(Steve and Sara completed the newly updated RINGS Experience Online with coaching in September, 2020)
We have been married for over 21 years. But we weren’t happily married. We had previously sought marital counseling, but that didn’t really help us to identify and acknowledge our strength and growth areas. And it certainly didn’t equip us with the understanding and skills to be more effective in our communication. We had a covenantal marriage, a promise to each other for better or worse. But life in the “worse” was not sustainable for us or our family.
So we sought assistance from our Pastor, who referred us to Lavern at Encompass Connection Center.
Through the power of prayer and a focused commitment to each other, we stepped through the RINGS experience. It was a transformational experience! We discovered that so much of the difficulty in our marriage stemmed from poor communication. We lacked the tools and the knowledge of how to use them to listen to each other, to serve each other, and rebuild and rekindle the closeness despite the chaos of the world around us.
In the weeks following the RINGS program, we were faced with a barrage of opportunities to put these skills into practice. From multiple unexpected home and vehicle repair issues, changes at work limiting our time together, and hectic daily life schedules, we found ourselves slipping into the old ruts – we made assumptions instead of communicating, we didn’t fill each other’s love bank, we were not using the RINGS or SOS skills, and we were keeping feelings and thoughts inside instead of sharing and growing together as a team.
But because of our experience through the Encompass RINGS program, we recognized that we were getting off-course and could correct our course using the skills. It requires intentionality – it takes work, each and every day! After 21 years of lacking these skills, it is taking time and patience to make these skills part of our daily life together.
We are so blessed and thankful for our experience at Encompass and would highly recommend their RINGS program to any couple, from those not yet married to those who have been married many years.
Premarital counseling was never discussed or offered to us, and we were too naïve and didn’t recognize we needed it. But even after 21 years, it wasn’t too late to learn new skills.
We look forward to continuing our learning and relationship with the Encompass Connection Center through their other offerings beyond the RINGS course.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.