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Annual retreat teaches effective communication to young couples

This year’s annual relationship retreat is helping students take their relationships from good to great by teaching them the power of effective communication.

The retreat, “Communication: The Key to a Great Relationship” will include four sessions throughout the weekend with relational topics such as what true love looks like, effective communication, how to be a better listener, the power of prayer, healthy conflict management and several others.

The Rev. Jeff Sanders and his wife of 29 years, Mary, will be the key speakers at the retreat. Jeff is a minister and counselor and Mary is a marriage and family therapist.

Counselor Brenda Gunter helps with the retreat each year and said it will be beneficial to all who participate.

“The couples who participate in the retreat are able to learn keys to a healthy relationship,” Gunter said. “They are able to learn more about themselves individually and about their partner.”

According to Gunter, it is important for couples who are seriously dating or engaged to take part in some form of relationship-building activities, whether it be the relationship retreat or a form of premarital counseling.

“I think that any kind of foundational tools you can have for a marriage relationship, or for a couple relationship, is very important,” Gunter said. “Just being able to communicate better in a relationship,and being able to handle conflict in a positive manner, and it’s the basis of the relationship retreat. It’s Biblical.”

 Following the retreat is a small group follow-up session for those who attended. The small groups will cover questions to help students apply strategies they learned from the retreat in their relationships.

Students will also complete an assessment for the Center of Healthy Relationships to assess the effectiveness of the training throughout the program.

Gunter said she has personally seen the retreat generate positive results among couples who attended in the past.

“This retreat has been helpful to many couples in the past,” Gunter said. “We have received a lot of positive feedback as to how couples were able to communicate more effectively, and how they felt that they were being heard by their partner.”

According to Gunter, her goal for this year’s retreat is for couples to develop better communication skills.

“I hope that couples who attend the retreat will learn how to effectively communicate and manage conflict with their spouse or significant other,” Gunter said.

The relationship retreat begins Friday, Oct. 14 at 5:30 p.m. and concludes Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. The retreat is free to Oklahoma Christian students.

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