As a marriage educator through Prepare-Enrich, I share with the couples that I mentor and educate there are two things that every couple needs to do: prepare for their marriage and enrich their marriage.
I strongly encourage couples to prepare for their marriage with a good foundation, so we use Prepare-Enrich to help assess where each couple needs help in preparing for marriage. For almost a decade as a facilitator, I have seen many couples prepare strong foundations through this tool. I also teach our couples in this important time together that they need to continually enrich their marriage. Strong marriages need strategic maintenance to remain strong. Distressed marriages need strategic maintenance to become strong marriages. Devalued marriages need strategic maintenance to improve. Investing in your marriage with a strategic plan to maintain what you have, and develop something even better pays off! Here’s a couple of quick tips to help you get started:
-Plan a weekly date night. I encourage all of my couples to take a “mini-date” with three rules: 1) one hour minimum, 2) no issues, this is not the time to discuss the budget or how to resolve the next crisis; 3) no screens, sit face to face and talk without TV, movies, or cell phones screens. You’ll be amazed at how these three little rules of one hour, no issues, and no screens will improve your marriage. It’s also economic on the family’s budget, just grabbing an ice cream or a coffee will cost you pennies and will pay off in big dividends!
-Be a part of a small group together. Having a regular time with other couples will help you know what’s to be expected in this season of life, and when you might benefit from spending some time with a marriage educator. Small groups at local churches provide many great benefits. At Eden Westside Baptist Church, we have many different kinds of small groups that meet at our two campuses. Check out www.edenwestside.org for a listing of groups and topics.
-Make a big investment at least once a year. It might be an intentional getaway, a check-in with a marriage educator, or it might be a marriage conference. Take the time to put yourself in the position to learn a little more about your spouse and yourself. Attending a marriage conference will help you sharpen those crucial skills like communicating effectively, resolving conflict completely, and planning for the future together.
If it’s time to make a big investment in your marriage, let me offer one last recommendation: choose now to attend the “Let’s Get Real Marriage Conference” by Dale and Jena Forehand on Sept. 6-8 at Eden Westside Baptist Church in Pell City. This regional conference is $50 per couple. Registration and event details can be found at www.daleandjena.comand www.edenwestside.org.
Stephanie Newton is Director of Education at Eden Westside Baptist Church. To reach her direct, call (205) 338-7711, ext. 245.