Three Ways Practitioners Use Curriculum to Equip Couples
Healthy, mutually supportive marriages become that way intentionally.
So say our certified practitioners, who use Different By Design marriage curriculum in all kinds of settings. Different By Design guides couples through the process of identifying their individual strengths, their spouse’s strengths, and how to blend strengths to build oneness.
Different By Design at Marriage Retreats and Marriage Workshops
Participants often cite a Different By Design event as a turning point in their marriage in that the material arms a couple with information they can begin to implement right away and use for the rest of their lives. The experience equips good marriages to become great and helps struggling marriages to rebuild into stronger ones.
“Couples have clear ‘Aha’ moments during the event,” says facilitator Darlene Morgan (Alberta, Canada). She and her husband Mike, 38+ year ministry veterans, have led both Leading From Your Strengths and Different By Design at workshops and retreats. “The first light bulb goes off when both husband and wife discover that their differences are strengths.” The Marriage Insights profiles, completed as part of the experience, help spouses see their differences objectively on paper.
But the second moment of understanding can be even more powerful, says Darlene. “Once couples understand they have a choice to value their spouse’s strengths, rather than judge them, they are ready to move forward.”
Paul and Carol Tepker saw proof of that understanding when they led a Different By Design workshop near their home. One couple, from Tepkers’ home church, announced that their marriage had been broken for a while and they were ready to separate. The workshop was a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Shocked and dismayed, Paul and Carol nevertheless committed to supporting the couple throughout the workshop and in prayer during the weeks that followed. Six months later Paul and Carol received an invitation to the ceremony for the renewal of the couple’s marriage vows. Different By Design was the beginning of the renewal process in their marriage.
Different By Design in Marriage Counseling
Different By Design’s objectivity, says Jimmy McLeod of Becomer Counseling (Fort Worth, TX), brings a rational voice during crisis or turmoil. Such was the case as he counseled Robert and Jessica, whose 15-year-marriage had been wounded by unfaithfulness. Both were biblically committed to restoring the marriage.
The profile data gave both spouses sanity and focus as they worked through the emotions of broken trust. Jessica discovered that she moved quickly to assumptions and judgments. She learned to give Robert more time for decisions and responses. Meanwhile, Robert saw his temptation to marinate about a decision forever. He came to appreciate Jessica’s quiet prods to think, choose, and move on. The couple has been in counseling six months, but already their communication has better than it has ever been, says Jimmy. Even their four children are noticing changes in the relationship and in family life.
“The profile and the curriculum put the information into a format they could understand,” said Jimmy. “The material freed Robert and Jessica to stop beating themselves up and instead use the information in their immediate circumstances – and move forward into the future.”
Different By Design in Marriage Preparation
“This was the most helpful part of our pre-marital counseling.” More than one couple has shared that insight after participating in the Different By Design curriculum. Marriage preparation counselors ask the couple to complete a video session and exercises for each session and then meet together to talk about what they have learned. The profile data and exercises are springboard that spouses can build upon throughout their marriage. Multiple pre-marital couples can also gather to debrief after watching the videos.
One 30-something professional couple invested considerable time in coming to understand their personal strengths outlined in their profile reports. During pre-marital counseling, they developed a deep appreciation for one another. The wife-to-be, a quick thinker, came to understand why her fiancé could not make hurried decisions. She began to view his thoughtful, systematic insights as valuable. Meanwhile, her future husband discovered how his future wife was relationally wired and a perfect fit for his more reserved nature. By the time their wedding day arrived, the couple was ready to use the tools they had learned to keep growing together.
Many Settings Offer Opportunities to Build Marriages
Its versatility, say practitioners, makes Different By Design suitable for couples of all kinds to build vibrant marriages, whether it is used in ministry teams, small groups, Sunday school classes, or couples classes or even given as a gift for a wedding, anniversary, or Christmas. As spouses understand and value each other’s strengths – and then draw on those differences to feel understood, to be valued and fully integrated – they learn healthy ways to effectively communicate and cooperate with the other.
That marriage can be your marriage – and the marriages of those you know and love.