Marriage Skills Course Frees Couples From Emotional Bondage: Promotes Peace, Identity in Christ


Have you ever felt stuck in your relationships? Like you and your spouse keep fighting about the same old things? Do you wish you could take back those harsh words and stop over-reacting emotionally when you feel hurt? The founders of The Relationship Resource understand exactly where you are coming from. They’ve developed a process based on their decades of counseling experience that helps free people from emotional bondage and opens doors to move their relationships forward in health and wholeness.


Renewing Minds, Restoring Hearts … that’s the message The Relationship Resource wants to share in a world where so many are hurting from broken relationships. Founders and Co-Executive Directors Jeff and Robin Reinke share a passion to help individuals break through pernicious cycles of emotional pain to freedom and peace.


As the pastor of the Marriage & Family Ministry at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, Calif., for 25 years, Jeff’s been faced with plenty of couples in crisis. He realized more than a decade ago that despite the church’s best efforts, people were still struggling to overcome personal issues that negatively affected their relationships and kept their lives in turmoil.


He noticed that even though the church was sponsoring Bible studies and events, and people were meeting individually with counselors, he didn’t see a lot of change in the church.


“It didn’t seem like people were transforming into more loving, Christ-like people,” Jeff said. “What does it mean to become a mature, transformed person? Everyone had a different definition.”

Jeff sought ways to better support those interested in making long-term, lasting change in their lives and marriages. His wife, Robin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, continued to see the fallout of trauma in her 30 years of practice. Their many years of hands-on experience helping strengthen and restore marriages in the Christian community led them to the work of Gary Oliver, Ph.D. and Dr. Terry and Sharon Hargrave, who helped The Relationship Resource design a model for healing marriages after severe trauma or a major break in trust.


The hallmark of the program is the 12-week skills session, which incorporates spiritual, neurological/biological, psychological and relational components, all tethered to the Word of God. Participants will identify how they see themselves, including messages learned from family of origin and life experiences. They’ll identify their triggers, pain and peace cycles and learn how to renew their mind through the power of Christ. A trained leader walks alongside and disciples each participant.


The Relationship Resource team recommends each spouse complete the men’s or women’s skills course prior to starting the joint MarriageSkills together. In the individual sessions they’ll learn to understand the language and address their own emotional issues before they are ready to move forward and work with their spouse on their marriage.


“To heal, they have to go to the depth of their pain, to identify the underlying emotional lies and find out what’s triggering them. Then they can be more emotionally self-regulated to understand how to take responsibility for their words and actions,” Jeff said.


“The primary attack on the human soul is the issue of identity,” Robin said. “If we cannot be sure of who we are and Whose we are, we will be confused about what we are to do. The workshops were created to offer every person help to become skilled and mature in healing and renewing the mind. The most powerful weapon to become victorious in the battle is the Word of God and living out His truth in our daily lives.”

“My responsibility is to live in a place of peace and walk in the Spirit,” Jeff agreed. “Unhealed wounds from our past will be transmitted and transferred to the current relationship. Understanding how to be more loving begins when we identify the lies (from our past),” he continued.


The skills sessions teach a four-step process:


1) Assess your feelings… you can’t change what you can’t name.

2) Identify how you cope … natural instincts, anger, withdrawal (called the pain cycle)

3) Combat the deceitful feeling with the truth …What is the lie? Do I feel devalued, disrespected and unsafe? What is the truth? I am greatly valued in Christ. Focus on the truth rather than the lie. (peace cycle)

4) What is your new action that would be contradictory to your natural action? Become more loving, take responsibility. Be curious instead of angry, be present instead of withdraw, and be open and honest instead of controlling.


The more a person practices the peace cycle and focuses on truth, the more they will create new neuropathways that actually change the brain. “We get better at what we practice,” Robin said.


Jeff has been meeting with a group of young men for the past eight months. “Their lives have changed. They’ve told me, ‘I can’t go back to just doing a Bible study.’” He mentioned being in studies before with couples where, “We talked about the Bible, but we never knew they were getting a divorce. It breaks my heart. We had been in a study together for years, but no one knew they were struggling.”


People find The Relational Resource because they are in pain. “Pain is a transformational agent,” Jeff said. “I don’t care how long you have been married. You can still get some practical application tools to deepen you to connect more to God and each other. People realize in the workshops that there are areas they didn’t want to talk about. God is always going deeper to transform us and set us free.”


While The Relationship Resource does work with individuals, their heart is to grow leaders who will disciple and equip others to become spiritually and emotionally healthy through the power of Christ. The annual refreshing, encouraging and worship weekend titled the Marriage Getaway for couples is back on in Palm Springs this year – scheduled for September 24-26.


The Relationship Resources also hosts numerous workshops and classes both in their Southern California location as well as across the country. They even managed to continue to disciple 700 people via Zoom or in-person even through the COVID shutdowns, Jeff reported.


Jeff tells of their audacious vision to impact the area north of San Diego by changing the hearts of the leaders of the churches. “We dream big but start small,” Jeff said. He leveraged relationships with pastors built in his more than three decades as the FCA High School director in the San Diego area. It doesn’t hurt, either, that his name is still recognizable as a three-time NCAA National Champion pitcher for the University of Southern California in the mid-1970s (as well as a sixth round draft pick for the Detroit Tigers.)


Jeff wanted to make The Relationship Resource curriculum inclusive to all churches, so they targeted the marriages of church senior pastors and wives for a getaway sponsored by local business leaders. “We wanted to love on them and talk about how to be a catalyst in their church. The pastors felt safe with each other, which created a platform for the message.”


Often couples come to the skills sessions or workshops and realize a transformation in their lives and marriages. “They see the miracle,” Robin said, “and it’s a ripple effect. They want to be facilitators of a group to give back now that they are in a fruitful season.”


“It is so rewarding to see people grow,” Jeff echoed. “They can’t wait until their next group.”


One local example of how The Relationship Resource has equipped a church and invigorated a marriage ministry is at River City Church in New Braunfels. Harry Taylor and his wife, Karen, lead the Marriage Ministry Team for the growing congregation of 800, many families with young children. River City New Braunfels kicked off skills sessions and held MarriageSkills courses even during COVID. Some groups felt comfortable meeting in person, and others chose Zoom, but they kept it going, Harry said. Despite the obstacles, they even trained two facilitator couples.


As soon as travel opened up, Jeff and Robin presented a Marriage – Built to Last workshop live in New Braunfels this April as a great encouragement to inspire people to get involved. “The title says more than what you might think on first impression,” Harry said. “These are skills they can apply and use to really make their marriage better. This is a very personal, 8-10 week program, where you meet face-to-face with a facilitator and three other couples. People feel equipped.”


He has been working with a group of young married Gen Z guys. Most told him, “I wish I would have learned this when I was single,” Harry reported. “We now have young leadership being raised. Young couples want to see transformation.”


You and your church can replicate the experience of River City New Braunfels and see the relationships, marriages and families in your congregation thrive. Find more information at therelationshipresource.org. If you are local to San Antonio and would like to connect with Harry Taylor to learn about how The Relationship Resource has equipped their church, he can be reached at haka598@gmail.com.





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