Marriage in God's Hands

Dysfunctional Family Patterns

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith


Series Code: MGH

Program Code: MGH000041

00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:33 I'm Alanzo Smith your host for this program.
00:36 I'm June Smith your co-host.
00:40 Before we start our discussion
00:42 on dysfunctional family patterns I invite you to pray with us.
00:47 Father God, we come in your precious name asking that
00:55 you will strengthen families and make us whole.
00:58 We thank you for your atoning grace and for your love.
01:01 Be with us now we pray.
01:03 In Jesus' name, amen.
01:06 We want to talk about dysfunctional family patterns.
01:13 We have been talking about healthy marriages.
01:19 Our hope and dream is for all marriages to be healthy,
01:23 but we know that's not so.
01:25 We know there are some marriages that practice dysfunctional
01:30 family patterns.
01:32 Let's talk about some of them.
01:34 I think I want you to read for us a text in 1 Corinthians.
02:29 This is a very powerful text
02:31 when we are talking about family and family relationship.
02:35 Paul is talking about the correlation between the members
02:40 of the body and the body itself.
02:43 It says that they are all one.
02:45 The same is true for the family.
02:48 When we talk about Freudian psychoanalytic formulation
02:54 we have a concept of the individual as the IP.
03:00 Share that concept with us and let us know why that is
03:06 antithetical to what Paul is talking about.
03:10 The whole notion of the psychoanalysis approach to
03:15 the way we conceptualize a problem in an individual
03:19 is that the IP, the identified patient as we would say,
03:22 is where the problem lies.
03:25 In the concept of the family however, we're saying that
03:30 one individual in the family maybe exhibiting a symptom
03:36 of a problem that resides within the whole family.
03:41 I had a classic example.
03:43 The child was thought to be the troublemaker, the truancy child.
03:49 The parents felt that this was a child that was giving trouble
03:53 and something was wrong with the child.
03:55 On deeper evaluation, it was discovered that something was
04:01 wrong within the family.
04:03 It was a result of that, why the child was actually reacting.
04:08 We're saying that, Paul emphasizes the chemistry of the
04:14 entire members of the body becoming one.
04:17 The same analogy is true with the family.
04:21 The notion is that what affects one member of the family
04:26 affects the entire family.
04:28 Isn't that the concept of systems theory?
04:30 When we talk about the system; the family as a system.
04:33 We're not saying we don't look at the individual.
04:37 We're not negating the fact that the individual is important.
04:40 What we're saying is you don't just look at the individual.
04:44 You don't say the husband is the problem in this relationship
04:47 or the wife is the problem.
04:49 What we're saying is let's see what's happening in the system.
04:52 What's happening in the family;
04:53 in this marriage that is causing the problem, rather than
04:56 labeling one person.
04:58 We're saying that families become dysfunctional because
05:04 sometimes individuals within the family identify the one person
05:10 who might be exhibiting
05:12 and reflecting the problems in the family
05:14 as the cause of the problem.
05:16 A deeper look at the system will reveal the entire system
05:21 has the problem, and therefore needs to get help.
05:24 Precisely. When we talk about dysfunctional family patterns
05:30 one of the things we need to look for is the ability
05:34 of an individual to differentiate between
05:38 the thinking process and the feeling process.
05:41 Often times these are blurred.
05:44 How helpful it is for families to understand the difference
05:50 between thinking and feeling.
05:52 We are complex beings.
05:56 We are made up of thoughts and ideas, but we are also
06:01 made up of emotions and our affection.
06:04 We feel, we respond and we're sensitive too.
06:07 Our experiences...
06:08 What we're trying to say here is some people operate more so
06:14 in the emotional domain, and others operate in the
06:19 thinking domain.
06:21 When people operate on those extremes the family is likely
06:27 to function dysfunctionally.
06:30 If we were to use a theoretical scale,
06:32 an imaginary theoretical scale, let's say from 1 to 7.
06:38 We would say from 1 to 2, would be individuals who
06:43 operate off the feeling process.
06:46 Individuals who are at the other end of a 6 and 7
06:52 are individuals who operate off the thinking process.
06:56 Between those two extremes would be the numbers 3,4, and 5.
07:03 That is where you would find individuals with
07:05 healthy self-esteem.
07:07 Let's take the first end the ones and the twos;
07:11 the feeling process.
07:14 If I am... In our marriage, if I as your husband operate only
07:21 off my feeling, and everything I assess through how I feel?
07:26 What's the danger there to our relationship?
07:29 The danger is that your likely; your behavior, your response
07:34 to me will likely be driven by those feelings
07:37 When sometimes you might be feeling something but
07:41 the rationale behind it might be different or might explain
07:45 the feeling a different way.
07:46 If you get an opportunity to understand what drives
07:50 this feeling and to explore the ideas
07:54 and the thoughts behind it.
07:55 Maybe my thinking about my response influenced
07:58 the way you felt, it might make a difference in the outcome.
08:03 If I'm understanding you correctly.
08:07 I'm hearing you say there are some pitfalls
08:10 to the feeling process.
08:12 Individuals who operate at this level tend to have
08:15 low self-esteem.
08:17 They tend to be the recipient of verbal
08:21 as well as physical abuse.
08:23 Individuals who are operating off the feeling process
08:26 they maybe coming from enmeshed families.
08:30 The notion, the concept of enmeshment, talk to us
08:34 in terms of how does that affect family outcomes.
08:39 The whole notion of operating and relying solely on emotions
08:43 leave one feeling incomplete, incapable of managing and
08:49 dealing with and confronting the challenges.
08:52 What one tends to do is to form an alliance,
08:56 to galvanize somebody else around them so that they lean
09:00 on this person and they literally develop
09:03 an almost suffocating relationship.
09:06 That's often referred to as an enmeshed relationship.
09:09 We're saying individuals within a family who operate solely on
09:13 the feeling process tend to take the blame, to complain; they sit
09:21 and they accept whatever is given to them.
09:24 The opposite is true.
09:25 Persons on the thinking process; these are the egotists,
09:29 the persons who perpetrate verbal abuse
09:33 and the physical abuse.
09:34 Their irrational thinking is: I'm the boss, I'm the leader,
09:38 I'm in charge, you do as I say, etc.
09:41 Therein lies the danger;
09:43 somebody who doesn't feel and who lacks emotions.
09:48 I've spoken to several people in counseling couple relationships.
09:52 One spouse complains about the inability of the other spouse
09:57 to respond and be sensitive to what they are
10:01 experiencing in a marriage.
10:02 Yet they seem to take care of the family in terms of
10:06 paying the bills and doing the things that are essential
10:08 to the survival needs.
10:10 This emotional part is so lacking.
10:13 Yes, the person who operates in the thinking are rational.
10:16 They are logical and they tend to function in that regard.
10:19 Within a marriage, to have a family, or couples not operating
10:28 with these dysfunctional patterns; what they need to do
10:32 is to be able to function or to bring together
10:36 the thinking process and the feeling process.
10:38 There are some things we have to think through
10:40 and there are some things we bring to bear
10:42 our emotion on the relationship;
10:45 not just the thinking, not just the feeling,
10:46 but bringing them together.
10:48 Integration is a blending of both.
10:51 Although you can give the rules and you can inflict discipline
10:56 you also can be sensitive and have emotions.
10:59 Sometimes you might have to adapt and adjust, because
11:03 of the emotions that are involved.
11:05 Talking about emotion; the family emotional system
11:09 is another dysfunctional pattern.
11:11 There are some families that are not mentally stable.
11:16 There are some families that are not emotionally whole.
11:20 Talk to us about the emotional stability of a family.
11:25 In order for a family to survive
11:28 they need to be healthy emotionally.
11:31 They will be bruised but they have to be able to
11:32 brush their knees off and get up and keep batting as it were.
11:36 If everything that happens to the family that causes hurt,
11:39 if they were to just sit and complain and
11:41 wallow in self-pity then they are not likely to survive
11:44 because life will bring you blows
11:46 and you've got to be able to handle that.
11:48 We're talking about the capacity of the family to cope.
11:51 You have to have this coping mechanism.
11:53 You have to be able to adjust to adversity.
11:55 You have to be able to rise above it.
11:58 There are times when life will deal us some hard blows,
12:01 some real blows.
12:03 Some of you now, listening to us, might be experiencing that.
12:06 You may be going through a crisis, a traumatic situation.
12:09 What do you do? Do you run away from it?
12:11 You can't afford to do that.
12:12 You have to rise above the situation.
12:14 You have to be able to manage it;
12:16 the emotional capacity of the family to grow and overcome.
12:21 We have a classic example in the case of Job.
12:24 Job chapter 1, verse 21.
12:26 In that text, Job says, after all the disaster and calamities:
12:43 That's where it is at.
12:44 We will have challenges.
12:46 You will agree with me that Job had challenges.
12:49 Yet, in spite of that, he had resilience.
12:53 He was able to trust God no matter what.
12:56 That's what we want to say to our families today.
12:58 We want them to understand that regardless of what Satan will do
13:02 to cause hurt and harm they can be confident that God
13:06 will see them through.
13:08 Bounce back, rise up, don't allow...
13:11 Solve the problem. Face the challenge.
13:15 You have to be emotionally healthy
13:17 and you have to be emotionally strong.
13:19 We're going to take a break here but, we will be right back.
13:24 Don't go away. Stay with us.
13:25 When we come back we have a lot of things to talk about.
13:28 We want you to have strong families and healthy marriages.
13:43 There are many how to books available, but there is one that
13:47 is free and perfect for every couple.
13:50 "How You Can Build a Better Marriage"
13:52 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted
13:56 easy to read manner for those contemplating marriage,
13:59 newlyweds, couples in their golden years,
14:02 and everyone in between.
14:03 Simply call or write for your free copy of this booklet,
14:19 Welcome back to our program, Marriage In God's Hands.
14:25 We have been talking about dysfunctional family patterns.
14:30 We're saying we have to find a way of avoiding
14:34 these family patterns.
14:36 Murray Bowen talks about some of these theoretical concepts
14:41 he is the one that developed this concept of
14:44 the family projection system.
14:47 Family projection, is that a healthy situation
14:53 for us to be doing?
14:55 We're talking about dysfunctional patterns.
14:58 Clearly, when a member of the family projects
15:03 their own insecurities or their own desires on a child
15:08 that can be a very dysfunctional thing for a child.
15:11 No, it is not a healthy thing to do.
15:14 In fact, some parents live vicariously
15:18 through their children.
15:19 They may have had goals for example in life
15:22 that they were unable to achieve and they are blessed with
15:26 a child or two or more and they are going to ensure
15:31 that their goals are achieved in their children.
15:34 That reminds me of the father who insisted his son should go
15:38 to a particular school.
15:40 There was a conflict in the family because the mother
15:43 wanted her child to go to a different school.
15:47 It created a deep rift in the family.
15:50 On further development of the issue we realized the father
15:58 had three brothers and all three brothers
16:02 went to this school in particular and
16:04 their children went to that school.
16:07 He was the only one who did not go to the school.
16:09 You could understand why he was now emphasizing
16:13 now why he wanted his son to go to the school.
16:16 He was now projecting onto the son.
16:18 Sometimes it happens in the way we align ourselves
16:21 in little coalitions almost with our children.
16:24 One child could be identified as the favorite child
16:28 or the special child.
16:30 That child is the person that the parent will say
16:36 certain family secrets to or will even talk about
16:39 certain issues in their couple relationship to and they
16:42 lay an enormous emotional burden on that child.
16:46 We're saying that family projection is not a healthy
16:49 approach or a healthy thing to do.
16:51 When you project onto a child you need to understand the
16:54 emotional maturity of that child.
16:57 While you think the child is mature enough to handle it
17:01 the child may not be able to.
17:02 As you said that, recently, I had a call
17:05 from a woman that I counseled.
17:06 She was very annoyed that her son, who is a young adult,
17:10 seemed to be insensitive to her needs.
17:13 When I inquired what the issues were, her son was in essence
17:17 saying, Mom I don't want to hear
17:20 what's going on between you and Dad.
17:21 She thought that was insensitive, but she was
17:23 discussing all the problems and conflicts that she was
17:26 having with her husband.
17:27 It's like dumping on the child.
17:29 Dumping this on the child and as you said
17:30 and as you said the child just wants to be a son.
17:33 He doesn't want to be a counselor to his mother.
17:36 There's a classic example in the Bible.
17:38 It's a story of Joseph.
17:41 Jacob had this special love for Joseph.
17:45 He had 12 sons but you know Joseph was special.
17:49 He bought him this special coat.
17:52 He was treated in a very special way.
17:55 He projected onto this son more than all the others.
17:59 Listen to what the text says: Genesis 37; verses 3 and 4.
18:29 That's exactly what we're talking about.
18:31 They hated him and would not speak.
18:34 Isn't that the result when you project onto your child?
18:37 Unfortunately, that's an extreme case of sibling rivalry,
18:43 but that tends to be the outcome when a child is favored.
18:47 Every child is a gift.
18:49 Children are gifts from God.
18:52 Every child is special, regardless of how skilled
18:57 and talented one child may be over the other.
19:00 One child may even have a dysfunction or disability.
19:03 That child is just as special.
19:05 Parents need to respond to their children as equal as they can
19:11 so that one child is not favored over the other.
19:15 Sometimes they project onto that child to kind of form
19:18 a bonding against the spouse.
19:20 That's not good.
19:22 That's another unhealthy pattern that occurs.
19:24 Instead of speaking I've had couples who come in and they
19:27 complain about; my husband doesn't speak to me.
19:30 He tells my daughter what it is he wants to say to me.
19:33 So the daughter will come and say dad says dad.. da.. da...
19:36 rather than dad speaking directly
19:38 or mom speaking directly.
19:39 I have another case.
19:41 I really thought it was even humorous.
19:42 Where this husband was upset at something that happened
19:46 between he and his wife.
19:47 Instead of having a conversation with his wife about it
19:50 he actually communicated to her in prayer.
19:52 When they did have worship and they were praying he would say
19:57 Lord help my wife to know whatever it is he wanted to say
20:00 to his wife rather than saying it directly to her.
20:03 She, of course, was annoyed at this.
20:06 People use dysfunctional patterns and it perpetuates
20:10 the conflicts and the problems.
20:12 What happens, in many cases, is that when you project
20:19 onto a child that child later on can experience what we call
20:24 what Murray Bowen refers to as emotional cut-off.
20:27 If you project onto a child; you select your favorite child and
20:31 keep projecting and dumping on or putting on responsibilities
20:36 onto that child that is not age appropriate.
20:38 When that child reaches the age of maturity, where it's time
20:43 to go off to college, you find that the child may select
20:47 a school that is far away from home and will not even choose
20:52 to come back on holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving,
20:55 whatever it is.
20:56 They find a summer job, they find a holiday job because they
20:59 want to stay away from home they're just tired
21:01 they're just tired of the dumping.
21:02 They have emotionally cut themselves off from the family.
21:06 We are not by any measure suggesting that children who
21:09 go far away to school are all trying to get away
21:14 from a difficult situation.
21:16 Yes, that is one way children sometimes try to deal with
21:19 and cope with the burden and the emotional strain that is placed
21:24 on them when they feel projected onto.
21:26 Emotional cut-off is also a way of saying to your parents,
21:33 I don't want to be bothered.
21:35 I have been stifled.
21:37 Earlier on we talked about enmeshed relationships.
21:40 What we are saying is when children live in enmeshed
21:44 relationship where they are smothered, where they don't
21:47 have autonomy and independence to some degree and some extent.
21:50 Age appropriately..
21:51 Yes, they get to the point where they want to get away from it.
21:55 They want to break out of that family.
21:56 They want to be on their own.
21:58 If you practice dysfunctional patterns; of dumping,
22:03 projecting on, having emotional unstable relationships,
22:08 this could be one of the end result... emotional cut-off.
22:12 It's amazing how behaviors get transmitted from one generation
22:18 to the next.
22:19 We have another phenomenon that Bowen identifies
22:22 as transferring; generational transference.
22:29 When you have certain dysfunctional behaviors
22:35 occurring in one nuclear family it does not mean
22:40 that's where it starts.
22:41 It could be that behavior was in their parents, and in their
22:46 grandparents, and it could be two or three, and even sometimes
22:49 four generational deep.
22:51 We're talking about multi-generational transmission.
22:54 Yes, and it's unfortunate, but it is so true.
22:58 You could marry someone, or you could fall in love with someone
23:01 and be living with this individual and you don't
23:04 understand what they are bringing to the relationship.
23:08 and how far back, how deep, how engraved it is.
23:11 That can be very, very disruptive to the relationship.
23:16 It is amazing how complex relationships are.
23:20 When we are talking about challenges in a marriage,
23:24 we're saying dysfunctions occur,
23:28 because some of these phenomenon's exist, so
23:30 the more people understand that these are situations that occur.
23:35 Hopefully, they can better cope and they might even
23:38 reach out to get help, to further understand how
23:41 that feature is playing out in their relationship.
23:44 Multi-generational transmission processes can be
23:48 extremely dysfunctional in a family.
23:51 Instead of dealing with the here and now,
23:53 dealing with what's in front of you.
23:55 ...What both of you have to manage.
23:58 You find that you're dealing with things that happened
24:02 way back and it's coming to bear in your current relationship.
24:06 It may not relate to your spouse.
24:09 No, but it is destroying the health of the relationship.
24:12 It is destroying the marriage.
24:14 That is something we need to understand.
24:16 The Bible talks about Abraham and Sarah.
24:20 You remember there was this family and Abraham
24:24 was going down to Egypt.
24:25 He knew he had a beautiful wife.
24:27 He said to his wife,
24:29 Say, I pray thee when you get down to Egypt
24:33 say that you are my sister.
24:36 Hello, I think I have a message for all the men
24:40 who are married out there.
24:42 Your wife is not your sister.
24:46 Your wife is your wife; not your sister, not at all.
24:50 We could say Abraham blew it this time.
24:52 Yes, he did!
24:53 He's a great guy; Abraham is a good man,
24:56 but for this one time.
24:57 We understand the implication.
24:59 If Sarah would have gone and said that and demanded
25:03 what they wanted look at the implication.
25:07 Listen, are we talking about multi-generational
25:10 transmission issues and how we pass them on.
25:12 Abraham did that. Guess what?
25:15 His son came and did the very same thing.
25:18 Isaac did that with Rebekah.
25:21 Isaac was going down to Gerar and Isaac said to Rebekah
25:24 When we get there, say that you are my sister.
25:29 Same thing his father did... I don't think his father told him
25:32 to do it but he learned he grew.
25:35 It passed on from one generation to the next.
25:38 Look what happened when he grew up and he had children.
25:41 It happened in his family as well.
25:45 Rebekah listened to the discussion that took place
25:54 between her husband and her son, and she practiced deceit
25:59 with her favorite son she always projected onto.
26:02 The deception started with father Abraham.
26:06 It came to his son.
26:07 Now we see it's moving down from one generation to the next.
26:12 Some of the very same issues that we're facing
26:15 in contemporary societies are examples that occur
26:20 even way back then in biblical times.
26:23 Precisely. In order for us to understand some of the things
26:30 that impact the relationship sometimes we...
26:33 not sometimes... all the time... we encourage individuals
26:38 who are contemplating marriage to do premarital counseling
26:42 because that's important.
26:43 For us to live as God would have us live... for us to have
26:48 healthy marriages... for us to have marriages put in God's hand
26:52 we need to make good preparation and careful preparation.
26:56 That is where premarital counseling comes in.
27:00 These concepts: emotional cut-off,
27:02 family multigenerational transmission...
27:07 issues, emotional system of a family,
27:10 and the thinking and feeling process of individuals
27:13 are all pitfalls that we need to try to avoid.
27:17 They are dysfunctional patterns in marriages.
27:20 They destroy your marriages.
27:21 Understand them and try to grow healthy marriages.
27:25 When a marriage is challenged it doesn't necessarily mean
27:28 that the challenge is caused by the two people.
27:30 No, they are external forces the power of the subsystem.
27:35 Well, we are happy that you are listening with us and
27:38 we want to invite you to continue
27:39 Marriage in God's Hand.
27:41 May God bless you, and may you grow healthy, happy, marriages.


Revised 2014-12-17