February 2019 Worship Series: Making Relationships Work

February 2019 Worship Series: Making Relationships Work

This month’s sermon series, Making Relationships Work, is based in part on the book “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman.

Our prayer is that anyone in any kind of relationship–relationships with friends, family members, a spouse/significant other, or a neighbor–will attend this series with your church family. We are confident you’ll find ways to apply these techniques to your relationships as we work together for good in the family of God.

According to Gottman, couples strengthen the friendship that is at the heart of any marriage by…

  • Enhancing their love maps
  • Nurturing their fondness and admiration
  • Overcoming gridlock
  • Solving their solvable problems
  • Turning toward each other instead of away
  • Letting their spouses influence them
  • Creating shared meaning

February 3, 2019
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Rev. Todd Harris, preaching

Enhancing Your Love

A love map is that part of one’s brain where one stores all the relevant information about one’s spouse’s life, such as their worries, hopes, and goals in life; their history; and the facts and feelings of their world. According to Gottman, happily married couples use their love maps to express not only their understanding of each other, but their fondness and admiration as well.

Nurturing Fondness and Admiration

Nurturing fondness and admiration involves meditating a bit on one’s partner and what makes one cherish him or her. Exercises the book suggests for doing this include, among other things, thinking about incidents that illustrate characteristics one appreciates in one’s partner; talking about the happy events of the past; and completing a 49-item “Seven-Week Course in Fondness and Admiration.”

February 10, 2019
Philippians 2:1-5
Rev. Dr. Abe Smith, preaching

Overcoming Gridlock

According to Gottman, gridlock occurs when a conflict makes one feel rejected by one’s partner. They keep talking about it but make no headway, become entrenched in their positions and are unwilling to budge. When they discuss the subject, they end up feeling more frustrated and hurt. Their conversations about the problem are devoid of humor, amusement, or affection and become even more unbudgeable over time, which leads them to vilify each other during these conversations;

This vilification makes one all the more rooted in one’s position and polarized, more extreme in one’s view, and all the less willing to compromise. Couples eventually disengage from each other emotionally.

Gottman argues that no matter how entrenched in gridlock a couple is all that they need in order to get out of it is motivation and a willingness to explore the hidden issues that are really causing the gridlock.


Four Things to Help Overcome Gridlock in Your Marriage

Solving Solvable ProblemS

Gottman’s model for conflict resolution involves

  • Softening the startup (i.e. leading off of the discussion without criticism or contempt
  • Making a straightforward comment about a concern and expressing one’s need in a positive fashion)
  • Learning to make and receive repair attempts (statements or actions that prevent negativity from escalating out of control; efforts the couple makes to deescalate the tension during a touchy discussion)
  • Soothing oneself and one’s partner
  • Compromising
  • Being tolerant of each other’s faults

February 17, 2019
Ephesians 4:2-3
Rev. Todd Harris, preaching

Turning Toward Each Other

Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

If a husband and wife are humble, patient, gentle, and selfless in a relations this will cause less confrontation and arguments. This verse reminds us to keep calm and do as Jesus would do.

Turning toward each other means connecting with one’s spouse; being there for each other during the minor events in each other’s lives; and responding favorably to one’s spouse’s bids for attention, affection, humor and support.

Accepting Influence

Accepting influence means sharing power. Make your spouse a partner in your decision-making by taking their opinions and feelings into account.

February 24. 2019
1 Corinthians 1:1-6, 9-13, 17-18
Rev. Jessica Wright, preaching

Creating Your Life Together with a Shared Meaning

Gottman describes shared meaning as a spiritual dimension to marriage that has to do with creating an inner life together – a culture rich with symbols and rituals, and an appreciation for the spouses’ roles and goals that like them, that lead them to understand what it means to be a part o f the family they have become.

According to Gottman, when a marriage has a shared sense of meaning, conflict is much less intense and perpetual problems are less likely to lead to gridlock.


Four Pillars for a Lasting Marriage