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We don’t know what the future holds . . . but we know who holds the future.


Subjects for Understanding


Hi, come on into the Library and have a seat. In the last presentation we learned from Chris and Lori that Symptoms of Spiritual Divorce are caused by misunderstandings in basic areas of married life. We can overcome spiritual divorce by our willingness to reach out to each other on those topics we need to discuss.

Here in the Library, you will have the opportunity to examine many subjects on which you need to give and receive understanding, such as Health, Time, Money, Intimacy, etc.


We’ve asked several couples to be here with the presentations they have prepared. Each couple will share with you on a subject they wanted to grow in understanding, how it affected their lives and what they found out about each other during their couple dialogue.

Your Guide Couples will give presentations on Work/Money/Time, Holidays, Alcoholism, and Relocating. Additional presentations are given on the Marriage Mansion DVD Couple Pack, namely, Relatives, Death, and Married Intimacy. For more information about the Marriage Mansion DVD series and how to place
an order, click here.

When you’re ready your Guide Couple Luis and Maria will give their presentation which covers three subjects, Work, Money, and Time.



Marriage Encounter Online - Marriage MansionLUIS

Glad you could join us. We actually have several subjects on which we wanted to grow in understanding. Maria was in a terrible automobile accident, and it brought about many changes in our lives. We found that we both had several areas of our relationship that we wanted to bring up and dialogue about.


So, what we'd like to do is share with you on the subjects that we have been working on while I’m still in rehabilitation. In 11 days, God willing, I'll be going home, so our motivation has been accelerated, and we want to continue to grow in understanding on many topics.

Because Luis and I have owned our own companies for several years, Work is a subject near and dear to our hearts. We are both total Workaholics. If our businesses demanded 18 hour days, we gave it our all. My commercial real estate business required a great deal of traveling (during which I had the accident) and phone calls at all hours of the day and night.

Luis's business is the servicing of appliances. Consequently he might have to go on calls late in the evening. I've known my husband to save more than a few dinner parties by repairing the range or refrigerator.

Some nights we were so tired, we'd fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, or on the couch watching television. Other times when we should have been concentrating on each other, we each thought about matters related to our work. Luis began using work as an escape and I began to use it as my escape from being neglected. I'm not certain we could have been unfaithful to each other because we never really had time.

The problem is that we lost sight of each other. We forgot what was truly important. The commitments we had made to each other so long ago turned into commitments to our work.


I honestly think we began a downhill spiral toward extinction as a couple when we opened our businesses.

When we moved east from Oregon, I worked for a couple of different companies, but the kind of money I was bringing home didn't satisfy Maria; She thought I was worth more. So I opened my own business part-time. My services were in high demand and soon I was working full-time. Forty hours a week turned to 18 hours a day, six (sometimes seven) days a week.

Being in an appliance servicing business is similar to being a "doctor on call". It robbed us of our time together. The money was great, but because we both became so successful and realized so much income so quickly, we got greedy. I honestly think the more we made the more we wanted. It's like we got addicted to having money.

We were spending a great deal of time apart, but we "just knew" the other would be there waiting. We found out that taking each other for granted was slowly eating away at our relationship.


Since my accident, I’ve had time to think about our lives and realize that our work, while necessary for survival, should not be all consuming. It wasn’t wise for me to open my own business when Luis already needed my help in his growing business (which I had encouraged).

I have very nearly cost us our relationship by being too concerned with becoming a successful female entrepreneur. My priority should have been, and now is, to be a team with Luis, helping him expand his business and to share as much time together as possible. I can't let personal pride stand in my way. The pride I feel inside is for my successful husband. We need to be the couple we originally started out to be, and it's going to take both of us working toward that goal.


As horrible as Maria's accident was, we feel that God is making good come out of it by making us slow down and appreciate the gift of time. We finally have time to think and pray. We’re making time for each other. And we’re trying not to let our lives be ruled by greed.

We feel that our relationship has been strengthened by this ordeal, giving us the opportunity to renew our commitment to each other and God. Marriage Encounter brought out our desire to correct our mistakes, and showed us ways to do it.

The next subject covered here in the Library is ”Holidays” by Bill and June.




Marriage Encounter Online - Marriage MansionBILL

Yes, this is a subject that brings a lot of mixed feelings to me as we approach Thanksgiving and again face separation during our favorite season because of June’s deployment.

I relive the Christmases when we would get together with June's sister and her husband along with all the kids. Life in retrospect seemed so perfect. The house was full of love and joy and the sounds of playing children.

I think of the times June and I stayed up most of the night putting together our daughter's toys. I can see her expression as she toddled into the living room and saw all of the toys that, if by magic, were put there by Santa Claus.


One of my favorite Christmas memories is our first Christmas with our daughter. We spent so much time selecting her presents even though she was only eight months old. It was so exciting playing Santa Claus after all the years of being on the other side. Oh, how we laughed when she had nothing to do with her presents, but delighted in the wrapping paper and bows.


Now when holidays or birthdays come around, I feel that I'm violating June in some way if I enjoy the day. It's a feeling I cannot put into words easily. We have already been apart one Thanksgiving, Christmas and our daughter's 4th birthday. I thought this season would be easier; I'm very wrong.

I always have a hard time with the loneliness, especially around birthdays or the holiday season. I try to deal with it by totally immersing myself in our daughter during this time of year. I try to make things as perfect and as normal as possible for her. It feels like walking a tight rope. On one side I want June to be a big part of everything. On the other side I do not want to emphasize to our daughter the fact that Mommy is not here to share this with us.

It's hard to make the holidays full for the ones I love when I feel so empty inside. I still do not cope with this very well.


I used to take so much for granted but I have learned differently since my deployment. Joy fills my heart with the anticipation of the holidays. A new sense of hope and compassion flows down and reminds me of priorities and goals I am striving for to make me a better person. I am so thankful for my loving family, friends that are always there, good health, and the strength and understanding to make it through each day. Christmas is much more than presents and family get-togethers. It is a time to celebrate Christ.

I never really understood how important Christ's birthday is to me until last Christmas. It was my first Christmas away from my family. I thought I would never get through it. I even quit watching television because I couldn't stand seeing all the commercials.

After days of feeling sorry for myself, it finally hit me: Christ is the reason for Christmas. It's His birthday, not mine. Christ was with me and we could celebrate together. I had a reason to be happy and thankful. I believe Christ will always be first in my thoughts at Christmas, because I will never forget the Christmas He got me through and all the other days after.


When I get feeling sorry for myself, the Lord really starts to deal with me. Many things pop into my mind that I have to be thankful for. For starters, I have a beautiful and lovely wife whom I praise God for every day. We have a beautiful daughter whom we love and will continue to nurture. I look at the good that this deployment has produced. We don’t take each other for granted. We actually have a better marriage and a deeper and stronger love for each other. It puts everything in perspective.


The next Guide Couple will talk to you about Alcoholism. There are a lot of books on Alcoholism here in the Library, but Jeff and Monica will share with you from their life experience and how they were able to grow in understanding.



Marriage Encounter Online - Marriage MansionMONICA

Jeff has the disease of alcoholism. I didn't know this when we first met. I didn't even know what alcoholism was. All Jeff drank was beer and I thought that was nice. I was glad he didn't drink hard liquor. I didn't even think anyone could get addicted to beer. However, Jeff's intake of beer grew rapidly to almost a case of beer a day. The beer can was the last thing he set down at night and the first thing he picked up in the morning. I knew we had a problem but I just didn't know what it was or what to do about it.

A dear friend of mine suggested I go with her to an Al Anon meeting. I started going to meetings two or three times a week and there I learned what alcoholism was. Alcoholism is a cruel disease that robbed Jeff and me of the greatest gift a married couple can have—being able to communicate openly and honestly with one another. As Jeff's disease progressed I watched him turn into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality. More and more he became someone I felt I hardly knew. When it came to the point that I actually feared him, I had to ask him to leave.

He left in a fury and went on a two-week drinking binge. One morning he called and asked me to please come and help him. He said he was very sick and in terrible pain. At first I thought it was just an excuse to get me over there, but he sounded so awful, I had to go and see. I thank God I did. He looked positively yellow. I called the doctor who happened to be a friend of ours. When I described Jeff's symptoms, he told me to bring Jeff to the emergency room right away and he would meet us there.

After an examination he told me Jeff was having an attack of pancreatis which is a disease of the pancreas caused by too much alcohol. He said if I had not brought Jeff in within three days he would have been dead. I was devastated at the thought of almost losing Jeff and I wanted so much to do something to help him. I had learned through Al Anon that only the alcoholic could help himself, first by admitting that he was an alcoholic, and then by asking for help. No one could do it for him.

The only way I could help was by being strong enough not to try to help, but instead to just "let go and let God" take over. It's called the "Tough Love" concept. It's so hard to be tough when you love someone so much and he is hurting, but I knew what I had learned was right.

So I saw to it that Jeff was safely in his hospital room. Then I left.


When Monica left the hospital that day, along with being very sick, I had feelings of being abandoned and lonely. I felt very hurt and I asked myself: "How could she just walk away like that if she truly loves me? She must not care anymore." This was a very bad time for me. Our friend the doctor had a talk with me and said that I might die this time. (There had been many other episodes of pancreatis, each one worse than the previous bout.)


When I left that day, the doctor told me they were going to have to use a stomach pump to get the poison out of Jeff's system. Jeff had been through this once before and I knew he was scared to death they were going to do that. I wanted so much to stay with him and hold him and help him through it, but I knew what I had to do.

When they came in with the stomach pump, I told Jeff I was leaving and I walked out. I could hear him calling me as I walked down the hall. He was yelling "Monica, don't leave me!", but I just kept walking -- even faster so I wouldn't turn around. I remember it so vividly because it hurt so much to hear him calling for me and to know I could not go to him.

I immediately called the psychologist Jeff and I had been seeing. She told me to come right over so I did, to prevent myself from going back up to Jeff.

I called the next day to see how he was doing and he asked me to bring him some reading material. I brought him one book, Alcoholics Anonymous.


I had asked Monica for reading material and she brought me the Big Book of A.A. I was not amused at all. In fact I felt insulted. Me a drunk? I felt terrible. A few days later the doctor asked me if I thought I had a drinking problem. My answer was, "Now how can I have a drinking problem when I drink with you?" The fact was that I might meet him for dinner, say at 8 o'clock, and have a few drinks, have dinner and he would go home. I would continue to drink and drink.


When I brought Jeff the book, the stomach pump was still in him and stayed there for five days. I visited each day but only for a short time, always having an excuse that I was on my way to some place and could only stay a little while. I never stayed longer than a half hour.

One time was on St. Patrick's Day. I came very dressed up and told him I was on my way to the city to meet some girl friends to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. He was furious. He had expected me to be sitting by his bedside every day and night which is just what I would have been doing if it were not for the Al Anon training.

I explained to him that my position had not changed, that unless he quit drinking our relationship was over. I reminded him to read the AA book I had brought him and perhaps call them if he really wanted our relationship to be restored. He accused me of being heartless for treating him that way and said that he didn't believe I really cared about him. I said, "I know you don't understand now, but someday, if you'll call AA and get well, you'll realize then that I am the best friend you have ever had because I am being hard now." I left and, praise God, three days later Jeff called AA and asked for help.


I did call AA and was asked if I would like to have someone stop by and visit me. I said “yes”. I had finally admitted that my drinking was out of control. I began attending AA meetings, many of them with Monica, and we began together to understand this problem I have, alcoholism.


As soon as Jeff was out of the hospital he began attending meetings regularly with his sponsor and quite often I would go along. When he had been sober three months I became pregnant. We had been trying for a baby for three years, but I never got pregnant. The doctor believed it was because of all the alcohol constantly in Jeff's system that I didn't get pregnant before. I believe that was just God's perfect timing.

Jeff now does believe that I was and still am his best friend and he understands now that I had to be tough then and do what seemed to be so heartless at the time.


With me sober, Monica and I can know ourselves as we really are. We are able to communicate -- something we couldn't do before. With the help of Marriage Encounter, I value our ability to communicate and vow not to let anything interfere with that ability. I know that by being open and honest we can work out whatever problems may come, and grow tremendously together.


There is one last topic that will be covered here in the Library by one of our Guide Couples. Then you will be given a full list of subjects to check over, and start your PR. The subject of Relocating will now be shared by Ronald and Shelly.



Marriage Encounter Online - Marriage MansionSHELLY

Recently we dialogued about the possibility of relocating from New Jersey to Jamaica. Ronald's parents are well advanced in age and need someone to be with them. Although there are other siblings in the family, I thought we were best suited for taking care of them. We have no children and no compelling reason to stay in New Jersey, whereas the other brothers and sisters have jobs and families in NJ.

Besides, I grew up in a warm climate and began to think how great it would be to live in Jamaica where the weather is everything I want. I’m tired of our cold winters, and dream of walking on the beach. So I began to formulate some plans and Ronald listened.


I know she loves the sunshine and salt water, and so do I. And I wanted her to be happy. The climate would be great at first, but eventually even that would grow old.

The problem of relocating has long been an issue for me and Shelly. It had been possible for us to move to Jamaica and live comfortably before our business failure. However, since then we have been left penniless and without resources. For us to move now would only be possible by living with and caring for my parents.

I was proud of Shelly that she was willing to help my parents. She has a big heart, and I know she would love my parents as much as I do. However, deep inside I ached at the idea of having her do this. I was afraid Shelly was minimizing the adjustment she would have to make, especially with the language barrier.


I listened to Ronald and I knew he was thinking of me, but deep down, I really wanted to go to Jamaica. I was embarrassed over losing our business, and had feelings that we were looked down upon in our community. I wanted to relocate where we didn’t know so many people. I prayed to God to help us make the right decision. I was sure it would be the right thing to do. I wanted to help Ronald’s parents and be loved as their daughter.

I don’t mind caring for two older people, but I don’t speak their language, and his parents do live far from the city, so I couldn't get a job as a dental assistant. I couldn't even watch TV. The more I compared Jamaica to New Jersey, the less points I was making for the move.


Should we relocate to Jamaica I will have to find employment and that will keep me away from Shelly most of the day. She would virtually be stuck at my parent’s home. This is a great responsibility for any person. Add to that the language barrier, no means of commuting or communicating and, in my opinion, I felt I'd only be imprisoning her.

So we considered all the possibilities, which meant placing my parent’s necessities in one basket and placing Shelly's happiness and needs in another, along with my obligations and responsibilities as a husband. We concluded that the wisest thing to do was to go to Jamaica for a visit, and examine all the obstacles which may confront us and then discuss the alternatives. This way all the ghosts which may haunt us in the future will be laid to rest.


It seemed that even after understanding each other, it was hard to make a decision. I think that because we did reach out to understand each other, we were able to find a new way to resolve our differences. With the trip to Jamaica we will gather the information we need to make the right decision. With God’s help we will do the right thing.


We all have certain topics in our relationship that we avoid discussing, or we haven’t had the time or atmosphere to talk it through. Now is that opportunity. Please take it seriously.

Make two copies of the handout, “Subjects for Understanding” so you each have one. Each of you check those topics on which you think your feelings are least understood by your spouse. Also check topics you think your spouse would like to discuss.

Look over those you’ve checked and rank them according to urgency. Write your PR love letter on the topics you’ve checked, starting with the ones you ranked most important.


When you come together for CD, first read your spouse’s entire love letter for understanding. Then read topics you have both written on, one at a time, and do your CD before going onto the others.

You can allow 30 minutes for PR, 35-45 minutes for CD

Go in peace and write with love!

Subjects for Understanding Handout and Questions



When you’re finished with your PR and CD, why not take a little break, maybe get a refreshing drink. The weather’s nice, so we’re going to take you out to the Rose Garden where Bob and Pat will share with you on the Parable of the Sower.

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