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Guest Manual

Guest Manual

Published in North America by Alpha North America, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL 60540 © 2015 Alpha International, Holy Trinity Brompton, Brompton Road, London, SW7 1JA, UK The Marriage Course Guest Manual All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. First printed by Alpha North America in 2002 This revised edition 2009 Printed in the United States of America Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised. Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. ISBN 978-1-938328-73-2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Printing/Year 20 19 18 17 16


Acknowledgments4 SESSION 1

Building Strong Foundations SESSION 2

The Art of Communication SESSION 3

Resolving Conflict SESSION 4

The Power of Forgiveness SESSION 5

The Impact of Family – Past and Present SESSION 6

Good Sex SESSION 7

Love in Action EXTRA SESSION

Coping with Times of Separation









Acknowledgments We are very grateful indeed to the following people and organizations for their help and inspiration in the creation of The Marriage Course: David and Teresa Ferguson, of Intimate Life Ministries, whose expertise and encouragement have helped us enormously, especially with Sessions 1 and 4. For more information about their work, contact: Intimate Life Ministries, 2511 S. Lakeline Blvd, Austin, Texas, TX 78759; or visit Rob Parsons, for his inspiration, stories and illustrations that we have used throughout. For more information about his work, please visit Gary Chapman, for his book The Five Love Languages (Northfield, 1992), on which the concept and manual notes for Session 7 are based. Peter and Barbie Reynolds, for their demonstration of effective listening, the inspiration for the model example in Session 2. Acorn Christian Foundation, for their Just Listen! course, on which much of the material on listening in Session 2 is based. For more information about their work, please visit Michael and Gillie Warren, for the first marriage weekend that they led, where we learnt many of the basic principles for building a healthy marriage.

Nicky and Sila Lee

This manual is designed to be used on The Marriage Course with the DVDs or live talks. See page 127 for more information on how to join or run a course.

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Building Strong Foundations


The First Time You Met Tell each other your strongest memory of the first time you met and what first attracted you to one another.

What is marriage? • M  arriage involves a man and a woman being joined together and becoming one • A relationship of increasing intimacy and growing interdependence

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ Genesis 2:24

The four seasons of marriage (Not every marriage will go through each stage, but the principles apply to all marriages)

1. Spring • • • •

Early years of marriage Season of discovery and excitement Initial infatuation will wear off at some stage The greatest need is to accept each other

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2. Summer • • • • •

Season of increased activity and demands May become parents during this season May face pressures of infertility Careers can be more demanding The greatest need is to give time to the marriage relationship

Marriage: The closest possible human relationship of growing interdependence.

3. Autumn • S  eason of richness and maturity – reaping the benefits of what has gone before • Marriage more established having weathered tough times • May be teenagers in the house – emotionally the most exhausting stage of parenting • The greatest need is to support and encourage each other



4. Winter • E  mpty-nest stage for many • Probably fewer demands with an opportunity for more time together • Can be the most exciting stage of marriage • The greatest needs are shared interests and good communication

Why do some marriages break down? • A  process of growing apart • A lack of communication • Consumerism – the failure to work at a relationship


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Working Through Pressures Reflect on what you’ve heard so far. Talk together about the pressures you’ve worked through until now in your relationship, and the pressures you’re currently facing.

The aim of The Marriage Course To help couples grow closer through: Choosing commitment to each other and to their marriage Spending time looking at relevant issues together Increasing their understanding of each other Developing good habits




T The art of communication

Love in action


Good sex

Resolving conflict

The power of forgiveness



The impact of family



Building strong foundations


• • • •





The marriage wheel

‘Love and faithfulness meet together...’ Psalm 85:10

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Taking Stock of Your Marriage Read through the list of statements and, using the scale below, write in the box the number that you feel corresponds to your viewpoint. Please do the exercise on your own. When you have finished, turn over and follow the instructions overleaf. 0. never true

1. rarely true

2. occasionally true

3. usually true

4. always true

I feel that... 1. My partner regularly gives me their undivided attention 2. My partner understands and supports my beliefs and values 3. My partner shows me affection through demonstrative non-sexual touching 4. We are able to apologise and forgive when one of us has hurt the other 5. My partner listens to my point of view even when we disagree 6. I am able to talk to my partner about my sexual hopes and desires 7. I am able to talk to my partner about my hopes and dreams for the future 8. My partner is good at encouraging me in what I do 9. We make it a priority to go out together at least once a fortnight 10. We often reflect on the good things we enjoy as a couple 11. We are able to talk about strong emotions such as excitement, hope, grief and anxiety 12. My partner is sensitive towards my sexual needs 13. My partner encourages me in my spiritual growth 14. My partner is good at meeting my emotional needs 15. We agree on our sexual practices 16. We discuss new ideas with each other 17. We support each other in the goals we have for our family life 18. We have a number of joint interests that we pursue together 19. I am happy about the frequency of our lovemaking 20. My partner is good at listening to my feelings without interrupting or criticizing me

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EXERCISE 3 (continued)

Results of Taking Stock of Your Marriage 1. Add up your scores from the previous page as follows: Add up your scores for statements

My score

Partner’s score

4, 8, 9, 14 and 18 1, 5, 11, 16 and 20 3, 6, 12, 15 and 19 2, 7, 10, 13 and 17

2. Now look at each other’s scores and discuss them, especially any differences (the idea is to be understood by and to understand each other better). 2. Take it in turns to tell each other something in each area that you would like to see changed in yourself. For example: Friendship: ‘I see that I haven’t recognized the need for us to spend time together on our own. What could I do to change that?’ Communication: ‘I don’t seem to be very good at listening. I obviously need to show you that I am interested in what you say.’ Physical relationship: ‘I would like to be more sensitive towards your sexual desires. What could I do?’ The future: ‘We haven’t had a conversation for a long time about our plans for the future. When would be a good time for that?’

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The Marriage Course is a series of seven sessions designed to help any married couple strengthen their relationship. The course covers: Building Strong Foundations The Art of Communication Resolving Conflict The Power of Forgiveness The Impact of Family – Past and Present Good Sex Love in Action Coping With Times of Separation – an optional session mainly for those in the Armed Forces

Nicky & Sila Lee have been married for over thirty-five years and have four children. They are on the staff at HTB, London, UK. They have spoken to thousands on the subject of marriage and family life, authored The Marriage Book and The Parenting Book, and created The Marriage Course, The Marriage Preparation Course, The Parenting Children Course and The Parenting Teenagers Course.

© Alpha International 2015 The Marriage Courses A ministry of Alpha International

ISBN 978-1-938328-73-2 ISBN: 978-1938328732 102736

RELIGION Christian Life / Love & Marriage

9 781938 328732

The Marriage Course Guest Manual  

Guest Manual

The Marriage Course Guest Manual  

Guest Manual