Being happily married for 25 years and serving in ministry the entire time, Cathy and I have stumbled upon the reality that a lot of ministry leaders are looking for help, guidance and coaching in regards to their marriage. We didn’t intend to become marriage counselors and/or mentors, but we find ourselves in situations where we offer help and hope.

Last night was one of those experiences where I had (months earlier) said “yes” to a speaking engagement and it became better for me than my audience. It was an easy “yes” because my friend/mentor/hero Jim Burns asked me to join him for a marriage retreat at an incredible location (the Montage in Laguna Beach). Originally, I was supposed to speak Friday night and Saturday night and Jim was going to do the morning sessions, but with all that was happening this week (the death of my mom) Jim said, “Why don’t you just speak Friday night and take Saturday to sleep, rest and be ministered to.” What a gracious gift!

Today’s day of rest and “doing nothing” in one of the most beautiful settings in the world has ministered to my body. The speaking time last night was so fun and exciting because it was so different than what I normally do. Typically, I’m speaking to church leaders about their “job” and here I was speaking to couples about their “life.” The depth of interest, the desire for help, the longing for practical advice was so refreshing. I hope to do more of these types of marriage events. It was good for my heart and my soul in the midst of a trying few weeks.

Here are a few thoughts from my talk last night:

1. This is a stereotype, but when women say, “We need to talk more”, most men immediately move to feelings of guilt and failure. One guy said, “When my wife says, ‘We need to talk’… I think I’m in trouble.”

2. We have come to believe that more talking is essential for our marriages.

3. While talking is very important, what most people are really looking for is a deeper connection with their spouse. They’re not looking for more words, they’re looking for a stronger connection.

4. Instead of making “more talk” your goal and forcing times of talking (which typically lead to calendar, to-do, and talk about the kids), make it a goal to connect in more natural ways (hanging together, no agenda times together, being together).

5. My experience has been that the deeper the connecting…the deeper the conversations.

6. Talking isn’t the goal, connecting is.

What do you think? Which is the case for you: does connecting lead to talking, or does talking lead to connection.