What are the Tools We Need for a Happy Marriage?
Young couples need help when they begin their life together. Family life ministry activist Mahadi Buthelezi tells ERIN CARELSE about a seminar she and her husband Rob have introduced to give such couples the skills for happiness together forever.
Happy marriages don’t just happen — and the secret to having a biblically successful marriage is abiding in Christ, according to a Catholic family ministry expert.
There are many marriage enrichment programmes or seminars for couples who want to strengthen and deepen their relationships or marriages and strive for a sacramental way of life through the vocation of marriage.
In the Catholic Church, Marriage Encounter is perhaps the most well-known, giving couples an opportunity to truly communicate directly with one another in a retreat-type setting.
Mahadi Buthelezi says her R&M Marriage Seminars complement such programmes.
These seminars offer a comprehensive programme designed in accordance with the latest research findings to help couples considering marriage, engaged couples, newlyweds and all young married couples achieve their marriage goals before challenges build up or become entrenched, and before the demands of career and child-rearing have intensified.
“To maintain a successful marriage relationship, a couple needs special and dedicated time together,” said Mrs Buthelezi, who with her husband Rob is involved in the family ministry in the Johannesburg archdiocese.
“Just as winning sports teams may use their time-outs to be refreshed, strengthened, and to strategise to go on to victory, so too do all married couples need special times of renewal,” she said.
“This principle,” she added, “can be seen in Jesus’ words, ‘Come away by yourselves. ..and rest awhile’.”
Mrs Buthelezi explained that the seminar is structured to accommodate the diverse learning styles of different couples.
“Some people are highly participative learners, while others are more laid-back. Some are cognitive learners, while others are more emotional,” she said.
“It’s not at all unusual for the individual partners in the same couple to have different learning styles. No one will be pressured to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, and participants who are less outgoing are not disadvantaged in the seminar approach.”
The seminar provides an opportunity for couples to take an important time-out, have a “date” away from the demands of daily living, and be biblically encouraged and strengthened in their relationship.
“We carefully designed the seminar to provide the right environment to maximise couples’ learning and skill acquisition,” Mrs Buthelezi said.
She said the defining features of the seminar are “warmth, support, and enthusiasm” which are intended to help couples “integrate marriage success skills and begin a personal and relationship growth process that is difficult to initiate on their own”.
During the seminar, couples work together to learn about their relationship compatibility profile, to strengthen their relationship skills, and to plan long-term strategies to promote growth and address areas of concern and challenge.
Knowledge Essential to a Happy Marriage
The seminars cover all the knowledge and skill areas that research has shown to be essential to successful marriages, she said.
“A satisfying, and enduring marriage is a key to a lifetime of happiness,” she said. “Love alone is not enough to produce a wonderful marriage. Over time, all marriages evolve—pass through stages—and face challenges,” she explained.
“Everyone knows that successful marriages require commitment and work—but even these are not enough to ensure the marriage you want,” Mrs Buthelezi said.
She said that through the seminar, she hopes to give couples insight into:
Love: Knowing how to receive and give unconditional love.
Faith: Learning how to have all your needs met in Christ.
Gender: Perceiving how male and female uniqueness contributes to oneness (culture versus male and female supremacy).
Finances: How and when to spend on your relationship and surroundings.
Sex: Understanding how to meet each other’s sexual wants and desires.
Long-term: Maintaining a love relationship that lasts a lifetime.
Conflict: Resolving disagreements and disputes quickly.
Forgiveness: Applying the four most important aspects of forgiveness.
The seminar provides three hours of direct preparation, plus one hour of pre-seminar, self-guided relationship inventory and review exercises.
Mrs Buthelezi said the seminar is intended to help couples build the skills to:
- Identify and enhance their relationship strengths,
- Better understand themselves and their relationship style,
- Better understand their partner’s background and style,
- Understand their relationship compatibility profile,
- Explore their expectations,
- Set key relationship boundaries,
- Accommodate their personality styles,
- Appreciate gender issues that affect their compatibility,
- Understand family-of-origin issues that impact on their relationship,
- Strengthen their relationship skills, including conflict management, resolution and consensus-building abilities,
- Select the set of strategies and skills that work for them and their style,
- Identify areas that need change,
- Apply their own style and new skills to key relationship issues and challenges (including sexuality, finances, child-rearing, family-of-origin and in-law issues, personality and style conflicts, impasses, and so on.
“Every individual and couple is unique, so the seminars are not a one-size-fits-all,” Mrs Buthelezi said.
“The nature of the seminars will help couples focus on the areas where their relationship can benefit most. We will lead couples through the process of working together to begin building the customised relationship skill set that’s right for them and that will serve them for a lifetime,” she said.
The seminar intends to “plant the skill seeds that will grow over time” to enrich a marriage. By that, the “relationship will grow now and keep on growing.”
And that, she added, “is what makes a great marriage”.
The next Marriage Seminar will be held at Bryanston parish on March 17. Cost is R100. For more information contact Mahadi Buthelezi at 083 992-0287.
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