Here are the Intimate Encounters chapters and resources.
- Chapter 1: Assess Your Marriage Intimacy
- Chapter 2: What Do We Really Need from Each Other?
- Chapter 3: What's Filling Your Emotional Cup?
- Chapter 4: Healing Hurts through Confession and Forgiveness
- Chapter 5: Blend Four ingredients for Marital Closeness
- Chapter 6: Be Free from Fear
- Chapter 7: Study Your Family Tree
- Chapter 8: Be Free for Emotional Closeness
- Chapter 9: Be Free from Marital Games
- Chapter 10: Understand the Pain and Potential of Intimacy Needs
- Chapter 11: Leave your Father and Mother
- Chapter 12: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
- Chapter 13: Break Free from Unhealthy Thinking
- Chapter 14: Establish a Vision for your Marriage and Family
- Chapter 15: Walking Together through the *Stages of Marriage Intimacy
- Chapter 16: Become Friends, Lovers and Saints through Intimacy Disciplines
Assess Your Marriage Intimacy
- Important to Assess – examples: annual physical, business metrics, sports tryouts
- We are not just physical creatures, three dimensional life (Spiritual, Emotional, Physical) – Physical includes sex as well as meeting physical needs, work, etc
- Which dimensions do we do well? How can we improve?
- Why are some dimensions easier for us than others? What have we seen most?
- Healthy marriages are built on the foundation of individuals who know how to love well in each dimension of relationships.
- How are you doing? Can you improve? (Yes) Will you ever be perfect? (No)
- If your spouse knew you wanted to learn ways to remove aloneness, what difference would that make in your commitment to one another?
Small Group Questions
- Would you tell us how you met your spouse? (Small Group Facilitator: Careful to not let this take the entire Small Group Time)
- What new thought or insight did you discover about your marriage or yourself after completing chapter 1?
- Why is it more difficult for some people to develop soul / friendship and spiritual / fellowship than the physical / sexual dimension?
- How has your spouse met one of your needs in the past week (physical, friendship, or spiritual)?
- What are some ideas you have about how to increase intimacy in 1 of the 3 dimensions?
- What was one positive impression you had after your first Marriage Staff Meeting?
- Have you completed the introductory pages xiii and xiv and discussed them as a couple?
- Why do you feel those pages are important for the study you are beginning?
- What are some of the emotions you felt in the weeks prior to this discussion relative to this study and your participation? It is OK to be honest; in fact, it is greatly encouraged.
What Do We Really Need from Each Other?
- No spouse can meet every need perfectly all the time, but we can make progress
- Each of us can discover our spouse’s priority needs and how to meet that need
- We can learn to communicate maximum intimacy and dispel some aloneness
- As in “Personal Goals on page xiv, having an answer for your “deepest desire for your marriage and expressing it to your spouse, builds hope for the future
- Knowing our spouse’s top 3 of the 10 is important
- Knowing how our spouse hopes those needs will be met is more important
- Just knowing the name of our spouses needs may not be enough
- It is not selfish to tell your spouse what you need and how you would like to have that need met any more than sharing your favorite meal, vacation, or gift
- Demanding that your spouse meet the need as you described it is wrong
- Trusting God to meet your needs His way and in His time is faith
- If want to use scripture memory: John 13: 34 – 35
- You meet one another’s physical needs: shelter, clothing, food, house, etc;
- God wants to use each of you to meet emotional and spiritual needs too
Small Group Questions
- Would you tell the story of your engagement? (Small Group Facilitator – be aware of the time)
- Did you realize before this study that you have the Ten Relational Needs (see page 12)?
- Do you ever outgrow these needs?
- What feeling do you have when you think of having these needs? (i.e., Weakness? OK with it? Selfishness? Vulnerability? Relieved?)
- What would you consider to be a healthy attitude about being “needy?
- How similar were your needs compared to your partner’s?
- How well did you know your partner’s Relational Needs?
- Were you able to meet any of your partner’s needs this week?
- How did meeting your partner’s needs make you feel?
- Did you experience receiving from your partner in the area of your needs?
- How did that feel?
- How could we help each other identify needs?
- In what other relationships might recognizing needs be helpful?
What's Filling Your Emotional Cup?
Introduction to the principle of Emotional Capacity – we can hold only so much negative emotion
- Unmet needs lead to hurt and loss
- Pain in human relationships is inevitable
- As more hurt and loss are experienced, we react from a "full cup of negative emotions
- Our best strategy is to learn and practice what to do when hurt happens
- TRUE CONFESSION - without rationalizing or blaming, admit to God how you have hurt your marriage and your spouse. Ask Him for forgiveness – List 1
- True Comfort – without minimizing your pain, admit List 2 to God asking for His comfort and care to replace the pain and aloneness you have felt
- Each list should be taken to God for His perspective, comfort, and initial healing
- The symptoms of a full cup (Pages 22, 23) are typical and add to the problem
- If you want to use scripture memory: Genesis 2:18
- DO NOT SHARE EITHER OF YOUR LISTS WITH YOUR SPOUSE THIS WEEK – WAIT
Small Group Questions
- From Chapter 3 in the Intimate Encounters book, how would you feel if you were Jay in scenario number 1?
- How would you feel if you were Laura?
- What thoughts might be going through your head?
- What emotions might be filling your emotional cup?
- What needs might be going unmet? (See Top Ten Needs list, p. 12)
- How do my displayed symptoms (from page 22 and 23) play a role in hurting my spouse leaving him/her alone? (Example: My escaping into work hurts my partner by leaving him/her alone too much with too much responsibility to carry without me???)
- What feelings might my spouse experience? (Example: As I escape to work, my spouse may feel lonely, insecure, or abandoned.)
- How would the "fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 play a roll in connecting us to our partner and building intimacy?
(If Time Permits) - Ask the same questions for scenarios #2 and #3.
- What could each of these couples have done differently in order to increase intimacy and decrease aloneness?
- Encourage couples to get help, as needed, using effective, trusted resources.
Healing Hurts through Confession and Forgiveness
- If the work done on the lists in Chapter 3 was done in connection with God, each spouse has taken responsibility for those things that hurt the other
- The reason time is given to deal with both the List 1 (Unresolved Guilt) and List 2 (Unresolved Pain) is to give each individual time with God to understand God's love expressed in forgiveness for List 1 and comfort for List 2
- A tender heart is helpful when it comes to being willing to now take responsibility for hurtful actions in a meeting with the one whose heart was hurt
- Hopefully the answer to the Show Empathy question on page 32 is "Yes
- Agree with God and your spouse about your wrongdoing (NOT YOUR SPOUSE'S!) and remember that you have not only hurt your spouse with your sin, but God as well.
- If you want to use scripture memory: Ephesians 4:31-32
- Learning to choose forgiveness even when you don't feel like it and tearing up your list—the hurts must be forgiven just as God has forgiven you (he doesn't continue to hold our sin against us—it is forgiven once for all time!)
- Forgiving another person is a form of stewardship – Christ gave me forgiveness; now I have the privilege and responsibility to give it away, even before being asked
- As confessions are made using List 1 – realize your spouse may have never done or seldom done this. Please do not judge sincerity of the confession
- Realistically, will your spouse hurt you again in the same or similar ways? Will you possibly hurt your spouse? Yes, but less often and by God's grace will take responsibility and ask forgiveness more quickly. Some things must never happen again…adultery, abuse, etc.
Small Group Questions
- Take 1-2 minutes and write in the margin of your book on page 35 or 36 some words that describe your Marriage Staff Meeting.
- Share with the group some of the words you wrote down that characterize your Marriage Staff Meeting.
- Even if you did not complete all you hoped of the exercise, do you see the value and why or why not?
- What can happen if you apologize for an offense before taking personal responsibility for it?
- Why is it important to try to view how you hurt your spouse through his/her eyes?
- What happens when you view your offensive behavior through God's eyes?
- What were your feelings after the confession / forgiveness exercise?
- Since Godly sorrow brings repentance (change), name one area that you anticipate God will change in your life.
- How can you and your spouse keep short accounts with each other in the future so you don't "…let the sun go down on your anger after hurt has occurred? (Ephesians 4:26)
- If couples get "stuck here and can't or won't move into confession and forgiveness, encourage them to get help along with continuing IE or instead of continuing with IE. See the pastor or other trusted source for referrals and recommendations.
Blend Four Ingredients for Marital Closeness
- Give plenty of suggestions for spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy (pg 39)
- Encourage couples to continue or start praying together; if children – with/for them too; even praying as a couple over kids while kids sleep –quietly, of course
- If want help with date ideas and conversation starters, sign up for the 52-Week Plan:
- Like a good recipe, marriage closeness includes great ingredients - these four ingredients are essential:
- Affectionate Caring – heavy emphasis on Top Ten, Each top 3, how to
- Vulnerable Communication – we've been trying to enhance this, MSM
- Joint Accomplishment – Doing the IE class, sacrificially involved in what interests the other without playing the martyr
- Mutual Giving (putting your spouse before yourself). This is when it gets fun; as the two individuals give to meet the needs of the other without reservation or strings attached. This is the way Jesus loves but is now flowing through each to the other. Much of the time this kind of love is one-way. When it happens both ways at the same time – Mutual Giving!
- The "extra assignments (Pages 45 – 48) are practical application of the chapter concepts and can also be used as Next Steps for couples after IE class.
Small Group Questions
- Do you think these ingredients could/should be added in order?
- How does meeting some of the Top Ten Relational Needs help build Affectionate Caring into your marriage?
- Why is Affectionate Caring important? When you don't at least attempt to meet the needs of your spouse, what does that communicate to him/her?
- In what ways has Vulnerable Communication been enhanced through this IE study?
- When is the best (or worst) time for you to Vulnerably Communicate with your spouse?
- What are some examples of Joint Accomplishment you and your spouse have done before and during this IE study?
- What are some things you could do together in the future? What fun things? What projects?
- What does the "mutual" in Mutual Giving imply about this ingredient?
- How would the atmosphere of your home change if you and your spouse practiced Mutual Giving?
- What impact would any or all of these ingredients have on others, potentially?
- How does the recipe currently being experienced in your home/marriage need to change? How is it changing?
Be Free from Fear
- Huge!!! Look to God as our source of help and The One who ultimately meets all our needs as He chooses. God does not meet all our needs by Himself. He gives us the responsibility and privilege to meet the needs of others, as well as, the ability to meet some of our own.
- He wants us to entrust our spouse to Him. He designed us to remove some of their aloneness, rather than nagging or demanding that our spouse meet our needs or change into the person we think they should.(pg 51).
- Why call the chapter – "Being Free from Fear? When each spouse knows that the other is trusting God - not expecting the spouse to meet all needs - it frees each to be less apprehensive about the inability to meet all our spouse's needs - obviously, we can't. We aren't God.
- Sharing the truth about our needs is healthy. Giving to meet our spouse's needs is a means of communicating love.
- The Truth is that we can demand all we want, but we should not even try to make the other person meet our needs. In fact, if spouses feel manipulated or controlled by our attempts to take the resource to meet our needs, they feel used, and we remain alone. "Needs demanded result in needs unmet and spouses unfulfilled."
- Real Mutual Giving – We keep the pressure off the marriage and the "fear factor" low, when each spouse is giving to meet the needs of the other rather than taking. Instead of "two ticks and no dog" (takers), we have two lovers giving to each other from the unlimited resources of God's supply.
- Healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships diagram (pg 52) and more emphasis on "mutual giving. God is not side-lined but essential to the life of each spouse. After all, it is His love we are giving away. I John 4:19
- Great way to foster Vulnerable Communication (Ch. 5) - "thanks/wish list,
- If want to include scripture memory: Philippians 2:3-4; page 57 in IE workbook
- Again – extra homework may be too much: focus on Protection and Honor in the Staff Meeting with practical suggestions
Small Group Questions
- Would you tell the group about an area in your marriage where you are seeing progress? What is making the difference?
- Can your spouse meet all your needs? Can you meet all of his/hers?
- Describe what a relationship looks like where all the expectations (demands) are on the other spouse to meet all the needs.
- Describe a relationship where expectations (hopes) are on God to meet needs, but we can, at least, discuss our hopes and needs as a couple?
- What are the major differences between the Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships diagrammed on page 52 in your IE workbook?
- Would you tell the group one or two things from your "Thanks List on page 58? Please make sure it is OK with your spouse first.
- In what ways is using the "Thanks/Wish Lists" exercise a wise way to meet more emotional needs and, potentially, avoid future problems?
- Describe one way you are better at showing love to your spouse, family, and others today after working through the first 6 chapters in this workbook. (It is possible that you don't need to improve because God is loving well through you already. If that is true, praise the Lord for that blessing.)
Study Your Family Tree
- The destructive nature of growing up with pressure to perform in order to be loved may have shaped not only our view of relationships with people but also with God
- If we are used to receiving love (demonstrations of care and attention) on the basis of our performance (athletics, academics, looks, etc) then believing God could love us unconditionally may be a stretch (difficult to believe)
- For many, Jesus is the first one to show unconditional love
- Experiencing Unconditional Love—understanding that our image of God may have been incorrectly shaped by our image of our parents.
- If want to include scripture memory: Lamentations 3: 22-23; page 69 in IE book
- Extra Assignment: May be too much: focus on Enjoyment and Exalting with practical suggestions
Small Group Questions
(Please refer to the Ten Intimacy Needs list on page 12 as you answer these questions. Consider the answers to these questions relative to the first 16 years - or so - of your life.)
- In what ways did your family (particularly your parents) show that they accepted you even when you failed at something you were trying to do?
- How was affection shown in your family? Lots of appropriate words and touch, or not?
- When you were hurt by a loss or disappointment, who comforted you?
- Did you feel secure at home during your childhood years? Why or why not?
- Who really knew you and showed love in a way that helped you feel important and hopeful?
- What were some of your Dad's strengths? Your Mom's strengths?
- We received a relationship heritage from our family. How would you describe the relationship heritage passed down by your family of origin to you? (Great, average, somewhat healthy, somewhat dysfunctional, nothing I would want to pass down, loving and full of happy times, etc.)
- Respond to this statement: "Regardless of the relationship heritage a person received, he/she can heal from it, learn from it, and improve upon it by the grace of God.
- How important is it to you that marriage and parenting help and hope be offered to your community, your family, and yourself personally?
Note: Due to the tsunami of pain in our modern relationship culture, many have deep wounds that have not yet been healed. Chapters 10-12 in this IE workbook are targeted to help in the identification and healing process.
Be Free for Emotional Closeness
I, Dave Lewis, have a theory: romantic love or "falling in love with a person feels so wonderful because the one who falls believes strongly that the object of this love may be the perfect person to share life, return love, become best friends, satisfy sexually, and grow into the soul-mate for which we long.
- Potentially, in our marriage, all bridges of relationships will be crossed – friendship, fellowship, physical, sexual.
- With that said, who helps us know what true love, great friendships, emotional closeness, and sharing spiritually actually involves or even what these things are?
- This chapter helps us learn about increasing intimacy instead of just coping; namely, Emotional Responding instead of responding with Facts/Reasons, Criticism, Complaints or Neglect.
- Based on the relational healing that has occurred, we want you to know how to develop true intimacy.
- How helpful it would be to see situations through your spouse's eyes, to know how to meet emotionally-charged statements with proper, healthy emotion and loving responses!
- What a difference it would make to see that great conversations with active listening and proper responses remove aloneness and increase intimacy.
- Also, if you have time try to focus on the extra work related to Courting and Respect.
- Philippians 3:10 is the memory verse for Chapter 8.
- Page 82 and the feeling faces are great discussion starters by simply asking, "Which of these or pick 3 faces that indicate emotions you've felt today? "If appropriate, would you tell me the events that brought out these emotions?
- Page 88 on "Dating your Spouse is a very important discipline to establish. Give yourself time to be alone with your spouse to listen, ask questions, use the 52-Week Plan or other date night ideas. (www.marriedpeople.org, www.loveishere.com )
Small Group Questions
- Reviewing the "Unhealthy Responses on pages 79 and 80, identify one or two of them that you use occasionally.
- Do you know who taught you to respond that way?
- In what ways are these 4 unhealthy responses... unhealthy?
- What does Romans 12:15 say about how to respond when emotion is revealed in conversation or you identify sadness or joy in circumstances?
- Read Proverbs 15:1 and James 1:19 in your group. How would applying these passages reduce the amount of fear and aloneness in relationships?
- Describe why you believe the IE material makes such a big deal about learning to respond properly to emotion as it relates to the title of this chapter: Be Free for Emotional Closeness.
- How do the principles we've learned and experienced so far in IE help make appropriate emotional responses more probable in the future? Or, how does the condition of a person's heart (emotional capacity cup) directly relate to the words and attitudes expressed?
- Recall a time when your spouse responded well to you and helped you feel free for emotional closeness.
- Think of a happy childhood memory. Turn to your spouse and share that event (husband first) with your partner. Let your partner respond with encouraging words and gestures of support.
- Think of a painful childhood memory. Turn to your spouse (wife first), and share that event with your partner. Let your partner respond with comforting words and gestures. Now switch roles.
Be Free from Marital Games
When healthy disciplines and loving ways are practiced consistently, intimacy needs are consistently, not perfectly, met.
- However, as the needs are unmet over extended periods of time, the hurt we feel may become justification for wrong responses that in turn hurt our spouse.
- These patterns usually result from and deepen the tendency to poorly communicate needs. Our cup / emotional capacity then fills with more negative emotions.
- Each of us may attempt to manipulate our spouse to get our needs met, but these "marital games we play may get the desired activity we want from our spouse, but many times the motive will not be from love but from frustration.
- Thus, we are not really satisfied because the action we "forced was not done from loving motives.
- Some of the games we play include but are not limited to the following:
Complainer vs. Procrastinator Nothing's Wrong Game The Blame Game Performer vs. "Yes, but" Outdone vs. Sweet Martyr Frustrated vs. Never Enough
- In Chapter 9 "Be Free from Marital Games you will review the games, the needs addressed, and how to stop the game with a healthy practice of sharing needs vulnerably.
- Extra homework, if time allows, on Intimacy is located at the end of the chapter.
- Memory Work is from Psalm 34:8-10 helping us know God supplies our needs.
- Remember that long-term games are usually not ended over night. Trust God for His provision and His love even as each spouse learns to speak the truth in love, reveal needs vulnerably, and patiently wait for the spouse (you, too) to grow in a new habit of communicating love versus playing marital games.
Small Group Questions
- Let us know about progress you are making in your marriage.
- What "marital games did you see your parents play?
- What games do you play in your marriage?
- What does it take for you to stop playing games?
- How can learning to "speak the truth in love help stop marital games?
- Why do we feel more pain from unmet needs in marriage than in any other relationship?
- What is one of your spouse's intimacy needs and give an example of how you could meet it?
- How does your husband or wife feel or act when that intimacy need is met?
- What are some practical ways you can meet your partner's intimacy needs more effectively in the future?
- (Optional - Use only if group is close enough to handle hearing suggestions from one another.) Describe a situation (not too personal) where you play one of the marital games. Can you as a group help this couple discover a way to stop the game, meet some emotional needs more appropriately, and build intimacy?
Understand the Pain and Potential of Intimacy Needs
Review of the 10 needs, and a helpful diagram of what happens when needs are or are not met (pg 117).
- As you review the Ten Intimacy Needs and describe in your workbook how these were met or not met in your childhood, you may experience a wide range of emotion.
- The chart on page 117 is not meant to be an all-inclusive, "everyone-has-to-behave-this-way" kind of resource. The chart shows trends and tendencies.
- Having all intimacy needs met consistently during childhood does not mean a person will have no "Faulty Thinking, "Painful Feelings, "Unproductive Behaviors, or "Possible Painful Outcomes. Likewise, having missed intimacy needs doesn't doom a child to an unchangeable fate.
- Our God is mighty to save and redeem lives such as ours, whether needs were met or not.
- You will notice, however, that unmet physical needs make the human body more susceptible to disease, to weakness, to fatigue, and even death.
- In this way, a soul that goes without intimacy will be susceptible to cultural diseases of dysfunctional relationships, addictive behaviors, and may struggle with aloneness attempting unsuccessfully to satisfy the need for intimacy.
- When we recognize needs (met or unmet) we become better equipped to deal with life from a powerful position as a child of God with access to His love and comfort.
- You and your spouse are encouraged to be vulnerable and make good eye contact as you go through the Marriage Staff Meeting on pages 121-122.
- As time allows, focus on Affirmation & Security in the extra homework for Chapter 10.
- Psalm 28:6-9 and Matthew 10:8b are the passages of scripture for this chapter.
Small Group Questions
- Please let us know about progress you are making in your marriage.
- Please examine the chart on page 117. Describe whether or not you think it is very accurate, somewhat accurate, not very accurate, not accurate at all. Explain why you chose the response.
- Can a person not have intimacy needs met at home and still live a full, abundant life? How?
- Read Psalm 127:10 and compare the verse to the "Possible Outcomes" on the chart.
- Examine page 120 and the 3 questions at the top. Did you see a connection in your own experience between what you missed and what you classify as priority needs today? What if you got those needs met early in life, might that also make them a priority through life?
- What are some things you feel you missed growing up?
- Has not having those needs met impacted current or past relationships?
- What do people do with the hurt from past relationships including from home of origin?
- Consider: KW - These are the initials of a lady I knew years ago. As a 30+ year old lady she admitted that she had all her emotional needs met regularly (not perfectly). I asked her if that meant she lived a perfect life.
- What do you believe her response was?
- What is the advantage of living in a home where love is clearly communicated? What is the disadvantage when years pass before a person actually feels loved by another human being?
- Where does Christ fit into the healing process of dealing with past pain?
- Where does He fit into your life and the healing of your life's past pain?
Leave your Father and Mother
You have to leave before you can cleave! Understanding what needs went unmet in childhood (list of 30 needs on pgs 129-131) and of course, Genograms.
- In Genesis 2:24 there seems to be an order mentioned in the process of establishing a marriage: leaving parents, cleaving to spouse, becoming one flesh.
- Becoming one flesh with a spouse would be difficult if I am not free to do so.
- Many studies have shown that adults who have not "left home have trouble becoming one with a spouse. Physical development changed a child to an adult but soul development may be stunted leaving a child in an adult body.
- Scripture is clear to teach us to have no other gods before us controlling our behavior, emotions, and thoughts. Other gods may not be gold idols but may be other people.
- When we allow others to control us, we are in a sense having "other gods.
- Only God loves us unconditionally enough to assume and use the role of God for His glory and our good. Others (even we ourselves) don't make very good gods.
- The genograms may be a bit confusing but the one of page 134 is a sample, the wife is to use the one on page 135 placing a line and a circle below the long line connecting her father and mother. The top two sets of squares and circles are her grandparents.
- The genogram on page 136 is for the husband to use as he maps the family history.
- The genogram is a visual of the relationship styles in a family tree.
- Note the diagram symbols shown in the legends: divorce, death, etc.
- On page 137, the paragraph may turn into a letter (not to be mailed) to express the pain you may have felt and/or the joy you may experience. He wants you to honestly express either or both. This is similar to "Four Questions for Two Lists suggested as a tool to help in Chapters 3 and 4.
- As you read the directions for the Marriage Staff Meeting on page 138, please note the suggestions given to enhance your ability to comfort and encourage your spouse.
- I admit that hearing about my spouse's lack of intimate relationships as a child hurt me and made me mad, but anger is not the best way to help…then or now.
- Employ the skills from Chapter 8 – Proper Emotional Responding/Be Free for Emotional Closeness and help your spouse receive the comfort they need to deal with losses.
- Extra Work on pages 138 focuses on Leadership and Happiness with practical suggestions, as time allows or you can use these "extra sessions as follow up after IE.
- Scripture Memory: Genesis 2:24 is excellent for this chapter.
(Will need a flip chart or white board for this exercise)
- Celebrate progress in relationships: Would you tell the group a story about progress you are making?
- After doing the exercise on the 30 intimacy needs on pages 129-131, how did it make you feel and why? (Ex: surprised, grateful, disappointed, etc.)
- Name one of the intimacy needs that was met consistently, for which you are grateful. Describe how one or both of your parents met it. How does it make a difference in your marriage now? Does it?
- Give an example of one of the intimacy needs that was not met and is still important to you.
- Share what your genogram looks like with the group. Draw it and explain.
- What did you learn about yourself from your genogram?
- What did you learn about your family?
- What did you learn about the family your parents grew up in?
- What needs were met (or not met) in your parents lives when they were growing up? What were the lines that connected them to your grandparents? Any close, surface, enmeshed, conflict, or other types?
- How did this probably influence their actions when raising you?
- Respond to this statement: Unmet needs don't excuse a person's sinful or harmful behavior but may explain which behaviors became habits in life.
- If time allows, let a few people show their genograms to the group.
- Understand that the issues unearthed in this chapter may require further attention. See the church staff for recommendations of next steps.
- Why do we need Jesus' love so much in our personal life, married life, family life, and every other area of life?
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Facing the hurt, understanding the truth and forgiving the offender (even when you don't want to—see pg 153!). Also, Therapeutic Letter Writing and the idea that you may need to periodically repeat the Confession-Forgiveness exercises.
- Having prepared your heart for this chapter by paying adequate attention to the principles of the previous chapters (especially, chapters 10 and 11, 3 and 4) is key.
- Looking back into the past is not to get people to live there but to visit long enough to identify issues that have lingered into the present and may cripple the future if not healed.
- Looking back into the past and dealing with relationships with parents is not to dishonor them but to honor them. Exodus 20:12 relates the 5th of the 10 Commandments.
- Would your allowing unhealed issues from your parents to impact negatively your marriage, parenting, friendships, professional, and extended-family relationships honor your parents? NO!
- Healing the past hurts, granting forgiveness, blessing your parents, and appreciating any and all the good they did for you would allow you to not only be free from improper control but become free to give a new legacy to those in your sphere of influence.
- You would honor your parents in God's eyes whether they are living or dead, whether they know it or not, and whether they care or not. You have honored them and God and given others an example of love.
- Scripture Memory: Isaiah 61:1-3 and Romans 12:15 work well in Chapter 12
- Two Marriage Staff Meetings: pages 150 and 154/155 – May need extended time.
Small Group Questions
- Optional: Others want to share their genogram.
- What are the benefits of becoming free of childhood hurts?
- How does blaming others delay the mourning process?
- Give an example of freedom that you've experienced in an area of your life that was once a childhood hurt.
- What was a defining moment for you in the process of facing the hurt, mourning the hurt, understanding the truth, and forgiving the offender?
- What is one positive way your spouse supported you as you went through this process?
- What new thoughts or feelings do you have about forgiveness?
- Save the final 10 minutes of the Small Group Time to pray thanking God for His power, love, and forgiveness and asking for His wisdom, power, and Holy Spirit to help each person to experience even more freedom in Christ.
Break Free from Unhealthy Thinking
Polarizing, Magnifying, Personalizing, Generalizing, Emotional Reasoning, and Minimizing (with great suggestions for helping you overcome each!)
- Similar to Chapter 9 in style this chapter deals with our own unhealthy thinking patterns.
- The six named thinking patterns are identified and you will assess to see which, if any, fit your style.
- Each fall into a sequence: A – Activating event, B – Belief system or self-talk, C – Consequences are the responses generated in our A-B combinations in life – daily
- We can do little to change the A, especially those generated from others, but we can make choices to minimize the impact of some of the A's by not watching, going, reading, allowing certain things that we know activate poor responses in us
- The B or Belief system is the big-ticket item we've been addressing in this workbook so far. In other words, what do you believe about God, yourself, your spouse, relationships, truth, love, etc. These have been challenged and by God's grace changed to more accurate, biblical views.
- Note the D represents Disputing untruths. You have been.
- E - represents Enjoying more positive consequences/responses to the A's in life.
- Let me simplify this chapter. If you get lost in the labels, ask yourself this one simple question: What in my life brings out feelings and responses from me, that are not Christ-like and loving?
- When you identify these things or people or situations, then you assess your improper responses; you'll be able to start making the changes needed to give a more appropriate God-honoring response.
- As you deal with the hurt and guilt from your past, you'll find that you have more margin in your soul/heart to "take stuff from others, process it well, then give a better response than before. When you are full of poison and get shaken, the cup spills out the poison onto others, but when the cup has room for the filling of God's Spirit, then you can allow Him to respond in love. What a blessing! God is in control rather than another person pushing your buttons.
- Scripture Memory: 2 Corinthians 10:5 is great for Chapter 13. Philippians 4:8 is too.
Small Group Questions
- Which types of unhealthy thinking patterns did you see in your home of origin?
- How have those patterns influenced your own thinking and conclusions about truth?
- What are some lies (Stinkin'-Thinkin') you believed in past years about God, self, others, marriage, or what constitutes real success in life?
- How did you discover your thinking was wrong?
- How do lies generate behaviors that may become destructive to self and others?
- For example, what destructive behaviors might arise in those who believe that a "successful life is found in having more money, power, or beauty than others?
- What truths have you learned to counter the lies you previously accepted as truth?
- What differences have been made in your life by accepting the truth to replace the lies you believed?
- In light of 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5 what are some thoughts you need to take captive?
- How can your spouse or others help you be better at taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, or is this done alone?
Establish a Vision for you Marriage and Family
Goal setting and decision-making. Includes instructions for your Goal Setting Retreat.
- Proverbs 29:18 provides a simple foundation for goal setting and having a vision
- Without an idea of what we want tomorrow we won't know if our current path is leading us to our vision
- Paul meant what he said in Ephesians 3:20 -21; God is able to do more than we think or imagine... so, why not dream big!
- The earlier chapters of IE help diminish the fear of dreaming. Daring to dream may have led us to severe disappointment in the past.
- Dreaming with the understanding that God is the source of our hope is much more secure than dreaming on the basis of demands upon others
- Goal setting is beneficial for several great reasons; pages 185-187
- Past Remembrances, Present Reflections, and Dreams of the Future combine to form the basis of goal setting and developing vision
- Page 209, is the summary page for 8 categories of goals
- Until the goals become part of your calendar or other system of reminder, you may find that Chapter 14 contains too much information to remember or do.
- The suggested retreat can be done away from or at home. Home works if you can remove distractions and dedicate the time. Some couples need to get away in order to focus.
- This exercise requires time to be still, to think, and to have meaningful talks.
- Follow up is key. Many of us need a schedule/plan so that the planning we've done doesn't get lost in the business of "life after the retreat.
- Marriage staff meetings, quarterly or monthly check ups, daily pray and talk, or another "mutually-agreed upon plan make great ways to keep on track.
- Remember these are guidelines not the Bible. Encourage progress but understand interruptions may stop 100% completion of the goals.
- Achieving 50% of good goals is usually better than achieving100% of no goals.
Small Group Questions
- Describe a few of the positive aspects of the goal setting exercises.
- What were some of the more difficult aspects that you encountered in this process or were there any?
- About which of the goals you established as a couple are you the most excited to accomplish?
- Which goal seems to be the most difficult to reach?
- How do you plan to keep the momentum going?
- How might scheduled Marriage Staff Meetings contribute to progress?
- Did you discover goals that overlap in two or more categories? How did you handle that situation?
- How have you made progress (even a little) toward reaching some of your goals?
- What is the potential impact of reaching even a few of these goals?
- How does establishing a vision for your marriage increase the chances of having others describe what they see in your relationship as "abundant?
Walking Together through the Stages of Marriage Intimacy
The four stages of the Family Life Cycle:
*New Love (couples with no children),
*Shared Love (couples with children),
*Mature Love (couples with teenagers until last child has left home)
*Renewed Love (from "empty nest" forward).
- You will be asked to complete a short self-assessment for each stage.
- The self-assessment includes topics that are appropriate for the stage.
- These are great reminders of key principles and areas of attention.
- You will also note a description of the four ingredients from Chapter 5 and how they relate to each stage.
- Similar to Chapter 14, this chapter's material should be worked through slowly and time taken to do and discuss the assessment, as well as, to determine how to deepen intimacy in your current or next stage of marriage.
- Looking ahead to your next stage will give you a head start on being even more successful with that one than you were with the previous stage
- Couples who have no children (either those who can't have them or choose not to have them) go through similar stages:
*New Love (couples with no children, early into the relationship, the marriage is a top priority)
*Shared Love (couples with no children, where job, interests, etc. occupy more of the couple's time)
*Mature Love – (couples with no children, where pressures of job, interests, finances, etc. occupy most of the couple's time making it difficult to have time for each other)
*Renewed Love – (couples with no children, who make the adjustments to put their relationship back into a top priority)
Small Group Questions
- In which stage of marriage are you currently?
- What did the assessment reveal about ways to improve or complete this stage?
- What are some areas needing attention in your current stage?
- After reading Ephesians 5:21, discuss with the group why "Mutual Giving may be a great way to describe successful marriage relationships?
- How can successful movement through these stages increase intimacy?
- How do children become great givers or proficient takers?
- Where did you learn your marriage/relationship skills?
- List some good skills that help you even today. Now list some skills/habits/patterns of behavior that you learned that do not help.
- What stages were your parents in when you learned most about relationships (good and bad)?
- After reading I Peter 4:10 and Philippians 2:4, what have you experienced during this study or at other times in your marriage that supports the following statement: Marriage is a relationship where two people work hard to "out-give the other in every dimension of the relationship rather than see who can take more.
- Do you agree with the above statement? How well are you growing in becoming an expert giver?
- Were you ever a better taker than giver? How did that work out for your joy and success in life?
- What part does Jesus play in our becoming better givers than takers?
Become Friends, Lovers and Saints through Intimacy Disciplines
An entire chapter of practical applications to help you connect with one another Spiritually, Emotionally and Physically—An Unbelievable Resource and a Great Refresher Course!
- Friends – You will find great resources to help you continue progress for deepening a heart-connection to your spouse.
- The tools described review several key principles and assignments from earlier chapters.
- Well-executed, simple Marriage Staff Meetings are key to continued growth in communication.
- Lovers – It is difficult at times to find balanced resources to help couples grow in the area of sexual intimacy. This chapter offers some that are balanced and effective.
- Explaining grace and its benefits assists couples as they experience spiritual intimacy resulting in deepening gratefulness for God's great love and for one another.
- Foundational to this study and the experience of intimacy on every level is the truth – the Living Truth, Jesus Christ and the written truth of the Bible.
- Developing the discipline of knowing and experiencing truth helps us live life abundantly.
- As we experience God's Word, we come to love our Savior even more, wish to bless Him, and express His love more clearly to our spouse, family, and others.
- Suggestion: Re-mark the inventory from Chapter 1. See how the numbers have changed. Use the results to plan, celebrate, pray, worship God, get help, etc.
- Perhaps once or twice a year you could re-take that inventory or another one that you like better, providing a great way to assess and communicate about the health of your marriage.
- Consider adding these questions as part of your marriage health assessment: See the inventory in Chapter 1 and respond using the same system -
- I am very helpful with the chores around the house.
- I spend money appropriately and according to our plan.
- When I see my spouse having to work too hard on his/her responsibilities, I find ways to lighten the load.
- We are partners in rearing our children or in dealing with not having children.
- We work as a team when it comes to making decisions that impact our marriage or our family.
Small Group Questions
- Which of the areas of intimacy (Friends, Saints, or Lovers) will require the greatest effort on your part to make or continue making progress?
- Which one will require the least effort?
- What resources or principles from Chapter 16, the IE workbook, or other material will be helpful to you as you seek to become a better friend, saint, or lover?
- How would you describe the changes in you personally as a result of investing in this class, workbook, conference, or small group?
- List 2 or 3 insights you have learned about your relationships to God, to your spouse, to your family of origin, and with yourself.
- How effective would journaling or keeping a diary be in helping you maintain progress in your marriage?
- What do YOU need to help you focus more often and more intently on your marriage?
- What part in all this intimacy talk does your relationship to God play?
- How does Jesus Christ fit into your plan for greater love in your marriage, family, and life?
- What would you like to do to help other couples have great marriages or help singles have a better chance at an abundant marriage?