Home Adventist Social isolation brought an opportunity to strengthen marriages

Social isolation brought an opportunity to strengthen marriages

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Staying more hours at home can mean more time to learn how to face and overcome crises.

June 17, 2020
/ Brasilia, Brazil
/ Jefferson Paradello


African-american man working on laptop in kitchen

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[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Recognizing the pressures created for families during the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s South American Division held an online family ministry series aimed at helping people cope with challenges during the period.

Along with the demands of the lockdown, other problems now plague some families: unemployment, interruption of schooling, decreased income, and strained relationships. Pastor Alacy Barbosa, divisional Family Ministries director, spoke with ASN regarding the series.

With more than 30 years of experience in couples counseling and family conflict resolution, Barbosa conducted the meetings, dedicated to showing how to build stronger and lasting relationships, especially in the current situation. Guests included neuroscientist Rosana Alves, psychiatrist César Vasconcelos, and Pastor Gilson Brito, speaker of the Divisions “Voice of Prophecy” broadcast ministry.

The series, called “Invincible with God” was aired free of charge via official Adventist Church channels on YouTube and Facebook.

What is the purpose of this meeting and why was it created?

It was designed to show the relevance that the family has to the Adventist Church in the context in which we live today. The family is the fundamental building block of society. We want to guide families in the various dimensions in which their lives take place: spiritual, financial, child rearing, and sexuality. The goal is to show people the ways to deal with their personal struggles, especially in a time of crisis. From time to time, all families face crises. It could be an accident, an illness, the loss of a job, a family conflict, divorce, or problems with children.

We want to help families with practical tips, and biblical ways to solve their problems.

What are the main dilemmas facing couples today?

One is selfishness. Each partner is thinking of themselves. And they are often not able to think of the other, to look at them, see their needs and be willing to serve, to be a source of blessing, of encouragement. However, the desire is often that the other person become a source of blessing and encouragement.

There is also the question of individualism. Although there is this big, intense rush of emotion at the start of a marriage, soon, each partner runs to one side, looking at their career, their needs, and their interests. That is why individualism is a very big problem.

A third situation is the lack of good communication, of talking, expressing yourself with respect, with clarity and love. And, of course, partners must be willing to stop to listen to the other person, hear their words, understand their emotions, and their real needs.

Has the new coronavirus crisis worsened or exposed any of them?

I think it brought up about 80 percent of problems that were already part of the couple’s life, although they didn’t necessarily address these due to their fast-paced lives. It was easier to go out, take a walk, or be absent for work or school, and the problem was put off until “later.” Many times, however, the problem was not resolved, but just “swept under the rug.” Such problems deteriorated almost to the point of destroying family and marriage.

On the other hand, there are some new problems, in fact. We were not used to being so close on a constant basis. This social isolation with a family exposed some challenges about how to deal with each other.

The internet is often viewed as a negative in relationships. Is it possible to transform it into a positive tool?

The internet, by itself, is neither good nor bad. It is just a tool. But the way I use it, my purpose, my intention, is what can be a big problem or a big blessing. As we lived very isolated lives, despite being in the same house, we were separated from family members due to work and other online situations. For many people—not for all—if they was so immersed in the world outside (the virtual) that they forgot to connect with people at home.

But the internet is also a wonderful tool because it can bring people together. It has become a powerful work tool and, at the same time, has taken away this feeling of loneliness, because we can be connected with the world. The problem is the balance in using it. You need to keep up relations with your family members at home!

What is the secret to having a happy marriage?

Not even in fairy tales are there perfect marriages, because we only see part of what’s going on. In the real world, we must fight every day to build a healthy marriage. And it takes time.

The number-one secret is to have a sense of God’s love in your heart and to share that with your spouse. You need try to understand what your partner’s real needs are. 

Then you can move on to the second stage, which is to pray to the Lord that He, by His action, will transform you into a person capable of meeting your partner’s needs and those of your family.

It’s essential to express yourself in a balanced way, in an objective, honest and respectful manner, so that the other person understands how you feel. This generates a deep intimacy in the couple, in addition to an attention to one’s manner of communicating, and taking care to listen to each other.

What are the elements that help a couple to successfully face any crisis?

There are many, but I will mention just two. One of them is commitment: the intentional decision to move forward with the other despite adverse circumstances. If I made a promise, I will keep it. This is what makes us special and different as human beings and children of the Lord: we make a promise and we keep it.

Another fundamental thing is the intentional act of being together, doing activities together, sharing, giving, protecting, caring, valuing, and strengthening others. This commitment and intentionality are essential to move forward in the face of crises.

It is also important to consider the sense of belonging: to belong to that family, to belong to that circumstance, to belong to that moment in the other’s history. This helps us to perceive the other person’s value and support one another in our limitations and strengths.

Should the transformation brought about by the pandemic – including the couple’s staying at home longer – be seen as an opportunity to rethink and strengthen married life? How can this be done?

The pandemic has brought many of us closer physically, and emotionally. This is an important thing, as it can generate conflicts, but it can also generate more intimacy and more closeness. The pandemic can be used to strengthen marriage. Doing things together, since they are at home; spending more time together in prayer; creating more moments to listen to each other—all these will generate more intimacy and awareness for couples.

One of the fundamental points that the pandemic has brought is the possibility of doing things together and thus strengthen the emotional, spiritual, financial and sexual lives of married couples. It is a total and complete intimacy for the marriage.

 

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site

https://sdahymnal.net/

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