Couples make marriage a priority
Retreat designed to strengthen relationships
NASHVILLE, Tenn. 5/22/2008 04:03 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
One weekend in May, 75 couples took intentional steps to strengthen their marriages. They came to Nashville, Tenn., to a Festival of Marriage weekend event May 2-4, 2008, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
No matter if the couples were marriage conference rookies or veterans – all were offered opportunities to learn about keeping the sparks alive in their relationships.
David and Claudia Arp, founders of Marriage Alive International and authors of a number of marriage resources including the best selling Ten Great Dates, were Festival keynote speakers. They told the couples there were three things they needed to take away from the conference:
Gary and Kristin Nunn led some of the breakout sessions at the FOM weekend. Gary, discipleship pastor at Northbrook Baptist Church in Cullman, Ala, and Kristin, a public school teacher, are in their second year of serving as FOM conference leaders.
- Remember that dating is an attitude. A great friendship is the best indicator of the probable success of a marriage. Dating and having fun with your spouse keeps the friendship fresh. Dating, they said, can be anything you do together that you both enjoy. It doesn’t necessarily require spending money.
- Get and stay connected by using good communication skills. You will get angry with your spouse, they said. There is no other relationship that is more likely to produce anger than the marriage relationship because it is the most intimate earthly relationship. Find a positive way to process this anger, talk about it and deal with it. Remember, too, they reminded, that it is equally important to communicate the good things.
- Make your marriage intentional by setting goals you want to see God accomplish in your relationship. Be reasonable, realistic and clear when you set goals. Set specific steps to reach these goals.
“These conferences are such a good way for couples to have some time to reconnect and focus on each other and their relationship,” Gary Nunn said. “They are a ‘jumping off’ point for couples to go back to their local churches and suggest to their church staffs that they make marriage a priority.”
The local church is only going to be as successful as its families, he said, and families are only as successful as marriages.
“It’s to a church’s benefit to do what it can to help support couples as they navigate the waters of marriage,” he explained. “Churches can sponsor their own marriage conferences, bringing in outside speakers and leaders. They can host ‘date nights’ for couples, offering no-cost or low-cost childcare at the church. They can supplement the expenses of couples that attend an event such as this Festival of Marriage.
“Saving marriages is crucial to saving churches,” he said.
First Baptist Church of Madisonville, Ky., is serious about helping couples keep their marriages healthy.
Eleven couples from the church came to the FOM in Nashville. Group leaders Tom and Elizabeth Rhodes said while the group had a lot of fun and had enjoyed the trip, the event was more than just a fun time away from the busyness of home.
“These couples were given a lot of tools they can use to make their marriages more Christ-centered,” Tom Rhodes said. “Several of them didn’t know each other very well so they were able to develop some closer friendships with other Christian couples, as well as having some time to spend together as a couple.”
First Baptist Madisonville is a church that gives more than lip service to couples wanting to strengthen their marriages. The church supplemented the cost of the event for the couples. “We have a fund we use to offer financial helps to groups that want to attend conferences and events,” Elizabeth Rhodes said. “There’s no better investment we can make.”
LifeWay marriage event coordinator Mark Satterfield explained that LifeWay’s Festivals of Marriage allows couples “to retreat to a place where they can focus on each other, their marriage and their relationship to God. Each of our FOM weekends offers a time for them to get away from jobs, kids and the daily grind so they can concentrate on their marriage.”
He said that the FOMs are held in locations around the country. Some, like the Nashville event are smaller, whiles others, such as the one at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, are much larger. “We want to offer a variety of sizes and locales so that we will meet the comfort level of all our participants.”
LifeWay will host six more FOM events in 2008. For more information on these and other LifeWay-sponsored marriage events, blogs and articles, go to www.lifeway.com/marriage.
For up-to-date news and information regarding LifeWay Christian Resources, visit www.lifeway.com/news.