Gary, you've been on the front lines of relationship counseling for decades, what do you think about the state of marriage in 2003?

I think the state of marriage is not very healthy in general-but the alarming news is that Christians are doing no better than the general populace at keeping their unions together.  A recent article in The Los Angeles Times reported that one-third of "born-again" Christians have gone through at least one divorce.  This statistic has surprised many believers, especially when they realize that this percentage is the same as for marriages in general. 

How do you think church leaders should respond to this news?

More than ever, church leaders need to realize that being a Christian does not guarantee a "happily ever after" scenario.  My recommendation is that churches make healthy marriages a primary goal for every couple in the pew.  We need to quit pointing the finger at the "world" in relation to marriage problems and realize that it is the unions inside the church that need protection and nurture.  Pre-marital counseling, marriage mentoring and ongoing "relationship renewal" needs to become part of a church's programming and passion.

What are you doing at the Smalley Relationship Center to aid marriages in the United States?

Well, we are all about marriages-our center's goal is to increase couples' satisfaction in marriage and to lower the divorce rate.  We offer resources, training, counseling, powerful marriage intensive programs and conferences year-round, but I'm especially excited about our annual Couples Conference-which we are calling "Real Love in the Real World" this year.  This live event is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 in Branson, MO, and tickets for the live event are still available via www.smalleyonline.com.  This event will also be available live via satellite to churches so couples across the nation can enjoy this incredible lineup of experts. 

Who are the speakers at the "Real Love in the Real World" Conference?

There are so many great experts on the docket.  Here's a quick rundown of the speakers and their topics:

  • Gary Smalley:  Resolving Conflicts
  • Beth Moore:  Understanding Forgiveness
  • Michael Smalley:  Taking Personal Responsibility
  • Dr. Gary Chapman:  Learning Love Languages
  • Dennis & Barbara Rainey:  Pursuing Intimacy
  • Comedian Dennis Swanberg and music artist Kim Boyce

What kind of couple should consider attending the 2003 Couples Conference?

Any couple can benefit from this conference-as long as they enjoy learning, laughing and growing.  The event is designed for couples in all stages, from newly weds to those celebrating golden anniversaries.  And the conference topics range from forgiveness and resolving conflict to intimacy, personal responsibility and individual love languages.  There is information and encouragement available for every couple.

What if you can't get to Branson for the March 15 live event?

Well, there's a great option right in your own backyard.  Couples who want to stay close to home can attend the one-day satellite simulcast at a local church.  Hundreds of churches around the country will host the marriage conference locally via satellite simulcast.  Couples attending the conference at a local church will enjoy exactly the same events we will in Branson: a lineup of great speakers, humor, music and encouragement.  Just log on to www.smalleyonline.com to check out the most current list of host churches-we're adding new ones every day!