NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It’s been 30 years.
The Festivals of Marriage sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources began with a single event in 1979 at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C. — subsequently expanding to multiple Festivals of Marriage throughout the country each year.
Nearly 10,000 husbands and wives participated annually during the festivals’ “heyday” in the early 1990s.
The festivals continue to be a time for couples to work on their marriages, have fun and just escape the busyness of life for a few days.
“We get training for our jobs, and if we [don’t] have that training, we’re in a tough position to be able to perform,” Festival of Marriage coordinator Mark Satterfield commented. “Well, it’s the same thing with our marriages as well. You’ve gotta be able to take some time and energy and train yourselves.”
A truly healthy marriage requires that God be a part of the relationship, and Festivals of Marriage take that into consideration especially during the general session time, Satterfield said in an Inside LifeWay podcast.
“[W]e really want to create an experience that, whether it’s a believer or non-believer [in the audience], he says, ‘Wow, God is here in this place, and He is all-powerful and almighty,'” Satterfield said.
The festivals’ workshops, meanwhile, focus on practical, daily helps for couples to improve their marriages.
“Marriage, in one sentence, I would say, is designed to be lived for the glory of God,” Satterfield said. “Don’t settle for less. Marriage can be so beautiful, and God’s given it to us. Let’s make it all that we can for His glory.”
Toward that end, about 400 people attended a Festival of Marriage in Panama City, Fla., Sept. 25-27, with conflict resolution in marriage as a breakout session, led by Jerry and Bayne Pounds of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is assistant to the president and professor of discipleship and she is assistant professor of Christian education and director of institutional reports.
“Conflict is a natural life fact,” Jerry Pounds said. “It results from different needs and interests. Many people look at conflict like it’s an unusual thing, but it isn’t.”
They offered several tips for resolving conflicts:
— Focus on prevention. Be proactive and try to keep a problem from escalating into an argument.
— Uphold personal integrity. Keep your spouse’s feelings in consideration and avoid ugly personal attacks.
— Stop the explosion before it happens. If things are getting out of hand, agree to a break to cool off before continuing the discussion.
— Practice “I” messages instead of “you” messages. “I” messages express how you personally feel, while “you” messages generally are accusatory.
— Avoid destructive patterns such as criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Use tools/resources that can lead to a resolution of the conflict.
Bayne Pounds acknowledged that anger is a by-product of conflict.
“It’s normal to get angry, but it’s important to remember that anger is a choice you make,” she said. “No one can make you angry. They may do some bad things, but you choose anger as a response.”
She referenced Harriet Lerner, author of “The Dance of Anger,” in offering some questions individuals can ask when conflict goes in the direction of anger:
— What am I really angry about?
— What is the problem and whose problem is it?
— How can I sort out who is responsible for what?
— How can I learn to express my anger in a way that will not leave me feeling helpless and powerless?
— When I am angry, how can I clearly communicate my position without becoming defensive or attacking?
“Conflict comes from a lot of places,” Jerry Pounds said. “It can come from boredom, honest disagreement and even triggers from your past. Just be aware of where the conflict is coming from and deal with it.”
Bayne Pounds said that loving one’s spouse doesn’t mean a marriage will be conflict-free — possibly just the opposite.
“Conflict arises anytime two people spend time together,” she said, “and married people are together a lot.”
Compiled from reports by Brooklyn Lowery and Polly House of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. To check for future Festival of Marriage dates, locations and registration information, go to LifeWay.com/FOM. To listen to the podcast featuring LifeWay’s Festival of Marriage coordinator Mark Satterfield, go to LifeWay.com/insidelifeway.