Black Rock's Marriage Ministry prepares couples for the rigors and challenges of a lifelong commitment to a Christ-centered marriage. We seek to strengthen, encourage, and support existing marriages to reflect God’s intention for marriage though all life stages, and to help restore marriages that are struggling and broken. We provide tools in several areas to encourage and equip you and your spouse to pursue the loving, life-giving, Christ-centered marriage God intended for you. For more information on our Marriage Ministry, contact Bob Donovan by calling 203-255-3401 or email him at .
Pre-Engagement & Marriage Preparation
One of the most overlooked areas in marriage today is often found in the preparation for marriage. While great effort goes into planning the actual wedding day, which only lasts a few hours, many couples may not spend nearly as much time preparing for their future together.
If you are engaged, or seriously dating and considering engagement, you might benefit from attending Black Rock’s “Preparing for Marriage” Workshop. This is an 8-week workshop that addresses such topics as: God’s Plan for Marriage, Finances, Communication, Roles and others. Get in touch with Bob Donovan at for more information.
Preparing for ReMarriage
More than 80 percent of divorced people in the United States will remarry, and based on numerous research studies, anywhere between 50% – 70% of remarried couples will divorce again. Since this is such a significant challenge for couples considering remarriage, we offer a program catered specifically for couples hoping to remarry. It helps couples place themselves in a position to beat these percentages, and identify if they are ready to remarry.
The overarching goal of this approach is to develop a mindset that a successful remarriage is one whole person entering into an interdependent relationship with another whole person. We hope to help couples considering remarriage understand the significance of this type of relationship. The four main topics covered are:
- Are You Ready for Remarriage?
- Finding the Right One – Avoiding the Wrong One
- Establishing the Right Foundation
- Evaluating Your Relationship
Contact Bob Donovan at to learn more about our “Preparing for Remarriage” program.
Growing a Stronger Marriage
2019 HEART OF MARRIAGE RETREATS
Building off our highly successful Heart of Marriage retreat earlier this year, Black Rock is pleased to offer this marriage-strengthening experience once again. Whether you are married 3 months or 30 years, a marriage can only grow by investing in it. Join Bob and Karen Donovan and other Black Rock couples at the beautifully renovated Trinity Retreat Center in West Cornwall CT. We will re-center ourselves on what truly matters in marriage—connection to God’s heart and connection to your spouse’s heart.
January 18-19, 2019 | 1-Night Retreat
This 1-night retreat begins Friday evening, January 18, 2019, at 7:30 pm, with departure at 6:00 pm on Saturday, January 19, after dinner. Offered at an incredibly affordable price of $99 per couple, it includes 1 night lodging and 3 meals on Saturday.
April 5-7, 2019 | 2-Night Retreat
The 2-night retreat builds off similar concepts and materials as presented in the January 1-night retreat, only more in-depth. It begins Friday evening, April 5, 2019, at 7:30 pm and departure is at 1:00 pm on Sunday. April 7. The cost of this retreat is $169 per couple and includes 3 meals on Saturday and 2 meals on Sunday. Please note: if you already attended the 1-night Heart of Marriage retreat, there is no need to attend the 2-night retreat since the material is similar.
WHY DATE NIGHTS?
The pace and pressures of everyday life can put an enormous strain on married couples, especially in our region. Sadly, if couples do not regularly feed their marriage relationship, they will often slowly grow apart, until very little intimacy is left in their relationship at all.
At Black Rock, we know that God's design for marriage is beautiful and intimate, and that He has made this type of marriage accessible to every Christ-following couple. Because of this, we believe that the words, “we just grew apart,” do not need to characterize the marriage of any couple at Black Rock Church! As simple as they can be, date nights are a great way to build intimacy and passion in a relationship, whether you've been married for one year or thirty.
ARE DATE NIGHTS REALLY GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
A common question we receive is, "Does regular dating really make a difference in a marriage?" The answer is a resounding yes! Addressing exactly this question, The University of Virginia's National Marriage Project published a study called “The Date Night Opportunity – What Does Couple Time Tell Us about the Potential Value of Date Nights”?
The study set out to clarify three points:
1. How might date nights improve the quality of relationships for couples?
2. Is one-on-one couple time associated with higher quality relationships and lower divorce rates among couples?
3. Are particular types of couples more likely to benefit from regular date nights?
To summarize, this study found that in today’s world, date nights are likely to strengthen relationships in five ways:
1.Communication – Date nights facilitate much-needed communication, mutual understanding, and a sense of fellowship and harmony between spouses.
2. Eros – Date nights allow couples to focus on their relationship and share feelings, which often leads to higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
3. Commitment – Date nights leads to a strong sense of “we-ness," or togetherness, and increase a couple's commitment to each other.
4. De-stress – Stress is one of the biggest threats to a strong marriage. Stress related to work, finances, parenting, and many other areas of life can prove corrosive to a marriage, causing one or both partners to become irritable, withdrawn, and disinterested in their spouse. Date nights can be helpful for relieving stress on couples as they enjoy time with one another. It also can help couples extend emotional support to one another.
5. Novelty – Most couples experience a decline in relationship quality after a few years of marriage, particularly due to a tendency to take each other for granted as time goes on. Because of this, couples who build fun, novel activities into their relationship can enjoy higher levels of relationship quality by cherishing and appreciating their marriage through these activities.
If you have time, we encourage you to read the National Marriage Project's 14-page report for yourself by clicking this link.
Date Night Rules:
• Avoid negative talk.
• Don’t spend time in the past, but focus on the present and the future.
• Don't criticize each other, but build each other up.
• Some topics are off limits - for example: kids, work, and money.
Tools to Strengthen Your Marriage
We believe that the greatest marriages are those where both husband and wife are putting time and energy into their personal relationship with Christ, and are seeking to grow their marriage by putting Jesus at the center of it. No couple has arrived at the best marriage possible, and every couple can benefit from ongoing training and education to help them live the godly and abundant lives intended by God. At Black Rock Church, our vision is that marriages will be more resilient and resistant to the whims of society, and that they will be a reflection of Jesus Christ's love towards mankind to all those around them.
We have searched for the very best educational tools to help marriages deal with the challenges of everyday life. The following small group studies cover a variety of subjects to build relational strength, promote communication, and enhance intimacy in your marriage. Contact Bob Donovan at for more information about any of these resources!
Marriage Resources From Gary Thomas
Sessions 1 -- Worship Your Way to a Better Marriage Watch Now Listen Now
Session 2 -- Sacred Journey Watch Now Listen Now
Session 3 -- Sexual Saints Watch Now Listen Now
Session 4 -- Journey Toward Love Watch Now Listen Now
Download Outlines Of The Sessions At www.brcc.org/
The Art of Marriage
This 6-week DVD study helps couples blend their personalities, and the circumstances of their lives, to create a divinely-inspired work of art — marriage! In this study, numerous leading marriage experts share their life lessons to help you have the marriage that God desires for you and your spouse to share!
This 6-week DVD study by Pastor Andy Stanley addresses the danger of setting unrealistic expectations in marriage. Topics include: Great Expectations, When Expectations Collide, One to Another, Husbands and Wives, It Takes Three, and Box Talk.
The 5 Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman teaches this 7-week DVD study that helps couples discover how the unique ways in which their spouse gives and receives love, and how to grow a stronger marriage by being aware of these "love languages."
From Anger to Intimacy
A 6-week DVD study from Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham that explores the roots of anger and the problems it brings into our relationships. Instead of “stuffing” or “spewing” anger, participants will learn a healthy third option – “studying it.”
Hearing the Heart of Your Spouse
From husband and wife team Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt, this 6-week DVD study titled A New Way to Love helps us learn a new way of talking and listening to one another.
Love and Respect
"Love and Respect" is a 10-week DVD study with Emerson Eggerichs on the importance of a husband loving his wife, and of a wife respecting her husband.
This 6-week DVD study by Gary Thomas will help you and your spouse discover deeper intimacy with God as you fulfill His overarching purpose for your marriage. This study has the potential to completely change how you view marriage, and will challenge you to grow closer to God and to one another every day.
This 6-week study from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott explores how to “crack the code” for having meaningful conversations with your spouse. Topics include: Basic Communication, Your Personal Talk Style, The Secret to Emotional Connection, When Not to Talk, and The Most Important Conversation You Will Ever Have.
Focus on Marriage
This DVD, produced at a Focus on the Family conference, features inspirational messages, powerful worship, and Biblical truths that will change the way you look at your relationship.
The Kingdom Family
Dr. Tony Evans' 6-week study on God's design for marriage explores topics such as: The Divine Purpose of Family, Becoming a Kingdom Husband, Becoming a Kingdom Wife.
One of the best ways for a couple to strengthen their marriage is to take a serious look at the current state of their relationship through a marriage assessment. Black Rock endorses both the Re-Focus and Prepare/Enrich marital assessments. Both of these assessments can be taken online, and address several topics, including Communication, Conflict Resolution, Relationship Styles, Sexual Relationship, Family and Friends, Finances, and others.
After each of you complete the online portion, you will each receive a private, individual 14-page PDF report that illustrates your strengths, as well as some areas in which you need to grow.
We recommend that you also get connected to a marriage mentor to help you understand the survey results, and to help you and spouse improve in the areas in which growth is necessary.
Contact Bob Donovan at for more information about how to take either of these assessments.