For Christmas my parents gave Gerald and me a registration to the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conference. They even gave us one night in the conference hotel (which happens to be 15 minutes from where we live) to help us “get away” from the busyness of life at home. We may only be 8 months into our marriage, but this past weekend’s conference was refreshing and reminded us of the importance of our marriage relationship and the things we need to do to make it work. The conference seemed to come at the perfect time too because this past week I was a lot more cranky and irritable at home, which I know didn’t help Gerald and my relationship. We’d both been so busy (even serving together) that I think we needed this time to step away from regular life and to just focus on time with each other and on our marriage.
FamilyLife has a variety of speakers that go on these conferences, which happen all across the country. We got to hear from Brian and Jennifer Goins and Brett Ray. They were great, entertaining speakers who also really knew how to hit home with their points.
We received A LOT of information all weekend long at the conference, but here are a few key things I took away from it:
1. Our marriage is the priority relationship. My relationship with Gerald is the most important human relationship in my life. Even above our relationships with our friends, with our families, and our future children. Our individual relationships with God should be our number one priority, but after that, we need to be focused on building our relationship with one another. Everything else should center around that. For me, that reminded me that even my personal needs and desires–like wanting to stick to my workout schedule or whatever other selfish things I may want to do. Marriage reveals just how selfish you are and I need to change my attitude and perspective and get back to focusing more intentionally on my relationship with God and with Gerald.
2. I need to respect my husband unconditionally. Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) says, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” When Jennifer spoke in the women’s only session on what it means to be a godly woman, she said we should put the word “unconditionally” in front of love and respect. As women, we want our husbands to love us unconditionally–even when we’re unlovable. But then we can’t take our side of the verse and only want to respect our husbands when they deserve it or earn it. This was challenging to me. Respect is a choice to receive your husband in spite of his weaknesses. I want to try and develop an attitude of unconditional respect toward Gerald.
3. It all comes down to my trust and faith in God. I love these quotes from our workbook: “A supportive wife trusts her husband to make decisions even if they are sometimes wrong (from your perspective), trusting that God can correct him and change him. A supportive wife has faith that God is in control of her life, her marriage, her children, her present circumstances, and her future” (emphasis mine). This is why my relationship with God needs to be my top priority. That relationship will help me to have a better, more loving, more respectful relationship with my husband. And if he is also seeking God, then I can trust that God is speaking to him and that my husband is listening. I don’t want to get in the way of God’s voice. I want my husband to do what God tells him to do, not what I tell him to do.
There are a lot of other things we learned too, especially in the area of communication and in the future with being mothers and fathers. If you are married (or even if you’re engaged–they have special sessions for you), I’d highly recommend attending one of these conferences. It’s worth the money! Think of it as a lifelong investment (because even after all your kids are gone, the one person you will still have in your life [hopefully] is your spouse). I could tell more stories like about how got to practice conflict resolution at the end of our Saturday date night, but maybe that’s for another post.
At the end of the conference, they had all the married couples stand and hold each others’ hands and recite some vows to each
other. These vows were essentially the marriage vows. It was pretty emotional just looking into Gerald’s eyes and saying those words again (or in a different way since we wrote our own wedding vows). The hard part now is being back in “reality” and putting what we learned into practice. So if you think of it, please pray for us as we seek to have our marriage mirror God’s example.
If you’d like to go on a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember, check the website here for upcoming dates and locations near you.