Tag Archives: family

Routines in Marriages and Families

One day last week I got up as usual and showed up at the gym at the usual time as part of my daily routine.  There was only one problem.  I forgot that it was Saturday.  The gym opens 30 minutes later on Saturday mornings.  I knew that; I just forgot.  So, I put gas in the car and came back, checked messages on my phone.  No big deal.

Routines are helpful parts of our usual day because they allow us to execute mindless tasks while thinking of other things or talking to other people at the same time.  Think of the mindless tasks we execute every day when we dress, eat or brush our teeth.  Multitasking is enabled by simple routines.  Routines are helpful.

Establishing routines can be an exercise in efficiency.  For example, I know that when I use my key to open the trunk of my car, I will, without thought, leave the key in the lock.  This way I won’t lock my keys in the trunk…like I used to do…until I learned a new routine.  Now, I don’t have to waste time waiting on a locksmith to open my trunk so I can get my keys.

I like to keep routine office hours.  This way, people know when they can come to my office and have a face-to-face conversation without having to bother with an appointment.  I do my best to maintain those regular, predictable office hours; but, there are exceptions.

ROUTINES IN MARRIAGE

In marriages routines are important ways to establish and maintain  trust.  Regular, predictable behaviors and attitudes over a long period of time build relational strength and flexibility.

For example, when one partner knows the other will be at a certain place at a certain time it becomes an expectation.  It is part of the routine.  A simple text message or phone call when the routine is changed can assure partners that all is well; no worries.  However, repeated disruptions of routines without warning can erode trust; a key to lasting relationships.

Partners tend to choose to believe the best when routines are maintained and they are informed about sudden changes.  Unexpected changes in routines without clear lines of communication can lead partners to begin to question their choice to trust.  If left unattended, trust in one’s partner can become a serious question.  In decaying relationships, partners can actually begin to believe the worst, even for the most innocent of alterations to routines.

Routines are important.

EMPLOYMENT

A common refrain I hear from the self-employed business owner is that good help is hard to find.  When asked what the most common problem they must face with new employees I often hear that they are not dependable.  In other words, their routines have not adapted to show up for work on time rested and ready to be productive throughout the work day.

A potential employee may have a predictable routine of staying up late at night playing video games, sleeping later than most in the morning and being sluggish throughout the day.  Nonetheless, as comfortable as the potential employee may be with similar routines, they will likely have to change when a typical day-job with responsibilities comes along; that is, if they wish to in crease the probabilities for lasting employment and a good reputation.

CONCLUSION

More than just something to do over and over, routines can be keys to trust in your relationships.

 

Marriage & Family Therapy

Marriage & Family Therapy is an important tool for “helping people manage transitions, overcome obstacles and reach their potential.”  This is more than a purpose statement for my private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Michigan.

HELPING PEOPLE

For almost 40 years I have been focused upon this one goal as both a minister and a counselor.  Working as a minister at local churches my task has often been to help people discover their spiritual gifts and use  them in meaningful works of service.  At the same time I was going to graduate school and counseling people pastorally, as a spiritual guide.  My entire career has been built around helping people because Jesus helped people.

MANAGE TRANSITIONS

So many events happen in our lives that do not give us fair warning, a personal RSVP invitation or a heads up.   At other times we can anticipate changes ahead and begin to prepare for them such as when children attend their first day of school or when adults change jobs.  Life if filled with transitions which, most of the time, we manage without a second thought.  There are other times when we are forced to make transitions because of a sudden death, divorce or traumatic event.  Depending upon how prepared we are for what we must face it is sometimes worth considering sitting down with someone who can help you work through the pros and cons of choices that must be made to manage a transition that is particularly challenging.

OVERCOME OBSTACLES

While many super heroes are able to simple burst through brick walls with ease, most of us have to find ways to go around, over or under them.  In life brick walls often come in the way of unresolvable conflict, stubborn attitudes and hostile takeovers, for example.  The dynamics of brick walls can be very unique to a marriage or a family.  Sudden changes in our health status can change simple, effortless activities into impossible tasks that require herculean efforts.  Brick walls don’t move; they force us to adjust our course or walk away.  Navigating the least painful of unpleasant options can sometimes be aided by a listening ear, timely advice or just a different perspective.

REACH THEIR POTENTIAL

Truly, this is what helping people, managing transitions and overcoming obstacles is all about.  Helping a family make choices that will help them down the road of reaching their maximum potential is where much of the joy for the journey comes from in counseling others.  Sometimes the change can surprise us with a sudden insight or new way of looking at a problem.  At other times solutions require careful thought and consideration as we weigh options, eliminate unnecessary baggage and make thoughtful choices. Often, just having a plan that is ready to adapt to best- and worst-case scenarios can give peace in the midst of incredible storms in life.

CONCLUSION FOR MARRIAGE & FAMILY

When people schedule appointments with a marriage and family therapist it is not always because they don’t know what to do.  Sometimes the actions required are obvious and plain for everyone to see.   So, we set goals, work to discover what makes them difficult to achieve; what feelings need to be resolved.  Then we work together to start moving towards the goal in a way that respects family systems, marital dynamics and interpersonal challenges and opportunities.  That is when a marriage and family therapist can make all of the difference.

Questions? Fill out the confidential form below and I will try to respond within 24 hours.

 

Marriage and Family Therapy

In April 2014 we closed the Trenton office in the southeast part of Michigan to move to Saint Joseph on the southwestern part of the state.  Since July 2014 I have been working as the Lead Minister of the Church of Christ of Saint Joseph, settling in to become better acquainted with God’s people here and the community around us.  My goal has been to discern God’s leading and how my private practice will fit into my ministerial responsibilities.

This year I began seeing clients at the church building and I have found it to be well suited to my needs as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  Therefore, I am now taking appointments with individuals, couples and families, dedicated to “Helping people overcome obstacles, manage transitions and reach their potential” according to the principles of brief, solution-focused marriage and family therapy.

 

New Year’s Resolutions and Marriage and Family Therapy

January1I don’t make new year’s resolutions.

I’m doing pretty good to make–and follow through with–one-day resolutions.

“One day at a time” is a great phrase for a recovery program, a project with a hard deadline, a new year’s resolution and, according to Jesus, a life.  For example, in Matthew 6:34 He encourages His listeners not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own.

“You know how to eat an elephant?” the man asked.  The answer: “One bite at a time!”

In my own life I have found that a year is too long precisely because it is too long.  Nonetheless, after building up 365 one-day-at-a-time events a year does not seem so long and is more easily achieved.

Sometimes people want to schedule appointments for counseling in rapid-fire succession.  They want this because of the urgency with which they desire change to be implemented.  The problem is that solutions to problems may take more than a few days or weeks to achieve.  Sometimes it is important to encourage people to take their time to implement change so that it is both achievable and lasting.  So it is not uncommon to schedule appointments two to three weeks apart.

Coming off the holidays, paying the credit cards off after all of those Christmas presents and getting back to work usually kicks off the new year.  We managed to hold it all together to encourage quality family time over the holidays but then, at the beginning of the year…. Bam!  Everything is back up in the air and the elephant walks back into the living room to have a seat on the floor.

So it is with Marriage and Family Therapy…one day at a time to get you where you need to go.

Family Setbacks

One of the real family tragedies of our culture today is the loss of community.  Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock, among other futurists, had predicted that as our world became more connected electronically we would become more isolated; burrowing was a term often used.  Content with television, the internet and our electronic entertainment combined with a fear of the world ‘out there’ families would become increasingly isolated from each other..

With the loss of community comes a loss of connectedness that was commonplace only a generation or two ago.

I was reminded of this dynamic recently when we noticed that a family’s home in our neighborhood had a large white sticker on the front picture window.

We also noticed that a professional company was mowing the grass; they had always done it themselves.

A carpet cleaning company pulled up to the house one day and a roofing company delivered shingles a few days later.  The lights are out at night.  Nobody home.

Foreclosure.

It happens every day in neighborhoods all over southeastern Michigan as a microcosm of a national tragedy.  For any number of reasons from unemployment to divorce or debilitating illnesses, families find themselves in houses that they can no longer afford to maintain.

Families uprooted, displaced, transitioning, struggling, suffering.  How many times have we seen the sudden transitions in our own neighborhoods over the last several years without warning.  One day a family is there; the next day they are gone.  They just packed up and left for who-knows-where.

These things don’t happen overnight.  Usually they are preceded by months of discussions with lawyers, bank representatives, real estate agents, families and friends.  Done quietly in late night discussions, morning coffee and afternoon consultations.

Then, with all options exhausted, the deadline finally arrives and they’re gone.  The tragedy is that, as neighbors, no one knows what happened.

One of the really encouraging trends in churches today is the emphasis upon small groups and people becoming salt and light in their own neighborhoods.  One innovative approach worth noting was identified by Randy Frazee, the pulpit minister of the Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, Texas.  In his book Making Room for Life, he advocates a simpler, more organic type of family lifestyle that seeks to help people connect with the people who live next door, down the street in the neighborhood.

The reality is that to connect with each other requires determined effort and a conscious decision to leaven our immediate communities with neighborly care and concern.  In churches we call this a moving away from attracting people to our church buildings and focusing more upon helping our people think more like missionaries to their neighbors and fellow workers; i.e., being missional.

The effect of this realignment in lifestyle is that we know when families are struggling and, as good neighbors, we can rally other neighbors to care for one another, to celebrate the victories together and to mourn losses together.

Key word: together.

 

A Morning Person

I used to think I would never become a morning person.  Actually, I used to be one back in Junior High school.  College changed all of that for me.  Late nights cramming or playing hands of ‘Rook’ would keep me going until the wee hours of the morning.

Late nights seemed productive for me over the years and, certainly, a great deal of work was done while everyone else in my house was sleeping.  As in all good things, however, there came a time when I needed to change and so, I decided to become a morning person.

The transition was not as difficult as I had convinced myself that it would be over the years.  It began with a trip to Finland and the jet lag challenge that comes with returning home.  Instead of fighting it, however, I chose to go with it and I crashed in bed, first thing.  Waking up at 4 am I got up, dressed for the gym and started the routine that has continued to today, more than 3 years later.

Now Pam is the night owl and I’m ready for bed by 9:30 in the evening.   She gets to greet the kids when they come home at night…come to think of it, being a morning person does have its advantages.