Saturday, June 30, 2007

Helpful Books

If you are interested in helping people in need, one easy way to improve your knowledge is to read one or more of my books. Two of the best are listed below.
Listening for Heaven's Sake and Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty are the places to begin.

By the way, none of my books tell you how to act like Superman!

Lawyers and Divorce

I recently played golf with an attorney and his college age son. We had a great time hitting that little ball around the cow pasture but before long Jim asked me if I was retired? "No" I answered. "I have stopped running the counseling center. Now I work with people and groups to prevent people from going to see you for a divorce."

Jim laughed and replied, "My firm does not do domestic cases. However, we do have to get involved in businesses when there are family squabbles. But I hate it. People hold grudges and try to punish other family members over nothing. I wouldn't want your job."

My Professor, Dr. Ed Friedman, was fond of saying, "In America divorce is easy but separation if impossible." Legally divorce can be accomplished in a very short time, but separating the emotional and spiritual connections of a family can prove to be daunting.

Many couples divorce and still argue over the businesses, the kids and grand kids for thirty years. This is especially true when the kids take sides against one parent and for the "Victim". This often leads to years of them punishing the "bad" parent and even try to destroy the family business.

At one time I was naively thinking that I could talk people into being nice or acting Christ like. Now I know differently and pray a lot more for a couple than I preach to them. I am trying to stop being a rescuer and allow God to save people. After all, only God can send a Messiah.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Does the Culture Support Marriages?

I read the following article in Christianity Today online. It is self explanatory.

A recent billboard advertisement for the law firm Fetman, Garland & Associates targeted young, wealthy, married couples of Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Its message was simple: "Life's short. Get a divorce." On either side of the words were sexually-charged images of a man and a woman.

It is no wonder that people marry late if ever and divorce quickly even in multiples. With professional groups like the law firm mentioned here divorce and sex outside of marriage seems the way to go.

But as a marriage and family counselor for over 30 years I can say with confidence that marriage of one man and one woman for one entire life is the best way to live a long and happy life. Married people feel better, live longer, have more and better sex and enjoy better jobs and more financial blessings.

Take your choice: Keep your marriage, your money and health or give all three to some legal shysters who want your money to spend on debouchery.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Divorce Stats

According to the 1990 U.S. Census (the 2000 census didn't ask about marital status), at least 52% of all first marriages will end in divorce.

Among those who have been divorced, 75% will remarry. And 60% of those remarriages will end in divorce.

Christianity is no panacea for the divorce epidemic, either.

While 25% of all adults in America have experienced at least one divorce, 27% of Christians will split up. Evangelical Christians appear to fare even worse: Members of nondenominational Protestant and Baptist churches experience the nation's highest divorce rates at 34% and 29%, respectively. The article is located at:

Most people never intend to get a divorce but have lost hope.

More Workshops

Beech acres Center for Families and Children are interested in sponsoring more couples' worshops. I want to know if any of you are interested in more free workshops.

Just write your comments on this blog send an email to me

TV Show

I stumbled on to a pretty good TV show last night. It is called One Week to Save Your Marriage from

ONE WEEK TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE Hosted by Dr. Robi Ludwig TLC’s bold new reality show for 2006

America’s marriages are in crisis with divorce rates shooting through the roof. Many couples find that even within the first five years of marriage, they are in a matrimonial rut of arguments, resentments and bitterness, and can see no other way out.

Now, TLC’s bold new TV series, ONE WEEK TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE, aims to get those relationships back on track. Psychotherapist host Dr. Robi Ludwig, a divorce buster for over fifteen years, is given just seven days to steer a couple’s marriage off the rocks.

In an exclusive social experiment, couples allow their homes to be rigged with remotely operated cameras that record their natural behavior around the clock. Dr. Ludwig is thus able to observe their marriages in the raw. With this unique access she’s able to figure what the flash-points are in the couple’s relationship. When things go wrong she’s there to fix it.

Following her intensive observation, Dr. Ludwig devises a customized series of challenging and revealing tasks for the couple to perform that help her offer them valuable tips about getting their marriage back on the right path.

I suggest that couples watch it together and discuss the principles. They might work for you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Father's Day is Here

What a joy to have my kids and grand kids by my side on Fathers' Day. I love seeing my son Tim play with Jack, his two year old Jack-Out-Of-The-Box, and act like a fool as they rough house and bounce around all over the place with Jack squealing and Tim laughing.

Tim is a man of 37 who I thought would never settle down as an executive or father. He was the poster child for hyped up kids everywhere and should there have been an advertisement for ADHD medicines back in the day he could have given a great testimonial. But he did not want no stinkin meds because, as he told me, "I only feel really alive when I am buzzing".

Now Tim is a consultant with doctors and medical clinics who has learned to use ADHD as an inner stimulant to keep him sharp. I admire his insights and ability to bring relational skills and Six Sigma into the workplace. But most of all I admire Tim for loving his son. The delight Tim shows when he and Jack are interacting is wonderful. Tim is fully present when he is present. Nothing could be better than that.

By the way, I have found a great blog on parenting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kep Parenting in Perspective

Dear Mom and Dad:

Since I left for college I have been remiss in writing and I am very sad and sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down. Okay?

Well then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out of the window of my dormitory when it caught fire shortly after my arrival here is pretty well healed now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get those sick headaches once a day.

Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory and my jump were witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the Fire Department and the ambulance. He also visited me in the hospital, and since I have nowhere to live because of the burned-out dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. It's really a basement room, but it is kind of cute.

He is a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning on getting married. We haven't got the date exactly yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show.

Yes mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grandparents and I know that you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child.

The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has a minor infection which prevents us from passing our premarital blood tests and I carelessly caught it from him.I know that you will welcome him into our family with open arms. He is kind, and, although he is of a different race and religion than ours, I know your often-expressed tolerance will not permit you to be bothered by that.

(How are you doing with this information?)

Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire, I did not have a concussion or skull fracture, I was not in the hospital, I am not pregnant, I am not engaged, I am not infected and there is no boyfriend in my life. However, I am getting a D in Calculus and F in Chemistry and I want you to see those marks in their proper perspective.

Your loving daughter,


Needed: A New Children's Prayer

For many years I have had the feeling that our favorite prayer to teach children at night was badly flawed. It is so flawed that I am concerned that it was actually causing children to develop a deep-seated fear of God and developing a pattern of insomnia.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die,
Before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

Analyze this prayer for a moment. The last thing a child hears at night is the fear inducing message that he or she may not survive the rigors of sleep. Can you see why this could be a cause of insomnia?

The prayer was originally written during the Black Plague that killed millions of people including numerous children. It was a fearful time so a fearful prayer was the result. But we need a positive prayer and I wrote one for my grand kids.

New Prayer For Sleeping
(C) Gary Sweeten

Now I lay me down to sleep
I thank the Lord my soul to keep.
No fear of night, He will provide-
His angels near, my sleeping side.
At morning's dawn, I will awake,
To live again for Jesus' sake.
He gives me strength, the whole night rest,
Enough each day to give my best.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Good Book on Marriage

The best counseling and family development book ever written is the Holy Bible. For the past decade or so behavioral scientists have been studying the factors that keep couples and families strong. Dr. John Gottman, for example, concludes that unforgiveness, bitterness and contempt are so toxic that few marriages can overcome them. This is no surprise to Christians who know the Bible. We have read about the positive power of mercy, grace, forgiveness and honor.

Gottman has also mentioned that those couples that send signals of blessing, respect, care, nurture and love to loved ones each day will likely have a successful family life. Gottman goes farther and concludes that there is a ratio of success that each of us can rather easily accomplish unless we are fresh out of grace and love. That ratio is 5 to 1.

Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[that can bring a charge]. 25If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Love All the other moral qualities in the list define and flow from love. Joy is the result of healthy relationships. When relationships fall apart because of broken commitments, there is a loss of joy. When there is conflict and bitterness there is no joy. Peace is also the result of relationships built by loving service. Instead of "hatred, discord, . . . dissensions, factions" there is harmony and order in relationships.

Patience is the opposite of "fits of rage" or short temper. It is the quality of staying with people even when constantly wronged and irritated by them. Kindness and goodness are joined with patience to teach that a sweet disposition and doing good toward people (see v. 10) is the way to stay with them in love. Faithfulness is keeping commitments in relationships. Only the Spirit can produce the quality of loyalty no matter the cost. Gentleness is the opposite of selfish ambition is not conceited, provoking and envying each other Self-control is the opposite of self-indulgence. Spirit-led people will not prmote and encourage their sin nature.

On a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being very poor and 10 being the best possible, where are you on each fruit of the Spirit?

Unconcerned 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Love
Grumpiness 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Joy
Anxiety 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Peace
Easily Upset 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Patience
Legalistic 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Kindness
Stingy 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Goodness
Undependable 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Faithfulness
Ambitious 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Gentleness
Selfishness 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Self-Control

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Two Workshops Completed

June 2 and June 9 saw a bunch of us gather at Love and Faith Christian Center and go over some of the key dimensions of developing Committed Couples. We had a great time and it appears that we will get to do at least two more before October 1 when the 2007 Federal Grant runs out.

We will follow up with all the participants and send each of you a DVD of the teachings. In retrospect, I wish we had also taped the discussions when so many of our students had great questions.

I have the following ideas about how to raise up more good people to lead you church's ministries in marriage and family life.

1. Start small and grow slowly. Do not bite off too much for you to chew. Work with a few people and see them grow. Testimonies are the best advertisements.

2. Start with couples who are not in a crisis. Build up the stable marriages and help them stay stable and get stronger. You who attended our training will remember that I have Seven levels of need for training and support by church leaders.

a. Prevention: Teach people how to prevent serious problems and deal with various crises.
b. Personal Growth: Give people who are presently doing well the skills to do better. One of the ideas that came out of the YMCA research I have on my web site is the notion that people need to be affirmed for doing well. (See )
c. Peer Support: People talk about their issues, problems and needs to family and friends so the church can provide many people to be positive peers to people in need.
d. Para-Professional Helpers: These are folks who have bee trained to be Mentors, Coaches, Teachers, Helpers and Group Leaders the groups above. They are Para-Professional in that they work along side the Professionals as Lay Volunteers. Refer all seriously disturbed couples to the people below.
e. Professional Helpers; New credentialed Counselors and Social Workers.
f. Professional Clinical Helpers: Independent Licensed Counselors, Social Workers, Psychiatrists and Psychologists.
g. Professional Experts: Advanced in Marriage and Family Therapy

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How to Promote Poverty

Many people say they want to promote prosperity and health for all people but they so often pursue practices and perhaps even policies that have the opposite effect. Many people seem to actually promote abject chronic poverty.

In her book about ways to defeat poverty, Ruby Payne, offers several ways to lessen poverty and even break the chains of its long term strangle hold on so many generations of families. Take a look at some insights about the ways poverty affects people. .

•Chronic Dependence-
–Must have support from government, families, churches, etc.
•Chronic Counter-Dependence
–Reject support and rules about prosperity and fights healthy systems
•Chronic Independence-
–Support systems neglected so poor people do not reach out to others

Poor Kids Under Six Year of Age

•In Extreme Poverty
28% Live with Single Mothers
2% Live with Married Parents

In Poverty
9% Live with Married Parents
–49% Live with Single Mother
•In Near Poverty
14% Live with Married Parents
59% Live with Single Mother

Single parents are almost always thrust into poverty.

So, if we as a society wish to promote long term poverty all we need to do is promote sex outside of marriage and establish a system that rewards single parenting.

Go to for more data about marriage and family strengths.