Month: September 2016

Insight on Step 4

I encourage my sponsees toward a brief summary of the “incident pattern” that led to the negative feelings….this helps ensure they stay focused on the character weaknesses that lead to and follow from the “pattern” to help ensure they don’t start feeling stuck in a long negative narrative – but keep the “big picture” perspective and healing.

So for example, one might say:  

My Dad:
Abused me physically from quite young, never paid attention to me or mentored me in anything, regularly betrayed my mom, watched porn with me I was young, made fun of my penis, favored my sister in conflicts.      

My part (not always ones fault, but things they might still tend to do which are outdated now that they are grown):   I was selfish and irritating and self-absorbed.  I wasn’t reaching out to connect with Dad in a mature way, I would do things that I knew he wouldn’t like, I would make insulting side comments.  I punched him in the shoulder, I looked down on him.    

Character weaknesses:   Victim stancing, resentment, self-absorption, isolation, fear of people, retreat to lust, desperately wanting approval from others, feeling God doesn’t care about me.

Doing this step in this way should help us to see the person who may have harmed us with forgiveness, and helps us see our own weaknesses in a kindly way but one where we don’t feel inclined to act or feel in those ways any anymore – but can see other better ways of being..  

Nagging Rejecting Women – and Lust

Note to sponsee:

The feelings you experience surrounding women such as the coworker at the gym are a particularly critical opportunity to come to God for your esteem and comfort – not by winning or pitting yourself against a woman nor trying to especially please her at the expense of your peace. 

This is a wonderful cross.  I say wonderful because it is wonderfully painful to come to this place of respect in the context of nagging or rejection  – and it is wonderfully healing and freeing once you do.   

For some particular addicts, there is a storehouse of self-pity and victim stancing, and resentment, and exaggerated expectations  and fear of rejection, around women  – that can be replaced with respect and patience and kindness and deflated (actually realistic) expectations.   This can occur regardless of whether the woman is being disrespectful, impatient, or unkind.  Once we come to this place, addressing issues when needed to build the relationship will come as second nature. And we don’t push our kindness patience and respect on women who have chosen to reject us – some may not want anything to do with you because they make something up about you – and we respect that too.   

All psychobabble when you see the core of this – that our daily connection to God is both critical and sufficient.  We do not depend on women anymore!  We become men.  We simply love women exactly as they are and bless their lives with little expectation of return.  No more side comments, subtle slams, digs, blow-ups – nothing of the sort.  We are full of living waters.  We can address our desires and hopes and set our personal boundaries in kindness and love and in a way that motivates the feeling of being together and not against one another.  

Keep surrendering these resentments and fears – this is a big one and takes time.

Intellectualizing Recovery

Some men in recovery are intellectuals, and can sometimes be intellectual bullies to their wives and others.  the spirit of intellectualization often gets in the way of their recovery.   Their strength becomes their weakness as so often happens.

I have noticed in my life that when I enter into the spirit of intellectualization I can become particularly cruel and not even know it.   

For me, this spirit is intellectual masturbation – it is all about hearing myself speak and getting myself understood by others – not about who I am speaking to.   I have come to believe that when the sacred writings speak of the “carnal mind” that certainly one aspect of this is the intellectualized mind….and it is very distinct from speaking with the spirit – even when speaking of spiritual things.  Recognizing and surrendering this spirit of intellectualization – which is often self-justifying and promoting and not God-justifying and promoting in its tone –  is a great step toward recovery.  

Premarital Couples Counseling – Is that really a thing???

by Kayla Burningham, AMFT

Premarital Couples Counseling — Is that really a thing???

Marriage is the biggest decision a person will make in life. We all enter  marriage with high hopes that the relationship will be fulfilling, rewarding, and long lasting. Additionally, we hope the marriage will be of benefit to future children—protecting them from mental, physical, emotional, educational, and social problems. However, despite the best intentions, according to the American Psychological Association a whopping 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, severely impacting all parties involved, especially children. What if there was a way to help prevent becoming included in this grim statistic?

Premarital couples counseling is quickly becoming a popular new trend—and according to research it is proving to be effective. One particular study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that premarital education decreased the odds of divorce by 31%!!! Additionally, couples in the study reported higher marital satisfaction, less destructive conflicts, and more commitment to their partner. Another study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the most renown journal in the field of marital and family therapy, found that premarital couples counseling helped increased confidence in their ability to discuss important topics and helped clients better understand their partner. Who wouldn’t want those dynamics in their marriage? Premarital couples counseling is a great tool to prevent divorce and increase a stable foundation in the relationship.

Premarital couples counseling can be brief, comprising of approximately 10 sessions or less. First, the therapist will work with the clients to conduct a relationship assessment—identifying strengths and weaknesses in the relationship. Following the assessment the therapist will then work with the couple to set goals to help overcome challenges. Then the therapist will teach the clients skills that will help them establish a solid foundation in their relationship. These skills can include:

  • Learning to communicate more effectively.
  • Avoiding toxic resentments.
  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Conflict resolution techniques.

Premarital couples counseling is one of the best investments a couple can make for their marriage. At Connections Counseling Services, our licensed therapists are skilled in helping couples prepare for challenges in their relationship, thereby decreasing the likelihood of divorce and increasing marital satisfaction. Enter your marriage prepared and confident by giving your relationship the gift of premarital couples counseling.


American Psychological Association

Larson, J. H., Vatter, R. S., Galbraith, R. C., Holman, T. B., & Stahmann, R. F. (2007). The RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) With Therapist-Assisted Interpretation: Short-Term Effects on Premarital Relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(3), 364–374.

The Mayo Clinic

Naylor, S. (2014). Everything you need to know about premarital counseling. The Huffington Post.

Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 117–126.