Friends! Have I ever got some great material for you for your marriage! Even if you think, “Thanks, but I don’t need that.”, I’m here to convince you that yes, you do indeed.
A couple of weeks ago, John and I were blessed to attend the Love and Marriage Project Conference at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church. Some of you may recall we attended the first annual one last year. (“When You Renew Your Wedding Vows, You May Learn a Thing or Two.”)
Because of going last year, neither of us thought we’d be going again this year. Until…we discovered our friends, Elizabeth Jeffries Tweed and her husband, Stephen were going to be the speakers.
Elizabeth and Stephen are not only professional speakers who speak all over the world, they also happen to be marriage mentors at Southeast Christian Church. I knew this was an event not to be missed. John and I began recruiting our friends.
Clearly orchestrated by the Lord, I’m grateful for His prompting to my good buddy, Sherry, who suggested Elizabeth and Stephen. I immediately emailed Jady Koch, St. Francis’ Rector. He reached out to them, and a miraculous opening in their calendar made them available.
Nearly seventy attendees were blessed by the Tweeds’ presentation. Take-home value was at a premium, and you, my friend, are about to be the benefactor of their amazing handout. (It’s at the end of this post.)
I’ll share just a few of their nuggets. These are entitled, “The Seven F’s of a Balanced Life and Adventurous Marriage!” Grab your spouse and work through these at your leisure. They are GOLD for the health and maintenance of your marriage.
Also noteworthy, we were blessed to meet a couple who’d been married fifty-nine years as well as some newlyweds, who’d almost been married two months. I thought both spoke volumes for attending as one could argue neither should need advice at those early and late stages!
Elizabeth and Stephen had all of us evaluate where our marriage is currently, plus what our five-year vision is by ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10 in these seven different areas. I confess John and I differed a little on the scoring which was a wee bit eye opening!!!
Early into their marriage, especially since they’d both been married before, Elizabeth and Stephen consulted friends who are also mentors to them, Jim and Naomi Rhode. The Rhodes gave them three do-or-die suggestions they’ve held onto throughout their marriage:
Elizabeth was very candid about this. She remarked on the importance of who you hang out with. She warned, “Divorce is contagious. I believe I got divorced in my first marriage largely due to the people I was hanging out with at the time.” This goes along with, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” (Go back and read #3 above!)
Elizabeth and Stephen initiated each of the “F’s” with Scripture as a foundation for the following categories: (I’ll elaborate on some, not all…that’s where your homework comes in on the worksheet.)
Faith – The Scripture they cited for us in this category is a favorite:
Family and Friends (Best Friend – your spouse, Both sides of your families, and Friends)
Key word in this category is CHERISH. Do you have a “cherish mindset” towards your spouse?
Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage came highly recommended.
We discussed what makes us feel cherished. Elizabeth reminded us, “Language creates feelings, feelings create behavior, and behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.” Let that soak in for a minute.
The other golden nugget they shared was a prayer to pray when you’re feeling your spouse is “less than.” Elizabeth and Stephen suggested we pray this for our spouses continuously:
“Lord, help me to love him/her as you do.”
Fun – Oh wow, did we ever have fun with the “fun” category! Our table mates discussed:
“What does FUN mean to you?
How does FUN play out in your life and marriage?”
After ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10, we unanimously decided what it would take for us to rate a “10”:
Tortola in February. (Hey, nothing wrong with goals??!!! Dreams??!!)
Fitness (Mental and Physical) – Being a book lover, it was my great joy to hear Elizabeth and Stephen ask us regarding the mental part of fitness, “What are you reading right now?” They reminded us growth and learning are paramount to us individually as well as together.
Focus on Career
Free Gifts – Matthew 10:8 was the verse on this section reminding us, “…freely you have received, freely give.”
Additional excellent nuggets we were blessed with were two questions to ask each other at the close of every day:
Finally, Elizabeth and Stephen showed us a framed prayer they pray together every night before they go to sleep. It sits on their bedside table:
At the close of the morning session, attendees were dismissed until 4:30 in the afternoon when a lovely service on marriage was performed by Jady. We all then reconvened for dinner and dancing which was the icing on the cake (Yes, we had a wedding cake of course!) for all of us.
Sherry affirmed all of our sentiments with this quote: “The day, from start to finish, was so special as we focused in on our marriage. It’s been thirty years for Bill and me, and we both appreciated being able to reflect, learn and celebrate.”
Thanks again to Mary Young who birthed this idea a year ago, Jady Koch and the folks at St. Francis, and our outstanding teachers/speakers, Elizabeth and Stephen Tweed.
Please enjoy a couple more photos from the evening portion plus you’ll find the invaluable handout with contact information at the end.
Do try these Seven “F’s” with your spouse (click the link to be taken to a printable version).
‘Til next time!