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Minister, wife deal with major transitions

Couple uses marriage counseling training to ease into life changes

POSTED: July 27, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Like a lot of young married couples, Tyler and Catie Smiley’s lives are in the midst of a major transitional period.

After spending the past 3« years in Denver, Colo., where Tyler attended Denver Seminary, the couple has moved back home to Gainesville. Just in time, too, because Catie is pregnant with their first child, a boy due Aug. 1.

Tyler recently started his first full-time pastoral position at Lakewood Baptist Church where he serves as the associate missions pastor. His father is senior pastor Tom Smiley.

“In a two-month span, we’ll have finished my graduate school program, moved across the country, moved into a new house, started a new job and had our first child,” Tyler said smiling at Catie. “This is like all the things you think will progress over time. We’re just kind of like ‘yeah, we’ll just do it all at one time.’”

While the weight of so many major changes could crush some relationships, the Smiley’s are bracing for changes by considering their training as Prepare and Enrich premarital and marriage councilors. While in Denver, the couple became certified marriage counselors through the same program that provided their premarital counseling five years ago when they married at Lakewood Baptist Church at the age of 21. Catie said when she thinks about the amount of life changes they’re facing together in such a concentrated amount of time she’s glad for the training.

“It’s been nice to have those strategies in the back of your mind,” Catie said. “Like how to communicate with one another and make sure things are going well on the job, getting ready for a new baby and moving into a new house. ... I think the counseling program prepared us and has been helpful for us to kind of check the temperature so to speak as to how things have been going in this big time of change.”

Tyler said their own experience with premarital counseling and later the certification process has been “extremely healthy” for his relationship and his life.

“It influences everything that you do, your marriage,” Tyler said. “It really does. It has an impact on your life with friends, your relational life, your work life. When you have kids obviously it’s going to impact that. More than anything, I just want to see healthy marriages and healthy families.”

Discipleship pastor Scott Smith and his wife, Dawn, women’s ministry director, provided premarital counseling to the Smileys and some 200 other couples throughout the years. Scott Smith said the six- to eight-week program allows couples to see where they might experience tension in the relationship and how they can overcome the challenges they will eventually face, particularly in a premarital context. Many couples are still in a honeymoon phase while engaged and during the first few years of marriage.

“They’re just so in love with one another they marry in that phase,” Scott Smith said. “Well, most of us know that the honeymoon phase wears off and the reality sets in. The beauty of this process is we walk through all these potential pitfalls you’re really somewhat prepared to begin handling in a mature way the issues that are going to come.”

Smith said the process seems to be successful; only seven couples he and his wife have counseled have divorced.

The church has eight other trained facilitators available to counsel couples. The Smileys expect to begin counseling other couples before they tie the knot in the near future.

Appointments may be made by calling the church at 770-532-6307.


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