Almost every spring and fall, Russ and I facilitate a small group of 4-6 married couples through a marriage curriculum called Thrive. It is a curriculum created by Northpoint Community Church. They believe every marriage has room to grow and so do we because our marriage benefits every time we go through the curriculum. We are about to do a 9th session. The curriculum touches on communication, family origin, navigating conflict, etc…
Before you can facilitate a group you have to apprentice under a leader. Thankfully, our leaders modeled well for us. After they opened up the meeting with introductions and ground rules, they shared their story. Not just how long they dated or when they got married but the good, bad and the ugly. At first you’re hoping they asked each other for permission on what they’re sharing but soon you see this is a united story about the reality of their marriage. They were quite vulnerable. What I’ve learned about vulnerability in sharing my own story is what feels weak in me is seen by others as brave and courageous. Once I saw how it gave others permission to share, I let go of my own embarrassment because I realized everyone has a story to tell.
SO WHERE DO YOU BEGIN?
How do you share your story? How do you do it concisely if you’ve never shared it before? How do you share it in a group setting in front of other strangers? We didn’t realize when we asked folks to share their ‘marriage story’ most people would start with, “I was born in … and end with “We got married in …” The End. We would hear their life story (emphasis on life) but very little about their marriage story. That is when we came up with the idea to ask 10 questions, specifically about their marriage.
Providing marriage specific questions eliminated fear for those couples shy in sharing their story. It eliminated rabbit trails since time was limited and it kept the extroverts on a scheduled framework. It worked! We now hear stories about marriages and how their past plays a part in their marriage. Some even realizing the impact for the first time when telling their story.
Here’s our list of 10 questions, which you can easily modify into your own.
- How did you meet?
- What were your first impressions of each other?
- How long did you date before you were married?
- How many children?
- Name one funny thing you learned about each other after you got married.
- Name two things you have learned about yourself during your marriage?
- What childhood experience(s) affect(s) your marriage today?
- What else has had an impact on your marriage positive or negative, past relationships, past marriages, work, etc…
- What’s one thing you wish/hope for in your marriage?
- Where are you now in your marriage?
If you are the small group leader, one practice I did after couples shared their story, I called them up and thanked them for sharing. I have found that some people need reassurance after being transparent and vulnerable, some doing so for the first time. Did any creative questions come to mind while reading through our list?
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