Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handling The Holidays

*This was sent to Grace and Truth clientele on Black Friday (click for services)

So, how's Black Friday going for you? Are you enjoying the afterglow of a great family gathering, or recovering from stress and relational skirmishes?

Since Thanksgiving kicks off a busy and potentially stressful season, Grace and Truth wants to offer some tips about handling the holidays:

1. Ask yourself, "If the Holidays go as well as possible, what will I be able to say about them once they're over?" Your answers reveal what you want. Once you know that the next step is to brainstorm potential action-steps and strategies to make the holidays what you'd like them to be.

2. Brainstorm a list of options (potential action-steps) to make the season what you'd like it to be.

3. Evaluate your list. Rank-order the options. Which ones do you like the most and which ones are most realistic?

4. Act on your plan!

We realize your schedule and relationships might be a bit more complicated. Please call or schedule an appointment if we can be helpful in collaboration to make this season more pleasurable.

Blessings to All!

Jeff and Jill Williams
Susan Fiegel

Monday, November 1, 2010

S'more Jesus: Marriage and Family Retreat, Nov. 5, 6, 7

It's late notice, but maybe it's timely for you?

S’more Jesus: Marriage and Family Retreat

First United Methodist Church, Greencastle, PA
November 5, 6, 7

Summary: Pastor Stacy Crawford is passionate about people putting Christ in the center of their families and relationship struggles. The schedule of events and speakers has been organized for married couples and children. Jeff and Jill Williams, Marriage Coaching trainers will present two sessions (details below the full schedule). Couples and families can still register. Call the Church office for details. (717) 597-7314

Full Schedule: S’more Jesus Retreat (Nov. 5th, 6th, & 7th)

*7:00 – 8:30 PM – Lesson/kids lesson (Chuck Long “Keeping Cool in Crisis” – What to do when the smore, the stick, and everything else seems to go up in flames)
8:30 PM – Campfire & S’mores
9:30 – 11:00 PM – Games in the meeting room for those interested

8:00 AM – Breakfast
8:30 – 10:00 AM – Family time – scavenger hunt/hike (your choice)
*10:00 – 11:30 AM – Lesson/kids lesson (Jeff Ehko “TMI Avoiding Marshmallow Marriage Meltdown” – You can’t have too much information)
12:00 Noon – Lunch
1:00 – 3:00 PM – Church kickball
3:00 PM – Ice cream snack
*3:00 – 4:30 PM – Lesson/kids lesson (“Raising Kids when Life is Like a Box of
Chocolates” - You never know what you’re gonna get: Jeff and Jill Williams**)
4:30 – 5:30 PM – Family time
5:30 PM – Supper
*6:30 – 8:00 PM – Lesson/kids lesson (“In-laws and Out-laws” – How to deal with extended family when the cracker crumbles around the edges: Jeff and Jill Williams**)
8:30 PM – Campfire & S’mores
9:30 – 11:00 PM – Games in the meeting room for those interested

8:00 AM – Breakfast
*8:30 – 10:00 AM – Lesson/kids lesson (Diane Salter “Savoring the Smore” - Getting the
Most out of the “roast” of your life)
10:00 – 10:30 AM – Family prayer
*10:30 – 11:30 AM – Worship
12:00 Noon – Lunch
1:00 PM – Leave for home

** - Jeff and Jill’s workshops

*3:00 – 4:30 PM – Lesson/kids lesson (“Raising Kids when Life is Like a Box of
Chocolates” - You never know what you’re gonna get)

1. Effective Listening and asking to hear and hold your child’s heart; their honest thoughts, feelings and desires; essential skills to heal, strengthen and protect the relationship.

2. Stress styles – Differences in behavior under stress and what to do about them.

3. Teach, model and facilitate couples to do an exercise that they can take home to do with their children that will build closeness and prevent misunderstandings.
- Jeff and Jill teach, model, facilitate couples to do the exercise privately and then debrief with questions and answers.

*6:30 – 8:00 PM – Lesson/kids lesson (“In-laws and Out-laws” – How to deal with extended family when the cracker crumbles around the edges)

1.Keeping your cool. Honor your emotional responses to extended family interactions (i.e., conflicts, disappointments, etc.)
a.An exercise to defuse the emotional brain when it is angry, sad and scared.
b.*An exercise to clarify your desires regarding family interactions, boundaries, etc.
i.The steps of setting a shared goal (handout).
c.The tightrope of boundaries; setting limits with love.
i.Protecting your children from dangerous situations and unhealthy influences.
ii.Extended version of complaint with request for change (negotiation for change).
*as time allows

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scoring in Marriage: Points for Pleasure

"That was a deposit" she said. I smiled and made the gesture of marking down a point on the imaginary chalk-board. "Just one?" I said playfully. "Maybe two" she said. I'd just offered a sincere apology for hurting her feelings by the way I said something.

How to make relational deposits and withdraws is a key skill in our marriage; especially because our natural temperaments are polar opposites. It is easy for us to offend each other by simply being ourselves, but not as easy to score points for pleasure. Simply said, Jill wants patient gentleness in conversation, while I want to solve problems and overcome challenges, quickly. Sometimes these feel mutually exclusive.

Ironically, our passionate conversation about meeting each others needs was en route to a session with twelve couples from a Church in Arlington, VA. The route was unknown, and it was dark and rainy for the rush-hour drive. The conditions served to heighten tension which had begun at the gas station in conflict about whether to use the debit card or cash. I "naturally" let fly with a few questions in rapid succession in attempt to solve the problem, but as we drove away, Jill' countenance revealed the fact that I'd overdrawn her love bank. It was going to take awhile to replenish the account. Arrgghh...

Thankfully, my wife's nature is to graciously persevere in teaching me how to love her. She began with this, "I don't think you understand how it affects me when you are intense and let go with rapid-fire questions. I wish you could be me for a day." That was my cue to empathize with her about how she was feeling, and to ask what she needed. Again, this was a good move. She was willing to talk.

We ended the conversation with prayer and some tears of relief and mutual statements of hope and resolve that we can and want to continue to learn to love. We also laughed about how we could give teach each other about deposits and withdraws from our respective love banks by commenting on each other's words and actions, "Plus one...minus two, etc." While this began as a joke, it will probably be something we do. That's out tip for increasing and improving pleasure. TELL YOUR PARTNER WHEN THEY MAKE A DEPOSIT AND WHEN THEY MAKE A WITHDRAW.

Ironically, the bow was tied on our conversation in our car, parked in front of the house where, couples were gathering to learn from us. This once again underscored the fact that we are all in process, on the journey...together. Thank you Holy Spirit for continuing to teach us.

Learning to live loving,

Jeff and Jill

Monday, March 8, 2010

Essential Skills to Strengthen and Protect Your Marriage

Marriage Coaching I is a user-friendly tele-class for couples wanting to strengthen and protect their own marriage and/or to begin the training process to help other couples. Get in on the next opportunity, beginning March 18! For more details, click here

- Four tele-classes accessible by phone or Skype
- Class manual delivered by email (pdf file)
- Four scripted dates that previous couples have loved
- Four Peer couple sessions to share and learn with other couples

What you'll learn:
- the heart and skill of effective listening: How to hold his/her heart
- the heart and skill of effective asking: How to open his/her heart
- the heart and skill of effective goal-setting: How to honor desires of the heart
- supporting growth and change: Essential relational support and encouragement

From the very first lesson we continue to gain simple but profound relationship skills. The principles are so easily applied...In our own relationship, we have been able to immediately use each of the learned skills with encouraging results. Historically our relationship has been stormy (but)...after implementing techniques as you have taught and demonstrated, we finally have hope of a more peaceful approach to conflict resolution...we are finding that if we drop back into our old patterns the discussions quickly heat up, but as we catch ourselves and begin to apply our new skills conversations promptly calm and become more productive. Again, this is simple, but so profound. Thank you. Dan and Doris, Colorado

If you are local to the Greater Washington, D.C. area, check out this live half-day seminar, March 20, presented by Seneca Creek Community Church, in partnership with Grace and Truth (us), click here to register.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coach Your Marriage to More Affection: The Importance of Hello's and Goodbye's

What does your marriage want? What does it need?

If your answer is more affection, then consider the quality of your hello's and goodbyes. Did you know it is Biblical to greet each other with a kiss?

I Peter 5:14 - Greet one another with a kiss of love...

Really? Cool!

While Peter's instruction was to the entire family of believers, followers of Christ, it is a good reminder to greet and say goodbye with a clear demonstration of affection to the loved ones living in our homes.

Jill chose our devotional reading this morning, "Hello's and Goodbye's" from the awesome couple's devotional book, "Quiet Times with the One You Love" (Art Hunt, Multnomah Publishers). His testimony about intentionality in greetings related to his wife's confrontation that absence of a hug and a kiss when he came and went was communicating "unintended indifference" Ouch!

What does it say when the one you love greets you at the door with a warm hug and kiss and words of gratitude or affection? Reflect a moment on what such greetings and goodbyes convey to your heart and to your soul.

Does your marriage need more affection? Consider the option of intentionally warm and affectionate greetings and goodbyes.

Here's a hug and a kiss!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Staying Together: Essential Ingredients to Repair and Protect Your Marriage

It began like most other airplane conversations:

"What do you do for a living?" he asked. "My wife and I help couples to strengthen and protect their marriage" I replied. "Really?" My seat-mate seemed interested. "Yes, we teach skills and attitudes of the heart that couples can use to help themselves and to help others" I continued. Then came his memorable words, "It's really hard work, isn't it?" Internally, I thought to myself, "Yes it is. My own marriage is hard work, and it's hard to help others..."

Still, I wasn't sure if my new friend meant ministry to others or marriage itself. He clarified, "A few years ago my wife and I came to the point of decision about whether to continue or not. I decided that the grass wouldn't be greener on the other side of the fence...that there would be problems in any other relationship I might fantasize about, so I looked at myself, realized that I was selfish, and that I needed to learn to love and to serve. Today, after thirty-seven years our marriage is as good as it's ever been." Wow! I realized that 'on his own' this gentleman had discovered key truths about how to build and protect a healthy and pleasurable marriage. But he wouldn't take the credit.

"I've had some help" he explained. "From the man above, and from someone here. I look to God for my strength, and we went to a counselor. They taught us some things that we continue to use to communicate and resolve conflicts, but it takes willingness to work hard and to not be selfish. I get that strength from God."

Period. End of sentence, end of story. On their own, a couple struggling to stay together found the key ingredients to repair, strengthen and protect their marriage. And what they can do, any couple can do. Are you? Will you?

Where does this story find you today? In the midst of unimaginable marital bliss, the pit of despair, or somewhere in the middle, living in marital mediocrity convinced that it's as good as it gets.

- If your marriage is great, don't take it for granted. The best defense against your demise is a good offense. Actively work on your heart and polish your skills.

- If your marriage is in the pits, take heart that many other couples have recovered from pain and hopelessness. What one couple can do, you can do.

- If your marriage is mediocre, know that as long as flames are flickering that they can be fanned into warmer and prettier flames.

How does this story affect you? What do you think about it? How does it make you feel, and what desires does it awaken?

There might be an idea above that you can integrate into your relationship. Or, maybe you want some assistance. It's not a sign of weakness, but strength when couples ask for help. To many never ask, or ask too late...they ask after their ship has taken on so much water that it's hard to bail it before the ship begins to sink.

Our experience is that 90% of couples aren't aware of the state of the art in Marriage ministry and relationship education. The good news is that there is a body of information and set of skills that proves effective for the majority of couples that use them. Are you willing to learn? Willing to try?

Marriage appears to be under attack as never before. Even our own is under siege as the centrifuge of life tries to throw us apart, and more sinister forces (yes, we believe satan exists) actively attempts to put enmity between us. What can we do?

- Let your challenges be known. Ask for prayer and encouragement from others.
- Get some help. There are many good marriage counselors, and a growing population of Marriage Coaching couples (our ministry, Great Relationships has trained some of them).
- Take heart from testimonies of success, such as above.

Just as physical pain is indication of something wrong, relationship pain or even dullness is a sign that some adjustments are required. How can you adjust?

1. Grow your heart to love and serve.
2. Get skills to convey and demonstrate your heart.

Do you want more ideas? More help? Write or call for a complimentary consulation.

Blessings and hope,

Jeff and Jill

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Coach Your Marriage to Reconnection


The Question: What can we do to reconnect our relationship after a fight?

We've done it but had never heard it expressed so poignantly. "I keep rolling to the middle", was the response of one wife when asked what she does to reconnect with her husband after they have a painful conversation.

"You have a choice", she said. "You can either move away as far as possible from each other to the point that you both nearly have one leg hanging off your side of the bed OR you can ROLL TO THE MIDDLE. I keep rolling to the middle." Wow! That's brilliant....and humble.

How much time do you spend in silence in your marriage; you know, giving the cold shoulder...arms folded...jaw clenched...heart hard? In hindsight it's a pity, isn't it? Precious time wasted in disconnectedness?

Jill says it well, and she practices what she preaches. "It only takes one of you to take a step toward the other to get close again." Last night when inches seemed like miles between us, one of us rolled to the middle, and the other reciprocated. The chasm was crossed and reconnection established. Another attempt by the enemy to sever the connection of holy matrimony foiled. Hallelujah!

The skill is a simple roll from your side of the bed to the middle. The heart behind it is apologetic humility that reflects the answer to a question to Jesus, "What can I do to reconnect with her Lord?" "Say you're sorry, Jeff." "What? What about what she said?" I retort. "You follow me." It is his consistent reply.

How can you coach your marriage to reconnection?
Ask what you can do to show your willingness to be close again. Don't be surprised when you get a prompt to ROLL TO THE MIDDLE.

We're praying for you! Please pray for us.

Jeff and Jill

*Roll to the Middle is the title of a song by Sarah Groves.