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Family Matters - “Compassion” as the Core Value for Building a Spiritual Relationship!

March 29, 2016

If it takes a family and a village (or church) to raise a child, then it, also, takes “core values” to build the primary relationship in the family into a truly spiritual connection. Far too many couples lose their way by drifting away from those core values in their communication and drifting in to fear, blaming, and distancing. It’s practically impossible to build a healthy family without a healthy partner relationship at the top.

I think everyone would agree that “compassion” must be a central component of that connection, but what do we mean when we use that term? We aren’t just talking about positive and erotic feelings toward our partner, though those certainly have their place in a healthy relationship. We are talking about the foundational values that guide daily life and help us navigate the eventual conflicts and problems that will arise. Jesus condoned marriage in several places in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 19:3-6 and John 2:1-11). Andy Newberg, M.D. (Thomas Jefferson Medical School) recommends “compassionate communica-tion” in all your interactions (cf. How God Changes Your Brain?).

How do we engage in “compassionate communication”? One theorist (David Richo, Ph.D.) posits that we need to practice the 5 A’s to build a healthy relationship: Attention, Appreciation, Acceptance, Affection, and Allowing. I will often have couples that I’m working with rate themselves and their partners on how well they are providing these “necessary ingredients”. You would be amazed at the often incongruity in the rating of themselves versus their partner. It might be an experiment each of you may want to try (and, of course, this can apply to many types of relationships).

It is a helpful exercise to ask yourself: Do I give my partner regular and consistent ATTENTION? Do I show (in tangible and vocal ways) APPRECIATION for my partner? Do I ACCEPT my partner for who he/she is, including all his/her differences (cf. Myers-Briggs or Enneagram)? Do I share AFFECTION in words and actions on a consistent basis? And, do I ALLOW (or SUPPORT) my partner in their pursuits and growth (spiritually and otherwise)? These are the types of things we work on in pastoral counseling couple’s counseling. If you would like to explore how to build a deeper and more stable connection with your partner, contact The Center for Pastoral Counseling of Greater Philadelphia in Springfield located at Covenant UMC, by calling 610.544.1400 x308.

Dr. Keith Coleman, LMHC, AAPC Fellow

“Family Matters” is a community service presented by The Center for Pastoral Counseling.
For further information call CPC at 610-544-1400, ext. 308.

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