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February 23, 2012

Column #1,591

Marriage 911 – First Response

By Mike McManus

            Is your marriage in crisis?  Has your spouse given up on you and said she is going to file for divorce, or perhaps has already done so? Do you feel as if you are in a car wreck, bleeding but too weak to get out?

            Good news: you aren’t alone.  Divorce is opposed by four out of five spouses.  No Fault Divorce laws have unwisely given just one spouse the power to end a marriage.

            A proven resource is available to help you save your marriage for only $28.

            Marriage 911 – First Response is a 12-weekwork course that prompts personal and spiritual growth to help you mature so much that you can attract your partner back.

 But you also need other “tools:” the Bible and a Christian friend of the same gender, whom you ask to be your Support Partner, meeting an hour a week for three months.  Marriage 911 includes a Support Partner Handbook for your friend, to offer encouragement and accountability.    

You must also read a Chapter of Proverbs every day.  There are 31 chapters, so you will read through it three times during the course.  As you read it, journal about what God is teaching you.

Your Workbook will also ask you to make a “Self-Nurture List” of 10-20 activities you enjoy that “are not immoral, illegal or expensive.”  Like walking, biking, fishing, attending a movie or sports activity, or reading a novel.   When marriages go sour, people lose a sense of who they are as individuals. Nurture yourself.

When the person meets with his Support Partner, he will be asked, “What was one thing God showed you while reading Proverbs this week?

He might answer, “I read Proverbs 15:1: `A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’  Perhaps that’s why she left me. She often said, `You treat me like dirt, but are so kind to neighbors.’  I was a fool.  I DID take her for granted, and was too harsh with her.”

His friend might respond, “I am glad you recognize that in yourself.  What will you do about it?”

“I’m going to write her a letter, and confess my sin.  After she gets the letter, I’ll call her up and ask her to go to dinner to discuss my resolution to be a more caring husband.”

I interviewed Michelle and Ali Quiles in Tampa whose marriage was saved by Marriage 911.  “Before we were constantly fighting and bickering about petty things, at each other’s throats,” said Ali. “We still do argue, but I now have a humility with my wife.  I appreciate her more.”

Michelle added, “I learned I needed to seek a relationship with Christ first, which made everything else fall in place. I am a person who has struggled with anger my whole entire life.  I learned that anger is a secondary emotion.  From that point, I actually felt cured of my anger. The course helped me as a person.”

Changed people, change people!

Their leaders, Lee and Marie Perella, are a volunteer couple, who led a 13 week course at The Crossing Church, using not only the Workbooks, but a DVD series featuring its authors, Joe and Michelle Williams.   What’s unusual is that all of the men sit at one table led by Lee, and the women are together at another table, hosted by Marie. They view a short video, discuss it and then individuals meet with their Support Partner to discuss that week’s theme.

 “It’s a triage center to help the wounded,” Lee told me.  “One partner may have already left, and there appears to be no hope of restoration.  We come alongside, give them comfort and support, and keep them focusing on God, rather than each other. In recent sessions, the guys noticed that one man did not show up for two weeks.  We took a picture of us staring at his empty chair, and sent it to him.”

Amanda Wood, a psychologist leading a group in California, told me, “In traditional marriage counseling, the couple comes and discusses whatever the fight was about that week. In Marriage 911 we have a gal whose husband didn’t attend. She said, “I will work on my part to find where I have been wrong and I will be the best wife to him, the hands and feet of Christ.”

Amanda added, “I love that focus.”

Michelle Williams says on one DVD: “Before you can truly reconcile with your mate, you must reconcile with God first.”


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