Marriage Week is always a great opportunity to bring encouragement and inspiration for those who are married or in a dating relationship. Marriage is long-term commitment with many challenges to face within it. Marriage Week (MW) is a wonderful tool to bring encouragement, joy and help for couples.
Inspired by the example and experiences of other nations, as well as an impassioned speech by Richard Kane at a YWAM Europe Family Ministry conference fifteen years ago, two of the Family Ministry leaders in YWAM Slovakia – Renata and Vlado Sochor – were deeply touched with the idea of Marriage Week. Following that there was a three-year process of praying and trying to understand if it was project prepared from God for Slovakia and, if yes, how to start it. God confirmed it, giving affirmation for Renata and Vlado to go for it. The YWAM Slovakia team supported this idea and blessed them.
God amazingly started to open a way for MW in Slovakia as there were already a few organisations in the nation with a focus on family and marriage relationships at that time. And because Renata and Vlado had been involved in the family ministry of YWAM for a while, they naturally created connections with many of them through cooperation in ministry – even before they became inspired by the idea of MW. When they were sure that God was opening this door for Slovakia, they organised a meeting for people with a heart for marriage ministry, invited Richard Kane and created the organisational team for their nation. In February of the following year, 2011, the first Marriage Week in Slovakia took place. The first lady of Slovakia was supportive of the initiative and with her behind us, it launched well and took root.
A decision was taken by the organisational team to put an emphasis on a particular aspect of the marriage relationship for each year of the Slovak MW campaign. For the most recent one in February 2022, it was a little provocative expression called “Marital triangle?” Usually a relationship can be in danger if a third person becomes too close to the couple (or one of them). But there are also triangles which are really useful for couples and because MW is a positive concept, the organisers put a focus on three aspects to strengthen the elements of a marriage relationship. These are commitment, intimacy and passion which sociologist Robert Sternberg and his team described in his research as very beneficial for the relationship. Commitment is important to maintain love between spouses. Intimacy refers to feelings of closeness, connectedness and bonding in loving relationships. Passion drives spouses to romance, physical attraction and sexual confidence. Robert Sternberg states that these three components have been proven as the most important aspects of love for couples who feel satisfied in their relationship.
And there is also another model of a triangle, well known among Christians, where the three points are husband, wife and God. If both a man and a woman cultivate their personal relationship with God, they are closer not just to Him, but also to each other.
Many good, creative activities have been developed all over the country by volunteers and co-workers. We had a lot of experiences with virtual events from last year as we again faced the Covid pandemic. We have organised a quiz about aspects which strengthen a marriage through the Kahoot app. It was educational and informative but we also had a lot of fun. There was another application which was developed for romantic walks in nature; couples in over twenty locations were encouraged to spend time together doing some conversational or practical tasks. Encouragements through SMS’s and emails were delivered every morning of MW for all who registered to receive them. Some of our co-workers have been courageous, even trying to organise in-person meetings in their communities while following actual rules of the pandemic.
Very encouraging for each of the active coordinators of MW and for all Slovak society was the testimony of our Slovak prime minister and his wife. Both very openly expressed what commitment, intimacy and passion mean for their marriage. Naturally, their video was the most seen of all MW materials in very short time.
Despite all the obstacles during the process of preparation, it was possible to see God in action. He is always faithful and He cares deeply about married couples. It is a joy to be part of His team.
Renata & Vladimír Sochor
Marriage Week 2022, Slovakia