Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Building up homes one couple at a time the McLaren way – Part 1

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2020 | 12:13 AMTamara Bailey - Sunday Gleaner writer
Kemar and Datonya McLaren during one of their Facebook Live sessions.
Kemar and Datonya McLaren during one of their Facebook Live sessions.

For years, Datonya and Kemar McLaren endured many defeats in their marriage, and they thought on several occasions that they would not make it.

But today, they stand stronger than ever and are not only enjoying the gains of putting in the work but are helping couples around the world to preserve love and the institution of marriage.

Having been married for almost 12 years, the McLarens have gone through a lot, and they equally believe they have much to face in the future. But this time, they are way more prepared.

“Some of the past challenges were financial instability as I was still in university and my husband was barely making minimum wage. My mother-in-law was not well, and there was pressure as to how we would care for her. We had different communication styles – I was way too expressive, and he was not as expressive. There was little to no mentorship. There was much assumption that because we were believers/Christians, there was very little need for consistent guidance/counselling, both before and after marriage,” Datonya told Family & Religion.

It took a great level of honesty, prayer, work, and time for the couple to begin seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

“My husband and I made ourselves more marketable by improving our skills, our educational base, and got better jobs. Even more importantly, we approached issues or challenges as a team and worked to overcome difficulties. We received consistent counselling, along with hours and hours of conversations, so we could learn how to communicate effectively. We also went on dates as much as possible. We had a date every month until children came in the picture.”

It was seeing the hand of God in her own life that motivated Datonya to start her own ministry of praying women.

“Praying Women Ministries (formerly Praying Wives Ministries) began in August 2015. My then prayer partner, and still friend, Ruth Mitchell, who resided in Canada, and I decided we were going on a week of fasting and prayer about our marriage. I decided that I would incorporate over 10 other wives who I knew were experiencing similar or even worse issues in their marriages,” she said.

Datonya said some wives were being verbally and even physically abused, while some were dealing with infidelity, witchcraft, frustration of all kinds, and constant arguments.

“Each woman wanted God to make a change in their marriage, so we decided to fast for the one week. It was almost like a support group for wives. We have had six more events in the form of workshops for marriages, couples’ dinner, parenting seminar, and youth-empowerment sessions. Our biggest event is our annual couples’/relationship seminar, or dinner, called ‘Man and Woman Conversations Relationship Seminar’,” she continued.

Presently, this woman of God and her husband host live sessions on Facebook, where they share their testimonies and offer strategies, tools, and techniques that couples can employ to create healthy relationships.

“There are three necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage, and that is love for God, friendship, and honesty. Ensure that you and your spouse are friends because many days you won’t feel or even want to be a couple. But if you can talk and laugh about anything, then there is a point where you both can always come back to.

“Honesty is not a licence for saying things without consideration of your spouse’s feelings; it means to say it respectfully and with total openness. It is paramount that each partner loves God for themselves so you will be internally motivated to do what is right, regardless of the other person’s actions. It is love for God that I believe will be sufficient to keep you in the worst of days,” she ended.

Next week, we’ll learn more about the couple and common mistakes they think couples make that could ruin their marriages.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com