Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

Premarital Pointers

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

premarital-imageThe season of love and romance is upon us. Since the focus this time of year is on relationships, many couples may spend time evaluating their relationship. Some will decide to become engaged. Studies show that up to six million couples will get engaged on Valentine’s Day.

With the excitement of planning a wedding, many couples forget to plan their marriage. Premarital counseling is one avenue to strengthen an upcoming marriage. With all the time, energy, and money spent on weddings every year (the average cost for a wedding in Oklahoma is $23,000), it’s important for couples to also invest in their marriage.

Let’s talk about what premarital counseling is and is not.

Often couples are hesitant to have premarital counseling because they’re afraid the counselor will tell them they’re not suited for each other and shouldn’t get married. However, it is not the counselor’s role to determine that for the couple. The counselor is available to help the couple understand their strengths, so they can build on those. The counselor also helps identify potential problem areas, so they can learn skills to handle them. In premarital counseling, couples learn primarily how to problem solve, communicate, and resolve conflict.

Christian Family Institute offers a premarital package including five sessions prior to the wedding, one follow up session six to nine months after, and use of an online assessment tool called PREPARE. This test is a well researched tool in the industry whereby results for each partner are discussed in a safe space with the counselor.  Areas covered in the PREPARE curriculum are:


Conflict resolution

Leisure activities



Family and friends



Read more about our premarital counseling package or get a head start on your marriage by calling our office at 918-745-0095. For couples who are already married and would like to enrich their relationship, we offer a similar tool called ENRICH.

Let us help you prepare for a wonderful life together!

Krista Cannon, MA, LPC


Limiting the Damages of Divorce (video)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Relying on over 40-years of practice, Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) shares about limiting the damages of a divorce. There are harmful effects for everyone in a family in cases of divorce, even if amicable, and unfortunately children are more keenly affected. CFI often provides divorce recovery services, tips for successful coparenting and gives special focus on helping children to recover. Dr. Berman has consulted on over 500 child custody cases, and speaks with host Lisa Harris on key areas of concern for families facing or recovering from divorce. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI.

Divorce-Proof Your Marriage (video)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) speaks about divorce-proofing a marriage with host Lisa Harris during a recent segment of Joy In Our Town. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI. Over 40-years clinical and forensic practice underlies the sound tips and advice he presents for couples desiring to shore up their marriage and avoid common pitfalls.

Bowden McElroy on Marriage

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Bowden McElroy was interviewed by the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, OK as part of a series on marriage.

Mr. Bowden McElroy from First Baptist Broken Arrow on Vimeo.

Little Things Count

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

hands-437968_1920As couples consider ways to improve their emotional connection and friendship, they typically put a focus on efforts that take some effort. Going out on dates, weekend trips, efforts to improve physical intimacy and attending marriage enrichment events, are all useful and effective ways to increase a couples’ friendship. However, we often fail to recognize the cumulative effects of the very small interactions. In fact, healthy relationships are typically full of positive mini events.

Some examples of these moments can include, pointing out a post on social media, getting your partner something to drink, even a comment about the amount of traffic encountered on the way home. Simply put, these are small efforts to initiate conversation and positive interactions between partners. While it is important to get spouses to initiate these interactions, getting them to receive them in a positive manner, may be more important. Validating responses such as efforts to extend the conversation, a brief acknowledgement or even a responsive smile will pay dividends for both spouses.

On the other hand, a rejection, while seemingly small, can pierce very deeply. When one of these small gestures is made, that partner is taking a risk. The possibility of their partner accepting this bid for connection, also contains the very real possibility of its rejection. Rejections can be derisive statements and body language, or even simply ignoring their partner all together. This can create a pattern where partners are discouraged from making these gestures for connection and thus deprive the couple of a very important element to intimacy.

If you think that your relationship could benefit by increasing the frequency of these small moments of connection, there are two things I would encourage you to do:

  1.  take the risk and make the effort to initiate these small interactions. Be active in serving your partner in small ways, give an affectionate squeeze of their shoulder, make small talk, and find small ways to serve them.
  2. look for and acknowledge the things your partner is doing for the relationship. If you have gotten in a negative pattern, challenge those negative thoughts and appreciate that they are still making an effort to connect. Even if it feels awkward at first, work though it with a sense of humor and let your friendship grow.

by Eric Clements

Stronger Marriages

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

CFI is going to be teaching at The Church at Battle Creek this June and July.  We look forward to educating the community and getting to know you.


Stronger-MarriageAbout the Stronger Marriage series at The Church at Battle Creek:

This series is for anyone who is married or thinking about getting married.  If your spouse is unable to attend for any reason, we encourage to come by yourself.  Young marrieds, emptynesters, and seniors will all find help in this series.  This series of topics will touch on biblical and sound family systems principles relevant to your situation.

These sessions will be provided by members of the staff of Christian Family Institute, Tulsa’s oldest and largest Christian counseling center.  You can find out more about this group at.

6 Sessions – June  17, 24,  and July 1, 8, 15, 22 (2015)

  • June 17: Improving Couple Communication
  • June 24: Learning to Manage Conflict in Marriage
  • July 1: Making a Good Marriage
  • July 8: Helping Your Child – or Grandchild – Win (birth through age 12)
  • July 15: Helping Teens Through the Challenges of Growing Up
  • July 22: Strengthening the Family Connection

Throughout, this series will emphasize the character of effective couples, and the objective character traits in those in healthy, godly relationships.

Premarital Counseling With the PREPARE/ENRICH Customized Version

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Christian Family Institute has been training mental health professionals, pastors, and lay counselors to do premarital counseling for over 30 years.  We are strong believers that such premarital preparation can improve relationships and reduce divorce rates.  One tool CFI commonly employs to strengthen relationships and marriages before they begin is the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment inventory.

I look back at the old versions of this test and am amazed at the changes that it has undergone over these many years.  I first met Dr. David Fournier, an early developer of the inventory in 1977 when he was pilot testing PREPARE in Kansas City.  Little did I know how significant our relationship would later be, and what an important role PREPARE would serve in our work.

This last year, PREPARE underwent another major revision.  It is now going to be known as PREPARE/ENRICH Customized version, instead of PREPARE 2000.  Several major changes in the instrument are immediately apparent.  One change is that all the instruments are combined.  Another change is that this version can only be taken by computer.  When a counselor agrees with a couple to utilize this version, a private login account is established allowing the parties to take the inventory online.  The initial items inquire into the status of the couple’s relationship, such as whether they are engaged, living together, or married.  Other items inquire about age and other factors.  The answers to these questions determine which banks of questions are relevant and will be administered to the couple.  Each couple takes a “custom” version of the assessment.

The outcome results are immediately obvious.  Separate reports are generated for counselors (“facilitators”) and couples.  Reports include a massive amount or information about the couple and their relationship, no matter what stage of relationship the couple may be in.  This enables couples to make important informed decisions, including commitments to grow and change.

Another important aspect of the PREPARE/ENRICH inventories is the increased emphasis on interactive feedback and therapeutic exercises.  For those trained in this approach, tools for helping couples grow are immediately available to meet the couple’s needs.

CFI will be providing workshops to train new users of the PREPARE/ENRICH Customized Version, and to update those already trained in PREPARE 2000.  Watch CFI’s website for dates and times.  Also, check out the Life Innovations website for more information.

by Dale R. Doty, M.S.W., Ph.D.

To sign up for Dr. Dale Doty’s PREPARE/ENRICH training workshop on Friday, March 28, 2014 please click here.

What do you need to know before you marry again?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

his-hersA frequently observed pattern is for those who remarry to repeat the mistakes from their previous failed marriage. Second marriages are even more likely to fail than first marriages. This occurs far too often, yet there are things that can be done to prevent it.

It is extremely important to gain some understanding and insight into what we may have contributed to the failure of our earlier marriage(s). It is never so simple as to have been entirely the blame of our first spouse that a previous marriage ended. If we do not have understanding and insight, we cannot take the necessary responsibility in order to correct past mistakes, and therefore, not repeat the same mistakes.

Marriages end due to many factors, including rushing into a marriage without an adequate courtship period to get to know the person we are marrying, not knowing our partner’s history and character, rushing into sexual intimacy, failing to be prepared for the demands of marriage, not being financially secure, failing to manage anger and other emotions, not knowing how to communicate well or resolve conflicts, just to mention a few.

Counseling is an important experience in getting help understanding how a past marriage failed. It can make the difference between a failed or successful second marriage. Pre-marriage counseling is also a very important experience, to insure that future relationships are on track to becoming a successful marriage. Premarriage counseling should begin as soon as possible after the first talk of a life together for the future.

The Bible speaks of the importance of the “safety in a multitude of counselors,” (Proverbs 11:14), and that we should walk in wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 19:20).” Making important decisions on our own without counsel increases the odds of our making an error in judgment.

Consider the gift of pre-marital counseling to your adult children considering marriage. A comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a planned marriage, offered by a trained and objective professional, may carry more weight than your own opinion. Further, this gives your adult children the counseling or therapy they may need to get their relationship on firm ground.

-Dale Doty, Ph.D.

How Do You Do What You Do (All Day Long)?

Monday, June 17th, 2013

couple therapyUsually this is asked at the end of a particularly difficult or emotional session.  It’s often followed by the statement, “I couldn’t do what you do”.  The truth is, I probably couldn’t do what you do.  Not day in and day out.  I believe one’s vocation is a calling.  We usually think of ministers and missionaries as “being called” to the pastorate or the mission field.  I think God has plans and designs for each of us and some are called to be counselors or bankers or truck drivers, and some are even called (though I think it’s more a curse than a blessing) to be Junior High math teachers. Counseling is what I do, it’s a part of who I am; it is what I have been called to do.

That is the short answer.  A longer answer is comprised of three parts. First, I have a well defined sense of self and very firm boundaries.  In other words, I don’t take responsibility for the outcome or direction of your life.  My job is to be the best counselor I know how to be for the time you are in my office.  What happens after counseling is over is up to you. That doesn’t mean I don’t care (I do) or that I don’t worry about you as you leave my office (I try to keep that to a minimum but the reality is some of my clients are in a really tough place).  It does mean that I take responsibility for my life and I expect my clients to take responsibility for theirs.

I don’t do the same thing hour after hour, day after day.  Counseling is a process made up of different parts or phases.  Some of my day is spent doing assessments: figuring out what is really going on in order to create the most effective treatment plan.  Being a good diagnostician is like being a detective.  I question, probe, and investigate.  I analyze, summarize, and interpret.  At other times I teach skills: communication skills, problem-solving skills, parenting skills, etc.  I get to take off my detective hat and put on my educator hat.  Still other parts of my day are spent listening, empathizing, and understanding.  On occasion I confront people, at other times I explain how they are quite normal and anyone would react/think/feel as they are.  Counseling is much more than just sitting in a chair murmuring “And how do you feel about that?”.  I actually enjoy those difficult situations that require me to call upon all of my training and experience; even if the client never realizes just how much work that is.

Finally, I do what I do all day long because I take pride in my work.  I make a difference in people’s lives… and that’s more than a lot of people can say.

Mr. Bowden McElroy

G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.

Licensed Professional Counselor

What To Do When Your Spouse Won’t Admit They Did Wrong

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Trust Highlighted - iStockA common first question to a breach in relational trust is: “What did your spouse do?”.  The answer will likely depend on the severity of the action. For instance, when your spouse forgot to pick up the dry cleaning when you clearly asked them to, you may receive a denial in response, such as “you never asked me to get your dry cleaning.”  You would probably be able to forgive this more easily than forgiving your spouse when they won’t acknowledge a greater breach, such as infidelity. The adage “pick your battles” correctly applies here. The life of your marriage probably won’t depend on dry cleaning, but infidelity is a much more complex and damaging offense. However, the core issue is the same: A spouse’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions and make amends is a major roadblock in trusting relationships.

With something as serious as infidelity, your spouse may fear the demise of your marriage and fool themselves into thinking that if they don’t admit wrong doing, then the incident didn’t really happen.  As fallible humans we are masters of denial. Understanding why your spouse won’t admit their mistake is important. Do they disagree that their actions were wrong or are they ashamed and using their denial as a defense mechanism?

If your spouse has a pattern of dishonesty and is unwilling to seek forgiveness, there is probably a deeper issue present that needs to be addressed through professional counseling.

The dilemma for the wronged spouse is, do you forgive them even if they don’t seek your forgiveness?  For your spiritual and emotional health, is it best to choose to forgive them? Feeling forgiveness and choosing it are different. We often don’t feel like we want to forgive someone, but we can choose to forgive them. When we consider the grace and mercy of God toward us, it empowers us to extend that same forgiveness to others. Communicating your forgiveness toward your spouse can help them understand how their actions have affected you and encourage them to seek forgiveness.

Infidelity is a complex issue and the forgiveness of such offense is also complex.  Christian Family Institute has developed and refined a methodology for helping couples through infidelity.  Call us to set up a time to meet with one of our trained and licensed therapists.

KristaCaveny headshot

Krista Caveny, M.A.