Once a teacher, always a teacher. If an individual becomes very skilled in a specific area, some develop a compelling drive to want to pass on that expertise to others. That seems to be the case with one Broken Arrow couple, Charles and Becky Zwick.
Oral Roberts University Professor Emeritus of Media Production Charles Zwick taught for over 40 years. Passing on knowledge is in his blood. So too with wife Becky Zwick. She taught music for years before seeing the need for a guiding hand with students. Back to school she went and earned the credentials to become the Coweta School Counselor. Clearly, both were bit by the teaching bug and the desire to invest in others.
There often is a pattern that one life experience prepares individuals for the next step. With a lifetime of teaching under their belts, the Zwicks continue their instructing but this time in a more crucial area of life, marriage, and they use the Marriage Encounter, a weekend experience that brings insight into the marriage-relationship building, as their platform. But to back up a bit, how did the Zwicks become the Zwicks?
When hearing about a married couple’s first meeting, individuals expect to hear how awestruck they were the moment their eyes met. Ehhhhh! Not so in this fairy tale. Charles Zwick’s sister, Karyn, and Becky Coxe were roommates in a traveling choir and Karyn Zwick had spent the summer talking about her remarkable brother. When Becky Coxe finally did meet him, she wasn’t impressed. He looked young, she didn’t like his hair and, besides, she was dating someone else, but the ole charmer started making his move. That’s when he overheard something giving him hope that he had a chance with her.
“Finding out that she once lived in Toronto and enjoyed hockey, and in her words, ‘I would go with a dog to a hockey game,’ I thought, ‘Great! If I could just get some hockey tickets, I’d qualify,’” Zwick said.
Fast-forward 50 years; there are the Zwicks today, two children and two grandchildren. Even teachers can learn a lot in 50 years, and this duo shares what they have gleaned. Their marriage is rock solid, communication is good and the two cherish their time together, and they have some non-negotiable concepts they live by.
Becky Zwick says she honors her mate by encouraging and praising him. She feels if she doesn’t communicate that to him, he could feel discouraged and undervalued. In addition, she will fix him a big breakfast or his favorite cake and even sit through television shows she has no interest in so he can watch, all in the name of compromise.
When things get intense, they each remember the problem is the problem, and they need to work together to solve the problem. Only one person is allowed to talk at a time, no one talking over the other. If the topic is too tough to talk about, they may write each other a letter expressing their feelings. This bride tries to be sensitive to his needs and gives her partner time and space. She tells her husband several times per day she loves him and apologizes when she is wrong. Sounds pretty intentional, doesn’t it? Well, this couple takes their relationship seriously, and the fruit of it is pretty evident. Becky Zwick is the feisty one of the two, and sometimes she can get herself in trouble. What was her last infraction?
“I said something I shouldn’t have said,” Becky Zwick said humbly. “I got the slight turn of the neck, the eye and a small shaking of the head.”
His latest infraction? Hogging the remote, but there’s no unforgiveness, and the ole charmer moves on to work his magic. Charles Zwick still opens all doors and pulls out the chair for his sweet wife. You can even find him asking, “What can I do to help you today?” He recognizes that he married up, and he wants to keep Mama happy.
This husband has a plan. He likes to focus more on how much he can give, submit or sacrifice. He doesn’t subscribe to the philosophy that marriage should be a 50/50 relationship; he says it should be 100/100. He puts Becky Zwick at the top of his to-do list and through loving service, he picks up some of the household chores. He is determined to give the gift of attention and through his actions win her respect. He feels his spouse is his loving, nourishing and cherishing project.
With all this focused attention to their relationship, does this couple ever fight? Sure. Doesn’t everybody from time to time?
“Fighting is communication,” Charles Zwick said. “It’s not the best or preferred method, but it’s sometimes necessary and the choice of last resort. It can be good if it is productive and when each can admit when they are wrong or being unfair. Both mates can be right to some degree and wrong to some degree on the same issue. The best one is when there is no true winner or loser with no guilt or blame. We talk directly and honestly and always tenderly.”
This husband gives his wife preference whenever possible. The irony is she’s doing the same, almost a contest of who will be more accommodating to the other. They both want to please the other and be the more selfless one.
The male Zwick counterpart refers to the Good Book for his marriage advice.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” Charles Zwick said quoting Ephesians 5:21. “The Greek word for ‘submit’ used there is ‘hypotasso,’ and in all its flavors it means ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in,’ ‘cooperating,’ ‘assuming responsibility for’ or ‘carrying a burden for one another.’”
But so many couples battle in their marriages. How do they backtrack and identify their issues when emotions run high? The professor has some wise advice.
“While dating both generally try to always put our best self out there to allow ourselves to be more attractive and lovable,” Charles Zwick said. “Our flaws become evident, our annoying habits which were once overlooked or minimized now are more fully exposed. Our expectations and views of marriage have been shaped by our parents’ marriage, media portrayals of marriage and judgments we have heard made by others about marriage.”
Becky Zwick admits she was like most brides when they got married and thought the union would be like in the movies. That lasted all of three weeks. She recalled that her hubs was a production manager at a television station and working about 90 to 100 hours per week. Real-life was not what she was wanting.
“After nearly 50 years of marriage, it was all worth it,” Becky Zwick said. “There will be disappointments. We’ve faced a miscarriage, health scares with both daughters, the deaths of all our grandparents, the deaths of both sets of parents and the death scare of my advanced stage four cancer diagnosis. I’d take real-life marriage with Charles over [idealistic] expectations any day. We choose to love because love is a decision.”
The Marriage Encounter
Statistics show that in the United States 41 percent of all first marriages, 60 percent of all second marriages and 73 percent of all third marriages end in divorce with a split taking place every 13 seconds. Because Charles and Becky Zwick have developed such a stable relationship and have watched other couples struggle and break up, they desire to combine their teaching, belief system and life experience to help others with the most important relationship in life. What they teach is a curriculum of a different sort, the Marriage Encounter found at www.agme.org.
Marriage Encounter is not marriage counseling, a sensitivity session, a marriage retreat or a marriage conference. It is a crash course in learning a technique of communication that couples can take home with them. If a marriage is good, after a Marriage Encounter, it can become better. If a marriage is struggling, it can experience healing and redirection.
The next Marriage Encounter weekend in Tulsa is Oct. 1-3 and held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tulsa. The registration fee is $75. They do take a Pay-It-Forward offering.
Marriage Restored weekends are for couples in crisis who have more serious problems in their marriage such as separation, adultery, addiction, pornography, gambling and other life-controlling issues. This session is about being vulnerable without fear or judgment and is found at www.marriagerestored.com.
“With most marriage conferences, you leave impressed with the speaker. After leaving a Marriage Encounter weekend, you leave impressed with your spouse.”
– Dave, Marriage Encounter attendee.
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