"Anonymous" - People can also recognize snarky comments and nobody likes them either.
"Of course there are relationships that are abusive or destructive and must be ended." Thank you, Brother Goddard, for that much-needed acknowledgment. President Smith stated "divorce is not part of the gospel plan." The sad truth is that serious mental illness--the kind that can lead to dangerous "abusive or destructive" behavior for a spouse or child--is one of the harsh realities of this temporal existence. As a church culture, and as a society in general, we could use much more educating in this area. I believe this would lead to greater understanding and compassion, and less judgment of either individual in the relationship as heart-breaking personal decisions are made.
I have been interested in this portion of the series. May I push back on some of this.
The first marriage help book I picked up years ago was His Need Her Needs by Willard Harley. Dr. Harley tends to dislike the idea of sacrifice in marriage. He describes his philosophy towards sacrifice as part of explaining his "Policy of Joint Agreement" and the concepts of "Giver and Taker" that he uses to explain why he views sacrifice as bad. In short, it boils down to resentment. "But the Giver plays a very important role in creating the problem. It's the effort of the Giver to give our spouses anything they want that sets up the Taker for it's destructive acts. After you have been giving, giving, giving to your spouse, and receiving little in return (because you haven't bargained for much), your Taker rises up to straighten out the situation."
To further support this position, Dr. Gottman, in his book 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, had a section titled, "How a little selfishness can help your marriage." He states, "Things tend to get worse...when they turn self-denial into a habit, when self-neglect becomes a lifestyle... Overwork and continual self-sacrifice lead to resentment, emotional distance, and loss of sexual intimacy." It seems to me that, at least some aspects of sacrifice in marriage are counter productive and not conducive to building a good marriage.
Perhaps you are using sacrifice in a different way than these authors. In part 5, you Elder Dellanbach's definition of sacrifice "giving up something valued for the sake of something else more important or worthy." Are "sacrifices" that lead to resentment and distance different from those sacrifices that are really "purchases in Heaven's economy"? If they are different concepts, do you have any thoughts on discerning one form of sacrifice from the other?
As further clarification, what do you mean by "cancerous expectations" at the end of part 5? Are all expectations in marriage "cancerous"? Or are there both cancerous and appropriate expectations? if the former, I don't think I can agree with your. If the latter, how do you identify cancerous from appropriate expectations?
Perhaps these ideas are exactly the kind of ideas that you had in mind when you quoted the Bahr's about how "self-sacrifice...is now often characterized as a personality defect or self-defeating." The challenge for me in part 6 is that you talk about "Godly" sacrifice as opposed to other forms of sacrifice, but I am not sure I came away from the series with a better idea of what Godly sacrifice looks like.
This is getting long, so one final thought. You quote the Bahrs, in part 7 "The careful attention to self necessary to assure that the self is not sacrificing more than his share, that he is caring for himself ‘well,’ means that his attention cannot be fully focused on the needs of the other." On the surface, I can agree wholeheartedly with you and the Bahr's -- especially as it applies to the kind of "small" examples you used throughout the series (troubles with indecision, or not correcting a spouse's grammar). I wonder if these same principles apply to some of the core things that make marriage work (Dr. Harley's 10 emotional needs could make a good framework for what those things might look like). Applying this to myself, after years in a sexless marriage (with little hope of reconciliation in the marriage bed), I am faced with asking myself if I can really sacrifice "sexual fulfillment" (as Dr. Harley would call it) and whether such a sacrifice is really appropriate. I'm sure there are other core principles of marriage that can be difficult to put on the altar (expecting monogamy and fidelity, safety from abuse, date nights, and others), if we even believe that these things should be placed on the altar.
Anyway, I have appreciated the series, even if I am not sure I understand or agree with everything you include.
"Emily" - People can usually recognize self-promotion disguised as a legitimate comment, and nobody likes it.
I have Wallace Goddard's book on Drawing the Power of Heaven into your Marriage (I hope I got that right!) and highly recommend it. He has the gift of naming principles and also coupling those principles with tools of action, actual things you can implement that will improve your marriage. His book is well written and concise. I highly recommend it! I think these articles are from the book.
My husband has been reading a book called Real Love by Greg Baer. I think Greg is LDS too. My husband reads a lot of self help books and this one by far takes the cake. It has changed the way he perceives his childhood, the way he perceives his current life and marriage and fatherhood. He recommended it to his parents who had struggled and it completely changed their marriage for the better. The principles in this book completely define faith, hope, and charity in a way that's never been done before. It's not just about will power, it's about changing your heart and perceptions from imitation love to real love, just as the gospel converts people. I highly recommend it.
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