Life was a daily struggle for Tanya and she knew that both her and her marriage were suffering. Here, she speaks of her experience of Alpha and how it led to her doing The Marriage Course.
My life had begun to feel like it was defined by To-do lists. Each day seemed to be a daily struggle where I tried to be everything to everyone. After yet another move, this time to Brighton, I was looking for a church to take the children to at Easter and found St. Peter’s. I was amazed by the whole experience. This was not how I remembered church.
Everyone seemed so joyful and was having so much fun. I couldn’t help but wonder if every service was like this and so I decided to keep coming back. Then, one Sunday the vicar mentioned Alpha and how it was a chance to discuss questions we had about life. I had so many questions and so it seemed like a good idea to go along.
Alpha was a really informal, relaxed environment and the people were all friendly. I felt completely at ease from the beginning; there was no judgement and people seemed to be genuinely interested in getting to know me. The sessions were interesting, clear and informative. I thought I knew a lot about the Christian faith having chosen to be confirmed as a teenager and having taken Religious Studies A-Level at school, but I soon realised that I had never been taught that you can have a personal relationship with God.
It was during the Alpha weekend that I encountered God’s presence for the first time and I was filled with an enormous sense of peace. It was an amazing, tangible feeling of God being with me and I knew that nothing in my life would ever be the same again.
Since doing Alpha, how I experience my daily life has totally changed. I no longer have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am calmer and able to sleep better without the constant fretting and to-do lists running round my head all night. The feeling of emptiness that caused so much frustration, stress and anger has gone. I have found a peace and purpose through coming to know Jesus and knowing my life has meaning.
As Alpha had such a great impact on my own life, I decided to help out in a group. It was during a conversation with someone in my small group, after they heard I was struggling in my marriage, that they suggested I do The Marriage Course. I’d never heard of it before but my husband and I weren’t communicating very well and I knew I needed to do something. My husband wasn’t a Christian and I didn’t think he would want to commit to doing the course but to my surprise he agreed to give it a try.
The course provided a date night environment for us to dedicate time to discussing our relationship and making it a priority. The course was really well structured with different themes discussed each week. As a couple, we were given the opportunity to talk through various issues and we both realised how little time and effort we had made in the past.
We had always wanted to have a stronger and more fulfilling relationship but hadn’t known how to help ourselves. We had fallen into a vicious circle of resentment and frustration but The Marriage Course gave us a practical framework with the tools to work through issues in our marriage . We quickly learnt we both had needs that we hadn’t known how to meet. Understanding the differences in our needs and realising there was hope for our relationship was such an encouragement to us.
My husband really appreciated the effort made on the course to make everyone feel at ease and to create a relaxed and intimate environment which was conducive to having an enjoyable time together. The great food and the option of bringing along a bottle of wine was a definite plus for him!
Rather than an academic study of relationships or a lecture, the course was hosted by a couple that were happy to share details and examples of the dynamics in their own relationship which made it easier for us to relate to the issues and to be able to be open with one another during the discussions.
It was such a relief to realise there was hope for our relationship. Using the framework and tools learnt from the course we have made our marriage a priority and have intentionally dedicated more time to our relationship. We are able to communicate more openly and authentically with each other. There is a level of understanding of each others needs that we didn’t have before and previously led to less frustration within our relationship. We have also been able to resolve some long held resentments which had never been dealt with and had negatively impacted our relationship. The Marriage Course changed my relationship and my life; I'd recommend doing it to anyone.
Tanya and her husband now live in Nice and are running Alpha there. For more information about The Marriage Courses click here.