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God dwells in the supernatural! He saves unbelievers by grace and calls them to ministry, and God wants His people to live an extraordinary life of phenomenal acts of servanthood through an uncompromising and supernatural mindset. God desires Christians to think and behave like Christians all the time. Phil Ayers explores the lives of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Each of the apostles were led by Jesus Christ out of the “rut of mediocre” into a life altering and world challenging commitment to serve, even unto death for the Way! God insists that all followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, finds their way beyond the ordinary pilgrimage of life, to be champions for Him! Tom Landry, the former championship coach of the Dallas Cowboys said, “There is only a half-step difference between the champions and those who finish on the bottom. And much of that half-step is mental.” Christ wants His followers to choose an amazing and exceptional walk with Him, and to be a world changing Christian, a beyond the ordinary servant! Christ needs you today! Purchase this book at Amazon books.

Counseling Stages Diagram - Restoring Affection in the Marriage Relationship

Prepared by Pastor Philip Ayers/Based on Dr. Tim Clinton's "Before A Bad Goodbye"


I.              Reframe the Marital Story

A.     Exploration

1.      Dilemma: Issue of two rights.

"I'm right!" and "You are wrong!" concept.

2.      Danger: Offer - oriented techniques / associated counseling models

Communication / problem - solving training (CPT) is the antithesis of Behavioral Exchange (BE). Couples are taught to be their own therapists through the training in communication and conflict resolution skills. Improvements in marital satisfaction were maintained to a greater degree over the course of a two year follow-up period. (Neil S. Jacobson and Andrew Christensen, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), pp. 4-5)

3.      Duty: Emphasize hurt without accusations.

Consider strategies for promoting tolerance. Jacobson and Christensen, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy, p. 131)

a.       Movement toward Relational Collaboration.

b.      Stepping back and stepping out.

c.       Everyday pressures that tear at love.

1.      stress

Consider the information on Stressful Circumstances. (Jacobson and Christensen, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy, pp.38-40)

2.      satanic assaults Ephesians 6:12

Dr. Clinton states that "Satan is alive, powerful, and working to destroy marriages today (Tim Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye, How to Turn Your Marriage Around (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999), p. 65)."


3.      scripts from past

4.      sin

5.      selfishness

6.      speed

4.      Drifting: A slow erosion; a gradual, subtle breaking of emotional strands

86 percent of unhappily married people who stick it out find that, their marriages are happier, according to an analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households done by Linda Waite. (Linda J.Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, (New York: Broadway Books, 2000), p.148)

5.      Desperado Complex

"Only a relationship with God fills this emptiness (Clinton, PACO 985 Class Lecture July, 2003)."

B.     Explanation - The Path of Disaffection

1.      Distancing: A Reasonable Response

a.       Characterized by Gottman's 4 Horses

Dr. Gottman identifies two kinds of marriages that are heading for destruction, hostile/engaged type and hostile/detached. The hostile / engaged marriages argue often while the hostile/detached marriage is emotionally uninvolved. He describes the demise of marriage as four disastrous ways of interacting called "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse."

1.      Criticism

He defines criticism as attacking someone's personality or character - rather a specific behavior - usually with blame (John Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (New York: Fireside, 1994), pp. 72-73.

2.      Contempt

Dr. Gottman defines contempt as an intention to insult or psychologically abuse your partner. He lists the signs of contempt. They are (1) insults and name-calling, (2) hostile humor, (3) mockery, and (4) body language (Gottman, Why Marriage Succeed or Fail, p. 79-80).

3.      Defensiveness

Dr. Gottman defines this as a fundamental attempt to protect you and ward off a perceived attack (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 85)

4.      Stonewalling

 "Stonewalling" as one partner removing himself from the interaction by turning into a stonewall (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 95).

b.      Creation of a Vacuum

c.       Self Medication

d.      Cycle of Disaffection in Marriage and Spiritual Life from Dr. Clinton's Workshop 706

1.      Discontent: an unsettledness sets in when left


2.      Deep Secret; that poisons intimacy gets lodged and hidden in the heart

3.      Drifting begins: often subtle and unintentional, but looks away from the center (relates to duty  relational oneness)

4.      Death of Desire takes place: resignation rather than resurrection and new desire

5.      Desperado Complex (relates to relational oneness)

Dr. Clinton teaches that the cycle of disaffection has five steps. They are (1) increasing disaffection characterized by Gottman's Four Horses, (2) raising the bar, (3) sensing failure in the relationship, (4) evaluating the relationship negatively, and (5) increasing the need for self-preservation (Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye, How to turn Your Marriage Around, p. 83-86).

2.      Polarization: The Red Zone

a.       Vicious cycle of Disaffection

If flooding is not checked, Dr. Gottman lists four stages that a couple goes through before a marriage ends in divorce. These stages are (1) seeing your marriage problems as severe, (2) talking things over with your spouse seems useless, (3) you start leading parallel lives, and (4) loneliness (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, pp. 124-125).

b.      "A self fulfilling prophecy"

Over time, you become conditioned to look for and react to negatives in your spouse and your marriage. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you expect and search for negatives, the more likely you are to find them, and to highlight their significance in your mind (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 120)." 


c.       "Islands of Me" and "Dialogue of the Deaf"

Both want to control the other. There is usually a power struggle present in the relationship. Dr. Clinton concludes that the partners end up in an isolated surrounding; he calls "an island of me" (Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye, pp. 121-128). This is the last refuge of a failing marriage, unless the partners decide to give their all to save the marriage.


Treatment Plan / Goal: Step One - Intake process - Help partners to remember their story by using narrative recall, clarifying the truth, and accepting their story and grief. Instill hope by helping them identify the relationship stage they are in: cooperation (love and romance), retaliation (hurtful stage), domination (guilt, criticism), or isolation (different bedrooms, etc.) , and their negative patterns of thought and behavior.. 


Consider Evaluation of Nine Areas of Marriage / Central beliefs and values, core vision, confession/forgiveness, communication, conflict resolution, cognition closeness complicating factors, and commitment. (Everett L. Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling, A Guide to Brief Counseling, (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), pp. 89-90)


II.                 Release / Reclaim: Coming out of the pain

A.     An Empathetic Heart - "Getting partners to think about the marriage and each other differently."  Ephesians 4:31-32

1.      Vertically - "God of Hosea"

2.      Horizontally - "Just Maybe"

B.     Called to a spiritual Task - Proverbs 19:21

1.      Led by God's Spirit and His Word - Joshua 3 and 4

2.      Engaging in Godly Love - I Cor. 13

Dr. Clinton works with making your marriage a spiritual task in five areas of importance. They are (1) engage in a spiritual love, (2) for His purpose, (3) God is always with you, (4) let God's Word be a lamp to your feet, and  (5) learn the Word and apply it to your life by faith (Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye,  pp. 152-154).

3.      Giving honor to the covenantal bond - Matthew 19:6

"Marriage is not only a private vow, it is a public view, it is a public act, a contract, taken in full public view, enforceable by law and in the equally powerful court of public opinion (Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, p. 17)."

 "Marriage makes you better off, because marriage makes you very important to someone (Waite and Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, p. 31)."


C.     The Safe Zone

1.      "Judicious Editing" - Reducing the negative I Peter 3:9-11

Consider the Reduction of Negative Acts. (Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage, p.221)

2.      Encourage soft love - Ephesians 4:31, 5:21-33

Consider the Love Bank and Associated Interventions. (Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage, p.220-221)

3.      Facilitate positive communication and problem solving - I Peter 3:7-8

Consider Principles for Training the Couple in Better Communication (Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage, pp 147-167)


The first strategy is to calm down. Dr. Gottman says the key to calming down is what you tell yourself (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 178). He suggests (1) you rewrite your inner script, and (2) learn to relax. The second strategy is to speak nondefensively. In order to accomplish this he suggests (1) you use praise and admiration toward your spouse (You need to unseat the four horseman - p. 181), (2) be a good listener, (3) embrace the anger of the situation, (4) back-channel or send signals that show your partner you are listening, (5) read facial expressions, (6) beware of your own body language, and (7) remember to complain not make a personal attack on your partner (p. 181-189).  The third strategy is validation. Dr. Gottman suggests you add to your validation of your partner by (1) taking responsibility for your actions, (2) apologizing, (3) complimenting your spouse, and (4) doing the minimum (p. 196). The final strategy offered by Dr. Gottman is overlearning. He says to try and try.


4.      Challenge personal growth and development - Psalm 139:23


Treatment Plan / Goal: Step Two - Deal with the immediate crisis and finding an immediate interpersonal reward - Help each partner recognize their pain and their need for healing by learning to accept and process the pain.

Consider strategy for dealing with painful memories. (Worthington, Hope-Focused marriage, p.120)


 III. Reconcile: "Back where we started"

A. The journey of forgiveness and being reunited. Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4:32

1. Honesty and talk about hurts

Four primary strategies for promoting tolerance: It enables a better agreement between the partners. Role-playing in ICT promotes communication that accepts the couple's divergent needs and desires. (Jacobson and Christensen, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy,  pp.131-132)  

2.      "Giving and Accepting"

Love Bank Concept, withdrawals and deposits. (Dr. Clinton, PACO 985 Lectures, July 2003).

a.       Engagement is built on trust

B. Honor and Respect: Mutually enjoyable experiences - I Peter 3:7

C. Accepting and Building on Strengths and Weaknesses

Empathy is enhanced by learning as much about your spouse as possible. Dr. Clinton offers four steps to help you empathize with your partner. They are (1) commit yourself to selflessly loving your partner, (2) learn those elements of your spouse's life that had significant impact, (3) learn how these elements effect your spouse's emotional and physical reactions to situations, and (4) emphasize with your spouse (Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye, p. 204).


Treatment Plan / Goal: Step Three - Helping each partner change (reframe) their thoughts of past events by emphasizing their advantages in the relationship, and re-establishing their emotional and spiritual connectedness.


Developing closeness intervention:

Increase partner's awareness of closeness patterns by emphasizing the possibility of improvement, making couples aware of their intimacy deficiency, creating a physical representation of intimacy, changing actions to positive,  reduce negative acts, determine what constitutes a positive act, get partners to do more positive acts, have partners acknowledge each other's positive behavior, and dealing with objections to love-bank homework . (Worthington Jr., Hope-Fused Marriage Counseling, A Guide to Brief Therapy, pp. 214-237)



IV. Refashion: Reconstructing a new story for the marriage.

A. United Purpose: "Togetherness" - Eccl. 4:9-12

                                                                                                                   a.      Developing a "mission statement" Eph. 5:21-33

Develop Loving Romance through drawing on the couple's memories of romance, using the office to explore emotional closeness, structure time together, adjusting time schedules, establishing bounded couple time, and reading together.

Adjusting intimacy elsewhere through breaking up the emotional distance-pursuer pattern, breaking up the emotional distance-pursuer pattern through different interactions with each partner, and breaking up the emotional distance-pursuer pattern using homework.


Helping develop spiritual intimacy through discussing spiritual intimacy, discerning whether partners want to be more spiritual intimate, directing the couple in creating more spiritual intimacy in their marriage, and directing the couple to have patience while waiting for change. (Worthington, Hope-Fused Marriage Counseling, pp. 214-237)


Consider Worthington's vision statement. (Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage, p.121-122) 

                                                                                                                  b.      Having a goal - directed behavior - avoiding the tendency to become complacent, comfortable, or taking each other for granted.

Seven keys to the healing process: key 1 - God (marriage is a God - thing, Mt. 19:4-6), key 2 - relationship (love vs. use), key 3 - truth (counteracts lies), key 4 - path (human process has stages), key 5 - ownership (accepting responsibility), key 6 - forgiveness (without forgiveness you will stay fixed in lies and sin), and key 7 - time (timing is everything). (George Ohlschlager, PACO 985 Lectures, July, 2003)  


Dr. Clinton warns to not let the marriage slip back into complacency (pg. 234-237). He suggests that you invest in your spouse's feelings, dreams, memories, and spiritual devotions, prayers and learning God's Word (Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye, pp. 238-239).


B. The Dance of Intimacy - Gen. 2:24-25

                                                                                                                   c.      "Naked and Unashamed" Gen 2:15

                                                                                                                  d.      "Oneness with Healthy Separateness" Gen. 2:24, 25

Five Love Languages: (1) words of love and encouragement, (2) physical touch and closeness, (3) acts of service, (4) quality time, and (5) receiving gifts. (Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1995), pp.39-118)

                                                                                                                   e.      Spiritual Intimacy - An Island of Three

1.      Basics to Learning and Experiencing Intimacy from Dr. Clinton's Workshop 706

a.       Define a mission purpose / statement John 3:30

b.      Exaltation of God, not ourselves Matthew 3:1-12

c.       Create an environment that is  Safe and Honest I Peter 3:7

d.      Develop an understanding of the Safety and Honesty Issues: gender gap, one - upmanship (don't challenge each other), anger Romans 12:17-19

Consider negotiating your marriage style. (Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, pp. 202-205)

e.       Learn to become vulnerable Psa. 28:7,8

2.      Blessings of Spiritual and Marital Intimacy from Dr. Clinton's Workshop 706

a.       Couples that pray together are happier Psa. 34:15-18

b.      Changes our conversation and thought life

c.       Deepens intimacy with God and each other Prov. 27:17

Secrets to a healthy relationship (Eccl. 9:9): (1) have a purpose, (2) give attention to love, (3) let love walk in your life (Prov. 10:12, I Cor. 13), (4) be aware of your love style, (5) invest time and effort, (6) work on communion (Eph. 4:15), and (7) focus on spiritual vitality. (Dr. Clinton, PACO 985 Lectures, July 2003).

d.      Increases commitment to each other

There are two sides of forgiveness: seeking II Corinthians 7:10-11 and granting forgiveness. (Dr. Clinton, PACO 985 Lectures, July 2003).

e.       Increases compatibility

Treatment Plan / Goal: Step Three - Helping each partner repair their relationship by developing a safe and secure marriage through finding and experiencing God's desire for love in marriage (eliminating the negative behavior - increase the positive) through reconnecting the partners (ASIW) Their awareness, safety, intimacy and will to love are major issues in helping the couple understand their story and journey.





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Dr. Phil Ayers - Supply, Evangelist/Bible Conference Speaker

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