Doug often speaks at couple’s events, men’s retreats and family conferences. Alive Ministries offers a Family Life Enrichment seminar. The Couple’s Clinic is the family life seminar Doug has presented to thousands of couples. In that experience, couples learn about the stages of marriage – the tough times. They discover their learned conflict style and basic reflective listening skills that focus on conciliation. They look at the Jesus-style of forgiveness.
Affair –Proofing Your Marriage: Doug looks at the four Greek words for love and relates them to different love needs necessary to sustain a healthy marriage. He suggests that marriage is another “womb” in which we are now doing our most vital development – growing to be like Christ. A lack of love creates a need state and the resulting deprivation sometimes leads to meet those needs outside the marriage, thus double-bonding (adultery) or unchecked, toxic attitudes accumulate that send the marriage in the direction of divorce (a miscarriage). A practical and eye-opening session on balanced love and affair proofing a marriage.
The Power of a Father’s Faithfulness: A ground-breaking generational study shows the simple power of a father’s faithfulness in church attendance, and how that is replicated in the next generation. Small says, “This is politically incorrect. It shows the disproportionate influence of the father’s faith compared to that of the mother.” The Swiss study follows the church attendance habits of children whose fathers were faithful church attenders, those who attended irregularly or not all, and that in light of the mother’s church attendance pattern. The father’s influence in generation faith pattern imprinting is huge.
The Marriage Life Cycle: Reviewing data from more than 10,000 marriages, Doug looks at the seven stages of family life. He also introduces the five stages of marriage. In both models, he notes that marriage happiness levels have a tendency to drop in the mid-years of marriage. Many couples give up hope then, and sadly forfeit the rich years of marriage in the mature years. “You can never heal a marriage that you are in the process of backing out of,” he says. The session is engaging, humorous at times, and in the end compelling. This is the first session in the Enriching the Christian Marriage Seminar.
Forgiveness – Its liberating power: There are five principles in Matthew 18 for dealing with conflict. This simple but forceful look at the “Jesus-way” to resolve conflict ends with a discussion on forgiveness! The five principles are – first, a capacity for change. Jesus calls it conversion! Second, posturing with openness. Third, choosing to see things differently, do things differently. Fourth, the value of the one! Fifth, learning the importance of hearing, not being heard.
Anger: Anger rises out of unmet needs. Its three major causes are fear, hurt or frustration. Fear is possible only in the absence of faith. And faith withers when we disconnect from a sense of God’s loving presence. Frustration is our attempt to control the uncontrollable, to do what only God can do. Hurt is healed by God – debt collecting offers little healing. When anger is unresolved, it degenerates to hostility, then to hate, and finally to a murderous spirit. Doug draws from the struggle between Cain and Abel to suggest resolution. A powerful workshop when combined with the talk on forgiveness.
Principles for Raising Kids the Bible Way: This is a verse-by-verse study of Ephesians 6:1-4. As Doug unwraps the principles of “nurture and admonition” he ties them to a generation University study on parenting – and then to the very nature of Father God Himself. The University study looked for four characteristics in children – a positive self-image, a disposition that responds positively to authority, integration of the faith and values of their parents, and resistance to social differentiation! Four parenting styles are described – authoritative, permissive, neglectful and authoritarian. The most effective of these styles balance higher levels of love and limits. The least effective offered little love or obscured love in excessive limits.
Submission in a Partnership Marriage: Submission is dirty word in a free-wheeling culture – but it describes the relationship of Christ to the Father, and of the Church to Christ. Doug helps parse the old fashioned terms in favor of a Biblical marriage, yet one that embraces equality of value and mutuality in function. A fascinating study – one the liberal members of the your congregation will talk about for a long time! Tasteful. Humorous. Engaging. Convincing. Surprises for all.
Freedom and Unity: In our culture, unity – especially in marriage – is set against the loss of freedom. Doug disagrees, saying the true opposite of unity is fragmentation, and the opposite of freedom is force. In the Bible, particularly in the Trinity, freedom and unity are eternally conjoined. A mind-bending session that seeks to look at marriage in a fresh way. The session ends with 20 practical ideas to enrich family life.
Biblical Relating Styles: God made each of us in unique ways – as dominate, compliant to standards and values, as fun-loving party people, as steady and consistent. Called the DiSC, these four personality types are characterized by the likes of Paul, Moses, Peter and Abraham. Some are initiators, others responders. Some are task oriented, others gravitate to people. Tension develops between us because we don’t understand the relating style of marriage partners, children or work associates. A fascinating workshop. This can also be adapted for church leaders and pastoral staff members.
Five Divorce Myths: In the early 1970’s, American embraced easy divorces. Now, some forty years later, we are seeing the impact. With fresh data, Doug addresses five common divorce myths. This session is hard-hitting! It may be uncomfortable for some – but presented in a redemptive and preventive manner. The bottom-line in this workshop is a push toward commitment. The studies indicate that bad marriages not only can be saved, but can become quite satisfying. What is necessary in the tough seasons when divorce might be an option, is unrelenting commitment to the marriage.