Week 13: Transitions in Marriage: In-Law Relations

Rules, there are rules for everything! Rules for sitting at the dinning table, rules for driving, rules for how you should act in public, rules, rules, rules, so many rules so little time. I remember growing up being surrounded by rules and wondering why there were so many rules, why did I have to follow so many rules? Why did all these rules apply to me and why did my parents think I was a horrible child that needed all these rules? Why do I need to sit at the table a certain way? Why can’t I eat dessert first? Why do I need to put money away and why can’t I just spend it all?

I know that there are some rules that I want to take into my future family that my parents had for me. One of the rules that I still abide by even though I have lived away from home for over 10 years. This rule is about money. My mom has always been a very budget conscious person, this she passed onto me. I remember when I was in college and was applying for my first credit card; it was a big day in my life. This credit card would bring me great financial freedom in my life; I could do what ever I want with it! Yet my mom the great women that she is imposed a rule on me, she told me that as long as I had a credit card I needed to make sure that I paid it off every month, if not she would take it away from me. My mom even what as far as to make up a contract that we both signed (and she still has it to this day).  I know that when I have children they will all have to sign a contract and be under the same rule as I am.

Bernard Poduska says that there are three different types of rules “explicit, implicit, intuitive”(Poduska, 2000, p. 2-3). Explicit rules “are expressed verbally or posted on the refrigerator door”. Implicit rules “often have the greatest impact on our lives, they are taught through nonverbal communication and repeated throughout childhood. They tend to be just below conscious awareness”. Intuitive rules “also unspoken, concern those that are more far reaching” (Poduska, 2000, p.2-3).

I grew up in an “explicit family rules” (Poduska, 2000, p.2) house; all of our rules were very verbalized. I remember my mom always telling me the rules, there never seemed to be any unwritten rules in our house, everyone knew the rules and we could never use the excuse “I did not know that was a rule” because we always new the rules. I think being able to have all the rules written allowed all of us to flourish together, there was never anyone’s certain seat or rules that were unknown to “outsiders”. When my sister-in-law first came into the family my parents sat down with her, my brother and I and set out more rules so that everyone would be on the same page. These rules still apply to my parent’s house (as long as you are not married).

Growing up in a house full of rules, how could one person survive? Now that I am older, I can see how the rules that my parents placed upon me, allowed me to be safe, nurtured, loved and yet it they still allowed me to make mistakes and break the rules.



Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

So I know you have heard of vitamin D, C, B, B12, but have you every heard of vitamin N? You probably haven’t and did you know that many children and some adults lack this very crucial vitamin. So now you are trying to Google this and see what good this vitamin will do for you. Well what if I told you this vitamin is not something that you take, it is a very special vitamin that will help you with your physical, mental and emotional health, now you think I am crazy and you want to get your hands on this new miracle vitamin. What if I told you I already have an abundance of vitamin N that you can start utilizing right now! Now you really want to know what this vitamin really is, well this vitamin is the word no. Yes, that is right, No!

In Dr. Richard B. Millar paper, “Who is the boss? Power Relationships in Families”, he speaks about how parents are the leaders in the family. Dr. Millar states that, “Discipline is probably one of the most important elements in which a mother and father can lead and guide and direct their children” (Millar, 2008, p.1). I think in these times, many parents are afraid to say “no” to their children, but this is not what their children really need. Most children, though they do not show it, thrive from the word no. “No” allows you to set boundaries and rules, it also lets children know that they are cared and loved. “No” allows you to make sure that your children are ready for the real world, they understand that there are consequences to their actions and they are able to understand right from wrong. When we are able to discipline our children, we are raising children who are respect authority, who are prepared for the real world, who are able to full fledge adults and who do not just sit around waiting for their life to be handed to them.

“No” can be such a powerful word, it can be used for both good and evil. When used for evil, “no” can turn into something that stops a child from growing, or being able to explore the world. “No” as an evil, does not allow a child to use their agency to make their own decisions, it does not allow them to learn the law of natural consequences. When you use the word “no” for good, you allow your child to be able to explore the world, but with guide lines and rules. You allow your children to use their agency to learn about the world around them. You allow them to understand consequences and you allow them to be able to learn that when they make mistakes, the world does not end it continues and everyone goes about their day.  When we empower our children with the word “no, we allow them to be able to see the world in such a great light. We let them conquer their fears, we let them explore, and we let them learn. The word “no” might be one of the greatest gifts that we can give our children.


Miller, R.B. Who is the boss? Power relationships in Families. BYU Conference on Family, March 28,2008.

Week 11: Transitions in Marriage: Fidelity and Physical Intimacy

Oh sex, it seems like everyone is having except well…me and maybe every other single LDS member. It is something that is constantly thrown at our faces, daily. There is no escaping it. It is on our TVs, in our movies, in our music, on billboards, but the only problem is there is no one talking about openly. It is talked about when you are engaged or after you are married, but other than that, I have never heard of sex being talk about in an LDS home. Just like in when Brent Barlow spoke about his companion on his mission when asked “And what is the Mormon attitude towards sexuality?”, his companion answered, “Sir, we believe in it.” (Barlow, 1986, p.49) This is one of the things I cannot handle about LDS culture. Why is it so taboo to talk about sex? I mean really it is everywhere!

Maybe it is because I grew up as a non-member, or maybe it is because my family was pretty open about the subject after my cousin became pregnant at the age of 16, or maybe it is because I went to a public school for most of my life, all I know is that, while I was investigating the church, it was a topic that was only spoken about during the law of chastity conversation and that it is. Do not have sex until marriage. Yes I 100% agree with this and yes I abstain from sex as I know that it is for married couples only, and I know that is a very scared thing between a man and a women; but I think not talking about it is what makes not just our members but members of many church intimidated by it.

During not only this semester but also semesters in the past, I have learned that a great deal of divorces happen because of lack of communication and a lack of that communication happens in the bedroom. Just as Sean Brotherson writes about

“…, we may come to believe that the only kind of discussion about sexuality that is warranted is the dialogue about what Satan tempts us to do and what the Church teaches us not to do. Such a dialogue, however important, is not a recipe for fully understanding and creating sexual fulfillment as a married couple. Ignorance is the first enemy of sexual fulfillment in marriage. In an unpublished manuscript on sexual fulfillment in marriage, a friend of mine has written: “For some LDS couples, especially those where one or both struggle with negative feelings about sex, doctrinal permission feels needed to even discuss or study such things. It is okay to read about sex. It is okay to talk about sex.” (Brotherson, 2003, p.2)

I think that if we are able to talk more open about it and I am not saying go against the law of chastity or learn from pornographic resources; I am saying lets start talking more about when our children have questions or when as young adults we want to talk about the feelings that have come up while dating someone. It was not to long ago that my roommate came to me with questions because she was too embarrassed to speak to her mom or older sisters about the topic. Her questions came out of a place of wanting to learn and curiosity. I was able to answer her questions to the best of what knowledge I have.

I think that if we were to be more open about the subject of sex, then our youth today, would not be so curious to go looking for their answers in the dark depths of the internet, they would be more willing and open go ask their parents. Their parents would be more willing to answer their questions. There would be better understanding of how sacred it is and how important it is to marriage. This subject because it is in our faces every single day, should not be pushed back to hide in a corner only to be spoken about when you are engaged or after you are married. It should be spoken about throughout our lives so that we are able to handle questions, concerns and the everyday bombarding that happens.


Brotherson, S.E. (2003). “Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage.” Meridian Magazine, www.meridianmagazine.com.

Barlow, B. A. “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on intimacy in marriage,”: Thoughts on intimacy in marriage”, Ensign, Sept 1986, 49.

Week 10: Seek to Understand

This week we learned about gridlock (no not the kind that happens when you are stuck in traffic), gridlock in a relationship. So what is gridlock then? Gridlock is when you are unable to accommodate irreconcilable differences. So how do you know if you are in a gridlock with your spouse? Dr Gottman states that “you will know when you are in gridlock if

  1. You have the same argument again and again with no resolution
  2. Neither of you can address the issue with humor, empathy, or affection
  3. The issue is becoming increasing polarizing as time goes on
  4. Compromise seems impossible because it would mean selling out-giving up something important and care to your beliefs, values, or sense of self” (Gottman 1999,p.237)

Just like when you are in a gridlock traffic jam, you are unable to move on from the problem that is affecting your relationship. Sometimes these problems are your spouse’s or your hopes and dreams that are not being fulfilled in your relationship, sometimes these problems are bigger ones such as how you are going to raise your children. Whatever the problem is, you must make sure that you do not gridlock yourself. So the bug question is how do you fight gridlock?

What if I told you that you did not have to overcome gridlock to have a happy marriage? Now you’re reading this thinking that I am crazy, how can one have a happy marriage if you cannot move passed a disagreement? Well the answer to that question is you do not need to move passed the issue; you just have to learn how to handle the gridlock. Dr. Gottman states “the goal is to be able to acknowledge and discuss the issue without hurting each other.” (Gottman 1999,p.237)

So how do you go about getting around gridlock without hurting the other person’s feelings? Dr. Gottman has 4 steps to help.

Step 1- Explore the dream

In this step you want your spouse to be able to understand why your dream is important to you. You will want to explain your dream to your spouse and why you feel strongly about the issue.

Step 2- Soothe

When you are discussing your dreams with each other, make sure you are paying attention to how you are each reacting to the conversation.

Step 3- Reach a temporary compromise

Here is where you want to make sure that you both understand where each other stands on the issue, but the purpose is not to solve the conflict. In this step you want to make the issue harmless to your marriage. You want to be able to understand that the problem is there, and it will probably never go away. This step you will also want to make sure you have negotiable and non-negotiable ideas for your issue.

Step 4- Say thank you

Though your issue is probably not resolved and it may take many discussions to resolve it, you want to make sure that you always come back to a place of love, gratitude and positivity. (Gottman 1999,p.250-259)

After reading this chapter, I can see why so many marriages have problems. I can see how my friends relationships, get stuck in gridlock and they are unable to find their way out. I can also see how easily it is to get stuck in a gridlock, and not be able to come to a conclusion because you are unsure of how to handle the problem that wont go away. Gridlock is a very trick situation in any marriage, and I am hopeful that in the future, that if my husband and I ever get stuck in a gridlocked issue, that we will come back to this knowledge and be able to move passed the issue without any hurt feelings.


Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.

Week 9: Managing Conflict; Consecrating Ourselves

Problems, we all have them, they will never go away, but when you are in a relationship your problems are no longer just yours they are your spouses as well. When you are in a relationship, problems come in two types, ones that are solvable and ones that are perpetual. So now you are asking yourself what is a perpetual problem? A perpetual problem is one that is going to be in your life in some form for the rest of your relationship. So now you know what a perpetual problem is, you might be asking well what does it look like? How can I tell the difference between a solvable problem and a perpetual one? A perpetual one is a problem that even though you know it will always be a problem; you have learned to cope with it, you make it into a joke, you have come to an understanding that it will always be there.

Dr. Gottman states, “Once you are able to identify and define your various disagreements, you’ll be able to customize your coping strategies, depending on which of these two types of conflict you’re having.” (Gottman 1999, p.136)

When you have a problem that is solvable, you able to forgive and forget, with a perpetual problem you need to be careful how you approach these problems. If you approach correctly, perpetual problems can be dealt with and lived with. When dealt with incorrectly, they lead to the four horsemen, which we know from a pervious post that is something that no couple wants to deal with. Before the four horsemen show up, couples normally end up in gridlock over their problem. So what does gridlock look like? Dr. Gottman gives us a list of characteristics of gridlock problems:

  • The conflict makes you feel rejected by your partner
  • You keep talking about it but make no headway
  • Eventually you disengage from each other emotionally
  • When you discuss the subject, you end up feeling more frustrated and hurt. (p.141)

When I look back on past relationships, and relationships of friends and family, I am able to see how perpetual problems end up becoming larger problems, which lead to bigger problems in a relationship. One perpetual problem that I have seen pop up a few times in my family is the dishes. It has always been a rule in my home that if you cook, you don’t need to clean up. This problem always pops up because both my brothers do not see the need to do the dishes right away; they would rather do them in the morning. It has become a running joke in our family, that if you need a clean dish you will have to wash one yourself or wait until morning for one. All of us know that the dishes will be done before they go to sleep, but this is a problem both of my sister-in-laws have decided to deal with for the rest of their marriages.

I hope that one day when I am married, I will be able to handle my perpetual problems with grace and comedy. I hope that I will not only be able to handle all of my solvable problems, but that when perpetual problems arise, I will be able to make sure that I do not get gridlocked and that I do not allow the four horsemen to become a part of my relationship.


Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.

Week 8: Beware of Pride

Pride is of the greatest evils out to ruin relationships. Now before you start to argue with me and say “no my spouse cheating on me is” or “we just grew apart is why”. However, if we look deep into these reasons we can find that deep down in it is pride that brought these and other reasons why relationships end. Pride is something that is in all of us, when we allow it to get into our relationships it is what brings them down.

By being too prideful in our relationships we do not hear what the other person is saying. We allow our ears to close to our spouse and we allow at least one of the four horsemen into our relationships. When we allow pride to take over your marriage, Dr. Gottman says that about 81% of relationships will fail. With the divorce rate at about 50%, pride must be the reason for so many of these.

So now the question is how do we fix this? How do we keep pride out of our relationships? The answer to that is humility. Humility is the opposite of pride.

Humility allows us to see out spouse as an equal and not as someone who we must beat, or try to one up. Humility allows relationships to flourish. In Dr. Gottman’s book, he writes about a great example of humility. He speaks about a man named Jeremy, who is looking at buying a new car. Jeremy sees is wife as an equal in their marriage so he has listened to what she has to say about a new car and takes it into account when looking for a new car. Jeremy finds one that both him and his wife like and when he goes to look at it, the man selling the car is astonished that Jeremy would even listen to his wife when it comes buying a car. Dr. Gottman also talks about how those relationships where both the man and woman see each other as equal are able to not allow pride to take over their relationship.

As I look back on past relationships, I can see how pride was able to win out. I am able to see how either I allowed my pride to get in the way, or that the other person’s pride was what was standing in our way. One relationship sticks out in my head the most. We were both very young (high school) we had been going out for a few months, when things started to change. He started to become very controlling and would start to do things that I did not agree with. He ended up letting his pride cloud his judgment, and in the end, it hurt our relationship.

When we are able to allow humility and not pride into our relationships, we are able to allow our relationships to grow, flourish and beat out the odds.


Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.


Week 7: Staying Emotionally Connected

This week we learned about turning towards each other; now if you are anything like me, you are currently asking yourself the same question I did. What is turning towards each other (and no it does not mean standing face to face with your spouse)? Turning towards each other is that moment when you are in the grocery store and your wife asks you if we need butter. Instead of just shrugging off the question (turning away), saying something like “I’ll gab one just to be sure” (turning towards). If you hear your husband grumbling about how hard work is going, instead of just to buck up or ignoring him, ask him questions about why he feels that way, listen to what he says and agree with him (take his side if needed), instead of trying to fix his problem. Turning towards each other, is about the small little moments that you have together. A memory that you both acknowledge, even if it is that tell tale grunt that comes out instead of an actual word, these little things are actually helping your relationship grown and strengthen. In Dr. Gottman’s book he states “I rarely see small moments of connection in the tapes of couples who later divorce or report their marriage has permanently soured” (Gottman 1999, p. 87).

The readings this week and got me really thinking about the moments in my life were I might have turned away from a friend, family member or ex boyfriend. When I look back on some of the times, I can see little moments where I might have not taken the time to turn towards someone, when I should have. Sometimes, I don’t think people realise they are turning away from another. It seems like such a small thing, when you fail to acknowledge the little things, that your relationship can be ruined. Sometimes I feel that many couples get caught up in their own lives, not their lives together but their separate lives. Or they feel as if they cannot talk with their partner because they will not listen or will try to fix their problem.

Dr. Gottman’s book is full of ideas that will help couples who are struggling with turning towards each other, or who just want to make sure that they are able to stay on track. Dr. Gottman talks about how to listen and respond to your spouse when they want you to turn towards them. The book also gives couples a list of things that we should be thanking our spouses for, they also end up being great ideas for date nights that allow you to turn towards each other. Some of the ideas that Dr. Gottman gives for turning towards each other are:

  • Reunited at the end of the day and talk about how it went
  • Watch or read the news together
  • Call and/or think about each other during the workday
  • Exercise together
  • Double-date with friends
  • Shop for groceries
  • Clean the house

Having the knowledge of turning towards each other will come in handy when I am married. I can see that in the future I will be able to those moments when I need to turn towards my husband, and I will be able to teach him how to turn towards me. Being able to turn towards each other, will allow are relationship to grow and become stronger so that we are able to withstand the storms that come.


Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.