Faith Topics

  • What Predicts Divorce
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Healing Faith
  • Crazy Christmas?

Grief Resources

The following is an excerpt of the information presented in Megan Johntz’ seminar What Predicts Divorce? and brings together many individuals' research into one seminar. For more information on the full workshop, contact Megan Johntz at, or 314.378.3384.


John Gottman, Ph.D.




More positivity than negativity (5:1). This means for every negative statement there are 5 positive statements, or behaviors

Repair attempts (attempts to get back into a loving, intimate interaction) received often

Perceive partner’s negative actions as an oddity

Keep no record of wrongs

Know how to soothe each other and self-soothe, especially the male self-soothing after a fight

Take breaks (physical or emotional) from an argument when reach an intense arousal state



More negativity than positivity (.8 to 1)

Repair attempts fail or are not received well by partner

Perceive partner’s negative actions as a character trait

Maintain a running score of wrongs and/or gifts and favors

Male stays vigilant, aroused, and feeds distress-maintaining thoughts after an argument

Don’t take breaks, or if they do, the male uses the time to rehearse distress-maintaining thoughts

Male has heart beat over 100 bpm even when resting after an argument (inability to self-soothe or receive soothing from her)

Male doesn’t have a good “marital poop detector” (high Negativity Threshold - definition below)

Male refuses to accept influence from female, often due to a fear of losing control, resulting in his emotional withdrawal, or controlling with defensiveness & contempt plus either belligerence or domination

Existence of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and/or stonewalling

Negative Affect Reciprocity: best divorce indicator - definition below

Distance and Isolation Cascade occurs: Flooding leads to Seeing Problems as Severe, leading to a pattern of Working Out Problems Alone, leading to Living Parallel Lives, ending in Loneliness



Negativity Threshold: the point at which a person becomes so uncomfortable with a problem in the relationship they will do something about it. Having a low threshold (talking about issues early) predicts a stable, happy relationship, but only when the male does it.

Negative Affect Reciprocity: the increased probability that one person’s emotions will be negative right after a negative statement from the partner. But negative affect reciprocity in-kind (anger met with anger, etc.) doesn’t predict divorce, and exists in every relationship. However, negative affect reciprocity escalating, for example, from anger into criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling is what predicts divorce.

Flooding: a state of being “shell-shocked” by your partner’s expression of negativity. Flooded individuals often report their partner’s negativity is random, frequent, and they would do anything to stop it.

Seeing the Problem as Severe: seeing problems as severe, instead of “glorifying the struggle”.

Working Out Problems Alone: a belief that discussing the problems will be unproductive.

Living Parallel Lives: arranging your life so that it doesn’t intersect very much with your partner’s life.

Loneliness: especially for men who report minimal social support outside marriage. Loneliness (growing apart) is the number one reason most couples report for getting divorced.

Females criticize more; males stonewall (withhold interaction, especially emotions) more.

Negativity exists in every relationship and does not predict divorce or a stable, happy relationship.

A Pursuer-Distancer pattern exists in all relationships -- the female is typically the pursuer, which increases in ailing marriages.  If the male brings up issues/problems, it is predictive of a long-term, healthy relationship.

Even in the most distressed relationships, repair attempts occur on average every three minutes.

His facial expressions predict the occurrence of infectious diseases she will develop in the next 4 years.

Affairs, miscommunication, arguments, and poor conflict resolution skills do not cause divorce.

FIVE LANGUAGES FOR LOVE                                     Me                                         My Spouse   

  • Acts of Service

  • Words of Encouragement

  • Gift-giving

  • Quality Time

  • Physical Touch and Closeness

By Walter Trobish


Are we able to share together? Do I want to make my partner happy? Or do I want to become happy?


Does our love give us new strength and fill us with creative energy? Or does it take away our strength and energy?


Do we truly respect each other? Are we proud of one another? Do we want to introduce each other to friends and associates? Do we respect each other's opinions and desires?


Do we really accept one another as we are, with all our habits and shortcomings?


Are we willing and able to forgive each other and forget? Are we willing to give in to each other, or does one person do most of the giving? Do we have healthy and similar definitions of forgiveness?


Has our love been tested by time? Have we known each other long enough to permit our love to be tested by the variety of circumstance which we will face in our married life?




            Immaturity                                                               Maturity                            .

- inability to compromise                                 - realistic: sees life, self, others as they are

- mentally or physically cruel                            - flexible: able to adjust to changes

- misuse of authority                                     - self-control: able to control emotions,

- too dependent upon feelings                                   words, and behavior

- self-pity                                                     - able to give of self in an intimate friendship

- compulsive revenge-taker                                      

- self-defensive                                                

- violent quarreling

- irresponsible




    financial debt


    in-law and family of origin issues


    space invaders (i.e.: jealousy, low self-esteem, etc.)

    alcohol or drug abuse

    other addictions (i.e.: pornography, gambling, etc.)


    business failure

    business success

    married too young


    Successful partners do not take their relationship for granted.                                    

    Successful partners make their relationship an important priority.           

    Successful partners actively seek to meet each other's needs.                          

    Successful partners know when and when not to change in response to the other.

    Successful partners value themselves.                                                                  

    Successful partners love each other, not their idealization of each other.              

    Successful partners tolerate what they cannot change.                                    

    Successful partners are open with each other.                                                  

    Successful partners make good times together and grow through the bad ones.   

    Successful partners do unto each other as they would have the other do unto them.

           MEGAN A. JOHNTZ, M.S., L.P.C.


    Gentle, compassionate, friendly

    Wants the best for the other



    Giving, seeking the other's interest

    Understanding, enjoys and encourages laughter


    Seeks out and enjoys good, positive things

    Puts God first, unifying the couple under one common belief, set of life goals, and source of power and comfort

    Provides safety, physically, emotionally, and spiritually

    Expects, assumes, and imagines the relationship will flourish

    Is persistent

    You can count on it - rest comfortably in it.

Contact Johntz Presentations today and
put PsychTools to work for your organization's success.

These questions and experiments are excerpted from Megan Johntz’s workshop on Creative Problem Solving. For more information on the full workshop, contact Megan at 314.378.3384 or by email at

Creative Problem Solving

            Often we solve problems only to find they come up again next week. At the end of life, people see fairly clearly what the real, underlying issues were, but when you’re 35 sometimes it’s difficult to see. Through a series of question and experiments, you can dig in and determine what the main issue is. Tackle that, and you’re likely to finish the issue -- actually solve the problem. In my private practice, I’ve seen hundreds of people who have been hunting down the wrong animal for years. Frustration, anger, sadness, feeling like they’re ineffective, they fall on my couch and ask, ‘Why isn’t it working?’ Taking a step back, asking what the real goal is, and finding the true problem, is the first step. Let’s take a look at some simple questions that can lead you to hunt the right animal.

            Ask yourself these questions. It also helps to write it down, even carrying that journal with you during the day, because realizations arrive at the strangest of times.

  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • You schedule an interview with God. What does He say your purpose is in your family? in your church? in your community? in your relationship with Him?
  • What was that experiment like for you?
  • What was the first answer that popped in your head?
  • How much time during your typical day do you spend on this primary goal/purpose?
  • How do you get in the way of your own brain and neglect to see the  goal attained?                
  • How does the chatter in your head sabotage your goal?
  • How do you box yourself in? With that in mind, how can you temporarily alter restrictions to see more clearly?
  • How do you get stuck in achieving the goals you've set for yourself?
  • What benefits do I obtain by focusing on side issues? (Spend some time here, because there are usually quite a few.)
  • What situation in life has forced you to solve problems creatively, use your resources, and examine your goals closely ?
  • So now, what's the Real Problem? We often try to straighten chairs on the Titanic - solving the wrong problem. This leads to a reoccurrence of the problem, increase of other problems associated with not fixing it right the first time, lost time, energy, and definitely increased frustration. Through creative problem solving, your goal setting is more on target.
  • Experiment:
  • (see if the goals you set, lock you into the solution you get.)
  • You are waiting for a bus, and once again you realize you don't have the correct change. What is the problem?
  • how are you going to get the exact change before the bus arrives
  • what can you do after you get on the bus without correct change
  • how can you get there another way
  • how can you make this trip later
  • how can you prevent this from happening again
  •  why do you procrastinate getting change made
  • What is the true goal?
  • obtaining exact change before the bus arrives
  •  obtaining change after you get on the bus
  • getting to your destination another way
  • making this trip later
  • preventing this from happening again
  •  learning how not to procrastinate
  •             If I have the goal of getting correct change before the bus arrives, I walk into a flower shop nearby and make change. What if the more beneficial goal was to learn how not to procrastinate? I have simply put a Band-Aid on the problem by not examining my goals closely enough to know the real problem, thereby coming up with a long-term solution.

                Ask yourself this question frequently: If I were not worrying about __________, what would issue would I have to face? For example, if I weren’t mad about him not taking the garbage out, what would I be mad at? Or, if I look behind the problem, what causal problem do I find? This question asks you to step back and analyze if you're working on the right goal instead of wasting time on side issues, and realizing when you’re 80 what issue really needed to be addressed.  

    Contact Johntz Presentations today and
    put PsychTools to work for your organization's success.

Healing Faith

“God bless us, everyone.”  -- Tiny Tim

”In God we trust.”  -- The money in your wallet

I dare take on one of two subjects our mothers told us not to discuss in polite company, unless you want an argument. Religion.  Can a religious faith help a person heal physically, mentally, or socially?  And if so, might health-care professionals be responsible for including this facet into treatment of physical, mental, and emotional illness?

Healthcare professionals are charged with educating clients on tools we may not even utilize ourselves, if we know they will help.  (Ask any physician who smokes, and he or she will advise you against it.) We are also called to speak the uncomfortable, challenging harmful ideas and beliefs. I find it interesting that therapists will “preach” a right way of thinking through cognitive-behavioral interventions, physicians advocate a positive self-care through sleep, diet, exercise, and medication options, but many helping professionals run from addressing possible benefits of faith with our clients as a taboo subject.

Post-Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution served to distance science from the Church that, as the keeper of dogma and orthodoxy, was invested in restraining new knowledge.  This led to a splitting of the human being into soul, cared for by religion, and the body/mind cared for by science.

Recently scientists have started reclaiming access to the spiritual world, by studying the connection between faith and physical, mental, emotional, and social health.  Some of their findings are summarized below.

A strong faith has been associated with:

  • increased life expectancy
  • lower rates of cardiac disease, pulmonary tuberculosis, pulmonary emphysema, cirrhosis of the liver, and cancer (especially lung, bladder, and colon)
  • greater marital and overall life satisfaction
  • increased self-esteem and social support, and lower suicide rates
  • reduced drug use, including nicotine, in adults and adolescents
  • improved adjustment and coping skills
  • reduced overall psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, death anxiety, depression, isolation, and hostility
  • reduced blood pressure
  • less vaginal infections/diseases, and cervical cancer

There are several studies indicating that intercessory prayer actually affects physical health, such as surgery complications, life-threatening events, and recovery rates. A few experiments indicate prayer even stimulates plant growth.  There are also some interesting, but small-subject studies, suggesting that prayer affects life expectancy of leukemic children. Much more study is required in the area of prayer’s ability to create positive changes in our lives.

Most Americans are religious:  a 35 year look at Gallop polls shows a consistent 95% of Americans believe in God, and 76% pray on a regular basis.

Given the positive psychological, physical, and social effects of religious faith, healthcare professionals may find this as much a valid intervention as a healthier diet or a stress-reduction program. And given the prevalence of people professing a faith a well-rounded treatment program needs to include this powerful tool. Being a psychotherapist, I’ve been in a privileged position to assist clients in changing their very lives. And I’ve seen more long-lasting healing take place when clients strengthen their relationship with God. Now I just need to write an article on Politics and mental health, and I’ll stir up everyone.


Contact Johntz Presentations today and
put PsychTools to work for your organization's success.

Crazy Christmas

For many Christians, December brings dread. One of the most potentially spiritual times of the year is clouded with chaos, bad memories of Christmases gone wrong, dread of the same old family arguments, or of being alone. Let’s take a look at cleaning up this holiday, and returning Christmas to its Silent Night reality.

            The following is a worksheet excerpt from Megan Johntz’s seminar on Handling the Holidays for churches wanting to turn off the stress, and turn up the Spirit of the season.  For more information on the full seminar, contact Megan Johntz at 314.378.3384, or The worksheet that follows is one straight from the seminar, and if you’ve taken the seminar, feel free to print off as many worksheets as you’d like.


Ask yourself these questions slowly. I say slowly because that’s the start of taking control of this next holiday season - giving time and attention to the things you call most important.

  • What did the holidays mean in the family you grew up in? What part of that vision do you want now?
  • What is your main goal for the holidays?
  • What would you like to have as your main goal during holidays? (Yes, that’s a different question than the previous one.)
  • How have you achieved that in the past? Even momentarily.
  • What got in the way of you achieving it?
  • How did your family celebrate holidays?
  • What were the hardest times of the holidays in your family?
  • What were the best times of the holidays in your family?
  • Was Christmas commercial or spiritual in your family? How so?
  • What would God want for me this holiday season?
  • What's God yelling at me, that I may not be hearing?


    ______ Family             

    ______ Solitude

    ______ Big family        

    ______ Small family

    ______ Friends          

    ______ Family of birth

    ______ Family of choice  

    ______ Volunteering

    ______ Thankfulness            

    ______ Travel               

    ______ Celebration                   

    ______ Loneliness

    ______ Humor     

    ______ Time with God   

    ______ Sadness     

    ______ Worry

    ______ Time slows down    

    ______ Time speeds up            

    ______ Money             

    ______ Feeling overwhelmed

    ______ Vacation     

    ______ Music    

    ______ Stress    

    ______ Anger

    ______ Food                       

    ______ Relaxation                   

    ______ Confusion                     

    ______ Work

    ______ Happiness                

    ______ Peace              

    ______ Fear                         

    ______ Anticipation

    ______ Spiritual renewal            

    ______ Jealousy      

    ______ Excitement                    

    ______ _____________________


    This holiday season, I'd like to decrease:

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________



    This holiday season, I'd like to increase:

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________





    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________



    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    ____________________________                ____________________________

    Contact Johntz Presentations today and
    put PsychTools to work for your organization's success.