Eight months into their marriage, Kimberley Caines-Best and Joseph Best flew to Philadelphia for a retreat for Christian couples. The same seminar, Weekend to Remember, is now on here as part of International Marriage Week, which began on Thursday. Below, Mr Best and his bride share how their experience gave them tools for better communication, resolving conflict and navigating the dynamics of a blended family.
Q: How did you learn about Weekend to Remember and what prompted you to go?
A: We learnt about the marriage weekend from family friends who had attended and actually gifted us a registration to attend as one of our wedding gifts. The weekends take place all over the US so we found a city, Philadelphia, and dates that were convenient for us and attended. It is exciting that Weekend To Remember is coming to Bermuda, as it is a great opportunity for local couples to attend as well.
Q: What was your first impression? What kinds of activities and seminars did you take part in?
A: Admittedly, we did not know what to expect but the conference was very well organised and there were a lot of people — approximately 500 from all over. We attended large group sessions that dealt with a range of topics including communication, resolving conflict, the purpose of marriage as well as blended family dynamics, which we are interested in given that we are a blended family. We liked that there weren’t small groups but rather large group sessions where couples could attend to learn together; there was no pressure to have to share about your own marriage, which we quite liked.
Q: What did you learn about yourselves and each other?
A: That marriage is a process and a couple is either growing together or growing apart. There are many things that can contribute to a couple growing apart such as “busyness”. A couple has to be intentional to make time for one another to grow together. We also learnt that we have very different communication styles and we have to be mindful of that when we communicate with one another. There were also discussions about blended family dynamics and the reality that more families today are blended and the challenges that can exist are different from those of a non-blended family.
Q: What part has God played in your marriage so far? Did you feel this dependence on God in your marriage was strengthened at Weekend to Remember?
A: It is always a good reminder to remember that God is interested in one’s marriage — the success of it and the importance of seeking God in marriage. God is interested in what we deem to be the big and small relational issues of our lives. We are grateful to have some amazing couple friends who have encouraged us on our journey.
Q: What was the most memorable part of the weekend for you? How is your marriage and how you interact with one another better or different since the event?
A: The memorable part is the range of couples who attended; those who were engaged/pre-married, had been married for two months (we had been married for eight months when we attended) all the way to 48 years! So the investment in marriage is not just for newlyweds — it is for all seasons and stages of marriage. There is a date night during the second evening of the conference so we quite enjoyed having the time to connect. We also enjoyed just getting away for the weekend to focus on us. We quite enjoyed the facilitators who were candid about their own marriage journeys. It was nice to learn that some things we face are not unique to us. Our marriage is better because we try to implement what we have learnt; we are not perfect but it is progress that we seek not perfection
Q: Which of the tools or resources was most valuable?
A: I love books so I loved the resource centre where we were able to purchase a variety of books on an array of topics. I actually just finished one of the books that we purchased and it was quite timely. We also received a workbook and that was helpful for us to concentrate on what was being talked about without having to take notes. Everything that was discussed was in one handy place for us to refer to later. The topics covered addressed many issues so it was nice to know that the organisers were mindful of the diversity of couples and families.
Q: Is there any advice you would pass on to newly married Christian couples?
A: Enjoy the process of learning to grow together in your new season of togetherness. Find time to invest in yourself and your marriage by doing a course like this regularly, and have regular date nights and remain intentional about growing together despite the busyness of life.
• International Marriage Week runs through Valentine’s Day. For more information: 293-2903 or email@example.com