Opposite Sex Friendships

Is it possible to be friends with the opposite sex?

Admittedly, in my research I have found this is easier for girls than it is for boys (not men).

As men and women do mature and develop the capacity to make better judgements, it becomes more obvious that it is better to first become friends with the opposite sex, and only when both parties feel it’s right the friendship can then move into a romantic relationship.

Friendships don’t always develop into romance.

Friendships don’t always develop into romantic relationships. It is possible to want to be friends with someone and not necessarily want to go into a romantic relationship with them. But at least you had the opportunity to make an informed decision rather than go straight into a romantic relationship because you feel physically attracted to each other, and then break up because you are not right for each other in order to be spending every day of your lives living together, or even forming a family.


More about G.A.P.

From its first inception till now, marriage remains one of the most desired relationships one hopes to have in life. It’s also one of the most difficult relationships because it was designed to last a lifetime, therefore the expectations can run high.

The reason Grassroots Approach Program (GAP) has been created is because having good relationship skills don’t come naturally, and the current high divorce rate is one of the testaments to this.

Since the 1950’s the divorce rate in Australia has more than quadrupled. In 1996 the divorce rate peaked at 53.6%. with almost 50% of the divorces involving children. These figures don’t include unhappy marriages or couples who live together because they no-longer believe in marriage due to their experience of divorced parents, or other various reasons.

In earlier times marriages lasted even when there was abuse because of the social stigma, combined with financial dependency of women on men.

Now we have gone to the other extreme with no-fault divorce, which hasn’t really diminished the difficulty of life for the couple, especially when children are involved. What we are hoping to achieve through GAP is for couples to have a healthy relationship and want to remain married for life.

A research done in Pennsylvania State University in 2007 (Amato, et al.) with 509 couples, who had either divorced or were in the process of divorcing, had shown the main reason for divorce wasn’t abuse or adultery, it was high expectations and low level of commitment. In fact, according to statistics, only 6% of divorces are attributed to abuse or adultery.

Back in 2014, in an interview then Social Services minister Kevin Andrews had confirmed the cost of divorce on government as being $14b per annum.

This is not even taking into consideration the emotional and mental cost on children who grow up with a single parent, without a father in their life. On the other hand there are children growing up in dysfunctional and/or broken homes.

Again I quote Mr Andrews saying in the same report that “Most programs try to ameliorate the impact of marriage and relationship breakdowns. There is not enough that goes to early intervention”. All the funding that goes into mental health, addictions, homelessness are band-aid solutions to a great underlying problem, which at its heart is about bad or broken relationships. A person can still experience mental illness or become addicted to drugs through experimentation, but the rate of recovery and getting back on track – so to speak – is far higher for those who have come from a stable, caring family than those who haven’t.  As you would know, the family is the backbone of society and needs to be nurtured and invested in as everything else is built on it.

Research has shown children of divorced parents are more likely to lose motivation in their school work, are more resentful and angry toward authority figures, are more likely to fear failure, and lose hope for their future. They are more likely to divorce and more likely to do things that will jeopardise their future career and relationships. More and more counsellors and psychologists are becoming necessary in schools as never before, to help these children cope with their everyday school life.

The higher end private school finances are affected by divorcing parents, as the fees are often in arrears or the student is pulled out of the school.

These are the reasons why Grassroots Approach program (GAP) has been created. We believe prevention is better than cure, and much less costly in every way.

You may ask ‘why Grassroots Approach Program over all the other programs that already exist?’ We have found respect, communication skills, believing in oneself and abstinence from sex before marriage, although important, are not enough in teaching relational skills to save a marriage.

The GA program is unique in its approach as it is derived from psychological and biblical perspectives. The students learn how we become who we are (the psychology) and what is best for us (based on Christ’s teachings) in order to have healthy relationships.

Examples of conflict we share with the students are derived from true life circumstances, with the intent to be practical, relevant and engaging.

To give an idea, a brief but common scenario we share would be;

A couple who had been together for a while decide to get married. After the excitement of the wedding is over, and few months pass, and practicality sets in and the mundane issues, that didn’t matter before, now begin to become points of conflict. One of the spouses is neat and organised, the other is not. The spouse who is not neat and organised feels it’s their right to do as they please in their own home, and besides they won’t be controlled.

How would respect, good listening and communication skills help this situation? They each know how to communicate what they want and not want. It is only a matter of time, before things begin to downward spiral as resentment sets in. It is possible to be respectful and resentful at the same time. Implicit retaliation can be just as damaging to the relationship as explicit ones.

In more recent times the belief is that marriage is about finding the right person who will make us happy, because happiness is what we deserve. Most people don’t know how to come out of the toxic state of their relationship, because the world teaches that love is a feeling, which sadly but realistically, more often than not it doesn’t last. Combine this with the idea of needing to be true to ones’ own feelings and we find that relationships become very difficult to maintain let alone thrive.

Quite often, even among regular church attending Christians, the message of Christ is preached, but rarely do we learn about the relational skills He taught in a relevant way, and about the grace He provides – grace being His ability working in us to do that which Christ has called us to do. The most recent survey done in the church community, showed the divorce rate was the same among church attending couples, as it was in the secular world.

This is why we have designed a program that approaches the situation at a grass-root level. To teach the perfect, brilliant ways of Christ in a practical and relevant way, so when the students leave school, they have the necessary knowledge and skills, not only for their marriage, but for every relationship in their life.

The students are taught how the perfect teachings of Christ can be applied in everyday life situations, such as going the extra mile and to do to others what they want done to themselves. That true love is a decisive action, not a fleeting feeling that comes when we are pleased, and goes when we are angry – as this is the only possible way to love one’s enemy. When we change our thinking, our attitude and behaviour, our feelings do follow. This is counterintuitive to how we naturally behave, yet very effective when we become aware of it, and practice it.

When these principals are applied to any relationship, even when only one person in the relationship is applying them, the relationship dynamic does change. This empowers the individual to be in charge of how the relationship goes, rather than rely on the other person’s behaviour. The mindful actions of one person will inadvertently teach the other person how to relate, because they will be reacting to mercy and kindness, instead of control and retaliation. The neat spouse doesn’t need to give up their pursuit to have a tidy home. Through persisting with good attitude they will more likely achieve the result than if they criticise, retaliate, or give the cold shoulder treatment. As there will certainly be things their spouse will ask of them and how they respond will determine what course the relationship takes. As Jesus says in Romans 12:20, when you return good for evil it is like pouring coal on your opponents’ head. Another words the conviction they may feel will be more than they can bear.

The program is not about encouraging students to become a doormat, rather to be wise and mindful about one’s own words and actions. To think about the end from the beginning – which is to be lovable as well as to love, with the goal of becoming best of friends for life.

GAP is an interactive program where students are involved in the conversation and are given opportunities, to discuss, reflect, challenge paradigms about relationships and give consideration to what they are learning. With the hope that the skills and information they are exposed to will stay with them for life.

For any further information or detail please forward your email to Arsho  – approach@grassrootlevel.com.au


How To Pray

Prayer is an important part of life as a Christian, yet it appears not many Christians prioritise prayer in their daily life. Understandably life is busy and it’s not unusual to believe we don’t have time to pray, however, it’s amazing how things go more smoothly and we do get time to finish everything we set out to do during the day when  we pray first.

I’m sure there are many  people who have experienced (just as I have), when there are times  we achieve a lot in little time and there are times when we seem to be going in circles not achieving anything we set out to do for that day. Prioritising prayer does help to do the former…

According to Christ’s teachings prayer is worship, petition, thanksgiving and committing our worries and anxieties over to God.

The preparation that needs to take place in our hearts is to forgive others, to humble ourselves by recognising that we need God and anything we ask for to ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It would be difficult to pray to God if we don’t first spend time to know Him. It’s only when we  discover how Good God really is that we become more confident in Him and become able to trust Him when we pray.

An important prayer is the prayer for Grace to do that which we know we need to do but cannot do it in our own strength. We need to pray for peace and protection  in our heart and mind, divine protection and favour over our family, in our workplace and our faith – yes our faith – as it’s the first thing that will get attacked when we begin to pray regularly.

It’s not uncommon for our thoughts to get hijacked with unbelief and a sense of God judging us or angry with us. Having said this, it is important that we examine ourselves to see if we have sinned against anyone and repent it in Jesus name. Once we repent it is important to remember that we are completely forgiven because we have accepted Christ as our saviour.


Why not have multiple romantic relationships?

It’s always a good idea to think about the end from the beginning, so let’s consider the possible outcomes of going into a casual romantic relationship with someone you don’t necessarily want to spend the rest of your life with;

a) You could end up falling in love but the feeling is not mutual, and they leave you.
b) The other person could falls in love with you but they’re not who you want to be with…
c) They leave you for someone else, now you’re devastated that they would do this to you.
d) You want to break up but they don’t, and they begin to threaten about things they’ll do if you leave.
e) There’s a slight likelihood you’ll both end up falling in love with each other, however this is even more likely if you get to know each other first as friends – before you get romantically involved…

Whenever there’s a break-up there’s pain associated with the rejection you or they experience. The wounds may heal but what about the scar?

It is preferable and possible to be friends with the opposite sex, until such time that you mutually decide you want to share the rest of your lives together in a committed and meaningful relationship – with your self-esteems still in tact!

Rippled effects of broken relationships…

Whether we have experienced it firsthand, or have observed children who are going through the marriage break-up of their parents, there’s no denying the pain it causes.

The ripple effects of divorce are far reaching as divorce is costly in more ways than we can imagine. Apart from the heartache the couple go through the effects on children are often not noticed until it’s too late.

One of the first signs could be that school work is greatly affected. Change in behavior such as lack of motivation, lack of concentration, depression, sense of helplessness and/or hopelessness can become challenging and difficult to cope with for the student, the parent, their classmates as well as the teachers.  As the divorce rate rises it has become necessary for schools to invest more and more in counsellors and psychologists.

Through providing funding for relationship building skill program such as Grassroots Approach , the rippled effect of savings could be in funds allocated for mental health, homelessness, substance abuse related crimes, single parent allowances, work absenteeism, bankruptcy  and the list goes on…

Most of the fund allocations are band-aid solutions to a deep problem that often begins at home – the relationship between the couple.  By addressing the problems at Grass-root level (a bottom up approach) a healthier foundation is built within society, and the  end outcomes could change substantially.



Effects of Divorce on Children

It is widely known fact the best environment for children to grow into physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy adults requires a healthy family environment. This is where children know they are loved and know they can depend on their parents to be there to support them for as long as they require support. As children grow older the support they need will change, knowing they have family support will help an individual be confident and able to take healthy risks throughout the different stages of life.

Sadly there are far too many families going through separation and divorce.

The ripple effects of divorce are far reaching. Divorce is costly and private school fees can be one of the first expenses that are often cut back or left unpaid. Students’ school work is often greatly affected. Change in behavior such as lack of motivation, lack of concentration, depression, sense of helplessness and hopelessness can become challenging and difficult to cope with for the student, the teachers as well as their classmates.  As the divorce rate rises it has become necessary for schools to invest more and more into recruiting counsellors and psychologists.

Through providing a holistic education it could take 5–10 years for the divorce rate to begin to drop and for the benefits to be felt in schools and in society as a whole. Is it not the purpose and desire of every educator to see the world transformed through education, which empowers and equips the upcoming generations for life in the most holistic way possible?

Where could prevention begin? At what stage of one’s life could education about healthy relationships be most effective? Granted, there are circumstances when it is better for the parents to separate than to remain together, such as when safety of lives are threatened, but those circumstances are not as common as thought (please see research on previous blog).

Comparison of High and Low-Distress Marriages

Journal of Marriage and Family 69 (August 2007):621-638
Paul R. Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott: Pennsylvania State University.


Comparison of High and Low-Distress Marriages

That End in Divorce (summarized)


A study was conducted in United States in 2007 by Paul Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott to compare high and low distress marriages that end in divorce in order to understand why married couples get divorced.
They wanted to see if the popular belief that only couples who fight frequently, becoming increasingly disengaged from one another emotionally, causing marital happiness to decline are generally the couples that end up getting divorced.
In a series of publications Amato, Booth and Loomis presented evidence that many couples do not experience high level of discord and marital unhappiness prior to divorce. Contrary to the pattern described before, couples appear to end their marriage for reasons that only partly reflect the quality of their marriage.
Levinger’s commonly applied theory for divorce is based on three components; attraction, barriers and alternatives. First he suggests that attraction is based proportionately to the rewards received minus the costs involved (costs reflect the negative aspects of the relationship such as verbal and physical aggression). Although low level of rewards may lead to thoughts of divorce, spouses who wish to end their marriage must overcome a variety of barriers which include moral or religious values, concerns about social stigma, legal restrictions and financial dependence. At times the lack of alternatives can reinforce stability in the marriage. Of course some spouses may prefer living alone rather than be in an unrewarding marriage.

Another central construct in exchange theory is the comparison level for alternatives. Spouses who enter marriage with low level of expectation for personal fulfilment may be happier than a spouse who has a high level of expectations.

Johnson distinguishes between three forms of commitment; Personal commitment where partners enjoy each other’s company. Moral commitment is based on feelings of obligation, that one should remain in a relationship despite existence of problems and finally structural commitment which is based on constraints or lack of good alternatives to the current situation.

Recent surveys carried out in the US indicate that cultural changes in society have affected the attractions, barriers and commitment for marital stability. Survey of college students in the 1950’s and 60’s indicate that marriage was valued because it provided a home, a stable and economically secure life and the opportunity to raise children. In contrast, more recent surveys indicate that college students value marriage because they expect it to provide a deep source of love and emotional fulfillment – which is a more individualistic approach to marriage. According to this perspective many people now expect marriage to serve as a vehicle for personal growth and self-actualization. Marriages that do not meet these deeply personal needs may be viewed as failures, despite other benefits that these unions may provide. All things being equal, as people’s expectations of marriage increase, an increasing number of people will be unsatisfied with their marriage. Divorce becomes more of an issue of low level of commitment to the marriage rather than a case of getting out of a deeply unsatisfying and distressing relationship.
Surveys have shown that individuals in high-distress marriages experience improvements in subjective well-being, whereas individuals in low level distress marriages experience decline in subjective well-being. This hypotheses is based on the assumption that individuals in moderately happy marriages that end in divorce may not fully anticipate the difficulties and stresses that often accompany and follow marital dissolution.
A quantitative survey done in the 1980’s reveal decreases in the extent to which people have confidence in religious answers to important questions, place trust in religious authorities, and pray or read religious materials. This decline in religious influence is likely to have undermined people’s beliefs about the sacred nature of marriage and its importance as a religious commitment. Moreover the massive shift of married women into the workforce has meant they are less financially dependent on their spouses, hence making it easier for them to leave low to moderately unhappy marriages which would not have happened in 1950’s and 60’s.

In conclusion it is possible that many of these couples have been influenced by the belief that a good marriage should provide a high level of personal growth and self-actualization, criteria that many, perhaps most marriages cannot meet. Given the high rate of divorce and its implications on economic and social well-being of parents and children more research and exploration of possibilities on how to prevent the breakdown of the family unit are clearly warranted.

Exclusive report on the cost of Divorce on Government

EXCLUSIVE: DIVORCE and family breakdowns are costing the national economy more than $14 billion a year in government assistance payments and court costs, an exclusive News Corp analysis has found.

That figure has blown out by $2 billion in the last two years alone, with each Australian taxpayer now paying about $1100 a year to support families in crisis.

The financial sting is one of the reasons why Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed he will overhaul early intervention strategies in a bid to strengthen Australian families.

Mr Andrews told News Corp that as early as this month he will act to establish an expert panel on early intervention, which will be made up of a mix of practitioners and academics.

It will examine strategies to lower the divorce rate and better identify and assist vulnerable children and young people, including looking at whether more psychologists need to be deployed in kindergartens and preschools across the country.

“The reality is that most programs are programs that try to ameliorate the impact of marriage and family relationship breakdowns,” he said.

“There is not enough that goes to early intervention.”

A News Corp analysis of information from the federal Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services, shows that this financial year alone the government will spend $12.5 billion on support payments to single parents, including family tax benefits and rent assistance.

Another $1.5 billion will be spent on the administration of the child support system, while the cost to taxpayers from family disputes in Australian courts is $202 million.

Almost 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia, and while the divorce rate declined between 2002 and 2008, it is now on the rise again.

Over the last two years, the cost of divorce to the national economy has increased by more than $2 billion, or 17 per cent.

To read more please follow the link;