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Passing On A Legacy Of Epic Marriage

Passing On A Legacy Of Epic Marriage February 2, 2015

Mike and Diane Siri offer a great example of what a second act in life and ministry might look like. They’d each built successful careers in the business world during the first half of their lives.

“After twenty-five years in the corporate world, I realized I wasn’t pursuing my passion, which is the development and nurturing of God-honoring relationships,” Mike told me. “As I began pursuing a path of helping others restore, nurture and celebrate relationships, a vision began to form of a family retreat center. Around the same time, Diane completed her master’s degree and received her credentials as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.  As she began to build her practice, she realized much of her work was also around relationships – helping individuals, couples and families restore broken ones or recover from difficult ones.”

The couple opened The Relationship Center in a bright, big storefront space in Wauconda, IL in 2009. The Center has offered a variety of spiritual formation groups, provided meeting space for church and community gatherings, and houses Diane’s counseling practice. I first met Mike through my work with the former Catalyst Lake County/Christ Together Chicago church networking organization. When I felt as though depression would swallow me whole four years ago, God led me to Diane’s offices. When If Only released last summer, I had the book release celebration at The Relationship Center.

As the Siris have continued to develop their work, God has clarified for them what he’s given them to pass on to others. “The assignment I sensed God giving me was two-fold,” Mike said. “The first was to be a mentor to husbands and fathers by simply sharing the wisdom I have gained through my marriage journey. Part two was to partner with my wife, Diane, in working with couples on their relationships with God and each other through counseling and teaching. Of all of the assignments I have been given over the years, by God and by man, none is more exciting to me than this one.  I have the privilege of playing some part in God’s plan of revival by simply sharing and teaching about what I love the most – being a husband and a father.”

1280px-Couple_clasping_handsTo that end, the couple has developed the Epic Marriage workshop. The Epic Marriage approach is markedly different than the usual How To (Quick) Fix Your Marriage offerings offered by many churches, which tend to focus on tasks and external behaviors: go on a weekly date night, improve communication, have more sex, get your financial house in order. While each of those have value, the Siris call to bring renewal to marriages flows from their desire to help each individual discover who God has made them to be in marriage. I recently had an opportunity to ask Mike some questions about how the Epic Marriage message was formed in them, and what they’re seeing God do as they come alongside churches to provide content that is bringing real, permanent change to the couples with whom they’re working.

 

Q. How long have you and Diane been married? Can you tell me a little bit about your respective faith journeys and where you currently attend church?

We have been married for 35 years and have been blessed with two awesome daughters, Katie and Molly, who are both amazing wives to two great sons-in-law, Dave and Joe. Molly and Joe are expecting their first baby – our first grandchild – this summer.

We were both raised in traditional liturgical denominations and worshiped in the same for the first 20 years of our marriage before being led to experience other denominational churches. We had the blessing of individually attending renewal weekends early on in our marriage which helped us understand what a relationship with God looks like and to begin the journey of experiencing Him first hand. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, we have been called to and are members of The Sign of the Dove Church in Waukegan, IL, which is a racially- and economically-diverse, full-gospel, non-denominational body of believers.

 

Q. What was the impetus that launched the two of you into trying to help other couples strengthen their marriages?

I realized years ago I was content with a very good marriage but God didn’t create very good – He created what we’ve deemed as EPIC. We see the increased attack of evil on marriages. God’s plan is to revive these relationships. We have been blessed by the refinement that has taken place in our marriage through the refinement of us individually and through the understanding of God’s purpose and design for marriage and the conviction to seek that.
Q. What makes your Epic Marriage workshop different than all of the marriage seminars and retreats offered by various churches? What is your emphasis? Who would benefit most from attending a workshop like this?
 What separated us from other workshops or conferences is that we bring both a psychological and spiritual focus to the teaching – a male/female and counselor/coach approach. Close to a third of the time in  is focused on the individual – intimacy with self – before we focus on intimacy with God and with each other. Over the 10 weeks we develop relationships with the attendees which may result in further counseling and coaching once the workshop is complete. We would discourage couples who are in crisis from attending, but rather they seek individual counseling first.
Q. What would you most want church leaders to know about your ministry? About the way in which they counsel/coach pre-married and married couples?
 So much of the teaching and counseling today focuses on behavior rather that the heart of the individuals/couple. The behavior is usually the result of woundedness or faulty teaching, and leads to bitterness, unforgiveness and retaliation. If that’s not addressed, understood and healed, the marriage relationship can not fulfill God’s plan and purpose. When we do pre-marital counseling, most often through Diane’s counseling training and experience, we often uncover brokenness that has not been addressed and if left alone will lead to conflict once the “honeymoon” is over. Our work with couples, whether married or moving toward it, most often begins with, and always includes, individual work.
Q. What are your dreams for this ministry?
Wow! Our dream is what God told us – that He would bring revival through marriage, one couple at a time, and that He would use us in that process. We hope to continue moving toward Epic in our own marriage, experiencing the joy that that brings, and share the wisdom from our journey with others seeking that same joy of the Master. We love teaching the workshop and adding more wisdom to it each time we present it. We want to offer it more and more, both at The Relationship Center and at churches, and we hope to train up other couples in the process who can facilitate the workshop and be mentors for marriage at their church.
Q. How would you like people to pray for you? If they have questions, how would they contact you?

 Pray for a revival of understanding in the church about what it means to be in a covenant marriage, of greater understanding of God’s plan and design for marriage and that Diane and I will be obedient in whatever God calls us to in this area. We can be reached through our website or via email (mike (AT) therelationshipcenter.org)

 

Image: Creative Commons 2.0


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