Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Couple Counseling

Available for Clermont County Residents

§ Improve your communication skills
§ Learn to resolve conflict effectively
§ Understand your partner better
§ Coordinate your parenting efforts
§ Establish realistic expectations
§ Improve your budget planning
§ And more…

Family Service-Eastgate Center and Beech Acres Parenting Center have teamed up under a new federal marriage grant to provide a relationship assessment and four follow-up counseling sessions for Clermont County residents in committed relationships.

Whether you are married, living together, engaged, previously divorced, or remarried; whether you want to work on pressing issues that are challenging your relationship or just make a good relationship better, please call:

Maggie Hallam, CT or Mary Le Gouellec, CT with Family Service at 513-354-5671 to schedule your first session as soon as possible. Space is limited. First come. First Served.

Funding for this project was provided by the Beech Acres Parenting Center & United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant: 90-FE-0100

Thanks to Love and Faith Christian Center

There are some churches and church leaders who really, "GET IT!" Pastors Dale and Cathi Campfield are two of the most creative and in touch leaders in Greater Cincinnati. Not only do they create and maintain a dynamic church in Clermont County they have developed a passion to serve others throughout the community.

If you go to their church web site you will see the wide variety of programs and ministries Love and Faith Christian Center sponsor each month, but that is not half the total of the ways they serve God and their neighbors in our region. (See their link at the bottom of the page.)

Because of Pastor Dale and Pastor Cathi and the staff at Love and Faith we are able to hold our first Committed Couples' seminars on June 2 and June 9 at a reasonable cost. Love and Faith Center will not only host us but have volunteered to video tape it free of charge. This is real agape love arising out of their compassion and desire to promote marriage and family health for all people.

Some people talk the walk and others walk their talk. Love and Faith Center put their talk into action with humility and concern for the people in Greater Cincinnati.

Babies and Our Future are at Risk

One in three babies in Ohio is born outside of marriage. They are more likely to be poor and disadvantaged.

Rate of divorce remains flat, but break-up rate of co-habitating relationships is higher.

Despite low marriage and high divorce rates, the majority of young adults want to marry.

The percentage of African-American children growing up in 2 parent households was 95% in 1940. Today it is less than 35%.

When parents get married and stay married, children win. Research shows that children from two-parent families get a better start in life. But every parent knows that marriage isn't always easy.

Luckily, there's a community of support nearby. Funded by the Ohio Strengthening Families Initiative, Southwest Ohio Building Strong Families and Children is a coalition of 13 community agencies in the Greater Cincinnati area, led by Beech Acres Parenting Center. Member agencies provide parents with positive, practical tools to build stronger families and give our children a great start in life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Research on Prevention: What Really Works?

D.A.R.E. to Work: The Failure of American Drug Prevention Programs

It would be nice if it worked--but it doesn't! In spite of broad public support for the harem-scarem approach to drug abuse prevention, two recent studies demonstrate that the school-wide program simply doesn't keep kids off drugs. However, parents, the schools, and even President Clinton liked the program --a fact which virtually guarantees that it will continue to make up the anti-drug/drug prevention curriculum of most public schools.

Sadly, other effective alternatives exist. In contrast to the DARE education and drug resistance approach, research suggests that psychosocial skills programs offer kids best chances of staying away from drugs. Such approaches teach kids the risk factors for drug abuse as well as practical skills for dealing with feelings of alienation and anxiety and improving self-esteem and assertiveness.

Murray, B. (September, 1997). Why aren't anti-drug programs working. APA Monitor, 28(9), 30. Health Education and Behavior (1997), 24(2), 165-176. American Journal of Public Health (1994), 84(9), 1394-1401.

Note: This corresponds with the research on how to influence people to change and grow in counseling. Make sure your program adds caring relationships, modeling, social support and practice to the curriculum so people can learn how to DO what you are teaching. This is one of the reasons that church ministries are so much more effective than other types of interventions. (See the paper on Marriage and Religion @ )

Attempts to prevent problems in any group are always dependent upon teaching the people in the group why and how to resist the temptations of bad habits. This goes for smoking, alcohol, divorce, abuse, sexual promiscuity and suicide. Read my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty for more about how to influence others to change.

The programs that work always show a lot of Genuine Respect, Empathy and Warmth for the students. Lectures alone, especially those that seem "parental" or "personally condemning" are rarely effective.

Remember, the First of two workshops is this Saturday at 8:30 AM at Love and Faith Center off Beechmont Avenue on Hopper Hill Road.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Our Deepest Values in America

What are the deepest beliefs of Americans? According to polls a whopping majority of over 80% of us come from a Christian tradition. About 42% of Americans attend religious/church services weekly. This is far more than those who attend all professional sports in an entire year.

Some 95% of Americans believe in God. In 1985 George Gallup found that 72% stated: "My whole approach to life is based on my religion." We are the most religious western nation by far. This is especially shocking when we realize that the country is divided almost 50/50 in politics. America, for all her weaknesses, is a religious nation. As one wag noted, ”India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least. America is a bunch of Indians ruled by Swedes.”

Research shows that 91% of blacks, 93% of Hispanics and 88% of whites report a religious affiliation. Even more startling is the number for regular attendance: 51% of blacks, 48% of Hispanics and 43% of whites attend services weekly or more often.

Sixty four percent (64%) of blacks in the national sample were members of religious communities (churches) with 59% of whites and 43% of Hispanics. Participation in religious activities outside weekend services is also high with 47% blacks, 41% whites and 31% Hispanics saying they are in church during the week as well as on Sunday. (Social Capital

In a nation obsessed with racial and cultural diversity the facts about minorities and religious faith have been strangely absent from the dialogue. There is one astounding statistic about African American longevity and church attendance that is rarely if ever mentioned in the debates about faith based organizations and health care. An article by Hummer et al in Demography Journal, 36:273-285 in 1999, Blacks who attend church live much longer than those who do not.

Church Attendance White life expectancy---Black life expectancy
Never ------------------------77 Years---------------67 =10 year difference
Less than weekly/weekly--80 Years---------------75 = 5 year difference
Weekly or more------------83 Years----------------80 = 3 year difference

Whites who attend services more than weekly gain an average of six years in longevity!

Blacks who attend services weekly or more gain a whopping 13 years in life expectancy!

The difference in longevity is almost eclipsed by church attendance. Attending church more often than weekly raises Blacks life expectancy to that of whites who attend weekly or less.

It is also a historic fact that the Abolitionist Movement to free slaves in this country originated largely in Christian churches and revival meetings. Despite the strong resistance of many rich and powerful church leaders at the time, those who were revived in the Spirit placed their lives, church membership and treasure at risk. They insisted on offering freedom to those in bondage.

Happiness if Free

Survey links happiness to marriage, children, church
Scripps Howard

The keys to happiness are simple — grow up, get married, have children, go to church and try to forget about the wilder days of youth.Only 52 percent of Americans say they are "very happy" with their lives, according to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University survey of 1,007 adult residents of the United States.

Forty-three percent said they are "fairly happy," 3 percent said they are "not too happy" and 2 percent are undecided.That might not seem sufficiently ebullient for a nation that embraces the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right. But the survey found Americans with particular lifestyles more likely to say they have found contentment.

While wealth has a modest impact on well-being, other social factors appear to have greater influence."It's a lot of fun to see what the correlations are for happiness," said Glenn Van Ekeren, an elder-care executive in Omaha, Neb., who has published three books on the secrets to happiness.

One of the most important things Americans can do to improve the odds of being happy, the survey found, is to get married. Sixty percent of married people are very happy, compared with 41 percent of singles, the poll found.

Most people who have children said they are very happy in life, while most people who had never been parents said they are only "fairly happy" or "not too happy." Even among single people, having children in their lives increased the odds they will be happy.

An even stronger factor is the power of organized religion on a sense of well-being.

Although their numbers were small, Jewish participants in the poll were the most likely of any group to say they are very happy.

Protestants — especially self-identified "born again" evangelicals — also reported a high rate of contentment.Sixty percent of people who had recently attended worship services said they are very happy, compared with 46 percent who had not done so.

(Originally posted on Brave Heart Blog)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Articles

This is one happy couple after over 45 years. Karen Mayer and Gary Sweeten had their first date on May 6, 1961.
I have added some great new articles on my web site, about how happy marriages make us healthier people. Karen and I will live to be 107 at least.

If you are looking for research and information to make your teaching, preaching and mentoring more lively, take a look at them.

For example, had Web Master Dave Baker upload a fantastic article on the high correlation between stable marriages and healthy lives. Men and women live longer and better as well as happier lives if they have committed, stable marriages. And, marriage is better for us than living together.

I am excited about the two workshops on June 2 and June 9 at Love and Faith Fellowship Church. If you know of other couples who are interested in helping marriages and families have them contact us and we will enroll them asap. The can contact me at

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Servant Encouragement

Several years ago, Vineyard Cincinnati Pastor Steve Sjogren was thoroughly disgusted on a Monday morning. He had just woken up after sleeping off an 18 hour day of praying, preaching and ministering his heart out with very little visible results and he was mad. Maybe he should just quit and drive a school bus all the time instead of part time like now.

But the Holy Spirit had some encouraging words for Steve and those words turned into an approach to outreach that has taken the world by storm. It is called, Servant Evangelism.

SE is a simple idea. Go out into the highways and byways and do good works for the people you meet. Such activities would be well received and people would then be attracted to God. It has worked all over the world. Write Steve at

Serving one another is a very good way to defeat the devil's defenses and draw the best emotions from people to the Lord. We know it was the preference of Jesus as a means of evangelism because He did it in Luke 9 and Luke 10 with startling results. But, will it actually have a positive effect in Christians as well as Pre-believers?

What if a husband were to decide to win his wife's heart by serving her instead of criticizing her? Would she be likely to show him more affection after being served than before? Pre-believers seem to have more trust for God and the church after being touched by folks who offer them God's love "with no strings attached".

Would a wife develop more trust and openness if a man were to offer her Servant Encouragement with no strings attached?

Think about it. Would you like to ask the Lord to help you develop an attitude of Servant Encouragement for the people in your family? Do you have enough grace and mercy to serve them and demand nothing in return? (Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. Ephesians 5:25)

Can Servant Encouragement take the Christian world by storm? (Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also forgave you. Eph 4:32)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Can People Change?

Think back on your life and consider for a moment what habits or activities you pursued as a young person that you have changed. Go through the various stages of change and think upon what happened each step of the way.

I stopped smoking almost 40 years ago. I can remember it well. My daughter, Julie, was born on April 28 1967 and I was ecstatic about having this beautiful little child in my family. I wanted to do everything I could to live in a healthy way. But, I had some bad habits that concerned me and really concerned my wife, Karen. She begged me to stop smoking but I demurred.

I was a grown man and I knew perfectly well how to take care of myself. I certainly did not need a women to tell me what to do, even if it was for my own good. I yearned for freedom if it killed me! I hated for my wife to lecture me about my health and every time I coughed up a lung I resented it even more. In my opinion, I did not have a problem!

Then Julie was born. This was a little girl that quickly got under my skin. I had tried to quit smoking numerous times but I relapsed at least one more time than I quit. One night I was watching TV and a man came on who talked about the dangers of smoking. I hated those interviews. I knew what they would say because I had been a basketball player and a coach and we were never allowed to smoke because of the way it destroyed our ability to breathe.

But what should I do? I was convicted about my bad habit and I knew I needed to quit. So, said to myself, "I will quit when I am older."

In a millisecond, the Lord spoke to me and said, "You are not going to 'Get old" you are getting older every minute that passes." I threw my pack of Herbert Taretons away at that moment and have not lit one since.

Can we change bad habits?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Who is this guy?

Why should you trust me to train you how to help couples and families? Do I know what I am doing? Thos are good questions.
Karen Judy Mayer and I had our first date 45 years ago on May 6, 2007. We have two children and three grand children. She is still my first wife and the love of my life. Despite many differences we thrive as a couple.
I received an Ed. D. from University of Cincinnati in 1975 on the topic of training lay people to care and counsel one another. Over the years I wrote and published seven books, some of which have sold a half a million copies around the world.
Our team has set up training centers in many countries including Norway, Sweden and Denmark as well as Russia. Our most important insights have come training ordinary lay men and women how to live more exciting and fulfilled lives by learning how to communicate with each other more effectively.
I have trained hundreds of faith based leaders how to set up Helping Centers and many thousands have been blessed as a result. I also set up a Christian in-patient psychiatric hospital and outpatient clinic in Cincinnati. I have seen both lay and professional counselors up close and personal and I know how they can benefit others.
I am a Family Therapist and until I retired from private practice carried an LPCC license.
Training must be fun and practical. It must also be down to earth and easily grasped. I am not Dr. Phil or Dr. Freud so do not expect a lot of psycho-babble. (IT IS NOT BRAIN SURGERY!!)
Come and learn how to make your own family better.

Hamilton County Grant

The couples of Hamilton County are going to be blessed like those in Clermont County, Ohio. The State of Ohio has released monies for Life Way Ministries, Inc to equip leaders, mostly couples, from some twenty churches and faith based groups to expand their work of encouraging couples to marry and develop stable partnerships.

There will be an Organizational Pre-Meeting for representatives on Thursday morning, May 17 at 10:30 to discuss and explain the requirements for participating in the two workshops. This meeting will be held at the Kenwood Baptist Church on Kenwood Road just north of the Kenwood Centre.

Interested in the two workshops on June 2 and June 9? Then contact us:

Ron Peake, 513-260-0877,
Dr. Gary Sweeten, 513-300-5065,
Kenwood Baptist Church is located at 8341 Kenwood Rd, enter at the north entrance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Male and Female Relationships

Dr. John Gottman is one of the most important and influential researchers on couples' healthy patterns. His unique approach reveals important principles and process for enhancing couple and family health.

Gottman watches the mental, emotional and physiological reactions of the couple as they relate to each other while discussing a family situation such as planning a vacation. By hooking couples up to brain wave monitors, he has been able to track the positive and negative aspects of relationships.

His insights are consistent with the biblical record and they reveal the destructive habits that we have practiced since Adam and Eve. Successful marriages come in different packages. However, despite individual differences and commonalities all successful marriages have similar characteristics and all destructive marriages have identical markers. We will focus on those principles and integrate them with biblical principles.

Conflict can either strengthen or destroy a marriage. The way couples handle conflict is the most significant difference between being successful or unsuccessful. Those who handle differences appropriately are able to make it through life with success. They will not divorce or suffer other traumatizing problems. If, however, they cannot deal effectively with the differences which plague every couple, they will very likely separate and divorce.

Couples come to a critical path in the road of marital togetherness. If they travel along the positive path the marriage will grow. If not, it will very likely dissolve. That fork in the road is called, attack or attend. If they personally attack the other, the marriage is in real danger. If, however, they find a way to attend to each other's needs the marriage will grow.

Some would have us think that being a Christian or a Church member will keep us from having marital problems. That is not true. A Christian mate’s attack is as traumatic as a non-Christian’s and the results are just as devastating.

It is true that people who attend and become involved in church are much less likely to divorce, just believing in God doesn't provide much protection. Believing and acting with love, grace and forgiveness is the key to healthy, happy relationships.

Gottman’s research looks at the changes in a mate's heart rate, breathing and other physiological manifestations of anxiety during a conversation rather than self-reports or clinical observations. As a result it is very accurate in predicting present and future problems. After many years Gottman and his colleagues have gathered data about thousands of marriages and correlated it with marital satisfaction or destruction. They know when a couple is in trouble.

Male Female Conflict

Women, although weaker in bodily physique than a man, have the power to overcome, kill or maim him with words. Before marriage she controls her man with the promise of romance. After marriage and sexual satisfaction this approach does not work. She cannot as easily manage and control the relationship and gets frustrated so she uses strong emotional language. She thinks he is so thick skinned that the words will not hurt him but that is so wrong.

He is in the same boat. He discovers soon after the wedding that he cannot control her with words. He usually just gives up trying and tries to manage his anger and other negative emotions by acting like a stonewall.

He gets over involved in work. Religious leaders have a perfect alibi for overwork. They say it is God that forces them to stay away from home. This is the most damaging thing that can happen to a couple or family.

After marriage a man may become more interested in performing well in activities outside the home while she becomes deeply involved in children and the home. She wants to change that scenario, of course, so she attacks him for abandoning her and the kids. He withdraws even more into his own world of work and golf and leaves her to be a mother. She nags but he gets defensive and withdraws. The more she accuses him the more fragile he becomes and the more he resists her. This deadly cycle can drive them to awful behaviors. It is not her fault or his fault. It is their fault.

In an act of desperation she resorts to angry criticism to get his attention. She feels abandoned, betrayed and hurt. She thinks he wants only sex or is frustrated that he is no longer interested in intimacy. This exacerbates the problem and he withdraws faster and more often.

Thinking that he cannot “hear or understand her” she becomes insistent and more attacking. Women are normally able to express their feelings more freely and may use this ability to attack the man. The cycle continues as he reacts and withdraws and she shouts ever more loudly. They are stuck in a dance of death.

Males quiet often attack the women they love through withdrawal of attention and affection. He is more sensitive than she to emotional pain. This means that intimate discussions cause him to fear her. Intimacy means he will get hurt so he is dedicated to work, sports, male friends and external activities where he gets affirmation. The guys affirm him as do his bosses and colleagues. He is a hero at work but a bum at home.

What can he do? Unfortunately, he often turns to something or someone else to satisfy his needs, and that can lead to terrible consequences.

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