MARRIAGE ENRICHMENT: A NEGLECTED MINISTRY - McManus 10/11/01
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Thu Oct 11 21:19:24 EDT 2001
subject: MARRIAGE ENRICHMENT: A NEGLECTED MINISTRY - McManus 10/11/01
from: Smart Marriages
McManus - Ethics & Religion
October 11, 2001
Advance for Oct. 13, 2001
(Second of a series of five columns)
MARRIAGE ENRICHMENT A NEGLECTED MINISTRY
by Mike McManus
CARY, NC - Last weekend my wife and I were in Raleigh suburb training
pastors and Mentor Couples in how to create a ''Marriage Savers
Congregation'' that can virtually eliminate
divorce. I asked couples to use their REFOCCUS marital inventory, and write
down whether they agreed or disagreed with 10 statements like these: I feel
I can express myself clearly to my spouse.
My spouse sometimes discounts my feelings.
We find ourselves disagreeing about the same issues over and over.
I would like to change some of the ways we solve problems between us.
The couples had 20 minutes to privately discuss their answers. (Husbands
and wives, why not try your own experiment, with these four items?)
Esau Harris, an African American pastor, returned shaking his head. ''We
have got a lot to talk about!'' he declared. His wife, Tina, was beaming
and gave me two thumbs up. Later I called them up to hear the details.
''What's visual is worth 1,000 words,'' he said. ''I can now see areas which
I had tried to ignore, thinking that if you ignore them they will go away.
You set an atmosphere for us to talk about things right then and there.''
Tina added, ''There were things I had known, but it was hard to present them
before. REFOCCUS gave me a way to get back to work on those things.''
Asked for an example, Esau said ruefully, ''Out of 10 questions, we needed
to talk about five of them! One in particular was, `We find ourselves
disagreeing about the same issues over and over.' She said she agreed with
that statement. I disagreed. Once I feel we have talked about something, it
is sufficient for me. But she feels there has been no definite closure. So
she brings the matter up over and over. I have to work better to be sure
she has a sense of resolution.''
Tina remembered an incident in which he met with a young lady who is almost
a daughter to them, who shared private details of a relationship she was
having. ''It bothered me. There are some things women should not tell men,
and I said so. He did not take me seriously at that time. He said, `Forget
that.' When we got in the car, I said, `When there is something I don't
like, you make me feel that my ideas do not matter.'''
Tina, who has been a co-pastor with Esau in a new start-up church, Rehoboth
Worship Center, only a year and a half, also surprised her husband by
disagreeing on another item: ''I feel I can express myself clearly to my
spouse.'' He said, ''She is very outspoken. If there is ever something
plaguing her mind, she has no problem talking. Her answer came as a complete
shock.'' His wife of 13 years shook her head, ''There are a lot of things I
can't bring up to him and I deal with it myself. I don't want to seem sulky
or whiny. So there's a lot I do not say.''
Next week, Harriet and I will celebrate our 36th anniversary. I learned 26
years ago when we first attended a Marriage Encounter, that I was unaware
how distressed she was over my temporary job in Washington while we lived in
Connecticut. From her perspective, I was a workaholic, who never took time
to listen to her or to spend time with our young boys. I was stunned when
she said, ''You love your work more than me.'' In fact, I hated being away
from my wife and family. From her point of view, I was gone while she was
left alone with three young boys. I pledged to never abandon her again, and
to take time on a daily basis to talk deeply about our lives. We fell back
in love that weekend. It changed our lives.
Our marriage improved so much that I became interested as a journalist in
researching other ways marriages could be improved, such as REFOCCUS. It is
an inventory of 100 items, best taken in a weekend retreat with other
couples, that only costs $13.75. There's even a REFOCCUS Manual with
opening prayers and Scripture and sermon outlines for a retreat. (Call 402
551-9003. Ask for Kathy Butler.) Churches tend to ignore married couples,
instead of realizing that couples need to refresh their marriage. Every
congregation should have an annual retreat where couples can fall back in
love again, as we did. END
TXT. Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus
Michael J. McManus
Co-Founder & President
9311 Harrington Drive
Potomac, MD 20854
(FAX) 301 469-5871
email: MichaelJMcManus at CS.com
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