Better Together Meeting. April 2014

I attended the monthly lunch meeting for Better Together today in Fishers, IN. I enjoy these luncheons because I have a chance to gather with others who are interested in building and strengthening marriages. I always come away refreshed from hearing how others are working with couples and inspiration for feeding my own marriage. There’s a segment called “Tools, Tips and Tidbits” at the beginning of each meeting. This segment teaches practical information that can be applied to your marriage. This is followed by a featured speaker who shares about a topic in-depth. We meet from 11:45 to 1:00 on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. You can follow the link to see upcoming presenters and the address of the meeting place in Fishers here: http://www.bettertogether.us.

The meetings are free and open to the public. I’ve met other therapists; couples who are marriage mentors at their church; pastors; people who are gaining information to feed their marriages; and people who are volunteer support group leaders. There are single people, married couples–sometimes only 1 spouse can attend lunch and that is fine. Registering for the class is free and done through Eventbrite (link is on Better Together’s “Monthly Lunch” web page) Attendees can bring their own lunch or order and pay for a lunch that will be waiting for them at the door. I hope you will check it out!

Today’s featured speaker was Susie Howard, Director of Member Care & Development at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis. Her topic was “Your Money & Marriage; It’s Not About the Money”. Susie has worked with many couples at her church who are in financial crisis. She shared The Path: From Panic to Peace, which is a roadmap she walks couples through to help them get to a better place financially. One tip I especially liked and want to try, is using Post-It notes and a poster board to help couples have a conversation about how they will prioritize their financial needs and wants. After walking through an exercise where they identify all spending areas (rent, car insurance, food, out-to-eat, phone bill, cable bill, kids’ sport leagues, etc.) she gives each spouse a stack of post-it notes that have one spending category on each note. She uses a poster board or a white board and divides the page into 2 columns: Husband ———– Wife. Then she has each spouse prioritize the importance of spending categories so they can start to have a conversation about where they are and where they want to be. This tool helps the couple hear each others’ opinions and begin to have an idea of what they will identify as needs vs. wants. They can also use this tool to decide where necessary choices and cuts will be made to take them to their financial goal. I like the visual effect of this exercise because it clearly identifies each spouse’s position and is changeable as they compare notes and develop of Couples’ list of priorities. Money is one of the top 4 things couples argue about, so couples are wise when they tackle this subject or reach out to a third party to start having the hard conversations.

Doug Linville and I (April Linville) were privileged to be featured speakers in December 2013. In fact, if you want to hear what we said you can visit the “Previous Luncheon Speakers” page at http://www.bettertogether.us You will find a link there to an iTunes recording of our presentation.
We enjoyed presenting on “Constructive Conflict” and would be glad to talk with you about presenting this talk at your event. You may contact us for more information at http://www.alinville@madisonparkchurch.org .
Joy and Peace to you,
April Linville, MSW, LCSW

http://www.linvilleservices.com

http://www.bettertogether.us

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Grace, Truth, Time

Personal change is hard work. The hard work is worth the effort because in the end you have something that lasts. One of our influences for how we practice therapy is the psychologist team of Henry Cloud, Phd and John Townsend, PhD. They have a wonderful website filled with many resources for change and growth.  Many of our clients at Linville Services have read or watched their material and then come to counseling here to apply what they are learning to their specific situation.

In the book, Changes That Heal, Dr. Cloud writes about the ingredients necessary for change.  They are Grace, Truth and Time. Here is where you can see or order the book: http://store.cloudtownsend.com/changes-that-heal-workbook.html. 

I often make this “speech” in my office when someone says that “time heals all wounds”. Time is a part of the formula, but time alone will not do it. People need Grace and Truth from other people and from God (and especially from their counselor). Grace is being accepted right where you are in whatever circumstances you are facing. When a client is given Grace they have a safe place to tell their story instead of hiding it or putting on a mask and pretending that everything is okay. Grace does not shame or judge. Grace says it is okay to be imperfect and to be real.

Truth is necessary for change and by this I mean the client is honest about what they are facing and honest about what they are doing that works and what they are doing that halts the desired change. The therapist speaks truth about what he or she sees that may contribute to the problem and truth about ideas to try and feedback on how the growth process is going.

Time is necessary because you must practice new behaviors and grieve losses and try and fail and learn and try again. An analogy to illustrate this is a garden.  I prepare the soil by removing weeds and breaking up the soil. I plant seeds. I cover them up and water them. Then it takes a while before I see the seedling poke its head through the soil. Growth is occurring but it is not always visible. By the same token, just because there is a green seedling does not mean I can cut flowers for a bouquet the next day.  Being impatient about growth can cause frustration, but if people can see that they are in the process and to stay the course they will see flowers eventually (with enough light and warmth and water).  The Bible says it this way: Galatians 6:9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)
 
The combination of all 3 ingredients are necessary because if you have only Truth it can sound like judgement and condemnation.  If you have only Grace the growth seeker feels accepted right where they are with no need to change (for example giving Grace with no truth for a rage problem or a drug problem that is wreaking havoc in the client’s life and in the life of people the client is in relationship with). So if there is only Grace there is no accountability to stop destructive behaviors to the self or others and no motivation to do the hard work of change.
 
The three ingredients for change work well in the counseling office and they work well in relationships. I hope you will give this a try with the people you love.
 
Joy and Peace to you,     April Linville, MSW, LCSW
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