Marriage @ Care + Counseling
Getting married? Couples who wish to be married at Bay Life and/or by a Bay Life Pastor, are required to attend Premarital Counseling. Private Couples’ Counseling is available by appointment. The cost is $200 per couple, for all sessions and materials. Upon completion, couples will receive a certificate which will entitle them to a discount on their marriage license. You can register by contacting our Counseling Center at 813.319.0183 or email
Looking for a way to enrich your marriage? We are hosting an online four-week marriage class designed to help married couples grow closer together with Christ at the center. We’ll be focusing on the journey’s that led up to our marriage and where we are today, the importance of connecting, communication, a round table discussion with the counselors from our counseling center, as well as answering questions you may have throughout the weeks. The classes will be led by our Care and Counseling Pastor, Brenton Shephard, our Life Groups Pastor, Shane Clark, and Bay Life Counselors. Each session will include a large group talk, Q&A with the speaker, and follow up material for couples to do during the week. Whether you are a seasoned couple, newlyweds, walking through some difficulties, or just want to enrich your marriage, there is something for everybody.
September 13, 2020 - October 4, 2020
Thanks for joining us for our Marriage Enrichment Class. Here you’ll find different tabs with information to help each week. The Introduction tab will help set up the class with a little info on where we’re going over the next four weeks and some questions to discuss with your spouse. The weekly Homework tabs will have follow up questions for you and your spouse to do following each week's class. There will be some personal questions and some questions to do together as a couple. Also, our last week will be a time to answer any questions you have about marriage or the topics we cover. Email your questions in to and the different speakers will answer these questions during the Week 4 class.
A note from Brenton Shephard, Care & Counseling Pastor, to read before the Marriage Enrichment Class.
If you’ve been around Bay Life for a little while you may know me already, but for those of you who don’t, allow me to tell you a bit about myself. I’ve been married to my wife, Amanda, for eight years and we have two beautiful children, Cohen (5) and Emma (3). I’ve been a pastor at Bay Life for nine years now, and have served as the Care and Counseling Pastor for the past five years. During that time I’ve had the opportunity to work with couples in different stages of their marriages. One thing I have noticed in almost every situation, is that it can become very easy for both people to focus in on the problems or concerns they’re currently facing or have struggled with. This causes them to lose sight of the bigger picture in their marriage, from the journey they started, commitments they made, and love they have for one another. We hope that through this four week class, you will find the tools and support you need to face life's challenges together.
Have you ever stopped to think about how you got where you are right now in your marriage? Whether you’re recently married, feel like everything is going well, or find yourselves struggling through a season, this is an important question to think about. It’s easy to go through life and forget about the journey that you’ve been on together as a couple up to this point. So if you can take a few moments, I want you to think about something with me. How many of you like a good story? Whether that story is being presented in the form of a movie, book, or TV show, there are three pieces that every good story has in common: a catchy introduction that brings our characters together, a climax or problem that’s presented that needs to be solved, and a conclusion that brings resolution.
Our lives and marriages are like a story when we stop and think about them. If you’ve put your faith in Christ, we believe that God is the author of this story and not only did He bring it all together, but we see in Ephesians 5:21-33 that He’s designed it to work as well. As sinners, we aren’t perfect and make mistakes along that way. Sometimes those mistakes create problems and no matter the size, they can add up eventually causing friction in your marriage. However, if you stay centered on Christ, it’s easier to work together towards a resolution.
In every great story, when the characters arrive at the climax, they’re left with two choices; retreat and surrender/give up, or regroup and strategize to take on the problem. As we head towards our first Sunday, I believe that some of us are facing this same choice. Before you decide which side of the fence you’re on, I’d like to tell you what our four weeks together will look like and have you do a little assignment.
Over the next four weeks we’re going to take some time to work through parts of this journey we call marriage, together. Week one we’ll be focusing on the journey, what it should look like, and how we can stay on track. Week two will be a little different as we do a round table discussion with some of the counselors from our counseling center to discuss communication. Week three will be all about the connections we make, individually with Christ, with each other and Christ, and with other believers. Finally, we’ll round out week four by answering the questions you have throughout the class with the pastors and counselors who have been leading.
Before you come for week one though, I need you to think through your marriage journey. I mentioned before, it’s easy to lose sight of where we’ve been up to this point as a couple. As you answer these questions, you are going to need to write the answers out on your own and then come together to share your answers. There are no right or wrong answers for these questions either. It’s not a time to judge, debate, or justify your responses. This is a time to share with each other, to listen, and take to heart the bigger picture of your marriage.
- When you first met your spouse, what made you want to know them more? (Be honest)
- What were some of the special things about them that made you stay around them?
- What were some of the traits that made you fall in love? Bonus question: Do you remember the first time you told them you loved them? If you do, share that.
- Over the time you’ve been married (dating doesn’t count), when was your relationship at its best?
- When do you feel like your marriage stared to get hard? This isn’t a time to point out flaws, it’s an opportunity to think through the situations in life that brought difficulties.
- What, if anything, is currently pushing you apart or causing struggles?
- What have you really tried to make your marriage better? (Please note, this should be something you TRULY put the effort into, not that we saw a counselor or pastor once or twice, but the things you did to make sacrifices and show how you want things to be better.)
I mentioned earlier that we all face difficulties and that eventually we reach a point where we’re left with a choice to make. Our hope is that as you join us on Sunday, you’re making the choice, regardless of where your marriage is now, to regroup and strategize as you walk through your journey hand in hand. If you have any questions before Sunday, reach out and let me know at or by calling 813.661.3696 x336.
Week 1 - Follow Up
Have my desires shifted to expectations?
Do I ever thank my spouse for doing the things that they just “naturally do”?
Do I ever help my spouse by doing some of the things they are “supposed to do”?
Are there any ways that I know I’ve let my spouse down?
Take some time to sit down together this week and share any ways you think you may have let your spouse down that you wrote above.
How can I help/serve you this week?
Are there any desires/needs you have that I can help meet?
Give each other praise, gifts, notes, when you recognize what they’re doing for you.
Spend some time praying together a couple times this week and ask your spouse at least this one question.
How can I pray for you this week?
Week 2 - Follow Up
How does the way you communicate with your spouse affect them positively or negatively?
On a scale of 1-5 (1 being easy, 5 being hard) how easy is it for you to communicate the following things with your spouse:
- Work issues
- Family issues
- Personal needs
In the areas mentioned above, which is the most difficult for you to talk about with your spouse? Why?
Be honest, you’re not perfect. If you could change one thing about the way you communicate with your spouse, what would it be?
How can active listening help you and your spouse communicate better?
To the best of your memory, what was the best/most memorable date you’ve ever been on with your spouse? This can be pre-marriage too. Share as many details as you can.
Follow up, what does the other person remember about the specific date you mentioned?
Generally speaking, when do you feel is the best time to have a difficult conversation?
How can difficult conversations help us move forward in our marriages?
You’ve already answered the personal questions above on your own. Now it’s time to practice some active listening, while communicating with your spouse too. Each of you should take time to share your answers to the personal questions while the other person uses the active listening technique we discussed.
How can I pray for you this week?
Remember, praying together is going to be one of the best things you can do to build intimacy in your marriage. Not only does it build trust, it shows care, concern, and compassion when done well. Actively listen to your spouse’s response and lift those needs for them before the Lord.
Bonus - as you listen to your spouse’s needs, you may hear ways that you can meet, serve, or help them as well. Take the opportunity to do that as you can. If you’re unsure if that’s a need they’d want you to meet, just ask them.
Week 3 - Pre-Quiz
Read each statement and circle T for true or F for false. Give one point for each “true” answer.
From your viewpoint, is your spouse accessible to you?
T F 1. I can get my spouse’s attention easily.
T F 2. My spouse is easy to connect with emotionally.
T F 3. My spouse shows me that I come first with him/her.
T F 4. I am not feeling lonely or shut out in this relationship.
T F 5. I can share my deepest feelings with my spouse. He/She will listen.
From your viewpoint, is your spouse responsive to you?
T F 1. If I need connection and comfort, he/she will be there for me.
T F 2. My spouse responds to signals that I need him/her to come close.
T F 3. I find I can lean on my spouse when I am anxious or unsure.
T F 4. Even when we fight or disagree, I know that I am important to my spouse and we will find a way to come together.
T F 5. If I need reassurance about how important I am to my spouse, I can get it.
Are you positively emotionally engaged with each other?
T F 1. I feel very comfortable being close to, trusting my spouse.
T F 2. I can confide in my spouse about almost anything.
T F 3. I feel confident, even when we are apart, that we are connected to each other.
T F 4. I know that my spouse cares about my joys, hurts, and fears.
T F 5. I feel safe enough to take emotional risks with my spouse.
Week 3 Follow Up
Think of one good time or moment in your relationship that captures the idea of connectedness and share it with your spouse.
Can you remember a time when you really needed to know a loved one was with you? If he or she was not, what was that like for you and what did you learn from it? How did you cope? Does this have an impact on your relationships now?
Name two very concrete and specific things that a safe, accessible, responsive, and engaged spouse would do on a typical day and how those things would make you feel.
When you feel disconnected or alone in your relationship, are you likely to get emotional or even anxious and push your spouse to respond? Or, are you more likely to shut down and try not to feel your need to connect?
Can you think of bonding moments in your relationship when one of you reached out and the other responded in a way that made you both feel emotionally connected and secure with each other? Share this with your spouse.
Have at least one conversation focusing on danger points, triggers, or recurring issues and how to diffuse them (use one of the conversation methods from today).
Celebrate one positive moment in your relationship.
Start a new ritual or renew an old ritual.
Share a “before and after story” that can be part of your resilient relationship story (Testimony).
Share one future hope or dream for yourself and your marriage.
How can I pray for you this week?