Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marriage Resources

As we have just finished the 3-week marriage part of our family series from the book of Genesis at church, I thought it would be helpful to type out a list of resources that would guide couples who are seeking to grow and work through the challenges they are facing. I hope these various ideas and links will provide direction regardless of your circumstances.

If both husband and wife desire to improve the marriage, here are give specific suggestions that couples can do together that will make an impact:

1- Read a marriage book together. I would recommend Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Love & Respect is a good book to read together as it surfaces foundational issues in marriage and how husband and wife see each other and relate to each other. L&R is immensely practical and thoroughly biblical. There are lots of marriage books out there, but this is one of the best. Start here.

2- Watch a marriage movie together. I would recommend Fireproof. The movie is not professional-quality in all aspects because it was shot on a small budget, but the message is solid. For those who would rather watch a movie than read a book, this would be a good place to start. The movie raises lots of important issues related to marriage (work-life balance, pornography, emotional affairs, faith, etc.) and will spur healthy conversations.

3- Attend a marriage conference together.
I would recommend the next Weekend to Remember conference hosted by Family Life. The next one in Austin is April 30th-May 2nd at the Renaissance Austin Hotel at the Arboretum, but they also host conferences all over the US. Barie and I have attended this conference twice and it is awesome. The time away together is refreshing, and the material really enhances oneness. Low-cost and high-impact.

4- Do a getting-away-to-get-it-together weekend together. We did our first getting-away-to-get-it-together weekend four years ago on the recommendation of a mentor during the church-planting residency at HCBC. We haven't missed a year since. The premise is simple and based on the notebook written by Bill Wellons: plan out a weekend trip with your spouse away from the kids to just focus on the health of your marriage. I would recommend reading Wellons' guidance before you go - his ideas on balancing structure and spontaneity are really helpful.

5- Meet with a mentor couple together.
As a church, we are blessed with many spiritually-mature couples who are willing to sit down with you and share from their years of marriage experience. Barie and I have been blessed with great mentor-couples as a young couple in ministry. I would highly recommend that you email Nick Shock (our ministries pastor) if you think meeting with a mentor couple would be helpful to you.

6- Go to marriage counseling together.
I have referred couples to many different Christian professional counselors over the years. If you need professional marriage help, please seek it. Don't buy into the lie that you should be ashamed of getting counseling. In Austin, I would recommend that you contact the Center for Relational Care which provides both marriage intensives and on-going professional counseling. As a second-choice, I would contact New Life Counseling Center in Round Rock.

If a husband or wife's desire to improve their marriage is one-sided and not reciprocated by their spouse, here are some specific steps he or she can take...

1- Pray for your spouse.
If you truly believe that only God can change your spouse, then the appropriate response is committed prayer. Barie has found Stormie Omartian's book The Power of a Praying Wife helpful in knowing how to pray for me. Husbands, I have found praying through Proverbs 31 a good guide in praying for Barie.

2- Do the Love-Dare.
The Love Dare is a 40-day challenge to sacrificially love your spouse based on the movie Fireproof. While completion of the Love Dare will not guarantee that your marriage will automatically be healed, it does give some creative techniques for showing love to your spouse and seeing how that love flows from the love of Christ.

3- Wait on God.
The hardest advice, but also the truest. God's timing is not our own, and we must learn to trust Him and walk with Him even while we wait on Him.

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