In Your Language

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sofa Talk. Virtual Peptalk [2]: Matt and Amy Roloff

Photo Credit: US Magazine

The TLC network has another marriage casualty. Perhaps it is a little premature to say that the marriage is "over," but things have certainly turned for the worse. It seems like it was more than the TV show that was ending; so was the marriage. I used to watch this show a few years back and I grew fond of the family. I found the couple's ambitions inspiring. I felt like if they could do great things with their vertical challenge, than surely I could too with all 61 inches of me.

In the "Trial Separation" segment, Matt mentioned that he and Amy had a lot of tension. "Amy and I stuck it out for years, when maybe we shouldn't have," Matt said flatly. Amy boiled it down to that they "failed to learn to live together."  I observed the tension in their little clips in that segment that highlighted their conflicts. Amy looked like she was past the point of trying to please Matt when he voiced his expectation of a uncluttered house. Matt looked unwilling to fight FOR the marriage and sought the change through living in their other house on the premises.

In the "Burnt Out" segment, I saw Matt talk about his formidable physical pain which is probably one of the attributes for his part of the bickering. Physical pain makes even the more skeletal sound (non-dwarf) person feel like tasks are herculean. He shared his frustration and Amy countered with "mind reading" and "putting words in his mouth" in all sense of the cliches. Matt said "We just clash on 'bout every decision possible." They are failing to back each other up and be teammates.

In that same segment, Amy confronts Matt with changing his tune about taking things easy (knowing their physical challenges and pain); he used to squash Amy's same suggestions in the past. It seems like Matt didn't account for margin for their marriage in the physical energy sense. I genuinely believe that he is in acute and chronic pain from most of his voluntary activities on the farm. It seems that he's left his "best" for their farm business and has given Amy the scraps.

Using the John Gottman's research on predicting divorce with "criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling," I see that both Amy and Matt were displaying one or more of these signs often in the clips that I watched and referenced above. I could see the contempt that was laced inbetween their words. The criticism flowed from Amy's mouth virtually effortlessly. Matt's defensiveness, in my eyes, seemed to drive him to live in the other residence on the farm.

Like I said before in "Sofa Talk, Virtual Peptalk [1]:" I offer my lay counseling (hypothetically) based on my marriage experiences, family and individual counseling, parenting seminars, family seminars, communication seminars and my 1 credit away from an Associates Degree in psychology. My career goal is to be a family counselor and so, I want to exercise my counseling muscle in a virtual exercise of sorts. I've also done "My Virtual Child" and "My Virtual Life" exercises hosted by Pearson (Educational Products and Publisher).

I italicized words and phrases in the above commentary to highlight the damaging components to their interaction. I also bolded the words and phrases that would strengthen their marriage. But I'd focus on reducing visible signs of contempt for Amy and giving their marriage margin for Matt. I believe that working on those two things, difference for each of them, would greatly turn around their marriage.

Many counselors warn that neglecting the marriage while the children are in the "nest" spells insecure future for the marriage. It seems that with the kids out of the house, that forecast has come to pass. But on the optimistic side, there's been research that says that if couples stick it (fight FOR the marriage as I bolded previously) out for five years, that their marriage satisfaction increases. And let's face it, marriage requires continual pursuit; repeatedly saying to each other "you're my number one" and proving it with our actions and decisions. As Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today Ministry says (loosely) that people don't fall in love by NOT making each other first. So why do we think that marriage can survive when we don't put each other first?

Unfortunately it seems that "The Learning Channel" couples (Roloff and Gosselin) had much to learn about marriage relationships. They have left the viewers like me to learn from their mistakes. There was no way for "TLC" to screen for solid families and marriages if they didn't take Dr. Gottman's research seriously.


I pray over these public marriages. They are "normal" relationships that are merely put under the added stress of celebrity and public scrutiny. I pray that God would redeem this marriage. I pray that he would use his power to turn their hearts toward each other and extend each other grace. I know that if anything can save this marriage, or any marriage for that matter, it is our Mighty God. I invoke his healing power over Matt and Amy that they may put marriage redemption into the public eye and be champions for enduring marriages. Separation is not the end if they do it the repentant, godly way.
I pray all of these things in his Perfectly Loving Name, Amen.

#Roloff #Gottman #TLC #LittlePeopleBigWorld

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