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Helping couples connect through kindness & communication

01.20.15 | Stories, Life Resources | by Beth Johnson

Helping couples connect through kindness & communication

    We spend many more hours worrying about our children’s strengths, deficits, appointments, activities and friendships than we do our marriages.

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    New Way To Love is a 6-week course that helps couples of all ages create a new path to having a whole marriage. Couples will learn key skills and a step-by-step process to align yourself with God's purpose for marriage.

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    I’ve seen a lot of couples in my private practice, in workshops, and in HPUMC’s class: A New Way To Love. One of the most common problems in marriages is a loss of connection. 

    In our busy lives, it is easy to let our marital connection fade to the background. We go from sharing our secrets, hopes and dreams to having perfunctory discussions about the sports, activities and pick up schedules for our kids, or other coordinating factors in our lives. At night, we rush through dinner, bathing kids and helping with homework... to the point where there doesn’t seem to be any time or energy left for our marriages.

    We spend many more hours worrying about our children’s strengths, deficits, appointments, activities and friendships than we do our marriages. And societally this choice is supported… we cannot do enough for our kids, but if we talk about our marriages too much, seek counseling, or go to classes for additional skills for our relationships, there is a common misconception and/or stereotype that something must be wrong.

    What people forget is that a healthy marriage is the foundation for a healthy family and healthy children

    Children of healthy marriages have less anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues and better school performance and self worth. It benefits all of us to put time and energy into keeping the connection alive in our marriages.

    There are some very straightforward ways you can do this:

    1. Remember your manners.  We often use our worst manners with those people who are closest to us. So start today by going out of your way to be grateful for the actions of your spouse by saying thank you when they take out the trash, help out in the kitchen or listen to your problems. Using "please" and "thank you" can begin the journey of reintroducing connection. We naturally want to be around people who are kind to us, so start making a real effort and see what happens.

    2. End Negativity. Dr. John Gottman did a 25-year study of marriage and discovered negativity is the single biggest factor in whether couples stay married. Avoid shame, blame, criticism, name-calling, eye rolling, yelling, sarcasm, and any type of negativity at all costs. Learn to take a timeout and not engage until you can use “I” statements and speak respectfully using a calm, clear tone of voice.

    3. Be the best spouse you can be. If you lean into the truth that you can only change yourself, it can be a powerful shift for your marriage. Instead of spending time and energy worrying or complaining about what your spouse is not, spend that time making every effort to be the best you can be. 

    Think back to the beginning of your relationship. What kind of a girlfriend or boyfriend were you to your spouse? What types of things did you do to show your love? Reintroducing some of those things can go a long way to showing your spouse they are still very important to you and that you are interested in rebuilding or keeping a strong connection. By going out of your way to do special acts of kindness and love, your spouse will see your efforts, think kinder thoughts about you, and feel closer to you.

    In HPUMC’s class, A New Way To Love, couples learn a specific communication model for having all kinds of conversations, from giving appreciations to tackling tough talks. The model facilitates safety, understanding, validation and empathy. We also go into specific ways to help end negativity, and discuss many additional ways to bring positive energy back into the relationship in order to rebuild and reinforce strong connections. A healthy marriage helps create stronger families so it is a win-win to focus on reconnecting with your spouse. 

    Beth Reeder Johnson, MSW, LCSW is an Individual, Family and Couples Therapist with over 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.  She is a Certified Imago Therapist trained specifically to help couples communicate, resolve conflict, and reconnect.  Before she started her private practice in 2008, Beth was an Individual and Family Therapist at Children's Medical Center, Center for Pediatric Psychiatry. She also worked as a therapist and the Program Manager for Dallas MetroCare Services' Westside Family Clinic. Beth is a lifetime member of HPUMC, and is committed to giving her time to HPUMC to ensure that couples in our church community have the resources they need to have healthy, happy relationships. Beth is happy to recommend additional books, online materials, and free couples workshops. Contact her at or www.erjcounseling.com.


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