Kathy and Jeff Richman, Leader Couple
Eleven couples gathered Friday evening, giving thanks that the torrential winter rainfall of January had recently subsided, giving way to clear skies. Previous rainfall had caused widespread flooding, mudslides and road closures throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Partners appreciated the opportunities throughout the weekend to practice communication exercises and to have or witness couple dialogues. Many couples commented how different a dialogue felt from other conversations, in that each partner felt truly heard. Several couples remarked that they had discussed the same matter many times before and yet in a short period of time had arrived at a point of understanding beyond what they had reached before. Speaking and listening tasks may appear simple, yet it takes a dedicated and active practice for a couple to internalize this way of communicating.
All of us found helpful the research findings of relationship psychologists John and Julie Gottman, concerning habits of couples that have stayed together for a long time. Successful couples had frequent positive, turn toward responses to “bid” messages (requests for connection), that partners send each other throughout the day. “Masters” of Love responded to bids with turn-toward responses three times as often as the “Disasters” of Love.
Saturday evening, partners put pen to paper and wrote love letters to each other. And singing, with guitar accompaniment, occurred frequently. Songs included Tom Paxton’s “Home To Me Is Anywhere You Are”, John Lennon’s “Starting Over”, and many more.
Jeff and Kathy found the weekend very satisfying and felt energized to continue the work of Friends Couple Enrichment, a ministry to which they feel called.