It had been a while since my husband and I attended a marriage workshop, so when a seminar was announced at our church, we decided to register for it. Most of the day was your usual banter on what makes men and women different (by comparing how long it takes us vs. them to get ready), about how women are emotional and like to talk, etc. You know…the usual.
As we sat through the little refreshers that came throughout the day about how to maintain intimacy, what to do to avoid affairs and the like, there was one statement that immediately got my attention. One of the guest pastors on the panel said, “Feelings are valid; no matter if you feel they are inaccurate. You must acknowledge that you hurt your spouse’s feelings, even if that wasn’t your intention.”
This comment was made in response to a question about how to keep the lines of communication open in a marriage. As a college instructor in the field of Communication Studies, naturally this segment was the most appealing to me – because it’s one thing I’m personally passionate about. Even with all of my expertise in communication, however, the pastor’s statement helped me form words that I have not been able to when trying express the same sentiment to my husband.
There have been times when we’d be in disagreement and he would utterly dismiss my feelings by blowing them off or tell me I was over-thinking things (I’ll admit to being an over-thinker at times, but that’s not always the case). Many times I’ve wanted him to simply acknowledge how I was feeling and/or how he may have hurt my feelings, even if he didn’t agree. In just a few sentences, what the pastor said summed up how I felt clearly and concisely.
I jotted some quick notes and noticed he did as well. After the seminar was over, we had lunch and had the chance to talk about what we learned. When I mentioned the pastor’s statement and how it impacted me, we were able to have a really great discussion on hearing each other out more often and always being respectful of each other’s feelings.
In those moments I was so grateful that we took the time to go to the seminar. Even though we had heard most of what was shared before, coming away with at least one moment of clarity made it worth it.
The moral to the story here is that no matter how long you’ve been married (we’ll be celebrating nine years this summer!), you are continually in a place to learn new things about yourself, your spouse, and marriage overall. After you’ve received helpful teaching, you’re accountable to the information you learned. It’s worth it to do the work and invest in your marriage so that it stays strong and lasts a lifetime. This is what helps you grow together over the years and not apart.
What’s been the biggest benefit you have experienced from attending a marriage workshop, seminar, or retreat?