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April 26th Cohort: The State of Marriage/Divorce

We meet this Tuesday from 7 pm to 9 pm at our ATL Emergent “headquarters”, SISTER LOUISA’S CHURCH OF THE LIVING ROOM & PING PONG EMPORIUM at 466 Edgewood Avenue,  Atlanta, Georgia 30312

BREAKING NEWS! Mike Morrell, one of the organizers of the upcoming Wild Goose Festival (among other talents!) will be there to answer any and all your questions on this first ever USA gathering of Justice, Spirituality, Music and Art!
Josey will facilitate our continued conversation on sexuality, focusing on the state of marriage and divorce, particularly in the context of faith/religion. I would love to hear from those who have been EXCLUDED from this possibility by most states, including Georgia. This conversation will ultimately be shaped the way the participants need it to be – there is no desired “solution” or “outcome” other than to find safe, suspended space where we can be honest and vulnerable for a while.

Here is Josey’s overview:

In an environment of expert driven advice, pop-psychology, and self-help gurus, we are taught to find the right “answer” to life’s problems instead of developing poignant questions that point us to the answers that we are seeking. This coming meeting, I want to emphasize that we won’t have any new ideas nor good ideas if we don’t make this space a safe space for ideas to do battle without making it personal.

           Looking forward to this next Tuesday’s Cohort meeting, I must admit my immediate limitations in facilitating a discussion on the state of marriage and divorce among religious folks. I have never been married. My longest relationship lasted three years. Even so, I do think there are a couple of qualifiers that give me an insight into such a discussion. I am a child of divorce. I am an adopted American, so I have firsthand knowledge in developing a very significant relationship in my life from the ground up, and my new family journey is fraught with great joys and great heartaches, and I’m fortunate enough to see my now parents remain together, though they came close to divorce a couple of times.

           As I look forward to facilitating this coming cohort’s discussion, I feel the best contribution I can offer will be in the form of genuine questions that I want to ask and offer to the group, as someone who wishes to marry one day and adopt some tykes of my own. Growing up I was surrounded in family trauma and divorces galore (my birth family was deeply religious). Even with my adoptive family, quite a number of my extended family have gone through some nasty divorces.

 Becoming students of relationships

           In most of the dating manuals I’ve read, one piece of advice that kept coming up is that in order to find “Mr./Miss Right”, get out there and date a lot, and by the time you’re ready to marry, you might be better equipped to be in a healthy relationship. (That’s so individualistic!) Why? Because theoretically through the course of failed relationships, one will make plenty of mistakes, find out what one “wants,” and become more comfortable in one’s skin (or so I am postulating…)

           I would argue that we need to become students of relationships, that once we’re in a relationships that we continue to work to build on the foundations of those relationships. As a seminary student, I am spending three years studying the ins and outs of theological study and ministry. After graduating, I will have a level of understanding that a Christian lay person wouldn’t necessarily have (and a degree proving it). Shouldn’t the same be said of our relationships. In a nation that has a 50/50 success rate on marriage, wouldn’t it be groundbreaking to have persons who can pass on knowledge and wisdom so that future couples wishing to embark on committed, monogamous, life-long relationships.

 Where is the accountability?

Where are the wise persons to turn to for advice?

Where are the safe spaces to wrestle and question the long-held institution of marriage?

           I would argue that not only do we need healthy systems (ex. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) that emphasize pre-marital counseling, but also post-marital (divorce)counseling, which would aim at breaking unhealthy habits and empowering the individual, so that possible re-marriage will be healthier- more importantly- that the person regains a healthy self-worth. There also needs to be intra-marital counseling/ accountability through the course of the couple’s marriage. Most of the time, couples don’t come to marriage counselors until there are significant problems in the relationship that threaten the continuation of the relationship. What if there was a structure set up that aimed at helping couples through the inevitable transitions and life-stages that take place within their marital relationship?

Getting Marriage Right collected chapter summaries and questions


About jeffcstraka

Hopeful Skeptic

2 responses »

  1. Looking forward to it!

  2. I do wish I could directly participate, but I am indeed in another state – Ohio. However, I am reading through the “Getting Marriage Right” outline now. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the energy and research that you (or whoever) has put into developing it.

    I have personally put at least three years worth of energy into #4 of the PREPARE inventory…

    “Conflict Resolution – It is important for couples to identify areas where they disagree and communicate honestly about them. Christians are called to be peacemakers and this needs to start in their marriages”

    …and have actually developed twelve week “Peacemaker Training” (that’s the newest name for it anyway) that is specific to everyday relationships, which obviously includes marriage and family and God. You can check out the bare bones outline here…

    It functions more like a dialogue based support group, but also incorporates teaching and training. It developed in part out of my work with ex-offenders in a halfway house program, specific to women. The other part developed from my own obsession with relationships (I am a non-professional licensed marriage and family therapist) who has been married for ten years with four children (and is only a mere 32 years of age). Lastly, I have been burdened to see, in our own emerging faith community, one divorce after another from marriage, from church, from God, from just about anything you could be divorced from, because we seem to always choose freedom over suffering and conflict. It has become the stain of post-modern relationships.

    Anyways, I am joyful that there are conversations happening – and if I can offer any relevant resources, then I am most happy to do so.

    It would be great to eventually develop a national emergent organization specific to this subject.

    Peace. Kyle


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