By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
On May 5th to 22nd, my wife Janice and I spent three weeks in Uganda and Rwanda speaking on marriage and renewal. We first spoke, by invitation of Canon Medad Birungi, at the Healing for the Nations Conference in Rwentobo, Ntungamo, the site of the East Africa Revival. Last year there was 25,000 people attend this annual renewal conference. We met Canon Medad through our good friends Pastors Giulio and Lina Gabeli of Westwood Church in Coquitlam. He came to visit our St. Simon’s people at a midweek gathering held at one of our congregant’s houses. After our time in Uganda, which will involve a brief safari, we went 100 miles south to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda where we were invited by Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini to lead some marriage conferences.
We brought our new marriage book with us. The title for our new book is ‘For Better, For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship.” The book is a popular reworking of my doctoral thesis produced five years ago.
Here is an excerpt from our new book to whet your interest:
Kneeling at the communion rail with her ex-husband, Linda said to her priest, Ed, “Someday I would like to marry Lloyd again.” As Linda had said this several times before in previous sessions—and Lloyd had said the same—Ed said “Why not now?” She replied, “Sure, why not?” Everyone was thrilled that the communion unexpectedly concluded with a romantic marriage service. Linda and Lloyd had been divorced for six years before remarrying that day. We will never forget that wedding celebration. Linda and Lloyd later took part in our Strengthening Marriage Workshop, and discovered new ways to improve their relationship.
What if we told you that this book, if you put its principles into practice, would send you on a romantic adventure with your beloved? What if we told you that, by reading and applying this book, you would discover the keys to a lasting satisfying relationship? Marriage is very important to Ed and Janice (authors of this book and organizers of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop). We have learned much in forty years of marriage, for better and for worse at times, and want to help other couples benefit from our discoveries about how to have a lasting, fulfilling marriage. We have made many painful mistakes in our marriage. In For Better, for Worse, we pull back the veil on our imperfect marriage and share some of our embarrassing and often humorous moments. Authentic, non-judgmental story-telling is one of the keys to healing of relationships, especially in marriage. Too many marriages nowadays crash and burn. It doesn’t have to be that way. Are you willing to try an experiment on how to do relationships in a whole new way? Would you like to end the cycle of broken relationships and marriages among your family and friends? Healing can start with you. You may remember how Jesus asked the probing question “Do you want to be well?” Do you want your present or future marriage to be whole and healthy?
This book is written for married couples, engaged couples, and those interested in being married one day. Ed and Janice learned extensively about Family Systems Theory while Ed was doing his doctorate. This book integrates family and biblical wisdom about how to strengthen one’s marriage and relationships. Each of the seventeen chapters unpacks key elements of what a healthy marriage can look like. The first four chapters cover the four weeks of the Strengthening Marriage Workshop, developed during the doctoral studies. The four-fold focus of these four weeks is on strengths, differences, conflict, and intimacy. Even if you read and apply just the first four chapters, you will gain new eyes to understand your marriage relationship in a brand new way. Are you tired of seeing your partner with the same old eyes? Would you like to discover who they really are, beyond the mask?
To say “for better, for worse” sounds very romantic on the wedding day. To live it out ’til death do us part is much more challenging. Many couples naively think that because of their loving feelings toward each other, they won’t face the “for worse” part. Do we have the courage to radically embrace the gift and challenge of the marriage vows “for better, for worse”? Marital joy is a deep joy that spills over into every corner of a family. Marital pain, likewise, is a deep family pain. We know of few families who have not experienced both joy and deep pain in their primary relationships. Has this been the case for your family? This book is about coming alongside people who long for more stable and satisfying marriages. Throughout the book, questions are asked that you can work on, perhaps through journalling and, at the right time, through sharing with your partner. Thoughtful questions can take your relationship to a whole new level of intimacy. If you even half-embrace the principles in this book, your marriage will never be the same.
 Names have been changed. It was not a coincidence that our St. Simon’s North Vancouver congregation had just the day before taken a bold and costly stance for marriage. We believe that this wedding was a token of the Lord’s favour on our new adventure in which we as a congregation took a stand for biblical marriage. To learn more about this journey, you are invited to read Ed’s earlier book Battle for the Soul of Canada.