Bishop Shamana recommends "10 Great Dates"

January 18, 2008

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution worth keeping. At the beginning of 2008 when many people are making promises to themselves and to God for real change in the new year, I want to recommend an outstanding program to enhance the sparkle, surprise, and sizzle in your marriage or significant relationship. It’s called 10 Great Dates, and was created for the church and its community. What could be a better “resolution” gift than promising your mate that you will invest in the growth of your marriage through a fun and easy series of dates that promises to rev up your communication, sex (yes, I said sex!), commitment and finances – and reduce stress.  As a church and society we are wonderful at getting people married and consoling them through divorce, but giving couples the tools for sustaining a rewarding, life-long relationship is where we fail. 

 

10 Great Dates was authored by David and Claudia Arp after research with churches, universities and the military. It was written to reach the masses, turn around the skyrocketing divorce rate, and bring hope to couples resigned to dull and boring marriage with no place to turn because of cost, fear, children and many other factors.

 

On January 14 I was excited to join David and Claudia at our Rancho Cordova United Methodist Church to learn how 10 Great Dates fits into the larger ministry of marriage education. What a funny and endearing couple they were as they talked openly about the dance of marriage and how many times they’ve stepped on each other’s feet, learned new steps, yet want to keep growing in their ability to dance well together. The dance floor is but a metaphor of the marriage relationship but sadly, many couples leave the floor altogether before the tune is over.

 

The larger picture of marriage education is managed under the California Healthy Marriages Coalition, staffed by Carolyn Curtis in Sacramento with a staff that includes the Revs. Colin and Kathy Kerr-Carpenter as co-managers of the Northern California Healthy Marriages Project.

 

I heartily recommend that you make your church a welcoming site for the 10 Great Dates series. My husband, Walter, and I road-tested the book and DVD around our kitchen table and are committed to doing the full ten dates in 2008 as we continue to grow together in our marriage. The uniqueness of this series is that it is not a shame or blame, or counseling program. Rather it sets the stage for couples at any season of their married life, to spend a 90 minute date together each week with ten topics to jump-start their sharing, from “Choosing a High Priority Marriage” to “Building a Creative Love Life.” All you need are four or more couples willing to meet for a few instructions and a short DVD, with a willingness to go wherever they choose to have fun together with prompts from the book. There’s no reporting back, or hard rules to follow. The church provides child care for couples who need it and waits to see the glow and warmth between them when they return to pick up their kids. There is an African American edition, and Spanish and Korean language versions.

 

So what are you doing Friday night? Beginning February 7, the start of National Marriage Week, you could reach out to your community and congregation by sponsoring 10 Great Dates as a witness that the church still believes that Jesus came to bring new life to marriage, the family and community. The tools in this program are an excellent step forward.

 

How about helping your church celebrate the benefits of marriage and relationship skills training? Churches currently involved in 10 Great Dates are First UMC in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova UMC, South Reno UMC, and Loomis UMC. Rev. Ted Virts serves as an advisory consultant of the Healthy Marriage Project. www.marriagealive.com is a resource for learning more about 10 Great Dates.

 

Your Sister and Bishop in Christ,

Beverly J. Shamana