Tuesday, January 26, 2016

                                                      Developing a Healthy Self-Esteem 
                                                     Dr. David H. Coombs, Ed.D., MFT

       For my doctoral dissertation, I studied self-esteem. I wanted to know how we develop self-confidence and how we learn to feel good about ourselves. If people lack confidence, how do they get it? I learned golden nuggets of truth that, when applied, help us feel good about ourselves.
       First, all of us have suffered from low self-esteem to one degree or another at one time or another. No one feels completely adequate or approved of all the time. We cannot expect universal approval; we must face the fact that not every one is going to like us, and we are not always going to succeed; but that is OK. We see others fail and we still like them; on the other hand, there are people we don’t particularly care for, so why  should we expect everyone to like us?
       Second, we can change our self-esteem. We don’t have to feel locked into thinking and feeling a certain way about ourselves. Change occurs when we decide to change. We begin by bringing our behavior in line with our values. Persons who carry heavy burdens of guilt and shame do not feel good about themselves until they live in harmony with what they know to be right.
       Third, self-esteem is effected by experiences we had as children. Those who were abused, discounted, frequently criticized, or abandoned often feel of little worth. Because of our experiences growing up, all of us have running conversations with ourselves that could be self-defeating. If our parents or significant others were harsh and critical, then we will likely talk to ourselves that same way.
       Fourth, we can change our negative self talk. In fact, if we are to change the way we feel about ourselves, we must change the way we talk to ourselves. Learning the language of self-support is likened to the process of re-parenting ourselves. We must lovingly discipline, kindly correct, constantly support, and quickly forgive ourselves. For example, when we experience a severe disappointment or trauma and are left feeling inadequate and powerless, we must use the power of positive self talk and not label ourselves as failures or losers. For example, we can tell ourselves things such as: “I know I’m not free from making mistakes or having problems or experiencing challenges or facing difficulties, but I am free to choose how I respond to them. I can do hard things. I am a good problem solver. With the Lord’s help, I will overcome all things and move on.”
       Fifth, many of us were taught that it was prideful and wrong to say nice things to ourselves. We were warned not to “get a big head.” While we do not want to brag, it is imperative that we educate our feelings by reminding ourselves (not others) of our qualities, virtues, and strengths. If we wait for others to compliment and praise us so we can feel good about ourselves, we are most likely too dependent on others. Additionally, too many times, when people are positive and do say nice things to us, we may discount their compliments out of fear that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t say those nice things. To feel good about ourselves, we need to not only graciously accept positive feedback but also practice believing it. Remember, a simple “thank you” is the best response to praise.
       Sixth, when we compare ourselves with others so that we assume ourselves to be woefully lacking, our self-esteem suffers. When we envy others for their wealth, position, good looks, and so forth, we find it difficult to accept ourselves just as we are. While we all make these comparisons, they do not serve us well. So let’s stop it!
       Seventh, we can challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone and courageously take steps to do those things we have always wanted to do, but didn’t do, because we were afraid of failing. We must acknowledge our fears and then move forward. Life is no fun if we always play it safe. As we learn to boldly face our fears, we find that most fears are mythical and that we can do more than we ever thought we could. Success breeds success and builds self-confidence.
       Eighth, curiously, as we have been discussing what we can do to better love ourselves, it may seem a contradiction to mention how important it is that we forget ourselves and think more of what we can do for others. Losing ourselves in the service of others is rewarding, and we may find there is more of ourselves to like when we bless others.
       As we learn to accept the truths in the compliments we give to ourselves and those we receive from others, to acknowledge our strengths and talents, to develop positive self talk, to be more forgiving of our own humanity, to humbly think more of others, we may actually enjoy living the lives we are living and doing the things we are doing. We may find ourselves saying, “It’s nice being me; I enjoy life, most of the time, I like who I am.” Being able to do so defines a person who enjoys a healthy self-esteem.

Dr. Coombs is in private practice as a licensed marriage, family, and individual therapist in Washington City. He can be reached by calling 435-705-3579 or email DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or on the web DrDavidCoombs.com.

Friday, January 22, 2016

                                                 Once Lost, Can You Get the Love Back?
Dr. David Coombs, Ed.D, MFT

       After going through contentious periods, some married couples wonder if they ever can get the love back. Unfortunately, when couples hit these love-dry spells, some see divorce as the inevitable, only choice. Some choose a brief period of separation for a few days or weeks, and that  may be helpful; however, separation can be damaging if it last too long.
      During difficult times, some spouses may find other people more desirable than their mates, and their marital covenants may seem unimportant. Having an emotional or even a sexual affair may look appealing. In the heat of passion, persons justify infidelity and blame their immoral behavior on circumstances or on their spouses who they claim are not meeting their needs. Those who go down the road of infidelity will inevitably regret it and will experience negative consequences which will painfully effect the lives of many other people. 
       Unfaithfulness could lead to expensive, painful, messy divorces which will have destructive ripple effects for not only their partners but also for their children and for their grandchildren. Society as a whole suffers from broken homes. Most divorces are the result of people’s selfishness, of their seeking immediate solutions, or their wanting a quick fix without regard to how their behavior impacts many other people. 
       But once the love is gone, is there any hope of saving the marriage?
The answer is a resounding yes! Even if there has been betrayal and infidelity? Yes! For those who are in marriages involving physical violence or serious emotional abuse, divorce may be necessary. But even with serious problems, some couples can work things out without divorce. Most, if not all, marriages have serious bumps in their matrimonial roads that require companions to forgive, reassess, and recommit. To be forgiven of our own marital sins, we must also forgive our partners. When we give forgiveness, we give a gift to ourselves. Holding onto anger is like taking poison in hopes it will harm someone else. Forgiveness is both an event and, in most cases, a lengthy process, but the healing it brings is especially sweet and well worth the effort.
       Research conducted with couples who were seriously considering divorce but who decided to recommit to their relationships is revealing. Five years later, the vast majority of these couples stated they were very glad they did not divorce and claimed their marriages were better than they had ever been before. Even in those marriages in which one partner was more committed to the marriage than the other, many said their persistence made a big difference. They eventually were able to convince their reluctant partners to recommit to making their marriages work. (The Case for Marriage, Waite and Gallagher, 148)
       How did those in troubled marriages turn things around? They began by calling the war off. They realized that to get the love back they had to stop quarreling and call a truce. They had to choose to do loving behaviors even though at first they felt they were just going through the motions. But that is the very key. They chose to go through the motions of courting each other with the promise that in time they would again love one another. Love was and is a daily decision.
       However, sometimes love is like the ocean when the tide is out; the strong romantic feelings are not there. But when the tide comes back in, couples recapture the love. The fact that couples made serious covenants to “have and to hold” during times of “sickness and health” plays a major role in their decisions to forgive, stay together, and work things out. Their motivation increases when they realize they owe it to their children to stay in the marriage. While love is important, couples’ marital commitments give them power to re-kindle their love.
       Some may need the assistance of licensed marriage counselors. Some say they can’t afford the cost of therapy; however, therapy is better and cheaper than going through the pain of a nasty and expensive divorce. As stated above, divorce is even worse when children are involved. Couples often get into contentious debates regarding custody and visitation rights that can go on for years after divorces are final. 
       Furthermore, studies have shown that divorce doesn’t eliminate negative characteristics that are most often carried into the next marriage and then the next. Divorce rates are higher for subsequent marriages because people fail to eliminate the damaging traits that existed in the first. While couples must work hard to solve conflicts, correct bad habits, and be dedicated to each other, getting the love back may be easier than divorce and best for all concerned.

Dr. Coombs is in private practice as a licensed marriage, family and individual therapist in Washington City. He can be reached by calling 435-705-3579 or email drdavidcoombs@gmail.com or on the web www.DrDavidCoombs.com.

Monday, August 17, 2015

                                An LDS Perspective on Human Intimacy
Dr. David H. Coombs, Marriage and Family Counselor, and Marva J. Coombs

     The misuse of sexual passion causes significant heartaches. When we cross sensitive lines, we do so at a high price.  Yet, when kept and expressed within the bounds the Lord has set, our sexuality "is a sacred and significant power...this power is good...it is the very key to our happiness"  (Boyd K. Packer, Conference Report, April 1972,136).
     As Latter-day Saints, we view sexuality as an eternal gift not limited to mortality.  Brigham Young taught there is one eternal law of procreation and that God "created man, as we create our children" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11 p. 122).  President Joseph F. Smith taught the same when he said, "Christ the Savior was born of woman and God, the Father, was born of woman. Adam, our earthly parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I" (Deseret Evening News, Dec. 27, 1913, Sec. Ill, 7).  We are, in the most literal sense, children of God; we are of the same race as the Gods.
     These sacred powers continue in the resurrection for those who marry worthily in the temple and thus qualify for the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19). In effect, our Heavenly Parents have said to us in mortality: We will grant unto you the sacred power to have offspring that you may become partners with us to be co-creators of life.  If you mis-use these sacred powers and fail to repent of their mis-use, then you will be resurrected to a lesser degree of glory and you will not have these powers restored to you; they shall be taken away.  But, if you abide in our work, marry according to the priesthood and exercise these powers of procreation in righteousness, then in the resurrection you shall have them restored to you. You shall then possess the key to having eternal offspring and become as we are.
     We can see why Satan wants to do all he can to degrade this sacred power. Most everything vulgar refers to sexuality.  Satan does not have a body, therefore, does not enjoy the gift of sexuality.  He does all he can to get us to mis-use our sexual powers.  He then succeeds in keeping us from obtaining our goal of becoming heavenly parents, unless we repent.
     Amazingly, in his opening address of the April 1974 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball, in his desire to teach that sex is not just for having babies, quoted Billy Graham as follows: “The Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of the kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His command to the first man and woman to be ‘one flesh’ was as important as his command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’” (Reader’s Digest, May 1970, 118).
     As stated above, sexual intimacy has two purposes, thus husbands and wives are encouraged to enjoy intimacy throughout their lives.  During child-bearing years, couples will appropriately want to use contraceptives in order to wisely space their children.  Without contraceptives, some couples could have babies every year.  Abstinence during the wife’s fertile period is a form of birth control, but it has side effects: it puts stress on couples’ relationships, and because women’s cycles are not consistent, couples can experience unexpected pregnancies.    
     Many couples question how many children they should have; this is a private issue that is resolved between the Lord and them alone.  Some LDS couples feel they  should have as many children as  health and circumstances permit.  The Psalmist stated:  “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord. . .happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psalms 127:3-5).  Nevertheless, the size of the family is the couples’ decision.
     Sexual intimacy legitimately belongs only to those who have made marital covenants.  The command “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) still exists.  The Ten Commandments have not been revoked.  As Cecil B. DeMille said, “We cannot break the Ten Commandments.  We can only break ourselves against them” (Old Testament Student Manual, 1981,127). 
     Sexual sin has serious consequences.  The world portrays sexual promiscuity and recreational sex as normal and without prices or negative consequences. Those who accept this argument live in denial and will ultimately face prices such as heart break, single parenting, guilt, shame, disease, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, divorce, break-up of families, financial devastation, and the broken hearts of children. These are heavy prices. 
     Sexual purity (abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity in marriage) can be achieved and is well worth all efforts.  To those who have mis-used their sexuality, the Lord offers complete forgiveness upon sincere repentance.
Once married, does anything go in the bedroom?  No!  Anything that offends the sensitivities of either spouse is not worth it. In regards to frequency, intimacy could occur too often or too little. Each couple has to negotiate the frequency and timing that works best for both of them in an environment of mutual respect that allows both to feel loved and adored. 
     Some want to introduce pornography into their love making with the mistaken idea that it can be used to increase passion.  Pornography is poison under any circumstances. It pollutes normal expectations and effects trust in the relationship. 
     What about the use of vibrators? Vibrators can be useful to help some who cannot achieve orgasm easily or for couples who, for a variety of reasons, cannot have intercourse. For some, intercourse is painful without the aid of lubricants. 
     Those who have had negative teachings or painful experiences regarding their sexuality may question that sex is meant to be enjoyed.  Note what one LDS woman said: “Sex should be sacred and a source of intense enjoyment. . . a complete union of husband and wife. . .But it is to be more than pleasure.  We respect our bodies.  The body is the temple of the spirit.   But God created us to be sexual.  I enjoy sex.  It makes me happy” (Independent, Press-Telegram, Long Beach, CA, July 19, 1975 A10).  Good books, counseling, and consulting physicians can help those with physical or psychological issues that prevent sexual enjoyment. 
     Men and women approach love making differently and are sexually aroused differently.  LDS women should never be guilty of saying anything such as: “You know how men are.” or “He only has one thing on his mind.”   We were created differently so we will work at learning to make one another happy.
Because of the bond our love-making creates in our marriages, learning to pleasure one another is worth working for.  Remember, “This power is good. . . it is the very key to our happiness” (Ibid, Packer). 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

                                                Improving Communication With Others
                                                       Dr. David Coombs, Ed.D., MFT

How in the world are two people ever going to communicate if both of them are angry, both are demanding to be heard, and yet neither one is listening? And no empathy! Angry people are rarely open to insight and generally feel they have been victimized; they think they have every right to lash out regardless of the consequences. The natural inclination of the recipient of these rude blasts is to be offended and to bark back. And the war is on. Feelings are hurt and the damage is done. 

There is a better way to resolve differences. We don’t have to be so touchy and so ready to take offense. The prices are too high to allow ourselves to feel we have the right to hurt other people. Just because we think or feel a certain way doesn’t mean we have the right to express it. We can use a little discipline and say what we need to say without damaging our relationships by spewing forth acidic accusations. 

Therefore, if we are upset, we need to stop, calm down, give others the benefit of the doubt, and refuse to think the worst. Others may have a perfectly good explanation for deeds that appear questionable; give them the chance to express themselves.  Anger is a destructive emotion. It is a poor choice and damages relationships. It is better to take the high road, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile; that means we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of maintaining peace and avoiding contention. We pay high prices when we lose our patience and are quick to find fault. 
When we are confronted by an angry person, particularly our friend, colleague, or sweetheart, (but for the moment our intimate enemy), our duty and best choice is to agree quickly and employ the power of empathy. 

You show empathy when you, as the recipient of another’s anger, sincerely want to understand what they are so upset about, and you are careful not to demean or to discount or to criticize or to offer advice. You may not agree with the charges leveled against you, but you at least want your angry friend to know that you are trying to understand. It takes a strong person to allow someone’s anger to blow right past without taking offense. Nevertheless, that is exactly what is being asked. 
Empathic listening is a gift that is worth the effort to develop and yes, it does take practice. It follows the old adage, “If you want to be understood first try to understand.” After your angry friend has finished venting, you can ask questions to assure you have the full picture. See if you can respond by paraphrasing their feelings in your own words; try to capture and mirror the reasons for their anger.
When the angry person feels understood, you can respond with something like: “I think I know how you feel. You feel thus and so for these reasons.”  You continue with as much empathy as you can muster while describing what the other is feeling and why.  As you continue empathic listening, your hope is your friend will say, “Yes, that is how I feel.” They may even say, “It means so much to me when you sincerely listen to me without interrupting and not being critical or defensive or thinking I am being stupid. You really do understand me.”

Once people feel understood, their anger is defused. They are able to calm down and are ready to hear the explanation for the questionable behavior at hand. By using the power of empathy, people are empowered to be better problem solvers. They are willing to get on the same side of the issue instead of attacking; they focus on how to solve the problem.

If appropriate, be quick to apologize even if you are only partially at fault. Don’t be afraid to say, “Now that I better understand how you see things, I can appreciate why you are so hurt. I am sorry. I owe you an apology.” By doing this you are taking the high road and at the same time you are courageously making yourself vulnerable for more abuse. The other person may still be in their anger mode and say, “It is about time you apologized, you dirty rotten rat.” If this happens, as hard as this may be, you will still be better able to save your relationship if you stay in the empathic listeners mode until they can see that you really are not their enemy but their friend. If they do not want to respond to all your efforts to reconcile, then you have the assurance you have done all you can do. If they insist on holding on to their anger, then leave the situation but continue to love them and to pray for them. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 4:44).

You may be thinking, “Does this really work? “Yes!” Do people really talk this way?” Not very often. But in critical moments, doing so makes all the difference. All of us have differences and need to practice using empathy when disagreements arise. Once both feel understood, the differences still need to be resolved. What if you were the person being attacked and you were guilty of something that was offensive, could you take ownership and admit your error?  Hopefully you could say, “You have a right to be upset. What I did was wrong. I apologize for my thoughtless behavior.”
If there is a problem that needs resolving, then after hearing each other out, you can then ask, “How can we resolve this so both of us can feel good about it?” A compromise may be worked out, or one may say, “I can see it would be best to follow your suggestion.” What a lovely gift that can be!

Another communication pattern that can be irritating if not devastating, is when you make statements or express ideas that others feel the need to point out as inaccurate. They may quibble with you over slight details. While there may be exceptions to everything, it is frustrating to make statements only to have them demeaned, put down, or discounted. We all like to be validated, given approval, or to have others be supportive of us. It is frustrating to have our ideas contradicted often by our spouse or good friend, particularly in front of others. It is less important to be right and more important that we be the guardian of each other’s self-esteem. 

Another pattern that often gets in the way of good communication is when we are told in an accusatory tone that we are “always ” doing something or neverdo anything right. This all-or-nothing approach is sure to bring an unpleasant response and quarrels are bound to follow. Those accused will want to defend themselves and give examples that prove that the accusations against them are not true such as, “Wait a minute, that is not true. Remember when I did thus and so. So it is not true that I always do that or never do that. What about the times you . . .” The current issue is lost amidst a war of words. Good communication is the art of saying what you need to say while still being sensitive to the feelings of others.

The underlying issue in developing good communication is not only what is being said but how it is said. Sarcasm is very biting and destructive.  The motive behind sarcasm is to demean. The Savior commanded the Nephites to allow “no disputations among them,” that “the spirit of contention is of the devil” and “such things must be done away . . . that whosoever is angry . . . “is in danger of hell fire” (III Nephi 11:29-30; 12:22). 

  What a world of difference is found when we approach each other with a sincere desire to communicate, to problem solve, to find solutions to our differences. When there is trust and we truly care about people, then we find others approachable and easy to talk to; conversations move along nicely. Others may not know all the right words or may not say things in just the right way, but because we feel of their goodness we are forgiving and even try to assist in helping them make their point.  We also feel emotionally safe in their presence to bring up any and all issues that need to be discussed. 

There is another tip that will improve communication. When we are sitting close enough to touch there is no need to yell. When we are talking softly, we find truth in Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
Books describing people’s near-death experiences and their visits to the next life often mention that communication there is not with words that are spoken out loud but by thought to thought that can be readily understood. There is no hiding what you really feel. You know as you are known. There is very little chance of being mis-understood. We are better communicators and listeners when we are real, genuine, and congruent. No false fronts. No thinking one thing but saying something quite the opposite. How would it be if we could be that honest and transparent in this life?

Good communication is vital to the quality of all our relationships and this is particularly true in marriage. Dr. Carlfred Broderick, In a scholarly text book on marriage, Couples, begins with an insightful and truthful first line, “A good marriage is the result of two people learning the art of simply being kind to each other.”  Kind people are good communicators.

Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family, and individual therapist with a private practice in Washington, UT. He and his wife, Marva, write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email to DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or on the web to www.DrDavidCoombs.com. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

                                                            “Doubt Not, Fear Not”
                                                          David and Marva Coombs

     Worry and fear cripple our ability to lead happy and productive lives. And there is a direct relationship between fear and a lack of faith in God; “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16). Just as the Lord said to Joshua, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee"(Joshua 1:5), he has promised us all that if we will put our trust in Him, He will make us equal to any and all tasks. The Lord has repeatedly said, "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not" (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). He has reminded us over and over that “the righteous need not fear” (II Nephi 22:17). In verses 18-22, the Lord repeats words of comfort to the righteous, particularly the saints of the latter-days, that they need not fear.
     Being well aware that mortality is sometimes very scary, Heavenly Father has given many needed assurances, particularly to those who strive to keep all of His commandments, and even to those who “seek so to do” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:9). This verse tells us that just trying to qualify allows us to enjoy the gifts of the spirit that provide heaven-sent comfort.  We mortals forget that we walk in full view of our loving Heavenly Father and are never out of His sight. He is always aware of us and knows our needs. He has assured us that He will always stand by us and, additionally, has assigned angels to be on our right hand and on our left, and has placed His Spirit in our hearts to buoy us up and to give us constant strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:88). With this assurance why should we ever be afraid?
     We demonstrate a lack of faith when we frighten ourselves with "what if" questions that lead to awful and devastating conclusions.  We all may choose to ask a myriad of “What ifs” that do nothing but create doubts, fears, anxiety and despair. We also may choose to remember the old preacher’s greeting to each new day: “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle”(Source unknown).
     We disobey the command to "Let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly"(Doctrine and Covenants 121:45) when we think the worst about ourselves, recall painful memories of the past, worry about our current circumstances, fill our minds with negative images, and overwhelm out hearts with dread. The power of the atonement of Christ allows us to feel clean from the past, fortified for the present, and confident of our future. We must change our "what ifs" to "so whats" and know that "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). When worries and fears creep into our hearts, let us remember to follow the counsel in Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." 
     Are we not in good hands as we lean and wait upon the Lord? Of course we must seek to be obedient and to do all in our power to bring about much righteousness, but then we can let go of our worries and let God take charge of our lives. We want our will to be swallowed up in His will. Elder Neal Maxwell pointed out that, since our Father has given us everything we have, then the one gift that is truly ours to give in return is our will (October Conference 1995). There is peace only in surrendering our all to Him who promises His all in return. 
     Sometimes our fears come because we have created a fantasy of our own personal Camelot and plead with Heavenly Father to make it all possible. We are easily frightened when the Lord is late or says no to us; we forget that He is much wiser, has eternal perspective, and knows what is best for us. We must also have faith in His perfect timing. He is “a God of truth and canst not lie” (Ether 3:12). His promises are certain. He will not fail us nor forsake us as we continue to serve and love Him. He has promised the faithful "peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).  As we look to the future with an eye of faith, we come to know all that we need to know: our future is glorious. President Monson coined the phrase, “Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith” (April General Conference 2009).
     We burden our families and create black clouds that hang over them when we wallow in fear and doubt. If one of our fears is not having sufficient money, then the surest way to solve financial concerns is in the faithful payment of tithes and offerings. We are promised that as we do so we will always have enough and to spare (see Malachi 3:10). The Lord looks after his own. 
Of course, we can’t pay tithing and then heap unwise debt on ourselves and expect God to make our payments. But he will inspire us to budget and often leads us to get more training and to find better paying jobs.
     Maintaining positive images helps us overcome our fears; for example, we may want to consider what the Lord said to Oliver Cowdrey as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 6:20: “Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of My love.” Now there is an image that can be a powerful source of great comfort!
     It is possible that one of the most frequently repeated commands is “Fear not.” Mark 5:23-43 tells a touching story of Jairus, ruler of the synagog, who pleaded for the life of his desperately ill daughter and urgently invited the Lord to come quickly to his home to heal her. On the way Jesus was interrupted, and by the time he arrived the twelve-year-old little girl was dead.  Jairus sent word to the Savior that He was too late. Jesus response was “Be not afraid, Only believe.” The Lord continued to the house and raised the girl from the dead. But even if the miracle sought by the father had not been granted, the command to “be not afraid, [but] only believe” was applicable to the father then and still applies to us all today. Being believers does not shield us from the pain and challenges of life, but it does give us the resources to deal with whatever life throws at us.
     In his book, Way to Be!: 9 Rules for Living the Good life, 81, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “In my ninety-plus years, I have learned a secret. I have learned that when good men and good women face challenges with optimism, things will always work out! Truly, things always work out! Despite how difficult circumstances may look at the moment, those who have faith and move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.” Notice that he said “things always work out” three times? That’s powerful.
     Many have been inspired by the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” noting the third verse, “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”(Hymn 85).
The Apostle Paul developed an exemplary attitude as recorded in Philippians 4:11: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” It is easy to compare our situation with others in such a way that we feel that God has abundantly blessed others but not us. Yet we know He is no respecter of persons: in other words, he does not love one more than another. 
All persons have divinely designed curriculums suited to teach them what they particularly need to learn as they go through their mortal probation. (Neal Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience,6) This life is a test to see if we can endure to the end with our faith in God well developed and fully intact, being “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
     In the Lectures on Faith, third chapter, it states that our faith is not complete till we have the assurance that we are living lives that are pleasing before God. Only those who “doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
     Paul wrote to Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). Having a sound mind is holding on to appropriate thoughts that are edifying and uplifting. Maybe this is what Jacob had in mind when he said, “O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads [apparently Jacob was speaking to good righteous people whose heads were hanging down probably due to negative or inappropriate self-talk] and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm forever” (Jacob 3:2). Those who have minds that are firm are those who are steadfast and immoveable in holding to the thoughts that push away doubts and fears and replace them with “the pleasing word of God.” 
     King Benjamin’s classic address offers these great words of comfort: “Moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).
     We are the sum total of our thoughts. We can think thoughts that are fearful and create doubt and anxiety. Or we can feast upon the words of the Living God, plant them firmly in our minds, and be free from all fear. Why not follow the admonition offered by King Benjamin: “Believe in God; believe that he is . . . believe that he has all wisdom, and all power . . . that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend . . . believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now if ye believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:9-10).

Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family and individual therapist in Washington, Utah. He and his wife, Marva, write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email to DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or find him on the web at www.DrDavidCoombs.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

                                             Why do women stay with abusive husbands?
                                                             David and Marva Coombs

     Several societal myths are perpetuated regarding women who are abused by their husbands such as:  1. These women are not very bright.  2. These women must enjoy beatings in some masochistic way. 3. These wives deserve the beatings because they purposely provoke their husbands to anger. 
     Of course, these women are bright and capable.  Some truly love their husbands and pray for the day when their men will mellow out and eliminate their anger.  They say that, if it weren’t for the times when their men explode, they are really nice guys.  And they are. Unfortunately, while a few men actually overcome battering their wives and do become excellent husbands, most often, the abuse gets worse.
     Abusive husbands follow a predictable cycle:  tension, explosive behavior, sorrow which includes apologies and making up by being very nice, followed by tension, etc.  Some women feel if they can just endure the anger part, then they really enjoy the honeymoon phase when hubby is so nice.
     Some husbands are not only abusive physically but also verbally.  They discount and demean their wives and convince the women that they are at fault for making their men upset.  This is the great lie.  No one makes others angry.  Anger is a choice.  These men can change and can learn to take responsibility for their actions; they can learn not to blame others for their abusive behavior.  Many abused women are told daily that they are ugly, that if they left the marriage, no other man would want them.  With their self-esteem shattered, these women fear they would be worse off if they left.
Some abusive men live in fear their wives will leave them, so they make all kinds of threats:  they will take the children from their wives; the husbands threaten to beat their companions even worse for embarrassing them; they will hunt them down and kill them.  They threaten to burn their houses down.  Faced with these options, most women courageously choose to stay to protect their children.
     One researcher said battered wives will average five attempts to leave their husbands before successfully doing so.  Some women are talked out of leaving by their church leaders who feel it is their job to keep the family together at all costs. However, the clergy does have a legal problem:  if it can be proven that they encouraged a woman to leave the marriage, the husband can bring legal charges against that church.
     One of the biggest barriers preventing wives from leaving their husbands is lack of money.  St. George provides a solution to this problem at the Dove Center which shelters battered women and their children.  The Dove Center offers shelter up to 90 days.  They help victims of abuse to access government programs available to them.  They also offer legal advice and assist them in getting court-ordered protection.  Counseling services are provided without cost.  Medical and dental services are available free from the Doctor’s Volunteer Clinic.
     A private organization called the The Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation provides apartments up to two years after they leave the Dove Center and financial assistance to help battered women to become self-sufficient.  Churches also offer free counseling, food, and clothing.
While in the past, battered women had very little support, that is no longer true.  If women need help, their first call should be to the Dove Center crises line at 628-0458.

Dr. Coombs is a professional counselor with a private practice in Washington City.  He and his wife, Marva write articles together and offer free presentations on strengthening marriage and family.  Call 435-705-3579 or email them at DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or www.DrDavidCoombs.Com.