“It’s a huge challenge for couples to have a healthy marriage when they have never seen a healthy marriage.”
~ Gary Jones
“I Am ME” profiles people teaching relationship and marriage education classes in their local communities. We call this series “I Am ME,” both because “ME” is an acronym for “Marriage Education” and in honor of a poem about self-esteem written by the late Virginia Satir.
Gary and Nancy Jones have been married for 43 years. After a career in law enforcement in Wichita, Kansas, Gary Jones left the police department to go into ministry. He completed his Masters of Divinity and served as a church pastor for 10 years. Gary began working full time in the mental health field as a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist in Kansas. He completed a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2004 while working as the Director of Emergency Services at the Prairie View Community Mental Health Center and Psychiatric Hospital near Wichita. In 2005, Gary Jones began serving the Lincoln Berean Church in Lincoln, Nebraska as Pastor of Counseling Resources. He and his wife have two grown sons and two grandsons. They have shared a marriage enrichment ministry together for the last five years.
1. What led you to want to teach relationship and marriage education?
I began doing marriage counseling as a pastor in 1982. I was alarmed that most of the counseling effort came in the form of repairing damage that was already done. I began dreaming about building a fence at the edge of the cliff rather than simply working in the emergency room at the bottom of the cliff.
2. How are the challenges facing young couples today different?
When my sons were in high school, one of them came home and made the observation that he was the only person he knew at school whose parents were not divorced. Since my personal conviction is that we learn more about marriage by watching our parents than we learn through the educational process, I believe it is a huge challenge for couples to have a healthy marriage when they may have never seen a healthy marriage.
3. How has being a marriage education instructor affected your family?
I believe that empathetic listening saved my family. It certainly helped when our sons were in their teens. My wife and I always tried to listen to what the boys were saying, paraphrase back their thoughts and reflect their feelings before we engaged in correction or instruction. We also followed that model in our conflicts with each other. I believe it made our home a safe place.
4. What are some favorite hobbies you enjoy as a family?
We enjoy hunting, fishing, photography, and just hanging out and being together.
5. What qualities would you like your family to most admire in you?
The love I have for my family, my patience, and being a person of prayer.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like us to feature a Relationship and Marriage Educator in your community, please e-mail their name, contact information, and a brief statement about why you’d like to see them profiled on the FatherhoodChannel.com to firstname.lastname@example.org.