Gathered around a long table in the basement of a tidy home in a subdivision near Steel Lake on a recent Wednesday night, six married couples are working on their marriages.
They swap stories about problems ranging from household chores to whether it’s OK for your husband to slip away to a nightclub on a Saturday night.
They readily admit that married life is not always bliss. Problems, big and small, are always just around the corner.
One couple explains to the group one of those problems: the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue had found its way into their home. She did not like such a sexy publication floating around; and he did not realize the bother it was causing and that he could just throw it away. But a tussle over a magazine revealed deeper affairs, like lust, trust and communication.
Unsurprisingly, other couples chimed in on the discussion about issues of trust — most notably, trusting their spouse around members of the opposite sex.
An overarching theme of the group is that you’re not alone in your marital problems.
Wednesday’s group is one of four that meet around Federal Way each month and includes 24 couples. They all attend Christ the King Bible Fellowship church, and they’re all interested in strengthening their marriage.
The group is facilitated by Ronda and Terome Fulmore, married for 17 years. Their mission:
“To grow people from every tribe, tongue and nation into disciples,” Terome Fulmore said.
That is, for couples to find strength by talking out their problems — together — with lessons from the Bible as a base.
In addition to the home-based meetings, Christ the King holds marriage workshops every second Saturday of the month. And the Fulmores are working up to a big marriage symposium on May 7, “Relieving the Pressures in Marriage.” The event runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will include workshops and speakers, including the Rev. Andre Sims; his mother, Connie Sims; mentor Debrena Jackson-Gandy; the Rev. Kathei McCoy; and Herb Hartso, a financial advisor.
Terome Fulmore kicked off the April 6 meeting by asking whether any of the couples had experienced issues related to serving, which was the theme from the previous meeting.
Latoya Hampton did. She shared a story about how one night, near bedtime, her husband, Jabari, had pushed aside the clothes she had laid out for the next day, preparing to iron only his own clothes. Instead of fighting, she decided that she would just suck it up and iron both sets of clothes.
Jabari explained that he was tired, and was focused on getting up early, having to be at work in Redmond by 6 a.m.
“You pushed my stuff aside for Redmond?” she chided him.
The lesson? Serving each other has to be mutual.
The group studies from a book called “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” by Gary Chapman. That Wednesday’s lesson was “becoming friends with my feelings.” The topic led to a discussion on emotions — specifically, do men tend to hide their feelings?
Some couples have been members of the group for a long time, saying that they feel like the people they have met are part of their family. Some say they’re the first married-couple friends they’ve made.
“It’s really big to be around couples going along the same path,” Brook Lamar said.
“We’ve made a (180 degree turn),” said her husband, Colin, of their relationship since joining the group.
“It’s like I got glasses,” said Latoya Hampton. “I can see my way through, as before I was feeling my way through.”
If you go
Registration for the May 7 marriage symposium is available at www.DevotedSpouses.org, and a registration fee of $30 applies. Or, email Terome and Ronda Fulmore at CKBF.firstname.lastname@example.org. Free childcare is available. The symposium takes place at Christ the King Bible Fellowship at 35448 11th Avenue Southwest.
Free marriage counseling sessions take place from 9:30 a.m to 11 a.m. every second Saturday at Christ the King with Rev. Andre Sims. Childcare is free.