Archive for November, 2007

Build a Great Marriage

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007


I came across an advertisement the other day for an episode of the “Oprah Winfrey Show” that was showcasing married love. The title of the show was “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told”. I don’t really watch her program, but being intrigued, I decided to TiVo the show and see what Oprah had to say about married love.

Arguably, Oprah may be the most important African American woman of our generation and one of the most notable public figures of our time. She is one of the most influential women in the entertainment industry, if not the most. She is also the most successful daytime talk show host ever. Viewed by millions of people everyday, primarily women, Oprah’s influence on our culture is staggering. Although our views are different on several life and philosophical issues, I greatly admire her philanthropic efforts.

She is not married but has been in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend of many years, making this show all the more interesting. Although very supportive of the traditional marriage relationship herself, Oprah has alluded to marriage not being for her. She has hinted at various reasons for feeling this way such as her own childhood memories and a possible fear of failure or commitment. Nonetheless, she dedicated an entire program to married love stories.

I was not at all surprised that the tone of the show reflected a prevailing, universal attitude which suggests there is some mysterious secret that makes a marriage work. Oprah herself, visibly touched by each couple’s story, offered words such as “fate”, “destiny” and the “power of love” as reasons for the longevity of some of these relationships.

The program showcased four different couples with the hope of gaining some insight on why their marriage was successful. Here is a link to the program which aired on November 14th. The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Two couples stood out the most to me. For the last 27 years of their nearly forty years of married life, Patricia and Alton have written each other a love letter everyday! Pretty amazing! With that kind of heartfelt communication going on everyday, how can they not build a great marriage? (Please see tip #2 in our Surviving the 5-10 Marriage Struggle article)

Perhaps the couple that offered the most telling insight into what makes a successful marriage was NBA basketball star Grant Hill and his wife Tamia. After they both shared testimony of the many challenging struggles they have endured, Grant poignantly stated, “ everyone knows that marriage is hard work,” confirming that great marriages are built. Successful marriages are not the product of fate or destiny but the by-product of dedication and commitment.

Keep working hard and you can build a great marriage!

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007


The other day I went to a Shakespeare Play performed by the LA
Shakespeare Co. It had an Ensemble Cast of about 15 people, which
made it very enjoyable to watch. There wasn’t much to the stage, nor
to the small room that held the stage. There wasn’t even a set, just a
few props. The costumes were simply well picked, contemporary clothes.
All of these factors together made it a unique experience. Unique
experiences always make me think and pray!

An Ensemble Cast, simply stated, means that every performer in the
cast has the talent to play the principal character. Because the
actors were professionals each played their own part, whether small or
large, with great skill and passion. It was marvelous to watch even
the smallest line and part to be brought to the stage with such life.
The strengths that each actor brought to the scene filled the stage
with energy. The performers themselves became the set!

It took a lot of preparation time to bring such an Ensemble together.
With everyone so creative, the Director, I’m sure, would have to make
the final decision among several great ideas being offered. But the
Director of an Ensemble Cast would have to be very unique himself. He
would have to allow for the full expression of each player, yet
harness it in such a way that a cohesive unit would form and the play
performed well. Since I have a close relationship with one of the cast
members, I am also aware that the performance grows and changes each
time. The Director has to give his critique after each of the
performances to make sure that, in the midst of the freedom of
expression he allows the actors, the integrity of the initial vision
of the production is not compromised. It is at once consistent and

I can remember every actor and actress and appreciate what he or she
brought to the stage. The play would have been very different if just
one of them were missing.

This wonderful experience made me think of 1 Corinthians 12 in the
Bible. This is the Scripture where Paul is explaining to the
Corinthians how important each person is and how important the gifting
of God that each person brings is to the proper working of the Church.
If the Church could work with the attitude of an Ensemble Cast how
amazing it would be! And what a delight, I’m sure, to the Lord who

” …the (Holy) Spirit…distributing (gifts and ‘parts’) to each
one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet
has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are
many, are one body… for the body is not one member, but many… now God
has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He
desired… if they were all one member where would the body be? ” 1
Corin 12: 18-19

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for the joy of waking up to a man
excited to see me every morning.

Build a Great Marriage

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Can the “Time-Out” Principle help your relationship?

In my research, I have come across marriage advice columnists who recommend using the child raising principle called the “Time Out” in the marriage relationship. For those of you not familiar with this child training technique it is defined by the people at Dr. as time away from your attention.
When a child is demonstrating bad behavior, the parent separates from the child by calling a time-out and by usually placing the child in his or her room for several minutes.

When it comes to marital disagreements and conflict, some marriage and relationship counselors recommend that this separation principle be applied in the heat of an intense argument with one of the marriage partners calling a time-out. The couple then separates in order to cool down and then re-visit the dialogue at a calmer time.

Although I am not sure how effective this technique is when it comes to child training, I do see this process as helpful when it comes to resolving the relational conflicts between two adults in married life. The time-out can be a tremendous help in stopping the escalating of anger and hostility when a couple is having a meltdown… much like a fire extinguisher. But just like a fire extinguisher is only used in an emergency situation, the negative circumstances surrounding a marriage conflict that requires a time-out should be few and far between.

Generally speaking, the most intense conflicts in the marriage relationship revolve around several very sensitive areas. These areas are called tension points or “Hot Spots”. When entering into a conversation with your mate that touches upon the normal tension points or hot spots in married life the situation is ripe for a painful conflict. (Please see article on The Five Hot Spots or Tension Points in The Marriage Relationship) Here are 6 practical tips to help navigate your relationship through these sensitive areas and avoid a meltdown:

• AGREE ON BOUNDARIES FOR DISCUSSIONS: Both mates should agree on the rules for talking about difficult subject matter. This is the foundation of healthy dialogue.

• NEVER TALK WHEN TIRED OR STRESSED: It is nearly impossible to manage negative emotions that can arise when sleep deprived or extremely stressed.

• NEVER TALK PASS 8PM: Give or take an hour or so, couples must understand how precarious it is to discuss sensitive matters during the last hours of a long day. This almost always leads to angry tempers and hurt feelings.

• KNOW THE PROPER TIME: The right time is when both mates are rested and prepared mentally to enter into sensitive discussions.

• PLAN THE PROPER TIME: Often a marriage partner feels compelled to grab inopportune moments to discuss sensitive matters for fear that he or she will not get another chance to do so. Be committed to planning a time to dialogue with your mate when they request a desire to talk.

• PREPARE MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY: Before entering into sensitive subject matter with your partner, remind yourself to be patient with misunderstandings that will arise and to be on guard for negative reactionary behavior in you or you mate.

Keep these tips in mind as you navigate the so-called “Hot Spots” in the marriage relationship and you will be on you way to building a great marriage!