I recently attended therapy workshop by Dr. David Burns. Dr. Burns’ book, The Feeling Good Handbook describes a type of therapy that is very similar to what I use with my clients. The Feeling Good Handbook is a long time New York Times bestseller. Dr. Burns was for many years a researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is now a visiting professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Many of the therapy topics that David Burns addresses are also addressed in my book, Perfect Circle. Even though he is a psychiatrist, Dr. Burns has always been somewhat cautious about the use of anti-depressant medications. In The Feeling Good Handbook he recommended using some anti-depressant medications for short periods of time (up to six months) but then suggested going off of them. He has always felt that the cognitive behavioral therapy as outlined in his books was a superior and safer alternative to medications. I pretty much say the same thing in my book Perfect Circle in chapter “D” of the ISLAND acrostic. That chapter is “Deal with depression and anger”. I believe that anti-depressant medications can be helpful but they should be monitored closely by a psychiatrist if they are going to be used. My main argument is that they are generally safe or you could not have 200 million prescriptions written ever year, and they seem to work dramatically with a small number of my clients.
At the therapy workshop, Dr. Burns was much emphatic that anti-depressant medications are not any better than placebo (sugar) pills. That is quite a statement for a psychiatrist to make. He bases much of his argument on the work of Irving Kirsch and his book, The Emperor’s New Drugs. Kirsch’s main point is that the drugs don’t really help more than placebo. Both Burn’s and Kirsch argue for empirically based therapies for people with depression. This is certainly worth considering.
I found this video on the great blog site – “To Love Honor and Vacuum”. It is a video of Chris Hedges discussing what he learned about the malicious treatment of women in the porn industry. Porn will kill your marriage but it also harms women. See the chapter on “Avoid” in my book Perfect Circle.
Take a look at Song of Solomon chapter 4 in the Bible. It’s worth a quick read. The husband is praising the beauty of his wife and he is really over the top and quite explicit in his praise of her body. Then in verse 7, he sums in all up by saying she is “flawless or without spot or blemish”. She is perfect! Such is young love, but that is how he sees her. No woman is actually perfect but that is how love works.
Of course this is a very non-subtle metaphor for how God sees the church, his bride, in Christ. God looks at us in love and sees us perfect. Not because we are perfect (we are not) but God see us in Christ. This is same language in Ephesians chapter 5, where Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. It tells husbands to present their wives to God without spot or blemish. How can this happen if we never start seeing them the way God does in Christ?
Now let’s talk man to man. How do you view your wife? Is she perfect in your eyes? If not, maybe you are not loving her with the eyes of faith or from the perspective of grace. This really is a choice. Love looks past the faults and flaws and sees the perfection. According to research, men who feel that they have “married up” have better marriages than those who do not. Zig Zigler, the wildly successful motivational speaker always said that he had a great marriage simply because he counted himself so lucky to be married to his wife. He placed her high above himself. Let me ask you this, “What harm will actually result if you started seeing your wife as generally perfect”? Maybe she will feel really loved…if you started acting like she was perfect. Start with the concept that she is the standard of beauty, that she is correct and wise, heck, start thinking she is perfect. You won’t be any worse than Solomon in love.
This week the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down. I am a generally an apolitical individual and this blog is about marriage. It’s the marriage part that bears some relevance here. DOMA was a federal law put in place to appease conservatives who wanted to protect a traditional view of marriage. President Bill Clinton signed DOMA – which is why it applies in federal settings – as a way to get some legislation he wanted passed. In a sense, this was a very cynical law. Even when he signed it, I believe he knew that it would eventually be done away with by either other legislation or the courts. This week the courts pronounced the inevitable.
A traditional view of marriage is now ultimately a thing of the past in this country. By traditional, I mean marriage between one man and one woman. There is now no going back. More States will provide marriage and full rights to gay partners and someday other arrangements will be accepted as legitimate as well (such as polygamy). I follow this issue as a Professor who teaches on the topic of Marriage and Family for my college. With my class we have had lively discussions about the arguments for and against gay marriage. For purposes of debate some of the arguments are not only interesting but instructive. In the introductory chapter of my book, Perfect Circle: A Husband’s Guide to the Six Tasks of a Contemporary Christian Marriage, I mention that the United States has the second highest divorce rate on the planet. The country with the highest rate is Russia our old Cold War rivals. Clearly, neither side of that conflict has a good handle on sustaining marriages. This leads to the gay argument that gay couples can do better than heterosexuals in avoiding divorce. Perhaps they can, but only for a while. Human nature and our sin nature are not undone by our political maneuverings. Marriage takes work. It takes a reliance on the Holy Spirit and guidance by the Bible. There are many tasks that need to be accomplished in our unique contemporary setting if marriage is to be sustained, hence my book to help husbands love their wives.
I plead with my brethren in traditional marriages like my own to take up the challenge offered by the gay lobby, “Can we have marriages that last longer and are more loving than theirs?” Regardless of how you feel about the politics of the gay agenda, here is a way to respond in most non-hypocritical manner possible. Show everyone that you can create a successful and sustaining marriage. Study the Bible and study what makes marriage work. That will be an indefensible defense of your marriage.