As a staff member of NCU and an attendee of Northwood Christian Church, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Keith Potter’s Marriage Café. I must say, both my husband and I were extremely blessed by this workshop and have both been challenged and encouraged in the practical applications that Dr. Potter shared with us.
As I looked around the sanctuary at the start of the seminar, I realized that there were couples who had just begun dating to couples who had been married for well over 50 years. My husband, Josh, and I were somewhere in-between. We have been married for over seven years, and we are currently expecting our third child. Although both of us would say that we have a strong marriage and are very happy, I think that we would also say there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to mastering communication skills.
To begin the workshop, Dr. Potter explained, “It’s easier to love someone a lot than to love someone well.” The topics covered over the next day and a half would primarily focus on learning how to love well. Topics included: gender differences in communication, conflict, honesty, the power of words, and nonverbal communication. Although I would love to share about each of the topics, I’ll highlight a few of my favorite things that Dr. Potter shared.
“Marriage is about servant hood.” Dr. Potter explained that Ephesians 5 presents a picture of what a marriage should look like. A woman is called to serve her husband, and a husband is called to serve his wife. He further explained that one of the best ways to do this is to allow your spouse to find their voice and to express their hopes and dreams, so that you can serve each other in a way that helps your spouse’s hopes and dreams to be fulfilled. Now one thing that is extremely important is noting the difference between a hope and an expectation. Expectations always lead to disappointment, so if you have a list of things that you expect your spouse to fulfill, then you should shred that list, and start over by having a conversation about your hopes and dreams.
“Conflict isn’t always bad.” Dr. Potter emphasized that the majority of relationships encounter conflict. Conflict isn’t necessarily bad, but couples need to remember the ultimate goal. According to Dr. Potter, the ultimate goal in a conflict isn’t to come to an agreement or to be right. “The ultimate goal in conflict is understanding, which requires active listening; acceptance which requires realism and grace; and respect, which requires humility towards God and towards your spouse.”
“Words and actions matter.” Just as the tone of your voice, volume and choice of words matter, so do your facial expressions, postures, gestures, actions and inactions. It is important to understand that your verbal and non-verbal language is powerful. In Dr. Potter’s materials, he highlighted a quote from Mother Theresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.”
Through the entire workshop, I couldn’t help but think what an honor it is to be blessed with an amazing person that I can share the rest of my life with, and what a privilege it is to serve him and to continue to learn more and more every day how to love him well.
Director of Admissions