Creating the Safest Place on Earth (When the World is in Crisis): Guest Post


Dear Friend,

We want to help you in some small way.

As of this week, our family of four (including our college-student son who is now home from Chicago) has gone into full social-distancing mode here in Seattle to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. Chances are that your family is doing the same.  The good news? We’re seeing a lot more of each other than we normally do.

The challenge?  Well, we’re seeing a lot more of each other than we normally do!

So, how do you create a safe, healthy, and happy home in these difficult days?

We’ll leave the medical advice to experts.  But when it comes to your relationships – with your spouse, your children and your friends – we hope this brief list of practical suggestions makes your unexpected family time better.

  • Leverage the hour that matter most.  What is it?  Your dinner hour. Don’t waste it in front of the TV. Don’t allow your kitchen to become a food court.  Never has there been a better time to share a daily meal together as a family.  Linger for conversation. Ask questions. Make it “slow food.” Researchers across the board have found that the hour around the dinner table tethers a family together.  So, nourish and nurture your family through this daily ritual.
  • Hone your communication skills. As you linger around the dinner table, practice two fundamental skills for communication.  First, clarify content.  This means that you go out of your way to be sure each person feels understood when they are speaking. Second, reflect feelings. This is key.  Listen for emotions underneath the words.  If you have children of a certain age, listen for fear and anxiety about what we are all going through.  In fact, listen for it in your spouse, too. You can use this old standby: “Sounds like you are feeling …” If you’re wrong in identifying their feeling, they will tell you.  So, listen with a genuine heart. It may be one of the most import things you do during this trying time.
  • Stay connected with your friends.  Since we aren’t seeing our friends at church, going out for a meal, etc. we are making regular phone calls and leveraging FaceTime. Why is this important? Because we all need to maintain our “web of connectedness” right now. We need to hear from each other. We need to know we are not making this journey alone.  So, reach out on a regular basis.  Last night we even had a good friend “join us for dinner” through FaceTime (propping up the tablet at a place around our dinner table).
  • Count your blessings.  Thornton Wilder said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” It’s true. And whenever we humans are under stress and filled with worry, gratitude rarely enters the picture.  It’s our nature to complain even when we have so much to be grateful for.  It’s an attitude that breeds entitlement and it can permeate our lives if we’re not careful.  Actually, it is sure to permeate our lives and our relationships if we are not grateful. So count your blessings, big and small, and you will see your spirit lifted. Oh, and know this: gratitude is contagious.  Let this virtue go viral in your home. The more you model it, the more the people around you will, too.
  • Dream a dream. Whenever we feel trapped, cooped up, and immobilized, we can begin to lose hope.  Don’t let that happen. “Hope is itself a species of happiness,” said Samuel Johnson, “and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.”  This is a good time to determine your dreams.  A dream is simply a vision of your imagination.  What do you imagine doing once this pandemic passes?  Have you thought about that? It’s crucial to dream because it reminds you and your family that this crisis is not forever. Dreaming brings together two super boosters of happiness: optimism and control.  It gives us passion for what is possible. Allow yourselves to imagine what life will be like on the other side of COVID-19.

There you have it. Five practical and proactive things you can do to help create the safest place on Earth – your home – during this crisis.  And know this: We are pulling for you. We are praying for you. We are here for you.  For more than two decades we have been supplying you with help for building healthy relationships.  And we’re more committed to that today than ever.  So if you’re inclined, let us know how it’s going.  If you’ve discovered something during this time that can help others, let us know and we will spread the word. You can connect with us at:

With every good wish and prayer,

Couple’s Strengths.

In the PREPARE/ENRICH training, Dr. Olson discusses “couple’s strengths.” There are a number of theories/ideas about what constitutes a couple’s strength(s). Some texts recommend that couples should be similar so that they have their likenesses to lean on in stressful times. Others contend that couple differences diminish the weaknesses of the other spouse. How do you approach this idea? Is there evidence in Scripture that supports your position?

Opposites do attract, but without commitment, the attraction can become a fatal and destructive one.[1] Hawkins posits that “Husbands and wives who recognize they are on the same team, striving for the success of their marriage, make an unbeatable combination.”[2] Intentionality within a team where opposites and differences in personality exist does not hinder the team from accomplishing its intended goal. Each member of the team intentionally develops the understanding that “togetherness” requires thoughtful, intentional efforts of understanding the other person’s differences thus resulting in understanding their needs.[3] Hawkins discusses the creation of Adam and Eve and the mere fact that God created each of them with different or “unique” strengths and attributes. [4] Each person brought the team their unique strengths and attributes without which humanity would have been impoverished and with which humanity was significantly enriched to serve as a fuller revelation of God’s image.  It appears that Hawkins is suggesting that God created the differences; therefore, are these differences also considered opposites? Hawkins suggests that the antagonism that developed between the differences/opposites in personalities occurred after the fall of man.[5] Therefore, the enemy has made differences a challenge rather than an enhancement between couples. These personality differences complement pairs rather than separate them or create friction.

Personality types indicate the opposites attract conundrum more than anything else.  Moreover, an introvert and an extrovert are attracted to each other – they complement each other and are helpmates in social gatherings and bring balance to the relationship.[6] Deuteronomy 24:5 demonstrates God’s desire for men to stay at home with their new wives to “cheer” them up! Could this be an example of an extroverted husband going off to war to leave his young introverted wife at home alone and with people whom she did not know? Although opposites do attract, the attraction does not have to result in a disastrous relationship.  Ephesians 5:25 directs husbands to love their wives in the same manner that Christ loves the church.  Hawkins proposes that companionship, not an automatic thing that occurs in marriages where opposites are intermingled-it takes commitment.[7]

The book Song of Solomon provides us with graphics pictures of how each person in the relationship describes the concept of love and their love for each other.  However, the bond was strong and heartfelt; the dominant character in this book is “the beloved.” The Shulamite expressed with poetic beauty the intensity of her love and commitment for her “beloved” even though they appear to be social opposites.[8]  1 Samuel 25:2-42 speaks of biblical opposites. Nabal, Abigail, and David. Nabal was brutish, displayed no social graces and demonstrated an attitude of ungratefulness. Abigail signified a woman of compassion, generosity and quick witnesses. In this instance, David was determined to require vengeance after being rejected by Nabal even though he protected Nabal’s property.  Three separate personalities met during the perfect storm of Nabal’s unthankfulness.  Abigail’s quick witness prevented David from committing an atrocity that God would have handled.  David, on the other hand, was attracted to her because she was wise and committed to her relationship with her husband.


  • [1] Dr. Olson states that although opposites do attract “They will need to remember to work with their differences rather than attempting to change or criticize the other person. It is helpful to look at the positives, even in very diverse approaches to the same issue.“ PREPARE/ENRICH, Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71, PDF, Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015;  I Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV) declares “4 Love is patient, love is kind. . . . . It does not dishonor; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This scripture suggests that love will encounter differences, but it also offers suggestions that enable couples to maintain relationships with individuals who are one’s opposite.
  • [2] Ronald E. Hawkins, Strengthening Marital Intimacy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, Vital Source), 13.

[3] Ibid., 123.

[4] Ibid., 15

[5] Ibid., 15; Gen. 2:18.

[6] Ibid., 80; 124-126.

[7] Ibid., 132 “Attraction must culminate in exclusive commitment to the other individual if intimacy is to be achieved.”

[8] Song of Sol. 8:13-14. He is outside socializing with his friends while he is at home waiting for him.  However, she does not resent his absence. She declares her need for him and demands a commitment to their time together.


Hawkins, Ronald E. Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.

PREPARE/ENRICH. Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71. PDF. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015.

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