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?