When Naomi first got married, she knew cultivating a healthy marriage required time and effort. Hearing about marriage courses and conferences that grow and challenge relationships, she decided that she wanted to do something intentional with her husband every year going forward to rejuvenate their marriage.

After her wedding, however, she quickly discovered that it was harder to find marital resources than she thought. They had moved to rural Tasmania, and the newlyweds found that there were no marriage conferences and courses in close proximity.

“It’s quite hard when you live in the country to get to any conferences,” Naomi explains. “It was not really achievable.”

It took ten years for the couple to find an opportunity. Despite having a happy and content relationship, Naomi’s interest was piqued one day when she heard an advertisement over the radio as she was driving. The message was an endorsement for Focus on the Family Australia’s online marriage course called Real Life: Real Love. The five-week video seminar provides tools for relational success and is designed to challenge couples to communicate better.

Naomi remembered her early desire to seek intentional growth with her husband, so when another advertisement for the course popped up on her Facebook feed later that day, she felt like it was a sign. Unlike other out-of-reach resources, Real Life: Real Love’s online accessibility meant that Naomi and her husband could finally participate from the comfort of their home. Taking a leap of faith, the couple decided to sign up.

Naomi had heard of Focus on the Family before, but this was the first time she looked into one of their resources. When she had heard Focus’s radio segments in the past, she thought the programs were created for an American audience and the messages wouldn’t appeal to her family. However, because Real Life: Real Love was run by an Australian couple for Australians, she felt like she could relate to the relational and cultural issues that the couple in the seminar talked about.

“Their honesty was probably the most appreciated part,” she says. “If they hadn’t been so real about their marriage and how their life had been, it might have felt a bit like a lecture. But it was more a testimony at the same time. So it created hope, and it reminded us that God is with us in all things and will use difficult circumstances for good in our marriage as well.”

The seminar gave Naomi and her husband tools to work through conflict, talk about their communication styles, and identify why and how they individually react to each other’s responses. Not only did the discussions provide them skills to put in practice and topics to reflect on, but it showed them that even a happy marriage like their own can always grow.

“It was a big encouragement that marriage is something that you keep working on forever,” she says. “It inspired us to keep being intentional to work on things and improve.”

Now, after seeing how Focus Australia instructed on marriage in a non-prescriptive and relatable way, Naomi is looking into more resources for tools as a mother with her seven-year-old son. Before participating in the online course, she says never would have bothered to seek parenting advice.

“I didn’t want to be taught a certain way of doing it,” she explains. “I just wanted some skills and strategies. But ultimately [with the marriage course], it was about involving God in the process, too. I liked the way Focus did it. Just one experience — it made me want to use them more.”

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