We’d been married for about four years. We had two kids and had moved to Santiago, Chile to serve as missionaries. We were – or so we thought – mature Christian laborers striving to advance the gospel. But, under the surface of our seemingly healthy marriage, Mary and I were wrestling with deep issues that we were hardly aware of.
We were struggling to communicate. We had each developed warped expectations for each other. We were frustrated with our missionary team and had no outlet to share what was truly going on inside — each of us feeling the pressure to maintain the facade of being “just fine” that we desperately wanted to project to our community.
But eventually, the facade came crashing down. We were asked to leave the mission field, return home and resign from our staff position. The weight of failure could not have been heavier. We weren’t sure our marriage would survive.
Everyone has struggles of one kind or another in their marriage, but those struggles do not have to lead to failure.
Once Mary and I were back in the US, we went to counseling but we still lacked the skills and tools necessary to make our marriage work on a daily basis.
In what might have been our darkest hour, God was faithful and provided a way out for us to begin rebuilding our marriage.
In the book Intimate Encounters by David and Theresa Ferguson, we discovered tools and skills to defuse tensions between us that had been building silently and subconsciously between us.
Tensions that we had previously seen manifested in anger or conflicts that appeared “out of the blue” but, once examined through this new lens, could be seen as simple but deep patterns — patterns which we could begin to deal with in a different way. We learned to focus our attention not on each other’s petty sins, but on each other’s needs. We learned to genuinely empathize with each other’s experiences.
These practices completely revolutionized our marriage.
We felt so grateful to have discovered them that we could not help but look for ways to share them with other couples. That is what has inspired us to lead Intimate Encounters marriage classes. We have now been leading these classes for many years and we have seen other couples experience similar transformations to our own. It is incredibly gratifying to see that we are not alone in the struggles we face and strive to overcome. We are committed to continuing this work and we hope to also equip others to lead their own classes and groups — within their families, friendships or other spiritual communities.
Mary and Jim 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.