Shirley, the author of Blended Family Advice: A step-by-step guide to help blended and step families become strong and successful, is not only a qualified psychologists specializing in marriage and family counseling – with two Masters degree, one in family and marriage counseling and one in education – but also a wife and mother in a blended family. She’s lived through the experience. She knows first hand what it takes to blend members from two different families into a secure family group and she honestly and openly provides gems of wisdom from both her academic training and her blended family experience.
Reading through the book it is clear that her advice is good for traditional family units also which means she is not changing the rules. Instead, Shirley is helping blended families navigate the unfamiliar turbulence created when two groups of people, previously unknown to each other, move toward a desirable place: family.
The book is refreshing because Shirley doesn’t excuse poor family structure on the challenges of being a blended family. She makes it clear from the start that sound family structure can be maintained in spite of the difficulties. The challenges are different but not impossible to deal with and the solutions she provides enable blended families to achieve the same stability as traditional ones. She provides copious amounts of “how to” instructions for many different scenarios. Read more
Beautiful Setting, Friendly Animals
Tasty Food and Fair Prices
The Winsome View Animal farm, situated on an equine boarding ranch in the Summerveld hills (near Hillcrest), is surrounded by beautiful scenery and is home to loads of up-close-and-friendly animals of all kinds. Some roaming: rabbits, chickens, geese, goats and more, and some in pins: ponies, donkeys and pigs. There is also playground equipment and an obstacle course.
Entering through a hundred meter, well manicured tree lined drive, adjacent to horse paddocks, you realize you’re on a real farm. Nothing artificial. Walking through the animal farm gate you’re greeted by curious animals and friendly staff with a few barking dogs in the background. There was also a small nursery to round out the country feel.
Though the farm is tailor-made for kids, a well managed bistro – a real plus – offers great fare for adults. The dishes are garnished and seasoned with produce from an on site organic garden managed by Chef Alex. If you’ve never had salad made from freshly harvested produce you won’t believe the difference. The flavor was amazing. And the cappuccino was really good too. We had two cups.
Although the bistro is outdoor-only it is well protected from roaming animals by fence and from the sun by umbrellas. It is also being expanded as I write. A new section, enclosed and covered, is under construction. They recently introduced Friday nite Fine Dining. I haven’t been to the Friday night meal but having met the Chef and eaten the food, I’m sure it is good.
It’s a great place to satisfy both the children and the adults in the family so make your plans to visit. The prices are very fair.
Entrance: R12 (going to R15 soon)
Pony rides: R6
Animal feed: R6
Open from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday and public holidays, they cater for birthday parties, school groups and holiday camps, maximum 50. Contact Cheryl for bookings and details on (082) 892-1615 or (076) 870-0356. To contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following are: GPS coordinates, directions and a map. Read more
Why A Marriage
Should Never Be Saved
At The Expense
Of A Life
New book, In Defense of Divorce, defends divorce from traditional religious ideas, extenuating the guilt and reserving emotional energy for solving practical issues going forward.
The book explores such questions as:
- Is divorce a sin or a solution?
- Has religion over influenced public opinion on marriage, divorce and remarriage?
- Did the Old Testament allow divorce?
- What did Jesus teach about divorce in Matthew chapter five?
- Does God really hate divorce?
- How did Paul judge divorce matters?
Ennis Pepper, the author, experienced divorce first as a teenager when his parents broke up and later through other family members and friends. As a minister he witnessed the haranguing troubled couples experience when considering divorce and the rejection should they get one. And with a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree and more than 25 years ministry experience he is able to address this topic confidently with both a biblical and practical perspective.
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Most people think of divorce as something to shun, not defend, so Ennis’ book title raises questions at the start. And since the divorce rate is reaching all time highs there is no indication that the general population lacks the courage to initiate a divorce so why bother defending the issue? Read more
Although some troubled couples can avoid divorce, this post is written in support of those who can’t.
Strange title, I know, especially coming from a minister but religion and marriage are just as different as church and state and shouldn’t be managed as one.
You can be religiously happy without being married. You can be married happily without being religious. You can be married on one day, with no interest in religion, and become very religious later.
But, it has proven particularly difficult for an excessively religious person to marry only within the strict guidelines of their religion and be happy for a life time. The marriage might last for a life time but the happiness fades. Sometimes the marriage falls apart. According to Barna, even the Catholic divorce rate is high (28%).
One team from the University of Chicago, led by Linda J. Waite, did a study on unhappy marriages which suggested that many couples who stuck it out during the bad times reported their marriages happy five years later. The report also suggested that those who divorced were generally no more happy than those who didn’t.
However, an article at Religious Tolerance points out that part of the motivation to stay together was religious indoctrination so we can’t be sure from the U of C study whether the couples were happy with the marriage or the personal development in their lives individually in spite of the marriage.
Religion-influenced marriages may be more likely to stay together but are these couples happy or forbearing? Religion has added layers of adhesive to the institution’s external side but not much to sustain it on the inside. So religion’s legacy might be stated as: “married unhappily ever after.”
Although religion and religious people have served many good purposes, interfering with marriage is obviously not one of them.
Admittedly, it would be illogical to suggest all non-religious couples are happy. Marriage is easily mangled, religion or not. And it is also true that happiness in any marriage will never be absolute. It isn’t easy to get it right.
The problems that cause breakups don’t mysteriously appear all of a sudden decades after the wedding. They lurk quietly in the background from the start and over time grow intolerably huge if not managed well.
Kind of like warts. Small at first, growing over time and eventually getting painfully in the way. And we all have them.
However, my focus is not the problems that cause break ups but religion because religion tends to be dismissive toward such problems which in turn adds another dimension of difficulty to married life. Instead of admitting up front that relationship problems can be deal killers the focus is limited. Only the permanence of marriage is addressed and the possibility of a break up is treated as if it could never happen. Head-in-sand stuff.
Like snake oil pedaled by traveling salesmen, marriage is presented as a fairytale elixir to all relationship dreams for this life with implications for the next.
What religion fails to acknowledge are the problems induced by marriage that arise only after the ceremony, maybe years after. One study done at UT Austin found these problem areas begin to surface during the first two years of marriage and foreshadow breakups as far off as 13 years later. Unfortunately, when the problems become glaringly obvious, some religions never allow them to trump the vows.
Psychologists tell us that divorce is one of the most traumatic human experiences. It rates right up there with the death of a loved one or the loss of a limb. And, again, religious conservatives use this information to support the theory that divorce should never happen.
But is this trauma caused only by the divorce? Shouldn’t religion be blamed for part of the problem since they historically have proven unable to accept this unhappy experience and therefore haven’t been there for people when it happens?
Shouldn’t we also attribute part of the trauma to the culturally negative attitudes, encouraged by religion, that leave divorced couples stigmatized?
Knowing that religion and culture are against you before you start makes it stressful just thinking about a divorce never mind getting one.
Society is much more accepting today and divorce numbers have increased but maybe the 1 in 2 divorce rate isn’t a sign of more marriages going wrong but an indication that people are taking advantage of a more forgiving culture to correct poor marriage choices.
In the past more people stayed in their marriages but were they happy? Were they really committed to each other or just afraid of public responses toward divorce? Maybe it was less painful to stay in a difficult marriage than to dissolve it and in that light the 1 in 2 rate may be better than we thought.
If speculations about behind the scenes morality during the Victorian Age are even partly true it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the number of extramarital affairs were indirectly proportional to the number of divorces.
And looking around today you find that some of the strongest and happiest couples are second marriages. Go figure!
Religious leaders aren’t bad people and they aren’t saying evil things. The problem is they paint only half the picture. I think marriages would have a better chance of lasting if couples were told up front that marriage can be very hard to get right. It isn’t always easy to find the right partner in the first place and even when the partnership fits well you can’t know ahead of time how each person will react to the ups and downs of family life or to each other when things go south.
For these reasons it would do us well to consider some of the fail-points in the religious approach to marriage. And maybe consider removing all the add-ons religion has imposed on the wedding and the relationship. Read more
An outline of the following post was used in a wedding ceremony I performed recently.
Praising Your Partners Good Qualities
Inspires More of the Same
Unfortunately, there are no perfect couples. Some couples may be perfect for each other but because marriages are only inhabited by imperfect people none can be absolutely perfect.
What that means is . . .
Quietly lurking in the background at every wedding are the faults that each person brings to the union. We all have them.
Couples aren’t too bothered by them before they marry because they are too in love to notice. People attending the wedding don’t pay much attention to them because they are focused on how handsome the couple looks and all the reasons they make such a great pair.
But over time the balance changes.
Once we move away from the altar and settle into a routine the things each partner loves about the other get taken for granted and irritations are felt.
It isn’t serious initially. First offenses usually register as nothing more bothersome than a drop of rain.
But if the couple doesn’t learn to process those drops effectively they mount up.
One drop a day over two weeks isn’t serious.
One drop a day over 30 years adds up to more than 10,000 drops, approximately 500 kilograms. That is a lot of “heavy” for one relationship to bear.
Because of that, every couple contemplating marriage should ask two questions. Read more