One of the things I loved when I served in a congregational context was walking alongside couples throughout their relationship. When I was in seminary I was blessed to serve as a teaching assistant to the Pastoral Theologian. He had a passion for working with couples. In fact, he was writing a book on the subject while I was working with him, and Staci and I benefited greatly from his wisdom and teaching during our engagement.
Based a great deal on my learnings, both as my time as a teaching assistant and a participant in premarital counseling, I started to develop a number of learning opportunities for couples. The foundation of each one of these tools is based on communication. Learning and sharing about each other’s personality and preferences , family of origin, intimacy, finances, conflict resolution experiences. At their core , each of these is about communication. Our time walking together starts with sharpening a couple’s tools, followed by a long term plan to keep those tools in prime working condition. The critical component was establishing a pattern of very regular times of communication check-ins.
I have been blessed to have walked with some of these couples for over twenty years. Like all of us, particularly in long term relationships, there have been “bumps” along the ways for these folks. Yet through a consistent and intentional practice of communication check-ins, these folks are in very healthy relationships.
Of course, being intentional about having good healthy patterns of communication is not only germane to couples. Your Missioners, for example, meet every Tuesday morning to share both personally and professionally with each other. As well, our Elected Bodies, many of the leadership in our faith communities, and ECMN clergy have a regular practice of communication check-ins.
I am convinced that those who choose to be intentional about working on being good communicators experience healthier, happier, more fulfilling relationships than those who do not. All you have to do is to look to many of our elected officials to see the consequences of not having a regular practice of good communication. Please pray for them and all those people and places that suffer from the inability to communicate with each other.