In this weeks reading I was pondering on Dr Gottman’s writings in the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. In chapter 6 he tackles the idea of turning toward each other, not away. Now this would seem like an easy or natural thing to do but ultimately we are human, and yes, we may find the idea of turning toward each other a hard thing to do.
The work I am part of at the Anasazi Foundation reflects and honors the words of the scriptures that teach us “And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (3 Nephi 25:6) and I would add to this regarding this class, “to turn the hearts of the husband to the wife and wife to the husband.”
Daily we watch how the young people we work with struggle to remove the distractions or “bids for attention” that Dr Gottman teaches about. The young people struggle with limitations like ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Or maybe they have chosen drugs, alcohol or pornography as distractions. Then there are more simple things like their friends, peer pressure, or indifference and laziness. Or maybe a combination of all of the above?
I appreciated Dr Gottman’s teaching but would ask to go one or two steps deeper when we ask ourselves, “What are the “bids for attention” you or someone close to you use to turn toward one another?” It is easy to point the finger of blame at the limitations of ADHD, depression, anxiety, depression, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. These all represent to me a type of outward expression or distraction – and I would add to it the most vilified or obvious distraction – social media. And not to take away from the seriousness of these ailments and issues; but these are all external. They are to some degree an excuse for not looking deeper into the deeper issue of our heart; or better yet – where does the direction of your heart face?
I have found in my work that when a person chooses one of these distractions they are really choosing to not look at their heart. Are you choosing to be selfish, self-centered, non-forgiving, holding a grudge, or staying angry or hurt? Are we willing to take a look at our heart and answer these questions honestly?
I was listening to a podcast today the man who was speaking said, “when I am serving others I find that I am also serving myself, not in a shallow self-serving way; but at a deeper level that is affecting my very being”
Yes, it is true that we may get busy and finding the time to listen and respond to our spouse or children’s needs, but if the pattern of not answering our spouse or children’s bids for attention persist; we may want to stop and take a good look at our heart and find out where it really is.
I was thinking about these questions on a pretty deep level these past few months. I have a relationship with my brother that I really struggle with. As I read the chapter I started to see so much of myself negatively portrayed in this chapter. In one of my discussions with my brother he said to me, “you don’t want friends, you want fans” .. while that statement hit me to the core, there was some truth to it. I had been for years using my relationships to build up my ego, not to make true friends. While this is an over generalization of the situation, I felt deep down inside that this was Heavenly Father trying to teach me something. I have had to sit and look at what direction my heart is truly facing. It is not easy but Elder Bednar did teach in a BYU class that if you truly look to know yourself Heavenly Father will show it to you .. and from there you can start to change