Group Study Guide for
Celebrating the Ordinary
Arranged for 9 Sessions
See also Monday Marriage in the MennoMedia online catalog.
|Sessions One to Four||Sessions Five to Nine|
A Word for the Teacher:
Monday Marriage presents a new approach to marriage. It is not a scientific study about marriage. It is about accepting mystery in marriage. It is not a psychology textbook about personality. It is a book about human character. It is not a book about marital ecstasy. It is a book about marital contentment. Monday Marriage advocates honesty, reality, and sacrifice in marriage. It invites couples to discover the highest form of marital intimacy.
You should expect this approach to make some people uncomfortable. Many have been convinced by the pop culture that marriage should be intensely romantic, strengthened with technical communication skills, and should possess a perfect understanding of personalities. On the other hand, that same culture promotes individualism, career addiction, busyness, and temporary commitments. Is it any wonder, then, that so many couples are confused about marriage? Monday Marriage invites spouses to a different understanding of marriage. One that is much richer and deeper in meaning. It promotes a realistic understanding about marriage. It also invites spouses to give selflessly to marriage.
If people in your group are troubled by this approach encourage them to be patient. Welcome them to raise questions during the study, but ask them to keep an open mind as they go. Encourage them to tell stories from their own lives about the small things in their marriage that often get overlooked. Help them treasure the things that really matter in their relationship. When people embrace reality they can discover a marriage that is surprisingly satisfying.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Monday Marriage
The chapter begins by defining Monday Marriage. It clarifies why ordinary events in marriage are cause for celebration. It invites people to a more realistic view of marriage while at the same time encourages them to give to marriage what it needs to remain strong. Many couples are influenced by them misinformation that comes from the pop culture.
- Is the book selling out to mediocrity?
- Why shouldn’t you try to have a great marriage?
- Especially one that is filled with passion?
- As scientists learn more about human behavior, shouldn’t that information be applied to marriage?
- Isn’t the idea of covenant and sacrifice out of date?
- If you are happy in a career shouldn’t that make you happy at home?
Chapter 2: Weddings: Starting Marriage the Right Way
Expecting too much from marriage begins by having excessive weddings. Costs and hype keep expanding. They are fueled by a wedding industry that makes money from excesses. This has compromised the sacredness of weddings. It has also created a spirit of self-centeredness and unreality that can carry over into marriage.
- Have couples reflect on their wedding experience, including the planning for the wedding.
- Did it set the right tone for your marriage? How?
- Would you do anything different?
- Is it the kind of wedding you would want your children to have?
- Should the church have more control over weddings?
- How can weddings be celebrations without being offensive?
Chapter 3: Accepting Personality Differences
Much is made about the value of having a scientific understanding of marital personalities. Through various tests couples are analyzed to see how they will match up. However, the tests are subjective and create categories that can be arbitrary; i.e. you are either an extrovert or an introvert. They also provide spouses with negative labels that can be used against each other during times of conflict. Perhaps most importantly, analyzing marriage make it into a scientific project. This can take away a sense of mystery that is important to couples.
- Have the group discuss their personality differences.
- Did you take any of the personality tests?
- Do you fit into neat, clear categories?
- How do these categories affect your marriage?
- Did what you learned from them help or hinder your relationship?
- Do you believe your spouse should change his/her personality? Can you?
- What happens if they don’t?
- Are some personalities better than others are?
Chapter 4: Being Realistic about Sex
Perhaps more than any other aspect of marriage, the sexual life of couples has been profoundly affected by the pop culture. It has made sex into a performance. Spouses are often disappointed with the results. Misleading information about sex is abundant and is carried into the bedroom. In real life, couples often fall short of the expectations. However, this culture teaches couples very little about real intimacy. Instead, it would be helpful for spouses to talk about what brings them close to each other and how they know they are loved. They should be encouraged to vent their opinions about distortions that they receive from the pop culture.
- Look at the various barriers that keep you from intimacy, like fatigue, busyness, and parenting.
- Discuss boundaries around friendships with people other than your spouse, pornography, Internet, etc.
- How should the church/friends intervene when lines are crossed?