Jill: If you’ve been following us on Instagram and Facebook or seen some of our past blog posts, then you know that we recently traveled to Uganda to minister to the marriages of pastors there.

Mark: We were also able to teach on relationships at Uganda Christian University and did another marriage event at a church in Arusha, Tanzania.

Jill: Since we’re slowly becoming pros at traveling on a budget, we decided to use the opportunity to celebrate our 40-year anniversary with a two-day safari! Check out some highlights from Day 1 of the safari in this post.

Mark: From start to finish, this trip was really a case of God literally connecting dots that caused our lives to intersect with Daniel Tulibageny at a coffee shop in Atlanta which led to God working to use us to answer Daniel’s prayers to support marriages in Uganda. You can hear the whole story of how God connected the dots on Episode 135 of our podcast.

Jill: We were so excited to be able to teach our No More Perfect Marriages Seminar content plus additional sessions on rebuilding trust. We’ve had the privilege of bringing hope and help to marriages in the U.S. and in Europe, and it was a thrill to be able to add Uganda and Tanzania to that list! In fact, we already have plans to go back multiple times in the coming years because of the deep connections we formed there. Get this: There also were many couples who wanted to become certified marriage coaches so they can continue to teach the material to others.

Mark: Before we get into what our Uganda trip reminded us about marriage, we want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated, prayed, and made this trip possible! We utilized airline points for some of our flights and were hosted by generous families, but none of this could have happened without your generosity. Thank you!

Jill: We had such a wonderful time getting to share our seminar content and found that the pastors and their wives appreciated our style of teaching. In Uganda, it is typical for people to teach by theory. It isn’t as common to have people teaching by experience and being vulnerable about their own life. That seemed to make a very deep impact on them.

Mark: One of the most exciting parts of our trip was that we got to encourage the couples in Uganda to start practicing the “God Tools” in their own marriage and how they will be able to encourage other couples with their own marriage stories.

Jill: Today we wanted to share a few things our Uganda trip reminded us about marriage, and this leads in well to the first one:

1) We all struggle with similar things.

Mark: We all struggle with similar things. We were struck by how marriages all across the world are very similar in their challenges. People are people and marriages are marriages and we are more similar than we are different.

Jill: Many of the things that we regularly work with couples in our marriage coaching are some of the same things that we encountered in Uganda! It’s rather amazing how much the most common marriage issues transcend culture and location.

2) Communication is important.

Mark: The second thing our Uganda trip reminded us about marriage is how communication is important. In the busyness of life, most of us have a hard time really slowing down enough to have quality conversations and to check in with our spouse to see how they are really doing.

Jill: It’s true. We see that here in the States all the time when we have marriage conferences and have those who are attending practice safe conversations. It’s like it clicks for the first time how much they have been craving their spouse’s attention and understanding.

Mark: The same was true in Uganda. We found that many couples’ marriages were revitalized by slowing down and taking the time to have good quality conversations together.

3) Touch is important.

Jill: Definitely! The next thing our Uganda trip reminded us about marriage is the importance of touch. Mark and I like to say that touch in a marriage is like the gas to a car. You have to have it in order for the car to run!

Mark: In Uganda, physical touch in public is not culturally accepted; however, we really pushed for them to practice physical touch in their relationship. We recommend to all our couples that at the end of every safe conversation you hug your partner.

Jill: While this challenged some cultural norms, we found that this was one of the most valued topics of the conference! Many people even commented on how nice it was to be held by their spouse and experience nonsexual touch from them.

Mark: Navigating how cultural norms have dictated how couples not only show affection, but also how they interact after safe conversations was an interesting reality for us to help guide them through. I’m so glad we were able to help them see how nonsexual touch can bring reassurance and connection.

4) Our thinking affects our marriage.

Jill: One of the other things our trip reminded us about marriage is how our thinking can affect our marriage. Too often marriages are affected by the thoughts that we allow into our minds about our spouse. It doesn’t matter whether you speak English, Swahili, or Ugandan, we have to practice pushing our thoughts in a direction that gives life to our marriage.

Mark: Exactly. Believing the best about our spouse is vital to having a healthy marriage, repairing a marriage, or resolving conflict in a marriage. This is because our thinking directly affects our behaviors.

Jill: Are you ready for this next one?

5) We have to talk about sex outside the bedroom.

Jill: We did not go to Uganda thinking we were going to teach about sex, but well over 50% of the questions asked were on this topic! This was such a clearly popular topic that we decided we needed to arrange our schedule to include a full session about sex.

Mark: That was really surprising! However, this was a great reminder about the importance of talking about sex outside the bedroom.

Jill: You know, we’ve found in our marriage coaching in the USA and now in Uganda that couples don’t know how to have healthy conversations about sex outside of the bedroom. It’s so important that you and your spouse are able to have conversations around sex—about what we like or don’t like, our desires, what our experiences have been, and more.

Mark: Absolutely, and especially within many Christian circles, sex is still a topic that isn’t talked about often enough. Let’s change that!

Jill: We are so thankful to everyone that has supported this trip, prayed, and followed along on this journey. In case you missed any of it, we have an episode where I share how this opportunity was brought across my path in To Uganda with Love with Pastor Zachariah | Episode 135 and we shared during our trip the 4 Ways to Pray for Our Trip to Minister to Marriages in Uganda. You can still continue to pray for the people of Uganda, and we encourage you to do so along with us!

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