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Long Term Marriages are Different

From Madeleine L'Engle's Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage: 

Speaking of her 40 year marriage to her husband Hugh Franklin:

"We were not a latter-day Heloise and Abelard, Pelleas and Melisande when we married. For one thing, the Heloises and Abelards, the Pelleases and Melisandes, do not get married and stay married for forty years. A love which depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out. The famous lovers usually end up dead. A long term marriage has to move beyond chemistry to compatibility, to friendship, to companionship. It is certainly not that passion disappears, but that it is conjoined with other ways of love.

Of course, the culture tends to glorify the passionate whirlwind romance, rather than the steady committed marriage. Anyone fortunate enough to share in the latter, to enjoy true love, realizes how empty is the former."

Near death, explained

Wow. That's all I could say. As a pastor, I would occasionally visit with people who reported Near Death Experiences (NDE) on an operating room table, a hospital bed, during a car accident or heart attack. Without the necessary and pretty impossible to get research, I wasn't sure what to think about these very similar but unusual events in people's lives. All I could say was Wow.

This article, published April, 2012, in the online magazine Salon, is written by psychology professor and research scientist at the University of Montreal, Mario Beauregard. It is excerpted from his book, "The Brain Wars," and talks of recent research into this quite common human event.

I was always talking about life after death, but was quite sure I knew, really knew, nothing about it. I would speak in the language, images and ideas of my Christian faith tradition. Here is new brain research that confirms what many have said about their experiences, and points to a new truth: that the…

On the brink of a PTSD breakthrough

Today I was talking with two different clients about the research done at the VA in Minneapolis in veterans experiencing PTSD - finding in brain scans that traumatic memory seems to "reside" in the right hemisphere of the brain, right above the ear. So happy to have located a story on this research, and want to pin it here :-)

Thanks to Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos for his continuing research!

On the brink of a PTSD breakthrough

In The Therapist's Office (now)

Every so often patterns seem to emerge from the diverse clients I see. Here's what I'm noticing now:

1. Couples in my area are coming to counseling at higher distress levels. In our initial conversations, they easily say their problems go back years, not months. This often translates into one or both of the couple completely emotionally "finished," and only coming to counseling out of a sense of obligation or the expectation that the divorce process in their county will expect some kind of counseling to occur.

Very often, men in these marriages are slow to agree to get counseling help. They may view the marriage differently, or be reluctant to reach out for support. When the wife begins to seriously talk about separation, the husband wakes up and says he's ready and will often make the initial phone calls to therapists.

2. Couples have less confidence in counseling. Perhaps it comes from more choices for treatment (online, email therapy, coaching, pres…

Holy Saturday reflection 2014

I contribute to a regular newspaper column every couple of months for the local paper, and have done so since 1997. That's well over 100 different Spiritual Reflections on faith, the world, church and us. 
This round, my column is being published on Holy Saturday. Because I agree that the newspaper has first shot at publication, I can't print the whole thing here. But I am going to print out my last two paragraphs because, well, I want to. The whole thing will be in the Savage Pacer tomorrow, and on their website Monday. 
Here's how the essay ends. For any and all who may read what I have here, I wish you the grace and faith to see yourself as one for whom this resurrection happened. Happy Easter. 
          Easter, which will be celebrated in countless churches around the world tonight and tomorrow, and for weeks afterward, is the celebration of a completely improbable rebirth. The experience of the early disciples that this very dead and gone young Messiah was, by the …

When To Get Marriage Therapy

Most couples come to therapy when they have completely run out of steam. While there is a great deal that MFTs can do to help, it's not a time in the family when people feel resilient, optimistic or energized. In order to create permanent change, one needs a good deal of hope and energy. And so does one's partner.

I've observed that for many couples (especially those who have had a less-than smooth relationship history, full of stops and re-starts, difficult emotional turmoil, previous long-term partners and/or huge life stress) there are much better times to come to couples therapy and have a much bigger chance for successful growth.

They are:

1. Before marriage. PLEASE consider pre-marital counseling, whoever you are. There are fabulous tools available to me as a therapist to assess your relationship as it is now, help you understand your unique partnership in basic system and personality terms, and help you enter the marriage more awake to your strengths and…

Now I've Done It: Saying Yes (Almost) to a PT Therapy Job

It was a huge surprise, and really flattering.

A lead psychologist working for the Minneapolis Veteran's Administration Hospital Center called a couple of weeks ago to recruit me for a part-time job. I am exactly what she wanted, she said: a licensed therapist who is/was also clergy. No one, other than myself and my smallish circle of family, friends and clients, think that my double expertise is anything remarkable. To have someone outside my circle seek my particular set of education, experience and interest and ask me to work for them was, well, a first.

After days of thinking, reading, talking, prayer and observation of my own reactions, I've said yes to the work. I'll be trained in a research protocol, leading a small group of soldiers who are suffering with PTSD to use their own spiritual resources to assist in their recovery. I will lead the group in a church in my area of the cities, and go up to the VA weekly to join in consultation group of the therapists who are…