That statement drastically loses it’s impact when you consider the fact that we’ve only been married for 10 months. But nevertheless, out of these 10 months (and even including our engagement) we just finished something that I’d consider the best thing we’ve ever done for our marriage.
Yes, we went through pre-marital counseling (which was excellent) and we’ve read some best-selling books on marriage by our authors we deeply respect (I think my favorite is Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller) but this experience offered something different from everything else.
When Than started here at Fuller many of the people we met recommended the “Strong Marriages Successful Ministries” course. It was created by Terri Hargrave, a professor in the School of Psychology here at Fuller and geared toward couples who want to go into ministry. It can be hard to get a spot in the groups and we’re excited that we were able to join a group our first year here and also so early on in our marriage.
Unlike the other things we’ve done this group was what is called a Psycho-education group. It was different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Over the 8 weeks we discussed conflict, pain cycles, peace cycles, how to get from your pain cycle to your peace cycle, personalities and spiritual gifts.
This was all earth-shattering stuff no one ever told me before…yet it all makes perfect sense and is so logical! You see, we learned that there are certain things that trigger pain in your life – which then often leads to conflict in your marriage. These triggers can be a vicious cycle and we respond a certain way when we are feeling pain. Well lo and behold, when you’re living closely with another person and acting out in your pain cycle, it just might trigger your spouse. And thus begins the cycle.
From there we learned about our peace cycles. We discussed the truths that combat our pain. And when we are acting from our peace cycles, what flows out is so much more lovely!
Now I’m not saying it’s easy to move from your pain cycle to your peace cycle, but there are 4 steps to help.
1. Say what you feel.
2. Say what you normally do
3. Say the truth
4. Say what you will do differently
I’m so thankful that we were able to have this experience early on in our marriage, as every day we’re establishing more and more habits! This is a good one to develop – and practice!