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Photo: Some of Attendees at the 2011 Family Ministries Retreat

            After icebreakers on Friday evening, couples entered into an interactive phase of finding out how well they really know their spouse by answering 20 questions. The result: the men struggled to get as many questions right as they could, but the women easily came up with the answers. Three women answered all the questions correctly and received prizes.

            Steve Cassimy, Greater New York Conference family ministries director, and his wife, Marilyn, the facilitators for the entire weekend, focused on the development of communication skills in marriage. A variety of strategies were utilized to enrich the bonds of love between spouses and to spend time communicating with God through fervent prayer. The couples will likely remember the many “knee talks” and “eye-ball to eye-ball” conversations they had throughout the weekend. Each conversation ended with couples praying together.

            “Your Spouse as a Gift,” was the topic that Conrad White, pastor of the Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brooklyn, New York, chose to use to begin the Sabbath morning devotion. The Cassimys complimented his homily with the segment “Celebrate your Marriage.” There were calls to celebrate not only on anniversaries, but also quarterly, by getting away for a weekend; monthly, by spending an entire day alone together, weekly, by setting aside one evening per week to spend together, and daily, by giving 30 minutes of undivided, loving attention to each other.

            Such topics as “What Can Kill Your Marriage?” “What Factors Affect Love and Communication in a Relationship?” “How Can I Improve My Marriage?” and “What Is the Role of Sex in Marriage?” dominated the Sabbath day before the movies Fire Proof and Facing the Giants were viewed by the couples in the evening.

            The renewal of vows was the highlight on Sunday, following a devotion presented by Walix Valcin, a teacher at Greater New York Academy. The Cassimy’s led out in group discussions with Steve Cassimy working with the men and Marilyn Cassimy working with the women.

            “My wife and I felt that this was such a beautiful seminar because it gave us plenty of practical strategies and tips to make our love better," says a young couple whose marriage was only two years young. A husband and wife seasoned with 20-plus years of marriage exclaimed: “After being married for so many years, the tendency for 'oldies' is to take each other for granted. We’ve become so caught up in the routine of making ends meet that we don't attend to our intimate life’s needs, and you know we suffer a lot for it. This weekend was for both of us, a revival of our love life, and it made us feel good. We call this workshop an ‘intimate crusade’ and the church needs more of it.”

            Combined, these two intergenerational commentaries captured the spirit of the Greater New York Conference Marriage Enrichment Retreat.

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By Chelston Lee, Communication Advisory Committee member, Greater New York Conference

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