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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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In search of Aslan

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

With CS Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawntreader having come out, Aslan Fever again swept the globe.

Who is Aslan anyways, and why are so many children of all ages so fascinated with him?  Having thoroughly enjoyed watching Disney’s ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’, I was motivated to go back and re-read the Narnia Chronicles series. My family, when they were younger, eagerly watched the cartoon version of ‘The Narnia Chronicles’, and gained much from it.  But with the breakthrough in CGI technology, Aslan has taken on a new visual depth.

When the four Pevensie children in Narnia first hear Aslan’s name, they immediately feel powerful sensations that they cannot comprehend.  Peter, Susan, and Lucy experience an unfathomable joy. Edmund the double-crosser was strangely dismayed.  Either way Aslan evoked a strong response.

In the Narnia Chronicles “The Horse and His Boy”, Aslan reveals himself as the one who keeps us from going over the edge, the one who stays with us day and night.  The young prince Shasta looked back after entering Narnia: “I must have gone through the pass in the night.  What luck that I hit it!  At least it wasn’t luck at all really, it was Him (Aslan). And Now I’m in Narnia.”  “Who are you?” asked Shasta.  “Myself”, said the voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook; and again “Myself”, loud and clear and gay; and then the third time “Myself”, whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.”  Aslan was Himself, no more, no less.

In Narnia Chronicle’s “The Magician’s Nephew”, we learn that Aslan sang creation into existence at the beginning of time: “The Voice rose and rose, till the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled into the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose…The Lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song…And as he walked and sang the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool…Soon there were other things besides grass…’Trees,’ Digory exclaimed.”

CS Lewis ‘created’ a world of endless snow in the Narnia Chronicles.  Only when Aslan was slain for others by the White Witch did the snow start melting.  CS Lewis described his own spiritual breakthrough the same way: “I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt. The melting was starting in my back – drip-drip and presently trickle-trickle.  I rather disliked the feeling.”

Many people don’t realize that CS Lewis, a confirmed old bachelor, ended up becoming married because of Aslan.  Joy Davidman, a self-declared atheistic communist of Jewish heritage, loved to read the Narnia Chronicles to her sons.   In the process, she came to faith in Aslan, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).  Looking back, Joy Davidman commented: “My first published poem was called “Resurrection” — a sort of private argument with Jesus, attempting to convince him (and myself) that he had never risen. I wrote it at Easter, of all possible seasons, and never guessed why.”

As Joy Davidman wrote in ‘The Longest Way Round’, God “had been stalking me for a very long time, waiting for his moment; he crept nearer so silently that I never knew he was there. Then, all at once, he sprang.  For the first time in my life I felt helpless; for the first time my pride was forced to admit that I was not, after all, ‘the master of my fate’. All my defenses — the walls of arrogance and cocksureness and self-love behind which I  had hid from God — went down momentarily. And God came in.  Since childhood, I had been pouring half my energy into the task of keeping him out.  When it was over I found myself on my knees, praying. I think I must have been the world’s most astonished atheist.”

 

After coming to faith in Aslan the Lion of Judah, Joy escaped to England from her alcoholic, adulterous, wife-beating husband.  As told in the ‘Shadowlands’ movie, it was there that Joy met her Narnia hero, CS Lewis.  As a favour to a good friend, CS Lewis married Joy Davidman to keep her from being thrown out of the country because of her former communist background. As Joy began to battle terminal cancer, CS Lewis then fell in love with Joy for real and married her a second time in a Church wedding,.  Romantically CS Lewis adopted Joy Davidman’s children, one of whom, Douglas Gresham, is co-producer of the Narnia Chronicles movie blockbuster.

 

So who is this Aslan who transformed Joy Davidman’s life?  CS Lewis wrote to some Maryland fifth

graders in 1954: “I did not say to myself ‘Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia’; I said, ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.'”.  In the letter, sent to a child fan in 1961, Lewis writes: “The whole Narnian story is about Christ.” CS Lewis commented: “Since Narnia is a world of talking beasts, I thought he would become a talking beast there as he became a man here. I pictured him becoming a lion there because a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; b) Christ is called ‘the lion of Judah’ in the Bible.”

My prayer for those reading this article  is that each of us, like CS Lewis and Joy Davidman, may open our hearts to the mysterious Aslan.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien: Friends on a Quest

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird

C.S. Lewis

JRR Tolkien

 

Anthony Hopkins portrayed CS (Jack) Lewis, the author of the hugely  popular Narnia Tales, in the thoughtful movie ‘Shadowlands’. Since  Lewis’ death in 1963, sales of his books have risen to over 2 million a  year. For much of his life, Lewis, the son of a solicitor and of an  Anglican clergyman’s daughter, was a convinced atheist. While teaching  at Oxford College, Lewis formed a lasting friendship with JRR Tolkien.  Both Lewis and Tolkien had much in common, as both had been traumatized  by the premature death of their mothers and by the horrors of trench  warfare in World War I.

At age 10, Lewis saw his mother dying of cancer.  “With my mother’s death”, said Lewis, “all that was tranquil and  reliable, disappeared from my life.” Tolkien experienced the double loss  of both his father at age 3 and his mother at age 12. Tolkien’s strong  desire for friendship/fellowship, as with Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin,  came from Tolkien’s loss of his three best friends in the trenches.  Referring to trench warfare, CS Lewis commented: “Through the winter,  weariness and water were our chief enemies. I have gone to sleep  marching and woken again and found myself marching still.” Lewis vividly  remembered “the frights, the cold,…the horribly smashed men still  moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses, the  landscape of sheer earth without a blade of grass, the boots worn day  and night until they seemed to grow to your feet…”

Both CS Lewis and Tolkien loved the history of the English language,  especially as expressed in the ancient tales like Beowulf. CS Lewis  commented: “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two  other friends, both Christians (those queer people seemed to pop up on  every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last  stile/steps. They were HVD Dyson and JRR Tolkien. Friendship with the  latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices…” Lewis said to  Tolkien that tales or myths are ‘lies and therefore worthless, even  though breathed through silver’. ‘No’, said Tolkien, ‘they are not  lies’. Tolkien went on to explain to Lewis that in Jesus Christ, the  ancient stories or myths of a dying and rising God entered history and  became fact. Twelve days later, Lewis wrote to another friend Arthur  Greeves: “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely  believing in Christ – in Christianity. I will try to explain this  another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal  to do with it”.

CS Lewis recalls going by motorcycle with his brother  Warren to Whipsnade Zoo, about thirty miles east of Oxford. “When we set  out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we  reached the zoo, I did”. In his autobiography Surprised by Joy, Lewis  commented: “In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God  was God…perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England”.

When CS Lewis turned to Christ, he was surprised to find the skies bluer  and the grass greener.* “Today”, Lewis wrote, “I got such a sudden  intense feeling of delight that it sort of stopped me in my walk and  spun me round. Indeed the sweetness was so great, and seemed so to  affect the whole body as well as the mind, that it gave me pause.” Lewis  commented: “I really seem to have had youth given back to me lately.”

Lewis and Tolkien formed an ‘Inklings’ group at Oxford in which they  read out and critiqued each other’s manuscripts like ‘Narnia Tales’ and  ‘Lord of the Rings’. Lewis’ brother Warren said that at the Inklings,  “the fun would be riotous with Jack at the top of his form and enjoying  every minute…an outpouring of wit, nonsense, whimsy, dialectical  swordplay, and pungent judgement such as I have rarely heard equaled…”  The Inklings group was a clear example of that ancient Proverb “As iron  sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.

 Charles Williams, another  author and member of the Inklings group, commented that “much was  possible to a man in solitude, but some things were possible only to a  man in companionship, and of these, the most important was balance. No  mind was so good that it did not need another mind to counter it and  equal it and to save it from conceit and bigotry and folly.” In October  1933, Tolkien wrote in his diary that friendship with Lewis ‘besides  giving constant pleasure and comfort, has done me much good from the  contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual – a scholar, a  poet, and a philosopher – and a lover, at least after a long pilgrimage,  of our Lord’.

The internationally respected Vancouver author, Dr. JI Packer, says that  ‘the combination within CS Lewis of insight with vitality, wisdom with  wit, and imaginative power with analytical precision made him a  sparkling communicator of the everlasting gospel.’ At bottom, says Dr.  Packer, Lewis was a mythmaker. As Austin Farrer commented of Lewis’  writings, “we think we are listening to an argument; in fact, we are  presented with a vision; and it is the vision that carries conviction.”  Myth, says Dr. Packer, is perhaps best defined as a story that projects a vision of life of actual or potential communal significance by reason of the identity  and attitudes that it invites us to adopt.  

When Tolkien first shared his ‘Lord of the Rings’ manuscript at the  Inklings group, CS Lewis said: ‘This book is a lightning from a clear  sky. Not content to create his own story, he creates with an almost  insolent prodigality the whole world in which it is to move; with its  own theology, myths, geography, history, paleography, languages and  order of beings.’ Recent polls have consistently declared that Tolkien  is the most influential author of the last 100 years and that the Lord  of the Rings is the book of this recent century. Without the Inklings fellowship  of Tolkien and Lewis, neither the Narnia Tales nor the Lord of the Rings  might have ever seen the light of day. I thank God for the faithful  Christian friendship of two pilgrims on a Quest.

*For more information on C.S. Lewis’ Joy, just click.

 

 

The Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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No Health in Us…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Growing waiting-lists for needed surgeries remind us of the crisis in our current health system.  One doctor summarized the essence of modern medicine as either removing something (surgery) or putting something in (medication).  All of us want to be healthy.  But do we want to be healthy badly enough to radically change our lifestyles?  Are we willing to give up junk food and start heading to the gym on a regular basis?  Perhaps true health begins when we get out of denial and admit, as the BCP puts it, that ‘there is no health in us.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘health’ as ‘soundness of body, from the West Germanic ‘hailitha’ (whole).  The ‘Canadian Global Almanac 2001’ notes that 25% of Canadians see themselves as having excellent health.  Only 44% of Canadians age 20-64 were an acceptable weight for their height, according to the ‘Statistical Report of Health of Canadians’.  I was sobered to read that twice as many baby-boomers have a weight problem compared to Canadians age 20-24.

The percentage of overweight Canadian men has gone from 27% to 35% (and from 14% to 23% for women).  I remember having lunch with another man who told me that, in contrast to women, being overweight looked good on men.  Perhaps this kind of rationalization explains why Canadian men are almost twice as likely to have a weight problem as women.  Health Canada research has shown that ‘overweight and obesity are linked to a wide range of health problems, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer’.

There are many other health challenges faced by Canadians than just being overweight.  Twenty-six percent suffer from high chronic stress.  Twenty-eight percent still smoke and despite years of cancer education, smoking tragically seems to be on the rise among female teens.  Nine percent of Canadians consume 14+ drinks per week.

In the face of all these health challenges, only 21% of Canadians are physically active.  Our physical inactivity as Canadians is bearing a huge toll on our health system with each Canadian costing $2,512 in annual health expenditures.

The good news is that it is never too late to turn this around.  I have personally experienced considerable benefits in pain and stress reduction by consistently going to the gym for the past ten years.  Statistics Canada reported that “there is accumulating evidence that indicates physical activity may have multiple beneficial physiological and metabolic effects on heart health.  These include ‘advantageous effects on atherosclerosis, plasma lipid/lipoprotein profiles, blood pressure, availability of oxygenated blood for heart muscle needs (ischemia), blood clotting (thrombosis), and heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia).”  There are also indications that increased physical activity can help reduce depression through “exercise-induced changes in brain neuroreceptor concentrations of monoamines (norepinephrine, dopamine, or serotonin) or endogenous opiates (endorphins and enkephalins)”.

Thank God for the wonderful array of weight rooms and gyms available on the North Shore, especially at Ron Andrews and Parkgate Rec Centres.  The clean, spacious, well-stocked facilities are a tremendous encouragement when one is struggling to get to the gym.

One of my favorite workout machines is the stationary bike.  I enjoy it because it produces a good warmup and also allows me to read without crashing!  I enjoy doing Morning Prayer on the stationary bike.  I have found a real wholeness through this experience by bringing health to my whole person: body, mind, and spirit.  Silently reading the Book of Common Prayer  not only makes the workout go much quicker, but also brings my spirit more alive.  It has shown me that both in the physical and the spiritual, we can ‘dissemble and cloke’ our laziness and ‘follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts’.  Perhaps that is why the Bible says that ‘workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.’ (1 Timothy 4:4 Message Translation)  It’s time to say no to being a spiritual and physical couch-potato!

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may find fresh encouragement to get up off our couches and begin a healthy workout of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Blessed are Those Who Mourn

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I lived in Montreal, Quebec, during the days of Trudeaumania, and was naively caught up in the energy of it.  I even had newspaper photos of Trudeau plastered on my wall.  Trudeau symbolized the boundless optimism of Canada in the late 1960’s when we believed that if we tried a bit harder, our national problems would rapidly go away.  As a westerner who has spent most of my life in BC, I also went through the alienation phase with Trudeau when my heart hardened to his style of leadership.  Given the hardness of my heart, I was surprised how much his funeral moved me, even to the point of tears.  I felt like I wasn’t just mourning for Trudeau’s death but for the death of an era when things seemed simpler.

When my mother-in-law passed on, my wife and I both decided to take a 13-week ‘Grief Share’ course.  Grief Share is a video series with small group sharing by the participants.  As a clergyman, I often take funerals and help others deal with their grief.  But when one’s own family is involved, grief is experienced quite differently.

We live in a high-tech culture that gives us little time to really grieve.  In contrast to the speed of modern internet communications, grieving cannot be rushed.  The heart of ‘quality grieving’ involves a lot of ‘quantity grieving’.  Grieving takes a lot more time than many of us want to devote to it.

Another thing that has been reinforced to me through taking the ‘Grief Share’ course is that grieving is best done in community and through relationships.  Our culture is radically individualistic and private about things that really matter.  Some people have become so private about death that they have even given up on funerals.  Instead we just read in the paper about the death of former friends and loved ones.  The tragedy of the demise of funerals is that it has left many people stuck in grief, with no way to express it.

I was in the Okanagan visiting relatives when my Aunt Marg said to me: ‘Ed, I have a friend who has had a mental breakdown, and no one can figure out why.  Can you help her?’  Meeting with Aunt Marg’s friend, I discovered that due to an physical illness, she had missed her mother’s funeral.  Sensing that this was the root of the breakdown, I led her on the shore of Lake Okanagan in some brief prayers, releasing memories of her mom into the arms of Jesus.  Upon returning to Vancouver, my Aunt Marg phoned me and said: ‘I don’t know what happened.  But whatever you did seemed to work.  She is totally better now’.  Some of you reading this article may be suffering at this very moment from never having been able to go to the funeral of a loved one.  Perhaps your loved one lived half way around the world, and it didn’t seem practical.  Perhaps no funeral was even permitted.  Either way, you need to create the opportunity for you to release the memories of your loved one into Jesus’ arms.

Grief, when not dealt with, can cut us off from others.  Grief can paralyze our day-to-day functioning in ways that can be embarrassing.  None of us are immune from grief.  That is why the Good Book encourages us to ‘weep with those who weep’.  Grieving is best done when a loving community and family surround us with their thoughts and prayers.  We have to fight the temptation in grief that makes us want to hide away and try to handle it ourselves.  Time by itself heals nothing.  In fact, refusing to weep with those who weep can actually make us sick, sick at heart, sick in body, sick in spirit.  How much unnecessary cancer, heart disease and arthritis comes because we refuse to grieve?

That is why the most famous person in the universe said: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’.  Jesus knew that there is a healing that can come when we face our grief head-on.  There is a comfort that can come when we are willing to be honest about how tough it has been to lose our loved ones.  There is a blessing that will come when we let the tears flow and allow others to listen deeply to our pain.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, went through intense grief and loss.  The shortest verse in the bible is simply ‘Jesus wept’.  Weeping is an expression of the depth of our love.

I have found that grieving will not destroy me, but refusing to grieve will.  Grieving will not cause me to fall apart, but rather fall together.  Grieving will not bring a breakdown, but rather a breakthrough.  So many of the dysfunctional and addictive things that we do in life are the fruit of our unwillingness to do the hard work of grieving.  But running from death always brings death, death of hope, death of peace and death of intimacy.

 

By embracing death on that painful cross, Jesus broke the power of death to destroy our hopes and dreams.  By rising from the dead, Jesus proved that death does not have the final word.  By faith in Jesus’ resurrection, we will see our loved ones again.  We need not fear as we grieve, for Jesus has them in his loving arms.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Cancer Survivor: Sandra Crawford

By the Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

Sandra Crawford

Sandra Crawford

Struck by cancer, Sandra Crawford never let it defeat her. In this very succinct and transparent book, she explains from the beginning of the journey till the end what it is like to go through all the emotional and physical experiences of breast cancer. By reading this remarkable book, friends and family can better understand the different stages of this journey.

One of her tools for defeating cancer was to keep a daily journal in which she recorded her thoughts, feelings, and prayers.  This journal later proved invaluable in writing her In the Arms of My Belovedremarkable book ‘In the Arms of My Beloved: A Journey through Breast Cancer’*.

Cancer is devastating not only to the person but to the family.  It was helpful to read and understand how much someone with cancer needs encouragement from their loved ones.  Sandra’s way of writing motivates you to want to come alongside her and be one of her cheerleaders.  It made us want to be more caring as a friend and family member to those who are hurting.

Sandra writes: “In my small village of Deep

Deep Cove
Deep Cov

Cove, we see many rainbows in the spring.  Carrying on the tradition of my mum, whenever I see one, I run to the window to take in the wonder of God’s beauty…”  Deep Cove rainbows represented for Sandra victory over cancer.

The suggestions for those going through treatment were very practical. Her down-to-earth way of describing chemotherapy and radiation treatment gave the reader an understanding of what cancer patients really go through.  It also removes much of the fear and mystery that surrounds this often taboo area.

Dr. Ruth Demian, MD, commented: “Throughout her journey with breast cancer, Sandra has refused to stay down or be embittered, but has overcome every challenge with faith, courage and determination.  Her inspiring story offers hope and practical wisdom to those who are walking through difficult times, especially when faced with serious or life threatening illnesses.”

Sandra is a fighter.  She never let cancer defeat her and steal her reason to live.  Her sense of humour even in the midst of great challenges was inspiring.  Her humour reminded us of her late mother Jackie Crawford.  As a young girl, Sandra often sat on the floor of her mother’s office, pecking out cheerful letters to “Mummy” on an old Underwood typewriter.

Coming from a long line of letter writers, she soon demonstrated a natural ability to lift even the saddest heart with a simple note of encouragement or a heart-felt poem. Sandra CrawfordPastor Lina Gabeli commented: “As you read the pages of this book, you will be strengthened in your faith and fall more in love with Jesus, knowing that with God all things are possible when you believe in His promises and appropriate His word. This is a must read for everyone who is facing sickness or a personal crisis.” In the Arms of My Beloved can be purchased at your local Christian bookstore or ordered online.  We give thanks to God for raising up Sandra Crawford to give hope to others facing cancer.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed & Mrs. Janice Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada

-originally published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 USD/CDN.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

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Managing Anger in Marital Conflict

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

DPM 929 ( a doctoral paper for Dr James Ponzetti submitted to Carey Theological

St Jerome

 College)

St Jerome, translator of the Vulgate, agonized over how anger destroyed his relationship with his aunt. He wrote: “Tell me, how are we two going to face the Day of Judgement? The sun is witness that it has gone down on our anger not one day, but for many a long year.” (Ketterman, 2000) While St Jerome was obviously not married, his impassioned letter alluding to Ephesians 4:26 shows how vital it is to manage anger in marital and family conflicts.

Segrin, C. & Hanzal, A. (2009) observe that “no marital communication process has generated more scholarly interest than conflict.”  This is probably because as Garland (1998) puts it, “Whatever a family’s style of communication, conflict and anger are inevitable.”

The social sciences and seminaries often function in an academic apartheid. Never the twain shall meet. Both are poorer for it. My aim with this paper is to integrate the best of the social science and theological research in how we can help our families more effectively manage anger in martial conflict situations.

It was noted in the DPM 929 class how marital conflict has had more social science attention than the anger component in marriage.  Yet marital conflict involves many emotions, including both ‘hot and cold’ anger.  Hebrews 12:15 describes cold anger as ‘the root of bitterness which defiles and harasses many’.  Garland (1998) says that we must avoid allowing anger to take up Root of bitternesspermanent residence in our hearts. That is why anger, while encouraged in Ephesians 4:26, must be without sin or harming of others, and must not be taken to bed.  Wisely Ephesians 4:26 suggests that going to sleep with unresolved anger gives a foothold for the negativity which sacramental Christians would describe in their baptism as ‘the world, the flesh and the devil.’

We know that anger can be expressed without sin because even the sinless Son of God in Mark 3:5 was legitimately angry at people’s insensitivity to others.  The challenge is how in the words of James 1:19 to be slow to anger.  Anger can easily take on a life of its own.  Waddell (Browning, D. & Evison, I.,1998) wisely comments: “Nothing kills marital love more than hardness of heart.”

In preparing to write this essay, fifty-five books on anger and martial conflict from the Regent/Carey and the Public Libraries were either read or scanned. The overall impression is that there are a lot of angry people stuck in conflictual marriages.  Greeff, A. and De Bruyne, T. (2000) observe that the ability of couples to manage marital conflict is key to the success of healthy marriages.  Some of the solutions in the books were creative, but many of them after a while seemed rather repetitive and predictable.  As well, around one thousand social science articles on anger and marital conflict were scanned through the UBC Library, of which one hundred and two were downloaded for closer examination.  It became clear that not all articles are created equal.

Managing conflict, says Gottman (Garland, 1999), is one of the central tasks of maintaining a marriage.  Gottman’s research Dr John Gottmanwas described both in class and in an article as the ‘Gold Standard’ of marriage research.   The Gottmans (2006) recommend that we husbands need to embrace our wife’s anger and learn the meaning behind the emotion. We need to rediscover anger as a healthy emotion that has its own wisdom if we will stop being so defensive. Gottman’s evocative phrase is “Look for the longing in each other’s complaint.”   Brain scans have shown us that we experience anger on the right side of the brain, unlike fear and sadness which is on the left side.  While fear causes us to withdraw, anger can actually stir us to make a difference and bring constructive change.  The challenge is how to harness the power of anger, much like people in BC harness the power of our mighty rivers for electricity.

Dr Gil Stieglitz, our past Coach for the Anglican Coalition in Canada, has been a major influence in helping our congregation become more proactive in strengthening and building marriages. Reminiscent of social exchange theories, Stieglitz (2004) says that love is meeting needs and that each marriage partner needs to aim to out-give the other at a 70/30 ratio.  We have found his ‘Five Problems of Marriage’ videos and books to be very practical in helping our couples manage anger in marital conflicts.

Thirty-four years of ordained Anglican ministry have taught me that alcohol abuse has a huge effect on anger and marital life.  Johns, A & Newcomb, M (2007) draw a strong research correlation between alcohol problems and anger-related marital conflict. Alcohol abuse has been scientifically linked with a much higher rate of physical violence during anger in marital conflict.  One study quoted by Johns (2007) showed that the rate of verbal aggression was 5 to 7 times higher among such couples experiencing marital conflict. Since 1982, I have been privileged to do many AA ‘Fifth Steps’ which has convinced me that supporting people’s recovery from addiction is a key to helping them manage anger better in marital conflict. When feelings and pain are suppressed through substance abuse, the checks and balances around anger in marital conflict often disappear. The Bible describes this phenomenon in 1 Timothy 4:2 as ‘the searing of the conscience’. One of the reasons I strongly value the Twelve-Step process is not only for its helping people stop abusing substances, but also for its value in helping people manage anger and repair the damage done to marriages through past inappropriate anger.

It was reported by Vogel, D and Werner-Wilson, R (2008) that men are more likely than women to withdraw during marital conflict which results in wives feeling rejected. This withdrawal (Gottman, 2006) heartbreakcauses emotional distance, loneliness, and a lack of romance.  Ironically this is not about the husband not caring but because his over-caring makes him so anxious (Garland, 1998).  The husband’s withdrawal is associated with increases in the wife’s blood pressure, norepinephrine and cortisol, all of which are linked to poorer cardiovascular and immune outcomes (Loving, T., & Heffner, K., 2004) Cortisol is a useful hormone in the short-term ‘fight or flight’ response, but is very destructive long-term to the white T cells which fight off cancer.

Stonewalling in marital conflict (Gottman, 1999) is one of the more serious indicators of future marital collapse.  Faulkner, R., & Davey, M. (2005) observe that “women have considerable tolerance for physiological arousal and, thus, can maintain high levels of engagement. Men, in contrast, experience this arousal as being highly aversive and act to dissipate it by withdrawing from the conflict”.  The tendency for men to withdraw seems to be linked with the higher tendency for men to physiologically ‘flood’ during marital conflict. When the heart rate goes above 100, the ability to rationally process marital conflict significantly decreases (Gottman, 2006).  Gottman recommends the strategy of an agreed-upon ‘Time-out’ until the spouses can emotionally de-escalate.  This gives the wife more security and hope for resolution rather than when the husband just shuts down and goes away without any context for readdressing the conflict later.  Thomas Jefferson wisely said: “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.”  (Tavris, 1992)

Marital anger for women (Cox, D & Clair, S, 2005) is often experienced as a threat to intimacy and connection.  This results in many women internalizing their anger in the form of self-hate, obsessive thoughts, and guilt, which paralyzes their ability to constructively make use of the emotion.

Anger, even when inappropriately processed in marital conflict, has a number of payoffs.  When we are hurt or threatened by our spouse, we tend to feel helpless and weak.  When the anger emotion clicks in, it can give us a surge of strength, power and control.  This need for control has been linked with some of the worst of the physical violence in marriage.  In the Twelve Step process, we reverse the control need by admitting in step 1 that we are powerless over our condition/addiction/marriage.  ‘Letting go letting-goand letting God’ is at the heart of true recovery.  I am reminded of Paul saying in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 that God’s grace is sufficient for him, enabling him to realizing that when he is weak, he is strong.

Anger is associated with physiological and biological transitions, with the increase of our heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.  The instinctive, natural way to express anger, says Spielberger (APA, 2009), is to respond aggressively.  Assertiveness training has been developed as a more effective way of managing marital anger than either stuffing one’s anger or dumping it on others. I have read many books on assertiveness training over the years which have been helpful but sometimes lack the needed gentleness of the ‘soft startup’ recommended by Gottman.

Much of the 1960’s counselling encouraged couples to let it all hang out and dump our anger on the other spouse. Research has shown that this actually makes things worse. Garland(1999) comments that “anger expressed in venting becomes the first step toward murder, not toward reconciliation (Matthew 5:22).”  Neither blowing up or clamming up really helps us manage anger in marital conflict (Cosgrove, 1988).  Tavris (1982) found that “aggression frequently has precisely the opposite effect of catharsis: instead of exorcising the anger, it can inflame it.”  Many people are afraid of marital anger because of its tendency to get away on us.  Plato wrote “[when reason] is asleep, then the wild beast within us, gorged on meat or drink, starts up and having shaken off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime it won’t commit.”

Lambert, N. & Dollahite, D. (2006) reported that spirituality, especially practices such as prayer between a couple,  is closely linked with reduced marital conflict.  The shared Praying Hands picturevision and relation virtues such as selflessness and unconditional love have been linked with better marital functioning in times of anger and conflict. Couples indicated that their involvement in scripture reading and regular church attendance increased their commitment to relational permanence.  Marsh, R. and Dallos, R. (2000) found that couples were able to increase their sense of interpersonal space by detouring their anger to God in marital conflict.  In my pastoral work, I have found that praying together can really help a couple, though most find such activity too intimate.  It is vital that the couple do not use prayer or the bible as weapons to win a fight, but rather as a way to resolve conflict and build a healthier marriage.

Mahoney, A. &  Pargament, K. ( 1999)  found the benefits of spiritual involvement as a couple to include greater global marital adjustment, more perceived benefits from marriage, less marital conflict, more verbal collaboration, and less use of verbal aggression and stalemate to discuss disagreements for both wives and husbands.  Before my spiritual breakthrough at age 17, I viewed marriage as just ‘a piece of paper’.  Marsh, R. and Dallos, R. (2000) observe that couples who view their marriage as being a sanctified object (whom God has joined together) are more likely to act and think in ways that protect their marriage.  Part of the improved handling of anger in marital conflict comes out of the religious couple’s allegiance to their meta-narrative and their God’s ethical expectations.  Even after thirty-two years of marriage, I still have to resist my tendencies to selfishness and irritability.  My faith is a major motivator to keep working on myself.

Lambert, N. & Dollahite, D. listed studies showing that the value of forgiveness is linked with better managing anger in marital conflict.  Gordon, K. &  Hughes, F. (2009) identified three elements of forgiveness:

 (a) regaining a more balanced and compassionate view of the offender and the event,

(b) decreasing negative affect towards and avoidance of the offender, and

(c) giving up the right to seek revenge or lash out toward the offender.

Ketterman (2000) observes that couples who refuse to forgive pay a heavy price:

“The physical costs of unforgiveness may include hypertension, chronic headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, and gastrointestinal disorders, to name just a handful.  Because negative emotions have a depressive effect and can suppress immune function, unforgiveness may even have an indirect link to major and severe disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.”

Jesus’ words ‘forgive and you will be Jesusforgiven’, say Ketterman, lie at the heart of marital harmony and health.  She speaks both as a psychiatrist of the Christian faith and as a victim of infidelity who remarried her husband.  Forgiveness is indeed a practical proven key to managing anger in martial conflict.

Another key to managing anger in marital conflict is the reduction of blaming behaviour.  Gottman (1999) calls this learning how to complain without criticizing.  Gottman (1999, 2006) talks about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling) which are greater long-term indicators of divorce than mere anger. Research by Madden, M. & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1981) showed that blaming one’s spouse for marital conflict is negatively associated with marital satisfaction.  Couples that habitually blame one another are some of the most difficult to help.

Contempt has a major impact on how we manage anger in marital conflict. Day (2003) noted how “Husbands who were more extroverted were more likely to express anger and contempt during times of relational difficulty.”  Gottman (2006) defines contempt as including “hostility or disgust (rolling their eyes). Contempt often involves sarcasm, mocking, name-calling or belligerence.”  Contempt is the opposite of honour and respect.  Steiglitz (2004) teaches extensively in his books and videos on the need for husbands to honour their wives daily, which he defines as ‘adding value’ and ‘putting them first above our other priorities’.  He also emphasizes the need for wives to respect their husbands, which he defines as ‘acknowledging value’ by ‘finding and affirming his strengths in the sea of his weaknesses.”  Such acts of love go a long way in repairing the damage done through what he calls our S.A.D. (Selfish, Angry, Demanding) behaviours that we may slip into when our needs are not being met.

One of the more recent emphases in marriage research has been to study not only dysfunctional couples, but also long-term successful couples. Matthews, A. and Hubbard, M. (2004) noted one study of 576 couples who had been married for 50 years or more.   The three qualities attributed to such long-term success were trust (82 percent), loving relationship (81 percent), and willingness to compromise (80 percent).

Matthews and Hubbard also noted that the wedding ringsindividualism of North American culture militates against healthy anger management in marriage conflict. They suggest that the way forward is to rediscover a theology of marriage that focuses on the common good, the value of community, discipleship and missional orientation. Marriage, said Matthews and Hubbard, ‘must have a purpose, a goal, a task beyond ‘being together’.

Osborne (1988) insightfully noted that “Marriage is the most rewarding and the most difficult relationship known to man.”  As Gottman and others have observed, no married couples have been found to be free from anger in marital conflict. Gottman (2009) commented: “when Julie and I do our workshops with couples, one of the main messages we give is that we’ve found that really good marriages, people who are really happy, have terrible fights, where they’re thinking at the end of the fight: Why did I marry this person?”   Some marital problems never go away, but the wise  couple doesn’t get gridlocked on these unsolvable problems.  The AA Serenity Prayer expresses this wisdom of ‘the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.”  David Mace, in Ridenour, F. (1989) notes how the Lauers studied three hundred marriages lasting fifteen years or longer. All the couples had times of anger and marital conflict. The key to these marriages was that they chose not to attack each other, but rather work on the anger. Mace (1986) compares anger to the squeak in your car’s engine that tells you it’s time for a tune-up. Anger can be your family smoke-alarm.  In our DPM 929 Class, I was reminded how healthy marriages and families are foundational to the health and stability of our society

How we interpret the meaning of anger in marital conflict is just as important as the conflict itself.  Lester (2003) holds that

“the hermeneutical process is central to the experience of anger. Individuals and communities decide what is threatening as they interpret life situations through the lens of their own narratives – their values, meanings, and beliefs.”

Our values and hopes for the future profoundly affect how we navigate the gottman-love-lab-3challenges of marital conflict.   This is why Gottman, J. & Silver, N. (1999) encourage couples to explore each others’ dreams and hopes, with an aim to create shared meaning.  It is important that couples in conflict do not give up on their ideals and dreams.  Higher expectations for romance and passion have been linked with increased marital satisfaction.  Sometimes in a desire to get along, spouses give up something essential that actually fuels the romance and passion of their lives.

Positive affect (such as humour or affection) during marital conflict was the only predictor of both marital stability and marital satisfaction 6 years after the wedding. This has also shown to be true for long-term couples dealing with conflict (Gottman, J. and Driver, J., 2004). Positive affect cannot be faked but rather cultivated over time with a series of enjoyable events. As suggested in DPM 929, a healthy marriage has learnt to celebrate the ordinary not just the extraordinary. My wife and I handle anger in marital conflict better when we take regular time together for peaceful walks, for chatting and listening, and for physical exercise.

In Gottman’s interview with Wyatt, R. (2009), he emphasizes the value of a soft-startup in managing anger in marital conflict.  Many couples, commented Gottman, say to their spouses “The problem is you, and your personality, your character; you’re a screw-up.” Such personal “you message” attacks do not help couples manage anger better. Garland (1999) says the “I and we’ messages of a soft start-up are “the difference between speaking the truth (Eph 4:25) and the judging of others that Jesus warned against (Mt 7:1).  Carl Roger’s active listening model has not born up under clinical research with married couples. It seems to be too demanding to expect one’s spouse to act as a detached Rogerian therapist in the midst of marital conflict (Gottman, 2006).

Anger in marital conflict is handled better when there are approximately five times as Making Marriage Workmany positive behaviours as negative behaviours. Couples in crisis usually only show a corresponding ratio of 1:1 (Gottman, 1999, 2006).  The need for a five to one ratio seems to come from the greater emotional impact of negative behaviours on a marriage. Garland (1998) poignantly notes that “truth, especially when it leads to conflict, must be wrapped in words and actions that build rather than tear down love for one another.”

Another well-researched principle for managing anger in marital conflict is the willingness to accept influence from one’s spouse. Gottman (2009) says “If you don’t accept some influence, then you become an obstacle and people find a way around you and you have no power.”  This is an area that I have had to work on our thirty-two years of marriage.  My wife reports that I have improved in this area.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize our own stubbornness and defensiveness because it may be hidden in strengths like perseverance.  Going for marriage counselling from time to time can be a real strength, though it is challenging to motivate both partners to be willing to go.  We have many couples in our congregation whose marriages have been deeply restored through a willingness to do the hard work of going to a professional marriage counsellor. The particular clinical counsellor that we bonnie chatwinmake the most use of in our church is Bonnie Chatwin who is both a nurse and a clinical counsellor trained at Trinity Western University.  I have been invited in a number of times by Bonnie and the couple to co-counsel in particularly challenging situations. One of my greatest joys each Sunday is to see couples in church whose marriages were over, but they did the hard work with a counsellor that enabled them to find new ways to rebuild their marriages and to handle anger more effectively.

We have one couple in our previous congregation who were divorced for six years after an angry misunderstanding.  The man kept on serving his wife in practical ways.  The wife kept saying to me: “Some day I would like to marry my husband again”. Finally on Father’s Day 2002, they were both kneeling to receive communion and she said to me: “I would like to marry him again some day.” We married them that Sunday at the end of the service, and then remarried them legally later that week.  I have followed up that couple with the Dr. Gil DVDs on marriage, and they are still together seven years later.  This remarriage not only affected the couple but also their extended family and friends.  Every restored marriage give hope to many others, especially to the younger generation that often lives together in a misguided attempt to marriage-ringsavoid the pain of divorce.

 I have seen some couples who refused counselling because they thought that it would be too expensive, only to spend far more on a divorce settlement.  I can think of a case where a successful entrepreneur was so devastated by the divorce that years later, he is still trying to rebuild his life and his career.  Bray, J. & Jouriles, E. (1996) confirmed that marriage counselling actually saves couples money compared to the costs of divorce and the medical costs associated with the reduced health of couples involved in marriage breakdowns.  Sadly though marital counselling is cost-efficient, many insurance plans do not reimburse for martial therapy.  Several couples I know have initially experienced great resistance from their insurance company over the area of paying for marriage counselling. Thankfully this was often positively resolved.

Sometimes Christian couples on the North Shore are suspicious of counselling in general, based on horror stories that they may have heard from others.  Not all counselors have the same professional competence or sensitivity to the Judeo-Christian values.   By the time that a man may be ready to go for counselling, the woman may have already emotionally detached years before. She may not have physically moved out, but she is no longer there.  Both husbands and wives on the North Shore often stonewall each other as to whether they are willing to try out marriage counselling. Many men see counselling as an admission of weakness, neediness and failure. I see it as an act of great courage that will reap great benefits if the couple does not give up.  Sometimes just when the couple are making progress in their counselling and the woman feels safe enough to finally open up, the man will pull the plug and claim that the counsellor is biased towards the wife.  “I will never go back to counselling”, a man told me. “We will just live as roommates”.  I encouraged this individual to rethink his stance.  Because many people on the North Shore are wealthy and successful, they are used to getting their own way all the time. Dominating their spouse from a power position does not work these days, especially as women have the ability nowadays to be financially independent.

In conclusion, I am grateful for the work of Dr. Gottman and others who are offering practical social science insights as to how we can better manage our anger in marital conflict.  The irony is that many of these research-based insights such as soft-startups, accepting influence, forgiveness, and positive affection all take us back to the historic Judeo-Christian teaching on marriage and healthy relationships.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

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References

American Psychological Association (2009).  Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You. Retrieved June 20th 2009 from http://www.apa.org/topics/controlanger.html

Bray, J. & Jouriles, E. (1996) Treatment of Marital conflict and prevention of divorce. The American Journal of Family Therapy. 24, 461-473.

Browning, D. & Evison, I., Series Editors (1998) The Family Handbook. Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press.

Cosgrove, M. (1988) Counselling for Anger. Dallas, Word Incorporated.

Cox, D. & Clair, S. (2005).A New Perspective on Women’s Anger: Therapy Through the Lens of Anger Diversion, Women & Therapy, 28, 77-90.

Day, R. (2003) Introduction to Family Processes, New Jersey, Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

Gottman, J. and Silver, N. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, Crown Publishers.

Faulkner, R., Davey, M., Davey, A. (2005) Gender-Related Predictors of Change in Marital Satisfaction and Marital Conflict. The American Journal of Family Therapy. 33, 61–83.

Garland, D. (1999) Family Ministry: a Comprehensive Guide. Downers Grove, IVP Academic.

Greeff, A. and De Bruyne, T. (2000) Conflict Management Style and Marital Satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26, 321–334

Gordon, K.,  Hughes, F., Tomcik, N.,. Dixon, L., and Litzinger, S. (2009) Widening Spheres of Impact: The Role of Forgiveness in Marital and  Family Functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 1–13.

Gottman, J. & Driver, J. (2004) Daily Marital Interactions and Positive Affect During

Marital Conflict Among Newlywed Couples. Seattle, Family Process, Vol. 43, 301-304

Gottman, J., Gottman, J., & DeClaire, J. (2006) 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage. New York, Crown Publishers.

Gottman, J. & Silver, N. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, Crown Publishers Inc.

Johns, A., Newcomb, M., Johnson, M., & Bradbury, T. (2007) Alcohol-related problems, anger, and marital satisfaction in monoethnic Latino, biethnic Latino, and European American newlywed couples,  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 255–275,

Ketterman, G and Hazard, D. (2000). When I can’t say “I Forgive You”, Colorado Springs, NavPress,

Lambert, N. & Dollahite, D. (2006) How Religiosity Helps Couples Prevent, Resolve, and Overcome Marital Conflict.  Family Relations, 55, 439–449.

Lester, A. (2003) The Angry Christian: A Theology for Care and Counselling. Louisville,Westminster John Knox Press.

Loving, T., Heffner, K., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Glaser, R., & Malarkey, W. (2004) Stress Hormone Changes and Marital Conflict: Spouses’ Relative Power Makes a Difference. Journal of Marriage and Family. 66, 595–612

Mace, D. &  V. (1986) The Sacred Fire: Christian Marriage Through the Ages. Nashville, Abingdon Press

Madden, M. & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1981) Blame, Control, and Marital Satisfaction: Wives’ Attributions for Conflict in Marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 663-674.

Mahoney, A., Pargament, K., Jewell, T., Swank, A., Scott, E., Emery, E., and Rye, M. ( 1999) Marriage and the Spiritual Realm: The Role of Proximal and Distal Religious Constructs in Marital Functioning. Journal of Family Psychology. 13, 321-338

Marsh, R. and Dallos, R. (2000)Religious Beliefs and Practices and Catholic Couples’ Management of Anger and Conflict, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 7, 22-36

Mathews, A. and Hubbard, M. (2004) Marriage Made in Eden. Grand Rapids, Baker Books.

Osborne, O. (1988) The Art of Understanding Your Mate. Grand Rapids, Zondervan.

Ridenour, F. (1989) The Marriage Collection. Grand Rapids, Zondervan.

Segrin, C., Hanzal, A., & Domschke, T. (2009) Accuracy and Bias in Newlywed Couples’ Perceptions of Conflict Styles and the Association with Marital Satisfaction. Communication Monographs. 76 , 207 — 233.

Steigltiz, G (2004) The Five Problems of Marriage, Sacramento: Faith Productions.

Tavris, C. (1982). Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. New York: Touchstone Books.

Vogel, D., Werner-Wilson, R., Liang, K., Cutrona, C., Seeman, J., & Hackler, A. (2008)

The Relationship of Physiological Arousal with Demand and Withdraw Behavior: Examining the Accuracy of the Escape-Conditioning Hypothesis. Sex Roles, 59, 871–879.

Wyatt, R. (2009) An Interview with John Gottman, PhD: Couples Therapy and Marriage. Retrieved June 12th 2009 from http://www.psychotherapy.net/interview/John_Gottman#author109


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Removing Self-centeredness from Our Marriages

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed HirdJanice and Ed gazing upward

My wife and I recently celebrated our Wedding Anniversary. How good are you at forgiving your spouse?

Reflecting on what makes a marriage work, I was struck by how vital is the gift of forgiveness. My wife, by the way, is very gifted at forgiving, probably because I have given her so much practice. My wife is also very patient and persevering, as I have noticed that often in our marriage, it has taken me a while to really grow and change. The fact that she never gives up on me, and that she keeps on believing the best for me, is a wonderful gift indeed.

A while back, I read a fascinating book entitled ‘Men & Women: Enjoying the Differences’ by the best-selling author Dr. Larry Crabb. He commented that ‘self-centered living is the real culprit in marriages with problems. Other-centered living is the answer.’

Ed_Jan2Many of us enter marriage thinking that our spouse will meet our deepest needs. We then feel cheated when they don’t, and begin to close our hearts. How many of us enter marriage with the view that we are there to serve our spouse? How many of us see marriage as a way of serving God?

A marriage where both partners are committed to serving one another, to ‘washing one another’s feet’ is a marriage in which self-centeredness gets sidelined. What will it take, says Dr. Crabb, to realize that our selfishness is without excuse and that our first job, in our friendships and marriages, is to recognize our selfishness and learn how we can change?

One thing that men and women have equally in common is that we are all equally self-centered and selfish. Little growth in marriages take place, says Dr. Crabb, until we realize that the disease of self-centeredness is fatal to our souls and marriages.

Nothing exposes our self-centeredness more heartclearly than anger. Because our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we have an amazing ability to justify our own anger and bitterness towards our spouse, while simultaneously excusing our own bad attitudes. Being angry at our spouses can be very attractive, because it makes us feel both powerful and self-righteous.

Having counseled dozens of couples over the years, I am continually amazed at the self-deception of many who convince themselves that the problem is their spouse, and that their personal faults are far more minor and merely reactive. Self-centeredness is a cancer that blinds us from seeing that the problem is not merely our spouse; the problem is ourselves. Our culture is saturated with excuses for everything. It is not my fault. It’s my spouse’s, my parent’s, my government’s, or my boss’ fault. A.A. calls that ‘stinking thinking’.

Few of us are willing to do a thorough moral inventory of our own personal faults. The bible uses a short, unpopular word for self-centeredness. It calls it ‘sin’. Sin doesn’t mean that we are axe-murderers or child molesters. The heart of the word ‘sin’ is the ‘I’ at the middle. The heart of most marriage problems is self-centered sin.

Dr E Stanley Jones picture 2Dr. E. Stanley Jones, founder of the Christian Ashram, once said that ‘there can be no love between a husband and wife unless there is mutual self-surrender. Love simply cannot spring up without that self-surrender to each other. If either withholds the self, love cannot exist.’

A man and his wife were having painful marriage difficulties. The wife went away to a Christian Ashram, and surrendered her marriage to the Lord. When she returned home, her husband said to her: ‘Well, Miss High and Mighty, what did you learn at the Ashram?’ She replied: ‘I’ve learned that I’ve been the cause of all our troubles.’ She got up from her chair, came around beside him and knelt, folded her hands and said: ‘Please forgive me. I’m the cause of all our troubles.’

 At that moment, her husband nearly upset the kitchen table, while getting down on his knees beside her. He blurted out, ‘You’re not the cause of all our troubles — I am.’ There they met each other — and God. Each surrendered to Jesus, then they surrendered to each other and were free. Now this couple, instead of continually criticizing each other, are one in love and forgiveness.

My prayer for those reading this article is that many may find victory through surrender.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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.

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To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca