USA Today stopped by one of our Love for Life (was called "Dance of Marriage" then) workshops (see the write up here).
They got word
that dozens of our attendees were separated married people that came to a Love for Life workshop, did their homework and stayed together. Mary Beth and I thought this was awesome. When classes began, we thought that many of the couples just had different phones until we realized they were in different areas of town. They were separated. (of course, this was when most phones were attached to a wall with a wire - yes, really connected with a wire).
I called most of these folks years later, on wireless phones, and they were still connected, still together, some of them thriving more than ever.
Anyway, USA Today sent a photographer and a reporter. The rest is history.
We think this is an amazing story.
Over the eighteen years that Mary Beth and I have facilitated these workshops, four couples, formally divorced but still kind-of-friends, were encouraged to take the workshop by friends who loved their own workshop experience. They learned new skills. They fell back in love. They got their divorces annulled. They got married again… to each other! And they are still happily married years later.
Huh? Divorces annulled? Here’s the truth, simple as it is. We are attracted to our spouses for a variety of reasons, but many of us lack the necessary marriage skills to make it work long term.
That original attraction gets lost
in the debris of living and discovering the multi-layered nature of the human critter. We need a marriage fitness program to sort through the debris and overcome obstacles. For example, “You crush the toothpaste?!!! I could brush my teeth three more times with the tube you threw out. If you only rolled and flattened it like me….” Hey, marriage conflict only starts there, right?
Once the honeymoon wears off, we find ourselves waking up in bed with someone who not only crushes the toothpaste but has bad breath.
Someone who has perspectives and feelings and values that we think are ridiculous. Someone who can hurt us like no one else. Someone that is our opposite and isn’t nearly as perfect as we are.
Thank God for marriage.
One of the benefits of the covenant (not contract) of marriage is that a couple can’t simply walk away in an instant. You’re knit together by a mystery, “stuck” some call it, and that permanence gives you a chance to turn it around. A vacation probably won’t do it. Simply being separated for a while likely won’t either.
So what does it take?
Getting marriage-fit. Working out on your relationship, similar to working out your body at the gym. Learning new skills, new exercises will bring emotional and relational changes just like ab crunches trim inches. What’s needed is exertion. Not explosion.
At the gym you have a trainer
that keeps you from getting injured while you’re getting stronger. At a Love for Life Workshop, you have a coach - a running path toward marriage fitness. Not an exit ramp. We call those new steps, “changing the dance”.
Love for Life isn’t a class,
it’s a workshop. You and your spouse work. We coach, you work. You go home and do homework, then come back to the next session and work some more.
It’s tough. Like anything beneficial and long term it’s tough…but the breaking down and breaking through are worth it.
Know someone who needs an exercise workshop for their happiness together? Is it you and your mate?
Being happy2gether, again, is possible. Turns out that’s pretty newsworthy.