Giving our marriage “a hug”: Our “Weekend To Remember” experience

If you follow me on instagram or facebook, you saw that my husband and I attended one of Family Life’s “Weekend to Remember” conferences a couple weekends ago. I wasn’t going to blog about it, but decided that I would because I’m trying to give you all a better peek into my real life. (It’s not all about fitness and health, ya know!)

I’m not sure if you are familiar with this conference at all. You can find more information about it here, but it’s something that my husband (Kory) and I have been wanting to do for a while now. We passed our 9 year anniversary in October and our marriage is anything but blissful (as I wrote about here) so giving it a “hug” every now and again is so important.

We almost didn’t go. We had such a busy March and we have a lot of expenses and trips coming up over the next few months that this was put to the back burner. It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon (we left Friday evening) that I booked it.

We were coming off of a crazy week (what’s new?) so Kory got home from work, we packed up, and then met up with my in-laws to drop off the kids. We got into a little argument on the way to the conference and I texted one of my friends to ask her to pray, as the tension was already coming out. I’m thankful for technology that helps in a time of need and for a friend who really does take my requests to the throne of God! After we grabbed some food court for dinner (nothing like starting out the weekend healthy, right?!) and checking into our room, we piled into the conference room.

And because I know you are DYING to know if I worked out in the hotel room….I didn’t! Boo! I love exercising at hotel gyms but I just didn’t have time!

Family Life has a team of speakers that attend the conferences. We had 2 couples who alternated talking about the different subjects. They used a lot of humor to lighten the mood (You gotta know that there were some heavy hearts in there…not to mention some who were worried about what they were going to have to do!) and it really did help. They provide a workbook for each of you to guide you as the speakers were up there. It wasn’t a lot of filling in which is nice for those of you who hate doing that kind of stuff.

Their presentations used videos, music, humor, real life stories and of course, scripture!

Here’s what I loved about the conference:

1.) Every piece of advice is rooted in scripture.

They set the tone for what constitutes marriage and then use scripture to back up any words of wisdom they would give us. While you know these things, it never hurts to hear them again

2.) Very spirit lead.

While you are at the conference, people who volunteer or work for Family Life are in the back praying for us by name. They had been praying for those signed up before the conference too. I just loved that! Of course, they invite you to pray by yourself, and then pray with your partner. So there’s no doubt that the Spirit was moving in the hearts of those who were attending.

3.) They give you intentional time with your spouse.

The conference isn’t all about receiving information–it’s about taking that information then making it practical. So they give you break out sessions to go touch base with your spouse in regards to those.

Our very dear friends (parents to 4 girls!) were there, too!

Of course, I have some things of caution that you may want to consider:

1.) You will probably get into –at least–one argument during the weekend.

The lady speaker on Sunday morning opened up saying that if you think you are the only couple who had a fight last night, then you were wrong! When we bring up issues that have been deeply rooted, we are bound to have some dissension. As I always say, in order to fix a wound, sometimes surgery is needed which is messy, deep, and painful.

2.) This conference may prove discouraging for those of you with much deeper marital or personal issues that haven’t been dealt with yet, such as pornography, sexual abuse, rape, etc.

They do not dive into these issues (understandably so) from the speakers. They do reference them a bit and give some resources (and have people there to pray with you if you need) but I can see couples dealing with those issues walking away from the conference a little discouraged thinking, “yeah, we’ve tried all that but that doesn’t quite get to our issue.” Would I still recommend the conference to them? Absolutely. I believe the Spirit of God can work through both of you admist those problems and if anything, it gives you a renewed focus together to give you a game plan for the future.

3.) This is more logistical, BUT, if you have the option to stay at the hotel or go home each night, try and stay at the hotel.

We did that Friday night but went home Saturday night (and came back Sunday morning) to save some money. It wasn’t terrible going home, but it kind of ruins that feel of a special weekend when you walk in and step on a matchbox car and then look over at your pile of dirty laundry. :)

At the very last session, you actually renew your marriage vows. I was surprised at how this was so emotional for me. (Judging by the sniffles in the room, I wasn’t the only one) We grabbed each other’s hands and renewed our committments to our marriage. I honestly felt like I did when I looked into his eyes on October 18th, 2003.

Have we been through the thick of it since then? Absolutely.

Have we wanted to quit? Sure thing.

Have we pressed through? Indeed.

And I have to say, those words were so much sweeter saying them almost 10 years later…1 miscarriage, 2 kids, and a host of other things through in our path. Standing there–face to face, breathing the words that inspired us to get married in the first place was amazing.

We left with some new things that we are going to be doing in our marriage and with a renewed focus.

1.) Pray more together.

We pray separately. We pray with our kids. We pray with our friends, but we rarely pray with each other! The stats of divorce are significantly lower for those couples who regularly pray together and since divorce isn’t on top of my list of things I want to happen in my life, I think this preventive measure will be good for us. :)

2.) Work more on companionship.

I think every couple (at least in the small children phase of life ) deals with this. Mark Driscoll says that we work more shoulder to shoulder tending to the every day of life issues–and forget the face to face part–interacting, laughing, kissing etc. We become these family workhorses chugging away at the daily tasks, and forget the initial foundation that brought us together. Couples who stay shoulder to shoulder look at each other when the kids fly the coop 20 years later, wondering who the heck they are looking at. We really aren’t wanting to be in that category so we need to be intentional now.

I am a firm believer that Christian marriages need an overhaul. We are setting a poor example for our children and for the non-believers in the world. Why on earth would someone want to join this God-ordained union if half of these unions end in divorce, or are bitter and boring? If you and your spouse find yourself in that spot, I encourage you give it “a hug”.  Go away for a weekend, attend a conference, or visit a counselor. There is nothing wrong with any of that! We all have sickness—so go see the Doctor before it moves to a deep rooted disease!

Have you ever been to a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conference? Did you enjoy it? Are there other conferences out there that you would recommend?


  1. Laurel says

    Thanks for sharing honestly and from the heart! What you shared is exactly why we are so excited to join staff with FamilyLife!! :) So glad you gave your marriage a “hug” (great way to put it!).

  2. Janna says

    Thanks for sharing! My marriage isn’t perfect but we have made it through 21 years. We went to a family life conference in Bend, OR several years ago and it was deffinately worth it. It is very encouraging and uplifting. I’m ready for another one! Just trying to make it work with schedules! I like how you mentioned the fact that you booked it last minute. Life doesn’t have to be well planned to make something happen!

  3. Zee Dean says

    My hubby and I just attended our first WTR. It was a sacrifice of time and money, but well worth it. We’ve already talked about attending another one. I’d love to attend the Love Like You Mean It Cruise when we can afford it. Our time at WTR was such a tremendous blessing and I loved the way they allowed and encouraged time alone with your spouse! My hubby and I are talking with a Family Life rep tonight to see how we can volunteer our time at the next conference.

  4. Lori says

    Thank you so much for this blog entry! Every time I start looking for a ‘weekend getaway’ seems like my schedule gets busier but you’re right I think Satan wants nothing more to keep our lives busy with ‘things’ so we don’t stop and give our marriage a ‘hug’.

  5. Angie says

    Very familiar with this conference. Pretty sure it saved our marriage 5 years in. :) Our church sponsored us. We were baby Christians and so poor, we farmed our son out to grandma’s house, so we could come home each night. For our “romantic evening” on Saturday, we microwaved Budget Gourmet frozen dinners, on our only two good china plates, by candlelight & with a single rose on our second hand table! A great memory. 😉 We reconnected, found new hope, and began the healing that was needed. We sought God’s will for our marriage. Just over year later, we welcomed our second child.

    We’ve been back for a few “tune up” weekends since. Every time was worth the investment and sacrifice of both our time and money. In fact, one time, we went right before Thanksgiving. I was a bit reluctant, I had “so much to do” before the holidays, as always. Farming out all 4 kids (no grandparents left nearby now) was an undertaking too! When we left, the house was a mess, but we had to get on the road.

    Unbenownst to me, my BFF, who lives almost 300 miles away, on the other side of our state, had conspired with two our oldest kids. While we enjoyed our time at the conference, this time in the hotel, she and her family of 8 drove over, picked up our kids, CLEANED my whole house, AND on Sunday afternoon, we walked in to find our grinning kids, and a beautiful table set for an extended family Thanksgiving (cooked by my friend and her little “partners in crime”) together. :) What a wonderful blessing! :)

    It’s been 25 imperfect years of marriage this May, filled with deep valleys and mountain tops, smooth roads and pot holes along the journey. We’ve each learned much, grown much, have further to go, and God has been so very faithful throughout. We promised each other at that first WTR that the “D” word would never be part of our vocabulary, never be used as a weapon while arguing or working through a rough patch!

    We also have poured into the friendship we started with all those years ago. My hubby gets pretty pleased as punch when I indicate that I just want to “hang out” with him. Though I sometimes have to ASK if I can tag along, or invite him out. (Yes, sometimes we have to be the instigators girls. Our guys can be clueless, or they just get tunnel visioned and focused on the urgent things in their daily world!)

    Our relationship with our children is deep, permanent and priceless, but it is wise to keep the perspective that it is also transient. 18 years, give or take, of hands on guidance and training, then we become their mentors and trusted advisers, God willing-and always their cheerleaders and adult friends. :)

    But our spouses, well, that relationship is every day, for life,(we pray) and should be given priority. (I know, hard to do in practicality when you are in the throes of diapers, or carpooling to dance lessons etc!) I try to keep in the forefront of my mind the special commitment I made to my hubby all those years ago in my Grandpa’s rose garden, and more importantly, the covenant I made with, and before, the Lord that day. That is not as easy to consider breaking, no matter how disappointed, hurt or angry I am. (we’ve gone through some pretty tough stuff, so I don’t say that lightly!) My DH is Irish/German and I am a fiery Latina, both opinionated and stubborn/strong willed as can be, so you can imagine that God has had His mighty and able hands full with us! LOL

    Oh, as for praying together, an older/wiser couple we know, long time counselors, assure me that issue is one of the hardest things for couples. Don’t know why, maybe because of the level of intimacy and trust it requires? Being that vunerable with someone is hard, even and especially in marriage. Great goals Clare. So glad you guys took the time and enjoyed your time, even the hard and emotional parts! God Bless. Here’s to many more years of deepening your faith and fleshing/walking out the practicalities of your commitment to one another and Him. :)

    • Paulina says

      Thank you for you comment. So encouraging. Brought me to tears. I pray God will be with us on our first WTR. Considering divorce… Pray that the Lord changes his heart.

  6. Jennifer says

    Thank you for letting us in on your experience of this marriage conference. I liked how you delineated it carefully. I found your article by googling “real reviews weekend to remember.” Next weekend my husband and I are traveling 8 hours from Canada to attend “Wkd 2 Rmbr” in Idaho. He had to file a request for a day off, which he’s never done. All this to say that it’s a big expense. We were just married in April after long distance dating 18 months, and I moved to his hometown (and country!). It’s been a difficult transition for us. A friend at my home church women’s retreat this fall invited us and I took the chance, with lots of prayer. So, thank you for your thoughtful writing and encouragement- now I don’t feel like I’m dragging him to something he’ll rue me for! It sounds like it will be a good investment in our future together.

  7. Brittany says

    Thank you for this post! My husband and I are going to A Weekend To Remember this weekend and I have been nervous about “what will we/i have to do” and what should i expect and this has been so helpful! I am looking forward to growing closer with my husband this weekend and giving our marriage a hug!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *