Seminars teach couples how to work on marriage

Happily ever after is the hope of every newlywed. Couples soon learn it isn’t a given.

“When I walked into my marriage, all of a sudden I realized you have to work at it,” Kelly Beebout said. It was a surprise, the Arlington woman said, that “he doesn’t think the way I think.”

Kelly and Dan Beebout will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary in March.

Members of the Bryant Community Church in Arlington, they will join other couples next month for a two-day seminar at the church called Marriage on the Rock.

The seminar’s presenters, Jimmy and Karen Evans, are founders of MarriageToday, a Texas-based broadcast ministry. The event the evening of Feb. 10 and morning of Feb. 11 at the Bryant Community Church will be a simulcast of the Evans’ seminar happening those two days at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

“This is a first for us. We want to get the word out,” said Charles Barnett, pastor of Bryant Community Church. The Arlington church has about 70 members, but Barnett said others from the area are welcome to attend. The seminar costs $15 per person.

“I see marriages just absolutely in trouble,” Barnett said. “I’m seeing couples who have been married 25 years disintegrating in divorce.

“There is all this stuff that was never fixed along the way,” Barnett said. “We can’t slap Band-Aids on this stuff, or keep a stiff upper lip or white-knuckle it through marriage.”

The Beebouts, who have two children, have attended other marriage seminars. Kelly Beebout said it’s helpful to step away from day-to-day life and concentrate on their relationship.

“Every time we go through one, we walk away with something that strengthens us. It’s a way for us to reconnect and have a refresher about why we married,” she said.

Beebout isn’t familiar with MarriageToday, but said she has heard “great reviews” of the program.

Jimmy Evans is head elder at Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo, Texas. He and his wife founded MarriageToday in 1994. Together 35 years, they use TV and the Internet to spread their message that even seemingly hopeless marriages can be saved. Their topics include pre-marriage, intimacy, family dynamics and spiritual growth.

“He is a pastor, and I think he has an unusual gift in the area of marriage,” Barnett said of Jimmy Evans. Barnett said the keys to successful marriages are love and respect.

“When neither one gets what is needed, and husbands and wives become unloving or disrespectful, they become hunkered down. Battle lines are drawn, and the mood becomes tense and terse,” the Arlington pastor said.

It’s then, Barnett said, that some go outside the marriage for fulfillment. “By golly, a man or woman comes along and your heart is just ready for that. Give it a few years, and we still didn’t fix our stuff. All we do is start all over again,” Barnett said.

Another faith-based program for couples, Marriage Encounter, will be Jan 20-22 at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood. Cost of that weekend event, which is presented several times a year at Warm Beach, is $389 per couple.

Darlene Brooks and her husband, a retired minister, will serve as a clergy couple sharing experiences with participants at the Marriage Encounter weekend.

“It’s an opportunity to spend time with each other one-on-one, and to process what they’ve heard,” said Brooks, 72, who recently celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary. “It’s a marvelous tool for communicating.”

Brooks doesn’t want to scare couples off, but “they’re removed from technology.”

“There are no phones or televisions in the rooms,” Brooks said. “It’s a time of really just slowing down. Comments we have received have been amazing. People say, ‘I came dragging my feet, but it turned out to be the best weekend I have given to my spouse.’ “

Kelly Beebout has learned practical tips at marriage seminars. “Definitely, making time for each other,” she said.

“Everyone has such a busy life. Really sit down and connect,” she said. “And listen. Be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Events aimed at better marriages

Marriage on the Rock

A seminar presented by Jimmy and Karen Evans, founders of the Texas-based ministry MarriageToday, will be simulcast at Arlington’s Bryant Community Church Feb. 10-11. Event is open to the public; cost is $15 per person. Programs are 7-9:30 p.m. Feb. 10 and 9 a.m.-noon Feb. 11. Bryant Community Church is at 26830 53rd Ave. NE, Arlington. To register: 360-435-8311 or email: office@bryantcc.org

Marriage Encounter

Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood will host a Marriage Encounter retreat for married couples. The event begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 and ends at 5 p.m. Jan. 22. A panel of couples at the Christian camp will share advice about problem-solving and communication. Cost is $389 per couple. Other Marriage Encounter sessions are scheduled for March 23-25 and Oct. 26-28. Information and registration: 360-652-7575 or www.warmbeach.com.

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