Marriage conference helps couples deepen relationships

Advanced training offered to couples on conflict and helping other couples in their community.


Tomber Su

Photo courtesy of Amy Gee

Jana Eller, Writer

The Center for Marriage and Relationships held their second annual Going Deeper Together marriage conference from Oct. 30 to 31.


The conference was first held during the spring semester of 2015. This year, registration was originally open to 40 couples, but was extended to include 20 more couples. Even with this allowance, two days after registration closed there were 10 couples on the waiting list.

This is one of two conferences held during the year. The Relationship Retreat, held in February, offers what Chris Grace, director of the Center of Marriage and Relationships, described as level one training for undergraduate couples. The lower level training is designed to reassure couples some conflict is normal and give them basic tools to resolve problems. Chris explained the Going Deeper Together conference is unique because it is designed to go beyond basic training.

“This conference is designed for couples that are a little more experienced, maybe who are already leaders in their church…what we thought we would do is take material on conflict and [go] deeper with it,” Chris said.


Chris’ desire was for this conference to enhanced intimacy within the couple’s relationships and with God. Any couples who felt disconnected could learn that there are biblical and scientifically based methods to help them reconnect. Those who did not feel disconnected could have used these opportunities to grow closer and learn more about each other.

The four speakers were Chris, Timothy Muehlhoff, professor of communications studies, Alisa Grace, consulting director for Center of Marriage and Relationships, and Judy Ten Elshof, associate director of Center for Spiritual Renewal. Together, they confronted how conflict affects the individual as well as the relationship, how to have difficult conversations and ultimately how to gain control of conflict.

“The difference between couples who thrive and couples who strive has everything to do with the couples who thrive have learned how to manage the conflict,” Chris said.

Sasha Lopez, junior biblical studies major, would have liked to attend this conference to learn practical skills that she can use as a leader in the church.

“I hope that I would…understand how to be a better leader to the church within my relationship and what that looks like and tools that would make that practical, so that it’s not just head knowledge,” Lopez said.


There was also time for each spouse to be alone to meditate and pray on what they heard before sitting together with their spouse and reflecting on their relationship with each other and God. During this time, the couples met with a spiritual director or relationship advisor from the Center for Marriage and Relationships. Chris hopes couples took advantage of these opportunities to recognize and resolve any present conflict.

The attendees received a chance to connect with other couples. Donald Gordon, associate director of undergraduate admissions, currently married over eight months, attended the conference last year with his wife and were on the waiting list for this year’s conference.

“There was a moment where we got a chance to basically be in a small group with other couples, and…different couples bring different stories, and have different strengths that I believe myself and my wife can use to be encouraged,” Gordon said.

Chris also wanted to use this conference to get people excited for the Center of Marriage and Relationships which began last year on Biola’s campus.

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