Friday, January 28, 2011

Local couples can renew vows at Feb 13 ceremony

Becki Robinson, coordinator for the Marriage Resource Center of Miami Valley’s Greene County satellite office, prepares for several upcoming events meant to forge lasting relationships. One of those events is “A Celebration of Marriage.” The Sunday, Feb. 13, ceremony will allow married couples to renew their vows and learn more about what makes a healthy marriage.

Published in Xenia-Gazette 1/27/2011 10:10:00 PM

Local couples can renew vows at Feb. 13 ceremony
XENIA — Greene County couples will get to strengthen their bonds and reaffirm their love on Sunday, Feb. 13, when the Marriage Resource Center of Miami Valley holds “A Celebration of Marriage” at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1120 S. Detroit St.

The event, which will take place during Marriage Week USA, is meant to be a community-wide ceremony that helps couples recapture their zeal and rekindle their commitment to their marriages. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. with a vow renewal, giving attendees an opportunity to repeat the words spoken to their significant other on their wedding day. Certificates will be provided for participants.

Following the vow renewal, time will be taken out to honor those who provide essential instruction and guidance to couples before and during marriage. During the mentor recognition segment of the event, mentors will stand and be recognize for their efforts to build and preserve healthy relationships between spouses. Marriage mentoring, says Becki Robinson, the Greene County coordinator of the Marriage Resource, has made an unappreciated contribution to the preservation of relationships.

“Statistics show there is a 90 percent success rating for couples who take a year of dating, courtship and mentoring,” said Robinson.

After the mentor recognition, local pastors, businessmen and city officials will join together with the signing of a marriage policy that declares their commitment to the institution of marriage. According to Robinson, the policy affirms local leadership’s conviction that strong communities are built on the bedrock of strong marriages.

“This marriage policy shows their dedication to the idea that healthy marriages lead to healthy families,” said Robinson. “In turn, healthy families lead to a healthy community.”

Before the event comes to a close at 5:30 p.m., a reception will be held, complete with wedding cake and punch. The Marriage Resource Center’s Greene County office will also be open for attendees to visit.

Robinson hopes to have Greene County’s longest married couple present at the celebration. People wishing to nominate a couple for consideration are encouraged to visit the Marriage Resource Center’s website at or contact Becki Robinson at 937-324-3604. Couples wishing to register for the vow renewal or get more information can also visit the website or call 937-689-0149.

The Sunday, Feb. 13, ceremony will set the stage for a Real Intimacy and Growth Skills (RINGS) class on Feb 19. The class, which will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Emmanuel Baptist Church, seeks to equip couples with the tools and skills required to build and preserve a loving and lasting marriage.

“The class does not present what is ideal,” said Robinson. “It gives practical tools. Some men are scared of the RINGS class. I tell the guys that we don’t sit in a circle and share our feelings. It’s about getting the tools that help people be successful in marriage.”

The class will be carried out in an informal classroom setting, complete with lunch and learning materials. Attendees will be asked to envision the goals and benefits of a loving, lasting marriage. In addition, mentors will help couples learn how to strengthen their communication and conflict resolution skills. The class, says Robinson, is well-suited for couples of all stages.

“So many people think, ‘My marriage is doing okay. I don’t have to do anything,’” said Robinson. “When you have a car, you have to have regular maintenance. When you have a plant, you need to water it or it will die. Likewise, you need to do something that keeps life and health in your relationship.”

The cost of the class is $40, which covers workbooks and refreshments. Interested couples can check the website or call to register and learn about discounted rates.

The Marriage Resource Center of Miami Valley was founded in 2004 to address the high divorce rate in Clark County. In 2006, the center began offering classes in Greene County. Three years later, a satellite office was started in Greene County at Emmanuel Baptist Church. The center, which is working to procure its own building in Greene County, partners with community churches and works to inspire marriage success by developing initiatives that build value and skills for healthy relationships.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Not-So Newlywed Game' winner get second honeymoon cruise

By Whitney DeGroat
Staff Writer for Springfield News-Sun - published 10/20/10
SPRINGFIELD — Marriage Resource Center of the Miami Valley is turning to an old game to raise money and bring attention to couples who have had successful marriages.
Four local couples will face-off in the “Not-So Newlywed Game,” a play on the 1960s game show “The Newlywed Game,” to win a second-honeymoon Carribean cruise.
Three couples will be chosen by voters via a ballot at - all except the final couple, who will be chosen from a drawing the night of the game as “wild card” competitors.
The game will take place 6 p.m. to 8p.m Nov. 5 at Shawnee Place Apartments, 102 East Main Street.
Tickets are on sale from $25 to $40, and are available at Proceeds will fund the operations of Marriage Resource Center, who is hosting the event.
Marriage Resource Center, which works to promote family stability by teaching couples and individuals how to build healthy relationships, was launched in 2004 and began teaching classes in 2005. The group focuses their efforts on Clark, Greene, and Champaign counties, but has had individuals come from as far as Wisconsin, said Executive Director Lavern Nissley.
Supported by a combination of government, private, and individual funds, the group has served nearly 8,500 people in the past five years, said Nissley.
The results, he says, have been positive.
“In 2004, around the time we began operations, Clark County’s divorce rate was twice the national average,” he said. “It has since dropped about 20 percent.”
The center was created as a response to those high divorce rates.
The center’s impact is also seen in the responses of those who have participated in their services. “I’ve heard people tell us that their marriages might not be intact if it weren’t for our organization,” said Nissley. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sow Generously--Reap Bountifully

By Becki Robinson
Greene County Marriage Resources Coordinator
(Submitted to Xenia-Gazette)

I had a favorite plant that just died recently. It was a beautiful purple “butterfly” shamrock. Actually it was a purple Oxalis Triangularis. I am not really good with plants but I had carefully tended this plant for nearly a year. Then we went on vacation. It was only for a week and I thought that my plant would be fine. It wasn’t. Now my purple flowerpot (it matched the plant) is empty. I have been trying to revive it, hoping that somewhere under the soil there is still a spark of life but so far my plant still appears to be lifeless.

As much as I am grieving over the death of my plant, I know what killed it….my neglect. I had discovered the basic principle of reaping and sowing. “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) Plants are living organisms that require sunlight, air, water, and nutrition. When one of these is not present the plant will die. It’s that simple. If I want to be able to continue to enjoy the beauty of my purple butterfly shamrock, I have to be willing to invest my time, attention and resources consistently.

About the same time that my plant died, my husband, Rex and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. As I looked back over the past thirty years, I realized something about marriage. The relationship of marriage is a lot like my plant. Marriage is not an institution but a living covenant. The marriage covenant requires a living man and a living woman. For the relationship of marriage to thrive, it must be nurtured just like my plant. For a marriage to grow and endure through the years, both the husband and the wife must be willing to invest their time, attention and resources consistently.

However, too often, our marriages are taken for granted. We begin to neglect this living relationship. Not necessarily on purpose, but the relationship seems to be going along fine and life is busy. We begin to focus our time, energy and resources on our careers, our children or ourselves. Then one day we wake up and discover that, like my plant, our marriage has begun to wilt or perhaps even die. The good news is that unlike my plant, a marriage can be revived when we begin to reinvest our time, attention and resources consistently and purposefully.

My question for you today is: Are you sowing into your marriage? Whether you are just beginning your marriage or celebrating your 30th anniversary you need to be nurturing your relationship. Whether you consider your marriage to be thriving and healthy or struggling and gasping for life, you need to be sowing into this vital union. Second Corinthians 9:6 says, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. If you take the time to sow generously into your marriage you will reap a bountiful harvest.

The Marriage Resource Center has two upcoming opportunities for you to sow into your marriage. Our RINGS marriage seminar will be offered on Saturday, August 21st from 8:45am to 5:00pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Our marriage retreat will be held on September 10th and 11th at the Hilton Garden Inn in Beavercreek. The retreat, First Comes Love Then Comes Money, will feature The Money Couple. For more information or to register for these opportunities please visit our website at .

Plants are easy to replace; marriages are not. I encourage you to recommit yourself to investing your time, attention and resources into this awe-inspiring relationship of marriage. Sow generously and be prepared to reap an abundant harvest.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is getting between you and your spouse?

(Submitted to Xenia-Gazette)
Most couples begin their marriage journey full of optimism, joy a certainty that they will go the distance. Rarely would a couple exchange vows and rings while thinking, “My life is going to be absolutely cruddy from this day forward.”

Marriage was designed to be ongoing. When Jesus replied to a question on divorce from religious authorities, he proclaimed: "Haven't you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)

The picture of being united in marriage is like two pieces of wood being glued together. One would think there is no way they could ever come apart.

But they do. Not all at once. But gradually, incrementally and almost imperceptibly the two who were joined together experience marital creep, often from a small gap to a vast chasm. Why and how does this happen?

Two friends of ours, Tim and Linda Buttrey, have developed a diagram on The Journey to Disconnectedness. They are “experts” on disconnection, for they have experienced it themselves. After a near fatal extra-marital affair Tim and Linda found healing and restoration, returning to the original design of marriage that includes fidelity, unity and commitment. They founded Restoration Resources ( as an avenue of strengthening marriages and promoting intimacy.

The following stages from The Journey to Disconnectedness illustrate the progression from connection and intimacy to total disconnection and lack of intimacy.

Fatigue – Many demands from work, children, family, finances, health issues, etc. result in things coming between us.

Irritability/Insensitivity – Responses to each other are characterized by yelling, shutting down, criticism, sarcasm and cynicism, resulting in moving against each other.

Aloneness – Lack of physical and emotional closeness, transparency or honesty, fear of rejection and deep loneliness result in moving away from each other.

Arrogance and Alienation – Descending into self-pity, self-absorption and self-seeking results in a mindset of blaming each other.

Adulteries of the heart – Engaging in pornography, flirting, workaholism or fantasizing results in an emotional or mental filling of the void.

Addiction – Engaging in sex, drugs, shopping, food, work, excessive exercise or an external relationship results in a total replacing of the original relationship and intimacy.

Each stage of disconnection is progressively more extreme, carrying increased dangers of actually “burning bridges” behind you. While all married couples can relate to the first two stages of fatigue and irritability, the remedies of acquiring rest and expressing apologies can keep disconnection from progressing through the more advanced stages.

Two other friends of ours, K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky, have just authored Facebook and Your Marriage. With the explosion of Facebook users, especially in the age 40-55 demographic, online flirting and emotional affairs are on the rise. The Krafskys bring wise well-crafted boundaries for couples to implement as Facebook users. The book can be pre-ordered at

Would you commit to becoming more aware of what has gotten between you and your spouse? That is the first step. Then seek out resources to help you regain the connection and intimacy you once had. We agree with God that your marriage is worth going the distance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Celebrating National Marriage Week USA

February 7-14 has been designated as National Marriage Week USA. Kind of a nice reminder around Valentine's Day that there is still something very special about two people who are completely committed to each other. (Cue string music and pictures of roses, a sunset and a couple gazing lovingly into each other's eyes.)

Marriage is more than the emotions, whether they be positive or negative. Marriage is also something we DO together. If done with a healthy relationship in mind, the efforts usually deepen and strengthen the bond.

Ronda and I have made some commitments to each other in order to ensure a healthy marriage. After all, we need to be practicing what we're preaching as we lead Marriage Resource Center!
  • Daily: Coffee, RINGS chat and prayer together to start our day. The RINGS chat is an acrostic for Real (what we're really feeling physically, spiritually, emotionally), Intentions (plans for the day), Needs (what we need from each other), Grateful (what we appreciate about the other) and Someday (what we're looking forward to).
  • Weekly: A special date, usually Friday evenings. A "stuff huddle" on Sunday morning where we review three items: 10 questions we've composed to keep us accountable to New Year's resolutions, our calendar/schedule for the next 2 weeks, and a household financial update. Our weekly QCQ (Questions, Calandar, Quicken) keeps us on track for the commitments we've made to and on behalf of each other.
  • Quarterly: A 2-3 day getaway or retreat. All work and family stuff left behind. We've enjoyed renting a cabin at Buck Creek State Park, bicycling from a bed and breakfast in Xenia, staying in a friend's wooded cabin in Hocking Hills. Nature and quietness are the themes that most help us refresh together.
  • Annually: A retreat in November to review the past year and plan for the upcoming year has become a valuable ritual for us. Also, on our anniversary in late December we spend the day together at Barnes and Noble, pick a good movie to watch in a theatre followed by dinner at a good restaurant.
No doubt you as a couple have a number of things you DO together to maintain your sense of commitment and connection. If so, please leave some comments here so that others might benefit. If not, feel free to borrow some ideas from our playbook or ones that show up in comments.

Take some time during this week to build or reinforce some healthy marriage rituals. It's never a bad idea to try some good ideas -- if you both agree.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Read 2/2/10 News-Sun article on dipping marriage rates in Clark, Champaign counties, Ohio.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Marriage Fitness in 2010

(Article submitted to Xenia-Gazette)

Many people start the New Year with ambitious resolutions. "I'm going to lose 40 pounds this year." "I'm going to watch less television." "I'm going to save for a Caribbean cruise." There is nothing like starting with a fresh pad of time and a bit of optimism to envision a more positive year than the one just ended.

A pastor friend, Grant Edwards, has observed that many well-intentioned resolutions are external in nature. They focus on that which is visible to others and that brings a sense of outer fulfillment. But what about the inside? Is it possible to look good on the outside but to have an embarrassing mess on the inside?

Jesus observed this flaw in the Pharisees when he said: "You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." (Matthew 23: 25-26)

Through the mechanism of appearance management we can present a positive front--that which looks good, but with a bit of probing and looking deeper, there is no continuity between inner and outer.

We observe this with many marriage relationships. Couples who appear to have it together surprise us with statements like, "If you only knew what we were like when no one is looking." Sounds like the script for a Dateline murder mystery!

As Valentine's Day and National Marriage Week approach this February, how about taking a truthful and realistic look at the inner workings of your marriage or relationship? This is possible through an online tool, The Couple Checkup. For $29.95 (the cost of an oil change) you can select and complete one of three versions at dating, engaged or married. Much like a thorough physical exam, you will receive a detailed report that highlights your strengths and growth edges in a dozen or so categories.

How about a resolution that addresses marriage fitness in 2010? Start with The Couple Checkup and then commit to developing habits that remedy relational growth edges. Work on inner virtues like love, respect, patience, gentleness, listening and serving. If your Couple Checkup reveals serious deficits, seek out resources such as marriage classes, workshops, retreats, mentoring, coaching or counseling.

So your marriage is already healthy? What can you commit to in order to sustain and increase marriage health? Each year Ronda and I set objectives and goals that help us experience marriage health and vibrancy. We have learned that marriage fitness--like physical fitness--doesn't just happen. We have to work at it and hold each other accountable, even after 31 years.

Would you like for your marriage or relationship to be healthier by this time next year? Include a reasonable resolution that will enrich and deepen your marriage--from the inside out.