“The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work”–Chapter Three

This chapter begins with the premise that healthy marriages have two people who are emotionally intelligent.  By this, the authors mean that each person in the marriage stores important information about their spouse:  they remember important history, know who their spouse’s friends are, their spouse’s fears, likes, dislikes, anxieties, quirks, joys, passions.  The authors call this having a detailed “love map”.

The authors cite one of the major causes of marital divorce is actually the birth of the first child.  “Sixty-seven percent of couples in our newlywed study underwent a precipitous drop in marital satisfaction the first time they became parents.  But the remaining 33 percent did not experience this drop – in fact, about half of them saw their marriage improve……What separated these two groups?  You guessed it:  The couples whose marriages thrived after the birth had detailed love maps from the get-go….” Continue reading

Late To Waldorf? Overwhelmed?

If you are coming in late to Waldorf homeschooling or feel overwhelmed and overrun by dogma, I have a solution for you!  Please read the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner compiled in “The Renewal of Education.”  This set of lectures, given to a group of Swiss public educators only eight months after the first Waldorf school formed, is so accessible. The foreword is written by a favorite Waldorf educator of mine, Eugene Schwartz, in which he compares and contrasts Waldorf Education to John Dewey and Maria Montessori’s work and sheds light on the hallmarks of Waldorf Education:  the self –renewal and self-development of the teacher, the balance that feeling provides in education, and the approach of Waldorf education to the holistic child.

Waldorf education approaches the child from four different avenues. Continue reading

Chapter Two: The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work


Chapter Two is entitled, “How I Predict Divorce.”  Based upon observing couples in his lab, Dr. Gottman lists the following difficulties couples face in communication, and especially in how they handle disagreements:


1.  “The Harsh Start-Up”.  His theory is that if a discussion starts off with criticism or sarcasm, that the conversation should be tabled until a different time.  Start over.  Harsh start-ups can be a predicting sign of other negative ways to interact as a couple.


2.  Criticism:  “You will always have some complaints about the person you live with.  But there’s a world of difference between a complaint and a criticism.  A complaint only addresses the specific action at which your spouse failed.  A criticism is more global – it adds on some negative words about your mate’s character or personality.”  “A complaint focuses on specific behavior but a criticism ups the ante by throwing in blame and general character assassination.”


3.  Contempt: Sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor all fall under this category.  These behaviors make a problem impossible to solve.    Contempt attacks character.  It demeans.  It conveys negativity.  Belligerence, which is anger that contains a threat or provocation, also falls under this category.


4. Defensiveness:  Research shows that defensiveness rarely makes a partner back down or apologize.  Defensiveness is a way of blaming your partner, and it tends to escalate the  conflict at hand. 


5.  Stonewalling:  Harsh startups, criticism and contempt and defensiveness all lead to  an essential tuning out of one partner.  In order to avoid a fight, the person just turns away.  Many times this is a protection mechanism because that person feels attacked and flooded by negativity.  Here is a sobering quote from this section of the chapter:  “The more often you feel flooded by your spouse’s criticism or contempt, the more hypervigilant you are for cues that your spouse is about to “blow” again.  All you can think about it protecting yourself from the turbulence your spouse’s onslaught causes.  And the way to do that is to disengage emotionally from the relationship.” 


6.  Body Language/Physiological Response to Negative Flooding – Men actually are more physiologically reactive to stress than females (see the book for more details why), so they are more likely to be the stonewaller in a marriage and shut down.  Men generally also seem to think in terms of righteousness and are indignant after an argument, or they consider themselves the innocent victim of their wife’s anger or complaint. 


Dr.  Gottman says that women normally bring up the sensitive issues in a marriage and the men, not as able to cope with these issues, avoid the subject or become belligerent or contemptuous in order to silence her.  However,  he contends that even if your marriage follows the patterns mentioned above, it is not a given that divorce is likely.  “In fact,”  Dr. Gottman writes on page 39, “you’ll find examples of all four horseman and even occasional flooding in stable marriages.”  (The four horseman are what I listed under numbers three through six).


7.  Failed Repair Attempts – the failure of repair attempts during disagreements are the strongest predictor of divorce.  In marriages where there is mainly criticism, contempt, defensiveness, it is likely repair attempts will fail. 


8.  Bad Memories – Happy couples tend to look back on their courtship, marriage and early married days with fondness.  They may even glorify the struggles they have gone through.  Unhappy couples tend to re-write the past with a negative slant.  


Dr. Gottman notes that when a couple at the end stage of marriage comes for counseling, they often are not fighting because they have so withdrawn from the whole situation.  They are distanced and emotionally disengaged.  He remarks that some people leave marriage by divorcing, or some remain married and just lead “parallel lives together.”  He also talks about an affair being a symptom of a dying marriage, not the cause of a dying marriage.  But, he also talks about how it is not over until it’s over and how he is convinced many marriages could be saved with the principles in this book of how couples interact when they are not disagreeing.


I say, lead on Dr. Gottman. I can’t wait to read more!

Many blessings,


Chapter One: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

Today we kick off our new book study:  “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman and Nan Silver.  This book was a New York Times bestseller, and has some interesting observations as to our most intimate relationships.  You can find the link to it on Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0609805797/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329658637&sr=8-1

Dr. Gottman  spear-headed sixteen years of marriage and divorce research at University of Washington in Seattle and ended up being able to predict, with 91 percent accuracy, over three separate studies, whether a couple would stay married or end up in divorce.  He got to the point where he could predict this after listening to a couple interact in his Love Lab for as little as five minutes! Continue reading

Chapter 10 of “The Well-Balanced Child”

This chapter, entitled “Learning From the Ancients:  Education Through Movement” begins with the suggestion that in the process of change and innovation, we have taken movement and music, two front pieces to a quality education in years gone by and thrust them aside.  This chapter takes a look at education in different ancient era and cultures. Continue reading

“Turning Children Around”–Chapter 9 of “The Well Balanced Child”

In the beginning of this book, many readers asked, “Yes! I see these problems in my own children, but what do I DO about it?”  Hopefully, this chapter will help answer some of those questions.

The first thing to consider is PLAY.  The  book goes into scenarios of how movement and play improved not only  learning, but also societal skills and decreases criminal activity in children.

From page 132, “ Play networks may help stitch individuals into the social fabric that is the staging grounds for their lives….Under conditions of social isolation, separation, hunger, fear, anger, or anxiety, play activity is markedly reduced or absent.”

Carrie here:   If you have children ages 3 and up who are not “playing well”, I think there are several things to consider:  Continue reading

Part Three of “Feeding, Growth and The Brain”

We are going to wrap up this chapter by taking a quick peek at the other nutrients mentioned:

Magnesium – is intricately involved in working with calcium and phosphorus. A deficiency in magnesium can manifest as over-anxiety, irritability, labile emotions, craving for sweets and alcohol, and stiffness of fine motor movements.   Kelp, fresh green peas, whole grains, nuts and seeds are sources.  See page 117 of the chapter for more information. Continue reading

Part Two of “Feeding, Growth and the Brain”

We are continuing our look at Chapter 8 of “The Well Balanced Child:  Movement and Early Learning” by Sally Goddard Blythe with this interesting chapter on feeding, growth and brain development.  The authors takes a look at several important nutrients and the research surrounding their effect on brain development.  This post is going to look at zinc, because I think it is surprising the amount of research conducted on this one mineral.

Zinc – is essential for all aspects of development, and affects sperm production and fertility but also successful outcome of pregnancy and maternal behavior.  Studies looking at zinc deficient diets in the pregnancies of rats showed that these rats failed to mother their offspring.  The baby rats showed lethargy, reduced weight gain, and increase in emotionality compared to those rats fed a zinc-enriched diet.  Growth, sexual maturity, learning ability, resistance to stress, and behavioral control are all linked to zinc.  Depression, sensitivity to light, impaired sense of taste and smell, and anorexia and bulimia are all linked to lower zinc levels.

More than that, the chapter sites a source as saying, Continue reading

“Feeding, Growth and The Brain”

This is Chapter 8 of “The Well Balanced Child:  Movement and Early Learning” by Sally Goddard Blythe.  This chapter is about diet and how diet affects the brain.

The beginning of the chapter discusses different theories about the role of diet in ancient mankind, and questions why human babies are born with so much subcutaneous fat.  The author also discusses research that has been found that for brain development, the ratio of Omega –3 and Omega-6 fats are about in a one to one balance.  “Omega-3 fatty acids are relatively scarce in the land food chain, but predominate in the marine food chain.  It is possible that at one time in our ancestral history, seafood formed a much larger proportion of the diet than in modern times.”   The stores of fat laid down before birth provides a storehouse of sorts for the first years of life when the brain is rapidly myelinating.  (Remember, myelination is the fatty sheaths that are laid around nerves to make nerve conduction faster).

The author discusses low birth weight babies, and how these babies are prone to more neurologic impairment and also at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and renal failure later in life.  Low-birth babies are actually more susceptible to diabetes and prone to obesity in adulthood due to the insulin producing cells of the pancreas being “over-worked”.  This information is nothing new to those of us in the medical field, but I do wonder how many parents know this.  I also find that this book spends so much time going through different things leading to a child having challenges and rarely seems to focus on what would help,(at least yet), so I worried that parents reading this would be upset and feel hopeless.  If you have had a low birth weight baby and this information is new to you, please don’t panic discuss this with your health care team!  Your health care provider will have more up-to-date information than what is in this book.

One of the best ways to protect all of our children, low birth weight or not, is to breastfeed.    Human milk is high in essential fatty acids,which helps in a number of ways, including such things as forming the membrane barriers around cells, determining the fluidity and chemical reactivity of membranes, serving as a starting point for hormone-like substances that help regulate blood pressure, platelet stickiness and renal function and more.

But a lack of vitamin and mineral co-factors, particularly zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B3, B6, and C, prevents synthesis of fatty acids.  This points to “the importance of a varied and healthy diet at all times of life, but particularly prior to and during pregnancy and breast-feeding – times when modern women are sometimes tempted to restrict their diet…”  The author also points out that a healthy gut bacteria and flora helps set the stage for the efficient absorption of nutrients.

In the next post, we will take a peek at some of the vitamins and minerals necessary for brain development and fatty acid absorption.

Many blessings,