The purpose of this blog is to create a place to provide resources that may help to strengthen marriages and families and to record and share my thoughts, impressions, feelings and knowledge about a broad spectrum of family topics and in exploring and learning more about family functions and the influence family life has on individuals and society. Topics include family relationships, family dynamics, gender, family science research, intimacy in marriage, same sex attraction, parenting, etc. I am excited to share what I am learning about the family and hope that readers will feel free to share as well that together we might strengthen, protect and defend the family as the fundamental unit of our society. ** Please look for the FHE Ideas at the end of certain posts to use as a resource for your families.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


We know in today's world families face all kinds of stress and even crises.  Sometimes we feel that what we face as a family is crushing and overwhelming.  I would like to discuss some positive ways families can cope with stress and difficulties and also take a look at the negative ways we sometimes cope that we may be better able to avoid these coping methods.
First, I found it very interesting that when you take a look at the Chinese word for "crisis" it consists of two characters that represent the words "danger" and "opportunity".  I think this explains very well what crisis can be in our lives.  Usually it does present danger in some form whether this is physical danger, emotional danger or spiritual danger.  However, the most important thing to remember and to focus on is that crisis in our lives also presents an opportunity for us to learn, grow and change.  If we keep this perspective then the stress and problems we encounter in our lives will not be crushing to us.
Some negative forms of coping with stress and crises:
Denial - this is a defense mechanism in which people will not believe what they observe.  This is the most common
Avoidance - Sometimes people acknowledge that a problem exists but they avoid confronting and dealing with it.
Scapegoat - this occurs when someone admits a problem but feel that they have to find someone or something to blame.  They select a family scapegoat to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the problem.
These negative coping methods are ineffective.  However, "ineffective" does not mean that a coping pattern does not work for an individual or family.  Rather, it means that it is not a pattern that typically will yield long-term, constructive outcomes (Lauer, p.301).

Some positive tools for coping:

Mindfulness - this is awareness and paying attention on purpose in the moment to things as they really are.
Take responsibility - effective coping begins when you take responsibility for yourself and for your family by honestly facing the problem.
Learn the art of reframing - Reframing, or redefining the meaning of something is a way of changing your perspective on a situation.  This is where the "opportunity" is in every problem and crisis.
Find and use available resources - as members of the church we have been given an endless amount of positive and helpful resources.  It is up to us to take advantage of these!
Forgiveness/Repentance - These are topics that I could dedicate an entire blog post to but let me just hit on some important points regarding these two principles.  First, "Elder Dallin H. Oaks identified the instruction to repent as the gospel's 'most frequent message' and defined repentance as transformation.  'The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change... Repenting means giving up all of our practices - personal, family, ethnic, and national - that are contrary to the commandments of God.  The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.'
Christ taught "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)
Elder Richard G. Scott recommended forgiveness - although it is "most difficult" -- as "the sure path to peace and healing."  Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized that forgiveness "may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed." (Hawkins, p. 203).  It is also interesting to note that research has found that "individuals and families who are able to forgive important transgressions are likely to have better emotional and physical health and positive emotions imporve health in a variety of ways.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a relationship between forgiveness and well-being" (Hawkins, p.203).  "By contrast, not forgiving can lead to harm.  'Unforgiveness' is considered a stress reaction in response to a perceived threat and the emotions associated with unforgiveness, such as resentment, hostility, blame and fear, have been linked to health risks" ( Hawkins, p 203).
The Council Method:  Again this method should have an entire post dedicated to it but I will touch on it briefly here.  Elder Ballard has carefully taught this method to us over and over again.  It is an inspired method to be used in families as well as in Church leadership and I believe there is no better way for a family to resolve issues, concerns, problems and face the most difficult question and crises then through this method.  This is a way for our families to come together and for everyone to be heard and valued and then to gain inspiration concerning the Lord's will for each family and for each problem or question they may have.  The basic steps are as follows:  Hold the meeting in a sacred place and specific time.  Come prepared with a specific agenda before hand.  Begin each meeting by expressing love and appreciation for each member of the family. Pray together that you may come to a consensus regarding the Lord's will.  Each person shares his thoughts and feelings and then a consensus is reached.  End with a prayer of gratitude and then enjoy a treat together.  Elder Ballard wrote a book entitled "Counseling with our Councils: Learning to Minister Together" which I highly recommend. Here are some links to listen to Elder Ballard explain this method in greater detail.

FHE Ideas:
Watch one or more of the above videos and discuss Elder Ballard's Council Method and practice the principles he sets forth.  Maybe try holding a family council about an important topic, problem or issue your family is facing right now.
Discuss principles of forgiveness and repentance using scripture references and/or conference talks.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Honoring Marital Vows with Complete Fidelity:
The proclamation explains that a husband and wife should "honor marital vows with complete fidelity." 

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson once said, "The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality.  This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of  Israel than any other"   Elder Neal A Maxwell has pointed out, "The seventh commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery) is one of the least heeded but most needed laws of God."
"A misconception in the world today is that infidelity involves solely the commission of sexual acts outside of marriage.  However, being completely faithful to one's spouse requires more than avoiding adultery.  Pres. Spencer W. Kimball taught, 'Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity.'  We marry with the understanding that we will give ourselves completely to our spouse and that any divergence is sin.  We show our faithfulness to God by loving him with all our "heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2).  We show fidelity to our spouse in the same ways.  Indeed, our spouse is the only other being besides God whom we are commanded to love with all our heart.  We are commanded to love our spouse with all our heart and cleave unto none else (D&C 42:22) (Hawkins, p59).
There are four types of infidelity.  Emotional: fantasy(detached) and romantic (attached) and Physical: Visual (detached) and sexual (attached).  Fantasy infidelity is characterized by having an emotional affair with someone who has no knowledge about what is taking place or with someone who is anonymous.  This type of infidelity involves fantasizing romantically about someone other than a spouse.  This can take place completely in one's imagination but  more and more emotional infidelity is being committed online through emails, chat rooms and social networking sites. Many justify their thoughts by claiming that their love is dead.  However, Pres. Kimball taught that when love wanes or dies, "it is often the infidelity of thought or act  which gave the lethal potion." (Hawkins p. 60).
Visual Infidelity/Pornography is perhaps the most common type of unfaithfulness.  Pres. Kimball said, "There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts, and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband....Many acknowledge the vice of physical adultery, but still rationalize that anything short of that heinous sin may not be condemned too harshly; however, the Lord has said many times: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Romantic Infidelity occurs when an individual becomes emotionally involved with a specific person other than his or her spouse. Otherwise known as emotional infidelity which is defined as having emotions or thoughts about someone other than the spouse.
Sexual infidelity -  "Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. (Proverbs 6:32).  This occurs when a person engages in sexual acts outside the bonds of marriage with our without emotional attachment.  A professor and marriage counselor Veon Smith said "infideltiy is a subtle process.  It does not begin with adultery; it begins with thoughts and attitudes.  Each step to adultery is short and each is easily taken; but once the process starts, it is difficult to stop."  Satan will try to convince us that we can find happiness in infidelity. However, Pres. Benson warned, "Quickly relationships will sour.  Guilt and shame set in.  We become fearful that our sins will be discovered.  We must sneak and hide, lie and cheat.  Love begins to die.  Bitterness, jealousy, anger and even hate begin to grow."
There are obvious consequences to infidelity.  The spiritual consequences are real and serious.  There are also other negative consequences.  "Infidelity produces traumatic on the spouse...Children whose parents have been unfaithful also tend to be confused and disillusioned, and at times also experience despair." (Hawkins, p62).  Objectification, overemphasizing the visual, overemphasizing sex and instant gratification and instant solutions are also some negative consequences that come from infidelity.
Some ways to avoid and prevent infideltiy in our marriages are to establish proper and clear boundaries both within and without the marriage. "Dr. Shirley Glass points out that infidelity is more about boundaries than anything else.  She uses an anology of walls and windows. In an extramarital affair, people put up walls in their own marriage and open the window to others outside the marriage.  Instead, we must know how to put up appropriate walls to protect our marriages from outside influences and open the window of love and communication within our marriage." (Hawkins, p63)   Being on constant guard as to what we allow into our personal lives and minds and what we allow into our homes is another important protection.  Being fiercely loyal to our spouse which includes, being aware of the subtly of the adversary, controlling our thoughts and putting our spouse first. "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else" (D&C 42:22). "Pres. Kimball related, "The words none else eliminate everyone and everything.  The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse.

Steps to Repairing Marriage after Infidelity:
1. Rebuild Trust
    Becoming accountable
    Establishing Boundaries
    Rebuilding the trust bank account
2. Gain Perspective -- both spouse explore aspects of marriage and where they need improvements
3. Repentance and Forgiveness
    Confession and forsaking the sin
    Finding forgiveness
4.  Overcoming Addiction -- seek necessary help in overcoming addiction
5.  Making the Choice to Stay Together
     Healing the past
     Strengthening the Present
     Enriching the Future

Friday, June 5, 2015

Marital Intimacy:
"We further declare that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." (The Family Proclamation)

Despite the worlds view on sexuality and intimacy we have been given special and sacred instructions regarding this delicate and important subject. "Marital sexuality serves several purposes for both husband and wife as individuals as well as for the couple relationship.  These purposes include becoming one, connecting with God, strengthening the emotional and spiritual bonds in marriage, avoiding temptation, and continuing the generational chain by bringing children into a family (Hawkins, p.49).  I would like to focus a little more on a couple of these purposes.  Becoming One: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that sexual union is a " matrimony...a physical blending [symbolic of a ] larger, more complete union of eternal purpose and promise...a symbol of total union... of their hearts, their hopes, their lives."  Connection with God.  One christian writer describes sex in marriage as "an act of worship, a sacrament of marriage that invites and welcomes the very presence of God" (Hawkins, p.50).  Some would argue that men and women are too different and those differences are a cruel act of God making it impossible for husband and wife to ever understand one another.  However, I would argue this point and declare that these differences are the very reason we have the opportunity to become like God. We cannot fully understand our partner unless we invite the spirit into our relationship.  It is only through the spirit of God that we will be able to truly know each other and have empathy and compassion.  And it is through this process that we come to truly know our Savior better and his perfect love and empathy for each of us.  Marital intimacy is a perfect opportunity for us to become truly selfless and put the needs of another above our own.
Here is a list of attitudes that help promote positive marital sexuality as including the beliefs that:
1. Sexual interaction is a healthy component of marriage that need not be a source of negative feelings or guilt.
2. Married persons deserve to feel good about their bodies and to view sexual expression as a normal, healthy part of their marriage.
3. A primary component of marital sexuality is giving and receiving pleasure-oriented touching in the context of an intimate, committed, and divinely supported relationship.  As such, it requires relaxation and focus on the other person as well as on one's own pleasure.
4. Sexuality should be expressed in a way that enhances your intimate, marital relationship and bonds you together.
5. Couples should strive to create a "we" relationship, where both partners' sharing and pleasure is important as opposed to one person individually focused on what she or he will get out of the experience.
(Hawkins, p. 52).

FHE Ideas:
Discuss the Proclamation: ""We further declare that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."
Read and discuss Elder Hollands talk, "Personal Purity"
Discuss the attitudes listed above that promote healthy and positive marital intimacy.