Communication key to happy marriage
Stephen and Carolla Lowe always prided themselves on their ability to talk about any and everything.
They'd started their relationship as good friends, volunteering alongside one another in youth ministry.
But then, a few years into wedded bliss, things changed.
“While dating our communication was great, but what we didn't realise was that being married would uncover things about each of us that we did not consciously know were there,” said Mr Lowe who, along with his wife, is leading a communications workshop for Christian couples on January 19.
“Marriage often does that, and this was our experience. Add to that life with its changes and challenges — like job transitions, sickness, financial matters, to name a few — and you can quickly find yourself in a tailspin, downwards.
“Our individual needs in the relationship were not being met as we got busy and distracted with life and, eventually, communication in our relationship broke down altogether.
“We were civil in front of the children, still sleeping in the same bed, but we said nothing, absolutely nothing to each other. We coexisted, and that was it. We were in complete withdrawal from each other. This went on for months.”
The ‘D' word started floating around in Mr Lowe's mind and he realised they had to do something to better the situation.
His wife, meanwhile, felt her husband was looking for an exit strategy. She was convinced that even though he was there physically, he had “left a long time ago”.
She recalls she was standing at the kitchen sink one day, praying to God for an answer, when she realised she had an important question to answer: did she really want her marriage?
“I thought about it for a few minutes,” Mrs Lowe said. “I wanted to answer honestly. My answer was yes; ever since we decided to get married, we had agreed that divorce was not an option.
“I knew that I had to do something different in order to get the result I was praying for. From that point on, in obedience to God's word, I began to treat my husband like he was first and foremost my brother in Christ, God's son.
“Was it easy? No, absolutely not! Did he respond in a positive way right away? No, initially he did not respond at all.
“Were there times that I wanted to throw in the towel? Yes, but I had made a decision based on the choice I had made and it was during those times when I was getting absolutely nothing in return I remembered that I was accountable for my actions to God, not to Stephen. That's what happened when I stood at the altar and said my wedding vows before Him.”
Slowly the couple made their way back to a healthy, happy, balanced marriage.
Today they help other Christian couples, showing them techniques on how to listen to each other and be better understood.
The Lowes and Pastor Eversley Lewis, of Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, will lead a workshop next Saturday to help couples learn what effective communication is and what it looks like in their specific relationship.
Hosted by Marsden Marriage Ministry, the goal of Solving The Communications Puzzle is that people walk away knowing what exactly needs to change in their marriage to bring about more effective communication.
The Lowes say they are passionate about the work they do.
They say that 20 years ago there was very little support offered in the way of workshops or mentoring partnerships to couples; today there are a number of local and international resources people can lean on.
Mrs Lowe said: “Our faith and relationship with God made all the difference in our marriage being saved and restored. Without it, our marriage would have been a statistic.
“During our journey, God taught us each so much. The most obvious was His faithfulness to hear and answer our prayers, that God's love (when exercised by us) truly covers a multitude of sins and that our responsibility to our marriage covenant was to Him as well as to each other.”
Big improvement came once they started following God's guidance.
“If you were a fly on the wall then and you decided to drop in now, you would find a night and day difference in our marriage,” Mrs Lowe said. “Stephen often says we are not the people we married 26 years ago, and he is absolutely right. We're not. Thank God!
“We have evolved as individuals and in order to understand the changes that have occurred over the years, we have had to work on and develop our communication. We now have a much better understanding of how to communicate with each other. It's not perfect, we're still learning but it's exciting. Marriage is good!”
Restoration is possible for every couple that sincerely wants it if they are both willing to do the work, the couple believe.
• Solving The Communications Puzzle takes place next Saturday from 10am until 2pm at Marsden First United Methodist Church in Smith's. The workshop costs $25 per couple and includes a light lunch. Register on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 293-5415.