As Jim and Mary Williams mentioned last month in their post, Intimate Encounters is a key factor in becoming successful in understanding your spouse and their needs.
We are one of the couples from their most recent marriage class at Pulpit Rock and have grown in our empathy, mutual respect and expression of our needs and wants within our marriage.
Elizabeth and I came from very different yet very similar backgrounds. Both of our families had strengths and weaknesses. Our parents had many struggles and obstacles to overcome so Liz and I both had to learn self-reliance and strength at young ages. Not knowing these experiences would shape our needs and how we handle them as adults.
As we began our 17th year of navigating life together, we were tackling a huge move from Kansas, raising two kids, a home break-in, and stressful work environments. Life was leaving us both feeling like we needed as sense of community and support. We were finding ourselves falling back into old patterns, using all the wrong treatments for our needs. We needed to find God again.
As we would later learn in class, these unmet needs from our families were a major contributing factor in day-to-day conflicts in our marriage and our resolutions.
We both have always been God-loving people and have been involved in church in some capacity, but didn’t know how to work through or grow from some of the day-to-day issues we were having.
Through shared experience, the Williams’ and many of the other couples showed us that, through faith, love and compassionate education, our marriage could be whole.
We learned that with God at the center of our marriage we would be able to withstand even the worst obstacles. We learned that with God and intentional application we could be truly empathic and understand our spouses needs and fulfill them more deeply and become more connected.
Elizabeth’s sense of safety has been really challenged these last three years. Moving away from her family and the break-in left her feeling resentful, anxious and alone. Avoidance and saying, “I’m fine…” was the only way to get through life.
For me personally, I would minimize her feelings and ask her to be strong and “get over it.” I viewed personal vulnerability as weakness. My parents conditioned me to be independent and to overcome problems alone, or so I thought.
We started this marriage class at the same time we started attending service at Pulpit Rock. We thought this class would be a great way to meet couples and we knew that we needed to build community with good people who are committed to each other and God. At that time in our marriage, we knew we had things to work on together and that we needed a faith based support community and education to grow in our friendship and partnership.
What we didn’t know or expect was how much this class would help our marriage.
We learned that we are not alone.
We learned practical steps that helped us become intentional about our marriage. During the class we were given weekly homework assignments. We both felt that the Marriage Staff Meetings helped us connect with each other, confront some real issues in our marriage and work toward a deeper level of healing. We learned about “Marital Games” and the roles we play in them.
We discovered that listening to other married couples with similar and different perspectives and experiences, who also share the same problems and triumphs can be very inspiring and created support and hope for us.
We are far from perfect, no claim like that will ever come from us, but ever since we started attending Pulpit Rock and Intimate Encounters Marriage class we have been on the road to true marriage health and recovery.
Mary and Jim Williams will lead a 10 week class on Sunday mornings at 9 AM, starting September 22nd. The class will cover the book Intimate Encounters. Couples will enhance communication skills and develop a plan to encourage lifelong intimacy in marriage and family. This class is for those who want to work on improving their marriage relationship, those who are hurting in their marriage and need tools to bring healing or those who would like to consider using it in future ministry opportunities.