I don’t really like marriage enrichment programs. Considering that I spend a great deal of my life traveling and presenting my own marriage seminar, that sounds quite strange. It’s not that I don’t believe it’s important to educate and enlighten couples on how to have a successful marriage, rather, I am just not a fan of the sorts of groups, classes, weekend retreats, books and conferences that end up creating more issues than they solve.
Let me explain. I actually know of couples that have been to a marriage seminar and their marriage ended up a mess because of it. Prior to attending, they were perfectly happy with their relationship but that came to a screeching halt when seeds of discontent were planted. Men and women may be very content in their marriage until some expert or pastor tells them how things “should be” or what they “should be” doing if they want to have a great marriage. You should be praying together everyday, you should be having sex 3-4 times a week, you should be spending at least 30 minutes of time each day sharing your thoughts, hopes and dreams…do you get the point?
Some of the advice we get in marriage classes actually ends up making things worse, not better. Let’s say that you were fine in your relationship having sex once or twice a month. Both you and your spouse were extremely happy with this arrangement. Then you hear somebody say that in good marriages you are supposed to be doing the horizontal hoochi coochi at least every other day. Well, now your life sucks! People can get really bummed out by this stuff.
My seminar is not like that…mostly because I hate that other stuff. I know that these instructors are well meaning, but they can do more harm than good. At one well-known marriage enrichment seminar they have you write down the ten things you dislike about your spouse. Of all the moronic stupidity! I mean, who on earth does this stuff? I’m sure there are at least ten things (probably many more) that my wife doesn’t like about me, but quite frankly, I don’t want to hear it! These guys may have PhDs and may have helped many people, but they really think that the way to enrich the marriage is to emotionally vomit all over each other?!
Marriage groups in church can be good if you do a marriage study here and there, or do other kinds of bible studies; if you are using it as a way to meet other couples and create social relationships. That way you get to know one another and can share your problems and struggles with other couples. But this idea of constantly meeting to evaluate your marriages is—in my opinion— ridiculous!
Do my Laugh Your Way small group study, work on fixing the problems and getting rid of the stinking thinking, but seriously, how much more can you say? Why dissect it over and over and over? My wife and I have never done all these marriage enrichment things. I get it—I’m supposed to love my wife like Jesus loved the church…but I don’t always, I’m trying to do better. I tell you one thing, I don’t want to go to a class on a weekly basis to hear how far short I am falling. Don’t suck the life out of your marriage over thinking, going from one class or seminar to the next and the next, thinking that it’s helpful.
The opposite can happen when it sets up so many unrealistic expectations and requirements that you end up feeling discontent when you were probably fine in the first place. Don’t let anyone else ruin your marriage—even your pastor— just because they tell you what your marriage should and shouldn’t be. So your marriage doesn’t look like someone else’s, what do you care? So what if your husband doesn’t act just like someone else’s husband or your wife isn’t just like the neighbor’s wife. Be content.
If you are perfectly happy in your marriage, leave it alone. Live your life, clean the toilet, pay bills, take the kids to school, be nice to each other. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!