The Art of Marriage Update
About the Guest
It’s coming! Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine talk about the exciting debut of the Art of Marriage, a new video-based marriage event. Find out how you can put the heart back into marriages by hosting or attending an Art of Marriage premiere event the weekend of February 11, 2011.
The Art of Marriage Update
Bob: Have you ever said to yourself as you look at the condition of too many marriages and families in our culture today, “I wish somebody would do something.” Dennis Rainey thinks the somebody who needs to be doing something is all of us.
Dennis: Grassroots Christians are the most powerful force in America today that has yet to be reckoned with. They are standing up and saying, “You know what? I’m tired of saying nothing. I’m going to do something and I’m going to go down swinging. But I am going to swing, and I’m going to go for the fences, to knock it out of the park.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 14th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk on today’s program about some fresh, creative ways that you can reach out and have an impact on the marriages and families in your community.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I would guess that this is a universal phenomenon – that everybody who is listening has had the experience that I remember. I think I remember this was the first time it happened for us: I came home from work, and Mary Ann, almost the first thing she said to me was, “I have to tell you what is going on with our friends.” And I said, “What?” She told me about a husband who had come home that day, packed his stuff,
Bob: . . . and said, “I can’t be any good for you and for the kids if I’m not good for myself. And I’m not, so I’m moving out.”
Dennis: Probably go to church with them, right?
Bob: Yeah, we were in the same church. I was stunned. I said, “Moving out? What’s he thinking?”
Dennis: Well, he’s not thinking.
Bob: Yeah. He was on his way out, and in fact that marriage ended in divorce, and I’ll tell you. When something like that happens – and I’m guessing everybody’s had it happen in a family situation . . .
Bob: -- or with somebody at church or a neighbor, and you think to yourself, “Man, I wish there was some way to help this couple get refocused.”
Dennis: Bob, I wonder if we could do some kind of longitudinal study, a research project, on couples who end up getting a divorce like this, and you could find out how many of them acted way too quickly out of the circumstances and the pain they were involved in, in a very compressed period of time, and just walked out of the relationship rather than taking a step back and saying “How are we going to address this? How are we going to keep our marriage promise and provide the security and the stability for our children and for one another?”
Dennis: You know, you don’t get married to bring hurt and harm on another person, and yet because it is the most intimate of all human relationships, you will disappoint one another.
Dennis: If you disappoint one another enough times, then you get hurt. And if you don’t handle that hurt in an appropriate way, you both can begin to retreat away from one another or set up a war with one another, and that marriage can hang in the balance.
Bob: If we were to go back 35 years, that would be 1976, that’s the year FamilyLife got started, you and the other couples who helped start this ministry started it with the conviction that if you can point people to what the Bible has to say about marriage and you can point them to a relationship with Christ and help them understand what it means to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then give them some practical, biblical instruction on marriage and you could divert a lot of the marriage crises that we see happening all around us.
Dennis: I don’t think there is a relationship that is entered into with less training than marriage. You think about it. We do not spend the needed time as a couple when we’re engaged to go through some boot camp training to say, “How are we going to build this thing called a Christian Marriage?”
Psalm 27:1 doesn’t have a chance of becoming a reality. That verse reads, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We see a lot of vain building today, because Jesus Christ isn’t building those homes. Their makers and builders are themselves.
Dennis: And yet the Christian community has the biblical blueprints to equip a couple to know how to put a proper foundation in place, how to build the walls that protect that marriage relationship and put a roof over it, so that it can withstand the storms that every marriage relationship goes through.
Bob: Over the years, everything we have done as a ministry has been to try to provide helpful ways to communicate these biblical principles to couples, not just here in America, but all around the world, starting with the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways that we started doing back in 1976, the HomeBuilders couples studies that were put together back in the late ‘80s and continue to be used all around the world.
Bob: This radio program, our website, FamilyLife.com – everything we have developed throughout the years has been with the desire to communicate these transformational truths around relationships, marriage and family, for folks who are struggling living those relationships out.
Dennis: You were a part of a series of meetings five years ago. You and I and the Chairman of the Board of FamilyLife and a couple of other leaders here from FamilyLife got together, and we just started praying and talking and saying, “Look what’s happening to marriage and family today. It needs help and it needs help at a whole new level than what we’re providing for it with our conferences, radio, internet and small group Bible studies” that you mentioned.
So we took a step back and we said, “What would it take to grow the impact of FamilyLife Today and its related ministries 10X in the next ten years?” And we said, “Why don’t we think about creating tools that we could put in the hands of individuals, of couples, of people who go to church and who care about what’s happening to marriages and families, but may not feel qualified to be able to make a difference?”
In fact, we took a step back and we took a look at what was taking place at the Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. You know, at the Getaway we have a meeting, I think it’s on – used to be on Sunday – where we would invite couples in attendance who would be interested in joining with us at FamilyLife as a full-time job. Over a period of ten years we had 20,000 people come to that breakout session.
Bob: They wanted to find out more about what would be involved in being a part of our staff.
Dennis: Right. And over those same ten years, we recruited probably 100, 150 of them. Well, the question is, what were the other 19,900 saying? I think they were saying, “We want to make a difference. We want to make an impact, but we may not be called right now to move to Little Rock, Arkansas where the headquarters is, and raise our own support,” as I do to work here. So they took a step back and said, “That’s just not going to be for us. But we would like to make a difference.”
So we thought, “What if we turned the full weight of FamilyLife toward helping create tools to put in the hands of those 19,900 people who believe something must be done about the condition of marriages and families today, and who frankly, are more than likely sick and tired of divorce and how the family is being destroyed and how the culture is morally undermining everything that the Christian family is all about.”
You, along with a handful of other leaders here at FamilyLife, stepped forward and said, “I’ll take a portion of this. I’d like to make a difference by creating this resource.” And one of the resources we created was a video experience. It’s a video event that is like the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Bob: Well, we took the core messages, the core themes from the Weekend to Remember. And keep in mind, the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway is a two-and-a-half getaway where couples get together in a great setting, usually at a nice hotel or a resort location, and they hear messages from terrific speakers about communication in marriage, about conflict, about sexual intimacy, about roles, about God’s purpose and design for marriage.
This goes on from Friday night, all day Saturday; we leave Saturday night open for a date night, and then Sunday morning from 9:00 until about 12:30. It really is a great getaway experience for couples.
Dennis: In fact, Bob, these conferences – we’ll have 137 of them this year. About 70,000 people will attend them. These conferences are hosted in nearly all 50 states across the United States by individuals, by couples, lay men and women who are passionate about marriage and family.
One of the things we did was, Barbara and I went with the Chairman of the Board of FamilyLife to Portland, Maine. The ballroom was full. 750 were in attendance there; it was just a delightful crowd to be with. I didn’t speak. Barbara didn’t speak. We just observed and we listened.
As we had lunch with the couples who helped put the conference together up in Portland, one of the things they said was, “Why don’t you give us something where we can bring this back all over Maine to the smaller communities of Maine who will never be able to have a Weekend to Remember?”
Bob: They don’t have a hotel ballroom big enough in their community to host one, or we couldn’t get enough people there to make it cost effective, right?
Dennis: Exactly. So we said, “What if we created a video conference, a video experience that was so powerful, so well done, that it would be maybe even better than, from an entertainment standpoint, the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway?” And so we set about to do that, and that’s what you worked on with The Art of Marriage video conference.
Bob: We took, as I said, the key themes from the Weekend to Remember, but we started getting feedback right away from folks saying, “Is there a way to make it shorter, so it’s not a full two-and-a-half day experience?
Could we do it on a Friday night and a Saturday? Well, we knew that that would make it different from going to a Weekend to Remember, but at the same time we knew it might open the doors to a lot of folks who otherwise wouldn’t come out and spend a full weekend.
Bob: They’d give you a Friday night and a Saturday, but they’re not going to do the full weekend. It would be something that a church could use, and in fact, the pastor could preach a marriage message on Sunday morning and you could have a whole marriage weekend at your church. You could invite folks who aren’t a part of your church to come for this video marriage conference.
We also knew, and this was part of the feedback we got from folks as we started to explore this, we knew that if we simply went in and videotaped speakers standing up on a platform presenting their messages,
Bob: . . . as good as those speakers are, and as compelling as that stuff is . . .
Bob: . . . that would be challenging for folks in a video environment.
Dennis: Well, think of what’s on TV and on cable. I mean, fast-moving, it’s using technology that is available today to communicate to folks, and if you’ve just got a talking head up there, they’re not going to be able to compete and hold people’s attention.
Bob: Right. So our team sat down and we thought, “Well, what if we could do some dramatic pieces – some little mini-movies that we could put together?”
“Your problem, the problem with your marriage, is you.”
“Yeah, figured that.”
“Both of you.”
What if we got some testimonies from couples with compelling stories about their own marriage, where they are transparent and vulnerable?
We are in an argument, and I grabbed her as hard as I could and I threw her down on the bed.
He would walk out the door and I would be like, “Wait. You’re leaving again tonight?” And I’d be like, “Whatever. Great. You know what? I’ll put the boys to bed by myself again. That’s great, honey. See ya.”
What if we could talk to some of the top biblical thinkers around marriage and family in the country?
James chapter four teaches us that the source of all conflict within us is an internal war.
It’s a question that every married couple asks, and that is, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?
So when we have rage and anger come into our lives, it’s going to be coming out of selfishness, it’s going to be coming out of self-centeredness, it’s going to be coming out of a sense of revenge. . .
Bob: And what if we went out on the street and talked to folks on the street about their thoughts on marriage and family?
Uh, when we got married I said, “Well, we’ll give it our best and if it doesn’t work we can go our separate ways. And she went, “No.” She said, “This is it. There is no other one for me.”
Bob: We just started brainstorming all kinds of different ideas for ways to communicate these biblical principles. Over the last year the team has been involved in filming and editing and testing that material. In fact, we shot most of the film in the first quarter of 2010, then we edited it in the second quarter of 2010.
Dennis: It’s almost like a movie in many ways.
Bob: Well, it is. It took a lot of post-production work. We debuted it to a group of our staff and some friends of the ministry back at the end of July of 2010. They gave us some great feedback. We went back and did some changing and some editing and some adjusting to the content.
We then took it to a handful of locations, about a dozen locations around the country this past fall, and we tested it in those locations to continue to get feedback on the event. We established Valentine’s weekend, 2-11-11, as the launch date for The Art of Marriage video conference.
So four weeks from today on a Friday night in communities all across the country, there are going to be Art of Marriage video events that are going to be hosted by lay couples in churches, in local colleges, in all kinds of different settings, where people are opening the doors, inviting their friends, their neighbors, other folks from their church, people from their community to come out for two sessions on Friday night, four sessions on Saturday, to hear from Dr. Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, Dennis Rainey, Crawford Loritts, Voddie Baucham, Mary Kassian, Barbara is a part of the series, Dave Harvey, Paul David Tripp and others – to hear from real life couples, sharing their stories, to hear from folks on a street corner in New Orleans, just talking about their view of marriage.
Dennis: Yeah, and the presupposition for all of this is, the most powerful force in America today that has yet to be reckoned with, is grassroots Christians who are standing up and saying, “You know what? I’m tired of saying nothing. I’m going to do something and I’m going to go down swinging, but I am going to swing. I’m going to go for the fences, to knock it out of the park.”
Bob, what we’re finding is – this is really cool – we’ve got one family who came up to Barbara at a Bible study and she shared how they had rented a retreat center in a southern state for their family, because their family is riddled with divorce, and they are inviting dozens of couples from their extended family to come join them for The Art of Marriage at this retreat center that has 35 cabins at it.
I know another business man who has a – it’s not a retreat center, but it’s a home that has six bedrooms in it – and it has the capability of showing a video like this with a sound system, so they’re going to invite five other couples and they’re going to have their friends get away and hear God’s truth in a relevant fresh way.
Quite honestly, I’d like to be a bug on a wall in these places and watch it happen because the same life-changing truth, the same truth about Jesus Christ is being presented in The Art of Marriage video event, and there’s a manual that each person gets a copy of. There are projects, there are all kinds of materials in that manual that they are going to leave with that will make them better husbands, better wives, moms and dads, and will immediately equip them to apply what they’ve learned at The Art of Marriage.
Bob: You remember when we first started talking about this, I told you honestly I was skeptical about whether there really are enough of these highly motivated laymen and women, folks who live around the country – that they’d step up and say, “Yeah, we’ll host one of these.” Are there really folks who have got a little bit of extra time and will be motivated to do this in their community? We’re finding that there are a lot of folks out there.
Dennis: There are a ton of them. In fact, this past fall we had a little breakout session during the Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. We asked people to join us for thirty minutes after the sexual intimacy talk. Now you’d think people would be leaving the conference at that point, but we had over 7000 people come to those breakout sessions this fall. Of the 7000, over 80 percent are raising their hands saying, “I’m interested in making a difference in marriages and families in my neighborhood, my church, my community.
Personally, folks, I don’t know a better way to do battle today on behalf of marriages and families than to put the tools in your hands and to let you reach out to the people that you already know need this. Their marriages are struggling.
It’s portable. It’s a conference in a box. And it’s first class. You’re not going to be disappointed; you’re going to be greatly encouraged. In fact, what we’re praying for, Bob, is that the premier weekend on 2-11-11 –
Bob: That’s four weeks from today.
Dennis: Right. – is going to spawn hundreds of other conferences. We’ve already had some churches hold some of these things and they’ve said, “You know what? We’re going to hold multiple conferences throughout the year, because marriages and families in our community are in serious trouble, and they look to the church to provide help and hope. This is a way to provide that practical, biblical help and hope and, interestingly, Bob, I also am praying that several thousand people will receive Jesus Christ as their Master and Savior, because the gospel is presented at The Art of Marriage weekend event.
Bob: Some of our listeners may be thinking to themselves, “You know. That sounds good. We’d be interested in going to something like that if it was happening in our church or in our community.” You can actually go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and if you click on The Art of Marriage link, you can find out where it’s happening, how close it is to where you live. It may be that within an hour of where you live there is a church or location where The Art of Marriage is being hosted. You can sign up and plan to go and join with them and be a part of the experience.
Dennis: After you’ve been through it, maybe you’ll want to take it back to your community, your area, and host one yourselves. Get a handful of couples – let’s say you only have thirty or forty couples. Let me tell you something – that’s how we’re going to address the crisis in marriage and family. We’ve got to find ways to reach out to people where they live.
Bob: It may be that you’re saying, “I’m ready to host. I don’t need to go to host one. I’m ready to do that. We could do that in our community or in our church. We’ve been looking for something like this to do in our church.
Well, there’s still time to do it on the premier weekend, Valentine’s weekend, February 11th and 12th, but if that weekend doesn’t work for you – if you want to do it in April or May or June or whatever works for you, that’s fine.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on The Art of Marriage logo where you can watch a trailer, you can watch a promotional video for The Art of Marriage, you can find out more about this event and then make plans to be a part of one of these events, either by hosting it or by attending it.
Dennis: And Bob, I want to go back to Maine. I want to go back to Portland, Maine to those couples who said, “Why don’t you give us the Weekend to Remember in a box, a conference in a box on video that we can take to Kennebunkport, to Presque Isle, Maine, Bar Harbor,
Dennis: “Caribou, Maine” – all these little communities all over Maine. It’s really fun – If you haven’t been online to look at the map of where these things are signed up for, go there and check it out. It’s really fascinating. There are hundreds of them all across the country, people who’ve signed up and said, “You know what? We’re going to make a difference in how marriage and family is viewed in our community.”
Bob: Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on The Art of Marriage link and you can find out more about this event; you can make plans to host one of these events or attend one of these events. If you don’t have access to the internet and you want to make a phone call, call 1-800-FL-TODAY and we can answer any questions you have. We can make arrangements to send materials out to you, whatever works for you.
But I hope you’ll start making plans now for Valentine’s weekend to be a part of an Art of Marriage event, whether you host it or whether you attend one that’s happening near where you live. That will make it a special Valentine’s weekend for you and your sweetheart.
Dennis: I have to tell you what happened with my son-in-law, Michael, who is a doctor, and his wife, Ashley. They have five sons. They are busy. I mean, you can just imagine, five boys twelve and under. They’ve got a lot going on. When he saw The Art of Marriage trailer and the quality of content he said, “You know what? I have to bring this to Russellville, Arkansas.”
You couldn’t find a couple that are busier than Michael and Ashley, but they found a way to connect with their friends and they are going to make a difference in the lives of a lot of their friends and a lot of people that are going to come out of the woodwork to find out, “Hey, what’s this Art of Marriage thing all about?”
Bob: Yes. Well, again, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. Click on the link for The Art of Marriage and make plans to be part of one of these events on Valentine’s weekend or to host one of these events, either that weekend or some weekend in the future. And if you have any questions, give us a call at 1-800- “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”
And with that we’ve got to wrap things up for today. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend.
And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk to some folks who are in a very difficult spot. They’re in marriages where they are spiritually mismatched. What do you do when you and your spouse don’t share common spiritual convictions? We’re going to talk about that Monday. Hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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