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Annual Marriage Tune-Up

A number of years ago, some friends of ours told us about a little trick they use to keep their marriage healthy, strong, and vibrant. Every year, they pledge to attend some kind of marriage enrichment event together. According to our friends, this does not mean weekend getaways to the beach, skiing, or going to a bed and breakfast together. All of which are awesome, by the way. No, what they mean is doing something proactive to enrich their relationship – something that will challenge them to grow, learn, and maybe even step outside their comfort zone. We’ve never forgotten this priceless piece of advice and have taken to using it ourselves ever since.

Paul: One of the annual marriage enrichment events we attended was something called “The Alpha Marriage Course.” This 7 part video series had built-in breaks for Stephanie and I to engage in private couple discussions about areas that aren’t always easy to talk about (in-laws, money, sex, and conflict). I personally found it fascinating to learn about how to resolve conflict between us simply by improving my listening skills. If I’m really listening to Steph to the extent that I can paraphrase what she just told me (without defending myself), it’s amazing how many little conflicts between us seem to resolve themselves. And for the remaining bigger issues, we’re in a much better position to resolve them as a team by having really taken the time to listen to each other fully.

Steph: Last Fall Paul and I took part in the presentation of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages Video Series. Even though we had seen all the videos before, I found I learned something new about myself that has really helped our relationship. My primary love language (how I prefer to be loved) is Quality Time. In listening to the videos again, I realized that within that love language is what Chapman calls the dialect of Quality Conversation. It dawned on me that it is more important for me that Paul listens and engages in conversation with me than for us to simply “do” things together. It was definitely an AHA moment. I felt excited about learning something new about myself and being able to share it with Paul. Knowing this, he is now more willing to sit and have a chat about anything that is on my mind because he wants to show his love in the language I speak most.

Our relationship, like our garden, needs constant maintenance to keep it weed free and flourishing. Below is a list of some of our favorite “annual enrichments” to help keep our marriage healthy. Full disclosure – most of these are “faith based,” but don’t worry, even if you’re not particularly religious, we’ve found that these programs focus more on the practical and a bit less on the spiritual . Almost all of them can be acquired online in video format for little or no cost.  

·        The Alpha Marriage Course (online video series):

·        Witness to Love: Be Light (online video series):

·        The Five Love Languages (DVD series for purchase): or on Amazon

·        Worldwide Marriage Encounter (in person or virtual experiences):

·        The Art of Marriage (DVD series for purchase):

·        Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage (YouTube/DVD for purchase): Materials may be purchased on Amazon as well.

·        Forever Families (Stay at Home Date Nights & Other Resources0:

·        A Weekend to Remember (in person enrichment):





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