New Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jason Whiting, Relationship Expert

I have always loved learning, and being a professor is like getting paid to learn all the time,” says Dr. Jason Whiting, author of Love me True and one of our newest School of Family Life professors.


jason whitingThe researcher studies violence/abuse, relationship education, and conflict within couples. “The family is a source of profound influence in our lives, for good and bad, and I hope to be helpful to those who are struggling. Specifically, I want to identify unhealthy ways of interacting, and offer solutions for being more kind and honest,” he says. In his book, Dr. Whiting discusses how partners can be more genuine and honest with each other.

The academician was inspired to study relationships because of his own past experiences: “Growing up in a big family left me curious about relationships: what makes some so fun, and others so frustrating? Individuals are interesting, but when you put them together into families they become even more interesting. Unfortunately, our most meaningful relationships can become damaging, and this was a very compelling issue to me: what makes intimate relationships work?

Brigham Young University

Dr. Whiting loves BYU. “I had a great experience here as a student,” he says, and have always been a fan of the mission of BYU as a unique force for good. After 16 years working at other universities, the stars aligned with what some [other] Family Life faculty here [were] doing, and what I was doing, which presented good collaboration opportunities. Also, my kids are starting to ‘launch,’ and they all want[ed] to come to BYU, so I thought I had better follow them.”

He offered the following advice to students:

  • Seek opportunities to interact with professors.
  • When choosing a course, learn about the person teaching the class, which is as important, if not more so, than the class itself.
  • Connect with faculty through office hours, and don’t be afraid to seek advice. Dr. Whiting reports that many of his most meaningful memories from BYU were those one-on-one interactions with faculty who he admired.

Welcome to BYU, Dr. Whiting!

Photo courtesy of Dr. Whiting’s personal website

Why Relationship Goals Make the Best New Year’s Resolutions

In less than 72 hours, January 2016 will be over. Did you make it through the month? Are you sticking with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Perhaps you’re still going strong. You woke up this morning feeling good about your grit and determination. You smiled at yourself in the mirror while you flossed your teeth for the 29th day in a row. Congratulations! You are amazing!

Perhaps you made the classic blunder of setting your goals too high, and now you’re discouraged. Your gym membership has been neglected, or worse, your running shoes are still in the box.  Don’t worry. You’re just as amazing as the other guy! It could be that you just need some extra portions of people, perspective, and pragmatism. And we at FHSS are here to provide you with just that.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Trying again can seem daunting, but if you’re struggling to keep your resolutions, it may help if you start over. One of the most difficult things about NOT achieving your goals is that it becomes more painful to set new ones. Sometimes the first step toward progress is admitting that you made a mistake.


If you make a mistake on the first calculation on a math problem, it won’t matter how well you do the rest. Until you fix the original error, moving on won’t improve the situation. And such it is for obtaining a goal. If you set the wrong type of goal, whether it be too lofty, superficial, or ambiguous, you are much less likely to achieve it.

So let’s find out what kind of goals are the best ones to set.

Setting Proper Goals

What kind of goals, when achieved, will make a person happy? To answer that question, we can simply place any kind of goal, whether it be mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual, into one of two categories:

  1. Endogenous goals (relationship based)
  2. Exogenous Goals (material based)

Setting and achieving both of these kinds of goals can be beneficial. However, only one of them will bring prolonged happiness. Goals that help you improve relationships with friends, family, your significant other, and God are most likely to endure. This video from BYU’s Wheatley Institution sums it all up:

Haters Gonna Hate

There are people out there who would discourage you from setting any kind of goal. It’s not uncommon for people to hear that New Year’s Resolutions are bogus. Once in a while, a hater or two might try to discourage you from participating in the New Year’s tradition. A few familiar phrases include:

  1. If you’re going to set a goal, you shouldn’t wait until the first of the year, or for some sort of lame tradition. You should set the goal NOW.
  2. Most people don’t keep their new year’s resolutions. So why bother?
  3. In the end, they will just make you feel worse about yourself because you won’t keep them.

You’ve probably heard these phrases, or something similar to them before. Perhaps someone persuaded you to NOT set a goal. But think about it. If we listen to those people, we allow ourselves to be persuaded to give up before even trying.

sad dog.jpg

To avoid being confounded by New Year’s Resolution haters, here are a few rebuttals to use when you hear this kind of talk:

  1. Well, maybe I just don’t think to set goals very often. New Years helps me remember how important it is. And besides, most other holidays, we decide we’re just going to over-eat, take time off of work, or light fireworks. Why can’t we have a tradition where we at least TRY to improve ourselves?
  2. I, my friend, am not “most people.”
  3. But, if I do keep them, then I’ll feel better about myself. And I can learn from my mistakes and failures.

Team Up

If you want to achieve a goal that has more to do with material things, then find a partner to join you in achieving it.  Whether you already know someone well, or would like to know them better, setting a common goal will improve your relationship. If you want to make exercise a part of your daily life, decide on a time and place you can work out together. If you want to read more, start a small book club. There are numerous ways to team up for achievement.

Teaming up to achieve a goal increases your likelihood of succeeding for at least four reasons:

  1. You are held accountable to another person. Their dependence on you can motivate you to be dependable and reach new heights.
  2. Wanting to spend time with your partner will increase your drive to spend time on achieving the goal.
  3. You can celebrate each other’s successes.
  4. Competition can raise incentive to work hard and be diligent.

Brooklyn Bridge

What’s even more beautiful about this type of goal is that it makes exogenous (material based) goals the means to an end that is endogenous (relationship based). As you work with a partner to reach a common goal, you can develop and strengthen your relationship with them. It’s a win-win situation. You will spend time and communicate with someone you love and care for. You will have chances to validate their excitement for successes or discuss their concerns about roadblocks in road to achievement.

Start with the right end in mind. Put priority on relationship-based goals. Cultivate love for God and your fellow man, and in the process, you may just find that everything else falls right into place.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?