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Better than “I Love You”

SINCLAIRVILLE, N.Y.—The Northeast Fellowship planned a retreat for married couples from its churches.

Meeting at Bethany Camp on Father’s Day weekend, the 22 couples—newlyweds to those married for 49 years—enjoyed activities at the camp and thought-provoking sessions with pastors and their wives.

In three sessions, the couples in ministry addressed the theme “Better than ‘I Love You.’”

“I love you”: “We’re happy to hear it, may be hesitant to say it, and definitely know what it means,” says Brian King, executive director of the Northeast Fellowship. “Yet some phrases mean even more, because they’re more specific or assuring.”

Better than “I love you,” he says, are “I like you,” “I’ll help you,” “I’m for you,” “You’re my favorite,” and “I’m sorry.” And sometimes what’s better is no words at all.

The couples leading the sessions shared their personal stories from their own marriages, along with wisdom from God’s Word.

One couple leading a session was Elijah and Suzanne Beltz, pastor and wife at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Ithaca, New York. They led a session on saying, “You’re my favorite,” teaching couples to exclusively find satisfaction in each other above all else. “This selective position is not based on merit but on the choice to love each other above all,” Brian says.

Tim and Barb Mowers, pastor and wife at Calvary Baptist Church, Preble, New York, led a session on saying, “I’m for you.” Saying “I’m for you” means “wanting each other to succeed, providing, keeping promises, protecting, praying for, and partnering with each other in their Christian journey,” Brian says.

Jim Vogel, associate director of the Northeast Fellowship, and his wife, Jeannie, say that better than “I love you” is “I’ll help you.” In their session they pointed out that husbands and wives are meant to help each other.

The Northeast Fellowship thanks Bethany Camp for hosting this memorable and relaxing marriage-building weekend.