  Kerr states that

The therapist’s task is to stay objective and accurately assess what is occurring. Objectivity is what the family needs.[367]

 

Effective treatment for married couples depends on thorough and objective assessment.[368] Friedman names key ways that we can foster that objectivity in helping married couples:

There are a variety of methods that Bowenian therapists have learned to use to foster an objective state: mischievous , paradoxical responses; avoiding interpretations; diagramming the family on a blackboard; telling (disguised) stories about other clients as projective techniques; and making clear one’s own positions.  [369]

 

 

3g)   The Question technique and Strengthening Marriages

Unlike many family therapy pioneers, Bowen was not a technique-oriented pragmatist.[370]  The use of process questions is as close as Bowen came to a technique.[371]  There is much ambiguity in Family Systems Thinking regarding its either having few techniques vs. having the most important technique vs. having no techniques at all.[372]

Process questions with married couples include “Who? What? Where? When? and How?”  Asking why is a much less helpful question to ask as it leads to cause-and-effect thinking.[373]  Systems thinking carefully avoids our automatic preoccupation with why something may have happened. To introduce ‘why thinking’ into systems thinking brings about a reversion to conventional theory.   Systems thinking focuses on what one does and not on his/her verbal explanations about why he/she does it.[374]   The use of ‘why’ questions cause us to lose our focus on the relationship of the couple.[375]  ‘Why questions’ in marriage are often avoidance behaviour. [376] It is not easy to give up on asking about the motivation, the why question.  Asking ‘why’ seems to be a residual, regressive reaction when we are traumatized and grieved.  ‘Why’ questions are usually simulated thinking, expressing emotional fusion over something that we are angry and anxious about.

Nichols states that

Process questions are queries designed to explore what’s going on inside people and between them… Process questions are designed to slow people down, diminish reactive anxiety, and start them thinking — not just about how others are upsetting them but about how they participate in interpersonal problems. [377]

Thoughtful questions help protect the pastor/pastoral counselor from acting like a dependency-causing expert/rescuer with couples.[378]  Friedman observed that 80% of his Family Systems Theory counseling was asking questions.[379]  The therapist, said Bowen, is always in control of the sessions, asking hundreds of questions and avoiding interpretations.[380]  Questions are intended to be low-key and calm.[381]  Rather than being advice-giving, process questions help the married couple see their role in the emotional system.[382]  Kerr states that

When seeing a couple together, the therapist has two basic goals. One is to ask questions about the emotional process that exists in the family and the second is to stay detriangled from that emotional process him/herself…[383]

Bowen used nonconfrontational questions to avoid taking sides.  His goal was to stimulate thinking more than to encourage expression of feelings.[384]  When feelings or tears emerged, Bowen encouraged the therapist to calmly ask “what was the thought that stimulated the tears, or asking the other what they were thinking when the feeling started.”[385]  Richardson similarly comments:

I do not focus specifically on ‘What do you feel?’ Feelings will come up and it is fine to talk about them.  I would not encourage the direct expression of them, but describing them is fine.[386]

Bowen Theory has conceptualized the human as a scientific creature that also feels.[387]  Randy Frost in a recent interview said:

I think that one of the misunderstandings of Bowen Theory is that it has nothing to do with feelings or that you eliminate feelings or something.  At one clinical conference, Bowen declared: ‘Feelings are the heartland of therapy.’  So if you read carefully what he has to say about differentiation, he talks about the integration of the differentiation between the thinking and feeling and emotional systems.  The idea is that you can’t really integrate something unless there is a degree of separation, so that you know the difference between when you are operating out of your feeling system and when you are operating out of your cognitive thinking system.  Once you are able to tell the difference, then you can integrate them and have access to both.  You are aware of your feelings and at times you might want to go with your feelings.  But you also have the counterbalance of the more objective thinking process that you can call on when it is important.[388]

 

Friedman described this use of questions as being a catalyst, enabling the couple to “bounce off” the counselor to each other.[389]  Process questions reduce the married couple’s reactive anxiety, increase their self-awareness, and enable them to think more clearly.[390] They help us have a non-anxious presence and to self-differentiate.[391]  Process questions can also challenge couples, particularly when the questions are paradoxical and mischievous. The pastor/pastoral counselor needs to hold his/her questions lightly.[392]  Process questions help us overcome the denial that affects married couples.[393]

3h)   Over/under-functioning and Strengthening Marriages

Friedman noted that nothing fuses married couples like one spouse over-functioning in the other’s space whereas nothing creates emotional space like self-definition.[394]   Therapists joke that every overfunctioner deserves his/her underfunctioner.  Bowen said that overfunctioners can end “being pinned down in the one-up position.”[395]  Marital overfunctioners tend to feel trapped by their ‘shoulds’ while underfunctioners tend to feel trapped by their ‘can’ts’.[396]  Almost every relationship, says Richardson, is affected by the over/underfunctioning dynamic.[397]

Over-functioning is about doing too much to gratify one’s need to be somebody. Such ‘do-er’ people have a magnetic appeal to underfunctioners.  Gilbert, a pastor’s daughter, notes that

Many people in leadership go there because they are overfunctioners and the organization rewards the overfunctioning (doing things for them that they could do and should have done by themselves)…when they stop doing for the group (Ed: or the married couple) what it needs to do for itself, its functioning usually improves automatically.[398]

Unless one learns to stop overfunctioning, this overfunctioning ‘helpfulness’ will be unhelpful, creating helplessness in the married couple.[399]  Overfunctioning may cause ‘dis-integr-ation’ in the underfunctioners, inducing auto-destruction.[400]   The over/underfunctioning dynamic can even flare up unexpectedly in marital violence.[401]  Freeman warns against accepting responsibility for insoluble problems.  If overfunctioners accept responsibility for the couple’s solutions, then they must also accept responsibility for the outcome of their conflict.[402]  What does over- and under-functioning look like in married couples? Gilbert says that

Underfunctioning behaviours observed included whining, weeping, (and) presentation of self as inadequate, hopeless, or in a corner with no options.  Some of the overfunctioning behaviours of the physician or consultant were advising, overteaching (knowing what someone else should think), preaching (knowing what someone else should do), and overhelping (to the point of overprescribing).[403]

 

If a pastor or counselor accepts responsibility for the anxiety of the married couple, says Richardson, they are actually being uncaring and robbing the couple of their opportunity for growth.  Such overfunctioning also increases the possibility of the pastor/counselor’s own dysfunctioning.[404]  Burnout is a significant risk to overfunctioning marital clinicians.[405]  Kerr and Bowen contend that

An overfunctioning person may get sick by virtue of being required by others and requiring of himself more than he can realistically accomplish… In time, the overfunctioning one can ‘absorb’ a disproportionate amount of the family problem.  As the process progresses, she/(he)  feels increasingly overloaded, overwhelmed, and unsupported…[406]

It is vital that we turn the married couple into the systems experts so that they don’t need us when future anxiety and stress hits their emotional system.[407]

Bowen holds that “…recovery can begin with the slightest decrease of the overfunctioning…” [408]  It is much easier to get the overfunctioner to reduce their overfunctioning than the other way around.[409]  The challenge, as Bowen put it, is to make oneself small. [410] Making oneself small in one’s marriage could include more self-effacing humour, more balance in being and doing, more peaceful presence, more honesty, more developing of character and virtue, more safe silences, more playful adventure, more creative dating, and less pressuring each other to conform to one’s expectations.[411]  With married couples, one is often an overfunctioner and the other a dependent underfunctioner, with reciprocal intensity depending on the floating anxiety in the emotional system.[412]  Kerr notes that

The ‘dependent’ one can be most compromised, feeling an increasing discomfort with a sense of loss of control over his/her life, or  the ‘strong’ one can feel compromised by the increasing burden of the other’s underfunctioning.[413]

 

Our post-modern culture simultaneously marginalizes marriages and raises marital expectations.[414]  When a couple has unrealistic expectations of themselves, it fosters unhealthy conflict.[415]  These can include the expectation that one spouse has to preserve the peace and harmony, or the expectation that one spouse knows what is best for the other spouse.[416]  This can lead to an “anxious hovering” which impairs the other spouse’s ability to function.[417] Gilbert says that we will stop overfunctioning when we take responsibility for the self and only for the self, communicate for the self and only for the self.[418]

 

3i)   Calm Connecting, Distance, and Strengthening Marriages

Distance and fusion play off of each other.[419]  Peleg’s research uncovered gender differences in married couples coping with fusion and separation anxiety.[420]  Bowen admitted that he used distance and silence to cover up his emotional fusion.[421] Better marital boundaries allow people to connect with their spouse openly, equally, and with self-definition.[422]  Through boundaries, people are able to stay in touch when tempted to distance.[423]  The healthiest marital boundaries are secure but permeable.[424]   Sometimes what feels like a lack of connection is actually evidence of too much fused connection in marriage and family.[425]

The greater the fusion is, the greater the intensity of the marital problems.[426]  With fusion, we give away power to our spouse and end up seeking permission from them just to be our self.[427] Giving away power is giving away self.   Emotional fusion first relieves anxiety for the married couple; then it increases anxiety because of the loss of self which then in turn causes one spouse to use distance as an anxiety-reducer.[428]  While distance temporarily reduces anxiety, it then brings loneliness which causes anxiety.[429]  Kerr and Bowen describe the two polarities as crowdedness and loneliness.[430]  ‘Heavy’ fused environments are more challenging than ‘light’ environments.[431]  Friedman observed that the basic problem in families may not be to maintain relationships but to maintain the self that permits non-disintegrative relationships.[432]  Anxiety pops up with every dysfunctional response.[433]  Only healthy, calm connecting brings lasting reduction of anxiety.[434]

Kerr holds that what married couples are avoiding with emotional distance is their own reactivity to each other.[435]  Resentful badgering over the distance increases the lonely distance.[436]   Distance serves as an emotional insulation.[437]  Hiding and distance is found in both compliant and conflictual marriages.[438]  Wynn calls emotional distance a high price for tense peace.[439]  A lot of couple conflict is ironically fostered by attempts to avoid conflict.[440]

Married couples often suffer from a repeating cycle of too much closeness and too much distance.[441]  Being close can be very demanding.[442]  Distance is often vital in preserving the pseudo-self.[443]  Distance taken too far can feel like abandonment.[444]  Kerr and Bowen hold that

a hallmark of a conflictual marriage is that husband and wife are angry and dissatisfied with one another…Their relationship is like an exhausting, draining, and strangely invigorating roller coaster ride; people threaten never to buy another ticket, but they usually do…[445]

 

One couple put it this way:

Our life was a cycle of too much closeness, too much distance, and fights.  We fought when we got too close.  Then we stayed mad and spoke only when necessary.  One would start to make up.  Then there would be a good period of a few hours or a few days until there would again be a cycle of too much closeness, a fight, and another cycle.[446]

 

Even when distant, conflicted couples are usually thinking of each other.  Distancing partners often take refuge in overwork, substance abuse, or jobs requiring travel.[447]  Sometimes one spouse distances from the other by anxiously focusing on their child.[448]  Because of the lack of an adaptive role, conflicted couples often have the most overtly intense of all relationships.   The loss of flexibility or emotional reserve causes the relationship to become an emotional cocoon.[449]  Friedman said that with conflicted couples, “the intensity of the anger and negative feeling in the conflict is as intense as the positive feeling.”[450]  Bowen describes the common syndrome of ‘too much closeness’ as ‘weekend neurosis’ or ‘cabin fever’.[451]

To reduce symptoms in a married couple, balance is essential, as too little or too much distance creates anxiety.[452]  Symptoms and human problems erupt when the relationship system is unbalanced.[453]  Any lack of balance in a marital or family-like system can create a sense of threat.[454]  Some have even suggested that systemic balance should be included as a future Bowenian concept.  Unless the distance is right, married couples cannot hear each other.  The right amount of emotional space increases accurate marital hearing.[455]

Ministering to married couples is about enabling them to make lasting change, morphogenesis.[456]  Lasting marital change will be fought against by irrational reactivity, polarization, and homeostasis.[457]

Polarization easily happens when married couples are convinced that an issue must be resolved.[458]  Winning the marital battle becomes everything, as sadly illustrated in the tragic movie War of the Roses.[459]  Polarization is marital homeostasis pretending to be a morphogenic revolution.[460]  Bowen notes that

for some reason the human brain is open to polarities – to opposing viewpoints.  And the human struggle wants to argue these viewpoints…So the human being is set up for arguing polarities.  There is a never ending supply of polarities.[461]

 

Challenging your marriage brings new life.[462]  Marital homeostasis greatly prefers sameness and security when compared with the risks of a new definition.[463]  Bowen notes that people treat families with great caution, lest the equilibrium be upset.[464]

3j)   Differentiation of self and Strengthening Marriages

Gilbert holds that the first and most important concept in understanding and changing marriage relationships is differentiation of self.[465]  The two-choice marital dilemma, says Schnarch, is to confront the fear of differentiation or the dread of marital living death.[466]  Differentiation is the cornerstone and goal of Bowen’s family systems theory.[467]  No other concept in Bowen Family Systems Theory, says Papero, is so often discussed and associated with Bowen’s work.[468]  Bowen saw differentiation as equivalent to identity and individuality.[469]  Schnarch defined differentiation as

…standing up for what you believe.  Calming yourself down, not letting your anxiety run away with you, and not getting overreactive.  Not caving in to pressure to conform from a ‘partner’ who has tremendous emotional significance in your life…Great abilities to have when you’re married.[470]

Papero holds that the concept of self differentiation is “generally the most difficult one for people to grasp and apply.”[471]  Friedman taught that

The transcendent notion always is self-differentiation, which is understood to be the decisive variable in the etiology and cure of all emotional problems and the conduct of successful therapy (or supervision)…[472]

Differentiation means to “distinguish between emotion and reason, between relationship orientation (less mature) and goal orientation (more mature)”.[473]  Lower-differentiated people, in spite of their strong relationship focus, tend to have more problematic relationships.[474]  A person with a high IQ may have low self-differentiation if they are emotionally fused to their family of origin.[475]  No one, says Schnarch, ever wants to differentiate.  We may eventually do it because it’s less painful than the alternatives.[476]

The term ‘differentiation’, said Bowen, was chosen because of its specific meanings in the biological sciences.[477]  Bowen’s theory theorizes

two opposing basic life forces.  One is a built-in life growth force toward individuality and the differentiation of a separate ‘self’ and the other an equally intense emotional closeness.[478]

 

Getting married can bring with it a major loss of self.[479]  Papero notes that in the closeness of an intense relationship, the emotional selves of each blend or fuse together into a common self, a ‘we-ness’.[480]  The tendency, says Freeman, in fused relationships is to work toward agreement, ‘we-ness’, togetherness. [481] Togetherness, ‘we-ness’ is uncomfortable with one’s spouse’s differences, seeking sameness as an anxiety reducer.[482]  Richardson says that this we-ness almost automatically leads to conflict.[483]  The paradox of differentiation, says Schnarch, is that it opens the space for true togetherness, how to get both closer and more distinct.[484]

‘We-ness’ is undifferentiation or fusion which will bring about three dysfunctions in couples: (1) marital conflict (2) symptoms in a spouse, including sickness or (3) dysfunction in a child.[485] These three dysfunctions are primary ‘reasons’ for married couples seeking counseling.[486]

Defining self is life-giving and foundational.[487]  Differentiation, says Bowen,

deals with working on one’s self, with controlling self, with becoming a more responsible person, and permitting others to be themselves.[488]

Differentiation of self is a lifelong process which involves knowing the boundaries of where your self begins and ends.[489]  Schnarch says that “in a nutshell, differentiation is the process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love.”[490]  Differentiation is more about self-validation than other-validation. [491]  Self-validation is released through the expressing of your solid self in the absence of other-validation.[492]  Through self-validated intimacy, we become both more our solid self and more genuinely intimate with our spouse.[493]

Friedman said that “the problem is how to preserve self in close relationships. That’s the critical issue.”[494]  Differentiation allows couple closeness, allowing your relationship to shine like a diamond.[495]  Self-defining reduces emotional reactivity, protecting married couples from the domino effect.[496] Self-defining may seem counterintuitive to some married couples.[497]  Part of self-defining is taking the risk to self-disclose our self to our spouse.[498]

Differentiation for married couples is about greater awareness of themselves in the context of their family emotional systems.[499]  Titelman notes that “Bowen theory postulates two main variables in human functioning: anxiety and differentiation.”[500]  The greater the differentiation of self, the lower is the level of chronic anxiety.[501]   A self is more attractive than a no-self.[502]  Margaret Carlson teaches that the most powerful therapeutic tool is the use of self.[503]  Focusing on self is the sadly rare but healthy alternative to blaming the other spouse.[504]

Roberts holds that changes in differentiation of just one spouse can alter the entire emotional system of the married couple.[505]  One spouse will make the first move as he begins to define, in a self-directed way, where he stands and how he will act on major issues between himself and his spouse.[506]  If the differentiating one can maintain his position without attacking or distancing, the family will settle down at a new higher level of differentiation.[507]

Reaching  ‘70’ in the self-differentiation scale is the new ‘100’.[508]  This is true as well for our marriages, as Friedman noted that “in reality, no human marriage gets a rating of more than 70%.”[509] Perfectionism in seeking to be self-differentiated is a sign of anxious fusion.   Gilbert holds that the more people understand the concept of the scale of differentiation of self, the more they often seem to turn a corner in their lives, continuing to do better and better as time goes by.[510]

Friedman observed that

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished…. Self-differentiation always triggers reactivity. This is the aspect of leadership that is not emphasized enough… This is the moment when a leader is most likely to have a failure of nerve. This is the moment when the leader will find it tempting to seek a quick fix…. The important thing to remember about the phenomena of sabotage is that it is a systemic part of leadership.[511]

This means that when either the pastor/pastoral counselor self-differentiates with the married couple, there will be pushback and even sabotage.[512]  He/she will be criticized as cold, distant, rigid, and non-feeling when he/she either self-differentiates or detriangulates.[513]  When a spouse self-differentiates, there will be pressure to cave in, and go back to the existing homeostasis. [514]  Bowen taught that

Differentiation begins when one family member begins to more clearly define and openly state his own inner life principles and convictions, and he begins to take responsible action based on convictions.  …The remainder of the family opposes this differentiating effort with a powerful emotional counterforce, which goes in successful steps: (1) ‘You are wrong’ with volumes of reason to support this; (2) ‘Change back and we will accept you again’; and (3) ‘If you don’t, these are the consequences,’ which are then listed. [515]

 

There is a close connection between self-differentiation and triangles.[516]  Bowen held that there was a solid theoretical basis for saying that differentiation of self takes place only in a triangle, and the most effective method was in the triangle consisting of the two closest family members (the two spouses) and the therapist.[517]

Gilbert sees listening as the heart of differentiation, with minimal verbal input to the married couple.  My plan, says Gilbert, for differentiation “would be to mostly listen. When I did say anything, it would be with understanding, logic and patience.”[518]  Self-differentiation is already inside of the married couple. It is just covered over by other people’s baggage.[519]  Gilbert comments regarding married couples that

If two partners in a relationship work on their own levels of differentiation, their relationship will automatically improve.  If even one of the partners works to raise his or her level of differentiation, the relationship will do better over the long term. This is because, in time, the other partner will almost always raise his or her level of the former emotional fusions with their parents.[520]

The self-differentiation of the therapist or pastor is foundational to helping a married couple. [521] High level leaders see working on self in their family relationship systems, both in their original and in their nuclear families, as the most important work they do.[522]  The best way to help married couples is for the pastor or therapist to keep working on him/herself.  There is a significant correlation between greater awareness of one’s own emotional system and a growing awareness of our spouse’s emotions.[523]  Self-differentiation requires great courage.[524]  Worry is an indication of undifferentiation.[525]  The therapist or pastor seeks to be calm, cool, and collected.[526]  Family Systems Theory is not about ‘fixing’ a married couple.[527]  Rather it is about

engaging without being reactive, stimulating without rescuing, and teaching a way of thinking and observing without willing the other’s head to change.  The power of the therapist is based more on the nature of the connectedness that comes with being human, that is, the nature of emotional systems, than on specific skills at fixing families.[528]

 

Self differentiation is based on well-thought-through guiding principles.[529]  Gilbert stated that

well thought-out beliefs about the self, others, and the world, to the extent they are used for guidance, become the core of the thinking inner guidance system of the basic self.[530]

Such principles are not rigidly held but are open to new data.[531]  Guiding principles are inherently calming for married couples.[532]  Principles and goals reduce reactivity; reactivity reduces principles.[533]  Guiding principles help us discover and mature our basic self as opposed to our pseudo or functional self.[534]  Pseudo-self, says Gilbert, is where most of us live most of the time.[535]  Without guiding principles, the married couple will default during anxiety to groupthink.[536]  Bowen said that

differentiation begins when one family member begins to more clearly define and openly state his own life principles and convictions, and he begins to take responsible action based on convictions…[537]

Such guiding principles, says Gilbert, only become part of a married couple’s basic selves through a labour-intensive process, which include steps such as

1)Thinking it through  2) Researching the principle if necessary  3) Trying it on, and trying it out in life  4) Acceptance or rejection as a guiding principle in life 5) Re-evaluation from time to time.[538]

The pastor/pastoral counselor can model for the married couple how guiding principles operate to direct basis self.[539]  Gilbert observes that well-defined people show, above all else, two prominent attributes: well-defined self boundaries and a well-developed thinking inner guidance system.[540]  For couples to break through, the pastor/pastoral counselor has to express self-differentiated leadership that doesn’t show failure of nerve when the couple expresses emotional reactivity and even sabotage.[541]  When couples resist or sabotage the pastor/pastoral counselor, it may be tempting to quit, but that is usually when a breakthrough is near.[542]

There is a temptation to believe the myth that being loving and being kind by itself will cure all of our couple conflicts.[543]  If we do not speak up, we lose identity, self, and self-awareness of our thinking and core convictions.[544]  Our ‘I’ statements as a pastor/pastoral counselor enable ‘I’ statements from the couple being counseled.[545]  Papero holds that

When a person can state his or her convictions and principles clearly and then act in accordance with such beliefs, it is possible for the togetherness pressures to abate…  In the early therapy sessions, when anxiety is high, the therapist relies frequently on the I-position to define him- or herself to the family… An ‘I-position’ can be as simple as stating ‘I’m listening to your words, but I don’t agree with what you’re saying…[546]

Learning to use ‘I-statements’ as a married couple takes time.[547]  Sadly it is often our families that resist such self-definition.[548]  When a spouse in a marriage uses ‘I’ statements rather than just ‘we’ statements, it helps her/him take responsibility for her/his own growth and health.[549]  Through self-defining ‘I’ statements, a spouse avoids blaming or taking responsibility for the other spouse’s emotions and actions. [550]

As Kerr and Bowen put it,

defining a self does not necessarily involve a strong statement of where one stands on a particular issue.  A self is sometimes communicated most effectively by what is not said or done.[551]

Kerr and Bowen commented that when self-differentiation is low, more energy is bound in the relationship.[552]  Such a spouse is a “complete emotional prisoner” of the relationship.[553]  People with low differentiation often default to emotional distance and cutoff as their anxiety reducer.[554]  Bowen spoke about relational nomads in their lower differentiation going from marriage to marriage to short relationship.[555]  When differentiation is higher, more energy is available to use in one’s effective marital functioning. [556]  Most higher-differentiated people are affected by anxiety but recover quicker.[557]  Differentiation for married couples is about becoming more fully human.[558]  Higher differentiation in couples enables more flexible change and morphogenesis, in contrast to rigid homeostasis.[559]  Gilbert observes that the highly differentiated person, able to select emotional states, can actually greatly enjoy them.[560]  Emotional and sexual boredom with married couples is often a sign of rigid, fused undifferentiation.[561]  Undifferentiated couples are often both addictively drawn to each other and simultaneously drawn to flee from each other.[562] The lower the differentiation, the more likely that one spouse will become more dominant, taking self and the other one more adaptive/compliant, losing self.[563]  The more adaptive/compliant we are, the less that we have the energy and creativity for lasting transformation.[564]  Couple relationships, which naturally deteriorate anyways, deteriorate more quickly and dramatically when self-differentiation is low.[565]

Higher-differentiated spouses are less needy and therefore less threatened by variations in closeness and distance by their partner.[566]  Differentiation, said Friedman, was about “how to leave without leaving.”[567]  Intimacy and love is not the higher-differentiated couple’s ‘drug’ without which they cannot function or exist.[568]  Because a poorly differentiated spouse lacks a sense of self,

His emotional reactions are easily triggered, intense, and prolonged, and he has almost no psychological development that permits him to be a separate person.  The togetherness needs of a very poorly differentiated person, which are overriding in their influence, are felt as deep yearnings to be loved, accepted and guided through life.[569]

 

Humour is a key strategy in self-differentiation for married couples, which sometimes included irony and a sense of the tragic/comic.[570]  When marriages don’t know how to de-stress, it leaves them vulnerable to self-medication.  Humour reduces fusion in marriages.[571]  Collusion in marriages is when couples are so fused that they treat others as the IP negative  and project their intimacy anxiety onto them.  Through self-effacing humour, the pastor/pastoral counselor sets the tone, “keeping it loose”.[572]  Often a casual comment with light humour, says Papero, can dissolve the tension of an overly serious presentation.[573]   Freeman said that humour may easily be “one of the most helpful mechanisms for helping a family get some distance from its own misery.”[574]  Friedman noted that

A clergy’s capacity to be playful or paradoxical at serious moments can be just the right antidote….litmus test for determining the emotional acidity of the system. Sometimes it will bring hidden issues to light more quickly than the most seriously prepared questionnaire…[575]

 

At the heart of self-differentiation is a non-anxious presence.[576]  Some people call this ‘benevolent disinterest’.   Some married couples slip between an anxious presence to an anxious non-presence.  Through avoidance, substance abuse or workaholism, they temporarily achieve a non-anxious absence.[577]  What is desired is presence, present to oneself, one’s marriage, one’s family, and others.  Being present without being swallowed is the key. It is so easy to not ‘be there.’

Bowen became so emphatic about this insight that he became known as Dr. Presence. [578]  As pastors/pastoral counselors, learning to practice a non-anxious presence is challenging but indispensable.

 

3k)   Triangles and Strengthening Marriages

Once you look for triangles in marriages, you’ll find them everywhere.[579]  Nichols describes triangles as the universal unit of analysis.[580]  Triangles are the smallest stable emotional unit.  Gilbert holds that couple counseling is always triangular in nature, if only because it involves the pastor or therapist, but more often because it includes the child, or in-laws.[581]  Nichols encourages us to

take a minute to think about the most troublesome current relationship in your life.  That relationship almost certainly involves one or more third persons.  Virtually all relationships are shadowed by third parties – relatives, friends, even memories.[582]

 

The two-person dyad of the married couple is inherently unstable, especially during times of anxiety.[583]  The dyads naturally draw in and triangulate to a third party.[584]  Many married couples find intimacy painful because of the fused loss of self, and avoid dyadic intimacy by quickly triangling with a third party.[585]  I wonder if a couple’s anxiously overfocusing on their marriage and treating it as an IP+ or IP negative may inadvertently turn their marriage itself into the third member of an unhealthy triangle.  Perhaps husbands and wives need to detriangulate from their overly serious, urgent and important marriages.  Becvar and Becvar observe that chronic stress can destabilize almost any but the most differentiated dyads.  Triangles stand in the way of the very resolution that they are attempting to bring about.[586]   Jones observes that triangulation offers stabilization through diversion rather than through resolution of the issue.[587]  Such triangulation in a married couple creates an appearance of calmness because the anxiety is being transferred to the third party of the triangle.[588]  Through the transferring of dyadic anxiety, even ‘low-level’ adultery can temporarily bring ‘calmness’ to a married couple until the adultery becomes more intense.[589]  Triangling calms couples temporarily by letting off emotional steam, but through encouraging frozen rigidity, the ‘calmness’ ultimately backfires.[590]

Emotional distance between married couples brings one spouse closer to the third party in the triangle.[591]  Freeman says that some people who do not wish to work on self or their own part in a relationship may choose triangulation as a convenient substitute.[592]  Married couples can triangulate in many ways, such as by gossiping with others about the relationship, or by discussing about politics, TV, etc, anything that avoids dealing with self, other and the relationship.[593]  Triangulation can be a way of hiding from marital intimacy.[594]

The lower the differentiation of the married couple, the more active the triangles will be in funneling dyadic anxiety.[595]  Gilbert says that anxiety is always moving around the triangles of the family.[596]  The presence of the third party, such as a new baby, sometimes calms the marital dyad, but at other times anxiously destabilizes it because of the enormous energy investment needed.[597]  The removal of a third party, such as an adult child leaving home, can either increase or decrease the conflict or stability of the marital dyad.[598]  The intense triangles of many married couples can be impacted by calm, thinking principled pastor/pastoral counselors, despite the great challenges.[599]  To observe triangles, says Kerr and Bowen, it is necessary to see past the symptoms to the underlying emotional process: the interplay of individuality and togetherness and the impact of anxiety on that interplay.[600]

Marital triangles reveal the absurdity of asking why in any causal sense.[601]  Triangles, a fact of nature, describe the what, how, when and where of marriage relationships, not the why.[602]  ‘Why’ questions are often expressions of our defensiveness which retriangulates us.[603]

With married couples, there are good triangles but most triangles are considered unhelpful, particularly because they include some and exclude others.[604]  Few, if any, like being the outsider or the IP negative target/scapegoat.  Often husbands end up as this person, with the third person being the mother-in-law, the wife’s female close friend, the pastor, the counselor, or the male adulterer.[605]

Anxiety is the major shaper of triangular activity.  Triangles spread the anxiety more widely, therefore ‘protecting’ the marital dyad from emotionally overheating and burning out.[606]  Those involved in triangulating target less secure individuals in their projecting anxiety onto them.[607]  Gilbert said that the focus is not only on the architecture of the system (the triangles and how they interlock), but on the actual movement of anxiety within that system of triangles.  Watching for process is done by observing how emotions flow and change within and among the individuals and triangles of a relationship system.[608]  Nichols says that triangles can be identified by whom the spouse goes to when they emotionally distance from their spouse. Triangles tend to be repetitive, reactive, predictable and automatic.[609]

Emotional triangles are more stable, flexible, and able to contain anxiety than the marital dyads.[610]  Triangles are forever, which means that with married couples, new people come along to replace the empty places in a triangle when one person has either died or emotionally cut off from the triangle.[611]  Our epidemic of divorce and replacement dyads could be seen as a reflection of our anxious triangles.[612]   Kerr and Bowen observed that

…In unusually chaotic periods, so many triangles are active that it can be difficult to perceive any order in the process.  The building blocks of the chaos, the individual triangles, are obscured by the confusion.[613]

 

When triangles are overwhelmed by anxiety, they interlock with other triangles in order to share the anxious load.[614]  Kerr and Bowen hold that with two parents and two children, you already have four triangles.  The addition of one more child brings you to ten triangles just in one nuclear family.[615]  The higher the anxiety of the married couple, the greater the number of interlocking triangles formed.[616] Every corner or angle of the ‘tri-angle’ is a functioning position.[617]  Three of the functioning positions are the anxiety ‘generator’, the anxiety ‘amplifier’, and the anxiety ‘dampener’.[618]  Each of these three positions is a way of avoiding responsibility for managing one’s own anxiety.[619]  Expressing anger to a  third party (i.e. gossip) about one’s spouse functions to bring togetherness with the third party, while anxious expression of anger to one’s spouse functions to create emotional  distance.[620]  Kerr and Bowen observed that in marital conflict, the emotionally triggered person characteristically defends or counterattacks which adds emotional fuel.[621]

One cannot positively impact triangulation in married couples by trying to change other people in their triangle.  Friedman observed that

the more you try to change the relationship of two others (again, either two other people or a person and his or her habit), the more likely it is that you will reinforce the very aspects of the relationship you want to change.[622]

 

The solution to triangling is detriangling oneself.[623]  Friedman noted that when a family appears to be stuck, the pastor/pastoral counselor should focus primarily on changing his or her own input into the therapeutic triangle.[624]  A pastor/pastoral counselor brings detriangulation by being present but detached, expressing a non-anxious presence with the married couple.[625]  Titelman says that there are many forms that detriangling takes place: expressing neutrality-objectivity, humour, reversal, systems questioning, and avoiding fusion by putting the other together with the other or phantom other.[626]  Ironically detriangulation is facilitated by the pastor/pastoral counselor creating “a new triangle, a therapeutic one” with the couple.[627]  Detriangulation is not about manipulating and controlling the married couple but rather about setting healthy boundaries so that one is not manipulated and controlled by them in their emotional reactivity.[628]  Detriangling is closely linked to self-differentiating.[629]  As Nichols said,

Ultimately, differentiating yourself requires that you identify interpersonal triangles you participate in, and detriangle from them.  The goal is to relate to people without gossiping or taking sides and without counterattacking or defending yourself.[630]

 

Objectivity and neutrality are both key to detriangling from a married couple, and for a spouse detriangling from his/her spouse.[631]  Staying neutral and refusing to take sides with either spouse is the “central, most challenging task” for the pastor/pastoral counselor.[632]  Morphogenesis requires neutrality.[633]  Defining self, says Richardson, is one way of demonstrating neutrality with the couple in conflict.[634]  Papero aptly notes that the pastor/pastoral counselor has “lost neutrality as completely when he or she is charmed as when angered.”[635]

A key to objectivity with married couples is the phenomenological rather than interpretive stance of the pastor/pastoral counselor.[636]  We need to resist and repent of the temptation to ‘read the minds’ of the married couple.[637]  Giving advice, says Richardson, is one way of taking a side.[638]  In detriangling, actions speak louder than words.[639]  Jones holds that the essential stance for the pastor/pastoral counselor is to be in contact with each spouse, but not caught in the triangle.[640]  A knowledge of triangles is one of the best ways to avoid falling into the emotionality of transference.[641]    Detriangulating may look like the pastor/pastoral counselor is doing nothing, all the while he/she is balancing on a shaky high-wire.[642]  In our activist, technique-oriented western culture, ‘doing nothing’ and becoming small as a way of strengthening marriages doesn’t look impressive.  It may look very weak, yet marital detriangling is about becoming human and staying human.

Sometimes a spouse or pastor/pastoral counselor may try to detriangulate prematurely before they have become objectively neutral themselves. Such attempts will usually go badly.[643]   It is better to just keep in touch (K.I.T.), and wait until the anxiety level has moderated before attempting detriangulation.[644]  Kerr and Bowen hold that when it comes to detriangling, “a new way of thinking is learned slowly.  For the most part, people teach themselves.”[645]  People caught in marital triangles often have significant reactive denial about their triangular involvement even when expressed rationally to them.[646]  As Kerr and Bowen reminded us, no one is immune from being triangled and nobody is immune from triangling others.[647]  Bowen insightfully acknowledged that

No one ever stays outside, but a knowledge of triangles makes it possible to get outside on one’s own initiative while staying emotionally in contact with the family.[648]

 

Bowen taught that triangulated marital conflict is closely connected with secrecy and gossip.[649]  Triangular marital processes have their rules about ‘keeping gossip secret’.[650]  Marital secrets have dysfunctioning effects in the next generation.[651]  Part of detriangling and growing up is letting go of secret gossip.[652]  Evan Imber-Black observed that

there seem(s) to be a powerful injunction against the acknowledgment of open conflict in any of the relationships. When I inquired about conflict in their long marriage, George replied: ‘I don’t remember having any!’ Secrets are relational, shaping dyads, triangles, hidden alliances, splits, cutoffs, defining boundaries about who’s in and who’s out, and calibrating closeness and distance in relationships.[653]

 

 

 

3l)    Family Projection Process and Strengthening Marriages

In the family projection process, married couples often relieve anxiety by projecting their anxiety onto each other or others, thereby making them weaker.[654]  Bowen said, regarding the family projection process, that

the essential ingredients (of the family projection process) are anxiety and three people. Two people get together and enhance their functioning at the expense of a third, the ‘scapegoated’ one.  Social scientists use the word ‘scapegoat’.  I (Bowen) refer the term projection process to indicate a reciprocal process in which the twosome can force the third into submission, or the process is more mutual, or the third can force the other two to treat him as inferior.[655]

By seeing others as the problem, one doesn’t have to work on oneself.[656]  Such transfer of anxiety involves the projection of one’s own feelings of helplessness, weakness and inadequacy. Without discriminating between feeling and reality, such feelings of helplessness define the person, and then become projected onto the other spouse or third party.[657]  We can project onto the other spouse the identity of IP+ or IP- (Identified Person Positive or Negative).  When we project onto our spouse IP+, we pedestalize them, exaggerating their messianic qualities, only to knock them off the pedestal and identify them as IP negative.[658]  The payoff in identifying the other spouse as IP negative is a temporary reduction of anxiety.[659]

Through the family projection process, some spouses blame their spouse and some blame themselves. [660]  Most systems handle anxiety by displacing their fears onto someone else or something else.[661]  Married couples may project their anxiety and undifferentiation on their children.[662]  Those who show a lower level of differentiation were “more exposed to parental immaturity than their more fortunate siblings.”[663]  The child, in order to adapt to the anxious parents, lives out the position of functional helplessness.[664]  Emotional cutoff is often the fruit.  Titelman comments that

…when the parent-child triangle is fraught with an intense projection process toward the child and emotional divorce between the parents, undergirded by lower levels of differentiation and higher levels of anxiety in the family, the outcome of the separation between the generations often leads to emotional cutoff.[665]

Van Yperen spoke about the temptation we face to “minimize their personal responsibility while seeking to blame or disparage others.”[666]  It is easy for us to slip into benevolent over-helpfulness and projection which harms the couple while trying to help them.[667]  To break the power of this projection,  Bowen “usually avoid(ed) a relationship with the family member already designated ‘sick’ or ‘patient’ by the family process.”[668]  By helping the married couple become more aware of the family projection process, the tendency to weaken and scapegoat each other can be reduced.

 

3m)  Family of Origin and Strengthening Marriages

Family Systems Theory holds that greater awareness of our family of origin brings greater breakthrough in our nuclear family system.[669]  Friedman vividly expressed in the metaphor of a collapsing telescope that generations are connected to each other in uncanny ways that we do not realize:  each telescopic cylinder somehow formulates the next.[670]  Working on our family of origin, says Gilbert, is the ‘high road’ to working on strengthening marriages.[671]  Family of origin differentiation enables couple closeness without anxious fusion.[672]  Walter Toman says that family of origin work is about life context, of which our generational family is the most influential context for either morphogenesis or staying stuck.[673]

The pastor/pastoral counselor coaches the married couple to bring their family system alive through careful, nonreactive observation.[674]  Generational transmission means that what matters is not the location or the issues but rather the systemic family forces involved.[675]  Married couples will benefit greatly through examining where they have both come from, and where they might be heading, integrating the past and the present/future.[676]  Some married couples are so narcissistically absorbed in the anxious present that they have no energy to give to the seemingly irrelevant family-of-origin past.[677]  Remarkably, said Bowen, many married couples may make more progress through family of origin work than even through going for Family Systems therapy sessions.[678]  Richardson says that “family-of-origin work is the best way (he) knows to bring together theory and practice in our own lives.”[679]  By studying their family of origin emotional patterns and comparing them to their nuclear family emotional patterns, married couples can become less emotionally reactive and more thoughtfully responsive to each other.[680]  It is so easy for couples to get stuck in the ‘blame game’ regarding their family of origin.[681]  Gilbert commented that

There is no better way to remove a ‘block’ in life, work on a stubborn personality characteristic or irrational belief, or in general to become a little more objective, than to take a specific question back to one’s generations, to see what can be learned from them.[682]

 

Some married couples may be reluctant to reconnect with their family of origin, thinking that they might stir up trouble for themselves.[683]  Richardson says that

for heavily conflicted partners in particular, doing family-of-origin work takes a tremendous amount of courage.  For many people, it feels like going into a war zone.[684]

Some, particularly those who have burnt their bridges emotionally, wonder if they have any family of origin out there to reconnect with.[685]  Others are in contact with their family but at great emotional distance, returning home very infrequently for duty visits.[686]  Friedman held that generationally cut-off couples tend to invest more in work and social settings than in each other.[687]  Without coaching a married couple, going back to one’s family of origin may backfire.[688]  Family of origin work helps repair the generational damage of emotional distance and cutoff.[689]  Working on our family of origin issues can release multi-generational breakthrough, particularly in the areas of forgiveness, healing, and clearer self-identity.[690]  Forgiveness opens the door to the future.[691]

Bowen said that if you can get a one-to-one relationship with each living person in your extended family, it will help you grow up more than anything you could ever do in life.[692]  In a one-to-one relationship, says Richardson, you and I talk with each other only about you or me or our relationship.[693]

Bowen encouraged us to do our family of origin work as a research project of life.[694]  This family of origin work by married couples must be done for the sake of self rather than for togetherness.[695]  One of the best places for couples to start is with the oldest members of their families.[696]  Gilbert notes that

Most of the older relatives are glad someone wants to know, and that their knowledge will not die with them.  In just connecting with these members, people report gleaning the benefits of bridging cutoffs – feeling more connected, more grounded, functioning better.[697]

 

Married couples are encouraged, when visiting their family members, to look for the generational facts, as facts tell a story about their family’s differentiation and undifferentiation.[698]  Family of origin work for married couples is a fact-finding mission which helps each spouse become more of a self rather than a pseudo-self.[699]  These factual stories are “angles of entry into the universal, if not cosmic, processes that have formed our being”.[700]  Bowen admits, as with his own parents, that this family of origin work will not necessarily go smoothly.  He had mistaken avoidance and distance from his family as emancipation, but he had unfinished emotional business with them.[701]  Bowen’s breakthrough happened in 1966 on a home-visit when Bowen was able to relate to the family about emotional issues without becoming personally caught in the process.[702]  His family of origin’s initial angry response was to write Bowen off as crazy, but they eventually came to refer to Bowen by the honorific title of the differentiating one.[703]  Bowen said that his immediate goal with his family was

to avoid defending anything, or attacking any issues, to be able to avoid getting angry even with provocation, and to have an instant casual response to any comment.[704]

 

Bowen’s most important family of origin breakthrough was that he was able to detriangle from his parents.[705]  One’s parents may triangulate behind ‘we-ness’, and remain hidden from the bid for re-connection.[706]  Gilbert encourages couples doing family of origin research to look for nodal points, when people have left or entered their family.[707]  All of us, including married couples, are more emotionally attached and fused to our family of origin than we realize.[708]  It may be difficult for married couples to see their family of origin’s triangles because they are often colluded or reactive with their families.  Activating one’s family’s triangles is key to bringing detriangulation.  Even if one’s direct ancestor is dead, the family triangles can still be activated through visiting one’s cousins.[709]  The irony of family of origin work is that in moving into one’s past, a person is intentionally activating the very painful anxiety that produced the initial family cutoff.[710]  Making short visits helps reduce the reactivity so that married couples can be better observers.[711]

By facing family of origin issues like emotional distance from our parents, we can begin to see and work on emotional patterns like emotional distance.[712]  Distance and denial in married couples is generationally transmitted.  Nichols commented about connecting with the most emotionally distant member of her family, often one’s father.  The learning comes from understanding that the intensity of one’s need (as emotional pursuer of one’s spouse and children) is due in part to unfinished business.[713]  Kerr and Bowen hold that

People cannot reduce distance between one another if they fail to acknowledge and respect the process that creates the distance….People who never felt ‘close’ to their parents are usually people who have managed an intense attachment to the family with distance and denial.[714]

 

A key to breakthrough with one’s family of origin is self-differentiation, both as the pastor/pastoral counselor and as the spouse/adult child.[715]  Leadership has to be shown, particularly in clarity about his or her own goals, as this helps prevent the person from becoming swallowed up in the swirling emotional whirlpool.[716]  Family of origin differentiation has much to do with self regulation and with playfulness.[717]  By doing family of origin work in a self-differentiated, innovative way, whether as pastor/pastoral counselor or as a spouse, one will be evoking reactivity from one’s family of origin.  If one does not become swallowed by such family of origin reactivity, there can be emotional breakthrough and new insight for the married couple.[718]  Bowen identified that in Family of Origin differentiation,

The first (step) is to develop the person-to-person relationships.  This step helps to bring relationships more alive, it helps one to recognize old patterns that may have faded from view, and most of all, it results in livelier family response to the effort to ‘detriangle’ or change the old patterns.  A parental family can ignore such detriangling moves if relationships are distant.[719]

 

The best times for married couples to do family of origin work, said Bowen, is during the transition times of life, what is sometimes called ‘bred, wed and dead’ times.[720]  Illnesses and holidays are also natural contexts that provide enough anxiety to relate to the family reactivity.[721]  One of the biggest mistakes is to use these sensitive times to dump on one’s family and to emotionally confront.[722] The key with family of origin work is to observe others, but work on self, not the other way around.[723]  Photographs, language or memory of history can be helpful in family of origin connecting. [724]  Dostoevsky said that good memories educationally launch us into our future.[725]  There are no quick fixes in family of origin work.  Bowen talked about four years before generational transmission patterns will be modified.[726]

One of the most helpful ways for married couples to do family of origin work is with the help of their pastor/pastoral counselor to map out their family genogram.[727]  The main function of the genogram, says Nichols, is to organize data during the evaluation phase and to track relationship processes and key triangles over the course of therapy.[728]  Genograms are vital in assessing emotional cutoff.[729]

Gilbert recommends that dates of births, moves, deaths, and immigration all (be) recorded on the family diagram/genogram.[730]  Friedman said that the emotional system includes all the data that can be recorded on a family’s genogram.[731]  The genogram is uniquely devised to track generational transmission.[732]  Nichols says that the more organic nature of the genogram is expressed by “the inclusion of relationship conflicts, cutoffs, and triangles.”[733]

 

 

 

3n)  Societal Emotional Process and Strengthening Marriages

Because anxious triangles interlock with other triangles outside the family, society’s triangles can in turn impact the nuclear family during times of societal stress.[734]  Gilbert notes that when the society is more infectiously anxious, families become more anxious.[735]  We live in a society that is very anxious, crisis-oriented, and emotionally regressive.[736]  Crises

cause us to “rubber band” back (regress) to previously unresolved or forgotten issues of our past, especially fears and pains. This lack of differentiation is common in people as it is common in communities of individuals. [737]

 

Our individualistic, consumerist society is not supportive or aware of the principles that support strong marriages and families.[738]  Many other time-honoured principles of emotional mature living, says Gilbert, such as commitment, integrity, religious teaching and even the primacy of the family have been largely discarded.[739]

In times of social regression, there is much pressure on married couples to find a quick fix.[740]  Quick fixes change nothing permanently and usually make marriages worse.  Social regression causes married couples to do more of what they have always done, such as increasing their anxious togetherness and fusion.[741]  This creates a vicious cycle of more anxiety and more distance/cutoff.[742]  In times of social regression, togetherness counter-intuitively is often the problem, not the solution.[743]  Less togetherness brings greater intimacy and less anxious reactivity.  Loneliness is often systemic anxiety, where we distance from closeness due to lack of a solid self.[744]

We live in a regressive anxious culture that emphasizes rights more than responsibilities, an out-of-balance emphasis that does not help married couples.[745]  Merely focusing on an individual couple alone, without considering the regressive societal context, may be fitting into the old psychoanalytic solution.

 

4)      ATTACHMENT AS SEEN THROUGH FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY AND ATTACHMENT THEORY

From a Family Systems Theory perspective, emotional detachment rather than emotional cutoff is the effective way to reduce emotional attachment or fusion.  To detach is to be freed from unbalanced attachment that lacks individuation and personal space.[746]  Our unresolved attachments are usually parental, but affect every other relationship.[747]  Bowen said that there are people who never separate from their parents and – all things being equal – will remain attached forever.[748]  Unresolved emotional attachment represents

The emotional degree to which a person is unable to move forward in the process toward increasing independence, unable to be a self and define a self in relationship to important others.[749]

Kerr says that “an unresolved emotional attachment is associated with a level of chronic anxiety.”[750]  Unresolved emotional attachment defines the relationship between emotional and intellectual functioning, bringing a rigid, dependent fusion dominated by the automatic emotional system.[751]  Papero holds that unresolved emotional attachment is equivalent to the degree of undifferentiation in a person and in a family.[752]  No one becomes an adult without some unresolved emotional attachment.[753]  Emotional cutoff, says Dillard and Protinsky, is the universal mechanism for dealing with unresolved emotional attachment.[754]   Bowen held that

One of the most important functional patterns in a family has to do with the intensity of the unresolved emotional attachment to parents, most frequently to the mother for both men and women, and the way the individual handles the attachment.  All people have an emotional attachment to their parents that is more intense than most people permit themselves to believe.[755]

Fusion is the magnetic force that keeps the family attached to each other, particularly the parents.[756]  Titelman holds that the degree of emotional fusion is equal, primarily, to the degree of emotional attachment to one’s parents.[757]  Frost observes that

Clinically symptoms or vulnerability to symptoms has to do with the degree of unresolved emotional attachment people have with their parents which can be over-positive or over-negative, either of which could be an indicator of a lack of resolution of some of that emotional attachment.  Of course in very intense situations, with problems such as schizophrenia or autism, children are almost welded emotionally to the parents.  In less severe problems, the attachment is less intense, but still an important factor.[758]

 

4a) Emotionally Focused Therapy’s Approach to Attachment

Emotionally Focused Therapy is the only couple therapy explicitly based on attachment theory.[759]  This therapy holds that rigid interactions in distressed couples restrict accessibility and responsiveness which are the basis of a secure sense of attachment and emotional connectedness.[760]  Johnson and Greenberg hold that

In terms of bonding theory, marital distress may generally be considered to represent the failure of an attachment relationship to provide a secure base for one or both partners. The basic attachment needs for security, protection, and closeness have not been met. [761]

Where Family Systems Theory encourages thinking about our feelings, Emotionally Focused Therapy encourages feeling about our feelings.[762]  Kerr says that feeling-focused therapists see Family Systems Therapy as flawed in not eliciting feeling in a counseling session.[763]   Emotionally Focused Therapy also contrasts with the strong focus on behaviour and cognition that has been so popular with the Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.[764]  There seems to be similarities between Emotionally Focused Therapy and Family Systems Theory in their emphasis on the marital pattern of pursuit-avoidance.[765]  David Schnarch contrasts Attachment Theory with Family Systems Theory, suggesting that we’ve “mistaken a part for the whole”:

Fifty years ago, child development specialist recognized the importance of infants’ drive to bond (attach) to their caregivers.  Unfortunately we’ve erroneously assumed this is the dominant and overriding drive for children and adults, and popularized the image of infants being helpless and terrified when there is no one to comfort them.  We’ve applied this same image to marriage and concluded our partner is supposed to soothe us and not do things that make us insecure.[766]

John Bowlby, an Attachment Theory pioneer, strongly emphasized the importance of the mother-child bond and the trauma of its disruption through separation and loss.[767]  Disrupting the mother-child bond can make it hard to trust as an adult.[768]

 

4b) Family System Theory’s Approach to Attachment

Attachment Theory however, says Schnarch, has underestimated the ability of infants to self soothe and recover.[769]  We are not as fragile as we think.[770]  Resilience and self-repair are inherent within us.[771]  Schnarch notes that

…radically new information emerging from infant research over the last decade shows that infants have remarkable resilience and are able to regulate some of their emotional equilibrium by three months of age.[772]

Schnarch says that we need to stop thinking of ourselves as mere infants.[773]  Because Attachment Theory “emphasize(s) our neediness but not our strengths”,

we’ve reduced adults to infants, reduced infants to a frail ghost of their resilience, and reduced marriage to providing safety, security, and compensation for childhood disappointments.  In other words, we’ve eliminated from marriage those things that fuel our essential drives for freedom and autonomy.[774]

Attachment Theory has “ignored our basic capacity to self-soothe and stabilize ourselves” and over-emphasized infants’ drive for attachment (social connection).[775]  Schnarch holds that

Overemphasizing attachments suggests that soothing must come from our significant other.  Differentiation however involves balancing our two basic drives (our drive for attachment and our strivings for autonomy and self-regulation), and allows soothing and relationship repair to start with ourselves.[776]

Attachment or togetherness is only one half of the picture, from a Family Systems Theory perspective.

 

Frost holds that

Bowen Theory is anti-togetherness’ would be another misconception.  If people have a robust sense of self, the togetherness goes a lot better.  If you are trying to focus on the togetherness and push for more and more of it, the effort messes togetherness up.[777]

We need to hold in dynamic tension our desire for closeness and togetherness with our need for our personal space and self-differentiation.[778]  Schnarch says that

the drive for emotional connection is powerful in humans – but not as strong as the need for emotional self-regulation and self-preservation…The need to self-regulate is so strong that infants will do it at the expense of connection.  Humans are not organized to seek connection or solace from others at all costs – that’s emotional fusion.[779]

Frost observes that

if you look at Bowlby and Ainsworth and some of the others that have come along since, basically the critique is that there isn’t enough attachment of a certain kind, whereas in Bowen Theory the focus is on too much attachment, the failure to gradually resolve the emotional attachment established at birth when it is entirely appropriate and needed…Bowen Theory calls attention to the overinvolvement, overdoing of attachment whereas people in Attachment Theory worry about the lack of attachment, or the lack of the right kind of attachment.[780]

 

The Achilles heel of Attachment Theory is that it may inadvertently leaves us stuck in the very emotional fusion, reactivity and unresolved attachment that will push us into cutoff.  Many Marriage Retreat models are emotionally-fused hothouses that lack self-differentiation and personal boundaries.[781]

Cutoff does nothing to solve our unresolved emotional attachments.  It only makes the intensity of the attachment grow temporarily dormant.[782]  As Richardson notes, “the unresolved emotional attachments in our family of origin, maintained by emotional cutoff, transmit to new adult relationships.”[783]  The antidote to unresolved emotional cutoff, says Richardson, is in developing a more objective sense of reality, refocusing our expectations, and reducing fusion.[784]

 

5) THEOLOGICAL  AND BIBLICAL INTEGRATION OF MARRIAGE STRENGTHENING WITH FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY

 

Many Christian approaches to family and marriage, according to Anderson and Guernsey, have either been uncritically rejecting or uncritically accepting psychological and sociological insights without doing serious theological and biblical reflection.[785]  Much of the emphasis in contemporary culture on the conjugal or nuclear family rather than extended kin is a more recent reaction to the impact of a high-tech culture requiring mobility and leaving extended kin to find employment.[786]  In developing a social theology of the family and marriage, Anderson and Guernsey advocate a systemic and ecological rather than an individualistic, linear orientation.[787]  Hyper individualism is the antithesis and the acid rain of covenant love.[788]  Thinking systems integrates well with systematic thinking about theology and faith.[789]  Thoughtful theology is foundational to strengthening marriages.[790]

As both a necessary social reality, as well as a theological truth, being connected means being human and being human means being part of a family.[791]  Anderson and Guernsey affirm that

it is God’s Word of creation that upholds the basic humanity of family and it is God’s work of covenant love that outlines the contours of family as the form of humanity that reflects his own image and likeness.[792]

Anderson and Guernsey define family as a divinely created system of human existence in community.[793] Understood theologically, marriage stands as the concrete foundation of family rather than just a conceptual component. [794]  The quintessential order for the family, says Anderson and Guernsey, is not rooted within the natural order nor in the freedom of the individual but in the creative Word of God and its purpose as expressed through the order of creation.[795]  The telos or ultimate goal of family and marriage is not found inherently in itself but rather incarnationally through the Word of God.[796]  Marriage is never only about itself but rather is about a marital vocation, mission and calling to love the other, be it the wider family, the church family, the community, or the creation.[797]  From the initial Genesis creation account, we learn about our being made in God’s likeness and image, both “personal and communal in nature”.[798]  Our marital vocation, being rooted in the imago dei, is inherently relational and covenantal.[799]

a) Covenant-making God

Keller comments that at the heart of the biblical idea of marriage is the covenant.[800]  Strengthening marriages, particularly through Family of origin work, involves the impartation of covenantal narratives and values.[801]  At the heart of covenant love is right relationship.[802] Marital covenant love is rooted in the Trinitarian love of the Father, Son and Spirit before the creation of the world.[803]  We love because the Triune God first loved us.[804]

Because the triune God is family, the church lives out the Trinitarian community as family, and offers the gift of family to a lost and hurting world.[805]  The doctrine of the Trinity gives us fresh insight into our distinctness and interdependence in church, family, and marriage.[806]  Marriage as a differentiated unity is meant to reflect the loving differentiated unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.[807]  Balswick define differentiation as developing and defining a secure self, validated in Christ.[808]  Being validated in Christ reduces an overfocus on the spousal validation.[809]  Differentiated in Christ is about being centered in Christ and his differentiation.[810]  The Trinitarian perichoresis is a dynamic dance of particularity and relatedness without absorption.[811]  Similarly the marriage covenant rooted in the imago dei is about unity without absorption.[812]  Covenant love not only accepts our unique marital and family differences but actually celebrates them as strengths.  The central task of God’s family is to be a reconciled and reconciling community grounded in God’s new creation.[813]  Through the Spirit of Adoption, we become brothers and sisters grafted into God’s family.[814]  Newness is at the heart of God’s new family: new worth, new parity, and new belonging.[815]  The Church as God’s new family is called to share in the renewal and recreation of marriage and family.[816]  The many theological images of Church, including the Body of Christ, integrate well with the systemic, corporate nature of family systems theory.[817]  No one is meant to live in isolation.  We all need the household of faith for the sanctification and strengthening of marriage, family, and singleness.[818]

 

Balswick notes that

The church is a place where a couple’s differentiated faith is nourished and preserved.  It supports the making and keeping of our vows to our spouse and family.[819]

 

In honouring our family’s histories without needing to change or manipulate them, we are honouring God.[820]  Spiritual formation in marriage, family and church is about the competence to love.[821]  Through faith, prayer, and the Holy Spirit, says Richardson, Bowen theory gives us the ability to grow in our marriages and relationships.[822]  Anderson and Guernsey write that

…the original order of the family is grounded in the new family of God and…the moral authority that upholds the order of the family as a social institution is grounded in the spiritual authority of love as expressed through Jesus Christ and as experienced in Christian community.[823]

Jesus’ relational understanding of the Shema integrated the love of God with the love of neighbour and self in a way that is foundational for all healthy families and marriages.[824]  Frost holds that conceptualizing how patterns of relationships determine the functioning of individuals fits well within the religious heritage of Christians and Jews.[825]  Unselfish love is not an instinctive rejection of self but rather a thoughtful differentiated “being on the side of the other doing well.”[826]  While marriage is more than love, says Anderson and Guernsey, it involves the mutual recognition, choice, and commitment of two people in covenant partnership.[827]  A theology of marriage, says Bromiley, consists of the relating of marriage to God, or of God to marriage, as he himself instructs us through the biblical texts.[828]  Because God invented and ordained marriage, it is wisdom to study the bible for God’s understanding of the marriage covenant.[829]  As an Anglican priest/presbyter, I value the great theological riches in the Book of Common Prayer marriage liturgy which speaks of the marriage covenant as “an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency”.[830]  One of the unintended consequences of the Protestant reformation can be a rationalistic deconstruction of the sacramental covenant of marriage.[831]

In the marriage covenant, the sexual unity of male and female is integrated into total humanity.[832]  The essence of marriage, says Wilson, –the content, the bond, and the relationship which results – is covenant.[833]  Covenantal boundaries bring greater sexual freedom, vulnerability, and security.[834]  Marriage for both Jews and Christians is rooted theologically in the covenantal  cleaving and leaving of the first marriage in Genesis 2.[835]  By quoting Genesis 2: 24 in Matthew 19:5, Jesus  reaffirms that marriage is inherently covenantal.[836]  Whatever the words of Genesis mean, that ‘the two shall become one,’ says Richardson, it does not mean obliteration of the personalities of the two people in relationship.[837]

Family and marriage are both covenantal in nature, based on the covenant partnership that God has with Israel and Christ with the Church.[838]  The rabbis, said Wilson, regarded the Jewish marriage service as reflecting the main features of God’s covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai.[839]  Everything that God has done, is doing, and will do through our biblical heritage comes out of his covenants.[840]   Covenant theology is about God’s unilateral action in which God calls forth a response from people and nations.[841]  God’s covenantal action on the cross was above all unilateral.[842]  Covenant is expressed by the ‘and’ in the phrases ‘God and people’, or ‘man and woman’.[843]  James Torrance holds that covenant contrasts with the concept of contract which is mutual, bilateral and no longer binding if broken.[844]  Anderson and Guernsey hold that marriage is both a social contract and a covenant partnership.[845]  Richardson observes that historically three general types of marital contracts have existed over the centuries: the family contract, the religious contract and the companionate contract. [846]

God as covenant maker remains faithful to his covenant even when we are not faithful.[847]  Marital cutoff is a breaking of covenant, breaking of faith.[848]  Malachi vividly comments:

Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?…It is the Lord who is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth because you have broken faith with her, even though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.  Has not the Lord made them one?  In flesh and spirit they are his…So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.[849]

At the heart of the concept of covenant is unconditional commitment.[850]  Even with God’s unconditional covenant love, he desires that there would eventually be reciprocality and mutuality.[851]  Any attempts to minimize our fallenness and self-centeredness, even as God’s new creation, distorts the gracious gift of covenant.[852]

Covenant partnership, as an expression of structural commitment, is strong and persevering when facing setbacks, selfishness, and disappointments.[853]  A marital eschatology of hope gives couples the Spirit-filled strength to finish well as they covenantly commit not only to the present moment but more importantly to the unknown future, for better for worse.[854]  To disregard the structure of covenant is to lose the significance of commitment and fidelity, a surrender of one’s own will to the cause of the other.[855]  Covenant love is a key protection against marital despair and abandonment.[856]  Safety grounded in covenant love facilitates marital intimacy.[857]  At the heart of the covenant promise is the intention to commit to the health of the marriage till death do us part.[858] A marital promise-land is rooted in covenant promise.[859]  Adultery and dishonesty are shattering to covenant trust, a trust grounded in the forsaking of all others.[860]

Marital covenant commitment is more than just institutional or merely personal.[861]  Covenant love sacrificially embraces the institutional, personal and relational aspects of marital commitment without collapsing into institutional legalism and personal hedonism.[862]  Fidelity to a covenant partnership brings co-existence in which the “particularity of the other becomes an irrevocable source of one’s own destiny.”[863]  Through balancing marital particularity and relationality, unselfishness replaces selfishness and lack of self.[864]  Covenant love asks what are the best interests of one’s spouse, relationship, and community.[865]  Covenant renewal is at the heart of marriage renewal.[866]  Anderson and Guernsey teach that because covenant is the basis of family, order precedes and overcomes disorder.[867]  Covenant love is about being chosen in our uniqueness rather than out of any sense of equalized sameness.[868]  Covenant love is not that which condemns us to our past, but rather moves us towards our teleological future.[869]  Christian spirituality is inherently covenantal, directional, and teleologically full of hope.[870]  Karl Barth has been instrumental in helping people understand that the covenant is the fundamental order of God’s relation to creation.[871]  The covenant of marriage is “a parable and sign of the link which Yahweh has established between Himself and His people.”[872]  The marriage covenant, for Barth

must not be a rebellious self-emancipation but the offering of the required sacrifice, the realization of the autonomy attained and granted at this cost.  He must not seek his I but his Thou – his ‘help meet.’[873]

Marriage is a covenant of grace, rooted in the conviction that his grace is enough in our weaknesses.[874]  Covenant is grace by its very nature.[875]  Grace and covenantal love are inseparable.[876]  The greater the self-awareness, the greater will be the appreciation and need for God’s redeeming and forgiving grace in our marriages.   We grow most when we realize that we will never outgrow our marital need for God’s grace.[877]  Covenantal renewal in marriage is not about anxiously trying harder and striving in the flesh/old nature but rather faithfully receiving the gift of grace.[878]  The covenant of grace is meant to move us from unforgiving self-centeredness to forgiveness-rooted other-centeredness.

b) The Covenantal Marriage of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3

Both Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 express the Apostle Paul’s profound covenantal theology of marriage.  Paul is showing men a Spirit-filled way to be Christ-like to their wife in a way that is not harsh or enslaving.[879]  Headship and submission can only be understood in light of the mutual surrender of sovereignty in Ephesians 5:21.[880]  The wider passage of Ephesians 5:21-32 is about sacrificing yourself through the power of the Holy Spirit for one’s wife.[881]  We have lost a sense of the sacramental mystery of what it means both to be married and to be Christ’s bridal church.[882]  The covenantal image of the bridegroom and bride in Ephesians 5 is a profound expression of liberating love, not coercive domination.[883]  Empowerment, in light of Ephesians 5 and Philippians 2, is Christlikeness in covenant love in action.  It is a call to Christlike mutual servanthood.  Bishop Michael and Myrtle Baughen note that “Ephesians 5 is God’s instruction to value your wife as you value yourself  — no lesser standard is permitted.”[884]  Alex Elchaninov teaches on Ephesians 5 that

Neither the man nor the woman possesses absolute power over the other partner in marriage.  Coercion exercised over the will of another – even in the name of love – kills love itself…A countless number of unhappy marriages result from precisely this – that each partner considers himself or herself as the owner of the loved one.  This is the cause of nearly all the difficulties of married life. The highest wisdom in married life is shown by giving full freedom to the person you love: for our human marriage is the counterpart of the marriage in heaven between Christ and the Church, where there is absolute freedom.[885]

The context of Paul’s marital teaching in Colossians 3 is vs. 11’s emphasis on the peace or shalom of Christ ruling in our hearts since as members of one body we were called to peace.  This peace/shalom, says Jonathan Wilson, is the telos of God’s creation.[886]  Marital peace is not a dishonest avoidance of conflict but the covenantal living out of our telos/destiny through putting on the new self renewed in the image of its Creator.[887]  The all-too common trauma of marital violence is “acting contrary to the telos of a created identity” and to our new creation identity in Christ.[888]

c) Covenantal Differentiation in Marriage

Richardson suggests that becoming a more differentiated self might be included in our concept of sanctification.[889]  In self-differentiation, we echo Martin Luther’s statement ‘Here I stand’.[890]  Prior to his death in 1990, Bowen was working on his ninth concept he called ‘spirituality’ (Friedman 199, 139)[891]  He called it ‘The Supernatural.’  He did not continue his work, he said, because of the intense emotional reactivity of the profession to it.  Gilbert wonders if he left that developmental work for others of this and future generations.[892]

Differentiation helps us discover the divine image in others.[893]  Nichols comments that throughout the twentieth century, psychotherapists tried to keep religion out of the counseling session.  As a result, they never asked people about meaning and spirituality.[894]  Some of a family’s most powerful organizing beliefs have to do with how they find meaning in their lives and their ideas about a higher power.  The clearer our life principles, the more we can live out our Christian faith in a differentiated way.[895]  The responsible self is the faithful self, full of faith and alignment with one’s core values.[896]  By patterning our lives after Jesus as Bowen recommended for Christians, we are modeling our lives on that of a very highly self-differentiated individual.[897]  Christ-centeredness and Christ-likeness is at the heart of the Christian covenant of marriage.[898]  Jesus Christ, says Richardson, is the exemplar of wisdom.[899]  The way of marital wisdom involves the ability to think for oneself, rather than anxiously collapse into reactive groupthink.[900]  Differentiation is expressed when we choose to be in or for the world, but not of the world.[901]  Christ-centered differentiation involves fearless rejection of idolatry, especially relational idolatry.[902]

Differentiated people can be incarnationally integrated, bringing together theological, biblical and family systems wisdom.[903]  The incarnation, says Balswick, is the supreme act of God’s grace to humanity, the basis of forgiveness and love.[904]  Spiritual formation in marriage is not meant to be imposed externally but rather embodied or incarnated contextually in our cultural setting.[905]  Richardson incarnationally says that:

as a pastoral counselor I regard myself, conceptually, as living on a bridge that connects two countries.  At one end of the bridge is the land of science and the concepts it uses.  At the other end is the land of theology and its understanding of the purpose of human beings. They each have their own language and frame of reference, but both refer to the same human phenomenon.[906]

Sharing good news is best done incarnationally in the light of 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be ready to give an answer to those who ask you for the reason for the hope with you, but do it with gentleness and respect.”  Family Systems theory epitomizes the gentleness and respect that may lead to people choosing to ask us about the hope within.

 

6)      RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM THE STRENGTHENING MARRIAGE WORKSHOP

My objective was to do ethnographic, qualitative research, rather than quantitative research.[907]   The method was phenomenological in the sense that I was aiming to ascertain the experienced ‘truths’ and meaning-making of the five married couples. [908]

 

 

 

6a) Challenges

Finding five married North Shore couples who had been previously divorced, separated or widowed was the greatest challenge. One of the obstacles was busyness. Another issue was privacy and insecurity, where some married couples seem reluctant to talk about their marriage or attend a workshop.  My assuring them of anonymity and that no one would be expected to publicly talk during the workshop was helpful in getting consent.  Part of the anonymity was that I randomly selected new first and last names for each of the five couples from the North Shore phone book: 1) John and Julie Jones 2) Burt and Bev Buchanan 3) Sean and Susan Sutherland 4) Richard and  Rose Reid and 5) Lloyd and Linda Lindsay.

6b) Data Collection Experience

The method of data collection involved a pre-interview before the workshop and an identical post-interview after the workshop was concluded.  Only the seventh question directly related to the workshop was new.

As part of the data analysis, the comparative responses of the couples were assessed regarding meaningful patterns of similarity and difference.

Of the five couples, two of the people were in their thirties, three in their forties, four in their fifties, and one in their sixties.  With none in their twenties or seventy and above, the people in the workshop were primarily GenX or Babyboomers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen couples originally inquired but either did not qualify or did not choose to participate.  There was at least one couple in their twenties wanting to take the workshop, but they had not been previously divorced, separated or widowed.

There was a great variation in the length of marriage for the five couples, ranging from seven months to twenty-six years.  All the five couples had been previously divorced.  None were previously widowed. Two couples had been separated from each other but reunited.   Only one of the couples had both been divorced before marrying their current spouse.  Three of the five couples (60%) had one spouse never previously married and the other spouse previously divorced.  One of the five couples had been divorced once and married three times to each other.

The number of children in these five marriages ranged from zero to six.  Three of the marriages were blended families with children from previous marriages or relationships.    Children were still living at home in two of the five marriages (40%).   Three of the five couples (60%) did not currently attend church, though one of the non-attending couples self-identified as Roman Catholic, and another of the non-attending couples were still members of a congregation.

 

With all five couples, they either attended church together or did not go at all, which suggested religious/non-religious emotional fusion.  Seven of the participants (70%) lived in North Vancouver and three (30%) lived in West Vancouver.

 

 

 

 

One couple had two residences, with one spouse primarily in West Vancouver and the other in North Vancouver.  Both West Vancouver and North Vancouver are expensive in terms of purchasing accommodation, though West Vancouver is more expensive, requiring a higher income level.  Two of the five couples (40%) were home owners.  All five couples wanted to stay on the North Shore for the rest of their lives, though two couples were uncertain because of job possibilities and in the second case, family who live elsewhere.

All five couples, in doing the genogram exercise, showed significant emotional cutoff, distance and conflict in both their families of origin and their previous marriages.

6c) Likert Scale and Pie Chart Portrayal of Measurable Change

Using a four-point Likert Scale (poor  =1, average = 2, good = 3, very good = 4) as to how the workshop was for them, one person (10%) said that it was average, six people (60%) said that it was good, and three people (30%) said that the workshop was very good.  On this Likert Scale, the Strengthening Marriage Workshop was rated as a 3.4 .

 

 

Question 1a) What attracted you to your spouse?

Categories: faith (23.2%), character (23.2%), chemistry  (38.4%), things in common (15.2%).

Question 1b) What keeps your marriage alive?

Categories: Time Together (33%), Spirituality (17%), Family (6%), Determination (22%),  Romance (11%), Fun  (11%)

 

 

Question 2)  What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?

Categories: Common Goals (26.6%), Appreciation (31.6%), Creativity (5%), History  (9%), Communication  (5%),  Space  (9%), Spirituality  (13.8%)

 

 

 

Question 3: What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?

Categories: Crisis (50%), Decision (25%), Spirituality (6%), Acceptance (13%), Discovery (6%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 4: How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?  What are ways to grow in that area?”

Categories: Spirituality (16%), Openness to change (19%), Differentiation (10%), Scientist   (13%),  Self-awareness  (29%), Being Present  (10%), Respect (3%)

Question 5a:  What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?

 

 

Categories:  Avoidance (26.4%), Anger (31.4%), Violence (16.2%), Victim (5%), Substance Abuse (11%), Bitterness (5%), Denial (5%)

 

 

 

 

Question 5b: How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?

Categories: Compromise (5%), Learning (14%), Scientist (10%), Self-control (14%) Differentiation (33%), Spirituality (10%), Fighting/Rescuing/Expressing Feelings (14%)

Question 6:  What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?

 

 

Categories: Intimacy (14%), Family (10%), Making Time (14%), Spirituality (19%), (24%), Managing Conflict (14%), Prosperity (5%)

 

 

 

 

 

Question 7a)  How was the workshop for you?

 

Categories:  Good (11.7%), Very Good  (10%), too theoretical (5%), informative (23.6%), enjoyable  (12%), Valued Co-Leadership  (20.7%), Accessible  (7%), Sharing (10%)

 

Question  7b)  How has the workshop strengthened your marriage?

Categories:  Fresh thoughts (44%), Systems Awareness (7%), Family of Origin (4%), Differentiation (11%), Conflict Management (19%), Intimacy (4%), Determination (11%)

Question 7c)  How could the workshop be strengthened?

Categories: More Sessions (42%), more sharing (21%), more summarizing   (25%),  vegetables  (4%), another space  (4%),  pursuing/overfunctioning (4%)

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-interview/Post-interview Statistical Comparisons

 

6d) Bar Graph Comparison of Pre-test and Post-test Data

 

1a) What attracted you to your spouse?

Pre-interview Statistics: God-focus 10%, personality 31%, looks/attraction 24%, openness 17%, recreation 14%, ethnicity 3%

Post-interview Statistics:

Same: God-focus 20%, personality 8%, looks/attraction 12%, openness 8%

New:  Faith 12%,   character 12%, chemistry 20%, things in common 8%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1b) What keeps your marriage alive?

Pre-interview statistics: Prayer 3%, being themselves 6%, child-rearing 9%, commitment 9%, things in common 27.3%, humour 12.1%, uniqueness 9%, talented 6%, giving 6%, perceptive 3%, adventure 9%

Post-interview statistics:

Same: none

New: Time together 33%, spirituality 17%, family 6%, determination 22%, romance 11%, fun 11%

 

 

 

 

 

2) What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?

Pre-interview statistics: Compatible 30.3%, being themselves 3%, devotion 6%, thick skin 9%, finances 9%, integrity 9%, hope 6%, family and friend 6%, sharing their faith 12.1%, future commitment 9%

Post-interview statistics:

Same:  Compatible 14%, Devotion 7%

New: Common Goals  21%, appreciation 25%, creativity 4%, history 7%, communication  4%, space 7%, spirituality  11%

 

 

 

 

 

3) What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?

Pre-interview statistics: Couple ministry 7%, vulnerable 7%, change in career, family or location 27%, conflict 27%, separation 33%

Post-interview statistics:

Same: Vulnerable 5%, change in Career, family or vocation 5%, conflict 5%

New: Crisis 42%, decision 21%, spirituality 5%, acceptance 11%, discovery 5%

 

 

 

 

 

4) How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?

Pre-interview statistics: Learning 19%, survival 38%, resolution 38%, 6% honesty

Post-interview statistics:

Same:  Resolution 6%

New: Spirituality 15%, openness to change 18%, scientist 12%, self-awareness 27%, differentiation 9%, being present 9%, respect 3%                                                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

5a) What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?

Pre-interview statistics: Stoic 5.9%, distance 47%, emotional 35.2%, clashing 5.9%, taking sides 6%

Post-interview statistics:

Same: Stoic 4%, distance 4%,  emotional  4%

New: Avoidance 19%, anger 22%, violence 11%, victim 4%, substance abuse 7%, bitterness 11%, being present 11%, respect 4%

 

 

 

 

5b) How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?

Pre-interview statistics: Perseverance 33%, staying engaged 56%, God-dependence 11%

Post-interview statistics

Same: Staying Engaged 4%, God 4%

New:  Compromise 4%, learning 13%, scientist 9%, self-control 13%, differentiation 30%, spirituality 9%, fighting/rescuing/expressing feelings 13%

 

 

 

 

6) What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?

Pre-interview statistics: Future hope 38.9%, growth 22.2%, projects 11.1%, mutuality 22.2%, Jesus’ return 5.6%

Post-interview statistics:

Same: Future Hope 4%, Mutuality 8%, Jesus’ return 4%

New: Intimacy 12%, family 8%, making time 12%, spirituality 16%, learning 20%, managing conflict 12%, prosperity 4%

 

 

 

 

7)      CONCLUSION

The research question was “In what ways might a four-session workshop on marital conflict strengthen participants’ marriages?”  A limitation of the research was in the size of the sample.   While twenty North Shore couples applied, only five couples qualified, given the focused criteria that they needed to be currently married while previously divorced, separated or widowed.

The data obtained from the post-interviews with the five couples show a number of ways that the marriages were strengthened by participating in the Marriage workshop.  The largest number of participants indicated that the workshop strengthened their marriage through ‘fresh thoughts’.[909]  This ties in well with the Family Systems Theory emphasis on activating clear original thinking as a way of strengthening marriages.  The second largest number of participants indicated that the workshop strengthened their marriage through conflict management.[910]  This connects with the Family Systems Theory teaching that marriages are strengthened as we thoughtfully embrace our conflicts rather than avoid them.  Other research data indicated the benefits of learning about key Family Systems Theory concepts such as Family of Origin and differentiation.

In contrast with the pre-interview focus on compatibility[911], common goals[912] and appreciation[913] were identified by the post-interview couples as key marital strengths.  These tie in with the Family Systems Theory emphasis taught in the workshop on strengthening marriages through vision, values and common goals, as well as by celebrating strengths and differences.  Compatibility by itself may reflect rigid marital homeostasis.

In contrast with the pre-interview emphasis on separation[914], conflict[915] and change in career/family/location[916], the couples in the post-interviews named times of crisis[917] and decision[918] as their most important turning points/times of changes.  This corresponds with the Family Systems Theory emphasis taught in the workshop on strengthening marriages through facing conflictual crises and by making self-differentiated action-based choices.

While the pre-interviews emphasized survival[919] and resolution[920], the post-interviews highlighted self-awareness[921], scientist[922], and differentiation[923] as ways to grow with marital conflict and change.  Cumulatively these three categories represent 52% of the respondents.   Openness to change was also seen as significant.[924]  This corresponds with the Family Systems Theory emphasis taught in the workshop on strengthening marriages through increasing objective differentiated awareness and through openness to change rather than survival-focused homeostasis.

In contrast to the pre-interview emphasis on distance[925] and being emotional[926], the post-interviews identified anger[927] and avoidance[928] as their family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain.  Cumulatively anger and avoidance represent a dominant 57.8% response. The third strongest response was violence.[929]  From a Family Systems Theory perspective, the post-interview responses about their family of origin’s pattern indicated significant intergenerational levels of emotional fusion, unresolved emotional attachment, and undifferentiation.[930]

While the pre-interviews emphasized best avoiding maritally cutting off emotionally through staying engaged[931] and perseverance[932], the post-interviews focused on the concepts of differentiation[933] and scientist[934], bringing a cumulative 43% response. This connects with the Family Systems Theory emphasis taught in the workshop on reducing marital emotional cutoff through increasing scientifically objective differentiation.

In contrast to the pre-interview emphasis on future hope[935], the post-interviews named learning[936] and spirituality[937] as what excited them most about their marital future.  Intimacy, making time, and managing conflict were all tied at 14%.  Some Family Systems Theory leaders suggest that greater spirituality comes through making time to learn about ourselves and through learning to increase intimacy by healthy conflict.  Some of the pre-interview ‘future hope’ emphasis seemed to be connected into seeing the Strengthening Marriage workshop as an IP+ or even a quick fix.

The couples in the Marriage Workshop clearly indicated in their post-interviews that their marriages were strengthened by their workshop learnings.   I was particularly encouraged by their stated workshop growth in the area of self-differentiation, marital learning, and facing conflict. This indicates that such Strengthening Marriage Workshops have significant potential to reduce emotional cutoff, strengthening not only first marriages but also second marriages.[938]

My hope is to use the Strengthening Marriage manual and transcripts in strengthening marriages on the North Shore and beyond in training other people to use these materials.  While the North Shore is the unique context in which I conducted my research, the findings are applicable to other settings in Canada, North America and around the world.  Both church-attenders and non-attenders found this material applicable and helpful in their marriages.  Those who would benefit from using the Strengthening Marriage manual and workshop would include those preparing for a first-time marriage, those who have been previously divorced, separated or widowed, and those who wish to strengthen their existing marriage.  In this age of accelerated marital cutoff, family and biblical wisdom are more needed than ever.  Marriages, as expressions of God’s covenant love, are indeed worth fighting for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gilbert, Roberta, Extraordinary Relationships: a new way of thinking about human interactions (Chronimed Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, 1992)

Gilbert, Roberta, The Cornerstone Concept: in Leadership, in Life (Leading Systems Press, Virginia, 2008)

Gilbert, Roberta M, The Eight Concepts of Bowen Journey: a new way of thinking about the individual and the group (Leading Systems Press, Virginia, 2004, 2006)

Harley, William Jr., His Needs, Her Needs (Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1986)

Hendrix, Harville, Getting the Love You Want: a guide for couples (Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1988)

Hunt, Richard and Joan, Awaken Your Power to Love (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1994)

Hyde, Kenneth, “Secrecy Exposed: the effects of secrecy upon family systems”, “Christian Understanding of the Family”, Professor Paddy Ducklow, App 532, December 1995

Imber-Black, Evan “Secrets and families and family therapy: an overview”, from Secrets in families and family therapy, New York Norton 1993

Jacobsen, Neil S. and Gurnman, Alan S., Editors, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, (The Guilford Press, New York, NY, 1995)

James, Muriel, Marriage is for Loving (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Massachusetts, 1979)

Jones, Susan L, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches (Robert Brady Co., 1980)

Karpel, Mark A, “Family secrets: conceptual and ethical issues in the relational context”,  from Family Process 1980 (19) 295 to 306

Keller, Tim with Kathy, The Meaning of Marriage (Dutton: Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2012)

Kerr, Michael E, “Family Systems Theory and Therapy, in Handbook of family therapy, Gurman and Kniskern, editors, chapter 7

Kerr, Michael  E, and Bowen, Murray, MD, Family Evaluation: an approach based on Bowen Theory, the Family Center, Georgetown University Hospital (WW Norton & Company, New York, London, Penguin Books Canada, 1988)

Kerr, Michael E, “Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self”, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988

Leach, William H., Editor, The Cokesbury Marriage Manual (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1939, 1961)

Lederer, William J., Creating a good Relationship (WW Norton & Company, New York, NY, 1981, 1984)

Lee, Nicky and Sila, The Marriage Course: How to Build a Lasting Relationship, Leader’s Guide and Manual, (HTB Publications, London, England, 2000)

Levy, Terry M “Practical Issues and Applications in Family Therapy”, From Innovations in Clinical Practice: a Source Book

Mace, David and Vera, We Can Have Better Marriages if we really want them (Abingdon, Nashville, 1974, 1978)

MacLean, Paul D., A Triune Concept of the Brain and Behaviour (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, 1973)

Martin, Christopher Scott, Getting the Picture: composing a family portrait through Cognitive-behavioral and Family Systems Therapy, DMin Thesis, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Feb 27th 2004

McManus, Michael J., Marriage Savers: Helping Your Friends and Family Stay Married (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1993)

McRae, William, Making a Good Thing Better: a Marriage Enrichment Program for Small Groups and Couples (Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1985)

Miller, R.B.,  Anderson, S., Keala, D., “Is Bowen Theory Valid? A Review OF Basic Research”, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, October 2004,Vol. 30, No. 4,453-466, Brigham Young University, University of Georgia, University of Haivaii

Minirith, F. and M., Newman, B. and D., Hemfelt, R. and S., Passages of Marriage (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991)

Morgan, Dennis D., Levandowski, Dale H, and Rogers, Martha L, “The Apostle Paul: problem formation and problem resolution from a Systems perspective”, Journal of Psychology and Theology, Summer 1981, 9(2), 136-143

Nichols, Michael P, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods (Pearson Education, Inc., 2008)

Otto, Herbert A., Marriage and Family Enrichment: new perspectives and programs, (Abingdon, Nashville, 1976)

Paolino Jr, Thomas J and McCrady, Barbara S, Editors, Marriage and Family Therapy: Psychoanalytic, Behavioral and Systems Theory Perspectives (Brunner/Mazel Publishers, New York, 1978)

Papero, Daniel V, Bowen Family Systems Theory (A Pearson Education Company, Massachusetts, 1990)

Peleg, Ora and Yitzhak, Meital, Differentiation of Self and Separation Anxiety: Is There a Similarity Between Spouses? (Contemporary Family Therapy (2011) 33:25–36)

Plummer, Marjorie, From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife (Ashgate Publishing Company, Burlington, Vermont, 2012)

Richardson, Ron, Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family, (Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 2005)

Richardson, Ron, Becoming Your Best: A Self-Help Guide for Thinking People (Augsburg Books, Minneapolis, MN, 2008)

Richardson, Ron, Couples in Conflict: A Family Systems Approach to Marriage Counselling (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2010)

Richardson, Ron, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational life (Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 1996)

Richardson, Ron, Family Ties that Bind (Self-Counsel Press, North Vancouver, BC, 1984, 1995)

Richardson, Ron Polarization and the Healthier Church: Applying Bowen Family Theory to Conflict and Change in Society and Congregational Life (Create Space, Amazon, 2012)

Rodriguez, Victor,  Bowen’s Family Systems Theory Applied to Intimacy Needs in a Marriage Enrichment Program for Clergy, DMin Thesis 2,000, Denver Seminary.

Russell, Daniel Charles, A Family Systems understanding of Transition: leadership succession in a faith-based organization, Doctor of Ministry project May 2009, Carey Theological College

Satir, Virginia, “Problems and Pitfalls in working with families- an interview”, Chapter 6

Schnarch, David, Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1997, 2009)

Steinke, Peter, A Door Set Open: Grounding Change In Mission And Hope (Alban Institute, 2010)

Steinke, Peter, Circle of Care (sound recording), Vol.XX, no. 2, The College of Chaplains, Feb 1993

Steinke, Peter, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What (Alban Institute, 2006)

Steinke, Peter, Preaching the Theology of the Cross, Director for Lutheran Social Service, Dallas Texas, (Augsburg Publishing House, MN, 1983)

Stevens, R Paul, and Collins, Phil, The Equipping pastor, 1993, Alban Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Stielglitz, Gil, Marital Intelligence (BMH Books, Winona Lake, IN, 2010)

Tournier, Paul, To Understand Each Other (John Knox Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1962, 1972)

Van Yperen, Jim, Making Peace: a guide to overcoming church conflict (Moody publisher, Chicago Illinois, 2002)

Vogel, Ezra F. and Bell, Norman W., “The Emotionally Disturbed Child as the Family Scapegoat”, from A Modern Introduction to the Family, The Free Press, Macmillan Company, 1968

Wagner, James, Appl 532: “Family Systems Approach to Alcoholism”, January 1995, Christian Understanding of the Family, Paddy Ducklow

Wallerstein, Judith and Blakeslee, Sandra . The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts. (Houghton Mifflin, Boston MA, 1995)

Wilson, Marvin R., Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989)

 

APPENDICES

 

i) Letter of informed consent

ii) Newspaper advertisement for the workshop

iii) Poster for the workshop

iv) North Shore Outlook article on the workshop

v) Interview questions

vi) Strengthening Marriage Manual

vii) Transcript of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop

viii) Interview with Dr. Randy Frost about Dr Murray Bowen

ix) Analysis of the Interviews with the Strengthening Marriage Workshop Couples

x)  New Features in the Post-interview research data

xi) Glossary of Terms used in Family Systems Theory

 

i)  “INFORMED CONSENT”

“Strengthening Marriages: beyond emotional cutoff”

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your participation in the before-and-after interviews and the related 4-session “Strengthening Marriages: beyond emotional cutoff” workshop.   This process is part of my Doctor of Ministry Thesis Project at Carey Theological College.  The workshop will be held on Wednesday evenings 7pm to 9:30pm (May 16th, 23rd, May 30th and June 6th).  The location of the workshop is Cedarbook Village Clubhouse (555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, just north off the #1 Westview exit)

Thank you.

Ed Hird  ed_hird@telus.net

604-929-5350

 

Confidentiality:

Every effort will be made to preserve your confidentiality.  Participants involved in the interviews and workshop will not be identified and their anonymity will be maintained.

Costs to Subject, and Compensation:

There are no costs to you or monetary compensation for your participation in the interviews and workshop.

Consent:

By signing this consent form, I confirm that I have read and understood the information and have had the opportunity to ask questions. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time.  I understand that I will be given a copy of this consent form. I voluntarily agree to take part in the interviews and workshop.

Signature ______________________________________

Date ___________________

 

ii) Newspaper Advertisement

“North Shore couples who have been separated, divorced or widowed are invited to attend a complimentary 4-session “Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff” workshop on Wednesday Evenings May 16th, 23rd, 30th, and June 6th  from 7pm to 9:30pm at Cedarbook Village Clubhouse (555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, just north off the #1 Westview exit)*   To register, please phone 604-929-5350 or ed_hird@telus.net

*map: http://bit.ly/GDwGoR

iii) Strengthening Marriage Poster

https://edhird.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/strengthening-marriage-workshop/

Strengthening Marriage workshop: Beyond Emotional Cutoff

Strengthening Marriage:

– a complimentary workshop spread over four sessions with married couples who have been separated, divorced or widowed, and either live or have lived on the North Shore.
-This Strengthening Marriage Workshop is part of a Doctor of Ministry Thesis Project, supervised by Dr. Paddy Ducklow of Carey Theological College. The workshop will be held on Wednesday evenings 7pm to 9:30pm  (May 16th, 23rd, 30th, and June 6th    ). The location of the workshop is Cedarbrook Village Clubhouse (555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, just north off the #1 Westview exit) . To register, contact Rev Ed and Janice Hird at 604-929-5350 or ed_hird@telus.net  (NO CHARGE)
Course Overview for the four sessions
Session 1: Strengthening Your Marriage through rediscovering your mutual strengths
Session 2: Strengthening Your Marriage through Celebrating Your Differences
Session 3: Strengthening Your Marriage through working on your conflicts
Session 4: Strengthening Your Marriage through balancing closeness and personal space

 

iv) North Shore Outlook Newspaper article on the Strengthening Marriage Workshop

http://www.northshoreoutlook.com/community/149841625.html

The North Shore’s relationship reverend

Rev. Ed Hird contributed an essay on relationships in the recent anthology, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider.

By Justin Beddall – North Shore Outlook
Published: May 02, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: May 03, 2012 2:33 PM

Rev. Ed Hird has stood at the altar to wed more than a hundred love-struck couples over the past three decades. For the bride and groom, it’s a blissful, photo-album moment in time.

Statistically speaking, however, Rev. Hird knows many of the couples will end up losing that loving feeling: 37 per cent of B.C. marriages end in divorce, according Statistics Canada’s 2008 numbers.

And that’s a trend the energetic, sneaker-wearing reverend hopes to reverse.

Later this month Rev. Hird and his wife Janice will be leading a four-session marriage workshop in North Vancouver.

“We’re hoping it will be helpful to strengthen marriages,” says Hird, who is doing the workshop as part of his doctor of ministry thesis project on marriage.

Marriages, he says take work. Lots of it.

“A lot of people put a lot more effort into their golf swing than their marriage. People have the myth that marriage is easy. Why should it be easier than any of the other important things we do?”

And while some naive newlyweds, especially grooms, think that once they’ve made it to the altar they’re done, Rev. Hird cautions that that’s actually just the beginning. He should know, he’s been married for 35 years.  “The marriage relationship is challenging but worth it. I would say to [newlyweds] don’t believe the Hollywood myth that it’s natural, it will just happen. There’s a lot more to healthy relationships than good intentions.”

And like golf or skiing — two of the reverend’s favourite sports — marriage takes practice, patience and dedication. Especially if you end up in a bunker.

Even healthy marriages will have struggles, he says, which is why couples need to have the willingness to work on it.

Rev. Hird’s marriage is no different. Fortunately he married  “an amazing loving wife,” who put up with certain personality traits — self-centered, insensitive, he admits — early on in their marriage, before he had a chance for some self improvement. “It’s all about the relationship,” he says.

His wife Janice says the marriage is “very good because he’s willing to listen and change if he has to.”

Just like Red Green, jokes Hird, referring to the Canadian comedy sitcom.

Through the years, the Hirds have learned to decode each other’s love language. For instance, for Hird’s wife, the language of love involves “acts of service” — something as seemingly unromantic as taking the time to make her a healthy lunch.  “That makes her feel loved.”

But Rev. Hird, on the other hand, prefers affirmations from his significant other — like, say, if she comments on the latest story he’s written. “I’m a words of affirmation person.”

Of course, in today’s 24/7 wired world, it’s harder than ever for couples to share quality time, even when on vacation. Hird says this is particularly true on the North Shore, which has a high concentration of successful professionals who don’t have a lot of energy left for their marriages by the time they get home from work.

“How do you make time for each other?” says Rev. Hird. “[There’s] tremendous pressure on couples these days.”

But that doesn’t mean your marriage needs to be a negative statistic.

“It can work with basically the willingness to actually work on the relationship.”

The Hirds’ free workshops are open to any couples who live or have lived on the North Shore and who have been divorced, separated or widowed. “Unless you get help, the divorce rate increases (in your second marriage),” explains Hird. “If you don’t learn from your experience, you repeat it.”

But his sessions aren’t meant just for those who are encountering a thorny patch in their marriage.

“[The workshops can] make good marriages better. You don’t have to be having challenges to find this helpful,” says Rev. Hird, who is also a prolific author and blogger.

Rev. Hird says the sessions work to help couples rediscover mutual strengths, celebrate their differences, resolve conflict and find a balance between closeness and personal space.

“[We help the couples] rediscover their story. Every marriage has a story,” he says.

Rev. Hird is energized by “passion for helping marriages,” which he’s done a lot of at his church for the past 25 years. In one case, he remarried a couple who had been divorced for six years.

And while Rev. Hird enjoys performing marriage ceremonies, strengthening marriages seems to bring him just as much joy. “It’s worth it.”

To register for the free marriage workshops (May 16, 23, 30 and June 6, from 7-9:30 p.m.) contact the Hirds at  604-929-5350  or ed_hird@telus.net .

 

 

v) Interview questions

 

An Appreciative approach to Strengthening Marriages

 

MESQ (Marriage Emotional System Questionnaire)

Pastor Ed Hird, St. Simon’s North Vancouver

-the MESQ Questionnaire is an appreciative approach to marriages as emotional systems, as seen through the lense of Family Systems Theory. Designed as a strength-based exploration of marriages, the MESQ Questionnaire helps couples to move beyond emotional cutoff.  Through focusing on attraction, turning points[939], handling conflict, emotional cutoff, family patterns, and possibilities for the future, a greater objectivity is enhanced regarding the identity and direction of the marriage emotional system.

 

Two goals: strengthening marriages; discovery of strengths

 

Demographics
o   Name:

o   Age:

o   Gender:

o   Number of Years married:

o   Number of times married:

o   Number of people in your family:

o   Church attender or non-church attender:

o   How long do you anticipate living in this community (i.e. your area or surrounding
areas)?

o   Postal Code:

 

Appreciative Approach

  1. What attracted you to your spouse and what keeps your marriage alive?
  2. What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?
  3. What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?
  4. How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over the years? What are ways to grow in that area?
  5. What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain? How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?
  6. What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage’s future?
  7. (Only in the post-interview) How was the workshop for you? How has the workshop strengthened your marriage? How could the workshop be strengthened?

 

vi) Manual for the Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff Workshop

Contents

  1. The Parameters of the Course

a)      The focus of the course

b)      Those whom the course is for

c)       The organization of the evening sessions

 

  1. Preparing for the Course

a)      Potential leadership

b)      Developing a workshop team

c)       Needed resources

d)      Spreading the word

e)      Course registration

 

  1. Course Overview for the four sessions

Session 1: Strengthening Your Marriage through rediscovering your mutual strengths

Session 2: Strengthening Your Marriage through Celebrating Your Differences

Session 3: Strengthening Your Marriage through working on your conflicts

Session 4: Strengthening Your Marriage through balancing closeness and personal space

Appendices:

-Letter of informed consent

-advertisement for the workshop

-Interview questions

 

  1. The Parameters of the Course

 

a)      The focus of the course

The focus of the Strengthening Marriage workshop is to bring stronger marriages through rediscovering their strengths and helping couples to move beyond emotional cutoff.   Over four evening sessions, couples learn how to bring greater balance in their need for intimacy and personal space.   They learn to celebrate differences as a way of growing closer together.  Engaging marital conflict will become seen as an avenue to personal and marital growth.

The privacy of the couple will be protected.  This is not a group encounter session where people will be expected to share private feelings to a group. The focus of the sharing will be between the couple themselves.

The Strengthening Marriage Workshop can be used in a larger group or in a home setting with a few other couples.  It can also be done in four sessions spread over a weekend marriage retreat.

b)      Those whom the course is for

The Strengthening Marriage Workshop is suitable for any couple who want to strengthen their relationship.  Couples involved will have different lengths of married life from newlyweds to long-term marriages.  The primary intent is to help make good marriages stronger.[940]  The workshop is beneficial for couples who are facing challenges, as well those couples who have experienced separation, divorce or being widowed.

Couples considering marriage who are not yet married will find this workshop helpful in clarifying what kind of relationship they are looking for.  The Strengthening Marriage Workshop is suitable for those either with or without a Christian or church background.

 

c)       The organization of the evening sessions

The workshop takes place over four evenings, preferably on consecutive weeks.  Couples are encouraged to reflect on what they have learned during the week, particularly with the given exercise.

Care needs to be taken to make the setting of the workshop safe and inviting.[941]  The warm welcoming of the couples by the leaders sets the tone for the evening.  Some couples may be ambivalent about being there on the first evening. It would be helpful to have a registration table near the entrance with a list of the couples and name tags.  Refreshments, including coffee, tea, fruit and baked goods, are part of the welcoming atmosphere for the couples.

The setting may be in a wider circle of chairs or with people sitting around tables. It is helpful to have quiet music playing during the exercises done by the couples, so that the couples can hear each other, but not be easily heard by other couples.

The talk will be from 30 to 60 minutes, interspersed with opportunities for the husband and wife to talk with each other, sometimes using an exercise.  These exercises will last between three to ten minutes.[942]

It would be helpful to have a book table on Family Systems Theory material on relationships and marriage, such as those by Peter Steinke, Ron Richardson, and Roberta Gilbert.

 

  1. Preparing for the Course

 

a)      Potential leadership

The Strengthening Marriage Workshop is best led by a married couple who see the value on investing in strengthening marriages.[943]  It would be helpful for the couple to have previously taken this workshop or something similar dealing with marriage and family systems theory.  It would also be useful for the lead couple to familiarize themselves with basic family systems theory represented by popular authors like Ron Richardson, Peter Steinke and Roberta Gilbert.

It is important that the lead couple demonstrate an ongoing commitment to growing in their own marriage and that there are not any current major unresolved issues between the couple that might affect the workshop.  Rather than operating in isolation, it is vital that the lead couple be accountable to another mature couple.  When done through a local church, it is important that there is support from the pastor and elders for this venture.

As this workshop is not a therapy session, the lead couple needs to know where to refer couples for professional counseling if issues arise beyond the scope of the workshop.

b)      Developing a workshop team

Depending on the size of the workshop, it can be valuable to recruit helpers who can assist with various aspects of the workshop.  On subsequent workshops, previous guests may be invited to assist in one or more of the sessions.  This allows couples who have had a positive experience to give back to others in their marital journey, as well as being able to hear a previous talk for a second time.

Possible tasks may include:

-setting up the room

-welcoming guests as they arrive

-preparing and serving the coffee, tea and refreshments

-looking after the music

-sharing their story of growth with the workshop couples

 

It is advisable to meet with the workshop team in advance in order to discuss the four sessions and any potential concerns, to decide who will be speaking or sharing in the various sessions, and to ensure that the workshop team members are comfortable with the material and exercises.  Couples could role-play what they might share in the sessions.  Questions might include: 1) What strengths did you bring into the previous workshop?  2) How did those strengths become more important in your marriage?  3)  In what ways are you better able to celebrate your differences as a married couple?  4)  How has your need for intimacy and space become more balanced as a result to taking part in the workshop?

 

 

c)       Needed resources

–          The Strengthening Marriage Workshop Manual for the leaders

–          Handout material for the couples

–          Audiovisual materials such as The War of the Roses DVD (1989) in which a divorcing couple emotionally cut off while both staying in the house or The Field DVD (1990) in which the wife stopped talking to her husband after the death of the eldest son.  These DVDs could be used to show a five-minute illustration of emotional cutoff.

–          Sample books by Ron Richardson, Peter Steinke and Roberta Gilbert

–          Music

–          Overhead projector, if needed

–          A stand for the speaker’s notes

 

d)      Spreading the word

It is important to emphasize the strength-based nature of the Strengthening Marriage workshop.[944]   Attending this workshop is because couples want to continue to grow, rather than because of their marriage being in crisis.[945]  This workshop offers an opportunity for married couples to go from good to great in their relating with each other.  Through learning these key marriage principles, couples will find benefits in every area of their life, including their childrearing, community and business interactions.  The message in promotion needs to be that the Strengthening Marriage workshop is for anyone who wants to build on the existing strengths in their marriage.[946]  There is a pervasive myth in our culture that marriages should be inherently easy and never need work; therefore it is shameful to attend a marriage workshop.[947]  Married couples from all backgrounds, including those of different faith and non-faith, will find this workshop most practical.

It needs to be emphasized that couples will not be put on the spot and expected to share private information with other couples.[948] Rather the emphasis is on one-to-one interaction with the married couple themselves.  This will not be an encounter group or therapy session.[949]

After the first workshop is concluded, future workshops could be promoted by brief sharing by a couple either in the church or community setting.  Questions might include: 1) What motivated you to take the Strengthening Marriage workshop?  2) What lasting impact did the workshop have on your marriage?

It is helpful to develop a clear plan for recruiting others to the next Strengthening Marriage Workshop.  Give yourselves up to two months to get the word out.  A sample invitation can be given to friends.  Information about an upcoming workshop can be spread through local churches, community groups, Recreation centres, schools, and local media.

Session #1   May 16th 2012

Strengthening Your Marriage through rediscovering your mutual strengths

-focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses empowers marital growth.[950] [951]

-focusing on strengths enhances our marital immune system and reduces our emotional reactivity.[952]

-we have the power to build each other up rather than tear each other down. [953]

-knowing our mutual strengths reduces the anxiety level of our marriage.[954]

-clarity about our marital strengths brings greater clarity about our marital identity.[955]

-focusing on strengths helps our marriages become more adventurous rather than regressively safe.[956]

-couples can move into their preferred marital future by building on what already is working.[957] [958]

-do the following verbal exercise as a couple: a) I feel loved and appreciated when you….  b) I feel joyful when you…[959]

 

Session #2   May 23rd 2012

Strengthening Your Marriage through Celebrating Your Differences

-working on one’s own self is the key to raising the level of differentiation in the marriage.[960] [961]

-objectivity about one’s self and marriage increases marital satisfaction.[962]

-Overcoming a loss of self brings energy and joy to one’s marriage.[963] [964]

-increasing marital thinking strengthens our ability to celebrate our uniqueness.[965]

– daring to be different, taking principled stands with clear goals strengthens marriage.[966]

-the restoration of marital curiosity and imagination brings greater intimacy.[967]

-clearer expectations come through re-engaging our family of origin.[968] [969]

-the high road to marital growth is through a deeper understanding of the family we were raised in.[970]

-Saying no to the blame-game strengthens marriages.[971]

-The use of genograms can help identify triangles that inhibit marital growth.[972]

-a clarifying exercise: write down and then share with your spouse a) why you came to this workshop b) how you would dream of your marriage being in three years.[973] [974]

-exercise: draw an initial genogram of your mutual families of origin.

 

Session #3  May 30th 2012

Strengthening Your Marriage through working on your conflicts

-Marital conflict is an opportunity for breakthrough into deeper intimacy and lasting change.[975] [976]

-Conflict avoidance leads to emotional cutoff.[977]

-Facing our marital conflicts helps us become more mature and builds character.               [978]

-Learning to say no and to set healthy boundaries strengths marital intimacy.[979]

-Marital conflict is best resolved when we say no to quick fixes and take the long-term perspective.[980]

-Conflict embracing in marriage happens most effectively when we give up blaming.[981] [982]

Exercise for the couple: What are some of the best ways to grow in handling conflict?

Note: This session would be an appropriate week to show a five-minute clip from The War of the Roses DVD to illustrate conflict and emotional cutoff in marriage.

 

Session #4   June 6th 2012

Strengthening Your Marriage through balancing closeness and personal space[983]

-our need for closeness competes with our need for personal space.[984] [985]

-our varying desires for closeness and/or personal space usually reflect our family background.[986]

-marital closeness is a choice rather than a pressurized obligation. [987]

-By reducing our emotional fusion, we find greater gender equality with our spouse.[988] [989]

-the avoider can always outrun the pursuer in marriage.[990]

-emotional cutoff only temporarily reduces and then actually increases marital anxiety.[991] [992]

-the overfunctioner can strengthen their marriage by reducing anxious striving, by turning down the emotional thermostat.[993]

-a non-anxious presence is key to strengthening our marriage.[994]

-playfulness helps us balance closeness and personal space in our marriage.[995]

-Exercise for the couple: How does playfulness help you balance closeness and personal space in your marriage?

 

Strengthening Marriage Workshop Appendices:

-Letter of informed consent

-advertisement for the workshop

-Interview questions

“INFORMED CONSENT”

“Strengthening Marriages: beyond emotional cutoff”

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your participation in the before-and-after interviews and the related 4-session “Strengthening Marriages: beyond emotional cutoff” workshop.   [This process is part of my Doctor of Ministry Thesis Project at Carey Theological College.]  The workshop will be held on ( ) evenings ( ) to ( ):  ( ).  The location of the workshop is ( )

Thank you.

(Name)

(Phone)

 

Confidentiality:

Every effort will be made to preserve your confidentiality.  Participants involved in the interviews and workshop will not be identified and their anonymity will be maintained.

Costs to Subject, and Compensation:

There are no costs to you or monetary compensation for your participation in the interviews and workshop.

Consent:

By signing this consent form, I confirm that I have read and understood the information and have had the opportunity to ask questions. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time.  I understand that I will be given a copy of this consent form. I voluntarily agree to take part in the interviews and workshop.

Signature ______________________________________

Date ___________________

 

Advertisement

“( ) couples [who have been separated, divorced or widowed] are invited to attending a complimentary 4-session “Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff” workshop on ( ) Evenings (  ) from ( ) to ( ) at ( )*   To register, please phone ( ) or e-mail ( ).

*map:

 

Interview questions

 

An Appreciative approach to Strengthening Marriages

 

MESQ (Marriage Emotional System Questionnaire)

Pastor Ed Hird, St. Simon’s North Vancouver

-the MESQ Questionnaire is an appreciative approach to marriages as emotional systems, as seen through the lense of Family Systems Theory. Designed as a strength-based exploration of marriages, the MESQ Questionnaire helps couples to move beyond emotional cutoff.  Through focusing on attraction, turning points, handling conflict, emotional cutoff, family patterns, and possibilities for the future, a greater objectivity is enhanced regarding the identity and direction of the marriage emotional system.

 

Two goals: strengthening marriages; discovery of strengths

 

Demographics
o   Name:

o   Age:

o   Gender:

o   Number of Years married:

o   Number of times married:

o   Number of people in your family:

o   Church attender or non-church attender:

o   How long do you anticipate living in this community (i.e. your area or surrounding
areas)?

o   Postal Code:

 

Appreciative Approach

  1. What attracted you to your spouse and what keeps your marriage alive?
  2. What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?
  3. What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?
  4. How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over the years? What are ways to grow in that area?
  5. What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain? How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?
  6. What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage’s future?
  1. (ONLY ASKED IN THE POST-INTERVIEW) How was the workshop for you?  How has the workshop strengthened your marriage? How could the workshop be strengthened?

vii) Transcript of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop

Strengthening Marriage Workshop Session #1 transcript

Wednesday May 16th 2012

Presenters: Ed and Janice Hird

Ed: Welcome to our Strengthening Marriage Workshop.  I’m Ed and this is Janice. We are going to be sharing the workshop together. We have led other marriage workshops before but we have never done this particular expression.  We really appreciate your taking part.

Ed: The basis is what is called Family Systems Theory.  This is something that I have been learning from my professor Dr Paddy Ducklow.  Paddy is both a counselor and also a pastor, which is a very interesting mix.  I sensed a number of years ago that I was supposed to do my doctorate, so I phoned up Paddy and said “Where do you think that I should do a doctorate?”  I was checking out all these colleges.  Paddy said: “I have just been appointed as Professor of Marriage and Family for Carey Theological College, and I am being inducted tonight. Do you want to come?”  So I came that evening.  He gave a wonderful humorous talk on “Marriage for Dummies”.  I enjoyed it so much that I signed up basically that night.

Ed: So there are four sessions: May 16th, 23rd, 30th and June 6th on Wednesdays from 7pm to 9:30pm. The first session is “Strengthening your Marriage through rediscovering your strengths.”  The second session next Wednesday is “Strengthening your Marriage through celebrating your differences”.  The third session is “Strengthening your Marriage through working on your conflicts.”  The fourth session is “Strengthening your Marriage through balancing closeness and personal space.”

Ed: Something that I would like to commend to you are some sample books that you may want to get. (I then pointed to the books on the book table)  There is one person that I found particularly helpful: Dr Roberta Gilbert.  She has written some helpful books, one of which is called Extraordinary Relationships.  Another one is called The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory.  She also wrote a powerful book called The Cornerstone Concept, covering the concept of self-differentiation which we will be talking about next week.  Edwin Friedman, a deceased Jewish Rabbi who was good friends with Dr. Murray Bowen the founder of Family Systems Theory, wrote the book Generation to Generation.  One book that I would encourage all of you to purchase is Dr. Ron Richardson’s book Family Ties that Bind.  It is one of the easiest reading books on Family Systems Theory.  Richardson covers the eight Family Systems Concepts, which we will be looking at throughout the four sessions.  He has written about seven or eight books, and is unusually readable.  In reading most of Richardson’s books, I felt that I needed to meet him before I taught this course. So two weeks ago we went out for coffee.  Richardson was interested in promoted this Strengthening Marriage workshop, which I found most helpful.

Ed: What we will be dealing with tonight are some bullet-points in terms of “Strengthening Your Marriage through Building on your strengths.”  I want to unpack each of the concepts. The first concept is that you focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. This actually empowers marital growth.[996]  If you focus on strengths, it actually reduces anxiety.  When we are having challenges in our marriages, we wouldn’t naturally focus on strengths.  We focus on “What’s wrong with you?”  I’m not OK and I’m not so sure about you.  (TA humour).  Dr Peter Steinke says that the focus on disease, pathology and weakness only cripples its efforts.  We live in a culture where the medical establishment and other groups focus on trying to fix things by focusing on what is wrong.  That only takes you so far.  Steinke emphasizes that “The focus on strengths, options and resources empowers.”  Edwin Friedman, whose last unfinished book was Failure of Nerve, said that there are no quick fixes. I want to tell that for breakthroughs in your marriage, there are no quick fixes.[997]  That may discourage you.  But it would be like going up to Grouse Mountain and deciding that you are going to instantly become an Olympic skier.  It’s fantasy thinking.[998] But you can take lessons, you can grow.  Here is what Friedman said: “The emphasis (in Family Systems) will be on strength, not pathology, on challenge, not comfort; on self-differentiation, not herding for togetherness.”  Every one of you has strengths in your relationships, you know that, don’t you.  (on challenge, not comfort) This approach is not on soothing…now, now everything’s great.  The focus of this workshop is actually to stretch you.  It is not about homeostasis or business as usual. It is about growth and going somewhere you have not gone yet.  That’s the focus of this approach.  It’s on self-differentiation and not on “herding for togetherness”.  Now let me explain what that means.  At the root of the word ‘differentiation’ is the word ‘different’.[999]  We are going to talk about that more next week, but it is okay to be different.[1000]

Ed: Sometimes in our marriages we put a huge amount of energy into not upsetting each other.  That is okay, but if that is where all our energy goes, and all you’re doing is soothing each other, then you are not growing.  This approach is not just about calming down the other person, but how do you grow as a couple and as an individual.  It is actually more about calming yourself than calming your spouse.  This approach is primarily about what happens to you and then secondarily what happens to the ‘we’.  So it is not about “herding for togetherness”.  A lot of couples, it is sort of a survival strategy.  You get as close as possible, to be together, together, together.  But that is not the key to breakthrough in their marriage. This is actually the problem.  People want togetherness, but togetherness is not actually the solution in marriage.  Togetherness is actually the problem.  (chuckles by participants) It is what kind of togetherness.  The togetherness that most people have is what is called emotional fusion; You lose yourself in that togetherness.[1001]  The togetherness that we are looking for in this workshop is a togetherness where you build on your strengths and you become more of yourself and not less of your self.[1002]  A lot of people give up themselves to be together.

Ed: The second point that I wanted to make is about our marital immune system. (Janice was writing their points throughout the workshop on the flipcharts)  If you didn’t have a marital immune system, then what happens to two different bodies that don’t have immune systems if they touch.  They get infected. They get sick.  They sometimes instantly implode.[1003]  So how can two very different people in a marriage get close without imploding?  Focusing on strengths enhances our immune system; it reduces our reactivity.  (You can stop me at any point, if something is too technical and say “this doesn’t make any sense.”)  There is basically reactivity and responsiveness.  Reactivity is basically a primal response when your spouse upsets you, and they push your buttons, and they trigger you.  Reactivity, according to Richardson, is our anxious response to a perceived threat.  When you are feeling attacked, what do we do?  (discussion follows)  It can scare us.  We can get defensive.  We can attack back.  It is not a thinking response; it is a gut-level response.  It is basically an anxiety response.  So by focusing on your strengths, it actually reduces your tendency to be reactive.  Then you become more responsive. Marital responsiveness is the ability to choose how you are going to respond.  So you can even be in an anxious situation in your marriage, but you don’t trigger you so that you have to react.  (Have any of you experienced reactivity and at other times responsiveness? Open discussion followed)

Ed: The third point that I wanted to make is that each one of us have the power to build each other up rather than tear each other down.  We actually have that ability.  Herbert Otto says that “Persons grow best when they are being loved, valued, respected, praised and recognized as persons of worth.”  (Do you find that true in your life?)  There is an excellent book Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton and Liesvfeld where it says that “your talents should be your primary focus!”  You are all talented, you are gifted, you have abilities, and that is how you are going to go from where you are in your marriage to your future. A lot of people try to get into the future of their marriage by basically focusing on their weaknesses.  “This is what is wrong with our marriage…This is wrong…This is not good…We’re not strong here, and we’re going to really improve ourselves.”  But that rarely works.  If you focus primarily on our weaknesses, you are rarely going to get to your future, because your weaknesses tend to make you feel hopeless.  When you lose hope, you lose the future.[1004]  Now that doesn’t mean that you ignore your weaknesses.  There are ways and times to deal with your weaknesses, but basically when we are anxious, we put 80% to 90% of our focus on the weaknesses.

Ed: Reactivity involves our third section of the brain.  We all have three brains.   At the back of your head is what some call the ‘reptilian brain’.[1005]  That’s the source of fight or flight, where we just react.  It’s not a thinking response.[1006]  It’s the kind of thing where you respond to a forest fire or a burglar.  Your cortisol fires.[1007]  The second part, the middle part, is called the mammalian brain.  That’s a little more thinking, a little more responsive.  But the part that does the thinking and the choosing, the neo-cortex, is right in the front of your brain.  The neo-cortex is where you want to live your marriage out.  Most people live their marriage out of their ‘reptilian brain’.[1008]  You have to train yourself, which takes time, to switch from this reactivity to a thinking response.  You train yourself by focusing on strengths, particularly the strengths of your spouse.  That is one of the ways that you shift your brain.  The ‘reptilian brain’ always focuses on weaknesses, threats, reactivity, it will all go to hell in a handbasket, the sky’s falling, there is no future and you might as well give up.  That‘s what that brain does to us. [1009]

Ed: The fourth point that I wanted to mention is that knowing our mutual strengths reduces the anxiety level of our marriages.  The heart of Family Systems Theory is about dealing with anxiety.  Anxiety is emotional pain, which means that anxiety is pain-full.  It is almost like being burnt by fire.  How do we cope with anxiety? How do we handle it? It is the most contagious emotion.  The less that we have processed our family background, the more that we catch the ‘emotional flu’ from each other.   We catch emotional anxiety from each other, and it becomes stuck inside of us.  Have you ever picked up someone’s anxiety? You can receive a phone call, an email, a Facebook, a Skype or anything.  Before you know it, suddenly you have these feelings in your gut. It’s in the back of your neck and it’s very painful.  It may affect your sleep.  It’s very painful, like it’s stuck inside of you. What do you do with it?  (Question: Why do you think that knowing your strengths might reduce the anxiety level in your marriage?)  It reduces anxiety because it is comforting, it builds you up, and it allows you to change the direction of a conversation.  This may not be at all normal for you because we tend to repeat what we learn.  We will be dealing more with this in later sessions. In our family, sarcasm was normal. One day my younger sister said to me, “I have been convicted lately about sarcasm.”  She said “I have decided to stop being sarcastic”.  I was thinking “Good for you”, and then I thought “Me too.”  I realized that it was a family issue, so I decided to swear off sarcasm.  Easier said than done.  This doesn’t mean giving up humour. Humour is part of a healthy marriage.  Ron Richardson says that “we have a comfort with self in both our limitations and our strengths as well as much less anxiety about how others see us.”  You remember when you were a teenager and you were walking through the high school hallway.  What were you feeling sometimes? Self-righteous? Panic?  They’re looking at me, they are staring at me, they can see my pimples, I am too tall, too short, too fat, too thin.  All of us have that inner teenager from time to time.  As we focus on strengths, our anxiety level drops and that is a huge key.  It brings about the non-anxious presence.

Ed: How do we focus on strengths without getting puffed up?  One of the keys in Family systems theory is making yourself small.  This does not mean negating yourself. In many marriages, there are overfunctioners and there are underfunctioners.  Overfunctioners often marry underfunctioners, not always.  Sometimes there are two overfunctioners and two underfunctioners.  Overfunctioners tend to take over the other person’s space.[1010]  They are so helpful that they take the other person out.  The other person will underfunction more.  It is the overfunctioner who can bring breakthrough by making themselves small.  Instead of rescuing and overfunctioning, what they learn to do is match the other person’s energy level rather than pursuing and chasing. This making yourself small is a way of humbling yourself.  So you recognize your strengths but you make yourself small.  With a lot of these concepts, it is a balance issue.

Ed: Dr Peter Steinke says: “anxious people focus on weakness…Focus on strength, not weakness.”  When you are focusing on our spouse’s weaknesses, we are usually feeling anxious. It is a clue.  I am going to pause at this point and ask my wife Janice to share.

Janice: These are strengths which I think Ed is good at.  He is very fast which is good and bad, but mostly good.  He’s great at doing the dishes, at taking garbage out.  He usually says no to requests, but as soon as he says no, he usually comes and does what I ask him to do. So that’s great.  He will help with the meal preparation which is really great. Compared to my sons whom I struggle to get to do things, Ed is really great because he will go ahead and do it.  He is also very smart and very interesting, because he is always growing and learning new things.  I like that.  He’s very loving and kind as well. (Ed: thank you).

Ed: Janice’s strengths are many. As you can see, she is very affirmative.  I’m a words-of-affirmation person.  They wrote that up about in the North Shore Outlook newspaper.  Janice is very gifted musically.  We both love music, and that is a real strength that we love together.  Janice is very loving and caring.  She is also a very good mother. We have three adult sons, and a daughter-in-law now, and our eldest son has a fiancée.  So the family is expanding and Janice is someone who loves to invest in family.  Janice comes from the Prairies. A lot of Prairie people are very family-oriented, and big families too compared to my side of the family. Janice also is very gifted administratively. She was once told that she has the gift of administration, which the person said “It probably sounds boring”. But it’s very true.  Janice works at the Vancouver Coastal Health. She is in charge of vaccines for the North Shore. She came in during the H1N1 crisis.  She helped organize the vaccines for the doctors and nurses in this situation.   So how do we grow together through that? I have a pretty strong leadership gifting and Janice has a strong administrative gifting.  You can imagine that this would make us a good couple to organize a marriage workshop together.  Janice will see the details that I won’t.  I have a gift of promoting, of getting the word out.  Over 200 stores, libraries and Recreation Centres on the North Shore put up the Strengthening Marriage poster.  The North Shore Outlook newspaper did an article.  I feel comfortable in that kind of promotion. Janice made sure that we didn’t forget the details.  Janice put energy into setting the context for tonight’s workshop, remembering exactly what to bring over to the clubhouse and what kind of snacks to have ready.  When I am flexible with Janice’s detailed requests, then it is a win-win. (laughter)[1011]

Ed: So how are our strengths helping us?

Janice: Ed likes to go for walks and exercise.  As you can see, he is the athletic one in the family. But it is good for me because I need to get out there and exercise.  It is good that he encourages me.  Do you know what he does?  They are so impressed at work. He makes me a salad with meat and avocado every day for lunch that I go to work.  They are so impressed at work, and so am I, because otherwise I wouldn’t eat healthy.

Ed: There is a backdrop to this in that I have a kitchen phobia.  As a young male child, I was not allowed in the kitchen.  So I did not know anything about food preparation.  I was good at doing the dishes.  My father loved doing the dishes.  I remember feeling overwhelmed years ago shopping at Safeway because I had never learned how to shop.  Now I feel comfortable.  So for me to push through in making a salad is a big deal. My father learned how to cook when he was age 80.  My mother had open-heart surgery. So she couldn’t cook during that period for some reason.  So my father learned to cook.  He cooked scrambled egg sandwiches.  That was a huge breakthrough after eighty years.   My father could have started a scrambled egg restaurant.  When my mother came home from hospital, guess what he cooked her.  Scrambled egg sandwiches.  So she got well really quickly.  But for me too, to make Janice a lunch was a huge cultural stretch.   Eventually it felt comfortable, and now I am in the groove.  So we can actually move past our weaknesses into our strengths. That was a hidden strength.

Ed: So what we are going to do now is a written and verbal exercise.  I am going to hand this piece of paper out.  Please do this individually in writing and then talk about it as a couple.  We will put on some music to give more privacy.  By the way, there are refreshments here, so just pop over any time.  Janice: I thought that this should be written because I have trouble vocalizing. There is usually one in the marriage who can talk really well and the other doesn’t talk as much. So this gives everyone a fair chance.  a)  I feel loved and appreciated when you….  b) I feel joyful when…

(a refreshment/snack break followed for the couples)

Part B of Session #1

Ed: Janice, did you want to share about what it was like to the two of us to also do that exercise?

Janice: I like it when he goes for walks with me.  That makes me joyful, and that he will share what he is thinking about.

Ed: I also feel appreciated in going for walks, both shorter and longer walks.  You know what I find encouraging when I see and find sad when I don’t, when I see a couple holding hands and walking. You don’t see that a lot.  Do you see that a lot in your neighbourhood?  (comment from a participant: there is a lot of dog walking in our neighbourhood).  Someone said that you can always tell a married couple at a restaurant because they are sitting in silence.  I thought: “Oh, that’s sad.”  One of the dangers in marriages is that we think that we already know all about each other already.  But we are actually continually unfolding.

Ed: Janice is a bit shyer than I am, and so sometimes she won’t tell me things about herself until later.  Because I can be more outgoing, sometimes I will miss some of the treasures that are contained within Janice.  We have been married for almost 35 years, and I am continuing to learn more things about Janice that I missed in the first number of years.

Ed: The next point is that clarity about our marital strengths brings greater clarity about our marital identity.  The book Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton and Liesvfeld says that “We are not expected to be who we are not.  We are expected to be who we are.” That’s the most important thing. Be who you are.  So many people have no sense of identity. They don’t know who they are.  Imagine if we could discover who we are, and then be it.  That could make a huge difference in our marriages: not trying to be someone else.  Remember when you were a teenager, the peer pressure; it is not about being yourself, is it?  It’s about being like everyone else.  With emotional maturity, it becomes okay for you to be you, and okay for your spouse to not be you and instead to be themselves.[1012]  To repeat, “We are not expected to be who we are not. We are expected to be who we are.”  Reggie McNeal in the book Work of Heart said “(Many marriages) do not understand their own developing life story.  They sometimes see individual or significant life events as important, but they often fail to connect the dots of their life experience.  As a result, they miss the learnings that such understanding yields.”  So life is not just isolated events.  There is actually trajectory with it, there is story with it, and that gives identity.  In this trajectory, story, and identity, you can find your strengths.  Often you find your strengths through some of the really painful things.[1013]  Have any of you found a strength in the midst of something really difficult?  To repeat, clarity about our marital strengths brings greater clarity about our marital identity.  What comes to mind when you hear that concept of a marital identity?  (open discussion occurred).

Ed: Family Systems Theory suggests that the more you understand your strengths or who you are (because a big part of who you are is your strengths), the more you can actually get close to your spouse without disintegrating.  The reason it is so hard to get close is that you lose self in the process.  You lose identity the closer you get.  When Janice and I were first married, she said that she sometimes found me overwhelming and I thought that this was a compliment.  She didn’t mean this as a compliment.  (chuckle) Because she is shyer and I am more outgoing, I would tend to overwhelm her and take self from her.  Janice, tell them a bit about our first year of marriage.

Janice: I found it painful.  Everything had to be his way, and I didn’t know how to not get in his way.  So it was his way, but I wasn’t very happy about it.  We were trying to save money to go to Europe, which is a good thing.  I was working and he was going to school.  So even though we were supposed to be sharing the money, I felt resentful that he didn’t want me buying clothes, go out to restaurants because we were saving to go to Europe.  So even though it was good that we were saving to go to Europe, I wasn’t happy about it.  Also because he was studying, we couldn’t have a TV and I had to be quiet in our one-room apartment.  He was pretty rigid and dominant.  (Ed: I think that was true)

Janice: I was really glad that Ed was always reading books so that he could improve the way he related to me, because otherwise it was painful.  He’d go off to conferences and every time he’d go, he’d learn something new.  I really admire this about him because he is willing to grow and willing to change, because we all need to do this.

Ed: My first degree is in Social Work. There is a joke in Social Work that after the first year of Social Work, what will happen is that you will try out the counseling techniques that you have learned on your spouse, and you will come back after the summer divorced and wanting to be a marriage counselor.  I thought that it was a ridiculous joke until people came back the second year of Social Work divorced and wanting to be married counselors.  Fortunately Janice is very forgiving.  (Janice: I said “Stop asking me questions”.) What that taught me is that when you are learning new skills, you often learn them awkwardly and not that well integrated.  That is why I want to encourage you to be gracious to each other when you are learning about family systems theory because these are new skills.  It is a shift, and sometimes you can drive people crazy with new things that you are learning.  You want to be gentle and humble, as someone was saying.  So how did we get that shift?

Janice: You started to listen to me.

Ed: I started to listen. Pardon??  (laughter) That listening piece is huge.[1014]

Janice: Also as Ed jokes about how I learned to forgive him, I used to hold everything…He did this and he did that.  After a while, I realized “Just let it go, because you can get all upset inside, but it doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t make him happy.  So why not just let it go and don’t sweat the small stuff. That is what I have learned to do.  Every day he can irritate me, because I am very picky and detailed, and I irritate him because I am picky and detailed.  So we just have to forgive each other all the time and it works fine.  I can sleep better at night.  When I grew up, we were never really taught to say ‘sorry’.  It was a new skill, and you, Ed, weren’t really either.  (Ed: no). They’d just say it’s okay.”  (Ed: We’d just make excuses or say “no big deal”.  So actually forgiving and apologizing is a big stretch.)

Ed: The next point is that focusing on strengths helps our marriages to become more adventurous rather than regressively safe.  Safety is often the death of marriage.  Homeostasis is the death of marriage.[1015]  We all want security, we want safety, but it often steals joy, it kills adventure, and it actually kills intimacy.[1016] Dr Peter Steinke, in his quoting Dr Murray Bowen the original founder of Family Systems Theory, says that “In such climates (of social regression), the focus shifts toward pathology rather than strength, safety becomes more important than adventure, adaptation is toward the dependent, and empathy becomes more important than responsibility.”  Empathy is a good thing, but it is the kind of empathy that says ‘now now’, never confronting, never stretching, it doesn’t help.  (discussion spontaneously emerged).  Responsibility is not about being over or underresponsible.  Appropriate responsibility is actually about reducing blaming.[1017]  Family Systems Theory is a no-blaming theory.  It’s a challenge but you learn not to blame your spouse and you learn not to blame yourself.[1018]  You learn to understand one of the main concepts: the Family Emotional System, that you are not just individuals, you are a unit.[1019] The more you see yourself as the family unit, the more you realize that there is nothing to blame anyways.   You begin to be an objective observer of the relationship.  You become neutral, you own your piece, but you don’t blame others and you don’t blame yourself.[1020]

Ed: Dr. Paddy Ducklow says “Cultivate in each other the courage to abandon ourselves to the wild ideas and heroic strengths of others.”  (including your spouse).  If we play marriage safe, it dies.  Marriage is actually an adventure, and an adventure based on your strengths.[1021]  Any thoughts about seeing marriage as an adventure?  (an open discussion occurred.  I said several times that no one was obliged to share anything.)  For many people, adventure is not their strongest concept of marriage.  Think of the images that many women traditionally have of weddings: (comments: everything goes well, it’s all on time, everyone looks wonderful, everyone gets along.)  Now think of a lot of traditional male images of weddings (comments: tossing the garter, grooms party) Sometimes male images of weddings are ball and chain, not a symbol of adventure, is it? Or “This is your last night of freedom.”  When you think of some of the male movies about weddings, they are often about “your life is over.”  It is not the idea that you are entering this amazing adventure that will actually free you and liberate you.  How about this image: “you’ve sown your wild oats. It’s time to settle down, and become responsible. You’ve had your fun. Now get on with being an adult.”  That isn’t really adventure talking, is it?  I want to say from a Family Systems Theory that marriage is not meant to be just settling down.  It’s actually meant to be an adventure.  I want you now to talk with your spouse about what way your marriage could be an adventure.

(Refreshment and snack time follows)

Part C of Session #1

Ed: Our final point is that couples can move into their preferred marital future by building on what already is working.  Paddy Ducklow comments that “The core task in the discovery phase is to appreciate the best of what is by focusing on peak moments of (marital) excellence – when people experienced (their marriage) in its most alive and effective state…In the discovery phase, people share stories of exceptional accomplishments, discuss the core life-giving conditions of their (marriage) and deliberate upon the aspects of their history that they most value and want to enhance in the future.”  So how do you get to your future? Through your past.  Not through getting stuck in your past, but by building on what worked.  This gives you a trajectory to build on for your next phase.  Marriage is about risking together.  Many people leave marriages because the risk dies.  Everything’s predictable. Everything’s the same.[1022]  Everything’s about safety, and safety kills.  It’s boring.  It is not really that your spouse is boring but that we have negotiated ourselves into this tiny little version of a marriage.[1023]  Every time we feel anxious, we are tempted to shrink our marriage.  If you keep shrinking your marriage down to feeling safe, it becomes tinier and tinier and tinier.[1024]  Do you remember the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when they poured water on her?  (laughter) If you choose safety for your marriage, that is what you are doing to it.  Janice, would you like to share with the couples your sense of our marriage as an adventure?

Janice: We like to go on trips.  Last year we did a mission trip to Rwanda. That was really exciting.  I was able to meet some new people there, and I trained them how to sing some songs.  Ed videotaped it all and put it up on YouTube.  It was really fun.  I spoke for the first time for more than ten minutes.  I have spoken at work before.  I  thought that I was going to speak for fifteen to twenty minutes at this retreat that we were at in Ontario.  They wanted me to speak for an hour. An hour!  Then I arrive there and they wanted me to speak for a second hour the next day.  Two hours!  I can’t do that.  I said, Okay, I will have to sing some music then. So I sang a song and they sang with me, and that was easier.

Ed: The final point is that couples can move into their preferred marital future by working on what already is working.  As Dr. Peter Steinke puts it, “If we possess the future, we need not be anxious in every threatening moment.”   If we lose a sense of the future, everything gets stuck.  Next week we will be looking at strengthening our marriages through celebrating differences.[1025]  If both of you are identical, one is not necessary. (much laughter).  If you know who you are, you can be more flexible.  A final comment by Paddy Ducklow: “If you focus the greater percentage of your resources towards your assets or strengths, you will solve more problems.”  You will solve more problems and work to build a preferred future.  Every organization, every marriage, every family, rather than just letting it happen, can build a preferred future.  You can chart your path.  You can aim somewhere, even if you don’t totally get there.  It is better than just letting it happen.

Thank you for coming tonight.  We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.  We cannot do this without you.

Strengthening Marriage Workshop Session #2  transcript

Wednesday May 23rd 2012

Presenters: Ed and Janice Hird

Ed:  Welcome.  It is great to have you back. We had a lot of fun last week.   In Session #2 tonight, the focus is “Strengthening Your Marriage through Celebrating your differences”.[1026]  The technical term is self-differentiation.  (written out on the flipchart).  The heart of the word ‘differentiation’ is the word ‘difference’.  That is at the heart of what we are teaching about.  My first point tonight is that working on one’s own self is the key to raising the level of differentiation in the marriage.[1027]  As has been said, when people get married, they become one, but they are not always sure which one.[1028]  What people underestimate when they get married is how much they get swallowed by their well-meaning spouse, and how much they lose identity.[1029]  People either give away self to the other spouse or they take self from the other spouse.  Dominant people have a tendency to take self from the other partner.  Less dominant and more compliant people will often give away self to the other partner.[1030]  Sometimes this goes back and forth. You may be in a more dominant space at certain times.

Ed: Edwin Friedman said that the antidote and the preventative medicine always is differentiation.  In other words, being different is not just okay.  It is wonderful.  The challenge is to learn to celebrate these differences.[1031]  It is part of the reason that you married each other, because you weren’t the same.  If you are both identical, one of you is unnecessary.[1032]  Would you like to be married to yourself?  (chuckles)  What would it be like being married to yourself?  (comments by participants: Boring.  Unnecessary.   Terrible)  The exciting thing about otherness is that while it can be painful, it is one of the exciting keys to growth.  We need to celebrate the otherness of our spouse and actually value it.  It has been said that we marry people because they are different, and then we spend a lot of time fussing and trying to change them to be like us.[1033]  Edwin Friedman said that “differentiation is the lifelong process of striving to keep one’s being in balance through the reciprocal external and internal processes of self-definition and self-regulation.”  What does that mean? It means: Is it okay for you to be you?  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it is.  Often we don’t even know who we are.  As we remember being teenagers, many teens have no idea who they are.  They are just starting to differentiate from their parents and look more independent than they really are.  Some of that is what we call emotional reactivity and not actual self-differentiation.

Ed: Do you remember some of those movies like “Rebel without a cause”?  These movies may make the person look like they are really independent and totally on their own, but sometimes they are really fused emotionally.  You are actually very attached to your family and your parents, so you are pushing to stretch the umbilical cord as far as it can get, but it hasn’t actually been cut. A huge amount of our challenges in marriage is about the low level of our self-differentiation.[1034]  This is because that is the way our family was.  Ron Richardson in Family Ties that Bind said that “most people get married thinking their spouse is like them…When differences emerge, most of us try to make our partner more like them.”  Anyone ever done that?  I have certainly tried that.  We have no idea how radically different we are.  By the way, Family Systems Theory is contagious.  Once you start seeing some of these concepts, you can’t stop seeing them.

Ed: Janice, tell people what it was like in your family of origin before you met me and then afterwards.

Janice: In my family, we were all supposed to be the same.  Everyone was supposed to work hard and do the work.  My mother would say, “Janice, you can do the work and talk at the same time.”  So sometimes I would go off and head so that I wouldn’t have to work.  My mother was very controlling and very overwhelming, so I used to run and hide from her.  She didn’t mean to be mean; she was just overwhelming. That’s all.  She never beat me or anything.  She was very controlling, and she wanted to know everything about me.  I wouldn’t tell her.  (laughter) So I didn’t really know how to self-differentiate from my mother.  Then I met Ed, and I was glad to marry Ed because I had a schizophrenic adopted brother.  He was very painful to be around.  I was glad to get out of the house.  My mother phoned me all the time even though I was married. I tried to get away from her, well my brother.  I would barely phone her back, and she would be all hurt.  But she was just so overwhelming to me.   So of course, often you marry someone who is like someone in your family.  I married Ed.  Like my mother, he is very affectionate and loving, but especially the first year for me he was quite overwhelming.  I was a middle child, so I always tried to get along.  So basically pretty well I did what he wanted, even though I didn’t always want to do it that first year.  This isn’t so bad, but I was very resentful that he wanted me to just save my money because we were going to go to Europe, and I wasn’t allowed to spend any of it.  I felt that this was very unfair because I was the one who was working and he was the one going to school.   I was paying for everything, but he didn’t want me to spend money on clothes…Why do I need to spend money on clothes?  And you know what, we had a great holiday, but I found it hard that first year…just having someone in your space all the time, because we lived in a place, maybe even smaller than this.  I was used to having some space, but we survived.  He didn’t mean to be mean. He was just a bit overwhelming.  That’s all.

Ed: The second principle is that “objectivity about one’s self and marriage increases marital satisfaction.”  What does that mean?  Objectivity means for each of us in our marriage to become almost like a scientist or a space astronaut observing ourselves and our own marriage.  We need that little bit of detachment, but that is hard because we tend to become swallowed in the intensity of our marriage.  If we can become objective, it does something remarkable.  Differentiation, says Steinke, is the ability to be aware of one’s self and the other’s self at the same time.[1035]  To have both self-awareness and other-awareness is difficult because one may tend to wipe out the other.  We need to hold both of those in tense.

Ed: Michael Kerr and Murray Bowen in their book Family Evaluation said that “a reasonable amount of objectivity about self and others, coupled with the ability to act on that basis of objectivity when it is important to do so, is the essence of differentiation of self.”  Now what in the world does that mean?  (Janice: Exactly. What does it mean?) Let me unpack it.  It means in a sense that part of you has to be neutral about your marriage.[1036]  You have to have an active detached listening.  If you are emotionally fused with your spouse, you lose the ability to just step back a little bit, not to reject but so that you can actually observe.  That is hard because emotional reactivity, as I said, is the reptilian brain.  When the reptilian brain starts firing, often our neo-cortex shuts down.  So objectivity is found in our neo-cortex, even in the midst of conflict, allowing you to observe yourself.  “Oh, that’s what I am doing”.  Have you ever been able to observe yourself in the midst of something intense, so that you are able to observe yourself so that you actually have an insight or a thought?  (laughter) Yes, it’s hard.  But the more that you can learn to actually be objective, as if it wasn’t even your marriage, the more you increase marital satisfaction.  A good Family Systems Therapist has to develop an objectivity and detachment where they are neither blaming one of the people in the marriage as being the problem nor are they cheering for the ‘hero’.  You actually have to be detached. This is a challenging situation.  You have to be neutral at the same time that you are present.   You want to be present but neutral. Any thoughts on that one? No one has to share.  (open discussion followed)

Ed: The goal is to be detached so that you are present but not swallowed by the moment. I think that this is a challenging thing to do.  That is part of what gives you differentiation because emotional fusion is at the heart of our being raised by our parents as a child.  We are pretty emotionally fused as children, and then as we are growing up, we begin to have some space, some separateness, and some objectivity.  Many of us are so fused to our parents, even if they are dead, that we have no objectivity about our family.  Our families are like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding…you may remember the scene with the meeting of the two sets of parents.  (laughter)  You may be so overwhelmed by your family ‘stuff’.  Can any of you remember a time when you have been more subjective and swallowed or objective like you are watching your family of origin?  Have you ever been able to watch your family?  No one has to speak.  (Open discussion followed)  If you can get a sense of perspective and patterns, this is key. Basically what you are looking for is patterns and processes.  You are dropping all the judgments and criticisms. You are just observing.  You are not trying to fix your family.  You are not trying to control them.  You are just trying to watch the process.

Ed: I want to share with you the eight concepts, just in summary, of Bowen’s Family Systems Theory. There are only eight concepts and they are all inter-related.  The first concept is the nuclear family emotional system.  Dr. Murray Bowen was a Freudian psychiatrist which is the individualistic, subjective and inner subconscious approach.  He found that this approach wasn’t producing the results that he was looking for.  So he began to say: Why don’t we look at families and marriages as family units rather than just as individuals?[1037]  Why don’t we look at the interactions between the couples and between families, rather than speculating on their motive?  The nuclear family emotional system is not based on cause-and-effect, but rather that as a family, everything is affecting everything.

Ed: The second concept is differentiation of self, which we are dealing with today.  The third concept is triangles.[1038]  In relationships, dyads or two people are always inherently unstable.  They always end up bringing in a third party.  It could be a child, a counselor, or a good friend.  Triangles are absolutely key in understanding how we relate, how we transmit anxiety or depression, how we overfunction or underfunction, who is the identified person positive who is going to be the rescuer, or the identified person negative who is going to be the scapegoat.[1039]  All that functions within triangles.

Ed: The fourth concept is called emotional cutoff.  The second part of the name of our Strengthening Marriage workshop is “Beyond Emotional Cutoff”.  I just this week received from Amazon a book called Emotional Cutoff.  It is a pretty technical book.  Emotional Cutoff was the final Bowen concept.[1040]  I believe that it is absolutely key in terms of understanding marriages.

Ed:  The fifth concept is called the Family Projection Process.  What this means is that when we feel anxious, if anxiety builds, we will usually project this anxiety onto someone else within one of our triangles.  We make them either the IPpositive or the IPnegative.  We make them the rescuer where they are the answer to all our problems, or the scapegoat where they are the cause of all of our problems.[1041]  They are the ones upon which we focus our energy and anxiety.  We may have a child whom we have decided is going to be our brain surgeon, our lawyer, our doctor, whatever.  We can take all our family anxiety and put it on this favoured child. Or we have a child who is not up to our North Shore expectations.  Maybe we are having anxiety in our marriage so we can put all our anxiety upon that child. Sometimes our marriage will do better because we are projecting all of our anxiety onto our child.  Alternately we can project our anxiety onto a neighbour, a friend, our parents, the government.  Some people become really anxious about the government.  This is often an expression of the family projection process.  You want to watch the triangles.  In triangles, with the family projection process, the anxiety will be passed on to the third person in the triangle, and they will get the anxiety.  This anxiety will often cause the third person to underfunction, and it will take them out.  Some of you may have experienced this personally. You may have had people in your family of origin project anxiety onto you, either making you the rescuer of the family, the child who disappears, or the rebel child.[1042]

Ed: The sixth Family Systems Theory concept is the multigenerational transmission process, otherwise called the Family of Origin.  It means that if you want to be healthy in your marriage and nuclear family, then you go back to your family of origin. You don’t go back to change them or fix them. [1043] You just go back to observe them, and you do it often through questions.[1044]  The questions you want to ask, as you need to be very gentle, are not ‘why’ questions, such as ‘Mom, why did you do this? Dad, why did you do that?’  It’s “who, what, where, when, and how” questions.  You go back as a scientist, very gently.  The more that you can get the family of origin insights, the more breakthroughs you have in your marriage.  That is one of the major keys to strengthening marriages.  You can choose to beat yourself up or you can be grumpy at your family of origin, or you can be objective and say: “This is kind of who we are. It’s a bit quirky maybe.  But I am going to analyze my family of origin as if I am studying some undiscovered tribe in inner Africa that has these unique behaviour patterns.  So I am just going to observe this and see what I discover.”  In this way, you can take your findings back to your own marriage in a way that will affect your own marriage and nuclear family.  That may be a bit hard to believe.  You can test it for yourself.

Ed: The seventh Family Systems concept is Sibling Position.  Are there any eldest children? Any youngest  children? Any middle children?  So we have three middle children, two youngest and three oldest in the workshop.  One of the most interesting challenges is with two eldest adult children in a marriage.  Eldest children are often so responsible which can sometimes take them out.  It is a little bit harder for them to have as much fun.  There can be with two oldest children in a marriage more of a struggle for power and control.  If you are two eldest children, it is good to do Family Systems theory.  These are generalizations because there are other factors involved as well.  With two youngest adult children being married, they are sort of the party animals; they love to have fun quite often.  They know how to play.  Growing up is challenging for them. The responsibility can really take them out.   These comments once again are generalizations.  There can be family trauma that will shape these things, such as the death of a sibling.  Janice, tell us about middle children, as you and I are both middle children.

Janice: Middle children try to get along with everybody.

Ed:  Middle children will often struggle with a sense of self.  They often have more loss of self and give away self because they are trying to get along.

Janice: I was the middle child.  Actually my sister was the middle child of the three girls. They considered me the baby.  I have a younger brother and a younger adopted schizophrenic brother.  I was the star because I was so cute with big brown eyes, and I was the baby. So they still treat me as the baby even though I am actually the middle child. Often the middle child needs to show that they are better or best.

Ed: The easiest mix for a marriage, all things otherwise being equal, is an eldest child with a youngest child.  You have to work on what you have in terms of sibling position.

Janice: Ed was the middle child, but he was the only boy.  He’s been treated special because he was the only boy.

Ed: And then there is the single child, the only child. That has its challenges as you can imagine.  The other marriage mix that tends to be easier is two middle children who are most used to reconciling and getting along.

Ed: The final Family Systems Theory concept is what is called Societal Emotional Process, known as Social Regression.  What does that mean?  It means that you are not just involved in your marriage and family.  You are living in a social context.  The more anxiety there is, the more triangles are birthed.  We end up triangling outside of our marriage and our family.  We can become triangled in our neighborhoods, and maybe in politics. When society is going through social regression such as in the 1950s with the McCarthy era and the Cold War, a lot of that anxiety becomes projected back in the other direction to the marriage and nuclear family.  Sometimes marriages and nuclear families are destabilized because the culture itself is regressing.  When the culture is very anxious, such as in a recession time, the culture becomes rigid.  When we become rigid and anxious, then we lose flexibility.[1045]  One of the keys for a healthy marriage is flexibility.[1046]  That is where you get the adventure.  When we are anxious, we shrink.  There was much social regression around 9/11 in 2001, and the trauma around that. People started doing funny things.  (open discussion emerged)  With politics, that is often how you win elections by transmitting anxiety.  Often media outlets motivate us to watch their programs by filling us with anxiety and depression.  You may find yourself glued to the screen or the radio talk show host.   “The sky’s falling” is an amazing sales pitch, but it often feeds on social regression.

Ed: The third concept regarding celebrating differences is that “Overcoming a loss of self brings energy and joy to one’s marriage.”  If you can become yourself and still be in relationship, there is something about this: you come alive.[1047]  Janice, tell us what has had a greater sense of self in our marriage.

Janice: Ed’s a morning person and I am not.  He does let me sleep in later. When we were first married, he thought that I should get up at dawn like him.  I didn’t really like that very much.  Ed gives me space which I need.  He lets me go and read a book for a while if I want to, and he’ll go off and do something else.  Lots of times we’ll do things together, but sometimes I don’t want to do it, so he’ll just go off and do it, or go off and take the boys.  He will listen to me if I want him to change, which is good.  Going back to work was good for me, because my Dad was a minister and I was his daughter.   Then I married Ed and some people said “Oh, you’re Ed’s wife”.  When I went back to work, I didn’t tell people what Ed did. “I’m Janice, not Ed’s wife, or my sons’ mother, whatever.”

Ed: Kerr and Bowen said that “the universal problem for all partnership, marital or otherwise, was not getting closer; it was preserving self in a close relationship, something that no one made of flesh and blood seems to do well.”  It is really hard to have intimacy and still be yourself.[1048]  We have this amazing ability to take each other out, and give up self to or take self from our spouse.[1049]  Often this is because we don’t know who we really are, so we live out of what is called the pseudo-self, rather than the solid self.[1050]  We don’t know what the core of our identity is.[1051]  Part of celebrating differences and discovering your strengths is that it is through your strengths and differences that you know who you really are.  Bowen in Family Therapy and Clinical Practice said that “Once differentiated from their parental families, they can be emotionally close to members of their own families or to any other person without fusing into new emotional oneness.”  Now what in the world does that mean?  (pause)  What it means is that once you become your own person particularly in reference to your parents, then you can do closeness and you will not be swallowed. You maintain a sense of your own identity.  If you emotionally fuse with your spouse, you will lose your identity and become anxious.[1052]  An example of this is that sometimes I can give up self to my wife when I am driving; Her desire to be helpful can leave me feeling controlled; I have rhetorically said to her: “Would you rather drive?”  Another example of giving up self would be at my family of origin’s dinner table where I rarely was able to finish a sentence without others completing my sentence for me or changing the topic.  I have learned to respond by just stopping in midsentence and wait when I am interrupted. After a while, my family members will say: “Ed, why didn’t you finish what you were saying?”  Because of my emotional reactivity to being cutoff in midsentence, I have found myself reacting with my reptilian brain if my spouse cuts me off in midsentence.  To be objective, I have done that myself in cutting my wife off in midsentence.  Any questions that you wish to ask at this point?    (Open discussion followed)

Ed: The fourth concept in celebrating differences is that “increasing marital thinking strengthens our ability to celebrate our uniqueness.”[1053]  Ron Richardson in the book Becoming Your Best said that “in matters involving romantic love, it is particularly important to be able to think.”  Romantic love can knock us into our ‘reptilian brain’, into our reactivity.[1054]  Some people believe that thinking and romantic love do not mix.  Thinking actually increases romantic love.  Ron Richardson also said that “what many people often mean by ‘closeness’ is actually ‘sameness’ in thinking, feeling and behaviour…Pushing for sameness causes distancers to distance more  and develops more difficulty.”[1055]  This describes emotional distance which can lead to emotional cutoff.  I want to ask you a question so you can chat for a bit as a couple: “How much room does your family of origin give you to celebrate diversity and differences in contrast to pushing for sameness?”  (discussion followed with each couple)

Ed: No one has to talk. How was that question for you?  (extensive open discussion followed)

Ed: Roberta Gilbert holds that “when anxiety decreases sufficiently, people can begin to think about their problems. Anxiety impairs the ability to think.”  As anxiety decreases, thinking increases.  As thinking increases, anxiety decreases. [1056] As your ‘reptilian brain’ calms down, then your neo-cortex functions more effectively. Reducing anxiety is absolutely key.

Ed: The fifth concept in celebrating differences is that “daring to be different, taking principled stands with clear goals strengthens marriage.”[1057]  A lot of people are afraid to do this in their marriages.  They are afraid to take a stand because their spouse might leave them, they might push back, and there might be sabotage.[1058]  Any time you do take a stand, there probably will be sabotage, if not from your spouse, then probably someone in your network.  That is just part of the turf.[1059]  If you maintain your ground with a non-anxious presence, then there will be transformation.[1060]  Ron Richardson says that “many a husband and wife have failed to take a principled stand in their marriage simply because they feared the loss of their partnership if they did.”[1061]  The fear is that they will walk.[1062]  So spouses think that they have to conform or shut themselves down.  Now having principles does not mean being rigid.  Principles are held flexibly.  It is about knowing who you are and what is important to you.  This can include negotiation.   Ron Richardson also says that “typically the goal-oriented person has quite good, meaningful and close relationships and encounters fewer problems in maintaining intimate relationships.”  Basically Family Systems Theory says: “Be clear about your goals. Be clear about your direction for your marriage.”[1063]  Be clear about who you are and where you are heading.  You remember how we talked about a preferred marital future.  A lot of people don’t have goals.[1064]  If you can mutually work on your vision and goals, it will really help your marriage.[1065]

Ed: The sixth concept in celebrating differences is that “the restoration of marital curiosity and imagination brings greater intimacy.”  Now what does that mean?  The problem with marriages is that we often think that we have each other figured out: “I know what you are going to say. I know where this is going.  Sometimes it is true.”   As we become a systems thinker, we see differently, and our curiosity and imagination increases.[1066]  That is the goal. If you want a better marriage, increase your imagination, increase your curiosity.[1067]  What do you think would kill curiosity in a marriage?  Rigidity, things being always the same, resentment, blaming.[1068]  What if we dropped the blaming and increased the curiosity?  What if we dropped all the judgments and said “Oh, I wonder what that is all about.”?   Curiosity brings greater intimacy, both emotional and physical.  If you can increase curiosity, that is where intimacy arises.  The loss of curiosity brings a loss of your thinking processes.

Ed: Through working on Family Systems Theory in my doctorate, my curiosity has been increasing. I have discovered that I am an overfunctioner.  I have been thinking about how my overfunctioning affects my wife Janice and my family.  How I can reduce my overfunctioning and make myself smaller?  I have been getting curious.  Another thing that I discovered is that I am a conflict avoider.  I have started watching myself avoiding conflict.[1069]  How can I actually work with that, because it is a family of origin thing?  And how can I test going in another direction and learning to deal with conflict differently?  (Comment by participant: How can you deal with that?)   That is next week.  (laughter)  Our focus next week is on strengthening marriage through working on conflict.  My fantasy would be a marriage in which Janice and I always got along and never disagreed.[1070]  (Janice: yes, Ed)  (laughter).  But there is no such world and it is not even healthy.

Ed:  Roberta Gilbert said that “people who are working on differentiation find their innate curiosity returns.”  Children are naturally curious.  We want to be child-like, not childish.  Many marriages are childish without much childlikeness.  Peter Steinke said “in times of anxious anxiety, what is most needed is what is most unavailable – the capacity to be imaginative.”  What if we dreamed outside of the box, because we can become very rigid in our marriages?  We need to be willing to stretch ourselves, to be willing to dream.  Sadly, as we become older, often our worlds can shrink.  We become old in our brains.  I want to keep growing and never grow old, in that sense.

Ed: The seventh concept in celebrating our differences is that clear expectations come through re-engaging our family of origin.  Reggie McNeal says that we need to “reopen the family file and see what bags you are carrying on your life trip.”  We need to go back to our family of origin. That is where the pay-dirt is.  If you will work on your family of origin, you will be amazed how much your marriage will improve.  You can waste your time blaming your spouse.  But if you do your personal work, you will have an incredible payoff.  You can’t change your spouse. You’ve already tried it. You know that it doesn’t work.  You can’t change your family of origin.  But you can become a scientist, observing your family and looking at patterns.  You begin to see: “That is what I am doing. And this is how I can shift.”  Ron Richardson says that “few of us like to own up to it, but our own personal emotional maturity is a major part of the difficulty in our relationships; this usually goes back to relationship difficulties with our family of origin…What is unresolved with our families is likely, in some form, to be unresolved with our adult partner.”

Ed: The eighth concept in celebrating our differences is that “the high road to marital growth is through a deeper understanding of the family we were raised in.”  If we write off our family of origin, it means that we are unusually stuck.  It may be tricky to go back, but any work that we do in that area without judging, just going as an observer, can be huge.  The power of choice is huge in family systems theory.  Even if our family of origin cuts us off, there is always someone, perhaps a distant relative, that you can do family of origin work with.  Particularly if they are older and love to talk about the family, go visit that aunt or that distant cousin and say ‘tell me about the family. I am interested.’  You will be amazed at these family patterns that go on and on and on.  Roberta Gilbert says that “if there is a high road towards improving one’s relationships, it is working towards improving those in one’s family of origin.  In fact it appears that only limited improvement of other relationships is possible without work in the family of origin.”

Ed: The eighth concept in celebrating our differences is that “saying no to the blame-game strengthens marriages.”  What if we fasted this week from blaming each other?  How many of you would be willing to try that for a week?  (laughter)   Seventy is the new hundred.  So you are not going to pull this off.  So don’t try to be perfect.[1071]  But what if you actually reduced the blaming behaviour?  It’s hard because I don’t even have to try to blame Janice.  I can feel it.  Ron Richardson said that “blaming our parents for our problems and unhappiness means we will be prone to blaming whomever else we hook up with in our adult life for our continuing unhappiness.”  We blame our parents; we will blame the person sitting next to us.  It’s hard because it feels so good to blame our spouse, doesn’t it?  Imagine if we could give up blaming.  What if we didn’t blame ourselves either?  What if we became an observer, a scientist, someone who is looking for understanding rather than blaming?  We are looking for patterns and thinking as family rather than just as individuals.  So how can we reduce blaming?

Ed: We are now going to do a clarifying exercise and also take a short refreshment break: I want you to write down and then share with your spouse a) why you came to this workshop and b) how would you dream of your marriage being in three years.

Ed: The ninth concept in celebrating our differences is that “the use of genograms can help identify triangles that inhibit marital growth.”  Ron Richardson says that “if you have ever drawn your own family diagram or genogram, you know that the act itself is helpful.  It may be the first step in getting more emotional distance from your family.”  (Janice and I explained some of the basic symbols used to describe genograms concepts, such as an X for death.  Each of the couples were given three sheets of paper that gave examples of genograms including the Hird family genogram).  Why don’t we start simple as this can be overwhelming?  Janice:  Males are represented by a square, and females by a circle.  (Janice draws out our family of origin genogram on the flip-sheet as an example to the couples)

Ed: Janice is a natural at this.  I found this area the most challenging part of doing family of origin work.  Let’s just try this.  Anyone who is feeling stuck, just raise your hands and we will come over and help you with the genogram symbols.

Ed: I would like to invite any of the couples to come up and share what they have discovered in producing their genogram.  No one has to share.  (Most of the couples chose to do so in this            session)

Ed: What we are looking for here are triangles, emotional fusion, cutoffs, and distance.  Where do you think there is some stuck-together fusion or loss of self?  Use three parallel lines to represent that.   Conflictual fusion is marked by jagged arrow lines.  A line through means distance.[1072] Two lines mean divorce.  Reverse half circles attached to lines represent emotional cutoff.   The arrows tell you the direction of the anxiety.  If the anxiety goes in both direction, you can have two opposite arrows.   (Janice explained in detail how these concepts played out in the Hird genogram) So let’s first of all try to identify in your genogram stuck-together fusion by three parallel lines. This is where getting along is more important than having your own opinion.  (time was spent by the couples identifying stuck-together fusion)

Ed: Let’s look now for a place where we might find conflictual fusion in your genogram as represented by jagged arrows.  This will show patterns and actually give you breakthrough in your marriage.  If you look closely, you begin to see triangles (such as here or there), because anxiety passes through triangles.   (time was spent by the couples identifying conflictual fusion)

Ed: Now we are going to look for distance in your genogram. You can represent that by a small line drawn through a connecting line.  If there is divorce, use two small lines through a connecting line.  (time was spent by the couples identifying conflictual fusion)

Ed: Now the final area is emotional cutoff.  Look in your genogram for areas of emotional cutoff, where family members no longer talk or have relational.  This is symbolized by the reverse half circles attached to lines.  (time was spent by the couples identifying emotional cutoff)

(Near the end of this process, with permission, I took photos of each of the genograms in order to look for meaningful patterns)

Strengthening Marriage Workshop Session #3 transcript

Wednesday May 30th 2012

Presenters: Ed and Janice Hird

Ed: Welcome.  The theme tonight is “Strengthening Marriages through Working on Conflict”.  As I was thinking about conflict, I was reminded of my upcoming book on Cretan Pirates.  Pirates are known for conflict.  Why do you think that this is the case?  (Comment: They never turn down a fight, unless they are going to lose in which case they take off.)  Janice and I went to Crete to work on my next book.  What I discovered in going to Crete was that Crete was a Pirate Island for 800 years.  That has family of origin implications.   Everyone is a pirate, the grandparents, the parents, the children.  You can imagine what a marriage would be like in a pirate culture.  Epimenedes who was one of their Cretans leaders in 6th Century BC made this famous comment in which he said “All Cretans are liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons”.  So how would pirates such as the Cretans do relationships?  (Comments: poorly; they would probably have some backup wenches just in case it didn’t work out.)

Ed: (After bringing out my pirate props, I responded to the laughter by saying: “Family Systems Theory believes in playfulness. If you want to work on conflict, if everything is serious, urgent and important, something is out of whack.  A little bit of playfulness can actually defuse the tension, the anxiety.[1073]  I want to ask you as to how does humour play out in your marriage.  Do you do humour at all?  As mentioned before, no one has to speak. “) (open discussion followed)

Ed:  Sarcasm can have the opposite effect from playful humour. Sarcasm can rip you apart and shred you.  Appropriate humour actually reduces tension almost like it pops a balloon.  Have you ever found humour helpful in terms of dealing with conflict?  (Open discussion followed).  One day my sister spoke to me, saying that she realized that sarcasm was a problem in her life, and she had decided to change.  As she spoke to me, I realized that while she was talking about herself, that was my problem too.  So I decided to swear off sarcasm.  That is easier said than done.  But at that point, I began to shift and to watch how I do humour.  I can think of times when I have used humour in very inappropriate ways.

Ed: The first principle in working on your conflicts is that “Marital conflict is an opportunity for breakthrough into deeper intimacy and lasting change.”  We often think that conflict is a sign of a bad marriage but it isn’t.  Conflict is healthy and inevitable.[1074]  There are no conflict-free marriages.[1075]  Even if your spouse is dead, you may have conflict with them, in the sense that you can still have deep emotions about your spouse who isn’t there anymore.  The death of your spouse or your parents doesn’t actually remove those emotions.  We are going to have conflict in every marriage, every family, and every group.  I have learned through doing my doctorate that I tend to be a conflict avoider.  Many of us are conflict avoiders.  The problem with conflict avoidance is that it doesn’t work.  What happens if you avoid conflict?  (comments: it gets worst, you stuff it inside yourself, it just festers, it’s an incubation which you can’t step over and is always there).  Those of us who are conflict avoiders often marry the other expression, people who will actually pursue us. So we need to reframe conflict as something that is healthy, and a key to breakthrough.  How many of you want a breakthrough in your marriage so that your marriage is healthier?  Conflict is one of the keys.  Did they tell you that when you became married that conflict would be a key to a better marriage?  (open discussion)

Ed:  How many of you want deeper intimacy?  (comment: that is why you get every Wednesday from us)  What in the world is deeper intimacy? What does it look like? (comments: closeness)  Some people are deep feelers.  You will notice that I said: “what does it look like?”  Some people are more interested in what it sounds like or looks like.  What is your favorite coffee shop on the North Shore?  What does it look like, sound like or feel like?  (open discussion followed)  (comments: neighbourly, warm, soothing, comfortably, friendly, relatively quiet, donuts)  Would any of you want to go to a coffee shop that is really anxious, unfriendly and conflicted?  The irony is that intimacy comes through facing conflict.

Ed: We often do conflict like our parents.  We may say “I’ll never be like my dad or mom”.  But you would be amazed with the family of origin issues.  It is remarkable what happens.  You can make shifts.  Part of the shift is dropping the judgments, the blaming and the criticism, and just beginning to observe our family like a scientist.  That’s where you get the shift.  In this way, conflict actually brings lasting change.  You can bring short-term change, but a lot of it just recycles.  Very little change lasts.  We can all change for a day or two, can’t we?  Sometimes things just build up; it doesn’t last.  Don’t we all want change that will last?  Some people just give up. They say: “I’m stuck.  I can’t change.  My spouse will never change.  My parents will never change.”  Who do we quite often try to change?  Our spouse, which is basically an entire waste of time, isn’t it?  You know the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can’t change, which is anyone else (people, places things).  You can’t change that.  “…the courage to change the things I can”, which is… (What can you change?)  (comment in unison: yourself)  That is hard work.  Lasting change comes through working on self.[1076]  It is like the last thing that we want to do.  Ed: Janice, would you like to share one of your marital conflict stories that we felt conflicted talking about?

Janice:  When one of my sons was in Grade 11, in the summer he had gone down to Mexico on a mission trip.  He came back and wasn’t feeling that well.  It turned out that he had three different kinds of parasites.  The worst one they didn’t find for a while.  Every morning he would throw up and vomit.  He wouldn’t feel well and then he wouldn’t want to go to school.  In the meantime, he was also in a musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat which I didn’t think that he should really be in if he didn’t want to go to school.  So I became quite upset that he didn’t want to go to school.  Then he started to feel better, but he still didn’t want to go to school because he was all depressed from being sick.  I became quite upset about this, so I told Ed that he would have to deal with this.  Ed became quite upset about it. We were in such desperate straits that we went and talked to a counselor.  The counselor’s daughter was a tutor, so she helped Andrew get through the twenty assignments that he was behind.  But it was hard. Yet it was really good for our family because we learned to deal with conflict in a more productive way instead of just a negative way.  At the end when our son wasn’t going to school, Ed would try to drag him out to the car.  Well, he was bigger than Ed.  So it was a bit hard for Ed to do it.  (Ed: our son would be a very good Vietnam War protestor because he was very good at going limp and becoming a dead weight)  (laughter)  Janice: So we had to learn some new ways to work on conflict in that particular instance.

Janice: It is funny.  We felt conflicted this morning, because he wanted us to think about some conflict stories, and I was reading a book!  “Janice, we have to do this”….”I don’t want to do this.”  Then we couldn’t remember the stories that we had agreed on.

Ed: We read books in different ways.  When I read a book, I love to share.  But to share, it usually means interrupting Janice’s reading of her own latest book.  Janice loves mystery novels and other styles.  Ed to Janice: You’re pretty nice about it.

Janice: Usually.

Ed: But I can be overwhelming. You would probably not have guessed that.  So we have had conflict over this.

Janice: That’s right.  You know the thing is, we usually have conflict every day, but we get over it quickly, we forgive each other, and we won’t remember.  If it is something that I am really upset with, it might take me a few hours, but usually it is only a couple of minutes to get over it.  Because, you know, it’s not worth it. When we were first married, I used to get upset because he wouldn’t roll the toothpaste tube just nicely the way I would do it, you know.  I realized, oh well, that is nothing to get upset about.

Ed: Herbert Otto in the book Marriage and Family Enrichment emphasized the importance of “clearly telling the couples that the conflict phase is a necessary phase in the growth process…According to this model, the struggle in marriage is essentially an effort by two people to affirm their individuality and their hope that this will not be obliterated, but rather will be accepted within that relationship.”[1077]  (Ed: in other words, he is talking about loss of self, because strong people can run you over.  Are there any strong people in the room?  We don’t even have to try. We can run you over.  Otto continues by saying that “Conflict is but the agony of a marriage being born, not a symptom of sickness.  Just as in all birth processes, there are labour pains.”  For the rest of your life, your marriage is being born. It is continually being born.  Has anyone had any labour pains in their marriage? (laughter) Labour pains in marriage are actually healthy. That may be hard for us to believe.  (a question from a participant naturally occurred.)  Ed: That is a very good question.  Family systems theory is about asking good questions.[1078]  Not ‘why’ questions which just increase anger, but who, how, where and when questions.[1079]  So let’s open up that question to the group: “What is the fine line between pettiness and not avoiding conflict?”  (discussion followed)  Ed: One of the terms in Family Systems theory is self-regulating or calming yourself down. Sometimes you need to say: “quite frankly I need to go to the gym, or I need to go for a walk.”  It can be helpful to set a time so that you are not just gone indefinitely: “I will be gone for an hour or two hours before I come back.”  Paddy Ducklow, my doctoral advisor, says that before important business meetings, he will take time to basically self-regulate and be calm so that he can be a non-anxious presence.   He says that this is the most important gift that he can bring to that meeting is his calmness.  Sometimes with the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff”, there is a lot of truth to that.  Sometimes we do have to be slow to speak.  But if we are always avoiding conflict, something is out of whack, isn’t it?

Ed: One of my problems, because I have been working on not avoiding conflict, is that I can slip into the other tendency.  When I learn things, I tend to initially learn them awkwardly.  I can overlearn them.  So when I was working on not avoiding conflict, I found that I was being too aggressive.   So I had to balance that into being more assertive so that I am not avoiding conflict and not being aggressive.

Ed: Some therapists used to recommend that couples vent your feelings of anger towards each other, but that usually made people feel more hurt and angry.  Sometimes we lose the ability to think because our feelings are so intense.[1080]  It is better to self-regulate by learning to think about your feelings. [1081] Otto also says that crisis or conflict in marriage is like walking through a valley and emerging on a mountaintop.  Facing conflict is a way to get to the mountain top.  Paddy Ducklow says that “conflict is an opportunity for change.  Therefore conflict is an advantage to be appreciated.”  When you are in the middle of conflict, it is very painful. I took two Doctoral courses in conflict this past fall. So I became more observant and aware of conflict wherever I went.  Paddy Ducklow says that he loves conflict. He says that he is conflict-friendly.   If we could go from being conflict-phobic to looking forward to the next conflict in our marriages, that would bring a breakthrough.  (open discussion followed)  What we are talking about is facing conflict calmly with a non-anxious presence.  That may be a bit of a jump.

 

Ed: The second principle in working on your conflicts is that conflict avoidance leads to emotional cutoff. Ron Richardson says that “our distancing is the way we try to lower our anxiety and make it safe or more comfortable for us, but it only creates more reactivity in the system and resolves nothing.”  So would anyone like to act this out? Do I have a volunteer couple?  (laughter)  (a couple volunteered and then acted out conflict and distance by standing at different places in the clubhouse.)  Distance does reduce conflict temporarily.  Ron Richardson says that “most often we hide ourselves out of a fear of rejection.  We want to hang onto that relationship and be well thought of.  But hiding is an automatic break in a relationship; it introduces distance.”  Distance doesn’t actually solve anything.

Ed: The third principle in working on our conflicts is that “facing our marital conflicts helps us become more mature and builds character.”  You actually grow up.  Someone said that you can remain childish forever.  Aging doesn’t guarantee maturity, does it?  You can be childish forever, but at the heart of maturity is actually childlikeness.  What do you think is the difference between being childlike and childish?  (comment: childlike would be playful).  Ed: What if you could do conflict in a playful way?  What if you could work on conflict in a way that wasn’t sarcastic but had some diffusing humour?  Some of you may actually do this more than you think.

Ed: Maturity is about the willingness to grow.  You wouldn’t be at this workshop if you were not willing to grow.  There are many marriages whose stability is rooted in conflict avoidance: “we just don’t go there. We don’t deal with anything.  Let’s not upset the grumpy bear.”  It is almost like an Apartheid in a marriage.  He does his thing; she does her thing.  There are many marriages where no one works on anything.  Do you know any marriages like that?  They might be called ‘a happy marriage’.

Richardson says in his book Becoming Your Best that “few of us like to own up to it, but our own personal immaturity is a major part of the difficulty in our relationships; this usually goes back to relationship difficulties with our family of origin… What is unresolved with our families is likely, in some form, to be unresolved with our adult partner.”  Imagine if we could admit the areas in which we are still immature in our self and our marriage relationship.  Richardson also stated that “most often we hide ourselves out of a fear of rejection.  We want to hang onto that relationship and be well thought of.  But hiding is an automatic break in the relationship; it introduces distance.”

Ed: You will create a crisis for your spouse if you work on your own personal maturity.[1082]  They will try to sabotage you to force you to go back to the old person you were.  They will try to bring you back to what we call homeostasis or business as usual.  They will blackmail you and threaten you.[1083]  But if you stand your ground calmly and peacefully, knowing who you are, that will create a crisis in the system, and the system will shift.  Lois the wife of Bill W the founder of AA once said “I liked you better drunk.”  He was so caught up in AA that there wasn’t any time for her.

Ed: Most apparent changes in systems are just recycling anxiety that change nothing. They can centralize or decentralize without lasting change.

Ed: Janice, are you willing to talk about conflict again?

Janice: I’ll try.

Ed: We probably feel more conflict about this session than any of the others.

Janice: That’s for sure.

Ed: Would you be willing to talk about my not willing to have children?

Janice: Ohhh…

Ed: We were married and I was reading about the cost of having children.  This was thirty-two years ago.

Janice: I was working and you were at school.

Ed: I read that it cost around $250,000 per child and I thought that we could never afford that.  If we didn’t have children, we would have more time to help other people.  So my Scottish side was kicking in.  We could save money and help other people.   So I shared this great idea with my wife.  I thought that she would be fascinated by it.  What was your reaction?

Janice:  I said you never told me that before we got married.  I want children and if you don’t, maybe we will have to get divorced.

Ed: I was a little shocked by that. I thought that it was a rather strong response.  So I decided that we could negotiate.  So we negotiated.  (Janice laughs loudly) I said “One child, but that’s it.”  We have three by the way.  Then once you have your one child, your mind changes.

Janice:  So basically I agreed to one, but I thought that will change.

Ed: Would you like to talk about your parent’s separation?

Janice:  I have a schizophrenic stepbrother.  In 1980, my parents came over to our new place in Dunbar.  We were having dinner and my dad said: “Your mom isn’t living with me right now.”  I said: “What? They had been together for all those years.”  My mom said: “He won’t deal with C. He won’t deal with C. So I left him and I want him to deal with C.”  My dad is a minister, and his idea was that you are just kind to everyone with no boundaries.  My mother would chase my dad around the house to try to get him to deal with C.  It never worked.

Ed: If facing our marital conflicts helps us become more mature and build character, what does character look like?  (open discussion followed) (comments: perseverance, maturity, confidence, strength) What do you want your character, your core personality to become like in five to ten years from now?  (comments: wiser, alive, kinder, role model, intimacy, softer)

Ed: My question for you to write down and discuss as a couple is: “What was normal for your parents in dealing with conflict?”  (snack break included in this time)

Ed: No one has to share, but what did you learn in terms of doing this exercise?  What was normal in the way that your parents dealt with conflict?  (open discussion followed)  It’s shocking when you realize how much these family patterns repeat because sometimes we just think it is us.

Ed: (Bringing out my pirate telescope) This is not just a prop, but rather a key family systems theory insight.  Dr Edwin Friedman, a deceased Jewish Rabbi, said in his final book Failure of Nerve that our family of origin is like concentric cylinders, in which each cylinder represents one of our generations.  As you work on the cylinders of our family, it actually brings generational breakthrough.  It can bring breakthrough into the future.  You are doing this family systems work for you, but it is also for your children and your grandchildren.  You are learning new healthier ways.  We live in North America as if it is all about me.  I am a solitary ‘pirate’ and this is my private world. But it is actually all about family.  When we are cut off, it looks as if we don’t have any family, but when you are cut off, you are just as connected to them like an umbilical cord.

Ed: Some of us switch back and forth in our marriages between pursuing and avoiding. I actually do both.  The problem with being a pursuer is that the avoider can always outrun you.[1084]  Do any of you do pursuing?   The avoider can hide from you or run faster.  When they are moving away from you, they can’t hear you anyways.  Chasing people is useless.[1085]  I asked Paddy Ducklow: “If pursuing, rescuing and fixing people doesn’t work, what can you do?”  He said “K.I.T.’” (which stands for ‘keep in touch’).  You wait for them to respond.  Sometimes if you will just keep in touch in a gentle, non-reactive way, then the moment may come when they may actually move towards you. You can see that with wounded cats and dogs.  If you chase them, they will attack you or run from you.    But if you keep in touch, quite often they will come to you.  As mentioned, we are called to be observers and scientists, not to judge our family.  When we go back to our family of origin, we have to be very gentle.  Dealing with conflict requires that we be gentle.  That doesn’t come easy.  I have been working on gentleness.

Ed: The fourth principle in working on your conflicts is that “learning to say no and to set healthy boundaries strengths marital intimacy.”  Reggie McNeal says that “an inability to say no reflects a boundary problem. …(They) are afraid that that people will abandon them if they do not yield to other’s demands, or afraid that people will quit liking them.”  Do you find it hard to say no to your spouse, to your family?  Is that a hard thing to do?  As women were coming into a greater awareness, you may remember the expression “no means no” or “what part of no do you not understand?”  For many women in numerous cultures, saying no was hugely difficult and very countercultural.  Did you have the permission in your family to say no?  (open discussion followed)  Saying no gives you the ability to say yes.  Many people on the North Shore are very workaholic and overfunctioning.  They say yes to too many things.  Driving their children everywhere to endless activities leaves them very exhausted.  Without boundaries, there is nothing left for your marriage.[1086]

Janice: When I was at work, I hurt my wrists moving heavy furniture.  I couldn’t even pick up a pencil, yet I didn’t want to take time off from work, because “what would they do without me? I did all the scheduling.  I kept other employees from fighting. How could they do it without me?”  So Ed brought me into the counselor and she said to me: “Janice, do you really think that they can’t live without you for three weeks? Look at you, you can’t even hold a pencil.”

Ed: It was so hard for you to take that time off.  This is about boundaries.  Janice is such a caring person, such a rescuer that it tends to take her out.

Janice: All of my family is into rescuing people.  Boundaries are difficult for my family of origin.

Ed: The fifth concept in working on conflict is that “marital conflict is best resolved when we say no to quick fixes and take the long-term perspective.”  I want to tell that after the final marriage session next week, you will have no more problems in your marriage, you will never have any conflicts, and you will never do anything that you regret.  (laughter)  Isn’t that amazing?  Or you get a money-back guarantee.  (laughter)

I am in this for the long haul.  I look at Janice and I am thinking: “I still do foolish things in our marriage, or I’m insensitive or too pushy.  But I’m in there for the long haul.  I’m just going to keep working on this relationship.  I’m going to say no to the quick fix.  You know what quick fixes do.  They cause new problems.”

Janice: An example of a quick fix was our idea that if only we got our youngest son to school, everything would be solved. But it took months of taking him to a counselor to recover from how sick and depressed he became from the amoebas in Mexico.  In working with a counselor, he discovered his passion to be in drama.  He ended up spending two years in England and Canada in drama teams in fourteen schools.  Out of that, he eventually discovered a desire to be a teacher.  There are no quick fixes.  Paddy Ducklow said that “we are targeting on solid solutions and not quick fixes…Quick fixes are soon problems, in my thinking.”  Quick fixes make it worse.  Don’t go for the sudden solution in your marriage. Keep working on your marriage. Don’t view this workshop as the sudden solution for all your problems.  This is a step in the right direction.  To use an analogy, going to the gym once will not change your health.  You need a long obedience in the same direction.  How long do you need to go to the gym before you turn into Atlas, or before you get healthy?  How many people drop out of going to the gym?  They join on January 1st and by Feb 1st many are gone.  What if you were to commit to the long-term?  What about even going to a marriage counselor?  It’s a healthy thing to do.  Find someone that you feel comfortable with. [1087] Janice and I have been to marriage counseling and found it very helpful.

Janice:  When we had our big trauma with our youngest son, our counselor recommended that the whole family come in.  “I don’t know”, I said.  But I went for Andrew’s sake.  It certainly helped.  I was able to work on some trauma that I had experienced in my life. It was a big help actually.

Ed: I have been working on gentleness. Janice for years has told me to be more gentle.

Janice: There has been a big improvement in Ed’s gentleness.  The Family Systems approach has really helped our family, especially the no blaming approach.  All of us have various areas that we need to work on.

Ed:  The sixth concept in working on marital conflict is that “conflict embracing in marriage happens most effectively when we give up blaming.”  Paddy Ducklow says that “Family Systems theory is a non-blaming theory…it gives a great opportunity for conflict resolution rather than emotional cutoffs (expulsion or excommunication or ‘missing in action’.)”  We give up blaming.  Kerr and Bowen say that “awareness of process helps a person get beyond blaming others or blaming some external force and, as a consequence, he becomes less angry.”  As we give up blaming others or blaming the government, we become less angry.  Daniel Papero says that “when one can understand emotionally that everyone plays a part, including oneself, it is hard to be angry at anyone.”  We’re all part of the family.  We are all playing a bit part in this play called life.  The more you realize how messed up most families are, the more you get it.  We are a mess and that’s who we are.   It’s not anyone’s fault.  It’s amazing how we’re half-functioning.  When we realize what a mess we really are, we may realize how amazingly healthy our spouse is, given their family context.  Bowen said that it is all about getting beyond blame and anger.  I want to give you a challenge for this final week.  What if you fasted this week from blaming your spouse and blaming yourself? Now I know that you can only do this a bit.  But how many of you would be willing to try to work on reducing blaming this week?  Don’t blame yourself if you can’t do it.  You might be secretly thinking “I’m lousy at not blaming!” (laughter)  I am really bad at not blaming and it’s my wife’s fault.  (laughter) What if we, when we are tempted to blame, switched into being a scientist, an observer?  What if we said: “I’m going to watch this.  I can feel my blaming coming on.  I am going to slow down, have a coffee and watch what is happening.”  Journaling can be a very helpful way of doing this.  Write in your journal: “I am feeling tempted to blame right now. What is happening?”  Drop the whys which just makes you more angry.  ‘Why’ is often an angry question: “Why’s that??”  What if you reduced your ‘whys’ this week and went for the when, the whats, the whos, the hows, and the wheres?  Would you be willing to journal about this during this week?  We are not looking for perfection. Perfectionism is the problem.

Ed: We are going to conclude tonight with a final exercise before we wrap up.  What are some of the best ways to grow in handling conflict in our marriage?

 

Strengthening Marriage Workshop Session #4 transcript

Wednesday June 6th 2012

Presenters: Ed and Janice Hird

Strengthening Your Marriage through balancing closeness and personal space

Ed: The first concept in balancing closeness and personal space is that “our need for closeness competes with our need for personal space.”   I had the privilege of recently interviewing Dr.  Ron Richardson.  He says in his book Becoming Your Best, that “Many of us try to deal with the reality of this pressure from our partner to be the way our partner wants by distancing ourselves physically or emotionally.”  Do you ever feel pressure from your spouse to be the way they want you to be?  You remember how a volunteer couple acted that out in a previous Strengthening Marriage session.  Peter Steinke says that “We need to be separate (to be alone, to stand on our own two feet) and to be close (to be together, to stand hand-in-hand).”[1088]  This is the tension between separateness and closeness.  We all need separateness.  If you don’t find a way to be separate, you will lose self.[1089]  You will become anxious and actually lose the ability to think clearly.  You may end up running.  You will remember how we talked about the ‘reptilian brain’.  If you don’t get this separateness piece, your ‘reptilian brain’ will fire all the time.  You will either go into group think where you cease to exist, which will give you symptoms.  You can get physical, emotional, all kind of symptoms.[1090]  If you run, that will leave you anxious as well.   The tension between separateness and closeness is key.   Richardson in the book Family Ties that Bind says that “anxiety arises when there is either too much closeness or too much distance…”  You have to at some point be neutral about the very marriage that you are committed to, not that you cease to be committed, but that you have a degree of detachment.  You begin to watch yourself and your marriage like a scientist.

Ed: Peter Steinke says that “if anxiety about being separate is intense, a person gets too close or entangled with others.  This is emotional fusion.  If a person’s anxiety about being close is intense, he or she gets too engaged or too remote from others.  This is emotional cutoff.”  It can be hard to be your own person.  Sometimes our family of origin doesn’t make any room for that.  But the pay dirt is found in working on being your own person.  Your spouse doesn’t really want to be married to themselves. They want to be married to someone who is their own person, though when they are anxious, they may give you confused signals that make you feel that they want you to be just like them.  When you become entangled, you’re fused, you’re swallowed, you lose identity, you don’t know who you are.  That is very often the Hollywood myth about marriage and relationships.  Think of Rhett Butler and Scarlett Ohara in the classic movie Gone with the Wind. What was that relationship like?  (comments: fiery, stormy, dramatic).  Then Scarlett was also attracted to Ashley Wilkes.  What was he like?  (comment: he was  a milktoast).  He probably didn’t have much of a sense of self.[1091]  He eventually married Melanie.  You can go back to the movies and watch for triangles.   Ron Richardson, for any of you who are Jane Austen fans, wrote a book Becoming Your Best about Jane Austen’s novels and Family Systems Theory. Richardson sees Jane Austen as an intuitive family systems expert before the term was even invented.  Family Systems Theory is basically just common sense except we don’t use much common sense, particularly when our reptilian brain kicks in.[1092]  That bit about loving our neighbour.[1093] That’s kind of common sense, isn’t it? But we don’t always live that way.

Ed: So if you are anxious from being close, and it’s too intense, then you become remote and you disconnect.  That is called emotional cutoff.  So there is emotional fusion on one hand and emotional cutoff on the other hand.  Neither is healthy.  Neither is very functional.  What do you think would be the downside of emotional fusion?[1094]  (comments: arguments, group think, losing the ability to think).  Murray Bowen held that the ‘reptilian brain’ wants to make you think that you are thinking.  But the reptilian brain wants to be in charge.  So the ‘reptilian brain’ will allow you to think that you’re thinking, but you are actually just reacting and doing groupthink.  Ninety percent of our so-called thoughts on average are actually the same thoughts that we had the day before.  Repetitive thinking is pretend thinking.  As Murray Bowen (p. 72) said in his essay Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, “in people below the differentiation level of 50…the intellect is a pretend intellect.  The emotional system permits the intellect to go off into a corner and think about distant things as long as it does not interfere in joint decisions that affect the total life course.”

Ed:  Each of us needs closeness.  That is why I married my wife Janice.  We do need that closeness.  How many of you think that closeness is a good idea?  That is why you got married.  We need closeness on the one hand and distance or separateness on the other.  What does too much distance look like?  (comments: you can’t see, worse than lonely, disconnection, thinking negatively about the other person)  Sometimes my wife Janice comes in from work tired and she really doesn’t want an intense conversation with me.  She just wants to relax, decompress, and read a book.  She just wants some downtime.  I have had thirty-five years of getting used to that.  (laughter)

Janice:  An example of balancing closeness and personal space is Ed and I preparing meals and cleaning up in our small kitchen area.  We have four adult men in our family who enter this small kitchen space.  Especially when I am trying to get ready for work, Ed comes in to help in the kitchen, and often gets in my way because there is so little space.  So I say “give me some space”.

Ed:  In my childhood, my mother used to kick me out of the kitchen.  I guess that I would awkwardly get in her space.

Ed: The second point in balancing closeness and personal space is that “our varying desires for closeness and/or personal space usually reflect our family background.”  Richardson in the book Family Ties that Bind  said that “while one continually demands more closeness and the other demands more distance, neither recognizes that they are both helping to maintain their comfort level, which was established in their separate families of origin.”

Ed: The third point in balancing closeness and personal space is that “marital closeness is a choice rather than a pressurized obligation.”  The problem with many marital therapies is that it is so focused on togetherness that it is out of balance. [1095] Togetherness, togetherness, closeness, intimacy, we have to do everything together, we have to share everything.  But no one can actually live there.  You will actually lose your self.  If togetherness is all that you have, you will actually run from it. You will shut down, or your spouse will shut down.[1096]  Togetherness is the problem, not the answer.  If you deal with separateness, you will get togetherness thrown in.  Does that make any sense?  If you can do self-differentiation or being your own person, then the closeness and intimacy will happen.[1097]  It will be thrown in as the prize.  There is pressure and obligation when people think “we’re married.  We have to be close”.  One of the times when married couples fight the most is around Valentine’s Day because there is this pressure that it has to be this amazing evening since it’s February 14th.  Pressurized obligation doesn’t work.  Steinke said that “genuine closeness is always chosen; it is not driven, forced or obligated togetherness.  Two people swallowing one another is not a relationship. It’s emotional fusion.”  What if we dropped the obligation?  What if we stopped comparing ourselves to other people’s marriages and actually worked with what we have?  What if we stopped trying to be somebody else?  What are some of the Hollywood myths about togetherness?  (comments:  love means never to say you’re sorry, it’s easy, we will live on love, perfection, only one man for one woman, instantly mature)

Ed: The fourth point in balancing closeness and personal space is that “by reducing our emotional fusion, we find greater gender equality with our spouse.”[1098]  Steinke in his book A Door Set Open says that “…emotional fusion… is two-sided: an individual could dominate others and make them extensions of himself or an individual could dissolve self by allowing someone else’s functioning to determine hers.” Have you ever seen other couples do that where they allow themselves to be a doormat to their spouse?  In a lot of cultures, that is fairly normal; it is all that they know.  In patriarchical cultures, the woman is often the doormat and in matriarchical cultures, sometimes the man is the doormat.  Sometimes it flips back and forth in a marriage where we are either the dominant person or give up self. Steinke says that “narrowing the space is a maneuver of anxious people…Fusing or closing the space between people is another behaviour of people who do not manage their anxiety.”  It is anxiety that leads us to take over our spouse’s space.  Ron Richardson in Family Ties that Bind says that “to be fused is to be stuck in the tar of a symbiotic or parasitic relationship.”  So when you are fused, you are actually feeding off each other like emotional parasites.  It doesn’t sound like a very healthy image of marriage, does it?  You are stuck in the tar. All of us to some degree are emotionally fused.  How would you like to get unstuck from any tar in your relationship so that you can actually be yourself?  It’s far more interesting to be your self.  Equality doesn’t mean sameness.[1099]  Equality means moving in your different giftings because you all have different gifts which complement each other in your marriage.[1100]  Often we have observational blindness, which means that the more anxious we are, the less we can see clearly.  It has been said by Dr Gil Stieglitz not to aim for 50/50 in your marriage.  Aim for 70/30 because if you are feeling like you are giving 70%, and your spouse feels like you are giving 70% to the marriage, it is probably about equal.  We often have a tendency to think that we are doing more and giving more than our spouse.

Ed: Another illustration of balancing closeness and personal space is the image of a husband and wife dancing.  There is closeness in dancing but there is always space as you go back and forth.[1101]  Marriage at its best is fluid.  If you lose your flexibility and become rigid, you lose the life energy of marriage.[1102]  For the rest of your life, you will be balancing closeness and personal space.  What I find is that when I am growing in my self-differentiation in my marriage, I grow through what I call the awkward teenage phase.  You remember as a teenager when you went through a growth spurt.  What was that like?  (comment: very awkward and uncomfortable) You may be going through a growth spurt in your marriage even through this workshop.  Some of it will be awkward.  You will be learning new skills.  You won’t get it quite right.

Ed: The fifth concept in balancing closeness and personal space is that the avoider can always outrun the pursuer in marriage.  Who theoretically wants more closeness?  The pursuer, but not actually.  It looks as if the pursuer wants more closeness, but often pursuers use the pursuing as a way of driving away the avoider.  Pursuers use pursuit as a means of preserving distance and personal space.  They look as if they are the good person who is wanting relationship.  Pursuers are often the one who will initially contact the marriage counselor.  They will say: “My husband (or my wife) doesn’t want relationship”.  They will try to get the counselor to pursue their spouse.  Do you think that will work? Not at all.  Ron Richardson recommends that a key to marital breakthrough is for the counselor not to pursue the avoider, but rather to pursue the pursuer.  Then the avoider will quite often come into the relationship.[1103]  Steinke says that pursuit behaviour is any behaviour that overfocuses on another person. The most obvious form of such behaviour is rescue.”  Is it good to focus on your spouse or your children?  Yes.  But over-focus will take them out.  If you realize that you overfocus and pursue in your marriage, what if you chose to make yourself small?  What if you chose to go in the opposite direction?  What if you did a little experiment and had your spouse practice pursuing you and you could be the person that waits to be pursued?  That might be a stretch but you could try that.  Pursuing is also closely connected to overfunctioning.  The overfunctioning will take out the other spouse.  The overfunctioning pursuer can choose to dial down and reduce their overfunctioning.  I have been working on my own overfunctioning and pursuing.  Sometimes I catch myself wanting to pursue; then I choose instead to keep in touch rather than chasing.  When I chase you, Janice, what happens?

Janice: I would hide.

Ed:  I would feel unhappy about that.  So in the past I would pursue you even more, and you would…

Janice: …hide more and get angry with you.  Then after you became upset and went away, I would pursue you.

Janice:  Another example of our struggling to balance closeness and personal space is when we were coming back up the I5 Highway from California in our car without air conditioning.  The temperature was at least 100 degrees.  Both of our brains were fried or fused.  Vacation time is often a time with long hot car rides where personal space is virtually lacking.  Ed got out of the car at a rest stop and said: “You stepped on my shoes. What did you do to my shoes?”  I said to Ed: “I did not step on your shoes.  I wasn’t even sitting there. I didn’t touch your shoes at all.”  Ed gets out of the car without his shoes, and he soaks his hat with water and reads a book.  I get in the car and drive away.  The boys are saying to me: “Mommy, what are you doing?  What about Daddy?”  I said to the children: “It’s all right. I am just going to drive around and I’ll come back.”  Ten minutes later I come back, and he gets in the car. We didn’t talk for about four hours until we got into Oregon where there was this nice cabin in the cool woods.  There was a swimming pool, and then we were fine.  Sometimes we can get overheated in our relationships.

Ed: This incident gave me a fresh empathy for inner city riots in the hot summers.  Our ‘reptilian brains’ were really firing.  We basically had way too much closeness stuck in the car in 100+ degree temperature.  It was a rather embarrassing moment.  Have any of you ever had any holiday time when you had too much closeness?

Ed: Steinke says that “if we are intent on fixing or pursuing someone, we are taking too much responsibility for their lives.  Rescuers can’t tolerate healthy distance between themselves and others.” Have any of you ever had any tendency to be a rescuer?  Rescuing takes us out and takes out other people.  Rescuing can cause our spouse to underfunction or to run. Rescuing is a dead end.  The breakthrough, as AA puts it, is through letting go and letting God.  When we pursue, it doesn’t work.  Friedman in his book Failure of Nerve says that “others can only hear you when they’re moving towards you, no matter how eloquently you phrase the message. In other words, as long as you’re in a pursuing, rescuing, coercive position, your message no matter how eloquently broadcast will never catch up.”  When your spouse has been running from you and avoiding you, and you try to reason with them, does that work?  When you are trying to be brilliant and thoughtful, does that work?  You have to wait until they stop running from you.  In the meantime, you keep in touch and work on yourself and your family of origin.  A key to balancing closeness and personal space is to develop a robust sense of self.  What if you journalled during that waiting time?  What if you reflected and took some time out?[1104]  Do any of you ever journal?  What if you actually wrote about the experience of your spouse avoiding you?  If you are not a writer, how about actually recording your reflections on your cell phone?  Then you could type it up lately.

Ed: What are the most popular movies these days for teenage girls?  (comments: vampire movies) What is it about the vampire movies that are so gripping for teenage girls?  (comments: the vampire will live for ever and love them for ever, the pouty face, romantic in a way)  Does the vampire actually take over your self?  Isn’t that what the bite is about?  It’s the romance of losing self.  That’s Hollywood’s romance of the kiss or the bite, and then you give up your self.[1105]  That’s emotional fusion.[1106]  The vampire appeal is really the pull of emotional fusion.   How many of you would like to be married to a vampire?  It may be a fun teenage fantasy but when you are thirty or forty or fifty or something, it’s not much fun.  Do you really want someone who will suck the lifeblood out of you, to suck self from you?  “You look like you have too much self.”  (laughter)  Vampires are draining self from you so that they can have self, because they don’t have enough self of their own.[1107]

Ed:  In marriage we become one, but we are still two. That is a mystery.  The closeness is the oneness, but the personal space is the twoness.  A healthy marriage has oneness and twoness.  When I first became married, I was focused on oneness, oneness, oneness.  This real boring uncle got up at our wedding reception and gave a talk on how “yes, you become one, but you still need to be two.”  I thought: “Boring, boring.  No, we are one.  We are one.”  He was right. So you need oneness and you need twoness for a healthy marriage.  Marriage is teamwork.

Ed: Why don’t we get up and stretch right now?  There are some coffee, juice and snacks.  (an extended breaktime followed)

Ed:  One of the nice things has been our getting to know each other in the workshop.  That has been very enjoyable.  The sixth concept in balancing closeness and personal space is that emotional cutoff only temporarily reduces and then actually increases marital anxiety.  So anxiety will drop but then bounce back.  Emotional cutoff doesn’t work.

Janice:  Many people in North America are cut off from the country and family of origin that they and their ancestors came from.

Ed: Steinke says that “rather than standing out from others (differentiation), a person may stand outside of their circle (cutoff)…Cutoff is the exaggeration of the need to be separate — ‘I can only count on myself’ or ‘I’ll do it alone’.”  Separate is good but when it is exaggerated, it backfires.  Bowen in Family Therapy in Clinical Practice said that “the more intense the cutoff with the past, the more likely the individual to have an exaggerated version of his parental family problem in his own marriage, and the more likely his own children to do a more intense cutoff with him in the next generation.”  How is that for a motivator to do our personal work?  (open discussion followed)

Ed: We do need distance and separateness and space, and we do need to self-differentiate and be ourself.  You will remember the name of this workshop:  Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff.  There has to be a better solution to marital problems than emotional cutoff.  Emotional cutoff is very deep in all of us, particularly if that is what our family of origin did.  It will feel right, but there has to be a better way.  Ron Richardson says that “cutoff creates more intensity and sensitivity to emotional issues in the new relationships.”   So everything gets really intense.  Have you ever been told that you are too sensitive or too insensitive or maybe both?  Gilbert in her book Extraordinary Relationships says that “what the cutting off individuals don’t understand is that there is a price to be paid for emotional cutoff. The price is a dear one.”  Emotional cutoff is almost like a form of emotional suicide.

Ed: The seventh concept is that “playfulness helps us balance closeness and personal space in our marriage.”  Ducklow says that “anxiety’s major tone is seriousness…Its major antidote is playfulness.”   Beware of everything being serious, urgent and important.  John and Anne Coles in the book Making More of Marriage said that “one thing we have found invaluable in our marriage is a sense of humour. Being able to laugh together is fun and releasing.”  I would like each couple to address the following question first in writing and then sharing together verbally with each other:  “How does playfulness help you balance closeness and personal space in your marriage?”  (Open sharing followed after this exercise)

Note: The workshop was concluded with a voluntary renewal of wedding vows, the handing out of presents to each couple which included a card and the book Family Ties that Bind, and the cutting of a special Marriage Strengthening cake.  Before the couples left, appointments were booked with each couple to do the final interview which will be using the same questions as in the pre-interview.  A three-part new question was added:  ‘”How was the workshop for you?  How has the workshop strengthened your marriage? How could the workshop be strengthened?”

 

viii) May 17th 2012 Interview with Dr. Randy Frost, Executive Director of Living Systems Counseling, about his connection with Dr. Murray Bowen

Randy:  I had finished the second year at the training program in 1981.  I was going to be on a sabbatical from St. Meinred for six months.  I wanted to do a week a month at the Bowen Center over six months, and I wanted Bowen to be my supervisor.  With some encouragement from my supervisor in the second year of the program, I wrote him a letter and told him of my plan to come to the Bowen Center and asked if he would he supervise my work.  I told him that I was particularly interested in the integration of pastoral care and counseling with his theory.  He wrote back that he didn’t have the foggiest if there was any overlap between his theory and pastoral care and counseling, but to come ahead.  So I did and met with him each month for those six months.  At that point, it was a time of real turmoil in my family of origin.  So it was really valuable to have him as a resource.  Then I continued to see him, often by telephone consultation right up until four days before he died.  That was our last consultation just before he went to the Marriage and Family National Meeting of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.  After that, he was so exhausted that he just took to bed.  Two days after that meeting, he died.  But it was a real privilege to have him as my supervisor.  There is no question about it.

Ed:  What was it like to know Murray Bowen as a person? What was your experience of him?

Randy:  I wouldn’t say that we had a personal friendship, because I was a trainee and someone that was consulting him.  But in addition to my personal interaction with him, I saw him at meetings, symposiums, other meetings that were held.  He, I would say, had a unique ability to be himself, regardless of the situation.  So he would say what he thought.   That certainly stood out.  Some might see him as a bit of a character.  But he was always thinking theory and trying to present theory.  Whether it was sitting with a person in supervision or on a panel with a major scientist like E.O. Wilson from Harvard, he would say what he thought.  If he thought at one point that the faculty were allowing the world to influence them and as a result were watering down or eroding theory, he would say it publicly.  He always thought of the Bowen Center as the Citadel where people could go to recover their bearings.  “But now the Citadel has lost its way.” (laughter)  The faculty are sitting there listening to all of this.  That would be an example of him being very direct and out front in what he is thinking.  He had great ways of detriangling when people tried to pull him in somehow.  There are lots of Bowen stories out there that people who knew him still tell.  These stories are a way of having a window on how Bowen applied the theory in his own life.  He was one of a kind in many ways.

Randy:  I think that one of the misunderstandings of Bowen Theory is that it has nothing to do with feelings or that you eliminate feelings or something.  At one clinical conference, Bowen declared: “Feelings are the heartland of therapy.”  So if you read carefully what he has to say about differentiation, he talks about the integration of the differentiation between the thinking and feeling and emotional systems.  The idea is that you can’t really integrate something unless there is a degree of separation, so that you know the difference between when you are operating out of your feeling system and when you are operating out of your cognitive thinking system.  Once you are able to tell the difference, then you can integrate them and have access to both.  You are aware of your feelings and at times you might want to go with your feelings.  But you also have the counterbalance of the more objective thinking process that you can call on when it is important.

Randy: In therapy, we talk about being in good emotional contact with the family where the family is able to talk about what they are thinking, what they are feeling, what is happening without concern about the impact on the therapist.  So it is an open kind of thing.  When a therapist has that kind of relationship with a family, we say that the therapist is in good emotional contact with the family.  The family can talk about feelings.   But the therapist is also working to maintain emotional separation from the family so that the therapist is not reacting emotionally to what he or she is hearing, but thinking about it and thinking with the family about the emotional process.  So again you are trying to integrate the thinking/feeling process.   But your questions and your focus with the family is directed at the more thoughtful side of the family, which can include trying to be more thoughtful about some of the intense feelings that they are struggling with.  So that is one of the biggest misconceptions that Bowen Theory is anti-feeling, or anti-togetherness.  “Bowen Theory is anti-togetherness”  would be another misconception.  If people have a robust sense of self, the togetherness goes a lot better.  If you are trying to focus on the togetherness and push for more and more of it, the effort messes togetherness up.

Ed: How would you contrast Family Systems Theory with Attachment Theory, its similarities and differences?

Randy:  Good question.  Often it gets confused.  Bowen talks about unresolved emotional attachment.  Attachment Theory of course talks about differences in the kinds of attachments that people have.  But if you look at Bowlby and Ainsworth and some of the others that have come along since, basically the critique is that there isn’t enough attachment of a certain kind, whereas in Bowen Theory the focus is on too much attachment, the failure to gradually resolve the emotional attachment established at birth when it is entirely appropriate and needed.   But then as the child grows and can do more and more for self, the parents relinquish some of that responsibility for the child and turn it over to the child.  The child gradually assumes more and more responsibility for self until the time they are ready to leave home and make their way in the world.  By then, they are ideally well-functioning adults who can maintain an open relationship with their parents with lots of good emotional contact, but not that emotional dependence that is more appropriate at a younger age.  Clinically symptoms or vulnerability to symptoms has to do with the degree of unresolved emotional attachment people have with their parents which can be over-positive or over-negative, either of which could be an indicator of a lack of resolution of some of that emotional attachment.  Of course in very intense situations, with problems such as schizophrenia or autism, children are almost welded emotionally to the parents.  In less severe problems, the attachment is less intense, but still an important factor.  So that would be a major difference.  Bowen Theory calls attention to the overinvolvement, overdoing of attachment whereas people in Attachment Theory worry about the lack of attachment, or the lack of the right kind of attachment.

Ed:  Sue Johnson of Emotionally Focused Therapy, that would be a subcategory of Attachment Theory, and she also draws on John Gottman’s research.

Randy:  She does.  We had Gottman here at a Living Systems conference with Mike Kerr and a number of researchers working on Bowen Theory and doing research with it.  It was quite an exciting conference because Gottman’s opening salvo was “Bowen Theory is wrong and here are the reasons.”  So it was quite a lively meeting.  But the point that I made in my presentation at that meeting was that Gottman has this terrific research.  What initially caught my attention with the research was hooking up couples to biofeedback equipment.  For the ones who had a high level of marital dissatisfaction, when they discussed a sensitive issue, their indicators of tension like skin temperature, sweat rate, heart rate, heart beat intervals, all of that, went up in tandem.  When couples who reported a high level of satisfaction participated in the same experiment, one person’s level of tension could go up and the other’s didn’t change much.  So one could stay calm even when their spouse was upset.  The experiment captures the degree of differentiation in a marital relationship at a physiological level so that one person’s upset didn’t automatically involve the other getting upset.  When one is upset, the other can keep talking and stay in contact without getting upset themselves.  The tension then goes up for one spouse and then comes back down. With the couples reporting a high level of dissatisfaction, they are feeding the tension back and forth, and each is further inciting arousal in the other.

Randy: To the degree that people can stay in charge of their own emotional response to spouse or children or parents when it is important to do so, it is one indicator of level of differentiation.  You have to remember that Bowen worked for years with his family of origin before he considered his effort a solid breakthrough.  One of the things that came out of that was seeing the family as a conglomerate rather than individual triangles.  He tried to keep the family in a ‘bag’ with himself on the outside of it.   So his effort to avoid allies and to stay on the outside in the family meeting was one of the features that helped him stay out of the emotional intensity the whole time.  There is so much to learn in that.  People sometimes get focused on the colourful ways and the funny ways that Bowen conveyed his detachment, his emotional neutrality.  But there is a blueprint behind all of that which is very important.

Randy:  John Gottman has a problem with differentiation.  The paper that I presented talked about Gottman’s wonderful research, picking up on the physiology of emotional fusion.  Gottman’s research is at odds with his therapy, because he is focusing on the togetherness aspects in the therapy and on feelings and emotions and what-not.  He is not really following his research which indicated that what is more important than empathy and togetherness is emotional separation.  So I concluded my paper by saying that I hoped that Gottman kept going with that wonderful research of his, because before he was done, he was going to prove Bowen Theory!

Randy:   Take criticism as one of Gottman’s four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  It fits for the other Horsemen as well.   It is kind of an automatic, reactive, nagging, what’s wrong with the other person.  This can just be seen as indicators of fusion where there is an effort to correct the other as if the other should be an extension of who you are.  It gets thought of more in terms of the individual that the individual needs to cool the criticism for things to go better.  Fair enough.  But it misses the relational piece, the struggle with fusion or a more intense attachment.  That is what I would see the Four Horsemen as indicating or reflecting is this underlying emotional fusion.  Gottman doesn’t have a real theory to account for his research.  He has this house with different planks which are very closely tied to specific items of research.  I think that Gottman’s research fits very nicely into Bowen Theory.

Randy:  With Gottman’s Four Horsemen concept of Stonewalling, I would see it as a reflection of an intense fusion where one person is impinging on another.  The other’s way of trying to get a little separation is to go silent.  Both the one pursuing and the one clamming up are part of a relationship process.  Again this is reflective of an underlying emotional fusion, not separation, not differentiation. What you have, as your course indicates, is that at better levels of differentiation, people can accept differences as well as respect them.  There is not an expectation that the other will be an extension of you, think the same way you do, and feel the same way you do.

 

ix) Analysis of the Interviews with the Strengthening Marriage Workshop Couples

The first of the six questions that I asked the five couples was “What attracted you to your spouse and what keeps your marriage alive?”

With John and Julie Jones, in their pre-interview John said that he was attracted to Julie’s passion for and desire to serve God , her making the Lord integral in her life, and her similar sense  of humour. In the post-interview, John similarly emphasized being attracted to Julie’s love for the Lord, putting God first in her life, and her godliness.  While godliness was not a term used in the pre-interview, it was implied by the phraseology.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, John in the pre-interview mentioned praying together, laughing together, and the freedom to be themselves without pretending. In the post-interview, John four times mentioned spending time together doing things, something that had not been mentioned by John in the pre-interview.  It appears that the emphasis on spending time together doing things may be a result of the marriage workshop.  Another new statement was that Julie was definitely his best friend.  Prayer and laughter were not mentioned in the post-interview though godliness was mentioned in the parallel section of what attracted him to Julie.

In the pre-interview, Julie said that she was attracted to John’s character, his personality,  the way that he endured suffering with integrity, how rooted in Christ he was, and how he made her laugh. In the post-interview, Julie similarly said that she was attracted to John’s godly character, the way that he was able to gently point people towards a deeper, intimate relationship with Jesus, and his sense of humour. There did not seem to be any change here in the pre and post interview.  As to what kept their marriage alive, Julie said in the pre-interview that they both trust each other a lot, so they find freedom in being able to be entirely ourselves.  In the post interview, Julie mentioned having quality time together,  going out and doing stuff together, laughing, and getting times (breaks) from the kids every week.  These new comments were similar to what John was saying in his post-interview suggesting that these may be learnings from the workshop.

With Burt and Bev Buchanan, Burt did not say what attracted him to Bev in the pre-interview. In the post-interview, Burt said that it was the relativity of what they were experiencing in life at that time: the disappointment of losing a marriage, having the children, expecting more from your marriage, expecting more of  himself, and being able to keep their family together. He went on to say that what attracted him to Bev was the chemistry which goes back to their backgrounds, having gone through the same thing at the same time, being able to express themselves with each other, to open right up with each other, and see what each of them had to offer, and what they were lacking too.   It looks as if the workshop assisted Burt in growing in self and systemic family awareness, key concepts in family systems theory.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, Burt in the pre-interview said that they both want better for the entire family, he just enjoys her, they have the same sense of humour, and they have the same sort of way of raising our kids.  In the post-interview, Burt said that what keeps their marriage alive is determination, in particular his wife’s determination for success in all aspects of life and whatever is needed to make that happen.  Burt commented that where they are, they are in the same place, having the same challenges before they met, and now having the same challenges together, turning those challenges into possibilities.  A common theme in both the pre and post interview is the term ‘same’: same sense of humour, same way of raising children, same place, same challenges.  The new expression was determination, something implicit in the pre-interview.

In the pre-interview, Bev said that she was attracted that Burt was every bit as social and open as she was, that he was a very bright spark in a dull crowd, there was instant chemistry, it was love at first sight for her and they were friends for the first year.  In the post-interview, Bev said again that what attracted her to Burt was instant chemistry, love at first sight, and that amazing bright spark over there that she couldn’t see anything but him.  Bev’s attractional answer was virtually identical in both the pre and post interview.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, Bev in the pre-interview said that it was dedication and commitment, having a lot in common, being very hard-working and devoted to provide for their children, being a good fit, with their passionate, fiery natures keeping them connected.  In the post-interview, Bev said that Burt is her best friend in life; they both share is our passion for family. Coming from a large family, she needed a family, and Burt gave her his family.  She remembers him saying: “You can cook like crazy and you love family. You’ve got me on both points.”  The post-interview moved from passionate natures to passion for family and friendship.

With Sean and Susan Sutherland, in their pre-interview Sean said that he was attracted to her ethnicity, her being gorgeous, and her being female.  This mysterious attraction was like a sense of smell.  In the post-interview, Sean said that he was attracted to her strength, her being a match for him, her being able to stand up to him, and her independence. Sean knew that Susan needed to have a certain strength to be able to be married to him.  In this post-interview question, Sean no longer mentioned her ethnicity, her being gorgeous. Instead he emphasized her strength which enabled her to stand up to his strength in a marriage.  This insight suggests learning in the workshop around self-differentiation and reducing emotional fusion.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, Sean in the pre-interview said that it was the determination to keep the marriage going somehow in any way possible.  In the post-interview, Sean said that he hadn’t lost the faith that getting married was a right decision.  One of Sean’s insights through the workshop seemed to be the importance of faith in their marriage and future together.

In the pre-interview, Susan said that what attracted her to Sean was that he was handsome, smart, bright, interesting; he liked to lead in dancing and liked to leave room for her style of dancing too.  In the post-interview, Susan said that what attracted her to Sean was that he was very handsome, very intelligent, different, Canadian and very fresh.   The theme of Sean’s being handsome and intelligence came up in both interviews.  Dancing was not mentioning in the post-interview.  The new emphasis was on his being different, Canadian and very fresh, perhaps an unpacking of the early phrase ‘interesting’.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, Susan said in the pre-interview that Sean is witty, often funny, often has a unique point of view, doesn’t follow the crowd in their thinking, perceptive of others, but not judgmental, has a good laugh, is talented at singing and acting, theatre things, and likes art which is what I do.  He likes food and ethnic foods a lot with lots of flavour.  We find interesting films and movie stuff.  He is good with kids and older people which is important to me.  He helps our older friends stay in their homes by fixing things; He introduced me to camping, and likes nature and the outdoors; He is generous with money and a hard worker; He is very good at what he does and has always has been at whatever he has done. Susan likes that he is from a different background, as she likes differences.  In the post-interview, Susan said that she didn’t know, maybe it was stubbornness, and that they have a history together.  Susan’s post-interview response to this question was much briefer.

With Richard and Rose Reid, in their pre-interview Richard said that he was attracted to their singing and dancing, her being very caring, and being a great cook.  In the post-interview Richard said that he was attracted to Rose’s faith. He could see and sense her faith.  He was attracted that Rose is a classic woman in a lot of ways.  He loved her sense of humour and her ability to cook.  (laughter ensued)  In the post-interview attractional section, Rose’s singing, dancing and caring were not mentioned.  Instead Richard emphasized her faith and humour.  The common factor in the two interviews was her cooking.

In the pre-interview, Rose said that what attracted her to Richard was the music, his sense of humour in which he made her laugh a lot, his having a lot of energy, and his enjoying her cooking.  In the post-interview, Rose said that she was attracted to Richard’s sense of humour  in the midst of his looking serious, his creativity, his kindness, his being really there for her in trauma, and his love for the Lord.  In the post-interview attractional section, music was not mentioned by Rose, while humour was re-emphasized.  The new attractional features were creativity, kindness, and love for the Lord.  Perhaps the additional insights were fruits of the discussion times at the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

Neither Richard nor Rose distinguished in their pre-interview between what attracted them and what kept their marriage alive.  In the post-interview, Richard said that what kept the marriage alive was their mutual commitment to evangelism.  Rose in the post-interview said that what kept their marriage alive was the Lord as their centre, their love for the Lord and reading the Word together.  She sees their marriage as an exciting journey with different valleys and hills. Rose said that as long as they keep our eyes on Jesus, they know that everything will work for the good.  Part of our journey, said Rose, was going through this Strengthening Marriage workshop where they learned a lot.  For both Richard and Rose, their common sense of faith and mission is key in keeping their marriage alive.  Rose’s post-interview emphasis on marriage as an adventure seems to reflect learnings at the Marriage Workshop.

With Lloyd and Linda Lindsay, what attracted Lloyd to Linda was that he just liked her smile when he first saw her, and he liked her companionship.  In the post-interview, Lloyd said that he was attracted to her demeanor, the look about her, the way she is.  (mutual laughter ensued)

Linda said in the pre-interview that what attracted her to Lloyd was that she had this mystery guy who had this mad crush on her, and she never really met him until one day he ran around my house at night, saying “I love you, J.  I love you.”  (giggling). In the post-interview, Linda said that what attracted her is that she thought that Lloyd loved her.

As to what keeps their marriage alive, Lloyd in the pre-interview said that it was their companionship.  Linda said that it was that they respect each other.  In the post-interview, Linda said what kept their marriage alive was she believes that Lloyd loves her.   Three times in the pre and post interviews, Linda emphasized Lloyd’s love for her being key in attraction and keeping their marriage alive.  Lloyd did not distinguish in the post-interview between what attracted him and what keeps their marriage alive.  Lloyd and Linda were both succinct and focused in their answers.

The second of the six questions that I asked the five couples was: What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?   With John and Julie, in their pre-interview John saw as strengths that they are a very compatible couple, they can be themselves, laugh, pray and have a lot of fun.  John said that their number one strength was that they both want to be used of the Lord in Kingdom work and to be in the will of the Lord.  In the post-interview, John saw as strengths that they have common goals and common values, they both kind of desire the same thing for our families and in ministry for themselves, and they laugh together very frequently.  John’s response was similar in both pre and post interviews.  The clarified emphasis was on common goals and values, something emphasized in family systems teaching.

In the pre-interview, Julie said that she saw as a strength how they balance each other out well, saying “Where he is weak, I may be stronger and vice versa.  Where I am weak, he is stronger as well.”  In the post-interview strength section, Julie once again said that they balance each other out, filling in the gaps for each other. Julie went on to say that they have a similar outlook on life, they are both heading in the same direction, they mostly parent the same way, and they have the same kind of goals.   These new comments by Julie both reflect sameness but also marital direction and goals which were emphasized in the Marriage Workshop as key Family Systems Theory concepts.

With Burt and Bev, in their pre-interview Burt saw as their marriage’s strengths that they are devoted, their working together on finances, having a deaf ear, being committed to integrity and doing what they say they will do.  In the post-interview, Burt spoke of the strengths of working hard, knowing each other’s strengths, not trying to take charge of things that one’s spouse could do better, longing for more and knowing how to achieve it.  Hard work and devotion was expressed as strengths in both the pre and post interviews.  Knowing each other’s strengths is a new statement that may express learning from the Marriage Workshop.

In the pre-interview, Bev saw as strengths their devotion, their humour, their ability to cope with stress involving a blended family and finances, having a thick skin, their joint investment and vision of the future, not being defined by today, having bigger mutual goals, having integrity, and having great lovely children.  In the post-interview, Bev said that the marital strengths were their ability to preserve, to see positive and optimistic outcomes despite negative circumstances, the strength of their children even with their stresses.  Other strengths that Bev mentioned were that they are talented people who have good ingredients and capabilities, that they enjoy life together, that they create ritual and excitement and passion in everyday mundane things, and the brighter and more vivid colour in their marital vision and the way they live life.

With Sean and Susan, in their pre-interview Sean saw as a strength this sense of hope, that no matter how bad things seem to get, we can figure a way to get through it.  In the post-interview, a strength Sean noted was their history together: “I realize that marriage is not just another relationship, not just another thing that goes for as long as it goes and then you let her go.  It’s become much more than that, our history together, we have woven a nest (a structure) around us, and we are aware of it.  It is not visible necessarily but it surrounds us completely.  It contains all of who we are with each other.” Sean saw another strength as a sense of mystery between Sean and Susan.  A really powerful strength, said Sean, is that there is essential communication possible under any conditions.  The new emphases in the post-interview with Sean were the specialness of marriage, their history and structure as a nest, the sense of mystery between them, and the essential possible communication.

In the pre-interview, Susan saw as strengths that they are good around young people as a team, good at taking care of the home, good at managing money, and good with friends of many ages.  Flexibility is also seen as a strength by Susan.  In the post-interview, Susan saw as strengths that they give each other a lot of room, good as a team in running the home, and good with different maintenance skills.  The new strength emphasis for Susan in the post-interview was their giving each other a lot of room, which may reflect the Marriage Workshop teaching about balancing closeness and personal space.

With Richard and Rose, in their pre-interview Richard saw as their marriage’s strengths that they love the Lord Jesus and want to share their faith with others.  Other strengths noted by Richard are that they both like the beach, different kinds of movies, and gospel music.  In the post-interview, Richard identified as strengths that both have a moral code that centers around family, commitment and the Word of God. Richard also emphasized their focus on prayer.  The new features in Richard’s post-interview related to the moral code and prayer.

In the pre-interview, Rose emphasized as strengths their love for the Lord that holds them together, their passion to serve the Lord and witness to other people, and their ministry work in common.  Another strength identified by Rose is that they are working on spending more quality time together outside of work.  In the post-interview, Rose emphasized as strength their focus on prayer: “It is amazing that when we do pray, if you have your eyes on the Lord, everything works out if you put him first.”  The new and only emphasis in the post-interview was on prayer, similar to her husband’s post-interview.

With Lloyd and Linda, in their pre-interview Lloyd saw their marriage’s strengths as friendship, respect, same sense of humour, and commitment.  In the post-interview, Lloyd saw their marriage’s strength that they are good friends.  Friendship came up for Lloyd in both the pre and post-interview.

In the pre-interview, Linda saw their marriage’s strengths as friendship, respect, and same sense of humour, and loyalty.  In the post-interview, Linda also saw their marriage’s strength that they are good friends.  Another strength Linda mentioned was that she trusted Linda.  While Lloyd emphasized the strength of commitment in the pre-interview, Linda emphasized loyalty, a similar and overlapping concept.  Friendship came up for Lloyd and Linda in both the pre and post-interview.

The third of the six questions that I asked the five couples was: What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?    With John and Julie, in their pre-interview John saw the most important turning points/times of change as being the first time that they were invited at a conference as a couple to minister.  The other times that stand out, said John, were the times that they were able to be very vulnerable to each other about their past, to see it cherished and not crushed.  In the post-interview, John said that the most important turning points/times of change were when one of them had been extremely vulnerable with the other person sharing something that has been risky to share, and seeing how the other person responded in love. The theme of vulnerable sharing and acceptance was mentioned by John in both the pre and post-interview, suggesting how important this was to him.

In the pre-interview, Julie shared her most important turning points/times of change as going through an intense church conflict in which they as spouses learned to really meld together, to fight for each other, and to be each other’s encourager.  In the post-interview, Julie emphasized that the more vulnerable they get, the stronger their relationship becomes and that during intense trials, they have pulled together, walked together and worked together.  The theme of standing together in conflict was mentioned by Julie in both the pre and post-interviews.

With Burt and Bev, in their pre-interview Bev saw the most important turning points/times of change as being separated from Bev.  In the post-interview, Burt said that the most important turning points/times of change have been when they hit rock bottom before making a shift. (mutual laughter)

In Bev’s pre-interview, she said that the most important turning points/times of change were when they were separated from each other, when she changed her career, when Burt changed his career, and having their son.  In the post-interview, Bev also said that the most important turning points have been when they hit rock bottom in our relationship: “I realized I couldn’t take another breath without this person, and that we were connected in a way that we couldn’t just extricate ourselves from.”  Another major turning point was when Burt began his new career bringing a new mutual partnership.  While separation was mentioned by both, career change was mentioned extensively by Bev in both her pre- and post-interview.

With Sean and Susan, in their pre-interview Sean saw the most important turning points/times of change as creating characters as required to deal with particularly challenging situations, such as when they were in a bad situation on a lake trying to get home in a boat.  A key time of change for Jerry was moving out west as a new beginning in life.  This forced Sean and Susan to depend on each other like a couple of cats in a bag.  In the post-interview, Sean identified turning points as related to death of family members.  Other turning points involved adapting to crisis situations by turning it on its ear and basically saying “Ah, that’s okay.”  Their decision to get married was a very important turning point: “one of the biggest things that I have ever done in my life, and everything has kind of followed from there.”   Facing serious health issues has been a key turning point for Sean and Susan. Another key turning point is the realization by Sean that it’s getting harder to stay married and deal with things as they change: “the awareness that in order to make things work, I have to work a lot harder than I was prepared to.”  Sean covered a lot of ground in his post-interview that suggest a deep reflecting that occurred in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

In Susan’s pre-interview, she shared her most important turning points/times of change as moving out West.  The friendships out West have been different, with the result that they had to depend more on each other.  Growing older changes things.  In Susan’s post-interview, she shared her most important turning points/times of change as being health challenges faced by Sean and Susan.  Health and aging issues stand out in Susan’s post-interview.

With Richard and Rose, in their pre-interview, Richard saw the most important turning points/times of change as when the Lord chastened them and put them back together again.  In the post-interview, Richard saw the most important turning points/times of change as when they were both spent forces and the Lord came and cemented them.  Another turning point is that through the Strengthening Marriage workshop, Richard said that Rose is becoming more accepting of his personality type.

In the pre-interview, Rose said that an important turning point/times of change was when they weren’t spending any quality time together, which wore on their relationship.  They were going in different directions.  So they prayed and prayed, and God showed them where they were going wrong, and turned it around for them.  In the post-interview, Rose said that an important turning point/times of change was when the intimacy was not there, they were going in different directions, not connecting, and wondering why they got married.   God intervened as they prayed to the Lord.  Another important turning point was when Rose came into recovery and her life was changed.  Taking the marriage workshop was a turning point in helping them look at their strengths to bring them closer: “I like that. That was really good.  I can remember that now.  Certain things I can remember when I get in that ‘corner’. I remember: “This is what I should do.”  It is starting to happen. I can see it happening now.”   Rose found the Marriage Workshop concept of celebrating our difference to be a turning point because now she can accept him for whom he is.  She can just relax: “We are always growing. God is always changing us.  That was really, really good.”  In the post-interview, Rose not only talked about prayer but also about recovery and Marriage Workshop concepts like looking at strengths and celebrating differences.   Rose is finding those concepts to be practical and workable.

With Lloyd and Linda in their pre-interview, Linda saw the most important turning points/times of change as when we were divorced and then remarried to each other.  In the post-interview, Lloyd said that the most important turning points/times of change was getting married again: “that was a real big shift. I think that was the biggest one of all. And from there, it was a lot different. That was a big change.”   In Lloyd’s post-interview, the importance of remarrying each other replaced the importance of divorce.

In the pre-interview, Linda saw the most important turning points/times of change when they were remarried.  Linda said that their time apart when divorced help them realize what value they had in the other person.  In the post-interview, Linda spoke of tragically losing her dad and great aunt while divorced from Lloyd.  Linda spoke of being together for ten years and then married when she was close to giving birth.  Being married three times to Lloyd has been a significant turning point for Linda.  Key turning points for Linda have been both times of tragedy and times of breakthrough.

The fourth of the six questions that I asked the five couples was “How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?  What are ways to grow in that area?”    With John and Julie, in their pre-interview, John said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was learning what the triggers are in their marriage, and increasing self-awareness of the triggers so that when conflict arises, there is better understanding.  In the post-interview, John said the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was when one or both stepped outside the pattern the times of their normal response, causing them to differentiate from their common patterns: “That kind of breaks that cycle.”  John commented that they deal with change fairly well.  Triggers were not mentioned in John’s post-interview, though both interviews alluded to common patterns and new possible ways of responding.  In the post-interview, differentiation was mentioned which is a key concept that had been taught in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

In Julie’s pre-interview, she said that the best way they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was when they are dealing with family conflict by hunkering down and getting through it.  In Julie’s post-interview, she said that they are starting to grow in the area of conflict, and are starting to think like a scientist, to look at it from an outside perspective, become detached and observe what is going on.  They are beginning, said Julie, to recognize triggers and things like that, what would cause certain reactions.  She also said that they are also starting to realize their own reactions, and what might be causing them as well.  Her final comment was “I think that we are growing and we will continue to grow.”  In the post-interview, Julie gave strong indication of growth in dealing with conflict, quoting Marriage Workshop concepts like “thinking like a scientist, becoming detached, realizing their own reactions.”  Both Julie and John said in their post-interviews that they handle change well, having much change in their lives.

With Burt and Bev, in their pre-interview, Bev said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was to just try to power through it. They try, said Burt, to find a way to get through the mud and into the clear water: “We usually find our way through it just by gritting our teeth and wanting to be out of the mess.”   This does take some time: “We will hang out in that mess for a couple of days until we can both cool our heels a bit. Then we just get tired of being upset.”  In the post-interview, Burt said the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was that they have looked for a way that would be softer: “we say: ‘Okay, we are not soft with this.  How can we be softer?’”

In Bev’s pre-interview, she said that the best way they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was that they were both committed to ongoing work and refinement so that they can learn: “we are still together at the end of conflict.  We are still there.”  In Bev’s post-interview, she said once again: “we are still here at the end of it”, expressing the importance of not giving up when conflict is painful.  Bev named different ways of handling conflict that she learned at the Marriage Workshop: “…self-awareness which will help with our life of conflict, and being there in the moment of what is occurring for you.  (I also learned about) the reptilian brain and the differentiation between the phases of upset and being more aware of those.  That was new.  Another thing that I learned was about doing our own introspective work.  That is something that I am constantly committed to…by being committed to our own work and each unto ourselves, we create a finer model.”  Bev seems to have had a lot of new insights about self-awareness, the reptilian brain, differentiation, and introspection that she has drawn from the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

With Sean and Susan, in their pre-interview, Sean said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage is ‘survival mode’: “it is almost like we have a series of skirmishing parties.  It’s like you come together and you have a scrap.  You fire off a few and then you go off.  Then you figure out what happened and you figure out what is going to work the next time you meet.   You might not shoot each other the next time you meet.”  Sean said that ways to grow in that area are to do it, do the stuff that they have been afraid to do it: “We need to begin to challenge that, that set, that willingness, that turn-awayness, that ‘I don’t want to look at it or face it’, ‘I don’t want to deal with it’, that hasn’t worked.”

In Sean’s post-interview, he said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was realizing that Susan has always surprised him with things that I don’t know.  So he is trying to give up on trying to pretend that he knows, and see if he can just live with it.  Sean spoke of a connection that they made with themselves during the marriage workshop which has brought everything into focus in a way that has been very, very valuable, in refocusing and reexamination on a constant basis.  Like the child in the dark who can see past the shadow in the corner, said Sean, this refocusing has lessened the sense of desperation, hopelessness and aloneness that was growing in him.  Sean sees that they have backed off from ‘going to the wall’ and that has calmed things down quite a bit: “We can look at things from a slightly different point of view and try to take it from there.”  Sean’s post-interview comments indicate new insights from the Marriage Workshop in terms of refocusing and re-examining that has reduced confrontation and increased calmness.

In Susan’s pre-interview, she said that the best way they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was that that there is some thought on their parts from separate camps, and then some change will happen where Sean might finally hear something that Sean am trying to say, and then Sean might show it by doing something or Susan might do something. This would happen indirectly rather than directly.  Susan said that they grow in that area by just relaxing and getting more comfortable with their style of managing conflict.    Perhaps, said Susan, they could learn to talk over things.

In her post-interview, Susan said that one of their ways of handling conflict was by adopting fantasy roles and names that helped make it through stress times: “It started when we were on a canoe, caught in the storm.  We were going in the wrong direction without realizing…So over the years in crisis, we look at each other and we change names so that you become someone else who can handle it…it helped a lot.”  Susan went on to say: “ I think that what we do now with the conflict is that we back off from each other…it has a positive effect in that you sort of feel yourself again.  You’re not caught up in a big struggle or you’re not caught up being blocked.  If someone doesn’t accept what you say, you can’t force them to accept it. You can’t force them to hear.  So a lot of the things you said, I have thought about for a time. So you get on with your own activities and where your energy goes next.  Even if I would like something to happen, if it is not, then I move to other things.  So given that, from the point of calmness again, I can’t go back to it because it wouldn’t necessarily change things.  We might even do something about what we are talking about without talking again.  Or we just come back but more content inside of ourselves.”  Susan’s post-interview comments suggest a lot of self-reflection, an area that was emphasized in the Marriage Workshop.

With Richard and Rose, in their pre-interview, Richard said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was that they just talk about it until they get resolution.  Richard said that they have a very open and honest relationship.  They don’t keep secrets from each other and they tell each other exactly what is going on.  They want to do due diligence and that sort of thing in our relationship.  He thought that a way to grow was to step down the anger and not get into that.  Richard said that that the Lord has chastened and restored them: “We have gone through a real transformation.  The home life…it is all evolving.”   In Richard’s post-interview, he said: “since I got married, I think less about myself  and more about the Lord and more about other people, particularly my wife and other people than I do about myself, less and less and less.  I am being sanctified.”  Richard said that Genesis Chapter 2 (which he read out a portion) is the basis of marriage.

In Rose’s pre-interview, she said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was that God is refining them, sharpening them up where God can use them: “Now God is really speaking to me as to how I am treating Richard…I can’t do anything without having a healthy stable marriage first.  I had my priorities all mixed up.”  Ways to grow in the marriage, said Rose, were to show obvious love and to focus on each other: “You know how the Lord says to love each other as ourselves.  So if we do that, I give 100%, Richard gives 100%, even 70%, then we won’t be focusing on ourself.  We will be focusing on each other.  And then that love can grow.”

In the post-interview, Rose said that the ways they have best dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was by just expressing herself, how she was feeling.  Ways to grow in that area, said Rose, were to pray about it and consider how the Bible says that we should think about other people before ourselves: “Heal our hearts, teach us how to love.”  Rose said regarding marriage and sanctification: “We are dying, we are dying. We are dying daily.”  A huge part of being married, said Rose, is a huge part of being married now; it is looking at the other person’s needs.  It is about asking God to heal those wounds because we come from really broken lives: “God will show us the way.  He always does.  He will show us how to love each other.”  For both Rose and Richard, their Christian faith and language is a major part of what strengthens their marriage.

 

With Lloyd and Linda, in their pre-interview, Lloyd said that the best ways they dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was trying to find answers to the conflict, trying to overcome them somehow, trying not to just ignore it and trying to fix it.  Lloyd said: “I like the phrase ‘don’t let the sun go down on your anger.’ You try to resolve it.”  In the post-interview, Lloyd reemphasized that it is good to deal with conflict rather than just hide it and that he likes what it says in the Bible ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.’: “I don’t like to go to bed after a big fight.”  It seems that Lloyd is determined to work on conflict avoidance, an important area to address in Family Systems Theory.   Lloyd saw ways of growing through just being together with things, and by not blaming each other.  The non-blaming approach of Family Systems Theory was a major emphasis in the Marriage Workshop.

In the pre-interview, Linda said that they have best dealt with conflict and change in their marriage by ignoring Lloyd when it is not important, not relevant: “Sometimes you have to disregard”.  Linda also said “If I am in a bad mood, I say ‘I am in a bad mood.’  He knows and he just disregards.”  Linda went on to say that when you have a disagreement, you have to stay on the subject for what it is worth, not exaggerate it.

In the post-interview, Sheila said the ways they have best dealt with conflict and change in their marriage was by her trying to avoid, counting to ten, journaling, trying to be objective, and always having respect for each other.  Avoidance of conflict seems to be a strong family of origin pattern.  Journaling and being objective are key Family Systems approach taught in the Marriage Workshop.

 

The fifth of the six questions that I asked the five couples was “What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?  How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?“

With John and Julie, in their pre-interview, John said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that his mother was quite stoic and unemotional: “Any emotion on her would a sign that things are tough and really, really bad.”  His stepdad and stepmom are both quite emotional in the way that they deal with emotional pain: “My stepmom in particular does not deal with emotional pain well at all.  My dad is quite a rescuer and deals with emotional pain usually by focusing on my stepmom.”  While John sees that his first reaction in the time of emotional pain is to cut off, he realizes that you can’t deal with things if you cutoff.  He is learning to not throw up walls and cut off but rather to stay engaged with the process: “there are times, even now, when my first reaction, my first instinct, is to cut off, but by the grace of God I am learning to stay engaged.”

In his post-interview, John said again that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was his mother was very stoic and unemotional: “The only times I can ever remember her emotional pain was when her dad died and when my parents got divorced.   Both times she was very very stoical.  I never saw her deal with emotional pain.” John went on to say: “My mom was more of a ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ kind of person.  So that is probably where I get it from.”  Conflict seemed to be nonexistent and/or avoided: “In my family of origin, I have been thinking about this a lot over the course of the four weeks.  I never saw my family deal with conflict because there wasn’t a lot of conflict.  But when I think about it, I don’t know that there wasn’t conflict.  I never saw them dealing with it.”  With his dad and stepmom, there was conflict at times:  My stepmother would have this huge mood swing and my dad was quite patient up until a point, and he felt that if she stepped over, he was quite firm about it.  But up to that point, he could take a lot from her. “ John said that the closer John and Julie are to the middle, the less cutoff there is: “We tend to polarize but when one or both of us comes closer to the middle, then it tends to avoid those extremes.”  John’s post-interview comments reflect a family of origin awareness as taught in the Strengthening Marriage workshop.

In the pre-interview, Julie said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was to be like ostriches, sticking their head under: “Nobody talks about anything.  No one apologizes. There is no recognition that there is conflict. Nothing is resolved.”  Julie said that when she is in conflict, she will start attacking almost to force emotional cutoff.  She did not express the way that she has best avoid cutting off emotionally in her marriage.

In the post-interview, Julie reaffirmed that her family of origin pattern was “Don’t deal with it. Shove it under the rug, and don’t talk about it.  Don’t bring it up.  Don’t confront anyone.  Just pretend that it didn’t happen.”  In both pre and post-interviews, conflict avoidance was stated as her family of origin default.  She realizes that she had ‘gone to the other extreme (where) she must confront it’: “I have swung to the other direction.”  Julie says that she is learning how to not cut off emotionally and how not to be emotionally reactive.  Both Julie and John developed through the Strengthening Marriage Workshop a greater awareness of how emotional cutoff functions in their marriage, and how to reduce its impact.

With Burt and Bev, in their pre-interview, Burt said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that my parents were very, very involved mostly with his sibling because his sibling’s life was kind of a nightmare, due to a car accident and ongoing complications.  Burt admits cutting off emotionally and tries to avoid cutting off emotionally by taking an interest.

In the post-interview,  Burt said that his family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain was to have a really heated discussion about it for about an hour, point fingers outside of the family, and then put it to rest and not address it any more… with a martini (mutual laughter).  As to how Burt best avoided cutting off in their marriage, he said: “That’s when you have to be a scientist like we talked about in class.”  Burt said because that he’s pretty good at cutting off, he has to turn a deaf ear to what’s being said  and to try to reel in his own anger and frustration and what he’s feeling, and not voice it like there’s no consequence to it.  Avoid cutting off, said Burt, is to not say the first thing that comes to your mind and not listening to anything that you are hearing as being anything but the frustration of the moment.  How Burt has best avoided cutting off is to analyze the lead up to the cutting off.   In the post-interview, Burt responded much more extensively in the issue of emotional cutoff, an area covered extensively in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.  Burt was making a close connection between emotional detachment, systemic analysis, and reducing emotional cutoff.

In the pre-interview, Bev said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was avoidance because it felt very futile and was never going to get resolved everywhere.  With her mother being a violent alcoholic and her father always at work, Bev was scared of conflict and would just run and hide.  Bev said that she cuts off emotionally during conflict and difficulties in order to protect herself.   Conflict, emotional pain, and cutoff were described by Bev as being like black holes in their marriage.

In the post-interview, Bev said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was ‘Don’t have any.’:  “No one is going to explain it away and certainly not apologize for it.  It was very much a ‘duck and cover’ lifestyle, suck it up, this is the way it is and the way it isn’t.  That’s been the pattern.”  Bev said in the post interview that most recently she has been avoiding cutting off in their marriage by starting to share with Burt what she is scared and upset about at the moment: “Whatever it is, I am actually just putting it on the table now, whereas before I wouldn’t do that.” In the past, she would talk to herself and not tell her husband because she assumed that she was all alone and that he would not understand.  Bev elaborated, saying: “Avoiding cutting off emotionally is about sharing what is actually happening for me because then Burt actually knows.  It gives him a chance to relate to me and see where I may be coming from, and for Burt to respond and say ‘I’m feeling this way too.’  …or there is too much happening for Burt so he can’t deal with it.  At least I know that.”  Bev also said that avoiding emotional cutoff is sometimes leaving and giving things time to cool and dry out.  While in the pre-interview Bev had no suggestions about how she avoided emotional cutoff, in the post-interview Bev described several new approaches including sharing what she is actually thinking and giving things time to cool down.  It would appear that the Strengthening Marriage Workshop gave Bev some new tools to reduce emotional cutoff in her marriage.

With Sean and Susan, in their pre-interview, Sean said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was a clash between the drivenness of his mother and the easy-going style of his father: “Dad got hauled along.  He went along.  But he was hauled along, and that kind of was the defining relationship there.”  Sean experienced his childhood as terribly emotional: “All those difficulties, moving away, constant disappointments.  Things turning out less than they hoped to.  Always less than what they expected.   Always more hard than they’d wanted to.”    Sean would usually side with his mother: “I found that being Mom was really painful, and being Dad was being on holidays!”  Sometimes his wife Susan reminds him of this family pattern: “So when I see Susan doing things, it’s like ‘Not that way. I went through it.’  It’s like she’s run away, and I can’t find her.”  Sean avoids cutting off by not letting Susan run away, by going out and prying up the rock that she comes under, not letting her get away, not giving up.  The pursuit/avoidance pattern, drawing on Family of Origin patterns, seems to be functioning in Sean and Susan’ marriage.

In the post-interview, Sean said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was to fight about it.  His father was very effusive on the surface but very private inside, in a way that shut Sean out, leaving him very sad.  His mother was very outgoing and serious, resulting in Sean concluding that everything was fake, that he was the bridge between everyone else: “I started to feel distrustful of everybody.  I didn’t trust anybody because everything that I saw was two-faced.  It was all unreal, and I did a lot of stuff to pretend that I knew stuff.”   Sean’s family way of dealing with emotional pain taught him that everything was ‘everything was fake, but also that was real’: “They were the reverse of everything that was going on.”  Sean became the rescuer with a great feeling of responsibility that he hated and would run away from.  He would also pretend that he knew things that he didn’t.  Sean says that he best avoids cutting off emotionally by continuing to fight, by acknowledging that he is always going to be a rescuer, and he is always ready with a sucker punch: “I am not going to let them beat me… So it’s just the willingness to fight, the willingness to get up for another round.”  (mutual intense laughter)  In the post-interview, Sean strongly emphasized fighting, distrust, and rescuing/pursuing as family of origin patterns that are still very operative.

In the pre-interview, Susan said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that her father would rage silently or withdraw: “I never saw them talk over anything.”  Her mother always said that she became ill from her emotional life inside.  Susan said that she finds it easiest to cut off emotionally and carry on with other parts of her life if they have hit a wall in their marriage: “Sometimes it is very overwhelming and lonely.  But I am a strong person and sometimes it just feels the best thing to do.” Susan best avoids cutting off emotionally when she has had a rest and there has been peace and quiet and done those things that are important to her: “Then I have energy again to relate.”

In the post-interview, Susan said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that they had a lot of sullenness and holding on to grudges from her father: “I am very capable of that, especially if something really bothers or is affecting me.”  Susan deals with emotional pain by spending time alone: “If I am alone, a lot of time I have a real sense of being happy to be alive.  It’s just a nice feeling, you know.  I don’t mind my own company.”  She best avoids emotionally cutting off through having a wonderful sense of humour which her mother also had: “My mother was quite a well-liked, loud, laughing woman.  So I guess I got that from her.”  Humour reduces cutoff through bringing perspective: “Somewhere something bubbles up, comes up and it feels so much bigger than any serious talk and stuff like that.”  The therapeutic benefits of humour, as mentioned by Susan in the post-interview, were taught in the Marriage Workshop.

 

With Richard and Rose, in their pre-interview, Richard said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that they were not demonstrative emotionally.  With alcoholism, suicide, and mental health issues in the family, they came across coldly: “We kidded each other very coldly in our family.  We were distant.  We were business-like. We were all into sports.”  Richard’s mother had a hard time and did not receive emotional nourishment from the all-male family.  Richard says that he best avoided cutting off emotionally in their marriage through honest communication.

In the post-interview, Richard said that his family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain was outward stability in a long-term marriage, but inwardly much anger from the father and desperation from the mother. Living in a hard-driving, workaholic/alcoholic family, they were either hurt emotionally or hurt physically:” “I used to get whipped to blackout, to blackout by my father with a belt buckle, the whole bit.  He would come home and I used to hide under my bed.  I was about eight to ten years old.  He would grab me from under the bed and drag me out to the woodshed.  He’d whip me, whip me, whip me, sometimes to blackout.”  Richard still has a relationship with his father today.  In the post-interview, the issue of anger and family violence was emphasized.

In the pre-interview, Rose said that her family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain was abandonment and alcoholism.  Sexual trauma heightened the turning to drug and alcohol usage: “I ran away from my problems. I would use alcohol and drugs to hide the pain in the past.”  Rose says that she best avoids cutting off emotionally in their marriage by depending on the Lord: “I can deal with my problems because I have the Lord with me now.  He has always been there but I didn’t know it.  I just want to give my whole life to him.  He changed my life.  I really feel like with Him, we can solve any problem now.”  Another way that Rose best avoids cutting off emotionally in their marriage is by honest communication, something also mentioned by her husband Richard: “When we were angry, we could share that we were angry.  We would tell each other how we felt, plus having the Lord.  God is changing us.  This workshop is all part of it.  It is about loving one another.”

In the post-interview, Rose said that her family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was that her mother would secretly drink:  “I only saw her drunk once in my life.  But I knew because I found her bottles everywhere.  I would find her vodka bottles and stuff.  That is how she deals with emotional pain.”  Rose’s dad and stepdad wouldn’t deal with emotional pain.  Her dad used to run away and leave them.  Her mom and dad were very emotional: “They would fuse up with each other and argue and fight.  There wasn’t ever anything that got dealt with.  They would circle all the time.”  Her mother’s default with emotional pain was to play the victim.   Rose said that the way she has best avoided cutting off emotionally in her marriage was by expressing her feelings: “In the past, I clammed up, walked away and wasn’t really open and honest about my feelings.”  Rose says that God is helping her avoid cutting off by refining them as a couple, breaking the chains, healing the wounds from the past, and sharpening them up so that they are not fighting as much.  Alcoholism, communication, and God were mentioned by Rose in both the pre and post-interview.  Emotional fusion was mentioned by Rose in the post-interview, a key Family Systems concept taught in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

With Lloyd and Linda, in their pre-interview, Lloyd said that his family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain was keeping their distance with some family members not knowing each other’s private phone numbers.  There was significant emotional cutoff with the mother and some of her adult children.  Lloyd said that cutoff is a choice to ignore the other person, something that he tries not to do.

In the post-interview, Lloyd did not again mention his family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain.  He again emphasized his perspective that emotional cutoff is a choice which you can choose not to do: “Cutting off is a decision too, so if you decided not to do that, then it doesn’t happen.”

In the pre-interview, Linda said that her family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain was keeping their distance: “There have been years with sisters not speaking to sisters, mother not speaking to daughters, father not speaking to daughters.”  The best way that Linda avoided cutting off emotionally in their marriage was talking it out and counting her blessings: “I look at my granddaughter and my daughter.  I count my blessings.”

In the post-interview, Linda said that her family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain is revenge.  Linda has best avoided cutting off emotionally in their marriage by showing respect.  Lloyd and Linda, both being shy and practical, spoke with brevity and focus.

The six of the six questions that I asked the five couples was “What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?”

With John and Julie, in their pre-interview, John said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that their relationship, should they continue to persevere in growing and all that, is going to be something that is more rewarding and more fulfilling than either of them can imagine right now: “I am so excited about our future…I can imagine a lot.”  John is excited that they will actually serving the Kingdom as a couple, not just for their own benefit: “I don’t know what could be more exciting.”   John also said that the intimacy in their relationship is more than they have experienced with anyone else:  “I know that this is something that is going to continue to develop and grow.  That is a very exciting future to look forward to.”  John’s sense of excitement about their future is very strong.

In John’ post-interview, he said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is the greater intimacy.  John sees this intimacy both as a spiritual thing, to know God and be known by God but also by another person: “I really believe that’s on its way.  I already feel that I know more and am known more than I have been by any other person in my life.  I know that is going to continue and I find that very exciting.”  These comments built on his pre-interview thoughts about greater intimacy. John reaffirmed that he is very excited about what God has in store for them in the way of working for his Kingdom.

In the pre-interview, Julie said that what excites her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that as they continue to grow and heal and face up to all their old communication patterns, they will continue to  experience a new level of intimacy that they’ve never known possible.  Through keeping on God’s track, Julie sees that they are going to becoming stronger and stronger.  She is looking forward to having all of their garbage worked out so that they can finally just be.

In the post-interview, Julie said that what excites her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that the more they are getting to know each other, the more they are growing and the more they are doing self-work, the better they are learning, the better they are meshing together and the better it is with their family: “There has been a large amount of growth with ourselves and our family.”  Once they figure out communicating during conflict, Julie believes that they will both bring out the best in each other.  Julie holds that they have the potential to be really strong together and create a really safe, happy environment in their house.  Julie’s post-interview comments tie in with the Strengthening Marriage Workshop teaching on doing self-work and working on conflict.

With Burt and Bev in their pre-interview, Burt said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that he is looking forward to much more softness from both of them.  He is also really looking forward to a balance in leadership between the two of us: “I want us both to be on equal footing in making decisions and in leading.”

In Burt’s post-interview, he said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that there are many super-positive things, such as the possibilities as to where we are going professionally.  Burt is excited about what the Marriage Workshop was about in terms of how we deal with conflict and not being so quick to go to anger:  “Oh really, is this what you are feeling?  Well then I’m going to tell you everything in the world that is bothering me, even things that I didn’t know were bothering me.”

In Bev’s pre-interview, she said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage’s future are areas in her husband Burt that she has yet to experience and build her own strengths off of.  Bev is excited by what strengthening in the area of handling conflict and emotional pain can create for their future.  She is excited by what is possible with a brand new combination of skills, events and ideas, a whole new arsenal of armour that create a whole different experience every day: “It’s the power of this that is really exciting.  Plus all the things that we have in our future…”  Greater marital fulfillment and closeness excite Bev: “Every day being more fulfilled and closer is far more exciting than how much we might own.”

In Bev’s post-interview, she said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage’s future are a shared prosperity and the ability to withstand conflict with new tools and new ways to understand each other through conflict: “if we are always stuck and unable to get through the conflict, then there is a breakthrough that we are also missing out on.  I like that with the new tools that the future looks a lot more intuitive and closer.  That will be exciting.”  Bev in the post-interview highlighted the conflict management skills that were taught in the Strengthening Marriage workshop.

With Sean and Susan, in their pre-interview, Sean said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that he still has a dream for them: “…a dream of the way that I would like to live that includes you.  That dream is somehow to be better, to be happier, to have my dreams come true without having to give you up.”   Sean hopes for more, hopes for the realization of the kind of things that a person should/could have, for the potential of their marriage: “I don’t believe what my parents had to go through as the way it is supposed to be.  I still have ideals for myself personally.  That is selfish but I think that it includes other people, especially you (Susan.)”  Sean said that he still want to invite Susan and himself to ‘come on out’: “We’re not bringing guns. We’re bringing roses.” (mutual laughter)

In the post-interview, Sean said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is the possibility of improving as a couple and staying married.  Sean says that he has learned from the Strengthening Marriage Workshop to listen more to what Susan is truly saying to him instead of imagining what she is saying: “it is important to not overvalue my contribution versus what Susan has done.  That’s easy to do.”  Sean wants to make more time for Susan: “That’s what you are asking for…We always want something in return, and that is something that we will continue to talk about in the future.  I realize that is something that I haven’t talked about.  But that’s a good place to start.”  Sean’s post-interview comments suggest that he had learnings during the Strengthening Marriage Workshop that have deepened his desire to listen and to be there more for Susan.

In the pre-interview, Susan said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that she is looking forward to some mutual projects: “We might someday travel a bit.  I have travelled.  We both have our passports.  We might go somewhere new.  We are very good as soon as we get out of our own little world, the universe says ‘hi’.”  Susan said that it always surprises her when things are tough in some ways and then good luck keeps coming at us: “we are very good luck as a couple… I think that someday the universe or the gods are going to say ‘we keep giving you a good thing.  When are you going to realize it, you know?  We keep affirming that you guys are a good team.”  Susan noted as a example of working on a mutual project how much their friends enjoyed a wedding that they had planned: “our friends talked about for years because it was just so much fun, and people could be whoever they were, and eat where they wanted and what they wanted.  They could dance.  They could not.  It was a really good time.  So that kind of thing.”

In her post-interview, Susan said that what excites her most about the possibilities for their marriage’s future is what Sean said in his post-interview about listening more and being more present to her.  Susan said that it would be lovely if there was a little more kindness and support between them and more laughs again.  She is interested in learning more about doing the genogram as done in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.

With Richard and Rose, in their pre-interview, Richard said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that that they both believe that Jesus is coming soon. In his post-interview, Richard reaffirmed the second coming theme: “We are just really keen on being taken up by the Lord and being with the Lord.  That is what we want to do.”  Richard expressed that they’re just working at whatever the Lord tells them to do.

In Rose’s pre-interview, she said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is that she loves the person that Richard is: “He is really imaginative.  He is really creative and he’s fun. I enjoy being with Richard…I am starting to see his strengths now.  God is opening all that up to me now.  It’s neat. Yeah.  We enjoy being with each other.”

In the post-interview, Rose agreed with Richard’s second coming focus: “We have our mind set on eternity. So that’s good.  He says: seek first the Kingdom and everything will be added.”  Rose wants to dwell on where God wants to take them and his journey for them: “It says in the Word that he makes us his vessels so that he can use us.”  She wants to keep her eyes on Him and where he wants to take them, and not worrying too much about the small things.   Both Rose and Richard have a similar way of integrating their sense of mission and marriage in light of the second coming and eternity.

With Lloyd and Linda, in their pre-interview, Lloyd said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is just being together.  In his post-interview, Lloyd said that what excited him most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is just being together.  His three-word answer was identical in both the pre and post-interview, the only response of the five couples that was identical, word for word.

In her pre-interview, Linda said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is spending time together, a virtual identical answer to Lloyd’s answer.

In her post-interview, Linda said that what excited her most about the possibilities of their marriage in the future is their whole family, our granddaughter, and our son-in-law , and all being one, being family.  The theme of family brought up by Linda reflects a family systems perspective as taught in the Strengthening Marriage workshop that marriage is more than just two individuals in isolation, but rather is part of a wider context of family relationships.  Both Lloyd and Linda were people of few words who know clearly what they value in the restoration of their marriage after six years of divorce.

In the post-interview, I added a three-part seventh question about the Marriage Workshop itself: a) How was the workshop for you?  b) How has the workshop strengthened your marriage? c)How could the workshop be strengthened?  Responses to part a  and b for John and Julie tended to overlap.

With John and Julie, John said that he knows a bit about Family Systems Theory and enjoyed the workshop because he found it is good to hear those things again and to see them applied in different ways.  For John, there were some good ‘aha’ moments.  He took notes all the times: “I would like to go back over each of those four sessions and kind of really take time to process, because when you are there, you can have information overload.  Get it down on paper and go through and process it.”  The workshop, said John, provided him with some good material and questions for some self-evaluation, self-work, couple evaluation and couple work.  John found it helpful that a couple of times in the workshop, he would have this ‘sense of a feeling’ and hear it spoken out by someone else: “You go ‘Okay, I’m not crazy.  Or actually that is a normal desire.  I understand that.’  In that sense, it was also kind of relieving in some ways.  I said: ‘Okay, these are good desires or whatever. ‘”  John found it helpful to realize that it is normal for there to be times when you want to be together and times when you want some space.   John valued and named several teachings in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop, including self-evaluation/differentiation and the balancing of closeness with personal space.  John, like others in the workshop, valued hearing others speak out in similar ways to his own personal thoughts and desires.  John said that the workshop’s benefit to their marriage is still a work in progress, because it has given them some food for thought and some things to reflect upon: “I know that over the summer, when it is a little quieter time and we can look at some of the marriage stuff, there is going to be some good seeds of conversation that we can talk about.”  Their final comment was “Thank you so much for sharing your selves and your marital wisdom with us in our ‘marriage class’ –we appreciated it very much.”

Julie’s response to how the workshop was for her was that she thought that the workshop got them both really thinking about their strengths: “There was a lot of good that came out of it.”  Julie said that the Strengthening Marriage Workshop got her really thinking: “Who are we as individuals here?  Who am I as an individual and what am I bringing to this marriage?  How are we similar and different?  It sounds commonsense.  I haven’t reflected on that as much as I should have.  That was helpful to me to start getting that kind of mindset.  I am still thinking about it and still processing a lot of this stuff.  That was helpful for me.”  Julie said that it definitely has planted some seeds: “I definitely need time to think about it all, because I said it was a lot, but I think that it will continue to grow because it has been planted and it is all in the back of my head now, and I am starting to be more aware of things in our marriage.  So, yeah, I think that its benefits will continue past the four weeks.”   Julie appreciated hearing the other people talk and she would go “I’m not the only one.”  It was encouraging for Julie to hear that it is okay to be in conflict, to be arguing and sorting stuff out: “We are trying to figure out how to communicate.  It doesn’t always go well.  It’s encouraging to think ‘Okay, we’re probably pretty normal. And it’s okay.’”  Julie went on to say that is nice to know that she can still be herself and feed into the things that she needs: “ I don’t have to totally absorb into a house or a home or a family or anything.  So that got me thinking too.”  Julie appreciated some of the Strengthening Marriage teachings such as looking at strengths, self-examination, looking at similarities and difference, the normalcy of marital conflict, being herself, self-defining rather than emotional fusing and giving up self.

As to how the Workshop could be strengthened, John said that after presenting the theory, he would appreciate more about the how:  “Now here is how you take this theory home and apply it in your relationship.”   John’s learning style is that he likes having notes.  Because he asked for notes, I began supplying after the first session a one-page summary of that session’s teaching: “There was almost a sense of angst, because I want to get the information done right, and I want to get it down right and organized, to have it an outline like that first where it is already organized.”   John asked that I give him the summary before I taught the session which I was happy to do: “Then I have the main thing, and as certain things come up, certain words and senses, I can just write it down underneath.  Having that in advance was very, very helpful to me.  I don’t know if it would have been to other people or not.”  For the other couples, I handed out the one-page summary at the end of each session.  John said that it would have been great to have had a fifth class where the fifth one is purely a social one.

As for how the Workshop could be strengthened, Julie suggested that maybe four weeks is too short: “Because I had no idea what Family Systems Theory was, I found that there was a lot of new information.  At a certain point, I would just stop learning.  I found that it was extremely helpful, but there was too much new stuff, so it made me…at a certain point, there was so much new information that I couldn’t take any more.   Julie said that the workshop could easily have gone double that time or at least two more classes, and put all that information in a longer time.  She would also like to have seen more practical application to go with the theory to help me understand the terms better. Julie recommended taking more breaks as a way to getting people to hash it out together and learn better: “When we took the time to have breaks and to put the learning into practice, that really help solidify it in me, and that was really helpful as well.”  She found that the notes were helpful to follow along together.   Julie said, “Despite all that, I think that it was still a very good experience.” She wished that we were meeting regularly instead of just the four weeks.

With Burt and Bev, Burt said that for him, the workshop was great: “We loved it. I am sad that it is over.”   Using the analogy of baseball, he said that the workshop helped keep him in the game, to be good at what you are doing in a marriage: “When you are practicing being married, as opposed to just coasting like we do every day, making dinner, fetching the kids and that, it keeps you in the game.”  Jerry appreciated the co-leadership of the workshop by a husband and wife couple, especially with Janice’s ability to set boundaries:  “My favorite one was when you would say ‘Janice, would you like to share about that? …and she would say ‘no’.” (laughter)  And then you wouldn’t push, because if you had pushed and made her, it would have been so forced.  I really enjoyed that she could say ‘no’ and that was it.”

When asked how the workshop was for her, Bev said that she found that the workshop was easy to attend: “I liked how close to our home it was.  It was community-based.”   She found it very relaxing: “It was a nice break from our lives.”  Bev said that the workshop was brilliantly executed: “You both did tremendous jobs, and the information was easy to understand and relevant.” She loved the gift book Family Ties that Bind: “It is a really good read.  I really enjoyed that.”  Bev said that Ed and Janice’s commitment to marriage renewal came across throughout the entire workshop: “You really did a huge service to the community to offer it…You did an incredible job.”  With the workshop having no charge, which Bev said was awesome, she said that she found it very affordable. (laughter).  Not only Bev but her husband Burt and her children looked forward to it: “Our kids looked forward to it.  They were very supportive.  It was very, very positive.”   Bev found the workshop very entertaining: “I liked ‘Pirate Day’.  It was good when Ed showed up as a pirate.”  Bev valued the co-leading of the workshop by a husband and wife couple: “I enjoyed Janice.  I wouldn’t drop Janice from the team.  (laughter)  She is just great.  I loved the way she explained family dynamics.  She was a great complement.”  Bev particularly appreciated that Ed and Janice had such a nice and easy way in Janice had the option to say ‘no’ to Ed’s request for Janice to share: (laughter)  “It was almost comical.  That was really entertaining.  So I think that she was elemental.  She was really lovely.”  Their final comment was “Thank you so much for your wisdom, generous sharing and kindness.”

As to how has the Marriage workshop strengthened their marriage, Burt said that they learned in the workshop different ways of responding to conflict, reasons why we have traditionally responded to conflict, and ways of looking at the backgrounds and origins of how we responded to conflict.

As to how the workshop has strengthened their marriage, Bev said that it has given them very interesting insights into the way that things are and why they are that way. “When you don’t have those insights, you are busy feeling bad about yourself: ‘Oh, why do I do this? This is so terrible.  I am such a bad person.’”   Bev found it so enlightening and soothing to look at patterns and to see where things are coming from: “That gave me greater peace and insight into my background with my mother, and that she is just who she is because of her own background, and how unfortunate that is for her.”  She said that it was really nice, and inspiring to learn so many things that are great takeaways that they can continue to meditate on, incorporate and better themselves with: “My biggest single takeaway would be to approach conflict like a scientist, just taking in the facts, not taking anything personally but just taking in the facts.”  Bev found it so relevant to discover how with family systems, we have the hard-wiring to repeat certain things:  “I have been very fascinated in sharing that even with our children. They have been saying ‘What is this course you are going to? And what is that book about?’ I have said to them ‘you should read this too, because as you move on in your life, you are creating your own family systems based on the ones you had before, and just awareness creates a different way of being.  You can create something totally different.’”  Their final comment was “We both grew closer as a result of your work with us.”

As to how could the workshop be strengthened, Burt after a long pause said:  “I don’t know. I really enjoyed the workshop.”  Burt went on to say that while he knows that for people to be comfortable, they couldn’t feel obligated to share.  But he found it really powerful when people shared.  The only thing that Burt would have wanted more of was even more sharing: “So for me, if sharing was a richer component, I think that would have been beneficial for me.  Sometimes when a person shares,  I go ‘Totally.  I get that.’”  Burt recommended additional longer breaks as a way of allowed them to get to know the other participants better: “There was one couple that we never got to interact with because the breaks were so short.”

As to how the workshop can be strengthened, Bev’s two-word answer was “Serve vegetables.”  Bev went on to say that the food was so tempting:  “It was really difficult.  I broke down a few times.  I found that it was very generous.  You and your wife really hosted a great event, and worked very hard to do it, but serve vegetables. That would be awesome.  It’s just a little oversight.  We were just grateful anyway.”  Bev also said that the workshop could be strengthened by having a less abrupt ending: “It would have been nice to have a recap…a quick overview: ‘Okay, we have done these four weeks. This is where we journeyed through, and did anyone have any questions about any of these phases?”  Bev suggested that the recap could include the question: “What was your biggest takeaway?”  Another way to strengthen the workshop, said Bev, was to have twice as many times for personal work for the couples:  “I liked the personal work for us to do together.  Good stuff came out of those conversations.”  Bev suggested adding another half hour to the weekly sessions to increase the socialization:  “You could have stretched it out a little longer, and asked more of people, and given more in that interpersonal  stuff.” She recommended offering a Phase 2 to the Marriage Workshop which they would like to attend.   If the workshop was to be held again, Bev said that it would be nice to have a different space because we probably want to have more couples there.  (Burt said that it was the perfect space for that size of group.)

With Sean and Susan, Sean said regarding the workshop that he felt really good, extremely good, that they were going to something that was bringing fresh-air vents into their lives.  Sean said that it was a good thing that the workshop was abridged, condensed and abbreviated: “Focused is a good word.”  Sean affirmed the value of the husband and wife co-leadership of the Marriage Workshop: “Janice is a real pistol.  She’s awesome.  She really is. She’s a real match for you.  (laughter)”  Sean affirmed the cross-generational mix of those attending the workshop: “We enjoy meeting people at different stages in our life.”

When asked how the workshop was for her, Susan said that as busy people scrambling around, it felt like an easy thing to get to and go to for both of them.  It felt good, said Susan, to be around fine people.  Few of their married friends, said Susan, are truly happy and reflective: “it was very pleasant being with people who wanted good marriages, who are training.”  Susan said that the workshop teaching was very interesting: “…some of which I had thought about already, some of which I didn’t, some of which I didn’t agree with, but that was okay.”   The workshop for Susan was a good-hearted and good experience, full of dignity for everybody: “Respect and dignity was very strong, including with each other.  That was a good lesson to see that every week for four weeks.  Very pleasant.”  Similar to Sean, Susan affirmed the husband and wife co-leadership of the Marriage Workshop:  “You and your wife are frank and open…Janice’s eyes sparkle. They do. You melt with the look of her eyes. Magnetic.  She doesn’t stage it. It’s just the way she expresses her self.  She is a real cutie pie, that wife of yours.”

As to how the Workshop strengthened their marriage, Sean said that the workshop flipped everything on its head:  “It was ‘oh great, I don’t have to leave.  I don’t have to break the marriage up just to get refocused regarding the anxiety that I have been feeling.”   He remembers feeling desperately that maybe this would help change the marriage dynamic.   He learned from the Marriage Workshop the importance of effort: “I saw how much effort you guys (Ed and Janice) put into this, preparing it, talking back and forth, showing us the examples of behaviour like ‘don’t worry.  It’s okay. It’s okay to say things.  It’s okay to tell stories.  It’s okay to show them what the bathroom looks like.  It’s okay.”  Sean learned through the workshop the sacredness of the sacrament of marriage: “It was also the sense how important this workshop was to you to us.  The last session which was a bit of a ringer and caused all kind of ears go up which I noticed…what it got to me was how important this was to you…re-declaring a sense of sacrament.  I thought about that.  That’s what it is.  It’s a sacrament.  It’s sacred.”  Using the analogy of a car, Sean said that he learned that their marriage is not disposable: “You can throw it away.  It’s not disposable. You can repair it.  You can replace parts.  You can repaint it but it is still the same car that you bought when you were a kid.  And you’re still driving it…”  Sean agreed that the workshop is a good precursor and introduction towards marriage counseling:  “It is a bit like the smell of pollen to a bee, like people are naturally attracted to something like this because they understand the need.  They want that.  So I felt that for us as well.”  Through the workshop, Sean said that he had made a connection with people and with the workshop leaders:  “Whatever we choose to do with it, it’s something that we didn’t have before.  I feel better for it.”  Taking the workshop, said Sean, took a sense of desperation out of his thinking, the attitude that he “can’t figure it out. No one else is going to do it. So it’s all going to go down.”  Sean said that they are much better now knowing that there are ways that they can deal with things, that they are not relying on their meager resources, and on trying to pry secrets out of each other that they don’t want to do.

As to how the workshop strengthened their marriage, Susan said that they always felt good afterwards: “We didn’t do a lot of talking about individual pieces except we both thought that it was very interesting.”  Susan gave more information about her experience of the workshop, and less information about how it strengthened their marriage.

Regarding how the workshop can be better, Sean recommended doing the workshop again and again and again and see what happens.

Regarding how the workshop can be better, Susan said that she could do with renewal exercises.  She recommended a follow-up maybe in a month to see if things are the same or not.  She also suggested meeting once a month or so to talk about being families and marriages.  Susan said that the topics covered in the workshop were so huge that she had more thoughts getting home: “You had to do so many ideas.”  She said that she would appreciate little workshops on some of the individual topics.

With Richard and Rose, Richard said regarding the workshop that he liked the fellowship with the other people: “They were all on the same journey.”  He liked how the workshop was formatted: “ How you structured it was good, and the way you paced it was good, and the length of it was good.”  For Richard, there was a little too much theory.

When asked how the workshop was for her, Rose said that it was a little too theoretical: “ I understand that a lot of people are not spiritually inclined yet.  So that would work for them.  God works things in their time…I like the simplistic viewpoint of the Bible.”

Regarding how the workshop strengthened their marriage, Richard said that the workshop gave them some ideas, a framework for thinking about their marriage: “This room had a framework in its being built.  Without the right framework, you would not be able to conduct a business or run the fish shop or whatever.  You helped us with the structure of the marriage.  It is up to us to put the furniture in.”

Regarding how the workshop strengthened their marriage, Rose said that she really liked focusing on their strengths: “Our differences can become our strengths as a team.  I really loved that.”

As to how the workshop could be strengthened, Richard said that it could be less theoretical: “I’m quite simplistic in my outlook.”

As to how the workshop could be strengthened, Rose said that communicating their feelings is very important.  She questioned whether the workshop teaching about not pursuing and overfunctioning was workable: “I don’t know if it would have worked for me to leave Richard alone and wait for him to call me.”  Both Rose and Richard are very practical, hands-on people who struggled with the theoretical nature of Family Systems Theory.

With Lloyd and Linda, Lloyd said regarding the workshop that it was good because it helped remind him how important marriage is: “It’s good to learn things about it, how to make it better.”

When asked how the workshop was for her, Linda said that she enjoyed it: “It was nice to hear people’s perspective on things.  It was good.  I learned a lot.”

Regarding how the workshop strengthened their marriage, Lloyd said that it was helpful in the area of conflict, how to make it better and not make it worse.

Regarding how the workshop strengthened their marriage, Linda said it gave her a lot of little reminders of the things that she might be doing.  She learned about handling conflict and that sometimes things are not really that important.

As to how the workshop could be strengthened, Linda said that it could be longer: “The people that I talked to in the workshop really enjoyed it. They really thought that it was helpful, but they all complained that it was too short.  It ended too quickly. They wanted more sessions over more weeks.” Steve said that it would be good to have a follow-up down the road some time.

As to how the workshop could be strengthened, Linda recommended more sessions but not longer sessions because a lot of people have to work.

 

x)  New Features in the Post-interview research data

 

Question 1a) What attracted you to your spouse?

1)       godliness  I

2)      He could see and sense her faith.  I

3)      love for the Lord.  I

4)      The relativity of what they were experiencing in life at that time: the disappointment of losing a marriage, having the children, expecting more from your marriage, expecting more of  himself, and being able to keep their family together.  I

5)      The chemistry which goes back to their backgrounds, having gone through the same thing at the same time, being able to express themselves with each other, to open right up with each other, and see what each of them had to offer, and what they were lacking too.    I

6)      her strength, her being a match for him, her being able to stand up to him, and her independence.  I

7)      Their being different, Canadian and very fresh  I

8)      She is a classic woman in a lot of ways.  I

9)      sense of humour  I

10)   creativity  I

11)   kindness  I

12)   her demeanor, the look about her, the way she is.  I

13)   Her future spouse loved her.  I

 

Question 1b) What keeps your marriage alive?

1)      Spending  time together doing things.  II

2)      Best friend   II

3)      That her spouse loves her.  I

4)      Laughing      I

5)      Getting times (breaks) from the kids every week.    I

6)      Determination, in particular his wife’s determination for success in all aspects of life and whatever is needed to make that happen.   I

7)      Where they are, they are in the same place, having the same challenges before they met, and now having the same challenges together, turning those challenges into possibilities.  I

8)      They both share a passion for family. Coming from a large family, she needed a family, and he gave her his family.  She remembers him saying: ‘You can cook like crazy and you love family. You’ve got me on both points.’  I

9)      Hadn’t lost the faith that getting married was a right decision.  I

10)   maybe it was stubbornness.  I

11)    they have a history together.  I

12)   their mutual commitment to evangelism.  I

13)   Their marriage is an exciting journey with different valleys and hills. I

14)   As long as they keep our eyes on Jesus, they know that everything will work for the good.  I

15)   Having the Lord as their centre, their love for the Lord and reading the Word together.  I

16)   Going through this Strengthening Marriage workshop where they learned a lot.  I

 

Question 2)  What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?

1) They have common goals and common values.  II

2) They have a similar outlook on life.  I

3) The brighter and more vivid colour in their marital vision and the way they live life.  I

4) They are both heading in the same direction.  I

5) They mostly parent the same way.   I

6) Knowing each other’s strengths as talented capable people.  II

7)  Trying not to take charge of things that one’s spouse could do better.   L

8) Their ability to see positive and optimistic outcomes despite negative circumstances.  I

9) The strength of their children even with their stresses.  I

10) They enjoy life together.  I

11) They create ritual and excitement and passion in everyday mundane things.  I

12) Their history together.  I

13) They have woven a nest (a structure) around themselves, and they are aware of it. It                 contains all of who they are with each other.  I

14) A sense of mystery between them.  I

15) There is essential communication possible under any conditions.  I

16) They give each other a lot of room.  I

17)  Their moral code that centers around family, commitment and the Word of God.  I

18) Their focus on prayer.  II

19) Trusting each other.  I

 

Question 3: What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?

1)      When they hit rock bottom before making a shift.  II

2)      death of family members. I

3)      adapting to crisis situations by turning it on its ear and basically saying “Ah, that’s okay.”  I

4)      Their decision to get married.  I

5)      Facing serious health issues.  II

6)      The realization that it’s getting harder to stay married and deal with things as they change.  I

7)      When they were both spent forces and the Lord came and cemented them.  I

8)      The spouse is becoming more accepting of their personality type.  I

9)      The Marriage Workshop concept of celebrating our difference because now they can accept their spouse for whom they are.  I

10)   Going  into recovery and their life was changed.  I

11)   Taking the marriage workshop was a turning point in helping them look at their strengths to bring them closer: “It is starting to happen. I can see it happening now.”   I

12)   Tragically losing her dad and great aunt while divorced from her husband.  I

13)   Being together for ten years and then married when she was close to giving birth.  I

14)   Being married three times to her husband.  I

 

Question 4: How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?  What are ways to grow in that area?”

1) When one or both stepped outside the pattern the times of their normal response, causing them to differentiate from their common patterns: “That kind of breaks that cycle.”   I

2) They are starting to grow in the area of conflict.  I

3) They are starting to think like a scientist, to look at it from an outside perspective, become detached and observe what is going on.  I

4) Trying to be objective.  I

5) They are beginning to recognize triggers and things like that, what would cause certain reactions.  I

6) They are also starting to realize their own reactions, and what might be causing them as well.  I

7) They are looking at things from a slightly different point of view and trying to take it from there.  I

8) Doing our own introspective work.  I

9) They have looked for a way that would be softer: “we say: ‘Okay, we are not soft with this.  How can we be softer?’”   I

10) Having respect for each other.  I

11)  Self-awareness which will help with our life of conflict.  I

12) Being there in the moment of what is occurring for them.   I

13) This person learned about the reptilian brain/amygdala .  I

14) This person learned about the differentiation between the phases of upset and being more aware of those.  I

15) Their spouse has always surprised them with things that they don’t know.  I

16) They are trying to give up on trying to pretend that they know, and see if they can just live with it.  I

17) They made a connection with themselves during the marriage workshop which has brought everything into focus in a way that has been very, very valuable, in refocusing and reexamination on a constant basis.  I

18) This refocusing has lessened the sense of desperation, hopelessness and aloneness that was growing in him.  I

19) They have backed off from ‘going to the wall’ and that has calmed things down quite a bit.  II

20) Counting to ten.  I

21) Adopting fantasy roles and names that helped them make it through stress times.  I

22)  They might even do something about what they are talking about without talking again.  I

23) They just come back but more content inside of themselves.  I

24) They are thinking less about themselves and more about the Lord and more about other people, particularly their spouse and other people.  I

25) They are being sanctified.  II

26) Dying daily to self.  I

27) Prayer and reading the bible.  I

28) Asking God to heal their wounds and their spouse’s wounds.  I

29) Expressing how they were feeling.  I

30) Journaling.  I

 

Question 5a:  What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?

1)      They never saw their family deal with conflict. I

2)      There were mood swings by the stepmother with the father being patient to a point.  I

3)      Their family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain was to have a really heated discussion about it for about an hour, point fingers outside of the family, and then put it to rest and not address it any more… with a martini.  I

4)      It was very much a ‘duck and cover’ lifestyle.  I

5)      Running away and leaving.  I

6)      Everything was fake and real at the same time.  I

7)      Sullenness and holding onto grudges.  I

8)      Anger from the father and desperation from the mother. I

9)       Fighting about conflict.  I

10)   They would fuse up with each other and argue and fight.  I

11)   Living in a hard-driving, workaholic/alcoholic family, they were either hurt emotionally or hurt physically.  I

12)   Being whipped to blackout.  I

13)   Secret drinking.  I

14)   The dad and stepdad wouldn’t deal with emotional pain.  I

15)   Their dad used to run away and leave them.  I

16)   Their mom would play the victim.  I

17)   Their family’s pattern of dealing with emotional pain is revenge.

 

Question 5b: How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage?

1)      They tended to polarize but when one or both came closer to the middle, then it tended to avoid those extremes.   I

2)      They are learning how to not cut off emotionally.  I

3)      They developed through the Strengthening Marriage Workshop a greater awareness of how emotional cutoff functions in their marriage, and how to reduce its impact.  I

4)      Analyzing the lead up to the cutting off.  I

5)      One has to be a scientist as they talked about in the Workshop.  I

6)      They are learning how not to be emotionally reactive.  I

7)      Turning a deaf ear to what’s being said and to try to reel in one’s own anger and frustration and what one’s feeling, and not voice it like there’s no consequence to it.    I

8)      Not saying the first thing that comes to one’s mind.  I

9)      Not listening to anything that one is hearing as being anything but the frustration of the moment.   I

10)   Sometimes leaving and giving things time to cool and dry out.  I

11)   Sharing with their spouse what they are scared and upset about at the moment.  II

12)   Putting it on the table now, whereas before one wouldn’t do that.  I

13)    Fighting.  I

14)   Rescuing.  I

15)   Spending time alone. I

16)   Humour brings perspective.  I

17)   Expressing one’s feelings.  I

18)   God is breaking the chains.  I

19)   God is healing the wounds from the past.  I

20)   Showing respect.  I

 

Question 6:  What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?

1)      They know more and am known more than they have been by any other person in their life.  They know that is going to continue and find that very exciting.  I

2)      The more they are getting to know each other, the more they are growing and the more they are doing self-work, the better they are learning, the better they are meshing together and the better it is with their family.  I

3)      There has been a large amount of growth with themselves and their family.  I

4)      There are many super-positive things, such as the possibilities as to where they are going professionally.  I

5)      Shared prosperity.  I

6)      They have the potential to be really strong together and create a really safe, happy environment in their house.  I

7)      Once they figure out communicating during conflict, they will both bring out the best in each other.   I

8)      There is an excitement about what the Marriage Workshop was about in terms of how they deal with conflict and not being so quick to go to anger.  I

9)      The ability to withstand conflict with new tools and new ways to understand each other through conflict.  I

10)   With the new tools, the future looks a lot more intuitive and closer.  I

11)   The possibility of improving as a couple and staying married.   I

12)    Listening more to what one’s spouse is truly saying to them instead of imagining what they are saying.   I

13)   Making more time for one’s spouse.   I

14)   What their spouse said in the Strengthening Marriage post-interview about listening more and being more present to their spouse.  I

15)   It would be lovely if there was a little more kindness and support between them and more laughs again.  I

16)   Interested in learning more about doing the genogram as done in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop.  I

17)   They’re just working at whatever the Lord tells them to do.  I

18)   Having their minds set on eternity and seeking first God’s Kingdom.  I

19)   Dwell on where God wants to take them and his journey for them.   I

20)   Keeping their eyes on God and where he wants to take them, and not worrying too much about the small things.  I

21)   Their whole family, their granddaughter, and their son-in-law, all being one, being family.  I

 

Question 7a)  How was the workshop for you?

1)      There were some good ‘aha’ moments.   I

2)      Taking notes all the time to cope with information overload.   I

3)      Some good material and questions for some self-evaluation, self-work, couple evaluation and couple work.  I

4)      The information taught in the workshop was easy to understand and relevant.  I

5)        The gift book Family Ties that Bind was a really good read.

6)      A couple of times in the workshop, one would have this ‘sense of a feeling’ and hear it spoken out by someone else, normalizing one’s experience.  II

7)       The workshop was great: “We loved it. I am sad that it is over.”  I

8)       “I really enjoyed the workshop.”  I

9)        It felt really good, extremely good, that they were going to something that was bringing fresh-air vents into their lives.  I

10)   The Marriage Workshop was good because it helped reminded them how important marriage is.  I

11)   It was good to learn things about marriage, how to make it better.  I

12)   One enjoyed it: “It was nice to hear people’s perspective on things.  It was good.  I learned a lot.”  I

13)   It was a good thing that the workshop was abridged, condensed and abbreviated: “Focused is a good word.”  I

14)    The workshop was brilliantly executed: “You both did tremendous jobs.”  I

15)   The workshop was a good-hearted and good experience, full of dignity for everybody: “Respect and dignity was very strong, including with each other.” I

16)   The workshop teaching was very interesting: “…some of which I had thought about already, some of which I didn’t, some of which I didn’t agree with, but that was okay.”

17)   The workshop was very relaxing: “It was a nice break from our lives.”  I

18)   The workshop was very entertaining: “I liked ‘Pirate Day’.  It was good when Ed showed up as a pirate.”  I

19)    The workshop helped keep one in the game, to be good at what one is doing in a marriage.  I

20)   The workshop gave them some ideas, a framework for thinking about their marriage: “You helped us with the structure of the marriage.  It is up to us to put the furniture in.”

21)   One liked focusing on their strengths: “Our differences can become our strengths as a team.  I really loved that.”  I

22)   “Thank you so much for your wisdom, generous sharing and kindness.”   I

23)   The leadership couple’s commitment to marriage renewal came across throughout the entire workshop: “You really did a huge service to the community to offer it…You did an incredible job.”  I

24)   The co-leadership of the workshop by a husband and wife couple was appreciated IIII

25)   You and your wife are frank and open.  I

26)   Janice’s ability to set boundaries and say ‘no’ was appreciated.  II

27)   “Janice’s eyes sparkle. They do. You melt with the look of her eyes. Magnetic.  She doesn’t stage it. It’s just the way she expresses her self.  She is a real cutie pie, that wife of yours.”  I

28)   One loved the way that Janice explained family dynamics: “She was a great complement.”  I

29)    The workshop was easy to attend: “I liked how close to our home it was.  It was community-based.”   I

30)   As busy people scrambling around, it felt like an easy thing to get to and go to for both of them.   I

31)    With the workshop having no charge, which was awesome, one found it very affordable. (laughter)   I

32)   Not only the couple but also their children looked forward to the workshop: “Our kids looked forward to it.  They were very supportive.  It was very, very positive.”

33)   It was really powerful when people shared.  I

34)   They enjoyed meeting people at different stages in their lives.  I

35)   It felt good to be around fine people: “it was very pleasant being with people who wanted good marriages, who are training.”

36)   One liked the fellowship with the other people: “They were all on the same journey.”  I

37)   One liked how the workshop was formatted: “How you structured it was good, and the way you paced it was good, and the length of it was good.”  I

38)   The workshop was a little too theoretical.  II

 

 

Question  7b)  How has the workshop strengthened your marriage?

1)      The Marriage Workshop definitely has planted some seeds.  I

2)      The Marriage workshop got them both really thinking about their strengths.   I

3)      The Marriage Workshop got one thinking: Who are we as individuals here?  Who am I as an individual and what am I bringing to this marriage?  How are we similar and different?  I

4)       The Marriage workshop has given them very interesting insights into the way that things are and why they are that way.  I

5)       They always felt good afterwards: “We didn’t do a lot of talking about individual pieces except we both thought that it was very interesting.”  I

6)       It was so enlightening and soothing to look at patterns and to see where things are coming from.  I

7)       It was really nice, and inspiring to learn so many things that are great takeaways that they can continue to meditate on, incorporate and better themselves with.  I

8)        As one moves on in one’s life, one is creating their own family systems based on the ones one had before, and just awareness creates a different way of being: “You can create something totally different.”

9)       It gave one greater peace and insight into one’s background with one’s mother, and that she is just who she is because of her own background.  I

10)     It was so relevant to discover how with family systems, one has the hard-wiring to repeat certain things.   I

11)    Several teachings in the Marriage Workshop were valuable, including self-evaluation/differentiation and the balancing of closeness with personal space.   I

12)    It was helpful to realize that it is normal for there to be times when you want to be together and times when you want some space.

13)   It is nice to know that one can still be themself and feed into the things that one needs: “I don’t have to totally absorb into a house or a home or a family or anything.”   I

14)   One’s biggest single takeaway would be to approach conflict like a scientist, just taking in the facts, not taking anything personally but just taking in the facts.”  I

15)    It was encouraging to hear that it’s OK to be in conflict, to be arguing and sorting stuff out.   I

16)    They learned in the workshop different ways of responding to conflict, reasons why we have traditionally responded to conflict, and ways of looking at the backgrounds and origins of how we responded to conflict. III

17)   One learned that sometimes things are not really that important.  I

18)   “We both grew closer as a result of your work with us.” I

19)   The Marriage workshop flipped everything on its head: “It was ‘oh great, I don’t have to leave.  I don’t have to break the marriage up just to get refocused regarding the anxiety that I have been feeling.”   I

20)   The Marriage Workshop gave one a lot of little reminders of the things that one might be doing.  I

21)   The Marriage workshop reduced the sense of marital desperation.  I

22)   One learned from the Marriage Workshop the importance of effort: “I saw how much effort you guys (Ed and Janice) put into this, preparing it, talking back and forth, showing us the examples of behaviour like ‘don’t worry.  It’s okay. It’s okay to say things.  It’s okay to tell stories.  It’s okay to show them what the bathroom looks like.  It’s okay.”  I

23)   One learned through the Marriage workshop the sacredness of the sacrament of marriage: “It was also the sense how important this workshop was to you to us.  The last session which was a bit of a ringer and caused all kind of ears go up which I noticed…what it got to me was how important this was to you…re-declaring a sense of sacrament.  I thought about that.  That’s what it is.  It’s a sacrament.  It’s sacred.”  I

24)   Using the analogy of a car, one learned that their marriage is not disposable: “You can throw it away.  It’s not disposable. You can repair it.  You can replace parts.  You can repaint it but it is still the same car that you bought when you were a kid.  And you’re still driving it…” I

25)   The workshop is a good precursor and introduction towards marriage counseling:  “It is a bit like the smell of pollen to a bee, like people are naturally attracted to something like this because they understand the need.”  I

26)   Through the workshop, one made a connection with people and with the workshop leaders:  “Whatever we choose to do with it, it’s something that we didn’t have before.  I feel better for it.”  I

27)   They are much better now knowing that there are ways that they can deal with things, that they are not relying on their meager resources, and on trying to pry secrets out of each other that they don’t want to do.  I

 

Question 7c)  How could the workshop be strengthened?

1)      After presenting the theory, one would appreciate more about how to take this theory home and apply it in their relationship.  II

2)      One-sheet summary notes for each of the four sessions.  II

3)      Having a fifth session that was purely social.  I

4)      At least two more sessions. I

5)      Meeting regularly instead of just the four weeks.   I

6)      Doubling the time.  I

7)      Adding another half hour to the weekly sessions to increase the socialization.  I

8)      Taking more longer breaks as a way to getting people to hash it out together and learn better.  II

9)      Have twice as many times for personal work for the couples. I

10)   Even more sharing by the couples.  I

11)   Serve vegetables.  I

12)   Communicating their feelings is very important.

13)   One questioned whether the workshop teaching about not pursuing and overfunctioning was workable.  I

14)   Having a less abrupt ending: “It would have been nice to have a recap…a quick overview”  I

15)   The recap could include the question: “What was your biggest takeaway?”  I

16)   Do the workshop again and again and again and see what happens.  I

17)   Have Marriage renewal exercises.  I

18)   Little workshops on some of the individual topics.  I

19)   A follow-up session maybe in a month to see if things are the same or not.  I

20)   Offering a Phase 2 to the Marriage Workshop which they would like to attend.  I

21)   It would be nice to have a different space because they probably want to have more couples there.   I

22)   It was the perfect space for that size of group.  I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

xi) Glossary of Terms used in Family Systems Theory

 

 

Anxiety:  The fear of a real or imagined threat which brings heightened reactivity.   It is a physiological arousal preparatory to action to preserve the safety of the individual.  Anxiety can be acute and short term or chronic and long term, even crossing the generations in a family system.  As the most contagious emotion, it is the crucial issue.

 

 

Basic self:  The core self rooted in guiding principles, goals, vision and values.  It is the inner guidance system, the ‘person of the person’.  This contrasts with the pseudo or functional self which gives away self, lacks healthy boundaries and is emotionally fused to others.

 

Boundaries: Delineations between people and between systems.  Boundaries, when clear and permeable, are an expression of self-differentiation, permitting people to be close without emotional fusion.  Rigid boundaries are an expression of anxiety and unresolved emotional attachment.

 

Bowen theory (or “family systems theory”): A theory developed by Dr Murray Bowen which involved eight interlocking concepts for understanding systemic biological patterns.  It is inherently multigenerational, seeing the present as rooted in past family relationships, in one’s family of origin. Bowen Theory involves systemic thinking in contrast to a linear cause-and-effect  approach.  It sees the family as an emotional unit, a network of interlocking relationships.

 

Cutoff (or “emotional cutoff”): Bowen defined his last Family Systems Theory concept ‘emotional cutoff’ as the process of separation, isolation, withdrawal, running away, or denying the importance of the parental family.  It primarily describes how people disconnect from their past in order to begin their lives in the current generation.  Emotional Cutoff is the extreme form of unresolved emotional distance. As an expression of closeness-anxiety, it is the polar opposite of emotional fusion. Cutoffs are either primary when directly related to one’s parents, or secondary, indirect, and inherited when based on interlocking triangles and on the multigenerational emotional process which can be traced back to the primary parental cutoff.  In light of Bowen’s use of the phrase “separation of people from each other” to describe cutoff, the term ‘cutoff’ can be applied to other relationships than just the parent-child relationship.

 

Detriangulate:   the process of emotional detachment from family triangles, while remaining calmly present, so as not to be emotionally fused and colluded with other members of a triangle.

 

Differentiation (or “differentiation of self” or “self-differentiation” or “individuation”):  It is the foundation and cornerstone concept of Family Systems Theory.  Differentiation involves distinguishing between the thinking, feeling, and emotional systems.  Bowen saw differentiation as equivalent to identity and individuality.  It is the use of the cognitive, the neo-cortex, to control the instinctual, the amygdala.  As the antidote to emotional cutoff, differentiation is a lifelong process rather than a completed state.

 

Emotions: Bowen used the term emotion as synonymous with instinct rather than with feelings.  He acknowledged that this was a minority position.  Such automatic responses involved the fight, flight or freeze reactions that are connected to the amygdala part of the brain.

 

Emotional Fusion: It involves a loss of self and a lack of boundaries in relationships.  Emotion and reason merge in a way that reduces thoughtfulness and choice.  Togetherness swallows individuality and increases anxiety.

 

Family emotional processes (or “nuclear family emotional processes”):  Multigenerational emotional patterns such as 1) emotional distance 2) symptoms in one’s spouse or family 3) significant marital and/or family conflict 4) projection of anxiety onto one’s children.

 

Family projection process:  The projection of anxiety and conflict onto other family members, particularly in a multigenerational manner.  Such projection reduces the ability of the child to self-differentiate and relate to one’s future spouse and family.  Such a pattern is closely involved with blaming and scapegoating others as the IP- (Identified Person Negative).

 

Family of Origin:  One’s family background in which a person was either born or adopted.  Work on one’s family of origin is key to breakthrough in self-differentation, even more so than with personal counseling.  The use of the Genogram is invaluable in family of origin exploration.

 

Genogram:  A multigenerational map that one draws to more objectively show the emotional processes and patterns of one’s family, including emotional cutoff, distance, conflict, emotional fusion, and triangling.

 

Homeostasis:  The polarized rejection of change and the mandating of ‘business as usual’ in an emotional family system.  Sameness and apparent security are reactively chosen over transformation and the embracing of a thoughtful new future.  This fear of upsetting systemic equilibrium brings a loss of flexibility, curiosity, and growth.  Homeostatic ‘stuckness’ is usually multigenerational in nature and impact, resulting in both emotional fusion and cutoff.

 

Identified person or patient (or “I.P.”):   In family emotional systems and triangles, there is often a person who is initially pedestalized and treated as the IP positive rescuer.  Another person, perhaps the same person in another relationship phase, will be treated as the IP negative, the outsider, the scapegoat and the alleged cause of the family anxiety.  Having Identified People (I.P.) is a common way to avoid dealing with our own anxiety and unwillingness to change.

 

Marital Conflict: a patterned way of reacting to anxious emotional fusion.  Projection of blame is common.  Chronic marital conflict is that which lasts two years or longer on one or numerous issues.  Bowen describes marital conflict as involving an intense amount of emotional energy where neither spouse gives in to the other on major issues.[1108] Conflict can bring greater marital intimacy and self-differentiation when differences are embraced and appreciated.

 

Morphogenesis:  The process of transformation within a family emotional system by which there is lasting rather than recycled temporary change. This brings about a preferred future based on one’s self-defined vision, values and goals.  Morphogenesis is the opposite of rigid homeostasis and stuckness.

 

Multigenerational transmission process:  This is the focus of family systems theory coaching, rather than concentrating on presenting issues or linear causes.  Becoming more aware of one’s family of origin patterns allows people to objectively learn about where they have come from generationally and where they are potentially heading.

 

Over-functioning: Doing too much in a way that brings emotional fusion with others, loss of self, and a reduction of others’ functioning.   Overfunctioning involves an unhealthy over-responsibility for and rescuing of others.

 

Pseudo-self (or “functional self”):  The pretend self that is highly shaped by other’s expectation and by anxious reactivity.  During times of stress, it either disappears into fused togetherness or becomes rigidly reactive.  The pseudo-self is the imitation of the core or solid self.

 

Reactivity:  Homeostatic emotional patterns which develop when anxiety and conflict are high.  Reactivity, in contrast to responsiveness, expresses the instinctive nature of the amygdala and lacks the thoughtful contribution of the neo-cortex.  The lower the self-differentiation, the higher the reactivity.

 

Responsiveness:   Thoughtful interaction with other members of a family or family system.  Responsiveness involves the power of choice rather than just instinctively reacting.   It is heightened by family of origin work and self-differentiation.

 

Societal emotional process:  One of the two last Family Systems Theory concepts added by Dr Murray Bowen in the 1970s.  In times of anxious stress and societal triangling, social regression and polarization often develop.  Such cultural regression affects other systems like marriages, families and work settings.  Social regression heightens both emotional fusion and emotional cutoff.  It encourages the homeostatic recycled quick fix rather than lasting morphogenesis.

 

Symbiotic Relationship:  A emotionally-fused relationship where emotion and reason so merge than there is a loss of self and calm thinking.  The mother/child symbiosis is the original paradigm observed by Bowen in the development of Family System Theory.

 

System (or “emotional system”):  A network of interconnected relationships.   Such emotional units may include marriages, families, church, community groups, etc.  Bowen taught that any relationship with balancing forces and counter forces in constant operation is a system.  Richardson describes a system as like a hanging mobile with interconnected pieces.

 

Triangle:  Triangles, as the smallest stable emotional unit, are the universal unit of analysis.  Anxiety causes the marriage dyad to bring in a third person, be it a child, friend, relative or counsellor.  Triangles, a fact of nature, describe the what, how, when and where of marriage relationships, not the why.  Most triangles unhelpfully treat one member of the triangle as an outsider or as the IP negative/scapegoat.

 

Triangulation:   The playing of the child by one parent against the other parent during conflict.  Such behaviour produces calmness by projecting the marital anxiety onto the child.  Triangulation is an effective way to avoid working on one’s own self-differentiation.

 

Undifferentiated ego mass: This term was originally used by Bowen to describe emotional fusion before he discarded the term.  It represents conglomerate emotional oneness where there is poor differentiation and low ego boundaries.

 

Unresolved emotional attachment: This is defined by Titelman as the emotional degree to which a person is unable to move forward in the process toward increasing independence, unable to be a self and define a self in relationship to important others.  It defines the relationship between emotional and intellectual functioning, bringing a rigid, dependent fusion dominated by the automatic emotional system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

xii) [1109]  Marital Statistics for the North Shore and for BC

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 51 “We live in a time of personal drift marked by throw-away relationships, by transience, and by terrible impermanence.  Nothing lasts.”; Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 85 “…there can be little doubt that the critical problem underlying the general malaise of family life in North America is the instability and unhealthiness of marriage as a social unit.”

[2] The North Shore is made up of North Vancouver and West Vancouver which composes three districts/cities.

[3] The statistics for these percentages are listed in the Appendix xii on page

[4] Statistics Canada. 2007. North Vancouver, British Columbia (Code5915046) (table). 2006 Community Profiles. 2006 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-591-XWE. Ottawa. Released March 13, 2007. http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/prof/92-591/index.cfm?Lang=E ;

http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/Census/2006Census/ProvincialElectoralDistricts.aspx

[5] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 85 “…if contemporary sociologists and psychologists are accurate in their assessment, marriage and human sexuality together constitute the greatest crisis for modern society.”; Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 75 “In another group, a section of the intellect functions well on impersonal subjects; they can be brilliant academically, while their emotionally-directed personal lives are chaotic.”; Dr Ron Richardson, Family Ties that Bind (Self-Counsel Press, 1984, 1995) , p. 39 “People who are not well-differentiated…may be able to perform well in the work world, or when performing thing-oriented tasks as opposed to people-oriented tasks, but such careful functioning is totally lost when deal with intimate relationships.”

[6] A further defining of the term ‘emotional cutoff’ is found in the glossary in appendices xi.

[7] John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage (New Wine International Publishing, Berkhamsted, England, 2000), P.61 “It would seem that many in today’s generation have seen little that would attract them to marriage. But we believe that as a couple work at their marriage, it can become such a source of beauty, power and strength that we not only find hope for ourselves but also offer it to the next generation.”

[8] J.O. and J.K. Balswick, A Model for Marriage: Covenant, Grace, Empowerment, and Intimacy (IVP Academic, Downer Grove, Illinois, 2006), p. 46 “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reviewed health data gathered from more than 127,000 adults from 1999 to 2002.  Regardless of age, sex, race, education, income, or nationality, married adults were least likely to be in poor health, suffer serious psychological distress and smoke or drink heavily (National Center for Health Statistics, 2005).” P. 46 “Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher (2000) in their book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially found that…married couples are less likely to suffer from long-term illness or disability, had better survival rates for some illnesses, better mental health, greater overall happiness, better emotional and physical satisfaction with sex.”

[9] Carey Theological College DPM 929

[10] http://ptlb.com

[11] By the term ‘married more than once’ is meant those who have been divorced, separated, widowed.

[12] The MESQ questionnaire, developed for the workshop, is located in Appendix v on p. 207; Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts. (Houghton Mifflin, Boston MA, 1995), p. 16 “To glean insights about human feelings, motivations, and emotions, the researcher must meet people face to face.”

[13] The Glossary is found in Appendix vi on p. 361

[14] The Family Systems Theory term ‘family of origin’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 362

[15] Edward Cook, Developing Church Planters, Carey Theological CollegeDoctor of Ministry Project, May 2007, Paddy Ducklow email communication with Edward Cook, January 18th 2007, p. 26,  ft 68 “Qualitative research involves the use of qualitative data, such as interviews, documents, and participant observation data, to understand and explain social phenomena.  Qualitative researchers can be found in many disciplines and fields, using a variety of approaches, methods and techniques.”

[16] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 1, 3, 23 “…cutoff is rooted in the emotional process of the family as a multigenerational unit.”; p. 11 “…the concept of cutoff is derived from the nascent concepts of the triangle and multigenerational emotional process.”

[17] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 57 “Cutoff was noticed by Bowen in the 1960s when large number of teenagers were running away from home, hitchhiking across the country.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 231 “This kind of cutoff is rooted in the myth that physical distance is a way to resolve the tension in the parent-child relationship.  Often to their surprise, the emotional difficulty in attachment follows the child to whatever continent or state he or she goes.”

[18] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 310 “…cutoff is seen as the only way to preserve self and gain independence.”

[19] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 382 “The concept (of emotional cutoff) deals with the way people separate themselves from the past in order to start their lives in the present generation”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 63 “Have family members cut off from each other instead of separating emotionally but staying in touch?”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 24 “The emotionally distancing behavioral patterns of cutoff…including emotional isolation, withdrawal, flight, collapse, and geographic distancing…”

[20] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 16 “…Bowen’ early descriptions of the variation in the emotional process of separation between the generations, and the variation in the outcome of becoming a separate self… illustrated both the process and level of intensity that would later be partly included in the concept of emotional cutoff.”

[21] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 382;  Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 2 “Of all the eight concepts in Bowen Theory, cutoff was least fleshed out by Bowen.”; p. 9 “In 1975, emotional cutoff became the last of the eight concepts that Bowen (1978) formally added to his family systems theory after being a ‘poorly defined extension of other concepts for several years (p. 382)”

[22] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 23

[23] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 61 “Cutoff is a distant posture to the extreme, a nonfunctioning relationship.  Quite often the cutoff is so old that all the people involved have forgotten what triggered it.  America has sometimes been called a nation of cutoffs, since it was largely settled by immigrants.  Whatever the cultural contribution to it, cutoff is such a common pattern among American families that it is often hard to see…It seems that the American way of growing up is to leave home and never return again, at least emotionally.”

[24] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 131; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “Cutoff is expressed through a range of behaviours from little to extreme emotional distance, manifested internally or geographically.”; p. 23 “In addition, cutoff refers to many variations of emotional distancing that occur among individuals both within and outside their family systems.”; Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 18

[25] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 230

[26] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 128 “Emotional cutoff differs from the mechanism of emotional distance…; emotional cutoff is about distance between generations.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “Emotional cutoff is emotional distance that regulates the discomfort of emotionally stuck-together fusion between the generations.”

[27] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Depression: A Symptom of Cutoff in Relationship Processes”, Pamela Allen, p. 315 “There is no value judgment placed on cutoff.  It is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, but serves a function for the family unit.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and Family Stability”, Smith, p. 355 “The reader is cautioned not to view cutoff as a pathological relationship process.”

[28] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 230

[29] Ferch and McComb, “Generational Healing: A Client’s Experience of an Intervention to Promote Forgiveness and Healing the Generational Bond”, Marriage and Family: a Christian Journal, Vol 4, Issue 2, 2001, p. 173

[30] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Managing Cutoff through Family Research”, Eichholz, p. 188 “I have come to understand shock waves (Bowen, 1978, p. 325) as a nodal event that sends the emotional system reeling from its more or less steady mooring for several generations.”

[31] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and Family Stability”, Smith, p. 370 “…cutoff increases the likelihood that patterns that led to violence in the past generations are replicated.”

[32] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 19 “The (emotional cutoff) process reduces anxiety in the moment but duplicates the original problem of past generational fusion in the future.”; Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 18 “The more distant each partner is from his/her own family, the more intense the emotional process within the marriage tends to be.”

[33] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 21 “The greater the degree of stuck-together fusion in a family, the greater the degree of cutoff that will follow.”; Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, P. 25 “If anxiety about being separate is intense, a person gets too close or entangled with others. This is emotional fusion. If a person’s anxiety about being close is intense, he or she gets too engaged or too remote from others. This is emotional cutoff.”

[34] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 25 “If anxiety about being separate is intense, a person gets too close or entangled with others. This is emotional fusion. If a person’s anxiety about being close is intense, he or she gets too engaged or too remote from others. This is emotional cutoff.”

[35] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and The Brain”, Priscilla J. Friesen, p. 83; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Impact of Cutoff in Families Raising Adolescents”, Anne McKnight, p. 276 “Cutoff is a term used to describe a reaction to intense emotion in which an individual severs contact in a familial relationship.”

[36] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 59 “Fusions do not feel comfortable, so people have a tendency to want to get away from them, to cut off.”; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 301 …the emotional cutoff has been called ‘the generation gap’.  The higher the level of anxiety, the greater the degree of generation gap in poorly differentiated people.”

[37] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 79 “When cut offs occur, the person always loses something of himself or herself.”

[38] Peter Steinke, A Door Set Open: grounded change in mission and hope (The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia, 2010), p. 118 “But intrinsic to human functioning are two temptations: the temptation to distance from others and the temptation to dominate others or to dissolve self in relation to others. The former is emotional cutoff. One can avoid the messiness of interactions by not being present. The other temptation is called emotional fusion, which is two-sided: an individual could dominate others and make them extensions of himself or an individual could dissolve self by allowing someone else’s functioning to determine hers.”

[39] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 230; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 17 “…emotional stuck-together fusion and emotional cutoff constitute an intertwining process.”

[40] Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 34 Ed: In contrast, Steinke says that clutching others is overfunctioning to achieve togetherness.

[41] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Migration and Emotional Cutoff”, Eva Rauseo, p. 419 “In situations where the human cuts off from that personal historical context, individuals may do exceptionally well with their own lives while leaving the next generations with fewer relationship resources to achieve the best that is possible.”

[42] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 17

[43] Michele Denise Akers-Woody, Understanding the attitudes toward marriage of never-married female young adult children of divorce using Bowen Theory, Psy.D. Dissertation (Alliant International University, San Diego, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 2003), p. 36 “Emotional cutoff has been found to predict marital discord (Skowron, 2000) and may harm the marriage in the longterm (Gottman and Levinson, 1992; Heavey, Christiansen, and Malamuth, 1995).”

[44] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 45

[45] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 53 “Bowen made a distinction between a relatively open relationship system and an emotional cutoff.  An open system is one in which all family members have a modicum of emotional contact with one another – that is to say, a reasonable degree of one-to-one open communication with one another….A system characterized by openness is the opposite of a system characterized by cutoff.  The latter involves the absence of open, one-to-one contacts.”

[46] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 231  “The most critical aspect of cutoff to assess is the degree of openness between the parent and child.”

[47] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p. 249 ‘This emotional cutoff can be accomplished by physical distance, keeping contacts with family brief and infrequent and/or internal mechanisms such as withdrawal and avoidance of emotional charged areas while in the presence of the family… The more intense the fusion the person experienced while growing up, the greater the likelihood of a significant cutoff later on.’

[48] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, Foreword by Michael Kerr, p. xxi “…differentiation, the antidote to emotional cutoff.”

[49] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 27 “…When cutoff, a person attempts to gain a sense of identity over against a person….A person defines self over against another.”

[50] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 27 “To continue the position of ‘againstness’, the emotional distancer often becomes dogmatic, opinionated, and doctrinaire.”

[51] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p.47 “Undifferentiated people typically blame or cut off rather than face the problem and working through.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 129 “Those who cut off usually see the others in the family as the problem and fail to see their own participation in that family emotional system.”

[52] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 16

[53] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, P. 249 “Emotional cutoff is an interesting paradox in that at one and the same time reflects a problem, ‘solves’ a problem, and creates a problem. It reflects the problem of the underlined fusion between the generations. It ‘solves’ a problem in that by avoiding emotional contact, it reduces the anxiety of the moment. It creates a problem in that it isolates and healing people from each other, people who could benefit from contact with each other if they can deal with each other better.”

[54] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 18 “According to Bowen, no one ever successfully handles an emotional cutoff by running from it.”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 34 “We think that by cutting off from the family, we will be free of their power and influence over us and our problems will be over.  Of course, what happens is that all those unresolved issues follow us into our new relationships…And it’s always the new partner’s ‘fault’.”

[55] Patricia Comella, “Observing Emotional Functioning in Human Relationship Systems”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, Eds., p. 19 “In an emotional cutoff, it is not possible to cut oneself off from the chronic anxiety that has been transmitted multigenerationally through the projection process in each generation.  However there is cutoff from knowledge of the sources of the anxiety…”

[56] Priscilla J. Friesen and Cheryl B. Lester, “A Systems View of the Training Program at the Bowen Center: Guiding Principles (1990-2003), Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, Eds., p. 92 “There is a correlation between emotional cutoff in the family and the emotional blindness that impinges on perception and experience. In a general sense, the more emotional cutoff from the family, the more intense the feeling states, and the more polarized the perspective on emotional relationships.”

[57] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 87 “People with lower levels of differentiation have less multi-generational connection, producing more dependence on the present generation.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Depression; A Symptom of Cutoff in Relationship Processes”, Allen, p. 334 “They seemingly managed this (cutoff) by underestimating the importance of those past relationships in their own lives while looking to each other for completion.”

[58] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 35 “When people reduce the anxious tensions of family conflict by cutting off, they risk making their other or new primary relationships too important.”

[59] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 32 “…the unresolved attachment between an offspring and his or her parents being expressed through pseudo-separation or emotional cutoff.”

[60] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 33  “They can be as subtle as tuning out of a conversation and turning on the TV or as dramatic as leaving the house, the city, or the country.  Many people can live in the same house and still be thousands of miles away emotionally.”

[61] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 33  “One version of the cutoff is the man who continues to live with his wife and appears to be in a compliant position, but in fact is emotionally not there.”

[62] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 33 “Those who cut off usually do so because they feel powerless.  They think the other person has all the power, and they don’t see any way to be themselves in a close relationship with that powerful person…Those being cut off also feel powerless and think the person withdrawing has all the power.”

[63] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 64

[64] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 79 “Cut offs are liable to occur when the conforming demand overwhelms the drive for differentiation.”

[65] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 24 “At the lowest level of functioning, the process can be characterized by an intense degree of cutting off or distancing.  This is followed by collapsing…”

[66] Richardson, Family that Bind Ties, p. 104 “It is not unusual for cutoffs from the family to occur at the time of death as a way of trying to escape the new triangles.”

[67] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff, Klever, p. 230 “The laws of the triangle to some degree predict who in the nuclear family will end up on the outside or in a more cutoff position.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Reproduction and Emotional Cutoff”, Victoria Harrison, p. 248 “Emotional cutoff occurs in triangles.”

[68] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p. 250 “ In the affair, the person can often satisfy his/her intense togetherness needs without a sense of losing self or being taken over by the partner. So the existence reflects a cutoff in the marriage which reflects a cutoff with the previous generation.”

[69] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 346

[70] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 23; p. 25 “From (Titelman’s) perspective, emotional cutoff can be either primary or secondary (in other words derivative of the primary cutoff)…A primary or direct cutoff takes place within the primary triangle, an individual in relation to one or both of his or her parents.  A secondary or derivative cutoff takes place between an individual and a sibling, grandparent, uncle or aunt, or cousins.”

[71] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 24

[72] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 25

[73] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 23 “…Bowen (Kerr and Bowen) wrote that cutoff can ‘describe the immature separation of people from each other’ (p. 346).  This author understands Bowen’s use of the phrase ‘separation of people from each other’ to indicate that the phenomenon of cutoff can refer to a process between an individual and others besides his or her parents.”

[74] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 23 “In contrast, when the parent-child triangle is fraught with an intense projection process toward the child and emotional divorce between the parents, undergirded by lower levels of differentiation and higher levels of anxiety in the family, the outcome of the separation between the generations often leads to emotional cutoff.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 297 “Emotional cutoff between parents and child is arguably the greatest long-term cost of divorce.”

[75] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain, Friesen, p. 99 “The more emotionally cutoff, the more reactive an individual is in his or her present relationships.”

[76] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Reproduction and Emotional Cutoff”, Harrison, p. 248 “It is more difficult for a person who is cut off from the past to perceive patterns of reaction in the family and to know facts behind the reactions stirred.”

[77] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 56

[78] Rosemary Lambie and Debbie Daniel-Mohring, “Theoretical Underpinnings of Family Systems Approaches”, Family Systems with Educational Contexts: understanding students with special needs (Denver, Love Publications, 1993”, p. 267 “Choosing friends of which parents disapprove (as adolescents), getting in trouble with the law, and abusing substances are way adolescents try to cut off from parents.  This declaration of independence from family is not the same as differentiation of self. It in no way resolves the emotional fusion with the parent.”

[79] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships,,  P.60 quoting Murray Bowen, 1974: “The principal manifestation of the emotional cutoff is denial of the intensity of the unresolved emotional attachment to parents , acting and pretending to be more independent than one is, and emotional distance achieved either through internal mechanisms or physical distance”.

[80] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 68  “It is easy for most people to detect gross examples of pretense, but there is enough of the imposter in all of us so that it is difficult to detect lesser degrees of the imposter in others.”;   p. 73 “I consider rugged individualism to be an exaggerated pretend posture of a person struggling against emotional fusion.”

[81] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 67

[82] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 145; Adorney, The Relationship of Emotional Cutoff to Marital Function and Psychological Symptom Development, P. 1 “However the cutoff is accomplished, its hallmark is the denial of the unresolved attachment to the family-of-origin.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 236 “The more cutoff a person is from his or her family, the less interest he or she has in the family, and the more he or she sees the family as irrelevant to addressing the marriage…For the clinician to even inquire about the family challenges the mindset in cutoff that the family is irrelevant or unimportant.”

[83] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 127;  Ed: I know that in my family of origin and in my own life, there has been a strong default to emotional cutoff as the ‘solution’ to emotional pain.

[84] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 7 “Another universal principle of family life…..individuals who are cut off from their families generally do not heal until they have been reconnected.”

[85] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 129 (Emotional cutoff) creates a solidification and stagnation in a person’s emotional life.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 184 “Emotional cutoff…tends to solidify that old emotionality and keeps it present, very real, and a much bigger deal than it would be otherwise.”

[86] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Depression: A Symptom of Cutoff in Relationship Processes”, Allen, p. 317 “Lacking outlets for anxiety and support that extended family can provide, relationships in the present generation can become more unstable.”

[87] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Reproduction and Emotional Cutoff”, Harrison, p. 259 “The third pattern, continued emotional cutoff, is associated with lack of reproduction.”

[88] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 92 “(Emotional cutoff) also describes the trend toward decreased social complexity as anxiety increases.  The outcome of decreased complexity is a constraint in the flexibility of functioning in subsequent generations.”

[89] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 106

[90] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Undoing Cutoff”, Kelly, p. 144 “Indeed cutoff seems to produce rigid, polarized thinking.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 231 “With more cutoff, the range of personal issues that are discussed is narrow and differences are avoided.”; p. 232 “With more cutoff, the person reports not talking about personal issues and avoiding anything that would stir emotions.”

[91] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 232 “Probably one of the most difficult kinds of cutoff to assess is the covert cutoff in a cozy togetherness..They lack self-awareness or have an internal cutoff.”

[92] Dillard and Protinsky, “Emotional Cutoff: a Comparative Analysis of Clinical Versus Nonclinical Populations”, p. 540 “Among the very few who have experimentally explored this theoretical concept  (of emotional fusion) have been Kerr (1977) and Roberts (1980).  Kerr’s preliminary results demonstrated the coexistence of poor functioning with cutoff, while Roberts found that the greater the emotional cutoff between the nuclear and extended family the greater the marital conflict in the nuclear family.”; Dillard and Protinsky, p. 346 “This finding supports Bowen’s theory that individuals who are emotionally cutoff are less well adjusted in their marital relationships and are lower functioning as illustrated by their lower scores on the marital communication directory.”; Dillard and Protinsky, p. 348 “…the emotional cutoff does not discriminate between (clinical versus nonclinical) populations.”

[93] Abby Press Adorney, The Relationship of Emotional Cutoff to Marital Function and Psychological Symptom Development, Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Dissertation (California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, 1993), p. xiv “Emotional cutoff was negatively correlated to perceived health of the family of origin…Emotional cutoff was found to be higher in marriages in which at least one spouse reported a problem in marital intimacy, marital conflict, or psychological symptom development.”

[94] Van Yperen, Making Peace: a guide to overcoming church conflict, p. 129 “Evasive responders do not understand that silence and evasion are the greatest cause of hurt and gossip.”

[95] Ferch and McComb, “Generational Healing: A Client’s Experience of an Intervention to Promote Forgiveness and Healing the Generational Bond”, Marriage and Family: a Christian Journal, Vol 4, Issue 2, 2001, p. 173 “A toxic issue was an issue that was discouraged or silenced in the family of origin (Moline, 1996).”; p. 173 “Generational conversation encourages forgiveness and a person-to-person relational structure in order to approach toxic issues in the generational bond.”

[96] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 383 “The one who runs away geographically is more inclined to compulsive behaviour.  He tends to see the problem as being in the parents and running away as a method of gaining independence from the parents.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 303 “When the decision to marry or live together is driven largely by partners’ runaway reactivity to their parents and families, the relationship rests on an unstable foundation of interlocking triangles.”

[97] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 177; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 301 “The person who runs away from his family of origin is as emotionally dependent as the one who never leaves home.  They both need emotional closeness, but they are allergic to it.”;   Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 155 quoting Murray Bowen, 1974 “When tensions mount in the marriage, he (she) will use the same pattern of running away.”;

[98] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xvi “The high divorce rate reflects our exalted expectations – and our inability to meet them.”; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 22 “As I have learned from my study, people who enter a second marriage have a specific agenda: to undo the trauma they experienced and prevent its recurrence.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 229 “Divorce is a process that is similar to cutting off from one’s parents.”

[99] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 85“The more intense the cutoff, the more he is vulnerable to duplicating the pattern with the parents with the first available other person.  He can get into an impulsive marriage.  When problems develop in the marriage, he tends also to run away from that. He can continue through multiple marriages, and finally resort to more temporary living together relationships.”

[100] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 61 “Stimuli may include problems over money.  Sometimes people cut off from each other at the time of a family divorce, if sides are taken. Religious differences may stand out in an intensity of feeling finally managed by cutoff…In fact, cutoff develops as an attempt to adapt to intense chronic and acute anxiety in the system.”

[101] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 62 “Issues, such as money, divorce, or religion, may provide the battleground, but undifferentiation in the members of the family is the real problem. …Unfortunately, what the cutting off individuals don’t understand is that there is a price to be paid for emotional cutoff. The price is a dear one.”

[102] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 87

[103] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 62

[104] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.382

[105] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 64

[106] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 311 “Cutoffs can be bridged and reversed; contact can be reestablished; and people can reclaim to a significant extent the emotional connection and stability that has been lost through cutoff.”

[107] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 132

[108] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 54 “Gathering family history, meeting unknown family members, expanding contact and visits with extended family members and members of the family of origin, and attending important family events such as weddings, funerals, and graduations, among others, are important ways of lessening cutoff.”

[109] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 300 “Divorce puts one at a crossroad. One avenue is an anxiety-driven fast track that goes in the direction of cutting off from one’s spouse and attempting to fill the void in one’s life with activity and new relationships while denying the significance of the loss.  The other is a more reflective avenue that takes time to focus on self, to gain an understanding of one’s own emotional functioning, and to redefine oneself in relationships.”

[110] Priscilla J. Friesen and Cheryl B. Lester, “A Systems View of the Training Program at the Bowen Center: Guiding Principles (1990-2003), Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, Eds., p. 92 “Learning about emotional cutoff as an intellectual concept often opens the doorway to these ‘blind spots’ in perception.”

[111] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 55 “If one can be more neutral, there is less need to automatically distance or cut off from a family member to whom one is reactive.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Undoing Cutoff: a Twenty-Five-Perspective”, Brian J. Kelly, p. 145 “The task of the therapist is to remain neutral and curious about conditions that would account for emotionally charged behaviour.”

[112] Priscilla J. Friesen and Cheryl B. Lester, “A Systems View of the Training Program at the Bowen Center: Guiding Principles (1990-2003), Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, Eds., p. 93

[113] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 56 “To reconnect with the cutoff parent, there has to be a recognition of the fusion in the marital relationship.”

[114] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 87 “The main reason we usually (hesitate) to bridge the major cutoffs in our families is because we believe that some other member of the family that we are close to will be upset. They may see it in a triangular way as a betrayal of their own position and say, ‘You are going over to the enemy.’”

[115] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 238; p. 239 “With greater cutoff, opening up personal issues in the family group is like throwing a match on gasoline.”

[116] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 56 “It takes an effort to move back toward the parent(s) with whom one once moved from fusion to a position of reactive distance in order to develop a relationship characterized by a reasonable degree of separateness with contact.”

[117] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Depression: A Symptom of Cutoff in Relationship Processes”, Allen, p. 325 “Working to bridge a cutoff between generations is an important component of symptom reduction in Bowen family systems theory.”

[118] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 91

[119] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, Klever, p. 241 “Often a person’s inflexible response is rooted in an immature expectation or in blaming thoughts.”

[120]  Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 135, Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Undoing Cutoff”, p. 146 “…to succeed, one must keep in mind that bridging is a lifelong process.”; p. 155 “Undoing cutoff is therefore a never-ending process.”

[121] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and Holocaust Survivors”, Eileen Gotlieb, p. 430 “Bowen theory suggests that where there is viable contact with the past and present generations, both living and deceased, one is poised for a higher level of functioning.”; Titelman, Gotlieb, p. 437 “More contact between the generations contributes to better lifetime functioning.”

[122] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 141

[123] Ferch and McComb, p. 174 “…two people who come together to open the generational dialogue can experience a cleansing in which embittered rigidity, emotional cutoff, overcloseness (fusion), or the emptiness that is bred by distant relationality shift to something new.”

[124] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 87 “In any case it is important to bridge all cutoffs by contacting all family members. ..”; p. 88 “…part of what happens in cutoff is that the definition of family changes.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 57 “Bridging cutoff is accomplished by specific efforts to make contact with members of the family from whom one has either been internally isolated or physically distanced.”

[125] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 1; p. 9 “…’cutting off’ provides a pseudo-solution for the adolescent or young adult who is unable to manage the unresolved attachment to his or her parents.”; p. 24 “…cutoff (emotionally reactive responses to unresolved attachment)…”

[126] Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational life (Augsburg Fortress, 1996),  P.29 “It is the emotional system that is the most difficult to detect and to understand, let alone to try to change.”; Daniel V Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, (A Pearson Education Company, Massachusetts, 1990), p.41 “The closer man comes to himself, the cloudier his vision becomes.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.355  “…the clues for important discoveries are right in front of our eyes, if we can only develop the ability to see what we have never seen before.”

[127] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 402; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 480 “…The process of being able to observe is the slow beginning toward moving one small step toward getting one’s self ‘outside’ an emotional system. It is only when one can get a little outside that it is possible to begin to observe and to begin to modify an emotional system.”

[128] Michael E Kerr, MD, and Murray Bowen, MD, Family Evaluation: an approach based on Bowen Theory, the Family Center, Georgetown University Hospital (WW Norton & Company, New York, London, Penguin Books, Canada, 1988), p. 18

[129] ‘Reactivity’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 364; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 480 “Observation is not possible until one can control one’s reactions sufficiently to be able to observe.”; Roberta M Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept: in Leadership, in Life (Leading Systems Press, Virginia, 2008), p. 71 “A way to think about stepping up in functioning in one’s family involves three steps: 1) Observe 2) Think, plan, rehearse 3) Implement the plan.”

[130] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 71 “Observe: …Some ‘put on a lab coat’….Bowen talked about ‘watching from a spacecraft.’ “;  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 18 “Probably the most important subjectively determined block to observing human behaviour has been the earlier described difficulty in seeing the part oneself plays in the functioning of others.”

[131]Miller, Anderson, and Keala, “Is Bowen Theory Valid? A Review Of Basic Research” (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, October 2004,Vol. 30, No. 4,453-466, p. 453); Home and Hicks, 2002; Nichols and Schwartz, 2001; David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage (WW Norton & Company, New York, NY, 1997, 2009),p. xxii “Murray Bowen has also indelibly marked my life through his magnificent development of differentiation theory…It is easy to see new horizons when you stand on the shoulders of giants.”

[132] Susan L Jones PhD, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches (Robert Brady Co., 1980), P.42, quoting Bowen: “The term ’emotional’ refers to the force that motivates the system, and relationship to the ways it is expressed.”

[133] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life: expanding the horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory, Edited by O.C. Bregman and C.M. White (Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, New York, NY, 2011), p. 48 “…when I was looking for a word that would describe instincts.  I picked the word Emotional.”; p. 50 “…I have used the term emotion as synonymous with instinct.”; Peter Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: being calm and courageous no matter what (The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia, 2006), p. 23 “Bowen’s  concept: Emotionality signifies what is instinctual in human behaviour, what is imprinted in our nerves as innate, and what embraces the deep biological commands on how to live. (Bowen) was not alluding to feelings – love, hate or anger. ….Instincts are quick, sudden, and immediate…”

[134] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 50 “Now most people in the world use emotion as synonymous with feeling. I’ve never done that.”

[135] Roberta M. Gilbert, MD, The Eight Concepts, p. 3;   Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation,  p. 13 “None of the concepts were borrowed from psychological theory.  The original six concepts, published in 1966, were as follows: differentiation of self, triangles, nuclear family emotional process, family projection process, multi-generational transmission process, and sibling position. Two additional concepts, emotional cutoff and societal emotional process, were added in the 1970s.”

[136] Nuclear Family Emotional System, also called Family emotional processes or nuclear family emotional processes:  Multigenerational emotional patterns such as 1) emotional distance 2) symptoms in one’s spouse or family 3) significant marital and/or family conflict 4) projection of anxiety onto one’s children. Ed: this definition is also used in the glossary in Appendices xi.

[137] Differentiation (or “differentiation of self” or “self-differentiation” or “individuation”):  It is the foundation and cornerstone concept of Family Systems Theory.  Differentiation involves distinguishing between the thinking, feeling, and emotional systems.  Bowen saw differentiation as equivalent to identity and individuality. Ed: this definition is also used in the glossary in Appendices xi.

[138] Patricia Comella, “Observing Emotional Functioning in Human Relationship Systems: Lessons from Murray Bowen’s Writings”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life: expanding the horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory, Edited by Bregman and White, p. 8 “Bowen regarding the triangle as the ‘glue’ that integrates the concepts into a coherent systems theory that accurately describes human behaviour and functioning.”

[139] Peter Titelman, Editor, Emotional Cutoff: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspective (The Haworth Clinical Practice Press, New York, NY, 2003), p. 1 “The concept of emotional cutoff is one of the most important but least understood of the Bowen concepts…”

[140] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 42 “…the Family Projection Process…all that I tried to do is to define how a problem that exists between parents comes to exist in the next generation.”

[141] Multigenerational transmission process:  This is the focus of family systems theory coaching, rather than concentrating on presenting issues or linear causes.  Becoming more aware of one’s family of origin patterns allows people to objectively learn about where they have come from generationally and where they are potentially heading.; Ed: this definition is also included in the Glossary found in Appendices xi.

[142] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.304 “Based on my research and therapy, I believe that no single piece of data is more important than knowing the sibling position of people in the present and past generations.  (Toman’s profiles, 1961)” Walter Toman discovered that ‘oldest children seem to be at risk for overfunctioning, just as youngest are for underfunctioning.’  If the married couple are two oldest children, they will be more likely to fight each other for control.  If the couple are both youngest children, their challenge is about how to be responsible when they would rather play.   Middle children tend to be reconcilers, and can function well in a marriage with either older or younger adult children.  There are many other variations of how birth order can affect married couples.

[143] Gilbert, Eight Concepts, p. 4; Friedman, Generation to Generation, P. 13, “The original six concepts, published in 1966, were as follows: differentiation of self, triangles, nuclear family emotional process, family projection process, multi-generational transmission process, and sibling position. Two additional concepts, emotional cutoff and societal emotional process, were added in the 1970s (Bowen, 1976)”

[144] Roberta Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership: Thinking Systems, Making a Difference (Leading Systems Press, Virginia, 2006), p. 26; Gilbert, Eight Concepts, p. 26 “In thinking systems, the focus is on the whole relationship system, how emotions circulate through it and the different processes or patterns that arise automatically in the process.”

[145] Ducklow, Doctoral Project/Thesis Coaching Church Leaders in Conflict: resolving strategies using family systems theory (Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois, December 2002), P.15 “The word ‘system’ comes from a Greek word that means ‘standing together’ (Stevens and Collins, 1993, page 149) and it is this vision of standing together that permits its members to ally.”

[146] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 358; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and Family Stablility”, Walter Smith Jr, p. 352 “This author defines relationship as a condition of emotional responsiveness among people, or between a person and an object.”

[147] Ron Richardson, Couples in Conflict, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2010), p. 15 “My favorite image to describe a system is a hanging mobile.  Each piece connects with the other pieces in a delicate balance. The movement of any one piece affects all of the others.”; p. 19 “A term like ‘nuclear family emotional system’ simply means the collective, deeply interconnected relational processes of the people involved as they go through their life together.”

[148]  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 10; Kerr from the Preface to Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, p. xiv “The importance of relationships to an individual’s emotional well-being is captured in three questions all human beings worry about: ‘What do you think of me?’, ‘Do you accept me?’ and ‘What do you want me to do?’”

[149] The terms ‘self-differentiation’ and ‘morphogenesis’ are defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. ; Marriage and Family Therapy: Psychoanalytic, Behavioral and Systems Theory Perspectives: Systems and Spirituality: Bowen Systems Theory, Faith and Theology -The Papers and Proceedings of a Conference on Theology held at Washington Theological Union, July 1987,  Edited by Joseph C. Carolin, Ph.D., ACSW, 1990, p. iii “Dr Bowen, as one participant so well said, could ‘think in motion.’”

[150] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 4; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 12 “A second important principle for gaining an understanding of human connectedness is that of emotional systems.  Within that concept, thinking systems and observing process become clear.”

[151] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 4 “Their anxieties affect each other.  They worry about each other. They try to please each other. At times, they annoy and fight with each other.  Each triggers the other.  They tell each other what to do, or become helpless.” Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.184 “Usually all that is needed for individuals to become emotionally significant, or related, is for them to spend a significant amount of time with each other.  When individuals spend a significant amount of time with one another, they will begin, sooner or later, to trigger each other emotionally, and the phenomenon of ‘passing’ emotions from one to another, in patterns, can be observed.”

[152] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 136

[153] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, a new way of thinking about human interactions (Chronimed Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, 1992),  p. 31

[154] Michael E Kerr, MD, and Murray Bowen, MD, Family Evaluation, p. ix, “ Each person was not an autonomous psychological entity, but instead was strongly influenced by the family relationship system.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 11 “One important difference (from its predecessor) is the insistence of the new theory upon seeing the big picture.  Where Freudian theory concerned itself with the delineation of ever more refined detail in the life of an individual, Bowen theory pursues an ever-broadening scope that incorporates an entire relationship system.”

[155] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.31; Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.9 “It is this ability to ‘step outside oneself’ that is required to be able to see the family as an emotional unit.”; Susan L Jones PhD, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches (Robert Brady Co., 1980), P. 57 ”… at times it is difficult to talk about emotional systems to emotional systems.”

[156] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 152 “The theory is not prelude to the practice; thinking it is the practice!”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 69

[157] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 85

[158] Dorothy Stroh Becvar and Ralph J. Becvar, Family Therapy: A Systemic Integration (2nd Edition, St. Louis Family Institute, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1993, 1998), p. 147

[159] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P. 39; Jones quoting Bowen (1976:63) “Family systems theory as I have defined it is a specific theory about human relationship functioning that has now become confused with general systems and the popular, nonspecific use of the word ‘systems’; Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, P.39 “Because of the confusion between family systems theory and general systems theory, in 1975 Bowen (1978) formally changed the name of his family therapy approach from ‘family systems theory to the ‘Bowen Theory’.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. x “Family systems theory is important because it was derived from the direct study of one type of natural system, the human family. It was not built on analogies, nor was it derived from general systems theory.  …Bowen may be the first person to have established that it is indeed possible to develop a systems theory about a living system.”

[160] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p.xi  “Family systems theory radically departed from previous theories of human emotional functioning by virtue of its conceptualization of the family as an emotional unit. …a network of interlocking relationships.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. ix “Bowen may be the first person to have established that it is indeed possible to develop a systems theory about a living system.”; Bowen, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p.354 “…I therefore chose to use concepts that would be consistent with biology and the natural sciences…I carefully excluded all concepts that dealt with inanimate things…”

[161] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 26 “Bowen chose to anchor his theory on the assumption that the human and the human family are driven and guided by processes that are ‘written in nature’.”

[162] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.24; Kerr and Bowen, p. 24, “Family systems theory assumes that the principles that govern such things are there in nature for us to discover.”; p. 131 Anxiety, emotional reactivity, and subjectivity are processes that can gradually be more carefully observed.”

[163] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. xi “…theory enables a therapist to distinguish between content and process in evaluating a clinical family. Content refers to all the various pieces of information; process refers to the way these pieces of information are related.”; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 180 “The first step therefore is to help the couple refocus the content issue and to address instead the emotional processes that are producing the symptom of extreme reaction.”

[164] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 144 “As partners talk, the therapist concentrates on the process of their interaction, not on the details under discussion…It may be hard to avoid being drawn in by hot topics like money, sex or discipline, but a therapist’s job isn’t to settle disputes – it’s to help couples do so.  The aim is to get clients to express ideas, thoughts and opinions to the therapist in the presence of their partners. ..Asking for detailed descriptions of events is one of the best ways to cool overheated emotions and make room for reason.”

[165] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 294

[166] Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational life, Augsburg Fortess, 1996, P.81 “The word ‘process’ refers to how we manage something.”; Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 12 “Our emphasis on process allows us to envision the future of the family with hope rather than despair.”; Peter Steinke, Healthy Congregations (The Alban Institute, 1996) P. 105 “Vision offers meaning; vision inspires hope; vision directs energy…”

[167] Michael P Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, ( Pearson Education, Inc., 2008), p. 136; Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.11 “The relationship statement was a description of what happened, and the emotional system was an explanation for what happened.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 14 ft 9, “The term ‘process’ refers to a continuous series of actions or changes that result in a given set of circumstances or phenomena; the term ‘content’ refers to the circumstances or phenomena out of the context of those actions or changes.”

[168] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.4; Kerr and Bowen, p. 4, “Most people are so easily overwhelmed by the details of family interactions that the assertion that orderly processes or patterns underlie those details may seem an improbable one.  The development of a family theory, however, stemmed from the ability to discern such processes in the midst of seemingly random and even chaotic appearing family interactions.”

[169] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. xi “Content refers to all the various pieces of information; process refers to the way these pieces of information are related.”

[170] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. viii ‘Psychoanalytic theory, for example, which had been developed through the study of individual patients, had only been able to see the family as a collection of relatively autonomous people.’

[171] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P.25; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 377 “…differentiation is insight put into action.”

[172] Margaret Carlson, Problem-Solving Family Therapy (Faculty of Social Welfare, University of Calgary, Models of Family Practice, Chapter 7), Page 17 “The repressed material brought to conscious awareness was more often than not in the order of hatred, fear, and hostility. The idea that catharsis, or the free expression of emotion, encourages healthy family functioning, too, is not so in practice. It deflects from a strategic plan of action and disallows changes in the family organization which is a primary goal of therapy. The theory of repression did not lead to family success, did not generate hope, dealt with past rather than present causes and encouraged reflection rather than action.”

[173] Murray Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’ (Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966), P.346 “A conceptual dilemma (in psychoanalysis) when the most important person in a patient’s life was considered to be the cause of his illness, and pathogenic to him…”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, : Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family (Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 2005), p. 19 “…blaming our parents for our problems and unhappiness means we will be prone to blaming whomever else we hook up with in our adult life for our continuing unhappiness.”

[174] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p.107 ”Why does it take so much time and effort to be a systems thinker?….Most of us automatically think ’cause and effect’.  We look for someone to blame.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 192 “Awareness of process helps a person get beyond blaming others or blaming some external force and, as a consequence, he becomes less angry.”

[175] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 5 “…symbiotic relationship between mother and schizophrenic person… It was not necessary to invoke a concept such as ‘unconscious motivation’ to account for it.”;  The following definition is included in the Glossary found in Appendices xi.   Symbiotic Relationship:  A emotionally-fused relationship where emotion and reason so merge than there is a loss of self and calm thinking.  The mother/child symbiosis is the original paradigm observed by Bowen in the development of Family System Theory.

[176] “A Science of Human Behaviour for the Future: Selected Segments by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics”, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 373

[177] Friedman VHS video, quoting Murray Bowen Friedman, Edwin, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process” ; Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 58 “I’ve spent a lifetime on trying to redefine the problem as present in the entire family.”

[178] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1976: p. 339;  Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. vii quoting Kerr “ …Bowen gradually came to believe that many of Freud’s most influential theoretical ideas were subjective and that the amount of subjectivity effectively precluded Freudian theory from ever becoming an accepted science”; Daniel V Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, A Pearson Education Company, Massachusetts, 1990  , p. vii quoting Kerr: “Bowen has argued that Freud was aware of the uncertain base of many of his theoretical ideas, but that many students of Freud treated those ideas as if they were facts.” Ed: Is this an emotional reaction to Freudian dominance, showing continued fusion to Freudianism?

[179] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 34 “…in my notion, (psychiatry) is a pseudo-science as are most things that have to do with human behaviour.”

[180] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 411 “If we can keep reaching out toward the sciences, perhaps we will someday make solid conceptual contact with the known sciences, and then psychiatry will have become a science.; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 136 “A second major characteristic of Bowen’s theory that sets it apart from almost all other theories is its tendency to conceptualize in terms of universal continua rather than discrete categories…Bowen theory constantly strives to make continuous what other theories dichotomize…, at times, Bowen theory will appear to belong less to therapy than to the disciplines of sociology, ethology, or anthropology.”

[181] Michael Kerr, Foreword to Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, p. xiv; Balswick, A Model for Marriage), p. 36 “Highly differentiated spouses relate to each other with simultaneous balanced connection and separateness (interdependency) rather than extreme independence or dependence.”

[182] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 340 “…I believe that  research should be directed at making theoretical contact with other fields, rather than applying the scientific method to subjective human data.”

[183] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 141 (Ed: the key Family Systems Theory concepts here are thinking, awareness, and taking personal responsibility.)

[184] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 9, “it is the relationship process that seems to be so difficult to observe.  People have a strong tendency to regard their own thoughts and feelings as occurring independently of what is transpiring between them. This tendency appears to be what makes it so difficult for people to get sufficiently free of their own ruminations to be able to observe a larger process.”; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.10 “The family system is, at one and the same time, unbelievably simple and complex.”

[185] http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/murraybowen.html  (Murray Bowen) “has been credited as being one of those rare human beings who had a genuinely new idea. He had the courage to go against the psychiatric and societal mainstream, to stand up for what he believed about human behavior.” Accessed Dec 1st 2012

[186] The term ‘fused’ or ‘emotional fusion’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 362; Daniel V Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory (A Pearson Education Company, Massachusetts, 1990), p. v Foley: “Murray Bowen is to the field (of family therapy) what Immanuel Kant is to the history of modern philosophy: the one person who is the starting point on the journey of knowledge…”

[187] Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors,  chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy),  p. 220

[188] Edwin Friedman, The Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 ‘Body and Soul in Family Process’ Video

[189] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 179

[190] The term ‘homeostasis’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 363

[191] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p, 179 “Awareness of the emotional processes in operation during this rite of passage (weddings) can help explain many family conflicts….Marriage has a major impact on the homeostasis of a family emotional system, and is in itself always indicative of changes occurring in that balance. A wedding is like an iceberg: only one-eighth of the moving mass will be visible, but the process and decision usually have the impetus and momentum of generations of build-up.”

[192] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 295; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Fusion is defined as the emotional oneness or emotional stuck-togetherness between family members…

[193] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 35 “They fuse, emotionally, two persons into one. A symptom of that fusion is the ability of one person to stimulate, or trigger, the other person emotionally.  If one is happy, the other is happy. If one is sad, the other is sad.”;  Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1961, p. 92 In marriage to a spouse with an equally poor differentiation of self,…the new spouses ‘fuse together’ into a new undifferentiated family ego mass in which ego boundaries between them are obliterated.”; Ed: a definition of undifferentiated ego mass is included in the Glossary found in Appendices xi.

[194] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 171;  Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 28  “Although he later dropped the phrase, Bowen initially referred to fusion as the ‘undifferentiated family ego mass.’”

[195] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 162 “The second natural process basic to what Bowen has taught about therapy is that the process of maturation takes time. It cannot be willed or even speeded up beyond its own time frame…Since Bowen theory does not equate change with symptom relief or feeling better, but with an increase in the differentiation level of the family, it has a long-range perspective.”; Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.71 “It can take years to alter the emotional processes of a family.”

[196] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 117 quoting Murray Bowen, 1975: “The individuality force emerges slowly at first, and it takes very little togetherness force to drive it back underground for fairly long periods.”

[197] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 120 “Differentiation grows slowly from the inside through self-confrontation.  Pseudo-self changes quickly from the outside through borrowed functioning.”; p. 370 “People avoiding self-confrontation push their marriages into crises all the time.  Yelling and screaming to intimidate others is one way to hide fear of losing control of the situation.”

[198] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.76; Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 2 “The brain must literally be retrained.”

[199] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 149 “Much, if not most, of the change that occurs in families and other institutions does not last.  And much of what we thought was change often recycles either in a different form or in a different location… “; Friedman VHS Video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”: “what is fundamental change in contrast to the temporary changes that keep recycling.”

[200] Ona Cohn Bregman, Preface in Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, p. xx “The field is moving toward evidence-based practice…Certainly evidence is critical to the science of human behaviour for which Bowen was striving. The question for me is ‘What qualifies as evidence?’ Self-reporting and short-term elimination of symptoms are not evidence of basic change.”

[201] Edwin H. Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 162 “Bowen-trained therapists, therefore, tend to be less concerned about the frequency of sessions than about the length of time a family stays in the process s…Longevity in the therapeutic contact promotes deeper involvement with multigenerational processes…A coach can be helpful even with decreasing frequent contact as long as one plays the game.”; Ed: The term ‘Family of Origin’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendices xi.

[202] Daniel V Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory (A Pearson Education Company, Massachusetts, 1990),  p. 77 “Like the coach who works with an athlete to improve basic skills and ability, the therapist coaches the person toward differentiation of self.  The coach functions more as a consultant and teacher than a therapist, at least in the conventional understanding of the term.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.540, “The effort to help or to supervise someone in this effort has been called ‘coaching’ since it is so similar to the relationship of a coach to an athlete whom is working to improve his athletic ability”; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 138. “The task of the…coach is to participate with what God is already doing. Thus listening is a primary strategy for the systems coach.”

[203] Edwin H. Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 154 “Bowen was shifting the therapy setting, as he put it in an early presentation, ‘from couch to coach’ (Bowen, 1978).”

[204] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 159, quoting Murray Bowen, 1975; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 151 “Coaching is the Bowenian alternative.”

[205]The term ‘emotional process’ or ‘family emotional process’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 363; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 151 “Coaching doesn’t mean telling people what to do. It means asking questions designed to help clients figure out family emotional processes and their role in them.”; Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p.160 “During these times, simply achieving greater clarity about what is going on, based on the facts, will have a major impact. What is significant about this are not so much the conclusions one arrived at but the process of ‘trying to understand.’”

[206] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 139 ‘The coach locates the problem in the structure of the system rather than in the nature of the symptomatic member or ‘identified problem’.’

[207] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 169 “Professionals trained in Bowen theory refer to the consulting process as ‘coaching’ because so little of the useful work of self-change actually occurs in the consulting room.  It is done instead in the ‘field’ of the family.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 70 “But the work is not done in the coach’s office.  Rather the actual work of change is accomplished on site, in the emotional field of the important family of origin relationships.”

[208] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 24 “Coaching from the point of view of Bowen theory sees the defeating nature of the emotional process families are involved in. It also sees the uselessness of continuing venting.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 32 “Calmer emotions translate to more reliable thinking and better relationships.”;  Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 58 “It is often said, ‘Believe your position enough to be calm for it.”

[209] Gilbert, http://www.hsystems.org/4.html   The Ten Percent Solution, “…When people make efforts towards more differentiation of self, the system, or someone in it often, if not always, reacts. This is often referred to as the “change back” phenomenon….At this point people can become discouraged, especially if they are not in coaching with an experienced consultant. They can conclude that Bowen family systems theory really doesn’t work and give up on further efforts to work on self.”

[210] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 25 “Improving the ability to choose between thinking and reacting emotionally is possible alone, but a coach or supervisor can greatly enhance one’s efforts.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 98 “Increasing one’s ability to distinguish between thinking and feeling within self and others and learning to use that ability to direct one’s life and solve problems is the central guiding principle of family psychotherapy.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 355 “The core of my theory has to do with the degree to which people are able to distinguish between the feeling process and the intellectual process.”

[211] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 145 “High level clergy, on the other hand, often with training and coaching find a way to keep themselves relatively calm and thinking during the times when the group is stirred up emotionally.” p. 146 “Can high level leadership make a difference in a time of regression? It may be the only thing that can.”

[212] The term ‘emotional system’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 362; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.71 “Healing occurs when the counsellor is less anxious to relieve the symptom and instead uses it as a pathway into the emotional system.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “The symptomatic expression of a triangle usually takes the form of relationship conflict (or cutoff) or dysfunction in one of the individuals, such as anxiety, depression, or physical illness.”

[213] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 125 “The intensity and depth of my feelings (after tragic death and brother S and his two grandchildren in a train/car accident) resulted in my coming down with three physical illnesses over the next year. Physical illness is an old pattern with me.“ P. 127 “Several weeks after my family deaths, I was having almost constant migraine headaches.”  Ed: What were her ‘old pattern’ symptoms telling her about imbalance in her family emotional system?

[214] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, 1988, p. 319.  “the distinction between viewing a symptom as reflecting a ‘disease’ confined within the boundaries of a ‘patient’ and viewing a symptom as reflecting an emotional process that transcends the boundaries of a ‘patient’ and encompasses the family relationship system is the major distinction between conventional medical or psychiatric diagnosis and family diagnosis”

[215] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. viii, quoting Kerr, “If this conceptualization of the family as an emotionally governed system or unit (emotion is synonymous with instinct, not feeling) is accurate then, therapy directed at any family member, not just the symptomatic member, can modify the whole unit…It is not necessary to have the symptomatic family member in therapy for the symptoms to be relieved.  It is therapy based on a way of thinking that conceptualizes reciprocity in functioning between family members.”

[216] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, P. 36

[217] Murray Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966, P.371 “They might get depressed and confused and develop a whole spectrum of physical symptoms. This is the reaction of one’s psyche and soma as it cries out for the old dependence and togetherness.”

[218] The term ‘emotional cutoff’ is defined in the Glossary found in Appendix xi on p. 363.

[219] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 38 “In general, emotional cutoff between the extended and nuclear families intensifies all forms of symptoms.  Without solid contact between the generations, anxiety and fusion increase in the nuclear family.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 311 “Bowen (1978) wrote, ‘The more a nuclear family maintains some kind of viable emotional contact with the past generations, the more orderly and asymptomatic the life process in both generations’ (p. 383).”

[220] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 98

[221] Friedman 1991, p. 140 “In all events, chronic anxiety is understood to be the primary promoter of all symptoms from schizophrenia to cancer from anorexia to birth defects.”

[222] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 172

[223] Ed: all five couples in the Strengthening Marriage Workshop have previously experienced conflict, distance and divorce.

[224] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 137 “Instead of dividing marriages into two basic categories, those that last and those that do not, or those that are happy and those that are not, the new criterion based on the above model is that marriages are successful to the extent that the nuclear family is symptom-free in all three locations (with the understanding that no marriage achieves a grade better than 70 percent.)…”

[225] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation: p. 87” …People who develop a physical illness frequently are absorbing anxiety based on their functioning position in a relationship system.  They sometimes describe this position as ‘no exit’.”

[226] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 192; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 476 “Conflict absorbs large quantities of the undifferentiation…which protects other areas from symptoms.”

[227] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, P. 87 “In some ways it is easier to live with the presence of a chronic symptom than it is to confront the more basic relationship problems that exist between family members.”

[228] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 125 “The number one self-defined issue that conflicted couples bring to counseling is ‘We don’t communicate.’”

[229] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p.84, p. 104 “The complaint heard most frequently from couples seeking professional help is ‘We have a communication problem!’”

[230] Peter Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: being calm and courageous no matter what (The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia, 2006)  P. 7

[231] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 163” If the predominant pattern is parents’ externalizing their anxieties into their marital relationship, periods of high anxiety are characterized by marital conflict.  If the predominant pattern fosters dysfunction in a spouse or in a child, periods of high anxiety are characterized by symptoms developing in a spouse or in a child.”; Ed: Marital conflict is defined in the glossary found in the appendices xi.

[232] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 182, “…the one prone to develop symptoms is the spouse who adapts most to maintain harmony in the relationship system….The dominant one projects or ‘sprays’ his or her anxiety and, in the process, usually feels calmer; the adaptive one picks up or projects the anxiety and, in the process, becomes more anxious and more at risk for a symptom.”

[233] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, P.162, “It does not take much great deal to see that the most intense forms of family at  symptomology (anorexia, suicide, schizophrenia, abuse, violence, and many chromic physical diseases, not to mention a whole catalogue of marital and parent-child issues)   tend to occur in families characterized by extreme will conflict, by which I mean that members of the family are constantly trying to will one another to adapt to their own self-differentiation.  Willing others to change is, by definition, loss of self in the relationship.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 40 “In time, however, borrowing and lending of selves becomes a source of stress.”

[234] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 2 “The emphasis here will be on strength, not pathology; on challenge, not comfort; on self-differentiation, not herding for togetherness.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 379 “Kindness flows from strength rather than weakness or anxiety.”

[235] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 11 But whenever a focus on symptoms obscures the strengths of people, there may be room for another approach. …A research focus on the understanding of human strengths instead of on pathology is rare.” Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 160 “Ideally a professional can relate to and encourage a person’s ability, focusing on what is right with people: their strengths and those of their families.”

[236] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 17

[237] Ducklow quoting Cosgrove and Hatfield 1994, 124 “System theorists presumed that ‘the human power for preservation, healing and change are already resident in the congregation’”

[238] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 61 “It can be most easily seen when a family is in a ‘regression.’  In other words, someone in the family is showing a major symptom, and it is drawing focus and adding to the anxiety burden of the family…In order for this situation to come to an end, someone has to step out of the anxious worry loop.”

[239] Papero, p.53 “In the moderately to highly anxious variants of marital conflict, partners have high emotional reactivity to one another.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 127 “A successful effort to improve one’s level of differentiation and reduce anxiety strongly depends on a person’s developing  more awareness of and control over his emotional reactivity.”

[240] Ducklow, P. 234 “Reactivity is the tendency for the person to respond to perceived threats or the anxiety of others. Responsiveness is the learned skill to choose a response to a threat or the anxiety of others.”

[241] Kerr and Bowen, p. 188 “The force behind dogmatic convictions about who needs to change….   the more emotionally reactive people are and the more fixed their thinking about who needs to change, the less flexible the family.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 83 “What is compromised in a conflictual relationship is the ability to give in when it is constructive for all concerned.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 115 “You end up trying to control both your relationship and your partner in order to get control of yourself.  Ways of interacting become inflexible.”

[242] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 43 “…when you try to change your fellow human being, you are a malignancy.”

[243] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 52 “Having a personal agenda to change one’s spouse can only lead to disillusionment and a disheartened spouse.  The message clearly indicates nonacceptance. Thus when a spouse is invested in changing the other, it’s quite natural to resist.  In fact it’s fodder for a huge battle of defensiveness, anger, frustration and distancing tactics…When you think about it, wanting to change your spouse is usually self-serving.  We want our spouse to be something we want them to be for our own purposes.”

[244] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 35; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 46 “The battle to change the other person is never won. Taking responsibility for yourself means that you work on changing yourself, not someone else.”

[245] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 163;   “The most blatant characteristic of chronically anxious families is the vicious cycle of intense reactivity of each member to events and to one another”

[246] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 147

[247] Ducklow, p. 39 “People who are fused are dominated by their emotional reactivity and the urge for togetherness.”; Murray Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice (Aronson, New York, 1978), p. 371“The goal is to rise up out of the emotional togetherness that binds us all.”

[248] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 188 “Leaving him alone has not worked. She often feels that her point of view is neither listened to nor understood…If he seems not to react, she feels worse and prods until he does react.”

[249] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 64, ft. 3

[250] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 26 “The compliant ones react to a demand for sameness by pretending there really are no differences…They avoid conflict because it emphasizes differences; togetherness is their ideal. …These couples appear to have a good marriage because they never fight…” p. 27 “Remember the compliant one is not necessarily without power…”

[251] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 40; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 26 quoting Murray Bowen, 1973: “Emotional reactiveness in a family, or other group that lives or works together, goes from one family member to another in a chain reaction.”;

[252] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 190

[253] James L Framo, “Family of origin as a therapeutic resource for adults and marital and family therapy: you can and should go home again”, Family Process, 15:193-210, 1976. p. 340 “A client is coached (by Bowen) to gain control over his emotional reactivity to his family and to become a more objective observer of the self and his family.”

[254] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p.53 “In the moderately to highly anxious variants of marital conflict, partners have high emotional reactivity to one another.”

[255] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, (Create Space, Amazon, 2012), p. 40; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 22 “…there can be an anxiety based on the threat of being swallowed up by the forced unity of togetherness.  The threat is that self can be lost.”; p. 72 “What is not often recognized about their apparently petty fights is that the threatened sense of self is the so-called federal issue.”

[256] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 53; Ronald W. Richardson, “Differentiation of Self” as a Therapeutic Goal for the Systemic Pastoral Counselor, Journal of Pastoral Psychotherapy, Vol. 1(1), Fall 1987, The Haworth Press, Inc., p. 36 “The emotional reactivity of fusion means that we are supersensitive to significant other’s response to us.  We are thrilled when they love and praise us, and hurt, and destroyed, and defensive or aggressive when they criticize us.”

[257] Abby Press Adorney, The Relationship of Emotional Cutoff to Marital Function and Psychological Symptom Development, Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Dissertation (California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, 1993), p. 67, quoting Benswanger, 1987

[258] Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors,  chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), P.243 “When they are apart, each is preoccupied with the ‘unfair treatment he/she has received, each feeling his/her point of view has not been heard.”

[259] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p.189 “The wife reacts when she feels unloved, ignored, and taken for granted. The husband reacts when he feels unloved, pressured to change, and unappreciated.”

[260] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice,  P.541 “The effort to become a better observer and to learn more about the family reduces the emotional reactivity, and this in turn helps one become a better observer.”

[261] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 99 “The more one understands about how we all came to be the way we are, the less reactive one becomes to any particular trait.”

[262] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 75 “Teaching about emotional systems is a natural part of assisting people to think about their situation and to control their reactivity.  Timing plays an important role in the teaching effort.  If teaching is attempted when anxiety is high, there are considerable disadvantages.  Anxious people have a hard time listening fully to what is being said. Concepts are partially heard and greatly misunderstood.”

[263] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, P.261 “Changing emotional reactiveness and operating as a little more of a self in relationship to people you live with is a long, very gradual process.”

[264] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 188; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 33 “Every relationship has to negotiate the differences that inevitably occur between the partners.  Marriages that prosper have figured out how to do this successfully.”; p. 72 “Any vital relationship between two thinking and feeling people will include some kind of struggle over differences.”

[265] Kerr and Bowen, p. 78.  ft. 16 “Two organisms, for example, can be so reactive to the presence of each other that, if they cannot successfully avoid each other, one will likely kill the other.”

[266] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, P. 160

[267] Edwin H. Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, P.160

[268] Ducklow, Conflicted Church/Conflicted Leader Course, Carey Theological College, Fall 2011

[269] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, P. 167

[270] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 436

[271] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationship, p. 106 “a second characteristic of optimal communication becomes clear: It is nonreactive.”

[272] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 434, Family Systems Theory and Pastoral Theology: Lawrence Matthews “I have come to the conclusion that reactivity plays a major part in the unwillingness, or perhaps inability, of pastors to think theologically. When anxiety and reactivity are high, regardless of the cause, clarity of thinking is lower. Theological reflection requires the ability to think clearly.”

[273] Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors,  chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), p. 260 “From experience, the people who do least well in the training are the ones who have the hardest time seeing their own problems, their own emotional reactiveness…”

[274] Edwin Friedman Video, The Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 ‘Body and Soul in Family Process’ VHS: “Many people create anxiety in others to see if you love them. If you are nonreactive, they will doubt that you love them.”;  Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 73“Becoming more differentiated is possibly the most loving thing you can do in your lifetime – for those you love as well as yourself.”; p. 309 “We all torment those we love while feigning unawareness. Marriage is perhaps the place we do it most frequently – and with impunity.”

[275] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 191 … if a therapist emphasizes the importance of focusing on oneself rather than on the other, and the importance of toning down emotional reactivity, the spouse who feels most pressured by the other spouse is more likely to applaud this point of view than the spouse who feels more isolated and ignored…She feels her spouse is ‘unfeeling’ and ‘selfish’ and hears the therapist as suggesting this is all right.”

[276] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 145 “Bowen theory further predicts that if the leader stays on track, not reacting back, not retreating, and staying in contact with important others, the reactivity will die down in time.”

[277] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, 1959, p. 456 “The emotional tone was commonly grim, urgent and serious and could be imperiously demanding, plaintive, or simple insistent.  This feeling was infectious…”

[278] Edwin Friedman video: “…the real issue is our anxiety and our failure to grow ourselves.”; Jones, P.41; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 361 “The Bowen theory has two main variables. One is the degree of anxiety, and the other is the degree of integration of self.”; Ed: Anxiety is the fear of a real or imagined threat which brings heightened reactivity.   It is a physiological arousal preparatory to action to preserve the safety of the individual.  A Family Systems Theory definition of anxiety is included in the Glossary found in Appendices xi.

[279] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 63 “I believe anxiety is the crucial issue.  The research families all have a low tolerance for anxiety.  Of course, this ‘peace at any price’ policy immediately causes greater anxiety for tomorrow…”; Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.299 “In one sense, this entire story is about the management of anxiety…this overlaps with management of oneself.”

[280] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 139 “…a premise that subsumes the entire theory, that there is a chronic anxiety in all of life that comes with the territory of living.”; Ducklow, p. 52, “Emotional systems are, by their very nature, anxious.”

[281] Papero, p.88

[282] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 302 “The real problem is our intolerance and fear of anxiety.”

[283] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 85

[284] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.40

[285]  Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.51; Ducklow, Carey Theological College, Appl 532, October 18th 2012,“Anxiety is   the transmitter of generational pain.”

[286] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.45

[287] Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 121 “…differentiation is gut-wrenching emotional surgery – and what’s worse, you have to perform the operation on yourself.”; p. 242 “Emotional fusion is painful until you give it up – and it dies a painful death.”; p. 341 “Becoming more differentiated is gut-wrenchingly difficult work.  Usually, only extreme circumstances are sufficient to provoke the personal metamorphosis that is part and parcel of differentiation.”

[288] Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, “Clean pain comes from moving forward from an accurate self-picture, accepting what has been, is and will be…Dirty pain comes from defending, denying or deflecting, to keep from seeing or doing something.  The dirty feeling comes from dodging yourself.”

[289] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 137 “…a person needs to understand that when she stimulates pain in others, they will react in turn. Without a deepening pain, growth seldom happens.”

[290] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors, chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), p. 237 “Practically thinking, the more anxious or emotionally intense a person gets, the greater the tendency for the fusion of the two systems.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 116 “…differentiation is the ability to soothe your own anxiety and to resist being infected with other people’s anxiety.”

[291] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.47 “Usually people are told that if only they will get their feelings out, the conflict will disappear.  Unhappily, many who take this advice find that the more they try to get their feelings out, the worse the conflict becomes.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 150 “I never try to get people to change their feelings…Feelings are connected to our position in the emotional system.  A changed position (in the emotional system) leads to changed feelings.”

[292] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.362 “There is also the phenomena of the infectiousness of anxiety in which anxiety can spread rapidly through the family, or through society.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 176 “…Anxious reactions to the presence of the problem can be more of a problem than the problem itself.”

[293] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 116

[294] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.13 “In animals, there is a tendency for anxiety to ripple instantly through a herd when there is danger. The herd functions as an emotional unit. The anxiety moves from one individual to the next, causing all the individuals to push closer together.”

[295] “Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self”, by Michael E Kerr, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, Page 151; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 125 “Anxiety converts feared problems into real problems..”

[296] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 91 “With less anxiety to carry around, the thinking brain functions better.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.36 “When anxiety decreases sufficiently, people can begin to think about their problems. Anxiety impairs the ability to think…”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 28 “…strong emotion seems to override logical thought; processing information is logically difficult if not impossible during times of heightened emotion.”

[297] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Understanding and Measuring Emotional Cutoff”, Illick et al, p. 205 “Bowen’s (1978) reference to having ‘the ability to see one’s own family more as people than emotionally endowed images’ (p. 531) is important.  Seeing one’s parents more as ‘emotionally endowed images’ than as people is an indicator of the degree of intensity and the degree of anxiety in the relationship system.”

[298] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p.112 “Under the effects of heightened anxiety, people tend to not see the ‘big picture’ or to ‘think systems’.  (Rather they tend to think ‘cause and effect’, laying blame.)”; Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 15 “Conflict: The favorite and overused word is ‘you’. Projection of blame is the order of the day.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 263 “It is common for young people to get into marriage blaming their parents for past unhappiness, and expecting to find perfect harmony in the marriage.”

[299] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 135 “Differentiation also permits the kind of desire most of us think we want: ‘front-brain’ neocortical desire.  It’s what makes sex personal.  We want to be wanted (chosen).  Only a neo-cortex can do that.”

[300] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 293 “Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky (1994) describes the intricate interplay between the physiology of the stress response and sexual desire, and provides scientific undergirding for a fact that most people discover from personal experience: stress is not conducive to sexual desire and arousal for either the male or female…the nature of their sexual relationship changes, usually in the direction of less quantity, if not less satisfying quality…It seems that under stress, sex is the first thing to go, although in exceptional cases it may be the last thing to go.”

[301] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 21; JC Wynn, The Family Therapist (Fleming H Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1987), p. 150 “A family subjected to sustained anxiety will lose contact with their intellectually focused abilities and come to rely more on emotionally determined decisions. “; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 31 “Unfortunately the brain does not function well in the presence of emotional intensity.”

[302] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 28 “While humans are quick to provide ‘reasons’ for their actions and inactions, much of what they do is done by other forms of life unencumbered by such ‘reasons’.”; Roberta Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 41 “The term ‘groupthink’ was coined by Professor Irving Janis of Yale University.”

[303] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 72

[304] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 92 “All the world is a lab, waiting to be discovered and understood.  After all, it is anxiety or concern over what people will think, that keeps us from an interest in others or the world around us.”

[305] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 130; Kerr and Bowen, P. 131 “…An intellectual decision to engage people and situations one prefers to avoid and a decision to tolerate the anxiety associated with not doing things one normally does to reduce anxiety in oneself in those situations can, if done repeatedly over a long period of time, lead to a reduction in one’s level of chronic anxiety. This is anxiety reduction based on learning rather than on emotional or physical distance.”

[306] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 68; Friedman VHS video Friedman, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”, “Reducing anxiety in the system will allow the healing to occur.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.118 “If one bases a life course on feelings, that life will be marked by ups and downs, tangents, and lack of direction.  If anxious feelings can be calmed at will, productive thoughtfulness will take over.”; Randy Roberts, “Two Distinct Approaches to Family Therapy: The Ideas of Murray Bowen and Jay Haley”, The Family, Vol 6 No. 2, p. 42 “He works towards taking positions and action stands based on calm inner reflection rather than on the anxiety and pressure of the moment.”

[307] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, “Physically relaxed muscles mitigate anxiety and promote clear-headedness.”

[308] Gilbert,The Cornerstone Concept, p. 87 “Much of the difficulties in life can be laid at the doorstep of the deleterious effects of an inappropriate amount of anxiety, leading to symptoms, relationship patterns or bad decisions.  So when anxiety is less, many of life’s problems simply don’t happen. Life becomes easier. “

[309]  JC Wynn, The Family Therapist (Fleming H Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1987), p. 144 “Bowen and his staff track who talks to whom, and what about; this helps locate the stress level.”

[310] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, P.134 “If instead of getting involved in the anxious relationship patterns, we can look for the anxiety behind the patterns, addressing it, we will be more effective.” P.135 “…start looking for what the triggers behind the anxiety might be.  When those are addressed, the anxiety will recede.”

[311] Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational life,  (Augsburg Fortress, 1996), P. 159

[312] Friedman, 1999, p. 117; ‘Toward the Differentiation of a Self in one’s own Family’, by Anonymous/Bowen, P. 152 “In such an anxiety wave, the person with the most vulnerable heart can have a heart attack, a chronic illness can flare up, a teenage child can wreck a car or break a bone or any of numerous other symptoms could develop in any member of the family.”

[313] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P.267

[314] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.5 “While relationships solve one kind of anxiety – that of being alone –, they create another.  For all the investment that goes into them, the returns are slim. In spite of all the creativity, perseverance, and insight they require, relationships often confound and confuse people. They sometimes end in disappointment and disillusionment.”

[315] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 15 “The pull toward togetherness will increase at times of intensified anxiety in the emotional system. For example, it is not uncommon for a marriage to take place soon after the death of an emotionally significant person in a family.”

[316] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 44

[317] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 113 “Emotional immaturity carries with it chronic anxiety, which, when expressed in relationships, wreak havoc.”

[318] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 44 “…the more immature the person, the more that person acts like God.   That’s like they know something they don’t.”

[319] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 126 “At the heart of the problem was anxious attachment, a pathological form of closeness driven by anxiety.”; Ducklow, p. 229, Anxiety often results in the togetherness pull within the organization and increased rigidity in boundaries.”

[320] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 43 “When anxiety is low, family members automatically display autonomy.”; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 39 “ Bowen’s family system theory is best understood in the balance/imbalance of the two forces, togetherness and individuality.”

[321] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.535 “When anxiety is higher, they become more reserved and more isolated from each other.”

[322] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 7

[323] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 13 “Togetherness is sometimes called fusion.  This refers to the taking on or giving up of self in a relationship.”

[324] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p.74 “The more actions people feel compelled to take to reduce anxiety and to avoid triggering anxiety, the less the flexibility of a relationship…”

[325] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 44; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 438 “…the ‘feeling orientation’ which strives for an immediate short-term feeling solution to the anxiety of the moment”

[326] Ducklow, P229 “anxiety (or heightened reactivity) defined as the response of the person (or organism) to real or imagined threat…may be acute (short term) or chronic (passed through the family system for generations).”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Understanding and Measuring Emotional Cutoff”, Illick, p. 205 “Bowen understood anxiety to be more rooted in biology and fear to be more embedded in psychological theories.”

[327] Papero, p. 67; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 438 “…the ‘feeling orientation’ which strives for an immediate short-term feeling solution to the anxiety of the moment”; Papero, p. 41 ”The more intense an interaction, the greater the likelihood that individuals involved will behave automatically, that is, in response to the emotional system with the intellectual system being overridden.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 404 “They make life decisions to relieve the anxiety of the moment when they could know, if they could think at the time, that serious life complications would result from the decisions.  Family life becomes a mass of complications from years of feeling-determined decisions.”

[328] Roberta M Gilbert, “The Ten Percent Solution”, http://www.hsystems.org/4.html  (accessed Oct 15th 2011); Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p.105 “Anxiety is difficult to be around. When people find a calm person, they want to be near them.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 54 “Anxiety is the issue that gets us either to distance from or to pursue one another.”

[329] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 19, emotional reactivity = rubber band; Ducklow, P. 51 “Chronic anxiety constricts (limits) and constructs (forms) a person or system’s daily life. While acute anxiety is fed by fear of what is (for example learning how to cope when one’s spouse leaves or when one’s child’s dies, chronic anxiety is fed by fear what might or might never happen (for example, fear of how to cope if one’s spouses leaves or if one’s child dies (Kerr and Bowen 1988, 113 “… in chronic anxiety, one is anxious about what is not happening and may never occur.

[330] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 229,“Anxiety is heightened by ‘secrets’.”

[331] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1975: p. 291 “From family research, we have learned that the higher the level of anxiety and symptoms in the family, the more the family members are emotionally isolated from each other…A goal in family therapy is to reduce the level of anxiety, to improve the level of responsible open communication within the family, and to reduce the irresponsible, underground communication of secrets and gossip to others.”

[332] Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors,  chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), p. 242; Gilbert http://www.creatormagazine.com/dnn/CreatorLeadershipNetwork/InterviewswithLeaders/RobertaGilbert.aspx
“..if there is anxiety present, we find that relationships start to break down in one of four different ways. People start to fight with each other. They start to distance. They start telling each other what to do, or acting hopeless, “Oh, please tell me what to do,” or they start talking to other people behind the leader’s back in a thing, a phenomenon we call triangling.”

[333]Ducklow, https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011%20Appendices.pdf “Fusion or ‘emotional interlock’. This is to be stuck in the ‘tar’ of a symbiotic or parasitic relationship…”;Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22

[334] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 115; p. 381 “Our desire to merge and relinquish personal responsibility dies a slow and painful death, but there’s no peace until it does.”

[335] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 116 “What we often glorify as empathy is nothing more than infection.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 21 “Stuck-together fusion can take the forms of ‘conflicted fusion’ or ‘warm fusion’.  fusion.”

[336] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p.144 Staying detriangled requires a calm tone of voice and talking about facts more than about feelings.; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 69 “A well-differentiated person is not cold, rigid and unfeeling.  Lower-level people often believe that the free, unfettered expression of feelings represents a high level of functioning and using the intellect is a defense against it.”

[337] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 155 “…when it comes to promoting change, clarity may be more important than empathy, not only because helping people to be objective about their position in life automatically contributes to their healing, but also because it is only when a therapist’s orientation is concerned with clarity that he or she may distinguish empathy from anxiety.”; Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P.23 …working at being well-defined (ing) takes precedence over trying to understand one another. Clarity, in other words, becomes more important than empathy.”

[338] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p.138; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 93 “People who are working on differentiation find their innate curiosity returns.  (…after its thorough squashing in most of us by the eighth grade)”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “Being a self means being able to act on one’s own beliefs and principles separate from those held and expressed by one’s parents.”

[339] Murray Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966, p.370 “I believe that the conflicted marriage is an enduring one because of the energy investment. The amount of thinking time that goes into the other is probably greater than calm marriages.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 7, “They will go to another room, hang up the phone, divorce, or sometimes move away geographically. They have minimal communication. They still think about each other, however. And that plays a part in keeping the anxiety alive.”

[340] Gilbert, http://www.hsystems.org/4.html “The Ten Percent Solution”, “…Therapists, too, often note that a certain amount of anxiety is necessary in order for people to seek help in the first place….Those are the people who, after the first initial lowering of the anxiety, or the loss of a symptom of someone in the nuclear family, will disappear from the office of the helping professional.”

[341] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p.78 “When one can understand emotionally that everyone plays a part, including oneself, it is hard to be angry at anyone.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 197 “People in poorly differentiated relationships cave in easily and blame their partner when they don’t get what they want.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 79 ‘Finding who is at fault and labeling them as the problem that needs to be fixed or changed is a common way of dealing with difficulties.”

[342] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 50 “Shame is a deficit-based judgment that breeds distrust, suspicion, inferiority and uncertainty…If one has come from a shaming family (perfectionist), one learns that the only way to deal with the shame is to blame someone else.”

[343] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “It’s natural to get angry and blame people when things go wrong.  The differentiated person, however, is capable of stepping back, controlling emotional responsiveness, and reflecting on how to improve things.  Bowen (1974) called this ‘getting beyond blame and anger’ and said that, once learned in the family, this ability is useful for handling emotional snarls throughout life. “

[344] Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, P.91; Ducklow, P. 37 “One partner becomes a dumping ground for the anxiety of other partners as he or she projects his or her anxiety in blame. Each focuses on what is wrong with the other, each tries to control the other, and each resists the other’s efforts at control.”

[345] Friedman,  Failure of Nerve, p. 305; Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 17 “An early and frequent symptom of relationship anxiety is emotional distance. Among its numerous manifestations are silence, physical avoidance of one another, distractibility or apparent disinterest in what the other is saying, preoccupation, and even the clinical symptoms of depression.”

[346] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 305

[347] Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p.69

[348] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.305 “Others can only hear you when they’re moving towards you, no matter how eloquently you phrase the message. In other words, as long as you’re in a pursuing, rescuing, coercive position, your message no matter how eloquently broadcast will never catch up.”; Jones, ‘three mechanisms in marital conflict’ P. 49 “In a marital conflict, the pursuer tends to blame, accuse, and attack, while the distancer tends to defend.”

[349] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 141 “The second major technique in Bowenian therapy is the relationship experiment…Relationship experiments are designed to help clients experience what it’s like to act counter to their usual emotionally driven responses. …Their primary purpose is to help people discover their ability to move against the ways their emotions are driving them.”

[350] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 53

[351] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, quoting Fogarty, p. 151; Nichols, p. 144,”Fogarty (1976b) described the pursuer-distancer dynamic.  The more one presses for communication and togetherness, the more the other distances – watches TV, works late, or goes off with the kids…Men commonly distance themselves emotionally but pursue sexually.  The trick, according to Fogarty, is ‘Never pursue a distancer.’  Instead help the pursuer explore his or her own inner emptiness.”

[352] Murray Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. ?, “The effort of being outside the family emotional system, or remaining workably objective in an intense emotional field…”; Murray Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. ? “I believe that the best version of objectivity is possible with significant others who know triangles.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 113 “Marriage is hard…the common notion of compassion panders to what I call the tyranny of the weak.”

[353] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 83; Randy Roberts, “Two Distinct Approaches to Family Therapy: The Ideas of Murray Bowen and Jay Haley”, The Family, p. 42 “Taking sides, seeing a certain family member as a victim or hero, being distant or cold, getting involved in content, and not knowing what to say are some of the many manifestations of emotional overinvolvement on the part of the therapist.”

[354] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 121 “The best results come from  staying emotionally calm so that one can see as objectively as possible what emotional patterns occur in the family, as well as what triggers them.  People sometimes think of the calm, objective attitude of the scientist.”; Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 122 “It is difficult for individuals who have a close bond to step back, look around, and see things objectively.”

[355] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 153; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 150 “The ability to see systems or process seems to foster a more emotionally neutral attitude about human behaviour and the clinical dysfunctions than that fostered by cause and effect thinking.”; Kerr and Bowen, p. 150 “In essence, neutrality is reflected in the ability to define self without being emotionally invested in one’s own viewpoint or in changing the viewpoints of others.”

[356] Kerr and Bowen, p. 67; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 68 “Differentiation doesn’t involve any lack of feelings or emotions…You have feelings but they don’t control you or define your sense of self.”

[357] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 38 “To be differentiated does not mean to be like Dr. Spock in ‘Star Trek’ who doesn’t know what feelings are.”

[358] Papero, p. 74 “The effort to remain neutral is essentially impossible if the clinician focuses upon the surface or content issues in the family. …General themes of content include sex, money, and children and focus on issues of right or wrong, fairness, and rights….”

[359]   Papero, p. 74; Kerr and Bowen, p. 154 “The more intense the emotional situation, the more important it is that a person’s thinking is neutral and his reactivity under reasonable control.”

[360] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 72

[361] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 28 “Clinically it seems that in order to change an emotional pattern, the thinking brain must work hard, sometimes for a long time.“; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 448 “If the goal is toward long term stability and the differentiation of self, this eventually becomes the effort of one person who can give primary attention to self.  …It is never really possible to change another person but it is possible to change the part that self plays.”

[362] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 380; Ed: we-ness is fused togetherness.

[363] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. xi, quoting Bowen; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 199 “It takes two to keep your marriage the same; it only takes one to change it.  When you change, the relationship changes.”

[364] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.37; Papero, p. 2 “For man to observe and study himself has been the most difficult task of all…Subjectivity colours, clouds, and distorts man’s ability to view himself.  It is extremely difficult for the human to think about or observe human behaviour without automatically responding.”

[365] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 203 “Objectivity about one’s parents (the ultimate resolution of the transference or unresolved emotional attachment to one’s family) promotes objectivity about oneself.  A reasonable amount of objectivity about self and others, coupled with the ability to act on that basis of objectivity when it is important to do so, is the essence of differentiation of self.”

[366] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 293 “…promising no benefits except those from the family’s own effort to learn about itself and change itself.”

[367] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, P. 250

[368] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. vii “Whenever a clinician begins to treat a clinical problem, his first step must always be to assess the nature of that problem…Effective therapy depends on assessment.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, Pearson Education, Inc., 2008, p. 137; Nichols, p. 138 “Dates of important events, such as deaths, marriages, and divorces deserve careful study.  These events send emotional shock waves throughout the family…”

[369] Edwin H. Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 155 “But the major ‘technique’ that Bowen and his disciples have taught as the way to maintain such objectivity – and a differentiation-promoting position- is simply to ask questions.”

[370] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods (Pearson Education, Inc., 2008) p. 127 “Most of family therapy’s pioneers were pragmatists, more concerned with action than insight, more interested in technique than theory. Bowen was the exception.”

[371] Nichols, p.140 “Bowen himself spoke of technique with disdain, and he was distressed to see therapists relying on formulaic interventions.  If there were a magic bullet in Bowenian therapy – one essential technique – it would be the process question.”; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 234 “Questioning is the closest thing to an intervention or technique in Bowen’s family Systems Theory.”

[372] Michael E Kerr, “Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self”, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, P. 146, “Differentiation is not a therapeutic technique. Techniques are born of efforts to change others.”; Kerr and Bowen, p. 108 “Differentiation is not a therapeutic technique.  Techniques are born of an effort to change others”; Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 152 “Within the therapeutic encounter, there are not actually a lot of specific techniques to be taught.  Coaching couples to be more self-defined, teaching people to be more objective about themselves in relation to their environment, tutoring about the principles of triangles, encouraging people to learn about their multi-generational emotional histories and to go back and face issues they have fled, reworking family cutoffs, and teasing out, and challenging or encouraging the emergence of self are the basic pathways…”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 150 “Detriangling is probably the most important technique in family systems therapy.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 137 “The major techniques in Bowenian therapy include genograms, process questions, relationship experiments, detriangling, coaching,  taking ‘I’ positions, and displacement stories.”

[373] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts: p. 82 “Research questions, as in all good science, include: who? What? Where? When? How?  Why is not as useful a question to ask.”; Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p. 175 “Questions that begin with who, where, when, what, and how are the most useful questions. (‘Why questions don’t usually produce much useful information for understanding the functioning of emotional systems.)”

[374] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1973, p. 416; Dennis D. Morgan, Dale H Levandowski, and Martha L Rogers, “The Apostle Paul: problem formation  and problem resolution from a Systems perspective”, Journal of Psychology and Theology, Summer 1981, 9(2), 136-143, P.143 “…focusing on the why of the problem state vs a focus on the what of human interactions…”

[375] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 61 “…When one person asks the other, ‘Why do you do what you do?’, focus on the relationship process is immediately lost.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 360 “When anxiety is high, even the most disciplined systems thinker will automatically revert to cause and effect thinking and why explanations.”

[376] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 12  “Richardson says that he is “even tempted to say that ‘why’ questions help us to avoid taking responsibility for our actions.”

[377] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p.140

[378] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.72 “An approach that primarily asks questions, sometimes consciously naive, also keeps the counselor out of the dependency-encouraging, expert position that fosters wise advice. Further it is hard to give answers if you are the one asking the questions.”

[379] Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”

[380] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 315

[381] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 226 “The overall plan is to keep the sessions active with clearly expressed thoughts, always keeping questions calm and low-keyed. “;Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p. 51 “They did not tell others to ‘be calm’. They simply bring their own calmness to the situation.”

[382] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 150 “Bowenian therapists rarely give advice. They just keep asking questions.  The goal isn’t to solve people’s problems but to help them learn to see their own role in how their family systems operate.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 120 “…To ask questions rather than dictate outcomes (which would be my tendency).”

[383] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p. 255 “A successful session is one in which one or both spouses have been able to think about the emotional process, describing it accurately instead of just continuing to react to each other.”; The term ‘detriangled’ is defined in Appendix xi on p. 363.

[384] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 142 “(Bowen) would ask nonconfrontational questions, verify facts, and hear feelings.  But he would frame each question to stimulate thinking rather than encourage expression of feelings. His objective was to explore the perceptions and opinions of each partner, without siding emotionally with either one. It’s taking sides that keeps people from learning to deal with each other.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 314 “The therapist asks for thoughts, ideas, and opinions, and avoids asking for feelings or subjective responses…”

[385] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 314; Jones, p. 57 “If feelings are stirred up, he asks the individual to talk about his feelings rather than express them.”

[386] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 149; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 95, p. 161 “This (victim) stance is most easily invoked in counseling by that famous fusion-based question: ‘How does that make you feel?’ This stance allowed us to avoid taking full responsibility for our own lives since we believe others made us how we were…If we can change our own functional position in an emotional system, then our feelings change.”

[387] Murray Bowen, Commitment to Principles: The Letters of Murray Bowen (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, Unpublished), p. 22 (quoted in Bringing Systems Thinking to Life,Bregman and White, Ed.,p. 1)

[388] “May 17th 2012 Interview with Dr. Randy Frost, Executive Director of Living Systems Counseling, about his connection with Dr. Murray Bowen” (Appendices vii, Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff Doctoral Thesis Project)

[389] Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”: “You allow each one of you to bounce off you to each other through asking questions. This is being a catalyst.”

[390] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 151 “Process questions are used to invite clients to reduce their reactive anxiety and become more aware of how they are responding to the stresses that drive that anxiety.  Process questions work by decreasing anxiety and enabling people to think more clearly.”

[391] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.72 “Asking questions is a great way to be both nonanxious and present….the basic approach is to ask questions designed to stimulate each partner to differentiate his or her self better.”

[392] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p. 130 “The leader is neither married to his or her ideas nor averse to modifications that may be needed. …This is how I’m looking at the question at present. What do you think?”

[393] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, 1988, p. 284, “A therapist who asks questions about process can help a family member overcome whatever denial or lack of awareness exists about his part in the family process.”

[394] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 156; Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”, “I know how to destroy another person, by overfunctioning in their space.”

[395] Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 17; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, 1995, p. 47  “In unhealthy relationships, the roles become frozen into more or less permanent positions of over- and under-functioning.  …Whenever someone in a relationship is acting as the underfunctioner, someone else is sure to be doing an equal amount of overfunctioning.”

[396] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 47 “The overfunctioner tends to feel that there is no option but to take on the responsibility and do the work required.  He or she thinks the other is totally incapable of functioning in this area and feels forced to do it…The underfunctioner may actually feel incapable and so allow, or even expect, the other to be responsible.  In this case, the most frequently used phrase of the underfunctioner is ‘I can’t”.

[397] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 47 “The dynamic of under-functioning and over-functioning operates in almost every relationship. One person appears more responsible, more capable, and generally healthier than the other.”

[398] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 33

[399] Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p. 135 quoting Friedman: “Overfunctioners too easily take on the anxiety that belongs to others. They need to learn how not to do this or how to let the anxiety go when they have taken it on. Overfunctioners need to learn to distinguish between what is their responsibility and what is the responsibility of others, and then they need to let go of the things that they are not really responsible for. They can’t make others more responsible but they can make themselves less responsible.”

[400] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, p. 157 “…responses from helping professionals such as rescuing and supporting not only may be counterproductive, ‘enabling ‘, or codependent, but may, if the helper overfunctions enough, actually induce auto-destruction, that is, dis-‘integr’-ation in the client.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 75 “The overfunctioner, either male or female, may be dominating, authoritative and demanding.  In the face of this, the other partner crumbles into compliance and weak submission.”

[401] Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 17 “…violence can also flare with this symptom, generally when anxiety is very high and the overresponsible one feels at the breaking point.  It can also flare when the high functioner feels unappreciated or betrayed by the behaviour of the other, or when the underfunctioner perceives self to be oppressed or abused.  Then either one can strike suddenly and violently.”

[402] David S Freeman, “Family systems Thinking and the helping process: misconceptions and basic assumptions”, School of Social Work, University of BC, from Perspectives on Disability and the Helping Process, Chapter 12. , p.187 “…much of the anxiety that professionals have about their work lies in accepting responsibility for solving problems that probably are insoluble as they are presented.”; Freeman, p.188 “If the therapist takes responsibility for the solution of the problems, then he must take responsibility also for the outcome.”

[403] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships,  p. 159

[404] Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p.140 “The more leaders accept responsibility for anxiety that is not theirs, the greater the possibility that they themselves may become dysfunctional.”; Richardson, P.151 “He began to recognize how uncaring it was, in fact to take responsibility for others. he saw how that could rob people of their own growth challenges and opportunities for creative leadership.”

[405] Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 20 “The anxious clinician can assume responsibility for fixing the problem in the family, pouring life energy into the clinical family.  The common outcome is frequently called ‘burnout’, a rise (from  a BFST point of view) in chronic anxiety related to the erosion of self (life energy and direction) in the process of lending self to another.”

[406] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 56, p. 57; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 75 “Eventually, since (overfunctioners) have difficulty setting limits on the demands made on them, they may have a breakdown as the only means of letting go of their load of responsibility.”

[407] Murray Bowen, “The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice”, Comprehensive Psychiatry 7:345-374, 1966, p. 168 “The overall goal was to help family members become system experts who could know the family system so well that the family could adjust itself without the help of an outside expert, if and when the family system was again stressed….”

[408] Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966,  P.352

[409] Bowen, Comprehensive Psychiatry 7:345-374, 1966, p. 168 “It was far easier for the overfunctioning one to tone down the overfunctioning than for the poorly functioning one to pull up.”

[410] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p.157 “For as Bowen has taught, it is very difficult to get the underfunctioner to move until the overfunctioner (who luckily also tends to be the more motivated one) can reduce his or her overfunctioning, that is “make himself or herself smaller.”; Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 154 quoting Bowen “…And his guideline to the therapist who became too active, itself often a manifestation of anxiety, was, ‘Make yourself as small as possible in the session.’”

[411] Richardson, Becoming Your Best, p. 101 “Much of marital therapy consists of looking at each partner’s expectations and how they came to be important. Often our expectations go back to our own family of origin.” p. 102 ” ..adjust their expectations…”

[412] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation: “As chronic anxiety increases, the one inclined to overfunction becomes ‘stronger’ and more dominant, and the one inclined to underfunction becomes ‘weaker’ and more subordinate.”

[413] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy (Gurman and Kniskern, editors,  chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), p. 240

[414] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 24 “In his book Marriage After Modernity, Adrian Thatcher (1999)…identified marginalization of marriage as one of the mindsets underlying postmodern thought….The irony is that the focus on self-fulfilment sets up high expectations that marriage is unlikely to satisfy, making it more viable.”

[415] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 220 “…lowering expectations of others is what makes closeness possible.  Raising them nearly always creates distance.”; Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.71 “Raising your expectations of others will create defensiveness and distancing.”; John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage (New Wine International Publishing, Berkhamsted, England, 2000), p. 36 “A marriage counsellor explained ‘The biggest killer for marriage is unrealistic expectations.’”

[416] Diana R Garland, Family Ministry: a Comprehensive Guide (IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 1999), p. 539 quoting David Elkind 1981:102 ‘Partners now seek in their mates the qualities once sought in God.’

[417] Kerr, Handbook of Family Therapy, p.244 “When there is fusion of intellectual and emotional functioning, people are characteristically expecting too much or too little of themselves and others.  In a marriage, unrealistic expectations can be reflected in one spouse feeling it is his/her responsibility to preserve harmony in family relationships and preserve a sense of emotional well-being in other family members. Another variant of overresponsibility is feeling that he/she knows what is best for the other spouse and anxiously monitoring the functioning of the other to keep him/her on a certain track. This kind of anxious hovering can impair the other’s ability to function.”

[418] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 64; Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 52 “…I would look for the most dominant person, in terms of a family—and you try to help that person to become as much of a self as they can be.”

[419] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P.377 “The most universal mechanism is emotional distance from each other. (…ways spouses deal with fusion symptoms)”

[420]Ora Peleg and Meital Yitzhak, Differentiation of Self and Separation Anxiety: Is There a Similarity Between Spouses? (Contemporary Family Therapy (2011) 33:25–36), p. 1  “A significant relationship was found among men between fusion with others and separation anxiety: a high level of fusion was found to correlate with a high level of anxiety. Among women, a high level of emotional reactivity was related to a high level of separation anxiety.”

[421] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 491 “Actually I (Bowen) was as emotionally involved as ever, and I was using emotional distance and silence to create an illusion of nonresponsiveness.   Distance and silence do not fool an emotional system.”

[422] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 323; Shann Ferch and Dawn McComb, “Generational Healing: A Client’s Experience of an Intervention to Promote Forgiveness and Healing the Generational Bond”, Marriage and Family: a Christian Journal, Vol 4, Issue 2, 2001, p. 174 “Transformative openness (Valle and Halling, 1989) becomes the measure of the relationship.”

[423] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 76 “(differentiation scale 30-40) …As the undifferentiation in a relationship increases, the emotional boundaries between people become progressively blurred.  As boundaries dissolve, anxiety becomes an increasingly infectious agent.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 169; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 67 “The differentiated self is solid but permeable, allowing you to remain close even when your partner tries to mold or manipulate you.  When you have a solid core of values and beliefs, you can change without losing your identity.”

[424] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 106 “Making secure but permeable boundaries is a mark of differentiated unity. Married spouses show deep regard for each other’s personal boundaries without intruding or distancing.”; Balswick, A Christian Family, p. 52 “Boundaries in effectual families are clear but permeable.”

[425] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Depression: A Symptom of Cutoff in Relationship Process”, Allen, p. 322 “…what often felt like a lack of connection among family members actually was evidence of too much connection among family members.”

[426] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 28; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “There are innumerable specific expressions of fusion, including the following: (1) acting as if one can read the other’s mind (2) speaking or acting for the other (3) automatically expressing emotional, social or physical responses that are reactions to expressed or unexpressed behaviour or feelings of another family member; and (4) adopting or living out, automatically, a family belief, tradition or lifestyle choice.”

[427] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 35 “In fusion, we rely on the other to give up permission to be the self we want to be.”; p. 36 “Each one put the other in charge of self.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 21 “Fusion refers to the ways that people borrow or lend self in relation to one another.”

[428] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 14 “While fusion can alleviate anxiety, it can also produce discomfort, and it may consequently push people in the direction of relationship aversion.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 102 “The distance is a reaction to the loss of self that has occurred in the original closeness.”

[429] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.55 “Distance can provide some temporary emotional calm, but over time distancing actually increases feelings.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 128 “…when people use distance or denial to manage anxiety, they may lower it in themselves, but raise it in others.”;

[430] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 72 “The perception (or misperception) of lack of sufficient connection can trigger feelings of being isolated, unsupported, unloved, or rejected.”

[431] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 194 “In a ‘heavy’ atmosphere, family members are prone to feeling ‘crowded’ by the intense pressure of one another’s needs for contact and reassurance and/or prone to feeling ‘lonely’ because of the marked distance created by one another’s allergies to too much involvement.  In a ‘light’ atmosphere, family members rarely feel ‘crowded’ or ‘lonely’ except during periods of very high stress. They are comfortably connected and have sufficient space to be themselves”

[432] Edwin H. Friedman, DD, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, Page 156;  Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 137 “I do not directly focus on ‘the relationship’ with these couples…I suggest we put the relationship as a topic on the back burner and look to see what can be learned about self, about what each one brings to the relationship.”

[433] Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, p. 49 “Undifferentiation within a family creates anxiety…The most universal mechanism for dealing with such anxiety is emotional distance between the spouses.”

[434] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 61 ‘At the same time he or she does not distance, but stays in good communication with everyone…’ (Ed: This is essentially the K.I.T. principle recommended in the Conflicted Church/Conflicted Leader class by Ducklow, an alternative to pursuing or distancing.)

[435] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, (Gurman and Kniskern, editors, chapter 7, Family Systems Theory and Therapy), P.243; Papero, p. 53, “Characteristically however, they tend to view the other, rather than their own reactivity, as the cause of their discomfort. (Kerr, 1981)”

[436] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 188 “In the (common) stalemate, the wife feels insufficiently cared about and inadequately responded to. She perceives her husband to be more interested in other people or in projects than he is in her. She resents him for it, badgers him about it, and loads issues with emotional charge in order to get him to respond.  It is difficult to cope with the isolation and lack of support she often feels.”

[437] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 81 “Emotional distance provides some ‘emotional insulation’ from people’s impact on one another.”; Papero,  p. 53 “(Emotional distance) is, in effect, a safety valve built into the relationship to ‘bleed off’ tension…What people are actually avoiding is their own discomfort or reactivity to another.”

[438] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 17 “People tend to think of peace/agree families as ‘wonderful’ and of highly conflictual families as ‘awful’. It is much more complicated than this: both have significant elements of hiding and distancing.”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 15 “Compliance – covering up who you are and what you think, feel and do in order to fit in with those around you…”

[439] JC Wynn, The Family Therapist (Fleming H Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1987), p. 148 “The lower the degree of differentiation, the more intense will be the fusion in marriage, hence, greater emotional outbursts can be expected.  Such couples typically learn to handle this problem through establishing emotional distance – a high price to pay for their tense peace.”

[440] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 189 “People act ‘surprised’ as if the eruption came out of nowhere, but unspoken resentments had been building for days, weeks, or months.”; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 143-44 “The fifth task of marriage is to build a relationship that is safe for the expression of difference, conflict, and anger…Conflict comes with the territory of marriage.”

[441] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 8 “another phenomenon in the families that supported the concept of the family as a unit was the existence of cycles of distance and closeness.  People would move together, move apart, move together, move apart like an accordion”;  Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.45 “These people are locked in a pattern of emotional pingpong typical of relationships in crisis.”

[442] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 49 “Marriage is the closest kind of living and it is extremely demanding.”

[443] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 177 “The most common mechanism is the use of sufficient emotional distance for each to function with a reasonable level of pseudo self.”

[444] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Stephania Ferrera, p. 290 “Closeness taken too far is experienced as crowding or encroachment.  Distance taken too far is experienced as abandonment…Life energy is devoted to searching for a level of attachment that is neither ‘too much’ nor ‘too little’. “

[445] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 187  “Each is apprehensive about the next ride, but each is aware of doing the very things that bring it about.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 433 “…marital conflict which permits them to keep reasonable emotional distance most of the time and intense closeness during ‘makeups’.”

[446] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1960, p. 54; Murray Bowen, 1976, p.43 “The basic pattern in conflictual marriages is one in which neither gives in to the other or in which neither is capable of an adaptive role…The relationship cycles through times of intense closeness, conflict that provides a period of emotional distance, and making up, which starts another cycle of intense closeness.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 118 “…rather than confront yourself, you are likely to confront – rather than validate – your partner.  Many people would rather fight with their spouse than fight with themselves.”

[447] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.55 “…Ultimate forms of distance are cutoff, divorce, or suicide.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 81 ft 22 “The more people use emotional distance to reduce anxiety in their relationship, for example, the more likely it is that one or both people will invest energy in another relationship or project that has emotional significance.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 54When I distance, I do not just distance from you.  I also move toward someone or something else.”

[448] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 197 “Emotional distance between the parents increases a mother’s vulnerability to overinvolvement with her children.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 307 “Divorcing partners who have been child-focused in marriage will most likely be child-focused in divorce.”

[449] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 82 “…as the balance shifts, the relationship loses some of its ‘emotional reserve’ or flexibility…To reduce stress, people may limit contact with others and the relationship will become an ‘emotional cocoon’. “

[450] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 296; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 145 “

[451] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 443

[452] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 186; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 28 “Systems are composed of counterbalancing forces.  When these forces are in or near equilibrium, people are more relaxed, but they become uneasy and anxious when the forces are out of balance.  When over time the imbalance becomes severe, then symptoms emerge.”

[453] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 71

[454] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 35

[455] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.305

[456] D.S. Becvar and R.J Becvar, Family Therapy: A Systemic Integration (2nd Edition, , St. Louis Family Institute, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1993, 1998), p.72 “…morphogenesis…the system-enhancing behaviour that allows for growth, creativity, innovation, and change.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 33 “The individuality force…feeds our creativity and it pushes us to strive in some way, to express our identities and what makes sense to us.”

[457] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 232; Peter Steinke, A Door Set Open: grounded change in mission and hope (The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia, 2010), p. 49 “Change, even minor ones, can destabilize whole systems , and the homeostasic forces will take revenge. Reactivity reaches irrational highs. Polarization hardens. Seeding suspicion of others flourishes. Brazen behaviours flourish. Blaming metastasizes like cancer.”

[458] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 188; Ron Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 7 “There is no good research on how to overcome polarization…”; p. 77 “Well-differentiated people are not going to be polarizers.”; p. 89-90 “The polarizing process… is like a marital conflict where the partners describe themselves as ‘poles apart’ when they come into my office for counseling.”

[459] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 91 “There is a lack of recognition that the two sides are hugely invested in each other  — that is the fusion.  Everything they do anticipates what the other may say or do.  They are always thinking in defensive and offensive ways.  Winning the battle is the issue.”; The War of the RosesDVD (1989), Danny Devito, Director, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098621/

[460] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 77 “The sameness of polarized opposites in emotional situations has led me to define revolution as a convulsion that prevents change. It is relationship-oriented energy that goes back and forth on the same points, the issue on each side being determined by the position of the other; neither is capable of a position not determined by the other.”

[461] Murray Bowen quote, from Bringing Systems Theory to Life: Expanding the Horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory, edited by Bregman and White (Routledge Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group, 2010); also quoted in Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 3, p. 8

[462] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 209 “Having a marriage worth cherishing requires the willingness to challenge it; maintaining the status quo is a good way to kill it.”

[463] Ducklow, Carey College Online, accessed Nov 25th 2011, https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011%20Appendices ; Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p.263 “…forces are relentlessly pushing for agreement, for sameness, ‘if you’re not like us, then we reject you.’  Such rejection can be subtle and not so subtle and, when one is not one’s own, extremely difficult to deal with.”

[464] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 507

[465] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 12; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 18 “If any single idea in Bowen family systems theory is central in importance, it is the idea of differentiation of self. It is essential to understanding of relationships.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation: p. 126 “The approach to anxiety based on the principles of family systems theory is indirect in the sense that the reduction of chronic anxiety is a byproduct of increasing one’s basic level of differentiation.”

[466] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 297  “Two-choice dilemmas lie at the heart of sexual monogamy.”

[467] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, P.230; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 25 “Differentiation of self is the principal goal of the counseling effort, and learning better to manage one’s own anxiety is a part of the process for getting there.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 44 “Obviously a major goal in marital counseling is to work for the greater differentiation of the partners.”

[468] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory p. 45; Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, P.44 “The concept most basic to Bowen’s theory is that of differentiation of self.”; Leroy T. Howe, “Self-Differentiation in Christian Perspective” (Pastoral Psychology, Vol. 46, No. 5, 1998), p. 347 “Of all the concepts that family therapy literature has contributed to our understanding of family structures and processes, none may continue to influence our discussion and practice more deeply than the concept of self-differentiation.”

[469] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P.109 “I would consider ‘differentiation of self’ to be equivalent to ‘identity’ or ‘individuality’…”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 20 “The individuality force propels an organism to follow its own directives, to be an independent and distinct entity.  The togetherness force propels an organism to follow the directives of others, to be a dependent, connected and indistinct entity.”

[470] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xiv “(Differentiation) doesn’t involve ‘communication’ or giving in to your partner – it involves ‘holding on to yourself.’”; p. xvii “My goal is touch you, to move you to ‘hold onto yourself’ and embrace your partner.”; p. 64 “Differentiation occurs by maintaining yourself in the presence of important people, not by getting away from them.”

[471] Daniel V. Papero, “The Functional Level of Differentiation” http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/48symposium.pdf    “Bowen himself once described the effort as ‘using the cognitive to control the twitch’ that results from automatic reactions to others.”; Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”, “The concept of differentiation as devised by Murray Bowen is a most difficult thing to understand.”

[472] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 164

[473] Ducklow, Carey Online, https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011%20Appendices.pdf; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 58 “Differentiation of self: …a freeing of oneself from the family of origin and nuclear family, as well as a separation of inner intellect and emotional function.”; Ducklow, p. 39, “Self-differentiation describes people in terms of their ability to keep their intellectual and emotional systems from coalescing into what Bowen called ‘fusion.’”; Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, P.57 “Therapist behaviours are directed toward having spouses talk in a low-keyed, calm manner about highly emotion-laden topics, so that they can separate emotion from intellectual functioning.”

[474] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 73; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, “…the relationship-oriented person, who is less emotionally mature…their time is spent seeking approval in relationships rather than setting and seeking their own goals.  It is crucial for them that people like and care for them, and it is catastrophic when people don’t…They are obsessed with getting approval and praise, with loving and being loved.”

[475] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 71 ft 9 “People who have very high IQs may have their functioning totally dominated by their emotional system. A schizophrenic person, for example, can have a high IQ.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 20 “The effort to make a complete self out of two undifferentiated selfs results in a fusion of selves. It is based on the need for attachment, or togetherness that was not resolved in the original family.”

[476] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 74

[477] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.354 “When we speak of the ‘differentiation of self’, we mean a process similar to the differentiation of cells from each other. The same applies to the term ‘fusion’.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 21 “Bowen (Kerr and Bowen, 1988) chose the terms fusion and cutoff in order to describe processes in the human family that would fit, when appropriate, with concepts from biology: ‘[They] describe the ways cells agglutinate and the way they separate to start new colonies of cells’ (p. 362).”

[478] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, quoting Murray Bowen, 1973: p. 12

[479] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 93 “It is almost impossible for couples before marriage to appreciate the loss of self that marriage fusion will promote…”; Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, P. 156 “A woman client said: ‘the day I got married, I disappeared.’”; Schnarch, Intimate Marriage, p. 120 “The very fact that you love your partner makes it harder and harder to maintain yourself with him or her.”

[480] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 51; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 494 “The forces constantly emphasize the togetherness by using ‘we’ to define what ‘we think or feel,’ or the forces define the self of another such as, ‘My wife thinks that…’ or the forces use the indefinite ‘it’ to define common values, as in ‘It is wrong’ or ‘It is the thing to do.’  …”

[481] Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 50

[482] Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 50 “Fused partners have tremendous difficulty in being comfortable with differences.  A fused person equates differences with deprivation.”  Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 16 “To be intimate in a marriage, one has to be able to embrace the partner’s differences.”

[483] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 34

[484] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 74; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 68 “Togetherness has its counterpart in individuation.  Closeness has its necessary counterpoint in flexible distance.”

[485] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 504

[486] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 181

[487] Randy Roberts, Ph.D. “Two Distinct Approaches to Family Therapy: The Ideas of Murray Bowen and Jay Haley”, The Family, Vol 6 No. 2, p. 40 “The concept of differentiation centers on one’s ability to exist as a distinct, complete, and thinking individual.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 45 “ …one of the most important questions a person can settle…’What do I think of myself?’”

[488] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 409; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 58 “…defining self says ‘This is how I think about it,’ or ‘This is what I would like,’ or ‘This is what you can expect from me from now on.’  It does not explain, justify, defend or punish. It is simply a statement that defines self to the other.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 198 “…becoming more responsible for self…is the emotional basis of adulthood.”

[489] Friedman VHS video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”, “Differentiation is the lifelong process of striving to keep one’s being in balance through the reciprocal external and internal processes of self-definition and self-regulation. The external perspective is about self-definition, being able to see where you end and others begin, being able to emotionally define yourself to others.”

[490] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 51; p. 51 “Differentiation isn’t a trait, however.  It’s a process – a lifelong process of taking our own ‘shape’.”

[491] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 106 “Self-validated intimacy relies on a person’s maintaining his or her own sense of identity and self-worth when disclosing, with no expectation of acceptance or reciprocity from the partner.”; p. 108 “People who aren’t dependent on each other’s validation to feel okay about themselves fuel their marriage with their unique strengths, rather than their mutual weaknesses.  Other-validated intimacy is the expected currency in many marriages, but self-validated intimacy is the life jacket for partners in a troubled relationship.”

[492] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 117 “Self-validation hinges on your ability to present your solid self when your partner isn’t accepting or validating you.”; p. 380 “Differentiation yields a solid but permeable self.”

[493] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 119 “…it’s a circular process: differentiation is both the basis for, and result of, self-validated intimacy.  Self-validated intimacy is the means to two ends: becoming more of a person and developing a more resilient relationship.”

[494] Friedman VHS Video, the Pastoral Care Association of BC 4th Annual Conference, 1991 “Body and Soul in Family Process”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 33 “…the central, critical issue for every relationship: how to be a self with our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, opinions, commitments, and ways of dealing with life while also being closely connected to, loving, and caring for a person who differs significantly from us on these things.”

[495] Ronald W. Richardson, “Differentiation of Self” as a Therapeutic Goal for the Systemic Pastoral Counselor, , Journal of Pastoral Psychotherapy, Vol. 1(1), Fall 1987, The Haworth Press, Inc., p. 36 “…the level of one’s differentiation comes out most clearly in the ability to be emotionally close to significant others and still be a self.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 102 “If the emotional separateness of selves can be maintained over time, the relationship takes on a radiance that can be compared to that of a diamond.”

[496] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 138 ‘…one’s ability to regulate one’s reactivity, that is, differentiation.’ Edwin Friedman Video: “Differentiation means the capacity to become oneself out of one’s self with minimum reactivity to the positions and reactivity of others.”; Edwin Friedman video,”…to being able to cease automatically being one of the system’s dominoes.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 94 “The ability to regulate oneself is at the core of differentiation.”

[497] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, p.114 “Some people react intensely to anything new or different.  Listeners can find someone defining self difficult for many reasons…. Defining oneself may then be experienced by the listeners as counterintuitive.”

[498] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 120-121 “When the importance of your partner exceeds the strength of your relationship with yourself (your differentiation), you stop disclosing…If you want to keep intimacy alive, your level of differentiation must keep pace with your partner’s increasing importance with you.”

[499] Edwin Friedman video, “When a person becomes more aware of themselves in relation to the emotional fields they are in, that is differentiation.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 87 “The higher the level of differentiation, the more a member of a family has the ability to perceive or experience the environment with more options and less reactivity, and can manage anxiety while developing fewer symptoms.”

[500] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 20

[501] Richardson, Couple in Conflict, p. 25

[502] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P. 86; Ducklow, P.40 “Undifferentiated people find it difficult to separate their own experience from other people’s experience. Their sense of self is more amorphous and other-determined.”

[503] Margaret Carlson, Problem-Solving Family Therapy, (Faculty of Social Welfare, University of Calgary, Models of Family Practice, Chapter 7),  p. 121

[504] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 101 “In the conflict pattern, each person in the relationship is absorbed in projecting blame and criticism on the other.  Each invades the other’s boundary.  If focus on the self can be regained, the conflict will cease.”

[505] Roberts, The Family, p. 44

[506] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 133 “People need to define their own beliefs and principles in terms of how they function within their families, what they will and will not do, and then act.”

[507] Roberts, The Family, p. 42; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p.86 “In hindsight, one’s life becomes ‘totally unrecognizable.’  (Ft2 A phrase used by Bowen to describe what happens when people truly increase their amount of basic self, even a little.)”

[508] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 30 “Most of the population scatters below 30. If one ever met a 50, it would be unusual.  A 75 would come along only once in several hundred years.”; Friedman Video, “Differentiation is a lifetime project with no one getting more than 70%.”; Kerr and Bowen, p. 70 ft 8 “A very poorly differentiated person, for example, would be in the 0 to 10 range (out of 0 to 100)…The ‘average’ human being is not very autonomous and 40 might be considered a median for the species…”

[509] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P. 69

[510] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept,  p. 3

[511] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P. 303

[512] Bowen, “Family Systems Theory”, first published in Family Therapy: Theory and Practice, edited by Philip J. Guerin, New York: Gardner Press, 1976, pp. 65-90 “The togetherness forces are so strong in maintaining the status quo that any small step toward differentiation is met with vigorous disapproval of the group.”; Bowen, “Family Systems Theory”, first published in Family Therapy: Theory and Practice, edited by Philip J. Guerin, New York: Gardner Press, 1976, pp. 65-90. “It is difficult to assess differentiation during calm periods in one’s life. The real test of the stability of differentiation comes when the person is again subjected to chronic severe stress.”

[513] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.282; “Toward the Differentiation of a Self in one’s own Family”, by Anonymous,Bowen?, P.140 “The togetherness forces treat differentiation as selfish and hostile.”; Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: leadership in an age of the quick-fix,  The Edwin Friedman Estate/Trust, Bethseda, Maryland, 1999,   P. 2 “…weather the storm of protest that inevitably surrounds a leader’s self-definition.”;  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 154 “When attempting to detriangle from highly charged emotional issues, however, even a reasonably neutral person might be accused not only of being disloyal but of being ‘unfeeling’ and ‘uncaring’.  People might be told that they will never be spoken to again, that they will be ‘cut out of the will,’ or that their disloyalty will kill someone.  The accusations are both a reaction to the detriangling person’s achieving some emotional separation and an attempt to pull the person back into the triangle’s previous level of togetherness.”

[514] Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966,p. 371 “If they are successful ( in defining ‘self’ and containing the critical actions, words, and thoughts that have been trying to direct the life of their spouse, the first reaction will be a version of ‘You’re mean, selfish and vicious; you do not understand, you do not love, and you are trying to hurt the other…Then they can expect a withdrawal from the other which emphasizes ‘To heck with you. I do not need you.’ This will be the most difficult stage.  They might get depressed and confused and develop a whole spectrum of physical symptoms.”

[515] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 437 “The accusations commonly list indifference, meanness, lack of love, selfishness, coldness, the sadistic disregard for others, etc.”

[516] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 69 “This is a familiar paradigm in marriage therapy when one member of the marital dyad hopes that the independent counselor will collude with him or her. Should this occurs, the second member of the marital dyad stops the counseling sessions due to being “triangled out”. The client and counselor commiserate in a newly formed dyad but little productive occurs for the marriage because of the prior triangulation.”

[517] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1974 P.530; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 29  “Murray Bowen once said, “Doing therapy is three-quarters staying out of triangles and one-quarter defining self.”

[518] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 119; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 153 “Our impatience is a sign of our own fusion…”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xvii “I hope that you will be patient with yourself – because we grow exceedingly slowly – and not waste another moment moving forward with your life.”

[519] Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, “Family Systems Theory and Therapy”, p. 215 “The therapist does not have to instill differentiation into the family. The force for differentiation is there, just submerged in the overriding together.”; Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p. 250 “The family members rarely need to be told what to do because somewhere within themselves, they know what to do.  It is just that they have had a hard time doing it.”

[520] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 42; Ducklow, p. 64 “Family systems theory hypothesizes that people tend to marry and match with people who have an equivalent level of differentiation. (Kerr and Bowen 1988, 225)”

[521] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 152 “The assumption is that the therapist will be able to promote differentiation in a family (the ultimate aim of all Bowen therapy) to the extent that the therapist has promoted his or her own… …It is the ‘being’ of the therapist, the therapist’s presence rather than any specific behaviour, that is the agent of change.”

[522] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, P.107; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p.138”…an essential part of training in the Bowen school involves the therapist’s working on his or her own differentiation.”

[523] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 99 “Acute awareness of the emotions of other people grows out of the immense work of understanding and taking responsibility for one’s own emotions.”

[524] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 80 “Differentiating a self takes courage.  It takes a willingness to stand alone.”; Ed:This is at the heart of the Serenity Prayer’s ‘courage to change the things I can’ (which is our selves). Humanly speaking, changing ourselves in a marriage may seem almost impossible, given how homeostatic we are.

[525] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 24 “They have an inordinate concern over being loved and accepted, which may take the form of worrying about what people think about them or the opposite –rebelling against accepted behaviour or standards.”

[526] JC Wynn, The Family Therapist, 1987 , p. 143 “…as therapist, he must keep his ‘cool’ and hold himself detriangulated, differentiating himself from the emotional system of the family he is interviewing –as well as from his own family at home.”; Friedman, Generation to Generation,  p. 294 “…a calm, low-key, detriangling approach…”

[527] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 109 “The fixer’s Achilles heel is underestimating the resources of the people he intends to ‘help’.  In the process he can create a dependence in others that undermines their functioning…”

[528]  Friedman,  Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 152

[529] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 9 “The basic self is guided by principles that are well thought through, based on fact, logic and experience.”  Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 364 “A poorly differentiated person is trapped within a feeling world.”

[530] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 21; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 449 “Most people operate on poorly defined principles and have never devoted much time to their own beliefs.”

[531] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 48 “Given new data, (guiding principles) can be modified.”

[532] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 47 “Guiding principles are calming….Thinking inhibits emotion…”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 52 “Guiding principles, the hallmark of a high level life, go into the, making of high level leaders. They calm anxiety, stabilize, organize, and energize toward goals.”

[533] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 35 “The more we react to others, the more we lose touch with our own goals and become caught in other people’s agendas for us.”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 36 “Being goal-directed means that you are able to clarify your own values and decide what is important to you.  You are able to live in a way that is truly expressive of yourself – your wants, beliefs, and values – whether in relationships, work or other pursuits.”

[534] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 229, “Basic self: The core of the person including his values, purpose, thoughtfulness, as well as emotions and automatic parts. Considered to be the person of the person. Often referred to as the principled part of the person or his inner guidance system… The basic self is considered to have non-permeable boundaries.  It is distinguished from the pseudo-self or the functional self.”; Dorothy Stroh Becvar and Ralph J. Becvar, Family Therapy, p. 148, “The notion of a pseudo-self is consistent with the idea of emotional fusion in that it is characteristic of the person who makes choices on the basis of emotional pressures rather than on the basis of reasoned principles…Bowen (1976) described the pseudo-self as a pretend self, which to the person may feel real.”

[535] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 39 “Pseudo- or functional self is where most of us live, most of the time.  It is the part that participates in the relationship exchange involved in fusions.  It is the immature, automatic, thoughtless reactivity in us. It lets in the anxiety from the system, functions on borrowed self from another, or conversely, give up self to another in an instant.  It is the togetherness force within us.”

[536] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 105 “…Anxiety can propel people into ‘groupthink’ which is usually inconsistent within itself and molded more by subjectivity than by facts.  Pseudo-self can be shaped by a groupthink.  The consistent and well-thought-out beliefs of solid self, in contrast, can withstand a groupthink.”; Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 94 “Most people go along with the group. They want to be well thought of.  They want to stay below the radar screen. “

[537] Richardson, “Differentiation of Self” as a Therapeutic Goal for the Systemic Pastoral Counselor, Journal of Pastoral Psychotherapy, Vol. 1(1), Fall 1987, The Haworth Press, Inc., p. 41 quoting Bowen, p. 437

[538] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 44

[539] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 164 “…unless therapists are committed to the ongoing process of their own growth, they are not likely to have the emotional stamina to endure.”

[540] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 117; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 79 “(Ron Richardson’s wife Lois’) intent was not to change me but to define herself to me.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 127 “Undifferentiated people…Asked what they think, they say what they feel; asked what they believe, they echo what they’ve heard.  They either agree with whatever you say or argue with everything.  In contrast, differentiated people are able to take stands on issues because they’re able to think things through, decide what they believe, and then act on those beliefs.”

[541] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P.38 “But for that kind of change to occur, the system in turn must produce leaders who can both take the first step and maintain the stamina to follow through in the face of predictable resistance and sabotage. Any resistance, anywhere, whether in a marriage or a business, depends primarily not only on new data and techniques but on the capacity of leader’s to separate themselves from the surrounding emotional climate so that they can break through the barriers that are keeping everyone from ‘going the other way’.”

[542] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 164 “…The track record of many healers, marriage counselors, or oncologists shows too much willingness to quit when the going gets rough.  Sometimes it appears to be a lack of persistence, sometimes a failure to realize that one has the most power in a relationship precisely when one is ready to quit, and sometimes it just seems to be a morbid fatalism (disguising anxiety).”

[543] Freidman, Failure of Nerve,  P.11   “A widespread misunderstanding…that toxic forces can be regulated through reasonableness, love, insight, role-modeling, inculcation of values, and striving for consensus rather than by taking the kind of stands that set limits to the invasiveness of those that lack self-regulation.”

[544] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1961, p. 78 “…the ones who ‘give in’ have described a ‘loss of identity’, ‘loss of part of myself’, and ‘inability to know what I think and believe.’ ‘Speaking up’ seems to be a way of maintaining identity.”

[545] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.68 “The self-differentiated leader is capable of being in touch with or connected to a complainant without fused into his or her anxiety. Self differentiation is the capacity to maintain an “I” stance all the while empowering the other to have an equally valid “I” stance. This works against the fusion of a coerced “we”.”

[546] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 75

[547] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 132 “It takes time to learn to act upon the courage of one’s convictions rather than on the power of one’s feelings.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 35 “A more differentiated version of togetherness, of intimacy based on openness between two different partners, might be described like this: I can tell you who I am, what I think, feel, believe, want to do, and have done, without getting anxious or worrying about what you may think about what I have told you, even if I believe you disagree with me and disapprove.”

[548] James L Framo, “Family of origin as a therapeutic resource for adults and marital and family therapy: you can and should go home again”, Family Process, 15:193-210, 1976. p. 340 “Since these individuals will inevitably run into nearly overwhelming emotional roadblocks from the family, Bowen, often over years, helps them develop strategies for detriangulating themselves and take ‘I’ positions with their parents, siblings and other relatives.”

[549] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 495 “It is the ‘responsible I’ that assumes responsibility for one’s own happiness and comfort, and it avoids thinking that tends to blame and hold others responsible for one’s own unhappiness or failures.  The ‘responsible I’ avoids the ‘irrresponsible I’ which makes demands on others with ‘I want, or I deserve, or this is my right, or my privilege.’ “

[550] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 99 “Emotional responsibility for self also involves not taking responsibility for the emotions of the other.”

[551] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 152

[552] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.534 “Less differentiated people are moved around like pawns by emotional tensions.”

[553] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 69 “…He is so responsive to cues from the other and his internal reactions are so intense that he is a complete ‘emotional prisoner’ of the relationship.”

[554] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 75 “Very poorly differentiated people may eventually shun all relationships to avoid the discomfort that is associated with them.  The ‘street people’ are in this category. They avoid and are avoided by others because of the problems generated by enduring relationships.  ‘Insulation’ from their exquisite sensitivity to the emotional environment is achieved through chronic psychosis, alcoholism, and drug addictions.”

[555] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 75 “Slightly better differentiated people may become ‘relationship nomads’.  When the process gets too intense, they change relationships.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 38 “Bowen (1978) spoke of the ‘relational nomad’ as a person who under tension may go from one marriage to another or from one short relationship to another, always ‘cutting emotional ties to the past and investing self in the present relationship.’ (Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 536)”

[556] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 68; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 43 “It has to do with clarity of internal systems. It focuses on the internal horizons. (1) The ability to perceive more accurately  the reality of situations (2) The ability to identify his or her own opinions, beliefs, values and commitments (3) The ability to think clearly and wisely about possible options for action and the likely consequences for each of these options. (4) The ability to act flexibly. ”

[557] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 74 “It is a rare person who has no susceptibility to anxiety.  However if they do move in a negative direction, they are frequently more resilient and able to recover quickly once they understand what is happening.”

[558] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 43 “These are the qualities of maturity and the highest definition of what it is to be human in Bowen systems thought.”

[559]  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 71 “The higher the degree of differentiation, the more capable the relationship is of responding to or conforming with changing situations.  The lower the degree of differentiation, the greater the instability of the relationship balance and the less its capacity to adapt to change.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 127 “Differentiation of self…is the ability to be flexible and act wisely, even in the face of anxiety.”; Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church, p. 89 “Adaptability and flexibility are other ways to talk about the level of differentiation…”

[560] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 24; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 116 “It is irresponsible to say, ‘Why do I have to do all the work?’ Of course, one has to do all the work on the self, and relationship improvements spring from that source: it takes two to fuse but only one to begin unraveling the threads of lost self entangled with the other.”

[561] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 77 “People begin to feel bored and dissatisfied with many aspects of the relationship while simultaneously feeling bound to it.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 151 “We demand stability in marriage – and when we get it, we complain that things are always the same.”; p. 258 “Our limited sexual styles create the rigid quality so characteristic of long-term sexual relationships.”

[562] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 77 “The lower the level of differentiation, the more prone people are to becoming addicted to one another and yet also having a chronic urge to flee one another.”

[563] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 104 “If one person gets the upper hand, that person’s belief, attitudes, and values become dominant in the relationship…One becomes the strong self (really pseudo-self) and the other the ‘weak’ self.”; Bowen, “Family Systems Theory”, Family Therapy, p. 295, “The dominant one gains self at the expense of the more adaptive one who loses self…From my experience, there are as many dominant females as males, and as many adaptive males as females…”

[564] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 80 Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 80 “These accommodations/adaptations…mean devoting less energy to being an individual and more energy to focusing on and responding to others.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation: p. 85 “The person may become compliant but also chronically fatigued and sleep excessively.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 111 “When both spouses fight for their rights, a conflictual marriage results. The conflicts subsides whenever either ‘gives in’, but the one who ‘gives in’ ‘loses self’ to the other who ‘gains self’.”

[565] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 80 “Relationships, like unstable chemical elements, tend to deteriorate. The time of onset, the rate, and the magnitude of the deterioration are strongly influenced by the level of differentiation.”

[566] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 74 “Two very well differentiated people are not easily threatened by one another; as a consequence, their relationship is remarkably flexible.  Periods of closeness and distance are tolerated equally well.  Each person is free to move toward or away from the other and to have the other move toward or away from oneself without being threatened.”

[567] Friedman Video

[568] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 109 “An approach based on a systems principle is one that says, ‘People who feel unloved are addicted to love.’”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 73 “Lower-level people…are quick to accuse others of not loving them if those others do not fulfill their hopes or expectations.”

[569] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 68; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 24 “…at lower levels on the scale have difficulty with decision-making…they may freeze into indecision when a choice must be made”; Murray Bowen, “Family Systems Theory”, first published in Family Therapy: Theory and Practice (edited by Philip J. Guerin, New York: Gardner Press, 1976) pp. 65-90. “People whose emotions and intellect are so fused that their lives are dominated by the automatic emotional system…are the people who are less flexible, less adaptable, and more emotionally dependent on those about them.”

[570] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 143 “…remain(ing) neutral and objective…requires an optimal level of emotional distance, which Bowen (1975) said is the point where a therapist can see both the tragic and comic aspects of a couple’s interaction…a sense of irony may be preferable to the unctuous earnestness so popular in some quarters.”

[571] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 20 “’And humour is important?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘because life is so serious.’”; p. 28 “To use laughter and humour to keep things in perspective…”; John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage, p. 10 “One thing we have found invaluable in our marriage is a sense of humour. Being able to laugh together is fun and releasing.”

[572] Gilbert, Extraordinary Leadership, “High level leaders know, or learn, how to relax.; Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P. 299 “…injecting humour and keeping it loose…The looser your presence is, the looser everyone’s relationships will be with you and one another.”

[573] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 74

[574] David S Freeman, ‘A Model for Teaching a Beginner’s Course on Family Therapy’, Models of Family Practice School of Social Work, UBC, Chapter 8; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 313 “If the family goes too serious, I have an appropriate humorous remark to defuse the seriousness.  If the family starts to kid and joke, I have an appropriate serious remark to restore neutrality.”

[575] Friedman, Generation to Generation, P.183; Edwin Friedman video, “You can differentiate in playful ways as well in serious ways.”; Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 153 “Paradox is aimed at the paradoxer, to help keep him or her out of that pernicious triangle that subverts all well-intentioned therapeutic efforts: the triangle in which the therapist winds up stuck with the responsibility for the client’s problem or destiny.”

[576] Edwin Friedman video: “…nonanxious, challenging presence…”

[577]Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 45 “ …in fused families…people avoid dealing with and talking about differences because that could be an upsetting experience…”.

[578] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 84 “‘I create the atmosphere. It is my presence that counts’. The father began calling the therapist Dr. Presence. “

[579] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p.147; Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 16 “From the perspective of BFST (Bowen Family Systems Theory), a marriage is but one side of a triangle, an intense relationship that can run hot or cold in response of the emotional field in which it exists and in response to the various processes of the triangle.”

[580] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 150

[581] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 50; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 138 “In early marriage, in-law triangles are common – raising issues of primacy of attachment and influence.  When children are born and when they reach adolescence, parent-child triangles are so common as to be the norm.”

[582] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, 2008 p. 127; Nichols, p. 128 “In a triangle…each twosome’s interaction is tied to the behaviour of the third person; each person is driven by reactive forms of behaviour, none of them can take a position without feeling the need to change the other two; and each person gets involved in the relationship between the other two.”

[583] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 138 “A calm two-person relationship…may actually be a calm side of a triangle.  The calmness is maintained at the expense of having a negative relationship in another side of the triangle.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 28 “The human dyad is so unstable that when two people who are important to each other develop a problem, which they invariably do, they automatically look around for a third person to include in the anxious situation in some way.  The third person is brought into participation in the anxiety of the original twosome, and thus anxiety flows around the triangle.”

[584] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p.50 “Two intense people cannot resist the urge to bring someone else in.  No one, on the other hand, can resist the urge to join two intense others. It’s automatic. It’s human.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 146 “If anxiety builds in a twosome, the relationship will automatically involve a third person.”

[585] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 499 “Most people cannot tolerate more than a few minutes on a personal level.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 381 “The intimacy can be profound but uncomfortable because the most intense intimacies often don’t make us feel warm, safe and secure.”; p. 382 “Differentiation is both beautiful and hard.”

[586] Dorothy Stroh Becvar and Ralph J. Becvar, Family Therapy: A Systemic Integration, p. 149 To Bowen, the dyad, or two-person system, is stable so long as it is calm…Although such triangles are usually created in an effort to achieve resolution, they actually tend to prevent resolution and the instability remains, with more family members participating in an escalating and increasingly unstable emotional field.”

[587] Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, P.48

[588] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 401 “I think a bona fide two person relationship is one in which two people are primarily invested in each other.  These are relatively rare and it is a difficult balancing act to keep them in emotional equilibrium.  Most so-called two person relationships are the calm side of an already functioning triangle in which the calmness is maintained at the expense of a negative relationship with the other corner of the triangle.”

[589] Papero,  Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 49 “A clear example of the triangle exists in the affair. It is not uncommon to find one spouse involved in an affair of mild to moderate intensity, which appears to have a calming effect on the marriage…Should the same affair, however, become more intense, the uninvolved spouse becomes aware of it quickly and often reacts strongly…:

[590] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 128 “Triangulation lets off steam but freezes conflict in place.  …Most family problems are triangular….”

[591] Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, P. 48 “The more distance there is between spouses, the closer one spouse be to the third point in the triangle, for example, a child or grandparent.”

[592] David S. Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples: the family-of-origin approach (Jason Aronson Inc, New Jersey, 1992), p. 49  “One way for an individual to avoid working on self or looking at his or her own part within a relationship is by triangulation.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 349 “A disturbed family is always looking for a vulnerable outsider….”

[593] Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 49 “…one can triangle not only by moving out of the relationship to talk about it with someone else; one can also triangle within the relationship by talking about anything but the relationship. In this case, discussing about politics, religion, what is on TV, or other people’s problems are all ways to avoid dealing with what is going on with self, other, and the relationship.”

[594] Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 49 “Triangles are a major block to being intimate.  When we are fearful of sharing vulnerable parts of ourselves, we will use the triangle process to make it emotionally safe for self in the relationship by focusing on something outside of ourselves.”

[595] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 139 “The lower the level of differentiation in a family, the more important the role of triangling for preserving emotional stability….Stress triggers anxiety and as it becomes infectious, the triangles become more active….If people can maintain their emotional autonomy, triangling is minimal, and the system’s stability does not depend on it.”

[596] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 155; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 127 “The major influence on the activity of triangles is anxiety (Guerin, Fogarty, Fay and Kautto, 1996)….The more people are driven by anxiety, the less tolerant they are of one another and the more they are polarized by differences.”

[597] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 138 “A stable twosome can be destabilizing by the addition of a third person.  For example, a harmonious marriage may become conflictual after the birth of a child.  The parents’ ability to keep its relationship in equilibrium is undermined by the investment of time and energy the child’s presence requires.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 139 “An unstable twosome can be stabilized by the addition of a third person. For example, a conflictual marriage may become more harmonious after the birth of a child.  The parents shift the focus of their anxieties from one another to the child.”

[598] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 138 “A stable twosome can be destabilized by the removal of a third person…marital harmony may increase after a child leaves home.  Once out of the home, a child is not as readily available to be triangled into the parents’ problems.” Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 139 “An unstable twosome can be stabilized by the removal of a third person.  For example, conflict in a twosome can be reduced if the two people avoid a third person who has been consistently taking sides on issues in their relationship.  Side-taking foments conflict by emotionally paralyzing the issues.”

[599] Gilbert, Eight Concepts, p.55 “Certainly a calm, thinking, principled leader can have a positive effect upon intense triangles. It is hard work, but extremely rewarding.”

[600]  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 151; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, Chapter 6, p. 134 -162 have an extensive 28-page section on triangles that I found particularly instructive for understanding conflicted couples

[601] Michael E Kerr, Handbook of family therapy, p. 242 “To know triangles is to see the absurdity of asking people ‘why’ they do what they do and the absurdity assigning cause to any particular event in a system. Looking for cause obscures the view of the interdependence.”

[602] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 134 “The triangle describes the what, how, when, and where of relationships, not the why.  Triangles are simply a fact of nature.  To observe them requires that one stand back and watch the process unfold. Conjecture about why any one person says or does a particular thing immediately takes the observer out of a systems frame of reference.  The assignment of motive is necessarily subjective and not verifiable.”

[603] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 154 “A pitfall people frequently fall into is attempting to defend or explain their actions in response to being accused of having turned against someone.  These defensive and explanatory remarks get one right back into the triangle.”

[604] Ducklow, Carey Online website, https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011%20Appendices.pdf  “Emotional triangles serve to include two and exclude one and they tend to increase problems rather than solve them. There are good and bad triangles but in Family Systems Theory they are considered mostly as unhelpful.”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 136

[605] Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, p. 266 “Triangling a third person into a relationship by agreeing to dislike (or sometimes help) them, or triangling that third person out by keeping them in the dark about a secret they have a right to be privy to (eg mother’s suicide, a person’s terminal condition, a transfer, the closing of a plant) provides stability to that relationship”

[606]  Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 135 “The major influence on the activity of a triangle is anxiety…The formation of three interconnected relationships can contain more anxiety than is possible in three separate relationships because pathways are in place that allows the shifting of anxiety around the system.  This shifting reduces the possibility of any one relationship emotionally ‘overheating’.”

[607] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 52, “The person that is targeted to receive anxiety is normally the one in the emotional system who is least able to protect herself from it. Projecting of the anxiety onto the most vulnerable person or object or group reduces anxiety in the other parts to system resulting in “simulated” security and stability. The projection of anxiety onto its weaker members introduces the idea of triangles…”

[608] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 32

[609] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “Triangles can be identified by asking who or what people go to when they distance from someone with whom they have been close.  One sign of a triangle is its repetitive structure.  The process that goes on in a triangle is predictable because it’s reactive and automatic.”

[610] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 135 “The ability to spread and shift tension, as well as to contain more of it, means that a triangle is more flexible and stable than a two-person system.”

[611] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 135 “Triangles are forever, at least in families.  Once the emotional circuitry of a triangle is in place, it usually outlives the people who participate in it.  If one member of a triangle dies, another person usually replaces him.”

[612] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 433 “It can also be said that a divorce, or threatened divorce, is implicit evidence of an unresolved emotional attachment to the parental families.”

[613] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 135

[614]  Kerr, “Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self”, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, p. 54 “In a calm family, anxiety can be contained mostly in one central triangle. Under stress, however, the anxiety spreads to other family triangles and to triangles outside the family in work and social systems.”

[615] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 149 “In a nuclear family unit of two parents and two children, there are four ‘uncomplicated’ (one person at each corner) triangles.  With the addition of just one more child, the number of triangles jumps to ten!”

[616] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 139 “It is not always possible to shift the forces in a triangle.  When it is not possible, the anxiety spreads to other triangles in an interlocking fashion.”

[617] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 142 “Understanding the processes of triangles and interlocking triangles depends on seeing each corner of a triangle as a functioning position.  What a person thinks, feels, says, and does is, to an extent (depending on level of differentiation and level of anxiety) a product of his functioning position in a triangle; also, what a person thinks, feels, says, and does has, at least in part (depending on level of differentiation and level of anxiety) a function in promoting the process of the triangle.”

[618] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 142 “There are triangles in which one person can be characterized as  the anxiety ‘generator’, a second person as the anxiety ‘amplifier’, and the third as the anxiety ‘dampener’.  The ‘generator’ is typically accused of setting the emotional tone for the triangle (and family).  Others directly or indirectly imply that the ‘generator’ is the one who upsets people.  While the ‘generator’ may be the first person to get nervous about potential problems, he is not the cause of the anxiety that circulates in the triangle. The ‘amplifier’ adds to the problem by his inability to stay calm when the ‘generator’ is anxious.  The ‘amplifier’ uses emotional distance to control his reactivity to the others, but at a certain level of tension he can be relied on to become overly responsible for the others in order to calm things down.  By predictably serving this function, the ‘dampener’ may reduce symptoms, but he reinforces the relationship process (the triangle).”

[619] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 142 “As the pressure continually shifts, no one in the triangle assumes responsibility for managing his own anxiety.”

[620] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 142

[621] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 439

[622] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 150 (Ed: what does this tell me about my doctoral project about strengthening marriages?  It can be very tricky, as in my desire to be helpful, I may end up increasing the marital triangulation.)

[623] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 145 The process of being in contact and emotionally separate is referred to as ‘detriangling’.; Murray Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. ?, “The concept of triangles provides a way of reading the automatic emotional responsiveness so as to control one’s own automatic emotional participation in the emotional process.  This concept I have called detriangling.”

[624] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 153 ; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 137 “Therapy with couples is based on the premise that tension in the dyad will dissipate if they remain in contact with a third person (in a stable triangle) – if that person remains neutral and objective rather than emotionally triangled.  Thus a therapeutic triangle can reverse the insidious process of problem-maintaining triangulation.  Furthermore, change in any one triangle will change the entire family system.”

[625] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 148 “The effect of having an involved but ‘untriangled’ third person is to ‘nudge’ each marital partner toward accepting more responsibility for the problem and attaching more importance to working it out between them.”;   Michael E Kerr, ‘Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self’, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, p. 55 “the process of being in contact and emotionally separate is referred to as detriangling.”

[626] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 57

[627] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 136 “In order to change a system…,the therapist creates a new triangle, a therapeutic one.  If the therapist stays in contact with the partners while remaining emotionally neutral, they can begin the process of detriangulation and differentiation that will profoundly change the entire family system.”

[628] Kerr, “Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self”, in The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, p .58 “Maintaining one’s differentiation and detriangling is not an attempt to manipulate or control others but a way of dealing with other’s attempts to manipulate and control oneself.”

[629] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 59 “Defining ourselves is a part of detriangling.”; Daniel V. Papero, “Responsibility for Self”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 70 “(Bowen) defined ‘staying out of the transference’ as the clinician’s ability to keep self emotionally disengaged.”

[630] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, 2008, p. 146; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 62 “The key is being able to stay interested in and emotionally connected with both sides of a triangle without taking sides.”

[631] Michael E Kerr, ‘Chronic Anxiety and Defining a Self’, The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1988, p. 57 “The more one can be mostly neutral about the relationship process between others, the more effective will be a detriangulating maneuver.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 30 “The more one can see the systems-of-triangles perspective, the less prone one will be to take sides, to take things personally, to take thoughtless positions, or to assign blame.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 349 “….The best version of objectivity is possible with significant others who know triangles.”

[632] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p.73 “The effort to detriangle oneself from the family emotional oneness is equivalent to the effort to remain neutral in the family…The effort to remain emotionally neutral is the central, most challenging task for the clinician in working with a family.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 62 “Staying emotionally connected with both sides involves being curious, asking questions, clarifying facts and the thinking behind people’s behaviour, and hearing about feelings without focusing on them.”

[633] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 96 “If we secretly side with one partner, or have more sympathy for one partner, change will not happen no matter what our behaviour is…The counselor’s neutrality is the only way solid change is going to happen.

[634] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 99

[635] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 74;  Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 63 “If you are being sympathetic, feeling guilty, assuming responsibility, getting angry with someone, or getting frustrated in hearing someone’s story, then you are in a triangle.  Having any of these feelings means you are not being neutral…You are part of the problem.”

[636] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 151 “The major clinical significance of the concept of an emotional triangle is that it focuses on phenomenology rather than interpretation.  When Bowen left the psychoanalytic movement, one aspect of psychoanalysis that troubled him was its unverifiability…”.

[637] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 151 “Interpretation of other’s motivations is slippery stuff. The very process invites projection….Clinically the concept of an emotional triangle frees one from having to read minds.  It keeps one focused on factors that are describable and veridical.”

[638] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 63; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 65 “Our job as counselors is usually not about giving advice; it is about helping them to work on their level of functional differentiation so that they can implement the good thoughtful advice that is available to them.”

[639] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 155 “Actions have more impact than words in a detriangling effort.”

[640] Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, p. 57

[641] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. ? “However a therapist with knowledge of the facts inherent in systems theory, and especially knowledge of triangles can deal largely in reality and facts and eliminate much of the emotional process that usually goes into transference…”

[642] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 154 “What also makes the concept of staying out of the transference difficult to comprehend is that it can sound like a prescription for doing nothing…The art is to remain a part of the triangle without getting ‘triangled’, that is, without becoming either a focus of the other’s displacement, a conduit for their connection, or reactive in their relationship.  This requires a kind of balance and self-regulation similar to walking a tightrope – while someone is standing there shaking it.”

[643] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 153 Ft 10 “The process is never a clear-cut step one, step two.  People usually attempt to detriangle before they are anywhere near being objective and emotionally neutral. These premature efforts are the product of anxiety.; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 154   “Not all detriangling efforts go smoothly…When an uptight person who is not neutral tries to ‘detriangle’ himself in a highly anxious family, there is a good chance he will make the family problems worse.”

[644] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 154 “When people are anxious, their efforts to detriangle are usually attempts to ‘pry’ themselves free of triangles…In general, detriangling is most effective in low to moderate anxiety situations.  In high anxiety emotional fields, people are usually too uptight to detriangle effectively and the family is anxious to respond to it.  When anxiety is that high, the goal is to stay in contact with people, but not let the anxiety dictate one’s actions. When the anxiety is reduced, detriangling comments can then be constructive.”

[645] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 151; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 55 “Someone is always left out in a triangle and therefore pushing for change. … The most profound ontology is to be chosen; the most profound ontology is to be left unchosen.”

[646] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 161 “…People acting out the process of the triangle have an amazing ability to ignore the most rational and well presented explanations for what is occurring. “

[647] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 161 “Triangle are everywhere, reaching out to envelop oneself in the problems of others.   No one is immune from being triangled and nobody is immune from triangling others.”.

[648] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 349

[649] Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 12 “Relationships can become distant and hostile when there are secrets.”; Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 58 “…the major problem with secrets (is that) they distort relationships.”

[650] Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 509 This sequence is present in every family – the system talks about the absent one and the system has definite rules about keeping the gossiping ‘secret’.

[651] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 234

[652] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 520 “As families move from the compartmentalized, less mature world of secrets and foibles which they assume they are keeping under cover, and into the world of permitting their private lives to be more open and a possible example for others to follow, they grow up a little each day.”

[653] Evan Imber-Black , “Secrets and families and family therapy: an overview” , Secrets in families and family therapy (New York, Norton , 1993), P. 6

[654] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 434 “…the family projection process is a triangular emotional process through which two powerful people in the triangle reduce their own anxiety and insecurity by picking a defect in the third person, diagnosing and confirming the defect as pitiful and in need of benevolent attention, and then ministering to the pitiful helpless one, which results in the weak becoming weaker and the strong becoming stronger.”

[655] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P . 443

[656] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 127 “Projection of one’s feelings and attitudes onto others can also relieve anxiety within oneself by allowing one to view other people as the problem.”

[657] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 8 “The projection involved primarily the mother’s own feelings of helplessness, weakness, and inadequacy. None of the families had any sense of discrimination between feeling and reality.  To them, to feel helpless is to be helpless.”

[658] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. ? “The more the relationship with the significant other person is endowed with high emotionality, messianic qualities, exaggerated promises, and evangelism, the more the change can be sudden and magical, and the less likely it is to be long term.”

[659] Freeman, Family Therapy with Couples, p. 49 “Usually self will project self’s vulnerabilities onto the other to reduce self’s anxiety.”

[660] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 130: “A ‘blamer’ who projects his problem to others is not responsible for self.  The ‘self-blamer’ is equally irresponsible. He blames himself to relieve anxiety and not to assume responsibility for himself.”; Richardson, The Healthier Pastor, p. 19 “Or if we always thought of ourselves as ‘wrong’ at home, then we are likely to find ourselves depressed and guilty in our new relationships as well.”

[661] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 167.

[662] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 65 “The family projection process, when anxiety is not resolved between the two parents, projects that anxiety and immaturity to the children.”; Becvar and Ralph J. Becvar, Family Therapy: A Systemic Integration, p.149 “It is through the family projection process that the parents transmit their lack of differentiation to their children.”

[663] Papero, “Bowen Family Systems Theory and Marriage’, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 16 “Those children who are freest from unresolved emotional attachment to their parents emerge with somewhat higher levels of differentiation than their parents.”

[664] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 34 “In the family projection process, the parent maps out his or her anxiety or inadequacies onto the child and then the child automatically lives out the parents’ anxiety and inadequacies.  In the emotional reciprocity the child, in order to adapt to the parent, lives out the position of functional helplessness and the parent lives out the position of functional strength.”

[665] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 23

[666] Jim Van Yperen, Making Peace: a guide to overcoming church conflict, p.36

[667] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinicial Practice, p. 435 “The family projection process…is an automatic emotional force that functions to keep the patient sick.”

[668] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 113

[669] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 68 “It is precisely these two emotional systems (the nuclear family and the extended families of origin of both partners) that are most likely to influence or change the balance of the marriage.”

[670] Edwin Friedman Video

[671] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.119 “If there is a high road towards improving one’s relationships, it is working towards improving those in one’s family of origin.  In fact it appears that only limited improvement of other relationships is possible without work in the family of origin. The family one grew up in is the best of all possible places to learn about oneself.”

[672] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.108 “Once differentiated from their parental families, they can be emotionally close to members of their own families or to any other person without fusing into new emotional oneness.”

[673] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 85 “We proceed from the assumption that a person’s family represents the most influential context of his life, and that it exerts its influence more regularly, more exclusively and earlier in a person’s life than do any other life contexts.” (quoting Walter Toman, Family Constellation book ,1962)

[674] Randy Roberts, “Two Distinct Approaches to Family Therapy: The Ideas of Murray Bowen and Jay Haley”, The Family, Vol 6 No. 2 p. 37, p. 42 “The process begins as the motivated individual (patient) is ‘coached’ to bring his family system alive by making frequent, in-depth personal contact with parents and other extended family members.  The ‘coach’ (therapist) teaches the individual to observe to the emotional processes within his own family while at the same time controlling his own reactivity.”

[675] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.35 “The Bowen concept that the family is the unit of observation means that what is important is not the location or even the form of the problem but getting to the systemic forces that are being transmitted generation to generation.”

[676] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P.546 “…my search for a way to combine the two approaches (family of origin/relationship between the spouses) more successfully.  This is a problem to be solved in the coming years.”; Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.64 “Past, present and future are all part of one family system. In emotional process transmission, there is no beginning and end. You cannot go home again because you never truly left (Hirsch 1998, 51).”

[677] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 165, quoting Murray Bowen, 1988 “The human is a narcissistic creature who lives in the present and who is more interested in his own square inch of real estate, and more devoted to fighting for his rights than in the multigenerational meaning of life itself.”

[678] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 518  “After a year or two, I realized that the trainees who had devoted primary attention to their families of origin had automatically made as much, or even more progress, with their spouses and children as similar trainees who had been in formal family psychotherapy with their spouses for the same period of time.”; Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p.77 “Bowen’s conclusion was ‘that families in which the focus is on the differentiation of self in the families of origin automatically make as much or more progress in working out the relationship with spouses and children as families seen in formal family therapy in which there is principal focus on the interdependence in the marriage (Bowen, 1974, pp. 83-84)”

[679] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 10

[680] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 32 “Bowen Theory indicates that people are able to modify their responses to the automatic emotional input by undertaking a study of their own patterns of behavior and their link to patterns of behavior in their multigenerational families.”; Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, P. 78 “The following general directions guide work within the family of origin: (1) an effort to become a more accurate observer of self and the family (2) the development of person-to-person relationships with each member of the family; (3) an effort to increase one’s ability to control emotional reactivity to the family; and (4) a sustained effort to remain neutral or detriangled while relating to the emotional issues of the family.”

[681] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 263 “It is common for young people to get into marriage blaming their parents for past unhappiness, and expecting to find perfect harmony in the marriage.”

[682] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts: p.80; Jones, Family Therapy: A Comparison of Approaches, p. 53 “…from a Bowen framework, it is crucial, if family therapy is to be successful, that each individual make a personal re-evaluation of his parents by going back at least one generation and looking at his parents in a different light.”

[683] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 162 “I heard: ‘Leave well enough alone, ‘‘What will this accomplish?’, and ‘You think too much.’”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 138 “People who are more phobic about family may deny any connection of these issues with family.  That is fine.  We have to wait until they are more comfortable and not pursue them on the importance of family until then.”; “p. 139 “More heavily conflicted couples are usually hesitant to look at family…If we rush too quickly into family-of-origin issues, they will reject us and shut down explorations that go in that direction.”

[684] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 140; p. 186 “Repositioning self within an emotional system requires courage.  It is like entering into unknown territory.”

[685] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 543 “Most people have more relatives than they believe they have.”

[686] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 57 quoting Murray Bowen, 1976 “An average family situation in our society today is one in which people maintain a distant and formal relationship with the family of origin, returning home for duty visits at infrequent intervals.”

[687] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 178 “The average family in which both spouses are emotionally separated from families of origin tends to become more invested in the emotional systems of work and social situations.”

[688] Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 302 “Merely telling people to go back to the family of origin is of little help.  Some people are very anxious about returning to their families.  Without systems coaching, they can make the problem worse.”

[689] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 121 “Where there are cutoffs, the goal becomes simply to get back into contact…After making contact, it may be useful to step back and observe the emotional processes and patterned emotional behaviours in the family.”

[690] William Watson, “Soul and System: The Integrative Possibilities of Family Therapy”, Journal of Psychology and Theology, University of Rochester Medical Center, 1997, Vol 25, No. 1, 123-135, p. 128 “The vicious intergenerational cycle is broken by the creation of a positive cycle of blessing that passes from generation to generation.  New legacies give rise to a new identity (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17)…Forgiveness is also a central theme in family-of-origin work as it attends to the historical legacies and loyalties of family life across generations.  Family-of-origin therapies seek to promote healing, self-differentiation, and relational justice by encouraging people to connect with family members with whom they have unfinished emotional business that continues to colour their lives and relationships (Bowen, 1985c; Framo, 1992; Kerr, 1984; Williamson, 1991).

[691] Steinke, Healthy Congregations, P. 88 “To be forgiven is to have the future open to you.”

[692] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.119, quoting Murray Bowen, 1975; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p.137 “Part of the process of differentiating a self is to develop a personal relationship with everyone in the extended family.”;   Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 79 The effort to establish a person-to-person relationship to all living members of one’s extended family is an exercise in developing maturity and perspective.  It requires that a person recognize and master all the behaviours and feelings that work against the ability to relate to another on a personal level.”

[693] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 52; p. 57 “…a good one-to-one relationship means that I am open with you about whatever I think, feel, and want to do, or have done, and I do not worry about your reaction to that openness.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Marital Functioning and Multigenerational Fusion and Cutoff”, p. 239 “An important component of bridging a cutoff is building one-to-one relationships with one’s family of origin.”

[694] Murray Bowen, ‘The Use of Family Theory in Clinical Practice’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol.7, No. 5, October, 1966, P.372 “The goal of this (FST) therapy is to help the other person make a research project of life.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 202 “Becoming a family researcher, simply learning the facts about family and getting stories we have never heard, is in itself a major repositioning in our families.”

[695] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 518 “A differentiating effort that is successful has to be for ‘self’ alone. (rather than togetherness).”

[696] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 502 “Most people are eager to talk about their own early life experiences to those interested in listening.”

[697] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts: p. 77

[698] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts: p. 77; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.120 “…a lack of self (immaturity, attachment, or indifferentiation) gets passed from generation to generation.”

[699] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 287 “There is no way to learn these facts other than from the family and perhaps from others closely connected to the family.  Increasing factual knowledge about one’s family is an important component of becoming more of a self”

[700] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 148 “The specifics, therefore, of researching cutoffs; finding long lost relatives; correlating dates of change; delineating interlocking triangles; noting similarities of symptoms, issues, and the positions of those who become symptomatic over the generations; or changing one’s responses to habitual family interactions, while useful in their own right for obtaining distance from, and (one would hope) gaining more objectivity about, one’s present emotional state, have a far more fundamental purpose.  They are angles of entry into the universal, if not cosmic, processes that have formed our being.”

[701] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 34 “As an adult, Bowen, the oldest of five children from a tightly knit rural family, kept his distance from his parents and the rest of his extended family.  Like many of us, he mistook avoidance for emancipation.  But as he later realized, unfinished emotional business stays with us, making us vulnerable to repeat conflicts we never got around to working out with  our families.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 125 “…as Bowen discovered, the family remains with us wherever we go. …unresolved emotional reactivity to our parents is the most important unfinished business of our lives.”

[702] Kerr, Handbook of Family Therapy, p. 232

[703] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 517 “(To a differentiating step) The initial family reaction is negative and takes the form of surprise, anger, and ‘you must be crazy’ attitude.” Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 516 “Bowen: I have come to a new role in the family which I called the role of the ‘differentiating one.’”

[704] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Chapter 21, http://www.bowentheory.com/anonymouspaperpg252bowen.htm

[705] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 34 “Bowen’s most important achievement was detriangling from his parents, who’d been accustomed to complaining to him about each other.”; Nichols, p. 34 …”Bowen’s maneuver was effective in keeping his parents form trying to get him to take sides..”.

[706] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 501 (Bowen): “With my father, it was hard to find personal subjects and difficult to keep a conversation alive.  When I did introduce a personal subject, he would invoke the parental we-ness and respond with ‘’Mother thinks…’ With my mother, it was easy to keep conversation alive, but she would invoke triangles by talking about other people and it was just as difficult to keep the discussion on a person-to-person level.  …With my father, I tried to prepare long lists of subjects ahead of time, but this was not the answer.  To many issues, he would respond with minimal comment, the list would be exhausted, and again there would be the uncomfortable silence.”

[707] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 80 “It is important to look for ‘nodal events’ – times when people entered or left the family.”

[708] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 494 “I have never seen a family in which the ‘emotional fusion’ is not present…Usually most people are not aware of the phenomenon.  …Few people can be objective about their parents, see and think about them as people, without either downgrading or upgrading them.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 80 “Cutoff and having nothing with the previous generation betrays an intense attachment that is denied but equally powerful.”

[709] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 157 “The fact that A’s father is dead is not an impediment to detriangling from the parental triangle.  All that is required is for A to establish a relationship with her paternal first cousin.  By making emotional contact with the cousin, A activates the original triangle with her parents.  She activates it by making contact with a person who is part of the emotional field of her father’s family.  The emotional field does not die with the death of individual people; it is carried down the generations through interlocking triangles…By making contact with the cousin, A not only activates the original triangle with her parents but takes an important step toward detriangulating from it.”

[710] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Emotional Cutoff and the Brain”, Friesen, p. 105 “Moving into the past initially activates the anxiety that produced the cutoff.”

[711] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “Usually we notice only the most obvious (family) triangles because we’re too emotionally engaged to be good observers.  Few people can be objective about their parents.  They’re either comfortable fused or uncomfortably reactive.  Making frequent short visits helps control emotional reactiveness so that you can become a better observer.”

[712] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “Cutoff is an automatic, emotional, behavioural reaction, and at times it includes an intentional effort to distance from situations involving extreme conflict, fear and anxiety.”

[713] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 144

[714] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 208

[715] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.12 “I began to see that if I were to consider, with a two- or three generation perspective, the thousands of families I had observed   go into crisis (whether the crisis was due to …polarized marital conflict…), without question the single variable that most distinguished the families that survived and flourished from those that disintegrated was the presence of what I shall refer… a well-differentiated leader…”

[716] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, P.12 “… a well-differentiated leader….someone who has clarity about his or her own goals and therefore less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional   processes swirling about.

[717] Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.18 ft 4 “The problem with parents is that they had parents. Differentiation has more to do with the self-regulation that emerges when individuals can gain more autonomy over their reactive mechanisms as a result of moving toward their families in new (often playful) ways rather than distancing from them.”

[718] Edwin Friedman video: “The purpose of innovation at this point is not to bring change but to bring out multi-generational reactivity.  Stay in touch with the reactivity but not get hooked into it. Eventually it will wane.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 545 “Why not focus both on the interdependence in the marriage, and on the parental family, and get the potential gain from both approaches?”

[719] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 502

[720] “Toward the Differentiation of a Self in one’s own Family”, by Anonymous, Bowen?, P.142 “In coaching others with their families, I encourage visits when the system is emotionally fluid or during family upsets such as deaths, serious illnesses, reunions, weddings, or other stressful or significant family events.”

[721] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 542 “Trainees are advised, whenever possible, to be home when there is a natural emotional issue in the family. Trips home when there is a serious illness or death, or at homecomings or holidays, often provide the levels of family anxiety that are effective for relating to the family.”

[722] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 542 “…Probably the one biggest error that people make in working with the extended family is emotional confrontation.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p.120 “Too many people go back home and make accusations, participate in confrontations, or attempt to do therapy that only ends in more intense family emotional  processes (and often in cutoff). In some cases, families have been virtually blown apart by attempts to work on the others instead of the self.”

[723] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 63 “It seems many people heard Dr. Bowen when he asked people to go back to their families.  Few heard what he said to do when you got there.  There is no suggestion here of trying to change the family.”

[724] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Reproduction and Emotional Cutoff”, Harrison, p. 248 “Some will maintain contact with the past through photographs, language, or memory of history.”

[725] ‎Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Vintage Publishing, 1991), p. 539 “You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education.  If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.”

[726] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, p. 163 “Bowen has taught that it takes four years to change a family, that is, to modify its emotional processes to the point that the multigenerational transmission will not automatically continue into the next generation – and four years is not a guarantee.”

[727] JC Wynn, The Family Therapist, p. 144 “It was Bowen who developed the now widely used genogram as a method of taking a family history.”;   Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 138 “Men are represented by squares and women by circles, with their ages inside the figures.  Horizontal lines indicate marriages, with the date of the marriage written on the line; vertical lines connect parents and children.”

[728] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 150

[729] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Managing Cutoff through Family Research”, Alice Eichholz, p. 175 “The family diagram became the basis for establishing a strategy for collecting the facts surrounding the cutoffs in order to better understand the family process and my part in it.”

[730] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 123 “Dates of births, moves, deaths, and immigration are all recorded on the family diagram.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 150 “In 1950 Guerin renamed the family diagram (Bowen) the genogram.”

[731] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, 1991, Chapter 5, p. 144

[732] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 34 “In understanding the effect of previous generations on the function of the present generation, Bowen developed the genogram to permit a graphic representation of the family over two or more generations.”

[733] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 138 “What makes a genogram more than a static portrait of a family’s history is the inclusion of relationship conflicts, cutoffs, and triangles.”

[734] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 101 “Early on there was evidence that as triangles in the family intensify, build and interlock, they eventually reach outside the family in networks that include agencies, institutions and friendship systems.”

[735] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 109; Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 304 “In the 1960s, there was growing evidence that the emotional problem in society was similar to the emotional problem in the family.”  Friedman, Generation to Generation, p. 305 “My current postulation considers the chronic anxiety as the product of the population explosion, decreasing supplies of food and raw materials necessary to maintain man’s way of life on earth, and the pollution of the environment, which is slowly threatening the balance of life necessary for human survival.”

[736] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.  440 “…After World War II, man became lazy and greedy as he luxuriated in the greatest period of material plenty and freedom from want in his existence.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 1974: p. 271 (Bowen) “My own thinking tended to favor the hypothesis that social anxiety was related to postwar recovery, and to the sweeping advances in technology and the changes that went with that.”

[737] Ducklow, p. 59,  1.7.

https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011.pdf; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 360 “The better differentiated you are, the more likely your marriage will survive unfortunate but common marital crises.”

[738] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 107; p. 108 “No thought has been given in our society to the importance of the extended family in supporting and assisting the nuclear family.”

[739] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts: p.106 “If one’s main goal in life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, then many other time-honored principles of emotionally mature living such as commitment, integrity, religious teachings and even the primacy of the family itself, fall by the wayside. It is not always easy or pleasurable, for the moment, to do what is best for the family, over the long term.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 47  “Integrity is…living according to your own values and beliefs in the face of opposition.”

[740] Kerr and Bowen, p. 132 “In an anxious environment, people who want to make decisions based on a broad and long-term view are pushed aside by people who want quick answers and immediate relief from problems…Functioning based on principle requires a tolerance of anxiety and a willingness to focus on self.  Functioning based on feelings and subjectivity succumbs to the pressure for a quick reduction in anxiety and is aimed at changing others rather than changing self.”

[741] Kerr and Bowen, p. 132 “ Societal reinforcement of a togetherness and feeling orientation…is transmitted through radio, television, movies, novels, sermons, newspapers, magazines, and gossip. ..Symptoms and aberrant or selfish behaviour are assumed to reflect a lack of togetherness rather than to reflect an anxious togetherness in which people have lost individual direction and are functioning in reaction to one another.”

[742] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 110 “When the anxiety in a system increases, people tend to do more of what they have always done, (increase their togetherness, with all its patterns and postures) creating a vicious cycle.”

[743] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p. 63 “As in the family, the critical factor is the intensity of anxiety in society at a given point in time.  The greater the level of anxiety, the more intensely the movement toward togetherness erodes individuation.”

[744] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 117 “Solid self is composed of things you believe and hold dear, your most cherished lasting values, and the deepest truths about yourself.  It’s who you are and what you do ‘when push comes to shove.”

[745] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, P. 279 “The greater the anxiety, the greater the focus on ‘rights’ that submerge ‘responsibility’. There can be no rights without a responsible majority to guarantee the rights. (social regression)”

[746] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “(Unresolved attachment) encompasses the degree to which an individual has been unable to be a self, separate from his or her parents.”

[747] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 184 “The past is still present – the problem is that it has not become the past.  This is the essence of unresolved emotional attachment.”

[748] “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 46 “They are the people who will later get symptoms…all the way from psychosis to neurosis, to the physical problems, to the social problems, to the legal problems and everything else.”

[749]Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Toward Understanding and Measuring Emotional Cutoff”, Illick, Hilbert-McAllister, Jeffries, and White, p. 204

[750] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “Foreword by Michael Kerr”, p. xix

[751] Dillard and Protinsky, “Emotional Cutoff: a Comparative Analysis of Clinical Versus Nonclinical Populations”, p. 339 “(Unresolved emotional attachment) also defines the relationship between emotional and intellectual functioning.  The more undifferentiated people are those whose emotions and intellect are so fused that their lives are dominated by the autonomic emotional system so that they are less flexible, less adaptable, and more emotionally dependent on others (Bowen, 1976)”

[752] Daniel Papero, Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, Edited by NS Jacobsen and A.S. Burman (Guilford Press, New York, NY, 1995), p. 14

[753] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 196 “All of us grow up, leave our family homes, and arrive at adulthood with a certain amount of this unresolved emotional attachment to our families.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. xix, Foreword by Michael Kerr, “Bowen theory assumes that all people have some degree of unresolved emotional attachment to their original families and that a lack of resolution has a huge impact on a life course.”; Dillard and Protinsky, “Emotional Cutoff: a Comparative Analysis of Clinical Versus Nonclinical Populations”, p. 339 “Some degree of unresolved emotional attachment to parents is experienced by all people. (Bowen, 1977)”

[754] Dillard and Protinsky, “Emotional Cutoff: a Comparative Analysis of Clinical Versus Nonclinical Populations” (citing Bowen, 1977), p. 339

[755] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 433 “…the denied emotional attachment to the past replicates itself with one’s spouse and children…The more one denies  the attachment to the past, the less choice one has in determining the pattern with his own wife and children (as if he had much to begin with.)”

[756] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 21 “The function of fusion is to ensure that the individuals within the nuclear family will remain attached to the emotional nucleus, usually the parents.  It is like the magnetic force of gravity.  It keeps all members of the family from falling away from the emotional nucleus, to which their survival necessitates attachment.”

[757] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, p. 22 “In this context, the term emotional attachment is synonymous with emotional fusion...The term emotional attachment refers to a universal continuum of parent-child fusion, along which all individuals fall.”

[758] “May 17th 2012 Interview with Dr. Randy Frost, Executive Director of Living Systems Counseling, about his connection with Dr. Murray Bowen” (Appendices vii, Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff Doctoral Thesis Project)

[759] Susan M. Johnson and Leslie S. Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachment”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, p. 121

[760] Johnson and Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachments”, Clinical Handbook on Couple Therapy, p. 121

[761] Johnson and Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachments”, Clinical Handbook on Couple Therapy, p. 124  “The resulting anxiety and the efforts to cope with this anxiety and create a response in the caregiver, evoke similar behaviour in both infant-caregiver relationships and adult romantic relationships.”

[762] Johnson and Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachments”, Clinical Handbook on Couple Therapy, p. 121 “EFT gives a primary place to the role of emotion in defining and redefining close relationships.”; p. 123 “From a theoretical perspective, the most crucial elements in EFT are the nature of attachment and the role of emotion in defining or redefining intimate relationships.”

[763] Michael Kerr, “An Obstacle to ‘Hearing’ Bowen Theory”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 63 “The inability to be aware of and to express feelings is seen as a prime cause of emotional problems…Feeling-focused therapists generally view a therapist’s failure to elicit feelings in session as evidence that the therapist’s theory is flawed and, more importantly, that the therapist has not dealt adequately with his own emotional problems.”

[764] Johnson and Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachments”, Clinical Handbook on Couple Therapy, p. 125 “Emotion, which has previously been somewhat eclipsed by a focus on behaviour and cognition, is now being recognized as playing a primary and unique role in self-regulation  and in social interaction.”

[765] Johnson and Greenberg, “The Emotionally Focused Approach to Problems in Adult Attachments”, Clinical Handbook on Couple Therapy, p. 122 “The patterns that are the most prominent in distressed couples seem then to be attack-withdraw or pursue-distance (Napier, 1978; Greenberg and Johnson, 1988)…”

[766] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 43

[767] John Bowlby, Attachment and Loss: Vol 1, Attachment (Penguin Books, London, England, 1969, 1973, 1980), p. xi “What is believed to be essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment.”; p. 378 “A young child’s experience of an encouraging, supportive and co-operative mother, and a little later father, gives him a sense of worth, a belief in the helpfulness of others, and a favourable model on which to build future relationships.”

[768] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 42 “Early attachment disruptions cause anxiety and insecurity that leads to an inability to trust others.  A spouse who experienced a significant bonding failure or abandonment early in life is naturally skeptical about forming close connections.”; P. 76 “Secure attachment in childhood is a building block for intimate relating, just as insecure attachment is a barrier for intimacy in marriage.  Those who have been loved unconditionally (accepted, affirmed, empowered) in childhood will find it easier to develop close ties in marriage.”

[769] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348  “How do babies handle the out-of-synch times?  By age three months, they are able to regulate their emotional response in two ways: they soothe themselves when mismatches with their caretaker occur and try to reestablish connection; and they break contact when they are overstimulated by a good connection and then restart it.  This process is so well-established by six months of age, infants demonstrate stability in their characteristic style of self-soothing.”

[770] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348 “Expecting ourselves to freak out in the face of marriage’s realities keeps us and our relationship infantile – in the worst sense.”

[771] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348 “Resilience is built into our nature.  Self-repair is innate to humans.”

[772] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 43; p. 347 “Research reveals that infants possess remarkable ability to self-soothe.  Mothers and infants are constantly going in and out of synchrony.  Normal healthy infants and mothers are in synch during only one-third of their interactions; they are out of synch but ‘get back together’ in another third; in the remaining third, healthy infants and mothers are out of synch and stay that way.”

[773] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, “Stop thinking of yourself as an infant with an infant’s supposed mentality…Think of yourself as an adult with an infant’s resilience harnessed to your increased abilities to survive and cope.”

[774] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 44 Attachment Theory as  a “Wounded Child theory”; p. 348-349 “Reducing ourselves in our minds to needy children, dependent on a self-reflected sense of self from others, fuels our narcissism and ‘fears of abandonment.’…The image of the hungry infant, eager to suck up every morsel of mother’s attention, is as erroneous as that of the ever-hovering mother.  This kind of mother does exist – but it’s not a healthy situation.”

[775] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348 “This has distorted our picture of infancy, adulthood, and marriage.”

[776] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348

[777] “May 17th 2012 Interview with Dr. Randy Frost, Executive Director of Living Systems Counseling, about his connection with Dr. Murray Bowen” (Appendices vii, Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff Doctoral Thesis Project)

[778] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 21 “There are two powerful life forces at work in all of us: the force for togetherness and the force for individuality. We want to be together with others, and we want to be our own person.”

[779] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 348 “

[780] “May 17th 2012 Interview with Dr. Randy Frost, Executive Director of Living Systems Counseling, about his connection with Dr. Murray Bowen” (Appendices vii, Strengthening Marriage: Beyond Emotional Cutoff Doctoral Thesis Project)

[781] Diana R Garland, Family Ministry: a Comprehensive Guide, p. 539, “One problem then with all the attention given to marital relationships is that people begin to expect to live day in and day out in an emotional hothouse modeled on the empathetic listening, sharing of self and collapse of individual boundaries that they experienced in a marriage retreat or similar program.”

[782] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff,“Foreword by Michael Kerr”,  p. xix

[783] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 45; p. 132 “We hope that emotional cutoff will solve the emotional problems of our life, but it does not.  It simply transfers the unresolved emotional attachment from the family of origin and dumps it into our new adult relationships.”

[784] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 191

[785] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 3 “…most Christian literature dealing with the family at the popular level is culturally encapsulated…”; p. 4 “…contemporary Christian approaches to the study of the family are naively influenced by psychology.”; p. 5 “…contemporary Christian approaches to the family…are too often biblically superficial and theologically shallow.”; p. 105 “All too often interpreters of Scripture derive their understanding of familial roles uncritically without determining the rules that govern social systems.”

[786] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 156

[787] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 7-10; Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 187 “A theory built on facts of human functioning in relationships is far more consistent with that tradition than with theories that abstract individuals from the web of relationships in which they live.”

[788] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 18 “We agree that a hyperindividualistic focus on personal has overridden the essential meaning of covenant commitment and relationship values.”; p. 20, “The modern/postmodern marriage is about individual rights over relationship rights.”; Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 175, “the very idea of ‘covenant’ is disappearing in our culture. Covenant is therefore a concept that is increasingly foreign to us…”

[789] Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 194 “Thinking through one’s religious beliefs in the context of current family emotional process is another way to think systems.”

[790] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p.13 “…there is nothing as practical as good theology.”

[791] Anderson and Guernsey,  On Being Family: a Social Theology of the Family (William Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985), p. vii

[792] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. vii; p. 122 “Spirituality is a work of love.”; Jack O. and  Judith K Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989), p. 21 “The logical beginning of any relationship is a covenant commitment, which has unconditional love at its core. Out of the security provided by this covenant love develops grace.  In this atmosphere of grace, family members have the freedom to empower each other.”

[793] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 13

[794] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 86; Karl Barth, CD III/4, p. 189 “…marriage is not subordinate to family, but family is subordinate to marriage.”; p. 155-56 Ed: Anderson and Guernsey also affirm covenant and parenting rather than marriage as the core theological notions in family. “…to begin a theology of family with the idea of marriage as its core is to miss significantly a key element in understanding the family as God has created it.”

[795] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 17

[796] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 20 “…no created structure of reality contains within it its own telos or ultimate goal…the telos, which gives meaning to the created process, resides in the Word of God…embodied in within the structures of created reality – such as the family.”; p. 56 “…there is no telos hidden within sheer creatureliness that can reach beyond the limits of creatureliness to give form to the human.”

[797]  H. Anderson, D. Browning, E. Evison, and M.Van Leeuwen, The Family Book, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1998), p. 15 “Development of this marital vocation cannot be separated from the cultivation of communities of covenantal obligation to care for future generations, for the land, and for the securing of peace among the nations.”

[798] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 30

[799] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: being calm and courageous no matter what, p. xii “Central to my thinking is also my understanding of the biblical idea of the imago dei…humans are responsive, relational creatures…The creature’s vocation, given and enabled by God, is to relate to God as a partner in covenant.”

[800] Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 73; Keller, p. 57 “…the marriage relationship is…the most deeply covenantal relationship possible between two human beings…”

[801] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.13 “(In Bowen Theory,) there is an assumption of covenant and commitment as well as the impartation of generational narratives and values.”

[802] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 12 …the essential theme of being in right relationship”; p. 18 “We believe the biblical revelation of right relationship offers the answers to the marriage.”

[803] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 26 “Our love for each other therefore ultimately reflects the very love of the Father and Son from all eternity before there was even a creation…True human love is patterned by the divine love in the Trinity.”; p. 38 “…the covenant principle, ‘to love and be loved’.”

[804] 1 John 4:19; Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 184 “We recognize that God’s covenant love for us is what urges us toward a faithful covenant love for each other.”

[805] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. vii “From the perspective of the church as the new family of God, the human family is liberated from its own failures and fears, and each person is affirmed as having a place in God’s kingdom.  Through Jesus Christ, the brother to whom we are connected by grace, we are all brothers and sisters.  We are family.”; p. 155 “…the church is family, or perhaps a family of families.”

[806] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 11 “Trinitarian theology has opened the way for us to discover our personal distinctness in and through our mutual interdependence.”; p. 95 “In a Trinitarian model of marriage, differentiated unity is not only warranted by a theological interpretation of Genesis, but also by the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus in particular.”

[807] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 12 “…a differentiated unity in marriage…a unity formed by two distinctly differentiated spouses. We contend that God has created us to be in a mutually reciprocating relationship as two unique selves in relation to God and to each other. In this way, marriage is meant to mirror the Trinitarian relationships of holy loving between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”

[808] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 13 “Our concept of differentiated unity refers to two secure spouses, distinct and unique in themselves, discovering belonging and connection in and through marital unity.”; P. 36 “differentiation…. When validation is centered in Christ rather than in others, spouses look to God as the source of their validation and are accountable to Christ and one another as they live out their relationship to one another.”;

[809] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 97 “Being dependent on Christ alleviates an overdemanding concentration on the spouse to meet our needs…Being a child of God is our core identity…Being differentiated in Christ means we are focused on God’s validation and less focused on our spouse’s validation.”

[810] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 97 “When we use the idea of being differentiated in Christ, we mean that each spouse centers his or her life in Christ and attempts to live according to biblical truth.”

[811] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 30 “…a theology of particularity and relatedness…perichoresis is a term that denotes the mutual indwelling and self-giving between members of the divine Trinity.”; p. 31 “According to Gunton (1993), a theology of particularity points to a relatedness without absorption…” P. 31 “The Holy Trinity is a mystery in which relatedness goes hand in hand with particularity.”

[812] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 31 “The supreme meaning of being created in the image of God is that spouses reflect a relationship of unity without absorption.”; p. 193 “The measure of marital spirituality is found in the imago Dei — the simultaneous unity and uniqueness found in the Holy Trinity characterizes the marital relationship.”

[813] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 153-54 “…(Is) the building of the family (the church’s) central task? We can now answer No, not its central task. However, in being and doing this, the church grasps whatever is broken and brings it towards wholeness…It saves families by saving husbands and wives from destroying each other through impossible ultimatums.”

[814] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 159 “When the New Testament writers use sibial terms, they were not meant to be mere euphemisms.  ’Brother’ and ‘sister’ are not simply pious jargon.  They are real, permanent, and predictive…Because of (our Lord), we are ‘sibs’”.”  Ed: This is contrasted by Anderson and Guernsey with the inadequate conjugal, sanguine, consensual and collateral models of the church.

[815] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 146 “The church, as the family of God, sets a new criterion of worth, a new form of parity, and a new context of belonging for each person in the kingdom of God…Covenant love creates worth and is itself the criterion of worth…; p. 148 “By parity we mean equivalence of share rather than equality of role in a relation.”;

[816] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 26 “The church then, as the new family of God, demonstrates the authority of Scripture by renewing marriage and family where it has fallen into disorder and by recreating marriage and family where it has been destroyed.”; p. 86 “…our aim is not merely to view marriage theoretically but to provide a basis for preventing marital breakdowns as well as for healing and renewal where the breakdown has occurred.”

[817] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 147 “…in terms of community, the theory provides a solid experience of the organic body of Christ, close and connected and yet with each part different.  Paul’s image in Corinthians of the body consisting of many diverse parts but still working together for the good of the whole is epitomized in the theory.”

[818] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 152-3 “…(marriage) itself needs to be sanctified by belonging to a ‘household of faith’…it is the household of faith which is the sanctification of marriage and family, as well as of the unmarried and nonfamily persons.”

[819] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 190

[820] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor P.67 “As Christians we recognize that we are a people of history…part of our personal history is in our family of origin, and we need to honour what God has given us in this part of our history. To be able to embrace our family without needing to make them different, or react to them, or cut off from them, whatever their functioning level may be, is a part of how we honour God.”

[821] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 121 “…it is intended that the end of the process of formation leads to a competence to live in community, which is competence to love. Discipleship, as defined by Jesus, is having ‘love for one another’, as he himself loved them (John 13:34).”

[822] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.67

[823] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family,  p. 26

[824] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 11 “’You shall love the Lord your God,’, ‘You shall love your neighbour’ and ‘You shall love yourself’ are systemically and extricably linked.”; p.18 “…love is a quintessential structure of relationship, rooted in God’s own being.”; p. 22 “…the actual structure of this ‘inner logic’ of social relation unique to the formation of the family is grounded in the intentionality and practice of love.”

[825] Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 187 “Right relationship with God and neighbour lies at the heart of the Christian and Hebraic tradition.”

[826] Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 194, “A more thoughtful effort to lend a hand and to ‘be on the side of the other doing well’ (M. Bowen, personal communication, March 17th 1985) can become a ‘special form of differentiation’, according to Bowen.  When people choose selflessness on the basis of carefully considered beliefs or principles and a reasonably objective assessment of the situation, they can become more solid as people and genuinely contribute to the well-being of others.”

[827] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 88; Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 6 “If you have your hearts firmly rooted in the limitless love of God, with a realistic awareness of the reality of sin in your nature and of the power of God’s grace, and an overwhelming love for one another, you are heading towards marriage at its best – God’s  best.”

[828] Bromiley, God and Marriage (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980),  Introduction; Mickie W. Crimone and Douglas Hester, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 207 “Both systems theory and biblical history involve ‘matters of the soul’ as Friedman used to say. These matters of the soul have to do with one’s core self…God is continually defining self in relation to others and to creation.  One could say that God leads by means of his presence.”

[829] Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage: a handbook for couple (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994), p. 8 “Nobody will ever find a better pattern for human relationship than marriage because it is ordained by God and he, as the Creator, knows what is best for human beings.”; The Book of Common Prayer (Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1962), p. 564 “…duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.  Matrimony was ordained for the hallowing of the union betwixt man and woman; for the procreation of children to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord; and for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that one ought to have of the other, in both prosperity and adversity.”

[830] The Book of Common Prayer (Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1962), p. 564 “…signifying unto us the mystical union which is between Christ and his Church.  This holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee…”

[831] H. Anderson, D. Browning, E. Evison, and M.Van Leeuwen, The Family Book, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1998), p. 13  “Protestant: This removal of marriage from the sacramental system of the church tended to undermine marriage as a symbol of the divine mysteries of grace…”

[832] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 87 “Marriage, as an exemplification of the total encounter of male and female in covenant partnership, thus integrates sexuality into total humanity.”

[833] Wilson, Marvin R., Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989), p. 203 “In the allegory of God’s covenant bonding to his chosen people, he states ‘I passed by, and…saw that you were old enough for love…I gave you my silent oath and entered into a covenant with you…and you became mine” (Ezekiel 16:8).  Likewise the book of Proverbs warns of a woman ‘who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God’ (Proverbs 2:17).”

[834] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 43 “The security that stems from covenant commitment brings freedom in the sexual relationship…The security of covenant love encourages vulnerability that deepens the emotional connection.  Through sexual intercourse, the couple discovers holy meaning that enhances covenant love.”

[835] Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 75 “Elsewhere in the Bible, the word “cleave” means to unite to someone through a covenant, a binding promise, or oath.”;  Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, Chapter 12, “The Jewish Marriage Encounter”, Bernard Kligfield, p. 141 ‘The religious basis for marriage is found in the scriptures ‘For it is not good for man to be alone’ and ‘They should be as one flesh’.  The relationship is therefore one ordained by God, and the ongoing sanctification of that relationship is a mitzvah, a commandment, which the spouses fulfill to the degree that their marriage is sanctified…The relationship is of cosmic significance and is an expression of the basic holiness of life, the awesomeness and beauty of the matrimonial relationship.”

[836] Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, P. 80 By quoting Genesis 2: 24, he confirms that marriage is a covenant.”

[837] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 35

[838] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 31 “(this relationship between man and woman) is a covenant partnership that only subsequently is revealed to be a ‘sign’ of the covenant relationship that Yahweh has with Israel, and that Christ has with the church.”; p. 31 “Consequently, says Barth, “the basis of love and marriage is not then the creation of woman out of man, but behind and above creation the co-existence of Christ and his community.  These are the great mystery’ of Genesis 2. (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1936-1969), III/1, p. 328)”

[839] Wilson, Our Father Abraham, p. 203 “The covenant ceremony of marriage was seen as a replica or reenactment of what happened at Sinai.”

[840] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 39 “In the Old Testament Yahweh establishes a covenant with Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah, Hosea and the children of Israel.”

[841] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 33 “…covenant in biblical theology means the unilateral relation established by God with his people Israel, through specific actions by which he summoned individuals and finally an entire nation into a history of response.”; p. 35 “Covenant…is a unilateral relationship created and sustained by one party – God.”

[842] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 51 “God and God alone sacrificed his Son on the cross for the sins of humankind.”; Peter Steinke, Preaching the Theology of the Cross: Augsburg Publishing House, MN, 1983, p. 9 “The cross puts everything to the test.  Luther would not boast of his own cross (suffering and humiliation) but rather of God’s grace in the cross of the believer.”

[843] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 47

[844] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 41 “…if we view marriage and family as contractual and not covenantal, …betrayal, or at least disillusionment, become factual and the union merely theoretical and finally unreal.”; Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 294 “Ahrons (1994) asks: ‘Why does breaking the contract take so much more time, money and emotion than did making the original contract?’”

[845] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 90 “It is our opinion that all humans can express a dimension of covenant love because they are created in the divine image and likeness….From the human perspective, the essence of a marriage is the social contract explicitly grounded in a relation of human sexuality, male and female, which finds its implicit source of covenant love in God’s own commandment and gift of love.”; Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 75 “A covenant relationship is a stunning blend of law and love.”

[846] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 61 “The family contract involves the two families of the partners.  Marriage is a coming together of two families…The religious contract involves God and the representatives of God, like the church and its ministers….The companionate contract is the primary model in modern life.  Today we think that a marriage is simply between two people who love each other.  It is not essential that God/church or their families be involved in their coming together.”

[847] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 35 “The (covenant’s) source is in the unconditional election of God and it requires unconditional response.  As the source of covenantal love and purpose, God remains faithful even when there is unfaithfulness in response.”; Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 74

[848] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 27 “Rather than standing out from others ( differentiation), a person may stand outside of their circle (cutoff)…Cutoff is the exaggeration of the need to be separate — ‘I can only count on myself’ or ‘I’ll do it alone’.”

[849] Malachi 2:10, 14-15, New International Version, Zondervan, 1985; Ed: sometimes cutoff is tragically necessary to protect a spouse from violence and abuse.  This is reflected in Malachi 2:16 where God not only says that he hates divorce but also hates violence.

[850] Jack and Judith Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, p. 22“The central point of covenant is that it is an unconditional commitment, demonstrated supremely by God to the creation.”

[851] Jack and Judith Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, p. 25 “The desire of God in each initiated covenant was that the unconditional commitment would eventually be reciprocal and mutual.”

[852] Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 57 “ If two spouses each say, “I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,” you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.”

[853] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 45 “As the fundamental basis for marriage and family, covenant partnership is tough and unrelenting when confronting with disappointments and even unfaithfulness.  The first sign of a contradiction in committed relationships is not the end but the beginning of covenant love.”; p. 51 “…covenant is the stuff of structural commitment.”; Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 12 “Approach marriage as members of Christ, but also with the Christian realism that you are still sinners with inbred selfishness…We are to be realistic romantics!”

[854] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 40 “The core characteristic of a covenant marriage is commitment, a factor that is profoundly important to marital stability according to research findings.  On the wedding day the betrothed eagerly recite their vows, but few seem to truly grasp what covenant commitment entails.”

[855] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 50; p. 89; John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage, p. 91 “The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is a covenant – a binding commitment which people should make with an understanding of its significance for themselves, and for society.”; Jack O. and Judith K Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, p. 22 “…there is a sense in which no person can ever make a covenant commitment in the way God covenants with us. Nor will any of us be able to foster an atmosphere of grace in the same way God gives grace.”

[856] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 45 “Covenant love and commitment is what gives spouses the ability to counter their human impulse to give up at the first sign of trouble…Covenant love keeps us determined to make every effort to keep the marriage vital.”

[857] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 75 “The ultimate motivating force behind marital intimacy is the longing to be fully known in the safety of covenant love.” P. 76 “Until there is safety, intimacy is not an option.”

[858] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 42 “The covenant promise is to be faithful, steadfast and sacrificial in love. Covenant love demands a lifelong commitment of intentional investment in the health of a marriage.”

[859] Keller, Tim, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 83 “Since promising is the key to identity, it is the very essence of marital love.”

[860]Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 43 “…affairs, dishonesty, and secrets…the covenant vow has been shattered and trust is shattered along with it…such breaches of trust can only be repaired through a thoughtful process of confession, forgiveness, and restoration.”

[861] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 21 “Something is missing in both extremes, either commitment to the institution of marriage or commitment to self-interest.  There seems to be very little understanding of commitment between persons in which they must consider the best interest of the other as well as themselves  and the relationship itself. We believe that this is a tragedy because commitment expressed as a covenant promise to the flourishing and welfare of the relationship has lost its meaning.”

[862] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 42 “Covenant love … Is a promise to sacrifice for the sake of the relationship.  Commitment to the institution results in legalism; commitment to personal fulfillment results in hedonism; commitment that embraces all three (person, institution and relationship) is a commitment to caring for the needs of each spouse, nourishing the relationship itself and upholding the institution of marriage.”

[863] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 89; p. 91 “Coexistence is the mutual recognition of the determination of one for the other and one with the other.”

[864] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 37 quoting Stephen Post:  “…self-centeredness describes a spouse who operates solely from a theology of particularity while selfless describes the spouse who operates from a theology of relationally only, that is, there is little self there so the spouse is determined by and dependent on the other. Unselfish describes spouses who operate from a theology of particularity and relationality. It has to do with acting out of an unselfish place rather than selfish (self-focused) or selfless (other-focused).”

[865] Balswick, A Model of Marriage, p. 42 “A biblical understanding of covenant love has to do with putting the best interest of the spouse, the relationship and the community as the priority.”

[866] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 35 “The covenant therefore has within itself the sources for its own renewal.”; p. 90 “He who here commands does not only judge and forgive; He also helps and heals.” (Karl Barth, CD III/4, p. 239-240)

[867] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 41 “It is the reality of covenant that makes order the original reality and disorder only a deviation and distraction.”

[868] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 38 “The basis of election and covenant in biblical theology is divine love”;p. 38 ”…covenant love aims at nurturing a sense of uniqueness rather than of equality or sameness.”

[869] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 41 “For covenant is not that which assigns us to our past, but that which orients us to our future.”; Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 18 “…our relationship is based on the teleological assumption God has created humankind and designed marriage with an ultimate purpose and meaning in mind.  “

[870] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 116 “Spirituality means human life under direction, as opposed to randomness or senselessness…hence spirituality is the realization of hope.”; Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 193 “Thus the foundational elements of marital spirituality is covenantal love, in which shortcomings are responded to with grace, and personal gifts and strengths are used to mutually empower, resulting in an intimate relationship.”

[871] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, “According to Barth,  we are not to view creation as having its own telos…Rather covenant itself is the inner and eternal presupposition of creation, while creation is the external and temporal manifestation of covenant.”

[872] Karl Barth, CD III/1, p. 315; Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 35 “It is this fundamental relation between cohumanity as existence in marriage and the covenant between God and Israel that prompts us to see covenant as a paradigm of family.”; Barth, p. 182 “Marriage may be defined as something which fixes and makes concrete the encounter and inter-relation of man and woman in the form of the unique, unrepeatable and incomparable encounter and relationship between a particular man and a particular woman.”

[873] Karl Barth, CD III/1, pp. 305-6

[874] 2 Corinthians 12: 9  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” New International Version, 1985; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 147 “We have a comfort with self in both our limitations and our strengths as well as much less anxiety about how others see us.  Learning Bowen theory has deepened my understanding and experience of God’s grace.”

[875] Jack O. and Judith K Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, p. 26  “By its very nature, covenant is grace….Grace is truly a relational word…Family relationships as designed by God is meant to be lived out in an atmosphere of grace and not law. Family life based on contract leads to an atmosphere of law, while family life based on covenant leads to an atmosphere of grace and forgiveness.”

[876] Balswick, A Model Of Marriage, p. 39 “Covenant and grace are inextricably linked together in God’s overarching love.”

[877] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 47 “Gracing assures forgiveness when we fail and encourages us to be compassionate toward each other and our differences.”;  P. 49 “Living in an atmosphere of grace erases guilt and shame, wipes the slate clean, gets beyond the mistakes, gives impetus to change, and moves spouses forward in renewed commitment..”

[878] Garland, Family Ministry, p. 535 “Marriage is a gift of grace..”.p. 536 “…the belief that a good marriage can be achieved by hard work ignores the imperfection of persons, who can only rely on God’s grace to lift them out of their unsuccessful attempts to perfect themselves and their relationships.”; p. 537 “A strong and satisfying relationship…is the fruit that comes in the process of relating to one another by the grace of God.”

[879] Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh (KJV: bitter against) with them.” (New International Version, Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985); The Message “Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.  Don’t take advantage of them.” (Eugene Peterson, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2003); Tim with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (Dutton: Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2012), p. 43 “He (Paul in Ephesians 5) is declaring that everything he is about to say about marriage assumes that the parties are being filled with God’s Spirit.”; Keller, p. 45 “And only if you are filled with the Spirit will you have all you need to perform the duty of serving your spouse in particular.”

[880] E. Stanley Jones, The Way to Power and Poise (Abingdon, Nashville, 1949),  p. 72 “The individual surrenders his sovereignty to the union in marriage – loses his life and finds it again in a fellowship in the union.”

[881] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 67 “Ephesians 5:21 onwards: ‘These verses are not to be understood in a hierarchical sense in which the husband lords it over his wife, but rather in sacrificing oneself for his wife.”

[882] Joel J Miller, “At the Intersection of Faith and Life”, The Lost Mystery of Marriage, Feb 18th 2011, “….The primary concern is that we have abandoned the mystery of marriage—that marriage exists in the Church and for the world as a picture of Christ and the Church. More than a picture, it is by God’s grace a transformative reality, a sacrament…We are losing the institution because we have already lost the mystery….My conviction is this: The institution of marriage doesn’t need defense so much as its mystery needs restoration.”

[883] Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 15  “Love is about the relationships of persons.  Time and again, throughout the Bible, God establishes covenants with his people – and his covenants are almost always love-covenants…”;   Michael and Myrtle Baughen, p. 16 “Agape: self-giving love ‘directly confronts those who say that marriage is merely a way of controlling others, or a means of satisfying one’s own ego and security needs…Self-giving love wants the fulfillment of one’s spouse.  This transforms attitudes and enables love to grow, deepen and become increasingly wonderful.”

[884] Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 19

[885] Alex Elchaninov, The Diary of a Russian Priest, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1967),  http://bit.ly/c7Sgp5

[886] Jonathan Wilson, DCO 991, Carey Theological College, Jan 8th 2010

[887] Colossians 3: 7 “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new  self which is being renewed in the image of its Creator.” New International Version, Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985); Ed: This reminds me of Bowen’s emphasis on giving up pretending.

[888] 2 Corinthians 5:17 “…anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created anew.  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons.” (Eugene Peterson, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2003); Wilson, DCO 991, Carey Theological College, Jan 8th 2010

[889] Richardson, Creating a Healthy Church, p.182; Ron Richardson Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 67 “I place the kind of growth that comes with differentiation of self within the doctrine of sanctification rather than the doctrine of justification.”; Howe, “Self-Differentiation in Christian Perspective”, p. 355  “From the standpoint of the Christian vision, self-differentiation is an indispensable means to a healthy soul and to healthy relationships.”;  Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 13 “We are justified before God whether we are better functioning human beings or not.  However working on our level of differentiation could be viewed in theological terms as growing into the human beings we are called to be.”

[890] Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 40 “Martin Luther’s famous statement, ‘Here I stand!’ would be an example of how the guiding principles operate to direct basic self.”

[891] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p. 232,

[892] Gilbert, Eight Concepts, p. 118

[893] Howe, “Self-Differentiation in Christian Perspective”,  p. 349

[894] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 316

[895] Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 192 “When clergy and laity more clearly define a set of principles on which to act, even in situations of high anxiety and duress, they may gradually raise their functioning level of differentiation and enhance their ability to live out their faith.”

[896] Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 192-93 “Richard Niebuhr (1963) suggested that the most recent symbol that has emerged to organize discussion of ethical behaviour has been the image of the responsible self…To be able to respond, one has to be able to step back from the ebb and flow of events and think.”

[897] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 103;  Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 51 “Dr Bowen himself said that Christians should pattern their lives after that of Jesus.  Ft 10 quoting his daughter Dr. Joanne Bowen.”; Ed: To call Jesus highly self-differentiated expresses the fullness of his humanity, but does not sum up the fullness of his Christology, including his Lordship and full divinity.

[898] Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 11 “The pervading and distinguishing mark of Christian marriage is Christ, with his purposes and love over all and in all….This Christ-centeredness…is the crucial difference, the distinguishing mark of Christian marriage.”

[899] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 8; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 235 “The biblical equivalent to differentiation is wisdom.  People feel calmer and develop greater mastery over their lives when they gain this wisdom.”

[900] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 9 “The way of wisdom does not mean that everyone must think and feel the same way.”; Daniel Charles Russell, A Family Systems understanding of Transition: leadership succession in a faith-based organization, Doctor of Ministry project May 2009, Carey Theological College, p.49,

[901] Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 67 “Paul spoke about being in the world but not of it. This could be a way of speaking about differentiation in the emotional system of our family. How do we remain in good emotional contact with our family and remain outside of it, so that we are not run by it and, without reflection, take on its values and beliefs or simply react to the people in it? In my thinking, Paul and Bowen were on the same wavelength here.”

[902] Richardson Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 16 “Differentiation assumes a confidence in God’s invitation, given often and in many ways in the Bible, to ‘Fear not, for I am with you.’  It allows us to take the lonely, courageous stands we occasionally need to take in life.  It is an act of faith that says we can survive our vulnerability and not fear it.   We do not have to put our trust in some apparently strong but actually false god that cannot deliver true security.”

[903] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 117 “Christian theology views the Incarnation of God in the man Jesus Christ as the form of the human to which all humanity must be conformed…It stands as both confirmation of authentic humanity and the goal of all personal humanity.”

[904] Jack O. and Judith K Balswick, The Family: a Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home , p. 26; Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 38 “Unconditional covenant is seen in the steadfast love of the Father, culminating in the incarnation, the deepest expression of God’s grace.”

[905] Anderson and Guernsey, On Being Family, p. 116 “Spirituality, as openness of being, is a necessary dimension of personal being, which is essential cohumanity – the experience of oneself in terms of the other. For this reason, spiritual formation, as a task assigned to the process of being human, is not the imposition of an alien or parochial imperative upon otherwise complete human beings.”

[906] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 13 “I never try to merge the two into one coherent way of thinking or language, but I can go back and forth, from one country or language system to another, and have commerce with both sides.  If anything, I am the connection between them.  I am the unity in my own beliefs and actions.”

[907] Edward Cook, Developing Church Planters, Carey Doctor of Ministry Thesis Project, p. 114 “Qualitative research can be conducted by observation of the situation by an outsider coupled with information provided by key informants.  This approach is generically designated ethnographic research and is extensively used in sociological and anthropological studies.”

[908] Dr Brian Stelck, DCC901 Carey Theological College course, online video,  I am “interested in process, meaning and understanding gained through words or pictures or situations.”

[909] Question 7b Post-interview (44%)  “How has the workshop strengthened your marriage?”

[910] Question 7b Post-interview (19%)

[911] Question 2 Pre-interview (30.3%) “What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?”

[912] Question 2 Post-interview (27%) “What would you see as your marriage’s strengths?”

[913] Question 2 Post-interview (32%)

[914] Question 3 Pre-interview (33%)  “What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?”

[915] Question 3 Pre-interview (27%)

[916] Question 3 Pre-interview (27%)

[917] Question 3 Post-interview (50%)  “What stands out for you in your marriage as its most important turning points/times of change?”

[918] Question 3 Post-interview (25%)

[919] Question 4 Pre-interview (38%) “How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?  What are ways to grow in that area?”

[920] Question 4 Pre-interview (38%)

[921] Question 4 Post-interview (29%) “How have you best dealt with conflict and change in your marriage over (the year) or years?  What are ways to grow in that area?”

[922] Question 4 Post-interview (13%)

[923] Question 4 Post-interview (10%)

[924] Question 4 Post-interview (19%)

[925] Question 5a Pre-interview (47%) “What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?”

[926] Question 5a Pre-interview (35.2%)

[927] Question 5a Post-interview (31.4%) “What is your family’s pattern in dealing with emotional pain?”

[928] Question 5a Post-interview (26.4%)

[929] Question 5a Post-interview (16.2%)

[930] Ed: A weakness in Question 5a was that it was not clear to all whether I was referring to their nuclear family or their family of origin.  This was verbally clarified during the interviews that the question was primarily referring to their family of origin.  In using this questionnaire in the future, I would recommend that this question be sharpened to clarify the family of origin issue.

[931] Question 5b Pre-interview (56%) “How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage”

[932] Question 5b Pre-interview (33%)

[933] Question 5b Post-interview (33%) “How have you best avoided cutting off emotionally in your marriage”

[934] Question 5b Post-interview (10%)

[935] Question 6 Pre-interview (38.9%) “What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?”

[936] Question 6 Post-interview (24%) “What excites you most about the possibilities of your marriage in the future?”

[937] Question 6 Post-interview (19%)

[938] One can envision a longer-term study of divorced and remarried couples, some of whom were randomly trained in Family Systems Theory and some who were not. Over a five-year basis, a researcher could track these couples, analyzing marital strength and functioning.  As a blind, the researcher would not be informed as to which couples had the Family Systems Theory training.

[939] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P. 85 “I would always ask people about critical turning points in their own lives, who was most affected, and the outcome of these turning points.”;  Gilbert, The Eight Concepts, p. 83  “Often families or organizations, like individuals, get ‘stuck’ after a nodal or watershed event. In such instances a historical generational understanding can be immensely useful in getting past the roadblock.”

 

 

[940] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, Chapter 11, Don Hayward, “Positive Partners”, p. 122 “(The workshop needs to be)…presented in such a way as to reduce the resistance of those who…feel that the act of enrolling in a marriage group is an admission of dissatisfaction or failure.”

 

[941] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthy Church, p. 152 “When people feel safe, they appreciate being able to talk about self in family…Once the safety threshold is crossed, they will begin to be more open and thoughtful.  For that reason, an essential question for a leader is, ‘How can I be a safe presence for others?’; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 74 “My intent in counseling is to create an atmosphere of safety, with a lowered level of threat, where people feel less anxiety.  As this happens, they will reveal more of self, be more open, and communicate better.”

[942] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 54 “Our approaches make use of didactic input, group discussion, and experiential learning.  We use books, handouts, charts, films,…games….”

[943] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 118 Abraham and Dorothy Schmitt, ‘Marriage Renewal Retreats’  We always conduct our retreats as a husband-wife team.  To role-model a marriage is in itself valuable. Wives especially express gratitude for the female leader…(She) brings an insightful feminine view to all the relationships, which many couples accept and rely upon.”; William McRae, Making a Good Thing Better: a Marriage Enrichment Program for Small Groups and Couples (Welch Publishing Company, Burlington, Ontario, 1985, p. 21 “The leadership in each of these group sessions will  be shared by the husband-wife leadership team. Their joint leadership is intended to provide 1) a model in flesh and blood for the couples in the program.”

 

[944] Herbert A Otto, Ph.D., Marriage and Family Enrichment: new perspectives and programs, (Abingdon, Nashville, 1976), p. 16  “One or both partners may then feel that the relationship is more fragile than it should be and that it is best not to subject it to the uncertainties of a workshop or program dealing with couple relations.  This is the ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ syndrome….affective residues from the past are often so strong that the partners have difficulty being aware of the range of strengths, positive factors, resources and possibilities present in the relationship.”

[945] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 16 “Many people still feel that attending a marriage or family enrichment program will be interpreted by others to mean that their relationship is beset by problems and difficulties for which they have sought help.”  “(Marriage Enrichment Courses need to set)…an educational context so that first and foremost they are perceived by the public as operating from a health-centered rather than a pathology-centered model.”

[946] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 16 “The enrichment model inherently has a theme of affirmation – ‘Come and build on your strengths to make your marriage even better’

[947] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment David R. Mace, Chapter 15, “We Call it ACME”, p. 171“The first roadblock is what Clark Vincent called the ‘myth of naturalism.’  It says, anyone can make marriage work.  You have all the built-in equipment.  Just follow your instincts.  Only an incompetent fool, a really deficient person, could fail in such a simple task.’ That’s what the culture tells us.  It’s an unexamined prejudice that persists in the face of all evidence to the contrary.  To admit you’re having difficulties in marriage ranks as a humiliating confession of failure in an elementary human task.”

[948] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 16 “…David Mace calls ‘privatism’, i.e. the notion that marriage and family are very private and personal and you don’t talk to anyone else about what goes on.”; Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, David R. Mace, Chapter 15, “We Call it ACME” p. 172 “The second roadblock is privatism.  It says, ‘Marriage is very private, very personal.  Whatever you do, don’t ever talk to anyone else about what goes on inside your marriage.’ To a reasonable degree, this makes sense.  There are all sorts of good reasons for taboos. But when a taboo is retained at an appalling cost, it must be re-examined….It is shutting married couples up together in lonely little boxes where in their fumbling ignorance, they destroy the very things they most desire.  They are allowed to break out and seek help only when so much havoc has been wrought that the counselors to whom they turn can often do little to repair the ravaged relationship.”

[949]  Ed: Because of the prevalent ‘privatism’ notion, it is important that no one is forced to share publicly in the workshop, though all are welcome to do so.

[950] Steinke, Healthy Congregations, P. 35 “The focus on disease, pathology, and weakness only cripples its efforts. The focus on strength, options, and resources empowers.”; Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, p. 19 “The emphasis here will be on strength, not pathology; on challenge, not comfort; on self-differentiation, not herding for togetherness.”

[951] Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.58 “To have a satisfying relationship, we must know what we bring (or don’t) to the relationship.”; Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p. 238 “the concept of differentiation is a focus on strength rather than pathology”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 11 “But whenever a focus on symptoms obscures the strengths of people, there may be room for another approach. …A research focus on the understanding of human strengths instead of on pathology is rare.”

[952] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy, P. 160 “Bowen therapy is about the immunological response. It is a focus on strength rather than weakness, on the evolution of the self that is necessary for its expression and on the self-regulation that keeps the opposite extreme auto-immunity (reactivity) in check.”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P. 80 “Reactivity is our anxious response to a perceived threat.  If we can lower our level of anxiety and feel less threatened when with our family, then we can be more objective about the emotional process.”

[953] Herbert A Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 44 “Persons grow best when they are being loved, valued, respected, praised, and recognized as persons of worth.”; Winseman, Clifton, and Liesvfeld, Living Your Strengths, P. x “Your talents should be your primary focus!” (Ed: this needs to be true not only in business but also in our marriages)

[954] Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 147 “We have a comfort with self in both our limitations and our strengths as well as much less anxiety about how others see us.”;   Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 111 “Anxious people focus on weakness…Focus on strength, not weakness.”

[955] Winseman, Clifton, and Liesvfeld, Living Your Strengths, P. 10 “We are not expected to be who we are not. We are expected to be who we are.”; McNeal, A Work of Heart: P. xiii “(Many marriages) do not understand their own developing life story.  They sometimes see individual or significant events as important, but they often fail to connect the dots of their life experience. As a result, they miss the learnings that such understanding yields.”

[956] Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, P. v quoting Dr Murray Bowen: “In such climates (of social regression), the focus shifts toward pathology rather than strength, safety becomes more important than adventure, adaptation is toward the dependent, and empathy becomes more important than responsibility.; Ducklow, Principle #7: Ministry Is Risking Failure “…cultivate in each other the courage to abandon ourselves to the wild ideas and heroic strengths of others.” (Ed: especially the wild ideas and heroic strengths of our spouse.) https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/RelativeResourceManager/Template/Manual%202011%20Appendices.pdf

[957] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 160 “Ideally a professional can relate to and encourage a person’s ability, focusing on what is right with people: their strengths and those of their families.”;   Ducklow, Consultation in the Churchplace— A Practical Introduction, “The core task in the discovery phase is to appreciate the best of “what is” by focusing on peak moments of (marital) excellence—when people experienced (their marriage) in its most alive and effective state…In the discovery phase, people share stories of exceptional accomplishments, discuss the core life-giving conditions of their (marriage) and deliberate upon the aspects of their history that they most value and want to enhance in the future.” http://theducklows.ca/downloads/ChurchplaceConsultation.pdf

[958] Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 124 “If we possess the future, we need not be anxious in every threatening moment.”; Ducklow, Appreciative Inquiry — A Paradigm Shift for Social Systems — 7.4. “If you focus the greater percentage of your resources towards your assets or strengths, you will solve more problems and you will work to build a preferred future.” http://theducklows.ca/downloads/AISystemsChange.pdf

[959] Herbert A Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 31 “…take turns sitting opposite each other in dyads…completing a series of statements including ‘I feel loved and appreciated when you…’ and ‘I feel joyful when you…’”

[960] Friedman, Bowen Theory and Therapy (Chapter 5, 1991), p. 140 “The antidote and the preventative medicine always is differentiation…”; Edwin Friedman video, “Differentiation is the lifelong process of striving to keep one’s being in balance through the reciprocal external and internal processes of self-definition and self-regulation.”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 24 “Most people get married thinking their spouse is like them…” P. 25 “When differences emerge, most of us try to make our partners more like them.”

[961] Peter Steinke, Circle of Hope tape, “It is said that when people marry, they become one. They just don’t know which one.”; Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 66 “Differentiation is the ability to be aware of one’s self and the other’s self at the same time.”

[962] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 203 “A reasonable amount of objectivity about self and others, coupled with the ability to act on that basis of objectivity when it is important to do so, is the essence of differentiation of self.”

[963] Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 7 “…the universal problem for all partnership, marital or otherwise, was not getting closer; it was preserving self in a close relationship, something that no one made of flesh and blood seems to do well.”; [963] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.108 “Once differentiated from their parental families, they can be emotionally close to members of their own families or to any other person without fusing into new emotional oneness.”

[964] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.65 “Getting close doesn’t mean somebody has to give up self.”

[965] Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P. 100 “In matters involving romantic love, it is particularly important to be able to think.”; Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.33 “What many people often mean by ‘closeness’ is ‘sameness’ in thinking, feeling, and behaviour…Pushing for sameness causes distancers to distance more and develops more difficulty…”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.36 “When anxiety decreases sufficiently, people can begin to think about their problems. Anxiety impairs the ability to think…”

[966] Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.135 “Many a husband or wife has failed to take a principled stand in their marriage simply because they feared the loss of their partnership if they did.”;  Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 37 “Typically the goal-oriented person has quite good, meaningful and close relationships and encounters fewer problems in maintaining intimate relationships.”

[967] Gilbert, The Cornerstone Concept, p. 93 “People who are working on differentiation find their innate curiosity returns. ; Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 18 “In periods of intense anxiety, what is most needed is what is most unavailable – the capacity to be imaginative.”

[968] Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best P.2 “Few of us like to own up to it, but our own personal emotional immaturity is a major part of the difficulty in our relationships; this usually goes back to relationship difficulties with our family of origin…What is unresolved with our families is likely, in some form, to be unresolved with our adult partner.”; McNeal, A Work of Heart, P.120 “…reopen the family file and see what bags you are carrying on your life…trip.”; Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.101 “Much of marital therapy consists of looking at each partner’s expectations and how they came to be important. Often our expectations go back to our own family of origin.” P.102” …adjust their expectations…”

[969] Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 13 “David Freeman, in his book Family Therapy with Couples, says: ‘Unfinished business is a present emotional reaction shaped by a past experience…  Whom we bring into our lives, our major life decisions, how we embrace important people, and the amount of closeness or distance we need emotionally are all shaped by the degree of unfinished business we carry into our adult lives.’”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 208 “People who never felt ‘close’ to their parents are usually people who have managed an intense attachment to the family with distance and denial.”

[970] Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, P.119 “If there is a high road towards improving one’s relationships, it is working towards improving those in one’s family of origin.  In fact it appears that only limited improvement of other relationships is possible without work in the family of origin. The family one grew up in is the best of all possible places to learn about oneself.”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P.vi; p. 4  “…issues with our family of origin are regarded as ‘history’ and thus no longer relevant.  We believe that our first family’s problems have nothing to do with our current problems.  For example, we may have written off those family members as ‘unchangeable’.”

[971] Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 19 “ …blaming our parents for our problems and unhappiness means we will be prone to blaming whomever else we hook up with in our adult life for our continuing unhappiness.”

[972] Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “Ultimately, differentiating yourself requires that you identify interpersonal triangles you participate in, and detriangle from them.”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P. 43 “If you have ever drawn your own family diagram, you know that the act itself is helpful. It may be the first step in getting more emotional distance from your family…”

[973] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 87 Herman Green Jr, Ch. 7 “…the participants each write (1) why they came to the retreat and (2) how they would like their marriages to be in three years.”  (helps people clarify their thinking…their written word as a more binding commitment)”

[974] Don Hayward, Positive Partners. Chapter 11, p. 124 “Each person write ‘What I hope our marriage will be like in five years.’ “

[975] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 115 “…clearly telling the couples that the conflict phase is a necessary phase in the growth process…According to this model, the struggle in marriage is essentially an effort by two people to affirm their individuality and their hope that this will not be obliterated, but rather will be accepted within that relationship. Conflict is but the agony of a marriage being born, not a symptom of sickness.  Just as in all birth processes, there are labour pains.”

[976] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment, p. 116 “…a meaningful crisis that can be resolved and actually become a stepping stone to growth…”; Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment: new perspectives and programs, p. 119 “The fact that the crisis in marriage is interpreted as a necessary phase…enables each couple to ‘walk through that valley’ and emerge on a ‘mountaintop’, (and) communicates overwhelming belief in the future of marriage.”; Ducklow, Appreciative Inquiry — A Paradigm Shift for Social Systems —4.2. “Conflict is an opportunity for change. Therefore conflict is an advantage to be appreciated.”  http://theducklows.ca/downloads/AISystemsChange.pdf;

[977] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, P. 103 “Our distancing is the way we try to lower our anxiety and make it safe or more comfortable for us, but it only creates more reactivity in the system and resolves nothing.”; Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best P.39 “Most often we hide ourselves out of a fear of rejection. We want to hang onto that relationship and be well thought of. But hiding is an automatic break in a relationship; it introduces distance.”

[978] Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.2 “Few of us like to own up to it, but our own personal emotional immaturity is a major part of the difficulty in our relationships; this usually goes back to relationship difficulties with our family of origin…What is unresolved with our families is likely, in some form, to be unresolved with our adult partner.”; Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.6 “Emotional maturity is the critical factor in the ability to live a life consistent with what we profess to believe in.”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 35 “The ability to be close to others and yet not become enmeshed in their opinions, wants, and evaluations is the sign of an emotionally mature person.”

[979] Reggie McNeal, A Work of Heart, P.118 “…the inability to say no, for instance, reflects a boundary problem. ….afraid that people will abandon them if they do not yield to other’s demands, or afraid that people will quit liking them.”; Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 66 “Differentiation marks the outlines of a person.  It separates self from others…Differentiation is the ability to be aware of one’s self and the other’s self at the same time.  It means that we can be compassionate with other people without being engulfed or determined by them.”

[980] Ducklow: Principle #5: Ministry Of The Long Haul “…we are targeting on solid solutions and not quick fixes…Quick fixes are soon problems, in my thinking.”; Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, P. 288 “The notion (of) staying in a struggle is the ultimate in anti-quick fix thinking. The quick fix mentality is anti-being. It is only poor differentiation that moves towards a quick fix.”

[981] Ducklow, Doctoral Thesis, p.14 “Family systems theory is a non-blaming theory….It offers a great opportunity for conflict resolution rather than emotional ‘cutoffs’ (expulsion or excommunication or ‘missing in action’).”; Kerr and Bowen, Family Evaluation, p. 192 “Awareness of process helps a person get beyond blaming others or blaming some external force and, as a consequence, he becomes less angry.”

[982] Papero, Bowen Family Systems Theory, p.78 “When one can understand emotionally that everyone plays a part, including oneself, it is hard to be angry at anyone.”; Nichols, Family Therapy Concepts and Methods, p. 146 “Bowen (1974) called this ‘getting beyond blame and anger’”

[983] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 11 “…I use the term (health) to mean the ability to maintain a sense of balance or equilibrium even in the face of stress and adversity.”

[984] Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best, P.20 “Many of us try to deal with the reality of this pressure from our partner to be the way our partner wants by distancing ourselves physically or emotionally.”; Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 10 “We need to be separate (to be alone, to stand on our own two feet) and to be close (to be together, to stand hand-in-hand). …the tension between separateness and closeness…”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 52 “Anxiety arises when there is either too much closeness or too much distance…”

[985] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, P. 25 “If anxiety about being separate is intense, a person gets too close or entangled with others. This is emotional fusion. If a person’s anxiety about being close is intense, he or she gets too engaged or too remote from others. This is emotional cutoff.”; Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 17 “Each of us need closeness (togetherness) on the one hand and distance (separateness) on the other.”

[986] Ron Richardson, Family Ties that Bind (Self-Counsel Press, North Vancouver, BC, 1984, 1995), p. 20 “While one continually demands more closeness and the other demands more distance, neither recognizes that they are both helping to maintain their comfort level, which was established in their separate families of origin.”

[987] Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 28 “…genuine closeness is always chosen; it is not driven, forced or obligated togetherness.  Two people swallowing one another is not a relationship. It’s emotional fusion.”

[988] Steinke, A Door Set Open, P. 118 “…emotional fusion, which is two-sided: an individual could dominate others and make them extensions of himself or an individual could dissolve self by allowing someone else’s functioning to determine hers.”; Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 92 “…but narrowing the space is a maneuver of anxious people…Fusing or closing the space between people is another behaviour of people who do not manage their anxiety.”

[989] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 40 “To be fused is to be stuck in the tar of a symbiotic or parasitic relationship.”; Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 19 “In many countries of the world, the subjugation, denigration and inferiority of the status of women is appalling…One of the greatest complaints from wives is that they are devalued…”

[990] Peter Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, 2006, p. 98 “Pursuit behaviour is any behaviour that overfocuses on another person. The most obvious form of such behaviour is rescue.  If we are intent on saving or fixing someone, we take too much responsibility for their lives.  Rescuers can’t tolerate healthy distance between themselves and others.”; Friedman, Failure of Nerve, p.305 “Others can only hear you when they’re moving towards you, no matter how eloquently you phrase the message. In other words, as long as you’re in a pursuing, rescuing, coercive position, your message no matter how eloquently broadcast will never catch up.”

[991] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, P. 27 “Rather than standing out from others (differentiation), a person may stand outside of their circle (cutoff)…Cutoff is the exaggeration of the need to be separate — ‘I can only count on myself’ or ‘I’ll do it alone’.”; Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p.382..the more intense the cutoff with the past, the more likely the individual to have an exaggerated version of his parental family problem in his own marriage, and the more likely his own children to do a more intense cutoff with him in the next generation.”

[992] Ron Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 17 “Cutoff creates more intensity and sensitivity to emotional issues in the new relationships.”;   Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 62 “…Unfortunately, what the cutting off individuals don’t understand is that there is a price to be paid for emotional cutoff. The price is a dear one.”

[993] Peter Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, 2006,  p. 34 “Cutting off: overfunctioning to achieve self-sufficiency…Clutching others: overfunctioning to achieve togetherness.”; Gilbert, Extraordinary Relationships, p. 64 “Is there anything I might do to bridge the cutoff?  Is there a way I can work to lower my emotional intensity so that cutoff will not be inevitable in the future? ”

[994] Steinke, How Your Church Family Works, p. 29 “If we are too anxious about being close, we disengage.”; Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, p. 148 “As we let go of the need for them to be different from how they are and teach ourselves to be less anxiously connected to them, we will change.”; Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best P.53 “…we cannot make others less anxious. That is not within our power. But we can lower our own level of anxiety, and this often (not always and certainly not immediately) helps others to be less anxious.”

[995] Ducklow, Family Systems Leadership For A Family Based Church “Anxiety’s major tone is seriousness…Its major antidote is playfulness.”; John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage (New Wine International Publishing, Berkhamsted, England, 2000), p. 10 “One thing we have found invaluable in our marriage is a sense of humour. Being able to laugh together is fun and releasing.”

 

[996] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 43 “Passionate Marriage is about resilience rather than damage, health rather than old wounds, and human potential rather than trauma.”

[997] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 61 “In general, the more intense the fusion and the higher the anxiety, the longer any issue will take to resolve.”; p. 96  “In general, quick-change solutions may look effective in the short term but they are also easily short-circuited.   Taking the long view, and having an accurate understanding of what is happening, brings about more solid and lasting change.”

[998] Titelman, Emotional Cutoff, “The Continuum of Emotional Cutoff in Divorce”, Ferrera, p. 291 “Most marriages begin with a mix of fantasy, hope, expectation, and optimism.”

[999] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 42  “Differentiation of self…is the critical element in making a difference in our relationships.  It describes the essential personal strength, and sometimes courage, that is required to set things in a new direction than, for example, to go with the flow of what all of our friends say is best.”; p. 77 “Differentiation simply requires someone who is willing to say…’I want to think through the situation, identify what principles of mine are relevant here, and see what makes sense to me.’”

[1000] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 34 “Couples experiencing these issues often came for counseling saying ‘We are just too different.’  I always knew the problem was not their ‘differentness.’  It was their emotional sensitivity to each other within the togetherness force.”; p. 35  “The main problem in relationships is not that there are differences.  What matters is the level of anxiety people bring to the encounter they have around their differences.”

[1001] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 30 “’Fusion’ is the name for this emotionally locked-up quality.”; p. 67 “Looking inward, people vary as to how much fusion there is between their thinking and feeling and look outward, how emotionally fused they are with others.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 57 “Emotional fusion is the opposite of differentiation.”; p. 57 “…emotional fusion is connection without individuality.”

[1002] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 100 “Behind the ‘two are better than one’ Scripture is the idea that two independent persons have unique strengths to offer each other and the relationship.”

[1003] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 116 “Differentiation is your autoimmune defense against this contagion (of anxiety).”

[1004] Wallerstein and Blakeslee. The Good Marriage, p. 4 “This duality of cynicism and hope is familiar to me…We share a profound sense of discomfort with the present state of marriage and family, even wondering sometimes if marriage as an institution can survive.  At the same time, we share a deeply felt hope for our children that marriage will endure.”

 

[1005] Paul D. MacLean, The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions (First Plenum Press, New York, NY, 1990), p. 15-16 The term ‘reptilian brain’ is referring to the basal ganglia area of the brain.

[1006] Ron W Richardson, Becoming Your Best P.95 “It is said that we put more thought into buying a car than we do into choosing a life partner.”; p. 100  “In matters involving romantic love, it is particularly important to be able to think.” Ed: So often the dating scene is controlled by the reptilian brain.

[1007] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 26 “Cortisol is one of these hormones that researchers have been able to measure in saliva as it builds up during marital upset.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 344 “Reptiles don’t fight fair, they go for the kill.”

[1008]

[1009] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 136 “Reptiles and badly frightened people have two characteristics: they have no sense of humour and they eat their young.”

[1010] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 39 “Overfunctioning involves taking responsibility for others.  It means doing their thinking for them, deciding for them, and perhaps even acting for them.”

[1011] Edward Cook, Developing Church Planters, Carey Theological College Doctor of Ministry Thesis Project, p. 116 “The pro forma for transcription should have elements like laughter and long pauses to help recreate the ‘tone’ of the communication when the transcript is read.  The inclusion of these elements in the transcript results in it sometimes being referred to as an ‘exact record.”

[1012] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 33 “What I am here calling emotional maturity is what Bowen theory calls ‘differentiation of self.’”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 302 “Going through the trauma of maturing – differentiating – opens up the possibility that we may yet become adults.”

[1013] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xviii  “The point is, the process of marriage isn’t easy and neither is what follows.”

[1014] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 242 “Unless there is an acute crisis, what the couple talk about when they unwind is less important than that they are together and listening to each other.”

[1015] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 60 “In poorly differentiated families – as in poorly differentiated marriages – everyone’s supposed to stay in his assigned ‘seat’ so someone can maintain the ‘self’ he’s established in relationship.”

[1016] Michael and Myrtle Baughen, Christian Marriage, p. 133 “Don’t let your marriage get into a rut.  It is not very sensitive to stick doggedly to the same unchanging routines, the same old clothes, the usual boring ways of doing things.  Introduce special occasions, celebrations, unexpected weekends away, and short vacations into your programme.”

[1017] Richardson, Couples in Conflict,  p. 79 “Blaming is a central part of this triangular process.  The question all parties tend to ask is ‘Who is at fault here?’”

[1018] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 93 “As a solution, polarization is useless in dealing with the underlying issues, but it helps the contenders feel somewhat better about themselves by allowing them to blame others for their problems without worrying about their own adequacy (or lack thereof).”  Ed: This insight by Richardson shows why blaming others is so tempting, though so counterproductive.

[1019] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 27 “No single part is responsible for the action of the whole, but each part contributes to the whole and makes it what it is.  All parts are interconnected.”

[1020] Randall T. Frost, “Thinking Systems in Pastoral Training”, Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 193 “There is an important difference between taking responsibility for the part self plays in a problem and blaming self or other. Blaming is an emotional reaction.  Taking responsibility for self is a cognitive effort to identify the part self plays and to control it.”

[1021] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 206 “Their adventurousness added enormously to the liveliness of their relationship and to a quickening at its core.”

[1022] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 32 “Under the influence of the togetherness force, there is a strong push for sameness in feelings, beliefs, thinking and actions.  Unity is expressed in this sameness.”;  p. 33 “At lower levels of emotional maturity, togetherness is experienced as more a need for unity as sameness.  There is a belief that to be close, people have to be similar.”

[1023] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 204 “Many happily married couples say that boredom is their greatest enemy.”

[1024] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 258 “Poorly differentiated people have difficulty self-soothing their anxiety and like to stick to the familiar.  It makes them feel ‘safe’ – for the moment.”

[1025] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 258 “The paradox of differentiation surfaces once again: the road to greater commonality and connection involves refusing to relinquish your differences.”; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 68 “Differences must be acknowledged, allowed for and even welcomed.”

[1026] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 54 “The covenant love that urges us to put our spouse as the priority means we must make every effort to respect personality differences…Spouses who fail to admit their frustrations about differences undoubtedly become resentful.”

[1027] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 93 “(Differentiation of self) inhibits the other-focus and brings the focus back to self and how self is functioning in relation to others, what self is contributing to the problem, and how self is going to be responsible for changing and behaving differently.”

[1028] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 56  “Eventually (Helmuth Kaiser) recognized what it was: the fantasy of two (or more) bodies appearing to be controlled by a single mind – as if we’ve given up our separate identities and become part of a larger oneness.  He called this the fusion fantasy.”

[1029] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 56 “Differentiation is the ability to stay in connection without being consumed by the other person.  Our urge for togetherness and our capacity to care always drives us to seek connection, but true interdependence requires emotionally distinct people.”

[1030] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 39 “Compliance: Rather than work directly and openly about differences with the partner, one gives up self to the other, refuses to address their differences, and complies (more or less) with the partner’s expectations.  This usually leads to a pattern of over- and underfunctioning.”

[1031] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 75 “We even celebrate our differences.”; Papero, “Bowen Family Systems and Marriage”, Clinical Handbook of Couple Conflict, p. 17 “The greater the dependency, the less tolerance one has for difference in the other and the more anxiety can be generated when differences inevitably appear.”

[1032] Richardson, Family Ties that Bind, p. 24 “Most people get married thinking their spouse is like them and they both want the same things in life. It doesn’t take long to discover this is not the case…No two people can have an intense, intimate relationship without discovering significant differences between them. This is normal.”  P. 25 “When differences emerge, most of us try to make our partners more like them.”

[1033] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 47 “Marriage is often like Procrustes’ famous code of hospitality…Shorter visitors were stretched to fit; taller folks were surgically shortened.  Likewise your spouse will try to change you into what he or she thinks you should be, just have been fine-tuning in mind for your partner.  Barbara Streisand once asked, ‘Why does a woman spend ten years trying to change her husband and then complain, ‘You’re not the man I married!’

[1034]Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xiv “…differentiation, a cornerstone of a passionate marriage…”; p. xvii “The less differentiated you are, the more likely (and severely) your marriage will bog down and require a crisis – or a therapist – to blast through emotional log jams.”; p. 57 “Lack of differentiation alienates us from those we love.”

[1035] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. xviii “The endpoint of differentiation is being willing and able to trust yourself.”; “Various Theoretical Points People Miss: A Training Session by Dr. Murray Bowen at the Minnesota Institute of Family Dynamics“, G. Mary Bourne, Ed., Bringing Systems Thinking to Life, Bregman and White, p. 47 “The people who can be objective about themselves are in a minority.  Most people on one side estimate themselves as being better than they are – which is a strict pretend – or being less good than they are, which is another side of the same pretend.”

[1036] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 121 “I think it was my stance of indifference that persuaded them to learn the theory out of their own desire.  They did not have to struggle with me about it, or lose self to me, or defend their own position.  This left them free to think things through for themselves.”

[1037] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 44 “We don’t usually think of marriage as a system with its own rules.”

[1038]Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 60 “Remember, if confused, think triangles.”

[1039] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 49 “Triangles contribute to the polarization process.”; p. 57 “My experienced with intensely polarized people is that they have intense triangles within their own family of origin.”; p. 59 “Triangles are about trying to manage anxiety in relationships.’

[1040] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 45 “Emotional Cutoff: This concept is an extension of Bowen’s understanding, but it differs in that it is applied primarily to distance between the generations.”

[1041] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times p. 13 When anxiety ushers in its relatives–anger, anguish,  and grief– the temptation to scapegoat is strong.”

[1042] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 10 “The higher our anxiety level, the more we feel the expectation to rescue particular individuals in difficulty.”

[1043] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 78 “(Differentiation) is not even a tricky, reverse psychology attempt to change others, which is the way fusion works.  If the focus is on how to change others, it is not differentiation and it will fail.”

[1044] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 145 “Asking questions that evoke people’s best thinking is an excellent form of ministry.”; p. 151 “Friendly questions help them discover and open new avenues to explore.”

[1045] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 70 “There is rigidity in their beliefs and they cannot listen to or think along with others.”

[1046] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 70 “Well-differentiated people are not intellectually rigid.”

[1047] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 70 “Well-differentiated people…do not get anxious and give in if a friend threatens them with rejection because of their beliefs.  A fear of being alone does not cause them to conform in order to be accepted.”

[1048] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 72 “There is no such thing as instant intimacy! Intimacy is born out of trust and safety — an increasing scarcity in our world of suspicion and distrust…There is plenty of fear in human loving.  In fact most people find it terrifying to give themselves wholeheartedly to another, even in marriage.”; P. 96 “Paradoxically the more spouses know themselves as distinctly different, the greater their capacity for intimate connection.”

[1049] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 37 “…we choose to yield rather than to argue, but that can lead to resentment on our part.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, “…when we feel we have given up too much self in the closeness and adapted too much to the other, then we push for greater separateness saying, ‘I need more alone time,’ or ‘I need my space,’ or ‘I need a project of my own without you being involved.”

[1050] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 66 “Bowen’s term ‘pseudo-self’ refers to that part of us that participates in fusion with others…It is the part of self that is reactive to emotional pressure from others (to change thinking, feelings, or behaviour) and gives in to the pressure to conform, or conversely, expects others to conform, or rebels against them.”; p. 66 “Most of us have more pseudo self than we are willing to admit or, more likely are aware of.”

[1051] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 59 “When we have little self-differentiation, our identity is constructed out of what’s called a reflected sense of self.  We need continual contact, validation, and consensus (or disagreement) from others.”

[1052] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 31 “The more fused the marriage, the more the closeness will feel, at least for one partner if not both, like being trapped.”

[1053] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 5 “We want a partner who sees us as unique and irreplaceable.”

[1054] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 119 “Ironically the ability to love doesn’t truly develop until the honeymoon is over and gridlock arrives.  Gridlock drives you closer to your own core as it nudges you towards differentiation.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, “Those who are most romantically in love to start with, with the development of major conflict, are often the most hostile to each other in married life, and have of the bitterest divorces.  The same powerful passion they began with remains; it simply changes from positive to negative valence…They are deeply disappointed.”

[1055] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 34-35 “Couples often make it their project to create sameness.  Part of what I am about in my counseling is clarifying their differences (rather than minimizing them) and that they are two ‘I’s’ trying to become a ‘we’…If they’re the same, it’s not intimacy.”

[1056] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 36 “Under the influence of anxiety, it is difficult to think in systematic ways.  We focus on specific parts of the system as a problem…(Chronic anxiety) impedes our ability to think, to be flexible, and to function effectively.”

[1057] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 42 “A goal focus is about how we want to be in our life and to what purposes we will devote our life energy.  It is about clarifying the principles we will live by and then being able to stay true to those principles.”

[1058] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 73 “If lower-level people do make plans or set life goals, they fail to stick to them and follow through.  This is because of where they stand in relationships and the sense of threat they feel.”

[1059] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 47 “The key is not to lose your nerve or get overreactive or locked into a inflexible position.  I know that’s tough when your marriage is about to explode – or you are about to sell out your beliefs, preferences or dreams.  But it’s actually part of the people-growing process in marriage.”; p. 202 “Differentiation involves taking a stand that defines you and, at first at least, may evoke ominous responses from your partner.”

[1060] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 202 “Grappling with such issues, with your marriage and future at stake, creates turmoil – and eventually makes you stronger.”; Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 100 “God can use the marriage relationship as a tremendous healing force. No earthly relationship has more potential for transformation.”

[1061] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 106 “Bowen said that differentiation requires thinking through and arriving at one’s own principles for living and acting.”

[1062] H. Anderson, D. Browning, E. Evison, and M.Van Leeuwen, The Family Book, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1998), p. 11 “Nothing frustrates marital love more than selfishness, fear or loss of trust.”

[1063] Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, p. 113 “Most people are more interested in relieving their own anxiety than managing the crisis or planning for a clear direction.”

[1064] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 30 “…(less mature and…more reactive [people])…focused less on their own goals in life, accepted less responsibility for those goals, and focused more on getting back at those whom they thought were oppressing them – those whom they thought were ‘the problem.’”; Herbert A Otto, Ph.D., Marriage and Family Enrichment: new perspectives and programs, (Abingdon, Nashville, 1976), Chapter 11, Don Hayward, “Positive Partners”, p. 122 “The vast majority of couples either drift or struggle along in marriages that are from 30 percent to 70 percent as satisfying as they might be – with no realistic vision of what is possible for them in an improved marriage, or any notion on how to go about improving it.”

[1065] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 109 “Vision needs to be about self. My vision represents my goals for myself.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 68 “Differentiation is the key to mutuality.”; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 62 “By building togetherness and autonomy, I mean putting together a shared vision of how you want to spend your lives together – constructing the psychological identity of the marriage as an entity in itself.”

[1066] Steinke, A Door Set Open, p. 27 “Imaginative gridlock: During anxious periods, what is most needed- imagination – is most unavailable. Reacting supercedes thoughtfulness. Anxiety locks up the imagination…We become prisoners of our own shortsightedness.”

[1067] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 25 “Better differentiated people…are curious about what got the person angry and ask, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Tell me about it.’…They are not threatened by their partner’s anger.”

[1068] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 202 “The nemesis of a good marriage is monotony unrelieved by imagination.”

[1069] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 145 “We fear conflict because we fear retaliation.  We fear our own anger and our partner’s anger for its destructive potential.  We are afraid that if we lose our temper or disagree strongly, we will be rejected by our partner.  The high incidence of divorce gives people good reason to be frightened by intense disagreements and anger…”

[1070] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 56 “Well-differentiated people can agree without feeling like they are ‘losing themselves,’  and can disagree without feeling alienated and embittered….They don’t have to leave the situation to hold onto their sense of self.”

[1071] John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage, p. 5  “Marriage is between two imperfect people living in an imperfect world…There will inevitably be high points and low points within every couple’s marriage.”

 

[1072] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 41 “Emotional distancing…is the most common mechanism for us all. Everyone does it regularly to some extent.”

[1073] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 202 “Over and over again, the couples in these happy marriages said that shared laughter was one of the most important bonds between them.”; p. 203 “The task of using humour and laughter to replenish the relationship lasts a lifetime…”

[1074] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 259 “Sexual conflict in marriage is not just inevitable – it’s important.”

[1075] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 54 “I ask a question that catches them by surprise: ‘What makes you think you shouldn’t be having the problems you’re having?”

[1076] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 205 “The men and women in these happy marriages were remarkably open to the idea of ongoing change.”

[1077] John and Anne Coles, Making More of Marriage, p. 38 “In Romans 15:7, we read ‘Accept one another then, just as Christ has accepted you..’ Acceptance of each other in marriage is a first and vital step toward loving each other.”

[1078] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 148 “The point of the questioning is to stimulate and to enhance individual thinking, to short circuit the automatic ‘we’ thinking, to evoke more individuality out of the fused togetherness with their group, and to get evaluation that is more critical from the person.”

[1079] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 133 “…with significant levels of expressed anger, I ask questions like ‘What do you have to do that will guarantee that you get yourself good and angry?’ They have never thought of it as something they are in charge of and as a decision they make.”

[1080] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 69 “Those people who are more fused are easily flooded by their own emotionality and that of others…They think that if they ‘feel it’, it must be a fact…Feeling-based impulses will be in charge of making major life decisions.”

[1081] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 38 “A focus on the functional facts of emotional relationships is quite different from the usual approach of psychotherapy which focuses on what people say about their experiences, especially regarding their feelings.  Bowen theory does not rely on people’s subjective reports of what they feel in relationships. It is more about what they do.”

[1082] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 360 “…if one partner (in a conflict-avoidant marriage) starts to differentiate, they both experience an intense anxiety that they are ill-prepared to handle.”

[1083] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 361 “The partner who doesn’t want to grow attempts to freeze everything in place by embroiling the other in conflict or undermining all forward-moving efforts.”; p. 375 “Murray Bowen noted that the differentiating spouse is probably not getting anywhere unless the partner is saying ‘you’re ruining everything.’ (…In fact if such responses do not occur, one’s efforts to define more of a self are probably inconsequential.)”

[1084] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 53 “Just remember you pursuers, a distancer can always outdistance a pursuer.”

[1085] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 121 “You can only teach people when they are moving towards you, when they are motivated to learn from you.  If others want to argue with you, or they are distancing from your pursuit of them, no amount of teaching will reach them.  Pursuing them with your wonderful insights will only make them worse.”

[1086] Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 245 “The hardest part of many modern marriages is that both people feel overwhelmed and in need of comfort at day’s end.  An exhausted wife, too tired to even wash her face, confronts a man who is also totally done in.  Each wants comfort from the other, and each feels too depleted to give it.”

[1087] Otto, Marriage and Family Enrichment:David R. Mace, Chapter 15, “We Call it ACME”, p. 178 “Someday every sensible married couple will have their own marriage counsellor, just as every sensible family now has its own physician and dentist; and they will go routinely for an annual marital checkup. Why not? The dentists have persuaded us to have our teeth preventively cared for, and surely we value our marriages as much as our teeth?  This will mean a radical change in public opinion.”

 

[1088] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 67 “Differentiation is the ability to maintain your sense of self when your partner is away or when you are not in a primary love relationship.”

[1089] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 55 “Giving up your individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality.  Either way you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship.”

[1090] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 40 “Another way this mechanism displays itself is that one of the partners, usually the more compliant one, develops a physical, emotional, or social symptom.”

[1091] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 234 “The essential thing for everyone’s recovery is the ability to regain a sense of self that they are in charge of.  Differentiation of self is what can make a difference.”

[1092] Ron Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 10 “(Bowen) did not invent or create the mechanisms that lead to a healthier human community; he simply identified and gave names to these long-standing ways of human functioning.”; Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 39 “Differentiation is a part of our normal developmental growth process…It is not a technique or something created by Murray Bowen.  He just identified how we normally do the process and what interrupts and sidetracks this normal process as we develop within our families.”

[1093] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 153 “The higher the level of differentiation we have, the better we can be a neighbour to those who differ from us.”

[1094] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 298 “What makes us feel loved – the illusion of fusion – destroys sexual desire and growth.”

[1095] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 30 “A focus on the one part (like ‘the sensitivity training’ of the young white students) only intensifies the imbalance.”

[1096] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 390-391 “Freedom doesn’t come from getting away from your partner – it comes from mastering yourself enough so there’s room for two people in your relationship.”; Wallerstein and Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 27 “To build togetherness by creating the intimacy that supports it while carving out each partner’s autonomy.”

[1097] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p.78 “Differentiation is simply about defining self, articulating what makes sense to self after thinking through the issues in a  particular conflict or situation, and determining what self will and will not do in response to those particular circumstances.”

[1098] Bowen, Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 73  “(differentiation 50 and over)  The marriage is a functioning partnership. The spouses can enjoy the full range of emotional intimacy without either being deselfed by the other. They can be autonomous selfs together or alone. The wife is able to function more fully as a female and the husband more fully as a male without either having to debate the advantages or disadvantages of biological and social roles.”

[1099] Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church, p. 72  “The more we believe that we all have to think, feel and act the same, the more difficulties there are in our relationships.  This belief is destructive.  It is a precondition for polarization.”; Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 116-117 “When you are in the early stages of becoming a couple, you focus on commonalities.  As long as you and your partner agree, you feel validated and secure…The price is misrepresenting who you are.”

[1100] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, p. 16 “The challenge in modern marriage is to build a relationship that is mutual, reciprocal, and balanced by equal regard for each spouse and mutual sacrifice for the good of the relationship.”

[1101] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 22 “Pursuing and distancing, in overt or subtle ways, is a dance performed in nearly every close relationship in an attempt to deal with the two life forces of togetherness and individuality.”

[1102] Richardson, Couples in Conflict, p. 227 “It requires greater emotional maturity for a couple to develop the flexibility required to meet the challenges of modern life.  Differentiation of self is still the key to having this flexibility.”

[1103] Richardson, Becoming a Healthier Pastor P.32  “I generally make it a practice of pursuing the pursuers, preferably in the presence of the distancers…. Pursuers tend to not feel comfortable with a focus on self.  That is their unrecognized need to distance, to keep self safe. My job is to stay curious about their need to keep the distance.”

[1104] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 351 “Make it clear that this ‘time out’ is for self-repair and not withdrawal.”

[1105] Balswick, A Model for Marriage, “Thatcher notes that an ‘idolatry of romantic love’ make the feelings of falling in love a ‘surrogate religion’ (p.63).”

[1106] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 108 “The image of two people fused at the hip captures the essence of emotional fusion, as well as our common approach to intimacy.”

[1107] Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, p. 147 “Borrowed functioning is like an emotional transfusion that ‘fills up’ the receiver but drains the donor.  Its vampire quality may not be readily apparent because the donor is quite willing to donate, at first…Often the donor feels sucked dry and his or her emotional functioning declines.”

[1108] Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, p. 204 ‘…neither gives in to the other on major issues.  These marriages are intense in terms of the amount of emotional energy each invests in the other.’

West Vancouver-Capilano BC
Population 15+ years 46,070   3,394,905
     Single, never married 27% 32%
     Legally married 56% 51%
     Separated 2% 3%
     Divorced 7% 8%
     Widowed 7% 6%
North Vancouver-Seymour BC
Population 15+ years 41,760 3,394,905
     Single, never married 30% 32%
     Legally married 56% 51%
     Separated 3% 3%
     Divorced 7% 8%
     Widowed 4% 6%
North Vancouver-Lonsdale BC
Population 15+ years 45,590 3,394,905
     Single, never married 37% 32%
     Legally married 43% 51%
     Separated 4% 3%
     Divorced 11% 8%
     Widowed 6% 6%

 

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Author: edhird

I am the Rector of St. Simon's Church North Vancouver, B.C., having served there since 1987. Ordained in 1980, I have also served at St. Philip's Vancouver and St. Matthew's Abbotsford. My wife Janice and I have three sons James, Mark, and Andrew. I was the Past President and Chaplain for Alpha Canada. While serving as the National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, I was one of three co-signers of the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm05.htm For the past 26 years, I have been privileged to write over 400 articles as a columnist on spiritual issues for local North Vancouver newspapers. In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to lead conferences and retreats in Honduras, Rwanda, Washington State, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Toronto. My new sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, with a foreword by Dr JI Packer, is online with Amazon.com in both paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097820221X/ref=redir_mdp_mobile and ebook form http://tiny.cc/tanhmx . In Canada, Amazon.ca has it available in paperback http://tiny.cc/dknhmx and ebook http://tiny.cc/wmhmmx . It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook). Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online: http://tiny.cc/vj3bmx . Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version: http://tiny.cc/kreonx . You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook: http://tiny.cc/1ukiox The book 'Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit' focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus' healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how North Americans can embrace a holistically healthy life. In order to obtain a copy of the prequel book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', please send a $18.50 cheque to 'Ed Hird', #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. For more info, please click on www3.telus.net/st_simons/nsnews030.html

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