“There is a hunger stirring for healthy relationships. To see renewing of minds and transformation take place is so exciting! The confidence in couples is growing and a number of them are going on to share what revelations they have received. The ripple effect is real!”
This ripple effect started when Mark & Odette Clayton shared ‘Together’ with just a handful of couples in November 2016. Since then several other couples have opened their homes to provide a relaxing atmosphere for couples to explore this resource. This has enabled groups of couples across Greater Manchester to journey together, get to know each other well, plus enjoy some tasty meals along the way! Odette said couples often comment on how the atmosphere is always “welcoming, peaceful and encouraging”. “I believe providing this kind of environment and space has played a key role in helping couples feel at ease with each other quite quickly and has built stronger connections”.
The various groups have consisted of couples that had been engaged or married anywhere between two and 25 years. Individuals are from diverse backgrounds, walks of life and have a wealth of experiences. Odette said: “The couples that have attended the groups have commented on how much they have learned, especially through the discussions on case scenarios that are provided in the manual. They have shared that hearing other couple’s views and experiences have been priceless!”
Group members have shared how the ‘Together’ resource helps to stimulate discussions that are interesting, relatable, challenging and very useful with lots of practical tips to keep relationships strong. Odette said, “There is one particular story that sticks with me. One couple who had been facing challenges in their relationship, decided to be intentional in dealing with the root causes of their conflict. They remained committed to the group throughout the journey and used the private ‘Couple Time’ sessions to talk about some things that would usually get pushed aside or avoided. This led to them valuing the power of positive communication so much that they attended, an ‘A Day Together’ event and then went on a marriage retreat weekend once the ‘Together’ group study had been completed! Now that’s a couple who are determined to set aside time to make sure their marriage is thriving not just surviving!”
Mark and Odette speak about how the journey has impacted them. Mark says, “It’s an honour to continue establishing friendships with some of the couples who have completed a ‘Together’ group with us. Observing their relationships flourish by simply putting into practice some of the tools such as ‘active listening’ or using ‘I’ messages is brilliant. Also, seeing the knock-on effect of them understanding each other better and connecting at a deeper level is inspiring.”
Odette says, “I have seen and continue to see how this powerful resource can bring more understanding, strength, resilience, restoration, joy and hope to marriages across the North West of England and beyond. I am seeing couples connect at deeper levels and come to the realisation that their marriage is worth taking the time to intentionally invest in.”
Mark and Odette would like to encourage all couples to make time to join a ‘Together’ group. “It’s so important to have a marriage development plan, one that includes setting regular times aside to talk with our partner about the good and the challenging issues that can arise in any marriage. The ‘Together’ group offers you this time; providing a safe space, offering new topics to explore, new tips and tools to use, and new experiences to treasure. Make the decision today to join a Together group with your partner, be intentional to keep your love alive for each other and strengthen your relationship by keeping God at the centre.”