Fiona Banes – Time for Marriage (Executive Director)
Introduction to Fiona
Some have suggested that perhaps our present age stands in need of a restating of the importance of marriage. It’s possibly true to say that such could be said of every age, but each of us would acknowledge that our present times in particular, does seem in greater danger of erasing this wonderful, God-inspired institute, as marriages we are told are spiraling to 1 in every 2 ending in divorce.
For this reason I draw great comfort from the work of those like Fiona and her team who are seeking not only to reaffirm the great significance of marriage but are offering very concrete and practical ways of ensuring it does so.
This October will complete 14 years of married life for my husband and I. Our relationship is not unique, like every other couple we have experienced the good and bad, the highs and lows or life together. We’ve enjoyed the best of times, where laughter flows, communication is clear, mutual encouragement is at an all time high, and the adventure of marriage is exhilarating, as well as the worst of times where selfishness reigns, hurt is paramount and self-justification and protection leave their ugly trail.
Like every other couple we are in the learning process, learning how to love, to sacrifice, to honour one another and live in biblically inspired harmony.
I first met Fiona at a “Love Actually” weekend away. I attended her seminar on Marriage and found it both funny and extremely informative, not to mention disturbingly challenging. I found myself forced not only to take a fresh look at my husband but more so at myself…
No sooner had I arrived home than I was announcing to my husband my desire to go on of those marriage weekends away.
I know you will enjoy this article by Fiona. Her top tips are now a permanent feature on our bathroom door…
This is Fiona’s story…
Andy & I have been married for 20 years and share our home with Hannah 16, Dan 14, a drama queen cat, 3 chickens, 20 gold fish & (currently) 2 zillion tadpoles (ok so the fish & the tadpoles are not IN the home but it’s a busy household).
We run Time for Marriage an organisation passionate about getting couples to discover God’s plan for their marriage and then living it out. We and the 30+ couples on our team are part of TfM because of what God has done in our own marriages.
For Andy and I, God transformed our marriage! Early on we considered divorce as we struggled with kids who didn’t sleep, depression for one of us, a new business and no support network having moved away from friends & family. But we muddled through as neither of us wanted to look after the non-sleeping kids on our own! At the TfM weekend we found ourselves forgiving each other of 10 years of baggage, we stopped annoying each other and instead started to see what God sees in each other.
Naturally, we don’t have the perfect relationship, we still have our ups & downs (& occasional yelling matches) but God has started something in us that grows & grows & (hopefully) shines out to others.
Our Marriage Top Tips
- Make your each other your top priority – I was talking to someone only last week that was lamenting the ‘loss’ of his wife who, he felt, gave herself entirely to their children at the expense of their marriage. Sure, children, friends, life takes up so much emotional energy but don’t let that be at the expense of your marriage.
- Talk to each other! I know it sounds obvious. Of course you talk to each other but do you talk about EVERYTHING? Even the painful, difficult issues/decisions that need sorting? And as well as talking, are you listening to your hubby? His hopes, dreams, fears, worries?
- Make time for each other – go on dates. (I’m saying this on a day that I’ve just had to postpone a date day with my husband and it hurts!) We need that time to connect, talk about fun stuff rather than how to run a business, family issues etc. It reminds us of what we love about each other. (Note to self: rebook the date day!)
- Forgive each other – don’t hold grudges. Not forgiving just drives the hugest massive wedge between you. Forgiving isn’t easy and sometimes it’s about choosing to do it when you don’t feel like your other half deserves it BUT the results are a close connection that has survived the difficult stuff.
- Have sex! You knew I would say this! But it’s SO important. It’s an integral way of connecting with our partner. Make time for it.
- For Christian couples – Pray together. There’s a saying ‘Couples who pray together, stay together’ and it’s been proven statistically to dramatically reduce the risk of divorce (which for Christian couples is the same as non-Christians). Get into a routine & whether it’s a quick 5 mins or a hardcore hour (!) spend some time sharing your lives with God together.
Working with Activate we know you’re passionate about sharing the gospel with your friends and talking about your marriage is an ideal conversation opener. For a lot of people the input they get is from the media mostly giving them the message that marriages are doomed to failure (if the average Soap is anything to go by!) BUT a lot of people are desperate to know that relationships can endure. They have experienced the heartbreak of a broken marriage somewhere in their family and want to know how to prevent that in their own. So be honest with them about your own marriage – it’s not perfect but you’re learning. Are there things that God has helped you with in your marriage that you could share with them?
Time for Marriage runs marriage enrichment weekends throughout the country. We would love you to consider coming on one – whether your marriage is great and you would like to ensure it stays that way, whether it’s rock bottom & you’re not sure how you’re going to survive or whether it’s somewhere in between, we know you would find the time out with your husband special.