Editor’s Note: This is a report from Sally Ann Smith, Captain of the Marriage and Family Enrichment Implementation Team. For a list of all the teams, click HERE.
The Marriage and Family Enrichment Team has met once and we made the decision to narrow our focus to the greatest need first: Marriage Enrichment. The overwhelming response from the congregation was this: while our Divorce Recovery program has provided amazing grace and resources to those going through great pain from broken relationships, we are hungry as a culture and in great need of resources and support that would help prevent divorce in the first place. Marriage is one of the most intimate of relationships we have, and if the church can help people practice grace and love in the their closest relationships, perhaps those practices may even pour over into all of their relationships. As one congregant wrote, the goal is to have relationships that are full and rich, not just “limp along” marriages.
In our first meeting, after narrowing our focus and reading responses from the congregation, we took a look at some known truths about marriage in America.
- Not only newlyweds need enrichment. The generation suffering the most from broken marriages are the Baby Boomers. Empty nesters often cross a different stage of difficulty in their marriages once the kids are gone and then needs of their own aging parents come into play.
- The divorce rate, which has hovered around 50% of couples, is actually taking a dip down in younger generations.
- According to a recent special issue of Time Magazine dedicated to what makes marriage work, studies found that the quality that led to the most successful marriages was compassion. Even more than good communication, responsible spending, or similar political beliefs, couples who consistently showed compassion to one another not only survived but thrived. We discussed how this sounded a lot how Jesus wants us to live our lives: filled with compassion.
Some challenges for Marriage Enrichment have been the word itself. Some say it makes people feel uncomfortable. In developing programs or studies, will people feel like their marriage has to have a problem before taking steps to enrich it? Our hope is that we can organically grow a movement in our church that spills out to the community that honors and encourages healthy and strong relationships. We’re currently discussing the “how.” Small groups? Couples’ outings? Speakers? We’re researching successful programs out there and also collecting resources that can be easily provided, like podcasts. (I personally love listening to a podcast called Stay Married Blog Podcast.)
We’ll meet at the end of the month and compare resources and go from there!
–Sally Ann Smith